unnamed2unnamed

With the recent passing of the Religious Liberties Bill here in Mississippi and all that has been written and talked about by the liberal main stream media since I figured I would chime in with my two cents.

First it needs to be stated I am very conservative, I belong to the Constitutional Party, (yes you can look it up) I am also a Reformed Baptist who believes in the infallibility of scripture. The end of the Bible in the book of Revelation Chapter (KJV) 22  18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. That means what God wrote I accept as truth and cannot and will not change.   

          That being said the liberal media paints a picture of hate and discrimination about believers like me surrounding issues like this. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, that is true born again believers are commanded, not asked, to love our neighbors; Matthew 22:36-40 ESV “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” and this of course includes those of the LGBT community.  No one let me repeat no one claiming to be a Christian can truly be a Christian and HATE someone from the LGBT community.

The word of God not the word of man says that the LGBT lifestyle is wrong. That those apart of the community are caught up in the bondage of sin and in need of being set free. As a Christian I (we) have two duties. First is to share the Good News Psalms 96:3 NKJV “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” that Christ is the way to true freedom.  Note as the Apostle Paul stated we are to always do this with gentleness 2 Timothy 2:25 ESV Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, that God may be at work and not us.

Secondly we are called to never compromise the Word of God. Psalm 119: 1-4 (AMP) How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless], who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord. 2 Blessed and favored by God are those who keep His testimonies, and who [consistently] seek Him and long for Him with all their heart. 3 They do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. 4 You have ordained your precepts, that we should follow them with [careful] diligence. Yet this is exactly what we are being called to do. The liberal minority has deemed this truth, Freedom of Speech (which this falls under) is this; you are free to agree with their liberal viewpoint or our speech is free to be censored and or outlawed or we are free to be imprisoned. It begs the question; who is being discriminated against here?

My Pastor last night made an interesting observation. If this was about anything more than wanting full acceptance for the LGBT community, they would look at this as a great opportunity. Start a business that caters to just that clientele, if as they claim their number are so strong they should do great and leave those with strongly held religious convictions alone.

         By His Grace Alone

 

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

- - - 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

   Let me ask you this, you believe in carnal Christians don’t you? That was a comment from one of the men I minister to the other day. My reply was simple. No, not in the modern understanding, but my belief does not matter. What God says in the bible is all that matters.

   In order to explore this I think we need to define what most folks are referring to as a carnal Christian. In the New Testament the word “carnal’ is translated from the Greek word, sarkikos; which literally means “fleshly.” When the vast majority of folks today refer to carnal Christians they are in context referring to one who lives a fleshly depraved life (old creature) and not a life for Christ (new creature)

   In examining this topic more closely I wish to make three points. First a true Christian cannot be a carnal Christian as we defined it above. Second Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. Lastly Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature.

   I believe one of the great failings in the church today is rightly dividing the word of God. It is far easier to take a scripture and barely scratch the surface of it when proclaiming its meaning than spending countless hours studying it in context. I believe this belief in “carnal Christians” is such an example. This belief that a true Christian can come to Christ and then live a life of sin and depravity is unbiblical.

    The theory that a Regenerated, Born Again, Holy Spirit indwelled Christian can be living a carnal life comes from a misunderstanding of 1Corinthians 3:1-3. The Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is writing to believers (Brethren) in the city of Corinth. He three times refers to them as carnal, but as unto carnal, for ye are yet carnal, and are ye not carnal. So it would on the surface appear that “carnal Christians” are a reality. If we ignore our definition above the answer could be yes in this context. BUT, Paul started preparing the road for these verses back in Chapter 2 verse 12, turn there with me.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    True believers, Christian brothers and sisters receive not the spirit of the world {could read flesh}. No they must in fact receive the spirit which is of God. Why? Simply put an unbeliever, natural man v.14, cannot receive the things of God and foremost on that list is Salvation. Salvation starts with regeneration or rebirth, the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who living the carnal or fleshly life Ephesians 2:1-10

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Note here in verse one Paul says they were dead, meaning slaves to trespasses and sin but made alive (quickened) in Christ. They in times past walked according to the world because their conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath. BUT ! ! ! For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Do you see it friends, prior to our regeneration we were carnal in every aspect of our lives but now we are made alive in Christ to do good (Biblical standards need apply) works. A man cannot claim to be a Christian and live a life of fleshly service.

    Need more, check out 1 Peter 1:23:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    Regenerated man is born of what kind of seed incorruptible. The Greek word here is Aphthartos, meaning not liable to corruption or decay.

    Paul could not have been referring to the brethren in Corinth as in the modern understanding of “carnal christians”. To accept the modern belief that a true Christian can live a corrupted, depraved life is to deny the power of God in regeneration.

    Our second point today is a familiar one; Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. We spent a good deal of time during our series on Free Will looking at this topic but it is worth another look.

    Allow me to summarize using Romans 7:15-23 {Amplified Bible}

15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [that which my moral instinct condemns].

16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it.

17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.

20 Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me fixed and operating in my soul].

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

22 For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].

23 But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh].

    Here is the Apostle Paul, who says he does things he knows to be morally corrupt (v15) and evil v19. So by his own admission the Apostle Paul is a Carnal Christian? I think not. Look at verse 21 with me again:

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

    Do you see it Paul says, that when I want to do what is right and good, he is speaking of his desire. He does not desire to live a carnal life no he desire to live a righteous one. BUT!! He understands evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands, and occasionally he will stumble and sin. This is not describing a modern “carnal Christian”. This is describing every true Christian.

    The Bible is absolutely clear that no one is sinless 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Every time we sin, we are acting carnally. This is the carnal Paul is referring to when writing to the Corinthians. Again many in the modern church have twisted the idea of a “carnal Christian” by saying that it is possible for people to come to faith in Christ and then proceed to live the rest of their lives in a completely carnal manner. It is one thing to sin another to embrace sin.

    Our final point is that Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature. Since some struggle more than others with the battle between flesh and spirit maybe that is how the misguided concept of “Carnal Christians” has evolved today. It is a fact man will always battle with his old self. So much so Paul devotes two entire sections of letters to two churches (Galatians 5 and Ephesians 6) to the matter.

    In Galatians chapter 5 Paul starts with a plea for the Galatians to Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

    The next 15 verses are dedicated to showing the old sinful nature is one constrained by the law. If you choose to pursue righteousness under the law good luck. Verse 17 makes is plain: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Starting in verse 19 Paul lays it out. Here are the fruits (works, actions, desires) of those under the law (carnal man) and those who have the Holy Spirit guiding their lives. What to know if someone is a Christian what fruits are they displaying?

    The key for me is in verse 16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. The word walk is the Greek word Peripateo and means to regulate one's life and to conduct one's self. In context here is to live one’s life as a matter of habit in the Spirit.

    How can you live a life pleasing to God? A fulfilling life that may occasionally be marred by sin; yet a life that is not consumed by sin? Make it your habit, your daily practice to Walk in the Spirit. Listen, practice makes perfect is not joke.

    Lest I neglect to mention Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, you cannot win the battle over flesh alone. Practice is great but is requires the power of God. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians explains this:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Carnal (devoted to sin) Christians are an unbiblical concept. You cannot be a child of God and live a life dedicated to sin. You cannot be a child of God and expect not to fight with your flesh, fail and sin sometimes. You cannot expect just because you are a child of God that you can defeat your sinful temptations on your own. You can as a child of God through practice, prayer and the providence of God, be victorious over your old sinful nature living a life that Glorifies God.

    Until next time may God greatly bless you all.

  Over the past several weeks we have looked at God’s amazing Grace, His Good News, through John Chapter 3. In doing so we had a glimpse into the doctrines of Salvation and Justification.

  So what is next? Well in theological terms the Doctrine of Sanctification follows. This is a big word to mean the process of growing holy, mature in our faith.

  There are many ways in which one grow in their faith, through prayer, attending a good bible preaching church, fellowship with like believers, and studying God’s word to name a few.

  A second question comes to mind, how to set about these things. Here I believe the Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, set forth the steps in Romans Chapter 12 verses 1 and 2:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

  Let’s breakdown God’s word and see what he has for us today.

1) Beseech you therefore brethren:

Beseech a word we do not use much anymore means to Ask, Plead, or Beg Paul is begging for the reader to do something but what? Before the what can be answered we need to know the why and here the answer is pointed out by the word

Therefore here an Adverb

  1. (conjunctive) For that or this purpose, referring to something previously stated. 
  1. (conjunctive) Consequently, by or in consequence of that or this cause; referring to something previously stated. 

Synonyms

So let’s look again at the beginning of this verse it could be worded: I beg you brethren or brothers, based upon all you have just learned in the previous Chapter(s). Let us pause here and look at just chapter 11 and see if we can glimpse at what Paul was writing about.

· Verse 1 asks the question, has God forsaken His people (Israel)?

· Verse 2 Answers not all for some He foreknew and will never forsake

· Verse 3 tells us that although Israel stumbles God is able to use that for good.

· Verse 11 we see the purpose is all this, Salvation (through Christ) comes to the gentiles or non-Jews.

· Verse 25 gives the promise of hope, that many of Israel will be saved

· Verses 34-36 God is in control of all and deserves all the Glory.

  Again Paul is begging the reader (brethren or believers) to pay attention, remembering God’s righteousness, man’s unrighteousness and punishment therein that the end is not final or complete; there is hope for those who are justified and live a sanctified life.

2) Mercies of God: with all the compassion, the depths in which compassion resides, emotions, longings,

  Look Paul could have easily left this out and we still would pay attention to it. I mean he is Paul writer of 2/3 of the New Testament. Yet we dare not ignore his phrase, for it makes a statement. Paul is saying not of my own power do I ask (beg) this of you but by all the power the compassion of God Himself.

Gill: "I beseech you"; as an ambassador of Christ, and as though in his stead: nor are they enforced by terrors, threats, and menaces, but "by the mercies of God"; that is, the abundant mercy of God, displayed in their election, regeneration, and calling; than which, nothing can have a greater influence on a believer, to engage him to holiness of life and conversation;

3) Present Your bodies: yield your body, your speech, your actions, your very life

  This is the complete deal you cannot get away with acting all pious on Sunday and being a worldly foul mouth jerk the remainder of the week. Who are you trying to fool? God?

Ray Stedman: What you do with your body matters to God. He wants you to use your body for his glory in every situation and to seek to know him intimately and serve him joyfully in every circumstance, not just in church but every moment of every day:

Poole: that you give, dedicate, and offer up, as spiritual priests yourselves, or, your whole man; a part is put for the whole; the body is named, because it is the soul’s instrument in the service of God.

4) Living sacrifice, holy: unblemished as a firstling lamb, but Alive not Dead;

Alive in Christ and not dead in sin

  Unblemished, there are a number of reason for this the best I can think of is God’s sacrifice for us was Holy and Unblemished (sinless Christ). Does He deserve anything less from us?

5) Acceptable unto God: well pleasing, brings glory to; unashamed

Poole Acceptable unto God; or, well pleasing unto God. So were the appointed sacrifices under the law, Leviticus 1:9; so was the sacrifice of Christ the Lamb of God, Ephesians 5:2; and so are all spiritual sacrifices under the gospel, Philippians 4:18 Hebrews 13:16.

6) Reasonable: is what you’re doing rational?

  1. pertaining to speech or speaking
  2. pertaining to the reason or logic
    1. spiritual, pertaining to the soul
    2. agreeable to reason, following reason, reasonable, logical

Webster 1828 1. Having the faculty of reason; endued with reason; as a reasonable being. [In this sense, rational is now generally used.]
2. Governed by reason; being under the influence of reason; thinking, speaking or acting rationally or according to the dictates of reason; as, the measure must satisfy all reasonable men.
3. Conformable or agreeable to reason; just; rational.
** By indubitable certainty, I mean that which
does not admit of any reasonable cause of doubting.

  Reasonable to believers should mean that there is no doubt in your mind, your heart that these actions will Glorify God and that it is biblically logical for you to undertake them.

  As an example how many have heard someone say, ‘I plan on starting a church I am sure that is what God wants me to do’. On the surface, being a pastor (note they did not say that) and starting a bible believing and preaching church is a good thing. But how many of us who have heard that immediately think wait a minute; this person is not biblically qualified (the only acceptable standard) to start or pastor a church. What might seem acceptable is not reasonable for them to do this.

7) Service:

  1. service rendered for hire
    1. any service or ministration: the service of God
  2. the service and worship of God according to the requirements of the Levitical law
  3. to perform sacred services

  Everyone has a calling from God a service they can provide that Glorifies God and edifies the body of believers. This can take many forms it is our responsibility to seek God’s guidance on what it is He would have us do.

  Note Acceptable comes before Reasonable. We are not to determine on our own what is “reasonably acceptable” to God and then do that. No we are to determine what God finds acceptable and do that which is reasonable for us to do.

  Let us look at some scripture that will help determine what God finds acceptable:

Leviticus 22:20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you

God deserves nothing but the best; one should not attempt to offer Him anything less.

Ps 19:14 14Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

If our words match our heart, this is acceptable to the Lord

Proverbs 10:32 The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.

The righteous do not have to ask if something they are doing or saying is acceptable they know in their hearts the answer

Is 56:7 7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

Joining ourselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, keep the Sabbath

Jeremiah 6:20 (15-25) 20To what purpose cometh there to me incense from Sheba, and the sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices sweet unto me.

Offering or doing something to cover up sin is NOT acceptable

Romans 14:17-19 18 For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men

Note that serving Christ in peace and righteousness is acceptable.

Ephesians 5:10 (7-16) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

Walking as children of light is acceptable

Phil 4:18 (14-18) 18But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.

Supporting those who share the Gospel is acceptable

1 Tim 2:3 (1-3) 3For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

Prayer is acceptable, as long as we do not ask amiss.

1 Timothy 5:4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

Helping widows and orphans is acceptable

1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

Offering up spiritual sacrifices is acceptable

1 Peter 2:20 (19-21) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

Enduring difficulties by relying upon God is acceptable

  One last point on the word reasonable that we find in Rom 12:1, it is used only one other time in scripture in 1st Peter:

1 Peter 2:2  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby

The translated word “word” here is the same Greek word, Logikos. One can only deduce, especially considering Peter’s writing style, that he was inferring that the Word was reasonable for all, infants (milk) to mature (meat).

Romans 12:1 MHCC

The apostle having closed the part of his epistle wherein he argues and proves various doctrines which are practically applied, here urges important duties from gospel principles. He entreated the Romans, as his brethren in Christ, by the mercies of God, to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him. This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us render ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do: and after all, what return is it for such very rich receivings? It is acceptable to God: a reasonable service, which we are able and ready to give a reason for, and which we understand. (And is understood by those around us)

Wiersbe comments that...

The Christian life is not based on ignorance but knowledge, and the better we understand Bible doctrine (Romans 1-11), the easier it is to obey Bible duties (Romans 12-16). When people say, “Don’t talk to me about doctrine—just let me live my Christian life!” they are revealing their ignorance of the way the Holy Spirit works in the life of the believer. “It makes no difference what you believe, just as long as you live right” is a similar confession of ignorance. It does make a difference what you believe, because what you believe determines how you behave!" (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor or Logos)

One of my favorite Hymns tells me what reasonable service is to God:

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Isaac Watts

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were an offering far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Next time we will look at verse 2.