Philippians 3:17-21 ESV
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Enemies of the Cross
There are good preachers, and there are bad preachers, and we would all do well to learn to discern the difference between the two. For many preachers (pastor-shepherds), at least here in America, are more like sales people, mere marketers who are selling us a bag of candy, when they preach their version of the gospel. But, it is a mixed bag of good and evil, with the evil covered up to make it look good. For, it is a sugar-coated gospel.
Their goal is to cover-up the truth of the gospel and to cover-up the truth of the evil which is lurking underneath their deceptions (underneath the candy coating), too. So, they gloss it all over to make it appear good on the outside, but underneath the candy coating is still darkness.
But, this is what they want to keep hidden, and they want the truth of the gospel hidden, as well, because it offends people, and because if people actually believe and live the truth, they will depart from evil, and their hearts will be transformed of the Spirit of God, and they will be walking in righteousness and holiness, instead of in wickedness. Yet, since Satan is behind this candy coated gospel, he doesn’t want people walking in holiness, but he wants them still trapped and bound in their sin.
And, this is the goal of the cheap grace gospel, to keep people still in slavery to sin while falsely promising them heaven as their eternal destiny. And many people are buying into these lies. Many people are flocking to these wolves in sheep’s clothing who are telling them what their itching ears want to hear, because they are telling them that faith in Jesus Christ does not have to alter their lifestyles. And, in fact, many are telling them that obedience to Christ is works-based salvation, and it is to be discarded.
So, not only are they convinced that faith in Jesus Christ means that heaven is now guaranteed them no matter how they live their lives from this point forward, but they are actually, in many cases, discouraging holiness and righteous and godly living. And, they are encouraging worldliness and sinful addiction and immorality continuing in the life of the one who now claims to believe in Jesus Christ. And, who wants this? Satan does! Big time!
Although they seem rare these days, like a dying breed, there are still preachers in America who are preaching the truth of the gospel of our salvation. They are still preaching holy living, walking in righteousness, being set apart from the world and unto God, etc. For, they are longstanding warriors (soldiers of the cross) for Christ and for his gospel who have stood the test of time, and who have remained faithful to the Lord despite all the temptations around them to compromise the truth for a lie.
I had a pastor like that when I was a youth and a young adult, but he moved to Canada when I was 27 years old to take a pastorate there. But, we stayed in touch with each other, and we did see him at times, over the years, and even into his nineties he was still a warrior for Jesus Christ, sharing the gospel of our salvation and hungering to see revival come to America. At age 92, he is still going. And, he is hoping to see revival before he dies.
His life and testimony for Jesus Christ had a tremendous impact on my life. What he taught me in the 10 years he was my pastor has stayed with me all these years. His sermons were never less than 45 minutes long, but it never felt that long, for the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart through his preaching of the Word of God, and I hungered to hear every word of it. As far as I know, though he was not a perfect man, he stayed the course, he never compromised his faith, and he continued to proclaim the truth of the gospel and to call people to holy living out of love, honor and respect for God.
And, preachers like him are the ones we are to keep our eyes on. For, they don’t need to candy coat the gospel to make it more appealing to the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and to the pride of life. They just preach the truth, the plain truth, like the apostles did, and like Jesus did, and like the prophets of old did. For God’s message has never changed with the passing of time. From the Old Testament through the New Testament God calls for us to leave our lives of sin behind us to follow him in surrender, submission and in obedience to his commands, which are not burdensome.
For, Jesus summarized for us the ten commandments. We are to love God with all our hearts, minds and strength, and we are to love our neighbors (everyone) as we love ourselves. And, this means that we will honor, respect and obey our Lord and submit to his Lordship. And this means that we are not going to cheat on, lie to, abuse, misuse, manipulate, commit adultery against, hate or take advantage of other people in any way. But, we are going to love with God’s love which prefers what God prefers, which is what is holy, righteous, pure, honest, trustworthy and upright.
Truth vs. Lies
The truth of the gospel is that Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness. True faith in Jesus Christ puts sin to death, and it does so daily, not just once, for by the Spirit we are to be putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and daily we are to be taking up our cross and following (obeying) Jesus Christ with our lives. True faith in Jesus Christ silences the darkness, and it brings out the light of truth.
The false (cheap grace) gospel, nonetheless, covers up the darkness and candy coats it to make it look like something good when it is pure evil. For, if you believe that all you have to do is acknowledge who Jesus Christ is or say some words after someone else in a prayer or profess faith in him, but that your lifestyle does not have to change drastically, then you are believing a lie, and it is going to send you straight to hell while promising you heaven.
For, the truth is that we must walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit of God if we want to have eternal life with God. For, if we walk (in practice, in habit) according to our sinful flesh, we are going to die in our sins and not have eternal life with God, no matter what we profess with our lips or think we believe in our hearts. For, true faith in Jesus Christ means we die with Christ to sin and we live with Christ to righteousness (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Tit. 2:11-14).
One day we are all going to reap what we sow. If we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we are going to reap destruction (decay, death). But, if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8).
So, make sure that the preaching you are listening to is telling you the truth and that you are not buying into the lies, for your eternity depends on it, and your freedom in Christ depends on it now, too. Make sure that you are following the right kind of examples, and not the wrong kind. Make certain you are testing everything you hear against the teachings of scripture (in context) to make sure that what you are hearing is the truth.
But, again, I stress “in context,” for many beliefs are formed out of taking scriptures out of context to make them say whatever fits with people’s lifestyles instead of conforming their lifestyles to the teachings of scripture. So, believe the truth, and obey the truth, and the truth will deliver you out of the darkness and your slavery to sin and will bring you into the light and into fellowship with God and into relationship with Jesus Christ, and it will free you, too, to walk in righteousness and holiness in the power of God.
God is With Us
An Original Work / June 11, 2019
Based off Psalm 46
God’s our refuge. He is our strength,
A present help to us when in pain.
Therefore, we will not be afraid,
Although the earth beneath us gives way.
Though the mountains be moved to the sea,
Roaring waters abound so free,
And the mountains now tremble so,
We will not fear, God is near, we know.
God is with us and He makes glad
The hearts of all who to Christ have fled.
Christ is in us, so we’ll not fall
When on our Savior our hearts do call.
God will help us, as mornings arise,
To be faithful to His design.
Nations raging, and tempers flare.
Our God is with us. We know He cares.
Come and see the works of the Lord.
He’s armed for battle with His great sword.
He’s the Word, and He is the Life.
He gives us strength in all of our strife.
Be still and know that He is our God.
He’s exalted where’er He trods.
The Lord Almighty, with us still;
The God of Jacob, our citadel.
Friday, June 14, 2019