Take No Part

Friday, June 23, 2017, 3:16 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “More About Jesus.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 5:1-21 (ESV).

Be Imitators (vv. 1-2)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as God’s children, are to imitate (emulate) God. In other words, we are to pattern our lives after Him, become like Him in all that we do, say and are, and we are to follow (obey) Him in doing what he says, and in being who he has called us to be and to do. So, first of all we need to get to know our Lord, first by his saving grace to us, through faith in him, and then in growing (maturing) in him and in our faith. We do this through time spent daily with him in his Word, listening to our Lord speak his words to our hearts, and then by obeying what he teaches us. We also do this through times spent with him in prayer, talking with him, listening to him, and resting (trusting) in him for all things.

As we better get to know Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, and we learn more about him and his will and plan for our lives, and we follow him in obedience, and in surrender to his will, we begin to walk in (live in) love. This love, though, is not human love, but it is God-like love, in which we are to live and to conduct our lives. Therefore, it focuses in what God approves. It prefers what God prefers. It centers in moral preference (1). It is self-sacrificial and considers others’ needs above our own. And, it looks out for what is in the best interest of others, rather than for what their flesh may desire. So, it is not going to lie to people to make them feel better about themselves, especially about their sinful behaviors. But, it will speak the truth in love, because that is loving and kind. Lies are never loving or kind.

Not Named (vv. 3-6)

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 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. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

It should not be heard of that there is sexual immorality, all impurity (corruption, adulteration), and covetousness (greed, jealousy, envy) among the saints of God. We, too, should also not be involved with others in conversations which are sexual, immoral or corrupt (dishonest, crooked, perverted or harmful) in nature. Wow! So, how is it that so many Christians today, including pastors, do not follow this, and, in fact, many are struggling with sin addiction? These things should not be! They should not be common place. Christians should also not be viewing movies or TV shows or internet sites which glorify sin, or which entertain with sinful attitudes and behaviors. We should not be taking these things into our minds at all! How can we be pure in heart if we regularly consume what is impure? And, then call it entertainment? Too many Christians today are obsessed with having to be entertained incessantly. This is not why Jesus saved us from our sins!

I believe one of the reasons why sexual immorality is rampant among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ is because of private internet access via smart phones, tablets, and laptop (portable) computers, the influence of TV, lack of accountability, and the notion that we are here to be entertained and to gratify our own fleshly desires, which is what the world promotes.

Another big reason for the vastness of sexual immorality within the church is due to the teaching of a false grace gospel which teaches its adherents that they can just acknowledge who Jesus is, accept his sacrifice for their sins, and that God requires nothing of them – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross. And, then they tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he smiles on them even when they are willfully engaged in immoral acts, including viewing pornography or watching sexually charged TV shows or movies. And, to top it off, they tell them that they now have heaven guaranteed them when they die, no matter what they do from this point forward, thus giving them free license (carte blanche) to continue in willful sin against God.

Yet, the Bible does not teach this false grace gospel. It says plainly that if we continue in sin, if we practice sinning, and if we walk (in lifestyle and conduct) in darkness (sin) or according to our sin nature (flesh), we will die in our sins, and we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (See: Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9). If we regularly, consistently, and habitually are involved in immorality, impurity and in idolatry, and this is the practice of our lives, over the course of our lives, and it is always what we fall back on, and there are no obvious signs that we are actually moving away from these sins, then we have no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Don’t let anyone deceive you by telling you that you have eternal life guaranteed, and that you don’t have to repent.

Not Partake with Them (vv. 7-14)

Therefore, do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

We are not to partner with or partake with those who are sexually immoral, impure, corrupt, or who are idolaters. And, this includes not allowing ourselves to be entertained by those who do these things, or who act (as in a play) as though they do, or who promote sinful acts. Those who practice such things must not be our close friends, and if they profess to be Christians, we are not to hang out with them at all. Bad company corrupts good character. If we take garbage in, garbage is what will come out. If we want to be pure in heart and mind, we need to take into our minds what is wholesome, pure, true, right, honorable, holy, and godly, etc. And, we need to choose our friends and companions wisely and prayerfully. Instead of pacifying or participating in what is unholy, unrighteous and ungodly, we should be those who expose the fruitless deeds of darkness. And, we should find out what pleases our Lord, and do that, instead.

How You Walk (vv. 15-21)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

As saints and as children of God, followers of Jesus Christ, and as those being led by the Spirit of God, we need to be careful about how we live our lives, examining our conduct before God in prayer, rejecting the impure and immoral, and clinging to what is good, wholesome, pure and righteous. We need to read our Bible, see what it says about how we are to live, and then walk in that truth, instead of following after the pattern of the world. We also need to examine before God in prayer, and in the reading of his Word, as to what purpose we were placed on this earth. Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing? Are we here for our own pleasure, or to please God?

Instead of just existing, putting in time, entertaining ourselves, and gratifying our fleshly desires, we need to find out what the will of God is for our lives, and then do it! We don’t have tomorrow guaranteed. We need to live for God today while we still have today, and we need to not forget what the Bible teaches with regard to who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Instead of living our lives outside of the Spirit’s control, we need to be living and walking in the power of the Spirit of God, filled to overflowing, giving thanks to God, submitting to one another, and sharing with God’s people all the riches of God’s grace which he has bestowed upon us. And, we must be encouraging one another away from sinful practices, and toward godliness and holiness, so that none of us will be led astray by sin’s deceitfulness.

More About Jesus / Hewitt / Sweney

More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

More about Jesus let me learn,
More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be,
Showing the things of Christ to me.

More about Jesus; in His Word,
Holding communion with my Lord;
Hearing His voice in every line,
Making each faithful saying mine.

More about Jesus; on His throne,
Riches in glory all His own;
More of His kingdom’s sure increase;
More of His coming, Prince of Peace.

More, more about Jesus,
More, more about Jesus;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.

(1) http://biblehub.com/greek/26.htm

Distortions of Truth

Monday, June 19, 2017, 3:38 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “A Believer’s Prayer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Galatians 1 (NASB).

To Rescue Us (vv. 1-5)

Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me,

To the churches of Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen.

What is the gospel of our salvation? It is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (and God), came to earth, took on human flesh, suffered as we suffer, and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin. Then, he was crucified on a cross, although he had done no wrong, merely because people hated him, were jealous of him, were threatened by him, didn’t like what he taught, didn’t like some of the things he did, didn’t agree with what he stood for, and didn’t believe him for who he was (and is). Yet, this was all in God’s plans and purposes from the beginning of time, that he should be our sacrificial Lamb to take away the sins of the world.

For, you see, when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, separate from God, without hope of salvation, and without the promise of eternity with God. We have all sinned, and we have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval in our own merit (Ro. 3:23). So, Jesus, although he knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Co. 5:21). When he died, our sins died with him, and were buried with him. But, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. He did all this for us that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, and that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord 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. The old has gone. The new has come. For, you see, Jesus didn’t die that horrible death merely to free us from hell and to promise us heaven when we die. He died to radically transform our lives, to deliver us out of bondage to sin, and to free us to now become bond-slaves of his righteousness. He died that we might be rescued from the kingdom of darkness, and that we might be brought into God’s wonderful light (Jesus Christ, righteousness, and truth). Our salvation does not mean we are merely forgiven our sins so we can continue in sin without guilt. Jesus died to rescue us from this present evil age, that we might walk in his holiness and righteousness.

A Different Gospel (vv. 6-9)

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!

There are many people who are distorting the gospel of Jesus Christ, who are twisting God’s Word to make it say what their itching ears want to hear. These distortions of truth come in many different forms, all of which I cannot cover in such a short period of time. One of the most grievous ones, though, is what I term a “false grace gospel.” These people distort God’s grace to make it a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, thus they dilute the true gospel, as Jesus and his NT apostles taught it, to make it more acceptable to the world and more agreeable to the adulterous and idolatrous church. Thus, they teach that God requires nothing of us – no repentance, no obedience and no submission to Christ and to his cross.

The gospel message they end up with is no gospel at all, because it leaves its adherents still in slavery (addiction) to sin. Now, this is not to say that we will never sin, but that, as followers of Christ, sin should no longer be our master or us its slaves, for Jesus freed us from slavery to sin, if truly we have trusted in him to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives. We should no longer walk (in lifestyle; habitually) according to our flesh, but now according to the Spirit of God. For, if we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, WE WILL DIE IN OUR SINS. But, if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live with Christ for eternity (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 2:1-2).

What many of these false teachers are telling people is that all they have to do is believe in the existence of Jesus Christ, and accept his forgiveness of their sins, and that now they have heaven guaranteed them, and it cannot be taken away from them, no matter how they live from this point forward. But, that is not salvation! That is just carte blanche to continue living in sin while believing that you will still go to heaven when you die. But, where is the freedom from slavery to sin in that? There isn’t any, because there is no death to sin, and no resurrection to new lives in Christ Jesus. There is no new birth (being born again) of the Spirit of God, because there has been no death to the old life of living in sin and for self (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14).

Pleasing God, Not Man (vv. 10-12)

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

I hear many of these false teachers also tell their listeners that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, and that he smiles on us and that he delights in us even when we are engrossed in sin and willful rebellion against him. This is not freedom from sin! This is giving excuses for continued sin against God, and giving God’s blessings upon it, too. Oh, how wrong!

If God is pleased with us with everything we do, even when we are ignoring his Word, and going our own stubborn way, then why does scripture teach us that we need to find out what pleases him and to do it? Why does scripture teach us what does please God? Why does it say that “those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God”? And, why does it say that “whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”? (See: Ro. 8:8; 2 Co. 5:9; Gal. 6:8; Eph. 5:10; Col. 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 2:4; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:4; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 13:6; & 1 Jn. 3:22.)

Jesus died on that cross for our sins that we might die to sin and live to please him, and that we might become followers of God, and not of man (humans). What is the point of our salvation if all we do is try to look for loopholes in God’s Word to excuse away our sin, and to try to avoid obeying it? Isn’t that counterproductive? We can’t be servants of the Lord and slaves to sin and the flesh, too. 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) for the sake of Jesus Christ, we will have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25).

A Believer’s Prayer
An Original Work / July 31, 2012

With my whole heart, Lord, I pray
To be Yours, and Yours always.
Lead me in Your truth today.
May I love You, and obey.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
When I sin, may I confess;
Bow before You when I pray;
Live for You and You always.

Love You, Jesus, You’re my friend.
Life with You will never end.
You are with me through each day,
Giving love and peace always.
You will ne’er abandon me.
From my sin You set me free.
You died on that cruel tree,
So I’d live eternally.

Soon You’re coming back for me;
From this world to set me free;
Live with You eternally.
Oh, what joy that brings to me.
I will walk with You in white;
A pure bride, I’ve been made right
By the blood of Jesus Christ;
Pardoned by His sacrifice.

Examples for Us

Friday, December 30, 2016, 6:19 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Draw Me Close to You.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:13 (ESV).

Running the Race (9:24-27)

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

Evidently the race Paul had in mind here was an athletic contest similar to the Olympics. The athletes went into the strictest of training for these games. The athletes had to be fully dedicated to the contest, doing what it took to win, for them even to be considered as contestants (or participants), I believe. And, they had to be very self-disciplined, exercising self-control in all things, always keeping before them the goal of winning the prize.

And, so we should be, not in our own strength and power, but in the strength and power of the Spirit of God living within us. We should have the same type of commitment to our Lord and to the race he has set before us, which is our walk of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We should not be meandering around aimlessly, with no real direction, doing what pleases ourselves, with little thought to what we were saved from, and to what we were saved for (or to). For Jesus died, not just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).

“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5).

We can’t serve God and our flesh, too. We can’t walk in the Spirit and walk according to our sinful flesh, to fulfill our fleshly desires. This does not mean we will be perfect, or that we will never sin, but it means that when we believe in Jesus we die to sin so that we might live to righteousness. The Holy Spirit of God transforms our hearts and minds away from living in sin to living in victory over sin because of what Jesus did in dying for our sin. We now have the Holy Spirit living within us teaching, guiding, empowering, strengthening, encouraging, counseling, correcting and convicting us so that we know the direction not to go, and so we know the way we ought to go.

The Christian life is not free from rules. The New Testament is our rule book for Christian living, and it contains many, many rules by which we are supposed to live as followers of Christ. There are all kinds of dos and don’ts, and put ons and put offs, and warnings of the consequences should we decide to ignore the rules and to go our own way instead. Those who would tell you that God requires nothing of us at all are telling you lies. Jesus and his NT apostles taught repentance and obedience as required for salvation and for forgiveness of sins. So, we need to put off sin, and put on Christ and his righteousness, getting rid of even the things which might lead us into sin, so that we can run the race God has marked out for us to run.

God was Not Pleased (10:1-5)

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

There is a popular teaching today, even in evangelical churches, that says that once you believe in Jesus that God is pleased with you no matter what you do. That is blatantly false. It is not what the Bible teaches at all. And, some take it a step further by saying that God delights in us even when we are steeped in sin and rebellion against him, and we are ignoring his commands, and we are boldly and willfully choosing to sin against him, and right in his face, too. At least, that is what is implied.

Yet, consider these verses: “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Ro. 8:8). “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it” (2 Co. 5:9). “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8). “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Tim. 2:4). “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:6). “…and find out what pleases The Lord” (Eph. 5:10).

Don’t Put Christ to Test (10:6-13)

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

So, because God was not pleased with the Israelites, whom he had delivered out of slavery in Egypt, but who continually rebelled against him in the desert, even turning to false gods in rejection of the One True God, he killed them all off so that they were not able to enter the Promised Land. Only those who remained faithful to God and believed him and did what he said were able to enter. And, this was written down for us (Christians) as an example to us so that we don’t do like they did, and end up not being able to enter our “promised land,” i.e. eternal life with God in glory.

For you see, Jesus said that if we would come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily and follow 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 (are crucified with Christ in death to sin), we will gain eternal life. Paul reiterated this when he said that if we walk according to our sinful flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in the darkness, we are liars, and we don’t live by the truth (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).

So, don’t put Christ to the test, i.e. don’t test the limits of his grace. You know the rules. Live by them, and do not do what you know is contrary to his commands (his teachings/instructions to us). If you do, you are playing with fire, and the end result may not be what you are expecting at all. He died that you might no longer live for yourself, but for him who gave his life up for you, so choose to live to please him in all things from now on.

Draw Me Close to You / Donnie McClurkin

Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend

You are my desire
And no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else can take Your place
To feel the warmth of Your embrace

Help me find a way
Bring me back to You
You’re all I want…