Dear brothers and sisters, don’t think for a moment you can keep indulging your sinful nature and still inherit the kingdom at the end of your life.

God declared an end to sin’s control over us by sending his Son to live as one of us, and then giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Christ lives within you, and because you have been made right with God, the Spirit gives you life.

Because you belong to Christ, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. If you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, through the power of the Spirit, you will live.

Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace, but letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. Dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. If you live by its dictates, you will die.

Romans 8

 

Anyone who trusts his life to God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life, but remains under God’s angry judgment. (John 3:36)

Because if you aren’t obeying the Son, you aren’t trusting your life to him.

Our happy apostasy

January 4, 2016

‘Heresy’ and ‘apostasy’ have long been hurled as epithets by the ne’er-do-well fringe of Christianity. But I’m now hearing the words more frequently in mainstream evangelical quarters. Usually they target readily identifiable examples, like off-the-deep-end theological liberalism or the so-called prosperity gospel. There’s also good reason to apply it to legalism, in both its behavioral and doctrinal modes.

But not many members of mainstream conservative evangelical churches would see themselves as being in danger of accepting heresy or committing apostasy, when in fact the danger lurks close by.

I was glad to see this article by Mike Livingston, which brings the issue of heresy and apostasy much closer to home. Here’s an excerpt from The heresy of worshiptainment:

The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members “want to be entertained while they are edified.” He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was “scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”*

More recently, David Platt has asked: “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?” (Radical) …

Like Tozer, we should be concerned that so many people in our churches want to be entertained while they worship. We should be concerned when we no longer recognize the difference between the two. And we should be concerned by the growing belief that adding more entertainment value to worship is necessary for the church to accomplish its mission.

We have had too little teaching about apostasy among evangelicals in the past century, to the point that many laypeople have no idea what the word means, much less how it threatens them or what its consequences might be. Without thinking long and hard, anyone can grasp how the concept of apostasia might apply to those walking with Jesus. In the common usage of the day, it meant “defection.”  It is rooted in a word that means, among other things, to desert a compatriot.

Mike Livingstone has put his finger on a real problem. Regardless of worship style or doctrinal tribe, many evangelical congregations are plagued by a demand for feel-good worship. This excitational spectatorism reveals the captivity of God’s people to a culture shaped by individualism, consumerism, subjectivism, and materialism.

And the flip side of the “worshiptainment” heresy is an even more insidious and widespread apostasy that presents a danger to virtually every Christian who does not struggle each day with hunger or violence. It’s a heresy that can be rampant in comfortable houses in a way it could never be under highway overpasses. It lurks in the hallways of church buildings, but would never darken the recesses of catacombs where persecuted Christians take refuge.

Like “worshiptainment,” this heresy is rooted in self-absorption. It’s a happy apostasy committed simply by being completely preoccupied with everyday life, pursuing business as usual, rather than seeking first God’s kingdom and his justice.

We’re talking about complacent Christians who are indifferent toward needy people in a world wracked by violence, oppression, and injustice.

We busy ourselves with First World distractions while around the globe children die of easily preventable diseases, widows starve as outcasts, refugees lie down at night hungry and cold, men and women miss work because they are sickened by dirty water, entire families slave away at backbreaking labor under a master’s whip, and women and children are beaten, drugged, and chained to brothel beds.

We enjoy the comforts of home, food, and bank account while in our own cities children grow up fatherless, young men despair of work and drift without purpose, young women are “liberated” into promiscuity and abandonment, destitute souls live hand to mouth on the government dole, fathers and sons are enslaved by pornography, unborn children are slaughtered for their parents’ sins, hurting souls medicate themselves into oblivion, and multitudes pretend brokenness is wholeness.

But you enjoyed worship this week at your church? How nice for you!

Do you not know that God rejected Israel’s earnest worship and sent his people into captivity because they tolerated injustice?

Have you not read how they were warned, in their prosperity, not to forget the Lord and quit walking in his ways?

Have you not understood God’s displeasure that, when he expected a crop of justice from his people, he instead found oppression in their world?

Has it never occurred to you that in Matthew 25 the “sheep” inheriting the Kingdom and going into eternal life are those who got personally involved in helping people in need?

Brothers and sisters, “you must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Our salvation is a journey into justice.

Reblogged from here.

No coincidence

August 13, 2015

No coincidence: Christians who have no teaching about the role of obedience in salvation also offer no warning about the danger of apostasy.

The Lord guided the Israelites through the wilderness by a cloud that moved ahead of them. They walked to freedom through the sea — on dry ground. In the desert, God gave them food to eat and water to drink. Yet the people grumbled and put Christ to the test. They worshiped idols and engaged in pagan revelry and sexual immorality. They dishonored the God who redeemed them from captivity, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness as a result.

The Bible says: “These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did …. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age. If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:6-13 NLT)

Do not discount the grave danger that looms when God’s people continually dishonor their Lord. Do not think that redemption means you are exempt from the same judgment experienced by those whose rebellion left their bodies scattered in the wilderness. But rejoice that God is faithful and always offers his people a path to endurance and salvation, if they will but be faithful to him in return.

You think it is impossible for a genuine Christian to ultimately be lost in eternity? You think a person who ends badly was never really saved in the first place?

Why, then, does Paul tell the “dear brothers and sisters” in Rome that “if you keep on following [what your sinful nature urges you to do], you will perish”?(Romans 8:13a NLT)

The Greek word translated ‘perish’ refers not only to natural death but also to eternal death, being subjected to eternal misery in hell. It speaks of a tree that dries up and dies, of a seed that is planted but rots in the ground.

Let there be no doubt Paul is speaking to genuine believers. He clearly says his friends have Christ living in them (v.10) and that because they have been set free by Christ, they have “no obligation whatsoever to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” (v.12)

The wonderful news is that because they have access to the power of the Holy Spirit living within them, through the Spirit they are able to turn from the sinful nature and its evil deeds and live! (v.13b)

Let us not make our tradition’s teaching lord over the Scripture. The perseverance of the saints is a wonderful truth, but it is not a foregone conclusion. Celebrate the fact there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus! (v.1) Be strengthened by the knowledge that nothing can separate you from the love of Christ! (v.35) But do not think for a moment that you can willfully indulge your sinful nature and escape the consequences due those who trample under foot the Son of God, regard as unclean the blood of the covenant by which they were sanctified, and insult the Spirit of grace. (Hebrews 10:29)

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 NLT)

Let there be no mistake: James is speaking to Christians when he warns his listeners about the danger of making themselves enemies of God. Up to this point in his letter, he has called his readers “dear brothers and sisters” seven times.

In the immediate context (vv.1-3), James is exposing problems still common among Christians today: quarrels and fights in the body, jealousy, wanting what we don’t have, resorting to ungodly means to get what we want, only wanting what will give us pleasure. You can easily make your own list of the ways Christians today are trying to be friends of the world. (If you go back to chapter 1 and read from there, you’ll wind up with an even longer list.)

The point here is to recognize that James uses the word ‘adulterers’ to describe these Christians. If you had any question whether James is warning Christians about the danger of making themselves God’s enemies, that word ought to lay that doubt to rest.

A person cannot commit adultery unless she is married already. Think “bride of Christ.”

Now the question: What consequences do you suppose a believer will experience who makes himself an enemy of God? Do you know what the Bible says?

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