Tag Archives: righteousness

Sanctification-Purpose

photoPottersHands_1600x1200.9994505_stdHow mysterious to think that we were made in the image of God. Do you ever feel like  we are such failures that there is no possible way I resemble any part of God. This however was God’s main purpose when He created us(Mankind) in the Garden. In Gen 1:26 it reads, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”” This was God’s purpose then and it is His purpose now.

We were made in His likeness, having the nature of God, the characteristics, personality, emotions and will, so that we could have fellowship and communion with God. Unfortunately this was short lived as sin entered mankind through Adam, and we became separated from God. Adam and Eve decided to have it there way. They became self centered and wanted autonomy as the ate of the fruit promising them that freedom. It was because of this sin original that now all mankind is born into sin, and our image no longer reflects God.

But God

But God does not change, and His purpose for us does not change either. Although through Adam we all were made sinners, “Therefore as one trespass led to condemnation for all men” Rom 5:19a.  Jesus stepped in and makes us righteous, “so one act of righteousness leads to justifications and life for all men” Rom 5:19b. So what does this have to do with sanctification you ask? It is because God is still creating us in His image. We have, as Christians a new birth. We are born again. His original purpose is the same it is just being carried out through Jesus and not through Adam.

Conformed in His Image

It says in Romans 8:28-29 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Also in 1Cor 15: 49  Paul writes  “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”   In Gal 4:19 it reads  “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”

Sanctification.

This is the end result of sanctification. We are being set apart, made holy to be transformed, reborn, recreated, into His image.  Paul promises that all things will work together for His purpose to this chief end. Fortunately or unfortunately this is usually not an easy transformation. One of God’s most effective ways in conforming us is to allow failure, bring trials and hardships, to strip away self so that our image decreases as Christ’s image increases. So let us be reminded oh Christian that on our road to sanctification there will be road blocks, hazards, and obstacles in our way. Know that they are there working for our good to conform us into the image of our God,  because that is His purpose.

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Sanctification-Acceptance

I want to continue to build on the foundation on which holiness needs to be constructed. Last week we looked at the principle of faith and that it is based upon the evidence of things not seen, and the need for it to be God dependent  Today we are going to look at the fact of being accepted in Christ. For many of us, this may seem like an easy thing to believe, but for others it seems a distant reality. Why is this so?

Just like faith, our acceptance of God is based on the truth of God’s word and not our emotions. How often we fail at this. For many of us when we are going through good times we may feel that God is blessing us and we give Him praise for these blessings.During these times we feel loved by the father. When hardships come however, we, like Job’s friends start to reason why this is so. Has sin come into our lives, have I fallen out of favor from God?

If we look at the life of Joseph we can begin to see how situations surrounding us have little to do with our acceptance in God. In every hardship Joseph encountered the Scripture says “and God was with Joseph” When he was in the pit, when he was a slave in Potipher’s house, and when he was in prison the Bible says that God was with him. Do you think Joseph felt that God was with him during these times? Do you think God is with you during the hardships? Again many of us base our faith and our acceptance on emotion and on the situations surrounding us. We need to break this mindset and realize that God’s word is firm and true. In Romans it says “Every believer is accepted by the Father, in Christ being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” You see our acceptance is through Jesus, it is not based on us. It is not based on how good we think we are doing in the faith, nor is it based on the hardships that we are going through. It is not based on if you have sinned because it is not based on us. It is based on Christ and Christ alone.

This is an important fact to rest upon, because we will all face hardships. We will encounter times that don’t seem to make any sense and we don’t find purpose for. Like Joseph, we too may find ourselves in places we feel we have no right being. We will question God’s love for us and ask why has he allowed such tragedy to bestow us. But we need to stand firm, and know through it God is with us. If you believe your acceptance has anything to do with you, you have not trusted in Christ alone, because you are putting faith in yourself. We need to arrive at the truth that we can not please God through what we do or what we don’t do, or what situation we are in. We can stand firm in the truth that if we are in Christ, we are accepted. It says in Eph.1:5 “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of His will” and in Rom.8:16-17 ” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ”.

So rest assured that whether in season or out of season if you are in Christ, you are accepted in the Father. Do not let you situations dictate your faith. Don’t let your perceived failure to determine your acceptance nor let pride creep in and think you deserved His grace. Rest on the solid truth of His word and know without a shadow of a doubt that you are in the palm of His hand and nothing can snatch you from it.

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Sanctification-Faith

faith[8]

Here is the first in a series on sanctification. We are going to tackle many different principles that comprise this process of becoming holy. The first thing  that we need  in this process is faith, for without it our journey can, and never will begin. But what is Faith?   Hebrews 11:1 says it this way, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” NKJV.

I think the thing that many people miss about faith is that it is not a blind faith. Not only that but the writer of Hebrews says it is “the evidence of things not seen.” It is based on evidence and this evidence on the truth of God’s word. This is the starting point. We need to understand that we need to base our faith in the Word of God to start this process of sanctification.

What Faith is Not.

It is not impressions, for our impressions can lead us astray. Our impressions are based on emotion which can sway us depending on our mood for the day.Some days I feel God does not love me, but His word tells me otherwise.Which one should I believe, my impressions or His Word?  The answer is always the Bible, for it is the truth that our faith is built on. Faith is also not based on probabilities. Faith has nothing to do with probabilities, again it is based on fact therefore it is certain, not probable. Faith is also not presumptuous as Evan Hopkins writes “Faith needs facts to rest upon. Presumption can take fancy instead of fact.”

Faith is God Dependence

Therefore since faith is based on facts, and that being the facts of God’s Word we need to be dependent on that truth. This results in us needing to be fully dependent of God and NOT on ourselves. Since we can not trust our emotions, or our impressions we can not be trusted. The only way however to be God dependent is to end self dependence.  Unfortunately, our autonomy is not easily overcome, this is why many times God allows suffering, sorrow, pain, and brokenness to bring us to a place where we begin to understand our need for Him. It is often during these times where we  truly begin to realize this. It was in this weakness that Paul realized this truth when he wrote, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”. 2Co 12:9-10

It was just after reading this and as I was beginning to process this idea of faith when a trial came immediately upon me, and I was powerless to change it. My spirit was crushed by this trial, and I wanted to rectify the situation. It was in this moment that God reminded me that He is in control and not me. Stop trying and start trusting. Stop fixing and start having faith. Stop depending on yourself and start depending on God. This is where our journey begins, with faith. As J.B Stoney says “The just shall live by faith, not only in your circumstances, but in everything. I believe the Lord allows many things to happen on purpose to make us feel our need for Him”. Let us meditate on these things. Gods word is fact and should be our basis for faith, and in response to that fact we need to be fully dependent on Him.

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Principles of Spiritual Growth

I am going to veer from my normal style of blogging, and do a series on spiritual growth or sanctification if you will. I am going to post weekly on a topic of spiritual growth and build on it. As believers we all know, or should know that our salvation comes from grace alone, by faith alone, by Christ alone. Our salvation is a free gift given to us by the redeeming work by Christ accomplished on the cross. “For our sake he made him to be sin, who knew no sin the we might become His righteousness” 2 Cor.5-21. We, if believers had the moment were we accepted this truth and repented from our sins and believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior as the redeemer of our sins, and the Holy Spirit now indwells us. This is the good news that is the gospel. But the question is,  then what? We continue to come to church and here this message and witness others coming to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. We continue to grow in knowledge but how do we grow in Christ? How are we to become “better” Christians, and “be conformed into the image of Christ”? Rom 8:29a.  A lot of times we are taught we are saved by grace, this is a free gift, there is nothing you can do to earn it. But once we have accepted it, now we must work to keep it? So I would like to take some time and vet out the truths of God’s word and how it pertains to us growing in Christ, and how to become spiritually mature.

I would love for there to be a running dialogue during this series, for I am quickly to accept the fact that I am no expert on the subject rather an enthusiastic layman who seeks to know Christ more.  “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3

Since this is different from my normal intended audience I will list it under the category of sanctification with the same tag and will  start each title off with the word Sanctification with a sub title. For Instance, the first one in the series will be called “Sanctification-Faith”, the second “Sanctification-Time” and so forth.

It is my goal that we will grow together in our growth in Christ.

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Christians Vs. Homosexuals Part 2

stoning-hate

So we just concluded that Christians are not different than anyone else regarding their own righteousness. We are all sinners with a sinful nature, see part one for greater clarification on this issue. So the this begs the question, so now what? How should Christians respond going forward? Just to clarify a point regarding a difference between Christians and non Christians. Christians are righteous, just in case this point was missed. The thing we sometimes forget is that it is not our works or actions that makes us righteous but rather we have Christ’s righteousness. It says in 2Co 5:21  “For our sake he made him(that is Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” It was on the cross when we switched places, he bore our sins and we took His perfection. It is because of this that we are called to a separate way of living that He gives us the ability to do. That is what we are going to talk about today.

Jesus was known to be a friend of sinners, I find that very interesting, I wonder if that would be said about me? That is because he wasn’t always hanging out in synagogues (churches) rapping with the Pharisees and Sadducees(Religious leaders of the day) discussing how great they were and how lowly the sinners were. No, he was hanging out with what the religious people would call the sinners. How often do we isolate ourselves in our churches with like minded people talking about the sinners of the world like we are so great and holy. It is very easy to get wrapped up in holy living and pointing out everyone’s sins and we begin to separate big sins from little sins. Homosexuality, Adultery, prostitution, whoa they’re the biggies. While hatred, gossiping, and slander, well they’re not so bad right? This  is our mind set in the churches these days. We put our arms around someone who is ruining there marriage cause there checking out porn on there computers and we say things like “I’ll pray with you brother”,but if he comes in and says I hooking up with another guy, we’ll just run to the hills, there is no help for him cause he is a sinner. This reminds me of a story in the Bible. It is found in John 8:3-11 and goes like this “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”  This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.  But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.  Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

When you read that story, whose side are you on the woman’s or the religious leaders? I am assuming you chose the woman’s, but why? she committed a big sin. She was caught in the  very act of adultery, ripped right out her bed and thrown into the streets.We deserve, no we demand justice, but instead  we see Jesus showing compassion and mercy for the woman. That is what wins us over in the story and it wins the woman too. He did not condemn her, rather He loved her, and had mercy on her. But when it comes to homosexuality how many times are we found standing with the rocks in our hands, arms cocked and ready to throw, wanting to condemn  instead of loving and showing compassion? And I love what Jesus says “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Now from the previous post we know that we are ALL sinners, but sometimes we forget that and we judge those we are not comfortable with.

Jesus spent His years in ministry almost doing the opposite of what we do. He went around loving sinners and condemning the religious leaders. While we go around condeming sinners and loving our religious leaders. In the book of Matthew after a long list of Woe to you’s that he directs to the religious leaders he says this in Matthew 23:25  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
23:26  You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
23:27  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.
23:28  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness
”.

Again, it is easy to say” Yeah, you tell em’ Jesus” all the while we find ourselves to often in this same scenario. We must be careful not to appear righteous on the outside only. but in our hearts also. And lastly I wanted to point out that we are to love others. That is what is supposed to separate us from non Christians. Read these verses

Luk 6:31  And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luk 6:32  “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
Luk 6:33  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
Luk 6:34  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.
Luk 6:35  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Luk 6:36  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luk 6:37  “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven”
Mat 5:43  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

5:44  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
5:45  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
5:46  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
5:47  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
5:48  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect
.

and Lastly in John 13:35  “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

I know I am overwhelming you with verses and maybe you got tired of reading them, but Jesus had a lot to say about Love, mercy and forgiveness. Therefore that is where our hearts should also be. We need to come out of our comfort zone and and embrace those whom you feel are different from you and maybe you feel more righteous than. Maybe for you it is not the homosexual community you are uncomfortable with. For you it could be those with drug addictions or prostitution of inmates in prison. Whatever it is remember you are not greater than anyone, more self righteous than anyone but our righteousness comes from Christ. Let us show that instead of showing our bigotry and judgmental hearts

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Christians Vs Homosexuals Part 1

a90_gay

I was watching this video from Frances Chan the other day and he was speaking of some time he spent in Europe. During this time he was brought to some historic churches and he shared some of their history that put Christianity on the wrong side of some social issues of the day. At the end of sharing this he poses a question. What is the modern church on the wrong side of currently? This is an open ended question that gave me pause and challenged me to reflect. You can watch the video here. The section I am referring to is between minute 3;15 to 5:15 if you want the short version.

Check out from 3:15 to 5:15

I am in no way reflecting the thoughts of Francis Chan, but this is my own personal opinion of what I believe the Church is failing on. I believe our actions toward the homosexual community is causing  damage and divisions in place of love and unity. I by no means have a complete understanding  of all the issues involved, but by the backlash from both camps I know enough to know we are missing something. This is going to be a little deeper than most of my posts so I apologize if I lose anyone here, but I will try to make my thoughts as concise as I can. I also know that this is a highly sensitive issue so I will try to treat it with the utmost respect. I wish to just open some dialogue for healthy lines of communication and understanding.

I am going to be using a book of Philippians in the bible as my main reference to make my first point.The letter was written by a guy named Paul. Paul was a highly ranking religious leader of his time. Kind of like a Cardinal in the Catholic church if we needed to make a modern day example of his position .So many would consider him a very holy person, and a godly man who was very righteous. Speaking to this he writes this in Philippians 3:4-6  “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:
3:5  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;
3:6  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

In other words he is saying if you think you are righteous, holy or godly, I am more than you. So if anyone is going to live a godly life it would be him, right…? Wrong. He writes in Rom 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”  Even though he is the holy roller, he cannot stop doing things he doesn’t want to do, and can’t do the things he wants to do. Why is that? Well, because he is a sinner. I know, you are thinking how can I call such a good man a sinner?

You see,we are not considered sinners because we have sinned, but rather we are sinners because we have a sinful nature. Therefore we cannot help ourselves but to sin. This is the whole reason for the law, it is not to try and uphold every law (commandment) given, rather it was given to expose our sin nature. To prove this point let’s look at when Moses was being given the 10 commandments. The first two being: Thou shalt not have any other gods before me, or make any carved image. These are the very first commandments, and while they were being given on top of Mt Sinai, the Israelites were at the bottom of the mountain making a golden calf to worship. God couldn’t even get  the words out before they already failed at it. Another verse that speaks of our sinful nature is this: Rom 3:10-12 as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

  Not even you, you righteous church goer lest you become self righteous and start thinking you are better than anyone else. Going back to Philippians, Paul doesn’t end his thought by giving us his wonderful resume of how awesome and godly he is, he continues with this.
Php 3:7 “ But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
3:8  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

That word rubbish is translated into dung or crap. In other words all of those titles and positions he has he compares it to crap. Not only is he saying it is useless or worthless, he is saying it is actually repulsive and disgusting. This is where I think many of us are missing the boat. We think our crap doesn’t stink, and that we are somehow more holy, worthy, righteous and better than others, say homosexuals. I think Paul gets it, he understands that his high position means nothing. He knows he is a sinner by nature, he knows he is no different than anyone else when it comes to this. That is why he gives us his resume. In case someone thinks he is more godly than him. You are not going to outdo Paul in following the Law and he still says it is all crap. It is all crap that is, compared to the surpassing worth in Jesus Christ. He finishes his thought with this,

Php 3:9 “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”   He understands that the only righteousness he has comes through faith in Christ Not by following the Law or commandments Therefore neither should we think ourselves righteous or better than anyone else no matter how good you think you are. Because our righteousness does not come from what we do, how good we think we are, because we are all sinners, Rom 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”,  Last I checked all means all.

If our righteousness is not by our own doing, but only through Christ than what gives us the right to think we are better than or more righteous than anyone else. I think this is a big idea to wrap our heads around. You are no better than anyone, you are not holier than the worst sinner, you and I are the worst sinner. Again all means all, you are no different than the person you are judging, if you are a Christian the only difference is the righteousness of Christ in you. It is not until we see our goodness and self righteousness as crap, that we can only begin to judge others.

Part 2 will deal with how I believe the church should respond to and treat homosexuals in a biblical context.

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