|Everywhere you go these days, if you're not being warned about the
dangers of carbohydrate consumption, someone wants you to know that at
any moment you could be a victim of IDENTITY THEFT. Maybe you've seen
the commercials where the red neck guy starts talking like a valley girl
about the leather bustier he picked up for $1500 dollars, or the seventy
plus year-old woman is talking like a truck driving man about the
accessories she hoisted for her new rig, and it didn't cost her a thing,
"haw haw haw haw!!!" Most of you know what I'm talking about, and the
ones who don't watch much TV or who ignore the commercials, you have my
But there's an identity theft that's been going on for much longer and has taken something vital away from most of the church. Jesus said, "The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy." The thief knows God's joy is our strength, so he steals as much of it as he can, but it doesn't sit in a wall safe hoping Satan won't find the combination. God's joy is a gift that belongs to us, His beloved. Satan found a very clever way to steal it, and that's what I want to talk about today.
A couple years ago I was at a men's breakfast. I've been to a lot of men's breakfasts. I never get invited to the women's breakfasts, and that's a shame, because it would probably be more fun, and I expect the food would taste better. What I remember about this particular men's breakfast was that there were about twenty-five men and after indulging in a variety of food and drink we sang a few songs and the "speaker" was introduced. I can't remember what he talked about. It was mainly testimony. What I do remember is that early into his talk he asked everyone there, "Who here is a sinner?" Well, guess what happened? Every hand went up but mine. I don't know if "the brothers" noticed I didn't raise my hand, and nobody said anything. The speaker continued and no one asked me later why I didn't raise my hand. They may have thought I was daydreaming, or maybe they imagined I raised it real quick and then dropped it.
Let me make this clear, I don't think of myself as a sinner. Sinner is what I was. Now I've been reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus Christ. Apparently, though, most believers think that they are sinners. Perhaps it's better to say, most believers think they are still sinners. One associate of mine when I worked for a well-known bible-based drug and alcohol treatment program tried to explain to me that we are sinners, still, but "positionally" we are righteous. He couldn't show it to me in the bible, but he had been taught that and read it in one of the commentaries, and he was very much into hermeneutics, exegesis, and eschatology.
If you read the first chapter of Ephesians, verse 4 tells us God chose us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
I suppose one could argue, if one finds pleasure in argument, that we will be holy when we get to heaven. Do we really think that's what the verse is talking about. And that if we disobey it after we die, we get spanked or kicked out of heaven? Silly, eh?
Hebrews 12:14 says we should pursue peace with all people, AND HOLINESS, without which no one will see the Lord. One might continue to argue that we should pursue holiness, but we will never reach it, because it's unattainable. So I'm supposed to believe that God is asking me to do something I'm incapable of doing so He can teach me a lesson.
I suppose we could dismiss immediately what Peter wrote in I Peter 1:13-16, because after all, he denied Jesus three times. Peter said:
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."
That last part is an Old Testament quote that appears four times in Leviticus. My point is that God takes very seriously His desire that we be holy. Satan has cunningly persuaded the vast majority of Christians, including church leaders, that we are all sinners. This is a horrible lie, and lies produce death.
You know how the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting starts with George introducing himself, "Hi, I'm George. (Hi George). I'm an alcoholic." Isn't that wonderful? George admits he has a problem, and everyone gives him their emotional support, because they all have the same problem. We could just start church with the pastor saying, "Hi. I'm Steve. (Hi Pastor Steve). I'm a sinner." That never happens, but this way of thinking has crept into the church, and as a result, most Christians think they're sinners, and are powerless to resist temptations that Satan uses to keep them feeling down on themselves and down on life. This is how he steals our joy. Obeying God seems hopeless, and God must be very disappointed, but what can I do, poor sinner and lowly worm that I am.
Now that I've identified the problem, Satan's lie that he has successfully sold to the church, I would like to share the solution. The solution is to believe God's word. Embrace the truth. Stop taking Satan's word for who you are. I John 1:9 says, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We don't have to be polluted spiritually, because when all unrighteousness is cleansed, what is left? Righteousness. Don't be a spiritual split-personality. "I'm the righteousness of God in Christ, but I'm just a rotten old sinner saved by grace." If you're still a rotten old sinner, was the blood of Jesus Christ insufficient?
Here are some bible passages, a very small sampling, to help you, or your friend, to resolve this issue: Luke 1:68-75, Romans 6:7-22, II Corinthians 7:1, Ephesians 1:1-4, 17-24, I Thessalonians 3:12-13, 4:7-8, Hebrews 12:14, I Peter 1:13-16.
I will be sharing a series of four messages on what it means to be holy beginning with our next MY DADDY LOVES ME newsletter.
Here's a song which the Holy Spirit inspired concerning this important truth that we, the church, need to know:
I've been reconciled to GOD/ By the blood of JESUS CHRIST/ He paid the price for me/ When He died on Calvary/ All my sins are washed away/ Now I'm righteous in His sight/ I've been reconciled to GOD/ By the blood of JESUS CHRIST
I'm reconciled to GOD/ He loves me as a son/ I'm reconciled to GOD/ By the blood of JESUS CHRIST
You can listen to this song on-line: CLICK HERE
It's the third song on 'Draw Near to God'.
I hope this message has been helpful.
Our newest CD has arrived, and is available. 'Weekend at Grandma's' is going into prison libraries around the land. if you would like to be part of this outreach, read about it HERE. I will be sending out a letter on Monday to all our subscribers asking each one to consider donating to the project. If anything that even reminds you of an appeal letter is offensive, please delete it immediately. We're confident that those who want to help will help and that everyone who listens to the music will either enjoy it or, at worst, receive no permanent damage from listening to it. The CDs make great Frisbees for anyone who doesn't dig the sound.
Jo and I love you. Feel free to write, call, or just drop in. God bless you.
|If you've been blessed by this message share it with someone else. If you haven't, call 412-727-2526 for a prompt refund, no questions asked. We love you, although we don't always know how to express it. God loves you most of all. Rejoice!
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