Scenario: The church at large, particularly here in the USA, though not the entire church, or every individual believer in Jesus Christ, has adapted itself to a false grace gospel. This gospel has all the appearance of being the true gospel, but it is deceptive, for it is a half-truth gospel promising people a false hope. It is partially true, but it is not wholly true, and therefore it is a lie, because it leaves out critical components of the gospel message which are necessary to finding true salvation from sin. This new gospel, though, has replaced the old gospel in much of today’s church here in America.
This new gospel has many elements of the old gospel, which are what give it the appearance that it is genuine. But, the problem lies with what it means to “believe” in Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace, through faith. This is not of our own doing, but “it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (See: Eph. 2:8-9). I absolutely agree!
Yet, even this faith to believe is a gift from God, as this very word “faith” means to be divinely persuaded, and we can only come to faith in Jesus Christ if God the Father first draws us to him. And, since this faith is God’s persuasion, then it will submit to his purposes, and to his will, and it will surrender to Christ in death to sin and in living to righteousness. It will lead the believer to repent of sin, to leave the old life of sin behind, and to follow Jesus Christ in walking in obedience to him and to his Word, because the believer has been born of the Spirit, and thus is now being led by the Spirit.
But, this new gospel does not teach this. This new gospel leads one to believe that repentance and a walk of obedience are not required for salvation from sin. Yet, scripture teaches that if we walk in sin, according to our sinful flesh, we will die in our sins, and that if we don’t walk in obedience to Christ, that we don’t know God, and we don’t have eternal life with God. This is not saying we will live in sinless perfection, but that sin should no longer be ruling our lives so that we are obeying its lustful desires, as a matter of practice (See: Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21).
Throw it Off!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb. 12:1-2 ESV
The problem with this new gospel is that it leaves its adherents with the notion that they can keep on walking (living) in sinful practices without guilt and without remorse, and that they can still claim heaven as their final resting place. Thus, this new gospel provides the means for the church to wander from the truth and to backslide back into old sinful patterns of behavior and to remain there forever, yet assured that they still have eternal life with God. But, that is a lie, as we have already talked about.
Thus, many shallow Christians, or baby Christians, or immature believers in Jesus Christ, or those who have fallen away from their pure devotion to Christ, are holding on to sinful practices as though holding on to a mistress. They are holding on to such things as bitterness and rebellion against God, resulting from unrealistic and unreasonable expectations not satisfied and not fulfilled in their lives. Thus, they are angry and bitter with God, because he did not perform up to their expectations. And, they may even treat other people the same when they, too, do not meet up to their expectations.
But, these things are from the old nature, not the new nature, yet they still have control over some Christians’ lives, who have been unwilling to let go of them and to surrender their lives completely over to the Lord. So, the Lord here is giving instructions to those who are being weighed down by sin’s deceitfulness, and who are giving the devil a foothold in their lives, that they must cast off those sins to which they are clinging, as to a mistress, because Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, not to give us permission to continue in willful rebellion against God.
When people hold on to bitterness and rebellion against God, due to anger with God over unmet expectations, this will impact their relationships with other people, too, and their behaviors and attitudes, which are the fruit of this bitterness. So, the Lord is saying not only to cast off this bitter root, but to then put these sinful practices behind, truly in the past, and to no longer walk in them, but to now walk in the Spirit in holiness and righteousness.
Some of the fruit of a bitter spirit can be unforgiveness, abuse, given over to self-pleasure, addictions, temper tantrums, and being easily irritated, etc.
Bitterness, as a result of unmet expectations, if not cast off, not only leads to sinful practices, wrong attitudes, and wrongful treatment of others, but it hinders our walks of faith with Christ. Yet, when we repent of our sins and we turn to (or back to) walk in obedience to Christ, then we can run with endurance this race God has marked out for us, because we will no longer be hindered by whatever it is that still has a hold on our lives. We will truly be free to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. Heb. 12:3-4 ESV
Jesus Christ, although fully God, was also fully man when he walked the face of this earth. Thus, he suffered as we suffer and he was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet he was without sin. He was betrayed to death by one of his disciples, denied three times by another, and abandoned by all when he was arrested on false charges and brought to trial. Then, he was beaten beyond recognition, mocked, had a crown of thorns placed on his head, forced to carry a wooden cross, and then hung on that cross to die a very painful death for you and for me so we could go free.
Yet, in his death he put sin to death, and in his resurrection he conquered sin, death, hell and Satan, so that we, by faith in him, can be delivered out of slavery (addiction) to sin and so we can walk in victory over darkness and in his righteousness and holiness. And, through faith in him, we have everything we need to live victorious Christian lives in purity and in integrity and in faithfulness to God and to our spouses. He has, through his death and resurrection, made the way of escape for us from sin’s temptations. We just have to take the way he provided, which is through death with him to sin.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. Heb. 12:12-17 ESV
Our knees are what we get down on to pray to God, and our knees are what we bow to God in humility and in repentance and in submission to his will for our lives. So, if our knees are weak, it is because we are still holding on to “the mistress,” i.e. to bitterness or rebellion or lust or whatever it is that still has a hold on our hearts and lives, and which is leading us into sin. So, again, the Lord is saying to cast off “this mistress” and to strengthen weak knees through obedience and through prayer and through the Word of God. And, follow the way of holiness and righteousness, in the Spirit’s power.
Draw Me Close To You
Draw me close to You
Never let me go
I lay it all down again
To hear You say that I’m Your friend
You’re all I want
You’re all I’ve ever needed
You’re all I want
Help me know You are near
Saturday, January 27, 2018, 5:48 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your word. May you apply it to our lives wherever it fits. Amen!