Do You Not Know?

Saturday, August 12, 2017, 7:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Full Release.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (Select vv. NASB).

Lawsuits Among Believers (vv. 1-8)

Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?

Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.

In the USA, lawsuits are big business. It seems, at times, that when anyone even feels that he or she has been injured by another that they are far too ready to sue the ones they believe are the offending party. I have even found this to be a common practice among those who call themselves Christians. And, so much of this appears to have more to do with seeking revenge than in seeking reasonable damages (an award) for serious loss or injuries. At least, this has been my observation. Yet, some statistics seem to support the idea that lawsuits in the USA are outrageous in the numbers of them, in the context of them, or in the ease with which they are obtained.

It is bad enough when a Christian goes to court against a non-Christian and seeks unreasonable damages, just out of revenge or greed, and thus destroys any testimony for Jesus he or she might have otherwise had. But, when a Christian takes another believer to court, instead of taking the matter before the church, then that is even a more grievous matter. Where is the justice in all of this? Where is love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness? Where is the thought or belief that God is absolutely sovereign over our lives? What happens to our Christian witness and testimony? And, what about loving our enemies (or those we feel are our enemies), praying for them, doing good to them, and blessing them? Have we forgotten?

When we go to court against other people, especially against other believers, in order to sue them, and we ask for more than we need in damages, especially out of revenge (to get payback), or out of greed, to spend the reward on our own pleasures, we wrong and defraud (swindle, cheat, and take advantage of) others. And, it destroys the work of God in our lives and through our lives in showing his love, grace and mercy to others. Do we truly believe we must do this, and that God was absent during our injury, or that he can’t provide for all that we need? It is far better that we suffer this wrong than for us to seek revenge, for it is God’s job to take revenge, not ours! We are to show love, kindness and forgiveness, instead.

The Kingdom of God (vv. 9-11)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

This is a warning, not to the unsaved, though it certainly applies to them, too, but to Christians or to professing Christians who are practicing sinning against God. If we wrong (ill-treat, abuse) and defraud (swindle, cheat or take advantage of) others, as our practice, we should not think we have any inheritance coming to us from God. We should not bank on having eternal rewards, but we should consider what scriptures teach on this subject, and know that those who practice sinning, who continue in sin, and who walk (in lifestyle; who conduct their lives) according to the flesh, will die in their sins (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-25; & Eph. 5:3-6).

Flee Immorality (vv. 15-20)

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

As you can tell from the long lists of sinful practices in 1 Co. 6:9-11, Gal. 5:19-25, & Eph. 5:3-6, they cover a wide span of sinful practices. One of the ones which is predominant, though, and is repeated over and over again in scripture is immorality, or most especially sexual immorality. Immorality can be anything which is wicked, depraved, corrupt, dishonest or adulterated, including idolatry. Sexual immorality is confined to such areas as adultery, lust, fornication (sex outside of marriage), homosexuality, same-sex marriage, oral sex, incest, and viewing of pornography or sexually charged (or insinuated) movies or videos, or sexting, or having sexual conversations with someone with whom you are not married, et al.

When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives we are united with him in spirit, and we become members of his body, the church (not the institutional church). We become the bride of Christ, and he is our husband, and in faith we vow faithfulness, love, and commitment to our Lord and master, Jesus Christ. Our desire is to please him in all that we do, say, think and are. When we are married to our spouse, we also vow love, faithfulness, commitment and fidelity. And, our desire should be for our spouse, to please him or her, and to do to or for the other according to love and faithfulness, and according to the teachings of Christ and his Word. So, it is absolutely sinful and wrong (harmful, injurious) to do what is contrary to these vows of fidelity and love, either to God or to our spouses.

So, we are to flee all immorality, idolatry, wickedness, lies, deceit and sexual immorality, and we are to commit ourselves to faithfulness and love toward both our Lord and toward our spouses. When we marry, we become one flesh with our spouse through sexual union, so we are to regard our spouses as though they are one with us, and to treat them accordingly, in love, purity, and in all kindness, respect and honor. As well, when we believe in Jesus, and his Spirit comes to dwell within us, our bodies become his temple, and we are no longer our own, to live however we want, for Jesus bought us back for God with his blood shed on a cross for our sins. So, we are to honor and glorify God in our bodies, and in our minds, hearts, attitudes, words and actions, too. For, Jesus set us free from slavery to sin in order that we might become bondservants (slaves) of his righteousness.

Full Release / An Original Work / April 15, 2012

Walking daily with my Savior
brings me joy.
Loving Father; precious Jesus;
He’s my Savior and my Lord.
Gently leads me; follow Him.
I’ve invited Him within.
Now abiding in His presence,
oh, what peace.
From my self-life
He has brought me,
By His mercy, full release.

Hope and comfort,
peace and safety Jesus brings
When I daily bow before Him;
Obey freely; do His will.
Follow Him where’er He leads.
Listen to Him; His words heed.
Now obeying his words fully,
oh, what love
That He gives me
through salvation,
By His Spirit, from above.

Loving Father; precious Jesus,
He’s my friend.
With my Savior, by His Spirit,
I will endure to the end.
Share the gospel, tell what’s true.
Witness daily; His will do.
Tell the world of how their Savior
bled and died.
On a cruel cross He suffered
So that we might be alive.

Selfless

Saturday, May 13, 2017, 8:08 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Oh, To Be Like Thee.” I read Hebrews 13:1-6 (ESV).

Think of Others (vv. 1-3)

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

What are some ways in which we can show brotherly love to others? If we see someone in need, we can reach out to help him or her with the needs. Part of this may involve ascertaining what the real needs are first, so we know how best to meet the needs. We can pay attention when people talk with us, remembering their names, and remembering specific things about them, to show that we care about them. We can do special things for people to let them know we appreciate them, especially during times when it is not expected (no special occasion). And, we can have neighbors over for a meal, or lend a helping hand, or take someone to the store, etc.

We should not be ingrown to where we only show hospitality to friends, co-workers, other Christians, neighbors and family members. But, we should open our hearts and homes to those we don’t know, too. We should show the love of Jesus to whomever he places in our lives or across our paths, and in whatever manner in which he chooses for us to show them his love and his grace. We should always exercise godly wisdom in whatever we do, but we should not be afraid to minister to strangers. And, included in this may be visiting inmates in prisons and sharing with them the love and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In addition, we should be concerned for all people who are being mistreated, abused, and taken advantage of. If there is any way we can minister to them, we should, as the Lord leads, and we should pray for the downtrodden, too. As well, we should remember the saints of God (believers in Jesus) throughout the world who are suffering persecution, hardship, and abuse in various forms because of their stand on the Word of Truth, because of their love and service to Jesus Christ, and because they share the gospel so that others might be saved. Many are being hunted down like they are animals, and bombs are being dropped on them, or they are being forced out of their homes into camps where they are ill-treated, so we should pray for their strengthening and courage.

Love Does No Harm (v. 4)

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

What does it look like to hold marriage in honor? It means to show your marriage and your spouse absolute respect, value, and high regard, especially in public, or in front of others, as well as privately, and to treat the marriage relationship with decency, morality, uprightness, and dignity. As well, it entails keeping (holding to) the marriage vows with all integrity, truthfulness and faithfulness. Nothing destroys a marriage more than unfaithfulness and lies (deception, cover-ups, or justifications).

And, this is not just about not having sexual relations with another individual, but it also includes not looking at another lustfully, especially in front of your spouse, not thinking lustful thoughts about others, not flirting with another, and not viewing pornography, or magazines, movies, or TV shows with partially clad people of interest, or with sexual situations or sexual humor. It also involves no sexting, and no intimate conversations with another to whom you are not married, i.e. no private texting or chatting without your spouse’s knowledge, and with someone of the opposite sex or same sex attraction. I would include in this also not watching romantic movies or reading romantic novels where you find yourself longing for such a relationship with someone other than your spouse, and which makes you dissatisfied with your own marriage.

You don’t have to have physical sexual relations with another in order for your marriage bed to be defiled. It is defiled whenever you dishonor your marriage and your spouse by all or by most all of what I just mentioned. And, it continues to be defiled as long as you lie to your spouse and/or withhold from your spouse what is his or her right to know, i.e. if you are cheating on him or her either physically, emotionally or mentally. And, I have to include masturbation in this list, too, because that is a selfish act which involves choosing self-gratification over the marriage bed.

Yet, if our spouse does commit adultery against us in any one of these ways, we need to be willing to forgive, and to lovingly encourage faithfulness, and to work toward the healing of the relationship, as much as it is within our power to do so. We need to pray for our spouse and always hold out hope for better days to come.

Be Contented (vv. 5-6)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say,

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

You know, this fits with adultery, too, because when someone turns to lust, pornography, masturbation, sexting or romantic or sexual affairs, etc., in place of faithfulness to marriage and spouse, it is because the person is not content with his or her spouse, and so is looking to have their needs met outside the marriage, and outside the marriage bed. So, similar counsel needs to be given here, too, in that we should learn to be content with the one to whom we are married, and we should pursue that relationship rather than looking elsewhere for satisfaction and pleasure.

Yet, with regard to the love of money, this actually entails much more than just money, but it has to do with extreme greed for money or for material things, never satisfied with what we have, but always wanting more and more. In America I know this is a huge problem because we are an affluent nation with so much stuff, food, entertainment, possessions, hobbies, etc., but the more people buy the more they think they need until we have houses and closets full of stuff no one really needs, i.e. we have houses, garages, attics and closets full of excess.

So, the counsel here is to be content with what we have, and to not seek after or worship, idolize, lust for, prefer, or long for what we don’t have, or what is not ours to have, or what we can’t really afford, or what would just be filling our barns with excess while others go without the basic necessities of life.

We should trust the Lord to meet all our needs, and we need to be generous in giving to others as they have need, too. Instead of being selfish, we need to be those who make a practice of being selfless. And, we need to not fear that our needs will not be met if we don’t take matters into our own hands. God knows what we need, and he will supply, not what we want, necessarily, or what we might decide that we need, but he will take care of us, so we should never be afraid. He will work all things out for good for those who love him, so we rest in him.

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.

Making Idols of Humans

Sunday, November 20, 2016, 6:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Only Want to Be with You.” This is a secular song, so I inquired of the Lord as to its purpose. The Bible lesson here will bear that out, I believe. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Acts 8:9-24 (ESV).

I Only Want to Be with You / Dusty Springfield
Written by Ivor Raymonde, Mike Hawker

I don’t know what it is that makes me love you so
I only know I never want to let you go
‘Cause you started something, can’t you see
That ever since we met you’ve had a hold on me
It happens to be true, I only want to be with you
It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do
I want to spend each moment of the day with you…

Practitioners of Magic (vv. 9-13)

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.

What is a practitioner of magic? Well, magic is a fairy-tale, sorcery, witchcraft, and trickery. And, one who practices magic (sorcery) is an entertainer, performer, enchanter, and/or one who uses the power or control of evil spirits to do his (or her) work (magic). A magician is also a con artist, a fake, and a deceiver; one who cheats people, and who gives false impressions of what is real. He (or she) is usually charming, smooth-talking, funny, and likeable, and many people are captivated by people just like this, and will follow them anywhere. Those who worship such people, and who make them their idols, are often blinded to their faults, and will overlook their sins, and may even enable them to keep on charming, deceiving, manipulating, tricking, conning, and cheating, etc., because the “magician” has an emotional hold on their lives, and they don’t want to let go.

These “magicians” may even claim to believe in Jesus Christ, and may even call themselves ministers of the gospel. Although it says here that Simon believed and was baptized, it later says he tried to buy the ability to lay hands on people and to have them receive the Holy Spirit. So Peter said, “May your money perish with you.” He told him that he had no part in this ministry, because his heart was not right with God, and that he was full of bitterness and was captive to sin. Peter, thus, told him he needed to repent of his sin, and pray to the Lord, and perhaps the Lord would forgive him. So, it would appear that Simon’s faith in Jesus Christ was surface only, and that his desire to buy the gift of God revealed what was truly in his heart. So, although he claimed to believe, and was baptized, he was going to perish in his sins if he did not genuinely repent of his sin and turn to God in faith.

Yet, this idea of this magician being captivated by sin has me thinking here that the idol doesn’t have to be human, but it could be a pet sin that has a hold on someone, and that has captivated them like magic, and they don’t want to let go of it. In a sense, they are in love with that sin, and it has become their god, instead of God being their only Lord. The sin has charmed their socks off, and it makes them feel good inside, and no matter how bad things get, or how deep they get into the sin, and no matter the consequences of the sin, they want to spend as much time with this sin idol as possible, because it gives them a euphoric feeling inside, much like what is described in the lyrics to this (opening) song. Sexual sin is especially captivating in this way, especially pornography. And, nothing else matters to the sinner but being able to indulge in this sin, even if it means losing everything else in life that matters, even his or her own soul.

One other thought comes to mind here, as well, and that is of government worship. What I mean by that is that, here in America, we were taught from elementary school on up, and within the institutional church, and from our government leaders and parents, too, to pledge allegiance to the American flag and to its republic (our form of government).

A pledge is a vow, and allegiance is loyalty, faithfulness and fidelity. So, this is a vow of fidelity to the US government. It is worship. And, this pledge is performed with hand over heart. Our hearts are the center of our being (mind, soul, spirit), the seat of our emotions. So, we are being asked to give our hearts and devotion and fidelity in pledge (vow) to the god of government. And, we sing patriotic songs (of devotion to our government), in adoration, love, reverence, loyalty and commitment, too. And, thus, as Americans, we become blinded to the sins of our government leaders, and we pay no attention to what they are doing in our nation or overseas, and we believe all the lies they tell us, and so we end up being deceived and captivated by the government, and we make it our idol, too.

Receive the Holy Spirit (vv. 14-17)

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

So, instead of making idols of humans, preachers, politicians, sin or government (nations), we need to make God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – our ONLY Lord (master-owner). He is the only one who should have such a hold on our lives, and for whom we should feel such strong affection, loyalty and devotion. He will never lie to us, deceive, manipulate or cheat on us. With him there is freedom from sin. Instead of allowing ourselves to be strongly influenced by evil spirits, or by those who are being led by evil spirits, i.e. by magicians, we need to have the Holy Spirit living within us. And, he (God) is the only one who should have such control over our lives.

So, how do we receive the Holy Spirit? In the beginning, when the Spirit was first given, they received the Spirit through the laying on of hands, because their faith in Jesus was separate from the receiving of the Spirit, because the Spirit had not previously been given, because Jesus had not yet returned to heaven. And, so they were just learning about the Spirit. Since that time, though, people have received the Holy Spirit when they are born of the Spirit in new birth, i.e. in salvation. Paul said, “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Ro. 8:9). So, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, and we are indwelt and empowered with the Spirit of God, who is God in us.

Jealousy and Greed (vv. 18-24)

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

Simon was jealous of the gift of God given to the apostles, and he wanted the same power, for he was still a magician at heart, wanting to mesmerize and impress people, so he thought he could purchase such a power. But, he was dead wrong! God can’t be bought with money. We can’t fake Christianity, though many do try, and seem to be successful, at least in this world, and for a time. So, this calls for discernment on our part. There are many liars, deceivers and manipulators (magicians) passing themselves off as followers of Christ and even as ministers of the gospel, so we need to not be charmed by them, but it is necessary that we test everything we hear them say, and pay attention to the hidden (subtle) messages, too. Just because someone says he is a Christian doesn’t make it true.

This same thought goes, as well, for government worship. Before you pledge allegiance to the flag and republic of the USA again, with hand over heart, think about what you are actually doing, and pray, and ask God if he is pleased with such a display of worship of government, for that is what it is. And, before you sing the next patriotic song, pay attention to the words, and look up the lyrics, and see what the songs are saying, and ask God if this is what he wants you to be singing – praises to a human government, as though singing praises to God. And, before you blindly follow your government (and media), and believe everything they tell you, ask God if what they are telling you is true. Do the homework on the US government and its founders and our presidents and their secretive organizations, and idolatry in Washington, D.C., too. Don’t let magicians mesmerize you.

And, before you make that next decision to follow your flesh, and to indulge in your pet sin (the love of your life), without regard for anyone else, or for the consequences, because of how that sin makes you “feel,” ask God to show you the way out from under the temptation to that sin, and be willing to let go of it, and of anything that leads you down that path of sin. Repent of (turn from) your sin, and turn to follow Jesus Christ with your life, in obedience to his commands, and don’t look back. And, trust your Lord Jesus and his Spirit within you to give you all you need to resist Satan and to flee temptation, and to draw near to God. Daily put on your spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-20) with which to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against you, and set your face like a flint (with full determination) in ridding your life of all that hinders your walk with the Lord. Don’t be charmed into sinning again.