sin

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A Stone’s Throw Away from Judging My Neighbor

Published July 22, 2017 by Dawn

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matt. 7:1)

It’s the newest hot-button issue. The world loves this verse. Heck, so does the church. We’re throwing it around as a means to fend off anyone who wants to talk about morality because as a society, we’ve decided morality is so last century. I’ve been praying about this one for a while, because there are some scriptures in the Bible that seemingly contradict this one, and we’re all a little confused.

Because this is such a delicate issue, the authority of scripture is the basis of all commentary presented, and I hope this blog reads more like an expose. I also hope you understand that I have spent hours researching scripture and praying over this. I don’t claim to know it all, just want to present the scriptures and I pray the Holy Spirit leads you to the truth of God’s Will.

Let’s just begin here, with Matthew 7:1-5. I’m going to use the NIV text for ease of reading. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

Ok, we have the topic of judging, alongside the topic of hypocrisy. This is a great place to start! Most of the time, this text is quoted in part. In effect, “Don’t judge me. The Bible says that.” But look further and you will notice that in differentiating between your plank and your brother’s speck, Jesus is referring to one thing: seeing your own sin. Christians should be introspective about sin before they discuss it out loud. They should know their own sin and then deal with it. To paraphrase, “take care of your sin first.” Christians should not speak of sin if they don’t have a healthy prayer life involving repentance. If we don’t know our own spiritual depravity, we shouldn’t try to help anyone else. When you come to know the depravity of humanity and what you are capable of, you can approach the topic of sin from a place of humility. Humility is so important, especially when discussing sin with unbelievers. When we have a nonexistent or weak relationship with Christ, we cannot help others understand topics such as repentance, forgiveness, and grace. There is no salvation from sin without these.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He says “deal with your sin first, then help your brother.” This is where things can get a little uncomfortable. Because we are called to talk about sin … no one likes that truth. For a more in-depth understanding of what Jesus meant, let’s follow Him to the scene of another group of church members discussing someone’s sin.

It’s important to understand, however, that the same Jesus who said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged” also said, “Go and sin no more.” Let’s take a look at John 8:2-11:

“At dawn he appeared in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say?’ 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. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’

”Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 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. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’

“’No one, sir,’ she said

“’Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

Ok, that’s a lot to digest so let’s take it in a little slower. It starts with the representatives of the church, those specifically entrusted to carry the Word of God to the world … the Pharisees.

Ouch, church.

They caught her in the act and decided something had to be done. According to the law, they would have been justified in stoning her. They were zealous for God, and loved righteousness. In this, they weren’t wrong. But when they picked up the stones, the true motives of their hearts were revealed. They didn’t want to redeem her from her sin. They wanted to punish her for it.

We still do this. I shake my head at Christians every day on social media who, zealous for God, only quote the law and lambast the transgressions of everyone who is not in line with it. Jesus dealt with the Pharisees by again pointing out their hypocrisy. He encourages them to take a hard look at their own lives. It’s a humbling thing, to be sure! The bottom line is this: we cannot talk to the world about sin if we do not have an understanding of our own sinful nature apart from the saving grace of Jesus. Because one thing the world is not wrong about is that we Christians also sin! What separates us from the world is not our purity, it’s our repentance. If we aren’t repentant, we are not pure!

The Pharisees also made a public spectacle of this lady. They pointed out her sin in front of a crowd of onlookers and demanded Jesus do something. What they failed to understand is that this approach did not make the woman repentant. It made her ashamed. People who are publicly shamed are more apt to be bitter and hardened to any effect the Holy Spirit might otherwise have.

Therefore, I believe the church, if we must speak of sin, should do so in a way that brings that person to Jesus in private. It is hard to be naked in public, people!

Finally, her redemption happened when everyone else left.

Everyone.

We don’t have to hang over people to see how things pan out after we bring them to Jesus. They will be much better off alone with him than with us anyway. Ultimately, redemption is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can and should present the Word of God without error, and we should pray with and for people. But we are not responsible for anyone’s salvation once we have presented the truth. Their blood be on their own heads. However, if we refuse to share truth because we’re scared of the world’s reaction, their blood will be on us. “When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely  die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood” (Ezek. 3:18).

Listen, I know it’s uncomfortable. I’ve been dodging this bullet for years. The world is so well-versed on the “Don’t Judge” scriptures. But having read scriptures, we can see that talking about sin is not judgment. Jesus says to help a brother out with their speck after you have dealt with your own. He also addresses the woman’s sin after dismissing the mob. Discussing sin is not the issue! The issue is how we do it! That is where judgment creeps in. When we confront sin with an attitude of superiority, we stand in judgment over our fellow man. When we confront sin with an aim of seeing punishment afflicted, we stand in judgment. When we relish hatred in our hearts toward unbelievers, we are so guilty of judging them. Condemnation is a satanic tool; it resides in the heart of “Christians” who love justice without mercy. We also have to be aware that people are comfortable with their sin, and often love their sin. We cannot destroy them in the process of trying to “help” them. When Jesus said, “with the measure you use it will be measured to you,” he was talking about the measure of grace you extend to others. The measure of mercy. That’s a dangerous thing, church, to mete out judgment! If we aren’t extending love and mercy in our hearts, we are measuring out our own condemnation. That’s scary!

The crux of the matter, then, is this: “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sin” (James 5:20). This verse right here should be the driving force of any conversations we may have about sin. It is true: you can catch more flies with honey. We have to be aware that quoting scriptures will never be enough. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor. 8:1). When we speak it in the authority of of God, with the love of God in our hearts toward people and the attitude of Christ about sin, that’s not judging. Speaking truth in love is a possibility. No, more than that, it’s a mandate according to Ephesians 4:15. For that, we should never apologize. But we should tread lightly and for God’s sake, put down our stones!

 

 

 

Us Against the World

Published May 17, 2017 by Dawn

There was them, and there was me. We were all doing the same thing from different ends of the hall, but they all stood in a large group at the other end, engaging in conversation and warding off delinquents by their size and presence. I stood alone at the my end, fending off the masses alone. No one ventured down to my end of the hall. They kept to their end and left me to mine. The students, of course, knew my end was the weaker one. They were scheming shenanigans and I was the softy letting them pass because I wanted them to have their last hoorah. I loudly ushered them back into their classes, enforced sternly where a breech of authority could be plainly seen, but otherwise slowly turned from their fun so they could have it. At the other end of the hallway, there was a reunion of teachers. They all seemed to be having a good time, providing a comedic escape for the haggard few enforcing authority down there. I reflected to myself: isn’t this how it’s always been? The Christian life, symbolized.

I’m a loner. Probably not by choice at first, but now I relish it. I used to relish people and activities, but years of isolation and loneliness have turned me from extrovert to introvert and I have finally just embraced it. The truth is, I don’t belong in most groups because there’s too much that goes on that I disdain. I don’t “get” most jokes because my humor is decently nonexistent. What the world finds funny, I abhor. I have a fresh dislike for gossip, having been the subject of a very painful strain lately. I think most opinions are ridiculous, having their root in human logic rather than the Word of God. This is me, as symbolized here, coming out from among them and being separate. I don’t think I chose this. I just read the Bible until it became the only truth I care about and it seems that this isolation and loneliness is a direct result of that one pursuit: the wisdom and knowledge of God.

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor. 1:20). Sadly, the church is trying to engage this present culture with their own smoke and mirrors. We try to engage the godless with the very things that offend the Holy Spirit, throwing off the cloak of righteousness that separates us in favor of anything we can find in the costume closet that makes the lost look at us with oooohs and ahhhhs. We might get their attention at first, but then we adopt their ways and call it “Christianity.” In fact, we are being less Christ-like and more like the devil every day. The world cannot distinguish us because we would rather fit in – make it into that gaggle at the end of the hallway – then stand alone.

I’m not judging. I know it’s painful to be the odd man out. I lived it for many years before I finally managed to silence the still small voice inside long enough to run into the world and taste it’s wild fruit. It’s intoxicating. Mezmerizing. Death to the man or woman of God inside. So I went back into the Word, and necessarily, farther from being able to “hang” with most of the people in my life because we just aren’t on the same page. The things most people revel in, I find repulsive. This is not to imply that I am perfect. I am not. But when the Holy Spirit is your most constant companion, your discernment for what pleases God is awakened and you struggle to abide by things you once found “normal human behavior.” You desire less of the world and more of heaven in your daily life.

It’ll happen, friend, if you aren’t careful. Get a little too reckless with your time and you will find that the more you give to God, the less you will like the world around you. The less you will fit in. The more you will fight the enemy because people will dislike you simply because of who your friends are. While they have so many, you will only have three: Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You will become an absurdity among men. Don’t fight it. You have been called to be a peculiarity (1 Peter 2:9). God has spoken your name, calling you to “come out from among them and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). You will either embrace the world with all it’s present, albeit fading, glory. Or you will embrace Christ. One offers you all that glitters in this life; the other, an eternity of being held in the arms of your Savior. One offers flesh all that it craves of attention and affection; the other promises to kill the flesh, but breathe eternal life into the spirit. You do have a choice, friend. God has laid it out and left it precariously in your hands. “You will hate the one and love the other” (Matt. 6:24). You cannot shirk the choice because to not decide is to decide in favor of this world. “Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of this world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). And with that, the present state of the American church as it is quite clear: “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me” (Amos 5:21). Why? Because our churches are full of dead men. There is no revival in our hearts because we choose not to talk about what displeases God. We don’t preach so that men may know the error of their ways and repent, we preach so that men may feel justified in their sin. That message will make a man think he has no need of a Savior. What does he have to be saved from?

We bring in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny for young children and their adoring mothers. We even dress up and hand out candy on Halloween. We sell the church to rock bands Friday evening, and expect the Holy Spirit to reside in the same place we have allowed the devil to cavort. It is not that the Spirit cannot, but that the Spirit of God will not. The Spirit of God will not abide in a place ferreted out to the world six days of the week. The church thinks God has lowered His standards, but closer inspection of the Word reveals He cannot. “He is the same YESTERDAY, TODAY and FOREVER!” (Heb. 13:8).

Leonard Ravenhill once said that “The only reason we don’t have revival is because we are willing to live without it.” I would add that we are willing to live without it because we are afraid that God might reveal the darkness in us. He might call forth repentance, in which case we would have to acknowledge that we are not as righteous as we pretend to be. If revival were to fall in America, it would completely shake up the churches. Santa and the Easter bunny might have to find a new hangout among pagan temples because we would no longer welcome them in our hallowed halls. We would shut down our church bar coffee shops and stop making money of the fatigued Sunday School crew, because suddenly, Jesus’ tirade in the temple courts would make sense again. We would preach an unwavering message of holiness, “without which none shall see God” (Heb. 12:14).

The church must be willing to stand alone. We must be willing to swim against the tide, because while we talk about the direction the world is headed, we are sadly just swimming alongside our neighbors in the same direction, telling them all they want to hear because we don’t want to offend anyone. The church has taken on PC Culture as if we came up with it, but in truth, it’s the doctrine of the devil himself. Jesus did not engage in conversations in a PC manner. He confronted sin. He confronted rebelliousness in the hearts of people. Yes, he did it in love. But love is not completely disregarding the sinful nature of a lost humanity. Love is compelling people with tears to come to God. To run from sin. To avoid eternal damnation. To speak an uncomfortable truth that puts us at odds with most everyone. Our message will isolate us, for sure. It’ll be uncomfortable and we will often feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable and outnumbered. We will say, like Paul, “a great door of effective ministry has opened for me, and there are many who oppose me” (1 Cor. 16:9).

We have mistakenly believed for so long that the world will embrace us. No! The world will persecute, plunder, and put us to death. That is why we are implored to be courageous. That is why we must have faith. That is why we need the Holy Spirit filling us every moment of every day. The world will forever be at odds with the church of God that is truly after His heart, because the world is in the clutches of Satan. There will always be them and us. “No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval” (1 Cor. 11:19).

Choose you this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). We choose Christ knowing that it makes us enemies of the world. Knowing we face isolation and loneliness, persecution, disgrace, and everything else the world can lay siege to us because we bear that name that is above all other names. There is them, and there is me. Where are you?

Through the Valley of Weeping

Published January 23, 2017 by Dawn

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”   Psalm 84:5-7

 

Oh, the Valley of Baka. It’s on every Christians journey closer to the throne. The literal translation here is “weeping.” The Valley of Weeping. This valley is the place of trial and tribulations. Suffering. Let’s consider the whole scripture here for a moment:

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you” If I can throw in a parallel scripture, Nehemiah 8:10 says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” So then, blessed are those whose strength – their joy, or heart’s delight – is in God.

“ … whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” What does is mean to be on pilgrimage as a child of God? It means to be ever drawing nearer. Always pursuing. Not standing still but moving closer and closer to the Kingdom. I love the promise this pilgrimage comes with. “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8). Our Father – our King –  promises that when we begin our pilgrimage and endeavor to be near to Him, He will close the gap by walking in our direction as we walk in His. He is so committed to us.

“As they pass through the Valley of Baka …” It’s going to happen. It’s a part of the journey. There’s a place of deep suffering in every endeavor to draw near to the Father. It’s design is two-fold: it can either cause you to turn back, or cause you to become steadfast and determined to reach the Lord. Both parties have a purpose to the pain: Satan would have you turn and flee, chasing you back into the temporary safety net of the world. But God would have you press on despite the anguish into his eternal, loving arms. This Valley awaits all of us.

“… they make is place of springs …” Your tears are collected here, according to the precious words of David in Psalm 56:8. God is aware of them and they are not wasted. You see, these springs become a place of refreshment for those who come afterward. Those who walk the way you come will be drenched with the power of the Holy Spirit blessing your pain and suffering. Your tears provide an oasis for those who will be ministered to by your testimony. “the autumn rains also cover it with pools.” Your tears combined with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit raining down on the pilgrims behind you. The Valley of Baka is not a dry place. It is a place where those who seek God have a reprieve in their suffering. Trials and tribulations come there, but there abides also in that place the precious waters of the Spirit of God, called down as you pray and trust Him in this otherwise desolate place.

“…they go from strength to strength …” As you draw closer and closer to the Lord, you experience things that test your faith. Your desire for Him. Your commitment. Your love. As you withstand the enemy’s assaults, you become strengthened. Your spiritual muscles grow exponentially, and you are stronger with each assault. You are able to withstand more, believe more. Love through more. Seek God more. It’s often bitter-sweet because it doesn’t always feel glorious. Rather, it mostly feels like abandonment. But feelings are not always true. The Word of God is true, and it is to the Word we must cling if we want to make it through the Valley of Baka into the arms of God. He has promised, “He will never leave you nor will He forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

“ … till each appears before God in Zion.” What does it profit a man to suffer these days? We hear of a grace that doesn’t require such a commitment. We can be saved and ushered into the kingdom without all this effort … or so they say. The truth is, this “gospel” is not the gospel of the Bible, but rather a New Age lie that requires no service from Christians. It requires no obedience or repentance. It requires nothing but acceptance of Jesus. But this is not the full Word of God. It is a half-truth. Grace without pilgrimage leads you nowhere. The truth is, pilgrimage which brings a believer nearer to God will take a believer far from the grip of sin. It will make a person dissatisfied with everything they crave in the world. It will take a person far from evil desires and fleshly pursuits because the nearer you come to God, the more sickened you become of the world. Of yourself. Repentance flows in this valley, and it is all the more harder to live here. You realize what it means to be “not of this world.” You are in pursuit of “a city with a foundation, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrew 11:10). This world no longer satisfies. Your heart, becoming more and more like Christ as you journey toward the Lord, pines for the throne of God and forsakes even the will of the flesh to have the heavenly promises.

We can avoid the Valley of Baka, but to do so is to accept that we will get no closer to the kingdom of God. We can avoid pain and suffering, but to do so is to decide against spiritual maturity in favor of comfort in this life. This life that is a vapor. When put next to eternity, it’s a life that counts for nothing unless our hearts are set on pilgrimage. If we do decide to pursue the Father in this life, we must accept that anguish and tribulation is part of the journey. We must press into the side of Christ and press on despite the pain, leaving pools of mercy behind for our fellow sojourners and making head-way toward the Kingdom.

 

 

Grace

Published July 16, 2016 by Dawn

I’ve been wrestling again with the message of righteousness. I see mine. It’s filthy rags. And I feel so unworthy. So incapable. So unholy. I’ve struggled to approach God lately. I know I’m a beggar in the court of the King. Completely out of place. I have nothing to offer him, but I need something from him so desperately. I need cleansed. I need healed. But I’ve been cowering because I’m afraid He’ll be disgusted by me.

Then … He notices me and begins to coax me out of hiding. He woos me with love and gentleness, and I’m so eager for it, I run to Him, forgetting my rags and filth. I wrap my arms around Him and cry into His neck, forgetting for a moment that I’m unworthy. But then it hits me. I don’t belong here.

I start to stutter my apologies. I push away from His embrace. He holds me even still and looks into my eyes. “But God, can’t you see me? I am so unholy. I am so utterly sinful and vile. I don’t deserve to be here.”

Then Jesus, who’s been sitting there at the right hand of God this whole time, comes over and lays a gentle hand on my trembling shoulder. He hands me a robe that’s shimmering and bright. Wear this, he says. I bought it for you.

I’m trembling more as I step out of my filth and put on this beautiful robe. “It’s too much!” I say, unable to take my eyes from it. With tears streaming down my face, I hastily work to take it off. “Don’t you know what I’ve done?”

Jesus looks at me tenderly as I tug at my rags trying to cover myself with them again. Finally, I give up and stand there, sobbing in my nakedness. He hands me the robe again. Don’t you know what I’ve done?

 

*****

 

I’m often guilty of vascillating between self-righteousness and self-loathing. Neither are healthy, but it’s the pendulum I find myself on quite a bit. I either compare myself to others and build a pedestal, or compare myself to God and dig a hole to hide in. Neither are His perfect and pleasing will.

Lately, I’ve been comparing myself to God’s standards of righteousness, and getting stuck on how short I’ve fallen of what I believe God wants from me. I’ve been desperate for Him, but unable to come into His presence because I can see myself, and I don’t like what I see.

Little did I know that this is what the Bible says happens. Romans 3:20 tells us that through the law, we become conscious of our sins. We read the law and realize how desperately far we are from being able to please God. We become aware of our sins. We see our filthy rags. This makes the law good. Because what happens after we become conscious of our sin? Repentance.

God woos us out of our groveling pit and we come before Him knowing how unworthy we are. We repent of our sin and receive grace. We find that instead of being condemned, we are forgiven. Jesus hands us that robe and we put on his righteousness. He bought it for us. It cost him so much, but He made that purchase because he’s crazy about us.

This is the full Gospel, and it’s good. We’re not, but He is. Grace is not a card. It’s a robe. A robe of righteousness we can’t attain on our own.

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is Near

Published March 25, 2016 by Dawn

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17)”

Repentance. It’s such an uncomfortable message. The church of today rarely utters the word. We’d rather leave people alone in their sin than suggest that there is something wrong with the way they are living. We preach a message of unconditional love and acceptance that completely disregards unrighteous living, and I’ll admit, it sounds good. It’s liberating. But then there’s this truth: it wasn’t the message Jesus preached.

Jesus. The divine Son of God. The amazing King who loved us enough to die on a cross, bearing our shame and the rejection of our Father. He stood in our place so that we could come near to God with a pure conscience. So we could reflect the holiness of our Savior. This loving God preached repentance. His message made the people acknowledge their sin. The sin nature. The nature of man without Christ. Jesus preached that message. He taught his disciples to preach that message. And they considered it a loving Word.

Here’s the truth: we will not repent if we don’t recognize our sin. We have nothing to be repentant about if everything is okay. We were delivered from our sin nature and do not have to live under it, but because we are encased in flesh, we fail. Jesus died so that we would be free from our sinful nature, and also so that we can come before God without condemnation and fear in order to repent and be cleansed. Repentance is a message of love. It’s a message of hope. It’s a message that draws people to Jesus because we quickly realize how hopeless we are without him. I pray that the church abandons the New-Age motivational speeches and gets back to the good news. That Jesus died to save us. That He died for our sins and weaknesses so that we could be pure and free in him. Not free to pursue worldly passions and pleasures, but free from the grip of sin that we would be otherwise overcome by.

Is Jesus a liar?

Published February 8, 2016 by Dawn

I was going to go to bed, but I know I’ll be up for hours to come thinking about this, and I just want to work my way through it. It’s been said that Jesus was inclusive, and loved everyone, which I don’t debate. What I do debate is the lack of address to Christ’s message on sin, and that in one of his most famous sermons Jesus revealed God’s exclusivity and ultimate dividing of the people into two groups: those on his right and those on his left (Matthew 25).

There’s such an emphasis on grace in today’s culture that is so liberating, but also deceptive. I believe in grace, and thank God for it daily. But I also know scripture, and one in particular throws a wrench onto the New Age grace. Hebrews 10:26 says very plainly, “if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”

The New Age grace says “don’t worry about how you live your life. God has no standards anymore because Jesus died for our sins. We can live it up however we want, because there is no more condemnation.” Romans 8:1 says something to that effect, but Satan had twisted it into something untrue. “There is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” But read further on and you will find in 1 John these truths:

“If we claim to have fellowship with him  and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6).

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be liar and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

“Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him … Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:4, 6).

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so the he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:4-6).

”Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning since the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning because they have been born of God … Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother or sister” (1 John 3:7-10).

Do I understand that correctly?  That we are not all in Christ? That being in Christ comes with evidence so that we might know one another? I appreciate that about God. He told us we’d know one another by the fruits produced.

 

Those who are in Christ will live a much different life than the rest of the world. A true believer will not live in sin and justify their sin with the message of grace. That was never the purpose of grace. Jesus did not die so we could throw off all inhibitions and live a life of self-gratification. Many new Christians in Paul’s time had similar confusions and Paul told them over and over, “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! (Romans 6:1).

“Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31).

God’s standards, then, still apply. Not as a chain around our necks, but as a loving response. We were unable to fulfill the law before Christ. Now we are free from the bondage of sin and have the law as a loving reminder of what God desires of us. Now we are able to live by those standards because sin has lost it’s grip on us. So then, the sin that exists in our lives can be expelled!

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful: he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he wlll also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Sin, therefore, is a choice made against the better way God provides. It is intentional and devastating.

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness”(Matthew 7:23).

And it is right to say that Jesus was inclusive and loved everyone. He himself said, “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (John 12:47). But Jesus did not say the world would not be judged. In fact, he talked a lot about the judgement to come.

Grace is not a cover for the sinful life. Grace is holding the door open that those who would come before the Lord for forgiveness of sin, a true act of repentance, might approach the throne with confidence. The person determined to live a life unto themselves instead of unto the Lord is hardened and will not approach the throne of grace at all. Because he doesn’t think he needs to be forgiven.

If the Word of God is true, and I believe it is, then Jesus is not a liar and neither is the Spirit of God that ministered the Word to the faithful men who wrote it. They all being in agreement, the liar is the man or woman who preaches a different doctrine than this.

Lord, give us ears to hear. Soften our hearts that we might perceive truth again, and give us discernment so that we can understand and rightly divide the word of God. We cannot understand it on our own, but we believe that your Spirit gives revelation. I pray that the blind will see and the deaf will hear your truth, Lord. We live in an age of compelling false doctrine, but I believe in the power of your Word to dispel the enemy’s lies. I thank you for revelation and I ask for freedom for captives today. Thank you, Jesus, for fighting for us. For dying to set us free and declaring that freedom over us again today. You are a tremendous blessing and a great savior. We love and magnify you. In your precious name, amen. 

Jesus said unto them, “Shut up.”

Published August 22, 2015 by Dawn

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” – Matt. 24:12

There’s enough going on in the news today to properly frighten anyone. Rampant riots and vandalism here in my own backyard, people actively seeking out cops to kill. Gunmen entering movie theaters and churches like they’re hunting for sitting ducks. Parades and protests where people are joyfully throwing anything, from bricks to excrement, at others. Kids being gunned down in their homes or stolen and sold into sex slavery. Babies being ripped apart and their pieces sold to the highest bidder. Parents killing their own children, and children killing their own parents. Religions slaughtering religions. I think it’s enough to terrify anyone. And … harden anyone.

Please don’t get me wrong: I believe in clarion calls. I believe in men and women of God sounding the alarm about social injustice and religious persecution. But the Holy Spirit led me to a thought tonight that gave me chills. This verse is about the church.

I didn’t want to believe it. After all, this is the time to shine. This hour of great darkness is the moment of great impact for the church. Only we don’t know how to handle it, and we’re doing it in our own strength and failing miserably. The very people we should be reaching are the ones we are alienating. You’re probably already mad at me, but I hope you keep reading. I’m not trying to make you upset, but I have to tell you what’s on my heart.

Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” But many of us are not speaking the truth in love, we are just speaking the truth … and turning sinners away because they didn’t come to Jesus clean. The church has become so high-brow we no longer reach the lowly and destitute. The wickedness in the world, the tremendous influx of Satanic activity has frightened us and caused us to lash out in anger instead of reach out in love. We believe the Word and we want others to believe, but we don’t know how to love them AND teach it because we’re freaking out instead of being still.

Too much study and not enough prayer had produced men and women who know the Word inside and out but have not spent time in the presence of God to know His heart. Is it impressive to know a lot of scripture? Maybe to some people, but it certainly does not impress God. Because Satan knows the scriptures better than any of us and has crafted so many false doctrines with it that all of us should be frightened. “Even the very elect can be deceived.”

Prayer is the only safe measure for the child of God because it guarantees we will know His voice and have discernment. Knowing the Bible without knowing God makes for a very self-righteous person who measures up in their own eyes, and hates the world for not being right. I know this is true just by reading a lot of “Christian” posts on facebook. If sin doesn’t break your heart, you are most likely hardened. If speaking about unborn babies being brutally murdered in the womb doesn’t break your heart, you are stone. I’m not talking about how well you stand on your high horse about it. I am talking about how you minister in this.

I was praying this evening and the Lord said to me, “Please pray for the women who have had abortions in this time.” And then he revealed to me the deep pain of the women who have had abortion procedures out of desperation and are now finding out about the lies they were told and the vicious circumstances surrounding the death of their unborn child. Many women have undergone abortions in desperation, not apathy. And they struggle with it. And now they are hearing stories of babies born live and killed afterward. And they are seeing the videos with baby limbs and organs spread out in a petri tray. Their hearts! Oh dear Lord, their hearts! If the church gets on a high horse and forgets the lowly, we have done nothing fruitful for the kingdom of God. Because God wants all people to come to a saving knowledge of Christ and repentance. And if we are giving them a Gospel that makes them grovel in anguish and hide in shame, we are not bringing them nearer to the foot of the cross.

I think many of us would do well to go back there, actually. Go back to the place where your soul was set free. Sit at the bleeding feet of Jesus. Listen to His agonized breathes for you. For me. For us all. His love is so deep, He endured so much and we should be telling people. Sure, talk about sin if that’s how the Spirit leads you. But otherwise, talk about Jesus. Talk about repentance. Forgiveness. Santification. Cleanliness. Holiness.

Here’s the litmus test: Put your Gospel in the mouth of Christ at the scene in John 4. Let Jesus share the things you are preaching to the woman at the well. If your Gospel changes His attitude or His heart and message toward her, you are doing something wrong. Go back to the cross.

Dear friend, if I still have your attention, let me tell you something. I was sitting her a few months back and the Holy Spirit spoke this: And Jesus said unto them, “Shut up.”  I was shocked. But I continued to be still and listen and the Spirit continued: “So many people are speaking knowledge. Head knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Knowledge makes us feel like somebody, but it fills us with pride. Love doesn’t lord over people, it builds them up. Therefore, love is effective on a level that knowledge is not. I’m not saying water down the truth. I love the truth. I’m simply stating that truth without love is brutal. It’s rape to the heart. The people we minister to in this way are victims because they aren’t asking for our brutality and they aren’t enjoying it.

The Word of God brings conviction when properly spoken, through the Spirit. The Word without the Spirit brings condemnation. Do not forget that “it is the kindness of God that leads men to repentance.” Don’t believe me? Go walk with Jesus a while. The only people he was stern with were the religious.

“Hate the sin and love the sinner” you will say at this point. But check yourself: are you really hating the sin and loving the sinner? Or are you hating both and loving the way that pride is making you feel? Please church, let’s go back together. Let’s go back to the feet of our agonizing Lord. Look at Him. He did this for everyone that will believe! Stay there until God removes your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh. Because this is our time to shine! This is the time for revival! This is the time for the Gospel to spread like wildfire because it is dry out there! Please go back!

Break our hearts, Lord.