Evil Communications #7

Saturday, November 18, 2017

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33,34 KJV).

What are “evil communications?” Are we immune to their effects?

First Corinthians chapter 5 was written to warn those Christians who say they can associate with sinful individuals and not be corrupted. Galatians chapter 5 was written to admonish those Christians who say they can keep attending denominational churches and not be deceived. They are just as human—prone to failure—as the Corinthians and Galatians. If the Corinthians and Ephesians were prone to spiritual slumber as the Adversary worked, we should not be surprised that believers in Christ today exhibit poor to dead Christian living!

Today’s Scripture thunders, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not!” Dear brethren, if we are those with functionally-dead Christian lives, it is not too late for us to reform. We may have reverted to the lifestyle we had before we trusted Christ, but the Holy Scriptures rightly divided can lead us to repentance. That change in mind will then transform our behavior.

Second Timothy chapter 2: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Let us not fall into Satan’s trap!

Whether the Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, or reverted Christians today, they should be walking in light of Titus chapter 2: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is there time in Heaven?

Evil Communications #6

Friday, November 17, 2017

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:33,34 KJV).

What are “evil communications?” Are we immune to their effects?

For almost 2,000 years now, the Church the Body of Christ has had a completed Bible. Howbeit, instead of letting it transform them, and then allowing it to enlighten others through them, the church permitted the world to alter the Bible and them! Whether 20 centuries ago, or today, “evil communications corrupt good manners.” This is true of both wicked behavior and false teaching.

Sinful conduct, except it is addressed according to God’s grace, will certainly pollute the local church. First Corinthians chapter 5 says of humanism (worldliness—namely, philosophy): “[6] Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? [7] Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: [8] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” As a small amount of yeast taints the whole lump of dough, so a little misbehavior corrupts many! If you read the chapter, you see it is about a fornicating Christian man whom the Corinthians overlooked. God commanded they excommunicate him until he reformed…lest he contaminate them all!

Evil doctrine, unless corrected using rightly divided Scripture, is sure to corrupt the local church. Galatians chapter 5 speaks of legalism (works-religion—namely, Law-keeping): “[7] Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? [8] This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. [9] A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” As a small amount of yeast taints the whole lump of dough, so a little false teaching corrupts many! If you read the chapter, you learn that false teachers (denominationalists) had tricked the Galatians to abandon grace and return to works-religion (specifically, the Mosaic Law). God commanded they separate from those false teachers…lest they continue deceiving them all!

We now summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Spirituality or Futility? #8

Friday, November 10, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

God sent the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles to give us the Dispensation of the Grace of God, or Jesus Christ’s heavenly ministry (Ephesians 3:1-9). From Heaven, not Earth, Christ is speaking today. In this dispensation, God is forming the Church the Body of Christ, a heavenly people whom He has blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). We are not the nation Israel; God is not finished with Israel. She will rise again after our dispensation (Romans 11:1-36)!

We are saved by simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (Romans 3:23–4:8)—apart from any works of any kind. Upon believing the Gospel of the Grace of God, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13,14). We need no water (or any other) ceremony to “enhance” our Christian life. God gave us a new nature in Christ, power that produces good works and gives us victory over sin (Romans 6:1-23). The Law serves no purpose in our life because God’s grace teaches us to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts,” and “to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11,12,14). Jesus Christ died to put away sin, so we put it away in our life. Our hope is not God’s earthly kingdom (Israel’s hope) but rather His heavenly kingdom (Ephesians 2:6,7; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Romans is the most basic Book for this dispensation. It outlines justification, how to have a right standing before God. Therein we also discover sanctification, how God has set apart believers to do His will. Moreover, we see Israel’s past, present, and future statuses. Finally, there are basic but specific grace principles for everyday living. Three useful Pauline passages are Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3.

We study all the Bible, but anything other than Pauline doctrine and duty is but futility!

Spirituality or Futility? #2

Saturday, November 4, 2017

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant (1 Corinthians 14:37,38 KJV).

Here, we see two alternatives—spirituality and futility. Our choice?

Today’s Scripture issues some extremely useful, corrective information. Had the professing church kept this passage forefront in its thinking 2,000 years ago when it was first penned, the professing church would not be presently disoriented, disabled, and defeated! We would do well to pay attention to it.

Despite the Corinthians’ passion in following “spiritual gifts,” it was nothing but the flesh (sin’s motions). First Corinthians 3:1-3 is such a sad commentary: “[1] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. [3] For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

Sure, they “walked” (verse 3). They were laboring instead of sitting around idly. However, we must never let looks deceive us. All that intense activity amounted to zilch, nothing. Why? Their underlying thinking was thoroughly messed up. Instead of walking in the light of grace, they walked in the darkness of the flesh (“carnality”)! It was their own efforts instead of God the Holy Spirit working in and through them. Yet, in the confusion, they were unable to differentiate those two sources.

Who is truly a “prophet,” one who is speaking on behalf of God? Who is actually a “spiritual” person, one who is led by God the Holy Spirit? Today’s Scripture tells us, “…let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” The Holy Spirit through Paul wrote today’s Scripture to provide the Corinthians with a standard to discern between their own efforts and God’s grace working in them. We would do well to follow that standard also, for it is literally the difference between spirituality and futility….

To Please Men, or God?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do it, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:22,23 KJV).

Whom shall we please—men, or God?

For two years, a Christian man periodically taught Bible studies at his house. He invited various individuals, including his sister (who he knew was unsaved and trapped in the cult he himself had escaped decades earlier). At his request, she attended most, if not all, his studies. He gave a clear Gospel message and invitation after each meeting. One day, she informed him that she was going away for the weekend. Why? That cult was sponsoring a retreat and she had enrolled!! The dear brother in Christ was disappointed beyond words. Evidently, she had been attending his studies simply to satisfy him.

A new Christian woman recently expressed to me bewilderment about a “spiritually disjointed” married couple she knew. The wife was a “Bible reader,” supposedly “skilled in the Scriptures;” her husband was a cult member. They attended services at a “feel-good” prosperity church and assembled with the cult for “worship services.” The Christian woman asked me how such incongruity could exist. I explained to her that the wife is likely reading verses but not studying them rightly divided. She cannot discern truth from error because she knows no truth. Furthermore, it appears she “fellowships” (?) with her husband’s denomination just to gratify him. The “feel-good” church is evidently her preference, so he goes there to pacify her.

While today’s Scripture features the servant-master (employee-employer) relationship, by extension, it better explains the Christian-God relationship. Whom should we be serving? Are we to attend Bible study or church services to satisfy a spouse, neighbor, sibling, parent, or friend? Is our behavior merely to impress those people watching us (“eyeservice, as menpleasers”)? Whatever we do, friends, we should do it in “singleness [sincerity] of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do it, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Above all, we must conduct our lives motivated by heart faith in God’s message of grace to us. “…As to the Lord, and not unto men.”

Sola Fide

Monday, October 30, 2017

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8,9 KJV).

On October 31, 2017, we Bible believers celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

The third Reformation principle, “sola fide” (Latin, “faith alone”), protests the well-known Roman Catholic mishandling of James 2:24. “A man is justified by faith and works” is clearly written to Israel (chapter 1, verse 1). Following God’s instructions to others is surely destructive. Lost people wake up in eternal hellfire quoting Scripture (including James 2:24!).

In this the Dispensation of God’s Grace, salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing. Romans chapter 3: “[26] To declare, I say, at this time [God’s] righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Our Apostle Paul (Romans 11:13) continues in chapter 4: “[3] For what saith the scripture? [Sola Scriptura!] Abraham believed God [Sola Fide!], and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace [Sola Gratia!], but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not [Sola Fide!], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly [Sola Fide!], his faith [Sola Fide!] is counted for righteousness.” Rather than having religious self-righteousness (Romans 10:1-3), remember that Heaven is gained by faith alone in Christ’s righteousness alone! “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4).

The Reformers, while lacking the more perfect Bible understanding we enjoy, nevertheless walked in the spiritual light they had. They understood justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans chapters 1-5). In the 500 years since, we have recovered the rest of the Book of Romans that religious tradition had stifled (chapters 6-16—victorious Christian identity and living, differences between Israel and the Body of Christ, and grace principles for various life situations). Brethren, let us walk in the light we have, further building on the Reformers’ efforts! 🙂

“Soli Deo Gloria!”
(Glory to God alone!)

Sola Gratia

Sunday, October 29, 2017

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24 KJV).

On October 31, 2017, we Bible believers celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation!

Sola gratia,” another Bible teaching the Reformers recovered (not invented!), is Latin for “grace alone.” How can we be justified—made right—before God? By God’s goodness alone? Or, because of God’s goodness and our goodness?

As per “sola Scriptura”—by Scripture alone—we see that Adam has caused man’s nature to be corrupt from conception. After committing his horrible sin with Bathsheba, King David confessed in Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” When David prayed, verse 1 has him saying: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Why would God forgive David? Because of David’s “goodness?” Nay, evil David would be forgiven only because of God’s grace!

Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” The Lord Jesus affirmed in Mark chapter 7: “[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” No wonder Romans 3:23 says: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;….” Try reading Romans chapter 1 without getting nauseated!

Frankly, God does not “owe” us a way to Heaven, as there is nothing in our nature that He accepts. In fact, His justice demands that His righteousness be enforced. Anything short of His holiness—including man’s sin nature—deserves His wrath. That fury is Hell and, ultimately, everlasting punishment in the Lake of Fire. No religious activity (water baptism, church membership, confession, prayer, et cetera) can abolish man’s sin nature or rescue him from his deserved eternal doom. As David realized, man, spiritually bankrupt, must look beyond himself and his feeble abilities to God’s grace, what God can do for him!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “If suffering is sure to follow, why serve Jesus Christ?