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Last week, we suggested that the most important thing every disciple of Jesus Christ needs to know is the identity of their number one enemy. I lamented not knowing sooner in my life that my carnal mind has been an active and aggressive ally of Satan and the world since my childhood.

Not knowing for myself means I have been unable to share the same with the hundreds of people I have attempted to disciple over the years. Furthermore, every time I brought my carnal mind into the church, I was helping the enemy gain or strengthen their position in the camp I was at least partially responsible for protecting. The same is true for every sphere of influence God has entrusted to my responsibility.

Yes, it is a sobering thought.

It is counter-intuitive to think that well-intending Christians can be enemies of the church. Only as we recognize that an enemy lies within each one of us will we come to understand how this can be so. Failing to identify and deal with our carnal mind, we have not only injured ourselves; we have brought into our fellowships and ministries, the number one enemy of God’s kingdom. In doing so, we have helped open the door to Satan and the world.

Furthermore, concession to our carnal mind is a blatant form of double-mindedness. We have been given the mind of Christ; to trust in any other is idolatry. The carnal mind is at enmity with God, and can be nothing else (Romans 8:7).

These are hard words to write and read. Perhaps they are too harsh. Perhaps I am missing something. You be the judge of yourself and your ministry. As for me, I stand convinced and convicted. Something has to change. I must deal with my carnal mind.

If this has also cut you to the heart, then I dare say you and I are in good company… and the response remains the same. Read the rest of this entry »

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:14-15

Is there anything worse than “an abomination in the sight of God”? In the immediate context, Jesus is addressing the love of money. But is that all that qualifies? Can you think of anything highly esteemed among men which is not an abomination in the sight of God?

Seriously, this is not a rhetorical question. Make a list; force yourself to think.

In defense of our culture, honesty and integrity may come to mind, even sacrificial love. But really, are these highly esteemed among men? Or is that what we would like to believe? If the Christian virtues are so highly esteemed, why are they so much the exception, rarely celebrated, like exotic animals trapped in a zoo?

Come on, think!

Now, let’s take something of a different course. We can safely assume Jesus is not including the things of God’s kingdom as abominations in His sight. That narrows things down a bit, but still leaves us with much more than money to consider. Here’s an example from A. W. Tozer, just to make the point: Read the rest of this entry »

Warning: This article took a bit of a weird twist. It begins with a realization about teaching: That sharing isolated truth can be confusing – even injurious – to the body of Christ. Here are a few examples:

 

  1. Teaching the importance of good works without first establishing its relationship to the hearing of faith and the appropriation of grace for good works (by that faith), creates an environment where the probability for religious and soulish work is extremely high. The same is true when we fail to first develop the congregant’s relationship with the One “working in us to will and do to His good pleasure”.
  2. Teaching that God desires to show Himself strong on our behalf, without first establishing what it means to be loyal to Him, results in an attitude of passivity and entitlement.
  3. Inviting someone to enter the kingdom of God, without first instructing them about the costs of that commitment, the necessary striving to enter and the diligence required to make their election sure, will leave many falsely secure (and later wondering why He never knew them).

Then there’s the twist: Many will read this and think the problem here is about truth, and how effectively we share it. Yes, it is important that we share the whole truth (and nothing but the truth, so help us God). However, this article is going somewhere else – to a deeper issue.

My fear is that the leader reading this will be moved to try harder; to be more excellent; to hire more and/or new staff; and keep doing what they are doing. Please hear this: Better, smarter and more inspired people will not solve this problem. It is not a people problem. It is a process problem. 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 »

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