Justifying Wickedness – Part One
“He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 17: 15 NASB).”
The condemnation of the righteous is something in which every advancing disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ will become quite familiar (Matt. 5: 11/Gal. 4: 16/2Tim.3: 12). “Sunday-morning Christians” may never experience this “condemnation” or the “persecution” spoken of in 2Tim. 3: 12. The reason for this that where they are along the road to spiritual maturity poses no threat to the opposition. In fact, they can unwittingly be used by the devil right where they are right now!
What I mean by a Sunday morning Christian is a born again believer that attends or otherwise connects with a local assembly once a week for an hour or so, goes through the motions, but whose overt life for the remaining 167 hours each week is no different than the unbelievers around him/her.
In this presentation, we will focus on the justification of the wicked part of Proverbs 17: 15.
We will begin our study with a few definitions and principles associated with Proverbs 17: 15.
Wickedness is anything that the Bible identifies as being evil or morally wrong. The key word here is Bible.
Evil is anything that violates, adds to, takes from, distorts, or contradicts what the Word of God (The Bible) actually has to say. By this definition, those with spiritual discernment can see that some forms of evil (false gospel, doctrines, practices) are no strangers to many areas of what is generally considered to be a part of the Christian Community. No wonder our Lord, the Head of the Church, made praying for the deliverance from evil (Matt. 6: 13) a part of the lesson when He taught His disciples not so much what to say, but how to pray (Matt. 6: 9).
Ignorance or denial of the presence of evil WITHIN the Christian Community at large that “religious” authority has established plays right into the hands of the devil. One would think that a pulpit would be the last place from which one would expect evil to come forth, making it the strategically ideal place and means to promote it.
Sin is committed when we do anything that the Word of God prohibits or when we fail to do anything that the Word of God requires. This underscores the need for Biblical Discipleship in the lives of those who desire to “follow” Christ.
To some degree, we all sin every day (1John 1: 8) by what we think, say, do (or fail to do), confirming the need for the ongoing confession (1John 1: 9) and forsaking (John 8: 11) of sin. This is a major part of the process of being conformed to the likeness (Romans 8: 29) of Christ. Conforming to His likeness is one of the ways we follow Christ (Matt. 16: 24). A born again believer has already been saved. What the advancing disciple is “following” is the road to spiritual maturity.
Just as joining and going to a gym does nothing, in of itself, to benefit one's physical condition, the same can be said about joining and going to a church. It is those who choose to make the best out of their time while in the gym or while in the church that benefit from doing so.
Not all gyms or churches are the same. The right equipment coupled with the right guidance is necessary in both gyms and churches if the maximum benefits from attending either one is going to be achieved.
Providing that the church one attends is of the type that God designed, a church is only one of many places that God the Holy Spirit can use to present the unadulterated Gospel Message, affording one the opportunity to be saved. Being saved is a one time event that can take place anywhere God the Holy Spirit chooses. According to the plan of God, connecting with the type of church outlined in Scripture is an ongoing activity (Heb. 10: 25) affording born again believers the opportunity to celebrate the Lord's Supper and to be taught the Word of God (2Pet. 3: 18).
The stated (1Cor. 12: 24, 25) purpose for celebrating the Lord’s Supper (Communion) is to bring into remembrance what took place on the cross, keeping participants anchored to the solid Rock and securely placed on the foundation. The teaching of the Word of God is the “inside” part of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19, 20).
Disciple is an English translation of the original Greek Word mathetes meaning a technical student, in this case , of the Word of God.
Many of the “religious” beliefs and practices that have evolved WITHIN the Christian Community are based on human viewpoint and religious traditions of men (Col. 2: 8) that do not have the support of Scripture. In some cases, they actually contradict Scripture.
There is something about seeing it for oneself that makes a deeper impression. For this reason, I encourage readers to take the time to read all of the Scripture references in these presentations.
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To justify means to make something right.
As of The Fall (Gen 3), there was/is NOTHING that Man could do, then or now, to make things right again with God. If the lost souls of Man were/are to be saved, it would (and did) take something beyond their reach and ability.
Just as physically dead men and women can do nothing in the natural realm, spiritually dead individuals can do nothing in the spiritual realm. Man can become very religious, apart from God, but not spiritual (John 15:5).
As of The Fall, we come into this world physically alive, but spiritually dead. As of the Church Age, the one and only resolution to this spiritually dead condition is the Titus 3: 5 regeneration that, being the work of God the Holy Spirit, takes place the moment one is born again (John 3: 5, 7). There never has been, is not now, or ever will be a religious tradition or ritual of Man that can provide one with eternal life (John 3: 16).
In futile attempts to regain the fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) lost at the Fall, and to receive eternal life (John 3: 16), Man has created and embraced many different religions of the world (Psalms 96: 5) over the course of human history.
The one thing that they all have in common is that NONE of them can provide their followers with eternal life. This is why Satan promotes them all.
Man made religion of ANY brand are among the things that man holds in high esteem, but are abominations in the sight of God. (Luke 16: 15).
As far as salvation is concerned, justifying wickedness takes place whenever something else, other than or in addition to placing one's faith (trust and confidence) in the Person and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ is promoted as being the means to obtain or retain salvation.
This includes the additives that have been planted and have grown deep roots in the Christian Community over the course of the Church Age.
In addition to the type of wickedness (false gospel messages) associated with salvation, wickedness encompasses all other forms of sin and evil as well, but with different consequences.
The salvation that a born again believer has already received remains secure (Romans 8: 1). Never-the-less, by engaging in other forms of sin and evil (not related to salvation) there are other earthly (Heb. 12: 6) and eternal (1Cor. 3: 15) consequences to be experienced.
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There is a comfort zone that we can come to experience when we justify wickedness. We are disturbed when the comfort zone of our wickedness is rattled by the truth. It is not a pleasant experience, leaving us with only a few options. Option #1 is to have the humility to acknowledge the truth and make the necessary arrangements. Option #2 is to deny the truth, or to rationalize it is away. Option #3 is to know in our heart of hearts it is the truth, but change the subject by turning the tables by attacking (Matt. 7: 6) the short-comings of the communicator.
Because NONE of us will ever be without faults, we are all subject to the option #3 response by others. Our only recourse is to be like the Apostle Paul and ask, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth (Gal. 4: 16 NASB) ?”
Q. How does a comfort zone develop?
A. It begins with one sin, usually with the motivation of gaining something that we may not likely otherwise receive, or receive as soon.
For example, when we self-justify lying, it makes it easy to defraud, deceive, cheat, and swindle.
The comfort zone of wickedness is reinforced every time one experiences the seasonal pleasure (Heb. 11: 25) of sin or ill gotten gains (Proverbs 10: 2) that many forms of wickedness DO provide. Disciples have found the prosperity of the wicked to be a hard pill to swallow until they realize the end result (Psalms 73).
Jesus turned down the devil's offer of fame, glory, and earthly prosperity for us (Luke 4: 6). Had He accepted the offer, He would have disqualified Himself as the Lamb of God, rendering Himself unable to fulfill the work He came to do. His advancing disciples will not allow anything or anyone to get in the way of the plan that God has in mind for them.
Do you know what that general and individual plans are?
The general plan calls for being born again, followed up by identifying and executing the type of post salvation spiritual life outlined in New Testament Scripture. The individual plan for each born again believer calls for identifying the specific spiritual gift and the accompanying area of service that God has in mind (See 1Cor.12) for him/her.
One will not have the desire to take on the inevitable adversity (2Tim. 3: 12) that a godly life will bring as long as one chooses to remain in the comfort zone of wickedness.
False doctrine and their accompanying practices contribute to fostering the comfort zone of the type of wickedness established and promoted by the religious traditions of men. They are “wicked” abominations in the sight of God because they leave the participants with a false sense of security, believing all is well.
Another contributor to the comfort zone of wickedness is seeking guidance from and/or intervention by powers or personalities outside of the Trinity. Every time one hears what he/she wants to hear, or believes that he/she has gotten what one desired through such means, his/her confidence is increased.
The Bible does NOT dispute that there are powers and personalities (Luke 4: 6/Eph. 6: 12), real (Exodus 7: 11) and imagined (Psalms 96: 5) outside of the Trinity that have (or are perceived to have) the power and ability to bring both about “blessings” and adversity in the lives of individuals or groups. What one needs to discern is the source of the blessing or adversity and for what end result is the “provider” offering or conveying the blessings or adversity (Exodus 7: 11/Math. 24: 24/Luke 4: 6).
Does the “blessing” bolster one's faith in God, or in someone or something else? Did the adversity ultimately destroy something, or did it serve to make us spiritually more mature?
Satan mimics and counterfeits the work and activity of God. I believe that just as God gives supernatural abilities to His spokespersons to bolster the unadulterated Gospel Message and the accurate doctrine they promote, the devil does the same through those that do his bidding. These supernatural abilities, used by the Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil can manifest both prosperity (Luke 4: 6) and adversity (1Pet. 5: 8), but always with a diabolical objective in mind.
Ever wonder why so many promoters of evil have so much and are so frequently in the public spotlight?
The question is by whom (Phil. 4: 191/Luke 4: 6) and for what reason is this prosperity being provided. When the devil is behind it, the ultimate objective is someone’s destruction (1Pet. 5: 8). If he can lead thousands astray by providing prosperity to a few (e.g. celebrities), its an investment he is more than willing to make.
Developing the spiritual discernment to know where the prosperity or the adversity is coming from is critical for success in the realm of spiritual combat (Eph. 6). Will getting what we want when we want it bring us further along the road to spiritual maturity, or lead us astray?
Note that when God says that no weapon forged against us will prosper (Isa. 54:17), our victory or defeat is based on OUR response. God does not say that we won’t be attacked (Eph. 6: 16/2Pet. 5: 8), but that when we are under attack, we can defend ourselves with the shield of faith. Faith, in this case, consists of possession and application of accurate Bible doctrine.
These attacks can come in the form of distractive prosperity, or in adversity. It matters not (to the devil) if can take you captive via prosperity or via adversity, as long as the end result goes in his favor.
By seeking guidance and intervention of powers and personalities outside of the Trinity, instead of or well as from God, one can not know for sure from where the outcome came from. Both Satan (Luke 4: 6/Eph. 6: 16) and God (Job 2: 10) will use both blessings and adversity to accomplish their objectives.
One of the objectives of Satan is to deny God as much glory as possible. God will share the glory due Him with NO ONE (Isa. 42: 8).
Q. What is it that a power or personality outside of the Trinity can do for anyone that God could or would not do (Phil. 4: 19), if what we want is in line with the plan that God has mind?
That being the case, even common sense would suggest that one would be wise not to avoid the consequences of offending God by going to third parties when seeking guidance and/or intervention.
The truth is that as long as one believes that there is something to be gained, it is likely that he/she will continue to involve oneself with the source of the guidance or prosperity, even in the face of direct defiance of the Word of God (See Jer. 44: 17-19). Many will, in turn, promote this activity, ensnaring others as well.
I believe that if one chooses to seek personalities and powers outside of the Trinity in order to receive guidance or intervention, we are engaging in spiritual adultery by expressing a lack of faith in the principle of Phil. 4: 19.
It is only when one seeks guidance and intervention from God alone, that he/she CAN then know for certain that regardless of what outcome turns out to be, it was/is/or will, in fact, be an expression of God's direct, permissive, or over-ruling will.
Everything we see as good (Gen. 3: 6) does not always come from God. Everything we see as bad does not always come from the devil (Job 2: 10).
End of Part One
Justifying Wickedness – Part Two
When we, through our actions or inactions, are willing to condone, facilitate, encourage, or otherwise promote wickedness, the devil will give us as many opportunities as he can to do so (John 8: 44). It's not always true, but he is well aware that in some cases it is our approval (or lack of overt disapproval) is what tips the scale for others who are on the fence pondering sin or evil.
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It is the function of God the Holy Spirit to convict persons of their sin. Woe to the one who becomes an obstacle that God must remove in order for Him to get through to the one He wants to save or edify.
When given the opportunity (1Pet. 3: 15) edified disciples can only offer accurate information so that others can make an informed decision. Its up to God the Holy Spirit to convict. Apart from God, we can do nothing. It is not up to us to argue or debate the issues. Getting into a debate, or worse an argument, is a satanic trap. Advancing disciples will learn that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent (Ecclesiastes 3: 7b).
The decision to believe vs. disbelieve, apply or discard the given information are matters between the recipients of the information and the Lord, not us! Keep in mind that it is NOT sinners, but SIN that is being addressed (Eph. 6: 12). Don’t make it or take it personally.
The command to disassociate (1Cor. 5: 9, 10, 11) with those who refuse to repent refers to those who claim to be Christians, but do not live accordingly. Again, it is sin and not the sinner that is the issue being address.
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with immoral people of the world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world (leave the planet). But actually. I wrote to you not to associate with a so-called brother (fellow Christian) who is an immoral person, or covetous, or an isolated, or a reviler (verbally abusive/gossip), or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one (1Cor. 5: 9- 11 NASB parentheses mine).”
We may not know the precise theological word for it, but in our heart of hearts most of us are already aware when what we have chosen to do (or not to do) is on the list of activities that the Bible labels as sin.
Issues in the so-called “grey” areas, at the very least, come under the (1Thess. 5: 22) umbrella of having the “appearance” of evil. It is human viewpoint that waters down the black, making it grey. It usually begins by generating a new name for the activity that Scripture calls sin. Fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, become alternative lifestyles.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…(Isa. 5: 20 NASB).”
Many times, the sin that one generation tolerates is the sin that the next generation accepts. The sin that one generation accepts is the sin that the next generation endorses. This is a part of the inevitable cycle of moral decline that can be traced throughout human history.
Throughout the course of the Old Testament dispensation, God's people repeatedly engaged in cycles of obedience followed by disobedience, accurate teaching and application of the Word of God followed by inaccurate teaching and misapplication of Scripture.
Here in the Church Age, the same cycles have repeated themselves, and will continue to do so (1Timothy 4: 1).
We did not choose where or when we were to come into this world. One can be born into a society when it is anywhere in the never-ending cycle of moral inclination and moral decline.
What does not change is the principles of the Word of God. If the individual plan that God has in mind for you calls for a life span of decades, you will likely live long enough to see the moral inclination or moral decline that every society inevitably follows. Periods of moral inclination usually follow large scale spiritual revivals. Moral decline is the natural (Romans 8: 7) path that Fallen Man inherently follows.
Cultural, familial, and social pressure to conform to norms of the times can be beneficial when culture, family or society is on the inclination side of the cycle, but detrimental when the same culture, family, or society is in moral decline.
There is not a lot less pressure on a believer to “follow Christ” if and when Christian standards are the norm. At the same time, to go against the current when any given society is in the declining side of the cycle, the pressure increases. It is when we are challenged that we are given the opportunity to bring greater glory to God.
In the spiritual realm, the world at large has neither gotten any better or any worse. In essence, there is nothing really new (Eccl. 1: 9), only new ways in which the same basic issues manifest themselves. There is, however an upcoming period of human history that is going to be so horrific that if it is not cut short via divine intervention, no life would survive on planet Earth (Matt. 24: 21). During that dispensation, gross wickedness will be the norm.
The reason that justifying wickedness is such an abomination in the eyes of God is because of the impact it has on the moral/immoral cycle. When societies are in the moral inclination side of the cycle, justifying existing wickedness impedes forward progress. When societies are in moral decline, justifying wickedness accelerates the society along the road to it’s own destruction.
The Biblical disciple does not take his/lead from either the never ending societal trends or the never ending changes in Man-made religious traditions. Sad to say, but the Christian Community goes through its own cycles of consistency and inconsistency with Scripture in both doctrine and practice.
When in the inconsistency side of the cycle, Biblical disciples find themselves facing hard choices as they strive to keep the ship on its given course (Matt. 28: 19, 20), while the majority of the crew either jumps ship or just goes along for the ride with little concern for where the ship is headed.
No wonder the Lord finds the justification of wickedness WITHIN the Christian Community to be an abomination!
In situations where one was/is not aware that what he/she had been involved in was evil or sin, repentance must precede confession. This is because Biblical confession (1John 1: 9) requires the acknowledgement that whatever he/she had been involved was/is in fact sin.
Sin takes a born-again believer out of fellowship (1Cor. 13: 14) with God. Unconfessed sin keeps the born again believer out of fellowship with God. For this reason, there is no such thing as a “little” sin. Never forget what it took to atone for the “little” sin(s) we commit.
There were over 600 ways recorded in Old Testament Scripture that a person could sin. There are more than 300 ways recorded in New Testament Scripture that a person can sin. James 2:10/1John 1:8 teaches that when (not if) we break one of God’s laws, we stand as guilty as the one who has broken them all! That’s a pretty hefty indictment!
1John 1:9 offers hope to everyone. James 2: 10 reminds everyone of the need.
If the 900+ figure seems overwhelming, keep in mind that one will automatically be incompliance with most of laws of God by obeying only two (Matt. 22: 37 – 40). One will not sin when loving (putting first) God, or when treating others the way see would want them to treat themelves. Note it is the way we would WANT others to treat us, not necessarily the way they do!
We may not agree with what the Bible labels as sin, but if we can read (or have been otherwise edified), we DO know or can learn the Bible labels as sin. The question is rather or not we choose to concur with Scripture, and then make the appropriate adjustments.
At the end of the day, it’s not my opinion, your opinion, or someone else’s opinion that matters, unless our opinions line up with the opinion of the One to whom we will give an account (Romans 10: 12).
When we already know what God has to say, it is not a change of mind (repentance) that we need to embrace. In such a scenario, what we need to do is to a develop the willingness to apply what we continue to learn (2Pet. 33: 18) to how we PRESENTLY think, say, and do.
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With the exception of the concept of eternity that God places in every soul that the creates (Eccl. 7: 1), we come into this world totally ignorant of spiritual issues. Rejection of this concept of eternity leads to atheism.
Acceptance of this Eccl. 7: 1 concept generates a personal desire to seek further knowledge about where and how each one of us is going to experience eternity. Here in the Church Age, this desire sets the stage to be introduced to the Gospel Message. When born again, this desire will maintain a steadily increasing appetite for one's next opportunity to feed on the Word of God (Job 23: 12) in order to spiritually mature.
Satan will try to diminish this appetite with all the spiritual junk food he can offer. When one's spiritual appetite and conscience are satisfied with having touched all bases prescribed by religion, there will be no genuine desire to take it any further. Although one retains his/her salvation (Romans 8: 1), such a believer has stopped following Christ down the road to spiritual maturity. Following Christ is what being a Christian is all about.
Most human beings choose to accept the concept of eternity, and with it, the existence of there being “a” god(s). However, merely believing there is “a” god, in of itself, does not save anyone!
Millions of souls believe in the existence of one God/god or another, but Jesus clearly taught that NO ONE can be saved apart from having faith (trust/confidence) in HIM and HIS atoning work on the cross (John 14: 6). This was either the greatest truth, as I believe it to be, or the greatest lie ever told. Only if it were a lie could there be hope for salvation in any God or by any other means. If one does not believe this to be the truth, he/she is calling The God of the Bible a liar.
According to Rev. 20: 15, the inevitable destiny for ALL unbelievers is to spend ALL of eternity in what God calls the lake of fire.
I believe that evangelists are most effective not when they ask if one believes in God, but if one believes in the God of the Bible and in His one and only means of salvation. This sets the stage to announce who the true God is, the need, and the means to be saved.
Satan and the demons believe in God (James 2: 19). They know Who and What the Lord Jesus Christ is (Luke 4: 34). But never-the-less, they are still headed for the lakes of fire! Many of the religious Jews of Jesus' day believed in God the Father of the Old Testament, but rejected Jesus’ claim to be God the Son and upon doing so, rejected God’s plan of salvation.
The God of the Bible declares Himself to be the one true God. With the freedom of choice the God gave to the human race, we are free to choose to believe or disbelieve this, receiving the accompanying blessings or consequences. If one rejects the God of the Bible as being the one true God, it stands to reason that the same one will reject His plan as the one and only means of salvation (John 3: 18).
God provided the means of salvation on the cross. As of the Church Age, the God of the Bible requires that Fallen Man secure a personal (individual) relationship with Him by placing one's faith (trust and confidence) in the Person and the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The unadulterated Gospel Message, encapsulated in John 3: 16, 18, communicates this message.
The same unadulterated Gospel Message that assures believers of eternal life equally assures unbelievers of eternal condemnation.
No wonder why God considers the Man-made religions of the world (Psalms 96: 5) to be idolous, and detestable abominations.
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As of the Church Age, the God of the Bible desires that born again believers pick up the cross and follow Him (Matt. 16: 24). One “follows Him” by preparing oneself (1Pet. 3: 15) and embracing the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
Have you prepared yourself? Are you promoting the Great Commission?
The cross in Matt. 16: 24 is the Gospel Message. The advancing disciple takes the message of the cross with him/her wherever he/she goes treading down the road of discipleship, following Christ.
Discipleship (the study and application of the Bible) begins with oneself, but with the long term objective of spiritually ministering to others. Spiritually ministering to others involves sharing the unadulterated Gospel Message with unbelievers whose paths we cross, and edifying fellow believers whose path we cross.
I believe that these “path crossings” are divinely ordained appointments (John 6: 44/John 15: 5).
End of Part Two
Justifying Wickedness – Part Three
God can use believers and unbelievers alike to feed, clothe, and shelter the poor. God can use such persons as doctors, lawyers, teachers, laborers, military personnel, public safety personnel, and politicians who are believers and who are unbelievers to provide logistical services related to their secular professions.
Feeding, clothing, sheltering the poor, and relieving the oppressed should be a part of the post salvation spiritual life of a born again believer. This can be done directly or by financially supporting others that do. Such things, however, are no substitute (Mark 8: 36) for the primary work (Matt. 28: 19, 20) that God gave the Church to do.
The primary work that God gave His Church (and every individual member of it) is documented the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20). Jeremiah 48: 10 teaches that cursed is one who neglects the work that God gave him/her to do!
All the food, clothing, shelter, and social justice in the world cannot regenerate (Titus 3:5) one dead human spirit.
Equating human good (food, clothing, shelter, social justice) with divine good (evangelizing/edifying a soul) is another deception that the devil has great success in promoting. When the Great Commission is not incorporated in our humanitarian deeds, the devil’s world (Luke 4: 6) benefits from all the activity, while the populating and serving the spiritual interests of the Kingdom of God is neglected.
While God can use anyone to provide us with tangible good and human services, but will produce divine good through Spirit-filled believers. Human good benefits the body, divine good benefits the body and the soul.
Divine God involves promoting the unadulterated Gospel Message and edifying Bible Doctrine.
The “unadulterated” Gospel Message is one that conveys the means of salvation that has not been corrupted by the Man made religious rituals,of add-ons, and traditions of men. Edifying doctrine pertains to the accurate interpretation and application of Biblical principles.
The devil's world will gladly receive all the logistical aid that the Christian Community wants to offer. The devil’s world has no problem if the aid is accompanied by false Gospels (means of salvation) and doctrine. What the devil’s world vehemently opposes, is when the unadulterated Gospel Message and accurate Bible Doctrine enter the picture.
Christians would be well-advised to investigate the spiritual position (if any) of the charities they partner (2Cor. 6: 14) with when feeding, clothing, sheltering the poor, needy, and serving the oppressed.
Wickedness attacks the body, the soul, the unadulterated Gospel Message, and accurate Bible doctrine by offering alternatives that appeal to the hostile nature (Rom. 8: 7) in Fallen Man.
Complicating the scenario is how the devil will use those he has deceived to promote adulterated Gospel Messages, false doctrine, and false accompanying practices WITHIN the Christian Community that Scripture (2Pet. 2: 1-3) clearly warns us about.
Q. Why is Fallen Man so resistant to God and the things of God, yet so open to religious alternatives that human viewpoint has to offer?
A. We ALL come into this world with a fallen nature that is inherently hostile (Romans 8: 7) towards God and the things of God. The Eccl. 7: 11 knowledge of eternity that God has placed in every soul He creates a unfilled void. If this void is not filled with God and the things of God, it will inevitably be filled with something else; be it atheism or one of the many Psalms 96: 5 “religions” of the world.
What ALL these religions (including so-called Christian religion) have in common is that they all promote the concept that one receives the spiritual blessings of God or the god(s) they connect with through one’s participation in religious rituals and by performing good deeds.
Biblical Christianity, on the other hand, is based on what God has done, what God is doing, and what God will do for and through the people of faith. As of the Church Age, the “people of faith” are those who have been born again (John 3: 5, 16, 18).
Good deeds are a part of the POST (after) salvation spiritual life, but have NOTHING to do with obtaining or retaining salvation.
The soul of an atheist, having chosen to reject the Eccl. 7: 11 knowledge of eternity and the existence of any god will have no desire to respond to the pre-salvation call (Heb. 3: 15/John 6: 44) of God to listen to a presentation of the Gospel Message until he/she repents (changes his/her mind) concerning eternity and the existence of God.
Born again believers that have no genuine desire from within to learn of or to execute the post salvation spiritual life have either never been introduced, or have ignored, rejected, or forsaken the post salvation call to the life of Biblical discipleship (Matt. 16: 24). Never having been introduced is the result of not connecting with a local assembly or ministry that prpomotes the Great Commission.
God does not make our physical bodies (1Cor. 3: 16) His temple until we are born again. We can choose to be religious (or not) any time we want, but we can only chose to become spiritual by responding to Him when He calls. Thus the warning (Hey. 3: 15). No one is promised future invitations.
Until one is born again, the call to pursue discipleship is NOT on the table. This is where Christian religion and Biblical Christianity are in opposition. Christian religion would have us believe we obtain and/or retain salvation through religious rituals, good deeds, and good behavior. On the other hand, discipleship (that includes rituals, good deeds, good behavior) does not begin until aftertafter the issue of salvation has already been (and forever remains) settled.
Unlike the call to salvation, the call to discipleship IS an ongoing and open to every born again believer. Discipleship is a 24-7 commitment. There is NO time, NO Days off, NO vacations. One's participation in discipleship neither increases nor decreases the integrity of the salvation (eternal life) that a born believer has already received (Romans 8: 1), but IS the reason that a born again believer remains here in the devil's world.
The SELF-CENTERED born again believer will ask, “Since Heaven is guaranteed, and discipleship will involve self-denial, sacrifices, suffering, earthly losses, and persecution, then why bother?”
The CHRIST-CENTERED born again believer will say, “My life is NOT my own, I live and die for Christ (Phil. 1: 21). Everyone (including him/herself) and everything else (including his/her own plans) is secondary. He/she does not serve Christ to be rewarded, but God has chosen to reward and privilege His DISCIPLES in Heaven.”
Many advancing disciples are fools in the eyes of the world (1Cor. 2: 14), and are extremists in the eyes of Sunday morning Christians. Such critics will sing a different time when the events of Rev. 20: 15 and 1Cor. 3: 15 take place.
Our time on Earth compared to eternity is like comparing a droplet of water to an ocean. Even that is not an accurate illustration, as even an ocean has a limit. Eternity will be NEVER ending.
It IS “natural” for fallen Man to desire to sin and to engage in evil. Because this fallen nature manifests itself differently from one person to another, we do not all have the desire to engage in the same TYPE of sin, but we all sin. Note that as James 2: 10 puts it, the TYPE of sin is not the primary issue, as ANY sin places us in the same sinking boat!
I say primary issue, because the primary spiritual issue is the salvation of the soul. It will profit one nothing in eternity to have become religious, practice good behavior, and do goods deeds if, as a result of not having been born again (John 3: 5, 7) he/she finds him/herself in Hell (Rev. 20: 15).
Experience teaches us that in His mercy and grace, some sins that we and others commit seem to go unpunished by God.
First of all, EVERY sin, with the exception of the sin of disbelief (John 3: 18/Rev. 20: 15), was addressed on the cross (1John 2: 2).
We have no problem when God treats US with grace and mercy, but how often we can get upset when OTHERS don’t get what we feel they deserve, or seem to be blessed in spite of the wickedness they embrace.
The truth is, if we all received the maximum penalty (Romans 13: 4/Acts 5) for having broken the laws of man and/or the laws of God, we would all spend time in jail and would have nothing to look forward to but an eternity in Hell. This my friends, is what we ALL (Rom. 3: 23/James 2: 10) deserve.
I believe that what goes around WILL come around. It may not come around in this lifetime. It may not come around in the timing or the way we feared. But at the end of the day (life), no one gets away with anything.
Some, in an attempt to justify their involvement in what the Bible calls sin, will argue that they are only responding to the way in which they were born.
Like many of the devil’s lies, there is often an element of truth. Since the Fall of Man, we DO come into the world with a nature that is inclined to sin (Gen. 6: 5). This sin nature does NOT go away when one is born again (Romans 7). In fact, it will increase its pressure on the soul as it competes with indwelling Spirit of God (1Cor. 3: 16) for control of our thoughts and actions thought the course of our post salvation spiritual life.
The reason that God holds us never-the-less accountable (Romans 10: 12) is because it is a choice that WE make when opportunities to engage in sin or evil are presented to us. These presentations may come from our own fallen nature, other people, circumstances, or the devil and his Ephesians 6: 12 forces of evil. God will test us by allowing these presentations to take place, but He does not tempt anyone (James 1: 13). These tests are not for God, but for US to see where we are in our walk with Him. God already knows that.
It is a choice that we make to learn or not to learn what God has to say. It is a choice we make to applywapply orwor not to apply what we have learned.
Scriptural knowledge or ignorance is a choice we make. Reaching and maintaining spiritual maturity is a choice we make. Engaging or promoting wickedness is a choice we make.
God does not command us to do something (e.g. 2Pet. 3: 18) and then not provide us with the means (John 15: 5/1Cor. 10: 13) to do so, leaving us with no excuse.
Many so-called Christians find the daily time to keep up with what is going on in the devil’s (Luke 4: 6) world, but seem to find no time for the things of God. In this the devil is well pleased.
It's wise to stay informed about earthly issues that impact our lives, but it is more important to stay informed about what God has to say, preferably before the need presents itself (Matt. 7: 24 - 27). One is NOT going to develop the “mind of Christ (1Cor. 2: 16)” by listening to what the devil’s (Luke 4: 6) world has to say. One is not going to apply (James 1: 2) what the word of God has to say when fulfilling the desires of our fallen nature.
One will bear the fruit (Gal. 5: 22, 23) of the Spirit when we choose to follow Him. One will bear the fruit (Gal. 5: 19- 21) of the fallen nature when we choose to submit to it.
The fruit of the Spirit is manifested in, “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gen. 5: 22, 23 NASB).”
The fruit of the fallen nature is manifested in, “…immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…(Gal. 5: 19-21 NASB).”
Regarding the fruit of the fallen nature, the follow-up ominous words of Gal. 5: 21 are not to be ignored.
“…of which I forewarn you, that those who practice (make a lifestyle) such things will not inherit (the rewards ) the kingdom of God (Gal. 5: 21 parentheses mine).” See Romans 8: 1/1Cor. 3 : 15.
The body of every born again believer is Spirit indwelled (1Cor. 3: 16), but to be Spirit-filled (under the control of God), one must choose to submit to His leading. Since we sin daily (1John 1: 8), there are parts of every day when we are Spirit-filled and parts of the day when we are out of fellowship with God. Wickedness takes us out of fellowship (1Cor. 14: 13) with God. When out of fellowship, we do not possess the mindset to be Spirit-filled (1Cor. 2: 14).
Keep in mind that what the majority has to say (concerning spiritual issues) is usually WRONG (Matt. 7: 13, 14).
Repentance (change of mind) will be an ongoing process as an advancing disciple continues to grow in the knowledge of the Lord (2Pet. 3: 18), conducts self-examinations (2Cor. 13: 5), and makes the necessary adjustments in his/her doctrine and accompanying practices.
To confess means to acknowledge that something IS a sin, and that we HAVE engaged in that SIN by what we thought, by what we did, by what we said, or by what we failed to do.
This confession (acknowledgement) is to be made in private prayer to GOD (1Tim. 2: 5). The “confessional” that God designed is open 24-7 and does not involve clergy. There is no penance or atonement for a sin that has already been paid for in full and fully atoned for by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To FORSAKE sin means to choose to discontinue one’s involvement in the sin(s) that has been confessed.
Forsaking a sin that we had chosen to make a part of our lifestyle can be the most difficult to forsake. We are creatures of habit, both good and bad. Habits can be broken.
Most sin involves things that we are “naturally (Romans 8: 7)” inclined to embrace for a variety of reasons. All of these reasons have one thing in common. We want to do it.
Most people will not give up something they want until they want something else more. For an advancing disciple, that “something else” will be an ever-increasing desire to conform him/herself to the likeness of Christ (Rom. 8: 29).
As long as we want someone or something more than we want God or the things of God, we will be reluctant to make the personal adjustments that forsaking of sin will requires of us. Giving greater priority to anyone or to any thing other than God opens the door to such sins as idolatry and spiritual adultery.
Our sin not only offends God and hurts us, they can hurt others, as well.
Some will say that over-looking the sins of others is an expression of the unconditional love they have for the people involved.
I say that you cannot really love anyone and not have a concern for the earthly and eternal consequences of the sin they embrace.
It is not the function of an ambassador of Christ to pass judgement on others. It is however, the function of an ambassador of Christ to edify others as to on what basis we all ARE (Heb. 9: 27) going to be judged by God (John 3: 18/Romans 8:1 vs. Rev. 20: 15/ 1 Cor. 3: 13-15).
Better to have the people hate you here on Earth, than have the people you love say of you in Eternity that you knew where they were heading, but said nothing to steer them right.
The same God that accepts us just as we are (Romans 5: 8) at the moment of salvation, is the same God that desires that we, as disciples, conform ourselves to likeness of His Son (Rom. 8: 29). Jesus did not engage in wickedness, nor did He condone it or promote it in the lives of others. His disciples will do the same.
Jesus' arms were/are wide open to sinners, but NOT to sin. The same should be said of the doors of the local assemblies. When there are local assemblies that promote, endorse, condone, or fail to warn it’s people of what the Bible labels as sin, something has gone dramatically wrong. I believe that this “something” is the fulfilment of the ominous 2Tim.4 prophecy.
“Christians” and/or local assemblies that leave people with the impression that one can flagrantly break the laws of God without consequences do a great disservice to the one’s that follow their advice and encouragement!
Such “advice” and “encouragement” can be communicated verbally or implied through poor example or the silence of no overt disapproval.
Post (after) salvation discipleship is NOT for the purpose of retaining or improving the integrity of the salvation (eternal life) that we, as born again believers, have already received. It is for the purpose of picking up the cross and following Christ (Matt.16: 24). This is accomplishes by promoting the unadulterated Gospel Message and promoting the application of Bible Doctrine (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
Many think that all the adversity they encounter here on Earth is the “cross” of Matt.16: 24. It is not. Much of the adversity that is experienced here on Earth is no more than the common experience shared by both believer and unbeliever alike. The cross of Matt. 16: 24 has to do with the adversity one faces as a result of taking a godly stand in an ungodly world.
Religion and other forms of human viewpoint have produced many alternatives to the Biblical post salvation spiritual life that appeals to Fallen Man. It’s a lot easier to be a follower of a so-called Christian religion or a Sunday Morning Christian than it is to be a follower of Christ.
The specific spiritual gift that God gives to EVERY born again believer is NOT for his/her own benefit, but to spiritually (serve) minister to OTHERS (See 1Cor. 11). Many who identify themselves as Christians have no idea what his/her individual spiritual gift is that God has in mind or what the accompanying ministry (area of service) may be. Yet, we claim to be followers of Christ.
I was born again as far back as I can remember, but must confess that I didn’t identify my spiritual writing gift until I was in my later thirties. I didn’t identify my ministry (an Internet pulpit) until AFTER I was ordained in my later fifties. Trust me, both God and I had a lot of work to do to set that stage!
Jesus knew what His individual mission was, and let nothing stop Him from completing it. Advancing disciples will desire to do the same. This will take born again believer way beyond simply checking in once a week and going through the motions.
Identifying what is the spiritual gift and accompanying area of ministry that God has in mind for each individual believer is a key part of the post salvation spiritual life outlined in Scripture. The execution of the post salvation spiritual life is THE reason that God leaves the born again believer is here on Earth after he/she has been born again.
. . .
Proverbs 17: 15 teaches us that justifying wickedness is an “abomination.” An abomination is defined as something that generates disgust and/or hatred.
We are commanded to love our neighbors; that being everyone with whom we cross paths.
When given the opportunity (1Pet. 3:15), it is a sin on our part if we fail to warn our “neighbors” that they are on the road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7: 13).
There is not one of us (I would hope) that would fail to speak up if we saw someone who was about to sit down on what we knewto be a defective chair. But when it comes to spiritual endangerment, it becomes “none of our business.”
“ I would like to say something but…”.
But what? Afraid of confrontation? Afraid of rejection? Afraid of persecution? Afraid of losing something or hindering a relationship we want to have with someone? Fear is the antithesis of faith.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate (love less) his own father and mother and wife (spouse) and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14: 26 NASB parenthesis mine).”
Are we embarrassed or ashamed?
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words (The Bible), the Son of Man (Jesus) will be ashamed of him…(Luke 9:26 NASB parenthesis mine).”
The truth is that outside of our own limited circle of like-minded believers, most so-called “Christians” are not comfortable taking about spiritual issues. In this the devil is well-pleased, as it greatly impedes the believer from doing the primary job (Matt. 28: 19, 20) that God gave His Church and each individual believer to do.
Jer. 48: 10 NASB teaches that cursed is the one who does the work that God gave him to do negligently.
If what we do does not promote the Great Commission, we are not doing the primary work that the Lord Jesus Christ gave His Church (and each member) to do. In order to be born again, EVERY believer already has an understanding of the unadulterated Gospel Message that he/she can share with others, at the very least in a one on one scenario. As he/she grows (2Pet. 3: 18) in his knowledge of the Lord, he/she can share edifying doctrine with others.
At the very least, all born again believers should have a local assembly or ministry to which he/she can refer others to who have spiritual questions.
Refusing to address areas of wickedness in our own lives will greatly impede our effectiveness in ministering to others. Condoning, Justifying, or facilitating wickedness in the lives of others scores points for the opposition.
We are not all inclined to commit or to promote the same type of wickedness, but that makes no difference (James 2: 10) to God.
Human viewpoint and the practical necessity for the administration of secular justice makes distinctions between types of crimes (capital offences, felonies, misdemeanors, ordinances, violations), and assigns what it believes to be fitting penalties for violators. Religion makes distinctions between mortal and menial sin.
But God places all of us in the same boat (James 2: 10).
Human rationalizing and viewpoint helps us excuse our own sin by pointing to what we say are the greater sins of others.
James 2: 10 clearly teaches that sin is sin.
To confess, but then not forsake the sin(s) that we choose to become a part of our lifestyle will prevent us from advancing in the post salvation spiritual life. We may be satisfied to know that we are Heaven bound, but such a frame of mind reveals that we are still self—centered and not Christ-centered. There are no plateaus on the road to spiritual maturity. We are either moving up or sliding backwards.
The wickedness that we refuse to address will supply our spiritual enemies (1Pet. 5: 8/Eph. 6: 12) with effective ammunition to discredit us should we choose to follow Christ (Matt. 16: 24) by engaging in the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
Born again believers who later become disciples and eventually become ambassadors will learn the wisdom of never denying one's past sins, but by acknowledging such things he/she is a living example of how God change a repentant soul and bring great glory to Himself in the process.
Most people resist being talked down to, but will listen to someone with whom they can personally relate.
Because we ALL sin every day, we are ALL in the need of daily, moment to moment, confession if we are going to effectively f-o-l-l-o-w Him (Matt. 16: 24). We effectively follow Him when we are used of God to evangelize lost souls and/or share accurate Bible doctrine with fellow believers.
All sin takes the offender out of fellowship (1Cor. 13: 14) with God. When out of fellowship with God, one is NOT going to be in the frame of mind conducent with executing the post salvation spiritual life.
Acknowledging and forsaking sin will steer us clear of the satanic trap of human rationalization that leads to self-justifying or excusing sin.
The moral degeneration of a society does not happen overnight. Whatever sin that one generation tolerates, the next approves, and the next endorses, eventually calling good what is bad, and calling bad what is good (Isa 5: 20). Taking guidance from a society that is in moral decline is foolish. Yet, we hear the “everyone else is doing it” rationale all the time.
The truth is that it may only be a minority (Matt. 7: 13) that are living for God, but that proves that everyone is NOT doing it (sin) as the world would have us believe. In every generation there will be those who are born again, execute the post salvation spiritual life, and pass the torch down to the next generation.
There are many reasons (Luke 14: 26/Heb. 11: 25/Romans 8:7) why we may not want to confess and/or to forsake the sin in our lives, but fear of losing out on something usually tops the list.
0ur unwillingness to confess and forsake our own sin will be used by the devil (1Pet. 5: 8) and his Eph. 6: 12 forces of evil to destroy not only the quality of our own spiritual lives, but to destroy the spiritual lives of others that we take down with us.
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