Friday, July 29, 2011

Be warned, they are out there...wolves on sheeps clothing

John is often called the apostle of love. He has made it clear in his writings that the evidence of one being born-again is the love they have for God and the brethren. In 2John, John is making a distinction between true brotherly love and undiscerning love. It seems clear from his warning that there are some in the church receiving false teachers in fellowship; however, we know that light cannot have fellowship with darkness.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
It seems that the lady John is addressing has a love for people that pours out of her; however, John is warning her to use discernment. She (and us) need to discern who we receive and whom we fellowship with; especially those actively preaching and teaching doctrines of demons. After all, if a doctrine, religion or philosophy is not from God it is a doctrine of demons.

1Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
It seems that this lady’s heart was “in the right place” as we like to say; however, just because our intentions may seem to be from a pure heart does not excuse us from filtering our conduct through the Word of God. If God’s Word says (and it does) that we are not to be unequally yoked, in other words, we are not to fellowship with, receive in to our house, or be involved in ministry with false religions, then we shouldn’t.

2Corinthians 6:14-18 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." 17 Therefore "COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE SEPARATE, SAYS THE LORD. DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN, AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU." 18 "I WILL BE A FATHER TO YOU, AND YOU SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY."

 2John 1:9-11 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

 The very clear take away from 2John is that (just as John warns us in 1John 4) we need to test every spirit, we are NOT to receive false teachers, and the intent of our heart along with the deception of false teachers can cost us dearly.

 2John 1:7-8 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Would you bet your life on it?

Maybe it is the “math guy” in me; but, I like flow charts. I love to look at things systematically and methodically; it seems to help me get my mind around things easier.  As I read 1John chapter 5 yesterday it reminded me of a flow chart.
“Box #1” of the flow chart: Satan influences the world

1John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Ephesians 2:1-2  And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2  in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
2Corinthains 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

Acts 26:18  to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'

Luke 13:16  So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"
1Peter 5:8  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

Lucifer was the most glorious of the angels God created and his pride and disobedience cost him his position among the holy angels of Heaven and he now seeks to deceive people from the Truth with the lusts of this world and false religion.  There is no other way to say this, but to say, “if the Gospel is still foolishness to you, he has accomplished his goal in your life.”

“Box #2” of the flow chart: We have fallen prey to Satan’s deceit in that we pursue the lusts of this world

Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do

Ephesians 2:3  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Ephesians 4:22  to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,

2Timothy 2:22  So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Titus 3:3  For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

1Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,

1Peter 2:11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

1John 2:15-16 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world--the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.

Many of the verses above are speaking of pursuing our lusts of the flesh in past tense; that is because the writer is addressing those that have surrendered their life to Jesus Christ. For those that have NOT given their life to Christ these verses are describing your current condition of pursuing the desires of your flesh rather than the will of God, this condition leads to hell. That is the bad news; the Good News is found in “Box 3” of our flow chart.

“Box #3” of the flow chart: God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world

Even if Satan has had his way with you up to this point in your life, in that he has successfully deceived you from the Truth, it is not too late for you to be saved. If you have come to the conclusion that you are a wretched sinner, congratulations, that is right where God wants you.  In order for God to completely pour His Grace and Mercy upon you, you have to first realize you need it.  The Good News is that God loves you so much that He has been pursuing you from the beginning:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Matthew 10:40 "He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.

John 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

John 6:38-40  For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40  And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

John 6:61-65  When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64  But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."

Matthew 18:11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Mark 8:31-33 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

Matthew 26:2  "You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."

1John 4:10  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.

I remember hearing and reading things like, “Jesus loves you”…“Jesus died for you”….”Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world”…..”Jesus was crucified to save us”.  Those statements on the surface seemed “cozy” and without offense; as such, these statements didn’t move me to change my direction or my desire to seek the Truth. They didn’t have an effect because it was only part of the story. Until I heard “the rest of the story”, which is, without Christ you will spend eternity in hell, I never gave a thought to the fact that my sin would have consequence. The message of eternal hell is offensive; however, it also confusing if not accurately explained.  Jesus does love us, Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, Jesus does want to save us; but we need to consider what Jesus wants to save us from. Jesus wants to save us from the Wrath of God (which is eternal) and our sin (one sin) is enough to rightly and justly condemn us forever.  God is not unreasonable in His need to punish sin, as a Good Judge He must punish sin; however, not only is He a Righteous Judge, He is also a loving Father.  A loving Father that sent His Son to redeem us from our sin.  We can overcome the punishment we rightly deserve, but there is only one Way:

“Box 4” of the flow chart: We overcome through faith in Jesus Christ

1John 5:5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

1John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.

1John 5:4 seems like such a simple verse; however, it is important that we really get our mind around true faith.  Our culture has trivialized the word faith to a certain extent. We have, in a sense, dumbed it down.  For example, when the game is on the line “we have faith” that a certain person can get it done. If you are a Twins fan, you probably “have faith” that Joe Mauer is going to come through in the bottom of the ninth.  But let me ask you a question, would you bet your life on it? As another example: I have a friend of mine that has been on and off meth for over 10 years and in that time I have heard people say, “he is going to quit the drugs, I have faith in him.”  Again, would you bet your life on it?  You can see how the word faith has been watered down.  People will even say, “oh yes, I have faith” without an explanation of what (or who) they are putting their “faith” in. The kind of faith that overcomes the world is faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation because you are, literally, “betting” your eternal life on it.  This is not a flippant or casual kind of faith; yet that is exactly what we see in the attitudes of people in regard to what they are entrusting their eternal life to.  God never lies and He has assured us that when we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation we will be saved from His Wrath. We will be welcomed in to His Kingdom when we die. I have faith in His promise and I have complete trust in Him.

A logical question, and the most important question you may ever ask would be, “how can I be certain that I have put my complete faith in Jesus Christ?”

“Box 5” of the flow chart: Our faith is validated and shown to be authentic by our obedience to God’s commands and our love for the brethren

1John 5:1-3 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

1John 3:10  By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Galatians 2:20  I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him."

1John 2:4 Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

1John 1:6-7 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

2Corinthaians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In short, we know we have put our complete faith in Jesus when He gives us a new heart with new desires. He changes us! We will no longer desire to live with habitual sin in our life, but will instead desire to live righteously. This does not mean we will be perfect, but through His strength we will have increased victory over sin. He will give us a foul taste for sin. Just as we will spit sour milk out of our mouth if we unknowingly drink it, we will have a foul taste for the things outside of God’s will that used to be appetizing to us.  This WILL HAPPEN!  If it does not happen, and you are not growing in faith, growing in righteousness and obedience, and you are not abiding in Him more and more; the evidence clearly shows that you are not born-again.  On the other hand, if these things are happening and you have more and more of a desire to humbly serve Him, you are Spirit led, born of the Spirit, born-again, and as we know from God’s Word, only those that are born-again will inherit eternal life.

“Box 6” of the flow chart: Only those that are born-again will enter Heaven, all others will be condemned

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Matthew 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

1Corintains 1:21-24  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22  For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23  but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24  but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

God concludes His Word repeating the same phrase twice in the last 7 verses” I am coming quickly”.  Jesus is coming back and if we are not in “right standing” with Him at His return (or our death; whichever happens first) it will be too late for us.  That is why the Word says, “today is the day of Salvation”.

Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

Revelation 22:12  "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. 21 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." 14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. 15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. 16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star." 17 And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. 18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Who is inlfuenced by Satan?

In the first verse of 1John chapter 4 John gives us a very clear directive.  We are to test EVERY spirit to be sure they are of God.  John is going to get focused on a particular issue that would require this simple test; however, we need to test all teachers, preachers and prophets in light of all Scripture, rightly dividing the Word of God.  Throughout Scripture we see very stark contrasts, for example, Jesus said you are either with Me or against Me. He said you either scatter or gather. He said you either walk in Light or darkness.  There is no neutrality in Christ, and the same is true of false prophets and false teachers.  That is why it is so crucial to test EVERY preacher, teacher and prophet against The Word; either they are led by the Spirit of God, or they are influenced, led, and/or deceived by demonic influence.  If we think only with the “wisdom of man” (in other words, if we only think in the flesh) a logical response to the previous statement would be, “well I don’t think “so and so” is under demonic influence, they are very loving and compassionate.”  If this is your mindset, you need to consider two things:

One-have you ever been sincerely wrong about something?  So, it is possible to be genuine and sincere, yet still be wrong, correct?  What you have essentially said is that sincerity by itself amounts to zero; after all, if I sincerely thought the gun was empty and pulled the trigger of a loaded gun my sincerity would not change the outcome.
Two-If someone is genuine and sincere, yet wrong, would that change the outcome if someone was swayed by their teaching that ultimately led them to hell?  So, if someone is teaching a religion or doctrine that deceives others from the Truth and leads them to hell, how can you call it anything other than what The Word calls it, “doctrines of demons”?  Demonic influence is so powerful and crafty that many well intentioned people are led astray. I don’t think there is any doubt that is why we are warned over and over again in The Word about false teaching.  That is the very reason we need to check everything against God’s Word and the reason Paul made this statement:

Galatians 1:8-10  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9  As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. 10  For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

The ultimate point is, we need to test EVERYTHING against The Word:

 1John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

It seems clear that John is zeroing in on a particular false teaching that has crept in to the early church, and this lie is that “Jesus is not God”:

1John 4:2-3  By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3  and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

 When we are born of God we know that Jesus is God; however, there are several religions out there that will attempt to reduce Jesus Christ to the status of prophet, angel, or “a good teacher”.  With all this mis-information and rampant demonic influence in the world, why is it that some are convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus is God:

 1John 4:4  You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

If Christ is your Lord and Savior His Spirit dwells in you, but whoever is not born of God is under the sway of Satan:

 1John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.

Galatians 1:3-5 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4  who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5  to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 Notice that Paul says in Galatians 1 that Jesus MIGHT deliver us.  This does not mean He can’t, because He can do anything; however, it starts with your surrender to Him.  When you are absolutely surrendered to Him you are born-again; however, that only happens because He first loved us.  Isn’t that amazing!  Left to ourselves we would have remained sinful, selfish and wicked; but His love has drawn us to Himself and softened our heart to receive the Truth:

 1John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.

1John 4:10  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 Propitiation

1.    The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person; the act of making propitious.

WOW! God the Father, sent God the Son (His SON!)….He loves us so much He sent HIS SON from the Throne of Heaven to be humiliated, beaten, rejected, crucified; but beyond all this, to take upon Himself the Wrath of God to satisfy our sin debt.  Yet, there are many that will reject this love even though the Word makes it clear, the Wrath of God is coming for the disobedient:

Ephesians 5:6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Hebrews 9:27-28  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28  so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Hebrews 10:31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I fought alot, I drank too much

There are so many chapters in God’s Word that you can read and get completely blown away by the power and content; 1John chapter 3 is one of those chapters.  As many of you know, I am very passionate about preaching about obedience and repentance.  Some of you might not know why I’m so passionate about it, so I please allow me to briefly explain.  For most of my life I didn’t know anything about God and I didn’t feel like I needed to know anything about God.  Then, for selfish reasons, I said a prayer once at the prompting of a gentleman that was, probably, well meaning, just confused.  He assured me that God wanted me to be successful, and not only that, if I said this prayer, I would also go to Heaven when I die; in addition to receiving the “success goodies”.  Well, I wanted to be successful more than anything else, and what the heck, I’ll take the extra perk of going to Heaven when I die….so, great, stamp  my hand for the “all access pass” and I will continue “eating, drinking and being merry”….the only thing is, I not only was eating, drinking (a lot), and being merry….I was also going to strip joints, getting in fights at the bar and in the street, and doing other things I will never put in a blog.  And why wouldn’t I continue these things, I loved them and “my hand has been stamped”….right?....WRONG!!
If you can read through 1John chapter 3 and still believe that repentance and obedience is not evidence of being born-again then the Holy Spirit has not unveiled your eyes to the Truth.  Six times in six verses John either uses the word “practicing” or “keep on” (which is saying the same thing).  With all that being said, let’s work through this amazing chapter.

One, many preachers will either deceive you on purpose; or they are deceived themselves in to saying that “we are all children of God”.  If that were true, why would John say, “we are NOW children of God”?
1John 3:1-2  Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (NKJ)

 1John 3:1-2  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2  Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (ESV)

 Further evidence of this is in Paul’s writings where he says we are “adopted” in to God’s family. Before we look at those verses we need to ask ourselves a question. If we are already a child of God, why would He need to adopt us?  Wouldn’t my son be confused if I approached him and said, “son, today we are going to start the paperwork because I want to adopt you.”  That wouldn’t make any sense, he is already my son.

 Ephesians 1:3-6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5  he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

 Not only does He adopt us, but He makes us a new creation:

2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

He makes it clear that when we are born-again we are a new creation, born of the Spirit and no longer slaves to sin.  Evidence of this is that we can no longer PRACTICE sin:

1John 3:4-6 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5  You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

 I love the way John IMMEDIATELY follows this up.  God, (who knows all things), knew there would be those that would have all kinds of “yea but” questions and comments to this Truth.  Such as, “are you saying you never sin” OR “have you ever heard of a carnal Christian” OR “you are talking about works righteousness” OR any other smoke screen that keeps them from facing the Truth head on.  Take a look at John’s immediate follow up to these verses:

 1John 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.

 John warns people, DON’T LET ANYONE DECEIEVE YOU!  But he gets even more hardcore in when he says that anyone that practices sin is a child of the devil:

 1John 3:8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Then, true to John’s form, he repeats himself for emphasis:

1John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.

 Did you catch that?  Why CAN’T a person that belongs to Christ keep on sinning?  Because he is born of God, he is Spirit led and it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to practice sin.  Please don’t mis-understand, there IS a difference between practicing sin and stumbling, just as John said in chapter 2:

1John 2:1  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

For the born again believer, sin is NOT deliberate and willful, but when we stumble Our Lord is there to defend and vindicate us because we have put our complete surrender, faith and trust in Him and we covered by His Blood!  Is that license to sin?...Paul made that clear:

 Romans 6:1-2  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2  By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

 Hebrews 10:26-27  For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27  but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

 I heard a preacher say one time, “if your attitude toward sin has not changed, neither has your relationship with God.”  In essence, that is exactly what John is saying in verse 10.  The evidence of who your father (or Father) is, is made clear by whether you are a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness:

1John 3:10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

That’s not the first time the Word talks about someone being “of their father the devil”; Jesus used this same term in addressing the most religious people of the day in John 8:

John 8:42-44 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

When you practice righteousness, when you preach righteousness….in other words, when you are Spirit led, the world will hate you, Jesus warned us of this and John reminds us of this warning in chapter 3:

1John 3:12-13 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13  Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
 
So, the eternal question, are you led by the flesh or by the Spirit?

1John 3:23-24  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24  Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

Romans 8:8-10 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not perfection, direction

Before we get started with tonight’s reading, let’s first look at the definition of the word abide:

Abide
abada, to be, or exist, to continue; W. bod, to be; to dwell, rest, continue, stand firm, or be stationary for anytime indefinitely.
-To rest, or dwell.
-To continue permanently or in the same state; to be firm and immovable.
- To remain, to continue.

ABI'DE, v.t.
-To wait for; to be prepared for; to await.
-To endure or sustain.

Jesus commands us, and John reiterates it in 1John 2, to abide in Christ:

 John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

Jesus makes it very clear, if you do not abide in Him you WILL NOT bear fruit for the Kingdom of God, not only that, if you DO NOT abide in Him, you abide in darkness:

John 12:46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

Over and over again in the Word of God we read verses that warn against “walking in darkness”, “practicing sin”, “walking in the flesh”, “living for the lusts of the flesh”….it is AMAZING how many times the  Bible warns of this and in how many ways God says it.  I am fairly sure He didn’t want this missed or confused, yet there are so many that try to play word games with the Truth.  This morning I was reminded of this, while I was exchanging emails with a fellow brother in Christ, that until the Holy Spirit lifts the veil from our eyes we are ignorant to the Truth.  I remember when I thought I was saved I NEVER noticed words like obedience, surrender and repentance; I was blinded to it.  When we repent of our sin, when we surrender our life to Jesus Christ, when we are obedient to His Word, when we strive to enter His rest, when seek first The Kingdom of God and His righteousness, when we abide in Him we cannot, and will not, practice sin.  If this were not true, why would John tell us this is one of the main reasons he is writing 1John?:

 1John 2:1a  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.

This is where some Christians miss it….we are not talking perfection, we are talking direction!  John basically says DON’T SIN!  But, since we will not be completely without sin until Christ’s brings us home or He returns, John follows it up with:

1John 2:1b But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Check this out; it is very important to make this distinction.  God’s Word warns that those that practice sin WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of God.  We know that God does NOT contradict Himself and He is NOT the author of confusion.  So, clearly there is more going on here than, “well, if you sin (wink-wink) you are covered.”  It seems clear that there is, literally, an eternal difference betweeen practicing sin and stumbling.  Let’s try to bring this a little closer to home….when I thought I was saved, I would make plans for the week-end, knowing that I would ask forgiveness in the morning.  I was a fake Christian, deceived and confused of the Truth.  I praise God He didn’t leave me in that condition, because He could have and I would have died condemned.  So my question to you is, do you have plans this week, or this month, or this year that you know will result in thoughts, words or action that will be outside of the will of God?  As you consider that question, also consider that with the answer gives us a small example of the difference between practicing sin and stumbling.

1John 2:6  He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

 If you abide in Him, you WILL NOT love the world and everything the world says you should love:

1John 2:15-16  Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

 Verses 25 and 26 make two amazing points. One – God has a promise for those who abide in Him, and He has ALWAYS fulfilled His promises.  Two – there are going to be those that will try to deceive you from the Truth.  Some of them maybe well meaning, some of them might be flat out evil; but either way, Satan is the author of this deception and the end result is the same; if you are deceived in to denying the Truth, you will fall for a lie.

 1John 2:25-26  And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. 26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.

1John 2:29  If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Have you ever wondered who DOESN'T go to Heaven?

In the first 3 verses of 1John chapter 1, John says almost the identical thing 3 times. Jesus spoke the Truth ALWAYS, there was never a time when any half truth or deception came out His mouth, yet there are a several times where He said, "I tell you the truth" or "truly I say to you".  The extra emphasis Jesus added to His Words when He did this comes to mind when I read these first 3 verses that seem to repeat.

Matthew 10:15  Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

Matthew 10:42  And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."

Matthew 13:17  For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Just as Jesus seemed to use the word "truly" to put emphasis on His point, John seems to do the same thing.  John hammers home the point that Jesus came here from His Heavenly home, John and the other disciples seen Him, heard Him, touched Him, and learned from Him:

1John 1:1-3a  That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- 2  the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- 3  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you...

Before we finish verse 3, first consider why John and the others desire to PROCLAIM what they have seen and heard:

1 John 3b so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.

I have said this many times and it is worth repeating; people that have been truly saved have a strong (overwhelming) desire that others be saved.  People that share the Gospel, in whatever capacity God has them doing it, are not saved any more or any less when they share the Gospel.  They do it because they desire to be obedient to their King, knowing that God's desire is that all people be saved and have fellowship with Him.  When a person is saved and enters in to a relationship with God their joy is complete.  Does that mean everything is "roses" for the rest of their life?  Of course not; the 12 disciples and countless others have died because of their faith.  However, we are joyous because we have fellowship with God and we are Heaven bound, we don't need to get wrapped up in the cares of this world:

1John 1:4  And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

As you read the rest of 1 John chapter 1, reflect on the fact that "walking in darkness" means, "to practice sin".  To willingly and deliberately continue in a life of sin. Before we continue in 1 John let's take a look at what God says are some examples of practicing sin:

Romans 13:12-14  The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

1Corinthians 6:9-11  Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11  And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Isn't that powerful!  In 1Corinthians 6 Paul starts the list in verse 9 and leaves us thinking, "wow, I don't have a chance"....but then he says in verse 11, "and such WERE some of you".  Why is that so amazing?  Because it gives hope to a wretch like me...and to everyone.  God knows you are a wretch, but He wants to redeem you any way!  But He also wants you to repent.  Notice how Paul uses past tense, "as such WERE some of you"?

1Corinthians 15:34  Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Galatians 5:19-21  Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 5:1-8  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3  But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5  For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7  Therefore do not become partners with them; 8  for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

There is no doubt that there are many parts of the Bible that are difficult to understand, however, the verses above are about as clear as it gets.  These verses outline what practicing sin looks like and gives the clear command to turn away from such things, that's what it means to repent.

I talked to a pastor once that liked to use silly terms like "carnal Christian" to justify the deliberate continuance in sin.  I think it is pretty clear from the verses here that there is no such thing as a "carnal Christian"  There is either a born-again believer that has been regenerated by The Spirit (just as promised, "he who is in Christ is a new creation"); and there is the fake Christian.  The fake Christian wants all the goodies that go along with eternal life, but they love their sin too much to surrender to Jesus and be born-again.  John addressed these people in verse 6:

1John 1:6  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Take a look at the contrast of walking in the darkness in the very next verse:

1John 1:7  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Then John quickly addresses those that are amazingly good people; "by the world's standards":

1John 1:8-10  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.