Last week we spoke about why being good isn’t good enough, the role of God’s law in establishing critea for what is good, it’s purpose in showing us God’s standard, our inability to meet that standard & our need for a saviour. Sin is anything against God’s Law & since no~one has ever been able to keep God’s Law He sent His son, not only to keep His Law but to show us how it’s done!
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, establishes that the penalty for our sin is death. The grace of God is that He bore our sin that we might be free from the penalty of our sin.
1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Homologeō means to speak in accordance, to agree with ~ in this sense to agree with God that we have sinned & we fall short of His glorious standard.
Unconfessed sin has consequences.
· Psalm 32:3~4For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”
· Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13
· Psalm 66:18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
· James 1:14~15 teaches us that Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
· It affects our ability to recognise & repent of wrong actions & thoughts causing us to be “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” 2 Timothy 4:2 or “because of the hardness of their heart (have) become callous.” Ephesians 4:18-19.
Without a true understanding of sin & our complicity with it, it is impossible to move to a position of lasting change.
In John 3:1~21 we have the record of Jesus explaining to Nicodemus the new birth & God’s requirements for entering the Kingdom. “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit…”
According to Jesus salvation does not come through a prayer prayed. Salvation comes through baptism in water & the Holy Spirit, one for the remission of sins, the other for power to walk as sons of God. Belief is always followed by action.
When the heart becomes convinced [if you believe in your heart that God raised Him [Jesus] from the dead] there will be a corresponding action, public confession [If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord] ~ You will be saved.
Salvation is an ongoing process which goes by the fancy name of sanctification. This is what Paul speaks of in Philippians 2:12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
As Paul instructs Timothy [2Tim2:15] Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
Salvation is a work of God’s grace & our works cannot save us but there should be a correlation between what we believe & our actions.
The early church fathers understood this. Clement stated A person who does not do what God has commanded shows he does not really believe God. To claim to trust God while refusing to obey Him is a contradiction.
Yet we saw last week it is absolutely impossible for anyone to do what God requires unless there is a deep & fundamental change in that person’s nature. This is what it means to be baptised in the Spirit. This is what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus he must be born not only of water but also of the Spirit & what Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 5:17 as the *new creation*.
Being baptised in the Spirit does not mean you must speak in tongues, or fall in the Spirit, or handle poisonous snakes. It does mean that having agreed with God that you are a sinner you can begin to walk in the Spirit ~ & all walking in the Spirit means is that you are enabled & empowered to do that to which God has called you.
Walking in the Spirit, working out your salvation, is a partnership between you & God. He leads, you follow. And it begins in the mind. Romans 12:2 says Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
The first & major battleground is the mind & many people lose the battle before they even realise they are engaged in warfare. Genesis 3:1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?"
Eve lost the battle before she even touched the fruit. Doubt was planted in her mind & it led to disobedience. Paul elaborates in 2 Corinthians10:5 “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”.
Everything we read & see & hear needs to be considered in the light of God’s absolute Truth: the theory of evolution, secular humanism, existentialism, the cults, the occult, other religions.They may hold some truth ~ which is the great deception of satan, but they are never The Truth. You cannot have Christ & the world. You have to choose ~ & your choice holds eternal consequences ~ yet there are none so blind as those who refuse to see for
Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4
The early Christians used 3 methods to establish new believers in the Faith:
· Sound teaching
· Righteous example
· The Transforming work of the Holy Spirit.
And they identified 3 distinguishing marks of the faithful
· Separation from the world [John 15:18`19]
· Unconditional love [John 13:34~35]
· Obedient trust [John 14:1, 21]
Sound teaching gives us the truth, example shows us that it can be done, & the Holy Spirit empowers us For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.2 Timothy 1:5:17 Ezekiel foretold it in Ezekiel 36:26 "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. John 16:7 But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Advocate won't come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.
From Passover to Pentecost there is a period of time called *Counting the Omer.* Counting the Omer is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu'ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. Jesus, as the living Torah, the Word of God, chose Shavu’ot, or Pentecost, for the releasing of the Holy Spirit upon the world & His impact was immediate. Jesus continued in John 16:7 And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:…
And He did! On that very first Pentecost the Peter who had so cravenly denied even knowing Christ, terrified he too would end up on a Cross, who stayed away from the crucifixion of Christ & hid in an upper room, suddenly emerges into the busy Jerusalem streets celebrating Shavu’ot & proclaims the gospel with such boldness & conviction that 3000 people believe on the spot!
Such is the power of the Holy Spirit in a man’s life that one of the *Sons of thunder* who once asked: ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ became known as *the Disciple of Love.*
The great Christian apologist, G.K Chesterton once said: Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.
The difficulty lies in our pride. James 4:10 says: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you & Romans 10:3 says For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
The sin of pride will prevent you from admitting your sin, admitting there is a God, admitting there is an absolute Truth, admitting your need of the Holy Spirit, admitting your wrong thinking but to the Humble God gives favour. Proverbs 3:34
Christianity was never meant to be a *to Do* list. It was meant to restore a right relationship between God & mankind so that we could enjoy God’s presence, benefit from His goodness & grace, & enjoy Him forever.
James 4:8 encourages us to: Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. Isaiah 55:6~7
Humble yourself & let the Holy Spirit show you how to walk in Love, victory & power.