Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Attitudes Toward Error and Sin

In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 the apostle Paul warned young Timothy that "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." Paul told Timothy to "watch out" because men would leave the doctrine of Christ and would accumulate teachers that would teach a doctrine that they wanted to hear. Thousands today have done this very thing. They have turned their ears from the truth and fallen victim to fables and doctrines of men. We learn from God's word that individuals who remain in sin will suffer an eternal death, and that only those who abide in righteousness will receive eternal life (Romans 6:23). "What is our attitude toward error and sin?" When faced with this question, one has four possible ways to deal with error and sin.

We Can Deny Them
The Pharisee in Luke 18:11 would not admit that he was guilty of sin. He was quick to see sin in the lives of others, but not in his own life. This man trusted in his own self, while despising others. He appeared righteous outwardly, but his heart was not right. His attitude was wrong. John tells us that we lie if we deny that we are sinners (1 John 1:8). Everyone of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) and are foolish to deny that error and sin is occurring around us. James admonishes everyone to confess their sins (James 5:16), not deny them.

We Can Ignore Them
In Daniel, chapter 5, we read about Belshazzar who ignored the fate which his father Nebuchadnezzar had suffered because of sin and was overcome by sin himself. His life was taken and his kingdom given to another. We can ignore sin now but we will face it in the judgment. Our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:23). Many of the Jews in Jesus' day ignored their sins and closed their eyes and ears to the truth (Matthew 13:15). The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to take heed unto himself and unto the doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). This is good advice for all children of God. We must continually examine our lives to ensure that we are not living in error and sin. We can't ignore our sins and pretend they are not there.

We Can Live With Them
Pilate knew he was guilty of sin when he refused to free the sinless Christ (Matthew 27:15-25). He knew that he was delivering an innocent man. This kind of attitude and practice reflects a greater desire to please men than God. To live with error and sin is to become a party with them. When one knows that sin is occurring and yet goes along with it, then that individual is partaking in the evil (2 John 9-11). Members of the church in Corinth were unconcerned about the sin among them. They were condoning it by living with it (1 Corinthians 5:1ff). There is error and sin in some congregations today, yet many live with it. We cannot live with sin and still be pleasing to God!
We Can Oppose Them
Paul was never afraid to stand for truth and oppose error and sin (Galatians 2:4-5). At the close of life he knew that he kept the faith by opposing error (2 Timothy 4:7-8). We can and should have the attitude that we are going to fight against error and sin. This is the ONLY way God will approve of us. Let's always strive to oppose sin in our lives, the lives of others, and within the Lord's church!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Proving Things

Have you ever stopped to realize that from the time you awake in the morning until the time you fall asleep at night that you are proving things. As you walk through life you are proving who you are in various ways. Paul told the Thessalonian brethren to "Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). As Christians we can readily see that we have a grave responsibility to God to ensure that we prove to others that we live by His commandments. Sit down sometime and make a list of things you do during the course of a day. On one side label it "proving things for Jesus" and on the other side label it "proving things for man". Now list everything you do that day in the respective category and then see if your life is one that is proving to others that you are godly or humanistic.
It Begins With Our Heart
There are many aspects of our life that need to be proven. It all starts with our heart doesn't it? We read again "but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts" (1 Thessalonians 2:4). We learn from this scripture that we are not to speak in such a manner that is pleasing to man but to God because God knows our hearts. He knows where we are putting our emphasis in life. Everyday we are faced with new situations that test our faith. We prove ourselves to be godly when we can overcome these tests and show God that we are loyal to Him. James says "knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:3). We also need to prove we are Christians by our work.

Proving By Our Work
Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. We can see that all of our work here on this earth will be revealed with fire. Our work will become evident. Paul explains that gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, and things such as this (earthly things) will be destroyed. But what is it that will not be destroyed? Our spiritual works. Nobody or nothing can take away our spiritual treasures. When the fire comes, the one who has put their treasures in heaven will be saved. We need to constantly test ourselves. Paul told the Corinthians "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5). We must examine ourselves everyday of our lives! We must prove to ourselves that we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus and no other!
Why and How to Prove Things?
But why are we to prove things? We go back to our opening text in 1 Thessalonians 5:21. We are to examine everything - why? To find the good. Christians should earnestly seek only what is right in the sight of God, not what might be pleasing to man or self. We need to prove things so we do not become reprobate (2 Corinthians 13:5), and deceived (1 John 4:1-6). However we are never going to know how to prove things and we'll never really know if we are doing what is pleasing in the sight of God if we do not go to the source to find out how we are to prove things. What is the source? The Gospel! It is by the gospel that we can know whether we are doing things in accordance with the spirit of truth or the spirit of error (1 John 4:6). We cannot expect to live a life proving ourselves as Christians if we adopt our manner of walk (morals) based on human standards that are all around us. "For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding". (2 Corinthians 10:12).

Questions to Ponder
From time to time we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask some questions. Am I proving that I am a CHRISTIAN by my walk in life? Can others see beyond a doubt that I am a Christian by the way I act, the way I talk, and the way I dress? Remember, the world doesn't care what we are - but we do have something to prove to God.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Manner of Persons Should We Be?

In 1 Peter 3:14 it says: "But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." We need to be the child of God that is ready and willing to suffer any kind of persecution for the sake of Jesus. He gave His all for us - we should be willing to give ALL for Him!

We Ought To Be....
Here are several scriptures that you can look up in your spare time that will show you what manner of person you ought to be. From God's word we can see that we ought to be Attentive (Hebrews 2:1), Obedient (Matthew 23:23), One who imitates Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:7), Holy (2 Peter 3:11), Pleasing to God (1 Thessalonians 4:1), Helpful (Acts 20:35), Godly (2 Peter 3:11), Prayerful (Luke 18:1), Peaceable (2 Peter 3:14), Humble (John 13:14), Blameless (2 Peter 3:14), Loving (1 John 3:16), and Faithful (Matthew 25:14-27) to name just a few.
Why Should We Be This Way?
We should strive to be this manner of person because we know that "all things will be dissolved" someday (2 Peter 3:11). Christ is going to come again (2 Peter 3:12), and we want to gain a home in heaven with Him (2 Peter 3:13). Let us strive to live a godly Christian life here on earth so we can live with our Father forever (Revelation 2:10; 2 Peter 3:8-9)!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Doctrine of Christ

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:3-6: "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain." There are in fact three doctrines that are mentioned in the New Testament. One is the divine doctrine which is mentioned in Titus 2:10: "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." There is the human doctrine mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 15:9: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." Then there is the Satanic doctrine that Paul makes mention of in 1 Timothy 4:1: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."

Why Teach the Doctrine of Christ?

It still amazes me why, in the name of religion, men teach doctrines that are not found to be of Jesus Christ. It amazes me because if one is truly interested in what he must do to be saved and live a life righteous unto God, then why doesn’t he look for the teachings (doctrine) of Christ to guide his steps? Paul began in 1 Timothy 6:3 by saying "if anyone teaches otherwise" then proceeds to tell us what happens to those that do so. In the Galatian letter he really spells it out when he writes: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8).
When it comes to religion we should be determined to know nothing except the gospel that Jesus taught us. After all, can any other doctrine save us? If you answered NO, you’re right. And knowing this, then we better make sure that we strive to do only the will of the Lord in our life. In 1 Timothy 1:3 we are charged not to teach another gospel. Notice: "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia-- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." A failure on our part to abide in the doctrine of Christ will lead to vain worship as Jesus clearly stated in Mark 7:7. Not only that, but our work that we do while here on this earth will perish when we do those things not authorized by Jesus. When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians he said: "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using-- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). The point Paul is trying to make is that if you have accepted Jesus in your life through obedience to His gospel, then why do you try to live up to worldly doctrines that perish, doctrines and commandments that have been established not by God, but by men? Every denomination is guilty of this to some degree. We are wasting our time and effort when we teach any other doctrine than that which was authorized by Jesus!

What Is Our Duty Toward The Doctrine Of Christ?

We have a responsibility to keep the doctrine of Christ. It is our duty as Christians to preach this doctrine to others. The Bible says: "But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). In addition, we are to keep it pure (Titus 2:7), adorn it (Titus 2:10), follow it (1 Timothy 4:6), exhort in it (Titus 1:9), convince others of it (Titus 1:9), and not to blaspheme it (1 Timothy 6:1). Paul wrote these things to fellow laborers in the vineyard of the Lord. He instructed them on what they had to do to promote and to keep pure the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must fully love, respect, and embrace the word of God!
Are we doing our part to make sure that we are abiding in the gospel of Jesus? The Hebrew writer wrote: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). We are going to be judged according to our works, good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). Knowing this, we better make sure that we are abiding in the doctrine that we are going to be judged by. Satan can’t save us. Man can’t save us. Only Jesus can save us. He’ll save us based on our obedience to His doctrine which "was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).