Sunday, August 17, 2008

# 259: Christ in You

It could be that most people who call themselves Christians are not aware of the high position and responsibility they are given when they accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Making that position come to life is what this post will attempt to accomplish.

Marriage between a man and woman, most often, is the closest relationship humans can experience. That is, or should be, a relationship of oneness. What is good for one is good for the other. Likewise, what is bad and hurtful for one is bad for the other. This principle, though said in a few words, is the backbone of life in our civilized world. Take marriage away from society and life would be chaotic and lawless.

It breaks my heart more than most will ever know that what Christianity ought to be is a marriage of oneness with Jesus Christ what we have instead is a religion of oneness with self and company. Many will deny this serious charge; nevertheless, it is the truth. Put in a simple question: What do the run-of-the-mill Christians do to advance the cause of their Lord/boss? Little or nothing! As partners with Christ, it is our duty to continue the work He started. That is the work of showing and telling the world around us exactly what Jesus Christ commanded, and the eternal benefits or repercussions if we obey or make excuses not to obey.

Other than possibly going to church and saying their prayers, if even that, people who have supposedly given their allegiance to the Son of God are not much different than upright, honest and respected atheists. In fact, atheists, quite often, live better lives. Does organized religion per se confront those who live in this manner? Why should they? If they did, they would lose money and membership. Therefore, they turn a blind eye and say to themselves, "No one is perfect. God is a loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving God." That is true, but the only thing is that God is merciful to those who fear Him. There are over a dozen verses that teach us to fear the Lord, or else. I will quote just one. Luke 1:50. "His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation." The only thing is, there is no fear of God in their lives. If they knew what fear of God meant, they would find out all that God requires from disciples of Christ, as is clearly and candidly displayed in the New Testament. Instead, their main pastimes and activities are things that bring temporal pleasure and satisfaction.

If anyone is not familiar with 2nd Timothy 3:1-5, for your sake read it and see the similarities these tough verses have with our modern Christian church. Of course, when I use the term “organized religion,” I am not referring to all churches; there are a few that preach and live according to Scriptural commands. But from my personal experience, they are few and far between. Any church with a large attendance would never qualify as being forthcoming with the imperative teachings as presented in the New Testament. Why? Mega-churches, out of greed for money and people—they call it Godly prosperity—teach a message of Biblically ear-tickling lullabies, while leaving out the meat. Then it could be said that if they never had a taste of Biblical meat and potatoes, they wouldn’t miss them.

If anyone is new to this blog and is not aware of what these commands are, the ones which are avoided by many Christian churches, just read a few of the posts within this blog. For over three years, we have been defeating, and will continue to defeat, the silent lies of popular churches that thrive on hypocrisies and pleasant trickery, while avoiding those that are hard to accept. There can be no tolerance from God or this Biblical blog for this deadly sin of silence.

Most Christian churches say they are Bible-believing, and that is true, but they believe only the parts that are pleasant to the laity, such as the acceptance of a lifestyle where material wealth and prosperity are acceptable and even desired, while Scripture teaches that it is detestable in God’s sight. This blog quite often speaks openly on our human nature’s tendency of wanting/having material wealth and prosperity.

That is not to say a rich or prosperous person can’t become a disciple of Christ; everyone is more than welcome. 1st Timothy 6:17-18. "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God . . . Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share." But there is one stipulation: Since the rich must be generous and willing to share with those in need, the question comes up: How much of their wealth do they have to share with the needy so that what remains in their possession will not be an obstacle to their Salvation? Did you notice this verse didn’t say to share with their church?

When one is rich, it is an easy thing just to drop the ransom money—give, or go to hell—into the basket; but to actually get out and win souls for Christ takes guts and determination. That is what the wealthy and even the not-so-wealthy negate from their "christian" lives. Other than the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses--—which I believe are cults—I personally don’t know of any denomination that teaches the imperative results of this personal witness. Without these good works, we are no more than lazy, decrepit, religious bystanders. Ouch!

In contrast to the aforementioned verse in 1st Timothy, this is what Jesus commands in the sections concerning the rich young ruler and the Good Samaritan. Matthew 19:20-21. "‘All these I have kept,’ the young man said. ‘What do I still lack?’ Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’" In Luke 10:25 & 27-28. ". . . ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ . . . He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’" Action is a precursor to discipleship. Said another way: Both verses have prerequisites to eternal life—love for God, love for neighbor and the poor. They are not eternity-bound Christians if they do not believe and obey these commands.

The all-important question is this: Why are material wealth and prosperity more than a hindrance, actually an abomination, for those who claim Christianity as their religion? The answer may surprise many. Why would wealthy people have an immediate need for eternal life when they already have all they need and even more? They want the best of both worlds. They desire to go to heaven, but don’t want to die just yet. They want to continue to be spend-thrifty and enjoy life here just a little bit longer. The implication: Heaven and its future pleasures are not real, since they don’t actually need them in the secure and luxurious positions they are now in. They are having too much fun as they eat, drink and get merry. This paragraph infers that it is impossible to have one’s mind and heart on Godly matters while enjoying the things this deceitful world offers.

Whereas, Christians who have it hard in this world can’t wait to go to heaven; they are longing for death (sleep) so as to end their miserable earthly lives. I am one of the latter group. Here is the last reason wealth is not acceptable for followers of Christ: How can anyone have more than they need when there are many millions in dire need of the basics? That goes to demonstrate that the wealthy and prosperous have no Godly love for those in need. With no love comes damnation. That is the reason Jesus said in Luke 16:15, "What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight." Arguably, if anyone believes the New Testament, the above verses and divine logic end all controversy. This seems to say that many millions of rich people who remain rich after accepting Christ as their Savior and still claim Christianity as their religion are doomed to hell. Statements like that are not welcome in organized religion. Repeating: That is the lie this blog has been exposing and hopefully defeating for over three years. I am sure this section will fall on many deaf ears with aggressive thoughts.

I didn’t mean to stray away from the subject of “Christ in you” as the title says; Christ in you is the answer for all the woes of Christianity. Colossians 1:27. ". . . Christ in you, the hope of glory." Let us start with this question: Do you and I know for certain that we are possessed with the Spirit of Christ? We could easily say yes and leave it at that. That is where the problem starts, and it doesn’t end there.

The terms “the Holy Spirit,” “the Spirit,” “the Spirit of God,” “the Spirit of Christ,” “Christ in you,” “born again,” and a few more are terms used which are one and the same as “Spirit.”

Here is a test: If some are just starting out as Christians and desire to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it most likely won’t start out with a bang. Slowly, the new convert will notice that they have loving and holy desires they never had before. These desires may vary, but they all have one thing in common: to really get to know Christ and what He expects from them. God’s Spirit never forces His ways on anyone. He must work through our free will. When we start to obey our new desires, which are inspired by the Holy Spirit, that is some evidence that the Spirit of Christ is living in us. As we start to mature, the vast number of our actions will correspond with the instructions in the New Testament. That is more evidence that we are being guided by Christ who lives in us. Nevertheless, never forget this verse: Acts 5:32. "We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

At that point, we can honestly say that Christ is in us. That is not to say every person who is doing good is indwelt by the Spirit. Continued obedience to Christ’s commands will determine who is who. For those who don’t have God’s Spirit but say they do, their true colors will start to show when they search for an easier way to God’s heaven, by making little of God’s unnatural commands or negating them all together. In fact, it is impossible to continue to do good works and grow in faith and love without the Spirit. Another indication of His presence is that we will never be content with how much we are doing for the Lord; there will always be room for more. When we feel content with our position or works in Christ, that may be a sign that spiritual complacency is setting in, which is the beginning of the end. What is being said is that to be a recipient of the Spirit of Christ is the most crucial part in the Christian life. In fact, anyone without the Spirit is not a Christian. Romans 8:9. "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."

Here is an aspect of our heavenly position that needs some down-to-earth explaining: Without our knowledge, at the moment of conversion, we are justified and sanctified in God’s sight. 1st Corinthians 6:11. "But you were washed, you were sanctified (made holy), you were justified ( made free of all sins) in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." That means if one was to die a short while after accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, eternity would be waiting for him/her. Here is my point: Since God gave us a new status, He now considers/makes us pure and holy by forgiving all our sins; that is the perfect incentive to live pure and holy lives. If for no other reason, we will live up to our new status of how God sees us as new creations, created in the image of God.

God sees us as perfect; since the vicarious exchange of Christ taking all our sins upon himself and in exchange giving us His perfection, we are given the privilege and pleasure to live out that perfection as we "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Are we the ones who are trying to enter but will not be able to because we are not making every effort?" Luke 13:24.

Inactivity in the Christian life breeds the need for worldly joy. Spiritual joy will not materialize when one is inactive in doing God’s will. And it takes effort to do the works of God. Most prefer to take the course of least resistance. The only thing, with Christ in us, we will not take that course. For that reason, I pray to God that all who are reading this blog will continue to grow in faith and love, thus becoming strong in the things of God and Christ. Amen.

Since I have separated myself from most, if not all, worldly activities and things that bring pleasure, I find no joy from living in this world, except the spiritual joy of allowing Jesus Christ to live and love through my body. For that reason, even though death is a dreaded enemy for those who are disobedient, for those like this author who have a genuine hope of spending eternity with God and Christ, death is a welcome friend.

Although the Book of Acts tells of when certain people initially received the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues and prophesied as a sign that they received the Spirit. Nowadays, there is even better evidence of Christ in us: when one is continually being led by God’s Spirit. With that Spirit, we are given the power to lead a sin-free life, whereas sin is evidence that one is under the control of the evil one. There is one exception: when a person sins inadvertently/unintentionally. That is a sin that will not lead to death. Leading a sinless life is a hard teaching. Even though it is taught throughout the New Testament, 1st John makes it absolutely clear with no wiggle room: Chapter 3, verse 6. "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." Also see verses 8-9. "The reason the Son of God came was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed [the Holy Spirit] remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

Just a final reminder: Your life, and how you live it, should be of major concern; that is all you have of earthly value that can determine if you will spend eternity in the presence of a God of love or in a place of eternal and unbearable pain. For that reason, it is the business of Christ and this Biblical blog to teach you, if necessary, how God desires to make your life holy, pure and pleasing to Him. That is our quest. We pray that those who have or desire to have Christ living in them are the ones who will respond to our plea to take this post and blog seriously. Amen.

In conclusion, it is a spiritual fact that when we are recipients of the life and Spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which is freely given, it can be said that regardless of how lowly our station, we are truly living the high life as God meant it to be lived.

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