The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘righteousness’

Stranger in the World, Citizen of Heaven

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 27, 2014

I am a stranger in the world
And this is what I see:
The earth reeling like a drunkard,
Tottering like a hut,
Its transgression heavy upon it.
Soon to fall and never to rise again.
For He treads down the peoples–
The rebellious peoples who refuse to fear Him
And love Him, though He is lovely–
He treads them down in His anger.
They are made drunk in His fury
Intoxicated with lies
Because they despised Truth.
Their strength–
The strength of their flesh–
Is waning.
He brings down their strength to the earth,
That He may set all on fire together.

I am a citizen of heaven,
And this is what I see:
Mount Zion is inhabited by
A people in white linen
Purifying themselves in hope.
They have been raised up together
And made to sit together in heavenly places.
Their eyes always behold the Lamb of God,
Their hearts bow before Him.
They despise not His chastening,
For His Spirit in them cries “Father.”
They pursue peace with all people,
And holiness.
They shine like stars,
Blameless and harmless,
Without rebuke among the crooked and perverse,
Holding forth the Word of Life,
To turn many to righteousness.

The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, And shall totter like a hut; Its transgression shall be heavy upon it, And it will fall, and not rise again. (Isa. 24:20)

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:9-12)

I have trodden down the peoples in My anger, made them drunk in My fury, And brought down their strength to the earth. (Isa. 63:5)

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Pet. 3:10)

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil. 3:20)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. (Heb. 12:22)

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I Jn. 3:2-3)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:4-6)

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. (Heb. 12:5-6)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. (Heb. 12:14)

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life. (Phil. 2:14-16)

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Dan. 12:3)

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Knowing God

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 28, 2014

“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor’s service without wages and gives him nothing for his work, who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, and cut out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion.’ Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?” says the Lord. “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence.” (Jer. 22:13-17)

This message was given to a son of Josiah, king of Judah. He was promised that he would die a captive and “see this land no more.” Notice God’s complaint about him–unrighteousness and injustice, covetousness, shedding innocent blood, oppression and violence. God compared him to his father, who had done “justice and righteousness,” and asked, “Was not this (doing justice and righteousness) knowing Me?”

All throughout Scripture, knowing God is equated with carefully doing what is right.

For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. (Jer. 4:22)

To know God is to understand right and wrong, and to do good!

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jer. 9:23-24)

Wisdom, power, and wealth are nothing in which to glory. Through all of the world’s “wisdom,” it did not know God (I Cor. 1:21). Solomon, even with his supernatural wisdom, still allowed his heart to be led astray to idol worship; if he understood all mysteries, he did not maintain an enduring love for the Lord. Armies with all of their power can be drowned in the sea the moment they have outlived their usefulness in God’s hand. Riches make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven (Prov. 23:5). Let us not glory in any of these things.

To understand and know God is to know that He delights in lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness, and to walk in the same. He keeps covenant and mercy with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut. 7:9), but curses those who do not obey (Deut. 11:28).

The Lord brought a charge against Israel, saying:

There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. (Hos. 4:1)

Why did He say there was no knowledge of God in the land?

By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed. (Hos. 4:2)

He knew by their evil deeds that they did not know Him. And because they “rejected knowledge,” He would reject those evildoers from being priests before Him (Hos. 4:6). Israel would cry, “My God, we know You!” (Hos. 8:2) But their actions showed otherwise–“They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God…they do not know the Lord.” (Hos. 5:4)

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Dan. 11:32)

Covenant breakers can be corrupted by the flattery of the devil’s servants–they stumble, being disobedient to the Word (I Pet. 2:8). But those who truly know God and know His heart will also know how to behave in difficult times. Even if they should fall by sword, flame, captivity or plundering (Dan. 11:33), they will do no evil, but will overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

Knowing God is no small matter. It is equated with having eternal life (Jn. 17:3; I Jn. 5:20). This has been God’s goal from the beginning, that a people would know Him, obey His Word, and be wholly His.

But what happens when what may be known of God is manifest, and the people to whom He is manifest do not like to retain God in their knowledge? They are given over to a debased mind to do things which are evil, and to approve of the evil of others. (Rom. 1:18-31) There are many in the professing church today who approve of and participate in evil! Through deceit, they refuse to know God (Jer. 9:6).

Paul testified that his countrymen had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge–they were ignorant of God’s righteousness. Thinking they could establish their own form of righteousness, they tried to be acceptable to God through traditions, while not truly knowing Him or living pleasing to Him. Many were continuing to reject and rebel against God’s Word even after experiencing His judgments through exile, and His mercy in sending Christ to them (Rom. 10). To such unbelieving Jews, Jesus said, ” You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also.” (Jn. 8:19) Anyone who knows the Father also recognizes the Son; all who know God keep His Word.

We can know God by looking into the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). When we see the Son, we see also the Father (Jn. 14:9). What did Jesus teach, how did He teach, how did He respond to people and circumstances? We must deny ourselves (and whatever empty traditions we have received from our fathers) and follow Him. When we abide in Him, keeping all His sayings from our hearts, we also abide in the Father and possess eternal life.

As in Old Testament times, in New Testament times there are still those who claim to know God but follow after sin. Ongoing sin is still the primary evidence of not knowing God.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I Jn. 2:3-4)

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. (I Cor. 15:34)

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. (Titus 1:16)

Paul admonishes the Church to awake to righteousness, lest we deny Him by our disobedience! With spiritual weapons, we must cast down any argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Through knowledge of Him, we have received all things that pertain to life and godliness, and can be partakers of the divine nature of holiness (I Pet. 1:2-4). A person who knows God will obey the teachings of the apostles who gave us Scripture (I Jn. 4:6), and he will walk in love–“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I Jn. 4:7-8) This love always includes keeping God’s commands (I Jn. 5:2).

The Church should be increasing in the knowledge of God–till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Paul prayed for the Colossians that “you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9-10)

And what will be the end of those who do not know God and do not obey His gospel?

“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thess. 1:7-9)

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Whatever He Says, Do

Posted by israeliteindeed on March 3, 2014

So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. Then Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do.” (Gen. 41:55)

Here, Joseph is an Old Testament picture of the Son of God. When all the world is famished and on the brink of perishing, there is only one Savior capable of giving true help. “Go to Joseph” or “Go to Jesus; whatever he says to you, do.”

Mary, falsely worshiped by catholics as co-redeemer and co-mediator, recognized this truth about Jesus.

His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)

Do we have to do the things Jesus says to be saved from perishing? Remember His teaching about the man who hears Jesus’ sayings and does them, versus the man who hears Jesus’ sayings and does not do them. The first man’s life is preserved, while the disobedient man’s life is destroyed. (Matt. 7:24-27)

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. (Matt. 7:21)

But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? (Lk. 6:46)

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the Lord of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.”’ But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the Lord. (Zech. 1:3-4)

Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; then the Lord will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you. (Jer. 26:13)

It is wholly true that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4) A man at variance with God’s Word is still abiding in death. It doesn’t matter how religious he is, or how many times he has prayed the prayer, or whether his whole church accepts him as a man of God. If he is not in submission to God’s chosen King–Jesus–he is still dead in trespasses and sins.

Jesus, God in flesh, demonstrated His absolute obedience to the Father’s will, giving us an example of the Spirit-led life. He did nothing and said nothing but what His Father told Him to do and say (Heb. 10:9; Jn. 5:17, 19; Jn. 4:34; Jn. 7:16). The Holy Spirit is given to all who obey God (Acts 5:32) and He leads us into all Truth, both in doctrine and practice. Everything we do and everything we say/teach is to be guided by the Father through the Spirit of Jesus in us. Any other “Christian life” is a counterfeit.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Rom. 12:2)

Why do we need to prove what is the will of God?–So that we can do it. Peter said–

But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. (Acts 10:35)

Today we have multitudes of teachers saying that we can do as we please, and as long as we give lip-service to God (calling Him Lord but refusing to work the righteousness that is His will), He still accepts us. Or they demonstrate–by accepting anyone into their churches that tithes or signs a piece of paper–that outward conformity is enough to be accepted. Not so. Unless a man is born again, and there is evidence of all things becoming new (as they come into conformity with God’s commands), that man is not yet in the Kingdom of God. He can’t even see it, let alone be part of it. Many attend church on Sunday mornings who don’t even seek out the will of God, let alone set the course of their lives to do it. Such people are not accepted by God.

And how is a man born again?–By the incorruptible Word of God when it is received into an obedient heart (I Pet. 1:22-23). And now we are to be “obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (I Pet. 1:14-16) The holiness required is the fruit that comes from the union of the Word of God and an obedient heart, out of which will naturally flow practical, observable righteousness.

If there is no obedience, there will be no life.

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (Jam. 1:21-25)

Therefore, dear reader, whatever Jesus says to you, do it!

*A word of caution: there are some that create a Jesus of their own imagination. This Jesus is always whispering in their ear things that are questionable when held up to the light of the Written Word. Remember we have the “more sure word of prophecy,” the Scriptures. Test the spirits–test all voices in your head–test every voice that comes through a speaker–by the written Word. Jesus Himself demonstrated a reliance on what was already written when He was tempted (Matt. 4:1-11). We must do likewise.

There are many commands already written in Scripture that are easy to understand. There is much–again, already written–to be obeyed. Some run ahead of the doctrines of Christ and seek out “new revelations” so that they can appear more spiritual to themselves and others. They are deceiving themselves by focusing on unclear things rather than obeying what is already clear. They claim to be obeying Jesus, but in reality they are obeying a created idol in their imaginations that keeps them always learning but never knowing the Truth. Beware that the voice you are hearing never contradicts what is already written. (See I Jn. 4:1; Isa. 8:20)

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Reciprocal Love

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 16, 2014

Many of us know what it is to receive reciprocal love. When we take care of a pet, and that animal voluntarily comes and shows affection toward us when it could run the other way, we are warmed inside by this “free will offering” of love. When our children do for us some act of kindness that goes over and beyond the rules, we experience the thrill of being truly cared for by them. There is something very precious about voluntary reciprocal love–not only to us, but to God.

God is love, and God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. While we were yet sinners–not concerned in the least about what God deserves–Christ died for us. While we still hated God, God cared to the point of His own hurt. While we were friends of the world, carnal, and enemies of everything good, God was working out a Way to redeem us and save us from our self-destruction.

What does such a God deserve? Does He not deserve sincere reciprocal love from us?

“We love Him because He first loved us.” (I Jn. 4:19)

And what does this love look like?

There are thousands–perhaps millions–of people who claim to love God while they live and behave in ways that make God sick and angry. Not only do they not reverence Him or do anything He says, they hate and hurt one another (sometimes even claiming they are doing it for God–John 16:2). But did not Jesus say, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me”? Yes, and He also said, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love Him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

God loved us through the sacrifice of Jesus. We owe Him love and gratitude in response to that gift, and our love will be evidenced by our keeping His commands. Our keeping His commands is the key to abiding or remaining in His love (John 15:10). Our reciprocal love toward Jesus will be met with MORE reciprocal love from God toward us.

The Apostle John wrote, “This IS the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” (I John 5:3) In this statement, John has written for us a very clear definition of the love of God. It has been, since the beginning of time, God’s will for men to heed His voice. This is only as it should be. He is the self-sacrificing Shepherd; we are the sheep. He is the benevolent Father; we are the children. He is the wise Potter; we are the clay–only useful to Him and others if we yield to Him.

However, men given over to the lusts of their own flesh despise authority. They want to be in charge of their own lives so they can do whatever seems good to them. Since they also want to be religious, they have decided for themselves that the love of God is something other than what the Word of God says. They have re-defined the love of God to be something that they find easy to fulfill. For some, going to church on Sunday fulfills their commitment to love God. For others, wearing a gold cross on their neck, or trying to be nice and agreeable (tolerating sin) is “proof” of their love for God, even while they ignore the things God says. But this “worship” toward God is not in Spirit and Truth, and God does not accept it.

For the person who has been truly born again by God’s Spirit, the commandments of God are not burdensome, because whatever is born of God overcomes the world (I John 5:3-4). True faith manifests as obedience to God because true faith recognizes that God is the wisest, kindest, and best Authority there is; and the only correct response to that authority is obedience.

David wrote in Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do your will, O my God, and your law is within my heart.”

This is a far cry from a reluctant attempt to appease God here and there while still trying to live for ourselves as we please. If we are still trying to please ourselves, we have not yet been crucified with Christ to this world and our flesh. This is why we have no resurrection power to overcome the world. No one can serve both God and self. If self is still allowed to rule, we demonstrate that we do not yet recognize how criminal this usurpation of authority is. As rebels, we are contributing to the world’s problems rather than being helpful to the world. And despite any lipservice we give to God concerning the Sacrifice He has made, we show by our disobedience that we do not value that Sacrifice at all.

If we are playing at religion while harboring love for the world–and our temporal lives in it–in our hearts, we need to come clean and admit we are enemies of God (I John 2:15-16). We need to sorrow over this sorry condition we are in, and commit to seeking God until we are completely changed from the heart.

God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. And His grace has the power to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-12). In other words, God’s grace–if it is not received in vain by a hard, stubborn heart that doesn’t care–has the power to produce in us a sincere reciprocal love for God that manifests itself in obedience to His commands. And only those who love Him in this manner will escape the curse of damnation that is coming on this world (I Cor. 16:22).

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Seeking First God’s Kingdom & Righteousness

Posted by israeliteindeed on February 15, 2014

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matt. 6:31-33)

Here, Jesus let us know what the focus of our lives should be. The target we need to set our sights on is two-fold–the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Being under the authority of Jesus and helping others find that same salvation, and being like Jesus (holy as He is holy).

Notice the things Jesus told us to avoid focusing on–making sure we have plenty to eat, drink, and wear. This list seems pretty benign. Certainly it is no sin to have food, drink, and clothing. We might be tempted to compare ourselves to those seeking riches, popularity in the world, or unrighteous power, and think we are doing pretty well by focusing on the body’s basic needs. But Jesus warned that setting as our focus even the temporal needs we all have will be a spiritual trap to us. Our Father knows that we have needs, so we are not to focus on them as if we don’t have a loving Father looking after us. To do such is to evidence a lack of faith. Instead we are to focus on serving Him in the things He has before ordained for us to do–furthering His kingdom on earth and being sanctified into a purer image of Jesus daily.

As an example of how a wrong focus can set us up for spiritual failure, I recently heard a young lady declare that she “really needs a social life.” This young lady does desire to follow Jesus, but if she focuses on “needing a social life,” she will begin to make decisions based upon whether they lead her to her desired goal–a social life. What if a social life seems to be more possible if she compromises what she knows to be right? Will she not be setting herself up to endure much more temptation with this wrong focus? Is she not more likely to develop friendships that will lead her away from Christ instead of toward Him?

But consider if she focuses on the kingdom of God and His righteousness. She commits what seems to be a lacking social life to the Lord, trusting that her Father knows her needs and has withheld nothing from her that is good for her (Psa. 84:11). She studies Scripture and lets it wash and transform her mind so that she is content in her present circumstances. Will not her Father bring into her life people who are like-minded in their devotion to Him? As she exudes the character of Christ, people who are attracted to His aroma will want to be around her, while ungodly people will be repelled by it, sparing her from being drawn into unhealthy friendships. She will reach out to people more as Christ did. Hopefully some unbelievers will desire to change because of what they see in her, and His kingdom will advance as their hearts come into submission to Christ. Other laborers who are wholeheartedly trying to advance the kingdom of God also will come into clearer view.

This is applicable also to those who are focused on finding a spouse. A focus on God’s kingdom and righteousness is the right way to find a godly spouse–our Father is in charge of finding our spouses! We need to be good children, seeking first what He commands us to seek, and trust Him to provide for us in due time.

Other ways Christians can get off track is by focusing on careers, eating healthy, preparing for food shortage, etc. While it is good to work hard, care for our bodies with good food, or prepare for the worst; if these things become our focus, we will become carnally minded–which is spiritual death! (Rom. 8:6)

I have seen some people so consumed with saving freeze-dried food for a coming apocalypse, that they don’t even stop to think of how un-Christlike it is to feed only themselves in a food shortage while all their unsaved neighbors starve to death and go to hell! Surely, here is a wrong focus that may have begun with a semblance of wisdom but ended in utter selfishness. An individual seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness might be led to save physical food so that it could be shared with unbelievers in a crisis–along with the gospel that can save their souls! What good is it to save our natural bodies at the expense of the souls of men?! So you see, two people could do the same thing (save food) but with opposite motives and focus. One has a merely carnal focus of preserving the body with no regard for others, while the other has a spiritual focus of advancing the kingdom of God in times of difficulty.

Even a ministry can become the focus of our attention in a wrong way. We can get so busy jumping through the hoops of a program that we don’t realize we are no longer hearing Jesus giving us instructions. We have let the program, or the consensus of others, become our leader instead of Jesus. Many churches tend to let this happen, and if we aren’t careful, we will follow them down the wrong path–a path where everyone looks busy, but no one is really tuning into the Spirit of God to learn what He wants. We begin to feel that if the program looks successful, then Jesus is pleased. But sometimes Jesus was never behind that program at all!

We also need to be careful not to define the kingdom of God as men generally do–a kingdom built with hands and bricks and mortar, that usually requires a huge amount of debt piled on the backs of guilt-tripped tithers. God’s kingdom is in the hearts of people who love Him, and some of the poorest Christians in history “turned the world upside down”–so effective were they at seeking God’s true kingdom!

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)

What is my life? What is your life? Does it consist in what we have or how popular we are, or how busy we look, or how good we can eat? If you are a disciple of Jesus and have truly been raised with Him from the dead carnal life, determine to focus on the things above. Set your mind and affections on spiritual things–this will always be a deliberate choice. Our life is hidden with Christ in God above. And the only life we have now is Christ. We adore Christ, we follow Christ, we image Christ to a lost world, and we wait for Christ–our life–to appear to take us home. If we would live according to the Spirit of God, we must zero in on the things the Spirit is concerned with (Rom. 8:5-7). This is the spiritual mind, which is life and peace.

God bless you!

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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 »

Walk Circumspectly

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 3, 2011

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph. 5:15-17)

“Circumspectly” means cautiously, vigilantly, heedfully, with watchfulness to guard against danger. “Circumspect” literally means looking on all sides, or examining carefully all the circumstances that may affect a determination. (source)

Why do we need to walk circumspectly?Because the days are evil.  These are days of spiritual warfare.  In these evil days, we need to take up the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the wiles of the devil.  We need to be mindful that principalities and powers are against us to destroy us, but God has given us everything we need to overcome them if we will but heed His warnings. If we neglect the spiritual dress God has provided, we do so to our own peril.

Ephesians 6:11-17 teaches us how we must be dressed for these evil days:

in Truth–for the Lord desires truth in the inward parts (Psa. 51:6). Let us say with David, I have chosen the way of truth; Your judgments I have laid before me. (Psa. 119:30)  The entirety of God’s Word is truth (Psa. 119:60), and the truth is in Jesus (Eph. 4:21). We who follow Jesus and His teaching follow the living Truth, and it is the Spirit of Truth who lives in us (John 14:6-7).  It is by the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17). Buy the truth and do not sell it (Prov. 23:23), for only those who receive a love of the truth will be saved (2 Thess. 2:10).

in Righteousness–for the Lord upholds the righteous (Psa. 37:17), and He shall never permit the righteous to be moved (Psa. 55:22).  He who does righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (I Jn. 3:7), and righteousness delivers from death (Prov. 11:4).

in the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace–always being ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (I Pet. 3:15), being unashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.  As Paul did, let us share also in the sufferings for the gospel as Christ’s ambassadors through whom our Lord pleads “Be reconciled to God.” (2 Tim. 1:8; 2 Cor. 5:18-20)  And if we are entrusted with the gospel, even so… speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts (I Thess. 2:4).

in the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation–faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked that will come, and to move the mountains that will stand in our way; and our so-great salvation and its captain (Jesus) always guarding our minds. Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

with the Sword of the Spirit ever fitted to our hand and ready to be used–used to silence the lies of satan and to invade and pull down strongholds; casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly; study to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:15).  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (I Tim. 4:16)..

always prayingwith all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints (Eph. 6:18).  Pray without ceasing, being ever mindful to keep your connection to the Father unobstructed by sin or apathy (1 Thess. 5:17).  Don’t go to sleep, saints, but watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matt. 26-41).  Heed the warning of the Lord:

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36)

Walk circumspectly; be dressed for battle and on your guard at all times, waiting and watching for your Master.  Do not be like the foolish virgins, who were unprepared for the long delay of their Bridegroom, and tried to shake off their slumber and get ready at the last moment, only to find they were too late.  Shake off your slumber now and check your oil supply; take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness (Lk. 11:35).  Make sure you are doing what God has told you to do, and that you maintain that work to the end, lest you be appointed a portion with the unbelievers.

Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning;  and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.  Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them.  And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.  But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.  Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.  But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,  the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:35-40, 42-46)

Walk circumspectly when you are with the wicked, guarding your own behavior. David said, “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.” (Psa. 39:1)  Satan is looking to take advantage of us, and we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11). We must not give place to the devil through our yielding to any sin (Eph. 4:27), especially in the presence of unbelievers who are watching to see if our walk matches our talk. Guard your mouth, for he who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction (Prov. 13:3).  Satan will exploit everything he can, to ruin our testimony before outsiders and offer them an excuse to reject the truth. Therefore, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (I Pet. 5:8-9)

Redeem the time. Each man is given only one life–one chunk of time–to steward, and the end of it is coming. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psa. 90:12). LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.   Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths. (Psa. 39:45)  And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts (Rom. 13:11-14).  Saints, we simply don’t have time to make provision for the flesh and pursue vain things that have no eternal value. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Who will go for the Lord? He who wins souls is wise (Prov. 11:30).

Do not be unwise, but understand what the Lord’s will is. His will is not that we seek a comfortable life on this earth while millions perish. His will is not that we eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. His will is not that we blend in with our neighbors and keep our lights under a bushel, lest someone be offended. That is satan’s will.  Satan wants us to be carnally minded, because to be carnally minded is death (Rom. 8:6). We dare not be an offense and stumbling block to Christ and His mission, as Peter was at first, being not mindful of the things of God, but the things of menFor whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  (Matt. 16:23, 25-26)  We must not be conformed to the thinking of this selfish world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind so that we can prove what is the perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2). We discover and prove the will of God so that we can do it, for whoever does the will of God is the Lord’s brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35).

Walk circumspectly!  God bless you.

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What Spirit is Working in You?

Posted by israeliteindeed on August 27, 2011

And you [saints] hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. (Eph. 2:1-2)

I’d like to draw your attention to the last phrase, “the prince of the power of the air [satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”  The saints to whom Paul was writing had walked according to the course of this world only in time past.  Since then they had died with Christ, and been raised to a new holy life. Their conduct was no longer disobedient toward God, for those who are disobedient now are still being controlled by satan.

Many profess to be children of God and filled with the Spirit of God. However, the tree is known by the fruit it produces (Luke 6:44).

The Spirit of God is the HOLY Spirit. The Holy Spirit is given to and finds rest in only those who obey God (Acts 5:32).  If a man is filled with the Holy Spirit, his works will be holy, for the Spirit working in him will produce fruit after His own kind (holiness). The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love (obedience to God’s commands–Jn. 14:23), joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance [self-control] (Gal 5:22-23).

If the fruit being produced in a man is fleshly and disobedient to God, the spirit at work in that man is the devil. He can say he believes in Jesus all he wants; even the devil himself believes in Jesus. Not only that, but the devil trembles, knowing that Jesus will soon crush him beneath the feet of the saints (Jam. 2:19; Rom. 16:20).  What the devil will not do is obey Jesus. And those who are taken captive by satan to do his will also live in disobedience (2 Tim. 2:26). As their father does, so do they.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. (John 8:44a)

Those who are doing “the lusts of your father [the devil]” are yet children of the devil.

In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (I John 3:10)

Are you DOING righteousness? Not merely acknowledging that Christ was righteous, but doing likewise–living as He lived? Have you crucified your flesh with its affections and lusts?–If not, you are not yet Christ’s (Gal. 5:24). If you are still walking after the flesh, be assured that you will die (forfeit eternal life; Rom. 8:13). Let no one deceive you that you can walk after your flesh and yet possess eternal life.

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  (Gal. 5:19-21)

Those who DO such things shall NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God. For King Jesus Himself will send His angels to remove from His kingdom all things that cause sin and those who DO sin and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt. 13:41-42). It makes no difference what you believe in your mind and profess with your mouth, if your works continue to be unrighteous.  For many will say “Lord, Lord” on judgment day, and the Lord will turn them away forever because they did not put His words into practice in their everyday lives (Matt. 7).

So I ask you, dear reader, what spirit is working in you? Is it the Holy Spirit of God, working what is righteous and obedient to the Lord? Or is it the spirit of the devil, working what is disobedient?

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;  neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.  Be not ye therefore partakers with them.  (Eph. 5:3-7)

“Let it not once be named among you,” for the children of disobedience have only wrath to look forward to! Those who live and preach that we can only be disobedient for the rest of our lives have missed the whole purpose of the gospel of grace; they do not understand that Jesus has come to redeem us from all sin and purify for Himself a peculiar people who no longer walk in disobedience, but are zealous for doing what is good (Titus 2:11-14).

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry:  for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience. (Col. 3:5-6)

Again, the children of disobedience will have wrath!  If this describes you, your only hope is to repent of doing evil, and turn to the Lord in obedience, trusting in His sacrifice to atone for your past rebellion.  Do not receive the grace of God in vain; do not do injury to the Spirit of grace by continuing in willful disobedience after coming to know the truth, lest you be considered worthy of greater punishment than those who despised Moses’ law and died without mercy (Heb. 10:26-29).

You must let the devil do his works in you no longer, giving him no place (Eph. 4:27).  Submit yourself to God (letting Him reign and rule in your life); resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Jam. 4:7).  The Son of God to Whom you submit was manifested to destroy the works of the devil (I Jn. 3:8). In becoming Christ’s servant and the servant of righteousness, you will no longer be the servant of sin or the devil. In submitting to His yoke (both His control and His divine assistance), you will find rest for your soul at last.  Follow the Lamb of God–Jesus–who only did what pleased the Father (Jn. 8:29).  As He lived, so you are called to live in this world (I Jn. 4:17).  If you do this, you will have confidence before Him at His coming because you have been abiding in Him (I John 2:28) and His Spirit has been living in you (I Jn. 3:24).

May God bless you and dwell in you by His Spirit!

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God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 3

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 23, 2011

In the previous post, I wrote out some Scriptures from the Old Testament that demonstrate that once being chosen and favored by God does not make one exempt from living a life pleasing to Him. After entering into covenant with God, one’s future sins are not invisible to God. Many members of “the chosen people” did not inherit the promise because they did not continue to obey the Lord; their carcasses fell in the wilderness, and these things were recorded to warn us that such can happen to us (I Cor. 10:1-12).  Now I would like to examine some New Testament texts that confirm our need for obedience to the Lord after being born into His family, and the consequences for disobedience.

A favorite doctrinal component of Calvinism is that if you have ever believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, or ever had a moment of true faith, His personal righteousness has been imputed to your account once-for-all, and is the only thing God will ever see when He looks at you in the future. In other words, even if you live a wicked life after that and die in sin, God can’t see it; all He sees is Jesus when He looks at you.  If such were true, then not only will He continue to see us as obedient when we disobey, He will be mocked.  He said we would reap what we sow, but we really won’t! He said the wages of sin was death, but we have found a loophole whereby we can sow to our flesh and not reap corruption! He is not only blind, He can’t chastise His children when they do wrong, since He can’t see their sin!

Complete hogwash!

One wonders how God could ever see the righteous acts of the saints, if He can’t see their sin! Do NOT be deceived by these teachings; God will not be mocked. If we sow to our flesh we WILL reap corruption, and God DOES chastise His children when they do wrong. (Gal. 6:7-8; Heb. 12:7) The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good. (Prov. 15:3) The Lord is wearied when people falsely say that evildoers are good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in them (Mal. 2:17). People who do what is wicked are wicked; only he that does righteousness is considered righteous in the eyes of the Lord (I John 2:29; 3:7).

Jesus taught the following:

The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves…shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (Jn. 5:28-29)

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus taught the importance of DOING the Father’s will (righteousness), not just acknowledging or SAYING “Lord, Lord.” So important is it to DO the teachings of Christ, that the man who DOES them is likened to a house that survives a storm, while the man who does not DO them is likened to a house that is destroyed in the storm for lack of a proper foundation.  Friend, you ARE that house, and you are determining the final destiny of your house by whether or not you are submitting to Christ and doing God’s will. This is FOUNDATIONAL to your spiritual life.  Remember, King Jesus will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend (cause sin) and all persons who do iniquity, and cast them into the furnace of fire (Matt.13:41-42). So serious it is to get the sin out of your life, Christian, that Jesus said it would be better to cut off an offending body-part than to have your whole body “cast into hell.” (Matt. 5: 29-30)

So what if you don’t do as Jesus said, and deal a death blow to the sin in your own life?  Is all automatically forgiven because of His blood shed on the cross?

If we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,  but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:   of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

Friends, this Scripture destroys the license-to-sin doctrine.  If you willfully continue to sin after being sanctified, you are treating the precious blood of Jesus as an unholy thing!  God sees it and views you as worthy of much sorer punishment than the punishments inflicted on those who disobeyed Moses’ law!  When Ananias and Sapphira sinned in the church, was their sin hidden from God’s view? On the contrary, Peter, speaking by the Holy Ghost, rebuked them publicly. Their judgment was swift, and caused the fear of God to fall on the people who heard about it. Paul instructed Timothy to deal with sin in the church in like manner:

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.   I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.   Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.  (I Tim. 5:20-22)

Instead of following the right ways of the Lord, many in the church instead excuse or overlook flagrant sin, letting it spread like leaven through the whole lump. After all, if a person is considered positionally righteous even when they are doing unrighteous things, then who are they to judge?  False teaching is so dangerous!! Paul instructed the Corinthian church to put the sinner out of the church until he repents!! (I Cor. 5)  To refuse to do so is to be a partaker in other men’s sins and to become defiled.  Remember, the pure religion that pleases God includes keeping oneself unspotted from the world (James 1:27); this presupposes that God sees when we become “spotted.”

In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus–who is God–addresses the church. Does He only see His own righteousness when He looks at them, or does He assess them exactly according to their own works, and command repentance when necessary?  Indeed, Jesus makes some startling threats toward those who will not repent!

“Thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Rev. 2:4-5)

But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.  So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.   Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Rev. 2:14-16)

I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.   Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.   He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.  (Rev. 3:1-5)

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  (Rev. 3:15-19)

Please study those two chapters in full, and you cannot fail to see that all the beautiful promises of God are specifically for overcomers. We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). There is no easy way; the easy way taken by most is the wide road that leads to destruction. We must die to ourselves, and strive [make every effort, agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (Luke 13:24)

Peter wrote that because the judgment of God is coming, and because we look forward to a new heaven and earth where only righteousness dwells, we must be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless…and beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Pet. 3:14, 17)  The righteous can be led away with the error of the wicked and fall? Yes!

Paul wrote of those who swerved away from love, a clean conscience, and sincere faith, and so had left the path of life and had only “vain jangling” or “meaningless talk”–the emptiness of religion without God (I Tim. 1:5-6). He wrote that some who had not held onto faith and a “good conscience” (they defiled and hardened their conscience by disobedience), had shipwrecked their faith! (I Tim. 1:19) He wrote that any who refused to provide financially for their own widows had, by his wickedness, denied the faith, and was worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). He wrote that some younger widows, being idle and gossipers, had already turned aside after Satan. (I Tim. 5:15)  In fact, Paul recognized that he himself was not immune to falling away:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.   And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.   I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:   But I keep under my body [keep my flesh crucified], and bring it into subjection [to God’s will]: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Cor. 9:24-27, brackets mine)

Paul recognized he could be cast away even after all his dedicated service to God! Just as a man who wants to win a race must be disciplined, so must the Christian life be disciplined, for “if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.” (2 Tim. 2:5)  It is possible to begin the spiritual race and not finish the course, which is why we are urged to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and…run with patience [endurance].” (Heb. 12:1)  It is possible to engage in “the good fight” and not compete lawfully, being finally disqualified.

In 2 Peter 2, Peter wrote of false teachers who bring in damnable heresies [such as once-saved-always-saved or “God doesn’t see your sin”], even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  Peter describes these false teachers as having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices. Beware if your spiritual teacher shamelessly claims he cannot cease from sin, and that we must all sin every day in thought, word and deed! They teach such lies because they themselves are spiritually adulterous, loving the things of this world, especially the adoration and financial support of others who love sin and wish to have their ears tickled with sin-excusing lies.  Such teachers allure through the lusts of the flesh those who were clean escaped from them who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. And so these wolves pretending to be ministers teach the flock of God that they have “liberty in Christ” to sin all they want! But when a man serves sin, he becomes the slave of sin! His so-called liberty is false! Don’t be deceived. Peter called these who had at first escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and were again entangled therein and overcome worse off than they were before they knew the Lord!  They were like dogs returning to lick up the vomit they had expelled, or pigs washed from their filthiness returning to their filth.  Truly this is receiving the grace of God in vain!

Dear reader, it is possible to deny the Lord by your disobedient works (Titus 1:16). Consider this carefully:

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. (2 Tim. 2:19)

This is the foundation of the Lord, and will not change despite the empty promises of false teachers.  How do you then depart from iniquity? David said a man could cleanse his way by taking heed to God’s Word (Psa. 119:9)  It is by abiding in Christ that His good fruit will be manifest in your life (John 15).   I John 3:6 teaches that whoever abides in Jesus does not sin! When you go astray, it is directly due to your not abiding in Christ.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.  (John 15:7)

Paul said, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.  For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2-3)  We must CHOOSE the things above or the things of this earth. We must CHOOSE to mortify our members which are on this earth, and to follow the things that please the Lord, because the wrath of God is coming on the children of disobedience (Col. 3:5-6).

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy post!  I hope it is clear to you that in both Old and New Testaments, God’s covenants with men are conditional. If you have not already, please study both testaments on your own, asking God to open your understanding to the Truth. He has promised wisdom to those who ask, and He has promised to be found of those who seek Him with their whole heart.  He is the God of love, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a peculiar people zealous for good works. His grace teaches us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11-14). I pray that you do not receive the grace of God in vain! I will leave you with this powerful statement by the Apostle Paul:

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Rom. 8:13)

God bless you!

Posted in Backslider, Calvinism, Christian Life, Once Saved Always Saved, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Parable of the Old and Young Travelers

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 19, 2011

Two young travelers were keeping to the way marked out for them by a wise friend, headed for a wonderful destination where they were promised the sweetest rest. After some time, they came to a fork in the road and hesitated a spell, pondering the dilemma. The left fork matched the mark on the map, but the right fork seemed decidedly more enjoyable, as it passed by a nice stream and through a grove of fruit trees.  The fruit on those trees seemed so appealing, and the more they thought on that fruit, the more that path seemed right to them.  As they squinted into the horizon, it seemed to them that the right fork joined back to the left fork in the distance! How wonderful! Either way would bring them to the desired destination! And so the young travelers began down the right fork–the one which was not marked for them on the map.

Suddenly a weary old man came hobbling toward them.  His shoes were worn out, and he looked as though his travels had been less enjoyable than the scenery promised. His eyes were wild as he waved the two youngsters back. “Don’t go this way!” he cried. “I chose that path twenty years ago, and it has taken me all this time to find my way back to the correct path! My traveling companion has been lost forever! I have endured unspeakable hardship for my folly, and now have the added burden of regret. Take the left fork! Go back! Go back!” The youth were amazed at the old man’s story. What an eccentric old man!  They were young and capable, and the road seemed friendly enough to their eyes. Why, just ahead was the promise of refreshment! They smiled at the old man condescendingly and continued on their way.

The old man’s shoulders sagged with sorrow. If only they would have listened!

And so it goes everyday. Tired and battered saints, who have returned from the land of the dead by the sheer mercy of God, try to warn the simple ones who are just going in the wrong direction.  But most do not listen. They think those old saints are eccentric, always prattling on about obedience and carefulness–it seems they can’t just enjoy life!  “He may have fallen into trouble, but I shall fare better than he,” they think.  They have been given the map, the Word of God, for guidance, but they trust in their own eyes and feelings more than they trust God. Because they want their own way to bring them to heaven, they convince themselves that their own way is also right; in their deception, they do not know that their way leads to death (Prov. 14:12). They smile at the crazy old messengers, shrug, and hurry on their way.

And the old travelers weep in secret for their pride; their eyes weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock has been taken captive. (Jer. 13:17)

Wisdom calls aloud outside;
She raises her voice in the open squares.
She cries out in the chief concourses,
At the openings of the gates in the city
She speaks her words:
“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity?
For scorners delight in their scorning,
And fools hate knowledge.
Turn at my rebuke;
Surely I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded,
Because you disdained all my counsel,
And would have none of my rebuke,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when your terror comes,
When your terror comes like a storm,
And your destruction comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
“Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the LORD,
They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way,
And be filled to the full with their own fancies.
For the turning away of the simple will slay them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell safely,
And will be secure, without fear of evil.”

Prov. 1:20-33 (NKJV)

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