Ephesians Pt 12 Slander, Anger and Foul Language

Ephesians 4:25-32(ESV) Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

The Father chooses, the Son Redeems, the Holy Spirit Seals. V30 says do not grieve the Holy Spirit. We need to remember that the Holy Spirit is not a distant, abstract deity and certainly not an impersonal force. No, the Holy Spirit is a person, for only a genuine and personable being is capable of this kind of thinking, feeling, and emotion. In fact, when we understand that the Spirit is a person it should surprise us only if he would not or could not feel grief in the face of our sin. “There is some sadness in the consideration that the Holy Spirit, the One who is our Comforter (John 14:16), is himself grieved by our sin. Sins that bring disunity to the church also bring grief to the Holy Spirit. Again, Bryan Chapell says, “The same Spirit who convicts my heart of sin, generates in me love for God, gives me new birth, provides my apprehension of the beauty of grace in the world, and seals my redemption until the coming of my Lord—this same Spirit who loves me so intimately and perfectly, I can cause to grieve.”

It is also worth noting what Paul does not say, for there is comfort to be had here. Paul does not threaten abandonment. Clinton Arnold makes this point and concludes “Under the new covenant, the Spirit does not depart when sin is committed. Instead, the Spirit deeply grieves over it. Paul presents this as a truth that should motivate believers not to indulge their sinful desires—whether this might be filthy talk, stealing, uncontrolled anger, lying, or any other vice.” The true believer does not need to fear that God will respond to sin by giving up and moving out. We are sealed by the Spirit for all eternity.

We grieve the Spirit when we sin and we especially grieve the Spirit when we sin in ways that cause discord, perhaps because unity is a special work of the Spirit.

The old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is simply not true. Words can do a great deal of damage to those who have been slandered. Slander is making a false verbal statement that damages someone’s reputation. Slander differs slightly from libel in that libel is a written defamation of character; slander is only spoken. Remember that when you read something on Facebook that is not true or you are tempted to write something that is not true about another, you are involved in libel and can be sued.The Bible says a lot about slander, in both Old and New Testament.
Proverbs 10:18(ESV)The one who conceals hatred has lying lips,and whoever utters slander is a fool.

1 Peter 2:1-5(ESV)So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Slander is a sin that is very high on God’s list, so much so that He listed it as #9 in the Ten Commandments Exodus 20:16(ESV).“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Bearing false witness includes slander because of the untruths being spread. Slander is simply lying about someone with the intent of causing others to view that person in a negative light.

Slander is malicious lying, and God hates lying.
Proverbs 6:16–19(ESV)There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

Proverbs 12:22(ESV)Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.

Proverbs 13:5(ESV) 5 The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.

John 8:44(ESV)44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

God is the author of truth. John 14:6(ESV)6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, Anything untrue is in opposition to His nature and therefore repulsive to Him. Both slander and gossip are wrong, and Scripture often condemns them together (Leviticus 19:16(ESV)16 You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord., but slander takes gossip to a whole new level. Gossip collects someone’s secrets and passes them to others; slander makes up its own secrets and broadcasts them wherever they will do the most harm.(ie:Facebook)

When we slander others, we are choosing to step out of the path God designed for us. He will not participate with us in our attempts to destroy someone else with our words. Slander comes from the heart, and when we are tempted to speak untruths about someone, we should first examine our own hearts to see what ugly root is producing those desires.

Matthew 15:16-18(ESV)18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

The life of Jesus has shown us that being angry, in itself, is not evil. Ephesians 4:25–32 takes this idea a step further. Paul tells us not only that we are permitted to be angry, he also says there are times when we must be angry. When Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and animal-sellers, He showed great emotion and anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). Jesus’ emotion was described as “zeal” for God’s house (John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship. Because these were at stake, Jesus took quick and decisive action. Another time Jesus showed anger was in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He looked around at them in anger, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5).

Many times, we think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion that we should eradicate from our lives altogether. However, the fact that Jesus did sometimes become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, is amoral. This is borne out elsewhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us “in your anger do not sin” and not to let the sun go down on our anger. The command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner. While anger is often viewed as a completely negative emotion, there are times a person can be angry for appropriate reasons. In the case of Jesus, His anger was the result of ungodly attitudes and actions by those around Him.

Six things that made Jesus Angry
1. Hypocrisy – Pharisees – Matthew 15 & 23

2. Greed – Money Changers – John 2:15-17

3. Lukewarm Living – Revelation 3:15

4. Hard Heartedness Mark 3:5

5. Superiority – exalted doctrines of men Matthew 23

6. Spiritual Pride – pharisees vs tax collector Luke 18:9-14

The anger of Jesus did not result in a long-term grudge. Instead, His anger was an emotion that resulted in proper actions. Today’s believers must seek the same response. Anger left unchecked or wrongly motivated can result in long-term unforgiveness that causes problems in a believer’s own life.

If they made Jesus angry we could say that we could get angry at these as well.

That the Lord would command us to be angry at times is understandable when we consider biblical ethics. In the same letter Paul summarizes what we need to know about Christian virtues by telling us to be “imitators of God” (5:1). Our Father in heaven can only be perfectly holy if He gets angry when His righteous standards are violated. If we are to imitate Him, we too must get mad at those things that make God angry. We must grow incensed when we see the weak and helpless exploited, because the Lord’s wrath is kindled against the oppressor. Exodus 22:21–24(ESV)21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. 23 If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, 24 and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.. Hypocrisy in our lives and in the church must disturb us because of Jesus’ anger at those who honor Him with their lips only (Matthew 15:8(ESV)“‘This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me;

Yet we are imperfect, and while we must sometimes get angry, we must also take care that we do not sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26). Every time we are mad, we should check ourselves to see if we are upset at the things God hates. Otherwise we may be angry without just cause and give opportunity to the Devil (v. 27). Anger is the emotion most prone to sinful abuse, and this is why Paul also tells us to put anger away in this same passage (v. 31). This is not a contradiction of verse 26, Paul is only recognizing that our anger, even if it is godly at first, is too often perverted into feelings of malice instead of a longing to see offenders repent. When this happens, we are in danger of giving root to the bitterness that destroys. Hebrews 12:15(ESV)15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 

Finally, though evil should anger us, we are not always to pour wrath on others. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because of their hard hearts (Matthew 23), but He was kind and gentle to the adulterous woman because she was humble and contrite (John 7:53–8:11). We cannot condone sin, but we must also imitate our Savior and seek to restore the repentant in instead of showing the full brunt of our wrath.

Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid. Then we assign a word to a thought and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.The same words that hurt can heal, it’s a matter of how you pick them. There are some people that aren’t into all the words.There are some that would have you not use certain words.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths…” I wonder what determines corrupting talk? Does the pop culture? Does the FCC? Do the religious people? Nope. The answer comes in the second part of the statement: “… but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” This statement both makes cussing relative and invites some study of its context. The test, does using this word tear someone down or build up? If it doesn’t tear them down (because it is part of a language they understand) then we ought not live in a legalism that the Scriptures don’t impose.

Isaiah 5:20(ESV)Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  We are supposed to use good words for good things and bad words for bad things, the problems start when we mix them up. When we start to assume certain words are bad and certain words are good. Or we allow culture to dictate what is good and what is bad instead of letting scripture tell us.

Bible Translations are filtered through a bit of political correctness. As a pastor one of my goals is to instill a passion to interpret and believe what the Bible actually says into you guys. Not what we want it to say, but what it really says in all its grit and occasional offensiveness. Cleaning up God’s word is like telling a chef he didn’t prepare the meal correctly for the patrons.

But religious people have been covering up  seemingly obscene language in the Bible for centuries. Jewish scribes in the middle ages, who copied the Hebrew Old Testament used as the base for all English translations, edited out some vulgar words and replaced them with nicer ones. For instance, God originally prophesied through Zechariah that women in Israel would be raped by wicked, invading armies. The word God inspired is shagel, and according to Hebrew linguists, shagel is an obscene word that describes a sexual act. But whenever God said shagel  as in Deuteronomy 28:30(ESV)30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit.;

Isaiah 13:16(HCSB)Their children will be smashed to death before their eyes; their houses will be looted, and their wives raped., 

The Masorites replaced it with the more tame shakev—“to lie with.” And all of our “literal” English translations agree that the word from the middle ages is better than the one spoken by our Creator.

Ezekiel 23:16-21(ESV)
Ezekiel 16 (ESV)

Modern translators edit out the vulgarity so that Ezekiel can be read in church. The apostle Paul was so enrapture by the scandalous grace of God that he did what we considered the greatest sin of all, he assumedly cussed! Philippians 3:8(NET)“I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as skubala, in order that I may gain Christ” . The Greek word skubala is more vulgar than crap and dung, and as harsh as s**t. Either way, most translations dim it down by using words like “rubbish,” which means trash, not excrement, or “dung” which is more accurate but far less offensive. And yes my friends, that word is a first century cuss word.

Galatians 5:12(HCSB)12 I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!

Matthew 23:33(ESV)33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?
Malachi 2:3(ESV) Behold, I will rebuke your offspring, and spread dung on your faces, the dung of your offerings, and you shall be taken away with it.

So…God said “whore,” called religious leaders “snakes”, said he would rub peoples faces in dung, told religious people to basically go ahead and cut it off. WOW! So much for the safe, tame and predictable God that most churches portray.

There are times that a speaker is called to say things that will shock and offend people…and that is ok. I don’t personally think a speaker should ever try to be shocking just for the sake of doing so…but I do believe, according to Scripture, that there are times when controversial and bold statements need to be made!

In some ways, it’s understandable that we don’t want to be using this type of language in church. But, on the other hand, the Gospel is offensive. Grace is scandalous. And that’s the real point. The biblical prophets sometimes use offensive language, but not to produce shock for its own sake. Edginess was never the goal, and neither was some vague notion of Christian “freedom.” God’s messengers used vulgar images to shock their religious audience out of complacency. Because sometimes the goodness of God becomes lost in the fog of Christianese rhetoric and religious routine, and the only way to wake us up is to use provocative language.

So how do we reconcile Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus’ filthy tongue with Ephesians 4:29(ESV)? 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Does this outlaw all forms of vulgarity? Not exactly. The word for “corrupting” (sapros) literally means “rotten, decaying, unwholesome.” The whole point is not to forbid certain words that are labeled “cuss words” by its culture, but all speech that does not “build up.”

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 “corrupting” 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 or holding up a hateful sign at a gay-pride parade are all good examples of “corrupting” talk.

The Bible makes this abundantly clear.

1Peter 3:10(ESV)“For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
James 3:9-12(ESV) summarizes the issue: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

So what is the meaning of Ephesians 4:29(ESV) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

James makes it clear that the lives of Christians—the “brothers”—should not be characterized by evil speech. By making the analogy of both salt water and fresh water coming from the same spring (which is uncharacteristic of springs), he makes the point that it is uncharacteristic for a believer to have both praise and gossip, perverse, or corrupt speech come from his/her mouth. Nor is it characteristic for us to praise God on one hand and curse our brothers on the other. This, too, is uncharacteristic of a true believer. Gossip is like a secret craving. We say we don’t like it, but when it’s within reach, we almost can’t resist it. We get a sudden appetite to know what we don’t know… about somebody else.

Why is it so hard to stop? Proverbs 18:8(HCSB)A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being

No, you might think. Not me. I’m not into sharing the dirty details about a person’s life just for fun. But gossip comes in many flavors, and it involves listening as well. Proverbs 17:4(HCSB)  A wicked person listens to malicious talk;a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

The Hebrew word translated “gossip” in the Old Testament is defined as “one who reveals secrets, one who goes about as a talebearer or scandal-monger.” A gossiper is a person who has privileged information about people and proceeds to reveal that information to those who have no business knowing it. Gossip is distinguished from sharing information in two ways:

1. Intent. Gossipers often have the goal of building themselves up by making others look bad and exalting themselves as some kind of repositories of knowledge.

2. The type of information shared. Gossipers speak of the faults and failings of others, or reveal potentially embarrassing or shameful details regarding the lives of others without their knowledge or approval. Even if they mean no harm, it is still gossip.

Jesus explained that what comes out of our mouths is that which fills our hearts. Sooner or later, the evil in the heart comes out through the mouth in curses and swearing. But when our hearts are filled with the goodness of God, praise for Him and love for others will pour forth. Our speech will always indicate what is in our hearts. Luke 6:45(ESV) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks”.

Sin is a condition of the heart, the mind, and “the inner man”, which is manifested in our thoughts, actions and words. When we gossip and use rotten speech, we are giving evidence of the polluting sin in our hearts that must be confessed and repented of. Thankfully, our great God is 1 John 1:9(ESV)“faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”. When this happens, we receive a new nature from God (2 Corinthians 5:17), our hearts are transformed, and our speech reflects the new nature God has created within us.

In the end the battle for purity in the mouth is fought in the heart, because “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” If we see this, we won’t be as surprised with what Paul says in Ephesians. It is not what you might expect. We might expect Paul to rebuke us to clean up our language. We might expect him to talk about words that are not vulgar or rotten or corrupt, but are pure and wholesome and creative and clear. But Paul doesn’t do what we expect.

Instead of proposing clean language, he proposes a whole new way of thinking about language. Instead of saying, “You don’t need dirty language to communicate your intention,” he says, “The root issue is whether your intention is love.” In other words the issue for Paul is not really language at all; the issue is love. The issue is not whether our mouth can avoid gross language; the issue is whether our mouth is a means of grace. You see he shifts from the external fruit to the internal root. He shifts from what we say to why we say it. That’s the issue.

The question for your attitude should be “Is what I am angry with angers God as well? or am I angry because I am not getting my way? The question for your mouth will not merely be the moral question: Am I avoiding dirty words? But the Christian question: Am I building the faith of others by what I say? Is my mouth a means of grace? Am I frightened and anxious and angry about my life, or am I filled and overflowing with hope that the Spirit of God will keep me safe for the day of redemption?

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Ephesians Pt 11

Ephesians 4:17-24(HCSB)17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. 20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. 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.

Ephesians 4:17-18, in which Paul describes how some in the church, who were supposed to be God’s friends, were in reality acting more like His enemies. They were doing so because of their “futile”(fruitless, pointless, useless) thinking, which led to a “darkened understanding” and a hardening of their hearts. Paul, then, in one sentence, summarizes for us how this futile thinking shows up in one’s behavior, and how to identify those to whom his cautionary reminder in verses 17-18 applies. It shows up in what Paul refers to, in verse 19, as “promiscuity”. To live in promiscuity is literally to live “without restraints”, to do whatever you feel like doing, regardless of what God or anybody else says about it. Those who are promiscuous decide for themselves what is right or wrong, they do whatever they “feel” is right, they live in total subjectivity and can not tolerate any kind of disagreement or correction (the hardened hearts of verse 18). These first century Ephesians would, in fact, be very comfortable in our post-modern, relativistic society, in which truth and morality (right and wrong) are determined by the sovereign individual rather than the sovereign God. Due to the hardening of their hearts, any attempt at criticism or correction may be seen as “hateful, bigoted, intolerant”, even referred to as “hate speech”. Say unto thine own heart, “I am mine own redeemer.” Life is the great indulgence – death, the great abstinence. Therefore, make the most of life – HERE AND NOW ! Satanism 101. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, there is no wrong there is no right, there is only pleasure and pain, if it feels good do it, if it makes you feel bad then don’t do it. Satanism is all about feelings and what make you feel good, self gratification at all costs. Christianity doesn’t always feel good. Doing what God says doesn’t always feel good but it is the right choice. We cannot go off of feelings. We have to go off of scripture. It should be noted here that Paul uses the definite article with the word sensuality here, referring to “promiscuity”, the form of sensuality which was prevalent in Ephesus at the time, and is still very prevalent in our present culture, the lack of restraint which comes from futile or useless thinking, thinking that the individual is lord, rather than God being lord. This futile thinking and hardening of the heart leads to them “giving themselves over” to promiscuity. Having decided that they will be lord, that they will define truth and morality for themselves, they become enslaved by sensuality, for we are enslaved by what we give ourselves over to. This giving themselves over to sensuality will result in their “the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more”, indulging in whatever kind of “uncleanness” that they feel like indulging in, unrestrained by the word of God or anything else, living with an unbridled flesh and an unchecked will, becoming the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong, or whether right and wrong even exist.

The connection between sexual immorality and idolatry is best understood in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:18(ESV) “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” The bodies of believers are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. Pagan idol worship often involved perverse and immoral sexual acts performed in the temple of a false god. When we use our physical bodies for immoral purposes, we are imitating pagan worship by profaning God’s holy temple with acts He calls detestable (1 Corinthians 6:9–11(HCSB)9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Therefore I do not believe in “accountability partners” for pornography or sexual immorality if the Holy Spirit is not enough of an accountability partner than no person will be. If you as a christian can masturbate to porn knowing you have the Holy Spirit residing in you, then a partner will be of no help.

The sin you tolerate today will become a stronghold tomorrow. No one ever wakes up and says they want to be a child molester, no one wakes up and says I want to be addicted to heroin, no one wakes up and says “I think I want to be an alcoholic.”. Its starts with one look at a porno, one toke off a joint, one sip of beer.

The enemy is crafty and knows how to deceive. It is his primary job. He will give you a taste of sin a little at a time until you are hooked and so far deep into it you look around one day and say “how did I get here”. It goes back to the sin you tolerate today becomes a stronghold tomorrow.

Genesis 4:7(NLT) You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

Our sin problems are a result of a worship problem. When we cant let go of our sin it’s because we don’t fully believe we serve a big enough God or we love that sin more than we love God.

We all worship something, what you glory in you will sacrifice for. If you glory in video games you will sacrifice for it. If you glory in making out you will sacrifice for it.Sexual immorality is idolatry. Anything you put above God or worship instead of God is idolatry.

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. 

2 Peter 2:19 (NLT)They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

Those who are in sexual immorality have made self gratification their god. They have  enslaved themselves to it and worship it and allow it to control and destroy them. The idol always lies. It tells you you can have your pleasure without any consequences. You don’t just look at porn, engage in sex without being married, etc.  you worship self. And here’s the truth: we’re all worshipers. We are passionately giving ourselves away to someone, to something, to a cause, to a person, to an experience, to a pleasure, to a pursuit, to a passion. We give ourselves away. We give our money, our time, our energy. It’s what we talk about. It’s how our identity is formed. It’s what we commit ourselves to. We’re all worshipers, Christians, atheists, those who are members of other religions, all are worshipers. The only question is who or what are you worshiping?

What you glory in you sacrifice for, what you sacrifice for is what you worship. And make no mistake: Every time you see an image, lust in your heart, go surfing on the Internet, you’re worshiping. You’re not worshiping the Creator; you’re worshiping the created, and it’s idolatry. And the issue goes deeper than just sexual orientation or preference. It goes down to the root issue of idolatry. You can’t simultaneously worship Jesus Christ, the Creator God, and be into porn or sexual immorality, you can’t. You can’t worship the Creator, while worshiping the created. It’s one or the other. So, for some of you, your problem is not just behavioral. It’s not that you just need to change the way you act. You need to alter the God you worship. Sometimes, when we’re sinners, when we think of what we want, we find a way to rationalize, justify, and excuse our behavior.

If you claim to believe in Christ, but are living just as you did before you believed in Him, you need to examine whether you truly believe in Him. Becoming a Christian requires turning from your sin to God (repentance). But repentance is not a one-time event. It defines the lifestyle of a believer. God changes us radically at the moment of salvation by imparting new life to us, but this is followed by a lifetime of changing into the image of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 3:18(NLT)18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

The changed life stems from the transformation that God works in us through the gospel as we put off the old life, are renewed in our minds, and put on the new life in Christ.

In Romans 6 and in Colossians 3:9(NLT)Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds, Paul refers to the putting off of the old man as an accomplished fact. When Christ died on the cross, we died with Him positionally. When He was raised from the dead, we were raised up with Him. We are to figure these facts to be true in our daily practice, so that we will not give in to sin (Romans 6:11(NLT)11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. But, although we died with Christ, in other places Paul commands us to put to death our members that are on the earth.

Romans 8:13(NLT)13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Colossians 3:5(NLT)So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Why do we need to put to death our members if we already died?

We must daily apply experientially the facts that are true of us positionally. So, yes, at the moment we got saved, we put off the dirty clothes of the old life. But, every day we must figure that this is so by putting off everything associated with the old life and putting on the new life in Christ.

God is the creator of this new man. As we saw in Ephesians 2:10(HCSB)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 shows that the changed life of the believer is not something that we can conjure up by our own will power. God created us anew in Him. But, at the same time, we must walk in the good works that He has prepared for us.

The first step is cognition. God’s pattern for spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says and what it means. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture—if you don’t know what it means, you don’t have the truth. So the process of spiritual growth starts with understanding what the Bible says. This is the importance of being under spiritual leadership that is steeped in biblical knowledge and truth.

True sanctification begins with renewing your mind. (Greek – Metanoia) You must know the truth, plain and simple. There’s no premium on ignorance in sanctification. You’re not going to get there through some emotional or mystical experience. Spiritual growth won’t happen by osmosis—it requires the discipline of constantly putting God’s truth in your mind.

Hebrews 13:8-9(HCSB)8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Don’t be led astray by various kinds of strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be established by grace and not by foods, since those involved in them have not benefited.

There are no shortcuts in sanctification—a lack of biblical knowledge will always stun your spiritual growth. Apart from the truth of Scripture, there simply is no mechanism to restrain your sinful flesh. Legalism can’t do it. Good Intentions can’t either. The only certain method for true spiritual growth starts with absorbing God’s eternal truth.

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.

Luke 15:11-21(HCSB) He also said: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. 15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. 17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger!18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. 21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’

The son was in the pig slop eating pig pods, stuff that would fill up his belly but give him no nourishment, how much do we take in throughout the week that fills us up but gives us no spiritual nourishment?

1 Corinthians 6:9-11(HCSB) 9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

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.

God is getting you ready to live with Him forever. He is getting you ready to accept His inheritance. Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.

How HOT does the fire have to get?? As HOT as we let it.
God doesn’t care about your reputation; He cares about your Character.

For Godly character to be in us HE has to work our fleshly character out of us. God doesn’t change our personality, He changes our character.

Character is what you are behind closed doors, when no one is watching, when your all alone, when you don’t have to wear the “mask” in front of people.

Character in the believer is a consistent manifestation of Jesus in his life. It is the purity of heart that God gives becoming purity in action. God sometimes uses trials to strengthen character:
Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Being saved is a nature change not sin management. The highest a lot of us take it is we teach you to act like us, dress like us, talk like us. Never really dealing with the underlying sin problem. Jesus is the answer to the sin problem.

James 4:7-10 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

What is the meaning to the Christian Life?

What is the meaning of the Christian life?

The WestMinster Shorter Catechism states it this way.
What is the chief end of man?

  1. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
    Here are two ends of life specified. 1. The glorifying of God. 2. The enjoying of God.

First. The glorifying of God, 1 Peter 4:11(HCSB)11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. “That God in all things may be glorified.” The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions.
1 Corinthians 10:31(HCSB)31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory. Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth asserted is that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

Q. What is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things:

1.Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection.

Appreciation. To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and, to have a venerable esteem of him. Psalm 92:8(HCSB)But You, Lord, are exalted forever.
Psalm 97:9(HCSB)For You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth; You are exalted above all the gods, There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prima causa [the first cause], the original and spring-head of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistening beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called “the work of his fingers.” Psalm 8:3(HCSB)When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place, To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.

Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship. Psalm 29:2(HCSB)Ascribe to Yahweh the glory due His name; worship Yahweh in the splendor of His holiness. A divine worship which we give to God as his royal privilege. Nehemiah 8:6 (HCSB)Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, “Amen, Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, otherwise it is offering strange fire,
Leviticus 10:1-3(HCSB)Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them to do. Then fire came from the Lord and burned them to death before the Lord. So Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when He said: I will show My holiness to those who are near Me, and I will reveal My glory before all the people.” But Aaron remained silent. The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, “according to the pattern.” Exodus 25:40(HCSB)40 Be careful to make them according to the pattern you have been shown on the mountain.. He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here every thing must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.

3. Affection. This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved. Deuteronomy 6:5(HCSB)Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. There is a twofold love: 1. Amor concupiscentiae, a love of lust, which is self-love; as when we love another because he does us a good deed. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God. 2. Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his treasure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is of the highest quality; we give God the best of our love. Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.

4. Subjection. This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore they are represented by the cherubims with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh. Matthew 2:11. So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience. We glorify God when we falter at no service, when we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy.

A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but also brings light.  Thus, he who glorifies God has not only his affections heated with love to The Almighty, the Christian also brings forth the light that is in him to a dark and dying world. Matthew 5:13-16 HCSB ““You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men. “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

The Christian life is supposed to be a life lived by faith. It is by faith that we enter into the Christian life, and it is by faith that we live it out. When we begin the Christian life by coming to Christ for forgiveness of sin, we understand that what we seek cannot be obtained by any other means than by faith. We cannot work our way to heaven, because nothing we could ever do would be sufficient. Those who believe they can attain eternal life by keeping rules and regulations—a list of do’s and don’ts—deny what the Bible clearly teaches. Galatians 3:11(HCSB)11 Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live by faith. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Christ because He told them this very truth, that all their righteous deeds were worthless and that only faith in their Messiah would save them.

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(HCSB)17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith,  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.

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(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. 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
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. He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. 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. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39(HCSB)But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. Hebrews addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws 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(HCSB)13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. The true believer is one who believes to the end.

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.

Ephesians Pt10 Jesus gives the gifts

Ephesians 4:7-16(HCSB)7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people. 9 But what does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth? 10 The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. 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, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 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.

Have you ever been “church shopping,” trying to find the perfect church for your family? People look for programs that will help them and their children grow in the faith. This is backwards thinking. The Church is not about us, it is about Jesus Christ. If the Church is a Temple, a “dwelling place for God in the Spirit”, then the Church is God-centered, not John and Mary Doe-centered. We should be approaching the Church as Christ’s Arms, Hands, and Fingers in the world, not to point out where we need some scratching and massaging, but to ask: How can I help? Where can I serve? How can I make this local manifestation of the Temple of God a more pleasing place for God to dwell?

In his book The Empty Church, historian Thomas C. Reeves says: “Christianity in modern America . . . tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. It does not require self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, an otherworldly outlook, a zeal for souls, a fear as well as love of God. There is little guilt and no punishment, and the payoff in heaven is virtually certain. What we now have might best be labeled ‘Consumer Christianity.’ The cost is low and customer satisfaction seems guaranteed.”

There are two seas in Israel. Both are fed by the same source of life, the Jordan River. The Sea of Galilee is full of life. The area around the Galilee supports an abundance of wildlife.  In contrast, the Dead Sea is lifeless. Nothing lives in the sea and few living organisms are found around the Dead Sea.

So, what is the difference? Why is one full of life and the other dead? If you look at the map, the answer is quite obvious. One sea gives; the other only consumes. The Sea of Galilee takes what it needs from the Jordan River, multiplies the gifts and then passes the water on downstream. The Dead Sea takes water and hoards the water, never passing any water on. The Dead Sea only consumes. The water in the Dead Sea evaporates, leaving behind salt, thus making the Sea lifeless.

How about you? Our source of life is Jesus Christ. His love flows in us and replenishes us. He restores us. He redeems us. He is our Savior. He is our everything. Are you hoarding His love or passing that love on because of your gratitude to Christ? Are you replenishing others around you or just draining them? How about in church? Are you sitting on the same pew weekend in and weekend out just being a consumer? Is it time to start producing more for the Cause of Christ instead of only consuming?

Consumer Christianity is KILLING US.

You understand consumerism. America is made up of consumers. Companies make stuff and we consume it. That’s the cycle of economics which is based upon the law of supply and demand. Demand drives the process. And who does the demanding? Consumers…also us…people. Consumerism is predicated upon our choice to purchase things based on our preferences and needs. If we have a family of six and we need a vehicle which can carry all of us together – Mini van here we come. Healthy consumerism drives a healthy economy and the freedom to choose is at the core of this. That’s why capitalism thrives in countries where the people are free to make their own choices. Consumerism, however, does not make for a healthy church.

What happened? You became a consumer and didn’t realize it. Trained by a culture that worships at the altar of “my needs and wants” you actually fell into the same trap and applied it to your relationship with Jesus and His church. You chose a church based on how it would meet your needs rather than how the Lord wanted you to fit in the body. The reason this is so deadly is that it’s exactly opposite of Jesus’ dream for His Church. God is the one who sets members in the body as He wills…that’s not our prerogative.
1 Corinthians 12:18(HCSB)18 But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. The church was never to be an inward focused people looking to meet their own needs. We were to always be an upward focused people looking to love God and others extravagantly.

When we approach choosing a church the same way we approach where to buy our groceries we step into a consumer mindset which we carry with us during our entire lifetime in the church. We will then complain when the “goods and services” offered are not up to our liking. We will look to “management” to make changes to satisfy our needs. And if our needs are not met, we will vote with our feet, because everybody knows, “the customer is always right.” Is this Jesus’ dream for His church?

“Each one of us” refers to those to whom Paul wrote 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. If you have not been rescued from God’s judgment (that’s what saved means) by God’s undeserved favor (grace) through faith in Christ’s death as your substitute, then nothing else that I am going to say in this message applies to you. You must receive God’s gracious gift of eternal life before you receive His gracious spiritual gift that enables you to serve Him. If you think that you can earn salvation by serving God, you do not understand the gospel.

In the ancient world, when conquering generals returned home they would bring a procession of prisoners of war as a sign of their victory, and in celebration, give gifts to the populace. Paul quotes Psalms 68 and offers us this image — of the conquering Christ bestowing gifts upon his citizens, the Church. Psalm 68:18(HCSB)You ascended to the heights, taking away captives; You received gifts from people,even from the rebellious, so that the Lord God might live there. He has vanquished his enemies in the “lower, earthly regions” and has now ascended to the heavenly realms where his citizens are enthroned alongside him at the right hand of God.

The poetic picture is that the Lord’s people were in trouble and the Lord came down and delivered them. Then He ascended again into heaven as the victorious warrior. Paul applies this directly to Christ. Second, the verse pictures Christ ascending into heaven after securing victory over His enemies. This includes Satan and his evil hosts, as Christ defeated them at the cross. But it may also allude to all of us who were formerly his enemies, but who were brought into willing submission at the cross. We are now His willing captives, ready to obey the One that we formerly hated. Third, after His ascension, Jesus gave gifts to His church. The picture is of a victorious warrior, receiving spoil after his victory and then distributing that spoil as gifts to his people.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 12 Paul gives two lists of spiritual gifts.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10(HCSB) 8 to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, 9 to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of languages, to another, interpretation of languages.

1 Corinthians 12:28-30(HCSB)28 And God has placed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, managing, various kinds of languages. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all do miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in other languages? Do all interpret? As in Ephesians 4:4-6, he follows a trinitarian outline.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7(HCSB)4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are different activities, but the same God activates each gift in each person. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person to produce what is beneficial:

1 Corinthians 12:11(HCSB), 11 But one and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as He wills. Twice he states that each one has a gift. Each Christian has a gift.

Besides Ephesians 4, the other text is 1 Peter 4:10-11(HCSB), which groups all of the gifts under the general headings of serving gifts and speaking gifts: 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. Note, again, each one.

So if you have received God’s gracious gift of salvation, you have also received His gracious spiritual gift to use for His glory. It is for His glory and His glory alone that we receive any gift.

UNDERSTAND THIS: CHRIST DISTRIBUTES THESE GIFTS ACCORDING TO HIS SOVEREIGN PURPOSE.

Paul emphasizes this each time he speaks about spiritual gifts.
Romans 12:4-8(HCSB)4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith; 7 if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8 if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness. Here he mentioned that God has given each these gifts and they differ according to the grace that God has given to us. In 1 Corinthians 12:11, he attributes the distribution of the various gifts to the sovereignty of the Spirit. Here (Ephesians 4:7), it is, “according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

We cannot be jealous when someone has a gift we do not have. We have to bow before His sovereignty and accept how He has gifted us.

SINCE CHRIST GAVE THESE GIFTS, WE MUST USE THEM AS HE DIRECTS.

He is the sovereign Lord who distributes gifts according to His purpose. Thus we are accountable to Him to use the gifts that He has given as He directs.

Some are given leadership gifts to equip the rest of the saints for ministry. But every Christian is “in the ministry” in the sense that every Christian has a spiritual gift and will give an account to God for how he used it. Also, there is no place for grumbling when you serve the Lord. The very fact that you, a former rebel, are serving the Lord Jesus Christ, is pure grace! Think of where you could be, without hope and without God in this world, living for vain pleasures and headed toward eternal punishment. When you’re tempted to quit serving the Lord because someone hurt your feelings or didn’t appreciate you as much as he should have, stop and think about the undeserved privilege of serving Him! But, serving Christ, especially if we should be persecuted as Paul was, only makes sense if Christ is who He claimed to be.

Apostle

“Apostle,” the Greek noun apostolos, comes from the verb apostello, “to send away to achieve an objective.” The noun means “delegate, envoy, messenger.”

Are there apostles today? Some deny that there are. Others see a present-day apostolic role. As far as we are concerned the original apostles are no more but the office of apostle is usually found in people who plant churches.

Prophet

If apostles seem a bit obscure to twenty-first century minds, so do prophets. “Prophet” is the Greek noun prophetes is used of “a person inspired to proclaim or reveal divine will or purpose. Every time a person preaches he is doing the work of a prophet, proclaiming the Word of God.

Evangelist

“Evangelist,” the Greek noun euangelistes, comes from the noun euangelizo, “bring good news, announce good news.” The noun means “proclaimer of the gospel, evangelist.” Local congregations today need men and women as gifted evangelists who bring the gospel to people so their hearts can be changed and have faith in Christ. Local church evangelists are also important because they can instruct other church members how to effectively share their faith.

Pastor

“Pastor” is the Greek noun poimen, “shepherd, one who serves as guardian or leader.” The idea of shepherd as leader was present in the ancient orient. The king is referred to as shepherd in documents and inscriptions in Sumeria and Egypt. Dr. William Yount says this: What is the role of the pastor? Some say the pastor is primarily a prophet, proclaiming the Word of God. Others say a shepherd, nurturing and protecting  the church. Still others  say a leader, managing and administrating the work of the church. Each has its importance, but church leaders must balance all three if congregations are to grow in a healthy way. Yet underlying all these roles is the fundamental calling of the pastor: to “equip the saints for works of service.” that is, to teach.

Teacher

“Teacher” is the Greek noun didaskalos, “teacher.” The Hebrew title “rabbi,” sometimes used to address Jesus, uses this word. The Great Commission includes this vital teaching function — “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20). Teaching was “the ministry of the Word” (Luke 1:2; Acts 6:4).

A good case can be made for considering pastors and teachers as two sides of the same ministry. Too many of our people are biblically illiterate. Too many of our children don’t really know the stories and message of the Bible that will bring them to salvation.Leaders who teach are so important to the work of the local church.

The church is sick. This results from what Dallas Willard calls the “Great Omission from the Great Commission.” The third command of the Great Commission “teaching them all things what­ soever I have commanded you” has been omitted from serious application by the modern church. There are grand plans for evangelization and stewardship but rarely is anything but lip service paid  to discipleship. Why because disciple ship is messy. Discipleship is what brings people from spiritual immaturity to spiritual maturity.

Ephesians 4:14(HCSB) Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.
One positive result from maturity in a believer is not being tricked by false teaching. Those who are “no longer children” can stand against lies and deceit. The goal is to avoid being “carried about by every wind of doctrine.” False teaching changes regularly. Those who are immature can easily be fooled into thinking false teaching is accurate.

This can take place in two ways. First, believers can be deceived by “human cunning.” This is the power of human persuasion; a smooth talker can wield influence over others. Second, a person can be deceived by “craftiness in deceitful schemes.” These are evil plans that may appear good but actually promote something false.

Pastors are to be “able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). Jesus is the Model. Pastor Washburn wrote, It is enormously significant that the only time the term pastor is used to describe the spiritual gifts given to undershepherds of the churches, it is directly connected to the gift of teaching: pastors and teachers.

David Hixon reflected his understanding of Paul when he remarked  that the

…pastor’s primary role according to Eph­esians 4 is not to be preacher, or an evange­list, or a counselor. His primary responsibility is to equip or to prepare God’s people to do the work. The church needs to grow and mature through the ministry of the laity and not primarily through,the works of the paid staff.

Hixon wrote, “Many of our people are seduced by false teachers because we, as pastors, have not done our job in growing them up in Christ Jesus. Discipleship is the key to avoiding an infantile ministry.”

Suhling remarked that

…the goal of the teacher is spiritual  maturity in the believer. If this is not achieved, then the result will be that the believer will be like one who is foolish and inexperienced when it comes to doctrine and practice. Indeed, the immature believer will be like a cork tossed about on rough water or a weathervane at the mercy of a hard uncer­tain wind when it comes to believing the right teaching.

Washburn summarized Paul’s thrust this way:

[There is a] popular new approach to church­manship that strives to appeal to the baby­ boomer church-shoppers by offering the most exciting and joyous worship product in the community market. Laboring to tickle the fancy of the worship experience consumer may fill a pastor’s church with warm bodies, but it does little to foster commitment, involvement, and true discipleship.

So what alternative did Paul offer? What is the option? Ephesians 4:15(HCSB) But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. Here is the kicker. Here is the definitive word from Paul on church growth: to “grow up into Him.” Leonard Griffith explained the difference between growing and growing up like this:

Academic learning leads to knowledge, but not necessarily to maturity. Some adults with high IQs remain psychologically children. This is the difference between “growing” and “growing up.” Is the church seeking only to grow or is it growing up?

Churches grow up in Christ by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15a). The truth Paul referred to is the gospel, but “speaking the truth” involves much more than saying religious words. Believers cannot speak the truth until they know the truth experientially ( epignosis ). Believers cannot speak the truth effectively until they exercise it in daily living, solving problems biblically.

Dr. Al Mohler  – As a theologian, the pastor must be known for what he teaches, as well as for what he knows, affirms and believes. The health of the church depends upon pastors who infuse their congregations with deep biblical and theological conviction. The means of this transfer of conviction is the preaching of the Word of God.

We will be hard pressed to define any activity as being more inherently theological than the preaching of God’s Word. The ministry of preaching is an exercise in the theological exposition of Scripture. Congregations that are fed nothing more than ambiguous “principles” supposedly drawn from God’s Word are doomed to spiritual immaturity — which will become visible in compromise, complacency and a host of other spiritual ills.

Why else would the Apostle Paul command Timothy to preach the Word in such solemn and serious terms: 2 Timothy 4:1-2(HCSB) I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.

Pastors deal with people in different ways and most people will not understand this. They will expect us to love everyone the same. Calling out false teaching is love for the flock. Showing the congregation what heretics and false teachers sound like is one of the most loving things you can do. It keeps them from falling into damnable heresies. Preaching sound doctrine is sort of a vaccine to bad doctrine. John MacArthur says “One of the greatest problems with the modern day church is  lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient”John MacArthur(2015 Ligonier Fall Conference)
Preaching and Teaching sound doctrine builds up the immune system of the church. It shows the congregation the truth so when the false comes they know the difference. Waiting for the false to come then showing the truth is not correct nor effective. It is like trying to get a flu shot after you have the flu.

Ephesians 4:16(HCSB) 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.

Only when the whole church, the whole body is exercising their gifts can the church function as it is supposed to. This can only be done by leadership and teaching the truth of the Word. This comes by the way of sound doctrine and pastors, rebuking, correcting and encouraging the flock. He must protect the flock from false teaching and expose it for what it is.

Ephesians Pt9 Unity

Ephesians 4:1-6(HCSB)Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, 3 diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

While many in today’s world are engaged in celebrating “diversity,” the Bible places an extraordinary emphasis on the value of “unity.” While there is diversity in unity, the glue than binds us in unity is our beliefs on the Lord, faith, baptism, the church and the Spirit. The Persons of the Godhead are a ultimate tri-unity of absolute perfection.

It is difficult to find a church within the framework of New Testament history that did not experience some level of discord. The church in Jerusalem was troubled with Judaizers (Acts 11:1-3(ESV)Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, 3 “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.”
Acts 15:1(ESV)But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

Galatians 5:7-12 (ESV)7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

The Corinthian church goers had their own conflicting features that gave excessive flattery to leaders (1 Corinthians 1:10-17(ESV)10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
Even the beloved Timothy in Ephesus had to deal with people who refused to repent and have their name for all eternity in scripture. 1 Timothy 1:18-20(HCSB) 18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle, 19 having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them, and I have delivered them to Satan, so that they may be taught not to blaspheme.

Acts 15:36-39(HCSB)36 After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers in every town where we have preached the message of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark.38 But Paul did not think it appropriate to take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. 39 There was such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. These examples by no means exhaust the list, but you get the idea there have been disagreements throughout the church and some ended in “being handed over to Satan” and some just ended and Paul actually says Mark is very useful to him in ministry in 2 Timothy. This is the same Mark that wrote the Gospel of Mark.

Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is a document that addresses unity. The first three chapters provide a theological basis for unity; the final three are principally concerned with the practical implementation of “unity of the body” in Christ. In 4:1-6, God’s inspired apostle lays down a micro-platform for unity that concerns the two main sources of discord among those who profess to follow Christ. One has to do with temperament, the other with teaching. The recognition of these two problematic areas could go a long way towards healing division.

Paul frequently refers to himself as a “prisoner” (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; Philippians 1:13; Philemon 9,13; 2 Timothy 1:8). He is both a prisoner “of Christ” (3:1) and a prisoner “in the Lord” (4:1). The apostle was a prisoner literally on many occasions during his ministry (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23), and specifically when he penned this letter to the church in Ephesus. But in a richer sense he had become the prisoner “of” Jesus in that he had surrendered his self-interests to the bondage of his Lord for whom he gladly suffered. Too, his relationship “in” the Lord placed his sufferings in an altogether different dimension. There is no nobility in hardship when one is distanced from the Savior.

In the pursuit of Christian unity, it is absolutely crucial that a person understands and appreciates the importance of the belief system he has embraced. Christianity is the sole avenue to God. It is not merely “a religion,” or a great way to live. In view of this foundational truth, the plea that Paul wrote is appropriate.

Christians must (Ephesians 4:1(HCSB)“walk worthy of the calling you have received”. The “calling” is God’s invitation (Acts 2:39(HCSB)39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”)Romans 8:30(HCSB)30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. How did He call us? by means of gospel preaching (2 Thessalonians 2:14(HCSB)14 He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ., to people who are accountable, to partake of the blessings of the kingdom of heaven by means of the “in Christ” relationship (Philippians 3:14). Those who respond to the message, and submit in obedience, are designated as the “called”.

The term “walk” (peripateo—“to walk around”) refers to the entire “sphere” of one’s existence. Christianity is not a mere sideline, nor is it a spiritual “hobby.” It is a consuming passion. Christian conduct must measure up to the pattern imposed by God.

Sin is a disruptive force, it always divides, separates, and splinters. It divides a man within and against himself. It has produced the constant fight and struggle which we are all aware of in our own lives and in the life of the church. Consequently, the central object of salvation, in a sense, is to re-unite, to bring together again, to reconcile, to restore the unity that God created before sin and the fall produced this terrible havoc between God and man, between men, and within man himself.

So the unity that we have in Christ is part of the grand design. Thus, one of the peculiar marks of the Christian calling is to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Unity is not a general spirit of friendliness or fellowship. Nor is unity some common aim or series of aims. UNITY IS A PRODUCT. It is the result of all that Paul has been saying in chapters 1-3. It is the product of the cross and God’s work in Christ. There can be no Christian unity unless it is based on the teaching of correct biblical doctrine. Since Christian unity is a result of God’s work in Christ, it is not something that we are to aim at for the sake of unity.  In order for a church like ours to be in unity we must rally around a few fundamental beliefs. While we desire to be inclusive and accepting of others and their scriptural beliefs – at some point there has to be a line in the sand that we will not cross.

The Inerrancy of Scripture

Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection

Jesus sinlessness

There is ONLY one true God

The Virgin Birth

The Trinity: The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit

The existence of an eternal Hell

The necessity of belief in Jesus Christ ONLY as savior for salvation,Jesus + Nothing= Salvation

For us to be in unity with others we have to agree upon these close handed issues.

UNITY IS “OF THE SPIRIT” It refers to the unity provided by the Holy Spirit. It is a unity which we can never produce.

UNITY IS ORGANIC Unity is living and vital. It is not mechanical. Christian unity, the unity of the Spirit, is a unity which starts within and works outward through organic life like we see in a flower or in the human body. The unity of the church is organic in character. She is not a collection of parts. She is a new creation, a spiritual body created by God in Christ. The old has been done away in the this body. There are no longer the distinctions of man. There is no longer Jew and Gentile . . .

The analogy of the human body explains the nature of this unity.

(1) The human body is first, an organic unity. It consists of many parts: toes, fingers, hands, feet, legs, eyes, ears, etc. But it is not a collection of parts put together as in an automobile or as in a house. It begins from one cell which begins to develop and to grow and shoots off little buds that eventually make up the varied parts. This is an organic and a living unity by creation. So is the church, spiritually speaking.

True, when a person believes in Christ, he is joined into union with Christ by Spirit baptism and becomes a member of the body, but by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, he is not merely and add on. He miraculously and spiritually becomes an organic part of the body of Christ.

Some of the parts are covered, others are within the body and are unseen, but nevertheless, very important. Some gifts are more in the fore front, they are more obvious and others less so, but all are essential to the effective work of the body.

There is far more to unity than a mere atmosphere of friendliness. There also is the unity of truth. Truth is consistent, hence there is the sacred reminder that Christians “all speak the same thing,” and that there be “no divisions” among us. Rather, we are to be “united with the same understanding and the same conviction” (1 Corinthians 1:10(HCSB)10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction. While this goal never will be achieved absolutely in a society of flawed people, it must be sought vigorously.

There is one baptism,when Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers about “one baptism,” he was reminding them that, regardless of their background or nationality, they all served the same Lord, shared the same faith, and had experienced the same baptism. By reminding the church that they all had a similar testimony and that they were all partakers in the same Holy Spirit, Paul encouraged them to work together for the cause of Christ so that the message of redemption would continue to spread throughout the world (Matthew 28:19).

The “one body” is identified as the “church” in its universal capacity. That “body” consists of many “members,” yet is “one” in its essential composition (1 Corinthians 12:12). The expression “one body” is thus the equivalent of “one church” (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18,24). While there are many local congregations of “like kind” that make up that one body (Revelation 1:4), the modern practice of many denominations proclaiming varying doctrines, is a manifested apostasy from the gospel truth. Paul affirmed that Christ is the “Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23); none outside the “one body” is promised salvation.

The imagery of the “body” further suggests that all direction to the “members” is received from the “head,” Christ (Ephesians 5:23(HCSB)23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.; Colossians 1:18), and such excludes popes and councils.What sort of sideshow monstrosity is a creature with one “head” and yet “many bodies”? Moreover, if the body is to function as God intended, unity among its members must prevail. 1 Corinthians 12:12(HCSB)2 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ.. If there were no cooperation between the nervous, circulatory, respiratory systems, etc., could any body function?

In his comments upon this “one body” phrase, Baptist scholar Justin Smith laments the sad reality that the modern system of “Christendom,” with its divisions into many “sects,” is not consistent with the New Testament pattern. He purposefully declined to identify “causes” or to assign “responsibility”; he simply noted the error of the current status of the numerous conflicting “bodies” (1890, 60-61).

But the cause is quite transparent; it lies in a denial of the New Testament as the sole pattern for church organization, and the responsibility rests with all who applaud the diversity of coexisting with different religions, denominations and cults. They choose to remain entangled in that maze of a self-willed religion instead of standing for biblical sound doctrine.
What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8(HCSB)They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.8 Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”, the teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1(HCSB)Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons,), and the teachings of God (John 6:45(HCSB)45 It is written in the Prophets: And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father comes to Me—). Here, at Revival Life Church we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. The primary object of doctrine is God; the secondary object is all things in relation to God. Doctrine teaches us to see God as the one from whom and through whom and to whom all things exist, and doctrine directs our lives to this God’s glory. Sound doctrine delivers us from the snare of false teaching (
Titus 1:9-11(HCSB)9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it. 10 For there are also many rebellious people, full of empty talk and deception, especially those from Judaism.11 It is necessary to silence them; they overthrow whole households by teaching what they shouldn’t in order to get money dishonestly., which otherwise threatens to arrest spiritual development (Ephesians 4:14(HCSB)14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. and to foster  discord in the church (Romans 16:17(HCSB)17 Now I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them.

Unity does not imply uniformity. It does not mean that all Christians will think alike or perform identical ministries. We unify when our doctrines are alike, we are not to be in unity when our doctrines are not the same. Sound doctrine is important because our faith is based on a specific message. Our eternal destiny depends upon hearing “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation”. Sound doctrine is important because the gospel is a sacred trust, and we dare not tamper with God’s communication to the world. Our duty is to deliver the message, not to change it. Rather than alter the apostles’ doctrine, we receive what has been passed down to us and keep it “as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Sound doctrine is important because what we believe affects what we do. Behavior is an extension of theology, and there is a direct correlation between what we think and how we act. For example, two people stand on top of a bridge; one believes he can fly, and the other believes he cannot fly. Their next actions will be quite dissimilar. In the same way, a man who believes that there is no such thing as right and wrong will naturally behave differently from a man who believes in well-defined moral standards. In one of the Bible’s lists of sins, things like rebellion, murder, lying, slander and gossip are mentioned. The list concludes with “whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:9-10). In other words, true teaching promotes righteousness; sin flourishes where “the sound doctrine” is opposed.

Sound doctrine is important because we must ascertain truth in a world of falsehood. “Many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). There are tares among the wheat and wolves among the flock (Matthew 13:25; Acts 20:29). The best way to distinguish truth from falsehood is to know what the truth is. Pastors will deal with people in different ways and most people will not understand this. They will expect us to love everyone the same. Calling out false teaching is love for the flock. Showing the congregation what heretics and false teachers sound like is one of the most loving things you can do. It keeps them from falling into damnable heresies. Preaching sound doctrine is sort of a vaccine to bad doctrine. John MacArthur says “One of the greatest problems with the modern day church is  lack of biblical discernment. The church basically suffers from spiritual AIDS. It could die of a thousand heresies because its immune system is so totally deficient”John MacArthur(2015 Ligonier Fall Conference)
Preaching and Teaching sound doctrine builds up the immune system of the church. It shows the congregation the truth so when the false comes they know the difference. Waiting for the false to come then showing the truth is not correct nor effective. It is like trying to get a flu shot after you have the flu.

Titus 1:9 (ESV)He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

Titus 2:1 (ESV) But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:2-4 (ESV) Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 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.

2 Timothy 4:3 (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,

1 Timothy 6:3-5 (ESV) If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (ESV)Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

This unity of which Paul wrote is not one which the Christian needs to create, but one which already exists and must be diligently preserved. It is based upon our sharing life in one body, the universal church, the body of Christ. All Christians are sealed, possessed, and indwelt by the same Spirit and look forward to the same hope. We possess one Lord, that is, one Supreme Commander, one common faith (one system of fundamental truth) held by all Christians, and one baptism.

Most importantly, as Christians, we are to see one another in the light of the cross. Fellow Christians are those for whom Christ died a horrible and painful death so that He might exchange His righteous perfection for their sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). How can we not extend to them the love, compassion, and grace of our heavenly Father? How can we demean, criticize, and defame those covered with the precious blood of Christ? Were we not slaves to sin when He called us, hopelessly lost, dead in our own transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1)? But we are now slaves of Christ, slaves to righteousness, and as slaves of the Master, the task before us is not to quarrel and demand our needs be met but to reflect His grace and love to those who are also His by His mercy. A church full of such people enjoying their “common salvation” will be a true, biblical church unified in, and earnestly contending for, the “faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Hypocrites

Hypocrite –  a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions misrepresent stated beliefs.

2.a person who fakes some desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially one whose private life, opinions, or statements misrepresent his or her public statements.

The word is derived from the Greek term for “actor”—literally, “one who wears a mask”—in other words, someone who pretends to be what he is not.

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 1:22-25(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. 

The Bible calls hypocrisy a sin. There are two forms hypocrisy can take: that of professing belief in something and then acting in a manner contrary to that belief, and that of looking down on others when we ourselves are flawed.

The prophet Isaiah condemned the hypocrisy of his day: Isaiah 29:13(HCSB)13 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—.(mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned. synonyms: mechanically, automatically, unthinkingly, mindlessly)

 

Centuries later, Jesus quoted this verse, aiming the same condemnation at the religious leaders of His day. Matthew 15:8-9(HCSB)These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9  They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.” John the Baptist did not give hypocrites a pass, he told them to produce “fruits consistent with repentance”. Luke 3:8(HCSB)8 Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t start saying to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones!. Jesus took a constant and devoted stand against hypocrisy he gave seven “woes” to the hypocrites in Matthew 23—He called the pharisees hypocrites “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15(HCSB)15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves.  “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27(HCSB)27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity., “snakes,” and “brood of vipers”.
Matthew 23:33(HCSB)33 “Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell?

Jesus addressed the other form of hypocrisy in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 7:3-5(HCSB)3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Jesus is not teaching against discernment or helping others overcome sin; He is telling us not be so prideful and convinced of our own self proclaimed holiness that we criticize others from a position of self-righteousness. We should do some introspection first and correct our own sins before we go after the “specks” in others. Romans 2:1(HCSB)Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.

During Jesus’ time on this earth, He had many run-ins with the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees. These men were well versed in the Scriptures and zealous about following every letter of the Law. However, in adhering to the letter of the Law, they actively sought loopholes that allowed them to violate the spirit of the Law. Also, they displayed a lack of compassion toward their fellow man and were often overly demonstrative of their so-called spirituality in order to garner praise (Matthew 23:5–7(HCSB)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.

Luke 18:11(HCSB)11 The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people —greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. Jesus called out their behavior, pointing out that “justice, mercy, and faithfulness” are more important than pursuing a perfection based on faulty standards Matthew 23:23(HCSB)23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. Jesus made it clear that the problem was not with the Law but the way in which the Pharisees implemented it (Matthew 23:2-3(HCSB)2 “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. 3 Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.People use the the word pharisee out of context, it has become synonymous with hypocrite and also used when people don’t like when pastors uphold biblical standards and let people know the standards of holiness, they are quick to use “Well, you are being a pharisee and Jesus came to correct the pharisees and abolish the law.”

Hypocrisy is not the same as taking a stand against sin and trying to uphold holiness. It is not hypocrisy to teach that drunkenness is a sin, unless the one teaching against drunkenness gets drunk every weekend—that would be hypocrisy. However it is hypocrisy to blab on Facebook about the problems in t eh church or with pastors if a. you are not a pastor, b. you have never served in a legitimate leadership position, c. you do not perform the basics of being a believer, pray, read and give.

As children of God, we are called to strive for holiness (1 Peter 1:16(HCSB)16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.. We are to “hate what is evil” and “cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9(HCSB)9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. We should never imply an acceptance of sin, especially in our own lives. All we do should be consistent with what we believe and who we are in Christ. Acting is meant for the stage, not for real life. Remember this heretical saying  “Fake it till you make it”? That phrase encourages hypocrisy. How can a person ever overcome their sin  and grow in sanctification if he/she is not real first with themselves and then with their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? The more a person wears the mask of hypocrisy the harder it becomes to take off. Those chains that wrap around your head to keep the mask on eventually grows tighter and tighter till it becomes your actual face.

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). 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?

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?

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 is 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.

Ephesians Pt8 God is in control of everything

Ephesians 3:14-21(ESV)14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

The church at Ephesus was dear to Paul. His ministry among them spanned three years. The church there began with just twelve believers (Acts 19:7), but through faithful effort they experienced amazing growth. Knowing the success in Ephesus, Paul desired them to remain focused on the Lord, while maintaining their priorities. Verses 14-17 speaks about the Holy spirit. The indwelling of Christ is not a consequence of the gift of the Spirit; it is identical with it, for the office of the Holy Spirit is to dwell in us and help us to bear the likeness of Christ.

Colossians 1:27(HCSB)27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the one who dwells within you. The Spirit of Christ.

John 14:15-18(HCSB)15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive Him because it doesn’t see Him or know Him. But you do know Him, because He remains with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

The same Spirit that dwelt in Jesus and raised Him from the dead, dwells within us and this is our hope of glory.
Romans 8:8-11(HCSB). 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you.

If I were to ask you to describe God what would you say? That He is Spirit? Truth? Love?

Transcendence describes how God is above or superior to everything in creation, and immanence describes how God is involved in creation. Some people see them as contradictory—how can God be outside and above everything and yet be involved in everything?

God is higher above creation than we can even imagine, Look at the verse again: Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think

What is it that God can do? He can do exceeding (the Greek word is “hyper” as in hyper-drive) abundantly more than we can ask or even think. In other words God can do way more than even the most complex thoughts our minds can muster. Now if He can do more than we can imagine then He must be way more than we can imagine.

Think about some of these verses:

Isaiah 55:8-9(HCSB)8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”This is the Lord’s declaration.9 “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 40:13-14(HCSB)13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?14 Who did He consult with? Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice? Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

The difference between God and man is as great as the distance between outer space and earth—it’s infinite! God is beyond teaching. He doesn’t ask us what we think, and He doesn’t seek our approval or our advice.

God is independent from and above everything else: He doesn’t need to eat or drink, He doesn’t need oxygen, He can’t die, He doesn’t age, He can’t be sick or injured, He doesn’t fail, He doesn’t seek wisdom, and He isn’t fooled. He always accomplishes His purposes and He knows everything that has ever happened and ever will happen. He ordains it!

He is superior to everything and exceedingly far above it. You can’t explain Him or define Him even if you used every word in every language and tried it for eternity. By His own definition He is: “I AM THAT I AM.”

Exodus 3:13-14(HCSB)13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.”

God is above all, Yet, God still indwells His people and is active in His creation

Colossians 1:17(HCSB)He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.

Hebrews 1:3(HCSB)The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

The relationship between God and His saints is a very personal and intimate one. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14(HCSB)The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son[c] from the Father, full of grace and truth.; the Spirit fills and seals us; the Father has called us and holds us in His hand (John 10:29(HCSB) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.).

This God who’s so high above us is yet involved with us. No one and no thing has any life, movement, or being without it coming from the transcendent God!

His involvement is for His own eternal glory

The Westminister Shorter Catechism asks the question, “What is the chief end of man?” Many of us know the answer. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” While this is not a phrase drawn directly from Scripture, the wisdom behind it surely is. The Bible tells us with great clarity that man was created in order to bring glory to God. Thus the chief end of Christians and of the church is to bring glory to God.

There’s a trend in modern Christianity that basically says the purpose of God is to satisfy man. He reigns in heaven so that we can have a wonderful and happy life. He saves us so that we can have assurance in the afterlife and peace in the present one. Most people don’t come right out and say it like that, but that whole idea that God is here to love me and serve me is at the heart of their doctrine.

Why do we go and witness? Is our primary reason so that people can be saved? Or is it that God is glorified? Do you see the difference? We’re not going to help God out—He doesn’t need anything from us. We go and witness because God is worthy to be praised and our witness brings Him glory.

And when we think of missions in this way there’s no chance for failure as long as we preach. “Unto Him be the glory.” That’s the whole point of our entire existence—He must increase and we must decrease. John 3:30(HCSB)30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” And on earth this glory is in the church—that is, He is glorified by the fact that He loves us and has redeemed us. Remember when Jesus prayed for the disciples and for everyone who would believe through their word?

John 17:23(HCSB)I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me.

God is Sovereign and His providence

Sovereignty describes God’s absolute control over everything, always and forever. He is not dependent on anything outside of Himself, never has been, never will be. (This is why His creature, man, cannot initiate his own salvation by his, man’s choice).

Providence is from latin, pro videre, seeing in advance, and also means God really establishes, ordains whatever comes to pass.

Just suppose next Sunday Day morning you were showering and listening to the radio. The newscaster announced that the night before at exactly midnight every house of prostitution, every porn shop, every gambling casino, and every house of any kind of sin very mysteriously collapsed and were totally destroyed. Your reaction would probably be, “Praise the Lord.” When you went to Sunday School somebody would ask you, “How do you account for that? What do you think happened?” I am sure you would reply, “It was the hand of God. God was surely in that.” Of course, you’d be right. The unbelievers may not accept your explanation, and the newspapers and TV newscasters may be inventing all kinds of theories, but you would attribute the whole thing to God and rejoice in His sovereign work.

Now just suppose the following Sunday morning you were again shaving and the same newscaster said, “Last night at exactly midnight every single Bible-believing church in the country very mysteriously collapsed and was totally destroyed.” I wonder what you would say then? Would most Christians say, “Bless the Lord,” or would they say, “It was the devil”?

Why would anyone blame – or rather, credit – God for the first situation (the destroying of the bad places), and then credit the devil with the destruction of the churches? If we understood the Scripture clearly, especially texts like Romans 11:36(HCSB)36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. and Romans 8:28(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. we would be forced to acknowledge the hand of God both times. God sovereignly controls every single thing that happens, whether it be “good” or “bad.” God is involved, in one way or another, in every event and each minute detail of that event. This is what we mean by “The Sovereign Providence of God.” If this is not true, then we really have no sure hope for our lives in this confused generation.

When people blame all the good on God and all the bad on the devil, they are guilty of an ancient heresy called “dualism.” Dualism basically sees God and the devil (good and bad) as two independent and sovereign powers struggling for ultimate control of this world. We earnestly hope “our side” wins, but at times it does not look too good. Unfortunately most Christians today are guilty of believing that very heresy. This is especially true of the charismatic movement as well as anyone else that emphasizes health and wealth as the birthright of every Christian, and blames the devil for everything that hinders our “personal happiness”. This is the heresy of dualism at its worst.

Why do sincere Christians do this? Why do they blame the good on God and the bad on the devil, unconsciously denying the sovereignty of God? It is probably because they are trying to “protect” God. They are trying to make it easier to believe and love Him by exempting Him from anything that appears to be bad and crediting Him with everything that appears to be good. A young nurse who worked in the emergency ward of a hospital told me that when anyone from a particular church in that town had an accident, the pastor would rush down to the hospital. His first words to the victim and family were, “Remember, God had nothing to do with this.” I suppose the poor man was afraid the people might desert the faith. If you’ll just think that preacher’s statement through for a moment, you can see it is ridiculous. The man may have been trying to “protect God,” but in reality he was laying the groundwork for despair and unbelief. He was leaving the injured person totally in the hands of either Satan or blind cruel fate. He was unconsciously moving God right out of the picture when the person needed most the assurance of God’s sovereign control.

We must stop looking at life as positive or negative. This is not buddhism there are no positive and negative energy.

God not only has a plan, but He also carries out that plan. God is always in total control of all things and is constantly at work in accomplishing His plan.
Isaiah 10:5-11(HCSB)Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger—the staff in their hands is My wrath.6 I will send him against a godless nation; I will command him to go against a people destined for My rage, to take spoils, to plunder, and to trample them down like clay in the streets. 7 But this is not what he intends; this is not what he plans. It is his intent to destroy and to cut off many nations. 8 For he says, “Aren’t all my commanders kings? 9  Isn’t Calno like Carchemish? Isn’t Hamath like Arpad? Isn’t Samaria like Damascus? 10 As my hand seized the idolatrous kingdoms, whose idols exceeded those of Jerusalem and Samaria, 11 and as I did to Samaria and its idols will I not also do to Jerusalem and its idols?”

Sometimes God’s plan calls for revival and there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands of souls will be swept into the Kingdom of God. There are other times that His plan calls for judgment. Isaiah calls God’s judgment His “strange work,” but it is nonetheless God’s work. Just as there will be a day of Pentecost when thousands are saved, so there will be a day of judgment when a universal flood sweeps nearly the whole human race into everlasting damnation. We must see that God is just as much the author of one as He is the other. Whether it is Pentecost or whether it is the Flood, whether they are the events of Acts 2 or the events of Genesis 6, God is in total control and is working out His own plan. The rain and full harvest, as well as the drought and empty barns, are from the hand of the same sovereign God. We must learn to praise Him under both circumstances (Psalm 34:1(HCSB)I will praise the Lord at all times;His praise will always be on my lips.

In working out His own plans, God uses everybody, even the devil. Now at first that shocks some people: “What! God uses the devil?” That is exactly right. Everybody, even the devil, serves God’s purposes. Remember Satan is God’s Satan, he is His puppet. He cannot do anything that God does not allow. If he could then that would make him sovereign and not God. Now a servant may serve through gritted teeth, and he may hate his servitude; but he is, nonetheless, a servant. So it is with the devil. The devil has never done one thing out of love or obedience to God. He has never done one thing in order to knowingly bring glory to God. Everything the devil does, he does because he hates God and because he is trying to frustrate the purposes of God. However, in the end, everything the devil does will surely further the purposes of God. If ever there was a born loser, it is the devil, himself. In the final day, it will be shown that the devil never won a single time. And that includes the Garden of Eden!

There is alot of truth in this classic statement from one of the Puritans. “What God sovereignly decrees in eternity, man will always demand in time.” Man’s “free will” will always freely choose the very thing that God has sovereignly ordained and God’s purpose will be fulfilled; just as surely, man will be responsible for his every act of sin. I know of no passage that sets forth this truth as clearly as Matthew 27. The whole chapter is loaded with vain attempts by men to deny personal responsibility. First, Judas tried to deny his responsibility for the death of Christ by pleading Christ’s innocence and giving the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders. They, in turn, replied, “What is that to us? That was your responsibility.” Was it not their duty to be certain that Christ was, indeed, guilty and worthy of death? Certainly it was!

We are not responsible for the results of what God does with our acts; we are totally responsible for the acts themselves. That, and that alone, will be the basis upon which God will deal with us.

An elderly lady was praying out loud in front of an open window. She had neither food nor money, and she was pleading with God to supply her with something to eat. Two boys heard her and decided to mock her faith. They went down to the store and bought a loaf of bread and a quart of milk. Then they stealthily put the milk and bread through the window. When the lady opened her eyes and saw the food, she praised God for hearing and answering her prayers. The boys stuck their heads up above the window sill and said, “Woman, you are stupid. God did not send those things. We put them there, and we did it just to prove to you how dumb you are. God did not bring that milk and bread; we brought them.”

What would you say in a case like that? The lady smiled, thanked the boys for the food, and then said, “Thank You God for getting me these groceries and getting the Devil to pay for it!” I am sure you see the difference. When the mailman brings an electric bill for two hundred dollars, you do not get upset with him. He did not send it; all he did was deliver it. This is the principle that we must see in all of the difficult things that happen. Thomas Watson was a Puritan with the ability to put great truth into short, concise statements. If you understand the following quote, you have the whole message: “God always has a hand in the action where the sin is, but He never has a hand in the sin of the action.” It does not matter what happened, where it happened, when it happened, or to whom it happened. If it happened, then God had a hand in it; He controlled it. However, God is not guilty of the sin or hatred in the hearts of men that caused the sin in the situation.

Few people realize how important this particular principle is in our Christian life. We are told in Scripture to “humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God” and to submit to Him. However, we are also told to “resist the devil” and never to yield to his wiles and temptations. The problem lies in knowing and recognizing the difference between these two things. Many Christians, under the guise of “resisting the devil,” may well be actually fighting the sovereign providence of God. Other believers, under the guise of piously “turning it all over to God,” may be deliberately ignoring their personal responsibility to obey clear principles and fight temptation. Until we learn to see both the hand of Satan and the hand of God, we may be fighting God when we think we’re “resisting Satan,” and vice versa.

Isaiah 45:6-7 (ESV)That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

Even though all sickness and affliction are under God’s control and are part of His purposes, it is NOT true that they are all chastisement for sin. Some affliction is definitely chastisement for sin and is sent to bring us to repentance and effect specific change in us; however, that is not true all of the time. Sometimes God allows His people to suffer just to demonstrate the power of His grace. It is wrong for a Christian to ever feel that God is “getting even” and punishing him when affliction comes. God only punishes sin in one of two places: he either punished it in Christ and the penal debt is totally paid, or else He punishes it in the sinner in hell. Even when affliction comes into our life as chastisement, it is never penal [that is, from God as judge], but the chastisement is always remedial [that is, from a loving heavenly Father]. Our Father teaches us through affliction, but He never punishes (penally) us.