The love of Jesus is great, and so is the power of His blood to cleanse us, but we must love Him the way He wants us to love Him…with wholeheartedness and obedience. He has called us to be holy as He is holy, and perfect as He is perfect. We are therefore to strive to do exactly that with all our heart…even though we fail sometimes, we must not use God’s grace as an excuse to keep doing things that He hates. We need to honestly ask Him to help us root out and be rid of anything in us that is unlike Him, not merely ask Him to forgive it or cover it. If there’s anything in us that is unlike Him…knowing it should bother us enough that we want to be rid of it anyway, if we truly love Him.
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.
If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments,
that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.
But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.
That is how we know we are living in him.
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
-1 John 2:3-6
For the word of the LORD is right;
and all his works are done in truth.
He loveth righteousness and judgment:
the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
– Psalm 33:4-5
The statutes of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart: the commandment
of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
– Psalm 19:8
The words of the LORD are pure words:
as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
– Psalm 12:6
More to be desired are they than gold, yea,
than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey
and the honeycomb.
– Psalm 19:10
God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true.
He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
– 2 Samuel 22:31
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
– Proverbs 30:5
Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.
– Psalm 119:140
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends,
let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit,
perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
– 2 Corinthians 7:1
For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in his ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy.
But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.
Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
1 Corinthians 10:11
I wonder how many of us have read the Bible this way – as containing a series of examples for us to learn from. Both the Old Testament, and the new, are full of illustrations of what to do, and what not to do.
We find in this portion of scripture (1 Corinthians chapter 10) that Paul is talking specifically about the lessons to be learned from Israel’s idolatry. There are those who think idolatry isn’t an important issue, but it was important enough not only for Paul to address is specifically here, but to be warned against, time after time after time throughout the scriptures.
It is no small thing to have an idol. It is not an innocent thing, it is not a harmless thing, and it is certainly not a thing winked at by God.
God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.
In context here, what was Paul preaching about? He was troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in Athens, and was preaching to the people about the real God, the One True God, and how He should not be viewed in the same manner as these idols. And Paul was right, as the idols he was preaching against were not merely things made of stone, wood, or metal, but an abomination to God Himself.
But what is idolatry? Is it merely the worship of some kind of statue? No, there are many forms of idols. Ephesians 5:5 tells us that a greedy person is an idolater, worshipping the things of this world. We see from this verse, that even at this point in the Church’s history, it was well known and taught that the definition of idolatry has a broader scope than merely bowing before an object or giving food offerings to a statue of a false god.
One website states:
Idolatry is the universal human tendency to value something or someone in a way that hinders the love and trust we owe to God. It is an act of theft from God whereby we use some part of creation in a way that steals from honor due to God. Idolatry conflicts with our putting God alone first in our lives, in what we love and trust (see Exodus 20:3-5; Deut. 5:7-9; Romans 1:21-23). In idolatry we put something or someone, usually a gift from God, in a place of value that detracts from the first place owed to God alone, the gift Giver. That thing or person is an idol. The way out of idolatry is always to love and to trust the gift Giver without interference from any gift or any thing other than God. We will then be able to love and to appreciate gifts appropriately, neither giving them too much power nor failing to be thankful for them. We will then be free indeed, and not in bondage or addiction to anything that cannot fulfill us or give us peace.
This is true, and idolatry is theft from God. There are many things in our world today that are made idols. Money, clothing, people, gadgets, food, entertainment, even brand names. And there is a part of creation very widely idolized by many Christians today that simply should not be – that part of creation is men, particularly men of the celebrity kind. These celebrities are worldly, they lead people away from Christ whether knowingly or unknowingly, and yet many in the Church see no problem with embracing them and what they stand for.
These celebrities, of all fields, be it movies, music, sports, television or what have you, all lead people away from Christ. They teach that it’s okay and actually encouraged to seek fame, and fortune. They teach that it’s okay to take the Lord’s name in vain, and then to thank Him with empty words when they are presented with a little golden trophy that tells the world how “great” this human being is instead of God. They teach that it’s okay to sin, to act like the world and then call yourself a Christian when it’s convenient.
But the fact is this kind of behaviour will only appeal to a heart uncircumcised. A true follower of Christ will be disgusted, offended, and upset by these idols and how they are leading so many people astray.
“When God raised up his servant, Jesus, He sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”
If you read the Bible, you can see that there are many patterns that are woven throughout it, of history repeating itself, and mankind repeating himself – and often not in good ways.
The Israelites in the old testament were quick to forget the miracles God did for them. They were also quick to run to mischief, turning their back on God seemingly only moments after He had done a great thing for them, in favour of the abominations that were their idols.
Even after many very physical displays of God’s majesty and sovereignty, they still forgot Him in the midst of abundant blessings and in moments when discomfort came again. They continued to forget His power.
No sooner had they left the bondage of Egypt, having seen the ten plagues – an awesome display of God’s power – then they panicked, as soon as pharaoh and his army pursued them in the desert. God had done so much…but they didn’t believe He could protect them from this fast approaching threat. Had Moses took them out here to die?
Even with the vast majority of them being filled with unbelief, God did another miracle by parting the sea for them to cross safely. The Israelites did cross without injury, and they beheld as pharaoh and his army were consumed by the very waters they had just passed through.
When they were hungry, God gave them manna from heaven. But yet they failed to be lastingly thankful and failed to have faith that He would provide them with water. Even so, with great love and mercy, He provided them with water! They grew to despise the blessing of manna, growing tired of eating the same thing day after day. They demanded meat, and even said (as they had many times by this point) that they would have been better off in Egypt. Even so, God provided them with meat – with quail.
These people demanded physical miracle after miracle, and even when they were given them, things they could behold with their own eyes, things they could touch, eat, and drink – they still forgot God and rebelled against Him.
In the New Testament we find during the earthly ministry of Jesus Himself, that the Jews were looking for a Messiah who would come to set up an earthly kingdom that he would win by waging war against the Romans.
I posted the following as a note on Facebook, recently, and I felt I should share it here, on my blog, as well.
A while ago, I tried on some purple nail polish. I usually don’t go for dramatic colors on my nails anymore, and in fact, don’t wear nail polish very often at all. But on this day, I thought I’d give it a try. I wasn’t sure if my husband would like it, and while applying it, I did wonder what he would think, but I put it on anyway.
Turns out he didn’t like it. I said I’d remove it later, at first intending to wait until later that night. But knowing he didn’t like it made the color on my nails bother me, and after a couple of minutes I found myself hurrying to remove it – just wanting it gone so that my nails would look the way he liked them again – natural.
To most people, nail polish is such a trivial thing: but there’s a lesson in here.
There are times we do things that we’re not sure God will like. We may even wonder what He would think of what we’re thinking of doing. But if we’re unsure, we shouldn’t just plough ahead anyway…we should find out first, and if He wouldn’t like it – don’t do it. There are times when we will have done something that God doesn’t approve of, and He will let us know – how we handle that is important. We shouldn’t be like the world, who would get indignant and say, “It’s such a small thing, get over it, I want to have my way just a little bit here and there.”
Instead our hearts should be saying (and not just our lips), “I’m sorry, Lord, Your opinion matters to me more than my own.” And then we should haste to correct our ways the best we can…and leave the rest in God’s hands, trusting Him to help us change the things that we cannot change on our own.
It’s a sadly all too common thing these days for people to lash out at the preaching of obedience to Christ by crying ‘don’t judge me!’ supposing to back up their position by adding such phrases conveniently pulled from scripture such as ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ and ‘Let him who is without sin cast the first stone’. But are these scriptures even fully understood? The fact is…by most people, they’re not.
First of all, if someone is preaching obedience, or preaching against specific sins, or are addressing you personally, and in your mind (or by your mouth) your response is ‘don’t judge me’, you should examine your heart honestly. There is something in there that causes you to say that. Often this is the response of someone who is under conviction but fighting against it.
The cry of our hearts as children of God should be:
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Understand that God doesn’t only speak through His word (the Bible), He also speaks through His servants. He will use men and women who truly know Him to preach and teach His truth – and that includes preaching against sin. God is Holy, and God doesn’t wink at sin.
God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now He commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to Him.
Acts 17:30 (NLT)
I’ve heard it suggested more than once that if one were to just go about their business never judging anyone in any way shape or form ever…that God wouldn’t judge them. This logic is flawed. God is the supreme judge…He will bring (is bringing) His judgement to the world, and He will judge every single one of us. God’s judgement begins in the House of God. No warped theory or head buried in the sand will be able to avoid that.
His judgements have come to the world in the past, and they come now, to wake up His sleeping Bride and to deal with those who continually reject Him. The hearts that can turn to Christ He will draw to Himself…no matter what it takes to do it! And those who will continue to rebel against Him…will pay for it!
Then, when the time comes, He will judge the dead, and reward His servants the prophets, as well as His holy people, and all who fear His name, from the least to the greatest. And He will destroy all who have caused destruction (corruption) on the earth. (Revelation 11:18)
For the time is come that judgement must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:17
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement
Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
It would be far wiser to listen to the uncomfortable conviction and turn away from sin, then to put up the walls of ‘don’t judge me’, and block out the warnings against sin. And it’s better to heed God quickly, and not resist Him. Such warnings are delivered with love and trembling, though you may not see or feel it. Such warnings are delivered to try to spare you from God’s judgements and snatch you from the brink of Hell – but ultimately it is up to you whether you heed them or refuse to listen.
‘Judge not…’ on the surface this verse would appear simple enough, but we have a problem if that is the case. Humans make judgements both consciously or subconsciously all the time. You judge the weather when choosing your clothes. You judge whether food tastes good or not. You judge whether you like certain colors or not. You judge whether something is clean or not. You judge whether someone is treating you the way you want them to, or not. We spend our days doing a lot of judging.
What this verse is specifically referring to is rash, harsh, fleshly judgement – the kind that does no benefit to anyone. The kind that says, ‘You‘re not attractive enough to be my friend’, for example, or ‘your words aren’t smooth enough so I won’t listen to you.’ These are fleshly judgements that serve no good purpose.
But there is a righteous judgement that benefits the tender hearted. This is a judgement intended to correct. The same way that parents correct their children, God will give correction to His children, because of His love. God has a clear path for us to follow, but often times we can get sidetracked, wander, or stray completely. It is God’s love and mercy that puts us in a place where we get confronted about what we do wrong…no matter how he chooses to deal with us.
For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.
God tells us we will know people by their fruit – this is also judging, because you cannot examine a fruit without making a judgement about it, whether it is good or bad.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Moreover, we are given in God’s word clear directions on how to judge:
Fear the LORD and judge with integrity, for the LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.
2 Chronicles 19:7
God actually commands His servants to judge righteous judgement. For example, He asked Ezekiel to ‘judge the city of murderers (Jerusalem) and to confront them about their sins!
Will you judge, son of man? Will you judge the city of murderers? Then tell it about all the disgusting things that it has done.
Ezekiel 22:2 (God’s Word)
So…judge not? Judge not a harmful, useless, fleshly judgement. Judge not the way the world does, with no godly motive. Judge not to condemn, but to point and to lead closer to Christ and to lead to obedience to Christ.
– – – – – – –
‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…’
This verse quotes Christ. Yes, it is true Jesus said this, and we all know the story of what happened when He said it. But most people who quote this to defend themselves forget key facts surrounding this quote.
I would point out that the stones were intended not to bring the woman to repentance, but to simply fill the letter of the law by killing her. Without a doubt, those holding the stones weren’t looking at her with love, but with hate for her sin. They had condemned her.
Christ stepped in and spared her life out of love. But there’s something else, too. He told her to ‘go and sin no more’. The same is asked of us, by Jesus. He spares our lives when we ask him to save us and repent…and He tells us ‘go and sin no more’ (John 8:11), to be ‘perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect’ (Matt 5:48).
The question is, are you saved? Saved from what? Did Christ save you from idolatry? From lying, cheating, and stealing? From adultery or fornication? From lust, pornography, or other addiction? If you want to be saved from hell, you must also be saved from sin. That’s not to say the people of God never stumble, but we are absolutely not permitted to habitually, wilfully sin, using God’s grace as an excuse to do so. The same rule applies to all of us…if we sin, when we become aware of that sin, we must repent (turn away) from it.
It is not casting stones at a person who is in sin to tell them that they are in sin. It is stating facts. It is not casting stones at a person to tell them they need to repent, it is love.
My dear brothers and sisters, if someone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back, you can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back will save that person from death and bring about the forgiveness of many sins.
Music is never just ‘entertainment’. Music is a language more profound than regular human speech. It is spiritual – whether you use it to worship God or not. Music has the ability to influence the mind, the body, and the soul. It can inspire, and it can encourage action. What message is your music giving you?
Music’s purpose was to praise and worship God. Does the music you listen to, and the music you make, do that?
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.-Colossians 3:16
If the message about Christ, in all it’s richness, fills your life…you won’t need and you won’t WANT the songs of the world! The songs that praise sin instead of God will disgust you. If you’re still ‘entertained’ by songs that promote violence, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, and all other manner of sin – songs by singers who mock God – if you really can’t see that there is something wrong with this…then you don’t really know Jesus yet, and you are burdened by the yoke of the secular world.
I know what it’s like – I was there. After I got saved I still listened to secular music (in smaller amounts than before, listening to more and more Christian music), but I didn’t part with my secular music right away. I knew something was wrong and that I should probably ditch it, but I “liked” it. I was ensnared by it, brainwashed and hypnotised by the melodies and lyrics of the world that I’d gotten so accustomed to. Looking back I see it as so foolish – but I was in direct rebellion of God!
God mercifully gave me the nudge I needed to get rid of it! He used a situation with the man who is now my husband, to give me the fatherly slap in the face I needed to see that it was idolatry in my life and it needed to go! I listened to the Holy Spirit’s conviction this time and deleted every secular song I had on my computer and threw out every secular CD I owned. Over 3000 songs on the computer, well over 100 CD’s.
But I didn’t stop there. Music is not the only secular brainwasher. I also deleted scores of secular movies and threw out an entire garbage bag of nothing but DVDs and videos. “What a waste of money to throw them out” the flesh said. “What a waste of money buying this trash in the first place!” the spirit said!
The comic books, the romance novels, everything except text book type educational books went out. And I’m glad it did! I regret the time I wasted with my nose buried in silly books, playing pointless games in unhealthy amounts, and listening to noise that did everything it could to distract me from and block out the voice of God!
I praise God that it didn’t work forever – He broke through it all and stirred my heart. He caused me to realize the sheer vanity of it all. Even before I got saved He was there, that small voice in my head, surfacing every once in a while to tell me that my gaming was meaningless and a pointless waste of precious time. I’m so glad that Jesus was always there…not just waiting for me to wake up, but giving me the nudges that, in time, stirred me from my media-coma-sleep.
It is terrible to be living in such a way that your main goal in life is to be entertained. It is awful to be enslaved by worldly amusements that leave you dry, always wanting more. The music may give you a fleeting sense of ‘happiness’ but when the music stops, it’s gone, you’re dry again, you seek out more to fill the void – a void that only Jesus can fill.
Real joy is found only in Jesus, and real freedom too. To trade slavery to the flesh to slavery to Christ is the wisest thing to do. If you are dry, seek Living Water. Stop drinking from the poisoned worldly cistern. It will only make you more and more ill, and draw you away from Christ, though at first you may not notice it happen.
I know what it was like to not want to give the secular stuff up. But I’m on the other side of it now and I’m telling you I don’t regret it for one second. Sure, when I did part with it, there was a small part of me that still wanted to cling on to it – that’s the flesh. I pushed my flesh aside to obey God, and the next day He told me through a devotional that I did the right thing. It wasn’t a daily devotional, it was one in a devotional Bible. A bible I usually didn’t use. That day though, I just flipped it open, and the first thing my eyes landed on was:
Since that day there have so many reassurances, so many ways that the Lord has shown Himself to me…things I never would have seen while blinded by the world. Thank You, Jesus – You are so wonderful.
Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.-Ephesians 5:17-19
I can tell you exactly what the will of the Lord is. The will of the Lord is that He be your ONLY God, and that you OBEY Him. Get rid of your idols. They aren’t stone and wood anymore…they are many things. And I can assure you 100% that secular music, movies, TV, sports etc IS idolatry. They even call themselves with idolatrous terms. “So and so is a hockey STAR. This girl got to meet her IDOL. Next time on American IDOL” and so on.
None of the world’s “entertainment” is going to draw you closer to Christ, and if you truly walk with God, you won’t be entertained by it…so why keep it? If you refuse to get rid of it…there’s the proof right there that it’s an idol to you, because you’d rather keep it then obey God.
This verse of Revelation is speaking about the woman (the Church). The remnant of her seed (Individual Christians). Observe the description of the remnant of her seed: those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Notice the use of the word ‘and’. It doesn’t say, those who keep the commandments of God OR have the testimony of Jesus Christ. It uses the word AND. Why is the dragon wroth with them? Because he hasn’t been successful in convincing them to become complacent, to indulge in worldliness, idolatry, prayerlessness, and laziness. They haven’t been bound by the traps he set to keep them from God, nor bound by the fear of men that would keep them of proclaiming the truth.
They have the testimony of Jesus Christ. They obey His commandments. They are God’s true children, with enough faith to face any trial. They speak the truth, even though the majority of people don‘t like it. They are protected by the hand of Almighty God. Because of this, they are dangerous to the enemy.
There are those who think that you don’t need to obey the commandments of God anymore. Well, if that’s the case, then why is it that in Revelation, the Christians, the ones so on fire that they’ve got Satan angry, are the ones who obey the commandments? He’s not making war with the cold or lukewarm. He’s not at war with the ones that don’t keep the commandments. He’s already got them stuck in a trap. He makes war with the ones who obey God’s commandments.
Note that the verse doesn’t say “the remnant of her seed, those who don’t need to obey the commandments of God anymore because of grace, He only sees the blood, now.” Think you don’t need to obey the commandments? Then I ask you, since it’s one of the most dominant features of the Bride of Christ, how would this notion make you part of the Bride?
Obedience…it all goes back to obedience. And those who come up with excuses for not being obedient are rebellious.
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
1 Samuel 15:23
God has not changed. His commandments have not changed. Unfortunately, mankind as a whole, has not changed! Still rebellious against God and right in his own eyes.
Thinking you are right in your own eyes, does not make it so. Abiding by the rules of men does not always make you right in God’s eyes. Abortion is murder, regardless of what man’s laws say. Homosexuality is sin, no matter what man’s laws say. Biblical truth is right, no matter what man says! We need to strive for holiness and measure ourselves against God’s standards, not man’s standards. Obey God’s commandments!
Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so all will go well with you.