“For He says: In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2nd Corinthians 6:2
I have just a couple of pounds that I have put on during this South Dakotan winter, nothing too big of a deal, but I have been meaning to take care of it, suffer a bit, eat a little bit more restricted and then lose that extra weight. If I continued on the weight gain trajectory, eventually it would become a problem.
So today I have been doing fairly well, a few extra potato chips, but nothing major. Yesterday, I decided to postpone what I am doing today, I am the usual chef of the house and had made some buckwheat blueberry pancakes, hadn’t had those in quite some time, so I enjoyed a stack as well.
A couple of days before I had whipped up some spaghetti and before that it was some pesto, hamburger, noodle mix. Each of those times, no big deal, I’ll just ‘deal with it tomorrow’. Well the problem is tomorrow never comes if we don’t take a stand to say, ‘this is what I am going to accomplish, I am no longer going to put it off’. Unfortunately just how many people who are unsaved postpone Salvation? How many people who are Saved continue in lukewarm rebellion towards Christ, essentially unable to effectively preach Christ to a lost and dying world, due to their carnality?
So where does that ‘little voice’ come from when someone is ‘trying’ to live right for Christ (Romans 2:15) and this temptation comes along, they decided that they are going to go down ‘that road’, whatever it may be, and –then- start to do what is right.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.” Jacob (James) 1:13-15
I would dare say, that aside from those who are ‘drawing back’ (Hebrews 10:39) that many times those who are truly Christians do not understand the seriousness of the battle that rages on and the fact that we are ACTUALLY IN A WAR (Revelation 12:7; Daniel 10:23) and you, dear Believer, are an actual solider of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3; Philemon 1:2).
Imagine being in a large city like London, stuck underground in the sewer system, trying to get out. You see the exit, way high up there is a metal ladder with a few rungs to the street level, but it is far beyond reach. You toss a grappling hook up there as the sewage water begins to knock you off your feet, catching yourself. You begin climbing up the rope, losing grip, you begin to fall, but you once again grab firmly on the rope, continuing to climb up.
Now that is such an extreme example, after all, the amount of people who are ever going to find themselves in the old maze like system of any classical sewer system in any older major city is miniscule in comparison to the overall population. Yet, if we could for a minute see that this battle that is raging is such that it is a serious battle, one that can only be won by truly being Born Again, having repented towards God and by faith believing into Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (Acts 20:21).
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know, yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you; unless indeed you are ones failing the test?” 2nd Corinthians 13:5
I will tell you that I have met in person –very- few people who appear to truly love the Lord there God (Matthew 22:37), living according to His Word. There are those that I am aware of that certainly know Christ, but in person those who not only profess Salvation but also show works befitting of repentance (Acts 26:20; Matthew 12:33), who seem to portray a genuine love for Christ (Colossians 1:4), doing His good will (Hebrews 13:21), are far and few (Matthew 7:14; Luke 18:8). I say this sadly, even with those who are involved with churches, including the pastors and Sunday School teachers. A lot of nice people, but for the ones I have known there seems to be either one foot in the world or simply a ‘strict’ sense of rules that are followed, but no fruit, unless one considers following lists of ‘do nots’ to be fruit.
“For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:20
I attended a new church once where the preaching was certainly biblical. The worship songs were done properly. One could nitpick at some of the stuff being done ‘orderly’ (1st Corinthians 14:40), but by and large there wasn’t anything that would have someone open their Bible and proclaim that God’s Word wasn’t being followed. Yet there was no life.
Week after week, the service would take place, no genuine love for Christ, yet obedience to the ‘do nots’, knowing the difference between what was holy verses profane (Leviticus 22:2). Outside a world was dying, the need was great.
I tried to stir up those in the ministry who were in there (2 Timothy 1:6), ‘come on’, we can do ‘this’ or ‘that’ let’s get up and get going, ‘we got work to do’! Eventually I realized they weren’t coming. They were not critical of someone doing work, but they were comfortable serving Christ behind closed doors, not sharing that which they believed with the world. They were burnt out, having had some experience doing such things for Christ in the past, but having given up.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a grain measure, but on a lampstand, and it shines for all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
There are many in reality that I know of and have known. I have always been of the sort to tell these people, even people who used to attend Bible studies years ago, ‘come on’, ‘let’s get going’, ‘what can we do?’, let’s try ‘this’ or ‘that’ for the Lord. There would be some inspiration, a ‘spark’ that would light up the individuals, some effort and then –poof- it would disappear, nothing ever happening, no more effort, simply ‘words’ of agreement, but nonetheless idle talk. I would be hopeful, but tomorrow never came with these individuals.
What was the problem? Well, backsliding…sin. You see, they had one foot in the world and one foot out. Is that possible? Oh…the warnings, the preaching, the Bible studies that were had, the ‘agreement’ of the biblical warnings by all in attendance, yet in the end, to this very day, all I could do is say ‘I will follow Christ’ (John 21:22), not proclaiming that these people are not Saved, but knowing that they have been sufficiently warned, I was forced to part ways, continuing on serving God.
“A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9
I looked, for I was also guilty, it wasn’t simply a discussion of ‘me verses them’ but rather we all agreed, we need to ‘get right with God’ and do His great work. Oh…we were in the sewer, all of us, no one denied it. Ever single person professed Salvation, every single person professed to know Christ. We know that from time to time we will get our ‘feet dirty’ (Luke 13:10) but we can come in repentance before Christ, who will cleanse us (1 John 1:9).
Yet our effectiveness for Christ was minimal, our fruit was little. Without allowing God to continue the sanctification (1 Timothy 5:23; 2nd Corinthians 7:1), we were not growing, we, as a group, were still needing to come back to the milk (Hebrews 5:12), for we were behaving carnally (1st Corinthians 3:1). We were in the sewer.
We all had the tools that we needed to serve God with our whole heart (Luke 10:27). We had the armor of God, the best armor ever for a soldier, that was fully available for our use, we just had to put it on…completely.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on all the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the world’s rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenlies. Therefore take up all the armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand firm therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints;”… Ephesians 6:10-18
Throwing up the ‘grappling’ hook, in Christ, who strengthens me (1st Peter 5:10), the battle is real, the war is raging.
For those who are truly Saved, for those who participate in the great work of God (Matthew 9:37), thru Jesus Christ (John 14:6), our ‘lips have uttered’ (Psalms 66:14), whether we ‘hold the rope’ or we are actively participating in a different way, we must realize that just as David was told that he allowed the enemies of God to spurn Him (2nd Samuel 12:14), there are those who are waiting for us to fall (Jeremiah 20:10).
We must ensure that we never assume that ‘we got this’ or that we are ‘good’ now, but rather:
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold, since Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and stretching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are complete, be of this mind; and if in anything you think differently, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in being imitators of me, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many conduct themselves, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and who glory in their shame; who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:12-21
“I affirm, by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die throughout the day.” 1st Corinthians 15:31
Do not let your guard down, for those who are endeavoring:
“You therefore endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one serving military duty entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him.” 2nd Timothy 2:3-4
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize controls himself in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in this manner: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” 1st Corinthians 9:24-27
“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” 1st Corinthians 2:2
“For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14:8
For those who are not truly Saved, you must repent (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30:31) and seek God with your whole heart (Isaiah 55:6-7). For those who are Saved, but have one foot in the world and one foot out, take the warnings of Christ to the last Church age, the one in which we are currently in:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing; and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked; I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:15-21
As well as:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unyielding, slanderers, without self-control, savage, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away. For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning, but never able to come to the full true knowledge of the truth. But as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so do these also oppose the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” 2nd Timothy 3:1-9
When will tomorrow come (Jacob (James) 4:13-14)? When will you stop with your mouth speaking of serving God, when your heart is far from Him?
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” Matthew 15:8
Could this not know be said of ‘church’ people. They know of God, they do things that appear to be right, but what did God profess against them (Isaiah 29:13).
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so persistently harasses us, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2