“Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.”
It’s Sunday! All throughout the world people will be going to church today! But not so much where I live because there’s ice all over the roads. With today being December 18th, 2016, here in Missouri there’s ice everywhere! So unless you’re more saved than other Christians you’re staying home!
I’m joking, of course, about being “more saved.” You can’t be. It’s impossible. Either you are saved or you’re not. There is no in-between, and there are not different levels of salvation, although some might want you to think that.
So why is it some Christians see other Christians as less than or not Christian at all?…Because of what we’ve been taught in church. The perfect gospel has been entrusted to imperfect man. As a result, a Frankenstein has been created. We need to recenter on the basics: grace, Jesus, new identity.
Due to incorrect teaching, we’ve fallen off course. The gospel has been set aside, and the attention has been shifted toward distractions. It’s not too late to regroup! Christ lives in us, therefore He is constantly guiding us in the right direction. We simply need to listen and act.
When a person walks into church they are looking for something to make their lives better, they’re in deep pain and want some respite. Sadly, they don’t always receive that. Instead they end up walking out feeling judged while holding a syllabus for a behavior-improvement program.
“You gotta become a member! You gotta prove you belong through a lifestyle change and repentance!”
How confused can we possibly be? Is that the gospel? No.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for change. I’m all for repenting of the stuff that God wants gone. Healthy changes are good. But change must happen organically from the inside out–without pressure.
Are we to give loving, truthful counsel? Yes. But we can’t do this through being aggressive. When we become aggressive, we’ve become distracted. The Holy Spirit will always guide us back toward our true selves, our true nature, so we must pay attention and walk properly (see Galatians 5:22-23). We fail, all the time. But we learn and grow as we do. Thankfully our failures are not us! We are children of God! (See John 1:12, 1 John 3:1).
“Yeah right, Matt! We’re all sinners! Romans 3 says so! And it says we all fall short of the glory of God!”
Friend, that verse found in Romans 3:23 is not referencing Christians. It’s referencing humanity as a whole without Christ. Paul is building up his case for the need for Jesus–both the Jews and the Gentiles. If you keep reading you’ll see that he says we have peace with God because of Jesus. Sinners don’t have peace with God! He also says we’ve been remade in spirit, combined with Christ’s Spirit, we are not condemned any longer, and we can now call God “Abba” which means “Daddy.” Sinners don’t get these benefits! (See Romans 5:1, 6:3,6-7, 8:1,15).
We are righteous! We are holy! We are saints! We are free from all accusation! We are God’s masterpiece! We’ve been blessed with every spiritual blessing! (See 2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 1:22, Ephesians 1:3, 2:10).
This is who we are! We are not sinners! We’ve been cleansed! (See 1 Corinthians 6:11). We might act on sin, but sin has no part of our true selves. We are slaves to righteousness! (See Romans 6:18). Try as we might, we don’t even want to sin because we’ve become obedient from the heart! (See Romans 6:17). Not sinning is natural to us! We want what God wants! Sin never matches up with us permanently, no matter how long the enemy deceives us with it. So we may as well just not do it, save some time, and be ourselves.
I understand that no church is perfect, but we have a perfect Savior in us who will guide us into the truth. Some churches are well-balanced and understand the ministry of reconciliation, which is the only ministry we are qualified to preach (see 2 Corinthians 5:17-21). However, some services can cause a person to think, “Man! I feel terrible! This planet is going to hell in a hand-basket!” Or worse, a person can begin to think they are better than the world because they go to church.
Friends, we must flip the script. We have to refocus our teachings. We must let everyone know that we are the church! Our bodies house God’s very own Spirit! (See 1 Corinthians 6:19). Here are five things I believe would reshape our congregations in a positive way, if they were consistently taught:
- The cure to the world’s problems is the love of Christ through us. It’s not our job to hate the sin of the world. It’s our job to let others see Jesus in us. God deals with a person’s sin, not us. I am not saying we overlook sin, I’m saying let’s stay focused on the cure for sin: new life in Christ! Jesus said He came to give us an abundant life, that abundant life is His life! By allowing Him to live through us, we will organically heal relationship problems, social issues, health issues, and the list goes on. Christ in us is our only hope of glory! Christ through us is how His glory shines! (See John 10:10, Colossians 1:27, 3:4, Galatians 5:22-23).
- The difference between spirit, soul, body, and the power (force) of sin. Understanding the separation between these four is crucial. If we’re confusing our identity with our actions, attitudes, and sin, we will live frustrated and perplexed lives. Eventually we’ll shipwreck our faith or live as nasty hypocrites. So let’s be clear: We are spirits, we have a soul, we live in a body. All three parts of us are holy. Christians are perfect spirits! Perfect spirits combined with Christ’s Spirit! We have souls–which is our mind, free will, and emotions. Our spirits are not made up of matter, so they live in a physical body. The body is but an earth-suit for our spirits. It will die and go back into the dirt where it originally came from by way of our first ancestor, Adam. To recap: Our spirits are perfect and cannot sin, our feelings and thoughts come from our soul, and our bodies are tools for our spirits which can act on the power of sin but we are not sinful. Separating our who from our do changes how we see ourselves and others. Therefore, we change how we live, love, forgive, and react (see 1 Thessalonians 5:23, 2 Timothy 2:13, Romans 6:6-7,12 Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 3:9, Genesis 4:7).
- God doesn’t care about how big or how small our church is. God cares about whether or not the good news of the gospel is being preached. Many big churches get judged for “tickling ears” and many small churches get judged as extremely strict and non-loving. Truthfully, both could tickle ears and both could be strict and non-loving. That is, if Christ is not preached.
- We have a new identity. This sort of ties into number two. We are not the same as we once were before we were saved–even if we don’t show it through our lifestyle, choices, and behavior/attitude repentance. Our new identity is instant, free, and unchangeable. From the moment we first believed Jesus saved us, our old self was crucified in the supernatural realm. We got a new self who was immediately joined with Christ for good. Your self is your everlasting spirit. This spirit will now begin to teach you how to live according to God’s ways because you are joined with God’s Spirit! Fortunately, this is a lifelong process and change will happen naturally over time. If we deny our instinctive actions and attitudes as saints, we will live in misery because we will be denying our true selves (see Romans 6:6-7, Philippians 1:6, Titus 2:11-12, Romans 12:2, John 14:26, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Peter 1:5-9).
- We get saved once, receive God’s Spirit once, and our salvation is secure once and for all time. Yes, I combined three things here, but they are all intertwined! The good news of the gospel is that the one-time promise between the Father and Son will never be broken! We are the beneficiaries to that promise! That promise is receiving God’s Spirit into ours once, by grace through faith in the blood of Jesus! This is called salvation! This is called being born again! The only way you can lose your salvation–your spiritual rebirth–is if Christ dies again, and that will never happen! We are God’s children forever and ever! (See Hebrews 6:13-19, 7:25, Romans 8:9, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:6-7, 19:30).
A prayer for you: Heavenly Father, thank you for making me your temple–your church. What an amazing gift to have you live in me permanently! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For those who have been beat into the ground by incorrect teaching at church, reveal who they truly are in Christ! Begin to renew their minds by way of understanding your unconditional love for them, through Jesus. Help them to realize they are family! They are your kids! You always take care of your kids because you’re a good, good Father! And for those who have strived so hard to be good through church work, that they’ve become self-righteous, bitter, cold, and extremely judgmental toward everyone who isn’t exactly like them–renew their minds as well. Give them rest. Give them peace. I pray that our congregations and gatherings will begin to understand your grace on the deepest level possible! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 2. Get your copy here!