Friday, February 27, 2015

The If Contract

                These past few weeks I have been thinking and pondering on sin and the affects it has on my life and the life of man in general. Going through the Book of Revelation in our women’s group was sort of an eye opener for me. Over the years I have been taught that if you believe in Jesus Christ you are going to go to heaven. If you say a little prayer, confess His name before men then He will just let you walk right into His kingdom without asking a thing about you, your life or how you lived it on this earth. Now, I do believe that we cannot get to heaven through our works, nor can we ever earn a place in His kingdom. I believe that we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and the work that He did on the cross for us to enter into heaven. There is no other way than through Jesus Christ. But, I also see a lot of “ifs” in the Bible written to us. Why would they be there if He didn’t mean them? I think (personal opinion) we overlook these “ifs” so that we can justify our sinful hearts, and unfortunately, I believe that is leading many of us to be deceived.
                Over these past few months of study in the Book of Revelation, one thing that has stuck out at me is that we have no right to boast that we are going to go to heaven. If you read through the book of Revelation, there is a whole lot of “ifs” in there as well. I can hear some of you right now saying that it sounds like I am talking about works based salvation, rather than grace based salvation. But trust me, I am not. However, I do believe that we have forgotten that when we gave our lives to Jesus Christ we entered into a covenant with Him. We entered into a contract, a marriage, and a relationship that requires something from both parties. We agreed to do our part, because we believed that God has done His.
                Think about what a contract is for just a moment. A contract is where two parties agree to a specific set of terms and each one is given responsibilities to perform. If one person does not fulfill those requirements then the contract can become null and void. I think we forget about the “ifs” and the contracts that we have entered into with the Lord. God is not going to just walk this life of faith out for us, He asks us to do our part because He has done His. A covenant is an agreement between two parties, between us and Christ. Jesus has promised us eternal life, freedom from sin, new life, and grace to live out this new life with Him. We are required to believe in these promises, but we are also required to walk them out. He has promised us through His Word that we have all that we need to live this life of righteousness before Him. Yet, we choose to follow after sin instead of following after Him. If we believe in Him then we will do what He says, won’t we?
            “If you love Me, keep My commandments”. (John 14:15) If we love Him, if we believe that His Word is true then it will be seen in the way that we live out our lives. If we keep His commandments then His life will be seen in us and through us. If we love Him, we will do what He says. Yes, He forgives us when we sin, and yes we cannot attain to anything in this life without Him. There is no hope for us to ever be saved in and of ourselves; it is only through the blood of His sacrifice that we have any hope of ever attaining to such a precious gift as eternal life. But we cannot take this gift, this promise so lightly and continue to live in the sins that He paid so dearly for. We must choose to resist sin and all its power over us if we are to continue in this contract we have entered into. We must not look at grace as an excuse for our sinful behaviors, but should view grace as the help we need to overcome and live in the freedom that we have already been given.
                “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Romans 6:1 (NKJV)
                Charles Spurgeon once said that, “If God loves sinners then why worry about sin? If God gives grace to sinners, then why not sin more and receive more grace? If God’s salvation and approval are given on the basis of faith instead of works, won’t we just say ‘I Believe’ and then live anyway we please?”  Based on the view of grace that I see in the church today, that is what we are saying. We are saying that it is okay to sin because God gives grace. It is okay to continue in those sinful lifestyle’s because God gives us grace. We are saying that it is okay to break the agreement we have entered into and to trample the sacrifice of our Lord under our feet because, hey, God gives grace. (Hebrews 6:6)
                “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Romans 6:2 (NKJV)
                How can we, knowing the sacrifice that was paid for each one of us, continue to live in our sinful lifestyle’s that we are choosing to live in? How wretched must we be if we choose to live in sin rather than follow after Christ? Paul goes on to tell us in Romans 6 that we have been given new life, the old man, the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) have been nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ, so why then are we still walking after them?
                “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4 (ESV)
                The newness of life that we have been given is not so that we can continue in the same lifestyles and behaviors of the old man, but we have been given newness of life so that we can now live a life that is pleasing to God. We have been raised from the dead, why are we still walking around as if we are still dead? When we believed in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we entered into a contract that we would no longer live after our flesh but we would now live after the Spirit. The way we live out our lives before the world shows who we follow after. If we are still chasing after the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes or the pride of life, then we are still living in our sin and the contract could become null and void. Let us not be so conceited that we think we are safe (1 Corinthians 10:12). Remember, if God did not spare the natural branches, don’t be so high and mighty and think He will save you. (Romans 11:21)
                “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now, if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 6:5-11 (ESV)
                If, there is that word again- for if we have been united with Him in a death like His, then we shall be united with Him in His resurrection. The word if here reminds us that there is still a condition to the contract that we have entered into. We cannot say that we have been united with Him if our life still looks like the old one. We must be made new; we must resist and give up those sinful desires, lusts and pride of self if we want to be united with Him in the same death that He faced. Jesus Christ sacrificed His will for the will of the Father- that is what it means to be made new. That is what it looks like to be a “new creation”. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old habits, attitudes and behaviors must die along with Christ if we want to be united with Him in His resurrection.
                But how, how do we crucify this flesh with Christ? How do we nail it to the cross with Him? How do we take up our crosses, how do we deny self when self wants to rule over us with such force and power? We must choose to resist, we must choose to lay down each day all that is in us that is not of Him, but is of the old. We cannot continue in sin so that grace may abound in us. We cannot keep going after the things of this world and deceive ourselves into thinking that God will just give us grace because He is God of grace. We cannot be that blind. We cannot be that conceited.
                “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14 (ESV)
                We have agreed to live our lives for Jesus Christ. We have entered into a contract with God the Father because we have believed in His promises to us. We have believed that He will keep His end of the contract, but we must also keep ours. If we say we love Him, then we must keep His commandments. We cannot continue in our sinful ways, our sinful desires and expect God to just wave His magic wand and make it all go away. We cannot keep crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ over and over again, trampling His sacrifice under our feet. (Hebrews 6:6) We cannot just assume that God will do His part and we don’t have to do ours. We must resist sin. We must not let it reign in our mortal bodies.
                We must make a choice to resist its lusts, to resist its desires and passions, so that it will not have power over us. Jesus Christ has paid the penalty; He has freed us from sin and its power. The
only reason why sin has any power in your life right now is because you have allowed it access and have allowed it to take up residence in your heart. You have been crucified with Christ, (Galatians 2:20) the life that you now live is not to be lived according to your will or your wants but is now to be lived to God through Jesus Christ.  This life that you have today is not for you to fulfill your lusts and pleasures, but to fulfill the joy and the glory of God. We must resist. We must believe and have faith that sin has no control over us.
                When the urge to gossip comes, resist it, walk away from it. When anger begins to rise in your heart and in your thoughts, walk away from it, resist it, and give these fleshly desires to Jesus. He has already freed us from the power that these sins have over hearts and lives, all we have to do is resist. He has done His part, we must do ours. We also cannot put ourselves in places or positions where sin will abound and we will be unable to resist. Don’t go out to the bars or nightclubs if you know that you have struggles with lustful thoughts and behaviors. Don’t go out with those co-workers for lunch if you struggle with the sin of gossip. Don’t go where sin is and you will find it is easier to resist it when it tries to exert its power over you again.
                We do not have to keep living and repeating the same sins over and over again. The choice to be free is ours and ours alone. Jesus Christ has fulfilled His part of the contract, now we have to fulfill ours. If you keep yielding your body to follow after the desires of your flesh, then you will continue to serve sin. His grace was not given so that you could continue to live in your selfishness, your sinfulness and your pride. It was given so that you would have the ability to resist the temptations that would come, and give you the strength to overcome sins power.

                Our flesh- what we eat, see, hear, feel, smell, etc, is all tainted by sin.  The pride of life, the love of self; the desire to please and fulfill our needs is the sin that we must resist. We must grasp hold of the covenant of His promises that He has freed us from all sins power and we have the grace and the strength to resist it when it tries to tempt us. My anger is only fulfilled when I allow it to have control over me. We must resist. Jesus fulfilled His part, now it is up to us to fulfill ours. Resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). Resist sin because the only power it has over you is the power you give it. Jesus Christ has set us free. If we say we love Him and do not do the things that He says, then our lives are on sinking sand and we are deceiving ourselves. Resist sin, and do your part- He has already done His. Amen?