TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

MORAL CONFORMITY

Babes in CHRIST are carnal-like.  They have little of GOD’s SPIRIT because flesh predominates and the SPIRIT does not “rule their whole life” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p13).

“…my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13 ESV).

There is a definite distinction between the Gospel and moral conformity. Timothy Keller (ref#123, p69).  The wandering Israelites fell into the trap of “moral conformity.”  Speaking to Israel GOD said: “…in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.  But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God and you shall be my people….’” (Jer 7:22-23 ESV).

FATHER, the carnal babe in CHRIST does what he thinks best [moral conformity] instead of obeying Your voice [Gospel].  Forgive us, LORD, for we all have a natural tendency to go our way without communicating with You.

“How much Christian work there is to-day which has…simply sprung into being by impulse!  In Our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father….saints…are doing work for God at the instigation of their own human nature…” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Sept 9th).

“In becoming partakers of the union with Christ, there is a work God does and a work we have to do.  God does His work by moving us to do our work.  The work of God is hidden and silent; what we do is something distinct and tangible.  Conversion and faith, prayer and obedience, are conscious acts of which we can give a clear account while the spiritual quickening and strengthening that come from above are secret and beyond the reach of human sight” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p44).

“There is but one way of being delivered from this life of self.  We must follow Christ, set our hearts upon Him, listen to His teachings, give ourselves to Him every day that He may be all to us; and by the power of Christ the denial of self will be a blessed, unceasing reality” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p37).

“…The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them…” (Rom 11:7-10 MSG).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

CULTURAL HOLINESS

“Many Christians have what we might call a ‘cultural holiness.’  They adapt to the character and behavior pattern of Christians around them.  As the Christian culture around them is more or less holy, so these Christians are more or less holy” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p22).  “…those who grew up ‘in the faith’ but had no faith…” (Matt 8:10-12 MSG).

“…the present generation has been brought up to believe in the doctrines and religious customs of their ancestors…that…makes it more difficult, and calls for a more careful self-examination, to ascertain whether or not he has been taught of the Lord” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p103-104).

“…these…rest upon their intellectual knowledge of the Truth, and mistake it for a saving experience of the same.  And it is this class which…is the hardest to reach: it is much more difficult to persuade such to examine themselves as to whether or not they have been taught of God, than it is those who make no profession at all” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p104).

“…there are a lot of rebels out there, full of loose, confusing, and deceiving talk.  Those who were brought up religious and ought to know better are the worst….They say they know God, but their actions speak louder than their words….” (Titus 1:10-16 MSG).

“I would issue a strong warning…to…moral, civil, well-natured people, good-livers, as we call them….when this virtuous, natural disposition has the advantage of a godly education, these sort of people come quickly to look very well; and, therefore, they ought to take great care….” Robert Traill (ref#225, March 27th).

“Moral, civil people are in great danger…they think they have sufficient assets of their own and therefore, they do not borrow from Christ” Robert Traill (ref#225, March 27th).

FATHER, these long-time pew-sitters are in great danger indeed.  They are “babes in CHRIST” that are lulled to contentment in virtue of their good actions and spiritual knowledge.  But they are static babes, presently stagnant in their growth toward holiness having no idea that “moral conformity’” is vastly different than the “Gospel.” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p69)   I pray for these who find themselves in this quote: “…I have been brought up as a Christian; I have always tried to do good.  I have never been conscious of the fact that I am a sinner, that I need repentance, and that I must be converted” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 26th).

SUPPLICATION

NON CHRISTIAN Resisters

[We all have friends and family that do not want anything to do with Christianity so it is up to us to pray for their salvation. Here’s an opportunity to pray for them. Fill their name in the blanks.]

THE SELF-INDULGENT

FATHER, because JESUS, in His priestly role makes continual intercession I bow before Him. Compel ____ to draw close to You through CHRIST, for it is CHRIST who is able to save completely (Heb 7:25). May Your SPIRIT perform His sanctifying work in (him/her) (1 Pet 1:2).

____ satisfies (himself/herself) with adulterous pleasure. Like Israel, (he/she) loves raison cakes—delicacies that appeal “to the senses, and gratifies the carnal impulses and desires” Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (ref#68, [Hos 3:1]).

(He/She) appears to be living a self-gravitating, dissolute life rejecting what (he/she) knows of You and choosing the way of self-discovery—deciding (himself/herself) what is right and wrong (ref#123, p31,33).

“God…never designed that the…immoral creature should sip its bliss at a lower fountain than Himself….Love to God…forms the grand requirement…of the divine law….no opposition of rival interest can lessen the obligation of every creature…to love…God with all his heart…” Octavius Winslow (ref#61, May 18th).

Even if ____ would turn and decide on (his/her) own to do good and make an effort to follow You, it would do nothing for (his/her) salvation. ____’s good deeds will not move You to accept (him/her) into Your kingdom. My prayer is not for ____ to amend (his/her) rebellious ways, but for You to call (him/her) to Yourself (Rom 9:16). Call to (him/her) in such a way that (he/she) will answer.

SUPPLICATION

CHRISTIAN

[Because we are Christians and live in the world we will always need prayer for our walk and for witnessing to others about CHRIST. Here’s an opportunity to pray for others or even ourselves. Fill their name or your name in the blanks.]

DRAWING CONVERSATION BACK TO JESUS

“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.   For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.   And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (I Cor 2:1-5 ESV).

FATHER, I pray for ____ as (he/she) has opportunity to speak of Christianity. Restrain (him/her) from thinking and speaking in a worldly manner. There is no spiritual strength using words that put pressure on the will of the listener or to make an effort to engage emotions (#123, p116). “Paul does not threaten or merely exhort, nor does he lift up some shining example to emulate” Timothy Keller (ref# 123, p117). Prod ____ to make (his/her) message only be about “the limitless significance of Jesus Christ as the propitiation for our sins,…” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Oct 15th).

FATHER, also keep ____ from toting a specific program of Christianity. This, too, is the world’s way to persuade, for it is easier to be part of a cause than to be an obedient CHRIST-follower. “It is easier to belong to a coterie which tells what Jesus Christ has done for me, easier to become a devotee to Divine healing, or to a special type of sanctification, or to the baptism of the Holy Ghost” Oswald Chambers (ref#7, Oct 15th).

Again, prod ____ to proclaim the Gospel, testifying “to the matchless worth of the person and work of Christ” A. W. Pink (ref#152, p 167)—no sales pitch—no witnessing for CHRIST, but witnessing about CHRIST.

CONFESSION

IMITATING MY ELDER BROTHER, JESUS

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-4-20-18-pm…FATHER, in Your Word You command many things of me. But if I look at Your commands as just something I need to do I am in the wrong frame of mind. I do not say, “I believe in JESUS” and then add hard work to my faith.

“Martin Luther’s old formula still sums things up nicely: ‘We are saved by faith alone [not our works], but not by faith that remains alone.’ Nothing we do can merit God’s grace and favor, we can only believe that he has given it to us in Jesus Christ and receive it by faith. But if we truly believe and trust in the one who sacrificially served us, it changes us into people who sacrificially serve God and our neighbors” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p123-124).

“Desire without knowledge is not good,…” (Prov 19:2 NRSV). “Sincerity and energy by themselves miss the mark (Rom 10:2)” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p903 [Prov 19:2]).

“Religion operates on the principle of ‘I obey therefore I am accepted by God.’ The basic operating principle of the gospel is ‘I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ—therefore I obey’” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p114).

Religion is “the default mode of my heart.” I have to deliberately and repeatedly set my heart to gospel-mode (ref#123, p114-115). I do that not by willfully doing good works but by feeding on the Gospel, digesting it so it becomes my motivating energy.

When the Apostle Paul gives a command, he doesn’t pressure directly on the will or on emotions but draws his listeners back to CHRIST and the work He did. As the hours go by in the day, if I keep thinking about how CHRIST lived out His life, I will soon realize how much His sacrificial love did for me—I will soon want to similarly sacrifice for others—be a comparable “elder brother.” In this mind-set I will complete jobs not to get them “checked off” but to do them because it is a joy to “do” for the One I love.

“Our problems arise largely because we don’t continually return to the gospel to work it in and live it out” (ref#123, p119). Let me repeat that: “Our problems arise largely because we don’t continually return to the gospel to work it in and live it out” Timothy Keller (ref#123, p119).

Looking through the lens of the Gospel my responsibilities named in Scripture become not heavy burdens but privileges to enjoy. There is no higher privilege than to work and suffer for CHRIST (ref#10, p244). It doesn’t get any better than that.

THANKSGIVING

THANKS FOR TRIBULATION

screen-shot-2016-10-21-at-9-28-07-am“Some of you set sail in big ships; you put to sea to do business in faraway ports. Out at sea you saw God in action, saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean. With a word he called up the wind — an ocean storm, towering waves! You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out; your hearts were stuck in your throats. You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk, you didn’t know which end was up. Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time” (Ps 107:23-28 MSG).

FATHER, I have called to You in my distress and You have answered me. I am not grateful for tragedies themselves, but I would not trade the insight, character, and strength they have procured for me for anything (ref#132, p25). I have to admit that most of what I really need for success in this life and the next come through my most difficult and painful experiences (ref#132, p24).

I thank You for the irreplaceable seasons of personal and spiritual growth through trials. I thank You for Your steadfast love and the wondrous works to me. It’s a joy to extol and praise You to everyone (Ps 107:31-32).