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For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Romans 12:4-5

And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 1Corinthians 12:26

As members of one body and members of one another, we care for each other’s needs, offer comfort in times of suffering and loss, and a steading hand during chaotic seasons. This is the love that will draw the lost world to Christ. But (and this is an important “but”), our unity must extend beyond mere gathering and ministering to one another.

Indeed, true Christian connectedness extends beyond the temporal. In fact, all we do in the physical realm flows from the spiritual. This is commonly understood in the Christian community. So, what about our sin? We are quick to mourn with a brother or sister over some temporal loss, and we should, but which is worse, physical loss (even the loss of a loved one) or damage to one’s relationship with God?

No sin is private. It may be secret but it is not private… The sin committed in the privacy of the home will have its effect in the assembly of the saints. A. W. Tozer

Sin in secret, even undiscovered, makes a man less fit for his participation in the Body of Christ until he has been restored through confession, forgiveness, and cleansing. Temporal personas have no effect on spiritual condition. “Fake it until you make it” is deception, not only toward the community of faith, but also for the one attempting the charade. Read the rest of this entry »

Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16

Just the other day, I discovered – no, I was shown – that there has been a bit of lawlessness hidden away in my mind. I have seen the symptoms of it, but did not know they were connected to something so profoundly evil.

Understand me: I did not know the lawlessness was there until the Holy Spirit revealed it to me. It was small and carefully hidden.

Indeed, the symptoms themselves are minor to look at (i.e., no gross sin). Only those closest to me would have noticed them. In fact, the worst of them – a presumption of what is just and fair – would be accepted by the modern world; perhaps even encouraged and applauded.

But, thank God, I am not of this world.

Once the lawlessness was revealed, I began to understand the true ugliness and danger of it. At its heart was a self-centric perspective. In this case, the determination of justice and fairness were wrapped around my selfish opinions.

It has been a sobering and frightening revelation that these relatively minor symptoms were rooted in lawlessness; for lawlessness leads to deception and to our Godward love growing cold. The lawless are cursed to an eternity of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

That is my confession. Here is my profession of faith. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowIn our last article on the sayings of Jesus, we discovered that His “judge not” is the pronouncement of guilt, sentence and punishment for the sin in our brother (or sister). Such judgment is reserved for God. We also learned that this saying does not excuse us from our responsibility to lovingly help our brother identify and remove the sin in His life. In fact, Jesus immediately described the first step in that restoration process.

Here we will learn the process for helping our brother find the grace to live a life without sin, for his benefit and that of the church. As we begin, it is important to recognize a few things:

  1. Identifying and addressing the sin in a brother is not judgment. It is an act of love; that he might not face the judgment of God (1Corinthians 5:1-5; James 5:19-20). Conversely, to ignore or accept sin in a brother is to not love him.
  2. To hold our tongue when God has made us aware of sin, makes us guilty of that sin, and subject to God’s judgment of it (Ezekiel 3:16-21).
  3. The primary meaning of krinō is “to separate, put asunder”. This is very similar to the meaning of sanctify: to cleanse, purify and separate from profane things; and dedicate to God. God’s children are to be instruments of sanctification for the church.

This may come as a surprise to you. You may be experiencing a resistance to it – even a strong one. Be encouraged to prayerfully consider your responsibility to your brother, the church and, most of all, to God. One of the primary reasons for the spiritual weakness of the church in America is our failure in this area.

Also, be encouraged that the Father knew the challenge this would be for His children. He graciously gave us a process for it, beginning with our own sanctification.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:3-5

God is intentional and shrewd in His orchestration of our relationships. Very often He puts people in our lives to help us see the sin in ourselves. We would be wise to consider every sin we notice in someone else as a sin God is trying to remove from our own eye. Here’s an interesting thought: The only way to see your eye is in a mirror.

Therefore, once we have noticed a sin in our brother, our first step for his restoration is to ask God to search our hearts; to see if there is any wicked way in us (Psalm 139:23-24). Whatever time it takes, this step must be completed before moving on. Read the rest of this entry »

Bible with Cross ShadowGive to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. Matthew 5:42

Honestly, I have had more questions than answers about this verse. Does this include every person on every corner that is holding up a “please help” sign? What about the professional panhandlers I come across in downtown Atlanta? What if they are going to use it for drugs or some other addiction?

Do I donate every time every organization sends a request? Does this include candidates for political office, or just people in need? What if I run out of money; won’t I become a part of the problem? Is there not some other way to understand this saying of Jesus Christ? Did He really mean what He is saying here?

I have an opinion about the meaning of this saying; but does my opinion matter? Perhaps more important is what all these questions reveal. Am I looking for understanding; or for an excuse to move this verse to the “consider later” basket; and move on to something else?

It seems this verse is pivotal in our discussion and obedience to “these sayings of mine” in the Sermon on the Mount and beyond. There is this option of moving on to “easier” sayings, but if we start now, I guarantee most of the rest will go in the same direction; and habits are hard to break. Perhaps now is the time to face our fears and deal with the reality of our commitment to faith and obedience. Read the rest of this entry »

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