Archive for the ‘Abundant Life’ Category


1. Life with Christ is an exchanged life, not a changed life.

Change is good, but with God, exchanging is better. We are new creations in Christ. The old man is crucified. The life lived in the flesh cannot please God. If we are Christ’s we must crucify the flesh with its affections and desires. We must learn to walk in the Spirit. This is the power of Paul’s life. Paul, though his outward man perished, his inward man was renewed day by day. This is how he could boast that

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This was no boast, for it was reality from necessity. There was no way Paul could keep doing what he was doing without exchanging his life for the life of Jesus Christ.

Paul was an overcomer not because of his abilities or resolve, but through the exchange of his life for the life of Christ. Are you stuck in your walk with Jesus? Is your life more about defeats than victories? Then you must be honest with God and tell Him you cannot overcome. You must die to your self-effort, and exchange your life for the victorious life of Jesus Christ.

2. Life with Christ is a gift, not a reward.

 1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We never struggle to receive the new birth. We simply believe we have it when we repent and by faith trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. If our life with Christ begins with the acceptance of His free gift, why should our walk with Christ be any different? If life in Christ is living in the Spirit, what makes us think we can maintain our relationship through fleshly efforts? Our walk with Christ is not one of constantly reaching for the golden ring. Our walk with Christ is one of simply seeing the ring is already in our hands. We have the gift of victory already. To strive to win is an exercise in fleshly futility! This life is lived in the victory already secured! We walk by faith in Christ, not by sight!

Just as a sinner cannot save himself by his works, neither can you become a saint by your works! As Paul realized, all his works were as filthy rags! If you want victory in your life, open your eyes to the power of Christ which is at work in you by faith! The victory is yours by faith!

3. Life with Christ is obtained, not attained

Spiritual Overcomers realize victory is obtained, never sought after. As soon as you try to win, you have lost, for you are relying on your fleshly efforts.

Romans 5:17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Reigning in this life can only be through faith in the finished work and victory of Jesus Christ. How can you be so conceited that it is up to you to obtain. When an Overcomer looks back upon his life, he realizes it was all through the grace of Christ. This is the revelation of 1 Corinthians 1:30. Everything we need to live this Christian life is provided to us IN CHRIST!

1 Corinthians 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…

We have already obtained victory, righteousness and sanctification IN CHRIST!

4. True Life with Christ is a Miracle

 Philippians 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

An Overcomer sees the power of God at work in his life. An overcomer realizes that this life is an ongoing miracle of God’s grace at work! His eyes have been opened to see “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly place,” as Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:19-20.

God is actively at work in our lives, so that we might be trophies of His grace, and not our self-effort. Our effort must be submitted and join with His. Our eyes must be opened to the daily miracles He is working in our life. We can never overcome unless God performs a miracle!

Take your struggles with anger. No matter how many times you count to ten, the anger is still resident within you. It is suppressed; it is affecting your health. Only God can take that anger away. When you realize it is a miracle of God, and that He is able to overcome that sin, indeed, Christ has already overcome that sin; you can rest and rejoice in the miracle of God’s deliverance. Life with Christ is a miracle when our eyes are open to see it that way!

5. Life with Christ is expression and not suppression

Most Christians experience victory over sin by “suppression.” It is not a matter of deliverance, but of control. Our inward life is unaffected. We seem changed on the outside, but within there is a struggle. Suppressed living for a Christian results in “internal bleeding” which can go on for years, until something happens to reveal the seriousness of condition. This is not the life that Christ wants us to experience. Christ wants to express Himself through our life. Christ lives within us, and He wants to manifest His peace, love and joy in reality to those around us. There is no such thing as tight-lipped Christianity. Our lips are to be free to express, for Christ is expressing His life through us.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

We are set free in Jesus Christ! “For freedom Christ has set us free!” Life with Christ is freedom and expression, not suppression. If you are fighting for control of your soul, then Christ does not reign over your soul.

Can you see this victory you have in Christ? Can you believe in His word? Becoming an overcomer is as definite as becoming a Christian. There is no maybe about it. When you pass from death to life, you know it. When you pass from defeat to trusting in the victory in Christ, you know it!

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Paul concluded his doctrinal masterpiece to the Romans with this simple prayer,  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 16:24).  To me, it states the obvious, that all the right doctrine in the world is worthless without the grace of Jesus Christ in our life. It also tells me that it is possible for Christians to miss out on the grace of Jesus Christ.

Over the next few weeks we will be discovering what I believe is the missing ingredient in most Christians, and thus, most churches. That missing ingredient is “GraceLife”. Too many Christians are trying to live their lives just close enough to Jesus to be “alright”. If we could really understand “GraceLife”, we would see how those ‘followers’ of Jesus are missing out on what Jesus is all about.

This writing will consider the following:

  1. Grace Preconceptions
  2. Experiencing GraceLife
  3. Obstacles to Experiencing GraceLife
  4. Who Can Experience GraceLife?
  5. Who Cannot Experience GraceLife?

Next week we will function as FBI behavioral profilers, building a profile of what “GraceLife” is all about, and how we can become GraceLife Christians and a GraceLife Church.

1.  Grace Preconceptions

Most of us think of an acronym when we consider grace, “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense”. Perhaps you think along the ideas of the Preachers Outline and Study Bible:

Grace; God’s special favor; a special expression of God’s divine presence. Grace (charis) means the undeserved favor and blessings of God[1].

As a result, we associate grace with salvation, as Ephesians 2: 8,9 indicate: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”

While these are all great beginnings for understanding “grace”, we need to see the depth of grace in order to understand “GraceLife.”

Let’s lay our preconceptions at the cross. Lay them before the Lord and confess that you do not really understand His grace. Confess that you have been lazy in seeking to know His grace. Ask God to reveal the reality and power of His grace to your hearts. Ask Him to open your eyes to the reality of GraceLife!

2.  Experiencing GraceLife

GraceLife is an Abundant Life because Jesus supplies from His riches.
  • John 10:9-10 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
  • John 1:16 (Phillips) Indeed, every one of us has shared in his riches – there is a grace in our lives because of his grace.
  • John 1:16 (ESV) And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.
GraceLife is a Reigning Life, because Jesus reigns.
  • Romans 5:17 Since by the one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive the overflow of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
  • Ephesians 2:4 But even though we were dead in our sins God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, gave us life together with Christ – it is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved – and has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with him in Christ in the Heavens.
Paul Paints a Portrait of a troubled church being a GraceLife Church

1 Corinthians 1:4 I am always thankful to God for what the gift of his grace in Jesus Christ has meant to you – how, as the Christian message has become established among you, he has enriched your whole lives, from the words on your lips to the understanding in your hearts. And you have been eager to receive his gifts during this time of waiting for his final appearance. He will keep you steadfast in the faith to the end, so that when his day comes you need fear no condemnation. God is utterly dependable, and it is he who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. (Phillips)

GraceLife is an Overcoming Life, because Jesus is our Overcomer!
  • John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

So the obvious question is why don’t most Christians “Overcome” and experience an “Abundant Life” of “Reigning with Christ”? Because they fail to clear four obstacles to GraceLife.

3.  Obstacles to Experiencing GraceLife

From George Barna and “Maximum Faith

There are four major OBSTACLES to most Christians experiencing the “Overcoming Life” or as I describe it “GraceLife.”

Obstacle #1: Fear of Commitment
  1. Only 18% of Christians claim to be totally committed to following Jesus Christ.
  2. Only 22% claim to be “completely dependent upon God.”
Obstacle #2: Lack of Godly Repentance
  1. 64% of Christians state they have confessed their sins to God and asked for His forgiveness.
  2. Only 12% state they are serious about abandoning the lure of sin and handing total control of their life to God.
  3. Only 12% admitted that recognizing and grasping the significance of their sins had been so personally devastating that it caused them to crash emotionally.
  4. Only about 3% of Christians in America have come to the place where they have surrendered control of their life to God, submitted to His will for their life, and devoted themselves to loving and serving God and other people.
Obstacle #3: Substituting Activity for Deeper Spirituality

Christians confuse religious activity with spiritual significance and depth.

  1. 39% participate in a combination of three “normal” religious activities in the past week (i.e., attending church services, praying, reading the Bible).
  2. Only 8% engaged in another trio of deeper faith expressions: talked about their faith with a non-Christian, fasted for religious purposes, scriptural meditation or had an extended time of spiritual reflection during the past week.
Obstacle #4: Lack of True Spiritual Community

A majority said they feel comfortable and connected within their church. However, most do not consider their church as a place where they can be open and held to biblical principles.

  1. Only 21% of Christians believe that spiritual maturity requires a vital connection to a community of faith.
  2. Only 35% claim to have confessed their sins verbally to another believer at some point during the past year.
Church life can be an obstacle to GraceLife!

Instead of churches encouraging people to engage in increasing religious activity along the lines of “programs” such as worship, evangelism, discipleship, stewardship, service, and community, we need to focus on our living relationship with the Grace of Jesus Christ.

Emphasize the Need for continuous Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. When activities are emphasized, people tend to focus on worldly accomplishments rather than developing the Character of Christ. God does not need us to achieve things on His behalf in order for us to become more acceptable or valuable to Him.
  2. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in finishing church programs or producing specific religious results that we lose sight of the purpose of our faith, which is to have a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
  3. It becomes easy to substitute significant religious activity for an intentional and simple relationship with Jesus Christ.

Recognize that sacrifice and suffering are essential for a Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. Believers must realize there is beauty and power in brokenness. Surrender and submission only happen after a struggle with the flesh.
  2. Brokenness is unappealing in a society based upon ego and bravado.
  3. Until such brokenness occurs, though, people’s transformation is hindered.
  4. The Church should raise those people up as champions, positioning such selflessness as victory rather than loss.
  5. If broken individuals are not found in a congregation, then it is time to rethink the disciple-making process relied upon in our church.

Provide the experience of a vital support system in the pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. Studies show that most small groups and Sunday Schools produce a combination of knowledge and comfort more than commitment and application.
  2. While knowledge is important, without transparency and accountability, the information rarely gets converted into personal, congregational, or cultural transformation.

4.  Who Can Experience GraceLife?

(FICTIONAL, but based on actual families I know) – Before us is a man and woman in their late 30’s to early 40’s. They look succesful by all the worldly measures. Nice cars, nice house, good jobs. Nice vacations. They both grew up in conservative Baptist churches. They were active in the youth group, even going to youth camp where they both dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ. College happened, with all of the associated drinking and ‘hooking up’. Married in their later 20’s, they never found a church to connect with, going occasionally when a friend would ask. Now after 15 years of marriage, and three children, they are having discipline problems with their teenager. Their tweens are indifferent toward school, and one has gotten in trouble for stealing from another student. All the children nurse hurts from broken promises from parents who put their careers before their children. The wife feels no emotional connection with her husband, and because of past hurts, regards her husband with not so hidden contempt. She no longer respects her husband, and the children reflect that attitude. She barely manages to tolerate him. The husband feels unappreciated and longs for intimacy. He seeks the gratitude of women at work. In fact, he is in an emotional relationship with a grateful co-worker, and has toyed with the idea of taking their relationship to the “next step”.

Here is a family on the brink of disaster. Why? because they are nursing “wounded spirits”. They may have made a profession of faith in Christ, but never really experienced the power of Jesus. If they are Christians, they are defeated soldiers living behind enemy lines.

Is there any hope for this family? Is this the kind of family we want at our church? Would this family feel welcome in our church?

They would if we were a GraceLife church! GraceLife invites people and families with problems. GraceLife invites people who are wounded, hurt and even held captive by darkness and sin. GraceLife churches want broken people! GraceLife wants sinners! GraceLife grows and abounds in the face of hurt and brokenness! GraceLife overcomes impossible circumstances! GraceLife restores defeated soldiers and fallen saints.

Why is it our Responsibility to Reach out to the Wounded?

Proverbs 18:14 The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?

Because this is the foundation of Christ’s earthly ministry. As he quoted in Luke 4:

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

If Christians are not focusing on the wounded and sick and hurting around us, we will not be on guard when our brothers and sisters are stricken with a wounded spirit.

Just as a wounded spirit can destroy any family, ruin any marriage, lead to an affair, or even result in juvenile delinquency, a wounded spirit can destroy or greatly diminish a Christians’ love for Jesus Christ. A wounded spirit can cause someone to stop going to church. A wounded spirit is infectious, and destruction is in its path. We must constantly be ministering to the wounded spirits around us, whether they are believers or not.

The only solution for a wounded spirit is to embrace “GraceLife”

Q: Why is a wounded spirit destructive to our relationship with Jesus Christ?

A: Grace (Jesus) grows from our spirit! If our spirit is wounded, grace will not be allowed to grow and empower us!

  • Galatians 6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
  • Philippians 4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
  • 2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
  • Philemon 1:25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Consider the child Jesus. The Bible says the Grace of God was upon him because he grew strong in spirit! A wounded spirit is weak, and grace is blocked from having any effect!

  • Luke 2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

The Grace of Jesus Christ is administered to our spirit, the same spirit that has been regenerated and ‘born again’ by God’s Holy Spirit! Grace isn’t for our brain, it isn’t for our emotions, it isn’t for our muscles, it is for our spirit. It originates there and then desires to flow over our mind, will, emotions and strength. It does not bypass our spirit, for it is from the Holy Spirit of Grace. If we are wounded in our spirit, if we are weak in our spirit, if we are walking in the flesh, we will miss out on the full benefit of the grace of Jesus Christ. Grace is applied to broken and hurting spirits that are given to Jesus in humility, not in pride.

I had one son who really like to test me. He was the one who after I disciplined him corporally, had a tendency to look at me as if he was saying, is that all you got? I had to spend extra time with him until I could sense he was broken over his disobedience. Once I sensed a brokenness, I could wrap my arms around him and tell him I loved him. But until that pride was laid aside, I wasn’t inclined to show him grace. On the other hand, I had a daughter with a soft heart. When she disobeyed, only one spanking was sufficient, sometimes all it took was a stern look.

God pours out His grace upon those who need help with their wounds, not upon those who look at him and say, “is that all you got?”

1 Corinthians 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

Our walk with Jesus Christ begins clothed in Grace! His grace consumes our spirit, and desires to encompass our life. However, in so many Christians, something happens that wounds our spirit, and grace is thwarted or dwarfed. The grace of God is applied in vain to one with a wounded spirit.

GraceLife can heal the lost, the broken, the wounded, because the Grace of Christ is healing, transformational and empowering. The Grace of Christ brings much more than salvation, it brings LIFE – overcoming life for everyday circumstances!

5.  Who Cannot Experience GraceLife?

Sadly, there is one major obstacle to experiencing GraceLife. As I have already alluded, Grace is for the broken, for the hurting, for those who realize their need before God. Grace is never poured out on the proud, upon those who think they can handle their problems, or who think they are OK, or a ‘good Christian.’ Self-righteousness, pride, false sense of righteousness, contentment with who you are, are all things which will shut your spirit off from the Grace of God. They will keep you from walking in GRACELIFE. Gracelife is not for those who think they are ‘good people’. GraceLife is not for the judgmental, GRACELIFE is not for Christians who can’t get along with other people. GRACELIFE is all inclusive, for it is for the sinful, the hurting, the broken.

One way to tell if you are missing out on GRACELIFE can be found in a little sermon that Jerry Falwell preached. He called the sermon “Feudin’, Fussin’ and Frettin”. He preached it one stormy Sunday morning in 1972. The mood of the nearly 3,000 people that morning was sour. You could smell the pickle juice. Concern was written on every face. Normally the people shouted rousing “AMEN’s” & “Hallelujah’s” when Doug Oldham sang “The King is Coming”, but that morning there was silence. Jerry reflected,  “I didn’t know if it was the weather, Vietnam, or if everyone had a lot of problems, but no one smiled.”

Something was blocking the Grace of God in the church that morning. So Jerry read from Psalm 37:1-9

Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither, as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth (Psalm 37:1-9).

He began his sermon by saying:

“Life can be an adventure. Life can be a thrilling experience. Life can be one joy after another—or it can be a total and miserable failure.”

I believe the difference between life being a thrilling experience or a miserable failure is whether you are experiencing “GRACELIFE”

Whether you grow in Grace or Stumble Around in the Flesh is entirely up to you!

Everyone has problems. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has messed up, some of us more than others. Whether you grow or shrink in the face of your circumstances is entirely dependent upon whether or not you allow the Grace of God to abound in your life. Whether you grow in Grace or Stumble Around in the Flesh is entirely up to you! The Grace is there for all Christians, yet our decision and attitude determines whether it has any power in our life. (We will see this more fully when we build our profile).

We don’t like problems. In fact, we try to hide them, or pass them off as no big deal. Christians think problems are a sign of sin or weakness, but really, they are an opportunity for God’s Grace.

Christian,  admit your, admit your weaknesses, admit your failings, and turn to God’s Grace. The problems are not the problem, our attitude toward our problems is!

God’s grace can never flow to the proud, arrogant and self-sufficient. God’s grace abounds for the humble, the weak, those that face heartbreak, disappointment and overwhelming burdens. Pressure and trials can be God’s design to keep us depending upon Him.

Too many Christians are guilty of what David called ‘fretting.’

What does it mean to fret?

The dictionary defines the word fret as “To give oneself up to feelings of irritation. Resentful discontent. Regret. Worry.” That pretty well describes many of God’s children, but it ought not to be so.

How to know you have given up to irritation.

We usually disguise our feelings with cute phrases (justifications).

  •  “I got up on the wrong side of the bed.” That means we got up full of the devil, but we say we got up on the wrong side of the bed.
  • “I’m in a bad mood today.” That means the devil has gotten control of our lives and our attitudes.
  • “Things are going bad; nobody has it as bad as I do.” That’s simply saying that instead of being on top of my circumstances, I’m under them.

We are not supposed to be under the circumstances, but on top of them. We are not holding on for dear life, we are reigning with Christ! This is what James 1:2 means when he says to “COUNT”

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

COUNT = hēgéomai: To be a leader, chief [2] We can ‘COUNT” it all joy becasue we are in the King, the Lord, the Leader! We can reign over our circumstances, because He reigns!

When things get tough so many people resort to fretting, fuming, and fussing, and they become typical Baptists. Most Baptists fuss when they shouldn’t. When you fuss and fret over your circumstances, you fail to see the abundance of God’s grace and your Christian walk becomes a flop. The adventure is gone. You are stuck in the mire of circumstance.

Why do Christians fret?

David tells us to quit fretting. Bad attitudes can keep you from enjoying life. They cut us off from God’s Grace. Your irritation can keep the people around you from enjoying life. No one likes to be around a sourpuss all the time. No one likes to be around a person who is always complaining—“nothing is ever right, everything is always wrong.”

Fretting is contagious. Negative attitudes attract positive attitudes and the negativity prevails. We become critical and judgmental in our attitudes. We don’t have to say anything, our expression says it all.

What causes a Christian to fret?
1. When you are determined to get your own way, and something goes wrong.

Christians can get so full of their self, that if we don’t get our way, no one will! Sometimes you’ll even hear “If I don’t get what I want, then I’m not going to do anything.” Ever hear “I’m my own boss, nobody’s going to make me do anything. I’ll do exactly as I please”?

When you start talking like that, the Lord is just about ready to cut you down. The very thing you say you will not do or the very thing you say you will do generally works in reverse, because God wants that old will broken and submissive to His will.

When you find a Christian fretting, you can mark it down, his plans are going wrong. He made some plans, he drew out a little blueprint of what he was going to do—and it did not work that way.

The world tells us to set goals, to “plan your work and work your plan”. But if you think that is the way God works, you don’t know God very well. When our plans come before God’s plans, we can expect problems.

Christian life is not plotting and scheming. It’s not “how to make a million before the age of 30.” The Christian life is surrendering and submitting. If you will learn the secret of surrender, as opposed to the futility of scheming, it will save you a lot of ulcers. It will keep you from being a sourpuss, a Christian weaned on a pickle. Surrendering to Christ will prevent you from being guilty of fretting, fuming, and fussing. When you think you have got to have your way, you are proving how immature you are. You can never experience GraceLife without surrendering and submitting.

  • No one plans to go to the hospital, and yet a lot of good people do.
  • No one plans to lose a loved one, and yet loved ones die.
  • No one plans to have an automobile accident, a financial reverse, or a disappointment.
  • No one plans to have some disastrous tragedy happen in his family.
  • No one plans those things, but they happen.

The Christian who would learn victory over fretting must learn the secret of God’s promise, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When you surrender to God, you discover the power of Phil 2:13

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

We have no right to impose our desires on God’s will. God knows best. Some of you have a had a real rough week. Everything has gone against you. You think the world is sitting on your shoulders. You think nobody loves you. That is not true.

God loves you and a lot of Christians would love you if you gave them a chance. But, your problem is that you want your own way and God wants another way. So you are being like Elijah the Prophet, sitting under the juniper tree and pouting. Pout is another good Baptist word. Self centered Baptists are good at pouting. But pouting Baptists cannot experience GraceLife.

God has got to knock that pouting out of you before you can amount to something. When you pout, you cut yourself off from God’s Grace!

I’ve seen a lot of pouting Christians over the last 40 years. I’ve seen pouting wives, pouting husbands, and even pouting preachers. When someone gets to pouting because of their pride, because they didn’t get what they want, it’s hard to get them to stop pouting and look to the Lord. I think it is almost easier to get a drunk converted. You can easier get a drug addict off dope than you can get a pouter to stop pouting, because he enjoys it.

That is part of pride. That is the old selfish nature coming through. “I’m going to have my way. I’m going to do what I please, and if I can’t, I’m not going to do anything.” So we determine to have our way and as a result we fret.

2. When you life your live without God in view.

We make our plans and then we get on our knees and we say, “Lord, I want you to bless my plans.” God has to be taken into view. The Holy Spirit has to be a partner in your plans. God has to do the programming and computing. God has to give the direction. And if He does, you can be sure He will bless your work. God is not going to bless when you make the plan, you plot the course, you chart the way, and then invite Him in as an afterthought. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). But first seek God, seek His wisdom, seek His way, seek His purpose. Making plans without God in view will make us fret.

GraceLife is a Life TOTALLY dependent upon God and His leadership. I wonder how many of you have made some plans in the past week. You have plotted a course, you have made some decisions, but you have never prayed. You have never sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Too often we think the leadership of the Holy Spirit and God’s thoughts are only involved in a local church or soul-winning ministry. We have a false way of dividing the sacred and the secular.

We say, “Now, when it comes to my church work, I pray and I seek the face of God for teaching my class, but when it comes to running my business or working my job, I know what I’m doing.” You cannot be successful that way. God Almighty must be invited into your business, your home, your health, the raising of your family, your trips, your pleasure, your hunting, and your fishing. God Almighty must be invited into every area of your life or you need not expect the Grace of God to be actively at work in your life. God will not be relegated to a corner or a part of your activity. He is going to be Lord of all or He is not going to be Lord at all. GraceLife will bring us to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

We fret because we leave God out of our schemes and plans. Faith is living without scheming. If you invite God into the picture, you will not have to scheme. You will not have to throw a fit afterward,  because if your plans do not go through, you were out of His plan and He had a purpose in the failure. When your plans are His plans, you don’t get frustrated if things fall into pieces. Then, the only time you will get frustrated and have your fits is when God had nothing to do with the plans and you failed, because your pride got hurt.

David says: Fret Not, fret not, fret not. Three times he said fret not.

Do you want to Experience GRACELIFE? Then you need to lay your frets at the altar. You need to admit what a sinner you are. You need to admit your are hurting. You need to admit you are wounded. You need to humble all that you are before God, and surrender everything you want, even this church, to Him. Then you need to say God, I submit my will and my wants to you and your will and your wants. Then follow Psalms 37:3-8

  1. Trust  (Be Confident) in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
  2. Delight (be willing to bend) thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
  3. Commit (Roll upon Him) thy way unto the LORD; trust (Continue to be confident) also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
  4. Rest (be silent, motionless) in the LORD, and wait patiently for him:
  5. Cease (stop, desist) from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil.

What kind of life do you want? Do you want to stumble along, fretting over your circumstances, rolling along out of control? Do you want to be confident in God’s control, in the Healing power of Jesus Christ? Roll your cares, roll your concerns, roll your life upon Him. Let His Grace fill your life!

To open the flood gates of God’s Grace upon your life, you must be willing to surrender and submit to God’s Word and God’s Will. You must be willing to wait upon Him. You must be willing to let Jesus Christ be Lord of all you are, all that you think, say and do.


[1] The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible – Romans, (Chattanooga: Leadership Ministries Worldwide, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “E. Law: The Wrong Way for a Man to be Justified, 4:13-16”.

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 707.


I am always fascinated when I see a baby start to walk. Especially my grandchildren. Some have toddled and crawled for a couple weeks, but Laila stood up and started running and has not stopped yet.

Sure, it can be scary while they figure it out. You can try hard to keep them safe while they learn to walk. However, THEY have to learn how to walk. You cannot do it for them. They will fall. They will get bruises. They will have to decide that it is better to walk and run than to crawl around the rest of their lives. So must Christians discover how to walk and live the Christian life God designed for us. We have to decide that we do not want to crawl the rest of our Christian life.

It Is No Little Thing To Be A Christian.

Many people come to Christ and seem overwhelmed with ‘being a Christian”. If being a Christian seems too big for you, just say “That is very good” I would not have it if it were as small as I am. Being a Christian must be something really big if it is to get me anywhere!

The bigger being a Christian is, the mightier the dynamic force that is behind the Christian Life. The greater is the POWER to Walk the Christian Life!

Romans 1-7 is the Gateway into the Christian Life.

The word written across the portal of that gate is FAITH. On the Gate, is the Cross. Faith in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is the way in, and seven chapters are devoted to that way. In Chapter 8 you find what kind of life is on the other side of that gate, the other side of the cross.

Chapter 8 is the real nature of this Big Life into which we have come. In this chapter there is one word which stands out-it is the word SPIRIT. This whole chapter that describes this Big Christian Life springs from and centers on this matter of the Spirit!

This Big Christian Life begins there: The Law of the Spirit of Life IN Christ Jesus!

We are through the gate, we are through the Cross, and here we find what we call “The Life in the Spirit”. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church, ushering in a new dispensation, the one we are living in now. It is the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament dispensation, the dispensation of God’s dealing with the Jews, is past. Now He is dealing with the church, the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. This is an entirely new and different age, marked by the coming of Jesus Christ, and concluded with His return.

The character and quality of this dispensation is entirely the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has come; He has introduced a new order of things entirely; and, until we understand that order, we shall not make any progress in our Christian life. It is very necessary for us to understand that.

The effect of the Holy Spirit, simply but fundamentally, is that He joins us to Christ. He brings about a vital union with the Lord Jesus. “But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” 1 Corinthians 6:17. To Live this Big Christian Life requires not our self-effort, but our walking after and relying upon the Holy Spirit.

So We must WALK…AFTER THE SPIRIT. That is what we will focus on in Romans 8 verses 5 – 15.

We found in the first four verses of Romans 8:

I. New Life in Christ – New Walk in the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:1  Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Vs 2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Vs 3: For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, Vs 4: so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We are One with Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit

  • In Jesus we are not condemned
  • In Jesus we live by a new law – freee from the law of sin and death.
  • We Walk Knowing what Jesus has done for us (vs 3)
  • We walk knowing what the Holy Spirit will do IN us (vs 4)

The Christian Life Is a Life Lived In Not In Our Flesh, But In The Spirit! Verse 3 reveals that God did for us what we could not do in ourselves-he removed the fundamental ground of our weakness-he crucified our old man, so that we could be free to walk in the new man of the Holy Spirit. Verse 4 reveals that the Law is fulfilled in us by walking in the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

What Does It Mean To Walk After The Holy Spirit?

1. Not a Work, but a Walk.

For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:29

We allow the Holy Spirit to work in us.

D.L Moody said, “I believe firmly that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and everything that is contrary to God’s law, the Holy Spirit will fill every corner of our hearts. But if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. We must be emptied before we can be filled.” J. Kuhatschek, Taking the Guesswork Out of Applying the Bible, IVP, p. 153ff.

Paul contrasts the WORKS of the flesh with the FRUIT of the Spirit (Gal 5:19, 22)

  • Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Galatians 5:19
  • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Galatians 5:22

The Christian walk is not up to us, to our works, just as Salvation is not up to our works. Salvation is entirely of Grace, so the Christian Walk is to be entirely of Grace. The Spirit produces the fruit. We are merely the instrument.

2. To Walk After Implies Subjection/Submission

Subject means to be placed under the authority of another. We must willingly place ourselves under the authority of the Holy Spirit.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-18

  • No matter what the cost, or what the imposition.

When we follow after our flesh the Holy Spirit will shrink back.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30

3. Walking After the Spirit Requires a Mind Set upon Him!

“to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” Rom 8:6

Hurewicz was a mathematician noted for work in topology and being distracted. He was the original ‘absent-minded professor’.

While on the faculty at MIT he once gave a colloquium lecture at Penn State. Several colleagues from Boston schools decided to attend the talk and they took the train to Pennsylvania for the lecture. Afterward, as usual, they went to dinner had a nice discussion, then all boarded the train and returned to Boston. Hurewicz could not find his car at the train station. So he reported it stolen. A few days later, the police called and said that they had located his car. It was in a parking garage in ………….. Philadelphia.

In 1956 while attending the International Symposium on Algebraic Topology in Uxmal, Mexico he climbed to the top of a Mayan pyramid. The story is that he forgot where he was. He stepped nonchalantly and fell off to his death.

Jesus made it clear that what we set our mind on is critical to the advancement of His Kingdom:

Mt 16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

We are to have the mind of Christ, who set this self-less and flesh-less example for us:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8

4. Minding the Flesh Produces Conflict With God

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. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8

Walking after the flesh means I yield to the authority and dictates of the flesh. Romans 8:5-8 shows where fleshly walking leads me. It brings me into conflict with God. The word used by the King James is “enmity”. It means “the extreme ill will or hatred that exists between enemies.”

Paul uses a noun not an adjective for the word ‘enmity’. The reason is that walking after the flesh does not taint us, it shows WE are tainted!

  • It is not that we can be opposed to God, but that we ourself is opposed to Him!
  • We not at enmity, but enmity itself!
  • We are not black, but blackness!
  • We are not corrupt, but corruption!
  • We are not rebellious, we are rebellion!
  • We are not wicked, we are wickedness itself!
  • We are not just deceitful, we are deceit!

The fleshly walk does not submit to the Holy Spirit. The fleshly walk does not and cannot please God.

II. Walking After The Spirit Brings Me Into The Law Of The Spirit Of Life.

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:9-15

The Spirit must LEAD us. Not only Setting our Minds on Him, but also Following Him. (Not enough to only think about Him, you must obey). My kids usually minded me, but I don’t think their heart was in it all the time!

Much more than minding. It requires that you submit to His leading. You cannot be independent of Him.  You must be subject to the Holy Spirit. Only as we yield ourselves to obey Him shall we find the law of the Spirit of Life in full operation and the “ordinance of the law” being fulfilled.

  • Everything we have been trying to do to please God is now reality simply by our submitting to the Holy Spirit.
  • As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God. (Rom 8:14)

Why is it so important to be led by the Holy Spirit? Understand God’s design:

  • The Love of God is the source of all spiritual blessing
  • The grace of the Lord Jesus has made it possible for that spiritual wealth to be ours.
  • The communion of the Holy Spirit is the means whereby it is imparted to us.

What the Father has devised, the Son has accomplished, and the Holy Spirit communicates directly to us. If we are not walking after the Holy Spirit, we are missing out on all the Father hand the Son have for us!

III. We Walk as His Son

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

Imagine walking as His Son. You are no longer crawling, you are WALKING as the SON of GOD! This is the Normal Christian Life we are to lead!

  • 2 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.”
  • 1 John 2:6 “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”
  • Ephesians 5:8, 9 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)”
  • Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after theSpirit.”

Walking in the Spirit is not an option for the Christian – it is a command of God: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

But, how do we walk as His Son?

A Son Believes His Father. A Son Trusts His Father.

  • See the Contrast

David vs. Saul and the Army of Israel

We see this in the contrast between the way the army of Israel approached the giant named Goliath and the way David did in 1 Samuel 17. The soldiers allowed did not believe in the power of their Jehovah God, for they did not see Him as their all-powerful Father. They all “ran away in great fear” while David, who knew the power of His God, and knew his special relationship with God, “ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him” in verse 48.

Your relationship determines your walk!

Joshua and Caleb vs. the Children in the Wilderness

This is the choice the Children in the Wilderness faced: Do we believe God or do we trust what we see? When the 10 spies told of the giants, the Israelites had no thoughts of their relationship with Jehovah God. They had no thoughts of His power, so they became afraid and disobeyed.

Joshua and Caleb knew the power of God, knew of their beloved relationship with Him, and knew they could go in and defeat the giants. Do you approach the giant fears of your life as a helpless orphan, or do you approach the giants as God’s beloved son?

A. We are a Son of God by the Holy Spirit

Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

  • Not the works of the spirit! – Not the influences of the spirit, or the general character which comes form the indwelling spirit,…but the Spirit Himself!
  • “The difference between the regenerate & the unregenerate is not of degree, but of kind!” (Spurgeon at His Best; Rom.8:9)

The question you must ask yourself:

Does the Spirit of Christ live in me? What evidences of the Holy Spirit do I  see in my life?

  • Do I constantly worry?
  • Do I get upset at even the tiniest of things.
  • Do I have sins that you can’t seem to control.
  • Do I read the Word of God and know that God speaks to me as I read it?
  • Do I have times when you just need to talk to your Father?
  • Do I constantly think about Jesus, do I praise Him, do I ask Him for advice?

If you truly are born again, you will walk in the Spirit of Christ. If you do not, then you need to do a Spirit Check.

B. Enemy of Sonship: The Phony Christian Walk

If you do not have the Spirit, you are a phony. You start Minding the Flesh, because you can’t mind the Spirit.

Evidence of phonies are:

1. Cliché Christianity. A cliché is a phrase that is said too many times in a certain situation. Take sports for example. We hear: Take it one game at a time. Records are made to be broken. This team has overcome a lot of adversity. They control their own destiny.

Christians resort to clichés as well, and in many ways those cliché’s define the way they live. Some have sarcastically referred to this practice as “Jesus jargon”. These overused phrases convey little meaning because we hear them way too often. Unfortunately, many of us just repeat the expected vocabulary without really thinking about what the words mean. As a result, they lose their impact. Here are some that come to mind: Just have faith. God touched me. Let go and let God. God told me. I’ll pray for you.

Here is the danger. You and I can say the right sayings and yet our hearts can be far from God. And, since most Christians use these common clichés, it is easy to fall into a superficial spirituality. On top of that, we can fool others and even ourselves simply by saying the right words.

But none of this fools God as Isaiah 29:13 reminds us: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me…”

2. Right Rules. Some of you are trying to live the Christian life by a set of rules: “Do this, don’t do that!” The problem of living by rules is that it can lead to legalism. It also is walking in the flesh. On top of that, according to Colossians 2:22-23, it does not work anyway: “These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.”

God is not impressed either as the second part of Isaiah 29:13 says: “…Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

3. Formulaic Faith. Some of us are trying to live our faith by following formulas. These formulas are everywhere: Three Avenues to Answered Prayer, Four Steps to Spiritual Success and Five Ways to Walk in the Spirit. There are at least two problems with formulaic faith. First, it can lead to mechanical Christianity. Second, it doesn’t work very often.

4. Performance Posture. Way too many of us are trying to please God by our performance and some of us think that He will only accept us if we make ourselves acceptable. As the early chapters of the Book of Romans make clear, we will always fall short.

5. Extra Experiences. Some people try to live the Christian life by seeking deeply moving, life-changing, earth-shattering, emotional experiences with God. The problem is that experiences do not last because we must eventually come off the mountaintop and resume life in the valley. And, if you seek experiences, you will yo-yo in your faith, going up and down depending on the experiences you have. While God uses conferences, camps, mission trips, moving movies, and dynamic speakers, they alone cannot sustain our faith.

6. Coasting Christianity. Some of you have settled into a mediocre, lukewarm Christian life. You might be a coasting Christian because you think Christianity is too difficult. It is too hard to follow this unseen Holy Spirit.

Do any of these alternatives describe you? Let me say that there is some truth in each one. Most of the clichés we use represent real truth. Rules can be good. Formulas can be helpful. God is pleased when we obey Him. Ecstatic experiences with the Almighty can be life-changing. And finally, Christianity is too difficult – if you try to live it without the Holy Spirit’s power. The life of faith is impossible without the empowering and filling of the Holy Spirit. You cannot live the true Christian Life without following after the Holy Spirit. Anything less is PHONY!

WATCH FOR THE SIGNS OF PHONY WALK! Learn to talk tough to yourself. This may sound strange but it’s actually quite helpful to audibly attack error in your thinking.

  • Sometimes I say out loud: “This thinking is wrong. It’s from the pit of hell. I refuse to entertain those thoughts.”
  • This goes back to the word “set” in verse 5 as it refers to a “fixed mindset.”
  • We see this in Colossians 3:2: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” A mind set on the flesh is death but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.
  • That’s exactly what Isaiah 26:3 in the New Living Translation proclaims: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
  • In other words, we must let the mind of the Master be the Master of our minds as Philippians 2:5 says: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”

C. The Holy Spirit Is Alive Within Each Christian.

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

If you don’t have the Spirit, then you don’t have spiritual life. That means every believer is home to the Holy Spirit. This denotes a “settled permanent penetrative influence.” You don’t need to ask Him to come in because He enters at conversion, you don’t need a “second blessing” or worry that He’s ever going to leave.

Jesus in John 14:16-17: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Galatians 4:6 describes the intimate relationship between the Holy Spirit within us and God the Father: “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

The Holy Spirit desires to have control in each Christian’s life. Since the Holy Spirit lives within believers, you and I must give Him control of our lives. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

The issue is not getting more of the Holy Spirit but allowing Him to have more of us. When we received Christ, we received all of God we will ever get. As born again believers, we don’t need to receive the Holy Spirit; we need to respond to the Holy Spirit whom we have already received.

When a toddler begins to walk he may revert back to crawling because it is still most natural to him. Walking is scary/risky. But there is some serious issues if your teenager keeps reverting back to crawling!!!

Is it more natural now in your walk with the Lord to walk in the flesh, or in the Spirit? Do you walk as His son, or as a phony?

D. Walking after the Spirit is a Life of Sonship

VS 14-15: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:14-15

We have all benefited from the milled ridges that line our highways now. Driving over them produces a loud rumble that quickly wakes you up or tells you that you are drifting off the highway.

Well, the Holy Spirit works even better than those rumble strips when we start to do a mental lane change.

He ka-thump ka-thump ka-thumps upon our heart, warning us to get back in our Spirit lane, when we start crossing over into the flesh lane! We need to be reminde we are His son!

Galatians 5:16: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Another translation puts it this way: “Keep in step with the Spirit…” The key is to keep in step with the Spirit, not lagging behind and not racing ahead.

BY walking after the Spirit, you are walking in the New Law and you experience the Righteousness of Jesus Christ and THROW OFF YOUR WRETCHEDNESS!

  • So, go to bed tonight & say, “If I die before I wake, I cannot be condemned!”
  • Should you wake the next morning go into the world & say, “I am not condemned!”
  • When howls at you tell him, “you may accuse me, but I am not condemned!”
  • If your sins arise say, “I know you, but you are all gone forever. I am not condemned!” [adapted from Spurgeon quote]

Un-Believers: [Re-read vs.1] – This also means “There still hangs a most weighty condemnation upon all those who are not IN Christ Jesus!”

And what did verse nine say, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His”. Be His today!

Say “Yes” to the Spirit of God and you will live as His Son. The flesh will be of no power when you walk in the Law of the Life of the Spirit!


A young boy had just gotten his driver’s license. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your bible a little and get your hair cut and we’ll talk about it.”

After about a month, the boy came back and again asked his father, if they could discuss use of the car. They again went to the father’s study where his father said, “Son, I’ve been real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you’ve studied your bible diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut.”

The young man waited a moment and replied, “You know Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. You know, Samsom had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair!”, to which is father replied, “Yes, you’re right, and they also WALKED every where they went!”

We have come to Romans 8, a chapter in the Bible which more than any other talks about our walk with the Holy Spirit. In fact, our walk in the Holy Spirit is to become so natural that we hardly notice it, becasue our walk in the Holy Spirit is to be the New Law of our Christian walk.

What is a Law? A Law is a general rule that happens over and over again, without exception. Every April 15, we are reminded that without exception some accounting of your income must be made to the IRS. It is automatic. Every time you jump up in the air you come back down. The Law of Gravity is something we just accept.

When you drive, you know you must keep track of your speed. When you see a Red Light you know you should stop. We drive on the right side of the road. In England and Australia they drive on the other side of the road and it is the most unnatural feeling in the world.

When we live according to a Law, it is so accepted that it is natural.

Romans 7 revealed a struggle that Paul had, a struggle that ran him right up against a Law, A Law of Sin. It was a Law that his flesh was comfortable with, had accepted, and was struggling with.

Even though in Romans 6:6 (Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.)  he had taught us

1. KNOW our old man is dead.

Then he taught us in Romans 6:11 (Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord) to

2. COUNT on God that it is so.

Our old man is dead. Depend on it. God says it is true. And then Paul taught us, that if our old man is dead and we can count on that like money in the bank, then our flesh is unemployed, and so it must be…

3.PRESENTED to God for Him to use.

He taught this in Romans 6:13: (Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.)

Still Paul struggled with his will. He testified to this in Romans 7:15-20

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

The reason for his struggle is that he discovered something: “but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” Romans 7:23

There is a law that governs how we live in this flesh. It is the Law of Sin and of death and it cripples man’s will to do good. Man wills to be different, but the law of sin is relentless, and no human can resist it.

So, how can we be set free from this law of sin and death? We certainly need freedom from sin, we certainly need freedom from death, but most of all we need freedom from this LAW of sin and death.

  • How can we be delivered from the constant repetition of weakness and failure?

The Key Phrases

There are two phrases that we see in Romans 5:12-6:23:

“in Adam” and “in Christ”

There are two phrases we see in Romans 7:1-8:39:

“in the flesh” and “in the Spirit”

POSITIONAL Experience

“In Adam” and “In Christ” picture our position. At birth God views us in Adam. All that is Adam’s is our. His sin nature, his sinfulness, that is our position at birth.

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we are placed “in Christ.” God no longer sees us in Adam. He declares us justified, righteous. Our sins are forever forgiven. We have the life of Christ.

PRACTICAL experience

“In the flesh” and “in the Spirit” relate to our practical experience.

It is not enough to simply know what your position is. You need to experience it. To be in Christ is not enough. To have our old man crucified is not enough. To present our members as servants of God is not enough. The only way the New Law becomes effective and practical in our lives is when we learn to walk everyday “in the Spirit!”

We need to see there is a New Law that we Christians are to live by. It is as natural as the Law of Gravity. It is a more powerful law than the law of sin.

The key to this Law is walking in the Holy Spirit.

This is why the first part of Romans 8 is so centered upon the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit is mentioned in Romans 8 no less than 19 different times. No other chapter in the New Testament contains as many direct references to the Holy Spirit. While it is true that our old man is crucified, and we are freed from the power of sin, if we do not mind our walk, and learn to walk in the spirit, then our lives will be a contradiction to the fact of my position in Jesus Christ.

If we walk in the flesh, what is true of me in Him will not be expressed in my life.

Positionally I may be in Jesus, but practically, my temper, or my lust, or my jealousy, or my greed may be in evidence.

The truth of who we are in Jesus Christ cannot be experienced by walking in the flesh. That is totally the experience of Paul in Romans 7. The flesh is no match for the Law of Sin. The only way we can experience the reality of Jesus Christ in our lives is by living according to a New and greater Law, the Law of Living in the Holy Spirit!

Living in the Holy Spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This life is completely different from the life I would naturally live myself!

  • This is not a life of TRYING but of TRUSTING!
  • This is not a life of STRUGGLING but of RESTING!
  • Whether your problem is a temper, a sarcastic tongue, a critical spirit, impure thoughts, you do not set out by sure will power to change yourself.

    If you are Living in the Spirit, you know and count yourself dead to those things and then look to the Holy Spirit to produce in you the needed purity, humility, patience, meekness, and you are confident He will do so. In fact, you thank Him in advance for deliverance from those sins.

    As Exodus 14:13 states: Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you!”

    When the Holy Spirit takes matters into His hands, there is no need for strain on our part. It is not a matter of counting to 10, of going home and taking it out on a pillow, there will be no need, for the Holy Spirit has worked it in you.

    Real victory over a sin, over a habit does not come by fleshly effort, but by the Holy Spirit and our living in Him!

    This is why Satan is so active in the world tempting us to stay in the flesh. This is why John warns against loving this world:

    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:15-16

    If you are in love with the world, the love of the Father is not in you. That is because the love of the world has brought you into a fleshly walk, and not the walk of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is LOVE!

    When you love the world, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of possessions, you are not living according to the Law of the Holy Spirit! You are settling for the bowl of lentil soup that Esau sold his birthright for. In the Holy Spirit is our life of Blessing!

    Temptation gets us off our walk and exposes us to struggle and defeat!

    When the Japanese invaded China, their overwhelming strength destroyed most of the Chinese tanks within the first three months. They were unable to deal with the Japanese armored tanks until they devised this scheme:

    A sniper would be set up in a hidden place and would fire a single shot at the Japanese tank. After at least 15 minutes he would fire another single shot. Then after ten minutes or so, the sniper would fire another shot. He would keep doing it until the Japanese tank driver, eager to locate the source of the shots, would pop his head out to get a better look around him. The next shot would put an end to the Japanese driver.

    As long as the driver remained in the tank, he was safe. The scheme was devised to get him out in the open.

    Satan’s temptations are not designed to get us to do something really sinful, but simply to act in our own energy. As soon as we step away from the Holy Spirit, and start acting naturally, in our flesh, he has the victory.

    This is the lesson of Galations 5:16-18:

    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Galatians 5:16-18

    THE FIGHT WITH THE FLESH IS NOT OURS, BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT’S.

    These are in opposition one to another! So the Holy Spirit bears the burden of fighting the flesh, and the result is that we not do as we normally would. In fact, the result is that we are not under the Law, becasue we are walking according to a New Law, Life in the Holy Spirit!

    When we depend upon the Holy Spirit, and do not allow the devil to lure us from his cover, He is then free to meet and deal with the flesh in us.

    Walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh!

    Our deliverance and victory lies not in our own fleshly strength and determination, but by our abiding in Christ and and simply counting upon His Holy Spirit with us to overcome fleshly lusts with HIS OWN DESIRES!.

    • The Cross procures our Salvation
    • The Spirit produces that Salvation within us!
    • Christ risen and ascended is the basis of our salvation;
    • Christ in our hearts by the Spirit is its power!

    So what does Paul exclaim in Romans 7?

    I  THANK GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!

    Up until his exclamation, he used “I” or “me” over 25 times. in just a few verses. He was totally struggling in his flesh! But when he exclaimed I thank God through Jesus Christ, it became him and he and we! That is what Paul revealed in Galatians 2:20:

    I live, yet no longer I, but Christ!

    When the focus is on the I, it is “What a Wretched Man I am!” When the focus is on Christ, we shout THANK YOU GOD!

    Christians do not have a changed life. God offers us an exchanged life! We exchange our natural, fleshly live for the life of Jesus Christ within us! We do not produce within ourselves the life of Christ. We don’t try to act like Jesus. Jesus really lives through us by His Spirit!

    The Holy Spirit reproduces the life of Jesus in us! That is what Galatians 4:19 reveals – Christ is formed in you!

    What brought victory for Paul? He explains in Romans 8, that there is a new law that supercedes the law of sin. This law is not a fleshly law, but it is a law nonetheless. As such, when you start to walk in this new law, it will become natural, it will produce the same result over and over again. After all, it is a Law.

    So how do we learn to walk and live in the Law of Life in the Holy Spirit?

    Only when we we become aware of our great need for His life! We get to the point where we see our deficiencies and our inadequacies and our failures and we can do nothng else but cry out to Him!

    Does that sound like salvation? Yes, and sometimes when someone has led a life of sin and then realizes their need makes a dramatic turn to Jesus Christ, and immediately everything about their life is changed. They immediately begin walking in the Holy Spirit.

    But Paul reflected his experience where he came to Jesus but then tried to walk in his flesh, becasue he was a Jew, used to following a set of laws. But his frustration led him to the point of seeing his total inability. Then he cried out to Jesus and saw the light of the Life in the Holy Spirit.

    Many people who get saved as a youngster and grow up in a Christian home take Jesus for granted. They get out into the world or college and get lured into the love of the world. They try to live the Christian life in their fleshly strength and fail miserably. Then, when they get to the end of themselves, and realize they cannot live the Christian life in their own strength, they are ready to give everything over to Him and let Jesus live His life through them. Then is when they find victory.

    Romans 8:1 No Condemnation

    Paul goes from a wretched man in Romans 7 to this amazing declaration:

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

    There are two kinds of condemnation:

    1. Before God
    2. Before Myself

    I have no problem seeing my sins forgiven on the cross. I have no problem seeing that God no longer condemns me becasue I am in His son. I do have a problem with a condemning heart. I experience defeat in my life, and my heart goes into hyperdrive condemning me.

    But in the Spirit, there is no condemnation.

    What lay behind my condemnation? It was my experience of defeat. Before I saw Christ as my life, I labored under a constant sense of a handicap. I was limited, confined to a wheelchair, disabled. I cannot do this. I cannot please God! But there is no “can not” in Christ! THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION, THERE IS NO FAILURE, THERE IS NO DAMNATION, THERE IS NO REGRETTING! THERE IS ONLY THE LIFE OF Jesus Christ in me!

    For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the condemning law of sin and death!

    God wants us to realize that as Christians he doesn’t just leave us at the Cross. We don’t come to Christ as Savior and then walk away on our own. God wants us to realize that Jesus Christ wants to live through our lives, in fact, God wants us to realize that we are united with Christ. Everything about us, our identity, our life, our career, our family is inextricably tied up in Jesus Christ!

    God wants us to walk under a New Law, a Law that is to be so natural that we take it for granted, just like gravity. He wants us to walk according to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Jesus Christ!

    When we close our eyes to seeing this new Law, to seeing the Holy Spirit as Lord of our life, we open our eyes to the world and all the associated temptations. If we are not in the Spirit, we walk in the flesh, and so we walk as Romans 7 Christians, always struggling with guilt and failure and problems. Most fleshly Christians end up turning away from God at some point, for the Christian life seems to conflict with the fleshly world and all they experience there.

    Let me illustrate how this works.

    This past weekend Lydia and I were in Boonville, MO. staying at the High Street Victorian Bed and Breakfast operated by Kriss and Gene Royer. Friday night Lydia and I walked three building down to the Hotel Frederick to sit out on the balcony and watch the sunset over the Missouri River (which was at flood stage).

    It was very busy and the people were real friendly. The beer and cocktails were flowing freely, as well as the conversation. People would ask us what we were doing there and Lydia would proudly say that I had decided to ride my bicycle the 76 miles from Clinton to Boonville (on the Katy Trail) on my birthday (the day before). They would offer their kudo’s and looks of unbelief, etc. There was a group of people from the “R” bar in Kansas City and one of the guys appeared to be a “Cowboy” complete with the slow Texan draw. He was real friendly and at some point the ‘question’ got asked. It is the question that many Pastors are afraid of, especially in a crowd of people who don’t seem to be church-goers. He asked, so what do you do? I simply said I’m a pastor of a church. There were several ‘oh’s’ and some furtive glances away, but this ‘Cowboy’ seemed real interested. He immediately perked up and said he goes to church and he was a ‘Methodist-Buddhist-Muslim’. Now my attention was peaked, and I mentioned my curiosity as to how that could work. We discussed several topics in a gentlemanly way. All in the open, with others listening.

    At one point he came over to our table and engaged me one-on-one. As much as could be, this was a private conversation. He shared that as a 13 year old, he had asked Jesus Christ into his life, and admitted that growing up he went to a Gospel-Preaching Methodist all the time. I got the sense that he genuinely believed in Christ, but somewhere along the line he had gotten into a bunch of ‘worldly’ beliefs. I also found out that he is an attorney, and much of his ‘Cowboy’ display is a cover for a very intelligent, shrewd lawyer. Soon after his confession I was led to say that I have found that whenever a Christian strays away from his belief in Christ (at which point he said ‘I’m still a believer’), it is usually the result of at least one of three things. It is either because of moral impurity, deep-seated bitterness, or a temporal value system. At this point he got rather defensive, and launched into another defensive move. He decried a God who could allow such evils as 9/11, Katrina, child abuse, etc. He said he could not believe in a God like that. It hit me that he had some deep-rooted bitterness toward God over sometning in his life.

    I said that many times we make a decision with our mind to believe in Christ, but God says in Prov 23:26: “Son, give me your heart!” God wants our heart, God wants our trust. There are many things that happen in our lives that we can not understand. There are many experiences that will try to destroy our trust in God. That is why God wants our heart. Regardless of what we experience, regardless of what we think, we are to trust in God and His Word. Otherwise, we give our heart to the things of this world, the philosophis of this world, the hurts and disappointments of this world. Before long, our heart is far away from God, from Jesus, from a faith that has real application in this world.

    We conversed over an hour that evening, and while I could see a searching in his eyes, his heart is far from the Jehovah of the Bible. He has gone after a god of his own making, one who embraces Buddhists, Muslims, and all the other deluded people of the world. All becasue he is bitter at the True God for something He did or failed to do. To Mark, there is a Jesus, but He has no reality in this present world.  And so, in all practical aspects, Jesus is dead to Mark.

    And so it is with many Christians, even good Baptist(ha) ones, who make a decision to follow Jesus, but because their focus is not on the Law of the Spirit of Life, they do not see how Jesus relates to their everyday lives, and soon Jesus is an ornament, or a figurehead of something you do on Sunday, if they go at all. They too are focused on the flesh, focused on the world, and Jesus is far from their heart.

    Let’s see what effect this New Law is supposed to have upon Christians. God wants the Truth of Jesus Christ to be superior to our experiences. We are to walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT. When Christians fail to see the Power of Christ for their everyday lives it is because they are letting their fleshy experieces rule their lives.

    Kriss and Gene Royer, InnKeepers

    The Innkeepers of the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at are a marvelous Christian couple. We had a long conversation with Kriss about one of their children, Ashley Ann. They adopted Ashley Ann when she was nine years old. She had been in the foster care system since she was five, and in four short years had already had over twenty foster homes and over twenty different schools. I will let Ashley tell you why (from an essay she wrote for a Scholarship to Southwest Baptist University):

    “My life as a small child was filled with life experiences no one should have to go through, especially a little child. I was deliberately and repeatedly abused and abandoned. At age two, my father shoved my face into a brick wall from which I still have scars. My mother was a prostitute, drug user and dealer. I have seen everything imaginable. I have been sexually abused, deliberately burned, stripped naked and beaten, had needles stuck into me like apin cushion just for the kicks of the drug addicted friends of my mother. They would tell me there were ‘doctors’. At age three I was often left alone for days to look after my brother (who was 11 months older than me and had cerebral palsy) and my newborn sister. I had to learn to be resourceful to find food for us all, and ‘played mommy’ becasue no on else was there to take care of us. While I was still three, the Social Worker took me away from my mom permanently and placed me with my grandmother. This was no better because she allowed my mom to stay at her home against the rules of the social worker. My grandmother continued the abuse, and even went further, forcing me to drink beer and smoke cigarettes. When I refused, she would beat me and even burn me. At age five I was permanently placed in the foster care system. By the age of nine I had gone from foster cfamily to foster family for an average stay of three or four months. I attended twenty seven different schools. No one wanted me, and although I had learned to be flexible with so much change in my life, I was an insecure, untrusting, angry and scared little kid. I quickly learned that if I rejected others before they had a chance to reject me, it wouldn’t be so painful.”

    If the story stopped here, she would have grown up to be another abusive woman, angry at the world, angry at her children. The cycle would have continued, and everyone would have understood.

    Ashley wrote:

    “I think success in overcoming childhood trauma and abuse in a person’s life is much more difficult than attaining worldly success. I have learned that bad things can happen to a person becasue of other people’s choices. I too make choices and it was up to me whether I would carry those painful memories and emotional scars the rest of my life. I could chose to let them weigh me down and keep me stuck in a life filled with anger, pain, self pity and bitterness. Or I could use them to become a better person.”

    What made this transformation possible? How could someone so abused and hated and discarded even begin to hope there was something more to this life?

    Ashley made a startling discovery. She discovered a different foster family. “They really did want me even though they were told I was mean, angry, aggressive, violent, used bad language and tried to hurt others. They loved me no matter what I did, and believe me I tested them plenty to be sure they weren’t going to throw me away like everyone else in my life did!”

    Ashley discovered love for the first time in her life. But then she discovered the reason for that love.

    “One of the things that was different with my new family…was their faith. My new mom and big brothers worked at a family camp and I got to go with them every day. I loved this camp and I got to experience being a kid, and playing and swimming and all the things a kid should experience. And I loved singing the new songs I learned every day. It did not take long before I made this faith my own. I discovered a faith that would carry me through all the trauma of my childhood, and bring complete healing and a wholeness I never thought possible.” Ahsley reveals the power of Jesus Christ when she states: “Through my faith in the Lord I have learned how to forgive those who hurt me and how to release each of those pains and not carry them.”

    She admits it has not been easy, and yet through it all, time and time again, she has seen that “I have a power inside me bigger than myself, and that with God, all things are possible!”

    This is the choice each Christian must make. Your background does not matter. What matters is are you going to believe in the power of Jesus Christ for your everyday life? Are you going to walk according to the NEW LAW, the “Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus?”

    Only as Christian’s walk in this new law are we able to enjoy the overcoming, abundant life of Jesus Christ.

    Or, we can let our failures, the abuses, hurts, pains and evils get us to where we are bitter, disillusioned, defeated. Jesus Christ is little more than a teacher, an ideal, who has little impact on this difficult life we lead.

    It’s up to you whether you will carry your failures and bad choices with you the rest of your life. You can choose to let them weigh you down and keep you stuck in a life filled with fleshly effort, fleshly choices, and all the anger bitterness and pain they bring.

    You have a choice of who you want to become.

    You can be a fleshly Christian, struggling the best you can to be like Jesus, always vacillating between defeat and victory, constantly being drawn away by your fleshly focus.

    Or you can be desperate enough to simply say,”Holy Spirit, I want the life you have for me. I want you to live Jesus through me.” You can stop struggling and start resting. When you realize you need His power, and stop using your own, is when you will see the reality of Jesus Christ.


    Importance church covenantA mere two months after the Los Angeles Dodgers inked a new, two–year, $45 million guaranteed deal with power hitter Manny Ramirez, the slugger got hit with a 50–game suspension for using a banned performance–enhancing substance. The reason, a “Behavior” clause written into his contract. The 50 game suspension will save the Dodgers 8 million dollars.Manny Rameriz

    Earlier this year Kellogg’s backed out of an endorsement deal with Michael Phelps because of a “Behavior Clause” they had written into the contract. You know them as “Morality Clauses”, but because of changing morals, they have become specific “behavior” clauses.

    There was once a time when an advertiser could get an agent to agree to the following clause: “If [Celebrity] has committed any act that offends the community or any segment thereof and/or public morals and decency, such behavior shall be considered a material breach of this Agreement incapable of cure, and if in [Advertiser’s] sole judgment such breach is likely to cause a diminution in the value of the [Advertiser’s] commercial association with [Celebrity], then [Advertiser] shall have the right, in addition to any other rights [Advertiser] may have as a result of such breach, to immediately terminate this Agreement on written notice to [Celebrity]. In such event, there shall be no further compensation payable to [Celebrity] and such termination shall not limit or effect any other rights [Advertiser] may have against [Celebrity] under this Agreement on account of such termination.”

    Phelps breaks Behavior ClauseHowever, society’s views of morality have changed, so contracts have gotten to be very specific as regards the “behavior” of the celebrities. With Michael Phelps, public drug use was clearly prohibited.

    These behavior clauses have even entered the world of Big Banks and Big Business. The latest banking crisis underscored the importance of not appearing greedy in the face of massive government bailouts at taxpayer expense. The government refused to give “Bailout Funds” unless certain behavior standards were met. Corporate executives lost their jobs and had their pay cut because of lavish extravaganza’s and exorbitant bonuses while Americans saw Billions of dollars in savings wiped out. Now the excessive compensation and perks of CEO’s is under scrutiny of enraged shareholders.CEO Behavior Clause

    In the sports world, in the corporate world, in the banking world, how we behave and act is very important, so important that people lose millions when they fail to live up to certain standards.

    AIG Bailout and BonusesEven in the church, our behavior is important.  George Barna has become well-known because of the extensive research and surveys he conducts. He has noticed some alarming trends in the church, particularly in regards to our “Biblical World view”. A Survey published in March of this year produced these results:

    For the purposes of the survey, a “biblical worldview” was defined as believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today. In the research, anyone who held all of those beliefs was said to have a biblical worldview.Biblical Worldview

    The same questions were asked of respondents in national surveys by Barna in 1995, 2000 and 2005. The results indicate that the percentage of adults with a biblical worldview, as defined above, has remained unchanged for more than a decade. The numbers show that 7% had such a worldview in 1995, compared to 10% in 2000, 11% in 2005, and 9% now. Even among born again adults, the statistics have remained flat: 18% in 1995, 22% in 2000, 21% in 2005, and 19% today.

    Varying numbers of Americans embrace the different aspects of biblical worldview thinking. The survey found that:

    • One-third of all adults (34%) believe that moral truth is absolute and unaffected by the circumstances. Slightly less than half of the born again adults (46%) believe in absolute moral truth.
    • Half of all adults firmly believe that the Bible is accurate in all the principles it teaches. That proportion includes the four-fifths of born again adults (79%) who concur.
    • Just one-quarter of adults (27%) are convinced that Satan is a real force. Even a minority of born again adults (40%) adopt that perspective.
    • Similarly, only one-quarter of adults (28%) believe that it is impossible for someone to earn their way into Heaven through good behavior. Not quite half of all born again Christians (47%) strongly reject the notion of earning salvation through their deeds.
    • A minority of American adults (40%) are persuaded that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life while He was on earth. Slightly less than two-thirds of the born again segment (62%) strongly believes that He was sinless.
    • Seven out of ten adults (70%) say that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe who still rules it today. That includes the 93% of born again adults who hold that conviction.

    troubling change in churchesGeorge Barna, who has directed this tracking research since the early Nineties, pointed out, “There are a several troubling patterns to take notice. First, although most Americans consider themselves to be Christian and say they know the content of the Bible, less than one out of ten Americans demonstrate such knowledge through their actions. Second, the generational pattern suggests that parents are not focused on guiding their children to have a biblical worldview. One of the challenges for parents, though, is that you cannot give what you do not have, and most parents do not possess such a perspective on life. That raises a third challenge, which relates to the job that Christian churches, schools and parachurch ministries are doing in Christian education. Finally, even though a central element of being a Christian is to embrace basic biblical principles and incorporate them into one’s worldview, there has been no change in the percentage of adults or even born again adults in the past 13 years regarding the possession of a biblical worldview.”Biblical_Worldview

    Now why would any born again, saved child of God be anything less than 100% when it comes to a Biblical Worldview? I would guarantee that even in our church there are some members who would not score very high on Barna’s poll.

    Why have Christians become so watered down when it comes to standards and behavior? Today you have more divorces in the church than in the world; you have believer’s living together; you have leaders of the church struggling with pornography and even getting divorced; you have homosexuality as an accepted behavior, even in many churches.

    Should the church be held to higher standards of behavior? Should a church have a “behavior” clause for their members? Or should we concentrate only on our beliefs?

    My Experience at Prairie Baptist Church.

    Prairie Baptist churchI mentioned last week that my parents marriage was probably saved because they got involved and became members of a Bible teaching and preaching church. It was American Baptist and it was the early 1960’s. But by the time I was in ninth grade (1967) we started to have interesting discussions in youth group. Drug use – is it really wrong? The Bible – is it always right? Hell – is it literal or figurative? Sex before marriage – it it OK. But didn’t really try to present the definitive answer from the Word of God.

    The one on Hell really was the last straw for my parents, plus the type of behavior our older youth we getting involved in. My parents became very concerned about what I was learning, but even more so for the type of behavior some of our youth were allowed to engage in. Standards were lacking, not even taught. The Bible was watered down and not taught as absolute.

    James warns us that “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (Js 1:26).

    In other words, if you profess to be a Christian, but you don’t live a changed life, you should take no comfort in your faith. In fact, the reality is that your faith (religion) should influence your behavior. If it does not, it is a sham, it is powerless. The reason the churches must demonstrate the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives is evident in what is really happening in America.

    Seven Faith Tribes: Who They Are, What They Believe, and Why They Matter

    Seve  Faith TribesIn this new book by George Barna, Mr Barna sees seven different faith groups that are influencing America. The two largest are of the Christian ‘tribe’. He distinguishes the tribes in this way: Casual Christians represent 66% of the adult population of the U.S. (The percentage of the adult population represented by the other half-dozen tribes included 16% who are Captive Christians, 2% Jews, 2% Mormons, 2% Pantheists, one-half of 1% Muslims, and 11% Skeptics.) Here are some of his answers to questions some have posed:

    Question: You describe the Casual Christian tribe as spiritually middle-of-the-road, perhaps even ambivalent about their faith. Why, then, are they so important to the nation’s future?

    Barna: Each of the seven tribes is important to our nation’s future because they include millions of American citizens. The Casual Christian tribe is especially significant because it represents a huge majority of the nation’s population – two out of every three adults. This particular tribe is comprised of significant proportions of minimally active born again Christians and moderately active but theologically nominal Christians. If a catalyst were added to this mix to deepen this tribe’s integration of faith and lifestyle, or even to simply create a more extensive sense of community and purpose within the tribe, unprecedented changes could occur.

    Question: What have you found to be the appeal of Casual Christianity, as opposed to what draws people to the Captive Christian or even the Mormon tribes – that is, other tribes that are much more fervent about their faith?

    Barna: Casual Christianity is faith in moderation. It allows them to feel religious without having to prioritize their faith. Christianity is a low-risk, predictable proposition for this tribe, providing a faith perspective that is not demanding. A Casual Christian can be all the things that they esteem: a nice human being, a family person, religious, an exemplary citizen, a reliable employee – and never have to publicly defend or represent difficult moral or social positions or even lose much sleep over their private choices as long as they mean well and generally do their best. From their perspective, their brand of faith practice is genuine, realistic and practical. To them, Casual Christianity is the best of all worlds; it encourages them to be a better person than if they had been irreligious, yet it is not a faith into which they feel compelled to heavily invest themselves.

    Causual Christian vs Captive ChristianBarna: The lives of Captive Christians are defined by their faith; their worldview is built around their core spiritual beliefs and resultant values. Casual Christians are defined by the desire to please God, family, and other people while extracting as much enjoyment and comfort from the world as possible. The big difference between these two tribes is how they define a successful life. For Captives, success is obedience to God, as demonstrated by consistently serving Christ and carrying out His commands and principles. For Casuals, success is balancing everything just right so that they are able to maximize their opportunities and joys in life without undermining their perceived relationship with God and others. Stated differently, Casuals are about moderation in all things while Captives are about extreme devotion to their God regardless of the worldly consequences.

    Why is it imperative that we reach out to casual Christians and impress upon them to become Captive Christians, (I CALL THEM COVENANT CHRISTIANS)?

    Here is the Real World the Church is facing:

    Sex Profanity Steal Lie Gossip Moral SinsAmerican society has become more intrigued by moral issues in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that 55% of adults discuss moral issues with others during a typical week. But a nationwide survey by The Barna Group indicates that Americans have also redefined what it means to do the right thing in their own lives.

    A 2008 survey by The Barna Group asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week. The behaviors included looking at pornography, using profanity, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. Of those surveyed:

    • Twenty-eight percent had used profanity.
    • Twenty percent had gambled.
    • Nineteen percent had viewed pornography.
    • Twelve percent had gossiped.
    • Twelve percent had gotten drunk.
    • Eleven percent had lied.
    • Nine percent had engaged in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married.
    • Eight percent had retaliated against someone.

    One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison.

    For instance, two-thirds of the under-25 segment (64%) had used profanity in public, compared to just one out of five Boomers (19%). The younger group – known as Mosaics – was nine times more likely than were Boomers to have engaged in sex outside of marriage (38% vs. 4%), six times more likely to have lied (37% vs. 6%), almost three times more likely to have gotten drunk (25% vs. 9%) and to have gossiped (26% vs. 10%), and twice as likely as Boomers to have observed pornography (33% vs. 16%) and to have engaged in acts of retaliation (12% vs. 5%).

    According to George Barna, who directed the survey, the results reflect a significant shift in American life.

    “We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America,” said the researcher and author, who has been surveying national trends in faith and morality for more than a quarter-century. “Mosaics have had little exposure to traditional moral teaching and limited accountability for such behavior. The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them – the Baby Busters – pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents – the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.

    “The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It is not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices.”

    • Head Belief is no good. Being a Casual Christian is NO GOOD! Only a Heart Belief that changes your heart and produces right behavior does good.
    • This is what Jesus taught was the foundation for building you life, building the church.

    Wise man and Foolish ManLook at Luke 6:45-49

    A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. Luke 6:45-49MATT_7_24C

    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:21-27

    Morality Rooted in Heart BeliefsJesus says it doesn’t matter what you believe in your mind. Your belief will only produce change when it comes from a changed heart. But a changed heart will always bring forth a changed life. Belief’s only have power if they change the way you live. The reason there is so little difference between sinners and saints is because the great majority of believers that think they are born again are not!

    You can stand up here and confess your belief that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, that he died on the cross for your sins, that he was buried and rose again. You can even go forward and confess Jesus before men, be baptized, but if your heart isn’t changed, and that change starts to show in the way you live and obey the WORD of GOD, you are still in your sins, you are still on your way to Hell.

    John says “We know that we have come to know him IF we obey his commands” (1 John 2:3).

    In Short, How We Live Matters. How We As A Church Lives Matters.

    By  the way, we do have a behavior clause in our Church Constitution.. It is called our “Church Covenant”

    WHAT IS A ‘CHURCH COVENANT’?

    What is Church CovenantBrethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man’s covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto. Galatians 3:15

    Purpose of CovenantThe Purpose of a Church Covenant is Five-Fold

    1. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A PROMISE – a promise made to God, to a local church, and to one’s self.
    2. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SUMMARY OF HOW WE AGREE TO LIVE.  While our statement of faith is a good summary of what we believe, our church covenant is a summary of how we agree to live – more importantly, it is a summary of how God would have us live.  It does not include every explicit command regarding obedience, but it does give a general summary of what it means to live as a disciple of Christ.
    3. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A SIGN OF COMMITMENT – a commitment to God, to His church, and to personal holiness.
    4. A CHURCH COVENANT IS AN ETHICAL STATEMENT.  Historian Charles W. DeWeese writes, “A church covenant is a series of written pledges based on the Bible which church members voluntarily make to God and to one another regarding their basic moral and spiritual commitments and the practice of their faith” (Baptist Church Covenants, p. viii).   One theologian calls church covenants the “ethical counterpart to confessions of faith.”  A church covenant can be an important part of applying a Christian worldview to every aspect of our lives.  Inherent in the purpose of a church covenant is the understanding that church membership involves being held accountable to live in a manner consistent with a common understanding of Scripture.
    5. A CHURCH COVENANT IS A BIBLICAL STANDARD. A church covenant is helpful in a church that is practicing Biblical church discipline.  As members of a church, we exhort one another to live holy lives, and we challenge brothers and sisters persisting in sin.

    WHERE DO COVENANTS COME FROM?

    Now that we know what church covenants are, where do they come from?  Well, not from the Bible – not, at least, in the sense of being able to turn to the Book of Covenants chapter 3.  But we do see examples of covenants both in the Old and the New Testaments – covenants between God and man, and between man and man.  Moses gives a covenant from God to the people of Israel.  Ezra and Nehemiah do so as well.   And in the NT we find that “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, which is the new covenant in Christ’s blood”.   Primarily, church covenants come from the understanding that churches are to be composed of people who are truly born again.  This is what we call regenerate church membership.

    In the 16th century, men and women of deep conviction broke away from the Roman Catholic Church to form congregations who understood the importance of the doctrine known as justification by faith alone in Christ alone.  No longer did baptism or membership bring supposed new life.  Joining and being part of a church was no longer a civic duty or just part of growing up.  It was becoming what it was always intended to be – a response of faith to the truth of the gospel.  And in this response of faith we gain the most amazing callings: children of the living God, ambassadors of Christ, a royal priesthood; we become the bearers of God’s name in the world.  Listen to God’s word on this issue.  “I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them.  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes” (Ezek 36:23).  We are called to be living witnesses of God’s holiness!

    How Important is Keeping Our Church Covenant?

    church-covenantA friend of mine was called to pastor a Baptist church in a small town south of Oklahoma City in 1989. Not long after he was there an acquaintance in the community pulled him aside at a restaurant and asked him if he knew. He said “knew what”. His acquaintance said “Did you know the chairman of the deacons is a homosexual?” He confessed his surprise and then went to the deacon, who confirmed what evidently everyone in town knew. When he then brought it before the deacons, they said they knew, but didn’t see the problem.  He then approached the entire church, and they were OK with it. So, he resigned.

    In the last church I pastored, we had developed a nice worship team lead by a couple of talented gals. One day I went and visited with a family that had been there the Sunday before. They enjoyed the church, but they wanted to know why one of these gals was leading the music. The reason was that he confessed going into the local bar (Wally’s) and this gal was a bartender there. He just thought it strange that she could be a bartender and lead church music on Sunday.

    I told him that I would check into it. Sure enough, it was the truth. I talked with her and pointed out our church covenant, and said that she would have to chose what she wanted to do, serve liquor or serve on the praise team. She said she considered the bar her mission field, really enjoyed what she was doing, and so she resigned from leading music. Of course her friends resigned as well. They eventually left the church. Did it cause some pain? Yes. Was it necessary? Yes. O, by the way, this same gal had wanted to meet with me to see if I thot it was ok to divorce her husband, simply because he didn’t communicate with her very well.

    She no longer works at the bar, and we are still friends, and she is still married. By the way, Dennis Queen a few years later was able to lead that deacon to the Lord. He just this year preached his funeral.

    All across the country church denominational leaders are being attacked by people pushing to allow homosexual pastors. Several denominations have split because they decided to allow such as pastors.

    Churches must make a choice as to how they will believe and act towards each other and the world. Any church can act like a church, can talk like a church, but in their heart, there is no Power of God to live godly lives in the dark, in the areas where people aren’t looking.

    Jesus cares that we live Holy Lives, that we walk in the Power of the HOLY Spirit.

    Christianity is about living a different kind of life, not just talking about different kinds of concepts.

    The church is called to live and act differently.  In agreeing to a church covenant, one is agreeing to be held accountable by a body of believers.  Likewise, one is agreeing to hold a body of believers accountable.  To hold accountable simply means “to take responsibility for.”

    A CHURCH COVENANT, VOID OF THIS RESPONSIBILITY, IS A WORTHLESS DOCUMENT.

    Scripture highlights our need for accountability.

    • Read Matt 18:15-17 – We do not have a license to sin.  More than that, if we do keep on sinning, we risk proving that we have not been given new life from God.  Matthew 18 gives us instruction about what to do with a persistently unrepentant sinner.
    • Read 1Cor 5 – If the Corinthian congregation allowed this man to remain a member of the church, he (and others) may get the wrong impression that his sexual immorality is consistent with what it means to be a Christian.  Weaker members of the body will be confused and hurt as well.  And the church will risk losing her reputation in the local community.

    There will always be sin in the church because we all sin.  What we are talking about is how to deal with people whose lives are characterized by sin, people who agree with their sin against God and His Word, and who try to rationalize their sin instead of pleading before God for forgiveness.  The purpose of such accountability is not to judge people worthy of hell-fire – that’s never been the church’s role.  It’s to protect them from deceiving themselves about their own spiritual state, to protect the corporate witness of the church from being smeared by the non-Christian behavior of professing believers, and to restore the disobedient person to right relationship with God and warm fellowship with the church.

    What then should we expect out of a church covenant?  Expect it to be Biblical – based 100% upon Scripture.  Expect it to be focused on the whole body of believers – it should be corporate not private.  And expect it to be clear and easy to understand by all who desire to join this fellowship.

    The church covenant is equal parts promise, summary of expectations, ethical statement, and biblical standard. We summarize how we promise to live together in the covenant. It forms the ethics, or the moral principles, of our worldview and holds out a biblical standard by which we live.Joshua renews covenant

    Why is this important? Just as Joshua led his people to affirm their following God’s Word, so I believe church’s should regularly affirm their allegiance to their Church Covenant. I believe a church should periodically have a Covenant Service. I believe it should be read at every communion service. The Covenant should be the binding and empowering force of every church.

    Whenever people want to join our church, they should be willing to affirm our Covenant.

    By featuring the covenant in our life together, we strive to protect ourselves from individual and corporate sin. Of equal importance, we spur one another on to live in light of a greater covenant, one initiated by love, sealed by sacrifice, and kept for eternity by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

    There are just two final points to make about our church covenant.

    • First, our church covenant should be a challenge.
    • Second our church covenant should be a comfort.

    1. Our church covenant is a challenge simply because there are times when living a godly life is hard. It is also a challenge because each member of the church now bears responsibility for the lives of other believers – this is that “accountability goes both ways” part.  This is serious responsibility.  Not the kind of responsibility you have just because you are somebody’s friend, but the kind of responsibility that comes from saying, before God, “I care for you and will work to encourage you in your discipleship.”  This challenge is a serious thing.

    2. This covenant isn’t just about us challenging each other to be better Christians.  Our church covenant is also a comfort. A comfort to know you’ll be cared for and prayed for, not perfectly, but faithfully.  The comfort is that by joining a church and covenanting with other believers, you now have Christians who are going to build you up when you are down.  You have Christians who are committed, before God, to walk with you, pray with you, serve you.  You have Christians who are so concerned about your spiritual walk, that if they see you break the covenant you have made as a disciple of Christ, they will exhort you to turn back; and if you don’t, they’ll do all they can to make the gravity of your sin clear.  This is our ideal, our vision, what we strive for.

    “A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    Here is the “Champions Covenant” for our church. The numbers correspond to verses listed at the end:

    The Champion’s Covenant

    Introductionchampionscovenant_

    B elieving that Jesus Christ is the head of the church, and the church is the body of Christ, and that only by the Holy Spirit is one made alive to God and placed “in Christ” and believing further that the local church is the extension of the Body of Christ and can only be joined by those already “in Christ”, I make the following two affirmations:

    • I have been born again by the Holy Spirit, having personally repented of my sin before God, sought and received His forgiveness, believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ—crucified, buried, and resurrected—as my one-and-only Savior and Lord.
    • I have identified myself publicly as a Christian and have followed my Lord in baptism in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

    The Promises

    Having given ourselves to God by our faith in Jesus Christ, and having adopted the Word of God as our rule of faith and practice, and as members of this local Body of Christ, we now give ourselves to one another in this solemn covenant. We hereby promise:

    • To be committed to each other in seeking to love and obey Jesus Christ1,5; and for His sake love2, accept3, and forgive4 each other with affectionate care and watchfulness.
    • To join with fellow members to seek God’s will in our common decision-making; to allow every member the privilege of seeking to influence the church in its pursuit of God’s will6; to accept congregational decisions without grumbling7; and to work to prevent division in the body8.
    • love_one_another_To help one another grow in Jesus Christ by building up one another 9, bearing one another’s burdens10, encouraging one another11, exhorting one another12, praying for one another, confessing our sins to one another, speaking the truth in love to one another, admonishing one another, , teaching one another, comforting one another, submitting to one another, serving one another, patiently bearing with one another, being hospitable to one another,  being kind and tenderhearted to one another.13
    • To work together for the continuance of a faithful evangelical ministry in this church, as we support and sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines. As we are being built up we will reach out to the lost and to the fallen, and through our love and service seek to bring them into fellowship with Jesus Christ. Through self-denial, faith and good works we endeavor to grow together in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.14-21
    • To practice Biblical stewardship22 of our resources, and to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.
    • To seek, by God’s grace, to live carefully in the world, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to be an example in our speech and conduct24,25, purposing to lead new and holy lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, especially with regard to the following:
    • To use chemical substances such as alcohol and drugs only as informed by the teachings of the Bible26, wise medical counsel, and the dictates of the law.
    • To flee sexual immorality27; to shun pornography28; to reserve sexual activity solely for one man and one woman united in the covenant of marriage30;  to not initiate a divorce, unless the spouse decisively and physically deserts the relationship, commits repeated, unrepentant adultery, is guilty of protracted, unrepentant life-endangerment, or is guilty of physical and/or sexual abuse of a child or minor.31
    • To protect and defend the lives of our children from the moment of their conception; to bring up those in our home in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example seek the salvation of our family, teaching and encouraging them to love, follow and serve God.
    • To practice justice and compassion toward all people, especially the poor, the sick, the disabled, widows, and orphans.
    • To conduct all business in honesty and integrity32, counting it our chief business in life to extend the influence of Christ in society33.
    • To submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and pursue the fruit that He brings forth34and to work and pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, that the Kingdom of God may come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

    The Protection:

    We enter into this covenant voluntarily and affirm the ambitions of this covenant as our own. We realize that we can only fulfill this covenant through the power of Jesus Christ living in us. We invite fellow members to pray for us, teach us, correct us and rebuke us, if necessary, in a spirit of gentleness and humility should we stray from the Lord’s commands. We voluntarily submit ourselves to one another and to the biblical authority of this church35. If we fail to live up to this covenant, we commit to yield to correction with meekness, to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and to turn from our sin, relying on God’s grace to lift us up. Should church discipline ever be required, it will always be undertaken for the purpose of restoration to fellowship with God and with this covenant community – and it will always be done in accordance with Scriptural procedures in Matthew 18:15-22 and Galatians 6:1. We further commit to never refuse forgiveness and reconciliation in the face of Godly repentance.36

    If we find ourselves unwilling to try to fulfill this covenant, we commit to remove our self from this congregation. If relocation outside the community prevents us from fulfilling this covenant, we commit to unite with another congregation and to continue to pursue growth as a Christian.

    The Blessing

    May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Be With Us All. Amen.37

    PPBC-Champions Covenant

    1brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

    2and this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 1 john 3:23

    3 to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6

    4and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as god for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

    5if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the father hath loved me, so have i loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my father’s commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:7-10

    6hard waybut now hath god set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but god hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 1 Corinthians 12:18-27

    7neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:10

    8that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 1 Corinthians 12:25

    9but ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the holy ghost, Jude 1:20

    10bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

    11not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

    12but exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13

    13And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

    14 for we are the circumcision, which worship god in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3

    15 and they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 1 Timothy 2:8

    16study to shew thyself approved unto god, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 timothy 2:15 till I come; give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 1 Timothy 4:13

    17not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

    18I speak as to wise men; judge ye what i say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:15-17

    19now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, i would not have you ignorant. 1 Corinthians 12:1

    20go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20

    21for, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10 But  grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory both now and to the day of  eternity. Amen. 2 Pet 3:18

    22moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 1 Corinthians 4:2 as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of god’s varied grace: 1 peter 4:10 Jesus said to them, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to god the things that are god’s.” And they marveled at him. Mark 12:17

    23then came peter to him, and said, lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Matthew 18:21

    24when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 1 peter 3:2 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:8 let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:6 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

    25for this is the will of god, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor; not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the gentiles which know not god: that no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For god hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness. He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but god, who hath also given unto us his holy spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8

    26not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 1 timothy 3:3 deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 1 timothy 3:8 (no longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.) 1 timothy 5:23 older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, Titus 2:3 and be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit; Ephesians 5:18 for a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of god; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; Titus 1:7 who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:29-33 or do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy spirit within you, whom you have from god? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19

    27flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22

    28for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone. Matthew 15:19-20

    Focus on the Family studies that have found that 43% of families say pornography is a problem in their home. And while she acknowledges that the spot has some fun at the porn-consumer’s expense (the last joke in the ad is about the porn-buyer’s mom finding out what he’s purchasing), she says that “many of these people’s experiences with pornography is not funny. Some of their families have been devastated by it.”

    29likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 1 Timothy 2:9

    30now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “it is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5

    31and Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore god has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” Matthew 19:3-9 now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from god, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:6-16 then said he unto the disciples, it is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Luke 17:1-2 husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Colossians 3:19

    32in the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

    33and as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31

    34so then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the spirit of god are sons of god. Romans 8:12-14 but the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Galatians 5:22 if we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Galatians 5:25

    35obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 giving thanks always and for everything to god the father in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:20-21 watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all your things be done with charity. I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. 1 Corinthians 16:13-16

    “If your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then peter came up and said to him, “lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. Matthew 18:15-22

    36For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

    37The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. 2 Corinthians 13:14