Love Not The World

Photo by Benjamin Suter:

1 John 2:15-17 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Worldly Solutions Will Not Fix Worldly Hearts

So I was reading an article in our local paper “Main Street Maury”, a letter written to the editor entitled “USA 37,000, Japan 101: but it’s not a game” (sic). It was the standard opinion piece where – in comparison to other countries – the gun deaths in the United States are much higher. It was obvious the author had access to the Internet, and knew how to research. The conclusion of the article was, “I know the U.S. will not adopt Japan’s strict standards, but it’s time to consider adopting regulations to lower the number of gun deaths in the U.S.”. The author then quoted Jesus, though he did not give Jesus credit for the quote (which is in Matthew 26:52). Continue quote, “If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.” Many innocent people are dying because we are living by the sword in America’s obsessive gun culture”. There’s a few things I’d like to note in reference to this article.

First, Jesus not only said If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword, He also said at the conclusion of the Communion, also called “The Lord’s Table”:

Luke 22:35-38 {Jesus} said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.

When Jesus said If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword, He was responding to Simon Peter’s rash attack against a Priest of Israel. Jesus did not tell us to use the sword offensively or aggressively. We are not to attack others (though, if part of the military, allowance is made for that in the Scripture). However Jesus never opposed use of the sword defensively, to protect yourself, your family, your community, and your country.

Our Lord Jesus Christ was hated, and lies were told about Him. Though His Judge Pilate could find no sin nor crime in Jesus, He was nonetheless executed. Why? Because the human heart is “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Jesus encouraged His disciples to “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-48), but was not against the defense of life. Life is precious. Every life is precious. God does not expect you to allow the rapist into your home, then look the other way while he molests your loved ones. We who are Christ’s are allowed to defend ourselves and our loved ones.

Secondly, I thought it amusing that the author would compare the U.S. to Japan. In its history Japan has had a long history of weapons bans, going all the way back to 1429 under King Sho Hashi, beginning the first Sho Dynasty. In 1470 the new Sho Dynasty prohibited the carrying of weapons. In 1609, the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan permitted the Satsuma clan to invade the island of Okinawa. The Satsuma samurai renewed the ban on all weapons. As the Japanese were forbidden to carry arms, they developed a fighting system using their farming tools. The martial arts weapons such as the Bo, the Sai, the Kama, Tonfa, or Nunchaku were repurposed from the field to the battlefield. As a young boy I often went to Bruce Lee movies to watch him defeat the enemy with many of these weapons. Japan has less guns because of oppressive laws, but it is no paradise. An article entitled “Despite Japan’s low crime rates, it’s seen a number of mass stabbings in the past decade” cites a killing spree where a 51 year old man kills a 39 year old man, a 12 year old school girl, and injures 15 school children. He carried no guns, but two knives. In 2016, 19 disabled residents were stabbed to death by an employee of that home. The employee said, “It is better that disabled people disappear”. In 2008 a 24 year old man went on a stabbing spree, killing 2 people and injuring 7. That same year a 25 year old man stabbed and killed 7, and injured 10 in a shopping hub of Tokyo. I could go on and on, but I won’t. The data is there.

Until the human heart is changed, no amount of law enforcement is going to lessen our self inflicted hurts. No human law can fix what ails us. We need to get back to the Bible. We need to meet with and surrender ourselves to Christ’s leading. Only through Jesus will our hearts be calmed. Only through faith in Him will we stop tearing one another apart.

Do Not Love The World’s Ways, Dear Christian

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

When you read this text, your first thought might be, “Isn’t John contradicting what Jesus said in John 3:16?” You know the text:

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Word Study: The Greek word for world is kosmos, which can simply refer to humanity as God’s creation, or it can refer to a godless mindset. When God created the world, the kosmos, He created Adam and Eve distinctly separate from the animals around them. God created Adam and Eve as His representatives on the earth. The Bible says:

Genesis 1:26-30 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

God made Adam and Eve to have dominion over the earth and all that is in it. They were to oversee the planet as stewards of God. In their stewardship they were to Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion. They were to build the family of humanity, and to oversee all things, maintaining order in the Name of God. But they didn’t do that. What did Adam and Eve do? Well, in particular, what did ADAM do?

Adam became WORLDLY.
He stopped working for God.
He chose another employer – Satan.

The WORLDLY mindset is incompatible with a child of God. The Lord Jesus Christ – Eternal God the Son become the Only Begotten of the Father – was tempted just as Adam was tempted. The Bible tells us that while the Son of God was in the wilderness,

Matthew 4:8-9 (ESV) … the devil took {Jesus} to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

The devil was not lying to Jesus. The devil is called the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and he blinds the minds of unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, the image of God. Satan as a serpent tried this with Adam and was successful. Adam allowed himself to become worldly in his thought process. Instead of referring to God and his Word, Adam used human resources and human reason to seek joy.

Adam lost – and we suffer because of it.
But Jesus wasn’t having any of it.

Jesus told the devil, Go away Satan! The Bible says, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him ONLY shall you serve.” (author’s paraphrase). This is what a child of God should do.

If God’s Word does not support what is being said, then we need to reject the word we are hearing as inferior, a word from Satan and not God.

1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

We as Christians SHOULD love people – but we must not love the evil that people do. You can love someone, and yet hate their action … especially if their action is destructive and ungodly. Jesus told us:

Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 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. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

We as believers are to love those around us – to DO GOOD toward them even if they do bad toward us. But this does not mean that we worship their gods and goddesses. This does not mean that we turn away from the Word of God for the highly inferior word of man. You are called as sons and daughters of God to uphold the truth of God’s Word.

We are to please God, not man. The Apostle Paul said:

Galatians 1:10 (ESV) For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

It is not the Christian’s duty to please others. It is the Christian’s duty to please God, and to share the Gospel of salvation. The Apostle said in another place:

1 Thessalonians 2:4 (ESV) … just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

We cannot save the world by pleasing the world. We cannot reach the world by being like the world. We are to be like Jesus. We are to uphold the Word of God, for it is the Word of God that upholds us. The Apostle warns the Church:

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

Sherry and I have been working with little children at Riverside School. Just this past Thursday Sherry was working with a little girl, helping her with her homework. The little girl had it wrong – and wouldn’t listen to Sherry. She just KNEW that she was right … and she wasn’t. But as long as she was CERTAIN her wrong answer was right, she would never get straight.

There are many antichrists in the world, people whose sole function is to draw people away from God and into hell. I watched a priest the other day, wearing a “stole” with rainbow colors on it, as he preached the way of godlessness. This so called priest said, in effect,

God is gay. God is a lesbian.
God is trans. God is gender non-binary.
God is straight. God is Cisgender.
God is you, and you are God.”

This is utter nonsense, divorced from both Scripture and the Gospel. It is certain that God can understand where you are in life. But God does not endorse human philosophies – no matter how sincere you may be – so that you not be offended. God has a standard, and that standard is clearly presented in the Scripture. “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son”. Why was Jesus “given”? He was “given” to pay the penalty for our sins.

Jesus did not come to enable our sins – but He came to save us from our sins. Sin is barrier between us and God. We are to walk in love with God and with one another. We are not to walk in sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake {God} made {Jesus} to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

We are not to walk in sin, but are to repent of sin and walk with Jesus. The other day I had an appointment to meet with the Principal at Riverside. Being escorted into his office, we talked for about 30 minutes before I had to go. I got up, opened the door to go out, and stepped right into the mop closet. As soon as I did, I immediately backed out – amusing the Principal – and went out the right door. This is an illustration of sin. I was sincere when I stepped into the mop closet. I was certain I was on the right path when I stepped into the mop closet. But I was wrong. I could have stubbornly insisted I was in the right place, and invite everybody else into the closet with me. Or I could REPENT, back out of the weird place, and go toward the light. The Apostle said:

1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) {Jesus} Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

And again, Romans 6:1-2, 6 (ESV) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

The intent of the Cross of Christ is not just to GIVE LIFE, but to KILL DEATH. The Cross does not just COVER sin, it CHANGES the person. If you are comfortable in sin, you are not saved!

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

There were many in the first century Church that professed Christ as Savior, but were not saved. In fact, there were many who followed Jesus, but who abandoned Him when His teaching became hard. In John chapter 6 Jesus fed over 5000 people with five barley loaves and two fish, a child’s lunch. After this, Jesus went to Capernaum to preach. The crowd followed Jesus – not because they wanted Jesus, but because they wanted their bellies filled. Jesus told them:

John 6:26-27 (ESV) “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

The people then asked Jesus, What must we do to work the works of God?” Jesus told them,

John 6:29 (ESV) “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Jesus told them that He was the Manna from Heaven, the Bread of Life. Jesus said, everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). Jesus went on to explain that faith in Him is MORE THAN JUST WORDS. Jesus said,

John 6:51 (ESV) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.

What was Jesus saying? He was saying that saving faith is totally dependent on Jesus. The person saved receives Jesus, breathes in Jesus, puts his everything into Jesus. If you are saved, you are saved to be just like Jesus on this earth. Jesus even got more radical:

John 6:53-57 (ESV) Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.

Faith is feeding on Jesus. It is coming to Jesus hungry – and finding your hunger satisfied in Him. It is coming to Jesus thirsty – and finding your thirst satisfied in Him. That crowd of people thinned out that day. The Bible says,

John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

There were many who followed Jesus, and yet they were never born again. Those who were born again decided they would continue following Jesus – even if the whole world abandoned Him. Jesus has the words of truth!

Christians Are Called To Obedience

1 John 2:16-17 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Though salvation is a free gift from God, the PROOF of salvation is that we DO the WILL OF GOD.

You cannot be blessed in this life if you do not obey God. Before Israel went into the Promised Land, God told them:

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, 28 and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known.

God will not bless His people if we go to those “other gods. We are expected to live FOR and WITH God once we have been saved. God tells us:

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 (ESV) God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

The things of this world are but temporary. God’s Kingdom is eternal. Let us live for Him, and in Him. Let us by our lives glorify Jesus Christ our Savior. Let us follow the leadership of our Lord. We will end with these words:

1 John 2:29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

As believers together, we are to DO the right thing. The Gospel saves from the inside out. If you belong to Jesus, you are called to act like Jesus. If you belong to Him, you will live your lives so as to please Him in all you say and do. May God the Holy Spirit drive this truth deeply into our hearts. Amen and amen.

Posted in 1 John | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Under The Fig Tree

Photo by veeterzy:

John 1:43-48 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

Jesus Is Looking For Searching Hearts

Word Study: When Jesus meets people, He reaches out and meets all different types of people. In our text today Jesus meets Philip. Who introduced Philip to Jesus? If you read your text, it’s no one. The Bible says Jesusfindeth Philip. The word findeth is the Greek heyriskō (pronounced hyoo-ris’-ko), which means “to search for, to seek out to find something of value”. When Herod met the wise men, he told them

Go, and search diligently for the baby Jesus – when you FIND (heyriskō) Him, come and tell me where He is ..” (Matthew 2:8, author’s paraphrase)

Jesus told us seek, and you shall FIND (heyriskō)” (Matthew 7:7). Though Heyriskō may mean to stumble upon, it is often used to describe the results of diligently searching for something or someone of value. Jesus was diligently looking for Philip. Why is that?

I believe God is looking for those whose hearts are seeking Him.

The Psalmist said, Psalm 53:2 (CEV) From heaven God looks down to see if anyone is wise enough to search for Him.

In the Old Testament the first King of Israel was Saul. But Saul didn’t follow the Lord very well. Saul became prideful, and rather than follow the Lord began to follow his own agenda. God told Saul,I seek a person after My own heart to lead My people” (1 Samuel 13:14). God led the Prophet Samuel to the home of Jesse, the father of the shepherd boy David. David the son of Jesse was a man after God’s heart” (Acts 13:22). God looks for and desires those who look for Him. God is always looking for those who are looking for Him. We are told in the Book of Hebrews that God rewards those who diligently look for Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Everyone has a knowledge that there must be a God Who made all things. Sometimes we – through human philosophies and foolishness – pretend that there is no God. That everything just “happened”. Yet common sense tells us that this is not true. God calls to our hearts, saying,

Psalm 27:8 “Seek My face”

The Lord looks down from Heaven, and sees everyone” (Psalm 33:13). He doesn’t just see our outside, but our insides. He sees our hearts. God says,

My eyes watch what you do – everything you do. There is nothing you do that is hidden from Me – I even see the bad.” (author’s paraphrase Jeremiah 16:17)

Since Jesus is God become Man, and God looks for those who look for Him, it is not hard to understand why Jesus sought out Philip. Philip had been looking for, longing for the Messiah, the Promised Savior of the world. When Jesus comes to Philip,

Jesus doesn’t introduce Himself.
He walks up to
Philip and says, “Follow Me”.

What does Philip do? He doesn’t ask Jesus Who He is. Philip just follows Jesus. Verse 44 tells us that Philip was of Bethsaida, a town whose name means “the House of Fishing”. Both Andrew and his brother Peter live in Bethsaida, and it’s possible that they were all partners in the same fishing business. Yet Philip does not go to either Andrew or Peter, but to Nathanael.

Why did Philip go to Nathanael? I believe it was because not just Philip, but Nathanael was searching out and praying that the Messiah come. Though the text does not specifically state it, I believe that Nathanael was praying under a fig tree when Philip found him. Perhaps Philip and Nathanael were brothers in faith, who had often met and prayed that Israel would be saved from her sin, and restored to her land along with her King. When Jesus comes to Philip, Philip just knows this is the Messiah. The Holy Spirit confirms Jesus to his heart. And Philip with joy runs to where he and his friend Nathanael had often prayed for their fallen country.

John 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.

Word Study: Here’s that word heyriskō again. Philip finds his friend praying under a fig tree, and says, We have found (heyriskō) him. Nathanael, we’ve been looking for the Messiah. We’ve studied Him through the writings of Moses in the law, and the prophets”. Our search for the Messiah is over – He is Jesus of Nazareth. The great Preacher C.H. Spurgeon said of Nathaniel:

“… Nathanael was an earnest seeker. Philip found him out because he felt that the good news would interest him. “We have found the Messiah,” would be no gladsome news to any one who had not looked for the Messiah; but Nathanael had been expecting the Christ, and perhaps had so well understood Moses and the prophets, that he had been led to look for his speedy coming. The time when Messiah would suddenly come in his temple had certainly arrived, and he was day and night with prayer, like all the faithful of the ten tribes, watching and waiting for the appearing of their salvation. He had not as yet heard that the glory of Israel had indeed come, but he was on the tiptoe of expectation.”

When Philip revealed that the Messiah was Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, Nathanael responded

John 1:46And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

For Whom Did Christ Come?

Some of the commentaries I read suggested that Nathanael was being a smart aleck or rude, but I don’t believe this is the case. Nazareth is in the Southern part of Galilee. Galilee was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles”, because there was a large population of Gentiles (non-Jewish people) living there. Nathaniel and Philip had studied about the coming of the Messiah, and knew the prophecies of Micah, that when Messiah came:

Micah 4:1-2 (ESV) It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”

When Messiah came, Micah said that there would be peace in the land of Israel:

Micah 4:4 (ESV) … they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

Nathanael is under the fig tree praying that the Messiah would come. Oh, that the Christ would come and save His people. Then Philip says, “We’ve found the Messiah – He’s from NAZARETH”. But here’s the problem.

Nathanael has studied the prophesies of the Messiah and His coming. He knows from Micah the prophecy that Messiah would come from BETHLEHEM. Bethlehem is the City of David, the place where the Ruler – the Christ – would come from.

Micah 5:2 (ESV) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

The Messiah would come to Israel from God to Bethlehem Ephrathah. We know that this is what actually happened. When the Wise Men from the East came looking for the Messiah, they came asking,

Matthew 2:2 “Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star … and have come to worship Him.

The Chief Priests and Scribes quoted the prophecy of Micah 5:2 (see Matthew 2:5-6) when citing where the Christ would be born. Good Orthodox Jews knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. So when Philip told Nathanael that Messiah was in NAZARETH, his natural reply would be

John 1:46 … Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?

Bethlehem is the City of David, the place of the prophecy. But Nazareth is in Galilee. Galilee was known as “Galilee of the Gentiles”. Why would the Messiah – the King of Israel – be found in Galilee of the Gentiles?

Because it was prophesied of God. God told Israel about the Coming Christ in …

Isaiah 9:6-7 (ESV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

You’ve probably heard me preach this text during the Christmas season. It is very well known, along with the prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14). But what’s interesting about the prophecy of the Messiah in Isaiah 9 is what comes in the preceding context:

Isaiah 9:1-2 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.

When the Messiah came, He would be found in Galilee of the nations. When Jesus began His earthly ministry the Apostle Matthew quotes the prophecy of Isaiah 9:1-2, saying that when John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus …

Matthew 4:12-16 (ESV) … withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles— 16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

Jesus went into Galilee of the Gentiles to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 9:2. Jesus went into Galilee of the Gentiles because He did not just come to save Israel – Jesus came to save whosoever will. The Apostle Paul said:

Romans 1:16 (ESV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The Messiah did not just come for the Jew – but for the Gentile as well. Jesus is the:

John 1:29 … Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

1 John 2:2 (ESV) {Jesus} is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only {begotten} Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 11:25 (ESV) … I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live

1 Timothy 2:6 (ESV) {Jesus} gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Jesus came building the Kingdom of God. As sinners are led of God to repent and surrender to Christ as Lord and Savior, they become citizens of the Kingdom of God – and Christ is our King. When the Apostle John looked into Heaven from the Isle of Patmos, what did he see?

Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV) … I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Our Lord Jesus commanded us just before ascending into Heaven:

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV) All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Nathanael’s confusion is understandable, but Jesus came not just for Israel – but for all who will receive Him as Lord and Savior.

God The Son Saw Nathanael Under The Fig Tree

Philip did not argue with Nathanael, but simply said:

John 1:46-47 … Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is NO guile!

Word Study: As Nathanael comes with Philip to see Jesus, when he gets to Jesus our Lord says, “Here’s an Israelite in whom there is “NO GUILE. The word GUILE is the Greek dolos, which means “deceitfulness, craftiness, trickiness”. Nathanael wasn’t like so many today who, saying one thing, he means another. The Bible tells us that God’s standard is that we:

Ephesians 4:15 … speak the TRUTH in LOVE …

We live in a day where people are deceitful, who use word games to get around and twist the truth. Nathanael was not like that. He spoke the truth, without trying to cushion it, or hide his meanings. When Jesus said “You are an Israelite who is not tricky or deceptive”, our Lord was probably thinking of the Scribes and Pharisees who twisted truth to suit themselves. Nathanael replies:

John 1:48 … Whence knowest thou me?

How do you know me, Jesus? Jesus replies:

John 1:48 … Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.

When Philip came to see you – I was already there, watching you! I saw you under the fig tree. I saw you praying there. I heard what you said to Peter about Me. I’m not mad about it – it was honest. Though I was no where around – I was there. You know why … I’m the Messiah.”

I can imagine chills going down Nathanael’s spine. This is not just some Rabbi from Nazareth. Jesus is more. He is the Messiah, the Son of God. Nathanael says:

John 1:49-51 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

In Genesis 28:12 Jacob (who would be called Israel) dreamed about a ladder between Heaven and earth. Angels went up and down this ladder to serve God. Jesus refers to “Jacob’s Ladder”, and the truth that He is the Door to Heaven. No one gets to God apart from Jesus Christ. What a wonderful truth this is!

If you do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior, today is the day of salvation. Jesus is watching you. Jesus knows you. Do you know Jesus? If not, turn to Him today. Repent of your godless way of life, and believe that Jesus died for your sins, and rose from the grave to be your King. The Scripture promises:

Romans 10:9-11 (ESV) … if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”


Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cycle Of Judges


Judges 2:6-10 And when Joshua had let the people go, the children of Israel went every man unto his inheritance to possess the land. 7 And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel. 8 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. 9 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. 10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

We Are Saved To Shine Against Darkness

One commentary noted of Joshua:

Joshua spent the remainder of his life leading the Israelites – first across the Jordan and then into battle after battle in the conquest of Canaan. His mission: to carve out a sizable beachhead which would serve as a launching point from which the individual tribes could finish the job in their assigned territories. Despite a few setbacks (Joshua 7, 9) Joshua enjoyed wild success, conquering six nations and thirty-one kings (Josh 11:18-23; 12:24).”

Joshua put the Lord first in all that he did. He did not try and conquer Canaan himself, but helped Israel get to the point where each tribe would be able – in faith – to reach out and conquer their own lands. There is a reason for this, one we can easily see in our present generation.

Costs Nothing, Worth Nothing: When I was growing up, very few parents bought their children their first car. When I wanted a car, dad told me to work for it, and that he would help. My granddaddy gave me a 1958 Rambler (wish I had it today) that I thought little of. It cost me nothing. It was old. Real old. Old As ME. So I really mistreated that car. But when I bought my first car, I spent part of every weekend washing, waxing, and polishing it both inside and out. The kids that received their cars gratis mistreated them, cared little for them. When you work for it, you care about it.

Joshua worked for God, and did as God said. But he expected each believer to do their part. It is a principle of Scripture that:

2 Thessalonians 3:10 … if a person will not work, that person shall not eat …

1 Thessalonians 5:18 … a worker deserves their wages

Joshua did a great job for the Lord. We read in verse 7:

the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord,
that he did for Israel

The people served God while Joshua was alive. Joshua had seen all the great works of the Lord, and shared his testimony of victory with those around him. His testimony led others to trust in and obey the Lord – and this brought unprecedented victory. The people also served God while the ELDERS THAT OUTLIVED JOSHUA were alive. Again, these elders who served with Joshua saw how God had been faithful. God had helped Israel overcome impossible odds. God fed Israel with manna. God helped Israel conquer greater foes.

But Israel drifted from testing and trusting God. Faith believes in God, though the evidence appears otherwise. The Bible defines faith thusly:

Hebrews 11:1, 6 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. … 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

The faith that saves “believes that God is” as He says He is. The faith that blesses must “diligently seek Him”. God blesses those who shine for Him.

When we come together as God’s people, we do so to encourage one another, to share how God has “given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). We come together as believers – whether as Israel under the Old Covenant or the Church under the New Covenant – to build up our faith. We read:

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

You cannot “hold fast” your profession of faith if you are not working together with other believers. Your light MUST shine. You must live for God. People need to see Christ in you.

Plant The Gospel Seed Where You Can – Or Else

Judges 2:10 And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.

Why didn’t this “generation” have a knowledge of God? Because God’s people got comfortable in their faith. They stopped telling their children about Jesus, stopped taking their kids to Church. It was too much work. God told Israel – and us:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 7 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: 5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. … 7 and thou shalt teach your children {the Word of God} diligently

I learned “hot” from my mama. She taught not to be burned, and how to harness fire to cook and care for the family. My dad taught me “fire”, and how to control it to burn off fields, burn trash, make campfires and barbecues. If someone doesn’t teach “hot” and “fire”, the child grows up ignorant and lazy … or an arsonist.

We must teach God to the new generation.
The government won’t do it, and often the parent won’t do it.
We are to get off the couch and shine!

When believers do not share the truths of God darkness grows. When believers stay in the Church and in the home and do not reach out in faith, in time no one remembers the great victories that faith brought in the previous generation. When we are told that this new generation knew not the Lord, this doesn’t mean they didn’t have a newspaper or dictionary knowledge of God. The Nelson Commentary notes, “The meaning of did not know [v. 10] is that the people deliberately refused to acknowledge God’s authority. It is not simply that they were ignorant, but that they were in unbelief”. This is much like our America today. Each person – each generation – must experience the power of God.

We live in a day of “easy believism” that touts a salvation without a Sovereign, and Calvary without a Cross.

When you do not pursue God’s presence and God’s will diligently, then in time complacency creeps in. Another commentary notes, “Biblical faith is only one generation away from extinction if parents and the community of faith fail to pass on, not just facts about God, but an intimate, daily, obedient faith relationship with Him (cf. Deut. 6:4-9)!”

It Is Evil For Us Not To Follow God

There are preachers today who teach that you can be saved, and never follow God. I believe these people are deluded – and need to read their Bibles. If you are saved, you MUST follow God. It is not optional.

Judges 2:11-13 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: 12 And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. 13 And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

You often see parallels in Judges that help explain the verses. For instance, in verse 11 we read:

And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord,
and served Baalim

As I read the text, I see the children of Israel did evil where God could see it, then we have and followed by served Baalim. Let’s start with What are “Baalim? This is the Hebrew Baʿal which simply means “lord”. The Baʿal was the supreme male god of the Phoenicians or Canaanites. The Baʿal is a false god, totally detached from the God of the Holy Bible. Just before Jesus went to the Cross – dying for our sins – He prayed these words in …

John 17:1-3 {Jesus prayed} … Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

The God of our Bible, the God that sent Jesus Christ to this earth, is the only true God. There are no other gods and goddesses but One, that is our God. The Apostle wrote:

1 John 5:20 (ESV) … we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

Moses came representing God under the Law, but man would not listen. So Jesus came representing God under Grace – and yet often man will not listen. Jesus is the Manifest Member of the Godhead. All other gods and goddesses that have ever been are but pale imitations of the True God. Many people chase after these imitations, but what they chase is a figment of the imagination. There is but ONE God, and His story is found in the Holy Bible. The Prophet said:

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (ESV) Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Israel stopped following God, and instead followed Baalim or Baʿal. In verse 11 we read the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim. What led them to serving Baalim”? The next verse says:

vs 12 they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them

Rather than honoring the God Who saved them, they turned away from Him to follow other false gods. Why? We were designed to worship. We are made in the image of God, to walk with God. When we do not pursue God, we will pursue false gods.

Judges 2:13 And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.

Word Study: What is the difference between Baal and “Ashtaroth”? The male god Baal was associated with the sun and nature (rain, plant growth). The goddess Ashtaroth was related to sexuality and fertility. These false gods can be traced back to Nimrod, a mighty politician and a mighty hunter (Genesis 10:8-12) who built the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad, Calneh, Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen. He had no love for God, but for himself and his power. When the devil tempted our Lord Jesus in the wilderness, he said:

Matthew 4:9 “All these worldly kingdoms I will give You, if You will fall down and worship me.”

Many people have “gained the whole world, but lost their soul” (Mark 8:34-38). Jesus told Satan,

Matthew 4:10 … “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’

You can gain much following Satan. But in time, you’ll find that it’s a bad path to follow. The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge” states:

“The greatest sin a human being can commit is not murder or rape or other despicable acts of atrocity. It is to turn his back on the living God to serve man-made gods”.

When we turn away from the God Who made us, the God of the Scripture, we turn against the God Who designed our conscience and our souls.

When God’s People Sin, The Great Shepherd Punishes

Judges 2:14-15 And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. 15 Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed.

If you are a Christian, you are a part of the Family of God – and God is your Father. When God’s Children walk away and wallow in sin, God WILL punish. We are told in:

Hebrews 12:5-11 (ESV) “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

God disciplines His people when they wander away from what He has deemed righteous. Discipline should not discourage us, but encourage us. The proof of salvation is that – when disciplined – we repent and return to our Father and Savior. When God disciplines, He often uses others – sometimes our enemies – to punish us. God delivered Israel into the hands of spoilers. The word spoilers is the Hebrew šāsâ, the same word as the Egyptian name for the robber Bedouin of the desert, shasu.

These nomadic thieves would come in, rustle cattle, or destroy their crops. Since His people despised their birthright (as did Esau) and sold their Father’s love for a false god, God sold them to the unbelievers. They lost their liberty. When we walk away from God, we enslave ourselves to sin and the things of this world. The Scripture says:

Romans 6:16 (NLT) Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

God’s people are to walk in the light with God our Savior, obeying Him, living for Him. When we do so, we walk in victory. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4). Walking in faith with God, we will overcome, for our Jesus is the Overcomer. But Beloved, we must stand with Him. We must let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Judges 2:16-19 Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. 17 And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so. 18 And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. 19 And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they returned, and corrupted themselves more than their fathers, in following other gods to serve them, and to bow down unto them; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way.

Now the Bible describes the cycle of disobedience that Israel follows:


Throughout the Book of Judges we do not see Israel gaining any new territory. We see a people stuck in disobedience. But we also see our God Who loves us so much that He raises up Judges to save the nation. We close with:

Judges 2:20-23 … And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; 21 I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: 22 That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not. 23 Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.

May we as His people not follow the cycle of discipline that Israel chose. May God the Holy Spirit teach us from His Word. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Judges, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Keep His Commandments

Photo by Jens Johnsson:

1 John 2:3-6 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Opening: Yet another Church falls from the light of God. Last week the Church of England (Anglicans) decided it would bless “civil marriages and partnerships of same sex couples”. As with many other mainline denominations, compromise with the error of our age will not bless but divide the Church. The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America noted:

the Church of England is moving a step at a time to fully accept the practice of homosexuality as part of the life and practice of the English Church. … We have lived through this with other Western Anglican Provinces that continually wavered on the ‘faith once delivered’ (Jude 3) and now outright deny the doctrine of biblical anthropology regarding gender identity and moral behavior. Those in the secular press and culture will argue that these are matters of justice, but God’s justice can never contradict God’s righteousness, and we know these changes attack the very core of biblical authority. Have the Scriptures been clear on human sexuality through the centuries? Yes, they have. The majority of Anglicans around the world have concluded the same. And yet, now, the Church of England has authorized the blessing of sin and declared that sin is no longer sin.”

When sin is normalized, no one wins.

During World War II the German nation under Adolf Hitler began to normalize antisemitism and the destruction of Jewish businesses. Jews were caricatured in newspapers as rats and thieves, and blamed for the poor economy of Germany. It wasn’t long before Jews were gathered into ghettos, stripped of their property, and in time were objects of mass murder and cremation in concentration camps. Most of the Churches in Germany went along with the programs, which allowed for its widespread acceptance and inhumanity. One pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer died in Buchenwald prison on February 7, 1945. He was stripped naked and hung for the crime of working with the underground resistance and for helping Jews to safety. What is interesting about his death was that he could have avoided it. Christian History magazine notes,

His death would not have happened if it had not been for his conscience. At the start of World War II, he had been safe in America. By his own choice he returned to his native Germany, saying “I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of the Christian life in Germany after the war if I did not share in the trials of this time with my people.” Bonhoeffer wrote in his book The Cost Of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die … Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will ..”

Yes, We Avoid Sin… But Being A Christian Is More:
DO What Our God Says.

1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Word Study: The word know is the Greek ginōskō, which means “to have a knowledge of, to intimately understand”. This same word is used of Joseph when the Angel told him that his virgin bride Mary was carrying the Messiah inside her. The Bible says:

Mathew 1:25 {And Joseph did not} KNOW her until Mary brought forth her firstborn Son: and Joseph called His name JESUS. (Author’s paraphrase)

When the Bible says “Joseph did not KNOW her” it is speaking of an intimate knowledge or experience e, in this case the wedding bed (Hebrews 13:4). To KNOW Jesus is not just to have a dictionary knowledgte of him. I “know” Abraham Lincoln. I “know” Ronald Reagan. Never met them, but I “know” them. But not like ginōskō. It is so important that we ginōskō or KNOW Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus, then one day you’ll meet Him and He’ll say to you,

Matthew 7:23 I never KNEW (ginōskō) you: depart from Me, you that work iniquity ..

Do you know Him? Are you sure? How can I KNOW that I KNOW Jesus? Here we are given the key to eternity:

we keep his commandments

Jesus expects us to keep his commandments. Didn’t He say,


Do you say you are saved, in a loving relationship with God through Jesus? Then you must OBEY Jesus. You must DO what he says do. The Apostle John repeats this in God’s Book:

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

We know we love Jesus because we obey Jesus. How do we KNOW that Jesus loves us back?

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

The Son of God obeys God. A son of God obeys God. As Jesus obeyed the direction of the Father, we obey the direction of Jesus. One of the most egregious lies ever promoted by Satan – and swallowed by many in the Church hook, line, and sinker, is that

I can RECEIVE Jesus as SAVIOR and yet
REJECT Him as SOVEREIGN LORD and still be saved”.

Osborne Reef & False Evangelism: There is something called “The Law of unintended consequences”. For instance, have you ever heard of the Osborne Reef (1972)? There were too many old tires filling up land fills, so someone thought it would be a good idea to dump the tires off the coast of Florida. The idea was that it would create a reef that would benefit marine life. Sounds like a great idea with the best of intentions! What could possibly go wrong? Tires are round, and they roll, rolling around in the tide and destroying the natural coral that grew nearby. Tires also are leaking toxins into the Florida Coastline. The tires have not helped, but have destroyed the reef in Florida. This mess will take years to clean up, and untold millions of dollars – if it ever gets cleaned up. Consider corn ethanol, found in much of the gasoline we use today. The word was that corn ethanol was cheaper, cleaner, and renewable. So the government mandated its consumption. Sounds like a great idea with the best of intentions. What could possibly go wrong? Ethanol produces more greenhouse gasses than traditional gasoline, causing environmental damage. According to scientists at Cornell University and the University of California, making 1 gallon of ethanol requires 1.29 gallons of fossil fuel. How does this tie into the problem of false evangelism? Years ago well intentioned pastors and evangelists thought that preaching the salvation of sinners without the sovereignty of Christ would be a good idea. Let’s get people to walk the aisles of the Church and get them on a membership roll. Once they are on the roll, then we’ll blanket America with the Gospel. It was a great idea with the best of intentions. What possibly could go wrong? Everything! Being on the roll of the Church does not make you the LIGHT that Jesus demands we be. We as the LIGHT are not to compromise with the darkness – something that will often bring us into conflict with the culture around us. A salvation that SAVES but does not bend the knee to the SOVEREIGN Christ is not in the Scripture – A N Y W H E R E! One commentary I came across explained it this way: Many Churches today offer a BASIC salvation package where you can go to Heaven upon death, but it has no effect on your present life. Or you can choose the DELUXE salvation package that is less fire insurance and more like a home renovation package.

NEITHER is Biblical Christianity.

Jesus Christ gave ALL of Himself to save you, and you give all of YOURSELF to Him. If you’re saved, He’s the Boss. Jesus was very clear on what He expected:

Matthew 16:24-27 … If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Jesus will one day REPAY EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO WHAT HE HAS DONE. Yes, salvation is by Grace – it is a free gift from God, fully secured by the Blood of the Christ shed upon Calvary. You are saved by receiving Jesus”. God the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel causes your spiritual eyes to open. Jesus comes along, and holds out His nail scarred hands. He calls you, “Receive ME”. Now Who is the “ME” that Jesus is? What did the Apostle Peter preach on the Day of Pentecost?:

Acts 2:36God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Jesus is both LORD and CHRIST (Savior/ Messiah). He is not one or the other. He is both. Peter would write the Church long after this in:

2 Peter 3:18 … grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. …

One of my favorite Scriptures is Ephesians 2:8-10, which is a complete picture of salvation. In verses 8-9 we read, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. If you stop here, you see the declaration that “Jesus is Savior”. But when you read verse 10 you hear, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

The SAVED are following the SOVEREIGN Christ in works, in behavior, in manifest light – in loving opposition to the world.

1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

We keep his commandments, not our desires. The soul that comes to Jesus for salvation will be saved from the self centeredness of sin. Your focus, dear Christian, is your RELATIONSHIP to Jesus. He reminds us:

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV) “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

If I am preaching to please ME, my target is wrong. If I am preaching to please YOU, my target is wrong. Now apply this to YOUR works. Everything you do should please JESUS. YOUR target is Jesus too. Jesus said that those who hear His words and DO THEM is wise” (Matthew 7:24), whereas those who hear His words and DO NOT DO THEM is foolish” (Matthew 7:26). Those who are saved are to be Light in the Lord” (Ephesians 56:8). We are to live as

Philippians 2:15 … “sons of God, without rebuke, the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, AMONG WHOM YE SHINE AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD

Jesus could not have been more specific when He spoke of His judgment, saying:

Matthew 25:33-40 … (ESV) He will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Jesus did things to lift people up. Jesus expects His sons and daughters to do the same.

We are to feed the hungry.
We are to give water to the thirsty.
We are to share the Gospel of salvation to all.
We are to go to those in need, and lift up.
We are to welcome the stranger,
But we are NOT to welcome the stranger’s false god.
We are to DO GOOD.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

Some professing Christians are NEVER weary in well doing because they’ve never done the first thing for Jesus. They were never baptized. They never give of their finances to others. They rarely read the Word of God, pray, or spend time with God’s people. One day these professors will hear Jesus say,

Matthew 25:41-46 (ESV) … “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ … 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

If you live like you belong in hell or live like you belong in Heaven – you’ll end up there.

Do You KNOW – Intimately Know – Jesus?

1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Word Study: We looked at the word KNOW, now let’s look at the word keepeth, the Greek tēreō. This word means “to watch for, to preserve, to hold fast to, to guard”. Jesus used this word when He told a young rich man:

Matthew 19:17 … If you want to enter into life, KEEP (tēreō) God’s commandments …

And Jesus told His disciples in the Great Commission:

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe (tēreō) all things whatsoever I have commanded you…

And again Jesus said,

John 8:51 Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man KEEP (tēreō) MY SAYING, he shall never see death …

The Holy Spirit indwells the Saved!

When a person is saved, the TRUTH comes and indwells that person. What do I mean by that? It is the Holy Spirit of God Who draws a person to Christ. Jesus told His disciples while He was on the earth,

John 14:15-17 (ESV) “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

When you turn your life over to Jesus, receiving Him as Lord and Savior, He sends the Holy Spirit of God – the “SPIRIT OF TRUTH” to both dwell with you and be in you. When Jesus saves a person, He plants the Holy Spirit into our lives in a very real way. We are saved from the inside out. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. The Comforter, the …

John 14:26 (ESV) … Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

We who are saved do what Jesus said, because the Spirit of God Who indwells us leads us to do so. Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, Whom you have from God, and that YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN” (1 Corinthians 6:19). The Holy Spirit lives in us to lead to in the Way of Christ, to be like Jesus. The unbeliever stands convicted under the Law of God, unrighteous and lawless. But the Child of God by faith in Christ is led by the Spirit of God, and is not under the Law (Galatians 5:18). If you are saved, the fruit of your life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit speaks to us, telling us that we a Children of God (Romans 8:9, 15; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 2:27).

A Christian is in a God indwelt relationship with the Creator

You may drift momentarily from God, but the Spirit of God will draw you back. If you say I know him and have no concern for Jesus’ commandments, then John very plainly tells you that you are a liar. God has given us a very clear illustration of the professing but lost and the possessing but confused in Christ’s Apostles.

Illustration: The Apostle Peter was “possessing but confused”. Peter told Jesus, “I’ll never deny You, Lord”, but Jesus told him, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:34). What happened? Peter denied the Lord. Later after our Lord was crucified, dead, and resurrected, Peter ran back to Jesus’ arms. Why? Because – though confused – Peter was possessed of God. He was indwelt of God.

But then you have the Apostle Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot followed Jesus just as long as Peter did. Judas not only denied Jesus, but he betrayed the Master for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). Whereas Peter repented and returned to the arms of Christ, Judas changed his mind (Matthew 27:3) and tried to return the money to the priests. He did not return to Jesus, but to the scene of the crime. He did not turn his heart over to Jesus, but “throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself”. God was not in his life, nor in his heart. Jesus chose Judas, but knew he was a devil (John 6:70).

Judas’ religion was external. It was man made. But Peter’s faith is God made. God’s people may stumble, but they are characterized by walking as Jesus walked.

Those Truly Saved Will Seek To Walk as Jesus Walked

1 John 2:5-6 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

When God saved you – if He saved you – He also predestined you to be like Jesus. We are told in

Romans 8:29 For whom {God} did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

If you are saved by faith in Christ, you are PREDESTINATED to be like Christ. In the first Creation God made all people to be “in his image” (Genesis 1:27). When you were born into this world you, like all humans, are made “in the image of God”. You are not animals. You are above the animals, but lower than the angels. BUT in the second Creation, the Creation you underwent when God entered your life and called you to salvation, you are programmed to be conformed to the image of his Son. You are to be like Jesus. You are to imitate Jesus. You are to think like Jesus. You are to love like Jesus. You are to live like Jesus. We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Perhaps in the course of this message, God the Holy Spirit has opened your eyes to the need to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved. If He has, today is the day to call upon Him. The Scripture promises you, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. My prayer is that you run into the arms of Jesus today. May God touch your hearts with His Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Are You Looking For?

Photo by Саша Лазарев:

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The Bible talks a lot about the glory of God. John saw the glory of God. The glory of God is the love of God. God loves us so much, that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. God became Man – Perfect Man – so He could save us from our sins.

Kids Illustration: You might wonder what “sin” is. Sin is something that our God says NOT to do. Sin is an act that shows you don’t love God and don’t love others. Blow up a red balloon & draw a smiley face on it. Jesus came to this earth to teach us that sin is bad, and that God doesn’t want us to sin because it is bad. Sin hurts us. It pushes us away from God. Sin hurts our families. Pull a pin from the Cross, & pop a balloon. Sin is like this pin. It’s never good. But Jesus came to show us what God thinks about sin, and about us.

When Did We First See “The Word Become Flesh?”

When John the Baptist – the Herald of Jesus (we studied him last week) first announced Jesus to the world, what did he say and where did he say it? Read with me:

John 1:28-29 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Define Bethabara: The area called Bethabara” (means “Place of the Crossing”) where John is baptizing is today known as Al-Maghtas. When the second generation of Israel crossed the Jordan, it is believed they crossed at this place into the Promised Land led by Joshua (Joshua 3:14-17). Later the Prophet Elijah accompanied by his disciple Elisha would cross the Jordan at this place after Elijah commands it to part. After he crosses the Jordan with Elisha, God takes Elijah up into Heaven by a chariot of fire and a whirlwind. When Elisha heads back home he commands the water to part (2 Kings 2:8-14) just as Elijah did, and began to preach God’s Kingdom. John is baptizing in this same Bethabara when Jesus comes up. John declares:

Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world

Word Study: The glory of the Lord is that God became flesh to take away the sin of the world. The words take away” (Greek airō) means “to lift or bear up, to raise off of”. Sin is seen as a terrible burden that crushes the people it afflicts. The Word of God became flesh and showed us His glory. The Word of God became the Lamb of God, to pay for and lift up our sins. But Jesus didn’t just come to pay for our sins.

Jesus came to pay for our sins and to walk with us in life!

Jesus came to see John the Baptist baptizing one day, and John said “Behold, the Lamb of God”. John introduced Jesus. Well, Jesus walked away and no one followed Him! Even though John said:

John 1:34 I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

Jesus is not only the Word become flesh, and God become Man. He is the Son of God, and the Lamb of God. As Jesus walks away you would expect someone to follow Him – but none do! They stay with John. A lot of times I tell people about Jesus, and Jesus comes into our midst, but no one sees Him nor accepts His invitation. But Jesus will come back (praise God). This is another part of Jesus’ glory.

The glory of Jesus is that He is persistent. He keeps on calling us, and keeps on bidding us to follow Him!

John 1:35-36 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as He walked, he {John} saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

The phrase the next day after shows us that Jesus came back. No one followed Him the first time John introduced Him, so Jesus comes back again. Two of John’s disciples respond to Jesus:

John 1:37 And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

These two disciples were not abandoning John the Baptist. They were doing what John wanted them to do – what any Christian wants you to do. We want you to follow Jesus. We want you to be saved. The only way you can be saved is to Follow the Lamb of God. Jesus said:

Luke 9:23-25 (ESV) If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

Later on in this Gospel Jesus will tell us:

John 14:6 (ESV) I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Several years ago Kyle Idleman wrote a book called not a fan. I thought it was a pretty good book. He wrote this:

So in case someone left it out or forgot to mention it when they explained what it meant to be a Christian, let me be clear: There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no salvation without surrender. There is no life without death. There is no believing without committing.”

Jesus calls us to follow Him. This is what John the Baptist wanted his hearers to understand. This is what Jesus wants us to understand. When you follow Jesus, you are blessed. When these two followed Jesus, what did He do?

John 1:38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye?

As they follow Jesus He asks them, What are you looking for? In “The Gospel of John – A Commentary” by Frederick Dale Bruner he notes that these are the first words Jesus utters in the Gospel of John. Jesus asks, “What are YOU looking for?” The entire Gospel of John asks this question. What are YOU looking for in following Jesus?

Some people are looking for temporary blessing. That’s all they want. They are encountering sickness in their life, and want Jesus to take away that sickness. There’s lots of stories like this in the Bible. There was the story of Blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus. We are told in …

Mark 10:46-48 (NIV) {Jesus} came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!

Blind Bartimaeus followed Jesus, crying out for mercy. Jesus asked Bartimaeus, What do YOU want Me to do for YOU? Bartimaeus told Jesus, “Teacher, I want to see”. And Jesus let him see – and Bartimaeus “followed Jesus along the road” (Mark 10:52). But he just followed Jesus a little way down the road. He got what he wanted, his eye sight. But Bartimaeus is lost to us after this. Will he be in Heaven? I don’t know.

There were some two other blind men that called out to Jesus, Have mercy on us, O Lord” (Matthew 20:31). Jesus asked them, What do YOU want Me to do for YOU?, to which they replied, Lord, open our eyes. The Bible says:

Matthew 20:34 (NKJV) So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him.

Jesus healed their eyes, and they followed Him. Will they be in Heaven? I don’t know.

But I think if you follow Jesus, you’re pretty sure
you’re going to end up where He is!

A few chapters later in John we’ll read about a pitiful, crippled man who lays every day by a Pool called Bethesda. Jesus came up to him one day and asked, Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6). Though the man did not give Jesus a strictly “yes” or “no” answer, Jesus heard him out – then healed him. The man picked up his bed and walked – but he did not follow Jesus. Later Jesus came back to that man and said,

John 5:14-15 … “you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” 15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

The man did not follow Jesus. He got what he wanted from Jesus, and told the Pharisees that Jesus healed him. Will he be in Heaven? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you, the best place to be is following Jesus.

Two Disciples Get It Right

John 1:38-39 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.

Jesus asks the two that follow Him (only TWO?), What are YOU looking for? Some follow Jesus for healing or good health. Some follow Jesus for a full belly. Some follow Jesus for a nice home, or money, or a good car. These two disciples of John got it right. Jesus asks them “What are YOU looking for?” and they say, where dwellest thou?. They want to see where Jesus lives. That’s the best place to be.

Throughout the Gospel of John Jesus describes Himself as “I AM”. He says,

I AM The Bread of Life (John 6:35).
It is Jesus Who supplies us with life.
I AM The Light of the World (John 8:12).
Jesus gives us light to see right.
I AM The Door of the sheep (John 10:7).
You cannot enter Heaven without Jesus.
I AM The Good Shepherd (John 10:14).
Jesus protects His sheep, His followers.
I AM The Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).
Jesus has destroyed death for us.
I AM The Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).
Jesus teaches us the Way of God, the Truth of God, and the Life that leads to God.
I AM The True Vine (John 15:1).
As the grape clings to the vine, the Christian clings to Jesus.

If you are saved, you follow Jesus. But you do something else. Up to this point we don’t know who the two disciples are that follow Jesus. But now we read:

John 1:40-42 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias {Hebrew word messias transliterated by the KJV. Refers to the Greek Christos or Christ, the Savior}, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

Andrew went and got his brother Simon Peter and told him “We have found the MESSIAH or the Christ”. This is the Savior that God promised would come into the world in the Old Testament. Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. He just showed him Jesus. This is what we are called to do.

Closing: When Sherry and I were stationed in England for the United States Air Force we had the wonderful opportunity of riding the big red double decker buses in London. As a family (we had our three kids with us) we’d always go to the top of the bus – the upper “uncovered” floor, and enjoy a wonderful view as we rode around town. There were many times when we as a family were at a bus stop and, much to my dismay, the bus passed us by without stopping. Someone complained about this to the London Transit Authority, the organization that maintains the London City Buses. The London Transit Authority issued a public paper that stated the following: “It is impossible for us to maintain our schedule if we are always having to stop and pick up passengers”.

Obviously, the London Transit Authority forgot what its purpose is. Sadly many Christians have forgotten their purpose.

Without passengers the Transit Authority is unprofitable. Without passengers you need no buses. The business of the London Transit Authority is to take people around town in buses. The business of the Church is to lift up and glorify Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. We are to follow Jesus. We are to kill sin in our lives, and shine as lights, glorifying Jesus as we follow Him. We are to bring others into proximity with Jesus. If you are saved, you are to live for and with Jesus.

May God touch your hearts with this devotional. Amen and amen.

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

From Gilgal To Bochim

Photo by Johannes Plenio:

We saw last week how Israel, under the leadership of the Kenite turned Judite Caleb, followed God and was blessed. Before Joshua died he encouraged Israel to say true to God. Tonight let’s turn to Judges chapter 2 (though we will go back and finish Judges chapter 1). Read with me:

Judges 2:1-5 And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. 2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? 3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. 4 And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. 5 And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.

From Victory To Defeat

an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim

An angel of the Lord came to Israel with a message direct from God. The Angel spoke from God just as our Bible speaks from God. What caused the Angel to come? Because Israel had gone from Gilgal to Bochim. You read this as a Gentile and think, “so what?”. You have to look at the places, and see what happened in the contexts. The Angel came from Gilgal. The Bible tells us that ..

Gilgal (also called Bethel) is the place where the second generation of Israel crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land.

It was at Gilgal that God had Israel cross into the Promised Land. The Priests were to go first, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, a holy box that contained manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the Ten Commandments on stone (Hebrews 9:4). As the Priests stepped into the Jordan, the Bible says:

Joshua 3:13 … when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.

God replicated what He did at the Red Sea with the first generation of Israel. While Moses (a Priest) held his rod over the water, the Red Sea parted and the people went through on dry land. As the second generation of Israel crossed the swollen Jordan River, the Priests step in carrying the Ark of the Covenant. As they step in the water, the water retreats, and stands up on both sides like it did with Moses 40 years before. Israel obeyed God, and started rolling forward.

Gilgal (the transliterated Hebrew word Gilgāl) means:

Israel was on the move. Following God, they would be a juggernaut that nothing could stop! To help Israel remember this time, Joshua had every tribe pick set up a memorial stone at Gilgal (Joshua 4:19-20). When you follow God, you can do the impossible. The Scripture says:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Jesus told us,

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

After Israel first entered the Promised Land at Gilgal, the Israelite men proved their faith by being circumcised at Gibeath-haaraloth (Joshua 5:3). The name Gibeath-haaraloth means “Hill of the Foreskins”. A circumcised warrior has trouble walking, much less fighting. Being circumcised by flint knives (Joshua 5:2-8), the nation of Israel – an estimated 6 million men – “remained in their places in the camp until they were healed” (Joshua 5:7). Had the enemy attacked, Israel would have been slaughter. But Beloved, if God tells you to do something, He will protect you while you do it.

God told Israel, “today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you” (Joshua 5:9). Israel was no longer enslaved to Egypt, sin, nor self. They followed the Living God. Israel celebrated the Passover at Gilgal (Joshua 5:10). On that same day God stopped providing Manna to Israel, as their sustenance would come from the Promised Land as they followed the Lord.

Israel went from Gilgal to “Bochim”. Gilgal means “a rolling wheel”. Israel was moving on and couldn’t be stopped. But “Bochim” (a transliteration of the Hebrew Bōḵîm) means
“Place of WEEPING”.

How did Israel come from a place of victory to a place of defeat, from a place of fullness to a hungering place, from a place of joy to a place of misery? Let’s go back and finish Chapter One.

Israel Started Great, But Began To Drift

Judges 1:17-18 And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah. 18 Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

Judah, led by Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite (Numbers 32:12; 34:19) utterly destroyed the Canaanite city called Zephath” (which means “Watchtower”). I’m guessing this was a key stronghold of the enemy. After destroying the city it was called Hormah” (Hebrew ḥārmâ) which means “devoted to destruction” or “broken rock”. Judah was on the roll. Why? Because we read:

Judges 1:19 And the Lord was with Judah; and he drove out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.

God was with Judah. Judah found it easy to drive out the Canaanites in the mountains, BUTcould not drive out the inhabitants of the valley. Those in the mountains had no iron chariots, as horse could only pull these heavily armored carriages on flat land. But in the valley they had chariots of iron. Why couldn’t Judah drive out the Canaanites in the valley? Was it because “iron chariots” are too strong for God? Is God like Superman – and IRON (the fourth MOST ABUNDANT element in the earth’s crust) just causes God to go, “Boy, that’s just too much for Me!” No, that’s foolish! There is nothing too hard for God” (Jeremiah 32:17). The problem wasn’t God – it was Judah.

It was easy for Judah to defeat those in the mountains, but more difficult in the valleys. Too often Christians give up when things get hard. But God allows the hardness to grow our faith.

Joshua had told the Israelites, “You SHALL drive out the Canaanites, even though they have CHARIOTS OF IRON and though they are strong” (Joshua 17:18). It was not that Judah couldn’t do it. It was that it became what they thought was “too hard” or “too uncomfortable”. The Bible says in …

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I’ll be the first to say I hate difficulties. I hate having to work things out. Once I get everything set up the way I want it, I want it to stay the way it is. But life isn’t this way. Life has ebb and flow. Life has high and lows. Life has good and bad. We are told in

Job 5:7 (ESV) … {people} are born to trouble, as the sparks {of a campfire} fly upward

Even Apostles had to learn that – though trials may come – we are to keep on following God one day at a time, one step at a time. Before the Apostle Paul said “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me”, he wrote:

Philippians 4:11-12 (ESV) … I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

Sometimes the Canaanites will be on the mountain, and we can easily knock them off, because God is on the mountain with us. But sometimes the Canaanites are in the valley in iron chariots. They can still be defeated, but we have to grit our teeth and do the unpleasant and difficult thing. And yet God has said,

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) … “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Judges 1:20 … And they {Judah} gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.

Was Judah’s failure to defeat the Canaanites in iron chariots Caleb’s fault? Absolutely not! Caleb was following God. The three sons of Anak were giants, of a race of giants called the Anakim (see Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 1:28; 2:21). The giant that the Shepherd David fought named Goliath was descended from the Anakim. One commentary notes:

The Masoretic Text, the Hebrew text that has long been accepted by the Jewish people, states that Goliath’s height was “six cubits and one span.” Taking a cubit to be approximately eighteen inches and a span to equal six, this figures to a height of approximately nine feet, six inches. … His bronze armor alone weighed 125 pounds (1 Samuel 17:5)”

The iron blade of Goliath’s spear weighed 15 pounds. The man was a beast! And yet Caleb defeated three Goliaths. Why? Because Caleb trusted God, and kept striving to do what God said. Too often we give up too soon – and suffer for it! We need to keep on following God.

Illustrate: A very weak and sickly Christian withdrew from his Church and his family, and just wanted to die. Coughing, he often spit up blood. He prayed, and asked the Lord to take him home to Heaven. The Lord spoke to him. “There’s a boulder near the edge of your property. I want you to push on that rock every day. Push it because I said so. Keep pushing, and I’ll bring you home”. So every day the man would get up, and go out to push the rock. It didn’t move. He pushed and pushed, until sweat popped out of his body. He pushed every day for several hours, rain or shine, cold or hot. After a few years passed he was rocking on his front porch, about to go out and push the rock again, the Lord spoke to him. The man said, “Lord, I did what You told me to do. I pushed the rock – but I couldn’t get it to move. The Lord asked, “How are you feeling?”. The man said, I feel great. But I can’t move that rock. Jesus said, “Go look in the mirror, and tell me what you see”. The man looked – and he was no longer sickly and broken. He was strong, fit, and able to stand up straight. His cough was gone. Jesus said, “I never asked you to move the rock. I asked you to push the rock. While you obeyed me, your life changed. That rock made you stronger, made you a powerful son of God”.

Mark 11:22 (ESV) .. Have faith in God …

Some Quit When It’s Hard, Others Compromise With The World

Judges 1:21 And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.

The city of Jerusalem was on the border of Judah and Benjamin’s territory, but it was mostly inside of Benjamin’s lot. So the children of Benjamin were supposed to run the Jebusites out of that city. Yet the didn’t. Why? Was it because they couldn’t. Not, it was because they compromised with the unbelievers.

Churches today are encouraged by social media, network news, and other churches that have compromised with the world to “just go along to get along”. The Bible tells us to not compromise with the darkness. God had told Israel to run the Canaanites – including the Jebusites – out of the land. One commentary notes:

As we go through this world, we will hear many calls to compromise. The “fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25), “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Colossians 2:8), and “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) all tempt us to compromise in areas we should not. Usually, the temptation to compromise is heightened by some type of fear, such as the fear of being rejected or criticized. What makes compromise so dangerous is the subtle way it approaches us. Compromise, by definition, doesn’t involve a wholesale capitulation to worldly ways or ideals; rather, it accommodates them. Most of us would recoil at the thought of tossing Jesus aside and embracing an idol, but compromise never asks us to do that. Compromise says that we can have the idol and keep Jesus, too. There’s room on the shelf for one more object of worship, right? And what’s the harm, since we still have Jesus?”

Compromise with the world will spread through the whole Church if unchecked. We read:

Judges 1:22-26 And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the Lord was with them. 23 And the house of Joseph (tribe of Ephraim & the half tribe of Manasseh) sent to descry (tûr, seek out, survey) Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.) 24 And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said unto him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy. 25 And when he shewed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family. 26 And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof unto this day.

The House of Joseph (Ephraim and the half tribe of Manasseh) goes to the House of Bethel (means “House of God”) to take it. Rather than trust in the Lord, the House of Joseph sees a man and tells him, Shew us, we pray thee, the entrance into the city, and we will shew thee mercy. Some have compared this to what Jacob did with Rahab the Harlot and her family in taking Jericho. Rahab was at one time a Canaanite Prostitute, but she came to believe in Israel’s God, the God of the Scripture. When Rahab hid the spies from the Canaanites, she turned on her own people to do what God put on her heart. As a result she was saved. When God praises the faith of the elders in

Hebrews 11:30-31 (ESV)By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

James 2:25 (ESV) … was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

Rahab and her family was not only saved by faith in God, but Rahab became part of lineage of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:5). The man that the spies questioned did not believe in God, but was compelled to tell them a secret way into the city in order to save his own life. Once the man was released, he went to the land of the unbelieving Hittites, and built a city there. Though the House of Joseph took Bethel, they did so in the power of man, not the power of God. They compromised their faith in God. This would come back to haunt Israel.

Instead Of Obeying God – I’ve Got An Idea!

Judges 1:27-28 Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, nor Taanach and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Dor and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns: but the Canaanites would dwell in that land. 28 And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out.

Israel’s tribes are compromising more and more with the Canaanites. Manasseh did not trust God, but instead made them their servants. The Canaanites were told to pay tribute or taxes to Israel. As long as they paid their taxes, they could keep on living in the land and in the various cities that were not conquered.

Judges 1:29-33 Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them. 30 Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them, and became tributaries. 31 Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor of Achzib, nor of Helbah, nor of Aphik, nor of Rehob: But the Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: for they did not drive them out. 33 Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.

You see the words Neither did repeated over and over again. Have you ever seen dominoes, stood in lines on end, and when one domino fell, it knocked the other down, and so on and so forth until ALL the dominoes are laying flat on the floor in total disarray. That’s what this section of Scripture is like. One nation compromised with the world, and then another, and then another. This is how evil spreads.

Jesus said to His Church:

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

We as God’s people are commanded to obey Him, to do what He has said do. Israel refused to do this. Instead they started a slow drift away from God. So the Angel of God comes and tells them:

Judges 2:1 And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

God is not the problem that Israel has. God led Israel to the Promised Land, just as He said He would. God never broke His word.

Judges 2:2 And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

God was VERY CLEAR what He expected of His people. God is VERY CLEAR with us in the Church. He has given us two great Commandments:

Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said unto {US}, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

That’s very clear. There is no ambiguity there. In fact, every Scripture that God gives us command is very clearly black and white. God is not hard to understand – unless our hearts are hardened. Israel knew EXACTLY what they were supposed to do. We read on:

Judges 2:3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

God gives us a choice. The way to blessing and peace is to follow the Lord. You can’t take the Promised Land if you don’t listen to the Voice of the Maker of the Promised Land. There are consequences for disobeying God. You can be saved, and drift away from victory and blessing to defeat and misery. Have you drifted?

I was talking to someone the other day about their faith in Christ. They claim to love the Lord, to be saved – and yet have drifted away. So I asked them some questions to do a little spiritual triage. What is spiritual triage? Well, medical triage is “a preliminary assessment of patients or casualties to determine the urgency of their need for treatment”. Spiritual triage is similar to this. If you are born again – saved by faith in Christ – there are certain evidences that this is true. So let’s examine three questions.

1 Do you love and honor the Word of God? It is faith in the Word of God that leads you to a state of salvation. The Gospel is found in the Word of God. The truths of our faith are found in the Word of God. If you are born again by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you should love and adhere to the Word of God.

2 Do you love the God Who saved you? Do you care more about what He thinks and says than what the world thinks and says? Do you keep His commandments. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”. (John 14:15-24; 1 John 2:5-6). If you do not love God nor want to keep His commandments, then you are probably not saved.

3 Do you love the Church that Jesus died for? Jesus said, “Upon this Rock I will build MY CHURCH” (Matthew 16:18). Have you abandoned the Church to “do my own thing”? The Church is the Kingdom of God, the Family of God. If you do not love the Church, you may not be saved. What do you think Heaven will be, but a gathering of the Church?

I guess this could all be condensed to “Do you love?” Those who are saved love the Word of God. Those who are saved love God. Those who are saved love the Church, and truthfully, all people. Do not base your salvation on what the world says – but on what God says. Repent, and turn to Jesus Christ. Give your life unconditionally to Him, for He died unconditionally for you. Follow Him, for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May God the Holy Spirit draw you to a saving faith in God through Jesus. Amen and Amen.

Posted in Judges, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

IF You Sin

Photo by Mitja Juraja:

1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The Devil Is A Deceiver

It wasn’t very long from the time that Jesus raised up from the grave that the devil began his attacks against the Church. Satan started with lying and open persecution, the exact same thing that he did with Jesus. Satan encouraged the religious establishment – the Chief Priests of Israel – to band together on a lie. The guard that was at the Tomb of Jesus …

Matthew 28:11-15 (ESV) … went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Based on this lie, the Priests of Judaism began to present Christianity as a harmful and treasonous cult. When the Apostles went out preaching the Gospel, {the Pharisees} beat them and {commanded} them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go” (Acts 5:40, ESV). The Leader of the Church in Jerusalem, the Apostle James, was killed by Herod the King (Acts 12:2). The Evangelist and Deacon Stephen was stoned to death with rocks, a brutal death! (Acts 7:59, 8:2). A Pharisee called Saul of Tarsus was hired to systemically seek out and kill Christians (Acts 9:1). This continued throughout much of the early Church years.

The problem with martyring a person is that it has a boomerang effect. When you kill someone for their faith, you can make them a hero. The last know gladiator fight was on January 1, 404 AD. A Christian simply called Telemachus (from Asia, the area of modern day Turkey) felt led of the Lord to visit the Coliseum in Rome. When he saw two gladiators fighting, he somehow got out into the midst of the Coliseum. Pushing between the gladiators, he shouted out,

In the name of Christ, forbear {stop}”

Pushed to the ground, the furious crowd, angry that the event was interrupted, began to throw stones at Telemachus until he died. Shocked and convicted by this death, Roman Emperor Honorius put a stop to the gladiator battles forever (Theodoret’s Ecclesiastical History, Book V, Chapter XXVI). An honorable person being martyred can stop Satan’s plans.

The devil loves deception and lies. He twists the Scripture.

The other day I watched a live “Open Microphone” from First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Their Pastor, Dr. Heath Lambert, invited anyone in the audience to ask him questions about the “First Baptist Statement on Biblical Sexuality”. The statement requires a signature by all members of the congregation, to be returned NLT March 19, 2023 if you want to remain on the membership roll. Pastor Heath was very clear that whether you signed the statement or not you were free to attend every service of the Church. The statement is:

As a member of First Baptist Church, I believe that God creates people in his image as either male or female, and that this creation is a fixed matter of human biology, not individual choice. I believe marriage is instituted by God, not government, is between one man and one woman, and is the only context for sexual desire and expression.”

Some pastors were quick to speak up and condemn the statement. Brian Lays, Senior Pastor at Riverside Presbyterian in Jacksonville said,

We don’t think that anything other than faith in Christ should be what determines membership. To anyone who has been ostracized by their church on account of their self-understanding or sexual orientation, I would first offer an apology on behalf of my fellow Christians for the ways in which we have pushed people away.”

First Baptist is not OSTRACIZING {that’s a fancy word which means “to exclude from a society or group”} anyone. What did the Apostle Paul tell the Church at Ephesus?

Ephesians 5:1-12 (ESV) Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

These are not MY WORDS, but the Words of God through the Apostle Paul. It is certain in my mind that homosexuality and transgender confusion is no worse than any other sins. Sin is sin. The Bible says over and over again:

Ezekiel 18:4 … the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Ezekiel 18:20 … the soul that sinneth, it shall die.

Romans 6:23 … the wages of sin is death …

Illustrate: Throughout the Scriptures, you see over and over again that sin always brings forth death. Sin is a horrible thing. Sin is not like vitamin D. Not too long ago, my VA Doctor (Veteran’s Administration) told me that I was “vitamin D deficient”. She prescribed that I take 1000 IU (25 mcg) each day. I started out doing that, then I thought, “Hey, if 1000 IU is good, why not take 10,000? Certainly that would be better”. No, it wasn’t. The VA pulled me off of Vitamin D because I was taking too much in. A little sin is not like a vitamin. It’s not good. Sin is always bad. Pastor John Owen wrote in his book, “The Mortification of Sin”:

Be killing sin or sin will be killing you!”

Pastor Adrian Rogers said:

Don’t get the idea that Jesus died to save you from Hell. He died to save you from sin! If He doesn’t save you from sin – then He won’t save you from Hell!”

He also said, “Nothing is more destructive than sin. Sin fascinates – and then it assassinates. Sin thrills – and then it kills.”

One more. Adrian said, “I was born running TOWARD sin. But once I was BORN AGAIN, I started running AWAY from sin”.

As I listened the open mike, and the responses that Pastor Heath gave his people, it became evident to me that many (not all, but many) in the audience did not read their Bibles, but they sure loved Twitter and Facebook. Many were having a hard time understanding the difference between being a member of a Church, and professing salvation. I liked the illustration Brother Heath Lambert used. He said that the Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars Doug Pederson has a standard that his players have to meet. ANYONE can come and watch a game, be in the stands, and cheer either for or against the Jaguars. ANYONE! But if you play on the team, there is a standard.

But I Thought All Christians Were Sinners

We saw in …

1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Illustrate: John speaks in the present tense. We HAVE sin. While we are in this mortal flesh, we sometimes stumble, and do that which we should not do. Just the other day someone treated me disrespectfully. I don’t know if they knew they were disrespectful or not. But if I did to them what they did to me, they would have been angry with me. My initial response was to repay them in kind. That was in my heart. But after a little while, God the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, and told me that such behavior is NOT indicative of a Child of God. I repented, and did the right thing the the one who wronged me.

We sin, and are scarred by sin. The Apostle Paul said of his life:

1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

The Stepbrother of Jesus wrote that when a brother or sister in the faith of Christ “wanders from the truth”, then we are to … well, let’s see what James says:

James 5:19-20 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

When believers WANDER FROM THE TRUTH (what the Bible says is true), we as Christians do not say “well you wander all you want – I’ll just be here loving you”. No, we are to BRING THEM BACK to the TRUTH. When you bring that believer, here called A SINNER, back to the Truth (as God has defined truth), then you save his {or HER} soul from death. Sin always brings about death. James said at the beginning of his Book:

James 1:14-15 (ESV) …. each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

This is why John starts Chapter 2 with:

1 John 2:1 … My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.

If you are God’s LITTLE CHILDREN, that is, “CHILDREN OF GOD BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS” (Galatians 3:26), then God’s standard for you and I is that YE SIN NOT. The Devil Lucifer is a master at twisting the truth, especially the truths of God’s Word.

Two of the ancient lies that the Devil has infiltrated into the Church from the beginning is Salvation By Works, and Saved Regardless Of Works. The first lie was brought in by Pharisees, and the second lie by those called Gnostics.

The Pharisees who infiltrated the Church said, “You can be saved by faith in Christ PLUS circumcision {or water baptism, or by tithing, or by Church membership, and so on}”. This is not true. Salvation is by FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE. The Bible says:

Ephesians 2:8-9 by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It is God Who gives us Grace. It is God Who secured our salvation. It is God Who paid for our sins on the Cross. It is God Who opens our eyes to the Gospel of salvation. Jesus said,

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

God DRAWS us to Jesus so that we can walk with Him, not against Him. Salvation is a free gift that we receive upon repenting and receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. What does the Scripture say?:

Romans 10:9-13 (ESV) … if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

We are saved when we – drawn by the Holy Spirit if God – respond by repenting of our past, and believing that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord. Saved, we now walk with Christ.

If you profess to be a Christian, but are ENDORSING sin instead of RUNNING AWAY from sin, then you have deceived yourself. Remember the Gospel that John shared in Chapter 1:

John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Phariseeism says, “Work harder to be saved!” Gnosticism says, “Since you’re saved, sin all you want!” Neither teaching is compatible with the “Faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

The True Gospel Is God Balanced

1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The FALSE Gospel is MAN balanced, but the TRUE Gospel is GOD balanced. What does this mean?

When you are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you become a child of God. You are no longer your own – you are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). We are to glorify God, not please others. We are called by God as His Children to stand in awe of Him, and SIN NOT” (Psalm 4:4). We are to AWAKE to RIGHTEOUSNESS, and SIN NOT” (1 Corinthians 15:34).

God does not call us to be “woke in culture” but “awake to God”.

As Children of God we are to avoid sin. But if we sin (and we will) we cannot fix it in our own power. We are saved by the power of God. We are also “kept by the power of God THROUGH faith” (1 Peter 1:5). John said:

vs 1 we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous

Word Study: I and every Christian has an advocate. This is a very interesting word in the Greek. It is paraklētos, which means “One Who comes alongside to aid or comfort, one Who pleads our case before a righteous Judge”. The word is used for our Jesus, and Jesus used the word for the Holy Spirit of God (see John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). When we sin the devil will whisper condemnation not only in OUR ears, but in the ears of those around us. “If she were a Christian, she’d know better!” The religious Pharisees did the same thing with our Lord Jesus (see Luke 7:39). We have a Savior Who – always righteous – nonetheless always stands with us, pleading our case, lifting us up. When we sin, we recognize and reject our sin. We then call upon the name of the Lord, and run into His arms.

Finally, we read:

vs 2 {Jesus} is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Word Study: The word propitiation is the Greek hilasmós, meaning “the atonement” or “that which appeases God’s wrath against sin”. God despises sin. Sin destroys, and brings the wrath of God on those who do it. It is only through faith in Christ our sins are covered. It is only by His Blood and His Representation that we stand in front of God as Children and not enemies.

Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile wrote:

Only those who overcome, who persevere in faith until the end, will receive the Reward. We are kept by God’s power through faith. Our inheritance is preserved for us in heaven. But, forgive me, this is not easy. This is not achieved while rolling over again and again on our beds, while drinking in the poisons of sinful entertainments, or giving ourselves to unrighteousness. The one we serve is our master–whether mammon, sin, or Christ. We serve Christ by His grace through faith and in the power of His indwelling Spirit. He is our holiness with which we will see God. … We wage war in the power of Christ. We put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. We gouge out and cut off. We deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow daily. We do not shrink back from death and persecution and starvation and the enemy’s assaults. We stand. And doing all, we stand.”

God’s people do not minimize nor normalize sin of any type. We cast it off. This is what the Lord’s Table is about. Being saved from sin, we are to walk with Jesus. Not just today, not just tomorrow, but forever. I loved an illustration that commentator Neal Foard made. He said:

When Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th President, was 19 years old, his father sent him on a four month tour of Europe. Teddy was very diligent in sending back messages to his father about all the astonishing buildings and monuments and natural wonders that he’d seen. He was surprised … to get this furious response back from his father saying… ‘I did not send you across the ocean to get excited about seeing statues. I sent you there to learn about those people. What do they think? How do they think? What matters to them, country by country. You should share meals with them and speak their languages … their lives should be of keen interest to you. And through your interest and attention in them, you should leave them with a good impression of Americans.”

Do you know why God left us on this earth, dear Christian? It is so we could go out and show others how sons and daughters of Heaven live their lives. We are purposely NOT to be like the world. In fact, we should EXPECT to be hated. But we are to love others, and do good toward all. But here’s the truth:

We always love God first and foremost. And God despises sin.

Closing Illustration: When I was a little boy, I remember going to my Aunt Edna’s house with mama. While there, my brother Mark and I thought of a good joke we’d play on Aunt Edna. She hated bugs, so we went out in the woods, dug up some worms, cut them up, and put them on Aunt Edna’s door knob. When she saw it, sweet lady that she is, she was shocked. Mama yelled at my brother and I, and we cleaned the door knob off. I think we both felt ashamed, because we loved our Aunt Edna.

If you’re a Christian, quit rubbing cut up worms on Heaven’s Door Knob. God can’t stand sin. He proved that by killing His own Son for us. How dare we rewrite the Book of God in order to please the confused but lost? Let us live first and foremost for Jesus. Let us share the Gospel of salvation, that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins, but not only for ours, but for the sins of the whole world.

May God the holy Spirit draw your hearts to Christ and to salvation not to be repented of this very day. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The King of Kings Becomes The Son Of Man

Photo by Julius Silver:

Who Made God?

We started last week studying in the Gospel of John, and found out that Jesus had other names (we called them nicknames) – The first name we see for Jesus in this Book is “The Word”. There are other nicknames we’ll see for Jesus in this Book:

The Bread of Life
The Son of the Living God
The Only Begotten Son
The Christ or the Messiah
The Living Water
The Savior of the World
The Light of the World
The Door of the Sheep
The Good Shepherd
The Resurrection & The Life
The Way, The Truth, and the Life
The True Vine

Jesus is also called “God”. Now Jesus was made flesh by God, but Jesus was never made God. One of the questions I’ve often been asked by intelligent people is:

I don’t know if I believe in God. If God made everything and everyone, who made God?

If someone made God, then you’d have to have Someone BIGGER than God to make God. Then you’d have to have Someone BIGGER than that God to make the bigger God. And you’d have to have a BIGGER God to make that big God. So the answer is this. God is the BIGGEST Person, and He was never made. No one is bigger than God. God made the human part of Jesus, and sent Jesus to the earth. But the Bible says that Jesus was in the beginning with god, and WAS God. Only CREATED THINGS have a CREATOR. Only God is eternal, self existent, without beginning or end.

No one made God, but God made everyone.
That’s why He’s God.

The Book of Psalms (90:2 – TLB) Before the mountains were created, before the earth was formed, you are God without beginning or end.

People make up or imagine gods that is not the God of our Bible. King David said,

Psalm 121:2 (TLB) “Shall I look to the mountain gods for help? 2 No! My help is from Jehovah who made the mountains! And the heavens too!

God became a perfect Human in Jesus because He wanted to do this to save us. But God is not made, but He is the Maker. We are told in:

Hebrews 3:4 … many people can build houses, but only God made everything.

God made us to share some of His qualities – this is why the Bible says that we are made in God’s image and after His likeness” (Genesis 1:26). We share some of God’s characteristics. God builds, and we build. God makes things, and we make things. But God never gets tired, nor hungry, and God never needs anything. If we don’t drink food and water we will perish – but God never gets thirsty. God is always satisfied. He never wants anything like clothing or cars. We live inside of time. We base everything we do on a clock and a calendar. I am 64 years old, which means I have lived 23,360 days or 560,640 hours. If I live until I’m 80, I will have lived 42,048,000 minutes. I will also be very tired and old! But God does not have a clock or a calendar. God created time, as time is a product of our sun. Isaiah said:

Isaiah 40:28 Don’t you yet understand? Don’t you know by now that the everlasting God, the Creator of the farthest parts of the earth, never grows faint or weary? No one can fathom the depths of his understanding.

God does not need us – but we need God. God is independent of the world, but we are very dependent on Him. Sadly the Bible says that when God chose to become Perfect Man and walked among us:

John 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

In John 1:10 we see that Jesus was IN the world, but Jesus is not OF the world.

You and I are OF this world. We were created because we had two people who came together in love, and we are products of that love. But Jesus Christ is unique. He was in the beginning with God and was God. But Jesus was made perfect human, and was born of the Virgin Mary. During Christmas we celebrated the birth of the human side of Jesus. The Angel Gabriel told Joseph of Nazareth, Mary’s husband,

Matthew 1:20 (TLB) “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “don’t hesitate to take Mary as your wife! For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit….

God the Holy Spirit made the humanity of Jesus. When Jesus was born into the world – a world made by Him – the world did not recognize that He was God become Man. The Bible says, the world knew Him not. This is so sad. Why is Jesus rejected by the world? Everywhere He walked the Glory of God shined round about Him. Jesus touched, caressed, loved, healed, replaced, raised the dead.

Jesus Christ walked this earth as a perfect
expression of God in the flesh.

Jesus did 37 miracles. He also did 26 specific healings and raised 3 from the dead while on the earth. Yet the Bible says:

John 20:30-31 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

When God Made Himself Into Man (The Messiah),
This Amazing Event Requires A Herald

Illustrate: A “Herald” is someone who goes before an important Person and announces they are coming. If the President of the United States was going to come to Riverview Baptist, the Secret Service would first come and let us know he’s coming. If the Governor of Tennessee were to visit, he would be proceeded by heralds.

When God chose to become perfect Man, this was a special event that required a Herald. God is the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14).

John the Baptist is that Herald. John was actually a cousin of Jesus. When Mary found out that she was going to bear Jesus, she also found out that her cousin Elisabeth (Luke 1:36) was going to have a child. The Angel said of John:

Luke 1:15-17 (TLB) {John} will be one of the Lord’s great men. He must never touch wine or hard liquor—and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from before his birth! 16 And he will persuade many a Jew to turn to the Lord his God. 17 He will be a man of rugged[a] spirit and power like Elijah, the prophet of old; and he will precede the coming of the Messiah, preparing the people for his arrival. He will soften adult hearts to become like little children’s, and will change disobedient minds to the wisdom of faith.

John was actually a special priest of God called a Nazarite. The Nazarites were described in Numbers 6:1–21. You could choose to be a Nazarite by dedicating your life to God, but a few great men in the Bible were chosen by God to be Nazarites from birth. The strong man and Judge called Samson and the Prophet Samuel, as well as John the Baptist were all Nazarites from birth (Judges 13:4, 5; 1 Samuel 1:11; Luke 1:15). The Apostle Paul took the vow of the Nazarite temporarily two different times. The Nazarite vow usually lasted 30 to 100 days, then you were to shave your head (Acts 18:18; 21:23-26) to show that your vow was ended.

John was a Nazarite for life. He never cut his hair, and turned away from anything fancy or civilized. His diet was locusts and wild honey, and his heart was dedicated to God.
John watched for the Messiah to come.

John 1:19 And this is the record of John {the Baptist}, when the Jews sent Priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

When John the Baptist came preaching, he went out from Jerusalem and from the Temple to the WILDERNESS of Judea” (Matthew 3:1). John’s message was very simple. He said, Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The King of Heaven – God the Son – is coming. He is at hand. He is coming where He can be touched, and heard, and seen. The Bible says of John the Baptist:

Matthew 3:3 (ESV) For this {John the Baptist} is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah 700 years before John preached in the wilderness, prophesying that John would come before Jesus. Isaiah wrote:

Isaiah 40:3-5, 9 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. … 9 lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Israel’s priests and Pharisees knew that there were prophecies where God foretold the coming of the Messiah. God foretold in Numbers 24:17, 19 “a SCEPTER will rise out of Israel … a Ruler will come out of Jacob”. But one of the greatest signs was that God would send a Herald before the Messiah. When John the Baptist went out in the wilderness of Jordan to preach the coming of the King of Heaven, the priests and Pharisees sent a delegation to him. These were important people who demanded an answer! They asked John, “Who are you?”, wondering if John might be the Messiah.

John 1:20 And {John the Baptist} confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

Though John the Baptist is SPECIAL, a Nazarite from birth, he knows that he was made SPECIAL for a reason. You are special. Every human is a walking miracle. But no matter how pretty we are, no matter how talented, no matter how rich or famous ….

what matters most is JESUS CHRIST. He is the MOST SPECIAL of us all!

John told them he was NOT the Christ, the Messiah. Since John wasn’t preaching from the Temple or the Synagogue they DEMANDED to know by what authority he was doing what he was doing. They continued …

John 1:21-22 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. 22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

In the King James the translators brought the Greek name for Elijah into the English text (ēlias). They are asking, “Are you Elijah?” God promised in

Malachi 4:5-6 (TLB) “See, I will send you another prophet like Elijah before the coming of the great and dreadful judgment day of God. 6 His preaching will bring fathers and children together again, to be of one mind and heart, for they will know that if they do not repent, I will come and utterly destroy their land.”

Elijah was one of two men in the Bible who never died (the other was Enoch). Elijah preached for God until he retired, and passed the ministry of prophecy over to his follower Elisha. The Bible says in:

2 Kings 2:11 (TLB) As {Elijah and Elisha} were walking along, talking, suddenly a chariot of fire, drawn by horses of fire, appeared and drove between them, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.

The Jews knew the prophecy of Malachi, so from the time that Elijah went into Heaven with God, they started looking for Elijah. The Pharisees ask John the Baptist, “Are you ELIJAH?”, that is, Are you the Elijah that God took to Heaven? John said that he was not Elijah. Then they ask, Art thou that Prophet”? This is a separate question. When Moses got ready to leave Israel, He told them in:

Deuteronomy 18:15 (NASB 20) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; to him you shall listen.

They were asking if John the Baptist was the Prophet like Moses that they must listen to. John told them he was not that Man. The Prophet like Moses that Israel was supposed to listen to was Jesus Christ, the Man that John Heralded. Then they ask,

Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us.

John told them simply,

John 1:23-24 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias. 24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

Once more the King James does not translate the name ēsaias, which is the Greek for Isaiah. John quotes Isaiah 40:3-5 which speaks of the Herald of the Messiah. The Pharisees are not satisfied, for they now ask:

John 1:25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias {Elijah}, neither that prophet {Moses}?

They believe that John has no authority to BAPTIZE if he is not one of these great men. John ignores the slight and the insult that they give to him.

John does what we all need to do when we are insulted
– ignore the insult, and point to Jesus!

John 1:26-27 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; 27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

Why Is Baptism Important? Is It Important?

The Pharisees and Priests asked why John was baptizing in water if he was neither Christ (the Messiah), nor Moses or Elijah. Why would they care? It is because water baptism was considered very important by the Priests and Pharisees. In an article “The Jewish Roots of Baptism” we are told:

The priests had to be ritually clean (tahor) in order to serve at the tabernacle, and Israelites who had become ritually unclean (tamay) had to restore their situation with the passing of time and bathing their whole body in fresh, ritually clean (tahor) water, according to Leviticus 15. Later, when the temple had been built, it was necessary for everyone to be immersed in a mikveh {a baptistery with with 40 se’ahs (300 liters) of water} to become ritually clean before entering the temple.

The Mishnah {Jewish commentary & teachings} specifies what makes the water clean or unclean, and expresses a preference for a larger, fresher body of water, “For in it persons may immerse themselves and immerse others”. So Yochanan (John the Baptist) immersing people in the “Living waters” of the River Jordan was perfectly within Jewish law and practice at the time.”

Baptism was, to the Jews, a ritual cleansing that was performed before you entered into
the Presence of God (the Temple).
John is nowhere near the Temple.

The Pharisees wonder why he is baptizing in the wilderness, and who authorized him to do so. John said:

vs 26 I baptize with water: but there standeth
one among you, whom ye know not

John is representing Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God become perfect Man. Jesus is standing there with them at the time, but they do not see Him, because they do not know Him. God is always around us. The Apostle Paul said that “in God we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God’s handiwork is all around us in nature. And yet many times even religious people do not see God, because they do not know God.

John baptized with water because God commissioned him to do so. John is representing Jesus. Constable’s Commentary notes:

John did not identify {Jesus} then. This would have exposed Jesus to the scrutiny of Israel’s leadership prematurely. John simply referred to this One here, and implied that he himself baptized in water under His authority. He stressed the great authority of Jesus, by saying that he himself was unworthy to do even the most menial service for Him.”

Baptism is important because Jesus commands baptism.

The last words Jesus said before ascending into Heaven is:

Matthew 28:18-20 … All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Why should one be baptized? Because Jesus commands it. Jesus is God the Son IN THE FLESH. John the Baptist baptized people in water at the command of Jesus. Jesus Himself came to John the Baptist to be baptized. We are told in:

Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV) Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Water Baptism is a visible witness of your faith in God. Jesus considered water baptism to be essential for the Child of God. He told John, it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. It was after Jesus was baptized in water that the Father said, This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. The Apostle Peter tells us in

1 Peter 3:21 (ESV) Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ

And the Apostle Paul showed water baptism to be a outward ceremonial washing that represented an inward real change of heart. He wrote in Romans 6:

Romans 6:1-4 (ESV) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Baptism is a command of God. Baptism is a witness you have received Christ as both LORD AND SAVIOR. When God saves you, He changes you from the heart outward. If you are saved, you want to please your Savior. Jesus said,

John 14:15 If you love me, you WILL keep my commandments.

If you are saved, you obey your Savior, for He is your MASTER. Baptism reveals your heart. Jesus was baptized – you should be, too.

John 1:29-34 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. 30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. 31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. 32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. 34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

John did not reveal Who Jesus was until after he baptized Jesus in water. Once Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Him, and the Father spoke from Heaven, declaring this is My Beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11). Jesus Christ – the Son of God – was baptized. The believer should be baptized. He is our Savior AND LORD. I’ll close with a word from John Piper:

“… the thief on the cross was told by Jesus that that very day he would be with him in paradise. He was not baptized. I know he’s a special case. I don’t think you build a theology of baptism on the thief on the cross. But one thing it says is baptism is not an absolute necessity, because it wasn’t in his case. … Paul treats baptism as an expression of faith … expressed outwardly in baptism.”

May God touch your hearts with His Word. Amen and Amen.

Posted in John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lord, Give Me A Blessing

Photo by Simon Berger:

I thought we’d start our new study in the Book of Judges. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, JUDGES. Most people look at the Old Testament as old news and unimportant to our faith. That’s not true. The Bible tells us that:

2 Timothy 3:16 ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable …

God gave us the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. There are some cults that ignore the Old Testament – but that’s what makes them cults. God gave us the WHOLE Bible. He gave us the Old Testament to show us that God is always faithful to His promises, and always does what He says. God also gave us the Old Testament to show us examples that we are to follow – and examples we are to avoid. We are told by the Apostle Paul, who was a highly regarded Rabbi before finding Christ as Savior:

1 Corinthians 10:6-11 (ESV) Now these things {recorded in the Old Testament} took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction

Why study the Book of Judges? Judges is very applicable to America today. When our nation followed some semblance of God’s Laws (the Ten Commandments), we prospered and were blessed to become one of the most powerful nations in the world. But when we wandered from God (and we have REALLY WANDERED), it was long before that nation started to cripple itself.

This is what we see in the Book of Judges.

Just before Judges, we see the Book of Joshua, and just before Joshua we see Deuteronomy. Let’s start with Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy was the second giving of the Law through Moses. God told Israel – through Moses – if they listened to His command, then as a nation they would be blessed. But Israel got away from God, and wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. At the end of 40 years, God had Moses turn over leadership of Israel to Joshua. Joshua himself made it a practice to follow the Lord, and because of this Joshua led Israel in successfully entering, conquering, and settling the Promised Land of Canaan. Before Joshua died, he gathered Israel together at Shechem. Shechem was where God first met and spoke to Abram, who would become Abraham. God told Abram, “Unto your seed – your children – I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). As Joshua gathered Israel at Shechem he told them:

Joshua 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua had a long history of following the Lord. He along with his friend Caleb went into the Promised Land to examine it along with ten other “spies”. Only Joshua and Caleb encouraged Israel to enter the Promised Land (see Numbers 14:6-10). The first generation of Israel died in the wilderness because they would not obey God – but Joshua and Caleb survived to lead Israel. The people swore to Joshua:

Joshua 24:24 … The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.

Joshua had Israel set up a monument at Shechem to remind them of their promise (Joshua 24:25-27). Then Joshua died at the age of 110 years old, possibly the greatest military leader Israel ever had.

Coming into the Book of Judges we see that Joshua passes into glory, but Caleb his friend takes over leadership of the people.

Israel Starts Out In “Judges” Doing The Right Thing

Judges 1:1 Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

When Joshua died, Israel prayed and asked the LORD (the Great I AM):

Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?

God chooses leadership among His people based on personal
honesty and adherence to GOD’S will.

When Jacob (who was named “Israel” by God) was dying, he wanted his twelve sons to know who was going to lead them. The twelve sons would become the twelve Tribes of Israel. Though Reuben was the firstborn, and though leadership should have gone to him, Jacob said:

Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel” (Genesis 49:4)

Unstable and wishy-washy people are not chosen by God to lead His flock. Jacob also refused to nominate Simeon (the second born, son of Leah) or Levi (the third born, also of Leah) because they were cruel and unforgiving. God does not want such people leading His flock. Instead, the fourth born child Judah (son of Leah) was chosen to lead:

Genesis 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee.

Though Judah was appointed leader of Israel’s Children by their father, Israel did not immediately call on Judah to lead them to battle. Israel had seen how Joshua led them through prayer and supplication to God, and knew that power comes in following the Lord. The Bible says:

Psalm 145:18 (ESV) The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.

Israel prayed, and God answered:

Judges 1:2 And the Lord said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.

Though Judah was called to lead Israel, Judah knew that they could not do the job alone. God’s people are always called to work TOGETHER for the glory of God. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:20 (ESV) … where TWO OR THREE are gathered IN MY NAME, there am I among them

Joshua and Caleb saw how God can use unity among His people to defeat the enemy. When Joshua led Israel against the Amalekite army in Exodus 17, as long as Moses held up his hands Israel was winning the battle. But when Moses’ arms fell, the Amalekites started winning. The Bible says that Aaron stood on one side of Moses, and Hur on the other side, and together they held up Moses’ arms.

God blesses unity.

Judges 1:3-4 And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him. 4 And Judah went up; and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men.

Judah said unto Simeon his brother”. In the text the tribes of Judah and Simeon are personified, treated as if they are one person. The Tribe of Judah asks the Tribe of Simeon to join with them in battle, and the Tribe of Simeon agrees. The two tribes are actually related by blood. Judah and Simeon were sons of Leah and Jacob. Judah is larger than Simeon.

Is there an application for the Church here? Yes. Though Christians may be in “denominations”, believers in Christ should unite together against the common enemy. We are all one through the Blood of Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Who are the Canaanites and the Perizzites that Judah and Simeon are battling? They are the people who inhabited Canaan before Israel. God told Israel that – when they entered the Promised Land – they were to cast out (Deuteronomy 7:1-3)the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. These were all unbelieving people who worshiped false gods and goddesses and, as a result, violated the civil and moral laws of the True God of Scripture. God told His people to make absolutely NO COVENANTS with the unbelieving nations. To do so would compromise Israel’s faith in God.

Judges 1:5-7 And they{Judah and Simeon} found Adonibezek in Bezek: and they fought against him, and they slew the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6 But Adonibezek fled; and they pursued after him, and caught him, and cut off his thumbs and his great toes. 7 And Adonibezek said, Threescore and ten kings, having their thumbs and their great toes cut off, gathered their meat under my table: as I have done, so God hath requited me. And they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

Adonibezekis not a name, but a title. It means “The Lord or Ruler of Bezek”. They cut off his thumbs to keep him from ever wielding a sword or using a bow or spear. They cut off his big toes to make him lame, and to keep him from running. The ancient people would not accept a king who was lame or blemished, so by cutting off his fingers and toes it caused him to relinquish his throne. “Adonibezek” saw his mutilation as a punishment from God, as he had done the same thing to 70 other kings. This means that Bezek was a very successful warrior nation, and Israel defeated them by doing as God said. When we obey our God we have His promise:

Deuteronomy 20:4 (ESV) … the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’

Judges 1:8-11 Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, and smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. 9 And afterward the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley. 10 And Judah went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron: (now the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba:) and they slew Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai. 11 And from thence he went against the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher

Though Jerusalem will one day be the capital city of Israel, and the city where both the Temple and the Throne is kept, at this time Jerusalem (called Jebus. See 1 Chronicles 11:4) was occupied by the Jebusites. They worshiped the Canaanite god of the setting sun and the nether world called Shalim. Judah then went against the Canaanites that dwelt in Hebron, and destroyed its ruling lords Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. To insure we understand these are literal battles and historically accurate, we are given alternate names to the cities that were conquered.

Lessons Learned From Caleb

Up to now we have seen nation Judah mentioned just as the nation Judah. But in verse 12 we are introduced to Caleb.

Judges 1:12 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

I mentioned Caleb earlier as Joshua’s friend who went into the Promised Land as a spy. Of the twelve spies sent from Israel into the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb encouraged the first generation of Israel to enter the Promised Land. Caleb was actually given the city of Hebron (Joshua 14:13) by Joshua. The Bible says:

Joshua 14:14 (ESV) … Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.

Though Israel had not yet taken over the city of Hebron, Joshua promised the land to Caleb once it was conquered because of his faithfulness to the God of Scripture. One thing that is interesting about Caleb was that he is the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, which makes Caleb a Kenizzite. Who were the Kenizzites?

The Kenizzites were the original inhabitants of Canaan who Israel was supposed to chase out. God gave the lands of the Canaanites (of which the Kenizzites were one group) to Abram or Abraham
(see Genesis 15:18-21). Caleb was a Kenizzite!

So how did Caleb get to stay in the Promised Land? And WHY is Caleb leading Israel – through Judah – in battle? It is because God is NOT RACIST. I want top say that again.


Romans 2:6-11 {God} will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

When God ordered the evacuation of the inhabitants of Canaan, it had nothing to do with their race, but everything to do with their godlessness. These people rejected faith in the God of the Scripture, and instead followed horrible gods and goddesses that endorsed sexual promiscuity and the murder of innocents. God punishes evil without discrimination. Those who do evil will suffer God’s wrath, but to those who repent, God will not only save but bless. The Bible says:

Colossians 3:23-25 (ESV) Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

God despises sin, because sin belittles the creation, and destroys the design of God. Sin always robs us of the image of God that He created us to be. The farther people get away from the God of Scripture, the more wicked they will be. When Israel refused to follow God, God allowed them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years until that first generation died off. People are SAVED BY FAITH, and people are BLESSED BY FAITH. But – hear me, dearly Beloved, “the wages of sin is DEATH” (Romans 6:23).

Caleb was a Kenizzite, but he believed in the Lord. Some commentaries note that the Kenizzites were descendants of Edom or Esau (see Genesis 36:40-43; 1 Chronicles 1:53). This just affirms what God tells us in the New Testament:

2 Peter 3:9 (ESV) … {the LORD is} patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Caleb – though a Kenizzite – has repented and received our God as Lord and Savior. His name means “Dog”.

Though he was considered a Gentile, by faith Caleb became a son of God, and a prince of Israel (see Numbers 13:6). Caleb was adopted into the Tribe of Judah (Numbers 13:6; 1 Chronicles 4:15).

We All Need To Help One Another

Caleb led Judah to attack Kirjathsepher” (a.k.a. “Debir”), a location in Southern Canaan that was given to Judah. Though a mighty warrior and a great leader, he decided he needed some help. So Caleb issues a challenge to Judah:

Judges 1:12 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife.

There are times as Christians that we are to do our work for Jesus. There are other times when we should challenge and encourage those around us to step out in faith. Great leaders challenge the people to stand up for the Lord. Caleb offered his daughter’s hand in marriage to the man brave enough to step out in faith and take the battle to Kirjathsepher. We read:

Judges 1:13-15 And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. 14 And it came to pass, when she came to him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted from off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wilt thou? 15 And she said unto him, Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the nether springs.

Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, takes up the challenge. Since Caleb is a Kenizzite (a Gentile), so is his younger brother and his son. These Kenizzites have all given their faith to the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. They are Children of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

When Othniel conquered Kirjathsepher, Caleb gave his daughter Achsah (her name means “beautifully adorned”) to Othniel, along with the daughter came lands.

What can we see in this text that we can apply to our lives today? When we give ourselves to the Lord and live for Him, He “marries” us to His blessings.

Our sins are forgiven. We become members of His family. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. We have the surety of the Holy Spirit given to us. And we are predestined to be like Christ, to inherit a place in Heaven like Christ. Othniel received Achsah by stepping out in faith. He received lands, a great blessing. But he received more than that. Achsah went to her father, and asked

Give me a blessing: for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.

What is land without water? It’s a desert! Achsah asked her father for greater blessing. The great preacher C.H. Spurgeon saw this as a pattern for Christian prayer (see Achsah’s Asking, A Pattern of Prayer”). She wanted to bring greater blessing to her family, so she went to her Father and asked for that greater blessing. She asked for springs of water. She went to her Father with a specific request, not just to bless herself, but to bless her family. Spurgeon wrote:

As soon as she found that she had an audience with her father of the kindliest sort, she said to him, “Give me a blessing.” I like that petition it is a good beginning, “Give me a blessing.” I should like to put that prayer into every believing mouth here tonight “Give me a blessing. Whatever You do not give me, give me a blessing. Whatever else You give me, do not fail to give me a blessing.” A father’s blessing is an inheritance to a loving child. “Give me a blessing.” What is the blessing of God? If He shall say, “You are blessed,” you may defy the devil to make you cursed. If the Lord calls you blessed, you are blessed. Though covered with boils, as Job was, you are blessed. Though near to death, like Lazarus, with the dogs licking his sores, you are blessed. If you should be dying, like Stephen, beneath the stones of murderous enemies, if God blesses you, what more can you wish for? Nay, Lord, put me anywhere that You will, as long as I get Your blessing. Deny me what You will, only give me Your blessing. I am rich in poverty if You bless me.”

God loves to bless His children. The Scripture says:

James 4:6-8 {God} giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.

If we will draw near to God and, in faith, follow Him as Joshua and Caleb did, God will bless us both spiritually and physically. If we will glorify and praise our God by believing and acting on what He has said, He will give us greater grace.

God is not done with Othniel. Othniel will be the first Judge God calls (Judges 3:7-11) to lead Israel back to a right relationship with Him. This Gentile Kenizzite convert and younger brother of Caleb is adopted into Judah. We’ll read about him more later. May God bless you as we go through Judges. Please pray with me that God will give us a blessing, and grow us as His Children in Christ. Amen!

Next Week: Israel Begins To Drift

Posted in Judges, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You DON’T Do You

Photo by Cxpturing Souls:

1 John 1:1-4 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

The Apostle John wrote more of the New Testament – by word count – than any other Apostle. Last Wednesday we started looking at the Gospel of John (chapter 1 verses 1-14) where John spoke of the Incarnation of Jesus. The word “Incarnation” means to “come from a higher state where you are God into a lower state where you are perfect Man”. Only Jesus is in this unique state. We found out in

John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is the WORD that was WITH GOD, and the WORD Who WAS God. Jesus Christ was with the Godhead from the beginning. We saw that Jesus Christ is also CREATOR God. All things were made by him. John said this in two different ways so that we can understand that Jesus is not just ASSOCIATE Creator, He is THE Creator of all things.

This Creator, this God Who made all things in six days, Who made all things “very good”, this God came to earth. He interjected Himself into the Creation proper. Why would God the Son become incarnate, lower Himself to be part of His creation?

Because “You Do You” Doesn’t Work.
It Is The Devil’s Lie.

One of the things I hear over and over on television shows, in the media news, and on the internet is “You do You”. People say this phrase as if it’s a new thing that someone made up, but it’s not new. Writer Colson Whitehead wrote an article back in March 31, 2015 entitled “How ‘You Do You’ Perfectly Captures Our Narcissistic Culture. I like this paragraph:

You will recall the fable of the Scorpion and the Frog. The Scorpion needs a ride across the river. The waters are rising on account of climate change, or perhaps he has been priced out of his burrow, who knows? The exact reason is lost in the fog of premodernity. The Frog is afraid that the Scorpion will sting him, but his would-be passenger reassures him that they would both die if that happened. That would be crazy. Sure enough, halfway across, the Scorpion stings the Frog. Just before they drown, the Scorpion says, “Aren’t you going to ask why I did that?” And the Frog croaks, ‘You do you.’”

This is exactly the problem with the concept of “You do You”. It makes “You” out to be god, or a type of god. When “You do You”, it becomes self destructive to society itself. It is “You do You” mentality that is erasing the police and bail for criminal acts. It is “You do You” that is causing local churches to normalize sexual sin. It is “You do You” that is secularizing our nation.

“You do You” is also killing people. Over the last few years there has been a rise in suicide rates among 15-24 year olds. These “deaths of despair” are many times brought about by alcohol or drug poisoning. Social media does not help us, by makes us more alone. Humans were not designed by God to be alone. God created Adam, and not long after that created Eve so Adam and Eve would have fellowship with one another, and fellowship with God. The phrase “You do You” may not have been uttered by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, but the thought is there. Listen to what that old serpent the Devil says:

Go ahead and eat that which God forbade. You shall not surely die. God knows that in the day you eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, your eyes shall be opened. You shall be like gods!
You’ll know good and evil!”
(paraphrase of Genesis 3:4-5)

Doesn’t that sound like “You do You”? It won’t hurt you. If God loves you, He wants you to be happy. Just do whatever makes you feel good. Do your drugs. Seek sexual pleasure with who you want. Ignore what the Bible says – it was written by old men who have long since died. Nothing matters in life BUT YOU.

But that’s not true.

When John wrote the Gospel of John (under inspiration of God, 2 Timothy 3:16), He wanted us to see how God stepped away from His Throne and came down to this earth to show us how to live. When John wrote 1 John, the intent of the Book is thus:

1 John 1:4 And these things write we unto YOU, that YOUR JOY may be full.

John 1:16 (KJV) And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

Joy does not come automatically to the Christian. It is God’s desire that we have fullness of joy as believers. How do we have fullness of joy? We imitate Jesus.

Jesus Lowered Himself To Us To Show Us
The Love Of God

1 John 1:1 That which was from the BEGINNING, which we have heard …

When John spoke of the Word being in the beginning with God, he was speaking of something he had never seen, but had heard from Jesus. John was not there with God the Father and God the Son as the world and our solar system was being created. But John was with Jesus from the BEGINNING of Jesus’ earthly ministry.

John, along with all of Israel, looked for the coming of the Messiah. Israel hoped that the Messiah would come and free Israel from Roman bondage. But Israel was in greater bondage than Roman bondage. Israel was in bondage to themselves. Israel believed in the devil’s doctrine, “You do You”. God had told Israel:

Deuteronomy 28:1 (ESV) If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.

God loved His people. He saved them from Egypt so that they could “worship the God Who saved them” (Exodus 8:1). God calls His people to “worship Him in the wilderness” (Exodus 7:16). God did not save Israel so that they could be just like the rest of the world. God saved Israel so that they could worship God, and have fellowship with God.

When God became Man, He did not seclude Himself away in a palace. Where did God put Himself? Right where sinners were. Where the lowest person was.

We could not reach God, but God could reach us.

The High Priest went into the holy of holies after covering his sins with the blood of a blemishless animal. He went into the presence of God cleansed, wearing specialized clothing, and following prescribed formulas. Why is this? Because God wanted to emphasize that our sins separate us from God. God spoke in the Old Testament:

Isaiah 59:1-3 (ESV) Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies; your tongue mutters wickedness.

God is holy, just, and righteous. God is without sin. Man, however, believes in “You do You”. When God became Man, He did not do “You do You”, but He lowered Himself so we could HEAR Him. He sat with us so we could SEE Him. He allowed us to touch Him.

1 John 1:1 that … which we have HEARD, that which we have SEEN WITH OUR EYES, which we have LOOKED UPON, and our HANDS HAVE HANDLED …

The IMMORTAL became MORTAL. But He did not go to a Palace, but to parlors and homes everywhere. The Pharisees couldn’t understand Jesus, because they thought that only sinners sat with sinners. They asked,

Why does {Jesus} eat with TAX COLLECTORS and SINNERS?
(Mark 2:16, ESV)

When God the Son heard this, He said to these confused people:

Mark 2:17 (ESV) … “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Illustrate: Let me see if I can simplify this. When you go to take a shower, do you go off and clean yourself up before you take the shower? No! You are dirty, so you come to the shower and allow it to clean you up. So it is with Jesus. Jesus came to heal us. Jesus came to cleanse us. Jesus came to save us.

God the Son did not segregate Himself from sinners, but came down and sat with them, reasoning with them from the Scriptures. Just as He did when He was twelve years old and in the Temple, Jesus “listened and asked them questions” (Luke 2:46).

You will NEVER find a place in the Scripture
where Jesus minimized sin.

Sin is a horrible thing that God came from Heaven to save us from. When Jesus healed the crippled man by the pool of Bethesda, our Lord told him, “Get up. Take up your bed and walk. But then Jesus said:

You are now well. SIN NO MORE, that nothing worse may happen to you”
(John 5:14, ESV)

What is Jesus implying? It is that SIN – the desire to “You do You” – brings sickness upon us. It can cripple. It can kill. Sin destroys lives. When Jesus spoke to a woman caught in the act of adultery, by His actions He chased away the self righteous.

Beloved, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We cannot fix what ails us. However, Jesus can fix us. After Jesus chased off the self righteous, He told this woman:

I do not condemn you; GO, and from now on SIN NO MORE”(John 8:11)

He doesn’t say “You do You”. No. Jesus says, “You do GOD. You do what GOD says!” John tells us:

1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

We cannot have fellowship with the Apostles, nor with God, unless we approach fellowship through faith in Christ. John will tell us later in this Book:

1 John 5:11-12 … God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

We can only appropriate life as God intended
it by appropriating the Son as our own.

Without Jesus, our status before God is that our every work is unclean and unworthy.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

What Is My Hope And Joy?
Jesus Is BOTH My Sinbearer & My Risen Savior

My hope and joy is not to hear “You do You”. It is first of all to acknowledge that – left on my own – I am a sinner, lost and undone. We read:

1 John 1:8 If we say we have NO SIN, we DECEIVE OURSELVES, and the truth is not in us.

We all can so easily fall into sin. We do not rely on ourselves, but on Jesus. We realize that our “You do You” mentality is wrong. We stop trying to be our own God. Jesus is the Word of Life (vs 1). We come to Him, and CONFESS our sins.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Word Study: The word translated CONFESS is the Greek homologéō, {pronounced hom-ol-og-eh’-o} which means “to agree with God, to assent to the truth as God has presented it, [by extension] to agree with God that you are guilty”. This word is used frequently in the Scripture. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall CONFESS (homologéō) me before men, Him will I CONFESS (homologéō) before My Father which is in Heaven.

Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall CONFESS (homologéō) Me before men, him shall the Son of Man {that’s Jesus} CONFESS (homologéō) before the angels of God.

When you REPENT, and turn away from “You do You”, giving yourselves to Jesus, He FORGIVES you from all sin in the eyes of God. He also CLEANSES you from all works of evil. Those who belong to Jesus, walk with God.

I used to have a picture that was given to me of the place where the Twin Towers in New York City used to stand. On September 11, 2001, Muslim terrorists took control of two aircraft, and flew them into the Towers, destroying the building and killing thousands. The picture that was given to me was a fenced off area where the Towers used to stand, and a monument called the World Trade Center Cross stood there. Though Atheists tried to get rid of that Cross, it is still – to my knowledge – in the National September 11th Memorial and Museum. That’s interesting, don’t you think, that in even New York City, one of the most liberal cities in the world today, the only comfort that any can draw from 9-11 is the Cross of Christ!

The Cross is in the heart of mankind. It is written into our DNA just as surely as our height and natural hair color is. We instinctively know that the Cross was necessary. The Cross itself stands as a proof that Jesus Christ came as sinless Man to die for our sins. Since spiritual and universal death came on all creation because of Adam’s sin, it required that a Second Adam make payment for what the first Adam did in offending God.

The Bible says:

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (ESV) For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

The first Adam, a flesh and blood creature made from the dust of the ground, caused all humanity to fall into sin. A Second Adam, Jesus Christ – sinless and perfect – would come in the flesh and make payment for our sins.

Romans 8:3-4 (ESV) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

God lowered Himself – in the flesh – to make payment for our sins. Now that we have believed on Christ we are saved – and are expected to walk as Children of God.

1 John 1:5-6 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

You are not saved by your works. But if you are a Christian, you are saved by the Blood of Christ. You are saved to walk – NOT in the darkness – but in the light of God. God’s way is not “You do You”. God’s way is, “You do JESUS. You IMITATE GOD”.

This is why we come to Church. We come to Church to praise God. We come to Church to learn a deeper walk with God. Then we leave Church and practice walking as Jesus walked. Dr. Thomas L. Constable writes in his commentary:

“If I were to boil down the message of this epistle into one sentence it would be this. Fellowship with God is the essence of eternal life. Both the Gospel of John and the First Epistle of John deal with eternal life. John wrote his Gospel so his readers might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that believing they might have life through His name (John 20:31). John wrote this epistle to Christians so we might enter into the fullness of the eternal life that we possess (1 John 1:3; John 10:10). However the subject of this letter is not eternal life but fellowship with God. Fellowship with God is the essence of eternal life (1:3-4; John 17:3).”

That is a wonderful summation: Fellowship with God is the essence of eternal life. Modern evangelistic thought has produced a byproduct of Christianity that professes Jesus but does not live in Jesus … and this is a travesty. If our Christianity has absolutely no impact in our real world, then what value is it? Is this the type of Christianity that Christ taught? No, it isn’t.

Jesus Christ gave us a pattern of life that He first of all modeled for us. The Christian lives their life surrendered not to self, but to Christ. You will never be joyous as Christ wants you to be until you are walking with Him day by day and moment by moment. Pastor R.A. Torrey wrote:

If we try to fight sin in our own strength, we are bound to fail. If we just look up to the Risen Christ to keep us every day and every hour, He will keep us. Through the CRUCIFIED Christ we get deliverance from the guilt of sin, our sins are all blotted out, we are free from all condemnation; BUT it is through the RISEN Christ that we get daily victory over the power of sin. Some receive Christ as a sin bearer and thus find pardon, but do not get beyond that, and so their life is one of daily failure. Others receive Him as their RISEN Savior also, and thus enter into an experience of victory over sin. … There is nothing more important in a right beginning of the Christian life than an unconditional surrender, both of the thoughts and the conduct, to Jesus. Say from your heart and say it again and again, “All for Jesus.” Many fail because they shrink back from this entire surrender. They wish to serve Jesus with half their heart, and part of themselves, and part of their possessions. To hold back anything from Jesus means a wretched life of stumbling and failure. The life of entire surrender is a joyous life all along the way.

May God lead us as His Church to live our lives daily for Him and through Him. The fate of our country depends upon our surrender. Amen and Amen.

Posted in 1 John, Sermons Preached | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment