Confession

I have contended daily in my life with lust towards women who are not my wife, with selfish pride of myself and harmful criticism of others, with doubt that God is good and truly has good in store for me.

I confess these particular shortcomings, not because they are the only ones that I have — but because they have been like a chronic infestation of bugs that have stolen from me repeatedly — and because all my attempts at extermination have failed. I am confessing my struggle in these areas of life because these are “sin” — something that has taken a foothold in my life that does me harm and not good.

Lord, before you and before everyone, I confess that I have sinned against you, in my thoughts, in my words, in my actions, even in my inactions. I believe that you will deliver me from these things — not just from the consequences of sin, but that your Holy Spirit is freedom. I believe that I will resist evil and see it flee. I believe that I will see those things that have hindered me be laid aside. I rebuke these things in the name of Jesus Christ and declare that you, Lord, will not only fight this battle, but will slay these giants, for your glory and honor. Lord, I know that you can, and that you are able. And I’ve seen you do amazing things beyond my understanding. Even while part of my flesh screams out in rebellion, “No, don’t let him take those things from us that have been a comfort!” I know that even poison can taste sweet to the tongue in order to get at its evil intentions. Lord, it is by the shed Blood of your perfect Lamb that I am able to make such a confession and trust you fully. Amen.

Lord, thank you that we do not have to wait until we have a great fall. Lord, thank you that we do not have to only wait to repent after the consequences of our foolishness has resulted in things we cannot undo. Lord, I realize many will read this and think “I see he must have been caught in something” and misunderstand confession.

I would be tempted by my own pride and criticism of others to think the same thing, and would need to repent. So I understand.

We are loved by the Lord. Everything that He has for us is better than the things we cling to that hinder our walk with Him. Yet, we are still tempted to accept trinkets of sin in trade for the treasure of holiness. Most of us excuse these “little compromises” and we give up more and more territory in our own lives day after day until we have drifted further and further away from where our lives should be.

Confession is an opportunity to believe this — ti acknowledge ands respond to what is treasure and what is trash. To truly believe it, not just say it, not just sing about it — but to commit to it fully. Whether a man is deeply entangled in his sin and caught in the consequences, or whether he is aware of the feel of that familiar trap tugging at him again — the Lord is slow to anger and mighty to save, and He will finish the work He has begun in you.

God bless you, friends!

If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His word is not in us.
1 John 1:8‭-‬10 AMP

Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) is able to accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].
James 5:16 AMP

He chose YOU to come OUT. No excuses.

If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.  Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.
John 15:18‭-‬23 NLT

“you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you”
Almost daily, I see a backlash from “carnal Christians” (who know the name of the Savior but who have only themselves as Lord of their lives) towards those who would share truth and warn others about the dangers of sin. I hear things like “you’re being judgemental” when someone speaks about sin, repentance, discipleship or sanctification from the, same people that sing proudly of grace as if it is a license to sin.

Wake up and hear the truth. If you are a slave to sin, see what the Word of God says:

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:34‭-‬36 NLT

If we are currently a slave to sin, but we know that we are called to be a child of God, the solution is simple – repent (turn away from your sin), believe in your heart,  confess with your mouth, and He will send the Holy Spirit to convict you against sin, to teach you, to guide you, so that you will walk in the Spirit of Christ, following His example and demonstrating Him to the world.

So we are either a slave to sin, or we are a new creation in Christ – and the two types of desires are so different from one another that the two are at war with each other. One desires sin and the things of this world as treasure and reward and the will of man,  while the other desires only Christ and the will of God.

“now they have no excuse for their sin”
Yes, many hate to hear the whole message of Jesus Christ – that He calls us to no longer be a part of the world,  to no longer live like the world. Many are satisfied with the idea that their sins might be forgiven,  but they have no real interest in giving up their sin. And when He says that we are free indeed,  and that He has given us the power to see evil flee from us – it really bothers those who no longer have any excuse for remaining in their sin.

It bothers those who are either:

A) deceived and confused because they can’t reconcile their own opinions about God with what the Word of God actually says

B) aware that their claims about being a Christian are nothing but outward lies

The Good News is that salvation is just a turn away. But it does take deciding to love Christ more than our sin.

And for many, the broad path seems so attractive when we can’t see and touch what is behind that narrow gate. The broad path seems so much easier when we can only see the struggle and strife and trial of those poor,  sacrificing Christian missionaries who are willing to give it all up to serve the Lord. The broad path seems so much more friendly and crowded when we can only see those “judgemental Christians” who are isolating themselves by standing firm upon the truth of the Word of God.

The broad path of finding a compromising “church” that will speak what I want to hear and won’t expect me to change or grow as long as I show up,  volunteer,  and tithe seems so much easier than actually picking up my cross and following Jesus,  making disciples, baptizing them,  and walking like Christ. People will say,  “Isn’t there someone else who will go? Isn’t there someone else who is better qualified? Can’t I just give my money to them and maybe God will leave me alone?”

Do you love your life,  or do you love Christ?

If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.
Luke 17:33 NLT

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last— salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth— the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”
Revelation 12:10‭-‬12 NLT

What is valuable?

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.
Philippians 3:7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.7.NLT

When we first read this verse alone,  we might think that when Paul says “I once thought these things were valuable” that the “things” he is speaking about are the things of this world. That’s a valid leap of logic when we’ve gained a basic understanding of the types of things that the Bible teaches us. However,  if we look at the context of this passage –

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!
Philippians 3:2-11 NLT
http://bible.com/116/php.3.2-11.NLT

We can see that Paul is talking about worthless “things” like the following are, a wrong perspective:
– “pure-blooded citizen of Israel”
– “member of the tribe of Benjamin”
– “human effort”
– “strictest obedience to the Jewish law”
– “zealous”
– “obeyed the law without fault”

And He counts these things as worthless because of what Christ has done. He makes it clear that knowing Christ and having a relationship with Him is really what matters. He points out to us that it isn’t about “measuring up to Christ”, that it isn’t that we must be highly religious to be saved.

He points out that this right perspective is about :

– knowing Christ Jesus as my Lord
– worshipping Him (by walking in) the Spirit of God.
– relying on what Christ has done for us
– putting no confidence in human effort
– becoming righteous through faith
– trusting God’s way of making us right with himself
– experiencing the mighty power (of the Holy Spirit) that raised Him from the dead
– suffering with Him
– sharing in His death

You see, this new perspective is not just human,  outward compliance to the letter of the law. It isn’t just striving to work hard enough for a master to earn something in return. It is a process by which our hope and belief in His promises leads us to an attitude of gratefulness and thankfulness for this amazing gift of grace – and it is in this humble place of receiving the undeserved,  unmerited gift of freedom that we have the opportunity to find love for God – to understand His love for us,  and to respond with a life loving Him in return, a life turned to Him in repentance and walking with Him faithfully because of the power of His Holy Spirit at work in us.

The results may look the same on the outside. Many people can act religious,  focusing on the outward obedience by striving on their own to imitate the walk of a born again Child of God. But if they don’t have His Holy Spirit inside powering their desires and motives,  their striving is worthless and useless because, I would have nothing.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.13.1-3.NLT

And yes,  if we have this love we will obey His commandments,  not just continue a life in sin. We will repent of our sinful ways, so I’m not saying that this Grace is a license to sin. I’m saying that Jesus set the bar a lot higher than just outward compliance that looks to human eyes the same as true obedience of the heart. God weighs our heart, and we cannot fool Him with silly religious sacrifices when He desires mercy. He set the bar at love – true Godly, righteous love – the very in-dwelling of God’s spirit and nature in our lives that produces the fruit against which there is no law.

“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.  No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.  Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.  When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.”
John 14:15-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.14.15-21.NLT

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 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. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you. Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. I just wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by circumcision would mutilate themselves. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. 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 5:1-15 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.1-15.NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. 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 5:16-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.16-26.NLT

Freedom “from” not “to”

Questions regularly come up from those wanting to discuss “freedom” and “no condemnation for those in Christ”. And usually, the question doesn’t come from someone seeking relief from the heavy burden of trying to live a pure and perfect, pious life which is only resulting in their own spiritual pride and striving through good works – usually, this question comes from someone who is trying to justify their own sinful ways and build a mental argument that they can use against the conviction that the Holy Spirit is giving them about some area still not surrendered in their lives.

So if we are considering the divine instruction of the Word of God discussing freedom and no condemnation, shouldn’t we ask ourselves which ditch we are closer to? Shouldn’t we say to ourselves – “When examining the actions and example of my life, am I closer to being a legalistic hypocrite with the outward appearance of piety but with no love (ditch 1) – or am I living a life that is confirmed to this world,  still involved in sinful things, and worldly practices and pleasures that aren’t bringing glory to God (ditch 2)?” You see,  there are wide,  broad ditches on either side of the narrow path – and they lead to destruction. One is legalism without love or mercy – and another is lasciviousness without repentance or righteousness.

And if we know which ditch our lives are closest to, then we should also know which direction is leading us back towards the narrow path and which is just our deceitful hearts and the trickery of the enemy twisting andpervertingandstealingaway the truth while pointing us back towards that old,  familiar ditch.

I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.
Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.”  And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.
Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:1-13 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.10.1-13.NLT

What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is?
You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:19-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1co.10.19-24.NLT

It is God’s will that your honorable lives should silence those ignorant people who make foolish accusations against you. For you are free, yet you are God’s slaves, so don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil.
1 Peter 2:15-16 NLT
http://bible.com/116/1pe.2.15-16.NLT

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him.
We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God!
Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:1-23 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.6.1-23.NLT

Let’s don’t fool ourselves, let’s examine ourselves.

Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.
John 15:20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.15.20.NLT

A slave to sin is mastered by evil. It is because this slave is not stronger than His master that he cannot overcome the master and break free. Our world is full of people who are slaves to sin.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.
John 8:34 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.34.NLT

And those who are slaves to sin are not the same as those who are freed. Those who are still slaves to sin are not yet a permanent member of the family.

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 we are still slaves to sin, isn’t it clear that we are not strong enough on our own to overcome that which has enslaved us? We need someone stronger than our current master so we might be delivered from slavery.

For who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger—someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.
Matthew 12:29 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.12.29.NLT

But it was not God’s plan for us to remain slaves. This is why Jesus Christ came in the flesh,  to walk this earth as a man,  subject to the law – so that He could fulfill the law and free us from our bondage.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”  Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.
Galatians 4:4-7 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.4.4-7.NLT

And if we are His and if we truly believe,  then we are set free from sin – not just free from the consequences – but free from being a slave to sin any longer.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:36 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.36.NLT

And the prompting for us to cry out to Him,  the call for us to believe, it is a free gift extended to us from our Heavenly Father who wants to reconcile us back into His household as His children.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.
John 3:16-18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.16-18.NLT

The reason that we are free is not our own power – but in the authority that Christ gives us over all the power of the enemy. There is power in the name of Jesus Christ, in the name of Yeshua HaMashiach.

When the seventy-two disciples returned, they joyfully reported to him, “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!  Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.  But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.10.17-20.NLT

But the problem then remains that we are free,  but we remain in a world filled with slaves. And those slaves are still serving their old master. They are still in darkness.

And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. ”
John 3:19-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.3.19-21.NLT

The revealing and divisive thing about  Jesus Christ is that since He makes His power and authority available to us, we have no excuse for remaining in our sins. We truly have the ability to choose who we would rather love and serve – our old master of sin and wickedness and worldliness and things of the flesh, or our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who welcomes us into our Heavenly Father’s house and eternal life. We choose whether we love the things of this world or the heavenly and eternal treasures of God.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.  But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Matthew 6:19-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.6.19-24.NLT

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?
Matthew 16:24-26 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.16.24-26.NLT

So if the world loves things of the world, if the world is seeking prosperity, and honor from one another, and titles, and pleasures, but we love the things of God – that is going to create some division. 

“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you.  They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.  They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin.  Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.
John 15:18-23 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.15.18-23.NLT

Yes, it will cause division because there are two different masters involved. One whose works are evident in the flesh of those he still holds captive in slavery:

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

And the one true God who as our Heavenly Father,  by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ the Son, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit,  produces a new kind of life in those He is reconciling to be like Him:

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.
Galatians 5:22-24 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.22-24.NLT

So we must ask ourselves, are we still slaves to sin, serving the current master of this world’s slaves? Or are we called and chosen, set apart as a peculiar people – because we are light amongst the darkness,  the salt of the earth? And if we are His,  what must we do?

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.
John 15:16-17 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.15.16-17.NLT

So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
James 1:21-22 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jas.1.21-22.NLT

Love like Christ?

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
John 13:34 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.13.34.NLT

The NEW part of this commandment is not to “Love each other”. Even in the Old Testament, the Jewish people we instructed to love their neighbors as themselves.

Leviticus 19:18
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

God’s voice did not change in the new testament, the message has been the same all along – it’s just that Jesus Christ came to demonstrate it fully revealed, and to open our eyes to what real love looks like, and to teach us what the Spirit of the Word of God looks like in contrast to the Letter of the Law. He came to open our eyes from a perspective of obligation and sacrifice – to a perspective of mercy, faith, and opportunity.

The NEW part of Christ’s commandment is “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” It’s about us being like Christ. — Hold on, hit the brakes, are you really saying that I need to follow in His footsteps? — Yep, I sure am, but let’s hold onto that meat for a moment while we drink some milk and prepare ourselves for a hearty meal. Let’s talk about “our way” for a moment.

You see, we can make asking us to love our neighbor easy on ourselves, because we look at the word love, examining the letter of the law, and we start to tear it down into a measuring stick where we say to ourselves, “Well, I don’t really know my neighbor or care about them, but I don’t steal from them or cause them any problems, so that’s loving in a way.”

Mankind is very good at arguing whether or not we’ve met the “requirements of the law” – we even have a lucrative profession whose whole purpose is to tear apart the wording of the law and speak for us in a court of law. But when it comes to the things that matter, it doesn’t matter if our tongues are silver enough to argue how well we measure up to the requirements. In fact, Christ expects us to be truthful and for our words to flow from our heart and from the Holy Spirit who guides and teaches us.

Luke 6:45
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time.  For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Matthew 10:19-20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/mat.10.19-20.NLT

So Christ expects us to love like He loves. He reveals something revolutionary. He wants us to be like Him. In fact, He sets the bar amazingly high, telling us to give open handedly to others without expecting payment in return, He tells us to turn the other cheek to those who hurt us, He tells us to love and forgive those who consider themselves our enemies, He tells us to not be angry with others, to not even look at someone in lust. And He does this so that if we decide to measure ourselves by the law, it should become immediately clear to us that we will fall short of perfection.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Romans 3:23 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.3.23.NLT

And it isn’t that the law itself is bad, but that man’s perspective about the law was perverted, was twisted:

Psalm 19:7
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple

Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
Romans 3:19-20 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.3.19-20.NLT

The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
Romans 8:3-4 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.8.3-4.NLT

He makes us right through faith.

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
Romans 3:22 NLT
http://bible.com/116/rom.3.22.NLT

And this is because He is changing us, reconciling us back to God, so that we are living for God and loving others like He demonstrated love for us.

He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:15-21 NLT
http://bible.com/116/2co.5.15-21.NLT

Yes, He is making us like Him. He is revealing to us this great mystery. He is restoring the relationship that is the very essence of our being alive and freed from death.

God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you. This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ.
Colossians 1:25-28 NLT
http://bible.com/116/col.1.25-28.NLT

So we should ask ourselves – am I following His commandment to love others like He demonstrated? Am I still a slave to sin? Am I a son being reconciled to be like Him? And I don’t have the excuse of “I can’t” to fall back on, because “He can”. The question them becomes “Do I believe? Have I fully accepted His Lordship over my life? Do I have this relationship with a living Christ who is in me?”

It’s a pretty important question, friend – one with eternal consequences. Yes, now we are past the milk and getting into the meat. Are you still a slave, or are you a son?

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin.  A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever.  So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:34-36 NLT
http://bible.com/116/jhn.8.34-36.NLT

And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. But you are now being persecuted by those who want you to keep the law, just as Ishmael, the child born by human effort, persecuted Isaac, the child born by the power of the Spirit. But what do the Scriptures say about that? “Get rid of the slave and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”  So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.
Galatians 4:28-31 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.4.28-31.NLT

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:1, 5-5, 7-8, 13-14 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.1-14.NLT

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
Galatians 5:16-18 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.16-18.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.
Galatians 5:19-25 NLT
http://bible.com/116/gal.5.19-25.NLT