Do You Truly Believe

Everybody believes in something. What is it that you believe in? And how much do you really believe in it? It is very easy to think you believe when there is no risk involved. It is more difficult to truly believe when you risk losing something very important.

James 2:19(HCSB)19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.

The demons believe in God, even Satan himself believes there is a God, but in their rebellion and disobedience they were kicked out of Heaven.

2 Corinthians 5:20(HCSB)20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” This tells us where we stand in relation to the world.

In Ephesians 2:19(HCSB)19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household,, We are no longer citizens of this world and since we belong to God; since we are citizens of heaven working as ambassadors here on earth; we need to focus more on God and less on the world, but to do so, we need to make sure that we really believe in God, and not just think we do.

In John 1:7(HCSB)He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that all might believe through him., we are told that Jesus came so that all men might believe. That is how we believe; through Jesus Christ. Without Jesus there is no belief.

That is confirmed in John 20:31(HCSB)But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name., when it says that by believing in Jesus Christ, one may have life in His name.

In order to be a real Christian, and in order to receive eternal life, we must be real believers. We must have a burning in our hearts to be with Jesus; to know more about Him; and to know Him more. If we claim we have Jesus but our actions prove otherwise, are we actually saved? If we claim to be saved but we act just like the world are we truly saved?
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5(ESV) “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.” We are to test ourselves to be sure that Jesus is truly our Savior and the Holy Spirit is truly in us. If He is, we can in no way lose the salvation Christ has obtained for us Romans 8:38-39(ESV)38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. If He’s not, then perhaps the Holy Spirit is convicting us of sin and prompting us to repent and be reconciled to God through Christ. The assurance of our salvation comes from the knowledge that once we are in Christ, we are eternally secure. But genuine saving faith is evidenced by its works (James 2:14-26) and the fruit of the Spirit within us.
Galatians 5:22-24(ESV)22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

I would like to clarify some “Facebook Theologians” and their posts. See anything can sound great out of context. example Matthew 4:9(NLT) “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”

Sounds great until you realize who said it and the context it was said in.
Matthew 4:8-10(ESV)Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’

So in context of a very popular scripture,

John 3:16-21(ESV)16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

Paul reiterated this in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV)Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial?[b] Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Remember when Peter told Jesus that he would follow him into death if necessary?Luke 22:33-34(HCSB)33 “Lord,” he told Him, “I’m ready to go with You both to prison and to death!”

34 “I tell you, Peter,” He said, “the rooster will not crow today until[i] you deny three times that you know Me!” A few verses later, we see where Peter denied Jesus three times. He thought he believed, but when he was pushed, he collapsed like a house of straw. And we cannot have faith unless we really believe.

We have a natural tendency to run away before we commit. We see that all the time with people who say they are Christians, but will not go to anybody and tell them about Jesus. I truly believe that being non-committal towards Jesus is a sin. If we don’t know Him here, He has promised to not know us there. He told his disciples that following Him comes at a great price.

Luke 14:25-33(ESV)25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Many people have fashioned idols that keep them from fully giving themselves to the Lord. Anything that we put in front of our relationship with God is an idol. Jesus states this when He says “if anyone comes to me and does not hate” He is meaning even if you put your family before me then you are not worthy to follow me. How many time especially around the holidays we see people not coming to church because “Family is in town” The best thing you can do with your family is bring them to church. What better way to spend time with your family than at church with your church family and they can be introduced to one another. Never compromise your stances because of family. People don’t want to “push” their faith on anyone, but is that truly loving someone? or Are you being scared of what they may think of you? Now many people may say well not coming to church doesn’t mean I compromised my relationship with Jesus.

However, the Bible has no concept of individual spirituality – that is Christianity is not something personal that has nothing to do with anyone else. That is a very modern way of thinking. We can see it in the above passage, the way the man expresses his trust in Jesus is that shifts his allegiances to Jesus’ kingdom. He sees that Jesus is the true king and joins his kingdom, he joins a group of people – those ruled by Jesus the king.

If you are a Christian, then you are a member of God’s church. You are a member of the body of Christ. and for a body to function correctly it has to have all its parts/member doing their part. Ephesians 4:15-16(HCSB)15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

The church is now your family, and they are God’s gift to us in living Christian lives. We see this in Romans 8:28-30(HCSB)28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. Those who are saved are saved so that Jesus would be the big brother of many brothers. God is in the business of making a family. While most people, at least those who do not irrationally deny the existence of God, would claim that all are “children of God,” the Bible reveals quite a different truth. We are all His creations and under His authority and Lordship and will all be judged by Him, but being a child of God and having the right to truly call Him “Abba Father” is something that only born-again Christians are able to do

John 1:12-13(HCSB)But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name,13 who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.

The misguided but popular concept that all people are children of God and can truthfully call Him “Abba Father” is simply not true. Just as children do not choose to be adopted or choose who will adopt them, neither do Christians choose to become children of God. Instead, God chooses them. He predestines them “to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will”, having been chosen by God from “before the foundation of the world” Ephesians 1:4-6(HCSB)4 For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, 6 to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.

Ok, now for those of us who do not believe in predestination, I say to you how choses a child at the adoption agency? Does the child chose the Father? or does the father chose the child?

The benefits of being adopted children of God are many. Becoming a child of God is the highest privilege and honor that can be imagined. Because of it we have a new relationship with God and a new standing before Him. He deals with His children differently than He deals with the rest of the world. Being a child of God, adopted “through faith in Christ Jesus” is the source for our hope, the security of our future and the motivation to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” Ephesians 4:1(HCSB)Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received,. Being children of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calls us to a higher standard, a different way of life and a greater hope.

Hebrews 12:5-7(HCSB)5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or faint when you are reproved by Him,6 for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline?

Because of that new relationship, Christians may sin, but they cannot be comfortable or content living a life of habitual, ongoing sin. If people are living a life enslaved to sin and are comfortable in that sin and without the discipline of God upon them, then we know they are “illegitimate and not sons” Hebrews 12:8(HCSB)8 But if you are without discipline—which all receive—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. In other words, they are unbelievers.

The Christian life was never meant to be lived solo, God has gifted each member of his church to serve one another, you can’t do that solo. This can also be seen in the fact that most of the instructions for Christians are done in the plural, there are very few (if any) instructions to individuals. It is near impossible to live a Christian life alone, it runs counter to everything God has done for us. However, some people can’t help but live alone. The thief on the cross could not join a church, he had no choice; but where we have a choice, we really should become a part of God’s church.

It’s like someone who gets married, but never moves in with their husband. It is true that you can be married without living together. But a real marriage involves relationship. Becoming a Christian means being a part of God’s family.

That is the same with your relationship to Jesus. Many people want to be able to be called a christian but don’t want to do what Jesus called us to do.Many people only want the benefits of Christ without the worldly consequences of following Jesus. Isn’t that what Peter did on the night they arrested Jesus?

Luke 22:54-62(HCSB)54 They seized Him, led Him away, and brought Him into the high priest’s house. Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance. 55 They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, and Peter sat among them. 56 When a servant saw him sitting in the firelight, and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with Him too.”

57 But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know Him!”

58 After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too!”

“Man, I am not!” Peter said.

59 About an hour later, another kept insisting, “This man was certainly with Him, since he’s also a Galilean.”

60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

See Peter wanted the “benefits” of following Christ, but did not want to have to deal with the earthly consequences of following Christ. He followed and made bold statements until he was faced with actual persecution. Most of us deny Christ with hardly any persecution. We give in to temptation, we give in to worldly desires, we make idols, we serve Christ only when it is convenient for us. But when we actually have to sacrifice something then we put off Christ and put on our old man.

Romans 10:9(HCSB)9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

We must believe in Him, and we must confess Him. And, if we confess Jesus is our Lord, and that we have Him in our hearts, doesn’t it make sense that we would also be striving to do what He wants us to do?

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Are you still Stomaching Sin?

We ask ourselves often the question – What does it mean to be saved? What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be really born again? Well here is the definition of that. And there’s a lot of confusion about it. There are a lot of people, as we know, claiming to be born again today that it’s very obvious don’t know the meaning of it.

A lot of confusion about what it means to be a Christian. What it means to have Christ. What it means to be born again.
Ephesians 2:1-10(HCSB)1And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, 5 made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, 7 so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. This ought to eliminate any doubt and any question. Cause it’s here.

Now remember that the book of Ephesians is concerned with what it means to be in Christ. What it means to be one with Jesus Christ.

Water baptism symbolizes the believer’s total trust in, and total reliance on, the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as a commitment to live obediently to Him. Water baptism is not an entrance into Christianity. Instead we are baptized because our Lord commanded it and because we obey Him.

Matthew 28:19 (ESV)“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”

Before we are baptized, we must come to believe that we are sinners in need of salvation Romans 3:23(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Hamartia means missing the mark. Now watch, this is the real true biblical definition of sin. Sin is a failure to hit God’s target.

All right?

Well, you say, – what’s God’s target? Here it is, listen, “For all have sinned and Fall short of the…what?…glory of God.” Sin is a failure to glorify God, Romans 1:21-25(HCSB)21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. When they knew God they…what?…glorified Him not as God.That is sin. Sin is coming short of glorifying God. It does not mean when we say a person is a sinner, it does not mean that they’re all the same level of vile, rotten, degraded, corrupt, decaying sinners. You could have 20 dead corpses and they could all have varying degrees of decay, they’d all be dead but different degrees of decay. And so it is in human history and human kind, all are dead but there are variances in the decadent, in the decaying of what is left. But sin is a question of…not a question of decay ultimately, it is a question of falling short of something.

In other words, now listen to this, we all understand that a – robber is a sinner, and a murderer is a sinner and a rapist is a sinner and a liar is a sinner and so forth and so forth and so forth. We’re all clued in on that. But listen to me, sin has much more to do with what you don’t do than what you do do. You got that? Sin is really not an issue of what you do, but of what you fail to do. It is that you fail to come to the glory of God.

Charles Spurgeon stated the following…

Imagine that there is a pig and I am standing about 100 ft away from a pig. To one side of me is a beautiful 7 course dinner and to the other side of me is a large bucket of slop.

The pig is released, which side is he going to run to?

To the slop side of course!

Why?

Because he is a pig and that is all that pigs know.

Now imagine if you will that we were able to change that pig into a man, all the while he is eating the slop. What will happen?

The odds are that he will lift up his head and look around at his environment and then spit out the slop he was feeding upon when he was a pig.

Why?

Because he is no longer a pig that is able to feed upon slop, but a man needing a form of food to give him nutrition so that he might live.

This man is now a new creature and is no longer a pig.

Now from time to time he may even have pig thoughts about the wonderful slop he once ate when he was a pig. He may even go to the slop bucket from time to time, smell it, look at it. But the moment he feeds upon it what will happen? He will spit it out because he is no longer a pig but a man. Even if he as a man he forces himself to eat the slop, which men are able to do, it will eventually cause him to vomit it all up and make him sick possibly unto death because his body no longer accepts slop because he is a new creature.Now if one thinks he is a man and can still stomach the slop day in and day out, what makes him think he was changed into a new creature in the first place? If he is feeding upon the slop of the world and does not get sick to his stomach, maybe he was never changed into new creature in the first place and to this day remains a pig.

2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

When we are truly converted, we can no longer stomach the slop of the world, the fleshly sin that we once indulged in.

When we entertain the sin, and all of us do from time to time, it makes us sick with guilt and shame because it is the Holy Spirit working in our lives chastening us from the inside out because God loves us as His children. Scripture says that God chastens His own.

The rite of baptism expresses the commitment of the believer to die to the old, sinful way of life and be reborn to a new life in Christ.

Romans 6:4–8(HCSB)4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, In Christian baptism, the action of being immersed in the water symbolizes dying and being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection. Baptism identifies us with Christ in His death and resurrection, portraying symbolically the whole life of the Christian as a dying to self and living for and in Him who died for us Galatians 2:20(HCSB)20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Paul explains to the Galatians the process of dying to self as one in which he has been “crucified with Christ,” and now Paul no longer lives, but Christ lives in him. Paul’s old life, with its propensity to sin and to follow the ways of the world, is dead, and the new Paul is the dwelling place of Christ who lives in and through him. This does not mean that when we “die to self” we become inactive or insensible, nor do we feel ourselves to be dead. Rather, dying to self means that the things of the old life are put to death, most especially the sinful ways and lifestyles we once engaged in. “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” Galatians 5:24(HCSB)24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, those things that please God.

Dying to self is never portrayed in Scripture as something optional in the Christian life. It is the reality of the new birth; no one can come to Christ unless he is willing to see his old life crucified with Christ and begin to live anew in obedience to Him. Jesus describes lukewarm followers who try to live partly in the old life and partly in the new as those whom He will spit out. Revelation 3:15–16(HCSB)15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. That lukewarm condition characterized the church of Laodicea as well as many churches today. Being “lukewarm” is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live for Christ. Death to self is not an option for Christians; it is a choice that leads to eternal life.

We must also believe that Christ died on the cross to atone for our sins, that He was buried, and that He was resurrected to assure our place in heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:1–4(HCSB)Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it. 2 You are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you—unless you believed for no purpose. 3 For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, We then turn to Jesus, asking Him to forgive our sins and to be our Lord and Savior, and the moment we do that we are born again, our eternal salvation is guaranteed, and we begin to die to ourselves and live for Christ

1 Peter 1:3–5(HCSB)3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. At this time we are qualified to be scripturally baptized.

The fact that baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation is best seen in the example of a saved man who was not baptized in water, the criminal on the cross

Luke 23:39–43(HCSB)39 Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”40 But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? 41 We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”43 And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

This self-confessed sinner came to acknowledge Jesus as his Lord while dying on a cross next to Him, and he asked for salvation and was forgiven of his sins. Although he never experienced water baptism, at that moment he was baptized into Christ’s death, and he then was raised to life by the power of Christ’s word.

Christians have been commanded to be baptized, and we should do so out of obedience to, and love for, our Lord Christ Jesus.

John 14:15(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. Water baptism by immersion is the biblical method of baptism because of its symbolic representation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

We let ourselves be completely immersed in the water. The Greek word for baptism is Baptizmo which means immersed or immersion. This symbolizes burial with our Lord; we are baptized into His death on the cross and are no longer slaves to self or sin. When we are raised out of the water, we are symbolically resurrected—raised to our new life in Christ to be with Him forever, born into the family of our loving God

Romans 8:16(HCSB)16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.

New Creation

Jesus said that to become a Christian we must be “born again”.

John 3:3 (HCSB) 3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”. That phrase implies that we cannot simply remodel our current lives; we must start over.
2 Corinthians 5:1517(HCSB) explain what happens when we put our trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord: 15 And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.16 From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way. Even if we have known Christ in a purely human way, yet now we no longer know Him in this way. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

Jesus used the illustration of birth because we understand that when a baby is born, a new creation is evident. Live birth is followed by a transformation over time from infancy to maturity.

The bible says we were “slaves” to sin Romans 6:16(NLT) Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.
But then we were release from slavery to sin and now we are slaves to righteous living. Romans 6:18 (NLT)18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. 

We are brought to life. We are “created anew in Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 2:10(NLT)10 For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. God changes our desires, outlook, and focus as we turn from self-worship to God-worship.

Many people try to bypass this transfer of ownership and instead try to “clean up their act,” “turn over a new leaf,” or start going to church in an effort to feel like a Christian. However, willpower can only take us so far. I like to call that “Sin-Management” Jesus did not come to reform our sinful flesh; He came to kill it

Luke 9:23(NLT)23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Romans 6:6–7 (NLT)6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin..

The old and new natures cannot work together, nor can they peacefully coexist

Romans 8:12–13(HCSB)12 So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live

The flesh must die before we can experience the new life Jesus offers us.

Romans 8:13 (HCSB)“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”.

Paul here is making a contrast between believers and non-believers. Non-believers are those who “live according to the flesh.” By contrast, believers are those who “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body.” Often in the writings of Paul, flesh and spirit are contrasted. To live “according to the flesh” is to have your mind set on the flesh and to have a mind that is hostile to God and does not submit to His law. This, in a nutshell, is the life of an unbeliever. Romans 1—3 is a vivid description of what “living according to the flesh” looks like. The person who lives his life according to the flesh will die. This is not speaking of physical death because that is the fate of all people as a result of sin. Paul is speaking of eternal death in hell.

The new creation is described in 2 Corinthians 5:17(ESV) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The word “therefore” refers us back to verses 14-15 where Paul tells us that all believers have died with Christ and no longer live for themselves.

2 Corinthians 5:14 (NLT) Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

Our lives are no longer worldly; they are now spiritual. Our “death” is that of the old sin nature which was nailed to the cross with Christ. It was buried with Him, and just as He was raised up by the Father, so are we raised up to “walk in newness of life”

Romans 6:4(ESV)4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

That new person that was raised up is what Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as the “new creation.”

To understand the new creation, first we must grasp that it is in fact a creation, something created by God. John 1:13 tells us that this new birth was brought about by the will of God. We did not inherit the new nature, nor did we decide to re-create ourselves anew, nor did God simply clean up our old nature; He created something entirely fresh and new. The new creation is completely new, brought about from nothing, just as the whole universe was created by God ex nihilo, from nothing. Only the Creator could accomplish such a task.

Second, “old things have gone.” The “old” refers to everything that is part of our old nature—natural pride, love of sin, reliance on works, and our former opinions, habits and passions. Most significantly, what we loved has passed away, especially the supreme love of self and with it self-righteousness, self-promotion, and self-justification. The new creature looks outwardly toward Christ instead of inwardly toward self. The old things died, nailed to the cross with our sin nature.

Along with the old passing away, “the new has come!” Old, dead things are replaced with new things, full of life and the glory of God. The newborn soul delights in the things of God and hates,detest,loathes the things of the world and the flesh. Our purposes, feelings, desires, and understandings are fresh and different. We see the world differently. The Bible seems to be a new book, and though we may have read it before, there is a beauty about it which we never saw before, and which we wonder at not having perceived. The heavens and the earth are filled with new wonders, and all things seem now to speak forth the praise of God. There are new feelings toward all people—a new kind of love toward family and friends, a new compassion never before felt for enemies, and a new love for all mankind.

The things we once loved, we now detest. The sin we once held onto, we now desire to leave behind,never to go back to it. We “put off the old man with his deeds” (Colossians 3:9), and put on the “new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

The believer by the Spirit puts to death the deeds of the body. In other words, through the working of God’s Holy Spirit, who only dwells in believers, the believer engages in the process of sanctification or growing in holiness. The believer, in contrast to the non-believer, has his mind set on the Spirit and submits to God’s law. It is important to note that the believer is not completely free from sin. Putting to death the deeds of the body is a continual process that the believer must engage in on a daily basis. The point is that one of the marks of a true believer is that he is daily putting to death the deeds of the body. This person, the one who puts to death, the deeds of the body and its sinful nature will live. Again, this is a reference to eternal life, or heaven.

Colossians 3:5(HCSB)5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry. Looking at the context of this passage and noting the word therefore, we must look at what preceded this verse. In verses 1–4, Paul exhorts the Colossians to seek the things that are above and to set their minds on heavenly things.

Colossians 3:1-4(ESV)If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Why? For we have died, not physically, but figuratively to sin and the old life, and our lives are now “hidden with Christ in God” (verse 3). If this is the case, then what are we to do? The only way the believer, whose life is hidden with Christ, can be heavenly minded is if he puts to death those things that are earthly in him. Again, we should not understand the contrast between heavenly and earthly as to mean we should have our heads in the clouds and our feet off the ground; as the expression goes, “He is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good.” It is similar to the spirit/flesh contrast Paul made in Romans, with flesh being understood as “sinful nature.”

What is it that Paul wants us to put to death? Sinful desires and actions such as sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and covetousness, which is equated with idolatry. The person whose life is characterized by these things is said to have the wrath of God upon him (verse 6). Paul notes that this was the way of life of his readers (verse 7). Colossians 3:6-7(HCSB)Because of these, God’s wrath comes on the disobedient, and you once walked in these things when you were living in them. But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. 

Gossip, Rumor,Slander,Backbite,Talebearer, Rail, Revile, Profanity, coarse joking,all parts of filthy language. Words become profane when sacred meanings are treated in a common and trivial fashion.The principle involves taking the sacred name of the Lord and vulgarly transporting it into the domain of the secular. This concept finds a manifestation in various ways in America’s crude modes of expression.Those who engage in this behavior do nothing but stir up trouble and cause anger, bitterness, and pain among friends. Sadly, some people thrive on this and look for opportunities to destroy others. And when such people are confronted, they deny the allegations and answer with excuses and rationalizations. Rather than admit wrongdoing, they blame someone else or attempt to minimize the seriousness of the sin.
Ephesians 4:29-32(HCSB)29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him[p] for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. Paul’s warning here does include using obscene or vulgar language that tears someone down, reflects worldly motives, or in any other way that’s unfit for a redeemed way of life. But “foul language” primarily refers to slander, gossip or any other speech that tears someone down. Paul refers to the dangerous power of words, all words, when used to dehumanize another human being. Gossiping about a fellow church member, dropping a belittling comment on a blog or Facebook post.
All believers were at one time unbelievers and were under the wrath of God. In other words, you were like that; now you’re like this. You were walking according to the flesh; now you’re in the Spirit. Because of this, put to death those things that were of the flesh. Grow in holiness and sanctification.

What about the Christian who continues to sin? There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”
Romans 6:11-12(HCSB)11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter. 

In Romans 1, Paul says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power that saves us, the gospel being the good news that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. When we enter into the Christian life by faith in this good news, we see our faith grow as we come to know more and more about the God who saved us. The gospel of Christ actually reveals God to us as we live to grow closer to Him each day. Romans 1:17 (ESV) says, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” So part of the Christian life is diligent reading and study of the Word, accompanied by prayer for understanding and wisdom and for a closer, more intimate relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.

Every human being is composed of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NLT) 23 Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 24 God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.

Before we have a relationship with God through new birth, we live primarily controlled by our soul(mind, will and emotions) and body(flesh). When we transfer ownership of our lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ, He sends His Holy Spirit to regenerate our Spirit. At salvation, He pours into our hearts and then the spirit inside us so that we can now communicate with God. Whereas, a person was formerly directed by the sin nature, he or she can now be directed by the Holy Spirit who works to transform us into the image of Christ.

The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, Galatians 2:20 (ESV)“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”.

Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ’s. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39 And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” 39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. 

This scripture addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habukkuk: “Now the justified in Christ shall live by faith; But I will take no pleasure in the one who turns away” God is not pleased with one who “turns back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end

Ephesians 1:13-14(NLT)3 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

So the Christian life is one lived by faith in the God who saved us, empowers us, seals us for heaven, and by whose power we are kept forever. The day-to-day life of faith is one that grows and strengthens as we seek God in His Word and through prayer and as we unite with other Christians whose goal of Christlikeness is similar to our own.

Freedom in Christ

Everyone is a slave in the spiritual sense. We are either slaves to sin, which is our natural state, or we are slaves to Christ.

Romans 6:16(HCSB)16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?

John 8:34(HCSB)34 Jesus responded, “I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.

The writers of the New Testament willingly declared their status as slaves of Christ. Paul opens his letter to the Romans by referring to himself as a “slave of Jesus Christ” Romans 1:1(HCSB)Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news— and his letter to Titus by calling himself a “slave of God” Titus 1:1(HCSB)Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to build up the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness,. James opens his epistle the same way, “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” James 1:1(HCSB)James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: To the 12 tribes in the Dispersion.Greetings..

We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice in the notion of freedom, teach, advocate, and hope for freedom, but what do we mean by freedom?

Freedom means many things to many people.  We can view freedom politically, as having the opportunity to vote for particular ideas, people, or parties which best represent our views.  Closely tied to this is the notion of freedom of speech, where one has the liberty to voice their personal opinion or perspective. Others understand freedom in a financial context, where people seek to free themselves of financial debt, outstanding credit, and burdensome loans.

What does true freedom look like?  Does it look like a voter’s ballot or someone walking out of prison?  Is it seen in being able to buy anything I want or in the fact that I don’t owe a thing to anyone?  Of course, it’s crucial to define what we mean by freedom so that we know what we’re looking for, what we’re hoping to attain.

Say a child runs outside and climbs a tree because he wants to get away and be free.  In his effort to be free, the boy wanders out onto a tree limb, turns around, and begins severing the last connection he has with the world — the limb.  Having sawed through the limb, the boy quickly realizes that he not only failed in achieving his goal of complete freedom, but discovers that what he was seeking wasn’t true freedom at all.  In his effort to achieve freedom, the boy finds himself in a worse situation then before — broken limbs and all!

Two sides of the freedom coin

Freedom is a basic human desire, so we would expect to read about it in the Bible. While the Bible speaks often of freedom, its focus is most frequently related to the spiritual freedom a person can experience in Christ.

Not surprisingly, the Bible says quite a bit about freedom, despite any impressions we might have about it being merely a book of restrictive rules. In reality, if we are willing to consider it, the Bible can help us distinguish between what it means for us to be free from something and to be free to do or be something. Freedom from and freedom to are two sides of the freedom coin.

It is interesting that many of the freedoms we seek today are seen as ends in themselves, as a final goal to be attained.  It’s as though we think that once our particular freedom is achieved, all our problems will be solved.  Why?  Because we’ll have freedom!  But freedom from what?  And freedom to do or be what?

For example, let’s say that we’re in deep financial debt.  We realize our desperate state and begin to strategically work our way out of financial bondage.  It may take months, years, or even decades, but eventually we hope to balance our budget and move from being in the red to black.  But, even if we accomplish our goal and attain financial freedom, particularly freedom from debt, have we really attained true freedom?  In other words, does having no financial debt necessarily mean that we have attained financial freedom?

Not really.  See, our hearts, which drove us into debt in the first place, remain unchanged.  It may be the case, and unfortunately it often is, that as soon as we get out of debt, we plunge right back into it.  Why?  Because our hearts see and desire something it cannot live without.  So we buy it, and Bam!  We’re in debt again.  So, if our hearts are not changed, neither will our behavior change.  That’s why the Bible says that true freedom begins in the heart. We act on our thoughts and behave according to our desires. Psalms 51:10(HCSB)God, create a clean heart for me

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Ezekiel 11:19-21(HCSB)And I will give them one heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove their heart of stone from their bodies and give them a heart of flesh, 20 so they may follow My statutes, keep My ordinances, and practice them. Then they will be My people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose hearts pursue their desire for detestable things and practices, I will bring their actions down on their own heads.” This is the declaration of the Lord God.

Interestingly, the Bible likens the human heart to a tree, in which,
Matthew 7:17-18(HCSB)17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.;

Matthew 12:33-35(HCSB)33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. 35 A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil..  The source of our actions is the heart.  If it’s bad, the fruit (our actions) is bad too.

Of course, it’s always good to be out of debt, but to simply balance the books is only a outer remedy.  It is merely treating the symptoms rather than dealing with the disease. True freedom is only achieved when our hearts are changed, not when the books are balanced.

The same can be said for political and verbal freedom.  Both are significantly good and should be advocated and protected, but they are outer freedoms in comparison to true freedom.  True freedom occurs only in the heart when it is changed and made new. 

2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

What then is this “true” freedom?

There is a debt that every human has, a disease that we all suffer from, which no human strategy can ever conquer or cure. It is not a bondage to external things primarily, though it does work its way out in external expressions.  No, our problem is much deeper.  It is bondage of the will, a captivity of the soul, a deadness of heart.

The Bible tells us that we were made by God to honor Him and delight in Him forever.  Yet, we chose to sin and rebel against God by abandoning our created purpose of worshiping Him in order to do our own thing and pridefully make a name for ourselves.  This rebellion against God, known as the Fall, caused mankind to fall from the innocence in which they were created and become corrupted by sin.

Due to our sin, we have all received the consequential penalty of sin, namely spiritual and physical death.  Death reigns in all of us so every one of us is spiritual dead (separated from God) and will also die physically one day.  Not only this, but throughout our life, the effects of sin infect everything we do.  The stains of sin are permeate through each one of us, distorting the way we think, what we desire, and how we behave.  All of our thoughts, feelings, and actions are tainted by our sin.

Yet, in all of this, the human heart remains free.  Free to choose whatever it desires. But here’s the catch — the human heart is corrupted and enslaved by evil.  So, the only thing it desires is evil.  All our thoughts, words, and actions are tainted in various degrees with prideful sin and rebellion against God.  So even though we are free to choose, we only freely choose sin all the time. Jeremiah 17:9-10(HCSB)The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?10 I, Yahweh, examine the mind,I test the heart to give to each according to his way, according to what his actions deserve

Ultimately, the final consequence of our sin against God is hell, a state of total and unending disconnection and separation from God, a place of unhindered and perpetual bondage to unrestrained evil, horror, and suffering resulting from everyone doing all their selfish and sinful hearts desire, no matter what harm it may cause to others.

Yet, God in His love sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth and willingly die in the place of sinful humans like us to absorb all our sin, rebellion and wrongdoing.  Therefore, all who entrust their complete life to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will be saved from their bondage to sin and given eternal life in Him and enjoy an intimate and personal connection and relationship with God himself.

This is true freedom.   And true freedom only exists in Jesus Christ.  How does it happen?  God changes our heart by His Holy Spirit.  God makes us spiritually alive by giving us a new heart. This heart desires to love God.  Jeremiah 24:7(HCSB)7 I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am Yahweh. They will be My people, and I will be their God because they will return to Me with all their heart. It sees Jesus Christ as beautiful and desires to love Him as the Lord and Savior of our life.  By faith, we give our life to Jesus and receive His forgiveness and freedom from sin. Ephesians 2:8-9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 

First, freedom in Christ is seen in contrast to the bondage of sin.

Romans 6:20-23(ESV)  “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In other words, sin enslaves people for spiritual death and eternity apart from God. Knowing Christ provides freedom from the control of sin and eternal life with Him.

A person who has experienced true freedom in Christ is called to live as His servant. The apostle Paul was an example of this, as many of his letters began with the introduction of himself as a “servant of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1). We are set free to serve Christ. This seems like a paradox to the non-believer, yet the freedom found in Christ gives the believer a desire to live for Christ as a servant.

Yet this freedom does not mean sin is completely removed. Paul spoke of his ongoing struggle with sin (Romans 7:15-20(HCSB)15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me., yet also noted that sin no longer controlled him.

He was now a person who sought to live a transformed life because of his new life in Christ. This included put off old habits and developing new patterns that honored God (Ephesians 4:22-32(HCSB)22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. 25 Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. 28 The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him[h] for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ..

In short, we experience true freedom in Christ by knowing Him, walking in His ways, and engaging with the changes He makes in and through our lives as we focus on service to Him and to others. This freedom transcends the human freedoms desired in this world, providing peace in this life and freedom with Christ forevermore. Not only this, but we are now free to do the very thing we were created to do — to honor and enjoy God forever.  And this joy in God is from our heart — our new heart given to us by God.

This is true freedom.  This is grace.

Casual Christianity

There is no greater word that can describe the state of the modern day American church than compromise. The root of all the fruitlessness is compromise.
Most of us are content to set up camp just out side of Egypt and far from the entrance to Canaan(The Promised Land), and are content to live free of bondage but not in the land flowing with milk and honey.

Numbers 32:1-7(HCSB)The Reubenites and Gadites had a very large number of livestock. When they surveyed the lands of Jazer and Gilead, they saw that the region was a good one for livestock. So the Gadites and Reubenites came to Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the leaders of the community and said: “The territory of Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam,[a] Nebo, and Beon, which the Lord struck down before the community of Israel, is good land for livestock, and your servants own livestock.” They said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Don’t make us cross the Jordan.”But Moses asked the Gadites and Reubenites, “Should your brothers go to war while you stay here? Why are you discouraging the Israelites from crossing into the land the Lord has given them?

They have livestock that God gave them, the land they were in was suitable for livestock but they weren’t where God told them to be. It is subtle example of comprise. The problem with compromise is it is always pregnant with logic. We have fallen into a logical western way of thinking and have birthed a heretical thinking that God is logical. God is the most non logical being there is.
Numbers 31:32-35 (NLT)32 The plunder remaining from everything the fighting men had taken totaled 675,000 sheep and goats, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys, 35 and 32,000 virgin girls. All given to them from God all from the spoils of war. God gave it to them in the most illogical way.
The issue with them was not that they were or were not blessed it was that they were about to make a big mistake by letting the blessing dictate their position.

Compromise is a leaven that when it hits a church it does not only affect the ones in compromise but it permeates to the point that a little leaven, leavens the whole loaf.  Jesus talks about this when He is sitting with the disciples talking about the doctrine of the Pharisees.
Matthew 16:6 -12(NLT) 6 “Watch out!” Jesus warned them. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 At this they began to argue with each other because they hadn’t brought any bread. 8 Jesus knew what they were saying, so he said, “You have so little faith! Why are you arguing with each other about having no bread? 9 Don’t you understand even yet? Don’t you remember the 5,000 I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of leftovers you picked up? 10 Or the 4,000 I fed with seven loaves, and the large baskets of leftovers you picked up? 11 Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’”

12 Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Then the disciples though revelation got that He was talking about the teachings of the Pharisees was a teaching of compromise. Do enough to follow the rules but don’t really respond appropriately out of the heart. This is what Jesus was primarily concerned about talking with the disciples.

1 Kings 11:1-8(HCSB)King Solomon loved many foreign women in addition to Pharaoh’s daughter: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women 2 from the nations that the Lord had told the Israelites about, “Do not intermarry with them, and they must not intermarry with you, because they will turn you away from Me to their gods.” Solomon was deeply attached to these women and loved them. 3 He had 700 wives who were princesses and 300 concubines, and they turned his heart away from the Lord.4 When Solomon was old, his wives seduced him to follow other gods. He was not completely devoted to Yahweh his God, as his father David had been. 5 Solomon followed Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Milcom, the detestable idol of the Ammonites. 6 Solomon did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, and unlike his father David, he did not completely follow Yahweh.7 At that time, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh, the detestable idol of Moab, and for Milcom, the detestable idol of the Ammonites, on the hill across from Jerusalem. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who were burning incense and offering sacrifices to their gods.. That is what compromise is—a weakening or giving up of our principles or ideals for reasons of expediency. Expediency is doing or considering what is of selfish use or advantage rather than what is right or just. Expediency is always based in self-interest.

Solomon compromised with God’s way because of expediency; he decided to give in to his wives’ idolatrous practices for personal and political advantage.

Solomon still allowed himself to reject God’s commands by not using the wisdom at his disposal. Wisdom is the right application of true knowledge, and compromise erodes it quickly.

Solomon’s example teaches us a lesson about how dangerous compromise with God’s law is, particularly in those areas we may view as small and unimportant.

Wise Solomon fell victim to the same temptation that the rest of us so often face: to compromise in what we think are small concerns or the “gray” areas. The danger in such reasoning is that small compromises weaken character and over time, lead to major sins.

King Solomon may not have understood how far-reaching his “little” sins would be. By giving His royal sanction to the worship of pagan deities, Solomon set a precedent that was followed by most of Judah’s kings after him. Solomon, having learned the hard way, writes,
Proverbs 14:12(HCSB)There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Satan begins making headway in our lives when he influences us to compromise on biblical disciplines and follow our own way. Once we compromise, the process of sin has begun, and its ultimate end is death James 1:14-15(HCSB)14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires. 15 Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

The time to stop the process is in the beginning, when the situation and the pulls are still small and simple. It is the little compromises—the ones we think are so meaningless—that grow into full-blown sin and apostasy. And the enduring consequences of compromise will never have a chance to bloom. We need to kill it before it kills us, what we do in moderation, the next generation will do in excess. One Generation’s compromise will be the next generation’s demise.
Lets talk about what happens to a compromising person, if they continue in their compromise,they become a Casual Christian.
If many Christians went to their jobs each day as they go to church, millions of Christians would be promptly fired.

Many folks are seriously late for the church meetings.  They drag in, sometimes missing much of the worship service.  They are saying with their feet, “I hate this!  I wish there was some other place I could be for the next 2 hours!” Too many folks in our day don’t bother to go to church at all, or else they do the “every-other-Sunday routine,” or perhaps “the once-a-month routine” in their attendance.

In many parts of the world today it is impossible to be unconcerned and casual in church services.  In these places, worshippers assemble fully knowing that they could be slaughtered for doing so.  We would have to agree that these are some very serious christians.

But in the US particularly, we are unconcerned, casual and apathetic to what is happening at church.  Many seem to greet it all with a big yawn.  It appears that a lot of people are simply bored with their relationship with the Lord.

Church is apparently not very important to a lot of Christians today.  Many seem to be agreeing with the priests in Malachi.  They were saying of their sacred priestly functions: Malachi 1:11-13 (HCSB)11 “For My name will be great among the nations, from the rising of the sun to its setting. Incense and pure offerings will be presented in My name in every place because My name will be great among the nations,” says Yahweh of Hosts.12 But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” 13 You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” “And you scorn it,” says the Lord of Hosts. “You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?” asks the Lord.

We no longer feel that the Christian Church and our assembling together is the most important thing in the world—that it is literally the hope of the world.  We probably cannot understand how Israelites of old could journey on foot the one-hundred miles from the Galilee to Jerusalem, to worship and make their offerings.  We will also probably not understand how these same Hebrews generally offered up at least 50 percent of their incomes to the Lord in the various sacrifices and other requirements each year. We sigh, and go on with our casual christianity and lukewarm living. Obviously, serious Bible study and prayer times are on the decline these days.

David Platt Said “There are a whole lot of people in our country who think that they are Christians but they are not, there are many Americans who culturally identify themselves as Christians and biblically are not followers of Christ.” He cited Jesus as saying in Matthew 7:21(HCSB)“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

The Christian Church needs to shake off the “spectator mentality” that allows people to sit by while others are on a path to hell

“This Jesus is more worthy than nominal adherence and casual association, that self-professed Christians “who confess Jesus” but their lives “don’t look any different” than the lives of nonbelievers.

He emphasized, “When you know this Christ, the Christ of the bible everything begins to change in your life.”

Casual Christians give money to charity and to the church as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so, After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right?
1 Chronicles 21:24(HCSB)24 King David answered Ornan, “No, I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the Lord what belongs to you or offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

Luke 21:1-4(HCSB)He looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” He said. “This poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.”

Casual Christians tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. Luke 6:26(HCSB)Woe to you

when all people speak well of you, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the false prophets.
Matthew 23:5-7(HCS)5 They do everything to be observed by others: They enlarge their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. 6 They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.

Casual, cultural Christianity focuses on self instead of God. It concerns itself with what it can get rather than what it can give. It desires (and demands) all the benefits God offers His people but dismisses His expectations and standards for them. It says yes to God’s mercy, healing, forgiveness, salvation, and material blessings but shouts no to obedience, trials, sacrifice, holiness, worship, and surrender.

Casual Christians don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Casual Christians don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. John 10:10(HCSB)A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
Romans 6:1-2(HCSB)What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible…For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others…A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, a good citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been unfaithful, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.

Jesus confronted this disconnect directly during his discourse with the Pharisees. In response to their assertion that His disciples transgressed tradition by not washing their hands before they ate, Jesus exclaimed: Mark 7:6-7 (HCSB) 6 He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.7 They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

Casual, cultural Christianity sounds authentic because it honors God with the lips. What makes it faux-faith, however, is that it proceeds from a heart filled with rebellion and ruled by self (the flesh). Casual Christians never surrender their heart, soul, and lives to God, never express genuine repentance, and never undergo a life transformation by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They simply go through the motions of the Christian faith, play church, and act religious.

Consequently, Jesus explains that whatever worship they exercise toward Him is in vain; it is worthless. They might as well not even waste their time. Unless we worship and honor God with our hearts, and not just our lips, we face the same rebuke. How do we know the difference? If we embrace as doctrine the commands of men instead of scriptural truth, then our hearts have not engaged Jesus. Unless we offer to Him our lives and not just our words, we are not truly His.

Romans 12:1-2 (HCSB) Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

The exhortation that Paul presents is that since we have been the gracious recipients of God’s great mercies, we are to be “living sacrifices” to God. How do we do this? We are living sacrifices to God by not conforming to this world, but by being transformed by the renewal of our minds.

A living sacrifice to God is one who does not conform, but is transformed. We are not to be conformed to this world. Paul is using the word “world” here to refer to the spirit of the age. In other words, “world” refers to the popular worldview that rejects God and His revelation. As unbelievers, we are naturally conformed to the world.

Ephesians 2:2-5 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!

As believers, we are no longer conformed to this world because we no longer belong to the spirit of this age.

Colossians 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Therefore, rather than continuing to conform to this world, we are to be transformed by having our minds renewed.

Where do we put our time and energy? Do we spend more time thinking about the things of the flesh, or do we spend more time on God’s word and the application of it in our lives? Whatever you do, it will be seen by your fruit, whether it be the fruit of the spirit, or the fruit of the flesh. Where we get into difficulties though is when we think it is okay to mix the two, for they cannot live together in harmony, they are opposite to each other. We have to put in a lot of time with the spirit to overcome the natural flesh.

It would be so easy if Satan came as a red man with horns and a tail but he comes as your hearts desire, he comes after you with the things of this world that captivate your attention. When our attention is on the world and not on the kingdom we become susceptible to being deceived with things that are not sinful in itself but easily becomes an idol.

Don’t think the devil wont try to give you everything you desire to keep you from your purpose. He can only tempt you with what you can be tempted with. He knows if he can get you to compromise in worship, then he can get you to compromise in church, then in your prayer time and eventually you will fall way. If he can’t get you to do that he will keep you busy with work chasing the American dream to keep you from your purpose. Don’t think he won’t make taking that job away from home, stepping down from ministry, missing your wife and kids and forfeiting your purpose of God very appealing.

How do we compromise the Word of God?

• When we fail to accept the Word: 2 Timothy 4:3-4(ESV)“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths”.

• When we place our desires, and that of others, ahead of the Word of God:
Acts 5:4 (ESV)“While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God”.

As true believers in Christ, we must accept God’s Word as absolute, inerrant truth. We must be fully obedient to His Word. And we must recognize that His Word is not to be compromised for any reason or for anyone.

1. Are you willing to give up EVERYTHING and put Christ ahead of EVERYONE to follow Him immediately, indefinitely, and exclusively?

2. Are you living up to your commitment to put Him first in all things, at all times, under all circumstances?

Honor, Submission, Obey and Church Discipline

Matthew 13:57(NLT) And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” When Jesus said, “a prophet is honored everywhere except in his hometown,” the Greek word he used was “atimos” (pronounced at’-ee’-mos). It means to dishonor, to treat as common or ordinary. The word translated as honor from Greek is the word “time” (prounounced tim-may’). It means to value or highly esteem, and to treat as precious, weighty, or valuable.

Applied to our daily lives, we could say:

Honor builds up. Dishonor tears down.

Honor believes the best. Dishonor believes the worst.

Honor values. Dishonor devalues.

If you want a common marriage, dishonor your spouse. Treat him or her as ordinary. If you want an exceptional marriage, highly esteem your spouse. Treat him or her as precious or valuable.

You might say, “But he isn’t acting honorably.”

Remember, respect is earned, but honor is given. If you treat someone with honor even when they haven’t earned it, they might start behaving honorably.

Honor leads us to value church leaders, and give weight to what they tell us. Dishonor leads us to scorn and devalue what church leaders tell us.

Acts 23:1-5(HCSB) Paul looked intently at the Sanhedrin and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience until this day.” 2 But the high priest Ananias ordered those who were standing next to him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! You are sitting there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law are you ordering me to be struck?”

4 And those standing nearby said, “Do you dare revile God’s high priest?”

5 “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest,” replied Paul. “For it is written, You must not speak evil of a ruler of your people.

Exodus 22:28 (HCSB)“You must not blaspheme God or curse a leader among your people.” God equates cursing a church leader with reviling God!

When you honor your church leaders, you are honoring God. They are God’s messengers, God’s representatives. We demonstrate our honor of God by honoring the Leaders He has set before us.

Jesus took this cursing one step further. It is not the words you speak that matters, it is the heart attitude you have. You can say “yes” with your mouth but be going “Yea right like I’m gonna do that” with your heart.

Hebrews 13:17(HCSB) : Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls. Church leaders are keeping watch over your souls. That is their job. And how you honor your church leaders will determine the reward of how goes your soul.

The Gospel of Christ is inexplicably tied to the preaching of His Word. If you do not honor the messenger, you dishonor the Word. God honors his servants, for they follow Christ, and He honors His Son.

1 Thessalonians  5:12-13(HCSB)12 Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves

There are many clear scriptures in the Bible about submission to spiritual leaders……and it’s all wonderful. The Bible is very clear on the subject of submission, not just in the church, but also for husbands, wives, children, and employees, to civil, parental, and spiritual authority.

There are a few words in the Bible that are synonymous with submission; Honor, respect, giving, love and humility

Find a person who understands submission to authority and you’ll see a person who is humble, full of love, unselfish, accountable, and personally responsible.

Find a person who does not understand submission to authority and you’ll see a person who is prideful, full of criticism, selfish, self ruled, and spiritually irresponsible.

BIBLICAL SUBMISSION IS NOT SLAVERY, It is a very fundamental principle of life that is to be practiced in the world and the church.

There are many scriptures on how spiritual authority should govern and guide the church as well as instructions about the right response to authority, both civil and spiritual.

Understand the principle of submission and you’ll understand the practice of submission

WARNING: Beware of people who are always finding fault with the leadership of the church and the church it’s self, for they are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their heart is rebellious and their fruit is pride and dishonor. They seek to destroy people, the church and even the faith while lifting up themselves and their “cause”. They are bitter against leaders and long for control. Watch out for them for they claim to love God and His commands.

Let’s go to the scriptures about submission to spiritual authority:
Ephesians 4:11-12(HCSB) 11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ,

Jesus is head of the church and He has established these offices as well as people to be leaders with authority in those offices over the church. God also has given these leaders the responsibility to serve, oversee, and establish HIS word and commands for HIS church in the earth
Hebrews 13:17-18(HCSB) 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. 18 Pray for us; for we are convinced that we have a clear conscience, wanting to conduct ourselves honorably in everything.

Clearly this is not talking about civil authorities, but spiritual authority. It says OBEY and SUBMIT. (swear words to some Christians). But Paul also said, PRAY for spiritual leaders.

Submission to spiritual authority is about a functional relationship of love and honor, first to God, then to man.

1 Timothy 5:17-20(HCSB) The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says: Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages. 19 Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. 20 Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.

Elders serve as the lead overseers of the church, meaning, they’re the ones who oversee. They lead, they’re the ones who have visions. They are the ones who kind of watch out for things. They’re leaders but they also teach and preach the Bible and they protect the church from false teaching. Now that phrase that I just read to you is my summation of what the New Testament teaches about elders. You study it for yourself but what we see is that elders do stuff. They lead and they teach and they protect as God’s authority over the local church.

I’ve noticed that people who have the biggest problem with authority in the church usually carry resentment because they want to be in charge themselves and can’t be.

More than ruling over people, spiritual authority has an obligation to Jesus Christ to love, feed, and protect the flock of God. And God has given them His grace and authority to govern. Along with that responsibility comes instruction, counsel, warning, correction, and even rebuke when necessary. Spiritual authority is more than a title; it is a relationship with people. They stand as servants, ministers, and even spiritual parents in the lives of God’s people.

1 Corinthians 4:14-16(HCSB)14 I’m not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children. 15 For you can have 10,000 instructors in Christ, but you can’t have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me.

Elders are to be imitatible, meaning that an elder should say, verbally and by their example. Hey, look at my life and do what I do. Do your finances the way I do my finances. Do your sexuality the way I do my sexuality. Do your marriage the way I do my marriage. They are to be imitatible and they’re to be reproductive not just meaning to have a lot of kids but they have a lot of spiritual kids. They have disciples. They have people who are following them the way they follow Jesus. We look for elders at Revival Life Church as people who are already eldering. We look for people who are already pastoring. People that are already producing, making disciples, right. That’s what an elder is. That’s what an elder does

In many instances Paul gave commands to the church and even put people out of the church for disobedience and sin. In fact one time Paul said that the leaders of the church were to turn someone over to Satan that they learn not to blaspheme. Listen to this scripture;

2 Thessalonians 3:10-15(HCSB)10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who walk irresponsibly, not working at all, but interfering with the work of others. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ that quietly working, they may eat their own food. 13 Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.14 And if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet don’t treat him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Leaders are to be a strong godly example and to lead in strength and certainty. However, many people are offended by this quality and cry “spiritual abuse”. They are simply offended at God’s word rather than the leader. Along with Spiritual Leadership comes discipline. A lot of people who are misguided will quote this:Matthew 18:15-20 (ESV)“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. ..

Notice this is for if a brother sins against you, it is not in the context of Church discipline when a Shepherd is looking after the sheep, or an Elder is looking after the congregation.

Titus 3:10-11(HCSB)10 Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 (HCSB)6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us.

1 Timothy 5:19-20(HCSB)19 Don’t accept an accusation against an elder unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. 20 Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.

Proverbs 12:1 (ESV)Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

1 Corinthians 5:11-13 (ESV) But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Submission isn’t a power struggle but rather a mutual relationship of love, humility and respect.

Submission is a principle that should be practiced in every area of life, including the church, for it is godly order and divine principles for safety and success.

AGAIN; Understand the principle of submission and you’ll understand the practice of submission

Many Christians who do not want to submit to the authority in the church do not want to submit at home.

1 Peter 5:5-6(HCSB) 5 In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time

This is another example of spiritual leadership and authority

As Christians we are commanded to LOVE and SERVE one another.

Galatians 5:13(HCSB)For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

The real love of Jesus is expressed through submission

This is not about the abuse of a title but rather a mutual relationship of love, humility, and respect that starts with our submission to God first than man.

Here is a Shocking scripture about Civil Authority;

Romans 13:1-4(HCSB)  Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. 2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. 4 For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong

1The correlation between governmental authority or “non-spiritual” authority and God’s authority is very clear.

2God has not only established authority among men but, honors their judgment and punishment

3“The higher powers” or “rulers” are called God’s Servants, Avengers 

4(vs 4) so one could say that they are a type of “spiritual authority”

5First the natural then the spiritual. Why would God expect you to obey the natural authority and not the spiritual authority? Isn’t it God that places pastors and elders over the church to feed the flock of God and to watch over the church?

NOTICE: Only those breaking the law have an issue with the law! It’s the same in the church; only those who hate authority will not submit to authority. But those who understand the principle of authority understand the practice of submission .

Being a spiritual leader in the church is not about the title one has but rather the responsibility of the title.

Acts 20:28 (HCSB) Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God,[a] which He purchased with His own blood.

1 Peter 5:2-3(HCSB) 2 Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

IN THE END:

When you understand the principle of submission you’ll understand the authority of God. The point of submission to spiritual leaders, governmental leaders and parents is love and submission to God first then to man.

Our entire culture is suffering from a lack of understanding of the power and value of honor. And it starts with how we dishonor God.

We are treating God as common or ordinary.

God is not the “big guy in the sky” or the “man upstairs.” He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. Jesus is not our “homeboy.” He is the risen and soon-returning King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

In Isaiah 29:13(HCSB) The Lord said: Because these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service—yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote—

It’s time we stop giving God lip service and give him the honor He is due.

Selfish Christians

Selfish Christianity produces many stumbling blocks for those who are new to the faith. 1 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV)“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak”. Our liberty is not worth another’s walk with God. If something God allows would lead another to sin, we need to avoid it. We are given great freedom as Christians, but the greatest is the freedom to consider others’ welfare over our own.

Refraining from being a stumbling block means not leading another into sin. How we accomplish this depends on the situation and the hearts of those around us. The security we have in God’s love and provision, both now and eternally, allows us to show concern to those who are weaker—those who need specific encouragement to understand who God is.

In some situations, that means living in those freedoms to exemplify that God is a God of grace. In others, it means disciplining ourselves to building up weaker believers and not pushing them into a liberty they’re not ready for. But, always, it means not encouraging another to act in a way the Bible specifically identifies as sin.

Selfishness is that attitude of being concerned with one’s own interests above the interests of others. However, the Bible commands us to Philippians 2:3-4“do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others”

A sure cure for selfishness is to know where our treasure is. The Christian holds the things of this world loosely because he is laying up “treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-21). He knows it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), and he lives according to the truth that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Peter’s mother-in-law is sick and Jesus comes into the house and heals her.

Matthew 8:14 (HCSB)When Jesus went into Peter’s house, He saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she got up and began to serve Him.

Somethings wont be fixed until you invite Jesus into your home.

Being a Christian is not about “cleaning up” on Wednesdays and Sundays and speaking the right words but when things get rough we put off Christ and put back on our flesh.
Like when finances get tough first thing most people do is stop tithing, but don’t stop eating out. Stop coming to church, but don’t stop going to football games,and meaningless stuff that is not eternal.

Why is it that Jesus is the first thing to be shelved? Why is it that Kingdom thinking is the first thing to be put aside?

We are to come to Gods house and take back to our home what we receive here. We need to not be compartment hypocrites we have to serve God and represent God wherever we are. We can’t put Jesus on a shelf and expect the world to say yes I want some of that.

The reason most people stay out of church is because of hypocrites.

Greek hypokritḗs a stage actor, hence one who pretends to be what he is not.

We act just like the world when we are around them to try and impress them but they look at us as fools .

Have you ever heard the excuse I can’t go to Church there are too many hypocrites there?

Unfortunately the words “sinner” and “hypocrite” are being confused. The confusion is one found between what one is and what one does. Sinner is the generic term of what “one is.” Scripture says all people are found in this category, both in and outside the Church. Everyone falls short of the perfection of God which makes them a sinner. Being a Hypocrite is specifically what one does. Since hypocrisy is a sin, we can say, All hypocrites are sinners. But not all sinners are hypocrites. Those who dislike the church and its explanation of mans predicament bring this confusion by the statement “The church is full of sinners so all sinners are hypocrites. Therefore the church is full of hypocrites.

The church is full of sinners, murderers are sinners therefore the church is full of murderers. This would be very unfair and inaccurate to say. In the same way jail has murderers therefore all who are in jail are murderers. Another example is certain cars go very fast, so and so was caught speeding in his car. Therefore everyone who buys this certain car will speed and break the law.

James 1:22(HCSB) But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

What we learn in God’s house is supposed to be brought out into our own house, in our own temple(We are the temple of the Holy Spirit).

How can a person sit here every Sunday and Wednesday and listen to solid teachings then go out an still live like they are not saved? Still live like the World? I do not want my kids to hear Dad preach a sermon and not live it behind close doors. See Dad on the altar worshipping and praying but never see it in the living room.

I think the worst part is when you get outside the church’s walls and interact with believers and nonbelievers in the same sphere. Can you really tell a difference? If you didn’t recognize their faces from church, would you know from their actions and lifestyle that they were followers of Jesus? Honestly, sometimes I am embarrassed by some of my “Christian” neighbors because my unbelieving neighbors seem more joyful, welcoming, and at peace. Why does this happen? And how is it even possible?

Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” According to this verse, if I am a believer, the Spirit of God dwells in me. Paul reiterates that truth in 1 Corinthians 6:19–20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (NIV). Our bodies are the Spirit’s temple. Later we will delve more into what that means for us; but essentially, it’s that the Holy Spirit makes His home in our bodies. We are His place of dwelling.

And this is the question I just can’t get around: If it’s true that the Spirit of God dwells in us and that our bodies are the Holy Spirit’s temple, then shouldn’t there be a huge difference between the person who has the Spirit of God living inside of him or her and the person who does not?

This may be a silly illustration, but if I told you I had an encounter with God where He entered my body and gave me a supernatural ability to play basketball, wouldn’t you expect to see an amazing improvement in my jump shot, my defense, and my speed on the court? After all, this is God we’re talking about. And if you saw no change in my athleticism, wouldn’t you question the validity of my encounter?

Churchgoers all across the nation say the Holy Spirit has entered

them. They claim that God has given them a supernatural ability to follow Christ, put their sin to death, and serve the church. Christians talk about being born again and say that they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning. Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them?

It reminds me of James’s frustration when he writes about freshwater springs producing saltwater. You can almost hear his incredulity as he writes, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” (James 3:11). What he’s saying is that so-called Christians were doing something that should’ve been impossible—and this kind of doing the impossible is not a good thing!

He laments, “My brothers, these things ought to not be so” (James 3:10). I echo James’s exhortation to those of us in the church today: My brothers and sisters who have received the Holy Spirit, we often lack love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc., even while many of our unbelieving friends exhibit these traits—brothers and sisters, these things ought not to be so! Just as I advised my Jehovah’s Witnesses visitors, we need to begin afresh by reexamining our preconceived ideas about the Holy Spirit and what it means to be a temple of the Spirit. There is much more to God and following in the Way of Jesus than getting a bunch of talented people together to hold a church service.

Our job is to show people the King and teach people about the Kingdom. We cannot reach the world by acting like the world.

God has to be Lord over our life not an ornaments we show off when we in the company of other Christians.

The key is understanding that Jesus is already Lord of your life. We do not make Jesus Lord. Jesus is Lord. What we are supposed to do is submit to His lordship. Another word for our response to Jesus’ Lordship is “submission.” To submit is to yield to the will and control of another, and, with reference to Christians, it is yielding to the will and control of Jesus Christ.

It should be understood that submission, or obedience to the commands of God, is related to Christian growth and maturity, and is not related to becoming a Christian. A person becomes a Christian by faith alone in Christ apart from works

To sum up the idea of the Lordship of Christ, it does not consist of one act of obedience but rather is measured by the sum of our obedience, and it cannot be accomplished in our own strength or power, but by the power available to us by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are strongest when we are relying on Him.

In all the New Testament incidences where the word submit occurs, the word is translated from the Greek word hupotasso. The hupo means “under” and the tasso means “to arrange.” This word and a root of it are also translated by the words subject and subjection. The word’s full meaning is “to obey, put under, be subject to, submit oneself unto, put in subjection under or be under obedience or obedient to.” The word was used as a military term meaning “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a leader.” This word is a wonderful definition of what it means to “submit” to God. It means to arrange oneself under the command of divine viewpoint rather than to live according to one’s old way of life based on a human viewpoint. It is a process surrendering our own will to that of our Father’s.