Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 4:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Willing.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 29 (selected NASB).
18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,
But happy is he who keeps the law.
In 1999 my husband and I felt led to begin a ministry to college students out of our home. Our first Bible study was on Super Bowl Sunday of that year. We wanted to connect the ministry with a local church, but our church was not interested in using us with college students at that time. We had 2 children of our own who were in college at the time, one married son in trade school, and one in high school. So, we began to look for a church where we could connect the ministry God had given to us. We began with about 9 students that night, and it quickly grew to 25 or so each Sunday evening. The ministry continued for 7.5 years, mostly out of our home. We closed the doors to this ministry in May of 2006.
In our search for a church family, where we could connect this ministry to college students, we attended several churches. For the first time in our lives we were hearing a lot about “visions” and “mission statements.” Each church made it sound like what they were doing was unique to them, but we soon discovered that they were all following the same man, and the same books, and the same philosophy on how to grow their churches, no matter the church denomination, and this had spread all across evangelical Christianity here in America. So, although they all had “visions” they were of human origin, not of God, and so they truly lacked vision, because their ideas were not centered in God but in man.
In most all of these cases their human-based visions called for diluting the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more palatable, pleasing and appealing to human flesh. Their goal was to attract the world to their church meetings using worldly means and methods. Included in their visions was the desire to make the world feel at home in their meetings, so they worked hard at not being judgmental but to be accepting of all people. Sin, repentance, and obedience were words to be avoided like the plague. They gave people the impression that faith in Jesus Christ was a mere confession of Christ, and that they had heaven guaranteed, and that from that point on God was pleased with them no matter what they did. And, so the people were unrestrained, because they were convinced that being under grace meant they did not have to repent of sin and that God required nothing of them.
Those Who Lack Faith
3 A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad,
But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth.
5 A man who flatters his neighbor
Is spreading a net for his steps.
22 An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.
23 A man’s pride will bring him low,
But a humble spirit will obtain honor.
24 He who is a partner with a thief hates his own life;
He hears the oath but tells nothing.
It is possible for those who have truly been born of the Spirit of God to at some point in their lives be lacking in faith, possibly due to suffering, hardship, discouragement or to believing Satan’s lies, or potentially due to the call of the world to them to join in with them in their depravity. And, so they return to some areas of sin where Christ’s blood had previously freed them. It is also possible that many have bought into Satan’s lies and have accepted the false grace (diluted) gospel message, and so they believe they are free to continue in willful sin without guilt and without remorse, claiming their freedom in Christ and his grace. And yet there are also many people who have never even made a profession of Christ as Savior who are dead in their sins, and thus live sinful lifestyles.
Many of these people are involved in sexual sin of some type, whether actually committing adultery with another, or lusting, or viewing pornography, or reading or watching sexually-oriented novels or movies or TV shows, etc. Many are also involved in telling lies, which may come in the form of flattering people, i.e. lying to people to make them feel good. Others may be prone to outbursts of anger, which stems from what is down deep in their hearts, which may be unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred or envy. Still others struggle with pride, and thus will never humble themselves and honestly repent of their sins, and thus they lash out at those who lovingly confront them. Some people, as well, are thieves, but maybe not in the sense of robbing a bank, but in cheating on their taxes or on their time sheets or on their spouses by flirting with others or having relationships with others in ways that should be reserved for their marriages only. Probably all these people know they are doing wrong, and yet they continue.
The Righteous Persecuted
9 When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.
10 Men of bloodshed hate the blameless,
But the upright are concerned for his life.
25 The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.
27 An unjust man is abominable to the righteous,
And he who is upright in the way is abominable to the wicked.
If you are walking in fellowship with your Lord Jesus, and you are committed to his word and to following him in obedience and in surrender to his will for your life, and thus you are speaking the Word of God boldly, and are sharing the full gospel message, you will be hated by someone and you will be persecuted. Jesus said so. People who know they are doing wrong will not be comfortable around you. People who like to flatter and to make everyone like them will not approve of you because you speak the truth in love. They will accuse you of all sorts of things which may not be true about you at all. Many will hate you and will reject, ostracize and mock you. If you lovingly confront them with what they are doing wrong or with their need to put their trust in Christ, they may lash out at you in anger, or may choose to gossip and slander you behind your back. Yet, we must not respond in fear, but we must commit ourselves to our Lord Jesus, and trust him to work all things for good.
Responses to Correction
1 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
15 The rod and reproof give wisdom,
But a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother.
17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort;
He will also delight your soul.
19 A slave will not be instructed by words alone;
For though he understands, there will be no response.
There will be various ways in which people will respond to correction, i.e. to the Word of Truth when it points its finger at their sin and cuts deep into their hearts. Some will harden their hearts beyond recovery. Just thinking about that breaks my heart, because I know many people have had so many opportunities to believe in Jesus and to put their trust in him, but they have continually hardened their hearts and remained stiff-necked, because they wanted to hold on to their sin, and they did not want to relinquish control, and thus they will never repent and will spend eternity in hell. I weep over the thought of that.
Another situation which brings me to tears is this false grace gospel which tells its adherents that they don’t have to turn from their sin and that God requires nothing of them, so they are given carte blanche to continue in willful sin and rebellion against God, absent of true repentance, and lacking in surrender to the cross of Christ with their lives. They are like spoiled children who get their own way because they lack restraint, because they believe Satan’s lies which tell them that Jesus is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that his grace covers it all. They even encourage them to claim who they are in Christ, some of which is in error, while in the midst of sin, making themselves believe that God is smiling upon them in their sin so that they won’t feel guilty for sinning against their holy God.
Jesus Christ did not die that horrible death on the cross, taking upon himself the sins of the entire world in order to free us to continue in sin without remorse and without guilt. What kind of grace is that if it leaves us still bound in sin? No, he died so we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. He died so we could die with him to sin, and so we could walk in freedom in his holiness and righteousness, all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us. And, he died so we would no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In fact, his grace “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for” his soon return. He died “to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” [See: Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8-10; 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; 1 Jn.]
So, the question today is how will you respond to God’s call upon your life? How will you respond to his correction when he points his finger at specific areas of sin in your life? Will you become stiff-necked and harden your hearts and continue on in sin, thinking God is pleased with you no matter what? Or, will you respond with humility, sincere repentance, and with submission to the cross of Christ in your life? Jesus said that if we would come after him we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow him (in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives). He said that if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them (for eternity), but if we die with Christ to sin and self, we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ac. 26:16-18). So, what will it be? Will you choose life? Or, will you choose death? Time is running out!!
Willing / An Original Work / August 17, 2011
I am willing to obey You;
Have Your Spirit live within me;
Know Your power; be Your witness
To a world who needs You greatly.
Love within me spread to all men,
So that they might come to know Him;
Know His power; His forgiveness;
Be transformed into His likeness.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Change our hearts within this hour.
May we be like Jesus always;
Be a light that shines in darkness.