Ephesians Pt 26 Praying in the Spirit

Ephesians 6:18(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Prayer is Communication with the Father, our Creator. Before Salvation we have no communication with the Father. Just the fact that People like us can speak to the Creator of the universe is itself an amazing thing. Even more astounding is the fact that He hears us and acts on our behalf! The first thing we need to understand about effective prayer is that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had to suffer and die on the cross to even make it possible for us to approach the throne of grace to worship and pray.

Praying in the Spirit is mentioned three times in Scripture.
1 Corinthians 14:15 (ESV)15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
Ephesians 6:18(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Jude 20 (ESV)20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
So, what exactly does it mean to pray in the Spirit? First of all you have to be saved. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the action by which God takes up permanent residence in the body of a believer in Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed to His disciples the new role the Spirit of Truth would play in their lives: John 14:16-17 (ESV)16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John Bunyan – There is no man nor church in the world that can come to God in prayer, but by the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, man is so weak that he cannot think one right saving thought of God, of Christ, or of his blessed things; and therefore the Word of God declares about the man without the Spirit, Psalm 10:4(ESV)In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”; unless it is that they imagine God to be basically like one of them (Psalm 50:21). For “every inclination of the thoughts of [unsaved man’s] heart is only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5; 8:21). Thus, since unbelievers are not able to correctly conceive who God is, the very God to whom they pray, the Christ through whom they pray, nor of the things for which they pray, as was shown before, then how will they be able to address themselves to God, without the help of the Holy Spirit?

The acceptable prayer to God must, in the outward expression, and as well in the inward intention, come from what the soul understands by the illumination of the Holy Spirit; otherwise the prayer is condemned as a vain abomination, because the heart and tongue do not agree, neither can they, unless the Spirit help us in our weakness.

Without Jesus the only prayer God hears is that of repentance. If you are not saved God is not obligated to listen to any of your prayers. 

Isaiah 59:1-2(HCSB) Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. 2 But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.

Psalms 66:17-19 (HCSB)I cried out to Him with my mouth, and praise was on my tongue.18 If I had been aware of malice in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19  However, God has listened; He has paid attention to the sound of my prayer.

Fortunately, 1 John 1:9 (HCSB)if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

The Greek word translated “pray in” can have several different meanings. It can mean “by means of,” “with the help of,” “in the sphere of,” and “in connection to.” Praying in the Spirit does not refer to the words we are saying. Rather, it refers to how we are praying. Praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading. It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for. Romans 8:26 (ESV)26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

Jesus taught his disciples how not to pray before teaching them how to pray.

Matthew 6:5-8(ESV)5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Some, based on 1 Corinthians 14:15, equate praying in the Spirit with praying in tongues. Discussing the gift of tongues, Paul mentions “pray with my spirit.” 1 Corinthians 14:14 states that when a person prays in tongues, he does not know what he is saying, since it is spoken in a language he does not know. Further, no one else can understand what is being said, unless there is an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). In Ephesians 6:18, Paul instructs us to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” How are we to pray with all kinds of prayers and requests and pray for the saints, if no one, including the person praying, understands what is being said? Therefore, praying in the Spirit should be understood as praying in the power of the Spirit, by the leading of the Spirit, and according to His will, not as praying in tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:14(ESV)14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. In both cases they have misrepresented the intention of those verses. The first verse they assume, speaking in an unknown tongue, builds someone up, when in fact; Paul was saying it in a negative sense. It puffs your ego, or it, at best, if you do it in private, would benefit you, which would be selfish and contrary to any proper use of spiritual gifts and the second one, “If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, and my understanding is unfruitful,” is a way to say, “Don’t do that, because what’s the point in having an unfruitful understanding?”

The gift of tongues is viewed as a holy, mystical ability that somehow operates in a person’s spirit and comes out the mouth and bypasses the mind. Many Charismatics are even told they have to purposefully switch off their mind to enable the gift to function, that’s pretty much the pattern. I’ve sat in on a number of sessions where people were endeavoring to teach someone how to speak in tongues, and they always follow that same format. Usually they say something like this, “Don’t think of anything, try to empty your mind of any conscious thought, then start to just babble like a baby”

Charles and Francis Hunter, who travel all across the world in healing explosion meetings, have as a part of their curriculum the seminars in which they teach people how to speak in tongues. They have as many as 50,000 people in some of their meetings. Charles Hunter tells people, and I quote, “When you pray with your spirit you do not think of the sounds of the language. Just trust God, but make the sounds when I tell you too. In just a moment, when I tell you, begin loving and praising God by speaking forth a lot of different syllable sounds. At first make the sounds rapidly so you won’t try to think as you do in speaking your natural language. Make the sounds loudly at first so you can easily hear what you are saying.”

That’s an interesting contradiction. Hunter doesn’t explain what point there is in hearing what you are saying since your mind isn’t engaged anyway, but he continually reminds his audience they’re not supposed to be thinking. He says, “The reason some of you don’t speak fluently, is that you try to think of the sounds so when we pray this prayer and you start speaking in your heavenly language don’t try to think,” end quote. Later he adds, quote, “You don’t even have to think in order to pray in the Spirit,” end quote.

If it’s the spirit then why you have to be taught?

Now remember, all of this is a occurring with absolutely no understanding of what you’re saying. You have no comprehension of what it is you’re saying, and yet it is supposed to bring you into the deep understanding and intimate communion with God.
You might ask the question, “What then is wrong with such an experience?” Well, on the one hand, there really isn’t anything particularly evil or immoral about it if you just disassociate it from the Bible and disassociate it from Christianity, and if you get some pleasure out of standing in a corner all by yourself or sitting in your room alone and talking gibberish to yourself and that does something for you, then I suppose in and of itself, from a psychological standpoint, that it’s not a moral issue, it may be harmless. If something makes you feel good or makes you feel somehow better in control of your life, or like you’ve had some warm experience, so be it, but don’t call it intimacy with God. Don’t say it makes you spiritually stronger. Don’t say it makes you delirious with spiritual joy.

Then ask yourself the question, could I, through this means be deceived? Could this be dangerous? The answer to that question has to be yes.
The problem I have with the tongues is that people have used that as a spiritual pinnacle and if you don’t speak in tongues then you don’t have the Holy Spirit.I even heard this” when you speak in tongues the devil can’t understand you” Really?! If tongues is a “language of the angels” what was Satan? A cherub He was higher than the angels, he was the most beautiful of all the angels, you don’t think he knows the language? Some counter that with well after he fell he lost his ability? Really?! Satan gets summoned to Heaven to speak with God. Job 1:6-7(ESV)6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
If we say those things we are stating incorrect unbiblical statements, and we are saying God doesn’t understand English or that God will hear my prayers because its in a heavenly language, that statement is so prideful!!

I personally heard and know of people who have severe PORN addictions but can speak and pray in Tongues!!!!! I was told multiple times “Brother if you don’t learn how to speak in tongues your will never have a powerful prayer life” My answer was always “What Verse?” But I have a couple for them….

James 5:15-16(ESV)15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

1 Peter 3:7(ESV)7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

1 Peter 3:10-12(ESV)10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 

1 Peter 4:7(ESV) 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

Statement made by John Wesley. He understood something about prayer that we must understand: “It seems that without God, man cannot – and without man, God will not.”

What did he mean by that?

– It seems that on earth, man can do nothing without God – but there is another reality: God will not do anything on earth without man.

The principle is: There has to be a partnership between man and God in order for things to be happening on earth.

– So what happens on earth depends on you!

– To understand prayer, here is a simple definition of prayer:

Prayer is the earthly license for Heavenly interference.

Therefore: Nothing on earth can happen without the cooperation between God and humans.

– That is how powerful you are.

– God Himself cannot interfere in this planet without your license and permission that

He gave you.

-This sounds un-believable – but if you don’t believe this – it is why your prayers

aren’t answered, you don’t see results, you are still sick, don’t have what you need,

you are just performing a religious exercise in your prayer life.

“We get the mind of God about His will, we pray it. When we pray it, we give him legal right to perform it” (BENNY HINN).

“Yes. Let me define prayer for you in this show. Prayer is man giving God permission, or license, to interfere in earth’s affairs. In other words, prayer is earthly license for heavenly interference….God can do nothing on earth, nothing has God ever done on earth without a human giving him access….Always looking for a human to give him power of permission. In other words, God has the power, but you got the permission. God got the authority and the power, but you got the license. So even though God can do anything, he can only do what you permit him to do” (MYLES MUNROE).

We can create barriers to effective prayer with the Father

1. Praying with selfish desires and wrong motives. James 4:3(ESV) When you ask you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.

2. Rejecting God’s call or ignoring His advice Proverbs 1:24-28 (HCSB)24 Since I called out and you refused, extended my hand and no one paid attention, 25 since you neglected all my counsel and did not accept my correction, 26 I, in turn, will 27  when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when trouble and stress overcome you.28  Then they will call me, but I won’t answer; they will search for me, but won’t find me. 

3. Worshipping idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14(ESV)11 Therefore, thus says the Lord, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them. 12 Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they make offerings, but they cannot save them in the time of their trouble. 13 For your gods have become as many as your cities, O Judah, and as many as the streets of Jerusalem are the altars you have set up to shame, altars to make offerings to Baal.14 “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.

4. Turning a deaf ear to the cry of the poor Proverbs 21:13(HCSB) The one who shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will himself also call out and not be answered.

Effective Prayer

Although the Bible offers a great deal of guidance on how we can deepen our communication with the Creator, effective prayer has more to do with the one doing the praying than it does with “how” we are to pray. Indeed, Scripture says in James 5:16 (HCSB) 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect., and in

1 Peter 3:12(HCSB)because the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request. But the face of the Lord is against those who do what is evil. 

Psalm 34:15 (HCSB)The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry for help. and, again in Proverbs 15:8(HCSB) The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight. Prayer saved the righteous Daniel from the lion’s den (Daniel 6:11), and in the wilderness, God’s chosen people benefitted from Moses’ right standing with God (Exodus 16–17). The barren Hannah’s steadfast and humble prayers resulted in the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:20), and the apostle Paul’s prayers even caused the earth to shake (Acts 16:25-26). Clearly, the passionate prayers of God’s righteous children can accomplish much (Numbers 11:2).

We also need to make sure that our prayers are in line with God’s will.

1 John 5:13-15(HCSB) 13 I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. Praying in accordance with God’s will is essentially praying in accord with what He would want, and we can see God’s revealed will throughout Scripture.

Additionally, prayer is something believers should do “constantly”
1 Thessalonians 5:17(HCSB)Pray constantly. When we present our requests to God, we are to pray with faith, with thanksgiving, with a spirit of forgiveness toward others in Christ’s name, with a heart that is right with God. It’s the strength of our faith, not the length of our prayers that pleases Him to whom we pray, so we don’t need to impress God with our eloquence or intelligence. After all, God knows what our needs are even before we ask. Also, we should make sure we have no unconfessed sin in our hearts when we pray, as this would certainly be an impediment to effective prayer.

Jesus is pretty serious when it comes to his Father’s house and prayer. Jesus’ first cleansing of the temple is described in John 2:13–17(HCSB) 13 The Jewish Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple complex He found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and He also found the money changers sitting there. 15 After making a whip out of cords, He drove everyone out of the temple complex with their sheep and oxen. He also poured out the money changers’ coins and overturned the tables. 16 He told those who were selling doves, “Get these things out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 And His disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for Your house will consume Me. This cleansing occurred just after Jesus’ first miracle, turning of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This is the first of the two times Jesus cleansed the temple. The second cleansing of the temple occurred just after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the last week of His life.
Matthew 21:12-13(HCSB)12 Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!” Think of this: Jesus doesn’t call the temple a home for God, a beautiful establishment, a country club, a social gathering, nor a hospital, He calls it a “House of Prayer”. Jesus got so fired up about His Father’s house not being a house of prayer, he fashioned a whip and went after it. He cleansed the temple not once but twice!

Far too often, prayer is viewed as a “magic formula.” Some believe that if we do not say exactly the right things, or pray in the right position, God will not hear and answer our prayer. This is completely unbiblical. God does not answer our prayers based on when we pray, where we are, what position our body is in, or in what order we word our prayers. We are told in 1 John 5:14-15 (HCSB)14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for. We are to have confidence when we come to God in prayer, knowing that He hears us and will grant whatever we ask as long as it is in His will. Similarly,
John 14:13-14 (HCSB)13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. According to these and many other Scriptures, God answers prayer requests based on whether they are asked according to His will and in the name of Jesus (to bring glory to Jesus).

The revelation about prayer, is that prayer is a 100% spiritual ministry. We all want our prayers to be “effective,” so much so that when we focus on the “results” of our prayers, we lose sight of the incredible privilege we have in prayer.

The closest the Bible comes to giving a “pattern” for prayer is the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:5-13 (ESV)5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  9 Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name.10 Your kingdom come,your will be done,on earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread,12 and forgive us our debts,as we also have forgiven our debtors.13 And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from evil.
Please understand that the Lord’s Prayer is not a prayer we are to memorize and recite to God. The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the “ingredients” that should go into prayer.
Here is how it breaks down:
“Our Father in heaven” is teaching us whom to address our prayers to—the Father. “Hallowed be your name” is telling us to worship God, and to praise Him for who He is.
The phrase “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a reminder to us that we are to pray for God’s plan in our lives and the world, not our own plan. We are to pray for God’s will to be done, not for our desires. We are encouraged to ask God for the things we need in “give us today our daily bread.” “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” reminds us to confess our sins to God and to turn from them, and also to forgive others as God has forgiven us.
The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” is a plea for help in achieving victory over sin and a request for protection from the attacks of the devil.

This is an example of the things that should go into a prayer—worship, trust in God, requests, confession, and submission. We are to pray for the things the Lord’s Prayer talks about, using our own words and “customizing” it to our own journey with God. The proper way to pray is to express our hearts to God. Sitting, standing, or kneeling; hands open or closed; eyes opened or closed; in a church, at home, or outside; in the morning or at night—these are all side issues, subject to personal preference, conviction, and appropriateness. God’s desire is for prayer to be a real and personal connection between Himself and us.

Philippians 4:6-7(ESV) 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words

Prayer must submit to the will of God. – Paul Bunyan

As Christ has taught us, prayer must say, Matthew 6:10(ESV)Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.; therefore the people of the Lord in humility are to lay themselves and their prayers, and all that they have, at the feet of their God, to be disposed of by him as he in his heavenly wisdom sees best. And never doubting that God will answer the desire of his people in a way that will be most advantageous for them and for his glory. Therefore when the saints pray with submission to the will of God, they are not to doubt or question God’s love and kindness to them. But because they are not always wise, and sometimes Satan may take advantage of them, so as to tempt them to pray for that which, if they had it, would neither be to God’s glory nor for his people’s good.

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Ephesians Pt 21 Breastplate of Righteousness

Ephesians 6:10-14(ESV) 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

These scriptures inform believers to “put on the whole armor of God” in order to stand firm against the attacks of our enemies. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5(ESV)3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

The imagery is of an armed Roman or Israelite soldier, prepared for battle. A typical armed soldier wore a breastplate made of bronze or chain mail. It covered the vital organs, namely, the heart, and was fitted with loops or buckles that attached it to a thick belt. If the belt was loosened, the breastplate slipped right off. When Paul compares the armor of God with military gear, each piece represents a part of God’s strength that He extends to us when we become His children. The breastplate of righteousness refers to the righteousness purchased for us by Jesus at the cross 2 Corinthians 5:21(ESV)21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

At salvation, a “breastplate” is issued to each repentant sinner. It is specially designed by God to protect our heart and soul from evil and deception. Our own righteous acts are no match for Satan’s attacks. Isaiah 64:6(NET)We are all like one who is unclean, all our so-called righteous acts are like a menstrual rag in your sight. We all wither like a leaf; our sins carry us away like the wind.. The breastplate of righteousness has Christ’s name on it, as though He said, “Your righteousness isn’t sufficient enough to protect you, Here wear mine.”

We are separated from God. Sin caused man’s separation from God, however God Loves us so much, that He provides the Way into fellowship with Him through Jesus Christ. His steadfast loving kindness leads us to repentance, His grace, and mercy, forgives us of all our sins, even though none of us deserves it. No one can earn forgiveness, and reconciliation to God, it is a free gift, to those who believe, and accept it by Faith.

   

The original sin of Adam and Eve brought devastation to all mankind and separation from God. All men and women are born with the same sin nature. We all have impure spirits and we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Isaiah 59:2(ESV) but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

We are instructed to “put on” this armor, which implies that we do not automatically wear it all the time. Putting on the armor of God requires a decision on our part. To put on the breastplate of righteousness, we must first have the belt of truth firmly in place. Without truth, our righteousness will be based upon our own attempts to impress God. This leads to legalism or self-condemnation. We choose instead to acknowledge that, apart from Him, we can do nothing John 15:5(ESV)5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. We see ourselves as “in Christ” and that, regardless of our failures, His righteousness has been credited to our account.

Imputed righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus credited to the Christian, enabling the Christian to be justified. Justification – We are saved from the PENALTY of Sin. (This is Instant)

Imparted righteousness is what God does in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit after justification, working in the Christian to enable and empower the process of sanctification. Sanctification – We are being saved from the Power of Sin (This is a Process)

Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death Romans 6:23(ESV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves justification from sin.

 

What does the term “Justified” mean? The Bible meaning of the word is to be totally blameless and totally guiltless–to be able to stand before God clean and pure in every way. A play on the word helps us to understand its meaning. If I am Justified, it is Just-as-if-I’d never sinned, and Just-as-if-I’d always been holy and done the right things.

Our Father, however, has devised a plan and made a way for us to stand righteous before Him. He has sent His own Son as a Sacrifice on our behalf, and those who believe in Him shall have everlasting life, and shall be seen as righteous in God’s sight.

Romans 3:21-24(ESV)21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

This is Justification, to stand before God with all debts paid, and clothed in the righteousness of His only Son, Jesus Christ. To be able know that you have “peace with God”–there is no more war between you and the Almighty.

Romans 5:1(ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Taken together, the concepts of Grace and Justification by Faith show the uniqueness of the Christian doctrine of Salvation. The message of Grace is God Saves Sinners. It is His Plan, it was His Son who died and rose again, it is His Spirit who enlivens the preaching and witness of believers to awaken sinners to their need of salvation and lead them to faith in Christ.

After Justification begins Sanctification which is basically the process of our dying to self, 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. Galatians 5:24 (ESV)“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires”. Where we once pursued selfish pleasures, we now pursue, with equal passion, those things that pleases God.

And being obedient to the word and the Spirit that we are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are considered righteous and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.

God’s grace is the determining factor in our salvation, even to include His working in our lives to develop a lifestyle consistent with salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

The grace of God is so simple, and so profound that most of the greatest minds don’t fully understand it. It stands in opposition to the ideas that most of us have about earning our way in the world, about people getting what they deserve, about “fairness,” and about the independence of human beings.

The meaning of grace behind that simple explanation is one of the most hated teachings in the world because it so totally undermines and removes all traces of human pride.

Ephesians 1:4-5(ESV)4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[a] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,

When Adam sinned it didn’t throw a wrench in God’s plan, He didn’t say”Wow I didn’t see that coming, now I have to devise a different plan for man, Wow that really threw me off.” He knew since before the foundation of the earth, who He would call into His army.

Romans 9:14-18(ESV)14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

The Doctrine of Grace teaches that we are totally unable to save ourselves, to help in our salvation, to do anything to merit all or any part of our salvation, or to keep our salvation. We are saved totally as an act of God’s will, and we do not deserve it in any way. This is the most important first principle in understanding Grace–no one in the entire human race deserves any consideration from God, we are all rebels and sinners, and we all deserve Hell. Except for His own redemption plan, God could rightfully have sent the entire human race to eternal punishment long ago! The description Paul gives of believers before salvation fits the entire human race if they are without Christ: This is what God has done for you in Christ Jesus, He gave you life you did not deserve. He gave you life you did not earn, because it would not be a gift if you did something for it. However the Bible calls us to repent. God calls everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and trust in Christ in order to be saved

Mark 1:15(ESV)15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

Acts 3:19(ESV)19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out,

Acts 7:30-31(ESV)30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

1 Corinthians 12:3(ESV)3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 10:9-10(ESV)9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Acts 13:48(ESV) And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself.

John 6:44(ESV)44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

These indicate that repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance.

Romans 6:23(ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 9:15(ESV)15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Ephesians 2:8(ESV)8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

If you ask for a gift is it still a gift?

All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God’s longsuffering leads us to repentance as does His kindness. (2 Peter 3:9(ESV)9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Romans 2:4(ESV)4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

The Bible makes plain that the mysterious supernatural experience called the New Birth is an act of God.

John 3:3-8(ESV)3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

You did not and cannot contribute anything to your new birth, you contribute as much to your spiritual birth as you did your natural birth.

In spite of us deserving wrath, however, God has exercised His Grace toward us in Christ. Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV)4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

What is the meaning of Grace? Grace focuses on the forgiveness needed because of the current state we are in. It is a gift that is not earned, but it is more than that. We didn’t simply live in a way not to earn salvation; we lived in a way characterized by fighting, kicking, and screaming against receiving the gift.

Even our best efforts fall far short of the righteousness required by God Romans 3:23(ESV)23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That’s why Scripture says that no one seeks God.
Romans 3:10-11(ESV)10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. We seek fulfillment. We seek pleasure. We seek escape from pain. But the pure motivation of seeking after God for Himself is a gift from God. We are not saved because we had the wisdom and insight to exercise our own faith and trust God. No one wakes up one day and, on his own, decides to seek God. That would be a salvation by our own works, and Scripture is clear we are saved only by the grace and mercy of God.
Titus 3:5(ESV)he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

Romans 11:6(ESV)But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

We are saved when God touches our hearts and prompts us to use the faith He gives to receive His gift of salvation.That is how our lives were characterized. God’s grace is absolutely overwhelming. The idea that we did anything to merit or earn salvation, the idea that we mustered up repentance or faith within ourselves, the idea that we worked with God in our salvation, is totally at odds with what grace truly is. And Paul drives this point home in Ephesians 2:9(ESV)not a result of works, so that no one may boast. It’s not of us; it’s not by us; it’s not for us! God is the initiator and the preserver of our salvation.

There is no precursor to our salvation, God is not in heaven waiting for us to get our act together for him to save us.

Romans 8:6-9(ESV)For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

The most important thing to say is that the christian life is one of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: That God saved us, He is Sanctifying us and He will Glorify us when we get to Heaven. It is all of Him and nothing of us. That does not mean that we will not face trials. Trials help us to build Godly character, that is the basis of sanctification, to remove our old character and for the Holy Spirit to work our Father’s character into us.

Proverbs 17:3(NLT)Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart. 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 (HCSB)3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

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(ESV)11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter. Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. Jesus meets us where we are but His goal is to never leave us where He met us, We are to follow Him and strive for holiness AFTER He meets us where we are.

Men, Love Your Wives

Ephesians 5:22–33(ESV)22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The Bible commands men to love their wives as Christ loves the church.  This is a very difficult command to obey because Christ gave His own life for the church.  In fact He died for it. The kind of love that Christ has for the church is the divine kind of love; a self sacrificing and unconditional love that humans can only hope to mimic.  So how are husbands to love their wives the way that Jesus loves the church? There is no better marriage advice for husbands given anywhere, by anyone, at anytime, than in the Bible.  There is wisdom for husbands in how they should love their wives that is unlike any advice you will find in the world; the Holy Bible. We should let God speak to us on how a husband should love his wife.

When a company struggles or fails, who ultimately has to take responsibility? The CEO. When a nation struggles or fails, who ultimately has to take responsibility? The president, the king, whoever is in charge. How about a sports team, a sports team struggling or failing? Who takes responsibility for that? Well, ultimately, it’s going to be the coach and/or the general manager. Let’s say there’s a military unit, heads out to war, and struggles and/or fails. Who ultimately takes responsibility? Well, it’s going to be the highest-ranking officer. Why, why is that? Because they’re the head. Others under their authority may bear some responsibility, but because they’re in the highest authority, they bear the most responsibility.

So, let me ask you men a question. When our first father and his wife, our first mother, were in the Garden of Eden, who sinned first, Eve or Adam? Eve did. Eve partook, and Adam observed. And then God comes in Genesis 3, and who does he call out for? Adam. He calls out to Adam, “Where are you?”

Why does he do that? Is it that he did not hold her responsible for her sin? No, we read in Genesis 3 that God came to her, spoke to her about her sin, that there are consequences for women today because of the sin of our first mother, Eve. But God held the man primarily responsible, because he’s the head of his family.

That’s why we read in Romans 5:12–21(ESV)12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—
See because of the man’s sin, the whole race fell. Women are responsible for their sin. Wives are responsible for their sin, but their husbands, in addition, also bear responsibility. What does this mean for your family, husbands? It means that the well-being of our wife is our responsibility.

It says it this way in 1 Corinthians 11:1-(ESV)Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:8(ESV) For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
Paul says that the woman is the glory of the man. That means that she is the reflection of his affection, that if she is flourishing, it should be because of his loving investment and involvement. How’s it going? Proverbs 5:15 (HCSB)Drink water from your own cistern,water flowing from your own well. 16 Should your springs flow in the streets, streams of water in the public squares? 17 They should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers.18 Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. 19  A loving doe, a graceful fawn—let her breasts always satisfy you;be lost in her love forever.
Husbands made a vow before God and before witnesses to love their wives unto death do they part.  God does not take that lightly.  Adultery is a very serious sin and God can not be mocked.  Husbands will pay severely with marital infidelity.  There is no room for compromise here. The lesson for husbands is to remain forever faithful to their wives.  Adultery, or even flirting with another woman which can lead to adultery in the heart, can shatter families, wreck a home, cause bankruptcy, destroy children’s faith in marriage, and can bring down the mightiest of men.
Ephesians 5:3(ESV)3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Adultery comes from the heart as Jesus declares in Matthew 5:28, 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

For husbands, adultery in the heart is one of the most frequent of problems in this society.  Pornography destroys lives and devalues women.  Pornography, unfortunately, is far too accessible; on the Internet, on cable, pay-per-view, TV, and in magazines.  Pornography is just as serious as adultery, for when a man lusts after a woman in their heart, they have in essence committed adultery. Same for you women, 50 shades of gray, romance novels. Psychologist Dr. Julia Slattery, author of Finding the Hero in Your Husband, says there are similarities between what happens to a woman when she reads a romance novel and what happens to a man when he views pornography. “There is a neurochemical element with men and visual porn, but an emotional element with women and these novels,” she writes. Women experience a euphoric high when reading romance novels and men experience the same addicting chemical release when watching porn.

Your wife is your garden. And if you don’t like the way the garden looks, you’re the gardener. Song of Solomon speaks about guarding the vineyard. In the springtime of the year, when flowers are in bloom and all nature is telling you to go forth, be fruitful and multiply, the woman warns us of the little foxes that can damage the fragile blossoms of the vineyard, with serious long-term consequences for its fruitfulness Song of Solomon 2:15(HCSB)Catch the foxes for us—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.. She reminds us that the farmer who invests his energy in protecting the integrity of the vineyard will not regret it later, even though the benefits of this painful perseverance won’t be reaped until the time is fully ripe.

Vineyard tending is a long, patient process of waiting and watching in which one failure doesn’t bring the whole endeavor to nothing. The farmer who fails doesn’t have to give up the vineyard as damaged goods. He can repent and rebuild the broken wall tear out the weeds and start again to watch and wait. Equally, while keeping the walls and weeding is important in vineyard tending, it is not the only thing. It’s about taking care of tender blossoms. Tending your sexual vineyard is therefore not simply about actual physical sexual intercourse; it is about protecting your mind from habitual lust, romantic fantasy, and pornography, all of which can have long-term damaging effects. You can have a vineyard whose walls are still intact but whose blossoms have been trampled into the muddy dirt in other ways.

Colossians 3:18-19(ESV)18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 

You can’t just stand back and yell at her, or give demands to her, or pass judgments regarding her. You need to love her like Christ loved the church. You need to take responsibility like Jesus took responsibility. You need to pursue her. You need to invest in her. You need to care for her. You need to cherish her and nourish her with the grace that God gives you.

Men, by their nature, tend to be more rough, and harsh with people.  I am not saying that men are inferior to women, but each gender has differences.  These differences, instead of being conflicting, can actually compliment each other.  What men lack in finesse, women may excel at.  Where women lack in physical strength, men may not.  There is a balance between the two in the dance of life where like a tight rope walker; each gives weight to the other side.  This balance adds the feminine and the masculine.  Like when hot and cold are mixed together, there is a moderation in temperature.  Most people like hot showers, but if there is not at least some cold water, it’s painfully hot.

Men need to love their wives and not being harsh with them is showing them love.  Love is a verb – it’s an action, its what you do.  Saying I love you is important, but showing it by loving kindness, consideration, and a soft spoken tone is more important. You can scream “I love you!” but a tender, soft kiss tells your wife more than a hundred “I love you’s” ever could.  Women love to communicate while men are often silent, but when husbands take the time to listen, it births a godly love.  Our actions can show love and our tone of voice can show consideration, but talking with your wife and listening is perhaps one of the greatest things a husband can do.  And not while watching TV. Give her your wife your undivided attention, make eye contact, and just sit and listen to her – let her talk.  She doesn’t need you to interrupt to try and fix things (men tend to be problem solvers); she just needs you to listen to her quietly.  This tells her you value her opinion and that it’s important to you.  This shows the wife that you love her.

1 Peter 3:1-7(ESV)Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

She is the weaker vessel, when there is a noise who gets up and goes check? Should be the man, your not gonna send your wife out to defend the home? Why? She is the weaker vessel. Men are like a thermos and women are like a crystal chalice. A Thermos can be dropped, bumped, handle very hot or very cold liquids. A crystal chalice if bumped or dropped will be damaged, if you put something too Hot or too cold it will crack. A thermos can handle a lot of pressure a crystal chalice cannot. Same for men and women, men are made to handle more than women, and men are to protect their crystal chalice.

Men we are called to love our wives and women you are called to obey and respect your husbands there is no variable in this. But what exactly is love?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7(ESV)4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Men when you read this put your names where love is and but for now repeat after me.

“CYR PUT THIS UP”
I am patient and kind; I will not envy or boast; I am not arrogant 5 or rude. I will not insist on my own way; I will not be irritable or resentful;6 I will not rejoice at wrongdoing, but I will rejoice with the truth. 7 I will bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.

When your wife is not flourishing, or your children are not flourishing, we will ask the same question that God asked Adam, “Where are you?” And what we will want you to do is take responsibility. We want you men to lead.

IT’S TIME TO LEAD… Where the head goes the body follows, and if Christ is the Head then men will lead their wives and homes toward a lasting relationship with the Lord. Men you are leading your family just not every man is leading in the right direction.

In the covenant of marriage, Jesus Christ is the capital-H Head. The Head of your marriage is Jesus, and the lowercase-h head is the husband, and the husband is to be part of the church, and learning about Jesus, and seeing how Jesus loves and serves and sanctifies the church. And then he’s supposed to take those examples from Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, be something like Jesus to his wife, so that she’s cherished, and she’s nurtured, and she’s loved, and she’s pursued, and she’s forgiven, so that she grows in godliness and grace and gloriousness, that the woman is the glory of the man, that she reflects his investment. As a church matures and grows, it reflects the service and the sacrifice of Jesus. So it is with the woman. As she grows, and flourishes, and as her children grow and flourish, it shows the service and sacrifice of her husband and her Lord.

Men Love your wives, pray for your wives, pray for your marriage, lead her, take initiative to romance her, date her, study the Word with her, protect her heart, prtect her mind, protect her soul. Be the man God called you to be. Here’s the bottom line, guys. You need to love her like Christ loved the church. You need to take responsibility like Jesus took responsibility. You need to pursue her. You need to invest in her. You need to care for her. You need to cherish her and nourish her with the grace that God gives you. You men need to know that we will stand before God. You husbands, in particular, need to know that we will stand before God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the one who knows and sees all, and we’re going to give an account for ourselves, as men. And if we’re privileged to be husbands, we will also give an account for our wife. And if we’re given the great blessing of children, we will also give an account for our children. They will give an account, as well, but we will give an account for everyone that is under our authority.

This is what it means when the Bible uses the language of “head,” that we are responsible, in the sight of God, for the well-being of our wives and children. And so, men, you need to know that if your wife struggles or fails to grow in godliness, if your children struggle or fail to grow in godliness, it is your responsibility in the sight of God; in addition to their responsibility, but it is your responsibility, as well, and that’s what the Bible means when it uses the word “head,” and it does so in many places.

Ephesians Pt 12 Slander, Anger and Foul Language

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Lukewarm Living – Revelation 3:15

4. Hard Heartedness Mark 3:5

5. Superiority – exalted doctrines of men Matthew 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul’s warning here does include using obscene or vulgar language that tears someone down, reflects worldly motives, or in any other way that’s unfit for a redeemed way of life. But “corrupting” primarily refers to slander, gossip or any other speech that tears someone down. Paul refers to the dangerous power of words, all words, when used to dehumanize another human being. Gossiping about a fellow church member, dropping a belittling comment on a blog or Facebook post or holding up a hateful sign at a gay-pride parade are all good examples of “corrupting” talk.

The Bible makes this abundantly clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians Pt 11

Ephesians 4:17-24(HCSB)17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more. 20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard about Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus. 22 You took off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romans 6:16 (NLT)Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charles Spurgeon stated the following…

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

The pig is released, which side is he going to run to? To the slop side of course!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a difference between continuing to sin and continuing to live in sin. No one reaches sinless perfection in this life, but the redeemed Christian is being sanctified (made holy) day by day, sinning less and hating it more each time he fails. Yes, we still sin, but unwillingly and less and less frequently as we mature. Our new self hates the sin that still has a hold on us. The difference is that the new creation is no longer a slave to sin, as we formerly were. We are now freed from sin and it no longer has power over us. Now we are empowered by and for righteousness. We now have the choice to “let sin reign” or to count ourselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”

Romans 6:11-12(HCSB)11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. Best of all, now we have the power to choose the latter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the meaning to the Christian Life?

What is the meaning of the Christian life?

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

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

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

Q. What is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Christian life is also supposed to be one of death to self in order to live a life by faith. Paul told the Galatians, Galatians 2:20(HCSB)20 and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Being crucified with Christ means that our old nature has been nailed to the cross and has been replaced by a new nature which is Christ’s
2 Corinthians 5:17(HCSB)17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. He who loved us and died for us now lives in us, and the life we live is by faith in Him. It means sacrificing our own desires, ambitions, and glories and replacing them with those of Christ. We can only do this by His power through the faith that He gives us by His grace. Part of the Christian life is praying to that end.

The Christian life is also supposed to persevere to the end. Hebrews 10:38-39(HCSB)But My righteous one will live by faith; and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. Hebrews addresses this issue by quoting from the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk: “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” God is not pleased with one who “draws back” from Him after making a commitment, but those who live by faith will never draw back, because they are kept by the Holy Spirit who assures us that we will continue with Christ until the end. Ephesians 1:13-14(HCSB)13 When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. 14 He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. The writer of Hebrews goes on to verify this truth in verse 39: But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. The true believer is one who believes to the end.

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

Ephesians Pt10 Jesus gives the gifts

Ephesians 4:7-16(HCSB)7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. 8 For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people. 9 But what does “He ascended” mean except that He descended to the lower parts of the earth? 10 The One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things. 11 And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

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

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

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

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

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

Consumer Christianity is KILLING US.

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

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

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

“Each one of us” refers to those to whom Paul wrote Ephesians 2:8-9(HCSB)8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. If you have not been rescued from God’s judgment (that’s what saved means) by God’s undeserved favor (grace) through faith in Christ’s death as your substitute, then nothing else that I am going to say in this message applies to you. You must receive God’s gracious gift of eternal life before you receive His gracious spiritual gift that enables you to serve Him. If you think that you can earn salvation by serving God, you do not understand the gospel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apostle

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

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

Prophet

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

Evangelist

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

Pastor

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

Teacher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suhling remarked that

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

Washburn summarized Paul’s thrust this way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ephesians 4:16(HCSB) From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

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