Saturday, May 22, 2010

AS JESUS DID

A. Brother
© 2009 Narrowgate Publishing


        “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  --1 John 1:9

        “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands…if anyone obeys His Word, God’s love is truly made compete in him.  This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”  --1 John 2:3,5,6

        As Jesus walked, so must the confessing disciple walk.
          “This is how we know we are in Him”…
          This is how we know.
          The proof is in our walk.  Not in our confession.
          Our confession of sin is not proof.  Our confession that Christ is Lord with our mouth is not proof.  Our phylacteries and religious gestures are not proof.  Casting out demons and doing miracles are not even proof.  The number of people brought to Christ through our ministry is not proof.  Prosperity is not proof.  Poverty is not proof. 
          “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.”
        Nothing else is proof.
        The only proof “is in the pudding”, as the old saying goes.
          This means loving God by loving others, and living lives of compassion, grace and truth.  This means bearing the fruit of God’s Spirit flowing through us: faith, hope, love, patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, self control.  These are the fruits exhibited in the lives of those who truly follow Christ on the narrow road of True Discipleship.
          Brethren, we stop too soon in our commitment to Christ.
          Not only are we to confess our sins, but we are to be purified “from all unrighteousness.”
          This second step is essential and non-optional for any disciple.
          This purifying is learning to “walk as Jesus did.”
          It is how we become like Him.
          It is forsaking our sins, not repeating them over and over.
          “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning.  No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.”  --1 John 3:6
       
          The True Disciple of Jesus Christ is changed by “God’s seed” in his heart.  He begins a life of increasing obedience to the Lord.  As John says, “…he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” 
(1 John 3:9) 
        As disciples of Jesus, we must forsake our sins.  Too often we dismiss our sinning as inevitable, and, like many in the churches, resign ourselves, shrug our shoulders, and accept this way of life:  sin, repent, sin, repent, sin, repent, and on and on.  No real change is expected, except in our outward patterns of life—now we go to church regularly and study the Bible and pray regularly.
          Yet James states boldly our actual situation.
          “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?”  --James 2:14
        The answer is NO.
        Faith without righteous living, without walking as Jesus did, is not a saving faith. 
        Doesn’t this shake you?  When you examine your life and your actual obedience to Christ in everything, doesn’t this put fear into your heart?  Are we not falling far short of exhibiting the characteristics of a true disciple?  In recent times I’ve faced these facts in my life, and God is requiring enormous changes in me.
          The fact is this: nature itself proves the truth of God’s Word.
          “My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?  Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”  --James 3:12
        The True Disciple of Jesus produces “…fruit in keeping with repentance…”  (Luke 3:8), as John the Baptist declared.
          In the man who follows Christ there is a “sea change”.  Old patterns of behavior begin to fall away.  Sin becomes not a constant companion, but an occasional traveler happening by—an enemy treated as such and denied accommodation.  If we fall to temptation we have our advocate, “Jesus Christ the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1,2) and our honest confession is heard, our sin forgiven.
          But to live in habitual, continuous sin means we are not in Christ, no matter our confessions and protestations to the contrary.  No matter our church attendance, our tithing, our acts of charity, our religious pretenses!
          This is possibly the most important lesson any of us can learn today.  That nothing we do matters unless we are in Christ.  None of the offerings we bring, the sacrifices we make, mean anything unless they are what Jesus requires of us.  We live in an era when many sins are considered “acceptable”, even by those who claim to follow Christ.
         
          Remember this, my brothers—it is not what we do not do that defines who we are.
          It is what we do that proves discipleship.
          It is how we walk, and whether we walk as Jesus did.
          The world paints a historic and common caricature of those who call themselves Christians.  Unfortunately, it is based on reality.  We all recognize the cold, arrogant, hardhearted religious person who takes pride in being “sinless”.  This awful, loveless person lives by a harsh creed of his own devising (twisting Scripture into a religious dogma), and  goes around condemning sin in others.
          We must trust the Lord to prove this caricature wrong in us.
          As True Disciples we must forsake our religion, and truly follow Jesus.  We must walk as He did, displaying His wonderful character traits—His love, compassion, mercy and grace, as well as His strength in standing against evil—to the world.
          I leave you with this challenge from James.
          “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”  --James 2:18
       
        O Father, we repent of our sins, and call upon You to empower us by Your Spirit within us to follow Jesus and walk as He walked.  We know we cannot do this ourselves.  Forgive us and cleanse us and come near to us as we come near to You.  We grieve and mourn today over our sins.  We humble ourselves before you.  May we be True Disciples who bring honor, not shame, to Your Name.

             

2 comments:

  1. Perhaps not so much what we do or not do, but rather how much, in humility, we have allowed Jesus to work His will through us?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dean: Thanks for the comment. I emailed you from your blog, but being new to this blog stuff, not sure if I should also comment back here. Really agree, it is Christ living in us that does His will, and the good He's called us to do!

    ReplyDelete

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