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WHAT A LIBERATING HOPE WE HAVE AS CHRISTIANS

07 Mar

” FRIENDS, THERE IS HOPE THROUGH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST”

If you have stumbled upon this lesson, I want you to know that although you may never read anything else I have ever written, and we may never meet, my encouragement to you is that there is indeed hope for absolutely any situation you might be facing. There is an answer. There is a solution. The Bible claims to contain all the truth (John 16:13), and everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). From 2 Timothy 3:16-17 it is apparent that since the Scriptures are profitable for correction, that whatever corrections one will need to make in their life, the Bible will be useful in each of those areas.

Do you feel lost and groping in the dark not knowing which way to turn?

There is hope! Jesus observed the multitudes and with compassion described them as being sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). What good news to know that you and I do not have to remain shepherdless. The Bible, without question, provides for His beloved sheep, a well-lit path back to the life-giving, life-sustaining light:

  • “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).
  • “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
  • “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

Thinking you can still fix it all by yourself?

“Therefore, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness; for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men… For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us” (Isaiah 59:9-10,12).

What do you do when you feel beaten down, overwhelmed, lacking energy or resolve or are otherwise unable to get relief from a problem? Have you tried various things in the past, yet seem to only slip back into the pit (Psalm 69:2)? The first thing you need to know is that trying to fix things on your own terms, all by yourself, or by the wisdom of the world, is never effective in the long term. “Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourself with firebrands, walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand; and you will lie down in torment” (Isaiah 50:10-11). Note the two groups of people in this passage: Those who fear the Lord are encouraged to trust God and to rely upon Him. Others, who insist on making their own fires, torches or flashlights, are those who are attempting to find the way out of the darkness without following the Scriptures. What will the end result be? Failure! I remember years ago, someone I knew got lost driving. They told me, “Well, I made a wrong turn and I just kept turning hoping that I would eventually find my way out”. Many people live their lives this way. They just keep making wrong turns and hope that one of them will magically fix everything. “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp28.)

Think you can never get back?

I have met people who departed from God and who think that once they have departed and lived in sin that they can never become the person they once where, especially that innocent and sweet person they used to be. Yet this is nothing but the devil’s bluff. He wants us to think that what we presently are – is fixed. Jesus argued otherwise:

  • He said when a man “humbles himself as this child…” and is “converted and becomes like children”, in doing so, will enter “the kingdom of heaven”. (Matthew 18:3-4).
  • Jesus also says we can start afresh, and be “born again” in order to see the “kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Obviously Jesus would have never spoken of becoming like a little child or being “born again” if such were an impossibility. There is hope! One does not have to remain hardened, jaded, cynical, distrustful of people, angry, bitter, lustful, addicted, enslaved, or depressed perpetually. Yet note, one crucial step in this process is found in Matthew 18:4. That step is humility. I have to be willing to trust God on this one. I have to be willing to put aside all the excuses I have used in the past as to why I think this will not work. I also have to scrap the game plan I have been using for His plan.

Thinking you are too set in your ways?

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

These people had changed and become Christians (2:4)! Yet they had indulged in sin to the full, and had given all their being to its practice. They indulged the flesh, they allowed their minds to become cesspools and were so far in that the text says they were “by nature” children of wrath. Now, we know that they were not born this way (1 Corinthians 14:20). Here the word “nature” refers to that which is thought and practiced for so long that it has become second nature. In fact, one can practice and live in sin for so long that one can start thinking that it is “natural” or that this is the way he or she has always been. How many sinners will argue, “but this is the way I am”, when in reality, they have not been that way all their life, and in some cases, they have only been doing that for about a year. Never fall for the devil’s lie that you need to stay in sin because, “This is who you are”, or “This is the way you were born”.

Think that Christianity only works for relatively good people?

There is hope! Spend some time reading the Bible and you will find that many of the people who became Christians were not “good people”, but rather were initially quite worldly and full of sin.

  • The Corinthians had been sexual addicts, idol worshippers, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, alcoholics, drug addicts, and swindlers, and yet they changed (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
  • The Ephesians had been “by nature” children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).
  • The Thessalonians had been idol worshippers (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
  • The Christians on the island of Crete came from a culture of liars and lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12).
  • The Christians, to whom Peter wrote, had lived a life of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and idolatry (1 Peter 4:3).

Not only that, Peter describes their former lifestyle as being, excess of dissipation (1 Peter 4:4). The word excess means “overflowing, pouring out” (Thayer, p. 43). “The idea is that these people are unrestrained and therefore engage in a full stream or flood of reprehensible behavior” (Hamilton, p. 217). The word dissipation refers to “an abandoned, dissolute life” (Thayer, p. 82). “It means that lost state in which a man is given up to self-indulgence, and saves neither reputation, earthly position, nor his soul” (P.P. Comm., p. 171). It “refers to uncontrolled indulgence in the seeking of pleasure (the same word is used in Ephesians 5:18, and the related adverb is used of the loose living of the prodigal son in Luke 15:13. It suggests wastefulness, perhaps of both money and of life. The whole picture is one of people rushing headlong toward destruction” (Grudem, p. 169). “Violent wasting of life” (Bas). “Indicating an empty life-style devoid of salvation or wholeness” (Davids, p. 152). “The waster of his goods will be very often a waster of everything besides, will lay waste himself – his time, his faculties, his powers” (Oberst, p. 199).

Thinking that you cannot stop?

There is hope! Another of the devil’s lies is the thought that resistance is futile, yet let us remember that being tempted is not the same as yielding to temptation. Everyone is tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13), yet there is no demand upon me to yield. I still have a choice even when I am tempted.

“Nowadays we have so come to take adultery for granted that we fail to realize how distorted our values have become. When a man steals another’s valuable property, he is severely dealt with by the law. But when a man deliberately seduces and steals another man’s wife and robs his child of their mother, he probably gets off scot-free. Yet in terms of harm done and the destruction of human happiness the first crime is far worse in comparison with the second. Sexual impulses are not so uncontrollable as the novelists would have us to think. In this, as in everything else, we are enormously influenced by the ‘expected pattern of behavior’. If martial infidelity is expected, the temptation will be difficult to resist. If, on the other hand, it is regarded as a heinous crime, few will succumb” (The Goodness of God, Wenham, p. 109). How true. It is amazing how more people will yield to a sinful behavior once it becomes “acceptable” or at least “excusable” in the eyes of society. The temptation has not suddenly increased in intensity; rather, it is simply that the earthly penalty has been removed.

I have always been impressed by what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go your way. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11). Now Jesus was not naïve, rather as Creator, He is the expert on human beings and all the outside and inside stuff that goes into who we are. Here is the Creator and Original Designer saying that sin is not a necessity. What a liberating hope! Why not act upon it?

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2 Comments

Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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2 responses to “WHAT A LIBERATING HOPE WE HAVE AS CHRISTIANS

  1. Eugene Adkins

    March 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Very strong points.

    When you mentioned the idea of being “lost” while driving it made me think of a sermon I heard by Marshall Keeble. He was preaching on repentance and he drew out the analogy that repentance was simply “backing up” and getting back to where we need to be.

    That last quote about the damage of adultery compared to property theft was excellent too.

    Have a great day, Michael.

     

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