Developing Convictions

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Our claimed convictions are often adopted from the views of others. Many times things that the Bible would make clear are wrong are ignored. The excuse is that “it’s a matter of personal conviction and I see nothing wrong with it.” Have you ever wondered if this is simply an attempt to justify what someone wants to do, say or be? How do we develop true Scriptural convictions? Here are some ways to determine if something is right or wrong. First, it’s only normal for an unsaved person to do that which is right in his own eyes. The Christian, however, has a standard by which to form convictions. That standard is the Word of God. We must be saved if we are to discern God’s Truth. Next, will it honor or dishonor our Savior? Another thing to consider is motivation. Is what I want to do, say or be based on a purpose to be holy or is it something I want for my own satisfaction? Still another aid to making the right decision leads to this question: Even if what I want is o.k. would it cause some Christian to stumble? Here’s another question: Would Jesus approve? We need to consider that carefully. I hope we would err on the side of being too careful instead of being careless about our choices. Selah! In the light of how many things that were accepted as wrong just a few short years ago and are now common in the lives of many who claim to be saved, shouldn’t we revisit the issue of what constitutes Christian separation? Ron. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart(II Timothy 2:19-22).

Subtle Spin?

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Pro-Choice sounds better than pro-abortion. However, it doesn’t change the truth. Sanitation engineer sounds better than garbage man. Nevertheless, it doesn’t change the occupation (or the smell). Calling Biblical separation from the world legalism doesn’t eliminate God’s command to be holy. Granted, there is a legalism that the Bible warns against. It is to not add works to grace as a means of being saved. Satan has done a masterful job of equating separation with what is called legalism in far too many minds today. This has led to a carelessness in behavior in too many Christians and churches. About the only difference between many Christians and unbelievers is that the worldliness pursued by beguiled believers is a somewhat more sanitized version of behavior. We do the same things but we do a (usually) cleaner version. What is separation and how is it different from legalism? Legalism as it’s usually thought of these days is a lot of rules that we are expected to follow. The problem is that these are imposed on us externally by others. Separation is discovering Biblical commands and principles and willingly (out of love and gratitude and with a desire to honor our Savior and have a good testimony) make them our own personal convictions. One is demanded; the other is embraced! Selah! A holy life is an attractive alternative to the empty lifestyle of the unsaved. Many have responded to the gospel when they have seen it lived out in a full abundant life. Ron

 
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 6:17-7:1).

Obstacles to Mind Renewal

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There can be no mind renewal for the unsaved person. The obstacle is the faulty thinking inherited from Adam. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:4). Paul cautions the Church at Rome: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded islife and peace” (Romans 8:6). The person who has received Jesus as Savior and Lord has been granted Spiritual-mindedness. “….we have the mind of Christ.” (From I Corinthians 2:16). The carnal or fleshly mind (i.e; our natural thinking and reasoning) is also an obstacle and has to go! The reason that it has to go is found in Romans 8:7. Paul continues, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” It is our new mind that can understand Spiritual Truth. Paul explains in I Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man (the unsaved man) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” But know this: God’s way for us to use this new mind is to fill it with His Word. Saturating our new minds with Scripture (under the guidance and illumination of the Holy Spirit) is God’s way of purging out our natural way of reasoning. Keep in mind that our old way of reasoning strongly resists renewal. However, the more God’s principles takes root in our hearts, the more the old way loses its hold on us. Selah! Meditate on this portion of Romans 8:6: “to be Spiritually minded is life and peace.” Scriptural thinking has great rewards in our lives on earth and prepares us for Heaven. Ron

Mind Replacement

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I use the word “mind” here in the sense of our thinking, our reasoning. We mature in life, thinking wrongly. As yesterday’s article pointed out, our thinking was blinded by original sin. Only when we are born again is there any hope of change. Consider first this statement from I Corinthians 3:19: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God….” Next, look at Isaiah 55:8-9 where God, through the prophet, says, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Thankfully, there is an alternative. James, under inspiration, explains, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17). James even tells us how to get it. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Now how does God impart true wisdom to us? The answer is found in Proverbs 2:1-6: “My son, if thou wilt receive My words, and hide My commandments with thee; so that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Selah! Only genuine Christians who fill their hearts and minds with God’s thoughts, principles and commands can see the old way of thinking purged, and replaced with God’s wisdom and knowledge. There is no shortcut! Constant exposure to Scripture, applying and obeying, is God’s method of mind renewal! Ron

Choosing Between Two Competing Views

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We are born with a wrong way to view life. This is the result of the fall. Our wrong thinking is because of our inherited sin nature. Ephesians 4:18 pinpoints our problem. It describes our condition as “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” This is the way that we live and it will be the way that we die unless something changes. There is a way to change; to view Spiritual Truth. Light (Spiritual understanding) is available to scatter Spiritual blindness and darkness. Psalm 119:130 spells it out: “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Jesus said, “…. I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (From John 8:12). Here’s the way it works: If we receive Jesus as our Savior and Lord, He brings Spiritual understanding (light) into our hearts and minds and the way that He does this is by bringing His Word to bear on our lives. This is the way that He renews our minds. (See Romans 12:2). Our part is to read, study, think upon, apply and obey His teaching. Failure to receive Him means that we remain in darkness throughout our lives and will spend eternity Spiritually blind and lost, separated from Him forever. If we do receive Him, how are our minds renewed? We’ve considered the means in this article. Tomorrow, Lord willing, we’ll look at the method. Selah! Darkness or light; a distorted and damaged view or a Divine view, what will it be? The choice is ours! Ron

Embracing the Cross

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Embracing the Cross can and has led to pain, suffering and death. It has opened many to ridicule and mockery. It has resulted in personal and financial loss for some. Most of us in the Western World will experience comparatively little of these kinds of things. We may endure things like misunderstanding, rejection and verbal attacks. We may experience none of these. We may even be respected or at least tolerated. No matter what happens (or doesn’t), embracing the Cross leads to death. This can be death to personal ambition. This means death to the right to choose our own path in life. It means death to things that are contrary to the Word of God. This will take a lifetime of dying. As we realize the things that are sin (some that we’ve enjoyed and rationalized as being O.K.), we must surrender them to death by the Cross. We must yield ownership of our lives and material means (including money and other forms of wealth) to His direction and control. We must allow Him to put our plans to death and replace them with His. These are a few examples of what is involved in being a disciple. Some will say that this is too hard; too much to expect. They will back away revealing a doubtful conversion. Others will submit to dying out to all that offends God and discover that the death the Cross demands is nothing less than the resurrection to glorious and abundant life. Selah! Jesus’ Cross cost Him an infinite price that He willingly paid for our salvation. A conversion that costs nothing is not a Spiritual conversion. It’s a shell empty of content. Ron

 
But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). This is the way of the Cross!

When Testimony and Life Collide

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We are being observed. If we have given testimony to being a Christian, we are watched much more than we might think. When our lips profess one thing and our lives demonstrate another, we have undermined our testimony. Our behavior, our values, our attitudes, actions and responses all should reflect our testimony not collide with it. No, we are not perfect. We do wrong things. Sometimes it may be hypocrisy. Other times it may be weakness or the result of Spiritual immaturity. Nevertheless, eyes that would delight to discount our profession are focused on us. If they can find fault, then they think of themselves as not being any worse than those “religious phonies.” Sometimes they consider themselves better. We need to walk closely with the Lord and be on guard against inconsistencies. We may do fairly well on not doing the obviously wrong and sinful things. However, as Song of Solomon 2:15 teaches, it’s “….the little foxes that spoil the vines.” When we worry, deceive or stretch the truth, use careless language, get angry, have less than out and out honesty and/or indulge in shady business deals we tarnish our testimony. When we go places or do things that are questionable, we sabotage our witness. Let me take this a little further. In our technological age, do we text inappropriate things, such as “OMG“, forward questionable e-mails, read or view things that we shouldn’t? Do we check what we forward for sinful content? Sometimes it’s buried in humor. With people looking for reasons to discount our Christian walk, we can’t be too careful. If we make a mistake or sin, let’s admit that we are wrong and turn from it and ask forgiveness. Selah! The more that we are in the Word and the Word is in us, the less that we will fall into these traps. Ron

 
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (I Peter 3:16).