August 31, 2010
We do not inherit eternal life unless, while here on this earth, we have entered the Kingdom of Heaven / Kingdom of God through the Door, which is Jesus. But since the Key to this Door is being born anew of the Spirit, then as Jesus says in John 3:3, “Unless a man is born anew / born from above, he cannot see [or “enter” as in verse 5] the Kingdom of God.” This born again experience is when “the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” (v. 6)
Jesus then says something in verse 8 that seems somewhat perplexing: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” Okay. So Jesus is saying that everyone born of the Spirit (–the Spirit who can also be called the Breath or Wind of God –see Ezek. 37:4,5,9,10,14) is not traceable. He, like the wind, blows wherever He pleases, and we cannot tell where He comes from or where He is going. This, I believe, is why it is often hard to tell at exactly what point someone is birthed of the Spirit. For although there may have been something like a conception, there must be development. And unfortunately, that development can be aborted by falling prey to false teachers. For as Jesus says to these teachers, “You shut the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matt. 23:13) So can someone keep another from entering? Yes.
Again, we wonder when a person is actually birthed of God’s Spirit. We can read Luke 8:11-15 and get some good insight. We can see that some people do “receive the Word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” (v. 13) So was belief enough? No. Then there’s “those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Were they conceived, but so stunted in growth by life that they were choked? Choked? –as in aborted? And did false teachers necessarily do it this time? No. Their own fears and lusts did.
Verse 15 of Luke 8 then says, “But the seed [that’s the Word of God, as v. 11 tells us] on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the Word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Being that this heart is described as “good and noble”, a contrast is being made –the other hearts were not deemed “good and noble”. Also, let’s notice that they retained what they heard and acted upon it by producing a crop. And how did they produce the crop? By persevering. This would correlate with the fact that to produce a crop takes time and is a process of growing. It requires an attitude of continued faith and endurance. And what is the crop itself? The crop is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23) developed in our own dispositions, as well as the fruit which Jesus speaks of which we will produce in going out into the world as His servants. (John 15:12-17)
So at what point did these servants, these crop-producers become born from above? I believe that Jesus is telling us in John 3:8 that we cannot know the answer to this. He knows, but just like wind blowing, we cannot understand it completely.
Remember when Jesus first appeared to the disciples in the locked room when He first showed them His pierced hands and side? (John 20:19,20 & Luke 24:36-43) Well, in John 20:22, it says, “And with that He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.” But in Luke’s account, it says, “Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (24:45) He then says that “repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name… You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what My Father has promised.” (v. 47-49a) And what promise was He referring to? –The Spirit. So He says, “But stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (v. 49b)
We see this same account in Acts 1:4,5: “…wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Do we not read in John 20:22 that He had already breathed the Spirit into them? Yet in Acts 1:8 He says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses…” When Jesus says here, “When the Holy Spirit comes on you…”, is He meaning that they did not yet have the Spirit? When they received the Spirit at Pentecost, had they not already received Him when Jesus breathed Him into them back in the locked room a few weeks prior? Again, I’m reminded of John 3:8… for the Spirit of God is not to be traced.
Would it be nice to know if we or someone else is born of the Spirit? Certainly. And there are ways to know. The main way to know is: There is power. This does not at all mean glitzy power that attempts to bring glory to oneself. Instead, it means power to bring glory to God the Father and His Son, Christ Jesus. How is this accomplished? –By being Christ’s ambassadors so perfectly that He, the Light, shines so brightly out of us, that others see and praise the Heavenly Father. (Matt. 5:16) But this perfection, this blameless life that all can see, can only be walked out by the power of the Holy Spirit. However, if He is abiding in us, He will definitely walk it out in us.
We may wonder then, why so many who claim to have the Spirit of God living within them are not walking blamelessly. Well, I believe there’s only two reasons for that:
One reason is that, just as with an infant, the Spirit works within the laws of nature –as in the growth of a child. We all learn in process. That is to be expected. God does miracles, but many of His miracles can be explained in the natural as they work out over time. –Like the way our own bodies can heal of a cut or a blister. Jesus tells us in John 16:13 that the Spirit guides us into all Truth. If He “guides us into”, this means it is over time and is a process. We cannot learn everything at once, but just as an obedient student, we are expected to apply our best at each level. Jesus also says, though, “into all Truth.” So that is most certainly the goal; and if there is stagnation, or a veering off into falsehoods, then eventually Christ has been disowned, and He (His Spirit) will disown that one (2 Tim. 2:12), for that person has deliberately rebelled from following after Truth. As 2 John 1:9 says, “Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God.”
The only other reason for not walking blamelessly while claiming to have God’s Spirit residing within, is that the claim is simply not true. Because when God puts His Spirit in someone, He removes the impurities and idols, cleanses, puts in a new heart and spirit, and then moves that person to carefully follow His instructions. (Ezek. 36:25-27) If someone is not carefully following His instructions, that is evidence that the Spirit is not living there. For the Spirit will not reside with the deliberate continuation of sin. (Heb. 10:26 & 6:4-6 & 2 Peter 2:20-22) 1 John 3:9 informs us that the person born of God “cannot go on sinning.” And why is this? “Because God’s seed remains in him.” And again, who is this true of? –Those born of God (–of His Spirit). Here’s the whole verse: “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains / God’s nature abides in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.” So, what is the reason that those born of God cannot continue to sin? It is because God’s seed, God’s nature, God’s Spirit resides in him.
So what about all these fakers? Verse 10 tells us the way to know: “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother.”
If someone is not a child of God, he then does not belong to Christ, does not have the Spirit living inside, is not a member of the Kingdom of God, and will not be inheriting eternal life.
August 30, 2010
We must get in the Word of God for ourselves! For only a solid knowledge of God’s Word is going to pull us through the huge and slick deceptions that have infiltrated true Biblical Christianity. Why are many not bothering to read the Word –even when we keep warning them they must? It’s because they refuse to love the Truth which saves; and so… they will perish. (2 Thes. 2:10) This is horrible and heart-breaking, for many of these people are those that we can find lovable things about. They often don’t seem wicked to us. However, their hearts are full of idolatry as they lust after the pleasurable and spectacular. God calls it adultery against Him. For example in Ezek. 6:9 where He says, “I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from Me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols.” And verse 12: “So will I spend My wrath upon them.”
Notice it is the worshippers at the temple (church) whom God is condemning in Jer. 7:1-20. Verse 15 says, “I will thrust you from My presence,” which means He was dwelling with them for a while –trying to woo them as a faithful husband. But as verse 27 says, they will not listen to the message of warning. Instead, deliberately clueless, they, along with their priests (the pastors), do what they did in Malachi’s day: “How have we despised Your name?” (Mal. 1:6) “How have we defiled You?” (v. 7) Even when God is telling them straight out that they are disrespecting Him by placing defiled food on His altar. (same verses)
We don’t offer food to God as those under the Old Covenant, but we certainly are to still offer Him sacrifices. What are those sacrifices? It’s us. Our bodies. (Rom. 12:1) Our praise to Him. And we are to praise Him with our whole beings. –Words from our mouths; expressions from our hands lifted or clapping or playing an instrument; our knees bent in reverent worship and petition; our feet to go in His service to others; our hands, voice, and smiles to help and encourage others, proclaiming the Good News of Deliverance; and many other ways.
As Heb. 13:15,16 say, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise –the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Let’s note that we offer these sacrifices through Jesus. And we cannot do that, unless we are hidden in Him / abiding in Him / living holy lives in submission to Him. Otherwise, we disobey Rom. 12:1 to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God –which is your spiritual worship.” For only holy, undefiled sacrifices please God.
Those who try to worship God while harboring a sinful heart are repulsive to God –in much the same way we’d be repulsed if our spouse was trying to love on us, while having other lovers on the side. It’s just not going to be accepted. As Ex. 34:14 says, “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” And Jesus (who is God in bodily form –Col. 2:9 & 1:19) says, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) And God commands, “Be holy in all you do.” (1 Peter 1:15)
But… unfortunately, most of so-called Christianity turns a deaf ear to all of this. Its leaders continue to teach that God’s grace is “a license for immorality” (Jude 1:4) –a license to commit adultery against Christ. They do this by denying that Christ does indeed have the rightful rule of Sovereign Lordship over every detail of our lives. (same verse) But do they admit they are teaching this? No, they vigorously deny it. And instead of blushing, they parade their freedom to sin while proclaiming they are under Christ’s righteousness imputed to them. However, these are those spoken of in Phil. 3:18: “Enemies of the cross of Christ.” For if our “life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3), then we died (same verse), because “our old self was crucified with Him” (Rom. 6:6), “freed from sin” (v. 7), and no longer of the world any more than Jesus is of the world. (Jesus tells us this in John 17:14,16 & 15:19) For as Gal. 6:14 says, it is through “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ… [that] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
But are these fake Christians crucified at all to the world? Hardly! For they love the world –the glamour, fame, riches, and pleasures it affords them. But concerning these enemies of the cross, Phil. 3:19 continues: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” That’s it right there: Where the mind is. Because the heart, in following the mind, soon falls in love with whatever the mind has set its focus upon. As Jesus says in Matt. 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Let’s get our minds on the Word of God, soak our minds in its Truth, and grow in the knowledge of God. Then our hearts will be pure, and we can stand against every one of the world’s deceptive lures.
August 29, 2010
Those of us whom the Lord has called to teach His Word are under a solemn responsibility to teach only that which is the Truth. Doctrine is vital. Therefore, it must be pure and uncontaminated. And as James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
It is also imperative that we be on guard against other teachers; for many are false and work hard to try to sway us to their falsehoods. Yet they are” masquerading as apostles of Christ… as servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:13,15), but really serve Satan. 1 Tim. 4:1 informs us that there are “deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1 John 4:1 tells us not to believe every spirit. And 2 Cor. 11:4 lets us know that someone can come preaching a different jesus, a different spirit, and a different gospel. Gal. 1:7 tells us that a perversion of the Gospel of Christ is really no gospel, and that such a person promoting a false gospel is headed for eternal condemnation. (v. 8,9)
Jesus Himself gave out some tough warnings concerning “you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” (Matt. 23:29) What does Jesus accuse them of? Two main things: False teachings and heart sins; for He not only calls them blind guides, but says, “On the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (v. 28) And He asks, “How will you escape being condemned to Hell?” (v. 33)
These teachers of God’s Word are the evangelists. (v. 15) They are those who love to be called “Rabbi” (v. 7) or “Pastor”. They teach others about the tithe, yet they neglect justice, mercy and faithfulness. (v. 23) They make sure they look good to the public, yet inside their hearts and minds they are “full of greed and self-indulgence.” (v. 25) This is why Jesus warns in Luke 12:1: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy comes from false teachers (Matt. 16:12), and just like “a little yeast [which] works through the whole batch of dough” (1 Cor. 5:6), it festers the spread of every form of sin.
So is it wise to sit under Bible teachers that exhibit hypocrisy? Certainly not. For though 1 Tim. 4:16 is addressed to teachers, listeners will fall into the same pit of the condemned teacher they follow. For it says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” In other words, whoever does not persevere in the Truth, will not be saved –teacher and listener alike.
Jesus says in Luke 11:52, “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. [–“shutting the Kingdom of Heaven in men’s faces” as Matt. 23:13 renders it.] You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” We see that Jesus is calling these teachers experts in God’s law, yet also accuses them of having taken away the key to knowledge –for themselves and others.
What is that key? Well, we know that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Prov. 1:7) –And that the knowledge of God is found by applying our ear to wisdom, and calling out for discernment, insight, and understanding. (2:2-5) But who holds the key? God does. (Job 12:13) As Job 28:12 asks, “But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?” Answer: “God understand the way to it and He alone knows where it dwells… And He said to man, ‘The fear of the Lord –that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.'” (v. 23,28)
So we see that God holds the key. But what (who) is the key? The key is the Holy Spirit. For Jesus is the Gate. As He says in John 10:9, “I am the Gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.” And in Matt. 7:13 He tells us that this Gate to eternal life is so narrow that few find it. Why? Because by not entering (the Kingdom of God) through the Gate, but in climbing in some other way (John 10:1), they were not born of the Spirit. (3:8) And unless a man is born anew of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. (John 3:5-8) Why? “Because the Kingdom of God is within you,” as Jesus tells us in Luke 17:21. It (Christ’s Spirit) comes into us, and us into it (Him), by being born of the Spirit. “And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Rom. 8:9)
Can someone have a proper / holy fear of the Lord and shun evil without the help of the Holy Spirit? No. It is the Spirit who gives the power to walk in holiness. (Gal. 5:16 & Rom. 8:11) And He is the one who teaches us the things of God (1 Cor. 2:10-14) and reminds us of what Jesus taught. (John 14:26 & 16:13,14) So it is the Spirit who enables us to fear the Lord, shun evil, and arrive at wisdom. And who is this Wisdom? 1 Cor. 1:30 says it is “Christ Jesus, who has become for us the wisdom from God –that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
So who alone can teach us correct doctrine from the Scriptures? Only He who is the Wisdom from God: Jesus. And He does so through the Spirit.
This is why hypocrites / Pharisees cannot teach without constantly straying from the Truth. For they simply do not possess the Key and have climbed in some other way.
August 28, 2010
One of the main ways that people get turned aside from following the Lord, His Truth, His Word, His ways, and the true Gospel, is due to the influence of others. And what influence they have! They try to make us second-guess what the Lord has clearly said because they either water down the importance of what He has said or they change the meaning of what He has said.
How do they do this? Well, the slickest trick is to use the Truth to twist the Truth –just like Satan did in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-5) and while tempting Jesus. (Matt. 4:1-11) This is a favorite tactic of the hypocrites, the Pharisees, the self-righteous who speak out against the crowds Jesus calls them to love, all the while harboring gross sin in their own hearts. And what is that gross sin? Pride. It is the number one sin of the ages; and it abounds in those men who say they speak for God, for His Truth, His Word, His ways, and His true Gospel.
However, we are to flee the proud man. And walk away from his teachings. For God’s Wisdom does not reside with any kind of sinful heart, including the proud one. As Prov. 8:12,13 say, “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”
Does it matter if this proud teacher has some correct things to say? No. Even a criminal can give you some truth. Even a cult leader can; and so can a demon masquerading as an angel of light. No, Truth must come forth clean and pure and completely correct. We are not to give out contaminated drinking water, and we are to be careful to drink only that which is pure. Of this we can be sure: A proud teacher will soon enough begin giving out impure water –twisted Truth.
How do we spot the Bible teacher who has the disease of a proud heart? There are several ways:
1. He will always insist on being right. Even when his error is pointed out to him calmly, lovingly, and firmly, he will react in fear, immaturity, anger, and even revenge. He will retaliate with insults and condescending words, may resort to slander, and will probably immediately cut you off from his life; for he’d rather not hear Truth himself, though he’s accused so many others of not wanting to do so.
2. He will often use sarcasm and mockery to get his points across. This is a tactic in intimidation. But it comes from a heart that has strayed far from the humility Christ calls us to have. As Prov. 21:24 says, “The proud and arrogant man– ‘Mocker’ is his name; he behaves with overweening pride.” Such a person, in trying to impart spiritual truths in the name of God, has become full of himself, rather than full of God. What shall we do with such a teacher? If he will not accept rebuke, we are to drive him out or leave him. Then “strife, quarrels, and insults are ended” (Prov. 22:10), and peace, kindness, and Truth flourish. And when Jesus tells us to leave blind guides, in the same context He speaks about how it is words that can prove the unclean state of the heart. (Matt. 15:10-20)
3. He will consider himself above having to obey God’s Word while demanding that others do so. Many teachers speak and act and think any way they want, yet then rationalize that they do so because they are zealous for the Lord, because the end justifies the means, and just because they are “God’s righteous servant.” However, God’s will is never furthered through unrighteous means.
4. He will use Truth to twist Truth. This is certainly the way that is best camouflaged, especially because it can be done nicely; and who wants to contradict a nice teacher? Also, the teacher can usually get away with it because so many do not know the Truth of God’s Word for themselves. So people just accept the false teaching. Depending on how well the audience knows the Word, the Truth can be twisted a lot or just slightly. But even slightly twisted doctrine is still falsehood. However, he who teaches falsehoods exhibits his heart of pride, for he has refused to listen to God’s Spirit trying to teach him.
So although it is the arrogant Bible teachers who are usually the most dangerous in turning people from the Truth, there are others too who try to influence us to stray from God’s commands. It can be friends, family, church members, and co-workers. And if it is not dealt with, they can mislead even the righteous. As 1 Cor. 15:33 warns, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” Here again, this word “corrupts” can be translated “spoils”, “ruins”, “decays”, or “rots”, insinuating that it can be a process, even a slow one in which the person doesn’t realize what is happening. Yet to continue to be misled means one can eventually become completely lost –lost from righteousness and Truth –that very “narrow path that leads to life.” (Matt. 7:14)
What is the best prevention from getting led astray by those who promote spiritual teachings that are false? It is to know God’s Word. And to know it well –by being taught by the Spirit of God (1 John 2:27 & John 16:13-15) who directly teaches those born of Him. (John 3:8) However, we can only know that Word by being in it daily, and by listening closely and carefully, in humility, to “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit” (14:26) who teaches only the true doctrine from the pages of Scripture –nothing more and nothing less.
August 27, 2010
Over the last several years, the Lord has been increasing my joy in Him and my love and excitement over people. I just love people! Each person is unique, each person is adorable in some kind of way, and each person is made in the image of God –therefore, priceless. This does not mean that many are not wicked, and deserving of Hell, but –what? –apart from the compassionate mercy of God –saving us, and working on us so that we become Christ-like– do we not all deserve Hell? Of course. We’ve all rebelled against Him, and but for His grace, we’d all still be hanging on to all sorts of selfish and sick desires.
So, are any of us, in and of ourselves (without being clothed in Christ and without being born anew of the Spirit), wonderful? We are not! Yet just think: He still loved us while we were yet sinners. (Rom. 5:8) Have you ever known someone who you thought (without saying it aloud, though), “You know, I love you. Even though there is nothing to love about you. You are selfish, you are greedy, you are perverse, you are worldly, you are concerned only about yourself and how everything affects you, you are arrogant, you are inconsiderate and rude, you act charming only so as to receive admiration or get your own way, you try to do noble and charitable acts while caring less about having righteous character or integrity…” Well, I could go on. But the point is, is that I know several people I could think of this way. For it really is true of them. But the really incredible part is that when I think of them, see them, talk with them, I love them. And why? Because I pray for them –that’s why! And to fervently pray for another, is to love that person.
This, I believe, is one reason why Jesus told us, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt. 5:44) Whether it is us being persecuted, or someone else who we know about being persecuted, we are to pray for the perpetrator. And the more we pray for them, the more we will love them. And the more we love, the more we pray. This is what is going to change society. –True agape love that prays for those that are wicked. No amount of screaming, yelling, pointing fingers of blame, or threatenings are going to change wicked people! They will only be changed by love –love put into action. Yes, definitely this love will try to point out to them the Truth; but what arrogant, rude, selfish, worldly person is going to listen –especially if the person already despises you, or is even at enmity with you? Instead, what is it that we are promised will soften hard hearts? It’s the message of the cross (Rom. 1:16 & 10:17) and the fervent prayers of a righteous man that are powerful and effective. (James 5:16) So if we are praying for a wicked person to ditch their life of wickedness, and we have said what we can while being a holy example ourselves, then prayer is certainly going to move God’s Spirit to intervene.
There are too many tragedies in the world, too many poor and sick to care for, too many laws we want changed, and just too many injustices in families, churches, courts, and governments for us to neglect fervent prayer. Just tonight I found out of yet another infuriating injustice –and this one done by –surprise, surprise– none other than a preacher to his family. –An adulterous affair. I am sick at heart, for this guy and his wife were close friends of mine, and he was one of the young preachers at a church I went to for two years (until the church split). They have three small children. And yes, it does put a damper on my joy and love. In fact, it threatens to make me feel hopeless –about the strength of sin, the greedy perverse hearts of men which refuse to be satisfied, and the despair and heartbreak people all over the world are experiencing by the actions of those who supposedly committed their love to the very ones they are devastating.
So what should I do? What should we do? This is what we do: We get down on our knees and we weep before the Great Judge and plead for Him to intervene –to unshackle the blinded hearts, to pour out His mercy and power into the situation, to lavish comfort and strength to the one whose soul is in agony… And we pray, and pray, and pray. And soon we love and realize, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” So our determination is renewed, and we pray more. Then we praise. We praise God that He is able to intervene, that He cares more than we do, and that His supernatural love, in answer to our prayers, will permeate the dark situation and bring light, and life, and victory.
Will the victory come the first time we pray? Very unlikely. Softening hard, rebellious hearts takes fervent prayer. And from righteous intercessors. Are there many of those around? I don’t believe so –though there could be more than I realize. Either way, may we be the ones who stay righteous that our prayer may be effective; who love others enough to pray for them until the bondage is broken; and who love sinful people even when there is absolutely nothing to love about them, but only things about them to despise. For we are to love like God loves, and He patiently called us, wooed us, and loved us –while we still remained in sin.
To think on this immense love of God brings joy to the heart. –Even in the midst of severest trials, even upon hearing yet more heartbreaking news, even when all looks bleak and hopeless. For as Habakkuk reminds us, “Though the fig tree does not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vine, though the crop of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls– yet will I rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength.” (3:17-19a)
August 26, 2010
I read a card today that had just this part of 1 Cor. 3:16 in it: “God’s Spirit lives in you.” I just stared at it. For it struck me deeply, like God was reminding me… –and reminding me for the umpteenth time. Tears flowed as I caught a glimpse once again of how powerful this honor is, how amazing, how utterly privileged and grateful we should feel. And yet how sad it is that those who claim they have His Spirit residing right inside of them, forget that “His incomparably great power for us who believe” (Eph. 1:19) is available to them to defeat the Foe –foes of worry, fear, anger, immorality, and other sin. (2 Peter 1:3) And how sad it is that they don’t believe He-in-them can advance against the darkness and win the victory every time. (1 John 4:4 & 5:4) And sad too that they can pretend the Spirit doesn’t see or care when they unite their minds, hearts, and bodies to that which is corrupt.
Look at what Rom. 8:11 says: “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you…” Let me stop. Is He? Is He living in you? If so, this is the same Spirit that had/has power over death. It goes on: “…He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.” This is not talking about life in Heaven –the life He gives when we die and then raises us up to immortality. Because it says He will give life to our mortal bodies. This means now. When we die to self, He raises us up to new life. (Rom. 6:4-7 & 2 Cor. 5:17) This is why Col. 3:1,2 tell us that “because you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts… [and] minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Don’t believe teachers who say this “have been raised with Christ” reference refers to our future life in Heaven. If that were so, there would be no need to admonish people to get their hearts and minds unfocused from earthly things.
Col. 3:3 goes on: “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Think on that. It’s incredible. However, is someone truly “hidden in Christ” and going to inherit eternal life, if they have not died to self? No. For verse 4 says, “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” If you still own your own life… if it is not Christ who is your life (you in Him and He in you), then you will not appear with Him in glory. Friends, read the Word! Read each verse carefully and see what it’s saying! We must be crucified with Christ, no longer living, but only His life living in us (Gal. 2:20) –in our mortal bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. We no longer belong to ourselves, but instead we are owned by Him. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” (1 Cor. 6:19b,20) That means every part of your body: Mind, heart, voice, eyes, hands, etc. And, why? Because “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” (v. 19a) And the Holy Spirit requires His temple to be holy.
What happens when the temple ceases to be holy? The Spirit is repulsed. For “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ Himself?” (1 Cor. 6:15) If we belong to Christ, then we are “one with Him in spirit.” (v. 17) But if we unite with sin, He will not remain united to us. We have disowned Him and “He will also disown us.” (2 Tim. 2:12) As Jesus says in John 15:4, “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.” And He goes on: “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (v. 6) This is a sober warning straight from Jesus. Neglect to remain in Him, we bring on ourselves eternal destruction.
Let’s look back at the verse I started out with –1 Cor. 3:16. The whole of it says, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” So, if God’s Spirit lives in us, we are His temple. But can the temple act, say, and think any way that it wants? No. For if it allows in any sin, that’s contamination, and the whole temple has then been defiled. If the cause of the defilement is not discontinued, and the temple not rewashed (repentance), then decay and rot set in, and the temple has become spoiled and ruined and destroyed by its own self.
How does a beautiful temple of God’s Spirit succumb to this? It happens by allowing in a small corrupt thought, a tiny bacteria, an infectious virus… The mind mulls it over, the heart starts to love it, the sinful nature is called back, and the deterioration leads to collapse. And what does 1 Cor. 3:17 warn us of? It says, “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him…” The word “destroys” in “destroys God’s temple” can be translated “defiles”, “ruins”, “spoils”, or “corrupts”. Therefore, if anyone does this by continuing to allow in the contamination of sin, then God will destroy him. Because that person has become unfaithful to his God. He has defiled the temple in which God dwelt. As the whole of verse 17 says, “If anyone destroys / defiles God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” And as Ps. 73:27 says, “You [God] destroy all who are unfaithful to You.”
God does require a holy, pure, clean, and faithful temple in which to dwell, and God’s Word does teach this doctrine all through its pages. But sadly, people are not listening. They don’t seem to understand that to be destroyed by God is not equivalent to being saved by Him.
August 25, 2010
We have received, in God’s Word, repeated warnings. These warnings have to do with what we harbor in our hearts. If we harbor any known sin, that’s it. We remain shut out from God’s promises –including salvation. For God has no obligation to grant answers to requests of those who cherish sin (Ps. 66:18) — those who have not wholeheartedly thrown out of their heart all consideration of ever returning to sin.
Heb. 10:26,27 say, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the Truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only… judgment and… raging fire.” And 1 John 2:4 says, “The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the Truth is not in him.” For “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning.” (3:6) Indeed, “He cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.” (3:9)
There is a false Christianity that teaches that people who are born again, born of God, thus belonging to Christ, are allowed to sin –even cannot help but sin– and will still inherit eternal life. However, this is false and damning doctrine. For throughout God’s Word, the opposite doctrine is taught. Like in Rom. 8:13: “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.” And 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…” This is referring to spiritual death. And again: “… you are slaves to the one whom you obey –whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness… But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (6:16,22)
Some people excuse themselves because they say, “Oh, I sin, but I’m not a slave to sin.” No, if someone sins, then they either do so because they like their sin, or because they can’t help it. Either way, they show that they are not holy slaves unto God, but are instead unrighteous slaves to sin. For if anything cannot be given up, laid down, rejected, and turned from, then it has mastered a person. And to be mastered by something is to be its slave. Therefore, to be mastered by the sinful nature at any time during the day, is to have fallen under slavery to it. A person cannot say, “Well, I just give in to my sin nature once or twice a day.” That may prove they may be “better” than the next person who gives in four times a day, but having to give in to sin at all shows they are mastered by it.
Can a person who is born anew of the Spirit of God be controlled at all by the sin nature? No, he cannot. Rom. 8:9 is clear about it: “You however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” Let’s say it another way: If the Spirit of God / the Spirit of Christ dwells in you, then you will show that you belong to Christ by being controlled by Him, and you will therefore not be controlled by the sinful nature.
Can a person be controlled by both –either at the same time, or alternately? No. For Jesus says in Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and The World.” To serve something is to cater to it, to obey it, to do what it says, or even to be under its influence. And it starts with the mind. For what is allowed into the mind will go down into the heart, and if it’s not repented of immediately, the chains of sin will only get thicker, corrupting the entire person.
Verse 5 of Rom. 8 informs us, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires.” And it goes on to make a contrast: That the sinful nature mind is death, while the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (v. 6) –Spiritual death versus spiritual life. Verse 7 adds that the sinful nature mind is hostile to God. This is the same as being at enmity toward God and hating Him, which as James 4:4 lets us know, comes from being in friendship with the world. Of course. Because it is impossible to be friends with the world without serving it… being under its influences… under its control… dazzled by its sparkle and fun… throwing money to it… loving its caresses and pleasures…. and joining in with others in their idolatry.
What does the mind controlled by the Spirit think like? It thinks holy and pure thoughts, humble thoughts, praise-worthy thoughts, joyful thoughts, and compassionate, loving thoughts. It thinks just like Christ would think. (1 Cor. 2:16) How does a person act and speak who has this “mind of Christ”? The person acts and speaks just like Jesus would. (1 John 2:6) –Jesus, who while on earth as a human, did and said every single thing in submission to the Father. (John 12:50 & 14:31) We are absolutely expected to do the same. (Phil. 2:5)
Friends, let’s guard our minds. Because what we look at, listen to, read, and watch is a rendering of our service to it. It is bringing our minds under subjection to it, allowing our hearts to grow to love it. And what we desire is our treasure. Yet Jesus warned us not to store up treasures on earth. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21)
A heart that treasures things in the world, is a heart that harbors sin. It is a heart that puts itself at enmity with God; and it is a heart that shuts out the soul from inheriting eternal life. (1 John 2:15-17)