buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “sinful condition”

The Underlying Issue

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about some of the deception that has crept into the church body. It generated a few comments on my Facebook page. I don’t claim to know all the answers to the questions that have been raised concerning church issues. It’s an imperfect world that is ruled by our sin nature.

We don’t like to talk much about our sin nature or our sins in general. I have things I deal with on a daily basis that I don’t really like talking (or write) about. It’s only by God’s grace that I survived my past and live to confess I am saved by the grace of God, not by my works or by my “good” nature. Nothing in me is worth saving, but Jesus sought me and caught me and transformed my thinking.

I couldn’t change my nature on my own. It goes against who I am as a human being. I have proclivities that are natural to me and my nature doesn’t want to change. Yet, I changed. Not because of who I am, but because of whose I am. Jesus bought me at a huge price. It was a very slow process to change the way I think and the way I act. It’s because of Jesus that I live differently today. I’m not perfect. I still fail to live as I should as His follower. When I wake up in the morning, I am given a new day. The old has passed away and a new day has dawned. I can start over with a clean slate. That’s God’s mercy at work.

We have a big problem in this world today. We are all sinful people. The things that hinder my relationship with Jesus are probably different from the ones that hinder you. But we all suffer from our sin nature. In God’s mercy, He sent Jesus – not to condemn the world, but to save us (John 3:16-17).

God could not and will not look upon sin. Sin was introduced to the perfect world and the world has been forever changed. We are condemned to live a life less than what God intended. Sin does that. God cannot overlook our sins. Our sin nature condemns us to live without a relationship with God. Today, the world is going further away from God. It’s like a vortex pulling us down into the abyss. But we don’t have to go as the world goes. Jesus breaks the pull of the abyss and sets us free. Jesus loved us enough to pull us out by His death and resurrection – death was defeated by the blood of Jesus!

If you remember from my previous post, my friend thought God changed with the times. I countered with I didn’t believe God changes with culture. First God is love. True – He is but He also does not love sin. He never has and He never will. Second, sin has always been sin. Sin never changes. Culture just changes what we call sin; it deceives us into thinking we are right when God says it’s wrong.

Jesus loved everyone He met. But He did not tolerate their sin. He told the adulteress woman, to go and sin no more. He told the rich young man to sell all his possessions and come follow me. After spending the day with Jesus, the tax collector recognized his sins and changed the way he conducted business. Jesus told the Pharisees to repent. He cried over Jerusalem because of their unbelief. Jesus grieved over those who were hard-hearted and would not repent.

Some of the folks listened to His teaching and chose to walk with Him; but many turned away because His teaching was hard to live out. His teaching goes against our nature. Jesus’ teaching still tells us to live differently. He calls us to repentance – to turn away from the life of sin and to walk with Him. When we walk with Him, we change. It’s a transforming life, a process to become more like Him.

God does not change and His love endures forever. That knowledge is the foundation of my hope. If He changed, how firm would be my foundation? He doesn’t change like shifting sand. We are told to build our lives upon a rock – one that is unmovable – a sure foundation.

Culture is constantly changing. What’s good today will be old and outdated tomorrow. I can’t live that way. I need something more secure. I have found the answer in Jesus. For this I am truly grateful. My sins of the past have been removed and I have been redeemed for the new life in Jesus. Everyone has the opportunity to follow Him, but not everyone will. My prayer is that you are walking with Him today. If not, then I hope you will be one of the few who find Him today and let Him transform you too.

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. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:18-21

Trying Message for a Trying Time

Seven years ago when I started writing on this blog site, the world seemed less chaotic. I thought I would help encourage the Body of Christ along their journey by the things I learn along mine. It started out that way. But over the last year, things have spiraled into a downward trend in the world around me which has taken me off course. I have been more reflective on the things I see and hear than what God is doing in me or through me.

I have been fascinated by the events happening around the world which correspond to prophetic times written about in God’s Holy Word. I believe we are watching God at work setting things up for the end. I know. I have written about this often in the past year or so. It just amazes me more and more.

Two things come to mind that happened this past week. Two messages I heard from two speakers who spoke of different topics; but were connected in a way which I think need to be addressed as we consider the times we’re in.

The first speaker was Francis Chan who spoke at Liberty University Convocation this past week. He spoke about the Holy Spirit in the American Body of the Church. His message was on the Holy Spirit and the Church Body. His message was very convicting to me and here are a few points I took away from this message.

  1. We fail to realize the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayer life.
  2. We fail to recognize Almighty God in awe and reverence as the Body used to do.
  3. We have a lack of power in our prayers because we don’t come to God in reverence of our Holy and Awesome God.

We should be in awe that this Creator God – with one breath created everything – would have anything to do with us. We should be in awe that we could have a relationship with Him and we could come to Him in prayer.

So often, I come to God with a casualness that lacks respect. I start out with thanksgiving, but then jump into my list of needs or desires without fully devoting time to worship this awesome God. I forget that the words I say are being poured out on His altar. I envision the altar burning with fire. These few words poured out on the altar are burned up because they are frivolous and have no eternal worth. The smoke of the fire is supposed to be pleasing to Him. The incense of those prayers should fill the throne room.

The second message was from Jack Hibbs from Calvary Church at Chino Hills, California. Pastor Jack message was taken from 1 Peter 4: 1-6. Pastor Jack spoke about sin – in the Church. It too was convicting. Again, the messages were not the same, but they are related.

Our sin keeps us from the right relationship with God our Father. Yes, we have been forgiven for our sins – past, present and future. However, when we still sin, we have a broken fellowship with Him. We are supposed to confess our sins when we come to Him – first and foremost. He cannot look upon sin as it stands – it has to be confessed in order to have our fellowship restored.

When we sin, the Holy Spirit is grieved in us. He cannot work in us and through us when the relationship is broken. Sin keeps the Church from being effective. Too many pastors are succumbing to sins of the flesh. I heard from one speaker in a different interview about the Jezebel spirit taken root in this time. The Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) had a problem with the Jezebel spirit which they did not expel from their midst. They tolerated her instead of casting her out. God admonished the Church at Thyatira with these words (Rev 2:21-23)

I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

The American Church Body has to find that spirit and cast it out. It is ruining our effectiveness. We have tolerated it too long. And we will suffer the consequences of our tolerance.

With all that being said, we live in a very trying time. The Church has much to consider in response to cultures actions. It’s not a time to draw back but a time to move forward into the fray and fight the good fight. This is our time. Yes, we will be hated by the world – Jesus was too. However, we are to be seen as loving and caring for our own as well as for those outside the Family – just like Jesus.

It’s a fine line to walk, but walk it we must. There’s no going back to the way it used to be. The Church of Acts shows us the way the Church is supposed to be. The Churches in Revelation are the Church as it has come to be throughout history. The times will grow darker still, but we have the light of life in us. We are His reflection. Let’s act like we know who God is and what He’s capable of through us.

First, we have to get right before God. Confess. Worship. Praise. Thanksgiving. And remember others before ourselves. That’s the focus of our prayer life. It’s not too late to turn the Church into the force God intended it to be – for the good of the world and to bring the Good News to a dark time.

Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God. 1 John 3:7-10 (NLT)

The Simple Message

After nine days of traveling about, Billy Graham was finally laid to rest yesterday. From his mountain home to Charlotte to Washington, DC and back, Billy was planted in the ground in Charlotte, NC. Like a seed planted in the ground, my prayer is that the message that was heard yesterday will reap lots of fruit. It was a simple message that was spoken by his son Franklin, which I hope and pray was clearly heard around the world.

You see, there is only one problem in this world today. It’s called sin. Everything wrong in our world today comes from this sin problem. We don’t talk much about sin anymore. But Billy’s message throughout his ministry pointed to the need in this world – a way out of our sin problem. Billy told young pastors and evangelists to keep the message simple – just preach Jesus. There is no other name that came move the masses to recognize their need of a Savior. It’s Jesus and Jesus only.

The trouble today is that we don’t recognize the problem. We see ourselves as “good enough.” We are better than the neighbor across the street – we don’t do “x” so we must be good enough to get to heaven. Our standards are wrong. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Our standard is God Himself. And it’s impossible for us to meet this standard. There is no “good enough” scale to match Him. There is a huge gap between us and Him.

We have an upside down view running rampant in this world. We have elevated ourselves and lowered God to our level. I was reminded this week through Pastor James MacDonald that God is holy. Not just holy, but holy, holy, holy. His majesty is so great no one who looks upon Him can live. When earth is replaced at the end of time, there will be no sun – God will be our light. We don’t fear Him like the ancients did in their time. They saw the great works and were terrified to be in His presence.

If we look at the passage in Isaiah 6, Isaiah’s response was “woe to me!” He saw God high and lifted up. He recognized his sinful condition and knew he couldn’t see what he saw and live. Peter had a similar reaction when Jesus talked Peter into fishing at the wrong time of the day. This was in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. No one had caught on to who Jesus was at that point. He seemed to be a brilliant teacher. But on that particular day, everything changed. There was such a large catch that Peter knew Jesus was different. This miracle changed Peter’s perception of Jesus. The response from Peter was found in Luke 5:8 – “Go away from me, Lord: I am a sinful man!”

John had an experience that rivals Isaiah’s. John was on the island of Patmos in exile for preaching about this Jesus. When John heard a voice like a trumpet, he turned to find someone “like a son of man” who was described as one brilliantly glorified. John fell at his feet (Revelation 1:10-17).

We have lost sight of this “other world” quality of our Lord Jesus and God the Father. This holiness that cannot be explained in English but in Hebrew it was emphasized by the triple word. It was that significant. Isaiah and John heard the angels singing about this holiness. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

Once we change our perception of the holiness of God, we will recognize our own condition; we are all sinners. No one is righteous. The gap widens even further. We are born into this sinful condition. We all have to be taught what’s right from wrong, because our natural tendency is to do wrong. It’s not what feels right to us. That’s the wrong message because we all have different standards. We have to look beyond ourselves, beyond this world to find the truest measure of what’s right. God’s standard is the key to unlock this whole mystery.

We can’t get there from here, so the key to righteousness isn’t found in ourselves but through the testimony of Jesus. God sent Jesus so that we could have this righteousness through Him. Jesus bridged the gap through His death and resurrection. He exchanged our sinful condition and gave us His righteousness when He died in our place. Sins payment is death. We were told in the very beginning when sin entered the world through a bite of the forbidden fruit that death will be the consequence of sin (Genesis 2:17).

We are told by Jesus Himself that He didn’t come to condemn the world (John 3:17) – it was already condemned by sin. He came to save the world. There is no one else; there is no other way (John 14:6). It’s narrow-minded for sure. But the way is for ANYONE to believe and repent of their sin and be saved for eternal life.

It’s just a very simple message. Billy Graham preached it for sixty years. The simple message can still be preached today, but we will have to get a better view of ourselves than the one we carry now. We are sinners. Own it. Repent from it. And be saved by believing in this Jesus who died for you and for me.

But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24

Everything Changes

I love the Gospel of John. The reason the disciple John wrote this gospel was to bear witness of Jesus so that we who would read (or hear) these stories would believe Jesus is the Messiah. He mentioned at the end of the gospel that there were too many stories to write down (John 21:25), but chose these things that by believing what was written we would have life in His name (John 20:31). John is testifying what he saw and heard so that we might believe.

There is one passage in John that is becoming one of my favorites. Sometime during the initial days after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter decides to go fishing. I imagine after all the stress of the crucifixion, resurrection and the uncertainties of the future Peter goes back to what he has done in the past. The others decide to join him. Maybe they wanted a bit of normalcy in such confusing times. Then Jesus shows up. Peter jumps out of the boat. I always assumed Peter ran toward Jesus on the shore. But I noticed upon reading the passage this time around, Peter was still close to the boat. Jesus asked them to bring some of the fish they just caught. Peter climbed aboard to bring in the net with the fish.

I also recognized this was the second miraculous catch involving Peter. The first time Jesus showed the group how to fish was in Luke 5. In that passage, Peter told Jesus that he couldn’t be in Jesus’ presence because of his sinful condition. Peter recognized Jesus’ holiness and his sinfulness. After being with Jesus for about three years, Peter still knew of his sinful condition. For some reason in this second fishing trip, Peter jumped out of the boat. Was he anxious to run toward him, but because of his recent betrayal of Jesus, it kept him from going to Him? What would I have done in the circumstances?

As the story continues, Jesus goes to Peter and reinstated Peter to his place in God’s plan. Peter was called to minister to Jesus’ people. The sheep would be without a shepherd to lead them to the living water when Jesus went back to heaven. The sheep would need to be fed. They would need guidance. This conversation changed everything for Peter. Whenever we encounter Jesus, it changes everything.

Sometimes I wonder if I have truly encountered Jesus. Like Peter in the beginning, he knew about Jesus. He had heard all about him. But by this time, Peter was truly changed. I have known about Jesus all my life. I have surrendered my life to him. I have left everything (so to speak) to follow Him. I decided a few months ago to go on my first mission trip. Everyone is telling me it will be life changing. For over two years I have been sitting at the feet of Jesus in constant study and prayer. What will come of it? The story will continue I’m sure of that. And just as it was for Peter, the encounter will change everything for me!

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. Luke 5:10b-11

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