Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bible Study - CHRIST (1) - Promised Like No Other - Isaiah 53:1-12 - March 1, 2015

Bible Study – CHRIST (1) – Promised Like No Other – March 1, 2015

This is lesson one (1) in our series entitled “Like No Other: The life of CHRIST.”

Our focus scripture is Isaiah 53:1-12.

JESUS is the promised Messiah.

Was JESUS really the Son of GOD? This is a question many ask, even Christians. Christians place their faith in HIM and their faith in HIM is confirmed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Often the realization of the presence of the Holy Spirit within comes through the process of sanctification, trusting and yielding to HIS leadership, guidance and direction. Some believe it is a second filling of the Holy Spirit but it is a yielding of our will to HIS will.

Satan still attempts to raise questions in our minds because his goal is to defeat and destroy Christians. Christians are in spiritual battle each day and that is why they must walk with CHRIST each day, maintain and remain in relationship and fellowship with HIM.

My hope and prayer in this next 6-week study, if any have questions regarding JESUS, that it will reconfirm that JESUS is truly the One and Only Son of GOD. HE came to earth as a baby, lived a sinless life and gave HIS life to pay in full the debt for sin by dying. HE was buried, resurrected, walked earth for 40 days and ascended into heaven to take HIS seat at the right hand of GOD, HIS Father. The Father, in turn, sent the Holy Spirit back to earth to indwell all who place their faith in CHRIST.

Looking on the New Testament side of the Bible there is a rational I went through years ago to satisfy my curiosity regarding JESUS:

CHRIST’S brothers before and after HIS resurrection:

Matthew 13:54-57 (JESUS had half-brothers and half-sisters. Since GOD was HIS Father all other children Mary birthed, Joseph was their father.)
54 He (JESUS) went to His hometown and began to teach them in their • synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him? 55 Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother called Mary, and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does He get all these things?” 57 And they were • offended by Him.

John 7:1-5 (Attitude of JESUS’ half brothers before HIS resurrection.)
1 After this, Jesus traveled in Galilee, since He did not want to travel in Judea because the • Jews were trying to kill Him. 2 The Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 so His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go to Judea so Your disciples can see Your works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he’s seeking public recognition. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” 5 (For not even His brothers believed in Him.)

Acts 1:12-14: (After JESUS was resurrected from the dead. HE walked upon the earth for 40 days before HE ascended back into heaven. HE told those who witnessed HIS ascension to go to Jerusalem and wait for GOD to send the promised Holy Spirit in a few days.)

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.

Guess who was in the upper room waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit? HIS brothers! The resurrection changed their minds about JESUS.
JESUS’ brothers went on to be witnesses for CHRIST. James became the head of the Christian church in Jerusalem.

Consider the Apostle Paul:

Paul had been trained in the best Jewish school and he was a Pharisee. He was a zealot for GOD. He did his best to stop this Christian movement called the “way.” He held the coats and watched as the Jews stoned a devout Christian named Stephen. He rounded up those who were followers of JESUS to treat them harshly, put them in prison and even kill some. He was intent in stamping out this group who worshiped this person called JESUS until he encountered JESUS as he was traveling to Damascus to round up more followers of JESUS.

Saul’s life changed the instant he encountered JESUS. His name was changed from his Jewish name “Saul” to “Paul” his Roman name.
Paul being the Jewish scholar he was did some study about the life of JESUS. He went to Jerusalem and met with James, the brother of JESUS as we see in Galatians 1:11-19:

11 For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was 
preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it; 14 and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. 15 But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. 18 Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas (Peter), and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

I think that the Apostle Paul was verifying everything and learning all he could about JESUS. He came to a conclusion; JESUS is real not only that HE lived physically but HE fulfilled prophesy that the scriptures recorded and HE dwelled within Paul’s heart. Paul was transformed.

We studied several weeks ago all of the hardships Paul encountered because
he was living and preaching the Gospel of CHRIST. Paul would not have given his life to follow a fraud.

JESUS’ brothers, disciples, Paul and many other faithful Christians knew the truth that JESUS was the true promised Messiah and gave their lives because CHRIST is real. Life upon this earth will soon be over but it is what we obediently do as GOD’S leads us through the Holy Spirit, that will be waiting as rewards for all who obediently serve HIM. Eternal life in heaven is just that eternal.

Now, let’s explore the Old Testament which will reveal prophesy regarding the coming of the Messiah, HIS birth and ministry as JESUS over 700 years before JESUS was born.

JESUS was both 100% human and 100% divine. HE was 100% human, because HE had to have the ability to sin and die; divine, because HE had to have the capability to call legions of angels to HIS aid. Since HE was completely obedient to GOD’S plans, HE fulfilled HIS ministry of redeeming all who will place their faith in HIM.
Have you placed your faith in JESUS? If not, why not? If you do not, it will be your loss. John 3:16-21 states it best:

16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 "This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 "But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God."

Your birth upon earth is your opportunity to be born into GOD’S family and become a citizen of heaven for eternity.

Isaiah wrote the book of Isaiah about 700 B.C. Chapters 40-66 may have been written about 681 B.C. Isaiah was an active prophet for about 60 years. He was likely born in Jerusalem in a family related to the royal house of Judah. Tradition has it that Isaiah’s father was brother to King Amaziah, which would make Isaiah a cousin of the kings during his ministry. One thing for sure, he did not hold back on preaching truth.

He married a “prophetess” and she gave birth to two sons. GOD instructed Isaiah what to name each son, which reflected prophesy regarding Israel. 
Isaiah ministered in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His name means “Yahweh saves.” He was called to ministry in 740 B.C.

Many reading this will know the life and ministry of CHRIST and can relate to this prophesy regarding JESUS, others will need to read and study the New Testament to see the relationships.

Let’s read Isaiah 53:1-3:

1 Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord 
been revealed to? 2 He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.

When studying this scripture usually the first question people ask is who is this person Isaiah is talking about? Opinions vary from the nation of Israel, several individuals to Isaiah himself. Over time the speaker had been identified as the prophet Isaiah speaking on behalf of the people of GOD. However the Servant is the Messiah whose is JESUS CHRIST. In Acts 8:26-40 Philip enlightens the Ethiopian eunuch regarding this very scripture.

The Jews had a preconceived notion of the Messiah. HE would be an individual of royal standing, of military might and would look the role of a mighty leader. The Jews were looking for a physical deliverer from their earthly circumstances because they had their Spiritual needs under control.  
Isaiah sets the stage by stating the real attributes of the Messiah. What do most of us do when we have our minds made up? We usually say, “Don’t confuse me with the facts because I know what is true.”

Isaiah was reporting what GOD told him. GOD’S thoughts are above our thoughts and HIS ways are not our ways. People love and respond to the handsome, well built person, well spoken person of kingly descent. Who would ever believe that the Messiah would be a very unassuming person? Oh, see the majesty of GOD! Who would even imagine such a plan therefore what Isaiah was about to reveal is strictly from GOD and NOT from the mind of man.

The coming Messiah will grow up out of a Spiritually dry ground. The people of that day, even though looking for HIM, would never consider that an ordinary looking person, coming from a humble background, whose mother was a peasant girl and earthly father a carpenter, would be the promised Messiah. They will have to look beyond HIS appearance and look to the fruit HE produced. HIS miracles would reveal HIS true identity and draw others to place their faith in HIM.

GOD did not want people to be drawn to the Messiah for any other reason than to be obedient to GOD and desire an intimate relationship with HIM.
The Messiah was depicted as a tender young plant or a plant which has a “shoot.” A “shoot” grows at the base of another plant which can be plucked off and thrown away. GOD sent JESUS first of all to HIS chosen people. For the most part HIS chosen rejected HIM as the Messiah. GOD knew that they would but HE fulfilled HIS promise to HIS chosen to send them the Messiah. It was the Gentiles who saw JESUS as the promised Messiah because they did not have preconceived notions about HIM. So they recognized HIM based upon the identifying credentials of the promise Messiah, they accepted HIM as their Messiah.

The Messiah would come from the line of Judah which produced Jesse, the father of King David, which Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 11:10:
10 On that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His resting place will be glorious.

The Messiah knew sickness. There are a couple of ways to consider this statement. The Messiah will feel the pain of others because HE will have empathy for all suffering both physically and Spiritually. When you know you have the solution or cure for a problem it hurts you when others refuse to listen and respond. HIS heart would be broken because HE saw the Spiritual condition of so many sick people who would not seek the cure that HE knew would heal them.

HE was despised or HE was held in contempt. HE was rejected carries the idea of being forsaken. Many especially the religious leaders turned a blind Spiritual eye to the truth of the scriptures.

GOD did not want HIS chosen to be drawn to HIM based upon HIS charisma but upon HIS manifestation of GOD’S power as the promised Messiah, which was revealed in the scriptures. The scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees prided themselves in knowing the scriptures. 

Let’s read Isaiah 53:4-9:

4 Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. 6 We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. 8 He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of my people’s rebellion. 9 They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.

The Messiah will give HIS life to cure everyone who will place their faith in HIM. HE will relieve those who place their faith in HIM of their pain due to sin.  But those who are Spiritually sick and are racked with the pain resulting from sin will not recognize that HE is the solution because HE does not look like the person who could help them.

HE was pierced, crushed and punished for us. Because HE took the punishment and was wounded for those who will place their faith in HIM, they are healed from the ravages of sin and are reconciled to GOD through faith in CHRIST. Those who place their faith in CHRIST are redeemed from the consequence of sin which is eternal death and indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

The Jews looked upon anyone who suffered, had a disease, financial problems, defects, etc. as having done something to cause GOD to punish him or her. This is the beauty of GOD’S plan, CHRIST had to die physically. HE kept it hidden from the rulers of this world so HIS plan would be carried to fulfillment as recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8:

7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

GOD was coy to make sure HIS redemptive plan was not thwarted. 

GOD recognizes and understands that every human goes astray and he or she goes through times when they care nothing about having a relationship with HIM. Rather than punishing humans for their sins, HE sent HIS only Son to take the punishment humans should experience because of their sin. Because CHRIST had no sin, HE was the perfect, acceptable sacrifice for our sins to be placed upon HIM as the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21:

21 For our sake he (GOD) made him (CHRIST) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we (All who will place their faith in HIM) might become the righteousness of God.

CHRIST was not being punished for anything HE had done but HE was punished for what we have done.

The Messiah would voluntarily and quietly allow those with religious and legal authority, who had authority to punish HIM and even kill HIM to take HIM. HE did so in obedience to GOD, HIS Father and out of love for every person who will place their faith in HIM to pay, in full, their sin debt.  JESUS said it best as recorded in John 15:13-14:

13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
CHRIST desires all to receive HIM as their Savior and make HIM the LORD of their lives. HE did it all for you. Will you accept HIS invitation to have eternal life and dwell with HIM in heaven? It is your opportunity to either accept or reject HIM as your Savior.  

Who considered HIS fate? This question begs for the reply “no one.” The word “fate” refers to the result of HIS unjust trial. HE was “cut off” or killed because of HIS peoples rebellion.

Those in authority intended for HIM to be buried as a wicked person in disgrace but instead we know that a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea claimed HIS body for burial along with another person of influence as written in Luke 23:50-53 and John 19:39

50 There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the • Sanhedrin, 51 who had not agreed with their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God. 52 He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Taking it down, he wrapped it in fine linen and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever been placed.

John 19:39:

39 Nicodemus (who had previously come to Him at night) also came, 
bringing a mixture of about 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes. 40 Then they took Jesus’ body and wrapped it in linen cloths with the aromatic spices, according to the burial custom of the Jews.

The Messiah had “done no violence” meaning HE had not done anything wrong including using hurtful language.

When you consider that JESUS was both 100% human and 100% divine, HE could have used HIS divine power to ZAP those who would do HIM harm but HE chose not. If HE had, HE would have aborted the very purpose of HIS mission and we would still be in our sins and offering animal sacrifices, if anything. But because of CHRIST’S faithfulness to the end, all who place their faith in HIM are reconciled to GOD and experience the miracle of rebirth to live with HIM for eternity in heaven.

Let’s read Isaiah 53:10-12:

10 Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely. When You make Him a
• restitution offering, He will see His • seed, He will prolong His days, and by His hand, the Lord’s pleasure will be accomplished. 11 He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.

The statement “Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him severely” seems to depict GOD as enjoying punishing HIS only Son JESUS but let’s put into context. GOD took no delight in the suffering of the Messiah but HE was delighted in the willingness and faithfulness of the Messiah to voluntarily give HIS life for those who will place their faith in HIM. HIS sacrifice is out of love. Also, CHRIST had to trust GOD, HIS Father to resurrect HIM after HE died. HE did and this reveals the absolute confidence CHRIST had in HIS Father and the confidence those who place their trust have in CHRIST.

The Messiah is a restitution offering. By giving HIS 100% human life and willingness to be crushed unto death provided the opportunity for all who will place their faith in HIM to be restored to GOD’S original intent for HIS ultimate creation, mankind, which is eternal life with HIM as HIS children or seeds.

HIS seed refers to the descendants of the Messiah. Since the Messiah was not married, HIS seeds are of Spiritual origin which is rebirth.

HE will “prolong HIS days” carries the idea of life extending beyond the physical death of the Messiah. This suggests resurrection which would complete GOD’S plan of full redemption for those who place their faith in the Messiah. GOD would demonstrate the restoration of eternal life to those who place their faith in the Messiah by the resurrection of JESUS and confirmation by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Verse 11 – The Messiah giving HIS life to atone for the death sentence placed upon mankind, by GOD, many people will have the opportunity to be reconciled with GOD. It is because the Messiah will carry their iniquities and in doing so justifies those who place their faith in the Messiah. This, in turn, gives them direct access to GOD 24/7 as HIS children.

Verse 12 – The Hebrew word “portion” refers to a share of the spoils of victory in war or to a parcel of land allotted to or possessed by people. GOD’S Messiah would be victorious, and HE would be rewarded for HIS faithfulness to GOD’S redemptive purpose. (page 15, Leader Guide published by LifeWay, Spring 2015.)

The Messiah will fulfill GOD’S plan and purpose for the redemption and restoration of all who place their faith in HIM.

The manner that the Messiah dies, crucifixion, gives the impression that HE died like a rebel but the secret is that in doing so HE broke the sin barrier that separated GOD from mankind. In breaking the sin barrier, the Messiah opened the path between GOD and mankind for all who will place their faith in HIM to be redeemed and eternally restored as GOD’S Sons and Daughters. All because HE was faithful unto death the final frontier to be conquered and HE DID because HE HAS RISEN!!! HAPPY EASTER!  Blessings!!!  

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bible Study - Ministering (6) - Ready When Pornography Controls - 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 - February 22, 2015

Bible Study – Ministering (6) – Ready When Pornography Controls – February 22, 2015

This is lesson six (6) and our final lesson in this series entitled “Ready: Ministering Life to Those in Crisis.”

Our focus scripture is 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8.

Help others to practice purity by walking the talk.

For the past several weeks we have studied various issues which appeal to human nature. Sex is a powerful social issue. Sex sells products including sex itself. Sex used as GOD intended is pure, wholesome, enjoyable and for procreation.

Back when our children were growing up our pediatrician told us that children were maturing faster, especially girls. He thought it was due to the hormones being fed to animals. Children’s bodies are maturing faster than their brains are maturing to handle their sexual development and the permissive society we live in.

When girls want to experiment usually they can find a young man willing to accommodate them. They consider attention and flattery as love but it is lust. The male sees their relationship as fleeting whereas the female considers their relationship lasting. The female set themselves up for a mighty fall and disappointment and possibly question their sexual prowess. 

The female may enjoy and desire more. Once values are compromised, often a number of emotional, physical and psychological things take place in both the male and female.

When a society has the young boys and the young girls wanting to grow up and experience adult things and our society gives opportunity, it is a dangerous combination.

Our focus this week is on pornography. Most any one can access porn quickly on the computer, television or literature. One can see all sorts of impossible sexual positions designed to entice but impossible to achieve except in the mind. The mind is the battlefield.

The number one message we need to come away with from this series of study is that there are all sorts of perversions, deviations and lures designed to place barriers between you and your relationship with CHRIST, thus GOD. All the sins the Apostle Paul mentions are designed to give you pleasure, prevent you from growing Spiritually and developing an intimate relationship with CHRIST, thus GOD.

GOD’S desire is for you to be perfected and made into the image of CHRIST.  This takes an act of the will. It is a choice we as humans make, especially Christians: “Here I am LORD take me as I am and make me into the Christian you want me to become.”

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:14-20:

14 God raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? So should I take a part of Christ’s body and make it part of a prostitute? Absolutely not! 16 Don’t you know that anyone joined to a prostitute is one body with her? For Scripture says, The two will become one flesh. 17 But anyone joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. 19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.

Christians must realize that they have been made Holy by the shed blood of JESUS and are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Christians have been sanctified or set aside to honor GOD and to obediently serve HIM on earth and in heaven.

Deviations of the flesh break barriers and open up other desires of the flesh through fantasies of the mind. Whether a person engages in illicit sex physically or in his or her mind, it breaks barriers of restraint and opens the potential for carrying out the desires of the flesh. So be careful of what you think.

JESUS put it will in Matthew 5:27-28:

27 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. 28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

GOD looks upon our hearts and GOD’S grace is sufficient to carry all Christians into eternity. JESUS lived a sinless life and GOD’S desire is that all Christians be made into HIS image and that is a process. GOD gives Christians HIS grace as they journey toward perfection.

GOD called the Apostle Paul to introduce the gospel of CHRIST to the Macedonians who lived in the upper part of ancient Greece. He first preached in Philippi and then traveled about 100 miles west to the city of Thessalonica. He established a church in Thessalonica but due to persecution Paul had to flee. Later, in Corinth, he wrote this first letter to the Christians in Thessalonica.

First he thanked them for being faithful in spreading the Gospel of CHRIST. Then he addressed a number of issues such as opposing false insinuations against Paul and his companions, clarifying questions regarding behavior – immoral sexual behavior, the way they treated each other and questions regarding the second coming of JESUS. A large portion of the Christians in Thessalonica were Gentile converts, thus likely coming from an anything goes background, particularly regarding sex.

Our focus scripture begins with Paul addressing GOD’S will. GOD’S will is an issue most Christians struggle with. In Matthew 16:24, JESUS told HIS disciples:

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.

Christians generally think of their cross as living with some burden upon earth but CHRIST was referring to the “cross” as the “will” of GOD for each Christian. Taking up your cross is a decision each Christian makes.

After salvation, Christians must first decide whether or not to do the will of GOD by taking up his cross and following HIM. Taking up the cross is committing oneself to obediently following the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit. Coming to this decision point may not come until years after the instant of salvation. When it does, it may seem as a born-again or filling of the Holy Spirit experience but it is that moment when each Christians chooses to abandon self and trust fully in the leadership of CHRIST. It is often a “WOW Moment!”

Sometimes it all happens at the instant of salvation and sometimes it comes after we struggle with self. Often, we get the cart before the horse and say, “Okay LORD, I am all yours, now YOU follow me” but that IS NOT THE ORDER. WE ARE TO FOLLOW HIM. GOD allows us to travel that path until we see the need for us to follow HIM. It is all about bringing self under the control of the Holy Spirit and that means allowing the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct our lives.

At the instant of salvation, every Christian is born into GOD’S family through the miracle of rebirth. Every Christian is justified, made righteous and sanctified. So how can a Christian be sanctified at the instant of salvation if sanctification is an ongoing process?

Every Christian is set aside or sanctified for the purpose of doing the will of GOD but the choice is up to each Christian. First, a person decides whether or not to ask CHRIST to forgive him or her for their sins believing that CHRIST gave HIS life upon the cross to pay the sin debt in full for him or her. Salvation is just the beginning of a new life with GOD through CHRIST as GOD’S Sons or Daughters.

So what does this have to do with pornography? It is all about what we allow to come into our lives through the minds’ eye which are barriers to sanctification.

Let’s read 1 Thessalonians 4:3:

3 For this is God’s will, your • sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality,

As Christians, we need to do what we already know to do. GOD’S desire is for all Christians to know the will of GOD, which is to be sanctified. That means Christians are to abstain from all sorts of sins including sexual immorality. Immorality covers a wide range of wrong behaviors including sexual behaviors – premarital sex, homosexuality, adultery, bestiality, pornography, abuse, incest and so forth.

GOD’S will is for every Christian to be set aside for use by HIM, which is sanctification. Christians still have to exercise their will and say “NO” to the cravings of the flesh. This is easy to say but difficult to practice. Only the indwelling Holy Spirit can give us the strength to say no and mean it. Christians are to live in the world but not be a part of the world.
But GOD knows what rewards, both here upon earth and in heaven, awaits us when we are obedient to HIM. Satan wants us to think that GOD is preventing us from experiencing the pleasures of the earthly life. It all began in the Garden of Eden.

Let’s read 1 Thessalonians 4: 4-5:

so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor, 5 not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.

Why is it GOD’S will that Christians “abstain from sexual immorality? It is “so that” they know how to control the desires of the flesh. Do you think JESUS had to control HIS earthly body? You bet! HE was tempted in all ways as we are tempted, yet without sin. Now, that is control. Since we cannot be perfect, is why HE had to give HIS sinless, perfect life to set free from sin and death, all who place their faith and trust in HIM.

Some Bible scholars interpret “body” as “vessel” or “wife.” I think if we, as Christians, control our own bodies in the sanctification process, other areas of our lives will fall into the right place including those who have a spouse.
A major area Christians have to control is their sexual appetite, as well as their appetites in general. The more we give into our cravings the more we lose control in other areas of our lives.

Controlling our sexual appetites is a good start in controlling our earthly bodies and to help us control other things that prevent us from allowing the sanctification process to perfect us and bring honor to CHRIST Who indwells us.

In essence, the sanctification of every Christian was finished on the cross by the shed blood of CHRIST but it is being perfected as he or she lives each day. Christians face powerful issues each day and make decisions based upon their freedom of choice. That freedom of choice needs to be based upon, “What would JESUS do.”

Later in life, a portion of men and women will face “mid-life crisis.” This is often referred to as “adult adolescence.” This is a time when the mind in adults goes a bit crazy. It is a time when those going through such a period in their lives to ask for help, especially help from their spouse if they are married or a qualified counselor.

When Christians allow cravings and lustful desires to enter their minds and lives, they block their relationship and fellowship with GOD. They become like those who don’t know GOD, which brings dishonor to HIM because of their lifestyle and thought life. Refer back to what JESUS said in Matthew 5:27-27 regarding our thought life.

Christians have the indwelling Holy Spirit to come to their aid when such thoughts come into their minds and such thoughts will come into our minds because we live in a sinful world. Being a Christian is a daily battle but we have to keep in mind 1 John 4:4:

4 You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One (JESUS) who is in you is greater than the one (Satan) who is in the world.

When JESUS was tempted by Satan, HE fought him with scripture. That is why Christians must memorize or have scripture they can refer to as they walk each day with CHRIST. We are in a battlefield each day. We must remain ready and properly equipped for battle.

Let’s read 1 Thessalonians 4:6-8:

6 This means one must not transgress against and defraud his brother (brother or sister) in this (any) matter, because the Lord is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you. 7 For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification. 8 Therefore, the person who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who also gives you His Holy Spirit.

At first glance, it seems that Paul has moved on to a new issue of business dealings. The word used for “brother” applies to male or female Christians. When Christians are ruled by lustful desires, be it sex, money, fame, etc., they place themselves in situations to hurt others and their witness for CHRIST. Christians are “called” to “sanctification” and NOT to impurity. Sin grieves the Holy Spirit.  

Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:30:
30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of •redemption.

The overarching message is that GOD has called Christians to sanctification. Christians are to walk the talk especially in choosing a marriage partner. Christians are not to choose a marriage partner like the Gentiles who base their selection on lust but upon purity and being equally yoked as one in CHRIST.

When people and especially Christians dabble in the things that GOD says are wrong, GOD is the avenger. Paul makes it clear that Christians must not “transgress against.” “Transgress against” means to “go beyond a boundary.” When we break a law or commandment of GOD it hurts both us, others around us and the Holy Spirit. Most often it is our family and our witness that suffers.

Pornography is an addiction that can be hidden because it is so accessible. It opens us to the onslaughts of Satan and his demons. It often only escalates over time until some of the fantasies of the mind are carried out in life and then destruction.

GOD calls HIS children to sanctification because the Holy Spirit indwells them and they are to honor their bodies by not defiling them.

When we choose to disobey GOD’S desire for Christians to be sanctified by doing the things HE abhors, we reject GOD and HIS plan and will for us.
The Good News is that GOD’S grace is sufficient to get Christians through the storms of life but we need to confess our sins to GOD and repent.
1 John 1:5-10:

5 Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. 6 If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we • walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Christians are in a battle each day not with flesh and blood but the spirit world as Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-13:

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

We need to pray for each other and keep a careful eye on our thought life lest we fall into a lifestyle that is intent upon enslaving and killing our witness. Stay strong as Paul stated in Ephesians 6:14-18:

14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the • saints.
Prayers for all! Blessings!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bible Study - Ministering (5) - Ready When Homosexuality Devastates - Romans 1:18-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - February 15, 2015

Bible Study - Ministering (5)  - Ready When Homosexuality Devastates – February 15, 2015

This is lesson (5) in our series entitled “Ready: Ministering Life to Those in Crisis.”

[For whatever reason the uppercase "h" and "a" print as  "H" and "A" but bold uppercase works "H" and "A".]

Our focal scripture is Romans 1:18-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Share the hope and new life all can have in CHRIST. Don’t let a person’s lifestyle prevent you from sharing CHRIST when you are led by the Holy Spirit. When GOD says a certain lifestyle is wrong, just because everyone is doing it does not make it right. Neither does the government approving what GOD says is wrong makes it right. But the hope of all mankind is in the forgiveness of GOD through faith in CHRIST. The hope of eternal life for all is CHRIST.

CHRIST gave  HIS life for all sinners and HE loves all sinners but HE hates their sin. We tend to single out certain sins as worse than other sins but to GOD missing the mark is missing the mark. Missing the mark is the definition of sin. Every person needs salvation from sin and death because all humans miss HIS mark of perfection and of righteousness. That is why we all need a Savior to redeem us from sin and eternal death. That Savior is CHRIST.

Certain sins negatively impact and devastate more people and we tend to view those as more egregious sins.

Even those who are born-again Christians sin and must confess their sins in order to remain in fellowship with GOD and not block the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. All Christians are “under construction” through the process of “sanctification.” We will not reach perfection until we exit our earth suits and behold CHRIST face to face. Our flesh nature, in essence, is our thorn in the flesh.

The title of our lesson focuses upon homosexuals. Homosexuality is a lifestyle that GOD considers sin along with many other lifestyles. GOD created the male and the female for the purpose of replenishing the earth. That is GOD’S natural order and to defy that order is to reject GOD as creator.

Does that mean that those caught up in that lifestyle are doomed? NO! No more so than the other sins Paul lists such as: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom.

These lifestyles block a person’s desire to seek a relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST. Their lifestyle is more important than living as GOD desires for them to live.

The important thing for all people to keep in mind is that GOD loves them and is always there to receive those who repent of their sins and ask CHRIST to forgive them and for CHRIST to come into their lives.

But when they remain in the lifestyles that GOD condemns, they live in darkness. They have chosen the gratification of the flesh over giving their lives to GOD. They will experience GOD’S wrath because they have rejected HIM.

Listed below are a few lifestyles GOD considers an abomination. But first, what is an abomination? It is defined as:

-         Anything greatly disliked or abhorred.

-         intense aversion or loathing; detestation: 

-         a vile, shameful, or detestable action, condition, habit

Leviticus 18:22-23:  22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. (ESV)

Deuteronomy 17:1 - English Standard Version (ESV)

 “You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the Lord your God. (Giving money earned illegally does not justify the sin.)

Deuteronomy 22:5 English Standard Version (ESV)

 “A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

These are a few of the issues today’s liberal society is attempting to tell people that living such lifestyles are okay but GOD is saying no they aren’t. When we have loved ones who are caught up in some of these lifestyles, we are often more lenient, understanding and minimize them. We must always keep in mind that we are not to lose sight of the need for us to love the person while hating the sin and pray for their deliverance and salvation. They could already be saved but out of fellowship with GOD.

Could there be physiological and/or psychological issues? Yes, we do not live in a perfect world and various things can impact the human brain. I am not qualified to get into that area. As we focus on these scriptures, we need to keep in mind that the pagan world offered the lure of perverted lifestyles as a way of pagan worship. Many Christians came out of that lifestyle of darkness to walk in the light of CHRIST. The lure for them to return to their old lifestyles was likely ever present but the more they walked in the light of GOD the more they could understand and see the darkness they were in. 

Perversions bring intense satisfaction to the flesh and they become addictive. These perversions lead those involved in them away from GOD because they know GOD does not approve, but they bring temporary pleasure. These lifestyles block the intimate relationship GOD desires for all people to have with HIM, which is an intimate, loving relationship through faith in CHRIST. This means anything that compromises our relationship with GOD is a barrier to this relationship.

Yet, all Christians either knowingly or inadvertently allow issues to come into their lives that compromise their relationship with GOD. When that happens, their eternal rewards are compromised, their complete obedience to the LORD is compromised and their Spiritual growth is stunted or stopped. Often, Christians do not realize how much they have compromised, that is why Christians must ask GOD to search their hearts and test them to see if there is any wickedness in them.

Salvation secures eternal life for all who place their faith in CHRIST. Obedience to living as GOD lead’s, guides and directs results in heavenly rewards and crowns, which will be revealed in heaven.

Are our churches a showcase for the saints or a hospital for sinners? We are all sinners, saved by grace. I contend there is hypocrisy in all of us.

Let’s read Romans 1:18-23:

18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, 19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. 21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

GOD revealed Himself through creation and humans refused to acknowledge that HE did it. GOD made it very plain, uncomplicated and understandable to all humans that HE is the creator of all that is seen including them. They know the truth, yet they suppress the truth that HE is creator. They think they are smarter than GOD. They refuse to worship HIM. Instead they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.  

The unrighteous acts of GOD’S people suppress the truth and results in others being misled into worshipping false gods.

If we, who have placed our faith in CHRIST, cover it with unrighteous acts, we make mockery of GOD and we suppress the truth. We know the truth but when we do not live the truth, we prevent others from seeing and witnessing the truth in our lives.

All people through the ages have seen the handiwork of GOD. If the GODLY, who know GOD, do not live it and share it, then the ungodly are left to try to figure it out for themselves. We who know GOD and walk in the light must share the good news of CHRIST. When we who know the truth walk in darkness, we do a disservice to ourselves and to those in need of the gospel message of salvation through faith in CHRIST.

GOD holds the ungodly accountable because HE has revealed Himself through HIS handiwork. HE made every human a majestic work of art. HE made all that we can see. Creation reveals HIS majesty.

Paul wrote that all people are without excuse because GOD has revealed Himself but some people do not want to be accountable to a higher power so they fashion images of false gods to worship.

They will be judged by CHRIST but we who have the light of CHRIST through faith in HIM will not be judged as JESUS said in John 5:24:

24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

GOD allows the righteousness of CHRIST to be placed upon all who place their faith in HIM. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21:

19 That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Talk about Good News but receiving eternal life and not being judged that is GOOD NEWS!! Christians must not hide this Good News by living unrighteous lives. Christians are accountable to GOD and whereas disobedience will not rob them of their salvation, it will rob them of their eternal rewards. Once a person is born into the Kingdom of GOD he or she does not become unborn but they are subject to not obtaining the rewards GOD has planned for them. Read 1 Corinthians 3:9-11:

9 For we are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire. 16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.

What are we building with each day? Are we building with materials that will glorify GOD or ourselves?

GOD revealed Himself to humans through HIS creation, order and the gift of life but humans rejected that reveal. As a result, GOD did not violate HIS plan to allow humans to have freewill and chose who they would serve as their master. They chose the flesh, its cravings and gratifications as we read in our next scripture.

Let’s read Romans 1:24-27:

24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. • Amen.

From Idolatry to Depravity

 26 This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

GOD made us with the freedom of choice but with choice comes responsibility. Many know the truth and once walked in the light of CHRIST but they allowed their flesh to rule their lives. They cohort with others who are unsaved but do not tell them about CHRIST because they have abandoned the truth of CHRIST for pleasing their flesh. How can they bring honor to CHRIST when they are doing the same things as the world is doing?

They serve the god of pleasure and perversions. They have abandoned the One True GOD but HE has not abandoned them. Those who once knew the truth can confess, repent, be cleansed by GOD and restored by GOD.

Paul addresses homosexuality but it is one sin among many that results in people, including Christians, who become entangled and result in an unrighteous lifestyle, as we read in our next scripture.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were • sanctified, you were • justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Paul was addressing the ungodly, those without CHRIST. Why hang with them because they have chosen a lifestyle contrary to the things of GOD. Thus, they care nothing about the Kingdom of GOD and will not inherit it. Their names will not be in the Lambs Book of Life unless they repent.

Their lifestyle may look enticing but don’t be fooled. They may appear to be living the grand life upon earth, which is temporary and coming closer to the end with each passing day but eternity is forever.

So do not be lured into this lifestyle because you know the truth and the truth will set you free from sin and its consequence, death. You have been washed in the shed blood of the LAMB, JESUS, sanctified, justified and given the Holy Spirit Who indwells, confirms and assures that you are GOD’S Son or Daughter through the miracle of rebirth. So do not trade the temporary for the eternal rewards.

CHRIST gave HIS life for the worst of sinners because HE loved them; not their sin but them. Do we welcome all into our congregations who do not have the same lifestyle as we do but seek truth? Christians need GOD’S wisdom as they minister to a lost world with the truth, in love and not get caught up in what is politically correct. Truth does not change.

Instead of the world obeying what the Bible says, the world wants to change it to say what they want it to say. Rather than mankind having the desire to be made into the image of CHRIST, mankind wants to make GOD into its image.

GOD’S Word remains because it is truth. The Bible changes the person who reads and studies it. The Bible is the revelation of GOD on an ever ascending scale, culminating with CHRIST coming to earth, living a sinless life as a human, giving HIS sinless, perfect life, dying, being buried and raised by GOD from the dead on the third day. This was necessary for CHRIST to pay the penalty for sin in full and redeem all who will place their faith in HIM from sin and death. HE walked upon earth for 40 days and ascended into heaven, sat at the right hand of GOD, HIS Father and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to earth to indwell all who place their faith in CHRIST.  The Holy Spirit is GOD’S assurance, security deposit, and down payment to all who place their faith in CHRIST that they are HIS children and have eternal life.

So why let the temporary pleasures of sin rob you of the rewards GOD has for those who obediently serve HIM? Oh, but I am a _____ and the church people would not accept me. Forget the people who babble, CHRIST gave HIS life for you, don’t turn your back on HIM.

But if I accept CHRIST as my Savior or did sometime ago, I will have to give up my current lifestyle. You are correct, you will but the power of CHRIST and the Holy Spirit will give you strength to live for GOD.

What if I fall back into that lifestyle? Confess it as sin and stop doing it. Ask GOD to continue HIS work in you giving you a new mind and a new heart. It is a process. Do not get discouraged and ask trusted friends to help you through these times. Sins are addictions. Trust GOD to make good on HIS promises. I can assure you Satan will do all he can to stop you from dedicating or rededicating your life to CHRIST.

If you read and study HIS Word you will learn that GOD says what HE means and means what HE says. HIS chosen people in the Old Testament refused to take HIM seriously. Read HIS Word and see truth.

Salvation is a free gift from GOD. Confess your sins and ask CHRIST to forgive you, believing that HE died for you and place your faith in CHRIST. That is the beginning of your walk with HIM as you grow Spiritually through the process of sanctification. But some may say I have already done that, so confess, repent and allow GOD to cleanse, restore and complete HIS work that HE began in you. Blessings!!!