Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Plenty of Time

There is a very attractive myth in our modern conciousness. It is that once I have accepted the proofs of Christianity, I may then mosey quietly along, contemplating it until a convenient time arises. I will surrender my current lifestyle and devote myself to Christ, but not at the moment. I may or may not have already been saved, but I am putting off any real lifestyle changes until I reach a stopping point. I need to experience life a little more before I can make a commitment. Sure, my objections may have been dealt with, but I am not yet ready to fall into the arms of Jesus. That leap of faith scares me, so I will put it off. I am young. I have plenty of time.

Let us skip the most obvious folly of this argument, that no one is promised tomorrow. Man's life is but a vapor - if you put off salvation for one day, it may be everlasting too late. Now is the only moment in which you know you will have a chance at eternal life. As important as this line of reasoning is, I find it self evident.

Instead, I would like to discuss with you the consequences of continuing to live in sin and demonstrate that they should not be regarded so flippantly. Our text is in the third chapter of 1 John. He is speaking to the saved, but the truths are not bound by that.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

(1Jn 3:2-3)
If we have been born again (of the Spirit), we are the children of God. We have the promise of being resurrected, but we do not yet understand what that means. In fact:

(1Co 2:9)
But it gets much better from there. John writes that if we are the children of God, we will become like Christ when he returns, because we will see Him in His glory. Seeing the unrestrained light of God will burn off all of our sin and leave something conformed to His perfection! Moses could not look on the unrestrained glory of God and live, because he would have been transformed right there. What sort of limited version of Christ the disciples saw is idle speculation and I will refrain from it, but John (who saw the risen Lord) tells us they could not have seen Him as He is.  Even beyond this, John tells us that if we keep this hope on our minds (the hope of the rapture and ressurection), it will naturally purify us in this life, just as Christ is holy.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

(1Jn 3:4-6)
The KJV translates "sin is lawlessness" as "sin is the transgression of the Law." The NASB captures the true sense much better here. Sin is not merely violating a code, but a spirit of no standards and zero accountability. Reflected in the attitude of 'I will make my own rules,' this is the truth of sin. Sin is when I choose to live without law, by my own impulses and lusts. To abide in the sinless Christ is to abide by the Law of Love and of Light - it is to walk by the Spirit. In this path, abiding in Christ, there is no sin. To live in a spirit of sin (not to commit a specific sin, as the KJV implies) is evidence that salvation has never been truly attained. Those who know Christ are already being conformed to His purity. But why should we seek this? Why not put it off, so we can continue to enjoy ourselves?

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

(1Jn 3:7-10 - emphasis mine)
By continuing to sin, the Bible says, you are serving the devil, the one who Christ set out to defeat. There we see the great point: there is no neutral ground. We may follow Christ or we may oppose Him. If we put off our salvation and continue to live in our filth, following after our own lusts, we are serving the devil and doing His work.

John has made a very subtle shift here. Before he spoke of us abiding in Christ, that is doing His will. Now he is speaking of Christ abiding in us - the permenant state of the believer. If we accept Christ, we are a new creature. The Son of God abides in us and our Inner Man cannot sin, nor can we (in total) live in the spirit of sin. We must love our brethren (not brothers and sisters in the biological sense, but brothers in sisters in that we have the same Father - God) and work against the devil.

For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother's were righteous. Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

(1Jn 3:11-15)
If you are dead in your sins, Christ died so you might be made alive. You being freed of your sins was important enough that God became a man, was tortured, executed and completely torn apart from Himself (as He became sin for us, God the Father could no longer look upon God the Son) and conquered death after three days in the grave. Doesn't that tell you that it is important enough that you should read in your Bible and come to fall back on the everlasting arms, trusting in Jesus? It is time to get our priorities straight. I will lay it out again, because no one can read it too many times.
1.) All human beings are sinners, deserving of God's wrath (Romans 3:23). We have sinned against an infinite, eternal God (Psalm 51:4)and deserve an eternal punishment for our eternal sin (2 Thesselonians 1:9). Each sinner will be repaid in Hell according to his deeds, but everyone deserves Hell. Sin in our lives, falling short of God's glory, causes two deaths. The first death is the separation of our soul and our body. The second is the separation of our soul from God. The first step to attaining Heaven is to really come to terms with the fact you do not deserve it, but to have a desire to turn away from your sin and be acceptable to God.
2.) God did not create us to suffer. He created us to fellowship with Him. While He is a God of justice and there must be a Hell, He is also a God of love. He knew we could not meet His standards, so He suffered to make us another way. (1 Timothy 2:4) The second step is to believe that, even though you recognize your lowly state, God wants to save you.
3.) The same God who created the universe humbled his infinite wisdom and power to become a lowly human being. He emptied Himself so that we might be made rich (Phillipians 2:7, 2 Corinthians 8:9). He was tempted, but He did not sin. Because He did not sin, He had no death to die. But He did anyway. He died both deaths - separated from God and then physically dying. Because He was a man, His punishment was acceptable to God for our sins. Because He was an infinite God, His suffering as enough to cover the sins of every single human being ever. Jesus was beaten, stabbed, crowned with thorns and forced the carry the instrument of His execution to the hill of Calvary. His ankles were stacked on top of each other and a railroad style nail was driven through them and into a cross. A separate nail was pushed through each wrist. They spat on Him, gave Him vinegar to drink and mocked Him as He used His arms to hold His torso up a little bit longer. For six hours, He struggled for every breath. He prayed "Father forgive them." He was forsaken by God, yet He was God - something truly beyond comprehension. He died. At any moment, He could have stopped it all with His almighty power. He did not. The hot blood which ran down his flesh was the payment for our sins and it washes us clean (1 John 1:7). The third step is simply trusting that Jesus has the power to save you and died to set you free from death (John 3:16).
4.) Jesus rose from the dead and will also pull us up from death if we only ask. The story does not end with being freed from death and born again as a child of God. Once we are truly alive, we must live for Him (2 Timothy 2:11).

If you are living in a spirit of sin and have been kidding yourself into believing that you are saved, now is also the time to swallow your pride and really trust your life to Jesus. Once you have been genuinely saved, it is forever. But if you just once said a simple prayer or spoke the right words without ever trusting in Jesus' complete sacrifice to forgive you, you were never saved.

No matter your situation, whatever is holding you back must be cast away. Jesus said:
"If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

(Mat 18:8-9)
Anything you give up in this life is trivial compared to an eternity in Hell. Jesus says if your hand prevents you from accepting Him, just cut it off. Think about that. The hour of salvation is at hand, but no man knows when it will pass away forever. The time is now. If you do not have enough facts, hurry and get them. Get rid of whatever is holding you back. Read John 17-21 and see what Jesus went through to pardon you and then place a simple faith in Him. What will you do today more important than eternity?

From now on, I will be posting my blogs at midnight each morning, thanks to Blogspot's "Schedule Post" feature, where I can write it when convenient and have it appear later. Stay tuned!

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