Monday, July 4, 2011

Devotion

Have you ever wondered about why people break the law so often? Speeders don’t seem to care if the speed limit is 35, 45, or 65; they will always drive 5 to 10 miles over what it tells them to. People litter, jay walk, park where they shouldn’t, etc, etc, etc. Now these are only misdemeanors or petty crimes that I’m listing, but they seem to be ones that people just can’t avoid breaking…unless the police are present to contain their lawless tendencies. People are good at doing what they know is wrong and always having (in their opinion) a good reason for having done so. How many of these people would you think, if questioned, consider themselves patriots?

By the term patriot I simply mean that they love our country and have loyalist views regarding the primacy of the United States. Yet I cannot help but wonder: if you are truly a patriot would not your love of country reflect in your daily life of abiding by the laws of the United States government? What I mean is: if we love our country so much wouldn’t love for our government and nation be displayed in sterling citizenship and service? How else can devotion be demonstrated, lest it be with a lifestyle that corresponds to the claims you make? To word it more clearly: why do so many who claim to be patriots not honor their country by obeying its simplest rules and laws? As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

So it is with Christian obedience; why do we profess what we have no intention of obeying? Jesus worded it perfectly when He said, “Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?” Luke 6:46. This is an important question each of us who claims the name of Christian must grapple with. I find it disturbing to hear how casually Christians treat the words of our Lord and His inspired apostles. This is the vast difference between a believer and a disciple. There is a distinct difference in the New Testament; those who followed Jesus at the beginning of John chapter 6 were interested in the teachings and miracles of Christ; but when His teachings became personal, and He began to apply them in ways that those who received them must live in light of them, many departed, John 6:66. Only those who were willing to be discipled remained, John 6:68.
It is still so today. We read the New Testament and mentally assent to much of what is written, and then we silently jettison (in our mind) all that does not agree with our bias or lifestyle. Sexual sin is a massive roadblock for us. Adultery and fornication—living with or sleeping with someone outside of marriage or with someone else’s spouse—is slowly being sanctified within the church. Yet adultery is severely condemned in Scripture. Homosexuality is severely condemned in Scripture, yet now pastors are being ordained who are openly gay and denominations (most recently Presbyterian) rejoice at the verdict. Mind you, not all, but most believe the church is finally arriving at an enlightened period in its history when the limitless love of God is being demonstrated without the horrible roadblock of doctrine getting in the way. The Emergent Church Movement capitalizes on this “feelings without rules” mentality.

Yet Scripture informs us that there will be a majority of the church in the latter days that believes itself entirely self-sufficient, enlightened and powerful; yet Christ describes her as poor, blind, miserable and naked; utterly vulnerable and without any imputed dignity to support her, Revelation 3:17. I believe this adequately describes the state of today’s professing church, by and large.

Let’s review the facts we know:
1. The Bible preaches a literal seven day creation period. The church today has largely accepted Evolution or its derivatives: Theistic Evolution, the Gap Theory, or the Day-Age Theory. Yet the New Testament writers and Jesus personally testified to the literal creation week numerous times.

2. The Bible teaches us that its word is sufficient and final in all matters of faith and morals. It is the infallible and enduring word of God. Heaven and earth will pass away, but not God’s word, Mark 13:31. Today we have “translations” of the Bible like the Renovaire version, which out-and-out rejects the inspiration of the Bible and denigrates God’s word to cultural poetry. Paraphrases such as “The Message” are little better. Yet as A.W. Tozer pointed out, commands in the Bible are not addressed to our understanding but to our will; in other words, God is appealing for our obedience to a revealed command, and when we understand a command and refuse to obey it we are sinning, James 4:17. God will no longer bless us. Like rebellious Israel in the desert wanderings, we may be His children and He will provide for our needs, but blessing follows obedience: it can never be the other way around.

3. We are presently doing what God strictly warned about today with our ordination of homosexual ministers. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20. More so, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them,” Isaiah 8:20. The Jews of Jeremiah’s time thought they were safe from judgment because the temple of the Lord was in their city. They were wrong, were severely judged and received terrible rebuke from God. The unsaved are sown amidst the wheat of the church and are advancing Satan’s agenda to undermine Christ’s church from within. It is our job, or duty as stewards of God’s word, to check all that occurs within the professing church by the light of God’s word and if it fails this simple and profound test to cast it out, Acts 17:11; Titus 3:10-11.

4. We are stultified by preaching an “easy believism” gospel. I know and am convinced by God’s word that faith is the criterion for eternal life. Yet Jesus warned that we ought to count the cost of following Him, for cost us something it should. If our faith never provokes us to stand on some issue or for some reason that is costly, what value is said faith? Like the national patriotism from above that should provoke devotion to one’s country; so too should love of God and the salvation He offers freely in Jesus Christ provoke worship of Him that manifests in obedience. Do we obey because, like the fear of breaking the law, we don’t want to get caught doing the wrong thing in case God is watching? Or do we refrain from evil because we know it would please our Lord, and it pleases us to please Him? Jesus’ great commission was to go and make disciples of all nations and to TEACH them to observe (that is, perform) all things that He commanded, Matthew 28:19-20. We have churches full of believers who have never been disciples.

This is merely the tip of the iceberg. The Old Testament Law provoked obedience by threatening penal justice. This incentive was from without; it told us what we should not do and the penalty for doing it anyhow, but it never told us how the law could be kept. Threat of force and fear of death were external motivators that did not change the quality of the person; it never reached within and changed who a man is inside, where we make decisions to either obey or disobey. Most people will keep the law from fear of being punished; but that does not mean those same people don’t WANT to break the law, despite the fact that they will not. The problem is a heart issue, and the New Testament with its emphasis on the rebirth and the sealing of the Holy Spirit, addresses this issue. Now fear is no longer a motivator. Love is, John 14:23; 1st John 4:19.

Does the love of God compel obedience in us? Is obedience the natural out-flowing of our love toward God? Do we freely obey because it is His pleasure, and we want to do what pleases Him? This is evidence that the Holy Spirit does abide within us, because only God can naturally produce that which is pleasing to Him, Romans 5:3-5. Decide today: are you a disciple of Jesus Christ or not? If so, you are charged to keep the whole word of God because it is profitable for all things regarding this life, 2nd Peter 1:3; 2nd Timothy 3:16. Don’t just listen anymore; when you hear and understand, obey! Obedience should be the natural response of the new life within you. If obedience means nothing to you, perhaps, just perhaps, you have never been born again and do not know Jesus Christ. A completely barren faith is a dangerous object to possess, because our Lord warned that we would be known by our fruits. Have you produced any fruit of the Spirit? Or is your spiritual life every bit as stagnant as the moment you first “believed?” It is a very dangerous road to tread once a believer becomes secure in following the shifting opinions and popular trends of today’s majority. Take heed, always. God bless, brethren.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ian.

    I get really frustrated by politicians who insist "I'm a Christian, but I don't let it affect my actions." If you really believe something it will affect the actions. a Christian who doesn't practice it demonstrates he doesn't really take it seriously.

    ReplyDelete

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