Friday, February 3, 2017

Give an Account


So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.  Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. Romans 14:12-13

This is one of these passages that is frequently quoted out of context and so I feel it is necessary to point out that the context here is not about SIN.  It is about not judging your brother or sister in Christ if they do not want to eat meat or drink wine (for example).  We are free to have a glass of wine (but not to excess, and not in front of someone who struggles with alcoholism) and eat meat (but there is nothing wrong with choosing not to).  Paul is exhorting us not to have divisions and arguments over things that do not pertain to salvation.  If this were about tolerating sin, then Paul would be contradicting himself and other New Testament writers in MANY other passages where we are told that a born-again believer will NOT continue deliberately in sin. However, we are not to commit sins and then judge others for doing the same things--we need to clean up our own act first instead of being hypocrites.  The same rules apply to everyone. (Romans 2)

Transgressions by believers are to be handled gently with a goal of bringing the person back into obedience to Christ and fellowship with the congregation (but if the person refuses to repent, then they ARE to be excluded so that they don't corrupt others and so that they don't receive false assurance that their behavior is acceptable to God.)  (2 Corinthians 2)  "Not casting a stumbling block or obstacle" in front of another believer is NOT saying that we need to accept their favorite sins and they need to accept ours.  It's refraining from nitpicking each other to death--making a big deal out of little things that other people do differently than we do.  (A house divided against itself cannot stand. Matt. 12:25)  It's making sure not to sin against them by making them do something that they don't feel is right, because if they feel it's sin then to them it is even if it is actually allowed (like what to eat or not eat, or perhaps whether we prefer hymns,  contemporary worship music, or a mix of both?--we're NOT talking about idolatry, lying, stealing, greed, coveting, sexual immorality, murder, etc.)  (Romans 14)

Paul also cautions believers not to criticize the way other believers serve God.  Again, not about sin.  It's about how we are not all called to serve the same function in the Body of Christ.  No one was called to continue in sin or to celebrate the sin of others, but some were called to lead, some to encourage, some to leave everything behind and become missionaries in foreign lands, some to teach, etc.  None is better than the other, and all are to be given proper respect as brothers and sisters in Christ.  All are to be a light wherever they are, which does not include living in darkness or encouraging others to do so--the same passage says "hate what is evil, cling to what is good."  (1 Corinthians 12)

Why does Paul tell us to judge those inside?  Because a little leaven leavens the whole lump!  (1 Corinthians 5)  We want to be ready and faithfully waiting for Jesus to return, unashamed of what we have been doing and approving of when we stand before Him.  We are to judge RIGHTLY, not refrain from judging at all.  If we tolerate or even approve of sin (and let's not forget that pride is a sin of itself, let alone when it's pride OF practicing sin), then the church will be ignorant of what pleases God.  The church is washed by the precious blood of Jesus.  She is NOT meant to live in a garment that she deliberately and repeatedly soiled, forgetting that Jesus suffered and died for her because of the very sins that she is meant to GIVE UP after she becomes His treasured, spotless possession.  She is meant to come back to Him with a sorrowful, repentant heart to be washed clean each time a transgression occurs, not revel in her sins.

It's a sign of the times that all of this even needs to be said, and said often.  We have lost touch with how great and holy is the God we believe in and belong to.  He has NOT changed.  The instructions to obey God in the New Testament are for believers--those who are SAVED--not for unbelievers--wouldn't that be salvation by works?  We don't save ourselves by anything we do, but the fact remains that once we are saved, we WILL obey out of love and respect for our Savior.  Some have changed the message in order to make a profit and receive approval from people who love to sin, but they are not doing anyone a favor (including themselves--God sees it all).

This is a wake-up call.  Anyone who loves the world and sin is NOT born of God.  (Loving the world in this case is not the same as caring about the lost, but loving its dark, deceived ways.)  Good news:  There's still time to repent and seek God while He may be found.  Jesus' commandments are not burdensome for THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.  I'm telling you the truth--to know Him is to love Him.  If you don't know Him, read your Bible, pray (He hears your very thoughts), observe all that He has made in nature, including the marvelous design of the human body with all of its wonders.  Ponder how such a great God would visit His creation in the form of a man, not on a whim, but for the purpose of dying a horrific death to rescue us from our enslavement to sin and its punishment of eternal death.  How about the miracle of how He indwells those who believe and abide in Jesus?  (God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit--one God.)  For anyone who truly believes, the natural response is awe, gratitude, undivided devotion, and determination to please Him at any cost.  Think about it.  ♥

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.  If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.  If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10 

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.  Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,  but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1 John 2:1-6 

And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.  If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. 1 John 2:28-29 

And all the churches will know that I am He who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.  Revelation 2:23

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19 

But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.  But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. 1 Corinthians 11:31-32

This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2  I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them. 2 Corinthians 13:1-2

For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. 2 Corinthians 13:10

So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 

For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. 2 Corinthians 2:9

What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? 1 Corinthians 4:21

For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. 2 Corinthians 7:8-11

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Do all things without grumbling or disputing,  that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,  holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:12-16 

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,  and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,  engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Philippians 1:27-30 

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  Philippians 3:17-19

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Come to your senses and stop sinning, for some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame.  1 Corinthians 15:33-34

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  2 Corinthians 5:10

“The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-11

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for His seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.  1 John 3:9-10

Whoever keeps His commandments abides in God, and God in Him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.  1 John 3:24

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.  You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:3-10 

"Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:19 

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!" Matthew 18:7 

"If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." John 12:26 

"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love." John 15:10 

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 

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