January 9th, 2010 by David Harwood

Blameless On That Day

Holiness and Love

Justified believers are urged to pursue holiness. We are promised that the pure in heart shall see God. (Matthew 5:8) We are warned that without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14) In the hope of seeing Him as He is we are exhorted to purify ourselves as He is pure. (1 John 3:3) Our hearts’ holiness is analogous to God’s heart: we are commanded to be holy as He is holy. (1 Peter 1:16) This pursuit of holiness is really a response to the wooing of God. He is seriously courting us and looking for our commensurate, loving, consecrated commitment. (James 4:5)

Remember, our holiness doesn’t save; the blood of the incarnate Holy One saves. (Romans 5:9) Our consecration is a result of His atoning blood purifying us so we may, with open hearts, encounter God as He is. (Hebrews 1:3, 9:14) The Bible relates many instances of people who came face to Face with true holiness. Practically every occurrence of this happened to someone who was already in a relationship with God. For example, Isaiah and John were in covenant and communion with their creator before they heard heaven’s courts cry out, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8)

I believe there will always be increasing revelatory light which exposes the motives and works of every growing believer. Yet, for us this light has a red tinge. It is “light through the blood.” It is life giving light. (John 1:4) God desires to give a deep rooted security which absolutely rests upon the work of Calvary. (Ephesians 3:17) As this happens, He brings us into increasingly frequent, deeper, lasting encounters with His purity. Lest we shrink back, to avoid feeling “undone” and falling at His feet like a dead man (Isaiah 6:5, Revelation 1:17), we must consider that we are not saved through our response. We are saved through Calvary. (John 3:16) It is in the light of Calvary that we must bring to mind that the Messiah is going to judge every soul who ever lived.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (2 Timothy 4:1)

Here are two pictures of this awesome Day:

A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:10)

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12)

One day every justified believer “will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12b) This does not have to be a threat. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes a lot about the Lord’s return and coming judgment. (3:11-15; 4:1-5; 5:5; 6:2,3; 11:26-32; 13:10; 15:24-28) Please read the following verse and find a surprising promise:

… the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:5b)

Many live with fear of coming condemn-ation. How can we live in a way that we are assured of coming commend-ation? Paul was not insecure about the coming judgment. He looked forward to a “crown.” (2 Timothy 4:8) I believe Paul employed a key which opened a door to anticipatory confidence. This key is not a mystery. Look:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10)

and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)

In these prayers it is revealed that our love for others is a key to being established, “blameless in holiness.” Holiness looks like the fulfillment of the two great commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40) Lest we forget, Jesus added another:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you (John 13:34a)

In the same way we must consistently enter into the experience of God’s love for ourselves, so we should cultivate and consistently express our love for other believers. This love, fulfilling every moral standard, is the heart of holiness. (Romans 13:8-10) We will love because He loved us first.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:16-21)

Let us set ourselves apart and highly prioritize loving the brethren. (1 Peter 1:22) As we abide in Jesus’ love (John 15:9) we will be transformed by His perspective and love others in a way that glorifies Him in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12) We will be blameless, holy, in the presence of the living God.

Jesus commanded this. Paul prayed for its fulfillment. Let us confidently ask the Lord to perfect this love in our lives.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Posted in Scripture Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

December 27th, 2009 by Andrew Yeoman

Victory In Jesus! A Call to Practical & Spirit-Filled Purity

After being personally challenged and blessed by the recent article on a call to ‘Cleanse Our Eyes!’ by VOR writer Bryan Purtle, I felt led to write a short follow up with some practical principles and suggestions for dealing ruthlessly with sin, and the enemy’s enticements.

Jesus gives this instruction in Matthew 5: 27 – 30:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

What does it mean to ‘gouge’ out your eye, and ‘throw it away…’? Or what does Jesus teach in ‘cutting off…’ your hand and ‘throwing it away…’? Isn’t the Lord being a little too radical? Doesn’t this kind of Christianity sound a little weird or extreme? In response to this I would say, ‘Absolutely!’ He is teaching us how to view sin, and He is instructing us on how to radically deal with it! Only God ultimately knows the darkness, power and destruction sin brings, and thus has sent Jesus into the world to not only deal with its power and effects through the Cross, but also to instruct us in the Spirit filled life of holiness.

Another may say: ‘Surely, grace is available, and He understands our weaknesses, not to mention Christ is our advocate before the Father, and He forgives and cleanses confessed sin’ To which I say in accordance with the Scriptures, ‘absolutely’! (1 John 1: 5 – 2: 2) But also in accordance with the Scriptures I say, that not only has Jesus dealt with our filthy past if we have been truly Born Again, and has made more than adequate provision for our present and future failings as He deals in our lives through our life in the Spirit, but He has also given His glorious Spirit and Word to loose us from the bondage of sin and its dominion! (Romans 6: 14 – 23) As Paul says in Romans 6: 14: ‘For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.’

Grace is there to not only cover but to deliver, empower and bring victory because of His triumphant death and resurrection, through the outpoured Spirit!

Jesus has dealt with sin and the enemy, ‘once for all’, and now we partake in Kingdom life by the Spirit of God. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we then experience His Holy power dwelling within, and also we hear Him taking the Words of Christ and establishing them in our hearts. The affect is purging, refining and establishing. The Word then becomes a living burning Word by the Spirit, and it brings power and grace for a holy life.

So then, we come to the practical issues of Matthew 5. Jesus is using radical terms to cause us to flee from sin, and deal with it ruthlessly in our hearts. In this chapter it is the heart Jesus is primarily concerned about, not just the outward deed (though that too will bring disastrous consequences!) He knows that sin must be dealt with at the root, not just the fruit. This is why He talks of the murderous or adulterous heart. It is the heart of a man which determines his actions.

So below are just some key practical ways of dealing with sin:

· Seek the face of God radically with all your heart through prayer and reading the Word. If the Lord leads, do this with fastings also. Allow in that time the Spirit of God to come in fire and freedom and bring you into the freedom of Christ. Allow Jesus to come to deal thoroughly with the root of the issue in your heart. One man said: “Is sin hounding you; are your old habits re emerging? Do you feel the enemy pulling you back to your old ways? Then the remedy is this: Run to the Risen Christ!”

· Go and find a strong, Godly man or woman of God to be accountable to. Maybe you know of a minister or elder, or a leader of some kind. Ask God about whom, but don’t delay in looking and going to someone. Become accountable to them, and allow them to speak into your life and pray with you through into victory. Confess your failing to them in confidence. Let them ask you frequently how things are going. Trust them, and let God use them to instill discipline, Godliness and humility into you. All sin ultimately is rooted in pride. This is a great Kingdom principle (James 5: 16) and helps bring humility and light into our hearts. Don’t listen to the enemy telling you not to confess and be open. I have proved that there is tremendous liberty and victory in humbling myself to my brothers, under the sight of God!

· Married? Be open with your spouse. It’s amazing to me how often times when I confess my failings to my wife, how much thoroughness, grace and wisdom she has in helping me. This is a gift from God for both men and women. Use it!

· Cut off the offending part. Is the problem TV? Maybe go on a TV fast, or only watch it with someone else, or even get rid of it all together! Is the problem the internet? You can get rid of it or if you must have it for your work, then buy a children’s filter software, and let someone you trust and is Godly, monitor your use. You can never be too final or thorough in these practicalities!

· Don’t isolate yourself or become weary in well doing! One proverb says: He who isolates Himself, seeks His own desire. Remember King David’s falling because He did not go to war with the army of Israel. It is a key thing to plug in to a strong Jesus exalting, Biblical and Spirit filled NT Church, and serve there.

· Read and listen to messages of servants of God who are aflame for God! Holiness is infectious in the Holy Spirit’s presence! Many times I have sensed the flaming arrows of God through another’s ministry, and it sets me aflame even more!

So there are just some of the essential things to be done to gain victory. I’m sure there are many more things some of you may consider worth while, and by all means, please feel free to add some to the comments section below. However, please let’s remember the main thing. Christ has come in the power of the Spirit, and has defeated sin in His body on the Cross! His Blood, His Spirit and His words are the key factors. At the same time don’t let legalistic ‘extras’ come in. Remember, the key issue is always the heart of man. It is there God wants to ultimately work. From there our actions will be righteous, our eyes will be consecrated and our minds free!

May God give you freedom, victory and fullness through His Son, for His glory.

Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

March 12th, 2009 by Frank Turek

Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org

At least one lesbian is not happy with me for the case I made last week against same-sex marriage on our TV program. She wrote me this ALL CAPS e-mail with “VERY JUDGEMENTAL” in the subject line:

ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME AND I AM A CHRISTIAN LESBIAN AND HAVE BEEN FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS. STOP JUDGING AND MOVE ON!!! I AM SO TIRED OF ALL YOU UPTIGHT, DO RIGHT, SINNERS JUDGING PEOPLE.

I wrote her back asking her why she was judging me for judging. It seemed like a fair question. After all, if I am not to “judge” her, why is it OK for her to judge me? And if she’s a Christian, doesn’t she know that God has already judged homosexual behavior as immoral? I mean, I didn’t make the judgment that homosexual behavior was wrong. God is the standard of morality, not me.

But the main point is that my lesbian pen pal did what most liberals do when they are faced with arguments they don’t like—they misuse Jesus’ apparent command not to “judge” in order to shut you up. So if you oppose their behavior or their attempt to get the nation to endorse their immorality (i.e. same-sex marriage), you’re sure to hear “Thou shalt not judge!”

As with most slogans shouted by the left, the truth is exactly opposite to what they claim. Liberals take the judgment statements of Jesus out of context because they want to avoid any moral condemnation for their own actions, and they don’t want you to notice that they are making judgments too. Let’s take a look at what Jesus actually said:

Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Mt. 7:1-5)

Notice Jesus isn’t telling us not to judge—Jesus is telling us how to judge. He actually commands us to take the speck out of our brother’s eye—that involves making a judgment. But he also commands us to stop committing the bigger sins ourselves so we can better help our brother. In other words, when you judge, do so rightly not hypocritically.

Jesus expressed this same idea when he said “stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus would never tell us to stop judging– that would be suicide! Just think about how impossible life would be if you didn’t make judgments. You make hundreds, if not thousands, of judgments every day between good and evil, right and wrong, dangerous choices from safe ones. You’d be dead already if you didn’t make judgments.

What does this have to do with politics? Every law is a judgment about what’s best for society. Homosexual activists are making a judgment that same-sex marriage would be the best law for society. It’s a wrong judgment as I’ve argued in this column before (Gay Marriage: Even Liberals Know it’s Bad), but it’s a judgment nonetheless.

So in addition to being self-defeating, the belief that we “ought not judge” is completely impractical and even dangerous. Making judgments is unavoidable both personally and politically. If you want to meet a sudden and premature demise, just stop making judgments.

Unfortunately, liberals are propelling our society toward a premature demise by making the disastrous judgment that we ought not make judgments about their behavior. They, of course, can judge our behavior as immoral when we oppose same-sex marriage or the killing of the unborn. But we are not to judge their behavior. This is exactly the kind of hypocrisy that Jesus warned against. The passage they quote actually convicts them!

For folks so concerned about the “separation of church and state,” it’s amazing how fast liberals quote the Bible when they think it helps their case. Don’t let them get away with that. If they believe the Bible when they think it condemns judging (which it doesn’t), then ask them why they don’t believe the Bible when it certainly condemns homosexuality. If they want to use the Bible as their standard, then they will be judged by that same standard.

Posted in Law & Politics Tagged with: , , , , ,