Thursday, October 21, 2010

YES! We Can!

A very good discussion was started on facebook the other day, and I wanted to give a more detailed explanation of what I believe. The question was, "Is it possible for a person to life life being sin-free? Or maybe a portion of life?". Several comments were made, with the majority feeling that it is NOT possible for us to live sin-free. There were also a few that leaned toward where I stand, that, "YES! We can!" (no, I'm not on the Obama band wagon, I just borrowed the phrase). Since this is such an awesome question that my friend asked, I am delighted to share what God has been and presently is showing me concerning how I live daily. In fact, I'm very eager to share what I stand FOR, since all too often I've been sharing what I stand against. So, let me get to it:

1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NASB) says, "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." I believe that if Paul thought that we were, even as FORGIVEN believers in Christ, going to continue to sin because that's how it is, then he would not waste his breath telling us to "discipline" ourselves "for the purpose of godliness".

Galatians 5:16-17 (NASB) says, "I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets it's desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another." Again, why would Paul tell us to do something that is impossible? The exhortation to "walk by the Spirit" seems pretty clear to me. Now, is it easy? No. Possible? YES!

When a person receives Christ into their heart, he/she becomes a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). Our daily battles are "not with flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Eph. 6:12), which means that we absolutely MUST not "conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you WILL be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

Christ lived a perfect life. Believers in Christ are IN CHRIST. It IS possible for us to live as He did. God tells us to "be holy because I am holy" (I Peter 1:15). God is not going to tell us to do something that He will not enable us to do.

Before I go any further, I just want to make sure that I'm being clear. I'm not saying that once we are saved we are perfect. I'm saying (what I believe the BIBLE to say) that we don't have to sin any longer! According to Romans 6, we have been set free from the slavery of sin. Did you see that? We have been, it's ALREADY DONE! Now, it's our job to believe what God says about who WE ARE. We are saints of God. The word saint means, "most holy". Have you heard the quote, "I think, therefore I am"? Well, I am learning that to be exactly what happens. If we continue to tell ourselves and think that we are only "sinners saved by grace", then we will continue to sin. However, if we believe what God's word says, that we are "saints", then we will more likely live like it! Our spiritual walk solely depends on what our mind-set is. We are told over and over to "live in the Spirit", to "set our minds" on things above, etc. In Romans 8:4-6 we are told, "in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace". Did you notice how a person lives? We live according to how we have our minds set. It's a spiritual battle and it takes place in our minds. We CAN live a sinless life. My Savior did not die for me to live an almost sinless life! He lived so that I may live. So that I might have life more abundantly (John 10:10)!

Let me close with Ephesians 4:22-24:

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

YES! We CAN!

Monday, October 18, 2010

an unpopular position

Let me start by admitting that my family has participated in past events that we now regret. I'm referring to Halloween. Although my kids have never technically done the "trick or treat" thing, our local church body has always provided some sort of "alternative" that we have participated in. In the earlier years it was a skating party where the church rented a local rink so that it was only our people who attended. The kids dressed up in a "nice" costumes. There was always a costume contest and of course the insane amount of candy to take home. Then a few years this changed into a "trunk or treat" event where the church members decorate their car trunks or truck beds in some sort of theme, and again the kids (and adults) dressed up. However, with this type of event it was opened up to the community with the hopes that it would be an "outreach" to them; you know, an opportunity to share Christ and our faith. A contest was held for the best in show, if you will. With the event being open, however, there is no control over the costumes. This means, of course, that anybody can show up with, say, an ax appearing to be slicing through their skull, or girls coming scantily dressed up as Elvira, etc.

I will say that throughout the years of participating in these events, I felt deep down that it was wrong. I just didn't want to "deprive my children of the fun", and calling it an "alternative" somehow eased the guilt - a little. But now that I have "grown up" (are you tired of my quotation marks yet?), I realize how wrong my husband and I have been in allowing this to go on. We've talked to our kids about it and ironically they both say that they've never really enjoyed it, either! What a shame! We've been sell-outs for no reason whatsoever!

Now I know, trust me, I KNOW that most people don't see the harm in Halloween. This is only because they (used to be WE) don't want to see the harm. As my husband said, all you have to do is look at the movies that come out every year to see how wicked Halloween is. Last year we decided to not watch TV during the month of October because of the commercials that come on (even on the "child-friendly" channels) advertising horror movies and such.

I have researched the origins of Halloween more thoroughly, and while I could share with you the information that I came across, I'm not going to. After all, you can google it for yourself if you are so inclined. Again, I'll agree with my husband that all you have to do is look around you. What is glorified during this time of year? Death. Fear.

Of course there are also multiple Scriptures I could share with you, but again, I'll leave that up to the one who really wants to know. If for some reason you don't have access to the Bible and you sincerely want to know, ask me and I'll be glad to provide those resources.

Another unpopular view - and this one is going to probably hurt the most - is concerning Christmas. I will be upfront and tell you that I deliberately have NOT looked into everything that coincides with this holiday simply because I don't know if I have enough fight in me! (I know as I type this that I will eventually research more fully our Christmas traditions and their origin. I just don't like to remain ignorant of things if I can help it). What do I mean? Well, I'm pretty sure that most of our symbols (ie, the tree, wreath, lights, etc.) are from pagan rituals, and if that is true, then I will not want to have any part of it. And of course, good ole St. Nick is near and dear to almost everyone's heart. Some of my closest friends practice the Santa tradition, and they know where I stand, yet by the grace of God we still remain close friends!

So those are just a couple of the unpopular positions that I take along with a lot of flack, I might add! However, I won't be answering to any man for my decisions; I'll be facing my Almighty God, and I desperately desire for Him to be pleased and Jesus Christ glorified.

Where do you stand?