Maintaining Righteousness 3

1 John 1:8-10 ( NKJV ) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

As we have been studying how to maintain a sense of right standing with God in the face of sin, we have learned some powerful things from 1 John chapter one.  We have looked at two of the steps laid out in these verses.  Number one we must take responsibility for our sin.  We can’t hide it or rationalize it and we can’t ignore it.  Second we must confess our sin to God.  I believe that this involves speaking the confession with our physical mouth.  When we say it “in our head” I believe we have not released the sin to God.  Confess means to agree and concede.  We are agreeing with God that we have sinned and conceding that His way is right and ours is wrong.

The third step involves what God says His response to our confession will be.  He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  It doesn’t say we need to pay a price or do penance.  It doesn’t say we have to suffer for a time or prove that we really mean it.  It says that He immediately forgives the sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  This seems to good to be true but it is the Word of God.

Unrighteousness is the sense of guilt we carry that separates us from God.  Our confession needs to be genuine.  There needs to be some kind of remorse.  It is not that we go to God and say, “Gee sorry about that.”  There has to be more to it than that for it to be effective.  The first two steps should lead us to the point that we see we are really wrong and God is really right.  We are not “sorry we got caught” but sorry for the sin itself.  We must have a desire to overcome this thing.  We must desire to never do it again. 

When our confession is genuine we must take God at His word.  We are once again right with Him.  He says we are.  There may be feelings that say something else.  We may want to try and pay for the transgression in some way.  Don’t try.  You can’t pay for it because the blood of Jesus already did.  Instead step three is that we must receive by faith what God says He did.  When the thoughts of guilt return you need to go back to this scripture and thank God that He is faithful to His word.  Say, “I have been cleansed from guilt and condemnation by the Word of God.”  You have done your part in taking responsibility for and confessing your sin.  You need to believe that God will do His part.

What if we do the same thing again?  You take responsibility and confess it to God.  Doesn’t that mean I didn’t mean it in the first place?  Only you know if that is true.  If you are looking for a way to get away with sin you were never forgiven and cleansed of all unrighteousness.  We all know, however, that there are times when stress, discouragement or any number of other things weaken our spiritual immune system where sin is concerned.  When this happens the thing you are most likely to do is what you are familiar with.  It is a lie of the devil but at the moment it seems familiar and welcoming. 

Sooner or later you will come to your senses and you will feel the unrighteousness and you will feel separated from God.  Let me ask you a question.  Is it really somehow different if the sin you commit is a new one?  Sin is sin.  If your heart is honest it makes no difference at all.  Every time you come to God with that sin is the first time if you have genuinely received the truth of this verse.  You were forgiven and God chose to forget it. 

It can seem like this is a way to keep sinning, but it is not.  Every time you go through the process it weakens the grip of this thing.  You are required to recognize it as wrong.  As that truth grows so will your desire to overcome it.  Don’t give up.  Keep fighting.  This is one more weapon that God has given you.  The reason He has done so is that He loves you so much and can not bear to have you separated from Him.

Let me say once more that if your heart is to continue in sin, none of this applies to you.  You need to genuinely repent.  You need to get into God’s presence and into His word to learn how to overcome.  You need to be with other believers who can inspire you to grow up in God.  This is for those who really want to deal with the separation that sin causes.  If that describes you, begin to apply this truth to your life and see how great a God we truly serve.

(I am in Indonesia for the month of March, so I am not sure how often I will be posting, but check back and see.  I will try to share some of what God is doing as time and internet accessibility allows.)

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Maintaining Righteousness 2

1 John 1:8-10 ( NKJV ) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

We are discussing how to maintain our sense of right standing with God in the face of the fact that we still commit sin.  1 John 1 addresses this situation in a very clear and graphic manner.  The idea is to live above sin.  One of the first things we learned was that grace is no excuse for continuing in sin.  If we don’t have a desire to live a holy life we need to pray for an encounter with God.  However, it is a reality that every believer sometimes gives into the flesh.  When we do it causes a  break in our sense of Righteousness.  There is a block between us and God.  I don’t believe this is so much the case on God’s side as it is on ours.  Until we do something about that sense of unrighteousness it will hinder us and eventually lead us into more and greater sin.

The first step in the above verses is to accept accountability and responsibility for our sin.  If we say we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves.  We are responsible for our sins and no one else.  Once we have taken the responsibility the next step is to confess our sins.  To whom do we confess them?  We confess them to God.  There is no need to go to a priest or minister to confess them.  This is a matter between you and God. 

Why is it necessary to confess them?  God already knows about them.  In step one we have taken responsibility for them.  I believe we can look to the salvation experience to explain this.  Romans 10 tells us that we believe unto righteousness but confession is made unto salvation.  The word “confess” here means to come into agreement.  There is something about what we say that makes a thing more binding.  Once we speak it out of our mouths it has greater weight.  In salvation we are agreeing with the sacrifice of Jesus as the payment for our sins.  We are also agreeing with the lordship of Jesus in our lives. 

In the case of confessing our sin, we are verbally agreeing to the fact that we have indeed sinned.  From this place of agreement we can ask God to forgive us.  The word confess also means to concede.  We are conceding to God that His way is the right way and our actions or thoughts or whatever area of sin we may be dealing with is wrong.  Confession releases the sin from the realm of the hidden and brings it into the realm of light where God is. 

Do we need to say this confession out loud?  I don’t believe anyone else needs to hear us, but I do believe we need to hear it.  The act of speaking is the release.  When we simply “say things” in our head it does not carry the same weight in our own heart.  I believe you should get into a place alone, open your mouth and speak to God the thing you need to be forgiven of.  It makes it real to you and opens up an avenue for God to work in your heart.

The next line in the scripture says that God will be faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  This is a powerful truth and it is what we will look into tomorrow.

Maintaining Righteousness

1 John 1:8-10 ( NKJV ) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

This week we are talking about maintaining a sense of right standing with God after salvation.  It is a little easier to see how God can make us righteous before Him in dealing with our past life than it is to understand how He can continue to see us righteous in the face of post Jesus sins.  Yesterday we discovered from verses 5-7 of this chapter that the blood of Jesus is continually cleansing our sins.  Even today, when we commit a sin the blood of Jesus immediately cleanses that sin and keeps us in covenant relationship with God. 

This is not an excuse to live any way we want.  Sin will kill you.  Even though the blood of Jesus maintains our relationship with God, the consequences still must be dealt with and those consequences can be extreme.  In 1 John 2:1 John expressly says that the point of understanding this is that we not sin.  If you don’t have any remorse over sin, I have to question your salvation.  If, however, you are like every other Christians and there are times when sin is still a part of your life, this message will enable you to overcome it and eventually walk totally free.

The problem with sin is not that it breaks our relationship with God but that it opens the door once again to guilt.  God still loves us and we still have access to Him even if He may be displeased with us, but we don’t feel like this can be true.  We become, in our own heart and mind, unrighteous.  What is the solution?  Should we do penance, pay some kind of service or endure some kind of punishment in order to get rid of the sense of unrighteousness?  Maybe we can just ignore it and it will go away.  None of those things will work.  There is nothing to pay, but there is something God requires we do.  We will deal with God’s solution in three steps.

First of all we must recognize that we do sin.  In this verse John is very plain.  If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves.  God’s will is that we overcome all sin, however He knows that as long as we are in the flesh sin will continue to be a problem.  If we rationalize our sin away, the guilt will remain.  If we try and ignore it the unrighteousness will continue to hinder us.  We must acknowledge that we have sinned. 

It is difficult for some people to admit they can be wrong.  It is easier to blame someone else.  It is popular today to blame society, the inequities of life or some other cultural thing in order to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions.  Until we do take that responsibility we can never be free of the unrighteousness that we feel when we have committed sin.  You can’t repent of what you will not take responsibility for.  You sinned.  It is not fatal.  At least it doesn’t have to be.  If you will take the responsibility it can be taken care of in moments.  If you will not take responsibility it will become a cancer in your life eating away at the will of God for you.

As soon as you recognize that you have done something that has caused a breach in your righteousness, take responsibility.  I have a friend in ministry who is almost 90 now and he likes to say, “No fudging please!”  That means no shortcuts, no excuses just take the responsibility.  In Psalm 51 David gives us the quintessential example of repentance.  In one place he says, “I have sinned against you alone oh God.”  He took the responsibility and started the process of cleansing. 

Take a moment today and examine your heart.  If there is something you believe is causing a problem with your righteous stance before God, become accountable, take the responsibility and begin the process that will produce complete victory. 

From Indonesia…..

The Cleansing Blood of Jesus 2

1 John 1:5-7 ( NKJV )
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Yesterday we began talking about maintaining our righteousness after salvation.  Righteousness is the ability to come into the presence of God with no sense of guilt or condemnation.  Unrighteousness is the direct opposite.  Unrighteousness is guilt.  We all know about guilt.  We all feel guilt.  Before salvation we are guilty.  We are guilty of sins we have committed, but we are also guilty by association with Adam.  When we receive it by faith, salvation itself provides us with the gift of righteousness that clears all guilt.

We understand this about our pre-Christ days, but it did not take long to find out that we still commit sin.  Yesterday we made a commitment to attack and eliminate sin in our lives.  This is paramount for success.  Without this commitment what I am going to tell you next will never really work in your life.  Yesterday we stopped at verse 6.  Now look at verse 7.  I warn you it is revolutionary and really too good to be true, but it is true. 

“If we walk in the light as He is is the light…..”  Let’s stop there.  What does this mean?  Jesus walks in all the light available to Him.  He does not require more from us.  For the rest of this to work, we must be doing our best to walk in the revelation we have.  We can’t be casual about this.  God does not expect us to be perfect but he does expect us to be doers of the Word we have.  OK we can continue. 

“we have fellowship with one another…..”  We have to stop again.  In 30 years of pastoring I have noticed something that is true every time.  When a person is slipping in their commitment against sin the first thing they do is cut back on church.  We need one another to walk in continual righteousness.  It is not an option.  If we are walking in the light we have we will be in fellowship with other believers.  When we don’t want to walk in that light we shy away from fellowship.  Let’s continue.

“the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin.”  That is the revolutionary part.  Did you get it?  God knows you are still in the flesh and He knows you are going to fall.  He has made a provision.  You see the blood of Jesus doesn’t just cleanse the sins you committed in the past but it is also cleansing those you have yet to commit.  The blood is not only retroactive but it is proactive.  As soon as you make that mistake and give in to the flesh, the blood of Jesus rushes to the sin and cleanses it.  Wow. 

If we are walking in the light we have and making a commitment to overcome sin, the lapses we have do not separate us from God.  Biblically righteousness or being in right standing is a matter of covenant.  God made covenant with Abraham so he was right with God.  There was a time where Abraham misrepresented his relationship with his wife in order to protect his own life.  Pharaoh took her into his harem to be one of his wives and Abraham did not stop him.  Who is at fault here, Abraham or Pharaoh?  In the natural it would be Pharaoh, but when God spoke to him about the matter he said, “You better give that woman back or you are a dead man!”  That doesn’t seem fair, but you see Abraham had a covenant and Pharaoh did not. 

We are righteous by our covenant with God.  That covenant is sealed by the blood of Jesus.  As long as we are in active relationship with Him than when we sin, which would break covenant, the blood of Jesus goes to work restoring it.  This is hard to accept.  We should have to pay some penance.  There must be something we have to do.  As far as our relationship with God and how He sees us there is nothing we have to do.  To Him nothing changes.  He may not be pleased with us, but our relationship is not broken.  At least not on His side.  The problem occurs on our side.  We open the door once again to guilt and unrighteousness. 

Tomorrow we will begin to deal with that, but in order to do so we must believe 1 John 1:7 first.  What a powerful and wonderful truth.  If this truth leads you to take sin lightly, then you don’t really know God.  If you receive it fully you will appreciate the Father more than ever.  You will make a greater commitment to live pleasing to Him than ever before.  I am praying this is so for you.

The Cleansing Blood of Jesus

1 John 1:5-7 ( NKJV )
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The reality of righteousness in the heart of a believer is one of the most important revelations we can receive from God.  Salvation in Christ Jesus reversed the curse that came upon man as a result of the fall.  Anyone who desires to can accept the sacrifice of Jesus and enter into a full relationship with God.  He can have full access to the throne of God and all the promises of God are “yes and amen” in Jesus.  What we have been studying for some time is that there is another component to what happened to Adam in the Garden of Eden and this other aspect was also paid for.  That aspect is the guilt associated with the fall.

According to Romans 5, both the guilt and the actual separation that came upon man as a result of Adam’s sin was passed on to all people born of Adams line.  The separation is automatically eliminated when we receive Jesus.  We accept His sacrifice by faith and we are one with God.  The sense of guilt and separation, however is something we must receive by faith in order for it to become a reality in our lives.  This is the truth we have been sharing.  I encourage you to read previous posts and visit us at www.livingwordgreene.com/media to listen to the whole audio series on Biblical Righteousness.   I believe it can change your life.  Especially if you are dealing with any kind of emotional difficulty.

This week we are going to talk about maintaining or righteousness.  We can almost accept the fact that the blood of Jesus dealt with all the sins we committed before we were saved, but what about since we have been saved?  One of the most important elements of New Testament righteousness is the truth that we do not have to pay anything to obtain it.  There is no law to keep, and no penalty to pay.  We can accept that because we know that the old man is dead in Christ.  But I say again, what about the sins we commit now?

Well, let’s start by looking at the verses above.  The first thing we need to understand is that the goal here must be to walk above sin.  Righteousness can not be seen as a way to “get away” with sin.  Paul was often accused of preaching this kind of Gospel.  He didn’t preach it that way and neither do I.  God is light.  There is no darkness at all in him.  That means there is no sin in Him.  We can’t say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness.  It just won’t work. 

Does this mean that if we ever sin we are not truly saved?  No.  If we are having a difficult time overcoming certain consistent sins are we not really saved?  Of course not, but if none of those things bother us we might want to check our salvation.  As we continue this week we will find that God is well aware that the flesh still overtakes us.  He has made a mighty provision to overcome the problem, but before we can avail ourselves of that provision, it is important that we recognize sin as the enemy of our life and make a commitment against it.  If we don’t do that, then the key to victory in the next verses will lead us to bondage instead.

Let me ask you to look at your own heart.  What are you struggling with?  Make a commitment with me to attack it until it is no longer a part of your life.  What should you look for?  Anything that disagrees with the Word is sin.  If there is anything that you are allowing that the word says not to do, attack it.  In Romans 14 Paul says that he knows nothing is unclean of itself, but he says for others this is not so.  To those who believe something is sin, it is sin.  If you don’t feel right about something in your life, it is sin.  I might say it this way, if you think it’s sin, it is.  Better to stay away from something and find out later that it was OK, than to give in to something that bothers your conscience and find out it is sin. 

Let’s make a pact today to attack and eliminate anything that is sin in our lives.  Let’s agree to work to live a life that is upright and pleasing to God.  Let’s agree to get rid of all the things that keep us from being effective in our witness and in our lifestyle.  Are you with me?  Then we can look at the solution to the problem tomorrow.