Freed to Love (Post, Desiring God)

One of the most jarring sentences in the Bible goes like this: “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3). It jars us because Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13); and he taught that one of the ways to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us and bless those who persecute us is to give freely of our possessions (Luke 6:27–30). But here Paul says you can give everything away and even lay down your life and yet not be acting in love. You can make the final sacrifice and be lost for ever.

A Biblical Critique on All Our Activism 

This means that right wing and left wing Christian political activity must be exposed to a radical biblical critique. On the right we are summoned to work for the rights of unborn humans, a strong defense, nuclear superiority, prayer in public schools, the support of Israel, family values, balanced budgets, etc. On the left we are summoned to work for a more just distribution of the world’s goods, nuclear disarmament, the end of interventionist politics in El Salvador and Nicaragua, ERA, programs to combat poverty and unemployment, etc. The Christian right and the Christian left are summoning us to action—and rightly so! If there is one thing Jesus cannot be accused of, it is indifference to the needs of people.

But there is a radical biblical critique which Christians on the right and Christians on the left must never forget: “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” Or to put it very bluntly: you can go to hell fighting for poverty programs and you can go to hell fighting for a prayer amendment, because love can never be defined simply as mere deeds; it always involves the condition of the heart of the doer. If we want to bring the message of the Bible to bear on the problems of the world around us, we need to realize that the Bible is much more radical than the agenda of either the right or the left. It says to both, “Though you give your body to be burned in the service of your agenda and have not love, you gain nothing.” Love can never be equated with anyone’s agenda because no agenda is love unless it comes from a certain kind of heart. We might be impressed with a person who gives a million dollars to build a hospital in Bangladesh, but God looks on the heart and queries the hidden motives of the soul. Christianity is not primarily an agenda for political activity; it is primarily a power that radically changes the human heart.

The Command to Love and the Nature of Faith 

Last week we saw in Galatians 5:6 that the heart which is acceptable to God is not one which depends on its works—whether right wing circumcision or left wing uncircumcision—but rather one which trusts so fully in God’s grace that the result is a life of love. Love is an essential part of the process of salvation. It is not optional whether you love one another. No one can say, “I am saved by faith regardless of whether I love people or not.” For the only faith which saves is “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). Saving faith always gives rise to love and love gives evidence of genuine faith.

Today’s text picks up the theme of love from 5:6 and presses it home with a command in verse 13: “Through love be servants of one another.” Someone may ask, “Why should Paul command us to love if love is an inevitable result of faith (5:6), indeed, a fruit of God’s Spirit (5:22)?” The answer is that even though God is sovereign over his people and it is his Spirit that produces the fruit of love, nevertheless, God’s means of doing his work includes human exhortation. There is no contradiction between saying God brings about love in our hearts and saying that one of the ways he does it is to remind us of love’s importance with commands. But the fact that Paul has waited five chapters before he commands us to do anything, but trust God, warns us not to take this command as a “work of law” to be performed in our own strength to win God’s favor. Paul’s attack on works of the law has not been an attack on commands but on the teaching that we should try to fulfill commands in our own strength to earn God’s blessing. Commands are good and should be seen as a summons to have the obedience which faith produces. The command to love in Galatians 5:13 is a command to have the kind of free and confident heart that by its very nature has to love.

And I have found in my own experience that the Holy Spirit uses scriptural commands and especially the theological arguments for those commands to change my heart. And that is my aim as we look at 5:13–15. I pray that God will apply his Word to your mind and heart in such a way that love comes much more naturally and freely than it has before.

The logic of Galatians 5:13–15 is simple. First, Paul restates the foundation of the Christian life: “You were called to freedom, brethren.” Then, based on that divine call, he gives a twofold command. Negatively: “Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.” Positively: “Through love be servants of one another.” Then to support this twofold command he gives a positive and a negative incentive to love. Positively: “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” And negatively: “If you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.” The main point of the text is, “through love be servants of one another.” If you do this, you fulfill the whole law; if you don’t, you destroy yourselves.

Loving Service and True Freedom 

Let’s focus first on the positive command in verse 13: “Through love be servants of one another.” Listen to what happens when you put this command together with the first part of the verse: “You were called to freedom . . . Through love serve one another.” You were called to freedom from servitude; now in love submit to servitude! Here’s the question we should ask: Why is love which serves the needs of others the only way Christian freedom can express itself? Why are the call to freedom and the call to love synonymous? When Paul says, “Don’t use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,” he means that if you try, you lose your freedom. As verse 1 says, you “submit again to a yoke of slavery.” The works of the flesh and the fruit of love are not two different optional ways to live in freedom. When you live according to the flesh, you are in slavery. But when you serve each other in love, you are in freedom. Why?

Because love is motivated by the joy of sharing our fullness, but the works of the flesh are motivated by the desire to fill our emptiness. The meaning of “flesh” in the book of Galatians is not the physical part of man, but man’s ego which feels a deep emptiness and uses the means within its own power to fill that emptiness. If it is religious, it may use law; if it is irreligious, it may use booze. But one thing is sure: the flesh is not free. It is enslaved to one futile desire after another in its effort to fill an emptiness which only Christ can fill. So when Paul says in verse 13, “Don’t use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh,” he means, don’t surrender the freedom that you have in the all-satisfying Christ to return to the unsatisfying desires for mere physical pleasures or self-exaltation.

So works of the flesh are motivated by a desire to fill our emptiness. But love is very different—it is motivated by the joy of sharing out fullness. “Love does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). When we love, we are not enslaved to use things or people to fill our emptiness. Love is the overflow of our fullness. Therefore, love is the only behavior that we can do in freedom. When God frees us from guilt and fear and greed and fills us with his all-satisfying presence, the only motive left is the joy of sharing our fullness. When God fills the emptiness of our heart with forgiveness and help and guidance and hope, he frees us from the bondage to accumulate things and manipulate people. People who devote large hunks of their life to surrounding themselves with the comforts of this world testify that God has not filled the void of their heart to overflowing. When God is our portion and we are truly free, then we will serve one another through love. Freedom flows forth in love just as surely as a bubbling spring flows forth in a mountain stream. But the flesh is like a vacuum cleaner: it sucks and sucks and just the moment it starts to feel full, somebody throws the bag in the garbage. The book of Galatians is written to show us how to become a mountain spring that serves the valley with the water of love.

Love Your Neighbor as Yourself 

There is no more fulfilling way to live than to draw daily on God’s all-satisfying grace and let it flow through us to meet the needs of others. Verses 14 and 15 give us a positive and a negative incentive to live like this. First, verse 14: Live like this, “for the whole law is fulfilled in one word, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” In spite of all the negative things that Paul has said about “works of the law,” it is not a matter of indifference whether Christians fulfill the law in their behavior. The good news is that love, which is an overflow of God’s grace, is what fulfills the law. All God was after in the law was people who are so satisfied by his grace that their lives are a spill-spout of love.

There is a lot of confusion today about the self-love referred to in this verse: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The most common error is to assume that this is a command to love yourself and that self-love means self-esteem. Both of these assumptions are wrong. Paul and Moses (Leviticus 19:18) and Jesus (Luke 10:27assume that all people love themselves; they don’t command it: “You shall love your neighbor as you (already) love yourself.” And the self-love they assume is not self-esteem but self-interest: all people want to be happy, even if they often don’t know what will really make them happy. We can know this is how Paul understands this verse because of how he applies it in Ephesians 5:2829. “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church.” In other words, self-love means the strong interest you have in your own health and safety and happiness.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” is not a command to love yourself. It is a command to take your natural, already existing love of self and make it the measuring rod of your love for others. There is not a harder command in the Bible than this one. It means: Want to feed the hungry as much as you want to feed yourself when you get hungry. It means: Want to find your neighbor a job as much as you are glad you have a job. Want to help your fellow student get A’s as much as you want to get A’s. Want to help the person stalled on the freeway as much as you are glad you are not stalled on the freeway. Want to give the poor softball player a chance to play as much as you want to play the whole game. Want to share Christ with your neighbor as much as you are glad you know Christ yourself. 

Use all the creativity and energy and perseverance to do good things for others that you use in doing good things for yourself. Care about what happens to others as much as you care about what happens to yourself. Can you imagine what the church would be like if we were all like that: looking at the person to the right and to the left and feeling the same longing for their happiness that we feel for our own. Not only would the law be fulfilled, this place would be iridescent with joy, and the glory of God would be unmistakably present in our midst. And people would be converted! Let’s be like that in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Tragic Alternative to Love 

For if we don’t, verse 15 gives the tragic alternative: “If you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.” A church of people who do not serve each other in love will destroy itself. God has been good to Bethlehem to pour out a spirit of love upon this people for 112 years. And my prayer is that we abound more and more in love for one another and for all men (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

And remember, we can only love if we are free. That is, love is motivated by the joy of sharing our fullness, not by the desire to fill our emptiness. Is it a coincidence that verse 15 describes what wild animals do when they are starving, not when they are filled (empty instead of content)? “If you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.” When you are not filled with God, it is sweet to eat your enemy.

But, brothers and sisters, God has called us to the freedom of fullness which overflows in love, not to the slavery of emptiness which bites and devours and is never satisfied. In Jesus Christ, God offers us forgiveness, daily help and guidance, and hope for the greatest future imaginable. And it is all free, purchased by the death of Jesus, received by faith alone. The secret of love is freedom, and the secret of freedom is utter confidence in the love of God.

Which gives us the clue (returning to our starting point) why a person can give away all his goods and deliver his body to be burned and yet not have love. Such a person may not be acting in freedom. He may not be motivated by the joy of sharing a God-given fullness, but only by a deep longing to fill his emptiness. In that case, he is not acting in love and God is not honored as the all-satisfying source of fulfillment.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Coronavirus and Christ.

God’s Miracles Never Cease To Amaze

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I mentioned a young boy who drowned in his pool and whose family, friends, and extended family are praying for a miracle in my previous post, Praying Through The Darkest Times. I am one of the extended family members. His grandmother and I serve as group leaders at a local Bible Study Fellowship group. It is an International Bible study organization, established on the fact that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.

I believe God is using Malachi in a mighty way. I will post some of the family’s daily experiences of how God’s miracles are often procedural, a process over time. Not all miracles are immediate, but they are all miraculous. His ways are not our ways and He uses various experiences to mature our Christian walk, some are very difficult to digest, others easier to understand at face value, they are obvious. Join us in praying for full recovery. Malachi has already defied the odds. The posts are from Facebook, Miracle for Malachi.

This post was written by Brenda Johnson on FaceBook

I don’t know your family, but your faith is absolutely inspiring. I’m sure every second has been trying, but your trust in Gods plan shows what beautiful people you are. I’m not a well versed Christian, but I believe God is doing something bigger than we can see on the surface. He sees your pain and sees your faithfulness in the most difficult time. 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we live by faith, not by sight. Continued prayers that God has something planned for Malachi that the doctors have never seen and didn’t learn about in med school. I’ve heard Pastor Steven Furtick say a setback is a setup for a miracle.

This post was written. By Trisha Bernal, Malachi’s mother.

Malachi’s Story

It is with heavy and grieving hearts that we write this. When God hears our prayers sometimes he answers them in ways that we would never imagine, or wish for, and yet it is somehow intertwined in the overall story of life and even in the beauty of redemption. As I texted a friend this morning, I mentioned that I was grateful that Malachi- my little messenger of God, has thus far been used to bring thousands of people to their knees in prayer. I have been encouraged and blessed by so many people, many of whom, I have never met before.

We were hoping for an immediate miracle of healing by our human definition. Unfortunately the quick fix is not always the victory that God calls us to. Instead, sometimes the victory is in proclaiming God’s grace and goodness in the struggle no matter how long it lasts. Sometimes the victory is in finding joy and unity in standing for one who will never stand on their own again. Sometimes the ultimate victory looks so very different than we had hoped and we have no idea how we’ll get past the pain to see the blessing.

According to doctors, our little Malachi will never be able to walk or talk or even eat on his own again, and this is the best case scenario. But… he is alive and his story is still being told. He may not use his mouth to speak but he is truly a messenger of God. His life is not lifeless. He will lead the way in wheelchair races driven on of course by his big brother. He will have the coolest hats ever. He will still bring joy to his family and those around him. His life and injury will not be in vain. Pray for us. We need it. Pray that we better understand God’s perfect plan in all this. Pray that the church is unified and built up by my son.

As I was crying over his bedside a minute ago, in agony I prayed “God how could You have given Your only Son to die on the cross?” My pain in this moment is intense. He CHOSE that pain so that we could experience blessing in the form of ultimate salvation. May Malachi’s life continue to proclaim this truth as we unite as a family, as a community and as a church. God has called my boy to big things.

Earlier post from Trisha B, mother

Tip for a child friendly way to tell kids: Trisha and Goose told their kids that Malachi’s brain isn’t waking up. Since his brain controls his body, he won’t be able to move or talk, but he’s still very much alive. We’ll all be able to still hug him and cuddle him and care for him – and have wheel chair races! Malachi is alive and still with us. Praise God!

I pray that each one of you processes this with a kingdom mindset knowing that God’s perspective is not our perspective. God is good. There is no plan B with God. He is not surprised by this and he is still in control. He WILL work all things together for our good, and His glory, for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.

Please remember that we are STILL praying for healing for Malachi and peace, comfort and strength for family and friends. There is a tough road ahead but it is not without hope. Our God is mighty! We WILL see his glory. Although we don’t yet know what that looks like, we approach His throne of mercy and grace, with thanksgiving and make our requests known to Him.

Photos and Content from Facebook, Miracle for Malachi.

Only God Knows the Real You!

Christ renamed several of His disciples to give them a new identity, demonstrating their new creature in Christ. While our names may not have changed, we, like Peter, battle the old man-the natural man, while maturing into the new man. The process is worth examining.

Lisa Blair

Christians, as with the case of most people today, question who we are. We know we are new creatures in Christ, but that does not magically eliminate our carnal or natural being. This is only the beginning of our evolution. Before being saved, our values are variables that change depending upon conditions and circumstances. We are comparable to chameleons.

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This Post is a short study on the evolutionary growth of Peter, who was born Simon Peter, the natural man, and transformed into Peter, the new man. It highlights his struggles, weaknesses, strengths, as well as his growth. Examining Peter’s life should give any believer hope. Simon Peter evolved into Peter over time, it was not miraculous, or immediate, it was an expansive timeline. Our evolutionary process may take as long or longer than Peters took. The important things to note are: have hope, stay in prayer, and allow God to direct your path, always examining if it is the old man operating or the new man of God moving forward.

The Evolution of Simon Peter

Peter’s birth name was Simon Peter. He was outspoken, strong-willed, and impulsive. He was a husband, father of two, and a partner in a thriving fishery; he was a fisherman. It could be said, his life was full. He knew himself as Simon Peter, the man, was a practicing Jew and followed the Law of Moses. Was he content with his natural self? We do not know. Was he seeking his real self? Who knows. Did he innately know he would one day leave everything, to follow Christ, and become his real self, Simon Peter, probably not? Do we know who we really are in God’s eyes, or the plans He has for us, probably not?

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Simon Peter didn’t stand out. He was an uneducated Jew, Acts 3:13. He was a Hebrew, a follower of The Mosaic Law, like most. However, despite his failings and his strengths, the Lord chose to mold Simon Peter into whom He created him to become – Peter, a member of Christ’s inner circle of disciples. As time progressed and Peter accepted Christ as His Lord, Peter walked, learned, and loved Christ. He was a witness to miracles and wonders. But, despite his first-hand knowledge and witness to these events, Simon Peter continued to resurface. The transformed Peter, (Christ, gave him the new name indicating he was a follower and believer), became a new man but remained brash and impulsive. He was the person that stepped out of the boat and onto the surface of the sea to walk to Jesus.

~It was Simon Peter, not Peter, who looked down as he was walking on water (a sign and wonder), lost faith, and began to sink, Matthew 14:28-30.

~It was Simon Peter who calls us to serve but stayed seated and did not join Christ when he washed the disciples’ feet, 1 Peter 5:2.

~It was Simon Peter that told the believers to stay clear-minded and have self-control at all times to pray, 1 Peter 4:7.

~It was Simon Peter who rebuked Christ for speaking of his death, Matthew 16:22.

~It was Simon Peter who fell asleep while Jesus was praying and sweating blood, 1 Peter 2:13.

~It was Simon Peter who slipped back into the Law and suggested they erect three tabernacles, one for each—Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, clustering Jesus with the Old Testament prophets, Matthew 17:4.

~It was Simon Peter who grew angry drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest, John 18:10.

~It was Simon Peter who swore that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did, and you know the story, he denied Christ three times when he was arrested, Matthew 26:70-74.

~It was Simon Peter who fled when Christ was hung on the cross and hid in fear, 1 Peter 5:1.

How often do we capitulate under challenging times and employ our old values and behavior like Peter? Usually, the conversion is so indistinct we are there before we were aware of slipping. At that moment, we become blind to who we are in Christ, we regress to our old man. Thank God for redemption because we can repent and once again take on the behaviors of Christ who knows our true selves and is molding us to become more like Him.

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Despite Peter’s shortcomings, Jesus continued to affirm Peter as the “Rock,” Matthew 16:18-19 and promised him that he, Peter, would become instrumental in establishing Jesus’ Church. After Christs’  resurrection, he named Peter as the one who needed to hear the good news, Matthew 16:7. Jesus made a point of forgiving and restoring Simon Peter to accept and regain his new name, Peter, and recommissioned him as Christ’s’ Apostle, and high priest, John 21,6, 15-17; Hebrews 3:1.

Even after being restored, Peter, who preached on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, was present when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit, Acts 8, and was summoned to the home of Roman centurion Cornelius, Acts 10, initially resisted following the instructions to go to Cornelius’ home. Simon Peter struggled with the transformation of his old man to the new man – Peter. We are no different, there is a raging battle between our old man and new.

Peter, the new man, who was not wrought with doubt and fear, ultimately obeyed and went to Cornelius’ home. If Peter had not gone to his home, we might not have witnessed Cornelius receiving the Holy Spirit, Acts 10. Only God knows why he is directing our path. Seemingly at this point, the new man, Peter, should be steadfast. However, that is not the case.

When Peter, the new man, went to Antioch to fellowship with the Gentiles, all was good until the Jews appeared. However, when the legalistic Jews, of which he was as Simon Peter, arrived, he sought to appease them and separated himself from the believing Gentiles, Galatians 2:11-14. Paul admonished him for being a hypocrite. None of us can merge our old man and the new man. We are either one or the other. The battle will continue through this life, but when the old man surfaces, we must repent and pick up our cross in the new man.

Jesus forgives our unfaithfulness. He sees us as He intends us to be, not who we may currently be or were in our pre-redemptive life. Jesus knows our birth/carnal name and receives us as his own, the new man. In today’s times, He may not actually rename us, but he does give us a new life.

Jesus was patient with Peter through his disobedience, arrogance, fear, and denial. Peter was a fisherman and became a fisher of men, who matured into one of the Lord’s most dedicated apostles. He is known as one of the most well-known disciples and was instrumental in establishing the church in Samaria, Act 8. He brought the gospel to the Gentiles, Acts 10-11. He preached the sermon at Pentecost, where three thousand believers received the Holy Spirit, Acts 3.

The point is, God is patient and will wait until he can change you. If He does not give up on us, neither should we give up on ourselves. He created us to do His work. To paraphrase the scripture, God has plans for us that will prosper us and not destroy us. God, is patient and monitors us as we evolve into the person He envisioned. God knows our challenges, our setbacks, and our victories.

As we mature in the Word and obey God, our story will unfold just as Peters did. Was Peter perfect? No, absolutely not. Were there moments when the natural man won out? Yes. We were born into sin, we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us is perfect; only Jesus is perfect. God could have created us as automatons. He chose to create us in His likeness and instilled us with his own will and desires. Why, because God wants a relationship with us. He sacrificed His only Son to save us from sin. He knows we are a work in progress, He created us to desire His will and not our own, and that is all God requires that we surrender, depend on Him and be obedient to the Word. He wants us to evolve from our natural man to our new man.

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The Bible is replete with sinners who received salvation after leading destructive lives. I also find it interesting that these examples clearly exemplify God’s expectations for all believers. No excuses, God laid the foundation demonstrated in Peter’s character study. Now it is time to become who we really are; we are His workmanship, ever-changing in His likeness. This leads back to – only God knows the real you and through prayer and obedience we will learn who we are in Christ.

Images – Google Images. LAB Photos

Resources – Who is Peter in the Bible? GotQuestions.org; Bible.com; Peter: A Case Study in Character, KenBoa.org; Peter, studyandobey.com

The Ugly Truth, Lies, and Exposure

 

God’s Promise – I am the Truth

The ugly truth is being exposed every day, and the quick response from corporate owners is, we were there for you until we weren’t, we’ve made mistakes, and the consequence is that you no longer trust us. We want to earn your trust back.

Can we earn truth, or is it something given with the hope that it will be fulfilled? Our society is caught in a truth debacle. This is not a new phenomenon.  The difference now is that we are in a principality war that has been waged in cyberspace. The definitive nature of truth has become nothing more than exposing of what is deemed right and expedient to meet carnal (worldly) needs.

The arrival of the twenty-first century ushered us into a technology-based reality. The onset of fake news exposes the question of ‘truth.’ Is truth determined by the conveyor or the recipient of what has been shared? There are so many factors in determining the truth. But these factors only affect this plane, Satan’s home. Absolute truth is only available to followers of Christ. Those of us that have received Christ as our Lord and Savior, know that truth is revealed throughout the Bible. Truth is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. It begins with God who is the Word, and the Word which is (all) truth.

The Word (Christ) was in the beginning. The Word was with God. The Word was God. John 1:1 NLV

My followers do not belong to the world just as I do not belong to the world. 17 Make them holy for Yourself by the truth. Your Word is truth. 18 “As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world also. 19 I set Myself apart to be holy for them. Then they may be made holy by the truth. John 17:16-19 NLV

Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. James 1:18 NKJV

He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. James 1:18 ESV

God is the Word, the Word is truth, and he created us to share the truth. Why you may ask? God created us to replicate Him on earth and to share the truth. The Armor of God speaks to wearing the belt of truth as part of our daily armor to protect ourselves from false truth known today as fake news, to expose the fake truth and to share the Word which is (all) truth, also known as the ‘Good News.’

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth. Ephesians 6:14 KJV

Stand then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. Ephesians 6:14 ESV

Earlier posts focused on the fact that as Christians we cannot be careless about who we are. We cannot allow carnal truths affect what we know to be the real truth, and we cannot become fearful of chaos created by fake news. We are to stand fast, not waver, and rest in the Word.

We have been commanded to reflect the qualities of Christ, to choose to emulate Him, allow his righteousness to flow through us and share the truth by exposing the (fake) carnal truth. We must share that God is the truth.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6

Chaos is of Satan, the truth is of God. Our salvation is through the acceptance of Christ which not only sets us free but sets us apart from the carnal lies and deceit of man.

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:15-18

And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they also do the rest of the Scriptures. You, therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.2 Peter 3:15-18 NKJV

Apologies are not a form of repentance. The world apologizes, makes visual changes and continues down its path of deception. Christians understand God’s truth and repent for committing sin. Christians seek redemption and renewal.

Do not be trapped in the lies perpetrated by the world. Do not be led away with the error of the wicked. Know our Lord is truth, and whether we suffer the world’s attacks here on earth, we are living our lives to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25: 23

 

 

Images – Free Google Images

Scriptures – BibleGateway.com

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Is God Holding Out on Us?

Who has your ear? Who do you trust snd believe?

Study from: BibleStudyTools.com

Mark Altrogge

Friday, March 9, 2018

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Satan can’t force us to sin. So he tries the next best thing – to get us to doubt God’s word and character.

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He tempted Eve to doubt God’s word.

God had warned Adam and Eve that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they’d die. Satan said, “You will not surely die.” He says to us, “Go ahead and sin, nothing will happen to you.” “You can sin just this once and it will be okay.” “Only one more time and you can quit tomorrow”  “God will forgive you.” “You’re saved, you won’t go to hell.” “No one will see you.”  “Everybody else does it, and nothing happens to them.”

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He tempted Eve to doubt God’s character.

“God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In other words, “God’s holding out on you. Lying to you. He’s not good. He knows if you eat you’ll become like him and he doesn’t want that.”

God’s word is filled with promises which reflect his character. Promises to never cease doing good to us. To never leave nor forsake us. To be with us in trials, to be near us and hear us. To protect and deliver us from evil. To sustain, provide for, counsel and guide us.

But life throws things at us that seem to contradict God’s word and character. We lose a job or a loved one. We feel incredibly weak and helpless. We can’t see any possible solution to our dilemma.

“God doesn’t love you,” Satan whispers. “A loving God wouldn’t do this to you.” “If he were good he could have prevented this.” “God doesn’t answer prayer. After all, how many times have you asked and he hasn’t come through?”

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A Few Truths…

We don’t have to be going through tough times for the enemy to attack God’s word and character.

After all, Eve was in paradise. Satan will tempt us when things are going great. Perhaps he’ll tell us to ignore one of God’s warnings or commands to flee evil.

The devil doesn’t announce himself with a bullhorn.

“Satan here, feeding you lies to destroy you!” No – he presents these thoughts as our own. They are the “fiery darts” we must put out with the shield of faith (Ephesians 6:1-23). If they aren’t directly from Satan, they arise from our own unbelief. Either way, these thoughts challenge God’s character.

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A Charge for You…

Will we believe Satan’s lies or God’s word?

Will we believe God’s promises or our own interpretation of things? Eve looked at the fruit, and it appeared to be good for wisdom. So she believed her senses instead of God’s word.

Cling to God’s promises, no matter what fiery darts the enemy shoots at you.

Believe God’s promises even if all creation seems to contradict it. Believe God’s word over your strongest feelings. Of course to believe God’s promises, you must regularly take them in, for “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17).

So what are you believing about God today?

Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.

Editor’s note: This article has been adapted from “Is God Holding out on You,” found here.

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