A Style of Life – Chapter 7

AStyle of Life

Chapter 7

Realities of a True Christian

 

The days just after September 11th, 2001, almost every church in America was flooded with people. This influx of people continued for a few months and then, like the oceans tide, recessed until all but a few were gone. Why did this flood occur? Why did it not last? What impact during the few short months did all the church attendance have on the individuals?

In short, the flood was a result of human fear. People ran to the only thing they thought could ease their fears. Instead of finding God (although few did find salvation) they found extensions of humanism and powerless self-expressions of religion. There was found no power to change the heart, no true power of the Spirit, nor the true preaching of the Gospel of Christ, just more of cultural humanism wrapped in a package labeled Christian.  Why would this last? Why would people be changed?

I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me. And they do not cry to Me from their heart when they wail on their beds; for the sake of grain and new wine they assemble themselves, they turn away from Me. Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me.”[1]

Just as the problem with those who flooded the churches just after 9-11, the great majority of professing Christians today have no fear of God, no obedience to God and no spiritual discipline in regards to sin and heart wrenching prayer. Their lifestyles show the reality of their fruits. Just like that of Israel, God says, “I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face.”[2] Admitting our guilt and seeking God is not just a superficial one-time occurrence; it is a style of life. But just what is a style of life?

A style of life is the totality of outward motions pouring out from the inward heart in the demonstration of how one lives their life. The outward motions stem directly from inward reflections of the heart and subsequent convictions. I have heard it said that it is much like watching a DVD of one’s life in comparison to a still photo from a moment in time.[3] You see single still photos do not tell the whole story. Photos only give a point in time snapshot of a certain deed or event. It takes the whole of time and actions surrounding the event to rightly understand the picture in the photo.

The overall context of our life, and this testified by the Holy Spirit,[4] gives us the information to rightly know our true position with God. Our own hearts can think back to deeds we have done and then fool us into thinking we are somehow right with God when in reality we are living wayward. It is easy to judge someone of sin when all you see is a split-second, time-in-space clip, but would we want to judge ourselves based on this standard? Context certainly applies to the Scriptures as well. It is easier to twist a passage in the Bible to meet your own views rather than take the whole of Scripture into sight and repent of your sins.

“We must take care how we live, for this is the only lifetime we shall have in which to settle the life that lasts forever.”[5]

God forgives the sins of those who truly receive His Son, who rely upon Him in true faith, who truly repent, who truly desire sanctification and who truly do not presume upon His grace, mercy and love as an excuse to remain in habitual sin. This does not mean some type of sinless perfection, but it does mean a lifestyle of continually washing off the mire, confessing sin, walking in godliness, seeking God through deep prayer, obedience to the Word and personal discipline in regards to denying the pleasures of the world. This means all areas (including daily expenditures, food, clothing, music, TV, time involvement, conversations, etc.) of our daily living feeds into the DVD of our style of life. What would be the reaction of your friends, your church, your coworkers, your boss if just 24 hours of your private life was displayed for all to see? Remember, God has a memory like no other. He records and sees much more and much deeper the realities of your life than even you know. On judgment day you will give an account of the smallest idle word you ever spoke.[6] How much more will we be judged for our careless lifestyles and our sinful motives?

“Godliness is a process that God brings about in our life as we choose His will over our own.”[7]

Today we have countless millions who profess to love God, and even profess to love Jesus Christ, but where is the obedience? Truly loving Jesus Christ means that an obedient action, or rather reaction, is a reality that causes a growing, and ongoing, desire to please God. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”[8] God delights in “loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge” of Himself “rather than burnt offerings.”[9]Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”[10] We should therefore “press on to know” Him, walk in Him and boast only in Him.[11] We ought to have a holy fear of Him and Him alone. Fear of God removes the fear of man and drives us towards stability in His love and grace and mercy. “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”[12]

“The fear of God is lost when a people no longer believes what God says.”[13]

Today, could it not be said of North America, Europe and many other peoples, “God gave them over; God gave them over; God gave them over.”[14] If God did give us over, then what did He give us over to and why would He ever do such a thing?

First let me ask you, why was Sodom really destroyed? Was it just because of outward manifestations of sin alone? No, it was more. “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy. Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them when I saw it.[15] Are we not arrogant? Do we not have abundant food? Do we not strive for careless ease? Do we not commit abominations? Oh yes! We certainly are not a humble and godly people; we are gluttons who hoard food while two-thirds of the world’s population starves; we certainly love entertainment, pleasure and rest; we certainly commit all kinds of horrendous sins.[16]

“Entertainment is the Devil’s substitute for joy.”[17]

“Money spent on luxuries, little or big, which, in the face of the crying need of the world and the extreme difficulty experienced by missionary societies in finding funds, is criminal!”[18]

When Paul wrote to the Romans, what did he declare in the first three chapters? Is it not the depravity of all mankind and the guilt of the world before a Holy God? Specifically in Romans chapter one, we get our answers to why we have been turned over (again, if indeed it is true that we have been turned over). So why would God do such a thing?

We (especially Americans) have been turned over “because that which is known about God is evident.[19] You see God has made “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature,” clearly known through His creation.[20] We “are left without excuse” thereby God has judged us. The real crime leading to our judgment is because we “knew God” but we have not “honored Him as God” nor have we given true “thanks.”[21] We are “futile” in our thinking and our hearts are “darkened.” We pretend “to be wise” but we are “fools.[22] We have exchanged “the glory of the incorruptible God for” images of “corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures,” and especially those of us in the Western World, for fame, the love of money, possessions and selfish gain and pleasure. And we wonder why there is no power in the pulpit? There is no reason to wonder. The answer is all too clear. This is not just a picture of our nation(s) but the truth of many of our pastors, priests and congregations as well.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be lead astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”[23]

Before looking at what we have been turned over to, I am reminded of what was going on in Ezekiel’s time. Inside the temple abominations were being committed.[24] The direct worship of false Gods, the defilement of God’s holy things, clouds of incense, to name a few, was occurring and this by the hands of the priests no less. I dare say that today worse is being committed. Pastors are living lifestyles of pagan traditions. A general spirit of pride has taken over the great majority of preachers in the West. Even worse, pastors and priests are committing horrendous sexual sins of all kinds. Drugs and domestic abuse are certainly in the mix. And again I ask, how can we even wonder why the pulpit is powerless and the culture so ignorant to the true Gospel? Truly Ichabod[25] has been written across the doors of most Western churches and seminaries and across the foreheads of many pastors.

So what does the American lifestyle and that of a great many professing Christians look like? Let me quote this direct. (Notice that God gave them over three times and each time He turns them over to greater and greater abominations.)

  1. Romans 1:24-25 – “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
    1. Over to the lusts of their hearts
    2. To impurity
    3. So they would be dishonored
  2. Romans 1:26-27 – “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”
    1. Over to degrading passions

i.      Women desired women

ii.      Men desired men

  1. Committed indecent acts
  2. Receiving penalty of their error
  1. Romans 1:28-32 – “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
    1. Over to a depraved mind
    2. To do things not proper
    3. Filled with:

i.      Unrighteousness

ii.      Wickedness

iii.      Greed

iv.      Evil

  1. Full of:

i.      Envy

ii.      Murder

iii.      Strife

iv.      Deceit

v.      Malice

  1. They are:

i.      Gossips

ii.      Slanderers

iii.      Haters of God

iv.      Insolent

v.      Arrogant

vi.      Boastful

vii.      Inventor of evil

viii.      Disobedient to parents

ix.      Without understanding

x.      Untrustworthy

xi.      Unloving

xii.      Unmerciful

  1. Knew God’s ordinances
  2. Did the same things
  3. Gave approval to those who practice these things

Who can deny that this is the American culture? And you pastors and elders, we Christian book writers, you Christian song writers, all of us professing and so-called Christians are at fault. Let me ask you, and in context too, “But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”[26] Oh how do we answer to the Holy God? Do we look to justify our sin and twist the Scriptures in order to feel better? Or do we repent? A great majority of us are at fault because we have failed to hold strong to the truth of Scripture, live piously and keep Christ upon the throne of our lives. We are even more at fault when we refuse to call sin by its right name and call people (especially in the supposed church) to repentance.

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ… Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”[27]

If He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world,[28] then why have we not changed our habits, conquered sin, changed the nation and impacted the world? Could the answer be that most believers really don’t have Christ in them? Could it be that true conversion has never occurred in a great majority? “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline?[29]

Where is true godly power in our nation today? Where is true godly love (agape) today? Where is personal-godly discipline today? Could it be that Christ has not been formed and the Spirit not been born in most of what we call Christianity today? Unfortunately the answer is all too obvious.

And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”[30]

We are not called to be at ease in Zion. We are called for the purposes of God. We are called for sanctification, discipline and suffering for the name of Christ. We are called to glorify God and this through true obedience and worship of Jesus Christ.

Who is going to stand in the gap today?[31] Will He find you willing and competent to be such a person? Let it not be said of you nor of your lifestyle, “For My people are foolish, they know Me not; they are stupid children and have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know.”[32] For the “harvest has past, summer is ended, and we are not saved.”[33]

What is the reality of how you are living your life? By whose strength shall you climb out of the pits of hell? By what faith apart from Christ can save you from the justice of Almighty God? By what personal human deed can remedy the sickness of a depraved heart?

Do not love the world nor 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 and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.[34]

Don’t tell me that you think that you need to repent and then do nothing about it. You can think repentance all you want but without an actual turning from wickedness and a turning unto godliness, it’s just dead head knowledge. By the way, you who think that you don’t need some degree of repentance in regards to the things contained herein, you are exactly who need it the most. Every single one of us needs to change our lifestyle in some way or another and that in comparison to the Holy, Righteous, Just and Almighty Christ who suffered upon the cross.

Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”[35]

 

 

“A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God.”

Leonard Ravenhill

 

“‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ declares the Lord, ‘Who execute a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin. Who proceed down to Egypt without consulting Me, to take refuge in the safety of Pharaoh and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt!

Isaiah 30:1-2

 

[1] Hosea 7:13-15

[2] Hosea 5:15

[3] Thought owed to Paul Washer

[4] Romans 8:16

[5] C.H. Spurgeon

[6] Matthew 12:36

[7] K.P. Yohannan – Gospel for Asia

[8] John 12:15

[9] Hosea 6:6

[10] Luke 6:46

[11] Jeremiah 9:23-24

[12] 1 John 2:3-6, all of 1 John is a wonderful testimony to the true believer and a test of reality for the unbeliever

[13] Carter Conlon – Jesus Love People Through Me, 2011 Sermon Index, Fear of God Conference

[14] Romans 1:24,26,28

[15] Ezekiel 16:49-50

[16] A 2009 study showed that less than 3% of all American Church giving ever left the U.S. Only .3% ever made it to the most unreached, poverty stricken and persecuted in the world, the 10/40 window. For more information on the 10/40 window, visit: www.time2stand.com/persecution.html

[17] Leonard Ravenhill

[18] Howard Guinness, Sacrifice, 1936, 1975 6th Edition, InterVarsity Press, pg. 17

[19] Romans 1:18-19

[20] Romans 1:20

[21] Romans 1:21

[22] Romans 1:22

[23] 2 Corinthians 11:3

[24] Ezekiel 8

[25] Ichabod: the glory of the Lord has departed – see 1 Samuel 4:21-22

[26] Romans 2:3-4

[27] Philippians 1:27; 2:3-8

[28] 1 John 4:4

[29] 2 Timothy 1:7

[30] Romans 2:2, 5

[31] Ezekiel 22:30

[32] Jeremiah 4:22

[33] Jeremiah 8:20

[34] 1 John 2:15-17

[35] Jude 14-15

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