Perversions of Grace

Tuesday, August 30, 2016, 7:17 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Lead Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jude 1 (Select vv. ESV).

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Deceptive Spirits

Satan and his dogs (his false teachers; his messengers) are charmers, sweet talkers, liars, deceivers, master manipulators, unholy, unfaithful, playful, witty, fun, wicked, abusive, sexually immoral, dividers of the people, and/or plotters of evil – always doing their evil deeds in secret so that no one can see what they are doing. But God sees. Satan’s messengers are false shepherds of the people, who feed only themselves. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their main goal is to deceive the minds of believers in Jesus Christ and to destroy the true church. They may look harmless and playful, and you may feel warmth and affection for these individuals, like you would for a puppy dog, but they are of Satan, and they are out to destroy us, so don’t let them fool you.

When they feel threatened because you are preaching the full gospel of Jesus Christ, they will come after you like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, but they may do it in a way that feels as though they are in agreement with you, and they may even pretend to believe what you believe. Yet, they will subtly, gradually and cleverly insert lies into the truth so that you may not even notice the lies if you are not discerning. Or, they may try to dissuade you from following the gospel of Jesus Christ by trying to make you feel as though they really care about you and they just can’t understand why you won’t listen to them, and why you won’t believe them, but they can’t be trusted, because they have a snake’s bite.

The Bible warns us against such men who infiltrate our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. Yet, we won’t recognize them if we are not walking closely with the Lord Jesus so that we are given a spirit of discernment to spot what they look like in character (as is described in this book of Jude) and in facial expression (in particular the eyes), i.e. their eyes may appear to be glassed over. These dogs (false teachers) are out to deceive the church and to capture as many as they can for Satan’s kingdom. They trample underfoot the covering of love that God has for his children, using the authority of Christ as their footstool.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:7-8).

Satan, through his servants, tries to get us to doubt God, to doubt God’s word and his voice to us, and to doubt our relationship with Jesus Christ. He likes to try to make us feel weak and helpless and to convince us of such in order to get us to not obey the Lord. As well, he likes to try to make us question our dependency on Jesus Christ and to even suggest we are listening to him instead of to Christ. He will say some things that are true, but he will mix lies in with it and will twist and distort the truth. He will try to show us that belief in Jesus Christ and the true gospel, which removes idolatry from people’s lives, is “legalistic” and that he can provide a church and faith that is “fun” and free from the guilt of sin.

Satan will try to get us to compromise our beliefs and convictions by trying to shame us into a compromise. He will try to convince us to bring ourselves back under the slavery of sin and of men, when Jesus Christ came to set us free. As well, he will try to convince you that he hears from God and his followers will even pretend to be believers in Christ. He tries to tell us not to put our trust in the Lord Jesus but to put our trust in man. He preys on our weaknesses and tries to convince us that we are helpless and that we need him. He tries to convince us not to trust in the words of the Lord but to trust in the words of man instead, and to let men give us the counsel and direction we need, and to let man be our gods. And, he will attempt to convince us not to believe in the promises of God nor to believe the Lord’s servants when they tell us those same promises.

When Satan throws his fiery darts at us, and he will use human beings as his instruments of his deceptive messages, we must know the truth so that we can put on the full armor of God. They prey on those who are emotionally weak and who doubt themselves, so we must remain strong and we must put on the truth to counteract their lies. They will try to convince us that we are weak and powerless, but we are not. We are children of the King. They will try to pull us away from doing the will of God and from sharing the gospel and will try to convince us we are crazy and/or that we are hearing from Satan. Know this! – They said the same thing about Jesus. They said he was crazy and they accused him of being of Satan, but he refuted that lie by telling them that Satan does not drive out Satan or else his kingdom will fall. Satan is not going to be giving out the gospel and calling people to repent of their sins and to turn to faith in Jesus Christ, unless he is doing it, for a time, to infiltrate our ranks in order to slowly introduce his lies and deceptions. Normally he will try to make you believe you can go to heaven and still live in your sin because of God’s grace. And, that lie is going to send many to hell.

I believe the day of evil is upon us, that judgment is near, and that the lion has come out of his lair and he is out to attack, kill and destroy believers in Jesus Christ. His greatest weapon is deception and manipulation, charm, smooth talk, i.e. he will try to make you feel like he is your best friend. He may look like a warm and cuddly puppy, but he is dead and he has the roar of a lion and he is bent on devouring each and every one of us. So, we must resist him, and we must daily put on the armor of God so that we are not led into the devil’s trap. The voice of God says “Repent of your sins and believe the good news!” The voice of Satan says, “Have a good time” and he says that those who are preaching messages about repentance, obedience and judgment are crazy and need to be put away. The Lord gave me a picture today of the beheading of believers in today’s world – lock them up and drug them up so that they can’t think, pray or witness for Jesus Christ, and they are beheaded. Oh, how I pray and believe the Lord Jesus for deliverance from the evil one.

Jesus, Lead Me / An Original Work / July 22, 2011

Jesus, lead me all the way.
Be my hope and be my stay.
Gently lead me where I should go,
So Your Spirit, I want to know.
Open up my heart to You.
Fill me with Your love and truth.
Make my heart want to obey.
Be my Lord today. Gently lead always.

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Cleanse my heart, and make me whole;
Be transformed in my heart today,
As I turn from my sin and pray.
Make Your will known to my heart.
May I not from You depart.
How I long to hear You now,
As I humbly bow. Jesus, hear me now.

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Workers for the Truth

Monday, August 29, 2016, 4:53 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “It Is Well.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 3 John 1:1-12 (ESV).

Well with My Soul (vv. 1-4)

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

When we walk in the truth, and we do what is right, not everyone is going to love us and accept us. In fact, we will be hated and rejected as Jesus was hated and rejected. When we try to help others to come out from underneath bondage to sin, they might fight against us, and maybe even try to discredit us in order to attempt to save their own skin (to save face), or so that they can continue to hold on to their sin without interference. Yet, we need to not let this undo us or unsettle us.

Satan wants to destroy all that is of God, and all that stands opposed to Satan’s work, and all which threatens his kingdom, so he will plot all kinds of wicked schemes against us in the hopes of bringing us down. Yet, we must stand strong in our faith, trust in the Lord, and believe in God’s sovereignty over our lives. We must say with the hymn writer, “It is well with my soul.” Fear should not overtake us, for God is watching over us, and he has all things under his command and control. He will see us through everything which Satan can throw at us. We just need to be still, and trust in God.

All Your Efforts (vv. 5-8)

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore, we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.

When we minister to the needs of God’s saints, it is a good thing. When we encourage them in their walks of faith, and we spur them on to good deeds, that shows that we love Christ’s body, his church. When we receive those who are workers for God’s eternal kingdom into our homes, or into our lives in some way, we honor God by what we do, and we help to advance God’s kingdom work. When we help support those who are true ministers of the gospel in their work for God’s kingdom, we join with them in ministering God’s truths to the people of this world in order that they may be saved.

Yet, we must be cautious and discerning about who we support in ministry for not everyone who calls himself a minister of the gospel is preaching truth. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there disguising themselves as apostles of Christ and as servants of righteousness, but who, in reality, are workers of iniquity (See: 2 Co. 11:12-15). We must know the truth by careful study of the scriptures and via the witness of the Holy Spirit within us, and we must not rely on humans to tell us what God’s Word teaches. They just might be wrong! So, we must be wise and discerning.

Exposing Wickedness (vv. 9-10)

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

This could be written about many ministers within many institutional churches today here in America. So many of these institutional churches have gone the way of the world, but are marketing themselves as the true church which follows Jesus Christ. They run the “church” just like any other human-based business, and they market it in the same manner. They are partners together with the US government (via the 501c3), which is the institutional church’s true head. And, their “bible” is comprised of books written by mere men who are teaching them how to grow their businesses and how to draw in large crowds of people.

Many of these leaders within these institutional churches are being trained in how to draw in certain types of people, and in how to discourage participation from other types of people. I have found that they tend to seek after the young, the naïve, and those who have little Bible knowledge so that they can mold these people after their image, according to their mission statements and stated goals for their church (business) growth. And, so they discourage participation from the more mature believers in Christ who hold to the tenets of the gospel as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles.

The reason they do this, I believe, is because so many of them are following after a false gospel, which I call a “Do Nothing” gospel, and they don’t want anyone in their congregations exposing their lies or telling people the truth, because they fear that the truth might offend the masses and that the people of the world will feel uncomfortable in the gatherings of “the church,” and thus will not want to come back. In other words, most of today’s institutional church is market-driven, not Holy Spirit inspired and driven. They appeal to the flesh of man in order to gain customers for their businesses. And we, who teach the truth, do not fit in with their marketing schemes, so they may encourage us to leave and to go someplace else where we will be a “better fit.” But, that’s ok, because God doesn’t want his true followers to be part of this Babylon anyway (See: Rev. 18, in particular vv. 4-5). We are to come out from her, so that we don’t share in her sins.

Imitate Not Evil (vv. 11-12)

Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. Demetrius has received a good testimony from everyone, and from the truth itself. We also add our testimony, and you know that our testimony is true.

There is so much evil going on now within our world, and within institutional Christianity, being disguised as good, so, again, we must be very discerning and pay attention to what the Word teaches us. We must pray for wisdom to know what is good and what is evil so that we don’t fall into the trap of the devil. The Word teaches us that Satan and his evil cohorts are out to deceive even the elect, if that were possible. And, many are deceived because they are believing whatever they hear and see without testing it against God’s Word and in prayer, asking the Lord for wisdom to discern error from truth.

It often amazes me how many people who call themselves Christians and followers of Christ so easily believe the lies that Satan and his followers pass off as truth. Yet, there were times in my life when I fell prey to some of those lies, as well. And, even now I pray that I will not be deceived, but that I will have discernment and wisdom from above to discern truth from error. None of us are immune to Satan’s subtle lies and deceptions, for he knows how to get at us through our weaknesses, so be wise and discerning.

We have to know here that Satan is not making the lies all that obvious, either. He often cleverly blends them in with the truth so that the unsuspecting ear will listen and will believe the lies over the truth if they hear the lies often enough. This is why, again, that we must be students of the Word of God, and sensitive to the Spirit’s voice, and why we must test everything we see and hear, and not just follow what sounds good. Satan is out to destroy us and our testimonies for Christ. Don’t let him fool you! I speak these words to myself, too. May I have much discernment in these evil days in which we now live so that I don’t fall into the devil’s trap.

It Is Well with My Soul / H. G. Spafford / P. P. Bliss

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,
It is well; it is well with my soul.

Addictive Personality

Sunday, August 28, 2016, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Lead Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 4 (ESV).

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Test the Spirits

There are many people in our world today who profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives who live just like this: They are addicted to sin, and it has a stronghold on their lives. They are liars, deceivers, and manipulators, who act like they are following God with their lives, but who are skillfully conducting their lives according to the sinful nature, and not in accord with the Spirit of God. They are double-minded with divided loyalties, who give off a false image on the outside while inside they are full of wickedness. They pretend that all is well, when it is not. They often live in a make-believe world, engaging themselves in fantasy and not in reality, i.e. they live under a dark cloud of deception, and they are deceivers themselves. They perform sleight-of-hand tricks or other illusions in order to deceive others into believing their lies and their false persona. They are great actors and pretenders who will often stuff their true emotions and thoughts in order to give a false impression of what they are really thinking or doing, so no one knows.

When confronted with their sins, they may react in anger, rage, and defensiveness, or they may display an eerie calm, and act as though what is being said to them does not bother them at all, but later it comes out that it did, when their guard is down. They will minimize the serious nature of the sin, or call it something else, or isolate each sinful act so as to not face the reality of the sin pattern (addiction), and then claim that God’s grace covers it all. They may show no sorrow over their sin at all, or they may express sorrow and even have tears come down their cheeks, but inwardly refuse to repent, i.e. refuse to turn away from their sin and turn to follow Christ in obedience. They refuse to stop being enslaved to sin and to turn to become a servant of righteousness. They break off their covenant relationship (vows of fidelity; their engagement) with God/Jesus through their continuous acts of adultery and their refusal to repent, i.e. they quench and grieve the Spirit of God, so there is no true fellowship between them and God, although they like to pretend that there is. Or, they never truly knew God, but only faked their relationship with Jesus Christ.

When confronted with their sins, or when they are in danger of being caught, or when they want to set the stage for a sin they plan to commit, in order to try to make someone believe that what they are doing is something else – even faking devotion to God and to his service in order to cover up what they know is wrong – they might display these characteristic traits: rationalizing, justifying, or explaining; blaming and accusing others; debating and arguing, and/or dodging pointed questions or switching the topic in order to avoid answering. They may also joke and tease, or compare themselves to others, trying to take the focus off themselves, or they may agree or even cooperate on some level to avoid being found out. Or, they may “throw someone a bone,” i.e. admit to something lesser or make minor concessions in order to appease, while withholding something much more serious or something they want even more than what they were willing to give up or admit to. The addict may also practice the silent treatment, or threaten suicide, or make jabbing remarks intended to hurt another, or act dumb, refusing to take responsibility.

If they feel backed into a corner, they may go on the offensive and may try to discredit the person who knows them best, and who is trying to help them, and they may create a false scenario about that person for the benefit of maintaining this false impression which they want to present, which is either completely false or is somewhat true but taken out of context and twisted to their advantage in order to gain sympathy for themselves from others, and in order to make their perceived opponent out to be the “bad guy,” and them the victim.

Again, they are great actors and deceivers, and many of them will go to most any length to protect their addiction and to keep themselves from being discovered, even if it means destroying other people, their marriages, and the like. In other words, they deflect (sidetrack), redirecting attention and even accusation of wrongdoing to another in order to avoid being found out. They must protect their addiction at all cost, no matter who gets hurt in the process. This is the nature of the beast (sin addiction). Those who love them deeply, and who know them best, will see these patterns when others, who may be fooled by them, may not.

Abide in Him

We who call ourselves Christians are to walk in the fear of the Lord. We are to revere, respect, honor and obey God and his holy Word. We are to take him and his word seriously, and not throw him or his word out the window so that we can live however we want. God has set boundaries for us for a reason. They are not optional. They are also not to make us miserable and to spoil all our fun, as Satan would have you believe. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to the earth to take on human form and to die on a cross for our sins so that we could go free from bondage to sin and free from having to spend eternity in torment in the fires of hell. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live to please ourselves, but that we might live for him who gave himself up for us. He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit.

Yet, so many who say they believe in Jesus have stubborn and rebellious hearts which want to continue in their sinful ways. So many of these have been drawn to a false grace gospel which requires no death to sin and no following our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives. It gives free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, which is why, I believe, so many people today are living with sin addictions, because not many people are telling them that God requires them to turn from and to die to sin, but they, instead, try to make them feel good about themselves while they engage in such sinful behavior. They lie to them and tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he looks upon them with delight, even while they are engaged in sinful acts. May this never be! And, the people love it this way, because it gives them permission to keep on sinning, to show no reverence for God, and to live however they want, while still promising them heaven when they die.

Jesus said that if we want to come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul said that if we conduct our lives after the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). The way we come to know Christ is by putting off our old self, by being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and by putting on our new self, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). We do not have to walk in sin, because Jesus set us free! He has given us the way out from yielding to temptation, but we have to take the way out he has given us. God has delivered you from sin if you know Jesus, and he can lead you to victory over sin addiction, too.

Jesus, Lead Me / An Original Work / July 22, 2011

Jesus, lead me all the way.
Be my hope and be my stay.
Gently lead me where I should go,
So Your Spirit, I want to know.
Open up my heart to You.
Fill me with Your love and truth.
Make my heart want to obey.
Be my Lord today. Gently lead always.

Jesus, lover of my soul,
Cleanse my heart, and make me whole;
Be transformed in my heart today,
As I turn from my sin and pray.
Make Your will known to my heart.
May I not from You depart.
How I long to hear You now,
As I humbly bow. Jesus, hear me now.

We Lay Down our Lives

Friday, August 26, 2016, 3:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 3:1-18 (ESV).

To Be Like Him (vv. 1-3)

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. 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. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

God’s love for us is so amazing! I am so grateful for his grace to us. We are all so undeserving of his love and grace. Yet, the Father sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for our sins so that we could be delivered from bondage to sin, so we could be set free to walk in his righteousness and holiness, and in order that we might no longer live our lives to fulfill our own sinful desires. He didn’t do this because of our goodness, but because of his great love for us, since our righteousness is like filthy rags in his sight. Yet, in his great love and mercy he provided the way that we might be saved from our sins and have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven. Amen!

God’s will for his children is that we be holy, which means to be set apart (unlike, different) from this sinful world, because we are becoming like Jesus, i.e. because God is transforming us into his likeness. This is a process which begins the moment we accept God’s invitation to his great salvation, and it continues throughout our time we live on this earth. This holiness is not optional, though. If we live our lives according to our sinful flesh we will die without God, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and if we are walking in the Spirit, in Christ’s holiness, we will live. Then, one day, when he returns for us, and we are given glorified bodies, we will be like him fully in holiness and righteousness (Phil. 3:20-21).

Practicing Righteousness (vv. 4-10)

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 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. 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. 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.

Many people today are teaching a gospel message which says we don’t have to repent of our sins, and we don’t have to obey God, because God requires nothing of us, because he does it all. When they teach this, they give their adherents free license to continue living in sin without guilt and without remorse. They tell them that a simple prayer to receive Christ is all they need to secure heaven, and that it will not be taken away from them no matter how they live their lives from that moment forward. But, is that what God’s word teaches? No!

We learn in scripture that if we continue walking in sin, and yet we say we have fellowship with God, or that we love God, or know God, that we are liars, and the truth is not in us. God does not demand sinless perfection, but he does demand a change in lifestyle. In other words, it is not that we have to be literally perfect, for if that could be gained through trying to keep the law, Christ would not have had to die for our sins. Yet, we should never use lack of perfection as an excuse for continued and willful sin against God. When we truly put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23).

Love One Another (vv. 11-18)

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 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. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Amen! In this world we have so many misconceptions concerning what it means to love other people. So many people think that love is just a feeling or words you say to make someone feel good, whether you mean them or not. They tell people lies and call it kindness or politeness. They won’t stand up for what they say they believe in because they are worried they might offend people and make them feel uncomfortable. What they are really worried about is that others might reject them, and so this is really about loving self rather than truly loving others.

Jesus is God, and God is love, and yet Jesus did not ever back down from his beliefs, or compromise the truth, or shy away from sharing the truth of the gospel so that people would like him. He was not here to win a popularity contest but to save sinners and to free them to walk in his righteousness. He laid down his life for us so that we could go free from sin, not so we could continue in sin guilt free. It is never loving to tell people lies. It is not love to give people a false hope of salvation by telling them that they don’t have to turn from their sins and follow Christ in obedience. They may like us, but they may go straight to hell.

You have heard the saying, “Real friends do not let their friends drink and drive.” I say, “Real friends do not let their friends continue in sin and tell them that they will go to heaven no matter what they do.” If we really love people, we will tell them the truth. Yes, many will hate us and they will reject us, and they may falsely accuse us and turn others against us, too. Yet, if we are to lay down our lives for others, as Christ laid down his life for us, then we need to follow Jesus’ examples to us on how to truly love others.

Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, comforted the sorrowful, and he fed the hungry, and we should do likewise. Yet, he also told people the truth about what was in their hearts, and that if they did not repent, that they would be cast out into utter darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth. He told them that many would come to him on the day of judgment and would say, “Lord, Lord,” but he would tell them to depart from him, because he never knew them. In other words, true faith in Jesus Christ is not just words we say, but true faith is accompanied by obedience to Christ and his Word. It is the same with love. If we truly love God we will do what he says. If we love others, we will show it by our actions.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

The Last Hour

Wednesday, August 24, 2016, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Your Lord is With You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 2:18-29 (ESV).

The Antichrist (v. 18)

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

The last hour really began, either when Jesus appeared on the scene, or after his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven. These are the last days in which we now live, but they were the last days when John penned these words, too. In other words, we are living in the Messianic era. We are living in the time of God’s grace, in which he gave us his Son to die on a cross for our sins so that we could be delivered from slavery to sin, and so we could be set free to now walk in his righteousness and holiness. It is a time, too, in which we are watching and waiting for our Lord’s return, but a time, as well, in which we are being shown current signs of the coming of the rule of the antichrist (or beast) on the earth.

Although there will be a final antichrist, we learn here that many antichrists have come. The prefix “anti” means literally “against, opposing, or rival.” The antichrist is hostile toward God/Jesus. So, this antichrist is not only in opposition to Christ, but he is his competitor, i.e. he wants to take the place of Christ in the hearts of people. There are prophecies written about this final antichrist in both the Old and the New Testaments.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary said: “He probably answers to “the little horn having the eyes of a man, and speaking great things” (Da 7:8, 20); “the man of sin, son of perdition” (2Th 2:3); “the beast ascending out of the bottomless pit” (Re 11:7; 17:8), or rather, “the false prophet,” the same as “the second beast coming up out of the earth” (Re 13:11-18; 16:13)”. http://biblehub.com/commentaries/jfb/1_john/2.htm).

Subtle Persuasion (vv. 19-27)

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

As far as these antichrists having gone out from among the followers of Christ, and their going being a sign that they were not Christ’s true followers, but antichrists, we should not be too quick to judge. In today’s institutional church, which is not the body of Christ, but a business of human-making, there are people who come and go for various reasons. Many people who are true followers of Christ are deserting the institutional church on the basis of the passage in Revelation 18:4-5, where it says we are to come out of Babylon, the great prostitute. And, they are doing so on the basis of the fact that the institutional church is man-made, not God-made, and that it is in bed with the government, at least here in America.

Another thought on that subject is we read in scripture where there are wolves in sheep’s clothing among us. So, many of these antichrists haven’t left the gatherings of the church at all, but they pretend to be followers of Christ for the purpose to deceive and to win people over to them. Many of them confess outwardly that they are believers in Jesus Christ, so denying Christ is not necessarily that obvious, but is more subtle, I believe. They deny him, rather, by their lifestyles and by their dubious statements, which are intended to confuse, to deceive, to manipulate and to deter people from pure devotion to Jesus Christ. They are destroying the church from within (See: John 10). And, many naïve people are falling prey to their deception.

So, we need to know the truth so that we don’t fall prey to these liars and deceivers, who by their cunning and craftiness in deceitful scheming are able to persuade even Christians to abandon the gospel as taught by Jesus and by his NT apostles, in favor of a diluted gospel absent of the cross of Christ in people’s lives. We need to be in the Word daily, studying it, learning what it says, and obeying it. And, then we need to be sharing the truth with others so that they, too, are not deceived.

What Jesus and his NT apostles taught us with regard to our salvation (the whole counsel of God) needs to remain in us. If it does, then we will also remain in Jesus and in the Father, and we will receive what was promised – eternal life with God.

We need to not be so naïve and gullible to believe everything preachers, politicians and newscasters tell us, for there are many liars and deceivers among them who want nothing more than to convince us of a gospel other than the one taught by Jesus and his NT apostles. They will disguise it as the gospel of Jesus through manipulations and twisting of scripture, but truly the object is to bring all people of all faiths into unity with one another, so that we all are brought together under the auspices of a one-world faith.

These liars and deceivers also want us to believe their made-up stories in order to bring us under the rule of the beast, i.e. a one-world-order. But, they can’t be trusted. Left and right don’t exist in American politics. They are all one, answering to the same wealthy and powerful people who run the world. Our leaders are just puppets of the New World Order. Our constitution only exists on paper. News stories may have elements of truth in them, but many are fabricated or are twisted. Our government leaders are not the saviors of the world. First they create the chaos, and then they go in to other nations, and their own, in order to take over these nations for the One World Order. Their words cannot be trusted, I guarantee you!

Abide in Him (vv. 28-29)

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

If we are going to survive this onslaught of lies, deceptions and manipulations of truth, and the persecution which is headed our way as a direct result of these deceitful schemes, then we must remain steadfast in our faith. We can’t play games, waste time, and think life is just one big party. We are not here on this earth to entertain and to be entertained. God has us here to glorify him in all that we do and are and say. He has us here to be his witnesses to a world who needs the Savior. We need to be sober-minded about our relationships with Christ. We must take his word seriously, and walk in it, and no longer walk in the ways of this sinful world. We need to be those who practice righteousness, not of our own making, but that of Christ, living in us and living his life out through us for the glory of God. Then, we will be able to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us.

Your Lord is With You
An Original Work / August 14, 2016

Based off Various Scriptures

Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.
When you walk through valleys of life’s rough ways,
You must fear no evil, for God is near.
Be of courage, then, and be not dismayed,
For your Lord is with you throughout your days.
Fear not for your Lord is with you.
He will not leave you, nor will He abandon you.

Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.
The Lord is our helper, so we’ll not fear.
He will strengthen us. He sees all our tears.
Do not be afraid, but to God do pray,
And the peace of God will be yours today.
Trust Him with your life and witness.
He’ll go before you, and He will prepare the way.

My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.
He reached down from heaven and rescued me;
Drew me out of waters so deep I’d sink.
My God turned my darkness into His light;
Opened up my blinded eyes, gave me sight.
My God, He is my Rock and my Shield
And the Horn of my salvation, whom I praise.

The Mark of a True Believer

Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 10:41 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Near the Cross.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Jn. 1:1-2:17 (Quoting select vv. ESV).

The Gospel Message (1:5-10)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 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. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

There are many people today who are teaching a false grace gospel, or what I call a “Do Nothing” gospel. They are leading people to believe that they can simply pray a prayer to receive Christ and that they are saved, and that heaven is now guaranteed to them no matter how they live their lives from that moment forward. They say their sins are forgiven, so they are no longer under the judgment of God, so they can live how they want, and even reject Christ later on, if they choose, but that their salvation can never be taken away. On top of that they teach them that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to the cross. They tell their followers that God, in fact, is pleased with them no matter what they do.

Yet, this is NOT what God’s word teaches us with regard to our salvation. We are taught, with regard to our former way of life, to put off our old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of our minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24 NIV84). When we truly believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, we die with Christ to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin, since anyone who has died has been freed from sin (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 1 Pet. 2:24).

We can’t be in the light and still walk (conduct our lives) in the darkness (in unrighteousness). If we claim to be in Christ, and we say that we are in fellowship with him, but yet we continue to live sinful lifestyles without regard for God and his Word and his commandments, then we are liars, and the truth is not in us. In other words, a prayer prayed at an altar does not save us. A mere confession of belief in Jesus Christ also does not save us. As well, we are not saved based on past belief. Whoever is believing (present tense) in Christ has eternal life with God (See: Jn. 3:16). Whoever is walking (conducting their lifestyles) in the light (in truth, in Christ, in righteousness) has fellowship with God, and with others who also believe in him, and the blood of Christ purifies us from all sin (See also Ro. 8:1-14).

How We Know Him (2:1-6)

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. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Now, this is not saying that we will never sin, but that we should not walk in sin, i.e. it should no longer be what is in charge of our lives or the pattern by which we live our lives. This is also not teaching that if we do sin once that we have somehow lost our salvation. But, what it is saying is that if we practice living in sin, but we claim to know God, that we don’t really know him. This, as well, teaches us that if we don’t obey Christ’s commandments, but we say we know God, that we are also liars. Again, this is not speaking of sinless perfection, for if that could have been gained through the keeping of the law, Christ would not have had to die for our sins. This all has to do with whether or not Christ is truly in us, and whether or not we are walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, for if we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the flesh, we will live eternally with God (See: Ro. 8:1-14).

In The Light? (2:7-11)

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

So, we have learned so far that if we say we have fellowship with God, i.e. that we are saved from our sins via faith in Jesus Christ, but we continue living in sin, that we are liars. We have also learned that if we say we know God but that we are not in the practice of doing what his Word teaches us we must do, that we are also liars, for we don’t really know God. Again, this is not speaking of sinless perfection but rather of lifestyle, consistency and pattern or practice of daily living (walking). And, here we learn that if we say we are in the light, i.e. that we are in Christ by faith in him, and that we are living and walking in that light (in his righteousness), but we hate our fellow humans, we are once again liars, for we are still in the darkness.

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him that he must deny self and take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said that if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives for Christ (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: Lu. 9:23-25; cf. Ro. 8:1-14). Jesus did not die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. Our eternal life does not begin just when we reach heaven. It begins when we truly trust in Christ to be Lord (owner-master) of our lives. He gives us new lives in him to be lived to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). We are saved to give glory to God with our lives, not to continue living for sin and self.

Do Not Love Worldliness (2:15-17)

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. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

We know that in John 3:16 we read that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only begotten Son… In this context, it is speaking of him loving the people of the world in order that they might be set free from slavery to sin and that they might have eternal life with God. Yet, in our passage today “the world” is not a figure of the people of the world, but rather of worldly practices, philosophies, attitudes, behaviors and things.

We are not to love worldly living, thinking and stuff, i.e. we are not to adopt the ways of this sinful world or to lay up treasures here on earth, but rather in heaven. Jesus called us out of the world that we might be separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are being conformed into his image (his likeness). So, we need to come out from worldliness and we need to put on Christ and his righteousness and holiness and walk in His ways.

Near the Cross
Fanny J. Crosby / William H. Doane

Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.

Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.

Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.

In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.

Growing in Grace

Sunday, August 21, 2016, 5:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Peter 3 (ESV).

Scoffers Will Come (vv. 1-7)

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Jesus Christ came to this earth around 2,000 years ago. He lived to about the age of 33. He was crucified on a cross for our sins, then the Father resurrected him from the dead. After about 40 days, I believe it was, he ascended back to the Father, and then he sent his Holy Spirit to the earth to indwell and to empower his followers. While he walked the face of this earth he told his followers that he would come again one day to take them to be with him forever, and that he was going to prepare a place for them. Jesus, the prophets before him, and the apostles after him all prophesied concerning the events of the last days and what would take place before Jesus will return for his bride and to judge the people of this world.

Since it has been such a long time now since Jesus spoke those words concerning his return to the earth, though, there are people who are trying to put doubts in people’s minds regarding the legitimacy of Jesus’ words. Yet, just because Jesus has not yet returned, it does not mean that he is not coming or that his words, and the words of the prophets, and those of the apostles cannot be trusted. God/Jesus will do what he has promised he will do.

Yet, in our generation of instant this and quick that, and fast food restaurants, etc., so many people today have little to no patience. They want everything instantaneously or they get frustrated, and maybe even angry. And, they may even be angry with God because he is not moving fast enough for them in doing what they want him to do.

I find that, even among Christians, or among those who profess to know Christ, that there are many doubters concerning the second coming of Christ and the events surrounding his return. The biggest thing I notice, though, is not that they doubt that these events will take place, but they don’t believe any of these occurrences will happen to them, or that any of them will happen in their lifetime. They assume that everything will continue as it has for generations, and that they will live until old age, and not much differently than they are living now. They have on blinders when it comes to the signs of Jesus’ soon return and concerning prophecy of scripture being fulfilled before our eyes in real time.

They are not watching and waiting expectantly for Christ’s return, because they want to live their lives on this earth for themselves, and for self-pleasure, and so they ignore the realities around them, and they don’t want to hear messages about coming judgment, either.

He is Not Slow (vv. 8-10)

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 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. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

What we need to keep in mind here is that God is not on our timetable. He doesn’t even interpret time the same way as we do. We may pray and hope for him to act in our lives or in the lives of our loved ones, and on our timetable, but God has his own timing for everything, and we may not understand it, either. That is where we just have to rest in him and trust him that he knows best. He is not slow, as some of us may think. He chose us and called us even before he made the world. He is completely sovereign over all he has made, too. Sometimes we might wish he would move a little faster in our situations and in our relationships, but we don’t see the BIG PICTURE. HE DOES! And, his timing is always perfect. We may have to endure some trials and tribulations, and we may have to wait on the Lord to change the hearts of our loved ones who are far from God, but we have to let God be God, and believe that he has it all worked out for our good.

Holiness and Godliness (vv. 11-13)

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

The fear of the Lord seems to be all but lost these days. Many who call themselves Christians have no incentive to live holy lives pleasing to God because they believe they are saved, that nothing can take that away from them, and that it matters not how they live at all, but that one day they will go to heaven when they die. They take God and his grace for granted, and they believe God will never discipline them or correct them. And, so they call themselves Christians, but what they are following is not Christ but man-made religion. They have bought into a lie which denies the truth of the gospel message regarding death to sin and living to righteousness, and which denies that God will ever use corrective measures on those who do follow him, and so they think they have an easy ride, and that they can live however they want and that God is pleased with them.

They must be among those who pick and choose a few select verses of scripture on which to “hang their hats,” while ignoring the bulk of teaching on holiness and righteousness in the New Testament. We are taught in scripture with regard to our former way of life that we are to put it to death, and that we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for his return. If we continue to walk (conduct our lives) in sin, but we say we have fellowship with God, we are liars, and the truth is not in us (See: Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

Take Care (vv. 14-18)

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:13 says: “But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” This should excite those of us, who live on the earth where wickedness dwells, that one day we will live in a place where only righteousness dwells. We will no longer be tempted to sin, nor will we sin, nor will we be impacted by the sins of others. There will be no more pain or sorrow. Jesus will wipe the tears from our eyes. Amen! And, we will live in peace with our Lord forever and ever. Praise God!

If we truly love God, and we are called according to his purpose, and we love his Word and his people, and our desire is for our Lord to do his will, then we should be found to be diligent in the matter of walking in the Spirit, in our Lord’s holiness and righteousness. We should no longer love to wander and to go our own way, doing our own thing. We should desire to please our Lord in all that we are, and do, and say. We shouldn’t be just hearers of the Word, but we should be doers of the Word, putting its truths daily into practice in our lives, all in the power and working of God’s Spirit within us.

We must be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of deception and follow after a false gospel message which teaches a “Do Nothing” gospel. There are many who are twisting the Word of God to their own advantage, and they are gaining many followers after themselves. They tell people what their itching ears want to hear, i.e. messages that do not confront sin, but that entertain it, and that do not offend with the truth of the gospel, but that make people feel good about themselves in their sin. So, we must be students of the Word so that we know what it teaches, so that we are not led astray by these deceptions.

But, we must keep walking in the Spirit and no longer gratify the sinful cravings of our flesh. We must walk in holiness and purity and be attentive to do the will of God for our lives. And, we have to not let what other humans say or do to get us to be afraid or to doubt God and his promises. Our Lord is with us wherever we go, and he will take care of us.

His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014

Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.

Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.

Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.