Character Transformation

How are people, in general, and the church, and individual Christians being deceived today?

We are deceived when we listen to and when we buy into the words of humans, or tradition, and we don’t test what we are hearing with God, in prayer, and in his Word. Jesus said, “You have heard… but I say…”

We are deceived when we mostly listen to humans, and we don’t spend time with God, or we spend little time with God, in prayer and in his Word.

Yet, it is possible to spend lots of time in the study of God’s Word, and in saying prayers, but if we don’t obey (do) what we have been taught, but we walk away, and we forget what we look like, then we are open to being deceived, or, in fact, we have already been deceived.

Deception

Do not be deceived… Gal. 6:7a NASB

What are some ways in which all human beings, including Christians, may possibly be deceived today?

I believe one of the biggest ways is via half-truths.

Lust and Adultery

For example, a person might lust after another person, fantasize about someone he or she is not married to, get involved with another romantically, and/or have intimate private conversations with another. He (or she) may also be involved in “horsing around” with someone, but not get physical, or not go all the way physically. He (or she) may also view pornography or sexually-charged movies or TV shows and/or masturbate. Then, he (or she) would determine that none of this was committing adultery.

But, Jesus said that to lust (covet, long for, desire, yearn) after another, with whom you are not married, is committing adultery in your heart.

Lies and Deception

Another half-truth is in the area of telling lies. There is something people call “white lies,” which they consider harmless, because they tell them in order to not hurt people’s feelings. Sometimes these are in the form of false compliments, or saying to people what will bring them comfort, or saying what one might believe the other person wants to hear, i.e. what would make him or her feel good about themselves.

Kidding and teasing is another way of telling lies, oftentimes, though, with real intent behind the words, but covered up with “I’m just kidding.”

And, another is through non-denial denials, avoiding answering direct questions by shifting the focus to something else, such as by not denying liability for what was asked, but by saying, “But I would never do that.”

And yet, another is to find a loop-hole or a way around a direct question, if the question is not asked specifically in the right way. The person hearing the question, though, understands the intent of the question, but he or she feels they can skirt the real question since it was not stated specifically enough. It is a game some people play in order to avoid telling the truth.

But, whether telling an outright lie, or avoiding telling the truth, when required, or skirting around questions, or non-denial denials, or giving false compliments, or “just kidding,” these are all still lies, and are all ones we must put off/avoid.

First Half Gospel

The biggest half-truth, though, is this false grace gospel which is permeating much of today’s church here in America. The first half is true, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God (God the Son) left his throne in heaven, came to earth, was born as a baby, grew to be a man, was fully God yet fully man while on the earth, suffered as we suffer and was tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin.

He was crucified on a cross for our sins, although he had done no wrong. Yet, he who knew no sin became sin for us on that cross. Thus, when he died, he put our sins to death, and when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death, on our behalf. So, through faith in him we can be forgiven our sins, escape punishment in hell, and have the promise of heaven when we leave this earth. This half is true!

But, the false grace gospel states that we don’t have to repent of our sins, we don’t have to obey God, and we don’t have to submit to Christ and his cross, for the total responsibility for our salvation rests on God’s shoulders, not on ours, and all we have to do is have some non-descript belief that Jesus did all that for us, and to accept his forgiveness, and heaven is guaranteed us, no matter how we live our lives. This is a lie!

The Other Half

Jesus and the NT apostles taught repentance and obedience for the forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God in heaven. Jesus said if we hold on to our old lives, we will lose our lives, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), for his sake, we will gain eternal life. Paul said if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting sin to death, we will have eternal life. Scripture teaches that if we continue in willful sinful practices, we don’t have eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fire. This is the truth!

Reap and Sow

God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Gal. 6:7b-8 NASB

Jesus Christ died on that cross, not just to save us from our sins, but to deliver us from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. He died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to transform us and to conform us into his likeness.

He died, not so we could continue in the pattern of living we had before we “believed” in him, with the same insufficient character, of the flesh, but he died to change our pattern of living and our character (nature), that we might conform to walking in his ways, and in his truth, and according to the divine nature, not the sin nature.

He died that we might no longer live to please ourselves, but him who gave his life up for us. Instead of living our lives for what is trivial, insignificant, commonplace, routine (habitual sin), spiritually stagnant, unconcerned about our walks of faith, and for self-pleasure, he wants to change us to where we take him and his word seriously, to heart, so that we walk in it, and we do what it says.

So, he is asking us to pay attention to what he is saying, for this is critical that we get this. He died for us on that cross, too, that God (Jesus Christ) would be our only true source of life, in how we live our lives day in and day out, that we would find him to be our supply for all that we need, our foundation for all that we think and are and do, instead of finding our lives in the things this world has to offer us, which are passing away.

So, for any of us to change, we must own up to our sin, not deny it or hide it or pretend it doesn’t exist. We must not only confess it to God, but to others whom we have sinned against, where that is possible. And, then we must turn away from that sin, put it off, and die to it, not in our flesh, but only as empowered by the Holy Spirit, as we yield control of our lives over to the Lord, making him truly owner-master of our lives. The Holy Spirit will then crucify us with Christ in death to sin, and will resurrect us to new lives in Christ, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

If we don’t do this, and we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives and to give us new lives in Christ Jesus, to be lived to his righteousness, free from slavery (addiction) to sin, but we continue on in our sinful patterns and our ungodly characters, thinking we have heaven guaranteed us, then we need to read this passage of scripture again, for if we sow to the flesh, we will reap corruption, but if we sow to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life.

Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher

To teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
When I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay…

My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

Don’t Lose Heart

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Gal. 6:9-10 NASB

I believe the Lord Jesus would have me add a word of encouragement here to those who are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, but who are being opposed by those who are teaching this false grace gospel or by those who are living according to this false grace gospel.

He is saying for us to not lose heart in doing good, in teaching what is true, and in telling people the way to salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord. For, we will reap a harvest one day if we do not give up. I find this so hopeful and so encouraging! He is saying to stay the course, even if all looks hopeless, and even though we see so much evil all around us, and so many people trapped in sin’s deceitfulness. And, even if we don’t see now much fruit for our labors in the Lord, but mostly what we see is people being deceived.

The good we must do to people in these times in which we now live is to tell them the truth, not what they want to hear, but what they need to hear, even if they don’t like it, they reject it (and us), and they hate us in return. But, we must do so in love. We must show them the way to true salvation from sin, so that they will find true hope, healing and deliverance in Jesus Christ from their sinful practices. This is the best good we can do for them!

Oceans / Hillsong United

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders…
And my faith will be made stronger…

Thursday, February 8, 2018, 5:15 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus!

 

9 thoughts on “Character Transformation

  1. Lord, I need You is a powerful song. When I first found it, it spoke to me greatly.

    Salvation needs to be taught in its entirety. We have a choice to accept it, and walk forward, giving up the things of this world, like you said. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When someone asks me what I think about something spiritual/religious/theological, I try always to say, “The Bible says…” and not just share my own opinion. So much easier to avoid unintentionally deceiving or misleading someone that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. (For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

    For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

    Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

    Thank God for grace!

    In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. 

    And thank you Sue for liking and following my blog.

    https://hotfreight.wordpress.com/

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    • Romans 8, which follows after 7, which you quoted, says this:

      “He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

      “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

      Gal 5:19-21 says this: “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

      Regarding God’s grace, Tit. 2:11-14 says this: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

      The gift of God’s grace is deliverance from slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin. If by our lifestyles we continue in willful sinful practices, scripture teaches that we do not have eternal life with God. This is not to say that we will never sin, but that we should not be walking (living) in it, i.e. sin should not be our regular practice, and if we do sin, by the Spirit, we should thus be putting that sin to death. Our salvation means death to sin and living to righteousness, for this is why Jesus died, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). When we are born again of the Spirit of God, we are created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:17-24).

      So, if you are thankful for God’s grace, then you are thankful for deliverance from slavery (addiction) to sin, and you are thankful that he teaches you to say NO to ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life while you wait for Christ’s return, and that, by his grace, he has empowered you to resist Satan and to flee temptation and to draw near to him.

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      • Would you give a friend a gift, only to then yank it from their hands? Well, neither does God. Salvation is the gift of God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”
        (Ephesians 2:8) Even if I never had an opportunity to read Eph 2:8, simple discernment would have told me that salvation is a free and that God is no “Indian Giver”. He does not give a gift only to later yank it away.

        I am sealed until the day of redemption, by his grace, mercy and long-suffering. Albeit it is my heart’s desire to always bring honor and glory to my Lord by my actions in this life, there are times I fail. Paul also spoke of this in Romans.

        As we have a New Covenant there is no sin that cannot be forgiven. This is not to say one should desire to live an ungodly life, but even the believer who back slides to such a degree that they would appear to be lost, does not mean God cancels his promise. Certainly, their lives will be hard and God may call them home early, but God never reneges on his promise.

        In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

        I know not what of good or ill
        May be reserved for me,
        Of weary ways or golden days,
        Before His face I see.

        But “I know Whom I have believed,
        And am persuaded that He is able
        To keep that which I’ve committed
        Unto Him against that day.”

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      • Will you ignore all the scriptures I shared with you? The way to heaven is via a narrow road, and few find it, but many are traveling the broad road, which leads to destruction, thinking they are on the right path and that it leads to eternal life.

        You are also misunderstanding “the gift,” for it is not merely forgiveness of sin and eternal life with God, but it is freedom from bondage (slavery, addiction) to sin. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He said if we hold on to our old lives, we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives, for his sake, we will gain eternal life. Paul said the same thing when he said that if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, and that if we make sin our practice, we don’t have eternal life with God, but a fearful expectation of judgment.

        This was a warning to the church not to be deceived into thinking they could live however they want and still have eternal life with God. John said that if we don’t obey God and his Word that we don’t know God and we don’t have eternal life with God. Jesus said the same thing.

        Salvation also is not a one time experience and we’re in for good. We are saved, we are being saved, but our salvation won’t be complete until Jesus returns. Scripture teaches we must endure to the end and keep the faith to the end to be saved. And, faith is divine persuasion, i.e. we are persuaded by God as to his holiness and righteousness and that we are to walk in that.

        We can’t ignore all these teachings in the NT telling us what constitutes genuine faith in Christ that results in eternal life, or what the “free” gift really is. It is free, because we can’t do anything to earn or to deserve our own salvation, but only through Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our sins can any of us be saved. But, “free” doesn’t mean we do nothing. All throughout the NT it tells us what is required of us for salvation and for eternal life with God. The gift, again, is freedom from addiction to sin and the empowerment of the Spirit of God to live holy and godly lives.

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      • As I stated previously, it is not my desire to sin. In fact, in my 56 years as a believer…I have never met the first person who claimed the name of Christ who awoke in the morning ans thought, “Gee, today looks like a good day to disobey the will of God.”

        And where in John does it say that if we don’t obey God and his Word that we don’t know God and we don’t have eternal life with God?

        I find many verses about giving and believing.

        That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
        (John 3:15)
        And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
        (John 10:28)
        As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
        (John 17:2)

        In Matthew, Mark and Luke the word obey only appears 5 times and not one time is it a reference to salvation or eternal life.

        Even when the lawyer asks Jesus what should he do to inherit eternal life, Jesus replied, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” 
        The lawyer said, “All these have I kept from my youth up.” Obviously he was obedient. 
        “Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.”
        The command is to come, follow me.

        To think that doing some good work is reason for receiving eternal life, or keeping it, is the basis for salvation by works and denies the eternal security given to us by believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

        I do good works because I am saved…not to get saved or to stay saved.

        Yes, A truly saved person strives to obey God. The changes that the individual makes in his life are the “fruits” that demonstrate that his salvation is genuine. This does not mean that the repentant sinner obeys God perfectly. Even those who have received the Holy Spirit do not obey God perfectly.

        Praise God for the New Covenant.

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      • Dave, I agree wholeheartedly with you that we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. I agree, too, that a truly saved person strives to obey God, and that his fruits are what demonstrate whether or not his salvation is genuine. And, I agree, too, that we will not always obey God perfectly, and that being saved does not mean we will never sin again.

        With regard to John 3:16, it says that whoever believing in him has eternal life, and believing is present tense, meaning the person has to be believing in Jesus when he or she dies.

        With regard to the John 10 verse, you must read that in context. Read the verse before the one you quoted, in which Jesus says that his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they can’t be snatched out of his hands.

        With regard to John teaching on obeying (keeping, doing, being faithful to) the Word:

        John 14:23-24: “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.”

        1 John 2:3-6: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

        1 John 3:24: “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

        This is talking about our walk, not about perfection, as the NT makes abundantly clear. But, if we walk according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit, the scriptures are real clear that we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God. If we make sin our practice, we will die in our sins, not have eternal life with God. Yet, truly Christians are capable of backsliding, at least for a time, but God will bring them back. It is just that when we present the gospel we need to make certain that our listeners understand that genuine faith in Christ is repentant and obedient, not in sinless perfection, but not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For, many will one day go before God saying “Lord, Lord,” and he is going to say “I never knew you. Depart from me.” We just need to tell people the truth about what it means to be saved. It means deliverance from slavery to sin and being set free to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

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