True Christian Conviction

What is true conviction? Is it necessary for salvation? How can we feel it? What are we to do with it?

Last week, we discussed with our college group that Christian faith has three essential parts: understanding, conviction, and commitment. This week we looked at the conviction piece, and how understanding it leads us in our pursuit of holiness, sanctification, a much deeper walk with Jesus. If we misunderstand this essential aspect of faith, we will seriously hinder our own walk with God, fellowship with others, and witness to the world. But if we do understand it, it will open the door for a vibrant, free, and exciting life in God.

 

 

Start The New Year Remembering Your Identity In Christ

As the new year begins, I believe that the church at large, myself included, needs to remember our identity in Christ- as it pertains to sin. If your like me, when you think about who you are in Christ-you often think of yourself as forgiven, loved, set-apart, saved, etc. These identities are very true and important, but God has reminded me early in this year of another aspect of my identity in Christ- dead to sin.

Paul writes in Romans,

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” Romans 6:6-8

We as believers are told not only that Christ died for us (substitution) but that we died with Christ (identification). He not only provided the forgiveness of sins, he provided the deliverance from the enslavement of sin. Watchman Nee says, “Our sins were dealt with by the blood,we ourselves are dealt with by the cross.” The blood of Christ seals and provides our forgiveness (“without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins- Hebrews 9:22b); But the cross of Christ delivers us from what we are in Adam- slaves of sin!

You see, we were joined with Jesus on the cross. One may ask you, “who was crucified at Calvary?” Certainly most Christians would answer with Jesus, but how many would answer that we were crucified there with him, too? It is a beautiful fact–that we were united with Christ in his death and resurrection. We were united to him in death, as our old selves were crucified with him, and also united in his resurrection, as our new selves were given life!

Fellow believers, we are set free from sin! We are not only forgiven from our past, present, and future sins, but we are a new creature! (2 Cor. 5:17), able to have victory over sin, and to say “NO” to temptation. C.H. Spurgeon once said, “You cannot be married to Christ until you are first divorced from sin.” You may ask, “How can we be divorced from sin?” The answer is that Jesus provided the very divorcement papers! He declared us divorced when we were crucified with Him at Calvary.

Does this describe your walk with Jesus? Can you say that you have accepted this great truth by faith, and leaned on the Spirit to live by it? This is God’s desire for us: to trust in Christ, receive the forgiveness of sins, and to walk a new life in the Spirit, a life characterized by freedom from sin. Throw yourself upon Christ! Trust in Him! This was our greatest need- to be made dead to sin, and alive to God- and He perfectly provided for us. Our old self has been crucified, and our new self has risen with Christ in power. Will you join me in pursuing a life that lives out this identity this year?

God’s Word- Purpose Beyond Salvation

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God’s Word is amazing. It is inerrant, infallible, and is the literal Word of God! No other book holds the keys to eternal life; We have everything that we need within the Scriptures to lead us unto salvation. Life can be found through them, and a sinner can be eternally changed by them. What other book can provide this kind of strength, meaning, and power?

However, I believe many Christians (including me for a long period of time)think that after salvation, the Bible is supposed to be used for retracting a verse that makes us feel good, or to help convince us that what we believe is true. For years of my Christian life, I read the Word because “thats what good Christians do,” and because I wanted answers to theological arguments that I enjoyed having. I never read the Scriptures for application, I never read them with thoughts of, “How can I apply this?,” “What does this mean for me?,” “How can I actually live this out?,” or “What is this calling me to DO?” Because of my surface level reading and incorrect motives, I believe that I misused a lot of reading time, time that could’ve shaped me into a more Godly man.

At the beginning of my Sophomore year I was challenged by the guy that disciples me to read the scriptures with a different mindset: seeking applications from them to help me walk out my faith. I began reading the Word with the questions mentioned above, and my life started to change. I was convicted of certain sins in my life, encouraged by verses I never noticed before, and developed a genuine hunger for the Word of God. I started reading every morning, journaling my thoughts, and praying through the scriptures, asking for help to do what it commanded of me, and giving thanks for verses that built me up or declared what Christ has done for me.

This morning, I was reading in Luke 11, where a woman exlaims in a crowd to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb you came from!” and Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28. I recalled a passage I read from a few days earlier, where someone else calls out to Jesus, telling him that his mother and brothers are waiting to see him. Jesus continues teaching, and says, ““My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8:21. I was reminded of the importance to coming to Scripture with the attitude and stance of coming to hear, and hearing so that I can do.

Reading the Scriptures with this mindset provides such a beautiful alleyway into faith and prayer. Upon reading the Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus, I cannot help but to be humbled and drawn to my knees asking the Father to empower me to be able to do what my Savior teaches. Reading the Scriptures with this mindset has drastically changed my walk and relationship with Christ, as well as my relationship with others! I have come to notice the Spirit working in my heart now more than ever, and I’ve also become more and more aware of sin that I need to repent of! Reading the Word this way has also developed an increase faith in Christ, because I need his help to even begin to do what he says, and after I continue to fail, my eyes are lifted back unto him, who has saved me from my inability to live up to God’s standards!

Let me make this clear: I do not believe that we must read scripture like I have talked about to merit salvation. Salvation is a gift. A gift cannot be earned, it can only be received! However, lets say you receive an amazing Christmas gift that comes with an instruction manual, wouldn’t you read the manual to make sure you can reap all the benefits and learn all the components of the gift? My friends, this is no different! The fact that Christ reconciled us to the Father and saved us from death by his sinless life and willing sacrifice on the cross alone contains so much beauty that we need all of eternity to admire it. However, theres more to this gift than just Heaven! The Scriptures also give us practical applications on how to live, how to walk with Christ, and how to be conformed to HIS image, which Scripture defines as a life full of joy and life abundantly! Christ refers to those who read the Scriptures who do them as his “brothers.” O, what a beautiful opportunity we have to please him, rely on him, and acquaint ourselves with him daily through reading the Word like this!

I challenge you to read the Word and ask the Father to empower you through his Spirit to DO what is says this week!

 

“You are altogether beautiful, my darling.” -God

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You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you.” Song of Solomon 4:7

“The greatest task of the believer is to seek out and try to discover how much God loves them.” -Paul Washer

The hardest thing to believe is the way that our God loves us. He loves us with a pure and perfect love, and when he looks on us, he says, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling.” It is so hard to believe it, because our culture gives us such a shallow definition of love. But oh, this love, we have never seen anything like it! Think about it, the God who created ENTIRE UNIVERSE looks on US, and says, “You are beautiful, my darling.”

Why does he view us as beautiful? Because Christ is beautiful! We are told that any good thing we do as an unbeliever is nothing but “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). Picture yourself, before you come to Christ, standing, wearing nothing but filthy, dirty rags. You see, Jesus also wears a garment, it is a cloak of perfect righteousness, and it is utterly beautiful. When we lay everything at the cross and come to Jesus to save us from our sin, he strips us of our filthy rags, and he places HIS cloak of righteousness over us, and WE are made righteous. When God looks upon us, he doesn’t see the old, wicked, rebellious sinner. He sees his Son’s cloak of righteousness, his Son’s beauty, and he regards US as beautiful.

We ought not to only say, “Christ died for us.” You see, Christ also lived for us! He stepped down from his heavenly throne and lived a perfect life, full of good works, filled with love, mercy, and grace! He lived this life so that by going to the cross and being crushed for our sin (Isaiah 53:5) God the Father’s wrath would be taken out on him, and that we, by believing in him, may be given his perfect obedience as our own. This is what the second part of the Song of Solomon verse is referring to when it says, “and there is no blemish in you.” ! How amazing is this! That when the God of the universe looks on us, he loves us and sees us as beautiful, because we have Christ’s perfect obedience and life laid over our own lives. He sees us as PERFECT! He sees no blemish in us! This is how he can love us so much and be so passionate about a relationship with us!

God pursues his children. Constantly. He loves them so much! He is always calling them, “Come, come, come” and he makes sure that they will. This is why someone who says they were saved twenty something years ago by saying a prayer but have never grown, they have not come to love God’s people, and they have never encountered God, probably are misunderstanding salvation..and have not truly been saved…because God PURSUES his children! Oh, that you would not experience a life without the Father’s love! He desperately wants you to come to him and seek him and love him! When we focus our eyes on heaven, when look to Jesus, when we pray with a pure heart, his heart beats faster and faster. That’s how much he loves us, he PASSIONATELY desires you! Our God is such a lover. Our love for him, regardless of how small it may be, is cherished by him! Paul Washer says that,”Every time that we cut our eyes to heaven, it is as if the heart of deity beats faster!” Oh, how God loves his children coming to them in prayer!

True religion is not trying to do better or doing the right thing, the real religion is, “He saved me, I want to know Him, I want to please Him, I want to love Him!” He loves us this much! This will drive the unconverted, falsely assured “Christian” to think that this gives him the license to sin, because he will simply be forgiven. Oh, how wrong he is! This truth of how much our God loves us will drive the converted, genuine Christian to say, “If he loves me this much, I want to be for him all that he wants me to be!,” which will ultimately cultivate obedience.

If you are in Christ, God really does love you this much. He sees his only begotten Son, whom he so desperately loved, every time that he looks at you. His righteousness is yours. I plead with you to come to him! This love relationship is unlike any other you will ever experience on this earth. It is so hard for us to fathom because we have never seen anything like it. Come to Him, pray to Him, seek Him, love Him, cut your eyes to heaven and make His heart beat faster! He is longing to hear from YOU!