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1:8-10 If we say that 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 that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in
John 3:9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains
in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
Christians sin? John seems to say both yes and no. Our experience says
yes. Most Christians agree that they have sinned at least accidentally
after they found out that God had righteously forgiven them. Some of us
are honest enough to admit that we have some "accidents" over
and over again. So even if we don't sin as much, if we find ourselves
sinning even in "small ways", aren't we continuing in sin, and
doesn't John say that Christians do not do this?
Catholic church has outlined the seven deadly sins. They are wrath,
greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. How many of us always
have our wrath completely under control? How many of us can honestly say
we weren't gluttonous on Thanksgiving day? How many of us have watched
TV when we should have been doing something productive? How many of us
have wished that we had our neighbors house or job or car? And if we
haven't had recent problems with any of these sins, aren't we kind of
proud that we have everything under control? Now unfortunately there are
some sins that aren't included in the seven deadly ones. Galatians 6:20
lists selfish ambition (NKJV) as one of them. Isn't that considered a
virtue in a competitive free enterprise capitalistic system?
believe that there are two kinds of Christians in the world. The first
kind are those who sin and have a conscience about it. They show their
conscience by confessing their sin. The second kind are those who sin
and lie about it by saying that they don't sin. John says that we
actually make God a liar when we say we have not sinned.
would like to believe that when John says "we have no sin" and
"we have not sinned" that John is only talking about our lives
before trusting the Lord as Savior. But since this is a family epistle
dealing with fellowship with the Lord and with one another, I am
convinced that he is referring to the kind of sin that breaks fellowship
in the family. That means he is talking to Christians after they are
saved. 1 John 2:1 says that Christians have an advocate or lawyer with
the Father when they sin. So John seems to imply that Christians do sin
after they are saved. Therefore, I believe that Christians who say that
they do not sin and who say that they do not continue in at least some
kinds of sin are deceiving themselves.
what does John mean when he says that a Christian does not sin? He says
that the commandments are that we believe in the Lord and that we love
one another (1 John 3:23). He comes back to the theme of loving one
another over and over again. He says Cain is one who hated his brother
and that we can not be like him and be saved. He says the devil sinned
from the beginning and we cannot be like him and be saved. John 8:44
says that the devil is a liar and a murderer. So when John says we
should not continue in sin, he is saying we should not be acting in hate
like Satan or Cain. We cannot continue in the sin of hating our brother
and of not believing in the Lord and be saved. Now we don't always love
our brother as we ought so we can confess our sins and in that way keep
the commandment as our standard even when it condemns our actions.
Keeping the commandments actually means that we guard the truth. The
truth is that the born again person never wants to harm another brother
or sister in Christ. Cain and Abel fought over religion and Cain
murdered Abel. When religious authorities kill in the name of Christ as
some have in the past, according to John, those people who do that are
simply not saved. I think that is what John means in 1 John 3:9,
"Whoever has been born of God does not sin (or hate), for His seed
remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of
God." God's seed plants love in our hearts.
sees things black and white. We walk in the light or we walk in
darkness. We love or we hate. I wonder what his analysis of our lives
would be just based on our love of "one another"?
for the week of December 6, 2009
14:9 Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let
him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; The righteous walk in
them, But transgressors stumble in them.
is wise? Is it the scientist? Is it the philosopher? Is it the person
who knows how to make a billion bucks? Is it the person with the most
friends? Or is it the person who not only believes that God exists, but
who believes what He says and worships Him?
this book the northern ten tribes of Israel had turned away from God. As
a result, God was judging them as a nation. Instead of turning back to
Him, they were looking for human help from other nations to deliver
them. Hosea was calling the northern ten tribes to repentance that their
blessings might be restored. In addition, he was pleading with the two
southern tribes to be faithful and not to follow in the footsteps of the
northern ten tribes. Today, since the kingdom is a spiritual kingdom and
not an earthly one, I would apply these warnings to the church which is
the society where God's authority is honored. In the world, we have a
society where Satan is in charge (Ephesians 2:2). In the church, we are
supposed to be a society where the Lord Jesus is in charge. But does the
visible religious professing church consist of those who are wise today?
who is wise? He is the person who "builds his house on the Rock
(Matthew 7:21-29)." We do that by doing what the Lord asks. Verses
22 and 23 indicate that when we do the right things for the wrong
reason, we do not please or even know God. But when we do the right
things for the right reason, that pleases God. The first thing that the
wise do is "repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15)." Then
we who have believed in the Lord Jesus will have a desire to live to
please Him. When we do the good things mentioned in Matthew 7:22 to
honor God rather expecting those things to earn us a place in His
kingdom, God is pleased and we are wise.
remember that shortly after I was saved, I began to wonder if I had
believed right and if I had believed in the way others had believed.
Whenever I would ask myself if I believed, I would lose my confidence.
When I asked myself if Christ had died for me, I would say, "Of
course" and regain my joy. Before I was saved, I had never really
trusted in the fact that the work of salvation was finished completely
when Christ died and rose again. I kept waiting for God to do something
to "save me". I realized one Sunday afternoon in my room that
God had done everything that He was going to do to save me. I got peace
about my sins and my relationship with God. But then I began to ask
myself if I had repented enough and if I had really believed. When I ran
across this section in Matthew 7, I realized that when I had trusted in
the truth that the work that saves is finished, I had trusted in bedrock
truth. And it was that truth that gave me peace, not my repenting and
believing. We must believe the truth to be saved, but I found out that
we can't depend on our believing. We need to depend on the Truth.
was getting an education back in those days and thought I was a pretty
good student. Yet the first wise thing I ever did was to trust the Lord
longer I live the more confused I get when I talk to people about the
Gospel. People say they are believers and yet they have organized
churches in ways that are totally opposed to the principles of
Scripture. They say they are saved but never preach the Gospel of God's
grace from the pulpit. They say they are saved but never talk about
their love for the Lord Jesus. These were all things that I thought were
part of our devotion to the Lord after we come to know Him and trust Him
as our Savior. Sometimes I wonder if the professing church is like
Israel in the book of Hosea. Are we really wise?
feel like the blind man in John 9 who had his eyes opened by the Lord.
He didn't know very much but he could honestly say this, " One
thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see (John 9:25)" The
one thing I know is that the Lord Jesus Christ died for my sins. God
calls the one who believes that truth wise. That person will never be
overcome by the storms of life.
is wise?" is a good question. A better question might be, "Am
for the week of December 13, 2009
to Be a Successful Gospel Preacher
11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of
God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
a preaching friend of mine shared the story of a young person who came
to trust in the Lord Jesus as her personal Savior. She was reached as a
result of some preaching and as the result of some personal work. If she
had not been befriended by a young lady that I know, she probably would
never have listened to the Gospel. But today she has her fortune made.
She has had her sins forgiven and when this life is over, she will be
"with Christ" (Philippians 1:23). This is the kind of story
that makes my day.
I talked to my preaching friend, he told me that this sort of thing
happens in the Philippines where he was a missionary all the time. I
wish I could say that it happened in my ministry all the time but I
can't. So I am wondering what can be done to be a part of a work that is
fruitful in the Gospel? I know that kind of work would revive me and
those with whom I worship. I have been searching the Scripture for
answers and this is what I have found:
Jonah 1, Jonah was disobedient and because of his disobedience he fled
from the presence of the Lord by getting into a ship going to Spain. He
tried to avoid preaching to the wicked city, Nineveh. Because of his
disobedience there was a great storm and the sailors wanted to know why
God had sent it. Jonah told them about his disobedience and that Jehovah
was judging him for his disobedience. They threw him overboard and the
storm ceased. But as a result, they feared Jehovah, prayed to Him and
worshiped Him. Because of Jonah's disobedience, these men were
"saved" in the new testament sense of the word.
Jonah is obedient and goes to Nineveh and preaches just eight words.
Those words were, "Yet forth days and Nineveh shall be
overthrown." There was no offer of hope or salvation but when the
people heard the message, they were convicted and repented. The Lord
withheld his destruction because of their change in attitude. They
figured out how to be saved once they understood that God intended to
destroy them. They didn't have to be told how to be saved. Jonah is
called a great preacher by the Lord in Matthew 12:41, and yet all he did
was to repeat eight words over and over again.
then, saw the sailors saved through his disobedience and Nineveh saved
through his obedience. So what is the key to successful Gospel
preaching? The key is to let God do His work and to marvel at it. I
would certainly rather God blessed me for being obedient than for being
disobedient, but God's ways are past finding out. We can do everything
right and it may be that God will not use us to see visible fruit. In
that situation we may be planting and later on someone else may be the
reaper. But a lack of fruit certainly doesn't imply that we are doing
something wrong and visible fruit doesn't imply that we are doing
everything right. Jonah proves that we might be doing something wrong
and we might still see fruit in the Gospel.
is the lesson here? In my mind, the only time we are doing something
wrong is when we give up trying to spread the good news in whatever way
we can. But even if we fail God, He will get his work done in one way or
another. I would like that to be through me, and I hope you would like
that as well. And I hope that when he works through me it is because I
have been obedient and not because I have been disobedient.
for the week of December 20, 2009
Christ the Reason for the Season?
-10 If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt
believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou
shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and
with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
often hear people say that Jesus is the reason for the season at
Christmas time. I doubt very much that the Lord wants to be assigned to
"a season". I think He would rather be worshiped from the
heart every day. He has asked us to believe in Him with our hearts, to
be baptized to show that we believe in Him and to remember Him
"often" by sharing in a symbolic meal that proclaims His death
until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). He wants us to give Him our bodies
as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). He wants the fruit of our lips which
is praise (Hebrews 13:15) . Many people who have worshiped Christ during
this "season" have worshiped Him as He has asked, but many
have not. How many of us were honestly occupied with the Christ of the
Bible that loved us and died for us this holiday season?
the above verses, the Lord wants our hearts. I believe that means He
wants our affection and love, our loyalty, our friendship and our
obedience. He doesn't want us to believe about Him, He wants us to
believe in Him. He is the author of our eternal salvation, He is the
first and the last, He is the beginning and the end, He is the One who
is and who was and who is to come, He is the Messiah, He is the Man of
Sorrows, He is also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the
friend of sinners, He is the Prince of Peace, and He is my Savior, my
Lord and my God.
of the world didn't believe that He came the first time even though He
came just as it was predicted in the old testament. Gentiles coming from
Iraq who likely believed the prophecies of Daniel believed in Him and
came from the East to worship Him, but the Hebrews by and large had
their hopes set on a political deliverer rather than a spiritual
deliverer, and they rejected His claims. Religion missed Him but a few
students of the old testament prophecies who had their hearts touched
believed in their hearts and worshiped Him.
Lord who was crucified has made a bold claim. He said He is coming
again. He is coming to judge the world for rejecting Him and is going to
set up the righteous kingdom that was prefigured by Solomon's reign and
that is foretold over and over again in the prophecies of the Bible.
Before He does that He is going to come and deliver those who have
believed in their hearts from the day of His wrath. They are going to be
caught up to be with Him forever. If we have believed in our hearts that
God has raised Christ from the dead, surely we should be looking for His
second coming. The promise of His coming assures us that our future is
secure. We know that this world is not going to become
"Christian" and the most of the people in this world are never
going to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). The world
may have its Christmas, but most people have never believed in Christ
with their hearts.
Lord wants us to believe in our hearts that the baby that was born in
Bethlehem went to the cross to die for our sins and that He has been
raised from the dead. He is living and He is coming again. We need to be
occupied with Him all the time and not just at a particular season. He
wants to be our all-in-all all of the time.
for the week of December 27, 2009