Saturday, August 27, 2011

# 311: The Battle the World is Winning

Living the Christian life as the New Testament requires is the loftiest quest (Holy Grail) that all genuine Christians will/must strive for until our dying day. The reason we must continually exert ourselves toward perfection and holiness is because if we were to settle for anything less (secularism), that would leave the door open wide for sin to thrive.

Some may ask, “What is Christian perfection and holiness?” There are several answers to that question: A) Christ sees us with His perfection, which He graciously has given/will give to us free of charge. If we truly believe He sees us as perfect and holy, we will always attempt to live that way. B) Then there is the perfection and holiness we ourselves are continually striving for. This tells God that we mean business, and it will take every effort that we can muster up.

The greatest hindrance that keeps us from our goal of perfection and holiness is the physical world and all the so-called goodies that it has to offer.

We must remember this: All that the world offers is here because of popular demand by ungodly people who did not/do not know God. Genuine Christians had/have very little, if anything, to do with what is now offered by the world.

Therefore, whenever the word “world” is mentioned in the New Testament, it means things, desires, and attitudes, etc. that have been formed over the years because of the demands of worldly people who do not know God, and have nothing to do with glorifying God.

Here is a perfect example of the supply and demand mentioned above: When the ratings of a certain TV program are low, guess what? It is canceled. That theory is the same with everything in the world. When something is unpopular, regardless of how good it is, it disappears.

This supply-and-demand principle is strongly indicative that everything in the world remains here because of the demand of worldly people.

Let us mention just a few of the things, desires, and attitudes that are prevalent in this world that multitudes of people who believe they are Christians engage in: On the top of the list is entertainment of all sorts. The list of popular entertainment could be endless. Here are just a few: 1) Sports of all types, either participant or spectator. 2) TV movies (all are make-believe) in all forms being viewed by “christians.” 3) TV-viewing in general, except the national news, so that real Christians won’t seem like ignoramuses when witnessing/visiting with worldly people. 4) All other forms of entertainment, like having parties where drinking alcohol is the norm. 5) Gatherings and parties of all sorts where Jesus Christ is not mentioned. 6) Engaging in politics of any form. 2nd Timothy 2:4. “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer [Jesus Christ].” 7) Secular music must be avoided. 8) Do not celebrate secular holidays. 9) To believe that the gay society as acceptable is against what the New Testsment teaches. 10) Accepting that it is alright for a man and woman to live together in a sexual relationship without being married.

There are many, many more worldly things that are available that have nothing to do with genuine Christianity. They must be avoided. Of course, the most desired thing in the world is the desire to be wealthy—if one isn’t already. The problem is that when we are not fulfilled with inner wealth (Christ), we will desire material wealth in an attempt to make us feel successful and complete. To put it bluntly, the more one has in this world, the more attached one is to this sinful world.

In 2nd Timothy 1-5, the apostle Paul accurately predicts what will come in the last days. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

In 1st John 2:15-17, the apostle John gives us a sneak preview of what things are in the world that we must not engage in: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” The word “lust” is often associated only with sexual/sensual desires, but according to the dictionary, that word also means “a lust for power, and intense enthusiasm and desire.” The words “love the world,” as the apostle uses it, mean “a strong liking or interest in something” (the world).

People who may call themselves Christians, but are not really Christians, are hungry for anything that will quench that inward craving for something that will satisfy their desire to be, to have, and to enjoy the best of what this world offers. People in this category are void of anything inward that satisfies completely. Repeating: Lasting satisfaction can come only from the presence of the Holy Spirit of God actively working to promote Jesus Christ. That is the job of every genuine Christian/disciple.

The big difference between secular Christians and genuine Christians is that the secular are living to promote their own interests in the name of Jesus Christ, while the genuine are living to promote the cause and interests that Jesus Christ started, regardless of the cost to their own lives. On the surface, it may be difficult to distinguish between the two, but inwardly, the difference is so dramatic that one is secretly living like a craven animal, while the other is openly living like a living martyr, just waiting to leave this wicked world. Even though it is difficult to describe the difference, they are living in two different worlds.

Of course, there is a multitude of daily chores/obligations that need to be done every day that have nothing to do with glorifying God, like having to go to work every day. They are necessities that are acceptable to God, and have nothing to do with being part of the world. If possible, we should attempt to minimize those “must-do” requirements so that we can have more time in doing the things of God. And then, to incorporate some of those chores with Godly matters, one can be listening to the New Testament at the same time. I have done this every day for years; it has been a blessing to me and to others.

The signature mark of all real Christians must be the following: Matthew 5:48. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And 1st Peter 1:16: “for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” It is absolutely impossible for anyone who is involved in worldly values to strive for holiness and perfection in the sight of God. We must be obedient to this command. 1st Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. ALWAYS give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Disobedience to verses like this would disqualify anyone from calling themselves genuine Christians. No excuses!

The apostle Paul gives us an even better reason why we cannot engage in anything that Jesus Christ would not engage in Himself. 1st Corinthians 2:16. “. . . But we have the mind of Christ.” Do we have the mind of Christ or the mind of the world that is controlled by the evil one? Please ask yourself this question in all honesty; your destiny may depend on it. We are not fooling around with words to make a point, but to openly display what has mostly been kept silent; the price is loss of eternal life.

Here is the best way everyone can tell if what they are engaging in is worldly or from God. When whatever one is doing, has, or desires, does it bring glory to God through Jesus Christ? And, at the same time, is one’s relationship with Jesus Christ being enhanced? If not, it is worldly. But mark this: The Biblical words in this post will NEVER be preached in any religious establishment. Some may be asking, “Why not?” The answer is that it will never be accepted by run-of-the-mill Christians. These Godly words are laced with thorns; who wants to live with thorns? Only those who are crucified with Christ. The apostle Paul says it all too clearly in Galatians 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Does Christ truly live in modern church-going Christians? If not, why not?

Here are a few New Testament verses that mention the harm the world can do to our devotion to Jesus Christ:

Matthew 18:7. “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

Matthew 6:31-32. “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.”

John 16:33. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Romans 12:2. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

1st Corinthians 2:12. “What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.”

2nd Corinthians 10:2-4. “I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”

Ephesians 2:1. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

Ephesians 6.12. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

2nd Timothy 4:10. “…for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”

Colossians 2:20. “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules...”

James 1:27. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James 4:4. “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

2nd Peter 1:4. “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

1st John 2:15-17. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

1st John 5:4-5. “And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.”

1st John 5:19. “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” [and lives accordingly].

All New Testament verses are taken from the New International Version 2011 edition.

In conclusion: Leaving the desires of the world for the desires the New Testament adamantly requires will be the most distasteful and difficult undertaking that anyone can be asked to achieve. In all truth, it is absolutely imperative.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

# 310: Do Modern Christians Truly Fear the Lord?

The question in the minds of some Christians is “Why should we fear a loving God?” Proverbs 9:10: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This verse connotes that all Christians must live their lives in a wise, understanding, and obedient way as we continue to fear the Lord God Almighty. Do we? Sad to say, I am afraid not! “Fear of the Lord” is a forgotten phrase in modern Christianity. The word “Fear” always has a negative meaning in the true sense, and is avoided by most intelligent people.

Our fear of God must be such that if we disobey Him, we can expect some type of consequences. One of the results will be that we will unknowingly distance ourselves from the love of God. To put it in a more descriptive way: Without fear of the Lord, experiencing His love for us has (or will) become vague and unreal.

This post will be one of the most difficult to write; it is tough to explain how and why fear is or must be an intricate part of our devotion to God through Jesus Christ. Repeating, some will say: Since God is all-loving, compassionate, and full of mercy and kindness, why do we have to fear Him?

The answer: Without a real fear of God, the door is wide open to feel/believe as if we don’t have to obey all that He requires. You see, His kindness and all the other lovely attributes He extends to those who are His are meant for when we inadvertently do something that goes against His rigid requirements. To put it another way, if or when we slip up and disobey the teachings of Jesus Christ, all is not lost; but because of our fear of the Lord, if we wholeheartedly repent and promise God that we will never repeat that ugly infraction again, that is when His love, compassion and mercy kick in.

Let’s be clear about this: When we knowingly sin because we don’t have a fear of God, you can bet your bottom dollar that our lack of fear may tell God that we are imposters, and God’s great mercy and grace can do nothing to help us unless we truly repent and start to be fearful of God’s wrath that will be released on judgment day.

Here is another situation God can do very little or nothing about, even with all His great compassion: when we don’t know all that God requires from us to please Him due to our lack of knowledge as to what the New Testament (NT) commands. Because of our lack of fear of God, we are as good as self-condemned. I believe this is the largest group of people who believe they are Christians; they are the ones who may be faithful churchgoers and may believe that belonging to a certain church is all that is necessary, with no mention of fear of God.

This complete blog, for the most part, was initiated to expose what most churches don’t teach from the pulpit. The reason is that the leaders of these churches have no fear of God; if they did, they would teach the sections of Scripture that are not pleasant to listen to and are even more difficult to implement. If they did preach these unpleasant sections, they would lose a lot of the church members who would start looking for more comforting messages in another church. In all of Christianity, this is the most grievous display of a lack of fear of God.

This is a hard statement: Without an active fear of God in the lives of many, there can be no Christianity that will be acceptable to Jesus Christ. In no uncertain terms, what would stop us from sinning if there is not a retardant (fear of God) to stop us if/when we do wrong?

How many bloggers are aware of this quaint verse of Scripture? James 4:17. “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” In other words, to God, what a person doesn’t do many times is more sinful than engaging in the act of sinning. These people have no fear of God in their devotion to Christ. They take God as a jolly old Santa Claus.

If, by some chance, God does not accept my devotion to Him as genuine, it will be because I somehow may have failed to implement James 4:17 in a wholehearted manner. My alibi most likely would be this: Matthew 7:6. “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” In other words, I attempt to be as certain as possible that I am doing my good deeds to those who are not trying to pull a fast one on me, but to those who truly need my monetary help, or those who have a hunger for accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I am just guessing how many people regard sin—that doesn’t seem like sin—as being acceptable if it is intentional or not, because God’s grace and mercy will cover it and all will be well. That is a satanic lie. Many people believe that since we have a loving God, and that is true, then why should we fear our loving God? Look at it this way: If God, in one way or another, outright condoned sin, He would not be the God of love, since sin and love cannot mix. He does forgive sin when we are truly repentant, meaning at the time we believe we will never commit that sin again. Just remember this: We can’t pull a fast one on God. You see, He reads our hearts rather than our mouths and actions.

The main reason the fear of God is negated in most Christian literature and churches is because a God that must be feared is not a very nice God. Again, that is a demonic trick.

Could anyone imagine how children would end up who are not disciplined by their “loving” parents when absolutely necessary? Proverbs 13:24. “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Of course, at this time that type of physical punishment that this verse is referring to is now classified as child abuse in most of America. And it is no wonder why American children are going in the ungodly direction of the devil.

If God was not to be feared, as in the present time, it is no wonder that Christianity has gone and is still turning into an ungodly pussycat Christianity. The obvious way we can tell when fear of God is absent in our lives is when God must let us go and do whatever we believe is acceptable; at that time, we may still think we are genuine, heaven-bound Christians. Again, that is the work of the devil.

At this time, the other pending (although unobvious) way that we ignore the fear of God in our lives is when we will eventually, at the resurrection of the dead, on His great and terrible Day of Judgment, find that our destiny has become a lifetime sentence to hell, and just because we lacked genuine, authentic fear of the Lord that leads to obedience.

Let me inject a worldly scenario: Most people in America and even the world obey most civil and public laws that are implemented by the ruling authorities. Without even thinking why we obey, the reason is that if we did violate some law and were caught, we would be properly punished. Therefore, our deep-seated, mostly subconscious fear would stop us from doing what is unlawful.

Let me give an unheard of example that we all will understand: All the laws that we must obey in America are there for our protection. Let’s say that the laws are there but there was/is no type of punishment if and when we broke any of those laws. Would anyone be afraid to violate any of those laws? Of course not! Certainly, there would be no need for jails, law enforcement officers, etc. Since there would be no retribution of any sort, there would be absolutely no fear if we decided to violate any laws. This whole example sounds absolutely impractical and stupid.

Now let’s us get back to the breaking of any of God’s laws. Could it be that, because there is no fear of God and no immediate corrective action on God’s part when we violate any of His laws, there is little or no fear of God in America? As we all should know, we will have to answer for all of our infractions at the Day of Judgment.

The only thing is, we must first have an accurate knowledge of what is acceptable and not acceptable to our God, or our fear of God can do little or nothing to keep us on the straight and narrow. That gets us back to knowing what action we must take and what we must avoid.

Let us step back a little and be honest with ourselves. Do we truly know and understand what the New Testament teaches and what is doesn’t teach? In getting the correct answers (which may be a bit abrasive), we must, for a certain period of time, attempt to avoid what our church and other churches teach, since the vast majority of churches are biased in what they believe and teach. Then we must attempt to read the NT as if we were reading it for the first time. Remember this: The main concern of ALL churches—come hell or high water—is that they desire to remain in BUSINESS AS UNUSUAL. Therefore, they may avoid or sugarcoat certain sections of Scripture that seem absolutely absurd and most certainly are not in agreement with the sinful human nature we all are born with.

What bothers me is that when I am visiting with religious people, the majority claim to know and obey exactly what the NT teaches. Oh, how I pray that was true. They are in essence saying, “There is nothing more I can learn; I know it all.” Well, in truth, nobody knows it all. There is always room for improvement in our lives, including this author.

The final result is that we may not be aware that these necessary commands must not be avoided. Once we know these cleverly hidden verses, it should strike the fear of God in our hearts, thus allowing us to do everything humanly possible to obey them. This paragraph is what this complete blog is mostly about.

In conclusion: I truly understand how unnatural it is to obey this and other posts; yet, without fear of God prompting our ability to obey these seemingly secluded verses, we will be living nothing more than an easy sort of false Christianity. Isn’t that what our human nature desires, is to have life as easy as possible? The New Testament guarantees that without genuine fear of God concerning this pick-and-choose, cafeteria-style Christianity, we will certainly be led to hell.