Not perfection, not in our strength, not "overnight." I John 5:2 says that the victory that overcomes the world ( the world's ways) is our faith. Remember, faith comes by hearing and that hearing is hearing the Word, and acting on the principles that we find in the Word (John 17:17). James 5:7 tells us that first we are to submit ourselves to God. After that, we resist the devil. How do we resist? The same way that Jesus did. He applied the principles of the Word correctly instead of how Satan used the Scriptures by distorting what they say. We have to learn to use the complete armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Our thoughts and imaginations, allowed to reign unchecked, will naturally allure and tempt us to yield to our old unredeemed nature. We must take charge of our minds (in His strength) and force them to think of what is right and good (Philippians 4:8). Our thoughts will very often pull us in the wrong direction. We must capture them and make them prisoners to obey Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). We must be super alert to notice where the drift of our thoughts is taking us and wrestle them around into the right direction. We also must not give sin a favorable environment in which to thrive. We must rid ourselves of anything that aids yielding to temptation. For example, "dirty" pictures are aids to giving in to sexual temptation. Ungodly friends can bring peer pressure to bear, etc. (Romans 13:14). Selah! If the Word isn't controlling our thoughts and behavior, we are vulnerable to sinning. In God's strength, discipline your thinking. Ron
Let's begin with these words from "Take Time to Be Holy." (William D. Longstaff).
"Take time to be holy, the world rushes on; much time spend in secret with Jesus alone; by looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be; Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see! What a challenge to all of us who are born again!
"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts"(Galatians 5:24). "Affections" and "lusts" are what we love and crave. All that we have received from Adam is what we love and crave. When we come to Christ in surrender, He, in His resurrection Life, takes up residence in us and with this new Life gives us new affections and cravings. Fleshly affections and lusts are contrasted with Spiritual ones in Galatians 5:19-23. These are vying for control of our time and attention. The fleshly ones must be put to death and they usually die slowly. How do we "mortify" (put to death) (See Romans 8:13.) the deeds of the body? We don't! The Holy Spirit does! God works in us. In His Word we are warned against the love of the world. Instead, we are strengthened by Him to "….Set (y)our affections on things above…." (From Colossians 3:2). The "bottom line" is hours spent getting to know Him more and more, and to love Him more and more, and long to please Him more and more. Selah! This takes time. Do we love Him enough to take it? Ron (More tomorrow, God willing).
Living in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and putting fleshly desires to death engage our attention today. What I am about to write may shock you. This isn't going to happen unless we are willing to put in more time and effort than is usually done by many who claim Him as Savior and Lord. Living and walking in the Spirit isn't something we can experience when we have a few minutes to spare. To avoid a lot of detail, as important as that is, let's "cut to the chase." The Spirit of God operates through the Word (John 16:13; 17:17). You try to shortcut on that and it will never work. Let's face it, if we were applying for a high level job, we would do intensive study and preparation in hopes of being hired. If we had a certain career in mind, we might take several years of graduate and post-graduate college studies to get ready. Why then do we think that we can get away with a few minutes most days to have God's working in our lives? It's more than getting into the Word. It's more than the Word getting into us. These are essential but not enough. We need to discover principles and apply them in every area of our lives. We need to learn the discipline of obedience no matter what it costs. We'll develop this further for a few days, God willing. Selah! These few articles aren't for dabblers in Christianity but for serious Christians who love the Lord enough to develop real daily discipline to grow in grace. Ron
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for….instruction in righteousness…." (From II Timothy 3:16).
Paul asked, "…who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (i.e; our human nature inherited from Adam). ( From Rom. 7:24). He had earlier said that the good he wanted to do, he didn't do but the bad that he didn't want to do, is exactly what he did do. In other words, how is he to be delivered from that way of living? Before that question is answered, Paul reminds us (under inspiration) that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (8:1). This seems to be a parenthetical reminder that our record of sin and failure, those who are born again, is wiped clean. However, the behavior problem remains. How can this be remedied? We are further informed that the cure is walking after the Spirit. (8:4). Galatians 5:19-23 shows us the contrast between fleshly lives and Spiritual lives. With that in mind, Gal. 5:16 and 25 challenge us to live and walk in the Spirit. Verse 16 says that if we do that we will "…not fulfil the lusts (intense sinful desires) of the flesh." Jesus says, in John 15:5, "….for without Me ye can do nothing." Add to these thoughts that Gal. 5:24 tells us "…that they that are Christ's have crucified (put to death) the flesh with the affections and lusts." How does all this tie together? How do we live and walk in the Spirit and see fleshly desires put to death? Return tomorrow for a hard look at the answer to these questions. Selah! For all who are genuinely saved, the record is wiped clean. However, if we have been truly saved, we do want victory over that old way of life and will not settle for less. Ron
With some encouraging exceptions, we who claim to believe in Him have lost some very important things. Let me mention a few examples. We have lost our fear of God. This includes fear as we normally think of it. I do not mean a cringing fear but rather a fear of incurring His displeasure. Also in too many cases, we have lost respect for God. By doing this, we have lost some of our fear of behaving sinfully. Another thing we have lost is our love for and pre-occupation with Spiritual things. Still another great loss is no longer having a burden for those that are lost that moves us to witness to them. Yet another great loss is preaching and teaching that deals passionately with things like "Hell," "The Second Coming," "Sin," and "Separation," to mention a few. We have lost, or never had, a working knowledge of sound doctrine. Besides these above, we have lost a sense of awe and worship and substituted entertainment, programs, methods, etc. One more thing that we have lost is a keen awareness of being in His Holy Presence. (This could be because He has withdrawn)! In short, we have left our first love! Selah! Isn't it time for the church (we who are born again) to remember, repent, and return? Ron
"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Revelation 2:5).
We sing "Blessed Assurance!" Assurance is a blessed state of soul. For everybody? No. For everybody who has made a profession of faith? No. For whom? For those who have entered into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I didn't say those who have agreed with certain Gospel facts. The only basis for assurance is found in the Word of God. The Truths found there have to be acted on. Conviction impresses our guilt upon our hearts and minds. Gospel facts must be believed and provide the basis for our forgiveness of all sin(s). Repentance is a turning away from our sins. It is also turning to Christ for salvation. We surrender to Him as our Savior and Lord. This is the new relationship. If we have had this kind of experience, it will be evidenced in our lives. We will grow in grace and righteousness. As holiness of life develops, sin in our lives will decrease. Some will grow slowly, others more rapidly, but growth there will be! Another indication is our growing love for the things of God such as prayer, Bible reading and study, church, and sharing our faith with others. At the same time, our interest in and our love for the "world" will fade and gradually will lose its grip on us. If we don't see this pattern in our lives, we really have no assurance that we have been saved.Selah! What an eternal tragedy it would be to agree with the Truth of God and end up lost forever because we failed to act upon the Truth and surrender to Jesus! Ron
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith…." (From II Corinthians 13:5).
I'm not thinking of things like your Bible, your family, your tithes and offerings, etc. These are important to bring to church. (Once again, I mean the total of all genuine believers in a local assembly is the church). In addition to the above, we need to bring a heart to worship God, a definite commitment to pray for God's Presence and blessings. We should bring a determination to listen carefully and consciously resist distractions. We should bring a burden for the working of God in our lives, and in the lives of others, and in our society. We should bring an ever increasing commitment to obedience. Another thing to bring is contagious excitement for another opportunity to gather with those of like precious faith. We can also bring hope and encouragement to share with a hurting brother or sister. We certainly should bring a voice to praise and testify, when given the privilege. Add to that a purpose to be friendly and welcoming to all who visit. These are a few things; you may think of others. Purpose to bring them. Selah! What would happen, if all "regulars" brought these things each week? Ron
"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms and hymns and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord, and whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him" (Colossians 3:16-17).
By "church" I mean all who are saved in any local assembly. What constitutes a successful church? Let me suggest some things that make for Spiritual success. Regardless of how many attend, the first and foremost item is confident, fervent prayer. Second, a church is successful to the extent that the Bible is thoroughly taught, preached, and people are trained in it. Next, people are excited about sharing the Gospel. After these, people are developing a missionary burden and supporting missionaries. If these things are going on, then other helps include social times, good quality (theologically sound) music, sound material that can be taken home (i.e; tapes, books, printed matter, etc.), reaching out to the community, solid Bible School training encouraged, and frequent challenges to yield fully to God's will. Nevertheless, the items mentioned first are indispensable. All that I have mentioned is predicated on the assumption that the church is Bible believing and doctrinally solid. Selah! If these basic things are done with even a few people and done faithfully over a long time (and sometimes a short time), you can expect God's blessing. Ron
"….The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (and righteous men) availeth much." (From James 5:16).
Has anyone asked you this question: "What makes you think that what you believe is true?" Can you be sure that what you have read in the Bible is true? The answer is a resounding "Yes!" However, you will likely be challenged to give reasons why anyone should believe the Bible over all other religions. If you can't give solid reasons why the Bible is true, you may start to have doubts. If doubts aren't resolved, they intensify and multiply. If you just assume that the Bible is true, you will have only blind faith. Blind faith suggests that you are ignorant and will believe whatever anyone tells you. The single most important thing for you to do to avoid this is to undertake an in-depth study of how we can know that God's Word is inspired by God, without error, and is God's Truth. There are many helps available, ranging from "down to earth" ones to very scholarly ones. There is no excuse for not using these helps. Spiritual stability is dependent on confidence in the total reliability of God's Holy Word. Get started on this study immediately, if you haven't already done so or if you need to do a more comprehensive study. Christianity is validated by the Bible's absolute trustworthiness. Study the reasons why we can safely stake our eternal destiny on it's Truth. Selah! What is true of the Bible, as a whole, must be true of all its parts (doctrines). Therefore, study these doctrines thoroughly. Ron
"….be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…." (From I Peter 3:15).
Too many of our assemblies (local churches) are losing young people and, to somewhat lesser degree, older people. One explanation is that we are telling stories (based on material from the Bible) instead of teaching and preaching Bible History. One suggestion that might help a lot is to never again describe Biblical accounts as stories. Discontinue saying the word "story." Replace it with something like " the account of" or "the record of," etc. Tell it like it is: not a story, not a lesson, but reality!
Another concern in our local assemblies is boredom! This condition is common to false professors and unsaved folk. However, it sometimes afflicts those who are saved. Why? It is caused by a lack of discipline. We must give quality time and effort to the cultivation of our Spiritual lives, or we will be bored. Another reason for boredom is that if what our Bibles contain is nothing more than stories, then it becomes easy to make our church involvement simply a routine that we go through. Let me suggest a remedy for this. Make it our number one priority to intensely listen to what God is telling us in the Bible, converse with Him in the same way we would talk with a very close friend (i.e; intimate, personal, respectful, enjoyable, etc.), talk about Him to others and share with them what He means to us, and use helpful tools to understand God's Word. Selah! Don't lose sight of the fact that you are interacting with Almighty God and that He loves you! Ron
"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you…." (From James 4:8). That will be exciting!