Thursday, June 29, 2017

Born of God


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

This passage tends to confuse people. They wonder how this can be, since people who are born again DO still sin sometimes? Some speculate that maybe it means that even though they do sin, their sins are not counted against them? What does "cannot" mean--is it in the sense of "unable" or "shouldn't"? I think the key to the passage is the word "practice." We are not perfected until we see Jesus and He finishes the process He began in us the day we were saved. However, we make a PRACTICE of trying to please Him in all we do rather than sinning deliberately. (Hebrews 10:26-27)

God cares whether we practice righteousness (which is obeying, as the opposite is unrighteousness, which is lawlessness, which is sin - 1John 3:4-8), or not. If we live for the devil, God says that's who we "belong" to. (John 8:44) We believers love what our Father loves and walk in obedience to Him. He hasn't left us alone to try to do this, since it would be impossible with our sinful nature. He has given us His Spirit. (Romans 8:7-9)

For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

It is possible for us to resist and even quench Him--when we do that, there will not be "fruit" of the Spirit. (Romans 7:4-6, 1Thessalonians 5:19, Ephesians 5:1-11, Hebrews 12:7-11, James 3:17-18) Faith comes by hearing the word and so does our knowledge of God. (Romans 10:17, Romans 15:14, 1Corinthians 15:34, Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 4:11-32, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:9-11, 2Peter 1:3-12) If we neglect our faith, we will lose sight of what it is to BE a Christian--to LIVE OUT our life IN Christ. We will be sickly Christians, both physically (1Corinthians 11:30-32) and spiritually--our lamps may run out of oil. (Matthew 25:1-13)

We do not need to live in fear that we have committed some sin, without even realizing it, that won't be forgiven until we confess it. John says that attitude shows we don't understand the perfect love of God. (1John 4:13-21) That said, it doesn't mean that we should take our forgiveness lightly such that we don't even care about obeying Jesus. (John 14:15-24, John 15:4-10, Colossians 2:6-7, Titus 2:11-15, 2Peter 3:11-12)

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

This is how the world can tell by looking at our lives whether we are IN Jesus or not (Matthew 5:15-16 - this light includes TRUTH; John 14:6). If we love all of the same things they do then we should question how important our faith is to us. If we show more love to our unsaved friends and family than to other believers, there is something wrong. It's one thing to have a "heart for the lost" and another to be indistinguishable from them. (2Corinthians 6:14-7:1, 1Corinthians 15:33) "Brother" is fellow believer and follower of Christ. Jesus isn't interested in having "fans."

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Believers are supposed to be willing to "take one for the team" by suffering for Jesus' sake, whether it's because people think we're ODD that we don't want to join them in sin, or they hate us for having unpopular VALUES, or even if they threaten our lives because they hate Jesus. We're supposed to remember that it's HIM being persecuted, not really us. (1Peter 4:1-5, John 15:18-21, 1John 3:13, 2Timothy 3:12-13, 1Peter 4:12-19, 1Peter 2:20-24, Philippians 1:27-30, Hebrews 13:12-15, Hebrews 12:3-4 - or all of Hebrews 12, Acts 9:4-5)

Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:12

This is why He said to count the cost. It's not easy to be a disciple of Jesus, but the rewards of overcoming in this temporary world are eternal. (Luke 9:62) Jesus set for us the example of faithfulness, no matter what, to the end. We are cautioned repeatedly in the New Testament not to be deceived, not to accept "another Jesus." (2Corinthians 11:1-4, Galatians 1:6-10, Jude 1:4)

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:13-25

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Luke 14:25-35

Some say that the above passage was to the Jews, not the church, which had not yet begun since this occurred prior to Jesus' victory on the cross and also Pentecost, when the indwelling Holy Spirit arrived. I would like to point out, however, that Jesus uses the same phrase about hearing as He does in each of the letters to the CHURCHES in Revelation 2, 3. We ARE special because of God dwelling IN us--there is NO doubt about that. However, we are grafted IN to Israel as well. (Romans 11) There is no difference between Jew and Gentile in the New Covenant. (Romans 2)

This really isn't too hard for us to understand. If we love Jesus, we will do as He says (not twisting His words or choosing which ones we like). If we love sin, we do not love Jesus and we are NOT born again. (John 3:3-6, James 4:4-5) "Fear" of God is a healthy respect for Him and His almighty power. If we have any sense at all, we'll remember that even as we obey out of LOVE and GRATITUDE for what our beloved Savior has done for us. Jesus "as Lord" is not an honorary title! (2Corinthians 4:5-6, 2Peter 2:1-3, Romans 10:9, Hebrews 4:13, Hebrews 10:29-31)

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23 

How hard is it to see that blending in with the world, loving sin and supporting others in theirs the way unbelievers do, etc. is a FAR CRY from "struck down," "given over to death," and "slaughtered all day long"? (Romans 8:35-36, 2Corinthians 4:8-11) We are not all called to martyrdom, but we ARE all called to die to our sinful selves. That is what it is to OVERCOME. Jesus modeled it for us perfectly. (John 12:25-26, Colossians 3:2-10, Romans 6)

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Romans 13:11-14 

This is a wake up call to TRUE believers. Jesus said the way was NARROW to eternal life and BROAD to eternal destruction. His discussion continued on, in context, to the topic of OBEYING Him. Let's believe Him and take His advice. If what we would like others to "do unto us" is to approve of our sin and join in it with us, then we are NOT on the narrow road. Let's not put God to the test. Let's submit to God and resist temptation. (Matthew 4:1-11, James 4:7, 1Corinthians 10:13, 2Corinthians 12:20-13:2)

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Matthew 7:12-27

kit, alpha: March Daze by Kristmess Designs; template challenge freebie by Lindsay Jane Designs