God Made It Simple

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a middle aged man who was in the midst of a very stressful situation.  He spoke of his past Christian experience and was confused about the future.   Our interaction reminded me, that as biblically born again believers, when we wake up in the morning, there are only TWO things the Lord requires of us:

  • To Love Him
  • To Love Our Neighbor as Ourselves

The Lord Jesus said:

“…AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’   Mark 12:30-31

and then He adds this statement:

“There is no other commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:31

The Lord Jesus says there is nothing greater than loving the biblical God and our fellow man.

The word “love” is the Greek agapao. This “speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and praise.” (Wuest) It is the same word the Apostle John used in John 3:16 to describe how God feels about lost mankind, whom He sent Jesus to redeem. He considers each person precious. That is why He paid such a high price to redeem lost sinners, like you and me.

Therefore, when I wake in the morning, this is all that God requires of me.  I am to consider my fellow man, lost or saved, as precious to God and, therefore, to me.

Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, He gives me the desire and willingness to do this. (Philippians 2:13).

If I love God like Jesus said:

  • I will have no other gods before Him
  • I will not have idols in my life
  • I will not take His name in vain
  • I will treat Him as Holy

And if I love my neighbor as myself:

  • I will not murder him
  • I will not commit adultery with his wife
  •  I will not steal from him
  •  I will not lie to him or against him
  • I will not covet his possessions.

When a person is biblically born again by the Holy Spirit, God begins to change that person from a “hater” to a “lover”.  A “hater”, as I am using it, is someone who sins against God and his fellow man. A synonym of “sinner”.

Take for example the apostle John.

The Lord Jesus nicknamed John and his brother James, the Sons of Thunder. They evidently had a short temper. Luke 9: 54 says that they wanted to call down fire from heaven to kill some Samaritans who did not receive Jesus into their village. Jesus rebuked them saying “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” After years had passed, we see in the Book of Acts, John with Peter returning to the Samaritans to minster to them (a manifestation of love) with Philip, the deacon. Through what John learned from Jesus as a disciple and what God did in his heart when he was born again, he was changed from a “hater” to a “lover” of the Samaritans.

Later in his life, he wrote what we know as I John. In chapter 4: 7-12 his changed heart is manifested in these words:

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is PERFECTED in us.   (emphasis added)

Everything God has done for us through Christ is to help us PERFECT His love in us:

  • We identify with the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, therefore, we can overcome Satan and our sinful nature and walk in love toward others.
  • When we are born again, the Holy Spirit spreads the love of God in our hearts so we can properly love Him and our fellow man.
  • The Holy Spirit is given to us to comfort, teach, and encourage us as we fight the good fight of faith in learning and persevering to walk in love toward others
  • The Bible is given to us to teach us how to love through the example and instruction of others who had to learn to walk in love.
  • The Bible gives us levees for our love so it is channeled in the right direction and does not overflow into unrighteous.
  • The Body of Christ, the Church, is a place to exercise our love gifts, share love and perfect our love.
  • When Christ returns and we stand in His Presence, we will not turn away in shame because we have conducted ourselves like He conducted himself.

The ultimate goal of the Christian life is to be PERFECTED in love.  To cause us to do what the scripture said in the beginning of this blog. To stop being a “hater” and change into a “lover” of people and God.

Conducting ourselves in love toward others, assures us that we are saved, “God abides in us“.  John said “We love, because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

The devil will use religion to heap expectations and distractions on us that will choke the true spiritual life out of you if you let it. If that is where you are, take a time out and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any traditions of men or church that are clouding your understanding of God and what he expects of you. Then ask Him to PERFECT His love in you.

In closing, listen to Paul’s personal priorities as expressed in I Corinthians 13 and 14:

” If I speak with the tongue of men and angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love ,I am nothing. 

And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

“Pursue love…” (emphasis and underlining added)

In Paul’s personal life he was pursuing love. He was another disciple that was changed from a literal “killer” of Christians to a “lover”. May we yield to the working of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who is trying to make us “lovers”, freeing us from being “haters”.

Thank you for your time.  May we be enriched in all knowledge and understanding by His Holy Spirit who was sent to lead you and I into all truth.

Carl

God’s Rescue of Man (Part 3)

Salt Kill

(Square  salt crystals in wood cellulose)

“…the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might rescue us out of this present evil age…”   (Galatians 1:4)

“Be having salt in yourselves,..”   Lord Jesus  (Mark 9:50)

The twelve disciples had been walking down the road with Jesus and, among themselves, they had been debating which one of them was the greatest.  The Lord begins to correct them about how to be the greatest in the kingdom of God and warning them about temptation, sinning, and hell.  At the end of the conversation, He makes some comments about being “salted with fire” and salt.  In the interest of brevity, I will only address what is related to our discussion on the pernicious evil age and its corrupting influence.

When He mentioned salt, the Apostles minds would of probably immediately thought about how the law of Moses stated that temple sacrifices should be salted with salt. Secondly, they would of remembered that salt was a preserving agent.  Peter, John and James, all former fishermen,  may of used salt to preserve their catch of fish.

By having “salt” in themselves, it would prevent the corrupting influence of the evil pernicious age.  Remember the effect of the evil influence is likened to decay and rot on your morals or virtue. What does salt represent?  One fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22-23 is self-control and I believe that is what Jesus is using salt to represent.  Self-control will keep you from being “carried away” or “towed” by Satan and enticed to sin.  It preserves your morals from decay and rot. The indwelling Holy Spirit gives us the ability to control our will.   We are told in II Peter 1: 5-6 to add the qualities of self-control or temperance to our lives. This would protect them and us from the corrupting influence of the age which Lord Jesus came to rescue us from.

Concerning salt in our lives, the Holy Spirit led me to Matthew Henry’s A Commentary On The  Whole Bible. Here are his comments written prior to 1721 A.D.:

The nature of man, being corrupt, and as such being called flesh (Gen. vi. 3; Ps. lxxviii. 39), some way or other must be salted, in order to its being a sacrifice to God.

“Our chief concern is, to present ourselves living sacrifices to the grace of God (Rom. xii. 1), and , in order to our acceptableness we must be salted with salt, our corrupt affections must be subdued and mortified, and we must have in our souls a savour of grace.  Thus the offering up or sacrificing of the Gentiles is said to be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, as the sacrifices were salted, Rom. xv. 16.

“Those that have the salt of grace, must make it appear that they have it; that they have salt in themselves, a living principle of grace in their hearts, which works out all corrupt dispositions, and every thing in the soul that tends to putrefaction, and would offend our God, or our own consciences, as unsavory meat doth.

“Our speech must be always with grace seasoned with this salt, that no corrupt communication may proceed out of our mouth, but we may loath it as much as we would to put putrid meat into our mouths. As this gracious salt will keep our own consciences void of offence, so it will keep our conversation with others so, that we may not offend any of Christ’s little ones, but may be at peace one with another.”

Did you notice how he compares the effects of the evil influence of the age to “putrid meat”, “unsavory meat” and “putrefaction” in the soul. This is the rot and decay that we mentioned earlier. He also mentions “our corrupt affections must be subdued and mortified”. “Mortified” is an old English word meaning ” to subdue and kill”; in the Christian sense “to reckon” dead as Paul tells us in Romans 6: 11 (KJV).

Therefore, we need to do as the Lord said and “Have salt within yourselves…” How do we do that? Believe what Paul said about your identification with Christ and present or yield yourselves to God as His servant and trust in the indwelling Holy Spirit to give you the desire and power to do the will of God as you exercise self-control to say “NO” to the enticements of Satan and the age. When you exercise your will to say “No”, He, the Holy Spirit will give you the power to follow through.  Your sinful nature will not have dominion over you! This will increase the fruit and power of the indwelling Spirit in our lives AND MAKE US MORE USEFUL TO GOD.  This is the only way to stop the corruption of this age from defiling us. Only God’s way works.

Hear Lord Jesus through Paul’s words in Romans 6:12-14:

“Thus, also, as for you, you be constantly counting upon the fact that, on the one hand, you are those who have been separated from the sinful nature, and, on the other, that you are living ones with respect to God in Christ Jesus. Stop therefore allowing the sinful nature to reign as king in your mortal body with a view to obeying it [the body] in its passionate cravings. Moreover, stop putting your members at the disposal of the sinful nature as weapons of unrighteousness, but by a once-for-all act and at once, put yourselves at the disposal of God as those who are actively alive out from among the dead, and put your members as weapons of righteousness at the disposal of God, for [then] the sinful nature will not exercise lordship over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

(Wuest Expanded Translation)

This completes the third installment of this series. The next blog will address what Apostle John had to say about loving the world. I hope you will join us.  May God richly bless your understanding of these things and may His indwelling Spirit empower you with self-control.

“Have salt within yourselves…”   Lord Jesus

Carl

 

“…led by the Spirit of God…”

index

 

“For as many as are being constantly led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”  (Romans 8:14)

I recently heard of a Christian brother in a local church, who during a discussion on the Holy Spirit, expressed his fear of the Spirit.  Due to erroneous teaching he had received over the years and things he had seen, he had become afraid of the One who indwells him as a believer; the very Helper Jesus sent to him when he believed.

The Apostle Paul told us in Romans that we are to be constantly led by the Spirit of God.  The word “led” is the Greek word “ago” and according to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words it means “to bear, bring, carry, lead,” and is translated by the verb “to lead”.  An example would be the act of leading about an animal at the end of a rope.  Rick Renner in his Sparkling Gems From The Greek says this about “ago”:

“An animal’s owner would wrap a rope around its neck and then “tug” or “pull” until the animal started to follow him.

“Pay careful attention to the “tugging” and “pulling” of the Holy Spirit in your heart. He is a Gentleman and does not force you to obey Him. He prompts you, tugs on your heart, and pulls on your spirit to get your attention. Sometimes His “tugs” may be so gentle that you almost miss them. But if you’ll develop your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, He will gently “lead” you exactly where He wants you to go with your life.” (Emphasis mine)

Have you developed this sensitivity to the Helper?  If not, we pray that you will.

Our scripture goes on to say that those who are led by the Spirit, these are sons of God. In Galatians Paul says that while Israel was under the law of the Old Testament, they were considered “nepios”, an immature person who needed a guardian to look after them. The guardian was the law of the Old Testament.  But in Romans 8:14, Paul uses “huios” which signifies someone of full age; a mature person having outgrown the need for his former guardian.

In conclusion, we are living under God’s wonderful, unbelievable grace as born again children of God.  We have no need for the law because we have the Spirit of God living in us, vastly more powerful and effective than the law.  If you will, He is our guardian now. He is our source of godly desires and the power to do the will of God. He is grieved by our sins and wanderings. He is faithful to convict us of our sins and bring us to repentance. He will  never leave us or forsake us. Let us develop a sensitivity to his “tugs” and “pulling” so he can lead us in the way we should go. What wonderful provision God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has made for those who trust in Jesus Christ.

Pay Close Attention To Yourself and The Holy Spirit

Carl

 

 

 

Moral Excellence

 

 

Apostles-all-have-beardsNow for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, …”   (II Peter 1: 5)

Virtue or moral excellence is the manifestation of the “energy” of the Holy Spirit working in us, in response to our faith in Jesus Christ. Our response to this “energy” is to have “energy” in the outliving of our faith which will manifest itself as “change” in our behavior, resulting in increased moral excellence.

Now stop and read the first paragraph again before going on. Do you see this in your life?

Change” takes “energy” or power.  From whence does it come? Listen to what is on record and is just as true today as when it left Peter’s writing instrument 2000 years ago.  “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge  of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these, He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  (II Peter 1: 3-4) He has given us “everything” we need for life and godliness through the true knowledge of God, which is found in scripture, and precious magnificent promises that are found in scripture also. Why did He do this? So His born again children could be partakers of His divine nature, which has been implanted in them,  escaping the corruption that is in the world through lust or passionate cravings.

“Change” always takes “energy” or power.  Our precious Lord Jesus told the disciples before His death,  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” (John 14:8)  He sent His Spirit to come along side of us and to help us successfully live the victorious Christian life.  He, the Holy Spirit of God, is constantly releasing His energy so we will desire the sweet will of God and, then as we say “yes” and move our will to obey, He releases His power to make the change a reality.

Peter begins this exhortation of II Peter, by asking that sanctifying grace and sanctifying  peace be multiplied in the sphere of and by the full knowledge of our God, even Jesus, the Lord.  Listen to Wuest’s explanation of this knowledge:

“The particular word for knowledge here, epignosis, speaks of experiential knowledge, that is knowledge gained by experience. This knowledge of Jesus Christ possessed by the believer therefore, is not a mere intellectual knowledge of the facts concerning Him acquired by a study of the Gospels, for instance, but a heart experience of what and who He is, gained by such a study, including a personal association with Him, by means of the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is a person with Person knowledge through intimate fellowship.”

He has not left us as orphans.  He is wanting to fellowship with us. Reflect on that for a moment. Out of this fellowship will flow two things: 1. sanctifying grace, the work of the Holy Spirit in the yielded believer producing Jesus’ personality traits.  2. Also out of this fellowship will flow sanctifying  peace, the tranquility of heart which is the result of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our life.

May His “energy” be evident in your life.  May you be increasing in all the fruit of the Spirit as you fellowship with your Lord and Savior Jesus.

Carl

 

Good Advice

While recently at MD Anderson in Houston I noticed that the signage in some departments held a message applicable to Christians.  This one was in a patient’s room and the normal meaning is obvious.  The spiritual message is:

Call (for the Helper), Don’t Fall (into Satan’s snare). Stay safe (in the Grace of God). Call for help (when under attack).

The Lord Jesus, after He went into Heaven, sent the mighty Spirit of God to be the believer’s Helper, Comforter, Teacher and Sanctifier.  Each born-again believer is sealed in Christ Jesus with the Holy Spirit of promise (Ephesians 1:13).  Jesus knew we would need a Helper.  Sometimes The Helper in us is all we need to overcome sin and the devil.  At other times we may need the prayer, advice or encouragement from the Helper in a brother or sister in-Christ.  Avail yourself of the Holy Spirit’s assistance if you need it.

Remember:  Call. Don’t Fall. Stay Safe. Call for help.

But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”  Jesus (John 16:7)

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”. (Acts 2:2-4)

….but be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18)

May it be so for all of us!

Carl