A Point to Ponder…

A born again believer in Jesus Christ is anyone who puts their faith totally in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.  It is someone who is said to have “entrusted” Jesus Christ with their entire life; to have committed themselves to Him because of what He has done for them and what He has promised them.

He has paid the penalty for their sinful nature by dying on the cross at Calvary which satisfied the righteous requirement of the law and as a result paved the way for all who believe in Him to be eternally forgiven of their sin and to be resurrected with Him unto eternal life with the Godhead at the end of the age.

This is the foundation of the Christian faith;  the rock of truth that every born again believer stands on with expectant hope.

Now, people don’t usually put their trust in something or someone who cannot deliver the “goods” so to speak; especially if it involves their very life.  If the person or thing falters on what was promised, they usually will disconnect themselves from them; move away from them; give up on them; or disown them, just to name of few of the possible responses.  They do this because they have lost “faith” in that person’s ability or the ability of the thing they relied on to deliver what was promised.

Though this behavior of giving up on someone or something for not fulfilling a promise is consistent with being human, it is not a behavior that is consistent with God.  Though people may fail to fulfill their promises to one another, God never fails to fulfill His promises to those who love Him and who receive Him as their personal Savior and Lord.

Ponder these verses of Scripture:

Numbers 23:19 (NIV):  God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind.  Does He speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfill?

2Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV):  Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him.  If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

Why not then, consider giving your life to the One who can save you from eternal damnation.  To the One who promises and always fulfills His promises. To the One who did for you what you couldn’t do for yourself.  To the One who promises you an eternal life, free of sin and corruption and defilement.  An eternal life of fellowship with the One who created you and loved you to the point of dying for you so you could be reconciled and made holy.

In the climate of today’s relativism, it behooves you to ponder this thought; this piece of truth that can bring you to hope with an expectant joy that the world cannot give you, or promise you.

Give your life to Jesus Christ, the only one who can save you from eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire and eternal separation from the one who loved you enough to die for you…

If you want to learn more about salvation, go to this link: “What Is Salvation” 

Is what you see, what you get?

Jesus tells us of an account he had with a fig tree when he was hungry.  It can be found in Mark 11:12-14 (NLT):

The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus felt hungry.  He noticed a fig tree a little way off that was in full leaf, so he went over to see if he could find any figs on it.  But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.  Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!”  And the disciples heard him say it.

Jesus expected to find figs on the tree to satisfy His hunger because the tree advertised it was carrying figs evidenced by its foliage, but when Jesus didn’t find figs, he cursed the tree.  What Jesus expected to find, he didn’t.

When people look at you, a professing born-again believer in Jesus Christ, what do they see?  Do they see the evidence of your union with the Holy Spirit or do they see your association with the world?

The fruit of your foliage is supposed to be the fruit of the Spirit:

(love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.)

Is that what people see when they examine you?

Be who you say you are; a born-again believer in Jesus Christ.  Let the phrases: it is, what it is or what you see, is what you get be true of you.

Nouthetic Confrontation

For some reason, it appears as though many Christians do not believe they can speak out against sinful thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors they see manifest in other Christian’s lives.  Well, I believe this is a dangerous position to take.

You see, desensitization to the Word of God is a dangerous thing.  Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines desensitization in this way:  to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically to extinguish an emotional response to stimuli that formerly induced it.  (Such as fear, anxiety, or guilt)

Now in the context of a brother or sister in Christ sinning, it is the emotional response of guilt that makes them aware of their offenses and transgressions against God and/or their neighbor.  Without guilt, a person has no ability to experience remorse, regret, or sorrow over what they have done.

Now we know that man is not perfect.  Man will always make mistakes.  Man will always fall short of God’s moral standards, so it is critical then, that man remains conscious of his shortcomings.  It is critical that man has a heart, a mind and a will to correct those shortcomings and minimize their occurrences in his life.  Desensitization to guilt prevents this from happening.

Scripture mandates every Christian to confront one another through a process of confrontation called Nouthesia.  It is a Greek noun.  It is defined in the lexical dictionary as “an admonition, a warning, or an exhortation.   Any word of encouragement or reproof which leads to correct behavior.”

Now the Bible is our utility tool, our manual, our guide for providing Nouthetic guidance because it is God’s Word of moral instruction to us as it pertains to living holy and righteous lives in the body of Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us:  “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

God has given us a moral compass to use in our daily interactions with each other.  The Holy Bible. Therefore, by it, we can have accountability to one another so that we can be a “facilitory agent” in each other’s lives for spiritual growth and maturation.  Our responsibility to ourselves and to others is to live by God’s moral compass.

However, many born-again believers are failing and even running away from fulfilling this responsibility.  Instead of spiritual growth and maturation, there is spiritual retardation and adolescence as it pertains to living holy and righteous lives, because of the failure to execute nouthetic confrontation in the lives of those who demonstrate wayward actions.  They are not held accountable to the Word of God.  No one warns or admonishes them by the Word of God and consequently, they remain outside the will of God; living defeated lives with an immature faith.

Let me take a moment and show you how accountability will facilitate obedience.

If I find myself doing something that is not in accord with God’s standard, then you would be correct in saying that I am off center or missing the mark.  Now the longer I remain there, the more rooted I will become there and the more distant I will remain from God’s moral expectation of my life.

If no one confronts me for being off the mark or holds me accountable for my wayward conduct, then I will continue to be disobedient to God’s morality and will remain off center. Something has to motivate me to move back in line.  Something has to awaken my sense of guilt for being off the mark. That something is nouthetic confrontation from another brother or sister in Christ.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”.

The lexical definition of “sharpens” in this text of scripture means to make something stronger or to improve. Therefore, to state this proverb using this definition would sound like this:  “As iron strengthens and improves iron, so one man strengthens and improves another.” This is through the process of Nouthetic confrontation.

Knowing this, tell me why so many born-again believers in Jesus Christ are not confronting one another?   What is the reason for tolerating ungodliness in another Christian’s life?  Well, I believe it has to do with one of two things: either apathy or fear.

If you find that you fall into the category of apathy, then I say this to you-you are sinning against the second command given by Jesus, which states we are to “love your neighbor as yourself”.

This love is agape love.  The love that esteems others, cherishes others, favors others, honors others, respects others, accepts others, prizes others, relishes others, is devoted to others, is loyal to others, and is concerned for others.  If you are apathetic toward your neighbor how can love them in this way?

If you find that you fall into the category of the fearful who are afraid of man’s possible repercussions from confrontation, which might involve verbal accosting, ostracism or even physical assault, then I say this to you-you are not trusting God for the veracity and wisdom of his word.  You are not trusting God for the truth of his instruction.  You do not have the conviction of:

Psalm 56:3, which states, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”

Psalm 56:4 which states, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?”

Or

 Psalm 118:8, which states, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

You see, to confront is to love openly.  Not to confront is to be unloving.

Proverbs 27:5 tells us “better is open rebuke than hidden love.”

Therefore, it is time you started practicing your faith and demonstrating Christian love one to another from the perspective of obedience to the mandate in Scripture of nouthetically confronting your neighbor when you see sin abound in their lives.

Let me give you one last illustration of the how the Lord expects us to love one another through nouthetic confrontation.

In the world when someone commits a crime, it is because they have done something outside the boundaries of the law. They become wanted criminals and walk around ever mindful the police are looking for them.

One day they are spotted by the police and stopped.  The officer has grounds to search them and does so by “frisking” them down to see if there are any illegal items they might be carrying on their person.  If the officer finds something, he takes it away – he confiscates it.  It is no longer in the possession of the person.

Well in the kingdom of God, we are mandated to do to each other what the police officer did to the criminal suspect.  We have been given legal grounds to “frisk” one another down.  We have been given legal grounds to use the Word of God to search for any ungodliness in the lives of one another when they have committed sin.  When we see the ungodliness, we are to be a facilitory agent in the confiscation of it.

By that, I mean we are to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness through the use of God’s instructions as mandated in the Bible; to bring to light the ungodly contraband our brother or sister may be carrying in their lives.  We are to use the authority of the Word of God when we “frisk”.  Only using the truth of the Word of God will bring conviction, and only conviction will birth the awareness of guilt that will be the catalyst for change.

If we all can become proficient in utilizing the process of Nouthetic guidance one to another, we would see great strides made in the lives of every born-again believer as it pertains to their spiritual growth and maturation in the body of Christ.

The Battle Is More Real Than You Think

To forgive someone is an act of your will and a finished work of Christ in your heart.  Literally, it is releasing someone from the penalty of their offense against you.  Though they are guilty of the offense and rightly are indebted to you to meet the punishment connected with the offense, you make the decision from your heart to remit them from the debt.

Now, this all sounds simple, and with the grace of God working in you, it is, but many times we make it more complicated than it has to be because we fail to do what needs to be done to win the battle.

Consider this:  Before one can come to this point of resolve, one must overcome the battle that rages inside of themselves that follows an offense.  The battle is with their flesh; with their soulish realm, for the flesh wants payback, revenge, perverted justice and punishment to come upon the offender for what they did.

One must win the battle over their flesh in order to succeed in the area of forgiveness.

Understand, your flesh “talks” to you very convincingly about keeping alive your resentment and anger.  Even though you may plead the blood of Christ over your mind, thoughts, and emotions, your flesh perseveres to keep alive the perverted desires that come from your self-righteousness, and you can find yourself having a debate with your flesh about what you should and should not do to your offender even when you have made up your mind to forgive.

This debate can go on for days and even years at a time if you have not learned how to crucify your flesh.  And if you ever lose this debate you can find yourself sinning against God by not demonstrating the conduct of heart He commands of those who have been offended.

You see this battle is real and it happens in the mind.  Every one of us steps into this battle the moment we are offended or transgressed against.  No one escapes it, yet there are some who have learned to do what the Lord has commanded us to do with ungodly thoughts and desires.

We are told in 2Corinthians 10:5 that –

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”. 

The Lord tells us to be mindful of those self-righteous arguments that we say to ourselves:

“They had no right doing that to me, I’ll get them for that”

or

“I’ll kill you for what you’ve done to me, I hate you”

These thoughts have to be arrested.  They must be brought under the obedience of Christ because they go against the knowledge of God.  That means we must rethink those thoughts and replace them.

We must capture each one and “make it” obedient unto Christ.

“I’ll get them for that” becomes “God will avenge me”.

“I hate you” becomes “I love you because you are my neighbor but I don’t like what you did”. 

If we are going to defeat this flesh we must have faith in the spiritual weaponry we possess.  We must trust in the power that Christ has over the devil to demolish our ungodly patterns of thought.

You see, the battle is won by not allowing the thoughts of revenge, payback, punishment, etc. to run wild inside of your thinking.  The battle is won when you capture every one of those thoughts and make them obedient to what Christ has told you to do toward your offender or your enemy or someone who persecutes you.

Christ will bring those thoughts into submission inside your heart once you have arrested them and you will then find victory over them.  So don’t get frustrated if you find yourself battling with thoughts of whether to forgive or not.

Just follow 2Corinthians 10:5 and watch the Lord fight for you.

You Need To Be Ashamed Of Yourself…

Let me speak to my professing Christian brothers and sisters who are struggling with issues of forgiving.

Can you tell me what is it about forgiveness that causes so much upheaval in your soul?  How come you find yourself wrestling and struggling so hard with the notion of having to let someone “off the hook” who has offended you?  What is there that is so valuable in getting “your pound of flesh”?  Is punishing someone because they have offended you really so rewarding and satisfying?  Please, help me understand your pattern of thinking.

I mean, I understand that you profess to be a Christian, meaning you have entrusted your life to Jesus Christ by inviting Him into your heart.  I understand He forgave all of your sins and redeemed you back to the Father; rescued you from eternal damnation and separation and gave you the gift of eternal life.  I understand that you are “born again”, from above, by the incorruptible seed of the Father and you are a new creation – old things have passed away and behold all things have become new in your life.  Is this true?

Well, if so, then tell me why you struggle with giving to someone else that which you received so freely?  Wasn’t forgiveness given to you for all of your sins? Yet you say you cannot forgive someone for his or her sin against you?  Why is that?

What makes you more worthy to receive forgiveness over your brother or sister in Christ? Are you any better than they are?  Have you not also been guilty of hurting others or doing wrongs in the sight of God?

In 1Corinthians 6:9-11 we are told this –

“Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God?  Don’t fool yourselves.  Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers-none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God.  There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God.  You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you.”

Did you get that?  At one time in your life you also were not worthy of the Kingdom of God, remember?  Have you become so holy and sanctified until you believe you can dictate to the body of Christ who is and who is not worthy to receive forgiveness?  Are you suffering from some form of dementia where you cannot remember that it is only a result of God’s divine forgiveness that you are justified by faith in Jesus Christ?

Let me repeat to you what God has told you in Romans 3:21-26 –

 “But now God has shown us a different way of being right in his sight – not by obeying the law but by the way promised in the Scriptures long ago.  We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins.  And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done.  For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty.  He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins.  For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us.  We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.  God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times.  And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.”  

How then can you think you have any power or authority to impute righteousness or justification on anyone?  Are you God?  How can you have the audacity to say to an offender that they are not worthy of forgiveness?  Have you lost your mind?  Do not forget that you too were a sinner forgiven and redeemed only by the grace of God.

Who has deceived you into thinking you have the right to refuse an offender forgiveness?  Who told you that was the will of God for you as a believer?  I know it wasn’t the Father; I know it wasn’t the Holy Spirit, and I certainly know it wasn’t Jesus.  Therefore, it could only mean that it was the devil himself who darkened the counsel of God in your mind.  Do not allow yourself to be duped into his lies.  Do not get so puffed up with righteous indignation and resentment toward an offender that you fall out of God’s grace.

You know, there was a great English Poet by the name of Alexander Pope who penned the famous phrase:  To err is human, to forgive divine.  He had insight into God’s will concerning forgiveness that you need to assent to.  That is, humans will err – all the time; it is their nature.  But the nature of God is to forgive.  God’s will is that you love one another and that you leave no debt outstanding between one another except the continuing debt of love, which you can never repay.

As a Christian, a born-again redeemed believer in Jesus Christ, this should be your pulse.  Like your physical pulse reflects the rhythmic beating of your physical heart, love should reflect the rhythmic beating of your spirit.  If you profess to be a Christian, your walk must be in accordance with God’s will, which exemplifies his divine character.  That character is love.

You owe it to your Christian brothers and sisters, seventy-times-seven, to forgive them when they offend you.  God demands it of you.  He is so emphatic about the command that he reminds you in Matthew 6:14-15 –

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Therefore, stop struggling with granting forgiveness.  Rise above your carnal desires and honor God.  Let the fruit of your redemption be exemplified in the way you trust him and follow his righteous commands.  Stop playing the part of a Christian and start being the Christian.  Ask God to give you grace to walk in his wisdom; ask God to search your heart for anything that is not clean and to purge it from you.  Do not be a fool and despise the wisdom and instruction of God.

Always remember this: Christians are forgiving people because they have been forgiven.

Repentance is still required in our daily lives…

This message might conflict with your theology but it is on point biblically.  Here’s the point:  Forgiveness rides on the heels of rebuke and repentance.

There is an interplay that has to happen in the life of the offender if he/she is ever going to be forgiven of an offense.  That interplay is between being rebuked and responding in repentance.

Rebuking someone is a “taboo” nowadays.  Many people feel it is a form of judging and therefore shy away from it.  Well, this only shows the extent of their illiteracy as it pertains to kingdom dynamics.

To rebuke is to criticize adversely or sharply.  It brings the person face to face with the wrongness of their words, actions or motivations and opens the door to conviction.

Without conviction concerning the wrongness of one’s actions there can be no desire to change.  No desire to repent.  Without conviction an offender could believe that their wrongful actions are fine and acceptable behaviors.

Conviction of conscience, mind and heart are what brings about change or repentance in the life of an offender.

Going a little further, this rebuking process happens on three different levels.

  1. Within the person’s conscience
  2. From the presence of the Holy Spirit residing in the person
  3. From another person.

Regardless of where it originates from, it does go on, everyday, in every person.  Most people just don’t want to admit to it.

So, if rebuking has been done in the proper manner, the offender should be at a point of conviction that they have offend God first, and not the person, for their  wrongful actions. Why? Because any and all sins against our neighbors are violations of God’s commandment.

That being said, the offender repents to God initially.  What does that mean?  It means they have changed their understanding and comprehension of their wrong doing.  That they have realized, accepted and replaced their sinful motivation for a godly motivation toward the one they have offended.   He/she confesses their waywardness in this situation and asks to be forgiven of God.

According to 1John 1:9 we know that God will forgive the offender and purify him of all unrighteousness.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  (NIV)

The next thing for the offender to do is to address the person he/she has offended.  This is where the command in Luke 17:3 comes into play:

…if thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (KJV)

The last point that needs to be made is that man can only affirm what has already happened in heaven.  Forgiveness happens there first by God and then through the authority He has given to man (John 20:23) it is carried out here on earth.

“If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (NIV)

So you see forgiveness happens only after repentance has occurred in the life of the offender; and that repentance is the change in moral reorientation of the soul where the offender acknowledges the error of his/her ways and turns toward the divinely prescribed way of truth and righteousness of God.

God’s commands are still alive and powerful.  They still move the believer in the path of righteousness for His name sake.

Don’t be deceived by the world’s philosophies or pattern of thinking.  Listen to what the Holy Spirit says to you in your heart; do what He tells you to do and honor your Father in heaven as a result of your obedience.

Repentance is still a requirement of the Lord; even today.