Paul speaking to Timothy, he said, to show yourself approved onto God a workman rightly dividing the word of truth. Today, I want us to look at the Scriptures and rightly divide the Word of truth.
Colossians 2:8closeColossians 2:8 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (ESV) says, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ”. Notices it says, not according to Christ.
The Amplified Version of this verse says, “See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit, (idle fancies and just plain non-sense), following human tradition, (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ,(the Messiah).
Paul is warning the Colossian Church; do not allow anyone to cheat you through philosophy. Philosophy is the lens in which you view things, all of us have a philosophy, but we want to talk specifically today about looking at things through the lens of the Scripture. Through the lens of the Word of God, particularly, what happened after the cross. It really jumped out to me in this Scripture where it says, do not let anybody cheat you through philosophy, empty deceit, according to the traditions of men.
Notice traditions: men’s traditions, traditions in the church. Traditions that we adapt to because somebody else did it, the tradition we picked up because everybody else did it.
There’s a saying that’s been out there, this is a lie. You can be so spiritually minded, that you are of no earthly good. Well, the opposite of that is, you be so earthly/worldly minded, you are of no spiritually good. That’s not a Scripture, that’s a tradition of man. Meaning: Don’t get too deep into the Word of God. You want to make sure you maintain some human tradition, but that’s against the Word of God. That’s contrary to what the Bible says, so we need to be careful that we do not allow the philosophy of the world to populate our thinking.
Let’s look at some promises of God. Promises of God in light of what happened at the cross and the change that took place from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
Because when Jesus shed his blood, something happened, something new that took place. As we read this, notice that there’s a particular language used in the Scripture that reveals to us whether, it’s an Old Covenant or a New Covenant.
While Jesus was here alive on Earth, He was walking and ministering under the Old Covenant. He was a Prophet, He was a man, but He was operating under the Old Covenant. When we read certain things, we need to really pay attention to the language. There is a different requirement under the Old Testament compared to the New Testament. When I say requirement, its because there’s a language that indicates whether it’s of the Old or the New.
- The first requirement for us to rightly divide, is to see if the language applies or not, is to see if it’s before the cross, versus after the cross.
Let’s look first at the requirements for the blessings. Deuteronomy Chapter 11 in this book there are great Scriptures where God is speaking to the children of Israel. He had given them commandments on what they should and shouldn’t do.
Deuteronomy 11:26closeDeuteronomy 11:26 26 “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: (ESV) , I will be reading out of the New King James Bible..“Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse the blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today and the curse if you do not obey the commandment of the Lord your God.” So pay attention to that one word, IF YOU. God is saying, if you obey the commandments of the Lord and I will bless you.
Now go to Deuteronomy 28:1-2closeDeuteronomy 28:1-2 Blessings for Obedience 28:1 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. (ESV) “Now it shall come to pass, if you”. If you are reading the King James, it says, “If thou” another way to say that is, “If you”. Notice, “that if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God”.
The blessings to the children of Israel under the Old Covenant, it had an “IF YOU” do something FIRST. The order was if you do something, then God will bless you. If we continue in Deuteronomy 28:15closeDeuteronomy 28:15 Curses for Disobedience 15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. (ESV) “But it shall come pass, IF YOU do not obey”. So if you do something first, He will bless you afterwards. In regards to the curses, He said they will come IF YOU do not do these things.
We see in the Old Covenant/Testament they must do something FIRST before God will do something. It was the “IF YOU” or “IF THOU” requirement, you first do something, God will do something afterwards. Back then since God knew man, He created a system whereby a sacrifice could be presented to cover him. He knew that man would fail under that system, but He created a sacrificial system in the event, or I should say, when the event took place, and they failed; they could bring a sacrifice. That sacrifice would cleanse them of their current sins, that could be done on a regular basis.
What is unique about this sacrifice system is it consisted of a priest examining the offering, the animal that was brought before them.
The priest would examine the animal, not the person who brought the animal. They looked at the animal to make sure that the animal was without blemish. They were not looking at the man, thank God, we have a great high priest that is without blemish. When we fail, God does not look at your sin or my sin, He looks at the High Priest, The Lamb of God without blemish.
We need to be careful not to let our eyes delude us from seeing that the Lamb of God is been presented. That God sees the Lamb, He doesn’t see all our failures.
The priest job was not to look at the sin of the person, but to the look for any blemish on the sacrifice.
Jesus is our sacrifice and He is without blemish. The Old Testament system was a system of you do this first, and if you do it, then God will do this.
- Let’s look at the New Testament what happened after the cross.
All of this happened prior to the Cross, prior to Jesus shedding His blood. The system that God set up in the Old Covenant/Testament was a system where blood had to be shed for the remission and forgiveness of sin. But, we have a better system or better covenant in the New Testament.
How do we look at that in the better system, how are we blessed in the New Testament. Remember the Old Testament was if you do this, then God will do this: First you, then God.
Galatians 3:13closeGalatians 3:13 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— (ESV) “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law having become a curse for us for as it is written curse is everyone who hangs on a tree”.
We see right there, that with Christ the order has changed, after the cross the order changed. It was no longer you do something first, then God does something. After God gave us Christ, the order changed; there’s no more you do something first. We are no longer under that system. Deuteronomy Chapter 28 verse 15 talks about all those curses that would come if they did not do something.
The good news I have for all of us is we are not under a curse, because Jesus became the curse for us, the order has changed. Look at verse 14, “that the blessings of Abraham might upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus that we might receive the promise of the spirit through faith.”
The order changes after the cross, after the cross we are blessed because of Jesus, because of our faith in Him.
- In the New Testament the order changed, we don’t have to do something first to get God to do something. He’s already done for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Let me say that again, God has already done for you and me what we could not do for ourselves. In Christ Jesus we live move and we have our being by grace through faith are you saved that not of yourselves it is a gift of God.
Grace is God enabling you and I to do what we cannot do on our own, and what we do not have the strength to do. Grace gives us the ability when God says I want you to go do something, grace gives us that enabling to accomplish what He asked us to accomplish. We see through that, that we are not righteous because of our own obedience, our righteousness did not come because we were so obedient.
Go to Romans Chapter 5 verse 19 it says, “For as one man’s disobedience many were made sinners…” By Adam’s sin, we became sinners; but the story doesn’t end there, it says so also by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous. So who was the one man who was obedient that by his obedience we became righteous; by Christ Jesus.
Our righteousness has nothing to do with our own obedience, it’s because of Jesus obedience.
Your righteous lifestyle cannot create righteousness! In other words you or I attempting of our own volition, of our own goodness, we cannot create a righteous lifestyle.
We cannot create a righteous lifestyle that creates righteousness, but righteousness can create a righteous lifestyle A holy life cannot create holiness, but holiness can create a holy lifestyle!
Remember I said that we have to be careful not to live by the traditions of men; if a tradition tells us that if we dress a certain way, if we have our hair a certain way, if we wear or don’t wear certain jewelry, this will create holiness. That’s not how you create holiness in your life, that is us doing it out of our own work. We are putting on something to try to make ourselves look like we are holy. It’s because Christ is holy and we are in Him, he’s done everything that we need by Him. Because we are in Him and He has done the work, He makes us righteous, not our lifestyle.
Now because I’m in Him, in Christ Jesus of Nazareth I can have a righteous lifestyle, I can have holy lifestyle; but the order must be, I am in Him because of what He’s done for me.
- Here’s another one: Good works will not produce salvation, I can do everything good but it will not produce salvation. However, salvation will produce good works. Jesus has made us righteous, therefore we have a righteous lifestyle through faith by grace it is not of ourselves it is it is a gift of God because Jesus did it all.
Because of His obedience, Philippians 2:8closePhilippians 2:8 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV) says regarding Jesus, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” John 15closeJohn 15 I Am the True Vine 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another. The Hatred of the World 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning. (ESV) Jesus speaking tells us, we are to abide in Him. He also says that if we abide in Him, hear what I’m saying, we will produce fruit. If we abide in Christ we will produce fruit, He is the vine, we are the branches. What do branches do, they produce fruit. If you are in Him, you must produce fruit.
Some folks may say, but I feel like I’ve been pruned, that’s all a part of the process. Jesus said because I love you, I will prune you, when I prune you, you can bear much more fruit. Be encouraged, if you feel like you are being pruned, then you are about to produce new fruit. It’s going to taste different. Fruit is a byproduct of the production, you are a byproduct of being in Jesus. It’s a byproduct, we should never have to sweat, toil, create a bunch of sorrow and working so hard to do…no,no, no it’s a byproduct of being in Him.
Because we are in Him, we will produce fruit. What is the fruit of the spirit?
Galatians 5:22closeGalatians 5:22 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (ESV) His love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law. I have good news; if you are in Jesus then it’s oozing out of you. You may not see it, sometimes we have a habit of focusing on, “I just got angry”, or “I just did this”, but we need to realize fruit is not something you always see, but others do.
Fruit is not something you may not even partake of when it is coming out of you, but others do. I want to encourage my brother visiting here, he never saw it, but I partook of some of the fruit coming out of his life. He didn’t know it, but I partook of it.
That is what happens when you are bearing the fruit of Jesus Christ, the love, the joy, the peace, the gentleness, the long-suffering, others will eat of your fruit and then they say, wow, that was a nice fragrance of Jesus. You may not even know it, but that’s what we have been called, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
Let’s look at the blessings, we see that in the Old Testament before the cross, it was an order of if you do this first, then God will do something. In the New Testament we see the order changes it’s, just believe, just receive, the order changes. There is no “IF THOU” after the cross you have to learn to receive. Christ has done it all, He has done it all, there’s not one area of my life and in your life that Christ has not dealt with.
Let’s look at another area: What about the requirement for salvation, before the cross versus after the cross.
We will look at some scriptures and see the difference before the cross versus after the cross, two verses: Matthew 19:16closeMatthew 19:16 The Rich Young Man 16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (ESV) and Acts 16:30closeActs 16:30 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (ESV)
In Matthew, this is important because this is Jesus speaking and the Gospels were written in reference to Jesus being on the Earth. The Gospels were not necessarily written after the cross. The Epistles were written to you and me because we are believers, now the whole Bible was written to us, but specifically the Epistles were written to believers.
Let’s see how this was written, two questions similarly asked but two different answers.
- Matthew says, when the rich young ruler comes to Jesus and he is inquiring what do I need to do to be saved, verse 16 says, “Now behold one came and said to him, good teacher what thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” That is a question, right?!
- Acts 16closeActs 16 Timothy Joins Paul and Silas 16:1 Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. The Macedonian Call 6 And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. 8 So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. The Conversion of Lydia 11 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. Paul and Silas in Prison 16 As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of spanination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” 18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour. 19 But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. The Philippian Jailer Converted 25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. 35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” 36 And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” 37 But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” 38 The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. 39 So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. 40 So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed. (ESV) says, after the Philippian jailer had a terrible experience, Paul and Silas were worshiping God, and all of a sudden the doors of the prison were shaken and opened because they are worshiping God. This keeper of the prison wakes up and he thinks the prisoners have escaped, he panics and is ready to kill himself. Look at verse 30 referring to the jailer it says, “and he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved”.
In these two verses we have two questions:
#1 the rich young ruler is asking what do I need to do to be saved and
#2 this jailer says, what do I need to do to be saved.
In Matthew this question was asked BEFORE Jesus went to the cross. Matthew 19:17closeMatthew 19:17 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” (ESV) Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” Listen to Jesus answer, “But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” So we see there before the cross, even Jesus said, under the old covenant; if you do this, then God will do. The condition was, if you keep the Commandments.
In Acts 16:30closeActs 16:30 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (ESV) This is after the cross, after the blood of Jesus has been shed, after the new covenant has been established. Same question, but look at the answer in verse 31, so what must I do to be saved. AFTER the cross, Paul says, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Old Testament was, If thou do all these good works, if you do something, then God will do something.
New Testament is you don’t have to do anything, just believe. Just believe that God has done it all.
There are people still trying to do stuff to get to heaven. Still trying to work out their salvation, still trying to work out their justification, still trying to walk out their holiness, still trying to work out righteousness. It’s IN HIM you are righteous. IN HIM you are holy. IN HIM by believing we are saved.
I’m not saying that’s all you do, that’s just the beginning step. We know that the Bible says there are other steps we must take, but it’s not work that we DO. It’s not a work that we need to commit to. We should not come every week, where we say, “what do I have to do again this week because I blew it this week, now what do I have to do to get saved.” You don’t have to keep getting saved, He has done it all!
Requirements for salvation we have looked at that, now let’s see another one.
- Requirements for forgiveness
Before the cross and after the cross, turn to Mark Chapter 11. Now forgiveness is an area that every human being deals with. We are righteous because I don’t care how spiritual you are, everybody deals with forgiveness or should I say unforgiveness; because there’s always an opportunity for somebody to offend us.
Mark 11:26closeMark 11:25-27 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” The Authority of Jesus Challenged 27 And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, (ESV) Jesus says, “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.” When you see that word “if”, you should know right away that it’s Old Covenant. We get under that sometimes, that condemnation, that if I don’t do this, then God won’t do that.
I have good news for you, I’m making a point, that’s the old system, the old covenant, that’s the old tradition that’s the very reason Jesus when to the cross. We don’t have to live in the old, we can jump into the new. In Him we can live, we can move, and we can have our being.
The old system had you focusing on your failures, focusing on if you get your life together. But in the new system it says, I’ve already done it for you, I’ve done everything for you, I died for you, I bore all your sickness, all your grief, all your sorrow, I’ve done it, receive it and believe it.
Matthew 6:14closeMatthew 6:14 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, (ESV) Jesus speaking, prior to going to the cross, for if you or for if thou, forgive men their trespasses, if you do that, then your heavenly father will also forgive you. See the requirement is IF YOU DO something then God might bless you. If you do something, then you might be saved. If you DO something, you might be forgiven.
The order has changed! There’s no more you do something first, the order is God says I’ve done it for you, I did something first; now you do something second, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.
That’s the way it was for forgiveness, here’s the thing: Jesus death and shedding of blood covered all of our sins there’s nothing I can do additionally to make it any better.
- Let’s look at what Jesus has done to help me with that challenge of unforgiveness.
We all deal with it, we need a little help. Jesus has given us help. Psalms 46closePsalm 46
God Is Our Fortress
To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.
46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah (ESV) says, our God is a refuge a very present help in the time of need. Remember the Epistles were written to us, to believers, so this is a personal letter to us.
Ephesians 4:32closeEphesians 4:32 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV) says, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” So when my brother or my sister does something against me, I got some help. I can forgive them because Christ has forgiven me. I can do it, because He did it first. The order has changed He did it first, so because He did it first, I can do it second. I can follow His example.
Here’s another one that parallels, remember an epistle was written to you and me.
Colossians 3:13closeColossians 3:13 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. (ESV) says, “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
Let me pause on that for a second, I believe one of the most challenging areas for us as believers is: One, forgiving ourselves, Two: someone that is really hurt us. I know there are things in life that are extremely difficult to forgive over, it would be very insensitive for me to stand up here and say, “you have to forgive”, when I don’t know what you’ve been through. I say that knowing what the Scriptures say, but I also realize we are human beings and there’s people probably in this room that have been hurt so bad, betrayed so deeply, that there is a deep wound that really makes it hard to forgive. I know that God knows that.
I’m not saying that we should not pursue that, but we must understand, like God understands, that if someone had been extremely hurt, that it is difficult to forgive. For a child to be betrayed by a parent, it is difficult sometimes to forgive, but it’s important, because we need to understand that mercy triumphs over judgment. We need to have mercy when we see someone struggling in an area, but here’s the good news when it comes to forgiveness God doesn’t say you must do something first. He is saying, when it comes a forgiveness receive what I’ve done, I’ve forgiven you.
Some of you may feel daily, “what a knucklehead I was, I can’t believe I did that, I know that was wrong and I did it anyway”. We are beating ourselves up.
I have only found in the Scriptures, look to Jesus. I don’t find where says, beat yourself up, tell yourself well you should’ve done something first. I’m in the New Testament, He shed His blood. Think about it, blood was shed, He became a human being, He left the throne of God, the glory of God. He went through pain, He was whipped, blood was shed, His flesh was torn, He did it out of love so that you and I don’t have to live under that condemnation any longer. Sometimes we want to just stay in that funk, but God says, I died for that funk, do you understand what I just said, it’s not a bad word. Don’t think the pastor said a bad word in church!
God loves us that much and He is saying don’t live in that place, I love you, I forgive you. Because I did it first, you can do it second. Because I loved you and forgave you, you can forgive yourself and you can forgive your brother. I want us to be aware, let’s not put any additional burdens on our brother or sister who is struggling with unforgiveness. Remember, we don’t know what they’ve been dealing with.
There’s a big difference in having unforgiveness because I loaned you $20, and you decided not to pay me back, now I’m offended. Verses a person who witnessed the murder of someone that was precious to them. There’s a big difference between both of them. Both need forgiveness, but we need to realize that when someone is struggling in an area, that is when do this. We go up to that person, hook our arm in their arm and say, do you know how God feels about you, He died for you, preach to them that they are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, it’s okay how you feel, He understands that, He died for you, I’d preach to them and get them out of the mire. That’s what the body of Christ is all about, that’s why it says we are a body. When my arm is weak, the other one picks it up. That’s the way the body of Christ is to be working, brothers helping a brother.
Remember this: after the cross God does not require anything from us without first producing in us whatever we need. After the cross God did not and will not tell you or me to do anything, without first putting in us what we need to accomplish it.
Grace is the enabling ability of God to do in us, and to do for us, what we don’t have the strength to do in ourselves.
Grace enables us to do what He’s called us to do.
When I think about the fact that I’m doing this right now, I really can’t believe it in my natural. I can’t, but grace enables me do what in my own strength I could not do. I never thought when I became a firefighter, that I would one day become a Captain. But as specific men came to me and said, James you can do it. Words matter! Words that we speak to our co-workers matter. If they had said you’ll never make it in the Academy, might as well turnaround right now, but I had folks encouraging me and as a result I’ve encouraged others; because words matter. We can speak the life or death, the power of this tongue.
See the difference of forgiveness before the cross, forgiveness after the cross.
- Here is another one: Loving God versus loving others.
Our ability to love God before the cross versus our ability to love God after the cross.
Mark 12:30closeMark 12:30 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (ESV) pay attention to these words, Jesus said, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. This is the first commandment. Vs 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
So we see in that, that we have to do everything with all of our strength. If we love God, if we love them with everything that is within us. With all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength. I’m smiling because I’ve tried. I have tried to love God with all my strength, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my ability and I have failed miserably.
Because I’ve been doing it in my strength. I’ve been over here on my island saying, “God, l want to love You with everything that’s within me”. I can hear this little voice. “Really can you, can you really do it?” It’s like a revelation of “wow”, I thought I could do that all by myself in my own strength, I thought I could do all that. But then He gives us a way out, He shows us a different way.
In our own strength, we cannot love God unconditionally. But look at what happens after the cross, in 1 John 4:19close1 John 4:19 19 We love because he first loved us. (ESV) one simple sentence, we love him because he first loved us. The order of the Old Testament was you love God with all your strength, with all your might, but in the New Testament the order changed; we can love Him because He first loved us.
How can I love God, because He first loved me. Because He first loved me, I can love others, I can love Him. Romans 5:5closeRomans 5:5 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (ESV) says, “hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given unto us”. If you ever doubt how much love God has for you, remember this: What God would love you so much, that He would take His Holy Spirit and put Him inside of you and say I’m going to cause Myself to dwell in them. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, I will dwell in them, live inside them and I will walk among them.
Now you don’t think God loves you, why would He allow His Holy Spirit, Himself to live, to dwell in you. That’s love, that’s a confirmation that God loves you and He does not apologize for it. He is not ashamed, He is not embarrassed, He does not say when Satan brings an accusation against you, He does not say, “oh yeah you know what I probably should not have let my Holy Spirit go dwell in James because of what…” NO! God always looks at Jesus and He sees that James is covered by the blood, the perfect sacrifice is given, therefore I receive them unto Myself. Because of His love, we can love.
After the cross God does not require anything from us without first producing in us what we need. Grace enables us to do what he’s called us to do.
- The last one is on giving
Some will say, I got you there. Giving you have to do something first. Let’s look at Luke 6:38closeLuke 6:38 38 give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (ESV) “give and it shall be given unto you good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give unto your bosoms.” Look at the order of things, it said you do something first, and then God will do something. If you give then men will give unto you. IF YOU, if you do something first then God will do something, or men will do something.
Look at II Corinthians chapter 9:10 (after the cross) “now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.”
After the cross we see the order change, instead of us doing something, here we see God says He will supply seed to the sower. He will supply seed to the sower. Seed is given to the one who has a heart to be a sower. You want to be a sower in the Kingdom of God? Seed is given to him who wants to be a sower in the Kingdom of God. God’s system of sowing and reaping was put in place for our benefit. You realize that God did not put these systems in place, because He needed them. He doesn’t need them.
He put these systems there for our benefit. Look at Psalms 50:10closePsalm 50:10
10 For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills. (ESV) “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains and the wild beasts of the field are Mine”. Verse12 , “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine and all its fullness.” God has no need, He’s done all this for us, because of His great love for us. God is the one who gives seed.
Earlier I talked about the philosophy of the world, that we have to be careful to look at things through the lens of the Word of God. Not through the lens of the tradition or philosophy or intellectualism of the world, it has its place; but it doesn’t have its place in the obedient walk in God. When it comes to giving, somewhere it was introduced into the church, a lie. The lie says, you don’t have to give. The truth is you don’t have to do anything, we all know that right? God does not want us is to do anything if we can’t do it out of love, out of faith, and out of being led by the Holy Spirit.
Everything we do should be, can I do it in love, can I do it in faith, and can I do it being led by the Holy Ghost. If not, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. The Scripture that talks about tithing says in the old covenant that it talks about the curse. Because we know what Jesus did that we are not under a curse, but we still can receive the blessing. Do you realize that? In the Bible about 400 years before the law ever came to the Israelites, Abraham tithed. He did it out of an appreciation for God. He did it out of thankfulness for God. The Bible says we do things cheerfully, out of honor, a way of saying, I appreciate what you do. Why do men give women diamond rings, they appreciate them, they honored them.
I heard this story being told to illustrate this: This young man’s father was a police officer, and as a young boy his father would tell him, “don’t cross the street without looking both ways, if I ever catch you crossing the street without looking both ways, I’m going to beat you”. Now he has grown up and his father has passed away, but when he starts to cross a street, he looks both ways because it is beneficial for him. There is no beating that’s going to happen, but it is beneficial for him to look both ways. Even though the law, his dad, has passed away, the principle still applies.
Even though we are not under any curse, the principle of tithing is a blessing for us; God put it in for us to be a blessing. Do you know why tithing is so awesome, you can be a millionaire or you can make $10 an hour and both of us proportionately give the same amount when we tithe. 10% is 10% proportionally, what a great system it was put in place for us to be blessed. God does not need things from us, but I know for me personally, when I give I’m saying, Father I am not depending on myself as a source. I believe that Your word says, the blessings of the Lord maketh rich. Rich meaning, You provide at every area of life for me, not just money, everything. Your blessings provide everything. You do it without toiling or sorrow.
I told you how for a while, I had two jobs because I felt I had to get more money. I was a Christian and I ended up toiling so hard, I pushed myself away from God ,because I’m toiling and it didn’t make any difference. I didn’t get better, but when I decided I’m going to obey God, not trust in my income but trust in God as my source. Then, God could bring things into my life, I don’t know where they’re coming from, I don’t care, You told me to believe, don’t worry about how it will happen. You told me to believe, don’t even worry about how you are going to pay for it. He told me to believe, I can do that, I can believe, that’s all He told me, believe for it.
Don’t toil, receive God’s blessings they are manifold. God has done everything for us already. The one thing that God cannot do for you and me, just one thing He can’t do for anybody, He cannot believe for us, that’s on you. That is the only thing He cannot do for us. He can’t believe for us, but with God all things are possible all things.
With God the only impossible thing for God is that He can’t lie. We need to believe the Word of God, say the Word of God and do the Word of God. When your circumstances are screaming in your ear, “I can’t get it done!” say but in Christ I can do all things, I believe He’s more than able to get me out of this. Always remember He died for you.
Psalms 103closePsalm 103
Bless the Lord, O My Soul
103:1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. 6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! (ESV) …Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits. He redeems every one of your sickness, He heals your sickness, He redeems your life from destruction. He blesses you. There was a transformation that took place. I’m not that old man anymore, I’m new in Him, all things become new. What a deal! He said, James, you were nothing and in your nothingness, I loved you and I’m giving you everything that I have and you don’t deserve it; but I’m still giving it to you, receive it.
Then He tells me in the Scriptures, that without faith I will not please Him. Meaning, if I don’t receive what He’s given me, I don’t please Him. He is looking at you and saying, get up and start believing what I said, what I’ve done, I shed blood, will you receive it, that’s all I’m asking.
We need to be careful, God speaks of faith often. Sometimes we need to stir up our faith again. What is faith? I believe what He said. What has happened to the lens of the Word of God, He said it. But wait a minute the philosophy of the world, but intellectually it says I have to do these things, no!
God’s Word says this and this, but you say, you don’t understand. Well quit looking through the lens of the world, and start saying what Jesus said. He understands, He did it already. He shed His blood; it was painful, but suffered for you and for me. He didn’t do it in vain. He did it out of a great love and passion for you and me. Then He wants us to not sit in our house, sit on our duff, sit on His wisdom and knowledge, but He wants us to get up start impacting those around us.
Just like my brother at work who impacted my life, I want us to go out an impact others. Walk up to our fellow brothers, whether we know them or not grab them by the hand and say, ‘I don’t know who you are but I know one thing, Jesus loves you, He died for you’. They may say, ‘Oh I don’t believe that stuff’. You say I don’t care if you believe it or not, He still loves you. They say to you, ‘get out of here’, you say, I’m going to leave, but before I go I want you to know that Jesus loves you. When you walk away, you may think they have cursed you, but when they get home, the Holy Ghost starts working on them. He may be thinking, ‘why did that guy come up and say to me that Jesus loves me?’
It takes a little bit of boldness to get the Holy Ghost to start working on some folks. I’m praying that you would get bold in Jesus and start going out an impacting the community. Redeem the time, we have the goods, we got Jesus, we got the Holy Ghost living inside of us. I want you to know I’ve been praying for you, I’ve been praying that God would show up in your house. That God would show up at your job, that God would show up in your marriage, that God would show up in your car and that God would put an authority and a boldness on you, that you would start moving out like never before. Regardless of how many mistakes you have made God is good, He is rich in mercy to all who call upon Him in sincerity.
Psalm 86:5closePsalm 86:5
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. (ESV) says, “You are forgiving and good O Lord, You abound in love to all who call on You. Romans 10:12closeRomans 10:12 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. (ESV) says, “That there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, the same Lord is Lord over all and He richly blesses all who call on upon Him.”