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The Joy factor
People are lonely. It doesn’t matter where they are. They can try to find that “good time feeling” in all manner of things. Alcohol, chemicals, and crowds are popular choices. These days computer games and social media are other popular ways people use to try to fill a gap in their lives. Others go for extreme sport or adventure.
And then there is the happiness factor. People can try to fill that gap with all the above, and other things. What they are missing, of course, is that the gap in their lives is a God-shaped hole and nothing will fill it except God. After all the things they try to do to make themselves happy, to bring fulfillment, they are left with the tears of a clown, and Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is”.
In 1 John 1 God hints at a couple of other evidences that we are real Christians, and He deals with that loneliness and that joy factor. He says 3 what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.
Remember, John said in the last chapter of this book 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is hard evidence to look for in our own lives so that we can know for sure that we are Christians. This is hard evidence to look for in the lives of people who claim to be Christians.
One of those things to look for is who we hang out with. Who do we like to spend time with? Do we enjoy spending time with God’s people, other Christians? Do we enjoy spending time with God? Or would we rather we spend all our time with people who are running away from the light?
Motive…if we are spending time with them to witness to them, that’s one thing. We need to track which way the influence goes…is it from us to them, or from them to us. Are we picking up their habits and practices, or are they seeing a difference in our practices and habits? Jesus said “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” If we’re going fishing, we need to go where the fish are. But we don’t become a fish ourselves. Jesus prayed in John 17 that God would keep us in His hands because He was leaving us in the world, but we are not to be of the world.
Remember…everyone says they want to go to heaven; nobody says they want to go to hell. Heaven is God’s place, and He permeates all there is in Heaven. Heaven will be full of God’s people. While we are here on earth, we have a chance to see what fellowship with other Christians and with God will be like for eternity.
Fellowship with other Christians. It becomes a thing that we want, something that is good because it’s good for us to be around other Christians, and good for other Christians to be around us. We have a relationship with them that we cannot have with people who are not Christians.
David described that in Psalm 133: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever.
We should find fellowship, camaraderie, encouragement, sharpening, when we are with other Christians. It’s a give-take relationship. Hebrews 10 says 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
And look at Colossians 3 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
And then there is also that thing about meeting with the Father and with His Son. We want to be with Him. That should be at the core of our getting together with other Christians—being together in God’s presence, being together with God.
Then there is that “joy” factor. 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete. Again, God elaborates on that in this book.
John was writing these things so his own joy might be made complete. He got a kick out of passing on the truth God gave him. It made him supremely happy to see people learning and then living out the things God taught him and that he in turn was teaching his readers. Just see what he said in 3 John: 4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
Seeing people you’ve worked with, talked with, taught, doing the things God has taught them through you makes you want to jump and down and shout “Hallelujah”!! It makes you want to get down on your knees and say a heartfelt “Thank You God.”
We can have fun times; we can have enjoyable times that create memories we can dredge up from time to time. Too many people equate joy with circumstances that are enjoyable, like a trip to the range in perfect weather, or a drive through beautiful countryside, or a relaxing day out in the boat, fishing. Then we come back to earth, to reality.
God’s joy blasts through all the garbage the world throws at us. God’s joy is completely unrelated to our circumstances. God’s joy comes from our relationship with Him, not our conditions in the world. Galatians 5 says 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… Joy is a fruit. It is a result of our abiding in God’s vine that is produced by God as a result of our fellowship with Him. It is not something we conjure up for ourselves.
God’s joy in us helps us weather hard times in our lives. Remember Nehemiah 8: 10 …Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” God’s joy in us is part of his grace that acts like a steel rod inside us that can withstand everything the world can throw at us.
We can know God’s joy even while going through times of grief.
God’s joy in us is another piece of evidence that shows we are genuine Christians. It’s better than a perfect day at the range, seeing your reloads go through the same hole in the target.
Meantime, going back to yesterday, we need to deal with sin ruthlessly. As God shows it to us, we need to confess it, and have done with it. And don’t keep hitting ourselves over our heads with guilt for past sin that we’ve confessed. God has forgiven it and that’s it done with.
 

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Comforted

John told us why he wrote 1 John in the last chapter. He said 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

There are many people today who “self identify” as Christians, but there is no evidence to indicate that they have turned ownership of their lives to Jesus Christ. John is giving us evidence to look for to see if we are real Christians. We drew four items of evidence that we can look for in ourselves and in others from the first chapter of 1 John:

Joy that comes from God and sustains us through whatever life throws at us.

Real friendship with other Christians and with God.

Living in the light of God’s Word, asking God to show me who I am.

Awareness of sin, and admitting I have sinned and asking God’s forgiveness, instead of trying to gloss over it or trying to cover it up or excuse it.

Now, in Chapter 2, God gives us some more indications we are Christians, and the first is a huge thing. 1 John 2:1 says "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

Back in the first chapter, God said that anyone who refused to own up to sin was delusional and calling God a liar. We don’t need to be afraid of confessing sin because God forgives our sin.

Now, here’s something else to help us deal with sin. We have an advocate with the Father. That word "advocate" is an interesting term. The Greek word is parakletos (paraklhtos). The word is made up of two parts—para which means with, or alongside, and kalew which means call, so a Parakletos is “one called alongside to help”. It can be translated three ways, and all three meanings are appropriate in this verse.

And that’s just what Jesus is. He’s there with us. Matthew 1 even names Him “God with us”: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”

One meaning of Parakletos is "Comforter". When Jesus was talking with the disciples in John 14, 15, and 16, he promised that He would send a parakletos, a comforter, the Holy Spirit.

When we sin, and repent, we should have real sorrow because of what we have done. Jesus is there to say, "I have taken the punishment for your sin when I died on the cross. I am here with you, and I still love you regardless of what you have done."

In a way He puts His big strong comforting arm around our shoulders and gives us a big hug. He comforts us through life's situations, through all the storms, troubles, persecutions, griefs, trials that we go through. He is there with us. Psalm 23:4 says "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

There are times when I have been discouraged or worried about something. I go to bed and think on His promises. Psalm 55 is precious. Part of the metrical version goes "I’ll Call on God, the Lord will save, I will complain and sigh at evening, morning, and at noon, and He will hear my cry.... Cast thou thy burden on Lord, and He shall thee sustain; Yes He makes sure that still unmoved the righteous shall remain." I wake up refreshed.

He comforts us by letting us know He is in control-- "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3).

Remember how He calmed the storm with just a word in Mark 4? Then again, Romans 8:28 says " And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose."

He brings us healing when we are hurting—Psalm 103--"who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

He comforts us by giving us a greater perspective. We have an unfortunate habit of becoming too introspective, focused on our own small circle of life, and sorrow and misery, but God can pull us out of our little pity parties. Psalm 121 starts out "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? 2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."

Psalm 40 starts out " I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord."

There are two other meanings for this word "Advocate" that we'll look at, God willing, in the next couple of days.

Knowing Jesus’ comfort when we are going through rough times is another evidence that we belong to Him, that we are Christians.

Philippians 4: 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
 

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Our Advocate

1 John 2:1 says "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate (parakletos) with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

We looked at one meaning of this word for advocate, parakletos, yesterday. Jesus is our comforter.

A second meaning of that Greek word parakletos, is Advocate. Jesus Christ is our attorney for the defense. He comes alongside the accused to help him, standing beside him before the court. He is the one who pleads our case before the judge. The disciples saw him protecting them time after time from attacks from others. Do you remember the incident in Mark 2:23-28? 23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

I have a friend who was an excellent attorney. He’s retired now. When he took a case he wanted to know three things:
  • The Judge, so he can present things in the most appropriate way.

  • The law in question

  • The client
Jesus Christ is ideally situated to be our Attorney for the defense because He knows these three things.

He knows the judge--the Father. At one point He said (in John 10) "I and my Father are one." He has been with the Father for eternity past, and will be with the Father for eternity future. Something of that unity between Jesus and the Father can be seen in Jesus' prayer in John 17.

He knows the Law:
He wrote it on Mount Sinai
He taught it in the Synagogues
He lived it perfectly
He relives it in us--His clients

He knows His clients--us--even better than we know ourselves. Psalm 139 describes how well He knows us: " O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether."


Hebrews 4:15-16 says “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus knows us inside and out because He has lived with us, and has experienced all the things we humans experience.

I listened to a podcast about the aftermath of a self defense shooting. One of the things the presenter stressed was the need for an attorney with experience in this kind of case, and with an excellent success rate. The client needs to ask direct questions about how many cases this attorney has tried, and how many he has won. Often it comes down to a plea bargain situation, pleading guilty to a lesser charge to get out of being tried for a more serious charge. The client needs to persuade the attorney of his innocence.

Jesus has all the experience necessary. He has been pleading our cases before God since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. He really does go to bat for us in God’s court, and He has a 100% success rate for anyone and everyone who will ask to be His client.

When our case comes up before the Father, there is no plea bargaining. There is also no question about our guilt. We are guilty of breaking God’s Law.

Jesus pleads guilty for us. Then He declares that He has paid the penalty, served the sentence, for our crimes against God. That’s what 1 Peter 3 means: 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;

Satan is the accuser, Jesus is our Advocate before the Judge. Isn’t that the answer to the question in Romans 8? 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

Our advocate stands beside us in court, a comforter and an encouragement to us by his mere presence. He is licensed to practice before the highest court in creation, where God is judge and the saints are the jurors and the law in question is God’s Law. He stands beside us throughout the trials of life, giving us real comfort with his own presence.

Human judges condemn us in an earthly court. Their judgment may be clouded by their own guilt, their personal preferences, their politics or something else. God is not influenced by anything that impairs human judgment. We can know that Jesus is defending us in the final judgment, and God’s verdict for us will be “innocent” because His Son, our attorney for the defense, has paid the penalty for our sins. That’s the judgment that really counts. Even earthly judges will have to stand trial in God’s court.

1 Timothy 2 says it this way: 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time.

My friend the attorney has retired, will die some day. Jesus never retires, and has already died and come back to life. Hebrews 7: 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

He has never lost a case.

May God encourage us and bring us peace as we look to Jesus to be our advocate.
 

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Helper

God says in 1 John that there are certain things to look for in our lives and in the lives of others, to verify whether we are real Christians, or merely counterfeit Christians, people who self-identify themselves as Christians, who take God’s name on themselves in vain.

1 John 2:1 says "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

Real Christians are human. We have all the human tendencies to fail, to sin. God gives us a boost, a game-changer that tilts the balance in our lives away from sin and toward Godliness. That inner push is His Parakletos. Remember Jesus said in John 14 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit [Parakletos], whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

We’ve already looked at two of the meanings of this word that’s translated “advocate” in this verse. Jesus is our comforter. He brings peace to troubled souls. He comes along side when we are hurting in one way or another and puts His big brotherly arm around us and gives us exactly the comfort we need. He said in Matthew 11: 28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

He is our Advocate, our attorney for the defense before the Father, and He goes to bat for our defense before people. He knows the Judge, He knows the Law, and He knows us. He has never lost a case and will always be there.

The third meaning of this word is the literal translation of the word. Para, alongside, kaleo, called. One called alongside to help. It’s the term someone might use if he had a wagon stuck in the ditch and called someone to help him pull it out--a fellow worker.

And Jesus helps us in many ways.

He helps us bear our burdens. He sustains us as we cast our cares upon Him (I Peter 5:7) 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Psalm 68 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, The God who is our salvation. Selah.

He pulls us out of the ditch. Psalm 40 starts out

I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.


He gives us wisdom as we ask for it. James 1" 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."

He gives us strength to do the work He assigned us. Isaiah 41 10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

He provides for our needs. Matthew 6 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

He helps us to have the right responses to people. He will show us what is right and what is wrong, and teach us how to deal with people, and what to say to them. Luke 12 11 When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

He helps us to deal with sin in our lives. He said to the woman caught in adultery I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more in John 8:11.

Either we deal with sin when He calls our attention to it, or He will cut it out. Remember how Jesus described the Father as the vine-dresser who cuts out the junk in our lives that keeps us from producing fruit in John 15: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

He is the steel rebar inside us that makes us able to do things, to endure. Paul said in Philippians 4: 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

There is one more aspect of this term Parakletos that we’ll look at tomorrow, God willing.
 

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The Coach

1 John 2:1 says "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

There is another aspect of Jesus being our helper, our advocate, our parakletos.

A good coach or drill sergeant, who knows his players or recruits will train them, work them out hard. We’ve seen movies of coaches or drill instructors who run alongside their teams, shouting things to encourage, or challenge their men to push harder. He knows his people, and he knows just how to push them to deliver their best. They may think they are giving 100%, but he has ways of challenging them, pushing them, egging them on until they are giving 110% or more of what they thought they were capable of doing. Jesus has a way of doing that with us.

Revelation 3 puts it in a nutshell. If God didn’t care about us, he wouldn’t bother to put us through training. If He didn’t love us, have a purpose for us, He wouldn’t keep on disciplining us. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

Then, go on to Hebrews 12. A good part of the chapter describes why God puts us through His training program. I can’t say it any better than God, so look at what He says:

4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.


Did you get that? God only disciplines His children. He doesn’t bother with people who self-identify as Christians. That’s another evidence that we are real Christians. Jesus Christ is our coach, our Drill Instructor and He takes us through training.

Remember how many times the word “encourage” is used in the New Testament? The Greek word is parakalew, the verb form of parakletos. So as we encourage one another, it is actually Jesus in us who is doing the encouraging through us. We are being a parakletos to each other as Jesus works in us and through us.

There are so many other ways He helps us. He helps us because He knows us and can identify with us, having been here on earth with us, hurt the way we hurt, hungered the way we hunger, cried the way we cry, rejoiced the way we rejoice. He is able to help us because He has a plan for us, for our lives, and wants us to fulfill that plan.

Remember Jesus’ description in Revelation 1? It shows Him as our Parakletos. 13 and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

He is our Comforter. Those eyes like flames of fire can see deep into us, and see how we are hurting. That Voice with the sound of many waters has just the right tone and just the right words to meet our needs.

He is our Advocate. He wears those robes of office, of power with good reason; the sword coming out of His mouth decrees justice for us and judgment on those who hate God. His hair and countenance show His righteousness as He pleads our case before the Father.

He is our Helper. With those feet of brass He can wade in anywhere and pull us out of trouble. He has those seven stars in his right hand as He walks among the seven candlesticks of His church, keeping an eye on us, giving encouragement, correction, or provision or whatever else we might need. He has the authority and the power to do whatever is necessary for us.

Jesus is, in every way, our parakletos, our Advocate, our Helper, our Comforter. He promised to be with us as we carry out the work He has given us to do. Remember Matthew 28 ends with “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

It’s vital that we know without a doubt that if we sin…well John is being nice here. When we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. And He will be there with us, to stand beside us to plead our case before the Father. He is with us when that guilt overwhelms us or satan tries to discourage us, tell us we are no good. He is our comforter, our encourager when our human emotions and body want to give up. He gives us the strength, the “inner fortitude” to keep going when we want to give up all hope.

He’s that coach that yells at us “Just one more step. Just a little more. Keep going. Others have done this. You can do it too, with my help.”

And He is there when we are being tempted, to show us the way out. Remember 1 Corinthians 10: 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

That, friends, is something that a pseudo-Christian can never have. We have an Advocate with the Father.
 

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Obedience

We all know how well gun control laws work. Only the law-abiding obey them. Although they know what those laws are, criminals totally ignore them. Criminals work according to their own set of rules. Take that and think God’s laws, God’s commandments.

One of the evidences of a real Christian is that he obeys, or makes an effort to obey God’s commandments.

1 John 2 3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 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; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

God lays out the evidence plainly for us to see. Either a person obeys God’s laws, or he ignores them and lives by his own set of rules.

We see many well-known people who claim affiliation with a church. They say “I am a Christian. Listen to what I have to say. Vote for me. Trust me. Buy my book on self-improvement.” But as said earlier, look at their lifestyle. Do they walk the talk of a real Christian? Or are they like that knock-off mp3 player I got from China that has an apple prominently displayed as a logo and failed a few months after I got it?

Do they obey God’s Law? Do they encourage others to keep God’s commandments? Or do they reinterpret God’s Word to say what they want it to say instead of what God says? Do they totally ignore what God’s Word says and make up their own sets of rules?

Those who ignore God’s laws and make up their own set of rules are liars. They are untrustworthy.

Romans 1 describes what happens in people who decide to disobey God’s Law. God has left a vestige of His moral law in people. They have a conscience. 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.

They should even see God’s hand at work in creation they see around themselves. Psalm 19 starts out The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.

They know right from wrong. They can choose to obey that or disobey it. Instead of believing God’s truth, they opt to believe their own lies. Back to Romans 1: 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

So God lets them go down their delusional path that leads to all kinds of rack and ruin, if you read down through the rest of that chapter. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 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.

Now, we are by nature incapable of keeping God’s commandments. 1 Corinthians 2: 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

However, God makes a change in us when we become Christians. 2 Corinthians 5 says God changes us from the inside out. 17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

It’s like a complete house renovation. He guts our lives and replaces everything inside with completely new floors, carpets, windows, walls, kitchens, bathrooms, roof and anything else that needs to be upgraded.

God says it a different way in Ezekiel 36: 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.

The old church fathers put it something like this (only they said it in Latin): Before we become Christians, it’s impossible for us not to sin. We’ll fall for it every time.

After we become Christians, it’s possible for us to not sin. We can choose to obey Christ’s commands, or we can choose to disobey them.

God’s presence in our lives makes the difference. Back to 1 John 2: 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

We walk our talk. We live the same way Jesus lived. Oh sure, we’ll mess up. We can never live perfect lives. We are human and God told us already what to do when we fail to obey His commands—back in 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So yes, people can point their fingers at us all day and call us hypocrites, and we can say “God is still at work in my life. You’re right. God pointed that sin out to me and I confessed it, I have determined to not do it again. I asked God to forgive me and Jesus has taken the penalty for my sin on Himself when He died on the Cross.”

That renovation work will take the rest of our lives here on earth. We go through the same struggle Paul described in the last part of Romans 7 where he talks about the terrible war between residual sin in his life and Jesus’ work in his life. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

But God will keep working in us. Remember that drill sergeant from yesterday? He keeps disciplining us, training us. That’s part of God’s renovation work in our lives so that as time goes on we walk the talk, our lives show a pattern of obeying God’s commands.
 
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