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Striving Against Sin

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 26, 2016

30217You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. Heb. 12:4

My family knew a man who told us he was “struggling against the sin of pornography.”

It turned out he kept a big box of porn under his bed. He opened it when the urge hit, and then he felt some guilt afterward because he knew it was wrong, but his guilty feelings never drove him to change. When challenged with Scripture, he justified his sins by saying we all sin.

My friends, this is not striving against sin. This is making provision for the flesh and living after the flesh. He provided for his flesh by keeping the box beneath the bed when he already knew it was wrong. And he lived after the flesh by repeatedly obeying the urge to open the box. This man deceived himself that he was a Christian involved in the “struggle against sin.” He was actually a repeat-sinner in ongoing rebellion against God, experiencing worldly sorrow–a sorrow that does not lead to repentance and salvation (I Cor. 7:9-11).

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (Rom. 13:14)

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

Can it get any clearer? Unless we put on the LORD Jesus Christ, and put to death and mortify the deeds of the body, we will die. Period.

I could post the whole chapter of Romans 6 here. But here are some highlights–

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? (1-2)

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. (5-7)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (12-16)

Either we are dead to sin and no longer living in it, or we are still obeying sin and headed to an eternal DEATH. We have a choice to make. To whom will we present the members of our bodies?–Sin or God? To truly be under grace is to be freed from the dominion of sin. If you are under the dominion of sin, you are separated from grace and need to die with Christ that you may also live with Him.

Jesus depicted the struggle against sin very graphically–

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matt. 5:29-30)

If you are offering your eye, your hand, your mouth, or your mind to sin, dare you believe that Jesus will accept your excuses after this stern warning about the peril of sin and its consequences?

“We all sin…”
“If my spouse/parents/children/problems were different, then I’d be different…”
“People hurt me, so I can’t help…”

Jesus won’t accept these excuses. He said cut off the hand or pluck out the eye. Do whatever you have to do to escape being cast into hell. Because you WILL be cast into hell unless you get the victory over sin. And the victory over sin comes through Him, but He doesn’t hand you victory on a silver platter while that wicked box is still under your bed, friend. Until you truly sorrow over your sin to the point that you are ready to fight to the death, the victory will not come.

Do you want to strive against sin and win? Here’s what that looks like–

March into your bedroom and pull that wretched box out. Take it outside and set it on fire. Confess to the Lord that you have done wicked things He hates. Confess that you deserve His judgment and there is no excuse. Ask Him to break your heart as His is broken over sin. Ask Him to show you how your sin exploits and hurts others (He will). Call up a strong Christian and tell him what you just did. Ask him to check up on you regularly and hold your feet to the fire. Give him access to your future internet searches. Search out and find every verse that exposes and condemns that sin, and post them around the house. Memorize verses about holiness, obedience, and victory in Jesus. Make a covenant with your eyes that you will not look lustfully at women (Job 31:1), and daily walk out that covenant. When you want to stop at the convenience store that sells dirty magazines, REFUSE to stop. In fact, don’t go to those stores. Don’t hang around people who look at porn. When you drive past a seductive billboard or half-dressed woman, train your eyes to look away, refusing to offer your eyes to unrighteousness. When you accidentally see an image that tempts you, immediately replace the image with Scripture or a remembrance of what Jesus did for you on the cross. Pray and take the way out by obeying Jesus no matter how strong the temptation is. Teach others that porn will take them to hell. If the internet is a problem, GET IT SHUT OFF. This is not too harsh, friend. This is not yet resisting to blood, and you have to be serious in the fight if you want to overcome.

When’s the last time you fasted from food and meditated on Scripture all day, so as to bring your body completely under subjection and get the victory over that evil thing you keep doing? It may take that. Do whatever it takes.

When you’re engaged in this kind of struggle, you can be sure that the Lord will come down and fight for you. He will not let you be tempted beyond your endurance, but will provide a way out. But too many are offered a way out and don’t take it. You must train yourself to take the way out. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Sin crouches at the door and desires to rule over you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT. You must! And you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, but if you ignore the way out provided and make provision for your flesh, you will fail of the grace of God.

I was delivered from cigarettes many years ago, when I cried out to the Lord and He told me to crush my cigarettes to bits and discard them. I had been praying for deliverance for a couple months, while asking my spouse to leave me a few cigarettes per day. As long as I made that provision for my flesh, I couldn’t quit.  But when I acted on the Lord’s command and crushed them up, told my spouse not to leave me any more, and also refused to ever buy a pack ever again, that was it. I never smoked again.

Of course the tempter tried to get me to return to my vomit. A few months later, I woke up on a summer night. The first thought that popped into my mind was, “There’s a pack of cigarettes on the counter (my spouse still smoked.) If you get up and smoke one on the porch, no one will ever know.” At that point, I had a choice to make. I could smoke it and blame my spouse for tempting me. Or I could resist the devil and REFUSE to even get out of bed. I chose the latter. Staying in bed was the way out. And I’m happy to say the tempter fled and the urge passed. God’s Word is true.

A dog  feeling a bit sad about devouring his vomit, and a washed pig “sorry” to have fallen in the mud again, is not a struggling Christian. Such a person was better off before knowing the truth–

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Pet. 2:20-21

Now maybe you don’t drink, smoke or chew, or go with girls who do. Maybe you pride yourself in that porn is not a problem for you. My question to you is this:  How is your character? Is it like the character of Jesus Christ? Are you rude to your coworkers? Do you steal time from your employer by being lazy? Are you impatient with your spouse or children? Do you let ungodliness come out of your mouth when you’re irritated? Do you have road rage? Do you harbor unforgiveness toward others? Do you threaten others, rather than entreat them? It’s easy to judge ourselves by a few externals and think we are doing ok compared to others. But comparing ourselves to others is not wise. Let us compare ourselves to Jesus, and the standards given to New Testament believers. Let us not be happy with external changes if our hearts are still darkened. White washed tombs are still filled with death. Let us pray that God will show us any wicked way in ourselves, and then begin to earnestly strive against sin.

If you are lustful, angry, violent, unthankful, lazy, greedy, impatient, unkind, etc., it’s time to crucify your flesh with its passions and desires. It’s time to fight like you’ve never fought before. It’s time to cry out to Jesus like you never have before. It’s time to flush your deceitful excuses and make humble confession to those you’ve been hurting. It’s time to stop hiding in the shadows and step into the light; God is not fooled, and those close to you are probably not fooled either. It’s time to fill your mind with all the Scriptures that apply TO YOU, not to your neighbor. It’s time to meditate on the Word day and night, and stop letting your mind fill with thoughts that lead to sin. It’s time to figure out what the way out looks like, and start taking it. It’s time to cut off the hand, pluck out the eye, memorize Scripture, become accountable to strong believers, fast, agonize, make it right with all those you’ve offended, and learn to do good.

If you continue in sin,

Your professed faith in Christ won’t save you.
Your excuses won’t save you (ie “The woman you gave me…”)
Your church attendance won’t save you.
Your exposure of false churches won’t save you.
Your doctrinal knowledge won’t save you.
Your Christian friendships won’t save you.
Your good reputation before others won’t save you.
Your exposure of OTHER people’s sins won’t save you.
Your “balancing the scale” with some good works won’t save you.

You might even have a blog like this one, and work hard to expose all sorts of things. You might witness on the streets or give money to missionaries. But if you don’t deal with that sin that you know about, and if you don’t change your behavior, Jesus’ stern warning about hell applies to you.

Sin desires to have you, but YOU MUST RULE OVER IT (Genesis 4:7). It is not those who hear the Word of God, but those who do it, who will be saved.

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Proceeding From Evil to Evil

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 2, 2014

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies. They are not valiant for the truth on the earth. For they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know Me,” says the Lord. “Everyone take heed to his neighbor, and do not trust any brother; for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers. Everyone will deceive his neighbor, and will not speak the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves to commit iniquity. Your dwelling place is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know Me,” says the Lord. (Jer. 9:3-6)

Here we see that at the root of corruption and the overspread of evil, there is a lack of God’s people being valiant for truth on the earth. When the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned again, and what use has it in preserving the earth?

Many in the church bemoan the state of our nation, and rightly so, but too often they are crying only about the rotten harvest, and not the many years of rotten sowing they themselves took part in before that.

Has the western church been valiant for the truth on the earth? With exception of a remnant–decried as legalists and ignored by the mainstream–the honest answer is no.

In fact, the mainstream is teaching that the Genesis account of creation cannot be true, God’s love won’t let anyone perish and go to hell, homosexuality won’t exclude one from the kingdom after all, and we don’t really have to be a holy people–that was just a standard God purposely set out of our reach. The command to be separate from the world is too stuffy for our modern times, and the cross where the Lord Jesus suffered to change rebellious hearts was just God’s way of showing us how insufferable His own laws are. There is a lie for every kind of twisted heart that continues insisting it still serves the Lord even as it despises Him.

Yes, we have taught our own tongues to speak lies about our God, and through deceit we refuse to know Him. And so we “proceed from evil to evil.” And this is how our nation got so far off course, so we can stop pointing our fingers at the world, and start examining ourselves in light of the piercing Word. How did we expect the nation to stay on course when the city set on a hill (the church) was so, so dimly lit; and the sounds she played on her trumpet were so rare and so uncertain?

How can we get back on course–We must forsake the lies we have embraced about God. We must once again separate from the lying world that is utterly lost and blind and on its way to everlasting destruction. This will include separating from many, perhaps most, of professing Christians. That sounds too harsh to the lukewarm ear, but most are wickedly walking the wide road, unable to see that they hold fast a lie in their right hand. They are deceiving their neighbors, encouraging them to sin along with them, and to forsake the Lord. And I’m not just talking about drinking and drugs and illicit sex. I am talking about the idolatries of patriotism, power, entertainment, the American dream, material things, carnal prosperity, traditions which nullify God’s Word, or even “having a ministry.” Many are telling each other dreams or prophecies in God’s name, which the Lord has not given, leading one another away from the Lord by their idolatrous and self-serving dreams/prophecies (Jer. 23:16-32). The western church has become a bastion for idolatry and a safe harbor for lies and liars.

We must separate from this idolatry and have nothing to do with it. If we are not wholeheartedly with Jesus, we will be scattered.

Apostasy is a strange thing. The Israelites did not make a golden calf and then say, “We want nothing to do with Yahweh anymore. From now on, we are pagans.” Instead they called the calf “Yahweh” and tried to offer the worship of the calf to Yahweh. They mixed Yahweh with things that have no breath in them, things that cannot spiritually profit, and continued to think they were in the faith. This is what we have done here in the western church. We have added to and subtracted from the Word of God in so many ways with our traditions. We have turned houses of prayer into dens of thieves. We have forgotten (even in some cases, trodden down) the poor and pursued wealth for ourselves. We have worshiped the idea of having a “favored nation” and embraced lies about God’s heart toward other nations or other races. We purposely turned a blind eye to our pleasure-seeking, self-centered culture, and even adopted many of its ways, until that evil grew so offensive and restrictive to our personal way of life, that now we point our fingers in horrified indignation. But we have refused to repent of the part we played when we offered our harlotries to Yahweh year after year, and called it the worship of Him.

We must repent, in spirit and truth, and return to the old paths, calling upon the Lord with those who have pure hearts. We may not be able to save this perverse generation, but I pray we can save ourselves and those who hear us (Acts 2:40; I Tim. 4:16). Of course I do not mean that we can save ourselves apart from Jesus. He does the saving by sending His Truth, but we must do the repenting which He commands. We must stop refusing to know the Lord through deceit, and become valiant for Truth on the earth.

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Gather with Jesus or Be Scattered

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 13, 2014

The following is taken from Luke 11:17-26.

Jesus taught that His kingdom is superior in strength to satan’s kingdom, and demonstrated it by casting demons out of people. He has power in Himself to overthrow the devil’s hold on a person in order to “plunder satan’s goods.” God can and wants to deliver us from the power of darkness and convey us into the kingdom of the Son. (Col. 1:13)

Jesus issued this very black and white statement–

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters. (Lk. 11:23)

We are either in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of satan. We cannot be somewhere in the middle. The only way to be firmly in the kingdom of God is to be gathering with Jesus (following Him as a sheep follows a shepherd). Any other posture is considered against Him, or treason. And to stop gathering with Him is to begin to be scattered.

Now look at His words in vss. 24-26.

It is not enough to have an emptied and cleaned out spiritual “house.” If we do not gather with Jesus–or fill our “house” with Jesus–we are just empty vessels, still useful to the devil in the future. He has only to search out our weaknesses to gain a foothold in our lives again. We can clean up morally and even profess to be the Lord’s, but if we don’t come to His table and eat His spiritual flesh and drink His spiritual blood, we have no life in us (Jn. 6:53-56). If we do not abide in the Vine, we are still in danger of a fiery destruction (Jn. 15:6). If we are not living according to the Spirit, we are easy prey for the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). There is no “eternal security” for those who aren’t continually gathering to Jesus.

We must never rest on our past deliverance. The cleaned-up state of our house today does not necessitate that it must always be so. Without active work, what is clean today can be filthy tomorrow. As a matter of fact, a once-evicted spirit can return with seven others more wicked than himself unless a person has filled his house with the Spirit of God! And who is God’s Spirit given to, but to those who are gathering to Jesus by obedience to His Word? (Acts 5:32) And so, to keep firmly in the kingdom of God, we must continue in our active devotion to its King.

Gather to Jesus and actively, decisively follow Him. Incline your ears and heart to His teaching, as recorded in Scripture, and your will to applying it. In Him is Life, and that Life is the light of men (Jn. 1:4). Without Him, the darkness will overtake us. But he who gathers with Him, to follow Him, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (Jn. 8:12)

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Faithless Leaders

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 21, 2014

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” (Num. 13:1-2)

Consider that the ten men who gave the Israelites  a bad report about the Promised Land, discouraging them so much they wanted to return to slavery, were their LEADERS.  These were leaders directly answerable to Moses. And instead of going before them into battle, demonstrating faith in God’s Word, they told the people their situation was hopeless!

Like those leaders answered to Moses, today’s pastors are answerable to Jesus. Jesus is THE Leader of His Church, faithful to the Father just as Moses was faithful (Heb. 3:2). Pastors should be in tune with the Holy Spirit, faithfully proclaiming all that is written. A true pastor must be a Joshua or Caleb, reminding the people that God can be trusted and that we must not rebel against Him through unbelief–and ready to demonstrate not just the talk, but the walk.   Unfortunately, for every Joshua or Caleb that stands and exhorts the people, “We are well able to overcome!”  there are many more who tell the people, “Oh no we can’t!  They are stronger than we!” (Num. 13:30-31)

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Pet. 2:1-2)

Hear their lies in our modern speech:  We all have to sin every day in thought, word and deed. God understands. You can be positionally righteous while being practically unrighteous. God doesn’t see your sin. All He sees is Jesus when He looks at you. If you don’t feel saved because you are a continual sinner, that’s only condemnation from the devil. There is no condemnation!  Nothing can pluck you from His hand, not even your rebellion! You’re FREE IN CHRIST now…free to sin and not feel any guilt! He’ll never leave you nor forsake you even if you forsake Him!

These are the lies of the ten unfaithful spies who have spied out the land of Christianity and decided holiness is not possible. But since they can’t tell people Jesus is a liar, they reinvent Christianity so they can pretend to still be leading people to Jesus even though Jesus is being blatantly disobeyed.

Imagine telling the Israelites who were still stuck in the wilderness they had already made it into the promised land. Well, I know there is no milk and no honey, and I know your enemies are always getting the upper hand, and you haven’t taken a square foot of territory, but here we are in the land of Promise!  Isn’t it wonderful?  Positionally in the Land, while practically out of it!  Now if you ever feel discouraged that you never win a battle, just tell the devil he is a liar!  Reject all condemnation!  God doesn’t see your faithlessness!

There is no freedom in delusion. God has not called us to pretend to attain victories while still obviously defeated, but to experience real victories! These false teachers speaking lies lead those who have once escaped error (pictured by the Israelites escaping Egypt) straight back into bondage. And it is a twisted bondage that pretends to be free.  It is a rebellion against God masquerading as Christianity.

For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Pet. 2:18-22)

There is a great need for Joshua’s and Caleb’s today–people who will wholly follow the Lord and lead others on that same path even at personal risk (Joshua and Caleb were nearly stoned.)  There is a need to be spiritual people rather than sensual people–people who make decisions based on eternity rather than on this moment’s feelings.  There is a need to stand up and directly contradict the false message of defeat. There is a need to walk after the Lord and proclaim His unchanging Word even if the whole professing Church seems to be drawn to lies rather than Truth.  There is a need to be unspotted from the world, even when the leaders declare that friendship with the world is not really enmity with God.

There is a rest for the people of God–a Promised Land–a glorious choice Vine in which there is Life forevermore. And through Him we can surely overcome our flesh, the world and the devil.

Be careful who you follow. Not all leaders are leading us Home.

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A Convenient Time

Posted by israeliteindeed on May 17, 2012

And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he [Paul] reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:24-25)

Dear reader, has God ever sent to you a messenger who reasoned with you about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come? How did you respond?  Did you banish the message from your mind, hoping for a more convenient time to consider its fearful implications?

I wonder if a convenient time ever came for Felix? I think it likely that Felix died in his sins, though of course I don’t know for sure.

There is a stern warning in Scripture for those who hear the voice of God speaking to them:

…The Holy Spirit says:  “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”  (Heb. 3:7-11)

If you hear His voice calling to you for obedience, but you harden your heart rather than repenting, you will receive the same penalty as did the rebellious Israelites that were barred from God’s rest.  This warning is for those who have never known the Lord and hear His voice calling them today, as well as for those who have known the Lord in the past but have gone astray in their hearts since then.

Acts 24:26-27 offers more insight into the heart of Felix, who feared at the word of the Lord, but did not repent:

Meanwhile he [Felix] also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him.  Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.  But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.

Clearly, Felix desired money more than he desired the righteousness and self-control Paul spoke of!  He sent for Paul and spoke to him often, seemingly over the course of two whole years, due to a personal ambition to get Paul to pay his way out of prison.  When Felix was replaced in his duties by someone else, he left Paul in prison to do the Jews a favor. Many conversations with Paul had not brought his heart into submission to God, but instead hardened his heart. Imagine regular talks with the Apostle Paul!–But these talks had profited Felix nothing.  Neither will your church attendance, your Bible studies, your friendships with Christians, or your religious status if you do not submit to the Lord Jesus from your heart and obey His commands.

What is holding YOU back from obeying Jesus?

Is it–as with Felix–a desire for money? Remember Paul’s warning in I Tim. 6:10–The love the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.  Remember the words of Jesus–What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 16:26)

Is it a desire to please your family?  Jesus said divisions would come in families because of Him (Luke 12:51-53), and anyone loving family more than Him is not worthy of Him (Matt. 10:34-37). The dead (those who refuse to repent and believe) must be left to bury the dead, and no one looking back after putting his hand to the plow is fit for the kingdom of God. Remember Lot’s Wife!

Is it that you still enjoy the pleasure of sin? Oh, sinner, remember the pleasures of sin only last for a season; sin’s wages are piling up to heaven and they are DEATH.  If you are still alive, it is because a space for repentance has been granted you by the mercy of God. As surely as the Flood came and carried away Noah’s neighbors, the wrath of God is coming on the disobedient.

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Cor. 6:2)
Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…(Heb. 3:7,8)

Tomorrow is not promised. Keep playing with sin, keep loving the world, keep seeking after earthly things all while hearing the word of the Lord, and that Word you hear will not help you.  If you wait for a convenient time to get right with God, you may never have the chance. Your sin may blind you and keep you bound until final destruction is determined for you.  Unless you obey, your hearing of the Word will only produce self-deception.  You will be like those who pleaded with the Lord, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.” But Jesus will answer, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.” (Luke 13:26-27)

The only wise time to get right with God is NOW and TODAY.

Posted in Backslider, Judgment of God, Repentance | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Command to Abide

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 20, 2011

 I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  (John 15:1-10, NKJV)

I am amazed that any person can really read this passage and still teach the false doctrine of “once-saved-always-saved.”  Jesus did not believe or teach that doctrine and neither should we.

Some say, “Eternal life is eternal; therefore salvation cannot be lost.”  This argument does not take into account that salvation is a Person–the Person of Jesus Christ.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (I John 5:11)

This eternal life is where?–In His Son!  Jesus Christ is eternal life, and will always remain eternal, but that doesn’t mean people always remain in Him.  This is why Jesus taught His disciples that they must abide in (stay connected to) Him!

If a branch does not remain closely connected to the main Vine, it cannot produce fruit. Producing good fruit is absolutely necessary for salvation–for so you will be My disciples (and only disciples of Jesus will be saved, for He is the only Way, Truth and Life.) Jesus made it absolutely clear that if the disciples did not produce fruit through abiding in Him, they would be taken away.  Just as a withered branch is good for nothing but to be burned in a fire, a fruitless branch in Christ will be removed.  Once in Him always in Him? Not according to Jesus.

Jesus also taught that in order to abide in His love, we must keep His commandments!  (Note the conditional “if” in verse 10!)  Even Christ Himself did not take for granted the love of God the Father, but kept His commands and so remained in His love.

Oh dear, this writer is teaching works salvation

No, my friend. This is the Word of God, and we must take its warnings and conditions seriously.

In Romans 11, Paul paints a similar word-picture using an olive tree instead of a vine. The Gentiles (pictured as wild branches) who believed on Christ were grafted into the good olive tree by faith, and the Jews who rejected Him were cut off. But this stern warning was given to those Gentiles already grafted in:

If God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,  if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. (21-22)

Once grafted in, always grafted in? Not according to Paul. He said there is a condition to remaining grafted in–you must continue in His goodness.  You must abide in Him!

What does abiding look like?–

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (I John 2:6)

How did Jesus walk?  He gave this bold testimony, “I do always those things that please him [the Father].” (Jn. 8:29)  So whoever says he abides in Jesus must always, as much as is in his power, do the things that please God.  And God does not ask what is beyond our strength to give, for we are commanded to love Him with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength we possess, but never with more than we possess.  John wrote, “He who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him,” and “whoever abides in Him does not sin.” (I Jn. 3:24; I Jn. 3:6)

In addition to loving God, we must also love our brother in order to abide in Christ (who is the light of the world), for he who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him (I Jn. 2:10).

And now, little children, abide in Him, that whenHe appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.  If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.  (I John 2:28-29)

Do you want to have confidence when you see Jesus coming on the clouds?  Make sure that you are grafted in, and then abide in Him! Remain in Him, do only those things which please the Father, love and serve the Body of Christ, and love your neighbor as yourself (being careful to share the truth with them as you are able).  When they see you zealous for good works, false Christians may cast you out of their fellowship thinking they do God a service, but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed (Isa. 66:5).

God bless you!

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A Form of Godliness Denying the Power

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 9, 2011

Solomon wrote in Eccl. 1:9–

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Remembering this, we can take God’s words to His stubborn Israelites, and understand how they apply to those who claim to be His people today.  Just as God’s people turned to wickedness and idolatry in the Old Testament, but thought their past calling coupled with a traditional continuation in religious practices saved them, so many think today. This is gross deception, and it is to this deception that I would like to aim the truth written in Amos 5.

There, the prophet spoke the following for the Lord–

For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:  but seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.  Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: that strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress. (4-9)

We must seek the Person of the Lord if we want to live. In Him is life. Think not that seeking religious places will save you. Think not that going to church will alone make you right with God. Think not that entering an “anointed” service and giving financially to “the man of God” will make you right with the Lord. His fire will break out even in these places, for judgment begins in the house of God (I Pet. 4:17).  Are you doing religious things while turning justice to wormwood and neglecting righteousness? You had better seek the One who is able to make the day dark, who is able to flood the earth with water from the sea, who is able to plunder the mightiest of men–seek Him in truth, seek His forgiveness, and seek to learn and practice His ways.  Make peace with this mighty King now, who is more than able to destroy you when you come face to face (Luke 14:31-32).

The prophet continues in verses 10-13–

They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.  Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.  For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.  Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.

Oh yes, religious sinners hate the one who rebukes them and speaks what is right!  “Pharisee!  Legalist!” they cry, not knowing what they are talking about. Yes, religious sinner, God knows your manifold transgressions and mighty sins, though you think to yourself that professing Jesus blinds God to what you do, that God can be mocked, and that He can be made use of for free pardon while you have no intention of ever changing.  Are truly righteous men falling silent around you because of your abhorrence for truth and your trampling on them when their righteousness manifests your own wickedness? Have you perfected the art of excusing your sin and making your continuation in wickedness sound like humility? Have you falsely accused the Lord’s true brethren, who do the Father’s will, of “self-righteousness”?  It is an evil time when professors of Christianity are the wickedest of men, preaching that God’s children must be relentless sinners until the day they die, with fair speeches deceiving the hearts of the simple. They serve their own bellies and not the Lord Jesus. They make the heart of the righteous sad, and they afflict the just exactly as Cain afflicted Abel, hating them for their righteous works while their own works are evil (I John 3:12).

Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.  Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph. (14-15)

Do you really want the Lord to be with you in truth? You have  been saying He is with you, but He has been against you because you have denied Him by your evil works (Titus 1:16). Perhaps you have felt the void in your heart despite your fine-sounding words.  Do you want to change all that? You will have to seek good and not evil from now on. You will have to hate evil and love good! You will have to establish judgment in the gate–begin to uphold all that is true and right in every area of your life. You will have to love the one who rebukes you, and change accordingly.  It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant. It may be.  Though they have sinned against His name, it may be that He will yet bless them.  Though He does not owe them a thing, yet He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy (Psa. 103:8). Let them seek good and not evil from here on; let them call upon Him for forgiveness and help.  His blood will purge the stain of the past; and He will speak peace to His people and to His saints.  But let them not turn back to folly (Psa. 85:8)!

And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD. Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.  As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. (17-19)

“I will pass through thee”–not to your joy, your laughter, your delirious drunkenness, but to your wailing.  This Day of the Lord, this darkness, will come upon the pretenders at Christianity–those who have an outward show, but refuse to deny themselves and carry their own crosses and follow the Lord Jesus in truth. Many of these occupy high places in the visible church;  they are parishioners in good standing, liberal givers, eloquent teachers, deacons, and even pastors.  They have a form of godliness that can fool the untrained eye of the undiscerning, but they do not have the power of God unto a holy life; and from such, the truly God-fearing turn away (2 Tim. 3:5). Consider what it is when the Lord Himself brings darkness and not light–when He gives men who did not love the truth over to a lie.  What a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God! Does God want your feasts, your meetings, your offerings and your songs while your heart remains far from Him?–

I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.  But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. (Amos 5:21-24)

Among His people, God is looking for judgment (between right and wrong) and determined righteousness (purposely choosing the right.)  If we won’t give Him this, He doesn’t want our feasting, our assemblies, our offerings or our noisy songs. If we won’t give up our idols and truly love and give Him the preeminence He deserves, we cannot rightly call ourselves His people, and we can expect only the judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the Lord’s adversaries (Heb. 10:27)

Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?  But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves. (25-26)

How about you? Have you fasted, tithed and given offerings to the Lord even while you held onto other gods? Did your heart seek after the world, its riches and goods, its celebrities, a job you knew was leading you away from Jesus, or a friendship or romance that choked the life of God in you? Were you doing your best to serve two masters? Were you afraid to speak of Christ before others because you loved the praises of men? Were you ashamed of His words, feeling the need to water them down and make Jesus more pleasing to those who heard you? In so doing, have you made a god to yourself–one that you can feel comfortable following and preaching because he is not intolerant of sin and offensive to rebels?

The Lord is a jealous God and rightly so. He knows that those who do not walk in the true Light will be destroyed in the shadows, not knowing where they are going. He knows that He alone is absolute Truth, He alone has the one Way, and in Him alone is Eternal Life. He does not want lip-service, which is only hypocrisy. He wants you to recognize His value and love Him from your heart, to recognize the folly of going your own way, and cling instead to His Way.  He is willing to forgive and cover past transgressions, but most professing Christians are not willing to leave them, and so their sin remains–creating an ongoing separation between them and God (Isa. 59). Many believe they are chosen and kept safe in the Lord even while they disobey the Lord, but no such promise is ever given in the Holy Scriptures.

What does the Lord say in Amos 5 to these who added the worship of idols to the worship of God?–

Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.  (27)

Therefore. Because you have done this, you will be captives. Because you insisted on carrying the gods of the heathen with you, you will be ruled by the same.  Because you have willingly served sin, you will be a slave of sin. You will not be free anymore. Though you profess to be the Lord’s, He will cause you to go into captivity.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  (Rom. 6:16)

And so I repeat, for those with ears to hear:  Seek the Lord and you will live. Love good and hate evil. Establish justice and good judgment. Leave off hypocrisy and false Christianity, which is a stench to God and a snare to men. Humble yourself in the sight of God; be completely real with Him. Depart from iniquity and purge yourself from the deeds of dishonor, that He can have mercy on you and make you a vessel worthy of honor.

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.  But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.  (2 Tim. 2:19-21)

God bless you.

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A God Who Hurts and Rejoices

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 27, 2011

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. (Gen. 6:5-6)

What a wonderful record of the beautiful heart of God!  In the face of sin and rebellion, He is more than just angry, wrathful or vengeful. He is grieved in His heart. It hurts Him. In longsuffering, He waits, giving a space to repent (I Pet. 3:20) In light of the first commandment to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, I think it very good to meditate on the fact that God has a heart that is made to feel sorrow by our sins.

Because God exercises such amazing self-control, and is longsuffering and merciful toward us, we tend to forget that God hurts.

He testified that he was grieved forty long years with the generation of Israelites He had rescued from Egypt (Psa. 95:10). Later, when new generations of Israelites had fallen away, He gave these stirring testimonies:

Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves. Amos 2:13

Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.  Isa 1:14

I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols. Ezek 6:9

God felt pressed, weary, and broken because of the sins of His people! Yet all this time, He was patiently working out His great salvation for those who would repent and seek Him wholeheartedly. What amazing love and goodness!  Is He not worthy of our returned love? Should we not repent of grieving His heart, of wearying Him, of causing His brokenness by our whoring after the idols that only ruin us?

The same God who is capable of feeling intense grief, is also capable of ecstatic and appropriate joy when we repent.  He is the self-less Shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine safe sheep to find one that wandered away, and when He finds him, he lays him on His broad shoulders rejoicing. And He is like the woman who seeks diligently to find her one lost coin, and afterwards celebrates with friends. Likewise, there is joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:4-10). He is the father who runs to his returning son, still stained by the muck of the pig-pen. How eagerly He clothes his repentant son with the best robe and receives him back into the family! Not only that, he declares that it is fitting to make merry and be glad, for the son who was dead in sin is alive again, and the son who was lost is found at last.

Sinner, won’t you leave off wounding the great and passionate heart of God with your sins today? Won’t you stop crucifying the Son of God afresh? Won’t you come to your senses and stop sinning? Won’t you return to the Father–admitting you deserve nothing,  but willing to serve–and cause rejoicing in the presence of the angels?  Is He not worthy?

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My God, We Know Thee (Lord, Lord!)

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 19, 2011

Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know thee.  Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. (Hos. 8:2-3)

Is God mocked? Can He be fooled into accepting those who treat His redeeming blood as an unholy thing by their continuation in disobedience after God has provided so great a salvation? No–

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.   For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Gal. 6:7-8)

Please note: according to this passage, depending on what we “sow” (do), we will either reap corruption or everlasting life (salvation).  This passage says nothing about losing a few rewards while still receiving everlasting life, as many are falsely teaching. Do not be deceived.  Israel was delivered from Egypt by the mighty power of God, and atonement was provided for his sins.  Yet because he cast off the thing that was good, counting the great things of God’s law a strange thing, the Lord declared, “The LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.” (Hos. 8:13)

It is not enough to cry out, “My God, we know thee!”–even if you really knew Him at one time. It is not enough to have a Bible and knowledge of what it says. We must cease from casting off the thing that is good. We must willingly wear the good yoke of Christ, keeping in step with Him through the Spirit, living as He is–holy–in this world (I Jn. 4:17). If we cast off the thing that is good, the enemy shall pursue us, for sin always brings forth death.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  (Matt. 7:21-23)

Have you escaped the pollutions of the world through knowing Jesus Christ, only to become entangled therein again? Have you known the way of righteousness only to turn from the holy commandment? Are you a worker of iniquity that must be barred from entering the kingdom of heaven?  Unless you repent, you would have been better off having never known Him! (2 Pet. 2:20-22)  For we will be judged according to what we did with what we were given, and the one who knew his Master’s will and did not do it will be beaten with many stripes, as opposed to the few stripes that will punish the ignorant (Luke 12:47-48).

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (Jam. 1:22)

God bless you.

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Return to the Lord

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 18, 2011

In the book of Hosea, the prophet was called to rebuke and warn Israel and Judah. Israel was such an adulterous people that Hosea was commanded to marry a whorish woman to demonstrate what it was like for God, married to people who “transgressed the covenant” in every conceivable way. The children of Hosea were given names that forecast the judgment of God on Israel–literally “no mercy” and “not my people”–for the mercy of God has a limit, and He will eventually cast off those whom He cannot reform by His many kindnesses.

Some of the charges against these people included:

Appreciating idols rather than God for daily provisions (2:5, 8 )
Forgetting God (2:13)
Forsaking truth, mercy, and knowledge of God (4:1)
Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery, and breaking all restraint (4:2)
Having no respect for the priests (4:4)
Rejecting knowledge and forgetting God’s law (4:6)
Setting their hearts on iniquity and “eating up sin” (4:8)
Ceasing to obey the Lord (4:10)
Asking counsel from wrong sources (4:12)
Loving dishonor (4:18)
Not directing their deeds toward turning back to God (5:4)
Pride (5:5)
Begetting pagan children, not brought up in God’s ways (5:7)
Willingly walking by human precepts (5:11)

This list is what apostasy looks like.

It is possible to begin well, but fail to finish the race, both personally and corporately.

God commands His people to love Him first, to do what is right by His standards, and to teach their children His ways. But over time, even those who have tasted of the heavenly gift and seen His goodness can become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. They can begin to forget God, spending more time in carnal pursuits and increasing worldly goods or other means of self-satisfaction. In fact, the more they increase, the more they sometimes sin (4:7). Little by little, they begin to ask counsel from the wrong places, rejecting the knowledge of God (which is always right) and replacing it with human precepts (which are generally wrong). Their judgment becomes skewed, as they no longer have the mind of Christ, but the carnal mind which is death. They begin to see their daily provisions as coming from their own labor or good luck, forgetting they can’t even breathe apart from the help of God.  If they do notice their own spiritual brokenness, they turn to other broken people for the cure (5:13), trying to get water from broken cisterns. Pride keeps them continuing on their way even when it becomes obvious they have made a wrong turn somewhere.  They don’t direct their deeds toward turning back to God, but instead make provision for their flesh, taking advantage of God’s patience. Worst of all, they continue to call themselves by God’s name, imagining that once in God’s favor means always in God’s favor. Unless there is repentance and change, whole generations of children are brought up in this apostasy; they are “pagan children” though they may deceive themselves to the contrary.  If they “accept Jesus,” He is only one of their many gods, not their only Lord and King.

A cursory look at American Christianity today reveals that we are in a state of apostasy as bad as Israel’s, and we too are in terrible danger of reaching the end of God’s mercy and being altogether disowned without recourse.

A bit closer to home, perhaps this scene of apostasy describes you. Perhaps you once knew God, knew His tender mercy and gracious forgiveness. Perhaps you felt your burden of sin roll away. Perhaps you experienced joy and peace for the first time. Maybe you even served the Lord with gladness for some years. But something hindered you in your walk. Maybe it was laziness.  Maybe there was some sin in your life you refused to give up. Maybe you grew discouraged because of persecution. Maybe you were lonely, and you began to seek counsel or companionship from “friends” who serve the devil. Maybe you began to seek after something–money, material goods, social advancement, romance, etc.–and this pursuit eclipsed your pursuit of the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Whatever the reason for your apostasy, there is only ONE THING TO DO. You must return to God. His threatenings apply to you just as much as to adulterous Israel, for these things were written for our learning. And yet, there is hope!

Listen to what the Lord said He would do to Israel (Ephraim) and Judah in hopes that some would yet be saved:

For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue. I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense.   Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will earnestly seek Me. (Hos. 5:14-15)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend! He who knit you together in your mother’s womb will tear you as a lion tears the prey, and go away, hiding Himself until you acknowledge your offense and earnestly seek Him again. The prophet tells us how to respond to this:

Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.      After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.  (Hosea 6:1-3)

Are there any more precious promises than these?  David acknowledged that in faithfulness God had afflicted him, and that his affliction was good for him–for before he was afflicted, he went astray, but now he had learned to keep God’s Word. (Psa. 119: 67, 71, 75)  Come, and let us return to the Lord, for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. Leave off sloth and sin and the pride that drives you blindly along, storing up wrath as you go; acknowledge your offenses and seek mercy from the Lord.  He does not afflict you to no purpose, but for your healing!  Yes, when you die to your sins and your old way of life, He will raise even you up on the third day, that you may live again in His sight. He will not reject you if you will only return to Him. Just as the morning is faithful to arrive, so He will come to you like the rain and make your life fruitful again, if you only pursue the knowledge of the Lord. For He has no pleasure in the death of one who dies; therefore turn and live! (Eze. 18:32)

May God bless you!

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