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Right or Wrong Behavior

In society today, many meaningful Christians say things like: “That person will never go to heaven because…” or “That person must not be a Christian because…” First of all, our behavior does not determine where we will spend eternity. Our behavior is determined by who is in control of our lives.

In the Old Testament, people were to obey the Law. Their salvation was by faith based on keeping the Law. People were always sinning. And because they were always sinning they were also offering sin offerings to get things right with God again. I believe God did this so we would understand that it is impossible to achieve salvation through our own efforts.

When Jesus came to live on the earth, his primary purpose was to become a perfect sacrifice for our sin. He died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Through his resurrection, Jesus overcame death. He was able to become victorious over the death of sin brought on by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Because of Jesus death and resurrection, every person will have eternal life! The ones who accept this gift of salvation will live eternally with God in the New Heaven. Those who do not accept the gift of salvation will live in eternally in the “Lake of Fire”.

When we accept the gift of salvation, we also receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit communicates with God on our behalf. He is the intercessor between God and man.

What do most people mean when they say ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? What they really mean is that if it is ‘right’ it will bring glory to God the Father through the Holy Spirit. Likewise, if it is ‘wrong’ it will bring dishonor to God and not glory. In fact, it will usually bring glory to the flesh or in other words the ‘natural man’.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21(NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

In Galatians 5:19-21, we have a list of behaviors or actions one will take if they are following the flesh. These are the actions that will dishonor God. These are the actions that will ‘make us happy’ for a short period of time. Frequently these are the actions that also make us feel ashamed after we have committed the action.

In Galatians 5:22-26, we have a list of behavior that take place when we are following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. These are the actions that glorifying God. These are also the actions that people like to see in others.

Here are four questions that you can use to test to see if an action will be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. For example let us look at the action of homosexuality. This is a problem that has been in the church before Paul set out to establish the churches. Homosexuality is not a new problem.

Here are four questions that you can use to help you determine what is right or wrong. I will use the act of homosexuality to illustrate how it works,

Question #1: Does homosexuality appear in the list of fruit of the Spirit?

If the answer is ‘no’, then it does not bring God glory. If ‘yes’ then it brings God glory.

Question #2: Does homosexuality appear in the acts of the flesh?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then it does not bring God glory. If the answer is ‘no’, then it may or may not glorify God. It needs to be tested further.

Question #3: Does the Bible mention homosexual behavior anywhere else?

Leviticus 20:13 speaks about homosexuality.

“‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. Leviticus 20:13(NIV)

Question #4: If you find a place in the Bible where it mentions homosexual activity, “What was the outcome”? Did it bring God glory or did it bring about judgement?

In this case of homosexuality referenced in Leviticus 20:13, did it bring God glory or did it bring judgement to man?

If one reference is not sufficient, than look for another reference in the Bible that mentions homosexual behavior. The church in Rome had problems with all kinds of sexual behaviors within the church, perhaps Romans 1 would be a good place to look.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Romans 1:26-27(NIV)

Here again the actions of homosexuality mentioned in this passage brought judgement to the person who exercised those actions. Based on the Biblical information, there is evidence that shows homosexual behavior is wrong.

Perhaps you try justifying the actions by saying ‘you could not control yourself’. If that is the case begin back with question #1. Does the behavior of ‘self-control’ appear as a fruit of the Spirit? The fruit of the Spirit indicates that self-control is one of the spiritual fruit. If you are unable to control your sexual desire, then you are not controlled by the Spirit.

You can test self-control with question #2. Is the ‘lack of self-control’ mentioned in the acts of the flesh? If you are following your selfish ambition’, then you are obviously following the flesh and not the Holy Spirit. If you are still not satisfied, go to questions 3 and 4.

The primary purpose of Christians is to glorify God. Throughout the life of Jesus, there was evidence that Jesus was seeking to be glorify the Father and not himself. So if we are going to follow Christ’s example, we should glorify God in all that you do and say.

 

NOTE: scripture in this article was downloaded from http://biblegateway.com

How Can I See God’s Glory?

How many times have you argued with God about events in your life, those things that God seemed to do wrong? Perhaps things at work did not go as you wanted; the promotion did not come through as expected; or you served on a committee and the committee just would not see it your way?

Remember Jonah when God told him to go to Nineveh? He did not want Nineveh to repent. Jonah wanted God to do it his way.

Or, how about Cain? He made an offering of the fruit he had grown and he thought God should accept, but God did not accept it because it was not what God required.

Or, the rich young ruler that came to see Jesus about eternal life? He kept the law and lived an upright life but he accumulated wealth that he did not want to share. He went away sad because Jesus wanted him to get rid of his wealth.

Or, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? They wanted to do things their way and not the way God told them. And when they had  sinned and saw they were naked, they covered their nakedness with leaves but God covered it with the skin of a sacrificed animal.

Human nature wants us to be in control of everything. Society pushed the idea of controlling our future; we should have whatever makes us happy or famous. But God wants us to develop self-control. In other words, God wants us to control our behavior and not the behavior of other people or circumstances.

John 11:32-44  is an illustration of what was going to happen in the life of Jesus. Jesus was going to die, then be raised again from the dead. Jesus wanted to show his glory to Mary.

Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying, just as God could have kept Jesus from dying. However, because of God’s love for us, Jesus had to die. The penalty for sin has always been death.

Can we identify with Mary in this text? Mary was upset with Jesus for not coming sooner. If Jesus had been there, he could have kept her brother from dying. She wanted it her own way.

Even the mourners that were with Mary commented that Jesus was able to heal people, surely he could prevent death. They wanted it their way.

Jesus however, wanted to show Mary the Glory of God, but Mary was reluctant to allow Jesus to show her. Jesus wanted to show Mary that God had a plan for eternal life, a life after our earthly body dies. Mary said: “..by this time there is a bad odor…” Mary was more concerned about Jesus not being there in time to save Lazarus, than she was about seeing God’s glory.

Sometimes we are more concerned about what God did not do for us than we are in seeing what He is doing for us.

How can we see God’s glory in our life? For us to see God’s glory, we need to do what Mary had to do. We need to see it God’s way rather than our own way.

John tells us about a time when Lazarus died. Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus and was the brother of Mary. When he passed away, word was sent to Jesus about his death. However, Jesus waited four days before going to Bethany where Mary and Lazarus lived.

When Jesus did go to Bethany, Mary was very upset with him for waiting so long to come. Jesus wanted to show Mary the “glory of God”, but Mary was more concerned about having her own way.

The story goes like this:

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:32-44(NIV)

In this passage, there are seven statements that Jesus made that helped Mary see God’s glory. These seven statements can also help us see God’s glory.

  1. “Where have you laid him?” (v 34) Jesus wanted to know where Lazarus was buried. He wanted to know where Mary had placed her anxiety regarding Lazarus. Likewise, Jesus wants to know where we have placed those things that bother us or hinder our Christian walk. He wants to take our anxiety away. He wants to know where our anxiety is because he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.)
  2.  “Take away the stone” (v 39) For Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead,  needed to have access to Lazarus. Jesus needed access to Mary’s anxiety. For us to see the glory of God, we also need to give Jesus access to our anxiety. He will not force us to give our anxiety to him. He will not force us to go against our will because He loves us and has given us the ability to make decisions. God does not want to control us like a person would control a puppet.
  3. “…if you believe…” (v.40). Jesus tells Mary that if she believed, she would see the Glory of God. Jesus also wants us to believe in him and the power that God has given him. We can have all the knowledge of God and His word, but unless we believe, we will not see God’s glory.
  4. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (v 41) Jesus was talking to God and thanking God for hearing his prayer. Jesus is demonstrating the importance of the communion between Him and His Father. Jesus is recognizing that he can raise Lazarus from the dead only if the Father grants him permission. (You will notice that Lazarus was still dead at this point. Jesus wants us to thank God for what He is going to do and to recognize where his power comes fromeven before he gets the results. We too need to give God the credit for what he is going to do to our anxiety.)
  5. Lazarus, come out” (v.43). Jesus, believing that God answered his prayer and Lazarus was going to live again. Jesus was also illustrating what would happen to him in the near future. He was going to die and be raised again. Just as God took control of Lazarus’s death and resurrection, he was going to take control of Jesus death and resurrection. Likewise, God can take control of our anxiety. We will see God’s glory.
  6. “Take off the grave clothes…” (v.44) When Lazarus came out of the tomb, he was still bound by the grave clothes. Unless Lazarus was freed from the grave clothes, he was not free from the consequences of his death.   When God takes our anxiety away, He wants us to rid ourselves of our sinful nature. He does not want us to be controlled by our sinful nature — our grave clothes. He wants us to be controlled by our faith in Him.
  7.  “… and let him go.” (v.43) Jesus wants Lazarus freed from the grave clothes that are binding him. Jesus also wants us to be free from our old nature. Jesus wants us to be freed from our old nature and to live lives filled with the Holy Spirit. He wants us to have an abundant life filled with His glory.

Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20(NIV)

God is asking us to look for His glory and not our glory.

In summary, here are the seven steps to help us see God’s glory:

  1. Identify our anxiety – (or anything that prevent us from seeing God’s glory.)
  2. Give it to God
  3. Believe that He will remove it
  4. Thank Him for removing it
  5. Surrender to His Lordship
  6. Crucify the Old Nature
  7. Celebrate God’s glory by being filled with the spirit

 Our anxiety can be anything that prevents us from seeing God’s glory. It can be selfishness, as was the case of Mary. She wanted Jesus to things her way. It could also be anger, control, worry, self-pity, business, or any other situation that make your blood pressure rise. Whatever your situation is, God wants to show you his glory. Following these seven steps will help you see the glory of God.

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com.

Faith or Bullying?

In our desire to have everyone believe like we do, we frequently us a bullying tactic to get them to convert to our beliefs. We attempt to change their beliefs without first listening to what they believe. We want people to have our beliefs regardless of what they think.  We are trying to bring glory to ourselves. We lack faith in God.

You can tell people about your faith without forcing them to believe like you.  In fact, that is what the Bible tells you to do. It also tells us to do this in love. The reality of the situation is that the Holy Spirit convicts people of their need to change. Our job is to love them!

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6(NIV)

When we attempt to convert people by using a bullying tactic, we are demonstrating a lack of faith.  We cannot wait for the Holy Spirit to convict, we want to convict them in our timing, using our own strength.

In Matthew 17:14-21 the writer is writing about faith.

A man brings his son to the disciples wanting them to heal his demon possessed son but they weren’t able to heal him. Why? Because they were relying on their own power to heal the boy. The man was relying on the power of the disciples and the disciples were trying to use their power to heal the boy. The disciples didn’t want to bother God with their problem…They wanted to resolve it by themselves…without faith. They were concerned about their reputation; they wanted the glory.

When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal the boy, Jesus said they had “so little faith.” You see, they were trusting in themselves to heal the boy.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20(NIV)

In Mark’s account found in Mark 9:14-29, he adds another phrase that I believe is very important. The phrase is found in v. 29 when Jesus said: “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

The faith that Jesus is talking about is not believing that you can physically move mountains in your own power; It is about trusting God with your mountain. Jesus is talking about faith on the spiritual plane. That is why it takes prayer. Prayer is at the spiritual plane!

Many of the problems that we face in our society today will only be resolved by trusting God at the spiritual plane! The problems are situations that God puts in our paths to show us His power and glory, but we are trying to do them on a physical plane so that we can get the glory. We are trying to bullying God into doing what we want.

This does not mean that we don’t do anything on the physical plane.  The Holy Spirit will be the one to give us the instructions that God wants us to execute. In other words, when we ask God for something like moving a mountain,  He may have us use a shovel in the process of moving the mountain, but it is God that is ultimately moving the mountain. God is the one orchestrating the removal.

There are many discouraging events happening in the United States today. We have concerns about government control, economy, our freedom, family structure, etc. As people, we have a tendency to get other people to join our band wagon as we fight for or against various issues. We argue and fight about the issues among ourselves; we try bullying others to get on our band wagon. We are just like the disciples; we are trying to make these changes in our own strength, so we can show God how hard we are trying.  Some things happen only by prayer, not by bullying or gathering opinions to support your ideas.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12(NIV)

Next time you are tempted to gather a group for your ‘moving the mountain’ band wagon, why not talk to God on your knees and let Him ‘move the mountain’. Put your faith in God, not in man.

 

NOTE: Scripture verses in this article were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com.