132. Feeling Guilty? Is It Conviction By The Holy Spirit Or Condemnation By The Devil?

A friend remarked recently that the motivating factor in the incredible change in his life came through a deep conviction by the Holy Spirit. The experience  gave him a sense of his lost-ness and a feeling of guilt from deliberately living life without God. He also shared that when he first started going to church, a sense of guilt remained for some time. But it raises the question as to whether new believers (or sometimes more mature believers) are suffering from unnecessary guilt.

We need to remember that we live in a fallen world and that none of us are, or ever will be, perfect. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit of God whom we received at our conversion to Christ, is to convict us of our sin. Jesus said in John 16:8, And when he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. The word for “convict” here is  ελέγχω (elegchō). It has meanings in the New Testament such as these, to convict, expose, reprove, rebuke, show fault, to prove to be wrong. It is used in a similar sense in Jn 3:19-20, where it is said that light “exposes” darkness,  Jn 3:19  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.Exposed” here is our word (elegchō).

As many have discovered, the Holy Spirit exposes the sinfulness of sin to human hearts. However humans by and large have no great desire to change. That is why light is so threatening to many people. They believe that if they get close to the light, their sins might be exposed and they don’t want to be unmasked in that manner.  By contrast believers are not afraid of the light because they want to walk in the light, in ways that honour God.  They welcome the light that exposes any sin in their lives, so that they can repent of it and then can ask and receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.

It raises the question however whether believers should have feelings of guilt? Of course they should if they are guilty in any way. But the Christian life is meant to be an ongoing growth in maturity and in holiness. The Holy Spirit can and does convict believers of their guilt when they transgress or step out of the will of God for them. In spite of our growing likeness to Christ, there will never be a time when we can go it alone. We will always need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to bring about that transformation. He shows us our faults (convicts us). But He also empowers us to overcome those faults by His grace, love and power.

Throughout my ministry I have come across many believers who were weighed down with guilt. Why? Because they had failed to recognise the difference between the ministry of the Holy Spirit in convicting us of sin and the strategy of the devil in seeking to make us feel guilty. I once put in a diagram to show the difference.

What is the difference between:-  Conviction by the Holy Spirit?  Condemnation by the accuser? (Reading across the columns from left to right). 

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin  so that we might repent of our guilt and sin So that we turn to God to ask for and receive God’s forgiveness The end result. So that we might walk in freedom from guilt by the grace of God
The Devil (as Diabolos the accuser) accuses us and condemns us of our sin so that we might feel guilt and remorse (but not repentance) So that he may entice us to turn away from God in our guilt, feeling worthless and useless and “dirty” The end result. So that we might be held captive in our “guilt” to the Devil.

It was quite amazing when I taught this truth in large seminars that so many attendees suddenly realised what was going on in their minds and in their lives.  Some of them later admitted that they had been having troubling thoughts. They were rejoicing in their salvation, but were often plagued with condemning thoughts. Sometimes this had led to thoughts of self-condemnation. Other times they had felt that they were too unworthy to keep on serving God. Many of these folk realised that there was a battle going on in their minds.

We need to remember that our thoughts come from various sources. The Bible teaches something that many of us have come to realise. That is, the Satan, the Devil (Diabolos)  is able to plant thoughts in our minds. He can do that in the realm of temptation as he sows tempting possibilities in our minds. But he is also known as the “accuser” which is the meaning of  the word “diabolos”. As the diagram above shows he accuses us so that we begin to feel condemned and guilty, so that we come more under his power. That is why we need to take stock of what is going on in our thinking.  We need to learn to recognise the origin of the thoughts that form in our minds. Are they from God, from Satan or just our own reflections? Is God trying to convict us of something in our lives that is not according to His will for us? As we respond to Him, we learn to walk in greater freedom. Or is it Satan having a go at us to lead us away from God.

Well, how do we discern what is going on in our minds? St Paul shows us the answer in 2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. It means not allowing our thoughts to get out of control. Rather we are to take every thought to Jesus to let Him rule on it so that we continue to live in obedience to Him. If we continue to dwell on our thoughts  we can begin to “own” them as the product of our minds, when in fact they may have been thoughts planted by Satan. The German reformer Martin Luther  saw the danger of dwelling on our thoughts. He said regarding temptation, “You can’t stop the birds flying over your heads, but you can stop them building nests in your hair.”  In other words, temptations are sure to come to all of us. It is inevitable in a fallen world where the Devil is opposed to God and to His children. But what we can and must do is to stop those tempting thoughts from taking root in our minds. Otherwise we give them power by feeding them by dwelling on those thoughts.

If you have a troubling thought in your mind you are able to do something about it. You don’t have to remain a “victim”of a diabolical attack. You can take the thought to Jesus for Him to deal with. You could pray a prayer like this one.

“Dear Lord Jesus. I thank You that You know everything about me. You know every thought I have. I confess that I have been focussing on this particular thought ….. . I want to obey you in all that I do. If this thought is from You then give me peace about it and the grace to act on it. If this thought is not from You, I ask that You break the power of that thought in my mind so that I don’t continue to focus on it. Please renew my mind so that You become the Lord of my mind. I ask this so that I might bring glory to your name in all I think, say and do. AMEN.” 

Blog No. 132.  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Saturday 23rd November 2013

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266.Why do people do evil things? (Another High School Shooting Tragedy in the USA.)

Australians recoiled in horror when they heard the news of yet another school shooting in the USA. Parents and Grandparents throughout the world can only begin to imagine the shock and pain and the sense of loss being experienced in many families in Florida as their children went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida one day and never returned home. From this point on there will naturally be many attempts to ascertain the shooter’s motive.  In the meantime the rest of us will keep on praying for the families of the victims in their sudden crushing loss and ongoing unbearable pain whilst wondering why evil is so prevalent in the world today.

Nature and Nurture

It seems to many of us that there are always two facets to human behaviour. Some call them “nature” and “nurture”. By “nature” we mean what humans are by nature, by natural birth. By “nurture”  we mean all the factors that have influenced people from birth to the present time. It is probably true to say that virtually all of us have had nurture experiences consisting of great good but also mixed with many hurtful and painful experiences. All those influences past and present help to make us what we are now and influence how we respond to different types of stimuli.

The question is, “What are humans like by natural birth? Are they born intrinsically good, or do they have a bias or tendency towards evil?” Jesus gave us the answer about 2000 years ago. His answer should make us concerned and aware of the evil that humans can do to one another. By anyone! At any time! In any part of the world!

Jesus was asked by the Pharisees to answer this difficult question, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” Jesus rebuked them for their hypocrisy and then went far deeper than they expected Him to answer regarding human defilement, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” Mark 7:14-15.

Evil Nature

Later when His disciples asked Him what He meant by that saying, He replied, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23. What does this internal motivation look like? How does it express itself? Jesus said it can manifest itself in many ways, proceeding from “out of the heart of man.” What a comprehensive list of evil! [For those interested in studying these terms in the original Greek language and in English, they are explained in NOTE 1 below.]

It seems then that according to Jesus, our fallen human nature (as a result of the “Fall of mankind” described in Genesis 1-3) has an inbuilt bias towards evil. It explains why even the very best of people sometimes appear to “act out of character.” In recent days we have had well respected men in many parts of the world in business, politics and even in the church having extra marital affairs when it seemed to the outsider that they had stable loving marriages. Or they were involved in deliberate deceit in some form or other. Still others exhibited violence in word or action when we never thought them capable of such behaviour. [NOTE 2 below for the influence of demonic forces on humans].

Even in terms of domestic violence it is not just patriarchy, misogyny, white privilege or white supremacy or other “nurture” factors that are the problem, even though they may greatly contribute to the problem. Rather it is the inbuilt motivations coming from a fallen human nature that are at work as well.  That is why there have been some mothers [who are supposed to have a loving maternal nurturing nature as mothers] who did horrible things to their own children. They yielded to their inbuilt nature [perhaps influenced by their experiences and often by demonic influences ] and did the evil they did.

St Paul warned against complacency in living as one should live. He gave the Old Testament example of the Israelites turning against their God and serving other gods or idols. 1Cor 10:11 “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

The warning has been given. Don’t trust in your vision of yourself as being beyond temptation or in being greatly resistant to doing evil. Every human whether male or female, from whatever culture, race or religion has the propensity to give way to their inborn human nature and do the vilest things. The stimuli around them may trigger off their decision to act in an evil way but they don’t have to give in to their evil impulses. They can be changed to be able to live as they would like to live.

Change is possible!

The Corinthian believers had been radically changed, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Cor 6:9-11. They had become new creatures in Christ through trusting in Him, 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (However, as we will see below, even new creatures still possess a fallen human nature.)

Likewise Paul encouraged the Roman believers that they did not have to live according to the dictates of their flesh nature [unregenerate human nature] but could walk in freedom as they were led and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, Romans 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” What the law requires is fufilled in us as we continue to deliberately turn from the dictates of our unregenerate human nature and yield to the leading, direction by and empowering by the Holy Spirit.

Victory comes through getting one’s focus right in life.

As 2 Cor 3:17-18 puts it, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 8 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” As we focus on Him, He transforms us to be like Him.)

Victory through right choices

Victory is obtained by humans as they become open to God’s grace and receive a new nature through their new birth. Now they can walk by the Spirit and not be dominated by the dictates of their flesh nature as Rom 8:4-5 indicate.  But is their victory assured at all times, for all time? The answer is “NO” because they still have within them their old flesh nature with its bias to evil. The Church of England has always recognised this truth in its formularies in the 39 Articles of Religion. Article 9 states, “whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated.”

Summing up:-

The good news is that victorious Christian living is possible by the grace and power of God.

The bad news is that our old nature will be within us until we die.

The comforting news is that as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus and walk under the direction and empowering of the Spirit we can live in victory.

BUT as Paul reminds believers through the ages, 1 Cor 10:12 “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”  It takes no effort at all to let our fallen human nature dictate how we think and how we behave. To what extent do we allow “evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness” to become part of our lives? Unfortunately, more often than we think! Such a shame when God’s grace is available by His Spirit to give us ongoing  victory!  =======================================================================

[NOTE 1] We look at these manifestations in verses 21-23 in turn.

  • out of the heart of man. καρδία kardia; The centre of thoughts or feelings. From within.
  • come forth. ἐκπορεύομαι ekporeuomai; to proceed (out of).
  • evil. κακός kakos; meaning what is bad, wicked or destructive.
  • thoughts. διαλογισμός dialogismos reasoning, thought or imagination.
  • sexual immorality. πορνεία porneia; fornication, all illicit sexual intercourse.
  • theft, κλοπή klopē; stealing, theft.
  • murder, φόνος phonos; slaying, slaughter).
  • adultery, μοιχεία moicheia; illicit intercourse. Unfaithfulness in marriage.

22  coveting, πλεονεξία pleonexia; extortion, greediness. Taking material advantage over others.

  • wickedness, πονηρία ponēria; malice; iniquity. depravity, iniquity, evil purposes and desires
  • deceit, δόλος dolos; craft, deceit, guile, subtlety.
  • sensuality, ἀσέλγεια aselgeia; licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, sexual excess.
  • envy, ὀφθαλμός ophthalmos; the eye

AND πονηρός ponēros; bad, evil, grievous, harmful, lewd, malicious, wicked. (Together, the “evil eye” which is the covetous eye.)

  • slander, βλασφημία blasphēmia; blasphemy, evil speaking, railing. Injurious speech or action.
  • pride, ὑπερηφανία hyperēphania; haughtiness, arrogance.
  • foolishness. ἀφροσύνη aphrosynē; senselessness, recklessness.

23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

[NOTE 2] In this article I am not tackling the additional influence on humans by demonic forces. They certainly exist and humans can be “demonised” or have an evil spirit that greatly influences their behaviour towards evil. However we will take that up in a future article. Suffice it to say that  the evil one as “the deceiver” can deceive people into thinking that their thoughts are their own or have come from God. Consequently they act on those “implanted” thoughts and great evil can take place as a result. How often do crazed killers say later that “they heard voices telling them to kill” etc. Others say that thoughts of doing harm to an individual or a group of people persisted in their minds and eventually they acted on those nagging thoughts. No wonder the Bible tells us we are to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:5.

Blog No.266. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Saturday 17th February 2018.

 

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265. The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus. Jesus’ Ministry And Ours. Mark 1:9-15 [the Gospel for Sunday 18th February 2018]

(This is a re-posting of an article posted about 6 years ago but may be relevant for a time such as this.)

What would you do if there was a man going around your local streets yelling out day after day, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mat 3:2. You’d take notice, especially when you saw he was dressed in a garment made from camel hair, and wore a big leather belt. Then you noticed that as he walked along, he was munching into a meal of locusts and wild honey. You’d have to work out “Is he a prophet from God or is he just plain crazy?”

Jesus saw such a man in His day, John the Baptist. He saw Him not as a crazy man, but as a prophet sent from God to prepare the way for the coming Messiah, for Himself. The religious leaders thought he should be ignored. We read the story in Mark 1 and in Matthew 3.

 1).           THE PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY BY JESUS.  Mark 1:9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Matthew adds more detail in Mat 3:13  Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Jesus saw that this was the right thing for Him to do in the sight of God. He recognised that John was a prophet sent from God to get people to repent of their sins and to turn back to God. He recognised that He as a Jew, needed to be baptised, not because He was a sinner, for He had no sin of His own. Rather He was identifying with all the Jewish people as He went forward to receive baptism at the hands of John the Baptist. He was saying a great “AMEN” to what God was doing through John the Baptist as He submitted to John’s baptism.

By contrast the Religious leaders of the day didn’t do what God wanted. Luke records what Jesus said of John, Luk 7:28  I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”   Luke then added an important comment. 7:29  (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30  but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)  In their pride and arrogance they saw no need for themselves as religious leaders to do any repenting. That was for the “lesser” people who obviously needed to repent.

What strong words, they rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him. The leaders of God’s people were out of the will of God because of their pride. They rejected God’s messenger and his message. Jesus, however, humbled Himself to be baptised by John as part of God’s purpose for Him. It became a very significant moment for Him. At that moment it was as though He was commissioned for His ministry.

 2).           THE COMMISSIONING OF JESUS FOR MINISTRY. Mark 1:10-11

Two things happened after He was baptised.

i).   The Holy Spirit came on Him. Mar 1:10  And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Jesus knew the significance of the situation. It was a fulfilment of Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (see Mat 12:15-18). God had anointed Jesus by His Spirit to carry out His ministry.

 Jesus spoke of that anointing with the Spirit for ministry also in the passage from Luke 4:16-21 (which He saw to be a fulfilment of Isaiah 61:1-2.) “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17  And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19  to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” 20  And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  He was saying out loudly and clearly “I am the Messiah! My ministry will be done under the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit. 

ii). The Father affirmed HimMar 1:11  And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  Jesus, God’s beloved Son. Jesus the Creator. Jesus the Messiah. Jesus, the Great High Priest who would later offer His own body on the cross to bring forgiveness, eternal life and healing to the people of God throughout the ages. Jesus, the King had introduced His kingdom.

3).           THE EMPOWERMENT OF JESUS FOR MINISTRY. Mark 1:12-13

i).   Out on the battlefield. Mar 1:12  The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. The wilderness was seen as the haunt of Satan the devil and of the powers of darkness. It’s as though Jesus was saying to the powers of evil, “The battle is on. You will not defeat me. I’ve come to defeat you on your own home turf. ” And He did.

ii).  Winning the battle over the powers of darkness. Mar 1:13  And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. Jesus withstood all the temptations and all the enemy could throw at Him. He remained victorious throughout all that time over every temptation.

Jesus knows how to resist temptation. He knows how to help us have victories over temptation as well. Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Our temptations. The story reminds us that being tempted is not sin. Jesus was continually being tempted throughout His life. You may say “You have no idea of the strength of temptations I face day by day.  They are always there and I just feel so guilty that my temptations are so frequent and so strong.”  There’s a word for that. It’s called being “human”. We all face temptations. Many of them can’t be avoided. And very often they attack us at our weakest point. Other times they are directed at our strengths and catch us off guard.

The great German reformer Martin Luther knew what it was to be strongly tempted. But he gave a very good piece of advice on how to deal with the temptations we face. He said, “You can’t stop the birds flying over your head, but you can stop them building nests in your hair.” That is, temptations are sure to come but you can and must stop them lodging in your mind and dwelling on them. St Paul put it like this, 2Corinthians 10:5  … we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. We too can overcome temptation as we learn to take all our tempting thoughts to God and say, “Lord please break the power of those thoughts in my mind. Help me to focus on You and on Your will.”

Jesus had won the victory in the power of the Holy Spirit who had anointed Him and empowered Him to do the will of God. We too can know that same victory as we allow God to fill us with His Holy Spirit. As He fills us with His Spirit He renew our minds by the transforming power of His Holy Spirit, Romans 12:2.  We begin to have more and more of the mind of Christ.

4).        THE COMMENCEMENT OF JESUS’ MINISTRY. Mark 1:14-15

i).   The right time had come for Jesus to minister. John the Baptist’s task as the forerunner to Jesus was now complete. Now it was time for Jesus to begin His public ministry. Mar 1:14  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God,

ii).   The right response was needed to His message about the kingdomMar 1:15  and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  The King had come. His kingdom was being established. But people needed to turn from their sins in repentance and to turn to submit to Christ as Lord, Saviour and King.

 Your role and my role as those who now belong to the family of God, and are subjects of the King, is to live worthily of our great calling, so that Christ is seen in our lives. Our role through our witness and our prayers is also to encourage others to repent of their sins, to turn back to God and make Christ the King, the Lord and Master of their lives.

Today, we look back to what God has accomplished through us as a church and through us as individuals over the past year. We need to answer the questions, How many lives did we impact for Christ as a church?  How many lives did we impact for Christ personally and individually?  

Why not determine to live for Christ in this coming year so that God can accomplish what He wants to do through you as an individual in our parish and beyond.

 A Prayer asking that God may use us.

Lord I repent of anything that stops me from being what You want me to be. Please forgive me. As I open my heart to You, fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I can:- 

  • be the person You want me to be
  • know what You want me to know, 
  • do what You want me to do 
  • speak of You to those whom You want me to speak 
  • touch the lives of those whom You want me to touch in Your love 
  • and bring to You, those whom You want me to bring to You, so that they can accept You as Saviour, and submit to You as their Lord, Master and King. In Jesus the King’s name I pray. AMEN

Blog No.265.  Jim Holbeck.  Posted on Sunday 11th February 2018

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264. Lent. What is it? Any relevance for me in 2018?

(This is adapted from an article I wrote this year for a Christian Magazine in Florida USA. It has recently been published.)

If we were to ask people on the street what is “Lent?” they may come up with an answer like this. “Lent is when you give up something for a while.” That answer would be pretty prevalent throughout the world. However they may not be able to go much further in their description of Lent.

I am sure readers would be very impressed if I were to say, “I am not going to have any cheese for the whole 6 weeks of Lent this year!” They could think,” What a sacrifice. What self-denial!” {Unless of course they were to hear my wife’s voice in the background saying quietly, “He hates cheese! He never eats it!”) The unbridled admiration would vanish in an instant. It seems that observing Lent is meant to cost something.

Well, how did Lent start and what does it mean for us today? The forty days of Lent are based on the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness overcoming all the temptations of the devil before beginning His ministry. It has become a time that some people use for personal reflection on their lives; for examining their motives; and for re-establishing their goals and priorities in life for the coming year. There is a negative component {in giving up something) but with a positive outcome in mind.

Over the years I have heard many people tell others about the things they have given up for Lent. One person gave up sugar for Lent. Another man gave up some sporting activities in order to have more quality time with his family. Others have given up cigarettes or alcohol for the duration of Lent. Others gave up spending money on non-essentials. Others decided to give some financial support to charities during Lent. There were even some who gave up their time to attend Lenten services and activities at their churches.

However every time I think of Lent I think back to what Jesus gave up, not just in the wilderness facing the devil but throughout His life on earth. The Bible passage that challenges me is from Philippians 2:6-8 where St Paul wrote of the self-giving of Jesus, “He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death-and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion.” (The Message Version.)

It has always amazed me that some individuals have been willing to give up their own lives for the benefit of others. I think of the many stories of courageous American and Australian soldiers who “took a bullet” for their fellow soldiers and never came home from war. How sad to think that there were so many service men and service women who also died protecting others but their self-sacrifice was never seen, never noted and never recognised. (Except by God.)

Lent reminds me that Jesus as the Son of God didn’t just give up “something for Lent.” Rather He gave up His own life as He hung willingly on the cross for sinners like me, so that we might be forgiven and have eternal life. Incredible that creatures should be willing to die for their fellow creatures! Even more incredible that Jesus as the Creator of all things was willing to die for His creatures.

I suppose that the least I can do, in response to His sacrificial love, is to open the door to my heart to Him so that He can fill me with His healing presence. AND as St Paul writes, allow Him, by His Spirit, to give me the willingness and the ability to do His will for the rest of my life, Philippians 2:12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

It would be a good thing, this Lent, to give up my self-reliance and begin to depend on Him for every remaining moment of my life! How about you? What would you be willing to give up?

Blog No.264. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Sunday 11th February 2018.

 

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263.Who is Jesus? Jesus will be the Judge of all. (Fourth in a series of 4 on Jesus.)

This is the fourth of 4 sessions given at an all-day seminar at Port Macquarie Australia, on the Person of Jesus as 1 Creator, 2 Saviour, 3 Lord and 4 Judge. The audio talks given at the seminar are to be found under the same headings on You Tube under “Jim Holbeck”. The material below is adapted from the handout notes distributed at the Seminar. The notes below are best utilised whilst listening to the talks on You Tube but can be downloaded and used for personal or group study. The You Tube audio of this talk can be found at the end of this article.

We can’t ignore the topic of judgment if it’s in the Bible. In fact in the English Standard Version there are over 450 references to “judge” or “judgment”. Many of them are associated with God’s judgment on people in the past or in the future. There are many references to Jesus being the judge of all the earth at the end of human history. So it is a topic we cannot ignore.

1). GOD’S JUDGMENT IS ALWAYS JUST AND THOROUGH

Gen 18:25 … Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
Psa 9: 8 and he judges the world with righteousness… with uprightness.
Ecc 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

2). JESUS ACTS AS GOD’S AGENT IN JUDGMENT

(Joh 5:22) The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,
Joh 5:27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment,
(Joh 8:16) …it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me.
(Act 17:31) because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed;
(Rom 2:16) on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by (dia = by or through) Christ Jesus.

3). EVERYONE WILL STAND BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF GOD

Rom 14:10 …For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; …12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
1Co 4:5 … the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.
2Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, .. good or evil.
(2Ti 4:1) Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead,
Heb 9:27 … it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

4). THE BASIS OF JUDGMENT

I). One’s Attitude To Jesus
Joh 3:18 … whoever does not believe is condemned already,
Joh 5:26-29, For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.(27) And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.(28) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice (29) and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
2Th 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

II). The rejection of Jesus and His words
(Joh 12:48) The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

III). Ungodly Behaviour And Speech
Mat 7: 23 … depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Heb 13:4 … God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Jud 1:14 …Behold, the Lord comes … 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness … and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Rev 20:12-13 … the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

IV). Refusal to repent
People in Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Mat 11:20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.,
Rom 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Rom 2:8 but for those who … obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
Act 17:30 God … commands all people everywhere to repent,.

5). WHAT HAPPENS IN GOD’S JUDGMENT?

I). SEPARATION OF GOOD AND EVIL
Jesus’ illustration about the sheep and the goats, and people’s failure to care.
The “sheep” are rewarded for caring Mat 25:40, and the “goats” are punished for not caring. Mat 25:45 as you did not do it to one of the least of these

II). PUNISHMENT ON THE UNREPENTANT WICKED
2 Th 1:8 inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

III). REWARDS FOR THOSE WHO TRUST AND OBEY
1Co 3:14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward
(2Ti 4:8) Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day,

6). HOW TO AVERT JUDGMENT

Through repentance and trusting and obeying Jesus Christ. Joh 5:24 .. whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
Rom 8:1, there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
Joh 5:28 … those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

7). DOES GOD WANT PEOPLE TO FACE HIS JUDGMENT?

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is .. patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
Jn 3:16, he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

8). JESUS TO BE THE JUDGE THEN, WANTS TO BE OUR FRIEND NOW

I). We become friends by trusting and obeying God
(Jas 2:23) “Abraham believed God, ..and he was called a friend of God.
(Joh 15:15) Jesus. “ No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends”

II). Jesus can help us as no other friend can. Mat 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest

III). Jesus wants to be our close friend. (Joh 15:7) If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. AND (Joh 15:9) As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

IV). We can be confident when He comes. (1Jn 2:28) And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

JESUS IS (CREATOR-SAVIOUR-LORD-JUDGE).

But He wants to be OUR FRIEND! We become His friends by repenting of our sins and trusting in what He has done for us on the cross.

Blog No.263. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 7th February 2018

 

 

 

 

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262. Who is Jesus? Jesus is THE Lord. (Third in a series of 4 on Jesus.) Text and You Tube audio.

The outline below is adapted from a handout on this topic at an all-day seminar at Port Macquarie, Australia. This is the third of 4 sessions on Jesus as 1 the Creator, 2 the Saviour, 3 the Lord and 4 the Judge. The audio recordings of all the sessions are to be found under the same titles on You Tube under “Jim Holbeck.” A link to the You Tube audio is provided at the end of this article.

These notes are suitable for downloading for use individually or in groups whilst listening to the audio talks on You Tube.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FACT THAT JESUS IS “LORD”

The New Testament word “Kurios” can mean Lord, master, owner. It is also used as the New Testament Greek equivalent for the Old Testament Hebrew word “Jehovah” or “Yahweh”. It was used for a person who owned or controlled property, people or the state (eg., the Roman Emperor). It was also used as a title of respect in greetings. It was used of Jesus in New Testament as “Lord”, or “Lord Jesus”, or “Lord Jesus Christ.”

1). JESUS IS LORD OF THE UNIVERSE

I). JESUS SUSTAINS THE UNIVERSE HE CREATED
1Cor 8:6 yet for us there is one …. Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
Col 1:17 … And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 
Heb 1:3 …he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

II). JESUS CONTROLS THE POWERS OF DARKNESS
Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 
Col 2:15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

III). JESUS IS UNITING ALL THINGS IN HIS UNIVERSE IN HIMSELF
Col 1:19, For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (HCSB,-to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him).
• “Unite” is the verb ἀνακεφαλαίομαι (anakephalaiomai) or the process is called (anakephalaiosos) or “recapitulation.” It means to sum up, gather together in one, or literally unite under one head (“ana” means “up” or “again” and “kephalaioō” is a derivative of kephalē,” the Greek word for “head.”) Irenaeus was one of the first to clearly express a “recapitulation” view of the atonement,

IV). JESUS IS WAITING FOR PEOPLE TO REPENT BEFORE HE RETURNS
2Pet 3:8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

V). JESUS IS RETURNING TO THIS WORLD. “Coming ready or not!” 2Pet 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, …..”  Suddenly! Unexpectedly! Unstoppably! Assuredly!

2). JESUS IS LORD OF THE CHURCH

I). THE CHURCH IS BUILT ON THE TRUTH THAT JESUS IS “The Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Peter recognised who Jesus was, Mat 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus accepted that description of Himself as a God-given revelation, 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
He then used the declaration of this God-revealed truth to describe it as the truth on which the church would be established. Mat 16:18 (Mat 16:18) “… you are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.”

II). THE CHURCH WAS ESTABLISHED ON JESUS’ SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS
(Act 20:28) … care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood 
(Eph 5:23) ..Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. 
(Eph 5:25)… as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

III). ITS PEOPLE ARE COMMITTED TO CHRIST AS HEAD OF THE CHURCH
Jesus IS the head of the church 
(Eph 1:22) And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church. 
(Col 1:18) And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Leaders and all believers must submit to Jesus as the head of the church
(Act 9:31) …. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied. 
(Act 14:23) And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. 
(1Cor 1:2) To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

3). JESUS IS LORD (OR MUST BECOME LORD) OVER ALL INDIVIDUALS

I). WE MUST PERSONALLY SUBMIT TO HIS LORDSHIP OVER US
2Cor 5:15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

II). THAT SUBMISSION MUST BE IN EVERY AREA OF LIFE
Col 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

III). SUBMISSION TO HIM AS LORD, TRANSFORMS US
As we maintain our focus on Him.2Cor 3:16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
As we present all we are to HimRom 12:1 …. present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
As we ask Him to fill us with His Spirit. Eph 5:18 … be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Blog No.262. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Wednesday 7th February 2018

 

 

 

 

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261. Who is Jesus? He is The Saviour. (Second in a series of 4 on Jesus)

In the previous article I wrote that I was trying to look at the significance of Jesus for today.

In the First article No.260 we looked at Jesus the Creator of the universe.

In this Second article we look at Jesus the Saviour. In addition to the You Tube audio (not video) presentation below I have inserted an outline of the talk for your convenience, especially for those who are not familiar with spoken English.

SESSION 2.    JESUS THE “SAVIOUR”

The Meaning Of “Salvation”

1)  The Noun. salvation, preservation, freedom from sin, wholeness.
2) The Verb.  to save, heal, make more whole, preserve, restore.
3) The Noun.  Saviour or Deliverer.

The Tenses Of Salvation

·       PAST TENSE. We have been saved from the PENALTY of sin.
·       PRESENT TENSE. We are being saved from the POWER of sin
·       FUTURE TENSE. We will be saved from the PRESENCE of sin.

1)  PAST TENSE. We have been saved from the penalty of sin

JUSTIFICATION.  Made right with God. Through what Jesus did for us.
Rom 5:8,  Christ died for us. Eph 2:8, saved through faith. 2 Tim 1:9, who saved us Titus 3:5, he saved us, …by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
What it means for us that we “have been saved”
i)  Salvation is offered to us individually now. Rev 3:20, If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in
ii) We can have assurance of our salvation. Jn 3:16, …have eternal life. Eph 2:8-9, you have been saved ..the gift of God  1 Jn 5:11-13, he who has the Son has life
iii) We can live with humble assurance and not arrogant presumption. Eph 2:8 By grace you have been saved…
iv)    NOW we have peace with God. Rom 5:1, Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God … 
v)     NOW we are no longer condemned by God.  Rom 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
vi)    NOW we belong to the family of God. Jn 1:12  … he gave the right to become children of God, …born of God. 1Jn 3:1,…   love… we should be called children of God; 1Jn 3:2, now we are children of God

2) PRESENT TENSE. We ARE BEING SAVED from the POWER of sin

(Sanctification – Jesus lives IN us)
i). 1 Cor 1:18, For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
ii). 2 Cor 2:15, For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,
iii). Phil 2:12, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
iv). Heb 7:25  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
 What it means for us that we are “being saved”
i).       We are being empowered by the gospel we CAN understand.
1 Cor 1:18, For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Only the “saved” can understand what God has done for us in Christ. The gospel empowers us to live for Christ in our everyday living.
ii).   God is pleased with those in whom Christ lives and moves. 2 Cor 2:15, For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing
iii).       CAUTION! GOD IS AT WORK IN US! And He works through us!
·       Phil 2:12, … work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13  for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
·       Those being saved  have to work OUT in everyday living what God is working IN them as “saved” people. They are being motivated (will) and empowered (work) by God Himself to live for His pleasure (will).
iv).       GOD HELPS THE “BEING SAVED PEOPLE” THROUGHOUT THEIR LIVES. Heb 7:25  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
2 things are necessary for our victories in our Christian lives from beginning to end on this earth.  a. We need to keep drawing near to Him (our part)   b. Jesus keeps on praying for us. (100% certain)

3)  FUTURE TENSE. We will be saved from the PRESENCE of sin

(GLORIFICATIONJesus is coming to take us WITH Him to glory).
We will be saved from God’s wrath  i).  Rom 5:9, Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.   ii).    1Thess 1:10, … to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Our bodies will be set free from weakness. iii). Rom 8:23, … but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
What it means for us that we will be saved from the PRESENCE of sin!
The wrath of God will be released when Jesus returns but believers will be saved from it because 1).  They have trusted in Jesus’ death for them. Rom 5:9, Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. And  2).    They have turned to God. 1Thess 1:10, … to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Our bodies will be set free from weakness when He returns to take us to be with Him in glory.   3).  Rom 8:23, … but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Jesus is the ONLY Saviour. The A.B.C.D. of making Him our Saviour.

Blog No.261. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Monday 5th February 2018

 

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260. Who is Jesus? He is the Creator! (First in a Series of 4 on Jesus).

In this series of You Tube audio (not video) tapes on the Person of Jesus, I hope to look at the significance of Jesus in today’s world. There are many folk throughout the world who believe that He is the only hope for this world. I agree with them. St Paul put it in summary form as he expressed these truths about Jesus in just one verse, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Rom 11:36.

Part 1 will be on Jesus The Creator. If He is indeed the Creator of all things then He cannot be ignored. These are some of the Bible passages that speak of Jesus as the Creator of the universe.

John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” 
Joh 1:10 “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. Joh 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”
Joh 1:14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Colossians 1:15-17 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Creator and Sustainer.)

Hebrews 1:1-3, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Creator and Sustainer.)

(For those wanting to have an outline I used for the talks,  you can read it on this link.      No.161. The Person of Jesus. )

Part 2 will be on Jesus The Saviour. If Jesus came from heaven to die on the cross for sinners then there are some obligations that follow for all of us.

Part 3 will be on Jesus The Lord. If He is Lord of the universe and Lord of the church then it is a serious question to ask of ourselves, “To what extent have I made Him Lord of every aspect of my life?”

Part 4 will be on Jesus The Judge. Jesus is inescapable for all of us for we must all appear before Him at the judgment seat at the end of time. (He is coming, “Ready or Not!”) How can we be prepared?

{PS. The photos are some we took on a trip some years ago to the beautiful Flinders Ranges in South Australia.}

Blog No.260. Posted on jimholbeck.blog on Monday 5th February 2018.

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