Ephesians Pt2 Wisdom and Revelation

Ephesians 1:15-19(HCSB)15 This is why, since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the perception of your mind may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength.

Whenever we read Scripture, we should attempt to determine as much as possible about the original context and purpose of the particular passage of study. This is called hermeneutics, this practice gives us a guide to interpretation and keeps us from going off into false interpretations or from reading our own opinions into the text(Eisegete).  Most of the time, it is easy to determine the purpose of each of the New Testament letters because the Paul refers to specific problems in the congregation. For example, Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians is clear—to expose the false gospel preached by the Judaizers and unfold the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
Galatians 1:6–10(HCSB)6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Galatians 2:11–21(HCSB)15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Ephesians, however, presents us with some difficulty because Paul does not mention any specific problems troubling the church at the time he wrote. Yet since the letter covers a whole host of basic Christian doctrinal and ethical principles, we can surmise that the pressing need of the believers in Ephesus and the surrounding regions was instruction in doctrine and living so that they might mature in the faith.“a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Wisdom and knowledge, both recurring themes in the Bible, are related but not synonymous. The dictionary defines wisdom as “the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Knowledge, on the other hand, is “information gained through experience, reasoning, or acquaintance.” Knowledge can exist without wisdom, but not the other way around. One can be knowledgeable without being wise. Knowledge is knowing how to use a gun; wisdom is knowing when to use it and when to keep it holstered.

God wants us to have knowledge of Him and what He expects of us. In order to obey Him, we have to have knowledge of the commands. But as equally important as having knowledge is having wisdom. Knowing facts about God and the Bible is not all there is to wisdom. Wisdom is a gift from God. James 1:5(HCSB)If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. God blesses us with wisdom in order for us to glorify Him and use the knowledge we have of Him.

The book of Proverbs is perhaps the best place in the Bible to learn of biblical wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 speaks of both biblical knowledge and wisdom: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, / but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” To fear the Lord is to start on the path to knowledge, and God can then begin to provide us with wisdom through Christ, who the Bible says is wisdom itself: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV)“It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption”.

Knowledge is what is gathered over time through study of the Scriptures. It can be said that wisdom, in turn, acts properly upon that knowledge. Wisdom is the fitting application of knowledge. Knowledge understands the light has turned red; wisdom applies the brakes. Knowledge sees the quicksand; wisdom walks around it. Knowledge memorizes the Ten Commandments; wisdom obeys them. Knowledge learns of God; wisdom loves Him.

John Calvin writes, “Till the Lord opens them, the eyes of our heart are blind. Till the Spirit has become our instructor, all that we know is folly and ignorance. Till the Spirit of God has made it known to us by a secret revelation, the knowledge of our divine calling exceeds the capacity of our own minds.” At regeneration, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes so that we can see who God is and who we are for the very first time. But after conversion, He continues to work to give us insight into His revealed Word and to deepen our personal relationship with Him.

The “spirit of wisdom and of revelation” is not some extra gift or special blessing received after conversion. Instead, it refers to the work of the Spirit to help all the people of God understand the things of God. If you are a Christian, you possess this Spirit, and He works in the corporate body of Christ to confirm the truth of Scripture, help us understand its meaning, reveal our sin, drive us to Christ, and so much more.

The word revelation simply means a revealing of something or someone. It is to reveal what was before hidden. It’s like opening a curtain or a door and seeing what is behind it. Long ago, God revealed Himself to Abram (later changed to Abraham) (Genesis 12) and then to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3) so for Abram and Moses, there was a revelation from God and that was their first ever revelation of God and it changed the course of human history. Through Abraham came the Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book where God gradually reveals Himself more and more until finally, Jesus Christ arrives and we see the God-Man live a sinless life and die for the redemption of those who would trust in Him. Jesus Christ is God revealed and through Jesus’ atoning death, He brings us to a knowledge of God the Father as well as God the Holy Spirit so Jesus is able to reveal to us Who the Father and the Spirit are.

There are two types of revelation, General revelation and special revelation. They are the two ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity. General revelation refers to the general truths that can be known about God through nature. Special revelation refers to the more specific truths that can be known about God through the supernatural.

In regard to general revelation, Psalm 19:1-4(ESV) declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” According to this passage, God’s existence and power can be clearly seen through observing the universe. The order, intricacy, and wonder of creation speak to the existence of a powerful and glorious Creator.

General revelation is also taught in Romans 1:20(ESV) “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Like Psalm 19, this passage teaches that God’s eternal power and divine nature are “clearly seen” and “understood” from what has been made, and that there is no excuse for denying these facts. With these Scriptures in mind, perhaps a working definition of general revelation would be “the revelation of God to all people, at all times, and in all places that proves that God exists and that He is intelligent, powerful, and transcendent.” Even in the most remote areas there are people who acknowledge the existence of a higher being, a creator as the Native Americans called Him.

Special revelation is how God has chosen to reveal Himself through miraculous means. Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ. The Bible records God appearing in physical form many times (Genesis 3:8, Genesis 18:1; Exodus 3:1-4, Exodus 34:5-7), and the Bible records God speaking to people through dreams (Genesis 28:12, Genesis 37:5; 1 Kings 3:5; Daniel 2) and visions (Genesis 15:1; Ezekiel 8:3-4; Daniel 7; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7).

One of the most important ways in the revealing God is His Word, the Bible, which is also a form of special revelation. God miraculously guided the authors of Scripture to correctly record His message to mankind, while still using their own styles and personalities. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is inspired, profitable, and sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God determined to have the truth regarding Him recorded in written form because He knew the inaccuracy and unreliability of oral tradition. He also understood that the dreams and visions of man can be misinterpreted. God decided to reveal everything that humanity needs to know about Him, what He expects, and what He has done for us in the Bible.

The ultimate form of special revelation is the Person of Jesus Christ. God became a human being (John 1:1(HCSB)In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, John 1:14(HCSB)14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth..

The author of Hebrews summarizes it best Hebrews 1:1-3(HCSB) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
God became a human being, in the Person of Jesus Christ, to identify with us, to set an example for us, to teach us, to reveal Himself to us, and, most importantly, to provide salvation for us by humbling Himself in death on the cross.
Philippians 2:6-8(HCSB)who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Jesus Christ is the ultimate “special revelation” from God.

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Conversion, Baptism and Hypocrites

Baptism and the conversion to Christianity.

God loves us and offers us salvation as a gift (John 3:16). If we receive His grace, by faith, we have salvation as our eternal possession (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once saved, nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can remove us from His hand (John 10:28-29). If you desire this salvation, if you desire to have all your sins forgiven, if you desire to have assurance of salvation, if you desire direct access to the God who loves you – receive it, and it is yours. This is the salvation that Jesus died to provide and that God offers as a gift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there a such thing as a christian hypocrite?
With these witty but also biting words, Jesus causes his listeners – then and today – to carefully examine their own lives. Are we going about accusing others of minor shortcomings when, in fact, we ourselves are ignoring our own behavior? If so, we are hypocrites. Once our hypocrisy is removed, then we are in a position to help others.

Unfortunately, one obstacle to the acceptance of Christianity that is often raised is provided by Christians themselves. Phrased in many ways, the core of the objection is, “If Christianity is true, why are there hypocrites in the church?” In other words, if Christianity is really supposed to change people, then why do some who profess to believe in Jesus set such bad examples?

Hypocrite –  a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs

:  a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion

:  a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

Hypocrisy – the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe

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. Hypo – under Krino – judge, a judging under, like a performer acting under a mask (i.e. a theater-actor); (figuratively) a two-faced person; a “hypocrite,” whose profession does not match their practice – i.e. someone who “says one thing but does another.

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 or judging others when we ourselves are battling the same sins.

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—

Jesus quoted this verse, aiming the same condemnation at the religious Scribes and Pharisees 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 refused to give hypocrites a pass, telling them to produce “fruits worthy of 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 an equally committed stand against holier than thou attitudes—He called hypocrites “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15), “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27), “snakes,” and “brood of vipers” (Matthew 23:33).

As children of God, we are called to strive for holiness (1 Peter 1:16). 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 hollywood and the stage, not for real life.

A hypocrite may look righteous on the outside, but it is a façade. True righteousness comes from the inner transformation of the Holy Spirit not an external conformity to a set of rules.

Hypocrisy is not the same as taking a stand against sin. 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. Something with porn, sexual immorality,lust,drugs,etc.

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; instead, He is telling us not be so prideful and convinced of our own goodness that we criticize others from a position of self-righteousness. 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.

Once we are delivered from our sins we could go and help others get set free from theirs, but if you are still in your sin you cannot tell another to depart from theirs.

Final thoughts on Christian Hypocrites:

•Many people who claim to be Christians don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps they are Christian in name only.

•A Christian is called to grow in faith and progress to being more like Christ. This doesn’t always happen instantly. Many Christians continue to struggle with temptation to sin. We are called to put on a new nature and allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives (Ephesians 4:23-24(HCSB)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. It is not hypocritical to fall. It is hypocritical to deny that you fell and pretend that you were successful.

•A Christian is called to live a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience Colossians 3:12(HCSB)12 Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,. Be intentional about letting God change your heart.

•Christians should admit hypocrisy. All of us are hypocrites in some area. Be vulnerable, honest, and authentic with unbelievers. Acknowledge your sin and share how freeing God’s forgiveness is.

Are all Christians hypocrites? Not at all! In fact, the history of the Christian church is filled with examples of selflessness, courage, moral action and reform and many other positive influences on the world. These are not the acts of hypocrites, but of sincere believers transformed by the resurrected Christ and moved by the Holy Spirit.

Until the church and all followers of Christ are glorified, there will, unfortunately, be hypocrites in the church. What’s important to remember, however, is that this does not negate Christianity or the claims of Christ. In addition, accusations of hypocrisy assume that there is a moral standard that hypocrites break. But where does this standard come from? In this sense, the hypocrisy objection actually supports the reality of a transcendent, moral lawgiver (that is, God), rather that argue against Him.

We must also remember that, biblically speaking, Romans 3:23-24(HCSB)23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. In other words, no one is perfect and all are dependent on Christ for redemption, salvation and growth in spiritual maturity. On the one hand, Christians should not act hypocritically, lest we provide critics with a flimsy reason to reject the gospel message.

Sanctification, Our Appetite Changes

Let me start by saying this “I may be friendly, but I am not your friend. Our relationship is more important than friendship.

Hebrews 13:17(NLT)17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.Yes, the Bible clearly states that God gives some individuals spiritual authority over others. There are various levels of authority in any person’s life, and each of these levels may involve different people in different positions of authority. Of course, we must begin with the highest authority, which is God.Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, holds all authority and has distributed some of that authority to various people on earth. Matthew 28:18(HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Because of our sinful nature, and because of the abuses or failures of authority that we have experienced, most people struggle on occasion with submitting to authorities.

God has chosen to place some in positions of authority for the sake of order and growth Ephesians 4:11–13(HCSB)11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 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.

The early church recognized the authority of the apostles and submitted to their teaching and direction. Next to the apostles in authority were the elders, or pastors, of the churches. As Paul and Barnabas established churches in their missionary journeys, they ordained elders in every church. Acts 14:23(HCSB)23 When they had appointed elders in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. These elders were responsible for teaching /pastoring, supervising, and being examples to the church

1 Peter 5:2–3(HCSB)Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. As spiritual leaders, these elders have a greater responsibility to God James 3:1(HCSB)Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment, and must meet the qualifications God has established Titus 1:5–9(HCSB)The reason I left you in Crete was to set right what was left undone and, as I directed you, to appoint elders in every town: one who is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of wildness or rebellion. For an overseer, as God’s administrator, must be blameless, not arrogant, not hot-tempered, not addicted to wine, not a bully, not greedy for money, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, righteous, holy, self-controlled, 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.; 1 Timothy 3:1–7). Believers are told to acknowledge and respect those who are over them in spiritual matters
1 Thessalonians 5:12–13(HCSB)Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. and even to support them financially (1 Timothy 5:17–18(HCSB)17 The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says:Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and, the worker is worthy of his wages.

I said all of that to enforce the fact that I will tell you stuff at times that you will not like, but remember it is God who ordains and if God sent you to this church then He sent you to submit to the authority of the leadership of this house. It is for your benefit, I care about your soul, I care about your eternal residence more than your feelings. It is all part of the Sanctification process.

Sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation.

To sanctify means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity
1 Thessalonians 4:7(HCSB)For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification, and being such we are called to do good works 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.

Sanctification, or in its verbal form, sanctify, literally means “to set apart” for special use or purpose, that is, to make holy or sacred. Therefore, sanctification refers to the state or process of being set apart, being made holy.

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. 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 13:7(HCSB) Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 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.

Also it will not take 20 years, you have to start producing fruit as soon as you were saved. Then Jesus told this story: Luke 13:6-9 (ESV)6 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. 9 Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”

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(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.

Malachi 3:1-6(NLT)“Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord. 4 Then once more the Lord will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past. 5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.6 “I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.

It does not say in verse 2 that he is like a forest fire, or like an incinerator’s fire. It says that he is like a refiner’s fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, “ I am the Lord, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed.”

He is a refiner’s fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner’s fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper “fear and trembling” in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it’s a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don’t fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER’S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.

The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. Which simply means that life in the refiner’s fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.

1 Peter 4:12(NLT)12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

God is more concerned with your character than He is with your comfort.

God is more concerned with your holiness than He is with your happiness.

God is more concerned with you as a person than He is with your possessions.

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.

Are you still Stomaching Sin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

All right?

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

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

Charles Spurgeon stated the following…

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

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

To the slop side of course!

Why?

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Creation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casual Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we compromise the Word of God?

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

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

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

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

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

Honor, Submission, Obey and Church Discipline

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

Applied to our daily lives, we could say:

Honor builds up. Dishonor tears down.

Honor believes the best. Dishonor believes the worst.

Honor values. Dishonor devalues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is another example of spiritual leadership and authority

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

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

The real love of Jesus is expressed through submission

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

Here is a Shocking scripture about Civil Authority;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN THE END:

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

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

We are treating God as common or ordinary.

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

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

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