Month: March 2019

The common demand for loyalty from belief and disbelief

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The common misunderstanding that only belief in Jesus demands loyalty is wrong! The reality is, disbelief also demands absolute loyalty, and at any cost. Sin energizes non-belief with crafty persuasion; saying you can believe whatever you want, just as long as it’s not Jesus as Lord. Sin seeks to imprison your thinking through deception by saying that even total rejection of all spiritual realities is better than having Christ as Saviour.

The common demand for loyalty from belief and disbeliefHonestly, there is no neutral ground when it comes to Jesus Christ. Satan knows there is no sitting on the fence, so he lies by saying that the spiritual fence has a wide and comfortable seat with no accountability or consequences. Your arch enemy wants you to think that going with the crowd is both fun and secure. What he won’t tell you is that …the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Loyalty is faithfulness

Loyalty is simply faithfulness. And faithfulness requires perseverance. Perseverance in non-belief pays death, while perseverance in belief pays eternal life. There is no escaping these realities. Don’t think for a moment that isolation from Jesus causes life to be sweet and comfortable. It just isn’t true. Delusion, escapism, or religion may provide some temporary easing of life’s pains, but eternal peace can only be found in Christ. The sad destination of disbelief in Christ is that “if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).

Notice how Jesus states His purpose for your loyalty; “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (John 15:16). God’s design is for those people whom you lead to Christ should also remain faithful to Christ. There are no samples of faith, no test driving of faith; belief in Christ is for life, no turning back.

The Lord also provides sufficient resources enabling your loyalty. As He said to the Jews who had believed him; If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). God’s Word and God’s Holy Spirit equip you with the necessary inner resources to endure by remaining obedient in surrender to the Bible.  Don’t be sucked into thinking you can live a joyful and righteous life without daily feeding on and growing in obedience to God’s Word; it just does not work that way.

Salvation grows faithfulness

From the first day of your repentance, successful Christian living acknowledges dependence upon Christ.  There is to be no independence from Christ. “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4) were Jesus words. The best of God’s blessings come as you endure long term in loyalty to the Saviour for His glory and your joy.

A bad conscience or a sense of shame has no place in the believer’s life if they are living a Spirit controlled life. Jesus reassures you; if you “abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28). I encourage you, committed loyalty to belief in Christ is eternally more valuable and God honouring than loyalty to disbelief. “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).

 

Belief that believes God’s Word without dispute

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Both belief and unbelief bring the greatest challenges in life as they dispute with each other. Both require you to reason through personal preference, emotions, and the call of God on your life.  This is precisely what Thomas faced when confronted with the resurrected Lord Jesus. Jesus challenged both his belief and disbelief by saying; Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe. (John 20:27).

Belief that believes God's Word without disputeSin is crafty; deceiving humans into thinking that as long as you are in spiritual negotiation mode, all is well. Well, sin is a liar! Paul warned of people like this; they are always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:7). How does this happen? At some point they choose to be content with knowing a little about Jesus without actually knowing Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Dispute over ownership

For them, unbelief wins the internal dispute over who has the right of total ownership of their lives. Here is the heart of spiritual anxiety. Sin says relax, eat, drink, be merry. (Luke 12:19). Jesus says what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36). The dispute over your soul is powerful and demanding of total control by both sides. Yet only Christ offers peace from God with eternal life as the result of belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Only Christ offers eternal companionship, faithfulness and security.

With such an amazing commitment from Christ to those who believe, it’s understandable that he requires total surrender from those who believe. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27). Half-hearted belief can only produce discontentment, insecurity, and a spiritually fatalistic view of life.

The basic difference is that partial belief, while thinking of itself as religious, is selective as to which parts of God’s Word it chooses to believe and obey. Convenience and compromise tends to be the goal of weak or counterfeit belief. The Psalmist however, shows us the right attitude; Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I believe in your commandments (Psalms 119:66). My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word (Psalms 119:81). I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end (Psalms 119:112).

The soft-hearted solution

I encourage you to develop a soft-hearted attitude towards God’s Word. An attitude that genuinely seeks after God’s truth. To obey without arguing, and with a humble long term view in mind. This attitude gets God’s attention because it’s pleasing to Him. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up (James 4:8-10).

God’s arch enemy will most likely try to distract you from such genuine belief which surrenders to the Lord. He’s shrewd; he knows how to put obstacles in your way. He’s always placing things and people in your life to  dishearten and side tract you. He’s the master of discouragement; taking your attention away from loyal obedience to Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Remember, Satan works hard at these things in your life because he knows that Christ has disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Christ (Colossians 2:15). Only in Christ can victory be had; victory that lasts through this life, past the grave, and into eternity.

Belief that changes the big picture in life

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When growing genuine belief, it’s easy to ignore the overall changes needed in your life to make belief effective. Why? Because; “if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords (Romans 14:8). Jesus is NOT an add-on to life, He is your life! Jesus does not want your religious good intention. The Lord requires all of you so that He can change everything, NOT just the comfortable things.

Belief that changes the big picture in life

Jesus question to His disciples is still valid; “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Human pursuits may be good in and of themselves, but we fool ourselves by trying to find spiritual security in them. Anxiety over this temporal life is symptomatic of a far more serious spiritual anxiety which is often overlooked.

Counterfeit or Genuine?

Listen to Jesus words of caution about counterfeit faith; “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21). You see, counterfeit belief thinks of itself as being very religious, and therefore safe. Yet it fails to satisfy God, which makes spiritual anxiety all the more torturous. You may tick all the religious boxes, yet your anxiety continues to rise due to the spiritual disconnection with God.

Counterfeit belief seduces by luring you into applying emotional and religious sticking plasters over the cancerous tumour called sin. Sin will do everything to go undetected; rationalising God’s Word so to prevent you from identifying the source of spiritual anxiety which only Christ can remedy.

Invite the Lord to make this very clear to you. “Since we have been justified (acquitted of guilt) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). Christ’s death in your place for your sin is what purchased peace from God. Religion, the Church, or any person in the Church, cannot do this. However, Christ has already done it on the cross of Calvary 2000 years ago.

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). Saying a prayer is only the first step of belief. If belief is genuine it will be seen in actions, not primarily the actions of good social deeds, but actions which directly express dependence in Christ alone. James’ point is that works can’t save you, just as faith without action can’t save you.

Sincere application

This means Christ, along with His biblical truths and moral values, come before all earthly relationships and worldly ambitions. It also means we stop approving of sin in both our lives and the lives of those we love. There is no peace in amalgamating Jesus with sin; they will never be compatible. Jesus is not the God of compromise.

There is not greater joy, no greater security to be found than knowing that God is at peace with you. ”Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27). “…Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). With Jesus Christ in control, you’re OK. As Jesus said; Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). When the Holy Spirit of Jesus truly controls your life “peace and joy” will overshadow life’s circumstances and anxieties.

I encourage you to choose belief that changes the big picture in life.

 

Choose belief that puts anxiety in its place

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All of us experience anxiety and worry at some point. They can sweep over us in a moment with no warning, leaving us feeling powerless. Isn’t it true; “anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down” (Proverbs 12:25); neither the mind nor body cope well with it. Jesus, being the realist that He was, said “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27). Yet, there is something within the human heart that leans toward trying to control the things we cannot control and stressing over it.

Choose belief that puts anxiety in its place

“O you of little faith” were Jesus words in Luke 12:28 for identifying his disciples cause for anxiety. While it’s easy to criticize others for being overwhelmed by anxiety, we easily fail to recognise our own vulnerability for it.

 

How can belief put anxiety in its place?

  • Remember, the basic function of belief is surrendered trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. This obviously begins with your salvation and seeks to lead you through life in victory under the control of the Holy Spirit. I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy (Psalms 116:1).
  • Knowing that you have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). This is the foundation of your spiritual security. Unconditional peace with God through Christ. No treadmill legalism needed to earn more peace, Jesus has purchased peace on your behalf.
  • Realise that your Heavenly Father is intimately aware of every detail in your life; even the hairs of your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:30). Nothing escapes His attention regardless of how you feel about what’s going on in your life. You can have confidence when casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).
  • Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live (Psalms 116:2). When you talk with the Lord He listens. His attentive ear should inspire your lifelong desire to maintain a healthy talking relationship with Him.
  • At the moment you believed in Jesus, you received the Holy Spirit as the sealing guarantee of eternal life (Ephesians 1:13-14). You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:15). As God’s adopted child, the Holy Spirit grows you further away from fear and closer in intimacy with your Heavenly Father.

Belief moves forward

Small but genuine belief never remains stagnant; it desires to move forward, sometimes slowly and other times more quickly. Belief is a mover; it’s a decision maker of choices growing out of your knowledge of God’s Word. Initially this may not be comfortable or easy, yet as your faith in the Lord and His Word grows, so your confidence in Him will grow also.

Here’s an opportunity to live genuine belief; surrender those issues which hold your belief back from wholehearted surrender to Christ as Lord. Yield to His control over all the issues which you cannot control, but He can.

Jesus instruction stands true today; do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on (Luke 12:22), and do not be anxious about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). Your Heavenly Father is able, He’s willing, and He’s ready to meet your needs through your relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. I encourage you to choose belief that puts anxiety in its place.

 

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