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545:  You Do or Don’t Do, There is No Try

545: You Do or Don’t Do, There is No Try

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Trust Grows One Promise at a Time

Undeniably, one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life is the idea of surrender and sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2), or of fully understanding the implications of Jesus being not only our Savior, but also our Lord.  Yep, it’s that sinister, four letter word that spells disaster for most… Lord.  Recognizing the Lordship of Jesus means He is predominant over everything, including you and me, what we want to do, and when we want to do it.  And pride always seems like the last holdout of our sinful flesh to recognize His Lordship and fall under its authority.

That’s why the Lord never promises to make us better.  He promises to make us new, to be born again (John 3:16).  For there is nothing in our old life that has any place or serves any value in our new life.  Our old nature is continually at odds with our new nature and only one can reign supreme (Rom. 7:15-25).  And the process of feeding one and starving the other is what we call practical sanctification.  But we’ll dive into that topic on another day.

In order for us to allow Christ to live His life through us, we have to have a changed nature and, especially, a changed mind.  Therefore, Scripture states when we surrender our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), God miraculously “transforms us by the renewing of our mind” (Rom. 12:2).  And our mind is renewed when we choose (our action) to live by faith and not by what we see, think, or feel.  It is faith, and only faith, that activates all the promises of God.  For without faith, His promises are simply words to us because we refuse to empower them into our lives by believing them as true, and then living like they are.

And what is faith?  Basically, it is believing without seeing (Heb. 11:1).  It is confidently trusting without question or apprehension or doubt.  But our faith cannot be in God’s promises alone.  It must also be in His character, love, integrity, faithfulness, and truthfulness.  In essence, our faith must rest in God and we must believe God is who He says He is, without wavering (Jas. 1:6).


We Must Believe What God Says is True

Since our faith in God grows incrementally or in steps (just like our faith in anything grows), we are going to look at one familiar if/then promise and see if we can trust what He says.  And we find this promise in Proverbs 3:5-6, the if/then promise of God giving us direction for our lives.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths – Proverbs 3:5-6.

First, note the conditions and the promise.  And also the qualifier for the key component, trust.

(if) Trust in the LORD (qualifier) with all your heart,
and (if) lean not on your own understanding;
(if) in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and (then) He shall direct your paths.

Do: Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
Don’t: and lean not on your own understanding;
Do: in all your ways acknowledge Him,
Promise: and He shall direct your paths.

Then, let’s see what the first segment of this truth actually says.

Trust (bāṭaḥ – to be confident, to have faith, to believe.  It expresses the feeling of safety and security that is felt when one can completely rely on someone or something else)

in the Lord (yehōwāh YHWH – the proper name for the God of Israel, the name by which He revealed Himself to Moses, He is the “I AM THAT I AM”)

I am to trust the God who is the ever-present one (Heb. 11:6), the self-existent and self-sufficient God who needs nothing and is dependent on no one.  All of creation is dependent on Him for life, purpose, and existence.  It is the name of God who sent Moses to Pharaoh with a divine mission of deliverance (Ex. 3:14).  He is the God who directed Moses’ paths back then, just as He promises to direct mine, even today.  He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  I am to trust the God Whose name is so sacred, the ancient Hebrews refused to write it unless they ritually cleansed themselves first.  And God, whose primary trait is revealed to us as holy, has chosen to make us holy in His sight.

Amazing, isn’t it?   And now, the qualifier for the word, trust.

with all (kōl – each, every, all, everything, the whole, entire, in totality, without exception)

your (personal)

heart (lēḇ – the immaterial self or the seat of one’s inner nature, such as soul, thought, understanding, knowledge, mind, will, emotions, personality, desires, volition, determination, moral character).

The word translated heart represents everything that makes you who you are, someone unique, special.

Which brings us to the crux of this message.  How can I trust Him more than I trust myself?  Or how can I trust God more than my reasoning, logic, understanding, experience, education, maturity, wisdom, feelings, sincerely held convictions, or what I know to be right and wrong or what I know works and doesn’t work for me in this world?  How is that even possible?

Join us today as we discover what happens when we take God at His Word and trust Him with all that makes us who we are, and in doing so, learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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544:  Desire Without Effort Equals Nothing

544: Desire Without Effort Equals Nothing

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Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing

In 1974, Billy Preston, affectionally known as the fifth Beatle, had one of his major hits with the song “Nothing from Nothing,” which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in October of that year.  There was not much substance to the lyrics of his song, just a catchy phrase and an upbeat melody, but the overriding message of the title still rings true today.  If you put nothing in, you’ll get nothing out.  There is no free ride, no free lunch.  Success doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of hard work.  Nothing is ever truly free, it always costs someone, something.

Same is true in our spiritual lives.  Even the free gift of salvation cost Christ His life.  Jesus said we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, in order to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  Likewise, in the wilderness where God provided manna to feed His children for forty years, He still required them to get off their backsides and go out each morning and pick it up.  God didn’t employ Door Dash to foster their laziness.

We see God’s admonitions against the lazy and slothful throughout the Proverbs.  Let’s take this passage, for example.

The soul of a lazy man desires and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich – Proverbs 13:4.

And, as usual, we need to understand what the verse says before we can determine what it means.

The soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)

of a lazy man (ʿāṣēl – sluggish, slothful, useless, someone who will always fail because of laziness that becomes moral failure, a person who is undisciplined to work or exert himself)

desires (ʾāwāh – to want strongly, to long for, to crave)

and has nothing (ʾayin – none, no, not, nothing, nonexistence, without.  Note: “he hates the process by which results are to be obtained”);

but (conjunction, contrast)

the soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)

of the diligent (ḥārûṣ – sharp, industrious, a person who is characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks. Note: diligence is not satisfied with desire, but with possession)

shall be made rich (dāšēn – to be satisfied, to grow fat, having an abundance, thrive, to be made prosperous, to be richly supplied).

So what is this passage saying?  And what lessons can we take home from the life of a lazy, slothful, sluggard?


What Can We Learn from a Lazy Man?

Looking elsewhere in Proverbs, we find the lazy man will begin nothing.  He is content to live in whatever squalor his apathy and laziness provide.  He has no internal motivation to better himself other than the growl in his belly and will work only long enough to silence it for one day.  What a sad state of a human being, especially a Christian.

How long will you slumber, O sluggard? (No answer)  When will you rise from your sleep? (Again, he doesn’t know)  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man – Proverbs 6:9-11.

We also discover that, if on a wild whim, the lazy man actually begins something, he will never finish it.  Just beginning zaps all his energy and drive and whatever impulse prompted him to start, it is never enough to see the task to completion.

The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession – Proverbs 12:27.

He works to accomplish something and then lets it spoil because he is too tired or too lazy to finish what he began.

A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again – Proverbs 19:24.

And the next verse tells us the why for the lazy man’s behavior.

The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth – Proverbs 26:15.

The lazy man is full of excuses why his friends view him as a failure, or maybe a bum.  And any excuse, no matter how bizarre, seems right in his own eyes.

The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside!  I shall be slain in the streets!” – Proverbs 22:13.

And finally, the lazy man has nothing to look forward to other than a tough time.  Why?  Because he has needlessly forfeited many of the blessings belonging to him because of his unwillingness to make the effort to acquire them for himself.

The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway – Proverbs 15:19.

But note, this passage does not refer to money exclusively.  It also refers to our relationship with Him and the effort we are willing to make to grow in our faith.  After all, we put nothing in, we can expect nothing out.  We don’t show up for the game, we will not play.  It’s just that simple.  And it’s no one’s fault but our own.

Join us today and let’s discover the importance of putting in the effort spiritually to grow in our faith as we learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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543:  Remember the Warning – Conformity Kills

543: Remember the Warning – Conformity Kills

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God Didn’t Save Us to Make Us Better…

One of the key elements of salvation is something called sanctification.  This strange word means to be separated unto God.  It is the act of becoming personally more dedicated to God.  Literally, it means living a life of holiness, which is the very reflection of the character of God.  And sanctification is a part of the process of salvation, whereby we become more like Christ and less like the world.  Hence, after salvation, we are commanded not to “walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1), which is the perfect description of sanctification.

And sanctification is a product of our will and a practical result of our obedience to Him.  In fact, most of the commands God gave us after salvation are those we choose to do because of our love for Him.  Consider the implied you in these classic passages.

(You implied) Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Finally, my brethren, (you implied) be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
(You implied) Put on the whole armor of God, that (who) you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil – Ephesians 6:10-11.

This is something you have to choose to do.  It is not something done for you.

(You implied) Rejoice always,
(You implied) pray without ceasing,
In everything (you implied) give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for (who) you.
(You implied) Do not quench the Spirit.
(You implied) Do not despise prophecies.
(You implied) Test all things; (you implied) hold fast what is good.
(You implied) Abstain from every form of evil – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22.

Get the point?  And then there is the granddaddy of all sanctification truths, Romans 12:1-2.

I beseech (who) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that (who) you present (who) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is (who) your reasonable service.  And (you implied) do not be conformed to this world, but (you implied) be transformed by the renewing of (who) your mind, that (who) you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God – Romans 12:1-2.

So we know what the Scriptures say regarding our responsibility regarding sanctification.  But how do we incorporate these truths into our lives?


He Saved Us to Make Us New

Everything in our relationship with Christ is activated by faith.  That’s right, faith.  We are saved by faith.  We are sanctified by faith?  We live a victorious, overcoming life in Christ by faith?  And we have the assurance of eternal life with Him by faith.  In fact, the faith chapter in Hebrews tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).  Get that?  Impossible.

And one key command of the Lord, especially regarding sanctification and faith, is for us to not be conformed to the world, but to think, act, live, and feel differently because of Him.  Remember Romans 12:2?

And do not be conformed (to fashion alike, to be behaviorally or socially similar to something or someone, to become shaped, formed, or molded into a certain pattern) to this world (not kósmos but aiṓn) but be transformed (metamorphóō – to change one’s form, to transfigure, to change completely into something else) by the renewing (to renew qualitatively, a renovation to an improved or like-new state) of your mind (noús),

And what happens if we do?

that you (personal promise) may prove (test, discern, judge to be right or commendable, to accept as trustworthy) what is that good (of moral excellence, best, upright, virtuous) and acceptable (well-pleasing, that which gives pleasure and satisfaction) and perfect (complete, finished, having reached its intended goal or purpose, full, wanting nothing) will of God.

But how do we receive this promise personally?  How does what Romans 12:2 says become real to us?  You know the answer.  It’s by faith.

This means that everything we are going to discover together is already yours.  All you have to do is receive it by faith.  And if that is so, then there is really no excuse for not experiencing all the Father promised us as a child of His.  For our Father has already provided for us everything we need to live His abundant life (John 10:10).  All we have to do is believe and live according to our beliefs.

Are you ready?  If so, join us today and let’s learn how conformity to our world brings nothing but death and disaster to a child of His who is being conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell

Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell


They are Not the Same Thing

Last Sunday in church we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and focused on the need we have for self-examination.  I know what you’re thinking, self-examination and the Lord’s Supper don’t seem to go together— at least not in my prior church experience.

I remember all my formative years in a Southern Baptist church and how the Lord’s Supper seemed like just another religious ritual, full of pomp and fluff and feel-good stuff, always heavy on form and light on substance.  There was a great emphasis, an overriding emphasis, on the service looking good and proper from the pews and not necessarily impacting the heart.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about… the deacons standing in military formation, the white linen sheets that covered the “remembrance” table, the solemn looks on the faces of the participants— nobody talking, nobody moving, nobody breathing.

Remember?  Then the elements were passed out as quickly as possible while the organ, or piano, or keyboard, or CD player filled the sanctuary with Christian-like instrumental background music.  Religious Muzak.

We took the bread (uh, actually it was more like a cardboard dough droplet) and the grape juice and followed, on cue, the preacher as he told us when to eat and when to drink and when to pray and when to go home.  When he raised his plastic 1/4 of a shot glass of grape juice, so did we.  When he put the dough droplet in his mouth and looked down in his best “this is a serious moment” preacher posture, we did the same.  When he closed his eyes and prayed, we closed our eyes and prayed as well.

“Great.  All done.  Now we’ve celebrated the Lord’s death until He returns.  Can’t wait until next time.  Let’s hit the road!”

But for me, something was missing, something was conspicuously absent—  almost by design—  and it left me hungry and longing for more.  It was like I was only privy to half the truth about the Lord’s Supper and what it all meant.

Looking back, every preacher I ever sat under would read the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 in their best James Earl Jones baritone voice as they began the ceremony.  They would say:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood ; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Got it.  But once I became a preacher, I continued reading:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.  But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.  For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

Oh, I see.  This paints a completely different picture altogether.  The proverbial “horse of a different color.”

It seems that one of the reasons for the Lord’s Supper is for each of us to take time and draw a line in the sand, as they say, and examine ourselves to make sure we are not taking this Supper in, as Paul puts it, an “unworthy manner.”  And if we do, Scripture says we will bring judgment upon ourselves like many did in the early church, where they became sick and some actually died.

“So this is serious business and not just some lame religious formality.”  Uh, hello.

In our church, I actually try to discourage people from participating in the Lord’s Supper unless they have first thoroughly examined themselves, repented of any known sins, reconciled any fractured relationships, forgiven any unforgivable person, “climb every mountain and ford every stream,” and agreed willingly to obey the Lord in any area of their lives they had previously shaken their fist in His face and defiantly told Him, “No Way, Jose!”  Only after a time of intense self-examination do we ask our people to come and partake of this ordinance with a clean and pure heart and in a “worthy” manner.


Repentance or Remorse

This Sunday, the “unworthy” area we specifically focused on was that of true repentance or simply heart-felt remorse.  How important is the distinction between the two?  It’s essential, vital— one of the non-negotiable of the Christian faith.  One leads to life and the other to death.  One is a a small, hand-painted, inconspicuous sign pointing to the turnstile that leads to eternal life and the other is a bright, flashing, neon sign boldly beckoning all to take the wide path of destruction. (Matt 7:13-14)

“Don’t you think that maybe you’re making a bit too much of this?” I don’t think so.

Consider the definition of repentance.  The root meaning of to repent (Gk: metanoeo) is “to think differently” or “to reconsider.”  Virtually all Greek lexicons agree that to metaneois means “to reconsider” or, as we commonly used it today, “to change one’s mind.” *  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that true repentance is simply mental gymnastics.  No, true repentance involves not only the cognitive change in our way of thinking about sin, but also the will and volition to have our lives changed by Christ to bear more of His fruit and to conform more to His likeness.

Plus, it’s a key, essential, do-or-die element in salvation.  Without repentance and faith, there is no eternal life, no matter what Joel Osteen tells you.  Take a look at the following few Scriptures and note that repentance is more than thinking differently about sin, it is actually changing one’s behavior.

We’ll begin in the Old Testament:

2 Chronicles 7:14
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and (what) turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Note, not just “changing one’s mind about sin” but “turning from their wicked ways.”

Isaiah 1:15-17
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are covered with blood.  Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.  Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Again note, there is action involved, the “fruits in keeping with repentance” that John the Baptist and others talked about. (Luke 3:7-8 and Acts 26:19-20)

Isaiah 55:6-7
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked (what) forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Forsaking sin and seeking God is the repentance and faith of salvation.

Plus, in the New Testament, repentance was the cornerstone of the preaching of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul and the early church.  And it always involved more than just feeling sorry for your sins. “Oh, you poor, poor, lil’ sinner.”

Let’s just look at the message preached by our Lord:

Luke 5:30-32
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to (what) repentance.”

Mark 1:1-15
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 3:3
And he (Jesus) came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Even in the Great Commission, Jesus connects repentance and faith as the message to be proclaimed to the entire world.

Luke 24:44-48
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”

In summary, repentance is a change of mind or attitude toward sin, one’s own sin in particular. It includes remorse (sorrow, grief) and also a sincere desire to be rid of it (the kind David expresses in Psalm 51), as well as a determination to forsake sin and walk before God (see Acts 14:15). *


But What About Remorse?

Great question.  What about remorse?  Isn’t feeling sorrow or guilt or shame for your sin enough?  After all, isn’t changing one’s mind about sin and feeling bad about it what repentance is all about?

Answer.  Not even close.  This is the well-traveled, wide path that leads to destruction our Lord talked about in His Sermon on the Mount.  Let me elaborate.

Like God, we are also triune in nature— spirit, body and soul.  We are, in fact, a spirit created in the image of God.  We, as a spirit, live in a body that allows us to interact with the physical environment that surrounds us.  And we possess a soul, which is the center of our mind (intellect), emotion (feelings), will (choice), and conscience (moral capacity).  It is in our soul that we choose to “walk according to the flesh or according to the spirit” (Gal. 5:16).  It is our soul that chooses, like Mary, to magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46) and it is our soul that is often troubled, weary and in need of refreshing or restoration by the Lord (Psalm 23:3).

It is also in our soul that true remorse for sin is felt and, if genuine, becomes redeeming repentance.  But, it is also in the soul that remorse can remain remorse and never bring changes in the actions and attitudes of the person that the Scripture refers to as “fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:7-8).

When a person is under the conviction of the Word by the Holy Spirit, all aspects of the soul are brought into play.  The mind (intellect) must understand the message preached, the standard of God, compared to the fallen life of man.  This understanding brings with it emotion (sorrow, remorse, shame, guilt) for the sin we have committed and the need for forgiveness.  If true repentance follows, then the will (choice, volition) will move to commit to a new way of living, to get rid of the sin and unrighteousness and replace it with righteousness.  In other words, to live a holy life like Christ commands us to.

For repentance to take place, all three— mind, emotion and will— must be active in the life of the repentant sinner.  If only the first two occur, mind and emotion, then the end result is not repentance, but remorse, and salvation does not take place.  Again, we are back on the Yellow Brick Road, leading to death and destruction.

Let me give you a couple of examples from Scripture.


Repentance Example: Acts 2

Peter preaches his incredibly bold and confrontational sermon to a great crowd gathered on the day of Pentecost.  He challenges and accuses them of the murder of Jesus, God’s own Son (Acts 2:22-24). He then appeals to their mind by asserting facts about Jesus:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain (mind) that God has made Him both Lord and Christ— this Jesus who you crucified.” (Act 2:36)

And what was the result?  They were grieved, guilt-ridden, pained, and in great remorse.  So much so they asked Peter and the others what they must to do alleviate the pain of their guilt, shame and sorrow.  Remember?

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart (guilt, remorse, sorrow), and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what must we do?” (Acts 2:37)

Now this is where we separate the truly repentant from those who are only sorry for their sin.  Peter replies to them:

Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:39.

And some did.  And some didn’t.

In fact, the account tells us a couple of verses later that “3,000 souls” were added to the church that day.  Just 3,000.  Of the great multitude that heard Peter’s message and called out with the others in the pain of their guilt and remorse, “Brethren, what must we do?”— 3,000 chose to respond (will and volition) with repentance and follow in baptism while the others fixated at remorse only and chose not to respond to Peter’s call.

When the soul understand the message (mind, intellect – Step One) and the emotions bring guilt, sorrow and remorse (feelings – Step Two), the individual stands at a crossroads.  How am I to get rid of these unpleasant feelings of guilt, remorse and sorrow for my sin?  I can repent of them and ask the Lord to forgive me, vowing never to commit them again (will, volition – Step Three).  Or, I can walk away and drown them out in drink, food, sex, drugs, entertainment or whatever poison you use to numb your conscience. One path leads to life and one path leads to death.


Remorse Example: Judas, Rich Young Ruler

The Scriptures also show us examples of those who stopped, dug in their heels, and fixated at Step Two – Remorse.  Remember Judas?  He felt remorse for betraying Jesus and returned the 30 pieces of sliver to, in some sort of perverted way, try to remove the pain of his guilt.  “I have sinned (mind and intellect) and betrayed innocent blood!” he cried (Matthew 27:4).  He returned the silver and went out and committed suicide to rid himself of the pain of remorse.  Did he repent?  Scripture says, no.

The following Scripture flow will help illustrate this point:

Intellect:

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned… (Matthew 27:3a)

Emotion (Remorse):

he felt (what) remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3b-5).

Act of the Will (Volition) – Fruits of Repentance:  None

The Rich Young Ruler fell into the same trap.

Intellect:

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”  The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” (Matthew 19:16, 20).

Emotion (Remorse):

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Matthew 19:20-21)

Act of the Will (Volition) Fruits of Repentance:  None

Same thing with King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:24-25.


* (Systematic Theology, Geisler, Vol. 3, page 512, Bethany House, 2004. Minneapolis, MN.)
* Cottrell, Jack. The Faith Once for All. Joplin, Mo.: College Press Publishing Company, 2002.)


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542:  How to Get Answers to the “How” Questions

542: How to Get Answers to the “How” Questions

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We Need Practical Application, Not Just Theory

In our educational system, the old adage goes, “Those who do, do.  And those who don’t do, teach.”  And the truth sometimes stings, but it is still truth.  In college, for example, most of the professors who teach business classes, even on a graduate level, have never run a business themselves.  They can teach you what others say to do to be successful in the business world, yet they have never lived under the pressure of having to make payroll or survive a tax audit.

And for some strange reason, we are content with learning from those who can only point the way to the Emerald City, but not lead us to where it is because they have never been there themselves.  This is the definition of Convoluted Logic 101.  But, I digress.

Often, we find the same mindset when looking at Scriptures.  We see theory and commands given, sometimes with a reason, yet it is seldom followed up with practical application.  We are told what to do and why, but the “how” part of the equation is missing.  And what we desperately need in our darkening culture is an answer to our many “how” questions.

Let me give you a simple example from a well-known passage.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that (what) you (something I need to do and not something God does for me) present your bodies a living sacrifice (ok, but how?), holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service – Romans 12:1.

We know what the truth means and the reason why it is given, but often struggle with the “how” to do it.  This verse talks about theory and the reason why, but is conspicuously short when it comes to the how part.

I mean, how do I present my body as a living sacrifice?  And what does living sacrifice even mean?  And why only my body?   What about my mind, soul, spirit, or anything else I can offer?  What is this passage saying and how is it done in real time?


But Sometimes We are Given the Application

Sometimes, the Lord provides for us some concrete examples to the commands He gives us.  And sometimes these examples show us the depth of the command and the cost of obedience.  Let me share a few from the Sermon on the Mount.

Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.”

Application: (How?)  “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also” – Matthew 5:38-40.

And the application continues.

Application: (How?) “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” – Matthew 5:41-42.

And then Jesus gives us more theory, more commands that He chooses not to reveal the application.  Why?  Because the reason should be enough.

Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” – Matthew 43-44.

Application: (How?) None

Reason: “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” – Matthew 5:45.

And to understand the command based on the reason alone, assumes an inner desire to be more like our Lord.  Or an experience with the Higher Christian Life.

Is being like your heavenly Father enough for you, or do you need a bullet-point list to follow?  Are you content with theory, or do you require the Law to follow?

Join us as we begin our journey of discovery to uncover the answers to the “how” questions in Scripture as we learn to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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