Sin, Repentance, Righteousness, Judgement

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in  it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:21-25 NKJV

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under  the  sway  of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. – I John 5:16-21 NKJV

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let  yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you  do these things to  your brethren! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. – I Corinthians 6:1-11 NKJV

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are  dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. – Revelation 22:14-15 NKJV

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Ephesians 5:1-7 NKJV

But we know that the law is  good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. – I Timothy 1:8-17 NKJV

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. – Hebrews 12:12-17 NKJV

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the  testimony  of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31 NKJV

Money, Sex, and God

Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.  Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?
Hebrews 13:1‭-‬6

God of my heart and Lord of my desire: money and sex are powerfully good gifts from you, yet both can become dangerous idols. Order my heart and discipline my desires so that money and sex have their pepper place. May the affections of my heart never run contrary to any of your commandments, but may your love be my greatest treasure. In Christ’s name, amen. (HC 113)

Do we desire the things that God can give us,  or do we desire His Spirit ever more alive and present in our daily lives as we grow glory by glory closer to our Heavenly Father? If we have this perspective backwards, if we cry out for prosperity in this world instead of crying out for God alive in us,  those same “things” can quickly become a curse instead of a blessing.

Money and wealth placed in the hands of a selfish man can lead him into all kinds of dangerous traps where he becomes an oppressor and a hindrance to his brothers and sisters.  But when it is placed into the hands of the faithful,  it can be a blessing for him,  his family,  his friends, and even to the strangers that he entertains and serves lovingly.

Sex brought to the awareness of an immoral man can lead him into all kinds of traps and soul ties with immoral women, to children not provided for physically or spiritually, to diseases and depression and all kinds of wrong thinking about the value of people and marriage. But sex in the hands of a godly and righteous man who loves the Lord will produce an abundant family of children who are brought up to be nourished both physically and spiritually, who will be a benefit and not a drain on those around them and their community.

And it comes down to the type of prosperity that is being sought after – do we seek things for ourselves, or do we seek God to offer ourselves?

Many, Lord , are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”
Let the light of your face shine on us. Fill my heart with joy when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord , make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:6‭-‬8 NIV

Be diligent, our heart testify not our mouth

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is  living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are  naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:11‭-‬13 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/heb.4.11-13.NKJV

Nothing is hidden. Everything will be revealed. Best to reveal it today, best to lay down those chains of bitterness, unforgiveness, guilt, shame, anger, hatred, disobedience, rebellion – and receive grace renewed each day – the forgiveness that washes your garments free from the stain of sin.

Yes, He is the high priest and advocate for those who are called,  for those who hear, for those who recognize His voice,  for those who believe, for those who repent from their old ways and know Him as both Savior from their sin and Lord of their lives. Yes, those who seek Him diligently will find Him. Yes, He loves those who humble themselves and seek His face.

The “AND” really does matter

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
– Hebrews 12:14 ESV

Peace and Holiness.
Christ as Savior and Lord.
Forgiveness received and Repentance lived.

Do we see the AND?

Many will fall to one side or the other, interested in one but not the other,  because that is the goal of the enemy – that there would be those that fail to receive grace. Yes, the very next verse warns us of this great danger.

See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. – Hebrews 12:15-17 ESV

If we want peace, but have no interest in holiness, the enemy can falsify peace by giving us a life of wealth, comfort, false security or worldly pleasures in this life so that we might ignore and avoid any interest or urgings towards being holy. He will speaks lies of all kinds to keep people on this carnal path of lasciviousness and worldliness – even letting them call themselves Christians and participate in religious ceremonies and practices as long as they keep God at a distance from their actual lives.

If we want holiness,  but have no interest in peace,  the enemy can falsify this by encouraging an air of spiritual pride, offering us works and honor amongst men and the ability to sew and point out the specks in others eyes without seeing the log in our own – so that we might know about law and scripture but know little about love and peace amongst our brothers and sisters. He will speak lies of all kinds to keep people on this prideful path of legalism and loveless religious practice and bitterness towards the lost, the hurting, and the afflicted – even Leyva them call themselves Christians and be leaders as long as they keep others at a distance from the forgiveness and love that they have to offer.

Yes, the path of the AND is critical,  because without it, “no one will see the Lord”. And that path is narrow and few will find it,  but will be satisfied with those broad ways that go to destruction.

Which gutter is the enemy trying to drag you into today? Which of the two would you rather avoid and instead cling to the other? God seeks a greater righteousness be born and grow in us than that of the lawless sinners or the loveless religious hypocrites. This is the Law of Christ. And when strived for as peace with everyone AND with holiness towards God – we understand His commandment:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

Just like the churches in Revelation needed to examine themselves to recognize their strengths and their weaknesses and then act – we need to examine ourselves and then act.

The life of a Christian is not passive – it is not a powerless mentality of “once saved always saved because I’ve baptized” and “I’m just a sinner saved by grace that will continue to sin every day” – with people existing their remaining a slave to sin when Christ doesn’t just set us free from the consequences of sin – He sets us free indeed to walk as a new creation!

The life of a Christian is not war against flesh and blood or building a tower of works to get to heaven either. It is nothing that would have us standing in front of others, proud of what we have done. If something is commendable in our lives,  He must receive the praise and honor and I must humble myself with the realization that it was Him who lives in me and not me.

Whichever of these two you are most comfortable accepting is not the one that you need to work more on – and that is our tendency – to fall into one ditch and keep digging deeper.

We must climb out. We must get back on the narrow path.

Judgement is WAY above our pay grade, but IT IS COMING

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I have to tell you that I hate the shirts, etc that have “Only God can judge me” – because the mentality of 99% who sport it have no genuine belief that they are going to face judgement. Many have bought into the lies of a twisted perversion of the truth telling them “say this prayer and do X and you’re saved from hell forever no matter what”. But that is NOT the gospel. You will NOT find that in the truth of the Bible. I don’t care what lies some false teacher told on TV or behind a podium to get your money. I don’t care what lies your friend told you to make you comfortable justifying things that you know in your heart are wrong. I care about you hearing and believing the truth.

Someone who believes, someone who loves God, someone seeking to walk that narrow path that leads to salvation and avoid that broad way that goes to destruction – Someone who is A NEW CREATION IN CHRIST should be examining and equipping and preparing themselves for their final destination, right? So wouldn’t someone headed to a holy, perfect, righteous place overcome in victory want encoragement to turn away from the flesh and walk in the Spirit?

But no, most use this saying “Only God can judge me” to really say –

“I’m my own God and I set my own rules. You can’t teach me because I don’t want to learn or grow or change. I have no fear of God at all.”

That sounds more similar to the Satanic mantra of “The whole of the law is, do as you wish” than anything Christ would have said. I encourage you to know which master you are serving, which voice you are listening to.

That perspective of self as master is a scary, dark, confused place to live. I know, because I’ve walked that valley in the shadow of death myself. And by the grace of God, I stand delivered from that self serving mentality into a life loving, serving, growing, and learning.

Correction is not comfortable, but at least I can begin to appreciate it for its value in molding me and changing me. And I don’t resist it like I used to. People think that being “strong”, “hard”, and “real” is being immovable, unchangeable, like a rock. But you are not the rock, friend. Jesus Christ is the rock upon which a strong foundation can be built.  You might know about the rock. You might even know the rock. You might even love the rock. But we should make sure that He is sitting in that throne as the Lord of our lives instead of ourselves. Otherwise, you are right, I can’t judge you, but I can warn you, that if you don’t change and get yourself off of that throne and humble yourself before God, you will know His judgement.

If you say that you know and love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, walk in light – or at least quit deceiving yourself if you are walking in darkness. Know today by the fruit of your life who it is you have been serving and who it is you will choose to serve from today forward. But never forget that you have chosen your master – not with your words or your religion, but with the testimony of your life.

I beg and plead for sinners to come to repentance, because the kingdom of God is not far away, death is right here at the door, and your time draws near – to either meet the Lord in salvation or in judgement.

I share this in love because so many have deceived themselves or been deceived by self serving false teachers. Those wolves have grown efficient at fleecing the flock and feeding off of them, getting fat and rich, when they were supposed to be the ones feeding and sacrificing and laying down their lives for the flock instead. Be careful, little child, this is a dark time, but the light can be found when you seek it, set your eyes firmly on it,  and see this race through to the end. Judgement -or- salvation.

Do we have ears to hear what is being aid in the questions from 1 Peter 4:

“If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Judgement is real. If you still doubt, I’ve provided for your reading pleasure:

John 8:12, 15-16, 21, 23-24, 31-32, 34-36, 42-47 ESV
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one.  Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.  So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.”  He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.  I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”  So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,  and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.  The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.  You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.  Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?  Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Romans 14:10-12 ESV
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”  So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Revelation 20:11-15 ESV
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Psalm 9:7-20 ESV
But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,  and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.  The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord , have not forsaken those who seek you.  Sing praises to the Lord , who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!  For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.  Be gracious to me, O Lord ! See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death,  that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation.  The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.  The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah  The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.  For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.  Arise, O Lord ! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!  Put them in fear, O Lord ! Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

John 3:16-21 ESV
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

1 Peter 4:17-19 ESV
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Matthew 12:33-37 ESV
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad,  for the tree is known by its fruit.  You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.  I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,  for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Jude 1:3-25 ESV
Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.  Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.  It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.  But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.  Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Romans 1:18-32 ESV
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  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. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 2:1-16 ESV
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.  For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

John 3:16-18 ESV
“For  God so loved  the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not  perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Romans 4:3-8 ESV
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:  “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;  blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Ezekiel 36:22-38 ESV
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God : It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord , declares the Lord God , when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God ; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.  “Thus says the Lord God : On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord ; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord ; I have spoken, and I will do it.  “Thus says the Lord God : This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the Lord .”

Your Reasonable Service

What is “your reasonable service” to Almighty Father God, to Lord Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit?

Is it to live in the ways of the world?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which  is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/rom.12.1-2.NKJV

Choosing to turn towards sharing in the sufferings of Christ, also means turning away from the ways of the world.

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
Hebrews 11:24-26 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/heb.11.24-26.NKJV

Faith is not an idea or a belief in concept only. Is a woman impregnated by just thinking about a man,  or is it only when she surrenders and submits to him that a seed is planned? Isn’t it the same with the Holy Spirit of Christ who lives in us believers?

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:21-22 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jas.1.21-22.NKJV

Even if that worldliness, that compromise, that conforming to the ways of the world,  offers you promises of wealth and prosperity in this world – are you so easily satisfied with your temporary treasure here, or are you seeking those things eternal?

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:13-16 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/heb.11.13-16.NKJV

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
I John 2:15-17 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/1jn.2.15-17.NKJV

And our choice matters:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
Matthew 16:24-27 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mat.16.24-27.NKJV

What does  it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does  it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!
James 2:14-19 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/jas.2.14-19.NKJV

What will your reasonable service be today, for Christ who was slain on the cross for you?

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it —  lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,  saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?  Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.  So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:27-33 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/luk.14.27-33.NKJV

“For the kingdom of heaven is  like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his Lord’s money.  After a long time the Lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His Lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his Lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Matthew 25:14-30 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mat.25.14-30.NKJV

Truth produces Hope, Faith, Love & War

Hope is found in His mercy.

Have mercy on me,
O God, because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
For I was born a sinner—
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
Psalms 51:1-6 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.51.1-6.NLT

In order to find Hope, in order to know His unfailing love and His mercy – we must first open our eyes to see our own sins and rebellion. We must yield our rebellious nature of selfishness and pride and sinfulness – to acknowledge and accept what is sinful in His sight. It is only when we recognize our guilt, and when we recognize that His judgement of us is just – that we have learned the wisdom of what He teaches us so that we are ready for change. Yes, then we are ready for those old ways to die, to be cut out and cast off,  for those chains to be broken, for us to be freed from sin.

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me— now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.
Do not banish me from your presence,
and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
Psalms 51:7-12 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.51.7-12.NLT

And our faithfulness, even that is, His grace at work. It is not found in our own strength,  but it is found in our own humbling ourselves to seek, find,  follow,  and worship Him as the Lord of our lives.

Once we’ve found enough wisdom to understand the Hope that is available in Christ, our old hunger and thirst for the things of this world is replaced with a new hunger for righteousness. We lay down those carnal things – those treasures and pleasures that the enemy has to offer us in this brief existence to distract us from our only portion and prize. We lay them down,  not as a sacrifice or a tithe or offering to God,  but because we realize they are a temptation, a poisonous snake,  a trap,  an unnecessary burden, and a fruitless path.

And we find that in doing this, the one and only worthy sacrifice – of our surrendered heart, of our surrendered life is being offered to our Lord God Almighty – not as a proud “see what I have done” but as a humble “forgive me for what I have done,  change me,  teach me your ways,  and use me for your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Yes, Faith is not our striving under our own power,  but us getting ourselves out of the way for Him to do the work through us.

Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness. Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
Psalms 51:13-19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/psa.51.13-19.NLT

You see,  once we have found Hope, and once we know the power of His Spirit that is found in Faith, we are walking in a different way than the rebel that we used to be. But we are still amongst the same world of rebellion that used to be our master – and our eyes are opened to those still asleep in captivity,  those still hungering for the only food they have known,  those eating their fill of sin and death – not knowing there is something better. And we find ourselves a soldier,  with a Sword of Truth coming out of our mouths,  and this, Word of God does not slay flesh and blood, but it does shine light on sin and rebellion and hatred and unforgiveness and anything that falls short of glorifying God. But that light has, a warmth and a glow that they have not yet felt – not the cruel coldness of their old master’s traps and addiction and unwanted consequences – but the warmth of the love of a forgiving Father.

Yes, it is this grace poured out in His blood on that cross,  it is the sacrifice that He made for us, that breaks us,  that tears down the walls, that allows us to bring forth a sacrifice – not of “slain evil men”, because our enemies are not flesh and blood,  but are the unseen evils of this world holding our brothers and sisters captive. No, we bring living sacrifices,  slaves set free from their old masters, lives awakened by the undeniable difference in lives that are powered by His Holy Spirit.

We walk with light that shines into the darkness. We walk with a fire in our bones yearning to share this Good News. We walk as the savory salt of Christian love and charity and sacrifice for our fellow man, even for strangers and enemies,  which is clearly different than the taste of the world’s ways. We walk as the trumpeter,  heralding the return of the Lord,  crying out,  “Repent,  for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” We stand guard as the watchman, sharing truth and accountability for the dangers of sin, of worldliness, of carnality, of anything short of a surrendered heart – because we know many do not hear, many turn back, many trample the Son of God underfoot willfully sinning after coming to knowledge of the truth – and as a result,  few walk the narrow gate and path to our intended destination.

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31 NLT
http://bible.com/116/heb.10.26-31.NLT

If this passage hurts you,  friend. If you feel as though you are bleeding from my sword, understand that I am not slaying you, but I am after your sin. It is my goal to drive this sword deep into the beast that holds you captive. But it is not your blood that is being shed. You are not cut and bleeding.

Get up and run to the, Lord,  and do not look back. I have been sent to free the captives, not to make them comfortable in their cages. Those feeding you sugar are fattening you up for the slaughter. Hear the Word of God. Let it touch your heart and motivate you into action. And do not leave your brothers and sisters captive if you are called and chosen. If you are spiritually mature and no longer battling to break free yourself, but you are trusting fully in the Lord this hour – Stand up against the enemy in Truth. Put on the whole armor of God. Prepare yourself for battle.

Love, Love, Love

It’s very easy for us to become critical of each other, noticing and pointing out flaws, maybe even talking about others behind their backs. But this is not love, nor is it letting Christ shine forth through our lives.

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
Galatians 5:14-15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.14-15.NLT

Even if we see someone who is trapped in sin that the Word of God promises that they will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God and that will lead them to hell – do you realize that we are given warnings about not falling into the trap of spiritual pride when dealing with these situations? That we are meant to be acting in love towards one another with hopes not just to catch and expose imperfections,  but to help others overcome and be freed from the sin that binds them.

When we stop look for good in people and start examining them for faults,  we are bound to find them. And when we recognize sin in the lives of others, it is usually because we are familiar with that evil spirit ourselves. Whether we are looking in love, forgiveness,  and mercy, hoping to serve our neighbor – or whether we are looking with condemnation, accusation, and judgement,  hoping to catch our neighbor – it’s an important difference.

There is one that waits for the opportunity to devour people because of their sin – and his wolves are very good at biting and tearing at one another, weakening the prey and preparing them for death, slaughter, and destruction.  But there is another who heals,  who offers forgiveness, who reconciles us to be more like Himself – and His followers are very good at loving one another, and building each other up, and sharing one another’s burdens. And the difference between the two comes down to perspective. One’s followers look down on the others in pride,  while the followers of Christ look at others equally and in unity. These followers of Christ see neighbors and friends in need of the very same unmerited and undeserved grace that their own walk of faith is materializing and bearing witness to in their life of serving and loving others.

So we have to ask ourselves,  are we motivated by love towards others or do we enjoy the pride of being critical toward others? Are we aiming our examining eye inward at ourselves,  using the Word of God a surgical instrument or are we using it as a sword to slay our brothers and sisters? Do we know how to target the real enemy who is not flesh and blood, or have we comforted our thirst with the blood of the innocent instead of tasting of the living waters that fill our lives to overflowing?

It is easy for me to point out warnings and scriptures that identify those lost and trapped in sin and headed to destruction – and if all that I offer is a warning, is a statement of the impending danger, and I don’t offer the Good News of Jesus Christ that leads to Hope,  Faith,  and Love – can I say that I’ve shared Truth or just that I’ve lifted my stone in the air?

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.6.9-10.NLT

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.19-21.NLT

Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.
Revelation 22:15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rev.22.15.NLT

You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Ephesians 5:5-19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/eph.5.5-19.NLT

For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.
1 Timothy 1:9-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1ti.1.9-11.NLT

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/heb.12.14.NLT

A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.
John 8:35 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.35.NLT

And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,  ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’
Mark 9:47-48 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mrk.9.47-48.NLT

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.  When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
Luke 13:23-27 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.23-27.NLT

For again I say, when righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and turn to evil, they will die.
Ezekiel 33:18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ezk.33.18.NLT

No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Luke 13:5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.5.NLT

Yes,  and these warnings are true because the Word of God does not lie.

I cry out warnings in love each day. I’m sowing the seed of this Good News that Jesus Christ can come into your life, and change you. But many are too wrapped up in the ways of this world and don’t really want their eyes to be opened yet. I know,  because that used to be me.

So I just keep sharing truth and hope and faith and love – trusting that those that are His will hear His voice before it is too late.

And some are lost and need hope (a turn to God – change of attitude).

And some are babes and need faith (a focus and dedication and ongoing growth in His will).

And some are among leaven and need love (a remembrance of His undeserved, unmerited mercy and grace as opposed to spiritual pride).

And many are headed for destruction and need truth (it is truly a narrow path with ditches on both sides – in misunderstood grace as a license to sin – and in misunderstood works as a stairway to heaven).

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.3.7-9.NLT

But if wicked people turn from their wickedness and do what is just and right, they will live.
Ezekiel 33:19 NLT
http://bible.com/116/ezk.33.19.NLT

2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

1 John 1:9 ESV
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 ESV
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,

Ezekiel 18:21-23 ESV
But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

Acts 17:30 ESV
The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,

Proverbs 28:13 ESV
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

James 4:8-10 ESV
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Acts 2:38 ESV
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Do we know what’s important?

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
Galatians 5:6 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.6.NLT

What is important?

Faith expressing itself in love.

In fact,  the Word of God tells us that the greatest of faith, hope, and love is love. I would say that clearly demonstrates that love is VERY important.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.13.13.ESV

And after speaking about all of the spiritual gifts and the types of members of the body of Christ,  the Word of God tells us of a more excellent way as it transitions from 1 Corinthians 12 to 1 Corinthians 13.

But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
1 Corinthians 12:31 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.12.31.ESV

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.13.1-3.ESV

And most of us don’t even know what love really looks like because the world tries so hard to sell us on lesser idols to set our eyes upon. The world wants to trick us into setting for anything less than the Holy Spirit of God. Can you understand how the enemies of God would be quite satisfied for us to never see past empty religion and grasp hill of a relationship with God, a spiritual bond with our Lord and Savior?

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
John 4:24 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.4.24.ESV

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
1 John 4:7-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.7-8.ESV

But do we even know what real love looks like?

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.9-10.ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1co.13.4-8.ESV

And how do we know that we are His? How do we know if His Holy Spirit lives in us? How do we know if we are alive in Christ?

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
1 John 4:11-13 ESV
http://bible.com/59/1jn.4.11-13.ESV

So it is faith that brings us to this point that we might receive this salvation and know God and turn our lives to follow Him –

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 ESV
http://bible.com/59/heb.11.6.ESV

And it is by love that we know which master it is that we serve. For there are those who serve religion and idols that fall short of the glory of God instead of worshipping God in Truth and Spirit.

“Not everyone who  says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will  enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.7.21-23.ESV

We should ask ourselves,  what does the fruit of my life look like if we want to be sure that we know who it is that we serve.

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
Matthew 7:17-20 ESV
http://bible.com/59/mat.7.17-20.ESV

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35 ESV
http://bible.com/59/jhn.13.34-35.ESV

And the fruit of the Holy Spirit is very distinguishable and recognizable –

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 ESV
http://bible.com/59/gal.5.22-23.ESV

This is why I emphasize the important difference between knowing ABOUT Jesus Christ and KNOWING Jesus Christ. This is not a mental exercise, it is not a religious exercise,  but it is a renewing of our heart and minds that comes when faith expresses itself in love.

Yes,  I would say that is quite important. I will tell you that your answer to that question has eternal consequences. Isn’t it clear to us now through the Word of God what is important?

Shouldn’t we ask ourselves what is important to us? Don’t we need to be honest with ourselves and fall at His feet, asking Him to have mercy on us and pray that He will teach us to love like, He loves – to fill our lives with his Holy Spirit – to awaken us from our sleep so that we might live and grow and be fruitful?

Go.
Live.
Be fruitful.
See His Love multiply.
This is the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Powerless? Or powerful?

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.6.19-20.NLT

Please hear this journal entry from a voice of love and concern for you,  friends – I cannot condemn you or judge you – I can only share the Truth of the Word of God.

There is no such thing as cheap grace. There is no such thing as a lukewarm Christian. The choices are salvation or judgement. This is a pass/fail test. We cannot be living in lasciviousness and debauchery and refusing to repent and dishonoring God while claiming to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit. We are either, saved by grace and walking with Him – or we are still headed to destruction.

If you do not know this truth,  you are deceived. Being a Christ follower is not about escaping consequences or about working towards rewards. It is about grattitude, love, obedience,  and service – it is about a change on the inside that demonstrates itself outwardly in a changed life.

If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
John 14:15-17 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.15-17.NLT

Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.  Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.
John 14:23-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.23-24.NLT

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.
Galatians 5:19-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.19-26.NLT

And some will say, but I prayed a prayer,  I “accepted” Christ as my Savior,  so I’m free from sin and I have my heaven ticket, so even though I continue to sin,  He has forgiven me, the work is done, and I have nothing to fear, right? Please read for yourself the Word of God and know that you are deceived. 

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.
When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.
Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
Hebrews 6:1-12 NLT
http://bible.com/116/heb.6.1-12.NLT

And those without understanding will say,  then what good does it do me to participate in this Christian religion? And I will tell you that the religious practice alone, nor hiding your sins from others and making the appearance to others that you are religious can no sooner save you from the condemnation that you are facing,  than openly practicing the true desires of your evil heart for the whole world to see.

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
Luke 3:7-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.3.7-9.NLT

It isn’t about talking or knowing about righteous things,  but about doing them. And not under our own power,  but through the, Holy Spirit who lives in us who are His.

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.
Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Matthew 7:15-23 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.7.15-23.NLT

1 Corinthians 4:20 ESV
For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.

1 Corinthians 1:18
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
1 Corinthians 2:14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.2.14.NLT

So we must examine ourselves to be sure that we are in the faith.

Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you ; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2co.13.5.NLT

Instead, let us test and examine our ways. Let us turn back to the Lord . Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say,
“We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us.
“You have engulfed us with your anger, chased us down, and slaughtered us without mercy. You have hidden yourself in a cloud so our prayers cannot reach you. You have discarded us as refuse and garbage among the nations.
“All our enemies have spoken out against us. We are filled with fear, for we are trapped, devastated, and ruined.”
Tears stream from my eyes because of the destruction of my people! My tears flow endlessly; they will not stop until the Lord looks down from heaven and sees. My heart is breaking over the fate of all the women of Jerusalem.
My enemies, whom I have never harmed, hunted me down like a bird. They threw me into a pit and dropped stones on me. The water rose over my head, and I cried out, “This is the end!”
But I called on your name, Lord , from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.”
Lord, you are my lawyer! Plead my case! For you have redeemed my life. You have seen the wrong they have done to me, Lord . Be my judge, and prove me right. You have seen the vengeful plots my enemies have laid against me.
Lord , you have heard the vile names they call me. You know all about the plans they have made. My enemies whisper and mutter as they plot against me all day long. Look at them! Whether they sit or stand, I am the object of their mocking songs.
Pay them back, Lord , for all the evil they have done. Give them hard and stubborn hearts, and then let your curse fall on them! Chase them down in your anger, destroying them beneath the Lord ’s heavens.
Lamentations 3:40-66 NLT
http://bible.com/116/lam.3.40-66.NLT

And if you find yourself not in the faith, friend, I encourage you to seek Him while there is still time. Believe in your heart and declare with your mouth and your life.

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.”
Romans 10:9-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.10.9-11.NLT

Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed.  Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer.  If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
Luke 13:6-9 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.6-9.NLT

I am pleading on your behalf. Christ is pleading on your behalf. Repent and seek first the Kingdom of God AND righteousness.

Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He replied, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.  When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’  Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’  And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out.  And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God.  And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then. ”
Luke 13:23-30 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.13.23-30.NLT