THE QUESTIONS about WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS

SCRIPTURE STUDY:  2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Although 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 are often applied to various sorts of alliances (e.g., mixed marriages, improper business associations), Paul’s primary ASSOCIATION was probably churchly. 

The CONTEXT of these verses was the leaning tendency of the church at Corinth to listen to and accept the teachings of FALSE TEACHERS and those masquerading in the gatherings of the saints as APOSTLES of Christ.  These false teachers and apostles continually competed for the affections and allegiance of the Corinthian believers, criticizing and lying about Paul in the process.

Paul alludes to this in 1 Corinthians 4:5, where he said,

“So don’t get ahead of the Master and jump to conclusions with your judgments before all the evidence is in.  When he comes, he will bring out in the open and place in evidence all kinds of things we never even dreamed of–inner motives and purposes and prayers.  Only then will any one of us get to hear the “Well done!” of God”  [The MESSAGE Bible].

In 2 Corinthians 6:3-13, Paul defends his ministry.

Showing that he had sacrificed his personal comforts in order to minister to the Corinthian church, Paul points to something obviously missing from the ministry of the false teachers and false apostles.  The false teachers and apostles were merely after a following, ‘fill them church pews on Sunday mornings’, and undue respect and position.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Paul urges the saints in Corinth to make a judgment, be discriminating concerning the teachers they heard, for some of these people were not real followers of Jesus.

However, Paul also wanted to drive home the point that they shouldn’t try to live with one foot in the world, and one foot in the teachings of Christ.

What they truly believed would affect how they behaved. 

They couldn’t live for Christ while spiritually straddling the fence.

That Brings Us to THE QUESTIONS –

QUESTION #1.  “How can there be Any PARTNERSHIP with the World?”

2 Corinthians 6:14b. c. (NKJV)

“For what FELLOWSHIP has righteousness with lawlessness? And what COMMUNION has light with darkness?”

It might be worth taking some NOTES here:

  1. The word “fellowship” means, “in partnership, participation.  What is there in common, or how can the one partake with the other?”
  2. The word “unrighteousness” [“wickedness”] refers to “lawlessness”. 
  3. The word “communion” is interesting, in that it “…involves close relationship (Arndt), as in marriage or as in the spiritual relationship with God (c.f. 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3, 6).

Paul is simply saying here that the child of God cannot be close to God while at the same time living in the ways of the world.

The “Stockholm Syndrome” –

John Suk, author, and church minister writes, “Soldiers of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst on February 4, 1974.  In return for her release, Patty’s kidnappers demanded that her father, Randolph Hearst, give millions of dollars to the poor.  On April 15, 1974, the FBI identified Patty in a videotape of a bank holdup in San Francisco.  On September 18 of that year, Patty was captured.  She served nearly three years in prison for her crime.  It was said that “Patty Hearst suffered from the Stockholm syndrome.  This condition affects some hostages who are so traumatized by their captivity that they IDENTIFY to their captors.”  The syndrome gets its name from a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, where one hostage fell in love with her captor.  People who then fall prey to the Stockholm syndrome, in essence, sleep with the enemy.”

Many Christians suffer from a “spiritual” kind of Stockholm syndrome.  We find ourselves sleeping with our enemy–the World.

WORLDLINESS is more than a fixation on card playing, dancing, drinking at the local pub after church on Sundays.  True Worldliness is being caught in a sticky web of comments to self.

QUESTION #2.  “How can there be Any PEACE with the World?”

2 Corinthians 6:14-15

The word “Belial” in verse 15 is a synonym for Satan.

Paul stresses the lack of harmony between the children of God and the children of the world with the use of the words, “in common”.  The Greek translation suggests a deep sharing of things–“in common…”  (c.f. its used in Lk. 10:42; Acts 8:21; Col. 1:12)  [Footnote [i].]

QUESTION #3.  “Can there be any PARTICIPATION with the World?

2 Corinthians 6:16 (AMP)

“What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

The word “AGREEMENT” carries the idea of “…a sympathetic union of mind and a will in a plan mutually agreed to”  [Dictionary.com].

The same idea can be found in the Old Testament of the Bible:

Amos 3:3 (NIV)

[3]  Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?

THE QUENCHING OF WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS –

Matthew 5:29-3o (NIV)

[29] “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

[30]  “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.  It is better for you to lose one part of your body than your whole body to go into hell.”

Terminate SIN, don’t toy with it! (2 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 5:11).

Just a NOTE here concerning the TEMPTATION to ignore SIN.  Charles Spurgeon once said:

“What settings are you in when you fall?  Avoid them.  What props do you have that support your sin?  Eliminate them.  What people are you usually with?  Avoid them.”

There are TWO equally damaging LIES that Satan wants us to believe: 

  1. Just once won’t hurt.
  2. Now that you have ruined your life, you’re beyond God’s use and you might as well enjoy the ride (sinning)!

Learn to say no, asking the Holy Spirit to help you.

THE QUEST TO CONQUER WORLDLY ASSOCIATIONS –

LIVING IN THE SPIRIT IS A MUST!!!

1 Corinthians 6:19 

“Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you.  Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God?  You are not on your own”  (AMP).

2 Corinthians 6:16b

“I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people”  (NIV).

Ephesians 5:18b  “…be filled with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:16

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh”  (NIV).

“LIVING IN THE SPIRIT” doesn’t mean that a prayer thrown out to God after discovering we’ve sinned is being in the Spirit.  It’s a moment by moment experience in our living with complete surrender to God’s Spirit.

My QUEST:  May not a single moment go by in my life that is spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of my self as a vessel for Him to fill with His Spirit and His Love!

We Must Shine as Lights in the World.

A Christian brother and fellow blogger, Joe Rodriguez, both of us are equally yoked with the burden of shinning the Light of God’s Word.  Joe uses a constant theme in his writings of different Lighthouses found around the world.  I particularly enjoyed reading “A Light Among The Light”, Posted on May 1, 2018 [http://lighthousedevotions.blog/]

JESUS’ sermon on the mount message to the people in Matthew 5:14:  “You are the LIGHT of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

THE EMPHASIS OF THE LIGHT –

The apostle Paul emphasizes the same LIGHT in his letter to the church at Ephesus.

Ephesians 5:8

“For once you were in darkness, but now you are LIGHT in the Lord; walk as children of LIGHT [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]”  (AMP).

So, does our WALK backup our TALK?

Here’s where CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT comes in to play.

What is CHARACTER?  

Our Character is best described as “the sum of moral qualities associated with a person and suggests ethical strength and excellence.  It is about doing what is right, regardless of what is convenient or popular.” [Charizma Magazine].

The character of a person is comprised of the core principles and values of who we really are, both inwardly and outwardly, in your behavior and relationships.  That’s not just in Christian assemblies, but wherever you spend your time during the day (e.g. work, social gatherings, grocery stores…).

CHARACTER QUALITIES:

  • Faithfulness,
  • Honesty,
  • Integrity,
  • Trustworthiness,
  • Loyalty,
  • Honor,
  • Dependability,

Even good old-fashioned manners are basic to good character.

But because so few Christians exhibit these traits, there has become a huge credibility gap in society and church today.

Many of our unbelieving associations in observing our everyday CHARACTER consider us a bunch of hypocrites.  We want to win the lost for the LORD…”A LIGHT ON THE HILL” but they won’t listen to us, because they only see the glaring inconsistency between our MESSAGE and our lifestyle.

QUESTION #4 – “Does your Christian TALK square with your Christian WALK?”

Is your HONESTY, your CHARACTER above question?

WE MUST BE LOVERS OF ONE ANOTHER!

John 13:35 (AMP)

“By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples if you love one another” [if you keep on showing love among yourselves].

1 Peter 1:22b. (NIV)

“…love one another deeply, from the heart.”

1 John 4:7 (NIV)

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

Paul taught that the corrupt ways of the WORLD are totally incompatible with the LIFE that’s in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle has asked the church some searching questions to point out the absurdity of Christians trying to straddle the spiritual fence in their daily lives. 

WHERE DO YOU STAND?

____________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

Footnote:  [i] – John Gill’s Commentary of the Bible

Dictionary:  Dictionary.com – used for this blog.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); other translations used are noted.

 

 

 

A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle – [Part Two]

Study Verses: 1 John 3:1-9

WHAT “LAWLESSNESS” ISN’T:

I left off in PART ONE– A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle– on Lawlessness; what it is and what it isn’t.  Lawlessness, pure and simply stated is… “open rebellion against God; having no regard of what GOD thinks or says”:

Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God ~ 1 John 3:4.

The Amplified Bible says it this way:

Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect–being unrestrained and unregulated by His commandments and His will).

If we’re really saved, we won’t do that–“practice sin”.  We may disobey GOD once in a while, but a true believer won’t practice sin.

“Steel Guitar Blues”

I can remember when I was about 12 years old, I begged my parents for an Electric Steel Guitar.  Not just a ‘plain old guitar’ but a “Steel Guitar”.  So, they decided to grant my request with the following conditions: “We will get you a “used” one first.  Then, after lessons and ‘practicing diligently’, maybe, just maybe we will get you a newer one with a guitar stand.”

7955856818_f2877ed5fd
My First Guitar

My first guitar laid across my lap!  Bummer!!  What will my buddies think?  They won’t think I am playing the ‘genuine’ instrument–without a stand?

If you want to get really good at doing something, you need to practice.  I never liked to “practice”, so the lessons stopped and so did my guitar playing.

If you keep on practicing sin–lawlessness–you will become really good at it.  Do you have an instrument used for sin; laying there on your lap, or if you are really good at it…on a display-stand so everyone can see it?  Do we know someone who says they’re Christian, but keeps on practicing open sin?  John says they aren’t saved!  A true believer can’t do that.

Why not?

John’s 2-part Answer:  1st, we don’t have to sin.

You know that He [GOD] appeared in visible form and became Man to take away [upon Himself] sins, and in Him [JESUS] there is no sin.      (verse 5).

JESUS died on the cross to take away our sins.  And, because He had no sin, He could pay sin’s penalty.  Our sin is gone!

JESUS also took away the power of sin over us.  It may be alive in us, but we’re dead to its power over us:  “No one who abides (LIVES) in Him keeps on sinning.”  (verse 6 (a)).

We don’t have to practice sin anymore.  Why won’t a true believer keep on sinning?  Here comes a terrific Theological Answer to the question:  FIRST, John says… you don’t have to.

There’s a 2nd part of John’s answer–

“No one who [habitually] sins has either seen or known Him [recognized, perceived, or understood Him, or has had an experiential acquaintance  with Him]”  (1 John 3:6 (b)).

A TEENAGER’S DILEMMA:

A group of teenagers were enjoying a party [we’ve probably all been there and could tell some stories!].  Someone in the crowd suggested they all go to a certain “restaurant” and have a really good time!

“I’d rather you took me home”, the girl said to her date.  “My parents don’t approve of that place.”

“Afraid your father will hurt you?”  One of the girls asked sarcastically.

“No, I’m not afraid my father will hurt me.  But I am afraid I might hurt him!”

She understood:  A true child of God knows Father God–

—  They see and know His love.

—  They love God and in loving Him, they don’t want to sin against His love.

Now we have John’s 2-part reason why true believers can’t keep on sinning:

—  1st, they don’t have to.

—  2nd, true believers won’t want to.

When it comes down to practicing righteousness, God’s love HEALED their “Lackawanna”.

GRACE SOMETIMES CAN BE MISTAKEN – (verse 7 (a)):

“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray”

Some in John’s community were arguing over what God’s GRACE meant–it didn’t matter that they kept on sinning.  John is warning us– That isn’t true!  Choosing to do what’s righteous matters!

HOW? – (verse 7 (b).):

“He who does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous”

Has there been a CHANGE in our lifestyle since we were SAVED?  Or, are we still practicing sin?

John is saying we were we were never SAVED if there is no change!  And even more, we’re supposed to be changing for the better– forever.  The apostle reminds us in the Book of Romans,

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, be be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will”  (Romans 12:2 NIV).

That “renewing” Paul is talking about, isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime event.  It is ongoing–everyday of your life happening.  I think that it is the second most important decision you will ever have to make in life; next to your decision of accepting JESUS as Lord and Savior.

We ought to be making PROGRESS…

WHY?  (verse 8):

“[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated divine law) from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done].”

SATAN (the devil) holds the lost in his power-grip.  A Christian is held by Christ’s POWER.  When a lost person is found–becomes a born-again Christian–Satan’s power is broken.  They don’t have to practice sin any more–and they don’t want to!

JESUS Sets Us Free!

JESUS promised,

[34] “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you,  Whoever commits and practices sin is the slave of sin.  [36] So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free”  (The Gospel of John 8:34, 36 AMP).

If JESUS sets us free from the slavery of practicing sin, we won’t practice sin anymore–no lessons, no instruments available for sinning when we don’t practice.

Just the opposite, we’ll be working hard at becoming more Christ-like.  We’ll love Him too much not to!

GOD PLANTS THE SEED OF JESUS:

“No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him  [His principle of life, the divine sperm (seed), remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born of God”  (verse 9).

In every christian, the SEED is planted.  It’s done at our REBIRTH.  His seed (His holy nature) can’t sin.  And, at our rebirth, we receive a new nature–Christ’s.

His nature can‘t sin because…He can’t.  Whenever we do sin, it’s our old nature sinning.  When we die, our old sinful nature (attached to our sinful physical body) will die too.  It was predestined long ago.

In Christ JESUS, it was put to death at Calvary.  But it’s taking a long time to die.  When JESUS takes us home, all that will be left is our new nature.  The lost (the unsaved) have only the old nature that has never been put to death.  So it still lives to rule and reign in their hearts.  It will have to be JUDGED–THEIR UNRIGHTEOUS SEED IS ALL THEY HAVE.

A Good Tree and its Fruit–

Our study has been focused on 1 John 3:1-9, but I couldn’t stop at verse 9, I had to include verse 10:

“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children…”

Can there be any doubt on how we live our lives becoming a SALVATION issue?  John isn’t saying it’s our deeds that save us.  BUT, he is saying clearly what JESUS said in Matthew 7:17 and Matthew 12:33:

“Either make the tree sound (healthy and good), and its fruit sound (healthy and good), or make the tree rotten (diseased and bad), and its fruit rotten (diseased and bad); for the tree is… know and recognized and judged by its fruit”  (Matthew 12:33 AMP).

Every Good Tree Bears Good FruitA “good tree” (from the “good seed”) produces good fruit–and a bad tree–bad fruit.  The FRUIT always reveals what kind of tree it is.

When GOD plants His Divine “seed” in us, it produces a desire, even sometimes a passion to SERVE–Obey and Live for Christ.  If we don’t have this desire, we don’t have His “seed” in us.

WHEN JESUS SAVED US…

GOD planted a new seed in us–and it will bring forth fruit–our good works.  And as we mature in Christ, the fruit matures in its appearance; the more evidence there’ll be in our life that we’re SAVED!

According to John, like that expression I heard in the late 1970’s,  “If we were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?”

GOD GETS THE GLORY!

It comes down to the bottom line on the ‘fruit bearing’ in our lives.  Are we doing so because of the accolades we will receive from others to our self-glory…or the roses we receive laid at the feet of JESUS?

[39] “And some of the Pharisees from the throng said to Jesus,  Teacher, reprove Your disciples!  [40] He replied, I tell you that if these keep silent, the very stones will cry out”  (Luke 19:39-40).

“So then, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you may do, do all for the honor and glory of God”  (1 Corinthians 10:31).

1 John 3:1-9
1 John 3:1-9

A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle – [Part One]

First John 3:1-9:1johnwordcloud

See how very much our heavenly Father loves us, for he allows us to be called his children, and we really are!  But the people who belong to this world don’t know God, so they don’t understand that we are his children.  Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t imagine what we will be like when Christ returns.  But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.  And all who believe this will keep themselves pure, just as Christ is pure.  Those who sin are opposed to the law of God, for all sin opposes the law of God.  And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, for there is no sin in him.  So if we continue to live in him, we won’t sin either.  But those who keep on sinning have never known him or understood who he is.  Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it is because they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous.  But when people keep on sinning, it show they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.  But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil.  Those who have been born into God’s family do not sin, because God’s life is in them.  So they can’t keep on sinning, because they have been born of God.

“CHILDREN OF GOD” —

In 1997, the editorial page of a newspaper had a CARTOON tacked on to the column:

In the 1st Frame, a man said,  “I’m tired. I’ll take a pill.”

In the next frame, he said,  “I’m stressed. I’ll take a pill.”

In the 3rd frame, he said,  “I’m depressed. I’ll take a pill.”

And in the next-to last frame,  “I’m overweight. I’ll take a pill.”

In the last frame, he says,  “I’m unethical–is there a pill for that?”

Yes! There is!  The GOS–pill .

The GOSPEL is…the Good News!!

When it comes to obeying God’s law, are we troubled by our “Lackawanna”?  In JESUS Christ, God does more than tell us, “Don’t do that!”  In Christ, God transforms us–fixes that Lackawanna.  That is the Good News!

1.  What is our Motivation?

JESUS IS COMING BACK.  And when He does, we well know, we have to give an account of our lives.  That should motivate us to live today more Godly lives.

1 John 2:28:

Who Are God's Kids?
Who Are God’s Kids?

And now little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming (Amplified Bible).

2.  What kind of a Christian life do we live?

Not everyone in “the church” will be happy to see JESUS’ return.  Those who continue or abide in Him will.  They walk in fellowship with Christ.

I don’t know about you, but personally, that fellowship may be strained at times; I become more ‘self-centered’ and less GOD-centered and the fellowship goes out the window.  Even so, I know and recognize ,there is still rest in Christ and His grace.

If we want to– (versus “Lackawanna”), to stand confident and unashamed when JESUS returns, we better stay in close fellowship with Him right now!  In Him, nothing can shame us.

3.  Image is everything–

One day, all of our works will be judged.  ALL our works–everything we’ve done.  And a question to ask ourselves in our busy and hectic lives,  “How closely have I reflected Christ’s image?”  Just keeping it real and personal.

OUR ONLY HOPE:

Our only hope of righteousness comes by continuing in Christ.  As Jesus puts it in John 15:5, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

Lucille Ball’s Problem–

When I was growing up, my family would never miss The Lucille Ball Show on our small screen television.  Her misadventures had us all rolling on the floor laughing.

On the day Christ judges our works, if we haven’t abided in Christ, we’ll have Lucille Ball’s problem.  When she got in trouble, Desi Arnaz would tell her,  “Luci, you’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”

This raises some important questions.  How can we know that we’re continuing (“abiding”) in Christ?  How can we know if we’re saved?  John answers the question:

If you know that He is righteous, you may also know that everyone who does righteously is born of Him  (verse 29).

Christ is righteous!  He never sinned.  He lived a perfect, holy, righteous life.

Only JESUS has ever done that.  How then can we know if we’re SAVED?

Do we look like Him?

Do we do right?

Do we practice righteousness?

By practicing righteousness, we show we really are born of God.  GOD IS RIGHTEOUS.  Everyone born of God increasingly shows His righteousness.

4.  A true Christian pursues, seeks…Christ-likeness.

We try hard to be more like JESUS in our daily living.  And as we are ‘trying’… abiding in Christ, He gives us the POWER to do it!  That’s sanctification–it becomes a life-long process.  In this life of ours, we’ll never get sinless completely.  But we should increasingly “sin less”.

All Christians are in God’s family.  We are related to Christ by blood–His.  As in all families, there should be a trait–a family resemblance. 

Over my, ‘going on 50 years’ of marriage, my wife has said  “Honey, you and your brother and dad’s voice sound exactly alike over the phone”, or “That habit of yours is exactly like your dads.”  Could the reason just be, my brother and I came from the same seed?

John is saying, if we are truly born of Him, we will bear a family resemblance to JESUS; we will practice righteousness.  We’ll still stumble and fall flat on our faces spiritually, but we’ll keep practicing righteousness.  Otherwise, we aren’t true children of God.  If more and more we do right as God does, we show our inherited family likeness.  We show we’re His kids!  His voice (His Word), His habits…His good works.

5.  How Great Is The LOVE…(verse 1)

Literally, John says “See what kind of love the father has lavished on us”.

The Message Bible reads,  “Just look at it–we’re called children of God!  That’s who we really are.  But that’s also why the world doesn’t recognize us or take us seriously because it has no idea who He is or what He’s up to.”

The world failed to recognize JESUS.  Those living in the world live in darkness and they won’t venture into the light–they hate it!

The more we practice righteousness, the less the world will understand us and we’ll be more like JESUS.  We should fear the world’s approval, not want it!  To be hated by the world isn’t fun.  But it should reassure Christians that God LOVES us, and that’s more important than the world’s hatred.

6.  At times, we might look more like the world than we should–

We might not be as conformed to Christ’s image as we should.  But there is a time coming, when we will perfectly display Christ’s image.

John continues by saying,  “But friends, that’s exactly who we are:  children of God.  And that’s only the beginning…Who knows how we’ll end up!”  (verse 2 (a) -The Message Bible).

WHEN?  When JESUS comes to take us home with Him!

A Great Sculptor’s IMAGE–

Michelangelo's David
Michelangelo’s David

A Great Sculptor sees in stone the image that he wants.  When Michelangelo created the sculpture of David, he chiseled away everything that wasn’t David.

Likewise, God puts JESUS’ image in us–His Spirit lives in us.  And now, God wants to chisel away everything that isn’t Christ.  He is still working on us.  That’s the evidence that we are His true children.

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork  (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus [born anew]…”  (Ephesians 2:10 AMP).

7.  We aren’t finished yet!

When JESUS returns, God will complete whatever is lacking in our conformity to Christ’s likeness.  That’s what Paul was saying:

“He who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return, developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you”  (Philippians 1:6 AMP).

“But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is”  (1 John 3:2 (b)).

8.  How Will We Be Like Him?

—  We’ll be like Him physically:

Our bodies will be changed and we will be made like His glorified resurrected body (John 20:14, 19, 26-29; John 21:1-25).  Some Bible Teachers say, JESUS’ age when resurrected bodily from the earth was 33 years.  So…just possibly, our age in the glorified new body will be 33 years of age.   That’s why the apostle Paul tells us,

“But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior.    Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself”  (Philippians 3:20-21 Amplified Bible).

—  And we’ll be like Him spiritually:

We will be made perfectly holy!  Our sin nature will be eliminated.  We’ll be able to do all that is righteous and pure.  That’s all we’ll want to do.  And we won’t be tempted any longer.

9.  We will have JESUS’ NATURE:

We, too, will be pure and holy.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to see JESUS or enter Heaven’s glory!

Having the Wonderful Hope in Our Lives–

“And everyone who has this hope [resting] on Him cleanses (purifies) himself just as He is pure  (chaste, undefiled, guiltless)”  (verse 3).

Having the wonderful HOPE that John is speaking to us about, should, change our behavior.  We will be completely righteous like Christ in the future.  THAT should, make us want to be more Christ-like now!  That “wonderful hope” prevents us from venturing into a Lackawanna” lifestyle.

Do we really believe …JESUS is coming back for us?

If so, we’d be getting ready for Him.

If we knew that an important guest was coming to our home, I don’t know about you–but personally, I’d be helping my wife by doing some housecleaning in preparation.

If we really believe JESUS is coming back, we would do some spiritual housecleaning now.  Cleaning out our spiritual closets and not sweeping the ‘dirt’ under the carpet.  Is it time for REPENTANCE (getting rid of the spiritual clutter) or, do you have a “Lackawanna” attitude?

10.  What does the word “lawlessness” mean?

I heard a pastor preach one Sunday, that as believers…”we are no longer under the Law”.  Do I disagree with that decree?  Yes, and No.

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness”  (verse 4- NIV Bible).

Our youngest daughter when growing up had a personality trait that, how should I say, often frustrated her mom and dad.  One afternoon, I decided to take the family on a ride in the surrounding country; to see if I could find the perfect strawberry stand.  Finally, after a thorough search, we found the perfect spot: fresh berries, reasonably priced, and under the shade of a large tree.  It was a warm Southern California day.

Defiant-ChildWhen I returned to the car, there she was, standing on the backseat of our 1969 Station Wagon.  This was going against the “Standing up on the backseat Thompson Car Law”:  

“Krissy, you need to sit down.”  She began to frown at my command but continued standing.

“Kris, I mean it!  Sit down or…” 

She sat down at the raising of my voice but, when looking in the car’s rear-view mirror, her arms folded and a scowl on her face– she was still standing up on the inside!  That is LAWLESSNESS pure and simple–open rebellion!  My daughter was “made” to obey.  But, her heart still held rebellion.

Lawlessness isn’t occasional sin.  It is… open rebellion against God–having no regard of what God thinks or says.

[Will continue study in PART TWO– A “Lackawanna” Lifestyle?]

That Hidden Principle of Rebellion (PART 1)

Rebellion in the Streets

Rebellion across the nation is on every headline of major newspapers across our land.  The picture above took place in the state of Colorado in 2008.  The image isn’t a new phenomena, it has been present the world all the time. 

I have been reading 2 Thessalonians over the past several days when I ran across the apostle Paul’s words in Chapter 2.  It grabbed my attention because of the current news on television and on the internet, so I decided to write this blog about That Hidden Principal of Rebellion in Society. The “lawlessness”, the “iniquity” being observed.

“For the mystery of lawlessness (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority) is already at work in the world”  (2 Thess. 2:7–Amplified Bible).

Paul wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica, a seaport trade center from the city of Corinth in approximately 51 AD.  Corinth had a slogan similar to Las Vegas:  “What happens in Corinth, stays in Corinth“.  So rebellion was rampant throughout the world during Paul’s time of ministry as it continues today.

I remember a sermon by my first pastor, right after I came to know the Lord.  He walked up to a wooden stool placed on the platform and sat down with a newspaper.  He began reading the headlines without saying a word, then shook his head and said, “Now that’s bad news”.  He proceeded in turning the pages of the paper and saying, “More bad news”, until finally exclaiming out of exasperation, “There is nothing in this newspaper but bad news!”  His sermon’s message that morning, if you haven’t guessed it already, was “The Good News (the “Gospel”) of God’s Word”.

BAD NEWS FIRST

No one can possible fail to see the lawlessness that prevails in our society today.  From the highest levels of government to the lowliest slum-dwellers in our great cities in America.  That is the reason why none of us dares to walk the city streets after dark.  We see lawlessness, but do we understand?  Jesus foretold this lawlessness of one the signs of His return; the end of the world:

“And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity,    BUT he who endures to the end will be saved”  (Matthew 24:12, 13–Amplified Bible).

These verses in Matthew are a part of Jesus’ answer to His disciples’ question in verse 3:

“While He was seated on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately and said, Tell us, when will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end (the completion, the consummation) of the age?”

His answer to that question is tied together with verse 11; the rising of false prophets deceiving many people.  The number of the faithful people of God will become smaller and smaller in the end.  One of the reasons for the decline will be the deception of many by false prophets and false teachers.

Another reason will be the abounding iniquity, causing the love of many to become cold.  What does the word “iniquity” mean?  The Greek word is, anomia; meaning “lawlessness” (literally, “without law”).  Jesus told His disciples-and us, a sign of the end will be abounding lawlessness.  The very thing that we are seeing today.  Not just in our own country but also in all the world.

“LAWLESSNESS” IN THE DAYS OF NOAH

Jesus makes a comparison in Matthew 24:37:  “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”  Genesis 6 describes the worlds condition before the Flood.  In the days of Noah, “the wickedness of men was great upon the earth” (Genesis 6:5, 11, 12).  The earth also was corrupt before God and was filled with violence.

The Gospel According to Luke gives another comparison of the world in the last days:

“So also [it was the same] as it was in the days of Lot. [People] ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built;    BUT on the [very] day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all.    That is the way it will be on the day that the son of Man is revealed”  (Luke 17:28-30).

The Old Testament city of Sodom, God destroyed it with fire and brimstone.  That comparison of Lukes’ is of special significance today.  The world shamelessly practices the same sin.  Sodom was notoriously recognized which gave its name; homosexuality and sodomy.

“LAWLESSNESS” ABOUNDS TO THE END

Scripture says, “Lawlessness is a life of disobedience to the law of God”.  Disobedience of a special kind; the deliberate trampling upon God’s law.

A lawless man is not someone who is ignorant of the law; or someone who breaks the law, whose authority he even acknowledges.  He holds the law of God in contempt; He “owns” no law, he does what he pleases; to “do his own thing”.  The “lawless” man, or woman openly practices the very thing which the law of God forbids as normal, acceptable, right behavior!

“LAWLESSNESS” IN OUR GOVERNMENT

Such a time is NOW!  Such a society is our society in a lawless time and a lawless society.  The government itself, God’s servant is to rule bylaw. Not guilty of “lawlessness”.  I’m not referring to the fact of politician’s occupancy in their offices for their own wealth, fame and their power.  King Solomon says, “There is nothing new under the sun”.  What I am speaking of is the fact that the state legalizes the murder of unborn children in its abortion-statutes.  And at the same time prohibits by law the execution of murders.  Those of whom God says, “Thou shall not kill”; the state murders.  Those who God says, “Punish with death”, the state saves alive, then sets them free in some cases for more mayhem and lawlessness.  The state is showing its radical lawlessness as it takes of its function in society as we know it.

The duty of government is to punish evil doers and protect and reward those who do well; maintaining order in the state.  We now see the state abandoning its fundamental responsibility with ruinous consequences for the country; intruding into areas of life of its citizens with no business whatever.

LAWLESSNESS” CHARACTERIZES THE BEHAVIOR OF THE PEOPLE

They despise authority:

–Children, that of their parents.

–Wives, that of their husbands.

–Employees, that of their employer.

–Citizens, that of their rulers.  Not only do they disobey their superiors, they deny that they have any superiors to honor or obedience that are due.

THE EFFECT OF “LAWLESSNESS” IN THE CHURCH

Jesus had no abstract interest in the crime rate when He was here on earth.  He wasn’t concerned about the ungodly world; what He said in Matthew 24:12 was, “because lawlessness still abounds, the love of many shall wax cold“.  It’s only the people in the churches who profess to be God’s people in the world, that have LOVE; who can wax cold.  The unbelieving world never had any love, except ‘love of self’.

The effect of abounding iniquity and the forsaking of the church by those who once professed allegiance to her and to her God; their LOVE waxes cold on account of “iniquity”. 

Jesus gives us a radically different view of the state of affairs at the end of the age; which looks for the world to become better, the size of churches swelling through conversion of multitudes, even whole nations.  The reality is, the world is ever the world going from bad to worse (more bad news); exhausting the resources of sin.  The churches, according to many surveys say that the church is becoming smaller and smaller in attendance.  Many are deceived by false doctrine, offended because of persecution and many will have their LOVE wax cold because of iniquity.  I have members of my own family that fits into this scenario for whom I pray for reconciliation.

The LOVE that the text in Matthew 24 is referring to is ‘the LOVE of man for God’; ‘the LOVE for Jesus Christ’; ‘the LOVE for the gospel in the Scriptures’; ‘the LOVE for the church’.  This love is “blown cold” by iniquity.  Literally what Jesus said: “The love of many SHALL be blown cold by abounding iniquity”.  He did not say that because people’s love becomes cold, there will be iniquity but that the iniquity cools off people’s love.  I hope you can see the differences  pointed out.  In the last days, an icy wind blows through the churches, cooling the love of many; the icy wind is “lawlessness”.

Are you by now tired of hearing about the all the bad news?  I am myself and in PART 2, will present the hope of the ages: The Good News; “Through It All!”