Excuses for Sin

Excuse (def.) –suggests trying to justify a mistake or failure or to make it seem less serious, in order to escape being blamed or punished… something said to explain an offense or failure.

I keep wondering why we so often attempt to make excuses for sins in our lives. How is that though we say we love God, so often it is difficult to look at ourselves head-on and see the sin that God sees? How come it is so easy to make excuses to others, who often see us for what we are, and the sins we commit? Why is it that the sins we try to hide the most, are the ones that keep coming to light, until we finally say, “No more excuses”?

Hebrews 10:26 “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,”

Also Hebrews 10:10-24

There are so many excuses that people give for remaining in sin or denying that they are sinning. Over the years I’ve heard so many. One excuse often being used, that was close to home, was “my background”. Other examples are “my home life” or “the way I was brought up” or ???

Some other “pet” excuses used by people are “it’s my personality” or “God made me that way.” Regardless of how unique God has made each of us, the Bible clearly states that all are to have evidence of the fruit of the Spirit. There are no verses that describe or let us make excuses for sin because of our personalities, backgrounds or circumstances. But there are many verses that say we are to change and put off sin. God expects that of us.

Ephesians 4:20-26 “But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil”

Ephesians 4:29-32 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away with you, with all malice: And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

The scriptures also speak of what happens to those that hang onto sin.

Romans 2 :5-9 “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; For there is no respect of persons with God.”

We can often deceive ourselves with our excuses, and justify remaining in sin and committing more sins. This type of behavior can happen over and over. It depends on how sensitive we are to the leading of the Holy Spirit. As well, justifying and deceiving ourselves can make us believe that we are absolutely right in our behavior, and that thinking often leads to further sin.

Jeremiah 17:9 ” The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.”

Proverbs 28:25,26 ” He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat. He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”

We are admonished and warned to be aware of those that are not necessarily of God.

1 Timothy 6:3-6 ” If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Ephesians 4:17-20 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;”

Proverbs 21:23,24 ” Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.”

Some have a perception that they are justified to sin because they feel others have hurt them or falsely accused them, whether it is true or not. Often that justification keeps a person from seeing the sin they are committing. Others feel that being a Christian and contending for the faith gives one license to use whatever words and attitudes they feel like using –all in the name of “righteousness”. But failure to exhibit the things of Christ, or being a reflection of Him, means we have fallen into sin somewhere along the way. Or perhaps it could mean a person did not, or no longer, belongs to Christ.

We are admonished and warned to be aware of those that are not necessarily of God.

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

Colossians 3:12-17a “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another…” 

Colossians 3:5-10 “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him:”

2 Tim 3:1-7 “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Proverbs 22:10-13 “Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea strife and reproach shall cease. He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend. The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.”

1 Timothy 6:3-6 ” If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

And finally:

Luke 6:43-48 “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:

He is like a man which built an house, and digged it deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” 

We need to be “fruit inspectors” and weigh carefully what is growing around us. We also need to check where we’ve built our “House” and we need to be sure that we’re on the “Rock”. 

And find out what pleases the Lord

Reposted by request

And find out what pleases the Lord.

Ephesians 5:10

Do you know what pleases God? Are you sure? Some Christians spend their lives assuming God is pleased with them simply because they are Christians. They never stop to consider that they might actually be disappointing God with their attitudes and their behavior.

Before his conversion, Paul thought he was the model of righteousness. He assumed God wanted him to rid the world of heretics, so he poured his life into persecuting Christians. Paul was mortified when Jesus opened his eyes and he saw how displeasing his life had been. He was determined never to misunderstand God’s will again. He was adamant that his friends not make his mistake, so he warned them about living under false assumptions. He advised them to find out what pleases God and then do it!

We can be like Paul and mistakenly set our own standards for what we think pleases God; that way we know we can live up to them! We might assume God will overlook our small indulgences as long as we avoid the big sins. So we don’t kill anybody, but we do gossip just a little. We don’t actually hate anyone, but we occasionally criticize others. We don’t pretend to be perfect, but by our own standards, we’re not as bad as we could be. The problem is, God is not impressed when we live up to our standards; he expects us to live up to his.

If you’ve never investigated what is pleasing to God, now is the time to do so. As you read your Bible and pray, God will make clear how he wants you to live. Let that-and nothing less-be the standard for the way you live.

Does God Answer Our Prayers?

Sermon 5/24

Have you ever known someone who really trusts God? When I was an
atheist, I had a good friend who prayed often. She would tell me every week about something she was trusting God to take care of. And every week I
would see God do something unusual to answer her prayer. Do you know
how difficult it is for an atheist to observe this week after week? After a
while, “coincidence” begins to sound like a very weak argument.
So why would God answer my friend’s prayers? The biggest reason is that she had a relationship with God. She wanted to follow God. And she
actually listened to what he said. In her mind, God had the right to direct
her in life, and she welcomed him doing just that! When she prayed for
things, it was a natural part of her relationship with God. She felt very
comfortable coming to God with her needs, her concerns, and whatever
issues were current in her life. Furthermore, she was convinced, from what she read in the Bible, that God wanted her to rely on him like that.
She pretty much exhibited what this statement from the Bible says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything
according to his will, he hears us.”1 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the
righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”

I once had a daughter ask why God answered my prayers and not hers.  What a tough question to answer… but I finally did.  Relationship was the answer.  I was actively cultivating a relationship with God and she was obviously not.  

So, Why Doesn’t God Answer Everyone’s Prayers?

“You should go and bear fruit and – your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16b

This is one of the 7 passages in John, that refers to having fruit and it abiding in our lives.

It may be because they don’t have a relationship with God. They may know that God exists, and they might even worship God from time to time. But those who never seem to have their prayers answered probably don’t have a relationship with him. Further, they have never received from God complete forgiveness for their sin. What does that have to do with it you ask? Here is an explanation. “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God. Your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.”3

It’s pretty natural to feel that separation from God. When people begin to ask God for something, what usually takes place? They begin with, “God, I really need your help with this problem…” And then there’s a pause, followed by a restart… “I realize that I’m not a perfect person, that I actually have no right to ask you for this…” There’s an awareness of personal sin and failure. And the person knows that it’s not just them; that God is aware of it too. There’s a feeling of, “Who am I kidding?” What they may not know is how they can receive God’s forgiveness for all their sin. They might not know that they can come into a relationship with God so that God will hear them. This is the foundation for God answering your prayer.

Ezekiel 20:5,7,19,20 I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.

“You should go and bear fruit and – your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. John 15:16

“Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

All believers have the fruit of Spirit available to them. You don’t have to ask God for love, joy, or peace…you already have it in you. However, you may need to ask for a greater yield of your fruit on a day to day basis. The size of the fruit is different among believers. Some people spend time cultivating their fruit so that it’s flourishing; while others tend to neglect their fruit and it becomes unproductive. Does Your Fruit of the Spirit in your life look Appetizing?

Our fruit of the spirit is one piece with many different characteristics.

Every so often believers need to make sure they are growing up spiritually. Perhaps it is time for your fruit inspection to determine the condition of your spiritual fruit. Check the fruit you need the most nourishment to grow.

Love

“Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).

Is your love unconditional? Or is your love most evident when everything goes your way? This type of fruit keeps on loving even when it’s difficult to show affection to others. The capacity to love grows out of the agape love from the heavenly Father.  This Love is hard to show on the job because some people just don’t deserve it.  Love anyway, unconditionally.

Joy

“For the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

Can you have joy in the chaos? Or does your moodiness hover over everyone like a cloud? Not that anyone should be joyful about the hard times, but rather your joy comes from #1) God is with you through it and #2) God uses every trial to help you become stronger in the faith.

Check your “reputation”.  Are you the person people avoid during your moody times?

Peace

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-8).

Is your inner person wrecked with anxiety and worry when everything falls apart? Or can you rest in God’s peace? There is no peace for the wicked; however, for believers it is available every time you pray and leave your concerns with God.  God knows all about your job.  He knows the deadlines, and the bill due dates.

Forbearance

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).

Can you be still and wait on God? Or are you tempted to always move ahead so you can stay in control? Forbearance is a fruit that will grow with your experience of being stretched in faith especially in times of trial.  Forbearance is another word for patience; you don’t have to pray for patience…it’s there already!

Our Jobs, our Lives are going at such a fast pace… Can you succeed and still wait on the Lord?

Kindness

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” (2 Timothy 2:24).

Do others sense your kindness in words and actions? Or are they more accustomed to your angry response? A gentle word, a soft answer, or a helping hand—all demonstrate the fruit of kindness in this culture of rudeness and selfishness.

Goodness

“Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God” (3 John 11).

Are your conversations marked with genuine virtue and honor? Or is your conversation tainted with worldly language, immoral tendencies, or gossip? Goodness doesn’t mean that you are perfect, but rather someone who sincerely reflects the integrity of God within. A believer who demonstrates the fruit of goodness has the tendency to look for the best about people.

Faithfulness

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Does your reputation reflect dependability and steadfastness in the faith? Or do people expect you to be late, undependable, or to drop off the map on a project? Your faithfulness represents God’s Spirit dwelling within. Those who cultivate the fruit of faithfulness are compelled to complete every good work for His glory.

Gentleness

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5).

Is your meek spirit felt around those who live or work with you? Or do they feel that you are a hard and legalistic person to deal with? A spirit of gentleness gives grace freely and consistently. Believers and unbelievers should feel at ease around you because of your presence of gentleness.

Self-Control

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12)

Do you control your appetites? Or do they control you? Believers can demonstrate a life of self-control and discipline in a world where everyday is an opportunity for gluttony. You have the power through the Spirit to control your cravings.

Forbearance

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience” (Colossians 1:11).

Can you be still and wait on God? Or are you tempted to always move ahead so you can stay in control? Forbearance is a fruit that will grow with your experience of being stretched in faith especially in times of trial.  Forbearance is another word for patience; you don’t have to pray for patience…it’s there already!

Every Fruit should be seen in each one of the Believers.  Don’t make excuses why you do not exhibit a particular fruit.  If there are no fruits seen, or if they are rotten and moldy, you need to decide what is more important to you, Jesus or _________ (fill in the blank).  Start by praying about them every day.  Ask others to pray with you too.  Try to post the different “Fruits” around your office or work space as a reminder for you to start cultivating these missing fruits.

One side benefit of having the Fruits of the Spirit abiding in you seems to be Answered Prayers.  Read the 7 passages in John, that refer to having fruit and it abiding in our lives, and you will see that it seems to promise a stronger prayer life.  Wow… what a cool benefit!

When we pray, and our prayers are not answered, perhaps we need to check our fruit. Every so often believers need to make sure they are still growing up spiritually.

How Does Prayer Work?

When it comes to God then, do you really know him and does he know you? Do you have a relationship with him that warrants God answering your prayers? Or is God pretty distant, pretty much just a concept in your life? If God is distant, or you’re not sure you can begin a relationship with him right now.

“You should go and bear fruit and – your fruit should abide hat you know God,

Look at the word “abide”. This means it is consistently there, not hit and miss.

All believers have the fruit of Spirit available to them. You don’t have to ask God for love, joy, or peace…you already have it in you. However, you may need to ask for a greater yield of your fruit on a day to day basis. The size of the fruit is different among believers. Some people spend time cultivating their fruit so that it’s flourishing; while others tend to neglect their fruit and it becomes unproductive.

Will God Definitely Answer Your Prayer?

For those who do know him and rely on him, Jesus seems to be wildly generous in his offer: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”5 To “remain” in him and have his words remain in them means they conduct their lives aware of him, relying on him, listening to what he says. Then they’re able to ask him whatever they want. Here is another qualifier: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.”6God answers our prayers according to his will (and according to his wisdom, his love for us, his holiness, etc.).

Where we trip up is assuming we know God’s will, because a certain thing makes sense to us! We assume that there is only one right “answer” to a specific prayer, assuming certainly THAT would be God’s will. And this is where it gets tough. We live within the limits of time and limits of knowledge. We have only limited information about a situation and the implications of future action on that situation.

God’s understanding is unlimited. How an event plays out in the course of life or history is only something he knows. And he may have purposes far beyond what we could even imagine. So, God is not going to do something simply because we determine that it must be his will.

What about “Unanswered” Prayer?

Certainly people get sick, even die; financial problems are real, and all sorts of very difficult situations can come up. What then?

God tells us to give our concerns to him. Even as the situation remains dismal, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”12 The circumstances may look out of control, but they aren’t. When the whole world seems to be falling apart, God can keep us together. This is when a person can be very grateful that they know God. “The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”13 God may provide solutions, resolutions to the problem WAY beyond what you imagined possible. Probably any Christian could list examples like this in their own lives. But if the circumstances do not improve, God can still give us his peace in the midst of it. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”14

It is at this point (when circumstances are still tough) that God asks us to continue to trust him — to “walk by faith, not by sight” the Bible says. But it’s not blind faith. It is based on the very character of God. A car traveling on the Golden Gate Bridge is fully supported by the integrity of the bridge. It doesn’t matter what the driver may be feeling, or thinking about, or discussing with someone in the passenger seat. What gets the car safely to the other side is the integrity of the bridge, which the driver was willing to trust.

In the same way, God asks us to trust his integrity, his character…his compassion, love, wisdom, righteousness on our behalf. He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”15 “Trust in him at all times, O people. Pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.”16

In Summary

God has offered to answer the prayers of his children (those who have received him into their lives and seek to follow him). He asks us to take any concerns to him in prayer and he will act upon it according to his will. As we deal with difficulties we are to cast our cares on him and receive from him a peace that defies the circumstances. The basis for our hope and faith is the character of God himself. The better we know him, the more apt we are to trust him.

  1. A relationship with God.
  2. Wants to follow God.
  3. Listens to what He says.
  4. God had the right to direct your life.
  5. Prayer is a natural part of your relationship with God.
  6. Feels very comfortable coming to God with needs, concerns, and whatever issues were current in life.
  7. Convinced, from what the Bible says, that God wanted you to rely on him like that.

Pretty much exhibits what this statement from the Bible says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”1 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer…”

31 Amazing Word Studies You Should Do:

1. Meditate Psalm 119:15-16
2. Righteousness Proverbs 21:21
3. Shalom/peace I Peter 4:13
4. Submit Job 22:21
5. Endures Isaiah 40:8
6. Stronghold Psalm 62:1-2
7. Perfected II Corinthians 12:9
8. Humble I Peter 5:6
9. Authority Luke 9:1-2
10. Treasured Luke 2:19
11. Hope Psalm 42:5
12. Protect Psalm 91:11
13. Rejoice I Peter 4:13
14. Blessed Ephesians 1:3
15. Futile I Samuel 12:21
16. Fulfillment Luke 1:45
17. Delight II Corinthians 12:9-10
18. Dignity Proverbs 31:25
19. Harmony Romans 12:15
20. Might Zechariah 4:6
21. Hiding Place Psalm 32:7
22. Enriched II Corinthians 9:11
23. Power Colossians 1:29
24. Complete Colossians 2:10
25. Grace Titus 2:11
26. Give Luke 6:38
27. Consider Romans 6:11
28. Justifies Romans 4:5
29. Love John 3:16
30. Press On Philippians 3:14
31. Forgive Matthew 6:14-15

The Battle for Your Mind

By Billy Graham   •  

This issue of Decision features several articles from Christian apologists—scholars who show that Christian faith rests on solid historical evidence and that we do not need to shut down our minds in order to believe in Jesus. This classic message from Billy Graham tells how our minds can be renewed, transformed and filled with life and peace.

One of the most important things in our lives is the control of our minds. Our thoughts are powerful. They can harm us or do us good. The Bible says, “As [a person] thinks … so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Many people have troubled minds. There’s a story told in the eighth chapter of Ezekiel about priests and leaders who on the outside were worshiping the true and living God, but who on the inside, in their minds, had idols. They were worshiping other gods and acting out sexual fantasies, and God condemned them as great sinners.

Scripture has several things to say about the mind: First, the Bible says that the mind is naturally at enmity with God (Romans 8:7). A person’s mind is against God. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians that before they came to Christ, they were “alienated and enemies in [their] mind” to all things relating to the true knowledge of God. Because of sin, the mind is an enemy of God (Colossians 1:21). Such a mind will not obey the law of God. You may say you believe in God, you may say you love God, but you don’t obey God. You live like an atheist.

The works of the flesh are listed in Galatians 5. I’d like to quote them for you, because they talk about the mind. When you follow your own wrong mind, your life will produce these evil results: “impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, spiritism (that is, encouraging the activity of demons), hatred and fighting, jealousy and anger, constant effort to get the best for yourself, complaints and criticisms, the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group–and there will be wrong doctrine, envy, murder, drunkenness, wild parties, and all that sort of thing” (Galatians 5:19-21, TLB). Paul went on to say, “I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21, NKJV).

If you continue without repentance, the Scripture says that God will eventually give you over to a “reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28, KJV) to do those things which are not right. The word reprobate carries with it the idea of having been rejected. What a terrible thing it would be to be rejected by God. There were many people who followed Christ in His day, but the Bible says He saw their hearts, He saw their minds and what they were thinking, and He rejected them. There is a point beyond which you cannot return, where your heart is so hard that you can no longer hear the Holy Spirit. Your mind is so hardened that it becomes reprobate, and the Bible warns against having this kind of mind.

Second, the Bible says that you can have a blinded mind. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). In other words, when the Gospel is presented, the devil has a veil over your mind. The devil blinds your mind to spiritual truth. You may know all kinds of disciplines and fields of knowledge. But when it comes to spiritual things, you don’t know anything that is right. You’re blinded.

Our minds don’t want to believe that. That’s why the Holy Spirit has to come and lift the veil. Many people tell me, “I cannot understand. I’ve heard this all my life; I’ve tried to believe and cannot.” I tell you, seriously and tenderly and earnestly, the reason is often because of sin in your life. Satan holds you in his control, and the reason you cannot believe is that you do not really want to believe. You don’t want to give control of your life to Jesus Christ. It would mean giving up those things in your life that the Bible condemns.

Now, when you come to a place where you desire God’s will above all other things and say, “I want to be freed from the power of sin and be forgiven for my sins,” your spiritual eyes are opened. Your mind is freed.

Third, the Bible talks about the doubtful mind. Jesus said, “And do not … have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after. … But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:29-31). In Romans, the Bible says, “He who doubts is condemned” (Romans 14:23). The Bible warns that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). This carries with it the idea of a person who wishes to be secure in both worlds, who doesn’t want to give up the sins of this world, but who doesn’t want to give up heaven either. God says we can’t have it both ways.

Fourth, the Bible talks about the defiled mind. Paul wrote to Titus about certain people whose minds are “defiled and unbelieving” (Titus 1:15). A religious leader came to me years ago and said, “You know, my mind is filled with evil thoughts, lustful thoughts, all the time. What can I do?”

You see, people don’t fall suddenly. Before the outward fall, there is the inner rehearsal and preparation. Think about it. Shakespeare wrote that sexual passion looks not with the eyes but with the mind. And that’s what Jesus meant when He said, “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

But Jesus Christ can cure the mind and the body of their craving of the things that destroy. Christ can liberate and change a person’s mind.

Fifth, there is the renewed mind: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). This means that you renounce the pride, the jealousy and the lusts of your mind, and you receive Jesus Christ into your heart. You let Christ control your mind and your heart, your conscience and your will.

How do you have your mind transformed? By repenting of sin and receiving Christ into your heart. The Scripture says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). The mind of Christ can, through the Holy Spirit, control your mind, your thoughts, your intents and your actions, if you submit to Him daily.

That doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes, but it does mean that you can have the mind of Christ. Do you have a mind controlled by Christ? Do you have a renewed mind? Do you know that all your sins are forgiven, and that if you died right now you would go to heaven? If there’s a doubt in your heart that you are totally and completely Christ’s, you must do three things: First, repent of your sin. Jesus said, “Unless you repent you will … perish” (Luke 13:3).

Second, by faith receive Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for you. When He died on that cross, He took your sin. Something terrible and glorious happened when Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). In that moment, God the Father laid upon His Son your sins and mine. Because Jesus bore our sin and death for us, God can say, “I forgive you.”

And instantaneously you can start a new life. It happens in an instant, but there is a lifetime of decisions and commitments to make that relate to the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day I make a commitment concerning thoughts in my mind, what I’m to read, the discipline of my time, my prayer, my Bible-reading, my relationship with my family. Whatever it may be, I say, “Lord Jesus, I want Your mind in this matter.”

Third, follow Christ as a disciple. It’s not easy to follow Christ. The pull of the world, the pull of evil, is tremendous. But you can follow Christ, for in Christ you become spiritually minded. Romans 8:6 says, “To be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Wouldn’t you like to have eternal life right now? You can have eternal life, life that goes on for eternity. With it comes peace–peace in a world that seems to be falling apart. Wouldn’t you like to have that peace? Deep down in the recesses of your mind you know you ought to receive Christ. Make that commitment to Him right now.

Persecution Coming

I don’t normally post anything political, but this article I found seems too relevant for the Church in America. 


HARD LEFT FOCUS ON CHURCH
“Democrats preparing ultimatum for people of faith”
This is real serious as the dems want to destroy the church in America. They are not playing games, but they literally despise us and want us destroyed. 

We need revival for survival.

Proverbs 1:23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 

The Alliance Defending Freedom, (a powerhouse of civil and religious rights advocacy), has joined other groups in denouncing the Equality Act proposed in the Democratic-majority House as a threat to faith. “Essentially, the Equality Act gives people of faith an ultimatum: Change your faith-based practices or face government punishment,” wrote ADF’s Sarah Kramer.

WND reported it would amend the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit and the jury system.  And it would specifically prevent Christians from relying on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to uphold their religious rights.

Washington watchdog Judicial Watch has warned it would effectively eliminate single-sex “public multi-stall bathrooms, domestic violence or rape crisis shelters, drug rehabilitation centers, jails, juvenile detention facilities, homeless shelters, locker rooms or group showers.”

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Others and Us

Charles Swindoll

Matthew 5

“Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:2). That single sentence is perhaps the most famous statement Jesus ever made. It is the “Everest of Ethics,” as one man put it. In some ways it is the cornerstone of true Christianity, certainly the capstone of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

I appreciate the positive emphasis. Instead of saying, “Don’t do this,” He says, “Do this.” If you have wondered about how to get started in a lifetime of simple faith, here it is.

  • The principle? Modeling must accompany our message.
  • You want to be forgiven? Forgive.
  • You need affirmation? Affirm.
  • You feel hurt, wounded, broken, and could stand a gentle touch? Be gentle with others.
  • You have discovered the value of tact when something sensitive needed to be addressed? Be tactful.

The examples are endless. Unfortunately, models of such greathearted behavior are rare. Is it any wonder the non-Christian world looks with suspicion in our direction?

The best part of the whole principle? It is so simple. Living by the Golden Rule prevents the need for laying down an endless list of little rules and regulations to govern conduct. Just put yourself in the other person’s place and think, What is it I would need if I were him or her? And then? Do it. When you do, you will fulfill the essence of “the Law and the Prophets.”

Do you know the greatest message we can deliver? It is the message of Christlike character. No message on earth is more needed or more powerful.

You want to impact your family, your church, your community, your place of employment? You want to make a difference in the life of your mate, a family member, a friend (Christian or not), some person in the workplace? Demonstrate the characteristics of Christ.

It has been said that the only Bible most folks ever read is the daily life of the Christian. If that is true, I believe the world needs a revised version. Our problem is not that too many of us are being ignored; it’s that we are all being observed!

Words fitly spoken are powerful, but they are nothing compared to the power of a life fitly lived.

What is a reprobate mind?

What is a reprobate mind?

by Matt Slick

A reprobate mind is a mind that is given over to sinful passions and ungodly desires. It is another way of describing a person who is set on satisfying the flesh and not on the Spirit of God. It is a person who rejects God and does what is self-serving instead of what God desires. Therefore, someone who is reprobate is under the condemnation of God. Such a person does not attend church, does not care about the things of God, does not read the word, and does not pray. They are judged by God and are under condemnation, so they have no conviction of their sin or desire for God.

The term “reprobate mind” is found in the King James Version in Romans 1:28 and is rendered differently in different translations.

  • “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient,” (Romans 1:28, KJV).
  • “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,” (Romans 1:28, NASB).
  • “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done,” (Romans 1:28, ESV).

The Greek word for reprobate, depraved, debased is ἀδόκιμος adókimos.  It means…

  • “Unapproved, unworthy, spurious, worthless. In a pass. sense meaning disapproved, rejected, cast away.”1
  • “ἀδόκιμοςa, ον; ἄτοποςa, ον: pertaining to not being in accordance with what is right, appropriate, or fitting—‘not fitting, what should not be done, bad.”2

The Greek word for reprobate occurs 8 times in the New Testament but is translated into the English using various words.

  1. Romans 1:28, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”
  2. 1 Corinthians 9:27, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
  3. 2 Corinthians 13:5, Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”
  4. 2 Corinthians 13:6, But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.”
  5. 2 Corinthians 13:7, Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved.”
  6. 2 Timothy 3:8, Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.”
  7. Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”
  8. Hebrews 6:8, “but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

As you can see, there is a variety of meanings in the English for what reprobation is. But generally, the word means to test and find lacking.

  • “In Rom. 1:28, at the end of a passage documenting human ungodliness (vv 18–27), Paul uses a wordplay to sum up his indictment. Since humanity tested and rejected (ou dokimázō, lit “not accept as proved” the knowledge of God, God gave them over to an adókimos mind, i.e., a way of thinking that, having been tested and found wanting, is rejected as base and worthless.”3
  • REPROBATE—that which is rejected on account of its own worthlessness (Jer. 6:30Heb. 6:8; Gr. adokimos, “rejected”). This word is also used with reference to persons cast away or rejected because they have failed to make use of opportunities offered them (1 Cor. 9:272 Cor. 13:5–7).”4

Can Christians be of reprobate mind?

No, Christians cannot be of reprobate mind because they are indwelt by God (John 14:23), and are born again (John 3:3-82 Corinthians 5:17).  Because they are changed, Christians will seek the will of God.  But, this does not mean perfection. It means that Christian struggle against their sin, but they are not judged by God as to have a reprobate mind (Romans 1:28).

Too Heavenly Minded?

I was admonished by a pastor once, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you’re no earthly good.”  At the time perhaps my head was in the clouds, or I was “over spiritualizing” a topic of discussion.  But many years have passed since then and I haven’t really thought about it until recently.  I read an interesting discussion on a SouthernGospel.com forum in which it was suggested that being too “spiritual” or heavenly minded is a matter of doing things that are seen as offensive, such as taking too much time to say grace, annoying others with your faith instead of being winsome, assuming a position of superiority or judgementalism over other believers, etc. 

While I understand that words can have connotations beyond their normal use, and that the meanings of words can be tweaked to fit certain playful applications, such as double entendres, in the case of dealing with this popular proverb, I want to know exactly what is in the mind of a person who says it.

I have come across a familiar piece of Scripture (cited later) that has resulted in my taking a fresh look at this saying.  First of all, there is no verse in the Bible that says, “If you’re too heavenly minded you won’t be any earthly good.”  So, this statement reflects a non-Biblical opinion.  Equally, the terms “heavenly minded” and “earthly good” also represent non-Biblical value judgements.  In this context, being “heavenly minded” can mean anything religious.  And “earthly good” can mean anything that works to one’s advantage in a practical sense.  Similar sayings that rely on pragmatic results for proving worth are “Smart is as smart does.” and “But does it put food on the table?”.

So, the value of being “heavenly minded” is being weighed against the value of having any “earthly good”.  Here, the sole criteria for evaluating “spiritual” thinking is whether or not it produces anything considered useful or advantageous.  This judgement is made by the observer.  The word “too” indicates that being “spiritual” or “heavenly minded” is OK, up to a point but that in excess, it becomes harmful.  Like drinking alcohol, it needs to be moderated, balanced.  But since the “heavenly minded” person is unaware of when he’s being “too” spiritual, others must make that judgement for him.  The fallacy here is that each observer has his own idea of what exactly constitutes too much heavenly mindedness.

As I thought back to that pastor who had “corrected” me, I began to feel quite bad for him, because Scripture gives us a very different lesson.  An interesting exchange between Peter and Jesus is recorded in Matthew 16:21-23.  When Jesus told his disciples that he must, “go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”, Peter rebuked him and said, “Never, Lord! … This shall never happen to you!”  Previous to that, in verses 15-19, Jesus had told Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this [from verse 16 that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”] was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

But now, only a few verses later, as Jesus hears this same, blessed disciple rebuking him, he turns his back on Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  Peter was concerned for Jesus’ well-being.  He didn’t yet understand how Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection would offer salvation to the world.  He was so focused on human wisdom he was being a stumbling block to Jesus.  Peter was so worldly minded he was of no spiritual good, the exact opposite of what he had been in verse 17, when Jesus told him his understanding came from God, not man.

Given that these two examples are polar opposites, we will not always have such extreme choices.  However, they do serve to clarify our options.  Do you prefer the wisdom of man or the wisdom of God?  Would you prefer being heavenly minded and of no earthly good, or worldly minded and of no spiritual good?  For me the choice is clear.  I would rather “have in mind the things of God” that they may see my good deeds and praise my Father in heaven (paraphrasing Matthew 5:16).

“Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”  (1 Corinthians 1:20)

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”  (1 Corinthians 1:25)

“We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”  (1 Corinthians 2:12)

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, for they are spiritually discerned.”  (1 Corinthians 2:14)

“Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”  (1 Corinthians 3:18,19)

Third World Churches

Churches in the developing world remain some of the most dynamic and fastest growing in Christendom. This should cause Western Christians to celebrate. But it should also prompt us to ask the obvious question: What are churches in the developing world doing that Western churches aren’t?

Membership in mainline denominations continues declining in the United States year after year. Yet these same denominations are growing in places like Africa and Asia. That’s the case for Seventh Day Baptist (SDB), the United Methodist Church (UMC), the Anglican Communion, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church, among others. For decades now, the majority of Christians have lived in the Global South.

It becomes evident why this is when interacting with Christians from the developing world. These Christians overflow with passion and commitment for their faith. Their charisma expresses itself in at least five ways that I’ve observed: (1) theological orthodoxy; (2) devotion to prayer; (3) openness to the supernatural; (4) ambition to spread the gospel despite opposition; and (5) willingness to follow God’s call to ministry.

Let’s begin with the commitment of Christians in the developing world to Biblical doctrine.

First, let me clarify. I’m not saying these Christians have perfect theology. Like Christians anywhere, they have biases and errors, too. For example, local religious traditions and heretical Western doctrines like the “prosperity gospel” maintain varying degrees of influence in the developing world. Christians in many underdeveloped countries also lack access to the quantity and quality of theological resources that we enjoy in the first world, particularly in America.

But here’s the key. Christians in the developing world get a lot of important things right. They are taking firm stands on issues like marriage, sexuality, and abortion while Western Christians are busy equivocating on these basic tenants.

Look no further than recent events in Canterbury for proof. Anglican primates (top bishops) from Africa played a pivotal role in sanctioning the Episcopal Church over their open acceptance of homosexuality. Many African bishops were members of the theologically conservative Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). Without their support, the Anglican Communion would have continued permitting the Episcopal Church to promote their liberal agenda on sexuality.

Not only have African bishops stood firm in the Anglican Communion, but also in the UMC. For decades, the UMC has faithfully affirmed Biblical doctrines on marriage and sexuality. That trend has continued in recent years “especially thanks to outspokenly conservative African delegates,” Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) President Mark Tooley commented in 2009. Hopefully the steadfastness of African delegates will be enough to prevent theological backsliding at the upcoming UMC General Conference this May.

So how can Western Christians learn from their brothers and sisters in the Global South? We know from experience in America what happens when denominations diverge from Scripture on basic issues of morality. They fall into decline.

By conforming to the world, theologically vapid churches become indistinguishable from secular society. They lose their cultural relevance. Who wants to be part of an institution that doesn’t stand for anything distinctive?

I recently came across a quote in which Martin Luther King Jr. summed it up brilliantly. He wrote in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail:

“There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period that the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was the thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

Unbelievers can go anywhere to hear the world’s values preached. Hollywood, musicians, the media, and secular commentators proclaim their pluralistic moral code in much more accessible, entertaining, and compelling ways. The Church can never compete – not without a distinctive message.

Of course, we can season our truth with salt. But this is no substitute for substance.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Skip to toolbar