There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
When I see young men laying down their lives in service to their fellow citizens to defend them…
When I see people laying down their lives as martyrs in countries that are killing Christians.
When I see people working in careers that serve others and require great dedication but that don’t provide similar compensation to the “top paying” careers…
When I see people who genuinely care about others and help others even when there is no opportunity for benefit for themselves…
I am humbled greatly. Because a little voice says, “Look at them compared to you. You are nothing. You need to shut up your talking, because you don’t know how to love. You can’t even practice what you peach, you hypocrite.
And I stand both accused and guilty by reason of fact and physical evidence.
But I hope and trust that I am judged spiritually innocent, on the grounds of faith, motive and intent.
Even the laws of men take into account the intent – if a man intends to end the life of another it is murder, if it was grossly negligent or during some other malicious act it might be even be considered murder, if it was an accident it might be manslaughter, or if it was forced and unavoidable it might be self defense. In each of these cases, the physical evidence exists to prove that man A ended the life of man B.
So when I look at the piles of evidence against me, the fact that there is evidence against me should be concerning, or I am not repentant nor do I have an adequate fear of God. Because if we are using the excuse of grace to continue willfully in rebellion against the will of God, can we say that we are His and that He lives in us?
But that pile of evidence is just physical evidence, and the Lord searches our hearts and knows our true motives. For some of us, this fact is more scary than the pile of evidence – because we know how much we love ourselves and how little we love God. For some of us, we know how our own pride rules our life and that we are not surrendered to God. For some of us, we recognize the hardness of our hearts towards other people and that we are far from beginning the living and serving type that reflects Christ as a living sacrifice offered to glorify and honor God.
So we ask, am I doomed? How can I overcome such a mountain of physical evidence? I cannot fool a God who knows the treachery of my wicked heart, who knows every selfish thought, who hears every hurtful word, who sees every missed opportunity that I have to show love to others. Am I facing a life of serving a god through religious practice only to receive what I deserve at judgement?
I hope not friend.
I hope that you will accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior – and not just once with a prayer and some water, but each day and repetitively throughout each day, I hope that you will choose to believe and surrender your life to Him.
Because friend, you are guilty as charged.
Because friend, I am guilty as charged.
And payment is required.
But there is a promise, and there is an inheritance that can pay for our debt.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
Something is controlling our lives, friend. It is either the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in us, or it is our own sinful nature. And if it is the Holy Spirit, we shouldn’t still be stacking up piles of evidence to be used against us at trial like we did before. So we must examine ourselves and ask if we are His.
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced.”
So it is a question of trust. It is a question of faith. It is a question of heart and intent.
This is why I share. This is why I, the great hypocrite with piles of evidence against me, stand and shout from the rooftops (via Internet), and talk about Jesus Christ.
It isn’t that I’m trying to convince anyone that there isn’t enough physical evidence against me to convict me and doom me to the punishment that I deserve. No, I am not blind to that pile of evidence. In fact, it is my own admitted and accepted weakness that demonstrates His power and glory within my life. Because through the power of Christ who lives in me, through the Holy Spirit who lives in me and guides me and convicts me against sin, I am repenting, I am resisting sin and evil in my life.
And my debt had been paid in full by the blood of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for me, and for you, dear friend.
So know your debt. See the evidence stacked against you. And be reminded of the price paid, so that you will remember the promise, and so that you will walk led by the Spirit and not led by your own sinful nature.
Love each other in everything you do, and you will not sin.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.
This is my command: Love each other.
I share this with you because I love you, not because I believe that I am perfect or free from sin or better than you. Without Christ, I stand guilty the same add you, friend – because the ground is level at the foot of the cross and all fall short of the glory of God. I continue to share not because I feel myself worthy of sharing – I share because I am called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. And it starts with you. You are called as well, and together He will change the world and touch lives through you and I friend.
And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.
Trust, believe, and follow.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.