Monthly Archives: July 2013

A Call to Commit: Crush the Idols

 

So many who come to faith in Christ seem to want to return to where they were before. Why? They think it was better or “more fun” to live in slavery to sin. As I have shared before I call this place a “Christian’s Spiritual Egypt.” Obviously I am referencing when Israel wanted to return to slavery in Egypt instead of continuing to the Promised Land. They thought they’d be safer and more comfortable there. So a Christian (I am not referring to all believers) thinks their old life was better and they want to return. They want to return to their slavery to sin. That comes from a lack of trust in God which is exactly what the Israelites were suffering from at the particular time I’m referencing. My message here is to those Christians who are on the fence. I pray the Holy Spirit draws you close before you fall back into the vicious cycle of an utterly sinful life.

“How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”- 1 Kings 18:21

In this passage of scripture Elijah is establishing to the people of Israel this same message that I’m trying to give to you: You can’t truly serve more than one god. You need to either choose the One True God or you can choose the worthless gods who will do nothing for you. I’m talking about money, popularity, power, sex, relationships, etc. Those are all idols when you put them before serving the Lord.

Elijah isn’t the only one who spoke this message in the Bible. Jesus told us that we can’t serve two masters. We’ll hate one or the other (Matthew 6:24). Sin is rebellion against God. And that is ultimately hatred towards God. Also, God can’t go against his own character. If you choose to live in slavery to sin, God will be forced to withdraw His presence, His Holy Spirit from you. We saw that happen to Israel’s first king, Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul…”- 1 Samuel 16:14

Saul chose to disobey God and lead a life of rebellion. He paid the price for it. God doesn’t change, so He is required to do the same today because He is just.

Sin is so deceiving and it sneaks up on you like a predator. You begin to tolerate one little thing and that gives a foothold for the enemy. Sin then slowly takes over your life. Finally, you feel trapped and you can’t get out. No matter how much you want to and how much you try you can’t. I’ve been there. Then, if you don’t confess your sin to the Lord and repent, you begin to love your sin and you’re back to where you were before Christ. Finally, you’ll begin to plunge deeper and deeper until you are destroyed by your sin unless you turn back to Christ. That is the downward spiral of sin.

“How come every time we buy into and idol, we’re the ones that get devoured?”- Jefferson Bethke

Because as Jefferson Bethke states in the video I just quoted, “An idol takes, it never gives.” When you’re so wrapped up in what people think of you that you’ll do anything to gain their acceptance, you are a slave to acceptance. You have now put that before God. It’s the same way with anything else. Popularity isn’t bad, unless you turn it into an ultimate. Money isn’t bad until it’s turned into an ultimate. What are your idols?

“This day I call the heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live”- Deuteronomy 30:19

Life is found in Jesus Christ. Death is found in sin and the ways of the world. It’s as simple as that. Your choice. No one else can make it for you. God’s not going to force you to choose life, but he wants you to. If you turn your heart away from God and choose to be disobedient and serve your idols, you will surely be destroyed (Deuteronomy 30:17-18). Choose life (that is: Jesus) today.

You know who you are. If you are on the fence and are falling into the idol trap, you haven’t gone too far. The grace of God can reach you. No matter what you’ve done you can be made new. If you repent and turn back to your faith in Christ, you will be saved. God promises us that. If you have been ensnared by sin, pray to God and repent now. Don’t wait. Do whatever measures it takes to crush your idols.

Make this declaration:

“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD”- Joshua 24:15

Here is the video of Jefferson Bethke that I quoted. This poem is inspired by what true manhood is, but I believe everyone can get something out of this.

God bless you!

-Austin

 

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What is the Spirit’s Concern for the Unbeliever?

I’ve noticed that so many Christians immediately confront the sins of unbelievers when they attempt to evangelize them and advance the Kingdom of God. I ask, “Is that the right approach?” The answer is really quite simple: No. It is not the right approach. And I’m going to tell you why. Let’s begin with a passage for Scripture that everyone knows. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”- John 3:16

Most of us know what this means. Out of an unimaginable love for His Creation, God sent His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for mankind. This sacrifice would allow us to experience a right relationship with God. We now had free access to the Father. We could walk right into the Holy of Holies. We no longer need a middle-man (priest). Now look at the next two verses.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” -John 3:17-18

Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. We see this in John 8.

1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them,“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”- John 8:1-11

Let me transition for a minute and talk about this passage. 

In thier effort to trap Jesus, the Pharisees actually twisted the law. The law would require both parties involved in the adultery to be killed. They only brought the woman. This was likely a set up by the Pharisees. Jesus answered in such a way that he could not be accused of anything. If he would have completely dismissed the case, then the authorities could have accused him of not supporting the Jewish law. He still spoke of throwing stones, but prevented them from taking the matter into their own hands.

We also, however, need to be careful that we don’t use Jesus’ words to justify sin in the CHURCH. The Word teaches that blatant sins committed by those within the CHURCH are not to be tolerated. These issues should be confronted and exposed by God’s loving grace. Notice the emphasis on “Church.” It’s important.

I also want to look at the second part of verse 11 above: “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jesus’ whole attitude in this situation amazes me when I read this. It reflects his purpose of forgiving sins and restoring people’s relationship with God. He doesn’t condemn her because she is unfit for forgiveness. Instead, he treats her kindly and with mercy in order to lead her to repentance. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus doesn’t look on sin lightly, but he gives us the opportunity to turn from our sinful ways and live as part of God’s Kingdom.

How many times do we, as Christians, exclude people from the Cross because we believe their sins are too great? By doing that we are saying what Jesus did wasn’t good enough to save them. That just drives people away from Jesus! That’ s beyond wrong. Sadly, I’ve caught myself doing that before. I just pray that I don’t exclude people from salvation. I have to remind myself that I still sin and at one point I was just like them.

Now you may be asking something like “Where are you going with this?” or “Why the emphasis on ‘Church’?”

The Holy Spirit is NOT concerned with the sin of the unbeliever as we see it. He is concerned with the unbelief. The reason why is because it is the belief or the faith in Christ that will save us (John 3:16, 18). Verse 18 makes it clear that unbelief is what will condemn you to hell. When they come to a saving relationship with Christ, that is when the Spirit will begin the process of sanctification (which is a life-long process). When an unbeliever come to believe in Christ, that’s when the Spirit will begin to address the sin in that life. So our job as believers is to help lead unbelievers to a belief in Christ. It is not to condemn them for our sins. That will do nothing because they don’t have the Spirit to convict them yet. 

 

God bless!

-Austin

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