Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Tag Archives: Sin

Difficult Verses: 1 Cor. 10.13

2

Someone recently asked me to discuss 1 Cor. 10.13 as they found it a difficult verse.  No problems there, let’s do it!

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

It’s quite a long verse, so let’s break it down a bit so we can digest it.  The first section says “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.”  This is actually one of the most encouraging sentences in the New Covenant.  We all have times when we feel overwhelmed with temptation – when doing the wrong thing pressurizes us so much it seems difficult to imagine ourselves surviving temptation.  But the good news is this: firstly, everyone has been tempted too.  Nothing has happened to you that is unique.  In a healthy church or community, you can easily share what you are going through and people will understand because they have been through similar things: that’s part of the value of a strong, healthy community.  It’s why Jesus puts people in churches! Secondly, it means that everything you are facing in terms of temptation is on a human level.  That’s awesome – it means that you are not having to deal with problems that are supernatural or spiritual!  Even an unregenerate human can deal with temptation – and you are born again, you have the zoe life of God inside you.  You are the head and not the tail.  You can deal with the temptation.  So that bit is double good news!

The second bit of this verse says: “and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able”.  This sentence is another bit of double good news. Firstly, God is faithful.  Now, in the Greek, there is no difference between the words “faithful” and “faith”.  This verse is actually letting us know that God is FAITH.  God believes in you.  God knows you can make it.  God knows you can manage.  God knows you can cope.  And God – who knows and believes in you – will never ever let things get beyond your ability to handle.  So whatever mess you are in right now, you know you can cope.  God believes in you – so why not believe in yourself?  So here is the double good news from this part of the verse: God is on your side.  No matter how many times you have messed up in the past, God believes you can make it this time.  No matter your past, God believes in your future.  And secondly: you will never be put in a situation you cannot handle.

Finally, we find out that “but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  Again, another double blessing in here.  With every temptation there is a way out.  You need to understand this – no matter what you are going through there is a way out.  Maybe you have a porn addiction – there is a way out, there is someone you can talk to, there are solutions to help you get out of it.  Maybe you are drinking too much, there is a way out.  Maybe you are becoming cynical and mean – there is a way out.  THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY OUT!  THERE IS ALWAYS A WAY OUT!  That’s great news.  And finally: you can endure.  The word endure means to put up with; you can find a way out – and it won’t always be easy, but you can endure the way out.  It might be difficult to share your struggles with another human, it may be a shame getting rid of the internet or satellite TV, it may be hard to ditch a couple of your best friends who are always leading you the wrong way.  But YOU CAN ENDURE – whatever the path out is, you can walk it, and you can walk in victory.

This verse is full of good news for anyone who is struggling with sin.  It really is.  

If you have any thoughts or comments, or prayer requests, why not comment below?

Difficult Verses 5: 1 John 5.16

1

Image

Someone emailed me this week asking about the meaning of 1 John 5.16, saying it had always been a puzzling verse to them.  And I agreed – it is a strange verse.  Read it for yourself in the KJV:

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.  

So it would appear there are a number of questions: what is the difference between a sin leading to death and a sin that doesn’t lead to death.  Any why would there ever be a divine instruction in Scripture not to pray for someone – especially someone in trouble!

Some people use these verses to justify an idea that there are different levels of sin: generally the sin that they do is acceptable, but other people’s sins are unacceptable.  Two things we need to consider so we can discard that idea: firstly, John had just finished saying that all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5.12), so it seems very unlikely that John is then after putting all sin in the same box separating sin into good sins (or less bad sins) and bad (or worse) sins.  Secondly, it is clear that it is about seeing the sin: it’s not about gossip and finding out that way.  It’s that the brother sees the other Christian commit the sin that does not lead to death.

Well the answer is not that there are different scales of sin, but that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23).  Sin pays wages and the wages sin pays is death.  But not every day is pay day!  If you see your brother sinning, you should ask (pray) about it.  But this is where the grammar of this verse gets confused.  Most people translate the personal pronouns like this: 

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he [that man] shall ask, and he [God] shall give him [the sinning brother] life for them that sin not unto death

So the idea is that you see a brother sinning – you go round someone’s house and catch them watching a porno, you are with them when they explode in anger at someone and plan to hurt them, they tell you they are having an affair, you use their bathroom and the towels say “Hilton”.  So you pray, and because your pray is so awesome God will pour life into that person and wipe away that sin.

That’s not how things work, and you know it!  People sin – born-again, Spirit-filled, Christians sin.  And your prayers don’t change that because prayers don’t override free will.  You can pray for people in sin, don’t get me wrong, and if you rebuke the devil and pray for peace, they may suddenly regain a freedom and start living for God, but they could equally choose to keep sinning.

The point is that is not what this verse means.  The pronouns in Greek are all referring to the same indiviudal, so the best way to translate this verse is:

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he [the man that sees his brother sinning] shall ask, and he [the man who sees his brother sinning] shall give him [the brother sinning] life for them that sin not unto death

In other words when you catch someone in a sin, when you see it (not when you hear Sister Bucketmouth tell you all about it) then you don’t just pray.  You give life to your brother.  What does that mean?  You tell them that they are righteous, you point out that sin is evil and its wages are death.  You tell them that Christ has already paid the full price for their sin, and that they are dead to sin, and alive to Christ.  You give them the life of the gospel of redemption and you love them will all the love you have.  You are not the accuser of the brethen, you are the brethren of the brethren.  Did you know in law courts judges aren’t allowed to judge family?  That is because even this nation recognizes that family-ties overtake the role of being a judge.  Yet most of the church want to judge their family in Christ.  No!  Love your family in Christ, be family to your family in Christ.  Bring life to them.  Speak words of life and hope and freedom!  Whenever you see someone sin, let them know how much you love them and how free they are!

That’s why it’s not a sin unto death – you brought life before payday.  

The next thing John says is: There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.  

That seems harsh until you realize there is a mis-translated word in there.  And it is the word “pray”.  The Greek word here is not aiteo, the normal Greek word for prayer, it is eratao – which means to ask questions about.  This verse is not saying “yeah, some sins are so bad that if someone does a sin from the bad list you should simply then not pray for them or help them because they are such bad Christians” – though I know a lot of people see it that way.  It’s not saying that, it’s saying something else, something far more profound and far more Christ-like:

There is a sin unto death.  I do not say [another Christian brother] shall ask questions about it.

You see sometimes a sin is hidden until it explodes in someone’s face.  It’s not one of those times you find out about it, show love and life to the person and help them.  You only find out when the person is suddenly dealing with the consequences.  It’s now payday, the wages of sin are now being paid out in full.  His wife turfs him out, his car is repossessed, his boss fires him, his friends abandon him.  In those cases, the Scriptures are not telling you “don’t pray for such a wicked person”.  It’s saying “don’t ask any questions” – mind your own business, don’t ask for all the juicy details.  Get involved by loving, showing life, helping, praying, being kind.  Don’t get involved by trying to find out all the juicy details, and give them your tuppence worth.  No-one when their sin harvest comes in wants your tuppence worth, they want your love and life and abundance.  We live in an age of gossips, and this verse is a timely encouragement to focus on what’s important.

So if you see someone sinning before their sin payday, pray and show them love and give them some life.  If you see someone sinning after sin payday, show them love and grace and don’t get hung up on the details.  Never ever forsake someone for messing up, but love them!

Difficult Verses 4: 1 John 1.9

3

Image

Well, thanks to the people who suggested this verse as a difficult verse they want an explanation on.  I will do my best to help you grasp what this verse is saying.  The verse says this:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1.9, ESV)

And it is a difficult verse because it seems at face value that it contradicts the wealth of New Covenant Scriptures that we are forgiven because of the work of Jesus, not because of anything we do: that we are saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2.8-9), that the way to salvation is through believing in the work of Christ (Acts 16.31) and not by our works (Romans 4.16, 24).  If our forgiveness is dependent on our ability to confess, then we are in trouble – you don’t remember all your sins, and nor do I – so how can we possibly confess them all.

This verse is initially so difficult to reconcile with the New Covenant that some people actually seek to remove it from Scripture.  I have heard that, against all principles of letter-writing and grammar, that 1 John 1 was written to non-Christians and 1 John 2-5 was written to Christians.  I will give you three reasons why this cannot possibly be true, but firstly let’s just realize this: if your theology has to rip a New Testament letter to the church in two to avoid a verse, you are letting your theological system have more weight than the Word of God has.  That can only be reading into the text, not reading out of it.  

There are three clear reasons this verse applies to Christians today:

  • There is no chapter break between 1 and 2 in the original text.  You have to rip a letter written to the church into two to make this idea work
  • John uses first person plural pronounsin the verse: “we”, “our” and “us”.  Now if John says “we”, “our” and “us” he is including himself.  You cannot argue that this verse is not to Christians unless you want to make the case that John was not a Christian.  If this verse applies to John, it applies to you.
  • People haven’t thought through the implications of what they are saying.  For people who claim this verse isn’t for Christians, they have to then accept it is for non-Christians.  Some people say it is for all non-Christians, others have a special group of non-Christians that 1 John 1 is apparently written to (again, against all possible logic and grammar!).  One prominent teacher tells us that this first chapter of 1 John 1 is written to the Gnostics.   Now, let’s just ignore the fact that there were no Gnostics around in the 1st century when this letter was penned, and let’s just say that if it is not written to Christians then it must be written to someone!  Do the people who think that it written to non-Christians think that non-Christians (whether all of them or just a special group of them) think that non-Christians have to confess all their sins to be righteous?  Do they believe that for a certain group of Gnostics the normal rules of salvation by faith don’t apply?  It’s just not been thought through. 

I appreciate the passion people have for Christ and the complete work, but ripping verses out of the Bible, or relegating them to a secret group of people who no longer exist, because they are difficult to understand is not the way to honour the Word of God.  We have to engage with the Word and find out what it means.

So what does 1 John 1.9 mean?  Well, firstly, we have established that it is definitely written to Christians.  It is written to born-again, righteous, pure, holy, redeemed people.  John includes himself in the recipients of the letter – so it is definitely written to Christians, even mature Christians and leaders and elders!  Let’s just be honest – sometimes Christians, whether they are new Christians, older Christians or even church leaders – sin.  We get caught up in patterns of sinful behaviour and we need to get out.  This verse actually gives us a powerful route out of sin, and to relegate it to a 2nd century cult or rip it out of the letter is to do Christians a great disservice because this verse is powerful and will help you when you rightly understand it.

The first thing we need to do to find the meaning of the verse is examine the words that make it up.  Let’s start with the word “confess”, which in Greek is homologia.  Homo- means the same as, and logia means words, and homologia means to “say the same words as”.  It doesn’t mean we have to ball and squall on the floor and weep and wail about all our sins.  It isn’t talking about an emotional experience, although sinning, dealing with sin and making declarations can be emotional at times.  It is talking about you saying the same thing as God about your sin.  So what does God say about your sin?

Firstly, God says that sin is sin.  So stop calling it something else.  It’s not your personality type, it’s not a bad habit, it’s not my oopsie. It’s sin.  Gossip is sin.  Stealing is sin.  Outbursts of rage is sin.  Looking at a woman with lust in the heart, watching porn, is sin.  Sex outside of marriage is sin.  Cursing Christians is sin.  Pride and arrogance is sin.  Call it what it is.  Face up to the issue – man up and own your sin! Say out loud: “I have sinned.  This action I have done is sin, and I want to be free!”  Let’s exercise some responsibility.

Secondly, God says that your sin has been paid for on the cross.  It has been dealt with.  2 Cor. 5.21 tells us that Christ became sin with your sin so that you could be made the righteousness of God.  So your sin has been forgiven and you have died to sin.  Sin is not your master anymore because you are under grace (Romans 6.14).  Now you have accurately diagnosed your problem as sin, and are not hiding behind an excuse start to declare that you are free from sin, that you are forgiven, that you are redeemed, that you are righteous, that your spirit is pure and holy, that you are born again.  Start to declare this outloud.  That is confessing your sin – saying what God says about it.

You see you can only have God’s remedy for your problem when you admit God’s diagnosis for your problem.  Keep denying it is sin, keep blaming the other people for making you behave like that, you start to distort the world.  Your thinking darkens and you become corrupt.  Admit it is sin, declare it is sin, then you can declare God’s solution to sin: the blood of Christ and the cross of Christ.

So now you have confessed your sin, we find out that God will do two things.  Not because He is merciful and kind (though He is!) but He will do these things because He is faithful and righteous.  You see if you have sinned, and you have confessed that sin, then you need to know that God isn’t going to do what He does next because of His goodness but because of His righteousness and faithfulness.  Christ died for your sin because of God’s goodness, but now that Christ has paid the full price for sin, it would be unrighteous for God not to help you in your sin!

How does God help us?  Well, the Scripture says He forgives us and He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  This again causes problems for us complete work people, we read this and go “well, I am forgiven” and “I am righteous” so what is this about?  Let’s just look a little deeper and find out.

Firstly, God forgiving us?  Aren’t we forgiven because of Jesus at the cross, rather than because of our awesome confession?  It depends what you mean by forgive.  The Greek word for forgive is also equally translated as separate, and even as divorce a couple of times.  It means to firmly and deliberately separate two things.  This verse isn’t talking about God forgiving us because we finally said sorry – I know it’s been preached that way, but God is not waiting for an apology!  Forgiveness is rooted in the cross, not our apology.  It’s talking about the fact that God will separate you from your sin – when you start declaring what the Bible says about your sin, you find that sin loses it’s power to tempt you, to control you, to hold you.  When you start declaring that you are free from sin, and sin has no dominion over you because you are under grace not law, that sin loses its power to con you into thinking you have to obey it.  That is what 1 John 1.9 means by forgiveness – it’s about being free from that sin.

Then the cleansing from all unrighteousness.  Look, we all should know that our spirits are righteous the moment we get born again. You are totally righteous in your spirit.  Therefore, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that this Scripture is not talking about our spirit! Then it shouldn’t be too difficult to realize it’s talking about our souls.  Your spirit is righteous, but your soul – not so much.  If you had an x-ray machine that could see spirit and soul, and you were standing next to Jesus and you set the machine to spirit – you would not be able to tell the difference between you and Jesus.  You are one spirit (1 Cor. 6.17).  That’s awesome – your spirit is the righteousness of God.

But if you turned the dial on the machine and set it to soul – to thought processes, to how we think and respond and feel.  I am guessing it wouldn’t be that hard to work out which one is Jesus and which one is us!  Our souls are not yet fully renewed and not yet fully restored – we are a work in progress in our souls.  But when we start declaring the Word of God and what God says about sin – confessing our sins – then God, in His faithfulness and righteousness – starts to cleanse our souls from that unrighteousness.  Our thoughts start to line up with His thoughts, our ways subsume into His ways.  It’s awesome!  You see now why the power of this verse means that it should not be relegated to non-Christians or Gnostics or ripped out of the Bible!  It’s part of grace!

Now you sin and most of the time, you can pick yourself up again.  This verse isn’t saying to confess all our sins, it’s talking about those times where a sin or group of sins just seems to be having the victory over us and our life.  Sometimes, and it happens to all of us, a certain sin just seems to get the better of us.  It seems to be winning.  In those cases, here are the 4 steps to victory:

  1. Agree with God that it is a sin.  Stop making excuses or blaming the others, or your DNA, or the situation.  It is sin.  Confess (declare) that your actions are sinful.  This is the diagnosis that allows the remedy – if you can’t make the right diagnosis, you won’t take the right cure!
  2. Agree with God that sin has been dealt with on the cross.  Start to declare and agree with God that sin has been dealt with.  That you died to sin, that sin is not your master.  Read Romans 6.1-14 out loud.  Declare that it is for freedom that you have been set free.  Declare that your spirit is righteous, that you are pure and holy.  Confess (agree with God) that this sin has been dealt with on the cross.
  3. God will then forgive (separate) you from your sin.  You will find as you declare and agree with God what He says about your sin that it’s power is dethroned.  Your confession gives you authority and wisdom.  It dislodges the sin from your thoughts, and God jumps in and separates you and your sin.
  4. God will cleanse you (your soul) from all unrighteousness.  He will start to help you renew your mind and think God thoughts.

The Christian life is not just health and wealth, it’s also manifest righteousness.  It’s living free from sin, living free from selfishness.  Never having to lose relationships because of your selfishness is one of the best blessings about living the Christian life.  And confession of sin, as defined Biblically – not culturally or dogmatically – is one of the most powerful tools in the Christian life.  Don’t follow the people who because of the misusers of this verse have become non-users of this verse!  Become a user of this verse and learn how to live a life free from sin today. 

God’s Marvellous Grace – A Licence to Sin?

1

Image

I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. – Jude 1.4

I think if you are a pastor today, or if you go to church today (I know that’s becoming unpopular among some grace people, but church is still God’s plan to change the world), then you will know that this Scripture is true.  People are worming their way into strong, healthy churches, and teaching that God’s grace allows us to live immoral lives.

As a pastor of a grace church, as someone who loves grace, and who has been changed beyond recognition by the truths of God’s grace, I know from bitter experience that people do still think that grace lets you live immoral lives.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  And as pastors, as good shepherds, we need to notice these people as they will infect your church and rip it apart.  I’m not posting this post because I am anti-grace, but because I am pro-grace!  A little yeast will spoil the whole bunch.

Here are three ways in which you can identify that people think that grace gives us a licence to sin:

  1. They think that grace means that they never have to say “sorry”.  There was a film in the 70s which said “Love means never having to say you are sorry” but that simply isn’t true.  If you care about and love people, and your actions hurt them – if your behaviour is rude, selfish, critical and abusive then you should apologize.  You should let that person know that you care about them, that you regret causing them pain and that you value their relationship.  Jesus had a lot to say about making amends with your family, and people who just dismiss the hurt they have caused others with their negative, selfish behaviour really do not understand grace, no matter what their doctrine on the subject.What is ironic here is that you will find out that the people who insist grace means they don’t have to apologize, will be the most thin-skinned when other people are mean or unkind to them.   A pastor who does not realize this will end up with a church full of offended people, sulking people, and hurt people.  Love means you should apologize when you offend and hurt someone due to your selfish behaviour.  2 Tim. 2.24 says the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but kind to all.   Matthew 5.23-24 says So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Jesus thinks that reconciliation with others is more important than worship – so be very wary in dealing with people who never think they need to apologize or make amends for their behaviour.  They will destroy your community.
  2. People use grace as a licence to sin when they believe there should be no consequences to their sin.  Now the most beautiful precious truth of grace is that there is no more penalty for sin.  Jesus is the propitiation (the one who takes the penalty) for sin – not just our sin, but the sins of the whole world (1 John 2.2).  There is no more penalty for sin.  You will never be punished for God for your sin.  But sin is still a seed, and seeds will produce harvests.  I had to speak to a young man recently whose girlfriend is pregnant.  He told me “I prayed and prayed that she wouldn’t…” I had to point out that sex is sowing seeds, and seeds produce harvests – in this case, human seeds produce a harvest of a human!  It’s like if you plant apple seeds, don’t bother praying for an orange harvest – it won’t happen.  Sin is sowing seeds of death and they only produce a death harvest.  People who think God’s grace is a licence to sin will always be vocally upset at consequences to sin.  Their marriage is in a mess because they go out get drunk and flirt.  That’s not God judging them, that’s just the consequences to sin.  If you are rude and mean, people will avoid you.  They won’t share their hearts with you.  That’s not God judging you, that’s just the consequences to sin.   People who think grace is a licence to sin will try and avoid the consequences to their sin.  They will never own their sin and own the consequences.  Speeding and parking tickets will be thrown in the bin and ignored, they will never turn up for marriage counselling or debt counselling – they would prefer to moan about their wives and post on Facebook how much money they desperately need.  People who cannot face the consequences to their actions are immature – help them, but don’t build on them and don’t take the consequences for them!
  3. People who think there should be no consequences for sin generally think that means that they should not have to endure the consequences for their sin.  You having to put up with the consequences of their sin does not bother them at all.  Them having to put up with the consequences of sin is all that gets them upset.  So these people will never respect your personal space or fences (if you need some teaching on setting boundaries or fences in your life – or dealing with people like this, http://www.treeoflifeguildford.com/building-fences.html will help you no end), and will invade your life with their problems.They can’t handle being a couple of hundred pounds out of pocket because of their greediness and overspending and lack of self-control, but if they can “borrow” the money off you, then they will not mind you being out of pocket.  And as for saying sorry when they can’t pay you back, see point 1!  If you put up a fence to these people, and refuse to enable them (to use psychological language, refuse to be their co-dependent) then expect a barrage of verbal abuse telling you that you don’t understand grace, that you are legalistic, that you are harsh, mean, selfish.  Grace to these people means that there should be no consequences to their sin; and that people should not put healthy boundaries in their life to protect them from abusive people and anyone who does put a boundary up is accused of being unloving and ungracious.

That is when grace is perverted in my mind, and when I see those three things: an inability to apologize and own wrong doing, an inability to take responsibility for the consequences of actions, and a lack of respect for other people’s personal space and life – then I see an immaturity, a mis-understanding of grace, and I see problems ahead.

Jude’s response to this is to remember that people like this will exist (vv. 18-19).  You should not be surprised at the way some so-called grace Christians can and will act, and how they will try and take advantage of you.

His second piece of advice is “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (vv. 20-21).  In other words, that’s how they behave but you – but you behave in a different way: praying in the Holy Spirit which is speaking in tongues (just as another issue: people who turn the grace of God into a licence to sin often never pray in the Holy Spirit unless they are facing personal dilemmas). You should pray in tongues.  You might be tempted to get annoyed at how other people have treated you: pray in tongues.  You see a so-called mature Christian tell you that apologizing for messing up and losing your temper at someone is the devil: pray in tongues. Someone comes to you and calls you names, insisting you forgive because you are a grace person, but they never do anything to contribute to the relationship or help you in any way: praying in tongues.  Someone is disrespecting your personal life and invading your territory because it is easier on them: pray in tongues.  Pray in tongues!

Secondly: keep yourself in the love of God.  Remember: other people may misuse you, may worm their way into the church and cause trouble.  But you are still loved by God.  Forget that and your response to these grace-twisters may be less than stellar.  You might be the one being rude.  No – remember GOD LOVES YOU.  He adores you.  He loves you.  He cares about you.  He dotes on you.  Keep focused on Him.  Ministry is hard – but Jesus said “Don’t rejoice you have authority over demons, but rejoice that your name is in the Lamb’s book of life”.  In other words, if you rejoice in your effectiveness as a minister – you will have ups and downs.  If you rejoice in God’s love – it’s all up.

Let the people get on with it, set healthy boundaries, speak in tongues loads – build yourself up and discipline yourself to pray in the Spirit, not just when you have a need but because it’s good discipline, training and growth, and don’t treat God’s grace as a licence to sin, but keep yourself in it.  You see the people that take God’s grace and use it as a licence to sin have heard some ideas about God’s grace, some sermons on God’s grace, maybe even gone to a grace church or even a grace Bible College, but they are not keeping themselves in the love, in the grace.  (Mental assent to the doctrines of grace without actually having grace may be the greatest danger to the entire grace movement but that’s another post).

You though – keep yourselves in the love of God.  Meditate on the love, confess and declare the love, memorize Scriptures on the love, act in love, walk in love, love one another.  And pastors and leaders, watch out for people who think grace is a licence to sin and restrict their influence because they will choke the church to death.

Romans 1.29

0

eing filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

This verse and the next two verses show the the end results of the “death spiral”. This is what it looks like when an individual or a community or a nation completely rejects God and His ways and His personality. They have started with rejecting God’s glory and not being grateful to Him and ended up with a personality and a society that is utterly broken down. Sin is like a montrous weed: you think you can plant a couple of seeds and enjoy life a little bit, but the pleasure is just for a season and then the consequences bring pain.

God is not a killjoy! He is the source of joy, and His joy is our strength. He outlines in the Word what brings joy and what does not. Following His will is not about a grey and sterile life, it is about a life of joy and wonder. A life of adventure!

Paul gives us a long list about what a society or individual that consistently and constantly rejects and ignores God ends up like. I am going to simply go through this long list and describe each of these qualities so you can see what a society that rejects God looks like.

adikia – unrighteousness – in this context, the word means unjust or unfair. A society that rejects God becomes unjust. People are penalized for things that they did not do, people who commit genuine sins against society are rewarded. A society hits the bottom of the death spiral when it fails to reward just behaviour and punish unjust behaviour. Both the US and the UK recently have seen high profile court cases where justice was simply not done.

In addition, adikia also means that the innocent are not looked after. Children are not cared for, orphans are not looked after and the elderly are ignored.

porneia – This is defined by Strong’s as:

1) illicit sexual intercourse
a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12

Another hallmark of a society at the bottom of the death spiral is an “anything goes” attitude to sexuality.

ponēria – This word means “wicked”, but in the sense of rotten, like an apple that has spoiled. As you know a bad apple can make a dozen good apples bad, but a dozen good apples cannot make a bad apple good.

Any individual at the bottom of the “death spiral” will infect others with his ideas, his speech and his attitudes unless they are aware of what is going on and deal with it appropriately.

Many of us know people like this: they have gone bad. Beware – bad company corrupts good character.

pleonexia – this is the desire to continually have more. The KJV translates this as covetousness, but the NIV and NLT both use the word “greed”. We have made the word “greedy” in our generation a humorous term – a jokey kind of insult when someone takes the second doughnut, or steals someone’s client in the office, or even when someone is cheating on their partner. However, greed is a serious sin that has huge social consequences. Out of control greed is one of the main causes of human suffering in the world.

Greed is actually one of the truest expressions of unbelief. If you feel you have to get all you can, then that is because you do not believe that God will supply your needs. The Christian has no place for greed: seek ye first the kingdom, and all these things will be added to you. Remember the words of Jesus: “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12.15, NIV)

kakia – this is the word for malice. It means that you do things to deliberately hurt other people and you do not even care or feel ashamed that you do. It is one of the symptoms and one of the signs of a nation that is at the bottom of the death spiral is that people feel no shame at hurting others. They rejoice when they get one up on people, they are happy when people are hurt. They boast of how they put people in their place. There is no fear of the Lord, there is no humility. There is something so alien to Christ about taking pleasure in the pain of others and in causing pain to others.

phthonosThis is envy. A lot of people get confused with envy and jealousy. Jealousy can be sinful, but does not have to be – Deut. 4.24 tells us that God is jealous so we can know for a fact that not all jealousy is evil.

The difference is simple: jealousy is an intense desire for something. So if your neighbour gets a brand new car and you intensely desire a car like it, that is jealousy. This is why God calls Himself a jealous God – He intensely desires our attention. There is nothing wrong with having intense desires. If your desires take us away from God, then there is a problem. That is when jealousy becomes a sin.

Envy is always a sin. In the situation with the neighbour’s car, envy would lead you not to want the same car but to want your neighbour to lose his car, maybe to crash it or for it to be scratched. Envy and malice are linked: malice is where you want to hurt someone, envy is where you want their possessions or their reputation in life or their relationships to be destroyed because you want them for yourself.

phonos – Translated murder by the KJV and the NIV, phonos means to deliberately take an innocent life. If you think that is not part of our society, then what do you define abortion as?

eris – This word means strife or contention. This was the sin of the Corinthian church:

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions (Greek eris) among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (1 Cor 1.11-12, KJV)

The eris in Corinth was expressed by them forming gangs: the Paul gang, the Apollos gang, the Cephas gang, and the Christ gang. One of the signs of a nation or community hitting the bottom of the “death spiral” is a gang culture. This could be gangs on ethnic grounds, or the east end postcode gangs (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6304345.stm). Football violence comes from eris as does most racism.

It is dividing yourself up into the “we’s” and the “not-we’s” and deciding that the not-we’s deserve to be treated differenrly. In Corinth there were all sorts of problems, but thankfully they had not reached the end of this cycle – though they did have huge problems. At its worst, eris is probably responsible for more violence, wars and death than any other sin on this list.

dolos – This word means “deceit” and comes from a root word meaning “bait”. It is not just lying, but lying and deceiving people in a way to trap them and entrap them. 1 Peter 2.22 says that dolos is not found in Christ. Isn’t it wonderful for us as Christians to know that our God and Lord will never do anything to trap us or entrap us? He is always honest, always true, always genuine. His goal is never to catch us out!

kakoētheia – This is a really simple compound word. Kako means bad in the sense of not fit for purpose, in the sense that a bad knife is one that will not cut your vegetables or a bad jacket has holes in it and will not keep you warm. Etheia is the word in which we get our English word ethics, and means “appropriate customs”. Kakoetheia means that your customs are not fit for the purpose. Your whole community, your whole set traditions are just without use – they do not build community, they destroy it. They do not bring a sense of family, they deny it.

Many people in society have bad ethics – unfit traditions. They are corrupt by habit – they are used to being selfish, hateful and unfair.

psithyristēs – this word means whispering, in the sense of whispering rumours and slandering people. Whispering is when you never know who is about to backstab you, when people will lie about you to get ahead, when you cannot trust people with your heart. When you have a problem, there is no-one you can trust to help.

Whispering destroys community, destroys churches and destroys families. If you have something to say to someone, say it to their face or say it to the Lord (and I do not mean phone up the church and give them a “prayer” request!) – they are your only two options. Do not ever become a whisperer, you will be destroying your life and your community.

Glory and freedom,
Benjamin

Run Through Romans (ch 5.18-21)

2

18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

 19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

This is a wonderful continuation of what the word taught us in Romans 5.17: through Adam we were all made sinners, but through Christ’s life of perfect obedience that was offered up to the Lord for us, many people shall be made righteousness.  On the cross, Jesus was made sin so that we could be made righteous (2 Cor. 5.21) – to make it more real, I like to say it like this: Jesus who knew no sin became sin with our sin so that we who knew no righteousness could be made righteous with our righteousness.

That is one powerful realization: Jesus took our sin and became our sin on the cross.  Everything you have ever done wrong, every impure thought you have ever had, every lie you have ever told, every sin you have ever committed, every time you crossed the line, every time you acted like there was no line but you knew there was a line – every sin was placed on Him and He became sin with your sin.

No wonder He told the Father: if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.  No wonder as He died He yelled “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”  No wonder the sky was black and the earth was shaking.  He took your sin.  He took my sin.  He took the sin of the world.

Adam disobeyed and his nature became the nature of wrath, he was a child of satan and therefore took after his father, satan (read John 8 – I will post some articles expanding this at some point).  Adam’s whole nature changed – he was spiritually alive created with the spirit and breath of God inside him (Genesis 2.7) , and on the day he sinned he spiritually died losing his communion and love and life, and becoming bound with fear and guilt and shame and blame.

Since then every child of Adam (that is, every single human) has been born dead in their sins and trespasses, unable to please God, unable to serve God, unable to live in victory.  The only solution for this sin issue was if someone completely righteous, someone who never sinned, someone who was born differently so they were born spiritually alive.  Someone who lived their entire life without ever sinning and therefore never dying spiritually. 

And then that someone would have to offer up their life on our behalf, to take all of our sin, to carry it all into their body, and pay the total penalty for all of our sin.  And that is what Jesus did.  Because all the price has been paid for our sin, then we can be made righteous – not by doing anything right – but by believing in Jesus and realizing what He did and then receiving His righteous and His life which then transforms our spirit.   This experience is so life shattering it is called in the Bible being born again (John 3.3,5) – your whole inner nature changes from being dead to being alive, you stop having the nature of death and satan; and start enjoying the nature of God – being a partaker of the divine nature.

 20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

This is Paul re-iterating that this salvation, this life of abundance, this partaking of the divine nature, this being born again, this being made totally righteous and being able to stand before God without sin, without fear, without a sense of judgment or sense of inferiority – being able to come boldly to the throne of grace has NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR MERIT.  The purpose of the law is not to make righteousness abound, but to make offence abound.

The rules and regulations that were in the Old Testament were not to make the people good, but to show them how bad they were.  The Ten Commandments are not to make you good, they cannot make you good, they just make you want to disobey them, they just show you that you fail.  They have no power to change your heart and your attitude.

What is wonderful about this verse is that the more you sin, the more grace there is.  The more you have disobeyed, the more goodness God extends to you.  It is not your goodness that causes God to move towards you and bless you, it is His grace.  Even if you have broken all 10 commandments, and sinned in huge massive ways: God’s grace is more massive.  It is greater.

If you go back to the law and try and obey God and try and be good and try and obey God, the more you do that the more you will fail, the more you will mess up, the more you will offend against God’s holy law.  However, if you come to God and just accept that He is good, that He loves you, that He blesses you – not because you have been good but because He is good and He is kind and He is lovely, you will find that His grace is greater than your sin.  As soon as you stop trying to be good and start to trust in the fact that God is good, then you will be more holy and more loving by accident than you have ever been on purpose.  Say it outloud until you believe it from the core of your being: “God’s grace abounds more than my sin.”

 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

You see sin rules over your life before you are a Christian.  You are dead spiritually and sin is your master.  Because sin is your master, satan can come into your life whenever he wants.  You were the tail and not the head – just following around the circumstances of life.  Whenever you managed to succeed in one area of your life, you started to fail in another. 

But when grace entered your life because you heard and believed your entire nature changed, your entire life changed.  You stopped being spiritually dead and started being spiritually alive, you stopped being a sinner and started being righteous.  You started enjoying eternal life, you started enjoying a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

You stopped being the tail and started being the head – you can speak to mountains and they move, you can walk in victory, you can rule and reign and love life.  That is the joy of being born again, that is the fun of being a Christian: being in right relationship with God (His Son), being in right relationship with the world (it’s dominator) and being in right relationship with satan (your foot on his head, not the other way around).

Now you might read this and say: hold on Ben – I am not experiencing this.  This does not describe my life.  Well it should.  It is what you are in the spirit.  If that is not manifesting and not flooding out of you then you need to do three things:

1. Think it.  Spend time in the Bible reading Scriptures about you reigning in life. 

2. Believe it.  Let your mind paint pictures of you reigning, of you enjoying a great relationship with God, about you walking in health and wealth and victory and joy.

3. Say it.  Mark 11.23: For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 

You need to speak to everything in your life that is in your way, and you shall have what you say.

Next time we will begin to answer one of the most important questions that a study of Romans 5 brings up: if we have peace with God because of what Jesus did, and no matter how much we sin, God’s goodness and graciousness is more than our sin, can we live however we want and sin as much as we want?  The answer will probably not surprise you, but the Biblical reasons for the answer probably will.

If this has blessed you or if you have any questions, please comment on the post and I will respond to all comments.

Blessings and love,

Benjamin

Yongii Cho Quotes…

0

David Yongii Cho is the pastor of the world’s largest church.  Here are some wonderful quotes to build you up spiritually…

To Grow Out You Must Grow In


Growing in means the development of inner resources. When you build a tall building, the crucial aspect that determines success is the building’s foundation. To build high, you must dig deep.

A building’s foundation is not tested until the exact stress for which its foundation was designed comes to bear upon it. The foundation’s strength is then tested and the soundness of its construction is most crucial at this time.

Changing Your Attitude


The first place that God needs to work is in your heart. The heart is the major battle ground.

John 14:1-4 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Prov 4:20-23 “My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.

How does one become successful as spiritual leader, as a businessman, or in any other profession? You first must change your heart attitude. How can you change your heart attitude? You must inspect your vision. If you have the wrong vision or if your vision is too small for the ability God has granted you, your heart attitude is also going to be wrong and you’ll find yourself discouraged, bewildered, and depressed.

Some cover up their failures by using catch phrases that sound spiritual. God wants us to grow and to grow in a big way. Being satisfied with smallness may reveal a lack of spiritual insight of God’s kingdom purposes. Or perhaps it is a lack of compassion for a world that doesn’t know the Lord or for believers that are struggling. How else can we serve God and help others unless we ourselves are successful. This is no time to be satisfied with the status quo in your life. This is the time that God will work in your heart for great growth both spiritually and materially. Don’t be fearful when you consider the possibility that God has great things for you. God has called you for special purpose. You must work on your heart to find His purpose for your life.

A Man’s Vision Will Also Limited His Behavior.

We can never be any more than we dream of being. As we set our eyes on God’s holy word and develop a deep fellowship with the Holy Spirit, our vision is changed. How can you change your vision? You can’t, but the Holy spirit can and will.

I had to be delivered from the concept that the Holy Spirit was just an experience and come to the realization that the Holy Spirit was a real, divine person.

As I began to wait upon him and talk to him, he then became very real to me and began to change my vision. In fact, as we set our gaze upon the Holy Spirit, he takes the brush of faith, dips into the ink of the Word of God and draws beautiful pictures upon the canvas of our hearts. After he gives us a new picture to strive for, we find a new internal motivation.

…there is no obstacle that can discourage a man who’s been given a vision by the Holy Spirit. One of the main obstacles to overcome is the opinion of those who say, “It’s impossible. It has never been done before.” What is their problem? They have never seen what God has shown you. Once God has granted you a vision, then you must learn to spend time dreaming over that vision.

Visions and Dreams


This is the essence of my philosophy. It covers all of the principles of congregational growth work. I call it “visions and dreams.” As I travel throughout the world, I’ve seen evidences of the fact that the application of vision and dreams really works in changing one’s heart attitude.

Most men I’ve seen are satisfied with the status quo. They have congregations of 30 to 50 members and since most tithed, they could live comfortably without expanding. So their congregations become exclusive little clubs. When this happens, the desire for growth will not develop.

Expand Your Vision


Sometimes our actions limit our vision. At times we find ourselves in a situation where we have to choose the level of money we’re going to spend for something. Perhaps you’re visiting a place and need to stay in a hotel. What kind of a room should you stay in? Does God really want us to stay in a nice place? Does he want us to stay in spartan surroundings so as to conserve money? This a difficult question, which only you can you answer. Yet sometimes, I’ve found that people don’t believe God for great things, especially when it comes to themselves. This may come from a sense of inferiority, or a false humility or spirituality.

That week I spent much time teaching the leaders to begin to expand their vision and dreams. As amazing as it sounds, it seems that our heavenly Father allows his representatives on earth to limit his activity through a lack of vision. I believe the same thing applies to prayer. God voluntarily limits Himself by our prayers. He can do anything, but He chooses to limit the scope of His authority by vesting it in us.

So here is how it works. Our heart attitude is changed by catching a fresh vision from the Holy Spirit. Once the vision is imparted, we must dwell upon it and dream about it until the vision comes into reality.

The Language of the Holy Spirit


Rom 4:16-18 “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed– God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”

Abraham was a man who was not willing to stay in the status quo. He was able to leave the known and enter into a new place, the one shown to him by God. If Abraham looked only upon the circumstances he would not have listened to God. He would have stayed in Haran. Abraham possessed the quality of obedience which caused him to move forward despite every obstacle. He went through difficult times, when everything he did seemed to fail. Abraham was first obedient to God as evidenced by his leaving the known and being willing to enter into the unknown. Although he believed that God could do what he promised, Abraham had to “see” the promise come to pass in his spirit before he could actually set foot upon it. He first saw the reality in the dreams and by Holy Spirit-given vision. Cho believes that vision comes after a person has proven themselves to be obedient. Then once the vision comes, a person needs to dream about the fulfillment to the vision. That process of dreaming, thinking, and meditating about the vision, he calls incubation. We should incubate on the vision until it becomes reality–until God calls those things which are not as though they were.

God is Interested in Our Success


We must always remember that God is more interested in our success and church growth than we are. After all, it is his church. Our problem is that our hearts have not had the proper attitude because our vision has not been correct. We have not have the proper vision because we have not entered into a deep and loving fellowship with the Holy Spirit. All vision is revealed to us by God through the Holy Spirit.

What is our goal? Is it growth of God’s kingdom? Are we looking for increased numbers? Are we looking for increased spiritual maturity in people? If so, that we can be assured in our spirits that this is certainly God’s will.

Remember, you can listen to this talk or read a book on spiritual growth yet never see a change in yourself or the situation you find yourself in. Why? Perhaps it’s because your heart has not really changed. Nothing much will happen unless there’s been a heart change.

We are Spirit Beings


We are essentially spiritual beings, using intellect and emotion, all housed in a physical body. Our spirits are revived at the new birth, but they need nourishment and development. The Holy Spirit has been given to us as the comforter to lead us and guide us. He has the mind of God, even for your church. Once you receive his direction and vision, you change your heart attitude from failure to success. Now you begin to be motivated by a greater force than you have never known and you will begin to see results as you follow proper church growth principles.

You Need Vision


The greatest hindrance to the fulfillment of God’s desire to see growth is a lack of vision within the leadership. “It can’t happen here. This is too hard a field.” These negative statements must be put out of our vocabulary, once and for all. We are to begin using the language of the Holy Spirit and building a new success consciousness in the minds of all our people.

This kind of negative talk kills vision. Once you get a vision from God go with it. Put to death any negative statements. Of course, your vision must not contradict the Word of God and it must be in His will.

I’ve found that the safest course is to take counsel with those in leadership above you. They have been given by God to guard you from getting out of his will. Any true vision of God will stand the test of being brought before leadership. Even if those above you don’t understand or comprehend the vision God has given you, they’ll recognize that the Holy Spirit has indeed planted something within your spirit. you see, efficient is implanted spiritually and its communicated spiritually. You don’t have to fear that your explanation will not convey the divine nature of what you’ve received. Our spirits are commended to another’s spirit by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes a failure to take counsel indicates a lack of trust in God. God works through leadership not in spite of leadership. Leadership is not an obstacle to get around. Fear that the leadership which God has entrusted to care for your soul will prevent you from walking out your vision is a terrible deception of the Enemy.

People can be deceived in regard to vision. This isn’t meant to discourage you, but vision is so powerful a tool from God that the Enemy can use false or distorted vision to get believers out of God’s will.

Have an Attitude of Success


To motivate others to succeed, we must have an attitude of success not only in our speaking but also in our lives. Many congregations have a non-growth attitude because the leader does not possess a high enough self esteem. This is a key in leadership.

The reason for your poor self-image may be one of the following: poor appearance, education, discipline, family status, ability, and health. This list is far from exhaustive but representative of the excuses given for poor self image.

Another thing that Cho is saying is that personal appearance is important. When he meets ambassadors of the world’s leading nations, one of the common traits they seem to possess is general good looks. They may not be young or handsome, but they seem to be in good shape. After all, are they not representing their particular country? Should they not try to present their best image? Yet, the kingdom of God also has ambassadors. They represent the king of kings and the Lord of the Lords. It is Cho’s opinion that a leader can change his self image by watching his diet and doing the best that he can with what God has given him. Are you doing the best with what God has given you–as Messiah’s ambassador? Are you presenting an image that other should follow? If not, it’s never too late to change. Once you start feeling good about yourself, you will find others will feel better about you too. People will first look at you before they listen to you. What they see affects how they hear.

Another important concept is learning. Success for people spend their whole lives aboard this is not limited by formal education. He has called us to a life of continual improvement. Educate yourself understand what you’re asking and go out and prove yourself.

Have Discipline


A lack of discipline is another reason why people have a poor self image. I’ve had appointments with leaders who show up one to 2 hours late. Traffic, business pressures and unexpected circumstances are poor excuses for tardiness. Make your plans with the provision for the unexpected.

Sin

Sin is one of the chief causes of poor self image. It is therefore, imperative for every person who God wishes to use in the building of his congregation to live a holy life. What you watch and dwell upon will affect what you become. If there is sin in your life, confess that sin quickly to God, repenting from it and asking for his Grace to live morally clean. Little success leads to great victories and soon you will find your self image has changed. God is a loving and forgiving God. If he expects you to forgive your brother, why should he not forgive you?

Change is Possible


I don’t care how low your family station is, God can change your self image. Remember that Yeshua was born into a very poor family circumstance and He is a son of God. As you get a fresh vision of God’s will for your life and ministry, you can overcome all of society’s barriers and succeed. Abilities may differ but success is for all. Our problem begins when we compare ourselves with other people. Some of you haven’t succeeded in school or in the job market and as a result you have poor self image. The way to overcome these past obstacles is to compare ourselves with the goal that God has set before us. He never leads us to do anything that He has not given us the grace and the strength to accomplish successfully.

Don’t judge yourself too harshly or too quickly. Even Einstein failed over and over again before he had success. Just because you’ve failed doesn’t mean you are a failure.

All successful ministries and leaders that I know have made mistakes. Making a mistake doesn’t mean you’re God’s mistake. Learn valuable lessons from your mistakes.

Health and Handicaps


You must cooperate with God in keeping your body fit. Exercise regularly, watch what you eat, rest as much as possible. Stress is one the greatest problems to keeping healthy. Oftentimes leaders collapse from exhaustion. Learn the secret of trusting other people. Realize that the kingdom of God works by others combining with one another. Trust other people. Trust that you don’t have to do everything yourself.

Maybe you have a handicap–a physical or mental limitation. We should take any handicaps that we have and turn them into assets. Believe God for your healing and restoration, yet move forward. Don’t wait for your healing to move forward.

Our Associations


Watch out for the type of people to associate with. Are they negative? Do they negatively affect our self image? By the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be set free from the disabling effects of negative people and surroundings. Read the Word of God. Find out what God says about yourself. If God did not believe we were of value, He would not have sent His son to die for us. We are called to special works. We have great value in the Lord. We’re able to do all that God has called us to do, by his Grace.

Pray and Do

Sometimes we pray that God would do something and then we stand back to see what God does. This is a great mistake. God will work through us. He works through you and me. This is why our personal resources are of utmost importance. What would we be like if we had the success we’re believing for? The answer to that question is very important. Our character is now being prepared for revival. We are being tested and we are finding grace to overcome the test. Why? Because God wants to use us.

%d bloggers like this: