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Love in Christ
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.”
Other voices may tell me what they think I should do,
But I know, I am convinced,
What I really need is to trust and obey You.
They may tell me to be happy I need material things,
But all that’s so hollow compared
to the joy that You bring.
So many waste so much on things that don’t last,
Never seeming to learn the valuable lessons that lie in our past.
The lusts of the flesh, the eyes, and our pride,
Will only ever leave us empty inside.
Selfishness, self-seeking, self-serving
All steal from the glory and praise that You are deserving
I choose rather the only worthy pursuit,
To seek after You, to worship You in Spirit and Truth.
What we need is You Jesus, and You alone,
To follow You only, let You lead us Home.
What we need is to see how ugly and hateful is sin,
To turn from it, and have Your Holy Spirit
Do you really only have to “believe on the name of Jesus”? Is obedience optional? What does the Bible say about these matters?
“And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.”
Belief and obedience go hand in hand.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Jesus’ own words in the 14th chapter of John make it clear.
“If you love Me, obey My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.”
John 14:15-17 (NLT)
“Those who accept My commandments and obey them are the ones who love Me. And because they love Me, My Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal Myself to each of them.”
John 14:21 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “All who love Me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.
John 14:23 (NLT)
Anyone who doesn’t love Me will not obey Me. And remember, My words are not My own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent Me.
John 14:24 (NLT)
Jesus own words again, this time from the book of Matthew:
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:19 (KJV)
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
There are other instances in the New Testament that also point to obedience as being an imperative part of the Christian life.
“We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey Him.”
In this way, God qualified Him [Jesus] as a perfect High Priest, and He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him.
For it makes no difference whether or not a man has been circumcised. The important thing is to keep God’s commandments.
1 Corinthians 7:19
And for those who think by preaching repentance and obedience to Christ, we aren’t somehow “loving enough,” what does the Bible say?
We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey His commandments. Loving God means keeping His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:2-3
Here’s an important passage that makes it simple:
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.
1 John 2:3-5
Another year has come and gone, and God has remained the same. I’m so thankful for this journey with Him, and how He has changed my life and me as a person completely. Where there was no peace, there is now peace that surpasses all understanding. Where there was no joy, there is joy in the Lord. Where was no hope, there is the hope that is an anchor for the soul: Jesus Christ.
Oh, the joys of those who trust the LORD,
who have no confidence in the proud
or in those who worship idols.
– Psalm 40:4 (NLT)
O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.
– Psalm 84:12 (NLT)
Friend, I pray today that if you don’t know Jesus, that you seek Him while He may be found. He is the greatest of Treasures, so worthy of all our love and worship. His love is matchless. His mercy is extended to anyone who will only repent of their sins and turn to Him. Anyone. Even me. Even you.
I could never put into words, no matter how many words I chose to use to try to describe, how excellent and wonderful, how majestic and praiseworthy is the Lord. I don’t know all that the future holds, but I know who holds the future, and I know He is faithful. What joy for those who trust in Jesus! And oh, what perfect peace!
My reason to live,
My reason to breathe.
The King of all.
The song that I sing.
The real reality,
Alive inside of me,
Broken chains, He made me free,
No words could ever say,
How He takes my breath away,
In His presence I long to stay,
My strength and peace are in Him,
All my life I live for Him,
For my heart He did so wonderfully win,
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.
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.