fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Who Is The Liar?

Who is the Liar? By Julie McAllen

22Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

24See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.

26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:22-27)

When we think of THE worst example of rebellion toward God, isn’t it Satan? If anyone was anti-Christ it is him. Study his personality and actions. He was an angel in heaven among the ranks of the holy and he starts thinking he can do better than God Almighty? When Jesus Christ, God made flesh, came to earth, who ended up putting him to death? Wasn’t it religious people who thought they had something better? PRIDE–particularly religious pride–has always opposed the Holy One who is God.

I am a very prideful person. I never thought of myself as the ‘sinner’ led astray by wild living. I was basically “a good person” out there in the world. I used to see those signs along the road that read “Jesus died for your sins” and ask God “so, what’s my sin?” I acknowledged that I was a sinner but really wasn’t sure what my sin was. Was anything I did really “that bad?” I also didn’t understand what sin did to my relationship with God, who I assumed at that time was just a big sky daddy who overlooked everything and all good dogs go to heaven. I didn’t really think sin mattered much to God because I was in darkness. But if there is no such thing as sin, there is no need for a savior then is there? I denied the Father and the Son… but then again, I didn’t know any Scripture.

Then I got involved with a nice, clean, white-washed religion that appeared to have all the answers. Oh how I was drawn to that! Like James says, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14, 15) I had a desire to be one of the chosen few who could be righteous enough to enter the new order. I was sure I could be good enough. I loved the law set forth and endeavored to keep it, but I experienced a separation from God through the practice of my religion. I was still in darknesss for I had been deceived to deny the Father and the Son even as I became well-versed in Scripture.

Thankfully, the life of Paul was recorded in those Scriptures and I began to relate to his journey.

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (Phil 3:4-6)

Wow. Paul thought he was “faultless” as regards doing the right thing too! So why did he also refer to himself as “the worst sinner?” (1 Tim 1:15)

Philippians chapter 3 continues…
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:7-11)

Paul understood, by the grace of God, the pride involved in “having a righteousness of his own.” I believe he called himself the worst sinner, not because he drank too much, gambled away money, fooled around with woman… or men for that matter, or stole from the temple, but because he at one time denied the gift of righteousness through Christ in prideful preference for his own religiosity. It took a blinding encounter with Jesus Christ to humble Paul and cause him to repent of this sin of faultless self-righteousness. And God turned that “liar” into His spokesman for truth.

Legalistic religions churn out prideful people like the pre-Christian Paul every day and I was certainly one of them. I did not just leave it and expect time to heal all wounds, I REPENTED before God of my involvement in it because I am humbled every time I see what Jesus did for me. I can no longer deny him, he is the truth.

Who is the liar?

Did someone tell you that if you behaved well enough God would accept you too? If it’s all about keeping the law, what was the long-awaited Messiah for? When John said in this letter, “see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you,” what might the Christians he wrote it to believed from the beginning? He calls a person who denies Jesus Christ an antichrist. In what way could they be persuaded to deny Jesus?

I don’t think there is a religious group out there that does not agree that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Ro 3:23). We fear being labeled prideful if we do not agree that we all have sinned. But what is our true response to this? Do we remain the victim of sin and death? Strive to overcome it by our own efforts? Sweep it under the rug? Perhaps our response to this issue of sin affects our response to Jesus Christ and determines if we live in the lie or in the truth.

Unfortunately for some in the church, the response has become a list of do’s and don’ts to gain or remain in God’s favor. Though they may use the Bible, where does Jesus fit into this? Can our attitude deny Christ? If it’s all about “me” working my way to heaven, what do I need Jesus for? Is there anything we can do to merit God’s favor? In contrast, Romans 6:23 says God sent us a gift… the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The Bible’s anecdote to sin and death is not our own righteous works but a gift from God. Imagine that!

Religions that teach it’s members that eternal life is gained through some kind of work or behavior are DENYING the gift God offers in Christ. If they teach pro-self works, then they are anti-Christ. If you have fallen into this lie and have persisted in gaining life through your own works, REPENT! You’ve swallowed a lie. If you are still teaching it, REPENT! You have become the liar. If you are drowning in self-pity because you could never live up to the expectations of the religion–MEET JESUS, you are forgiven.

It matters not how well-versed or well-behaved your religion taught you to be if it has taught you to believe in another Jesus. Mine told me he died for my sins and in the same breath demanded I remain in their group to really know God and hold to their list of rules in order to survive the end of the world. Such a group is anti-Christ for they are pro-self.

Along the journey with Jesus, I thought I’d understood where the dangers lie in religion; Just stay away from those legalistic rules about lengths of skirts and facial hair right? No. I found lies in some Spirit-filled fellowships also where people were made to feel uncomfortable if their gifts were not displayed to the rest of the group for approval. Is there an unspoken rule that everyone must practice the gift of praying in tongues to prove their spirituality? All gifts are for the edification of the church, but not all are known to the church. There are silent prayers after all.

I personally believe in the continuation of spiritual gifts, however, I am cautious with groups where balance is neglected. On one side of the spectrum we have legalistic groups that rely solely on “knowledge” and block the Spirit. And on the other extreme we see some groups sweeping past the foundation of redemption from sin and eagerly pursue the spiritual gifts. I personally believe that when Jesus said we were to worship God in “Spirit and Truth” he was referring to the balance of being grounded in Scripture and also open to revelation through His Spirit, not either or. Look at the gift of prophecy for example. How can one use such a gift properly unless the word of God first dwells in them? And how can it unless a person takes the time to digest it? Such a gift was given to the apostle Paul because he was well grounded in Scripture and therefore in a better position to test the spirits and discern what was in line with the revealed will of God. Tongues, on the other hand, were given to some Gentile believers less familiar with the revealed word, yet they were encouraged to seek the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14:1-5). After all, would you trust an unversed, new believer fresh from the world who “has a word for you?”

In imitation of Jesus, there is nothing wrong with the church feeding folks to put them at ease long enough to listen. They may invite them in through a church event offering fun and games. I’m sure when Jesus fed the five thousand with the fish and loaves he was well aware that some only came for the food, but others would follow him. Jesus dined with all types and healed people without regard to whether they would join him or not. Our Lord is perfect agape love in action and the church also is called to represent that, but he did not bestow spiritual gifts on the ones who merely took a passing interest did he? Those who received the Holy Spirit first were Jews, educated in the Scriptures concerning sin and the Messiah and they were obedient to his command to stay in Jerusalem until his timing in pouring it out (Luke 24:49). The role of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ not the individual or group with which one is associated. And it is foundational that one must grapple with their personal sin first in order to glorify Christ. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would be the Helper which would convict the world of sin (John 16:8). Sin! Gasp! He doesn’t just send the Spirit for the warm fuzzies. In some seeker-friendly groups eager for the “experience” of Christianity, the temptation is to brush past the foundation and move headlong into praying for the gifts of the Spirit.

Perhaps in welcoming new seekers in hopes that they will continue to attend church and grow in the faith, it’s easier to extol the blessings of spiritual gifts than risk the discomfort of touching their sin issue lest they retreat too quickly. But talk about sin? How can the church grow with that kind of appeal? And yet, that is how the church of the first century grew — by responding first to the words “REPENT.” (Acts 2:38) To quickly breeze past laying that foundation in the rush to promote an encounter seems a recipe to invite in the wrong spirit. Let’s not forget that an enemy can imitate with signs and wonders also. Tongues and healings are NOT evidence of the Holy Spirit alone. If a person can tell you all about their experience at church and the gifted teacher who healed them but not be able to answer why it was necessary for Jesus to die for them personally, I might suspect something was lacking in the foundation of their faith.

We are in this world along with those who pay no attention to the cross or acknowledge Jesus Christ. And it is not our role to change the world by Bible thumpin’ those who are not asking. We are instead to be READY for those who ask according to 1 Peter 3:15. And why would they ask unless they noticed something different. Jesus taught that the church was not to be taken out of the world, but left in it (John 17:14-16) Those in Christ are STRANGERS in the world, not the other way around. As a Christian, I remind myself that this world is not my home, I am a guest here so I’d better respect those in the world outside of Christ. I would not expect them to take on my beliefs if they are at home with their own in this world. But when a person visits the church the tables are turned. The world is now a guest in my home. I feel no need to conform to their views by being overly seeker-friendly by sidestepping the issue of sin. We talk about sin. If that offends, then the door to our house is always open to leave. Whether in our personal homes or the house in which we gather for worship, it is right to welcome unbelievers and treat them as guests, but not to receive their teaching.

7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John 1:7-11)

To my understanding “house” in this case means “house church” in the sense that we do not welcome unbelievers by giving them the floor to teach their anti Christian way in the church. You can feed em and love em, but not ask them to teach the rest of the church gathered there in the hopes that we can “all just get along.” It is fine at the neighborhood BBQ to have lively and open discussion among diverse people of differing faiths, but should this be the case at church? Christians are to carry their cross, not put their enemies on it, so we may have to bite our tongues respectful that it is not our place as a guest at another’s house, but church is the place where we get to be free to worship Jesus without holding back isn’t it? If people came to CHURCH looking for answers, how sad it would be if in the interest of being seeker-friendly we shoved truth aside and just offered more happy programs and promises to keep them coming back. And come back they may, but are they being deceived by a false representation of Christianity that doesn’t address sin? It’s fine to keep a seeker off the street and coming back to church, but what is it they’re converting to — a new lifestyle or to Christ himself? What happens when the church programs end? Adherents of false religions, after all, say they have a relationship with God, read their Bibles and join in the activities of a religious life but reply with uncertainty when asked, “are you saved?” Somehow the message of the cross got missed. It’s a sly enemy tactic to shut up the blood-bought church and silence those must confident to take a stand for righteousness. Are we being deceived by thinking we’re doing something good in the name of religion by being too friendly? Have we become Satan’s tool by adopting a watered down seeker-friendly policy to keep folks coming back to church and forgotten that Christ did not come to bring peace but a sword? It’s OKAY if some people hate Christians for speaking truth ya know, that’s perfectly normal. I have come to love the sword in fact. I do not mind the separation that the message of the cross causes and yet Jesus has taught me to love and pray for those who differ or outright become my enemy because of it. That’s pretty friendly.

When a seeker says they now are a believer, I certainly wouldn’t want to downgrade their positive experience. If a person talks about becoming comfortable at church and the friendships formed through it, there is nothing wrong with those things, but does this make them a Christian now? I wouldn’t want to MISLEAD them by assuming that just because they now go to church or even had some spiritual experience that they have come to Jesus Christ for salvation. So after affirming their positive experiences at church, the simple question to ask them is “at what point did you realize your sin?” If someone has truly come to Christ for salvation from sin and death, surely they will have a ready answer to that question and able to tell you the lie they had been in before coming to the truth.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. (1 John 2:26-27)

I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? (1 John 2:21-22)

Do you know the truth? Who is the liar?

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

Advertisements

August 31, 2012 Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

%d bloggers like this: