As a pastor, I’ve noticed a common problem when most people sit down in my office for counseling. “I’ve failed God’s standard,” they say wearily. “My sin has cut me off from fellowship with the Lord.” They think their sins cause the Holy Spirit to flitter away like a dove and then hover in the air until they get their hearts right.
These are all sincere believers, yet they could not be more mistaken about God. When we sin, that’s when we need Christ’s fellowship the most! Jesus doesn’t abandon us in our sin. He intercedes for us, going to the Father and sending the Spirit to remind us of His grace—a grace based on His shed blood, not our performance.
Yes, the Bible and the Holy Spirit convict of sin. But we are not to be anxious about the outcome of our sin. God’s grace is more powerful than any demon, our sinful nature, or any mountain of guilt. So the outcome of our sin is to rest in Him! We don’t have to reestablish fellowship with Him, because He is already at work convicting, washing and cleansing us. He never leaves us; His godly work in us never stops, even when we stop being godly!
This means you are no longer under the law of sin, but are set free to walk in the Spirit by grace. Your old man is gone; all things have become new. You no longer have to say, “I can’t do what I wish to do.” Your motto now is, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Yes, you can—not in your own ability, but through Christ, who has cleansed you and called you to righteousness by His grace.
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do” (Romans 8:3). We can’t strive our way to righteousness. God has established His righteousness in us through His Son, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:4).
Are you anxious? Haunted by your failures? Do you wonder, “Is there really such a thing as freedom for me? Does this Christian life even work?” Jesus answers, “You have been set free.” This is the reality that God declares about you.
Pray this prayer: “God, I know You have done this for me, but I’ve lived as if You haven’t. Settle it in my heart now. I can walk in the Spirit knowing You have done all to make me righteous. Amen!”
I will never understand how some people can claim Jesus as their Savior yet live as if they had never experienced His saving grace. How they can ask God to redeem them while living unrepentant, unremorseful lives. How they can talk as if they know Christ when their actions show clearly that they know nothing about Him.
These kinds of people do more harm for the kingdom than Satan could ever hope to accomplish. They are the enemy’s greatest allies in a world that already looks for ways to discount the claims of Christ. Paul tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). For too long Christians have conformed to the ways of the world. We have allowed the world to not only affect us but to completely infect us. To take over our hearts and minds and keep us in bondage to sin, even though we convince ourselves that we are free.
But Jesus promises to bring transformation to our hearts and minds, to renew us, to change the way we think and live and act. If we have not allowed Him to do that, we have not really accepted Him.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God,” wrote David, “and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). These words should epitomize the desire of every follower of Christ. They should be our prayer daily. To ask God for a new heart and a new mind, to plead for a pure life, to strive moment by moment to live with greater mercy and grace and innocence. To become more like Jesus with each passing day.
When the world looks at us, what they see will define their view of God. It will shape how they perceive our heavenly Father, what they think of Him, how they come to understand His goodness and grace. We are ambassadors for the kingdom of God in a lost and fallen world. And our actions, both good and bad, will reflect directly on God.
Nicky Cruz, internationally known evangelist and prolific author, turned to Jesus Christ from a life of violence and crime after meeting David Wilkerson in New York City in 1958. The story of his dramatic conversion was told first in The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson and then later in his own best-selling book Run, Baby, Run.
Babylon is falling! That merchandising world of greed and self is collapsing. “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of their sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4).
We have so spiritualized Babylon that we have missed a simple, fundamental truth. It is spoken of in Revelation 18 and includes “delicious living” and “making merchants rich” (see Revelation 18:3).
There is nothing wrong with merchants becoming rich. But Babylon represents a spirit of greed—a spirit so powerful, so evil and driving that it says, “People don’t count. All that counts is the bottom line on the balance sheet!”
Merchants will weep in that day of terror, not for the multitudes who are burning in a holocaust but because their money machine is gone. Wall Street has been called the nation’s “greed capital,” but this spirit is not limited to location. It is sweeping society in general—even the Church!
The Holy Spirit is saying, “Don’t let your greed make the merchants richer. Don’t get carried away with the spending and the debt. Curb your appetites. Enough is enough! Get off the Babylonian greed-mill. Shake off the spirit that lusts for riches and more and more things! Do not partake of the sin of Babylon, which is merchandising with a spirit of greed.”
What an awesome preparation: Jesus wants me with Him! Since the day He left the earth, He has been preparing for my coming to meet Him in heaven.
Thank God for one more great preparation! Jesus said, “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 14:2-3).
I am deeply strengthened by such love. He is preparing for me and I, in turn, desire to prepare for Him!
The Word says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (1 John 2:15). Jesus warned, “Beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).
Things—our possessions—can tie us down to this world. While heaven and hell prepare for war, we go shopping. Eternal values are at stake! The end of all we know is near—and we are busy playing with our toys!
Scripture says of Noah’s day, “They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark” (Matthew 24:38). And of Lot’s day, “They bought, they sold, they planted, they builded” (Luke 17:28).
Now this activity wasn’t evil in and of itself. I’m sure Noah himself had to buy and sell. After all, he was in a building program for 120 years! But the key here is that the people did all these things even up to the day of judgment so no one was heeding, listening, preparing. No one was letting go of the spirit of bondage to material pleasures!
A missionary friend recently wrote from Hong Kong that he had eighteen Chinese students sleeping in his tiny apartment. The students, who were fleeing Communism, had no money and possessed only the clothes they were wearing.
These Christians are an example of people who have “let go.” They weren’t escaping their country because they want Western materialism. Rather, they simply wanted to be set free! They wanted to live in a country where the soul is free to worship!
By contrast, the Church is not escaping but digging in—to its TVs, its VCRs, its conveniences, its “good life.”
Ringing in my soul are those awesome words that Jesus gave to His servants when He said that for every idle word “they shall give account” (Matthew 12:36). If we must give account of every word, will we not be called to account for idle time and wasted money as well?
We all are going to stand before the Lord and give account. So we had better ask ourselves now: What are our reasons? Why are we so ill-prepared? Why so selfish? Why so wasteful?
“Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 12:12).
Listen with your spirit to these words: Satan knows his time is short, for he has “come down” to the earth. This planet is the final battleground! He has prepared his forces, and his strategy is underway. All of hell is one big, satanic operations network!
Beloved, Satan’s main object is the elect of God. It is not the backslidden, apostate nation of Israel, nor a lukewarm, self-satisfied Church but rather, the spotless Bride of Christ! An elect, holy people consisting of blood-bought Jews and Gentiles—the true Church!
Satan is going to so thoroughly deceive the wicked that they will not repent even under the most severe judgment of God. “Spirits of devils, working miracles . . . to gather them to the battle of . . . God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14). They will not turn back to the Lord even if hell stares them in the eye. Only a people who are totally deceived could blaspheme God under a scorching sun that consumes!
The whole point of my message is this: While all heaven and hell have been put on alert, and everywhere in the spiritual realm the preparations are furious for the final hour, millions of Christians are fast asleep! This last-days spiritual sloth and sleepy unconcern have to be a source of bewilderment to both angels and demons!
The disciples slept through the Lord’s agony in the garden, and not much has changed today. Those followers were not prepared. They slept, and then they forsook the Lord and fled.
John the Baptist went before Jesus “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17). The apostle John saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, consisting of a people “prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). Beloved, the Word is crystal-clear: We are to be prepared!