Flimsy Excuses

Thursday, October 12, 2017, 12:00 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Living Sacrifices.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Proverbs 1 (Select vv. NASB).

Beginning of Knowledge

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

If we want to have a relationship with Jesus Christ to where we hear him speaking his words to our hearts, and to where we understand what he is saying to us, so that we can apply what he is teaching us to our daily lives, and so we can walk daily in intimate fellowship with him, then we need to begin with the fear of the Lord. So, we must understand what this means.

The fear of the Lord is us giving respect, honor, value, esteem, reverence, obedience, submission, worship, devotion, faithfulness and love to God the Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives, our thoughts should not be solely focused on what he is going to do FOR us, but they should also be on what he will do THROUGH us as we submit our lives to him to follow him in obedience and in surrender to his will. For, belief in Jesus is not just about him saving us from our sins so we can go to heaven one day. It is about him saving us so that we can honor and glorify HIM with our lives day by day.

If Sinners Entice

10 My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.
11 If they say, “Come with us,
Let us lie in wait for blood,
Let us ambush the innocent without cause;
12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol,
Even whole, as those who go down to the pit;
13 We will find all kinds of precious wealth,
We will fill our houses with spoil;
14 Throw in your lot with us,
We shall all have one purse,”
15 My son, do not walk in the way with them.
Keep your feet from their path,
16 For their feet run to evil
And they hasten to shed blood.

Believing in Jesus Christ means we are delivered out of slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, but it does not mean that we cannot or that we will never sin again, or that we won’t be tempted to sin. We most likely will be tempted, because Satan wants nothing more than to captivate us once again, and because we still live in flesh bodies, which still have the propensity to sin. So, it is likely that, at some point, we may sin (See: 1 Jn. 2:1-2). But, sin should no longer be our practice. It should not be the normal course of our daily lives, for we died with Christ to sin, so how can we live in it any longer? (See: Ro. 6:1-23; Ro. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24).

So, what do we do when we are tempted to sin? The Bible says that no temptation has overtaken us but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, and he will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, so that we will be able to endure it (or to bear up under it) (1 Co. 10:13). So, what escape has he provided? For one, he put sin to death on the cross and he rose victorious over sin from the grave, so that we can also die to sin and live to righteousness. He, too, has given us the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20) to put on daily, so that we might fight off Satan’s evil schemes against us. And, he has given us much instruction in the NT on how to overcome sin. He also gives us much wisdom, if we will heed the wisdom and counsel he provides.

So, what are some of those instructions and wisdom’s gems? For one, the scriptures tell us we must resist Satan and flee temptation and sin, and draw near to God. And, it teaches us that we are to throw off the sin that so easily entangles and the weight that hinders so we can run the race God has set for us to run (our spiritual journey). And, it instructs us that, if something is leading us into sin, we should cut it out of our lives. As well, we are to put off what we know is sin (or sinful practices) and replace them with what is holy and righteous, such as we must put off lying and tell the truth, put off stealing, and work, and give to others, etc. So many people are still practicing sin because they are not utilizing the armor of God, the wisdom of God, and the instructions in God’s word in how to defeat sin in our lives.

Wisdom Shouts

20 Wisdom shouts in the street,
She lifts her voice in the square;
21 At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:
22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?
And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing
And fools hate knowledge?
23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you…
33 “But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

So many people claim ignorance when they are not ignorant. It isn’t that they don’t know what to do, but it is that they don’t do what they know, or that they ignore what they know and/or avoid learning what they need. Or, because they want to continue in sin, they willfully remain naïve, always claiming that they didn’t know or that they are just learning, when they have been learning a very long time – always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth. They willfully choose ignorance over knowledge in hopes that they can excuse away willful and continued sin against God, but their excuses don’t hold water. Their excuses are useless!

I hear so many Christians say that they are “struggling” with sin, but what does that really mean? Is that just another excuse for willful and continued sinful practices? We shouldn’t be “struggling” with sin, at least not in the sense of regularly and consistently yielding to the same sins over and over again, for Jesus set us free!

The bible teaches us that if we make sin our practice, that we will die in our sins, not live with Christ for eternity, and this includes anyone who claims to believe in Jesus Christ, too. It isn’t that we will never repeat a sin, but it is that we should no longer be addicted to sin. It should no longer have dominion over us. But, for many who call themselves Christians, they are very much addicted to sin, but they will just say they are “struggling” as a way to gloss over it and make it not sound so bad.

So, wisdom is shouting out to God’s people, and it is asking them how long they will love being simple-minded. How long will they take pleasure in remaining naïve, in hopes that they will not have to take responsibility for their lives? How long will they continue to claim they are “struggling” with sin, while they don’t take the necessary steps to not give in to the sin? You see, we have to flee sin, and we have to resist Satan, and we have to cut out of our lives those things which trip us up and cause us to fall.

You can’t keep claiming ignorance. You must turn to God’s reproof, turn away from your sins, put them off, and put on Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and then you will experience the fullness of the Spirit of God in your lives, and you will be at peace in knowing that you are following the Lord with your lives.

Living Sacrifices / An Original Work
September 14, 2012

Based off Romans 12:1-2; 6:11-14 NIV

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you,
In view of God’s mercy,
To give yourselves to God in love
As living offerings,
Pleasing to God, holy in love.
This is your true worship.
Do not conform to worldly lives.
Let God transform you today.
Then you’ll be able to
Test and approve of what
God’s will is – His pleasing
And perfect will. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Offer yourselves unto God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Do not be conceited.
Humble yourselves before your God.
Do not be self-righteous.
The strength you have to live in love
Comes from your Lord God, so
Live your new lives in pow’r of God.
Be changed in heart, mind and will.
Do this because of what
Christ did for you when
He died on the cross to save
The world from sin. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Humble yourselves before God.

Oh, holy ones, I counsel you –
Count yourselves dead to sin,
But be alive to God in Christ.
Do not let sin reign in
Your earthly lives so you
Obey its evil desires.
Offer yourselves unto your God
As those who’ve been born again.
For sin shall no longer be
Your lord and master.
Give of yourselves to God
For righteousness. Oh, holy ones,
I counsel you – Be alive to God in Christ.

 

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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.

Who are The Faithful?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 6:22 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 101 (Select vv. ESV).

Far from Me (vv. 1-4)

I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.
I will ponder the way that is blameless.
Oh when will you come to me?
I will walk with integrity of heart
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
anything that is worthless.
I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.
A perverse heart shall be far from me;
I will know nothing of evil.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we should walk with integrity. What this means is that we should conduct our daily lives with honesty, uprightness, honor, decency, and morality. We should not even look (gaze) at anything which might cause us to stumble or to lead us into sin. We should keep our minds pure and free from all thoughts and attitudes which are contrary to God and to his Word. So, how do we do this? In the power of God’s Spirit, we have to train ourselves, our minds, our ears and our eyes to not entertain what is unholy, impure, immoral, unrighteous, unjust, untrue, dishonorable, unkind and/or hateful, etc. And, we have to fill our minds and hearts with all that is godly, upright, holy, righteous and pure, etc. And, this takes self-discipline.

We also have to hate sinful practices, i.e. the practices of those who fall away from God and from what is right and honest and just. We have to avoid getting involved in gossip, for instance, by walking away from it, and/or by saying good things about people, instead. This is not to say we should never confront sin in sinful humans, but that we need to go to the people, if possible, and not complain about them behind their backs to other people, especially while putting on a front (a false face) to the people in question. This is also not to say that we can never address sinful practices in the church, in general, in the appropriate manner, and call for repentance, but that we should not go around spreading rumors about people, while lacking the courage to speak the truth in love to them. Sinful rebellious practices and lifestyles should have no place in our lives whatsoever!

Practitioners of Deceit (vv. 5, 7)

Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly
I will destroy.
Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart
I will not endure.

No one who practices deceit
shall dwell in my house;
no one who utters lies
shall continue before my eyes.

We are not to be participants with those who practice what is evil. We are not supposed to even associate with those who call themselves Christians and yet are involved in evil (sinful) practices, as a way of life. We should never console those who practice sinning, in their sin, or be accepting of or entertain (accommodate or invite) their sinful lifestyles, either.

Some of these sinful practices the Lord is pointing out to me this morning, that others are involved in, and which all of us should guard against, are what follows here. For one, there are those who habitually gossip about and slander others. It is what occupies their minds, their thinking. They practice insulting and contemptuous speech and conduct, and they revel in revealing secrets to others, and disclosing private information that can injure others’ reputations, their jobs, their relationships, and their emotional well-being. They will utilize whatever means possible, at their disposal, too, including social media sites, texting, tweeting, chatting, etc., and sometimes to exact revenge on those they think have wronged them in some way or another. And, they have no qualms about making it up as they go along, either.

Then, there are those who bottle up hatred, contempt, unforgiveness and bitterness in their hearts, while on the outside they act as if everything is normal, and there are no issues. They hide their true thoughts and feelings, not out of fear of being hurt, though, but in order to deceive; to give a false impression. But, they are storing up anger to use later against those for whom they feel contempt and hatred. And, they will use what they have stored up inside in order to manipulate, exploit and take advantage of others. They act calm and cool on the outside, but inside they are a raging inferno just waiting to explode. This is part of the game they play, which includes hiding secret sins and acting as though all is good. They believe Satan’s lies, they lie to themselves, and they accept the lies as truth. And, this is often cyclical, repeating the same patterns over and over again.

These types of individuals usually lack self-discipline, they are arrogant, and they will not listen to sound counsel and godly wisdom and instruction. They seem bent on continuing their cyclical patterns of behavior despite everything to the contrary. If these people want to continue in their sinful ways (patterns) of life, no one will be able to convince them otherwise. If they don’t want to hear the advice, although they may pretend they are listening, their addictive patterns of behavior will soon reveal the truth. They didn’t really listen, because they didn’t really want to hear the counsel, and they don’t really want to change, because they don’t think they need to change. These types of people are self-focused and self-absorbed, and they think about themselves above all else. But, God can change them! Amen?

Favor on the Faithful (v. 6)

I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
he who walks in the way that is blameless
shall minister to me.

The faithful are those who are walking in the Spirit and no longer are they practicing sinful lifestyles. They are listening to the Lord, seeking his face, and doing what he says, not with absolute sinless perfection, but with persistence, submission, humility, and consistency. They love their Lord, and their desire is for him, to please him in all they do. They walk with integrity of heart, and, by the Spirit, they have trained (or are training) their eyes, ears, mouths and minds to focus on what has eternal value, and to not allow the things of this sinful world to take hold in their lives. They shall minister to God and to his servants, because they walk humbly before their God and they honor his name.

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.