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.

How Great a Love

Monday, February 27, 2017, 10:07 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gracious Father.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 3:1-10 (NASB).

Children of God (vv. 1-3)

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

God, in his infinite wisdom, before he even created the world, chose us to be holy and blameless in his sight. He predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ, according to his own purpose and grace (See: Ro. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Eph. 1:3-4). He knew when he created Lucifer (an angel) that he would rebel against him, along with a third of the angels. He knew before he created humankind that Lucifer (Satan, the devil) would tempt Adam and Eve in the garden, that they would fall into sin, and that he would then put a curse on them and on the earth from that moment on. He knew that all humankind would, thus, be born into sin, and that they would need salvation from sin. So, even before he created the world he already knew, i.e. he already had planned that God the Son would be our sacrifice to take away the sins of the world (See: Gen. 3:15; cf. Gal. 3:16-19).

So, why did God do it that way? I am not certain that I know the answer to that question. But, I believe he had it all fall into place that way because he wanted followers, not puppets. He could have made puppets if he wanted to, but what he wanted was people with hearts, souls, minds and wills who would choose to accept his plan of salvation for us via God-given faith in Jesus Christ. He allowed us to have an arch enemy, Satan, who would tempt us to sin, and who would oppose us, I believe, in order to drive us to our Father’s breast. And, he chose that his Son, God the Son, would be our perfect (sinless) sacrificial Lamb, and our sympathetic and compassionate high priest, to take away the sins of the world, and to give us new lives in Christ Jesus, free from slavery to sin. This was his plan to make us holy.

Yet, God didn’t have to do this. He could have left us wandering in our sins or he could have just wiped us all out at any time, if he wanted to. But, that was not in his divine plan and will for our lives. His will for us is to be saved from our sins, and set free from the control sin and Satan had over our lives, so that we could walk (conduct our lives) according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. He did this because he loves us, and because of his great mercy, grace and compassion towards those he created.

His plan was that the way in which we would come to receive this salvation was that he would first draw us to Christ, and then he would gift us with the faith to believe in Jesus, i.e. he would persuade us as to his will for our lives. Once persuaded, we would submit to his will and yield the control of our lives over to him. And, he would cleanse us from sin, deliver us out of slavery to sin, and give us new lives in him, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). This God-given faith would involve turning from our sins and turning to God/Jesus, to follow him in obedience. Through faith in Christ, we would be crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we would be resurrected with Christ to this new life, to be lived to his righteousness. Via this new birth, we would then become children of God.

Sin Practitioners (vv. 4-10)

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and 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 sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

God’s goal in saving us from our sins was not merely to free us from condemnation and to promise us heaven when we die. He chose us to be holy and blameless. He predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son, not to the image of man or of the world. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Paul’s commission in preaching the gospel was to open blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they could receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus didn’t die just to save us, but to transform us, i.e. to make us his new creation. As believers in Jesus Christ, we died to sin, so that sin would no longer by our master, but so we would now be bondservants of Christ’s righteousness.

Jesus said that if we hold on to our lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (die in our sins), but if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (with God) (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul reiterated this when he said that 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) (Ro. 8:1-14). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we lie, and we do not live by the truth (1 Jn. 1:6).

It isn’t as though we will never sin again (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2), but as followers of Christ we should not be people who regularly practice sin, i.e. sin should not be our custom or our habitual way of living. Once we believe in Jesus we should no longer continue living in sin. Sin should not be normal procedure for us. It should not be the manner in which we consistently live. If it is, then we are not in the light, but we are still in the darkness, and we don’t have the hope of heaven when we leave this earth. And, I didn’t say this. God said it! If we say we know God, or that we love God, but we don’t walk in his ways and in his truth, but we continue living for sin and self, then we don’t know or love God at all (See: Jn. 14:23-24; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).

Yet, if we have truly believed in Jesus with God-given faith, through which God persuaded us as to His will for our lives, so that we yielded control over our lives to God, and submitted to his purposes, then we were set free from slavery to sin. So, we should no longer walk in it and make a practice of it. Instead, we should now be those who practice righteousness, because we now have the Spirit of God living within us, and God and his Word remain and continue in us, not just in thought, but in action. When this says that no one who abides (remains, continues) in him sins, this is speaking of the continual practice of sinning, not of a singular sin. Again, although we were freed that we may not sin, we still may sin, on occasion, but that sin is still covered by the blood of Jesus (1 Jn. 2:1-2). Yet, if we continue practicing sin as the normal course for our lives, then we have no part of God or of his salvation from sin. So, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Gracious Father / An original work / April 6, 2011

How great are You Father;
how great are You, Lord.
My heart so adores You;
Your mercy outpour.
Your love and your kindness;
Your gracious reward
Are treasures from heaven
that we can’t afford.
So, freely they’re given
and humbly received
When we bow before You
on penitent knee.

O gracious Redeemer;
my Master and King,
To You I owe everything –
my offerings I bring
With whole heart devotion,
to honor and praise
My loving companion
and friend for always.
It’s You I serve only,
to walk in Your ways,
So I have your promise
for all of my days.

Defrauding the Saints

Thursday, December 29, 2016, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 6 (ESV).

Grievances Against One Another (vv. 1-8)

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

Why do so many Christians sue anyone, let alone their brothers and sisters in Christ? Lawsuits have become epidemic in our day and age, it would appear. It seems this has now become common practice, even within the church. And, not only do they sue others, but they often ask for exorbitant amounts of money in their lawsuits, which, probably, they don’t need, but is intended to make the other person(s) pay big time! In other words, in my opinion, which is based upon what I have observed, many lawsuits are more about revenge and punishment than they are about recovering actual damages, i.e. asking for recompense to pay doctor bills or to make repairs, et al. And, the many people bringing the lawsuits are often opportunists, using a tragic or a difficult situation as a get rich quick scheme, it seems.

Yet, this is not what the Bible teaches we are supposed to do. If a brother or a sister sins against us, we are to go to that person individually and confront him or her with their sin against us. Wisdom dictates, though, that if a man or a woman makes a sexual advance (or the like) against you, that you not confront this person alone, but that you have someone with you to serve as witness to the conversation for your own protection. Perhaps it is wise in all cases that women not confront men and men not confront women alone. The purpose of the confrontation, nonetheless, is to give the other person the opportunity to repent of his or her sin against you. If he or she does not, then you are to bring in others, and if there is still no repentance, then it is supposed to be taken before the church, not before public courts.

As well, the Bible teaches us that it is not our place to take revenge, but we are to leave that to God. Instead, we are to love our enemies, pray for them, desire what is best for them, and do good to them. Christians are not going to win the world to Christ if we go around suing everyone who does us harm. Instead, we are to rejoice in our sufferings, and we are to count it all joy whenever we face various trials, or we are treated unfairly (unjustly) and we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. This does not mean that we don’t ever confront sin or expose the fruitless deeds of darkness, though. We do! But, we do so out of love for our brethren and out of love for the people of this world, because we want to see all people be delivered out of darkness and brought into God’s wonderful light, so that they, too, can be saved.

The Unrighteous (vv. 9-11; cf. Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-7)

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

So, to whom are these words addressed? They are addressed to the church, but more specifically to those within the church who are defrauding their brothers and sisters in Christ, and who are doing so before a public court (before the world), rather than following the appropriate steps (biblically) for how to settle such matters. And, what Paul is telling them is that, if they continue to live like this, they will be counted among the wicked (the unrighteous), and they will not have eternal life with God in heaven.

Now, I know this goes against (contrary to) the theology of some groups of people who profess to know Jesus as Savior, but this is what the Bible teaches consistently. We read in 1 Jn. 1:6 that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars, and we do not live by the truth. Paul said that if we walk (conduct our lives) according to our sinful nature, we will die (in our sins without God), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). Jesus said the same thing. He said that 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 with Christ to sin), we will gain eternal life (See: Ro. 8:1-14; Lu. 9:23-25).

It all comes down to lifestyle. We are not condemned every time we commit a sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1), but we are condemned for living sinful lifestyles (in unrepentant sin). In other words, being saved is not just a prayer we pray to receive Christ, nor is it merely an acknowledgment of who Jesus is and of what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins, nor is it a mere recognition even of the fact that we are sinners in need of a Savior. When God saves us from our sins, by his grace, 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.” We now walk (in lifestyle) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God, and no longer according to our sinful flesh, to satisfy its lustful cravings and desires (See: Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-14; Gal. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Sexual Immorality (vv. 13b-20)

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Sexual immorality is so prevalent in today’s church, perhaps more specifically within the institutional church, of which some (or most) of the body of Christ are still members. Pornography addiction is sky high among the saints, including among many pastors, deacons and elders (church leadership), so much so that it has emasculated (weakened, made spiritually impotent and ineffectual) the vast majority of the church today.

The saints of God are supposed to be gathering together to help strengthen and encourage one another in the faith, which includes speaking the truth in love, so that they can go out into the world and be lights to the world in sharing the gospel. Instead, the vast majority of congregations here in America appear to be marketing the church to the world, and planning their meetings around attracting the world to the “church,” using worldly means and methods. This should not be! It is barely distinguishable between the church and the world anymore. So, in order to attract the world, the church has diluted the gospel message, which has given free license for Christians to continue in unrepentant sin, and this is a matter of great concern.

But, God’s grace is not a free license to continue in unrepentant sin while claiming heaven as our eternal dwelling place. 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). Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn. 8:31-32). “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:35). And, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (Jn. 10:27-28).

You see, it is not enough to just profess that you know Jesus as your Savior. You have to live as though he truly is your Savior and your Lord (owner-master). Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Paul’s commission was “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:16-18). So, if you are still living for sin and self, expect to be counted among the unrighteous and that you will not inherit God’s eternal kingdom. These are not my words. They are God’s words!

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me” (John 14:23-24).

My Jesus, I Love Thee
William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon

My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine;
For thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love thee because thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight;
I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.