Friday, December 27, 2013

Slaying the Giants


In my lifetime I have seen the nation known as America grow as an aspirational culture which seeks many things which would be considered as vices by Scripture, but have now been embraced, encouraged, and even applauded by citizens who claim to believe in Jesus. This is a startling phenomenon to anyone who truly desires to follow the teachings of Jesus and yet hears words and sees actions which are completely at odds with everything our Lord taught us. If assessed within a vacuum it would be embarrassingly obvious that the Christian culture has been so contaminated by its secular environment that strong and unyielding alliances are now formed between those who profess Jesus and those who deny Him

And if that is not at odds with Scripture than the Bible means absolutely nothing.

II Tim.2: Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

If we genuinely hope to draw closer to Jesus in a way which changes our hearts systematically and dramatically then we will have to release many things which now keep us from Him. It is no longer a religious debate or a hodgepodge of differing perspectives. No, the mindless and benign debate over nationalism, patriotism, war, and capitalism has come to an end. The case has now been made and the Scriptures are clear. We must now choose who we will serve. There is no debate for those who wish to surrender all and follow Jesus. This is a clarion call for those who have ears to come forth and humbly and with repentance renounce our former allegiances with anyone or anything which cannot be considered part of Jesus.

And what is your giant? What Goliath do you still embrace? Yes we all must deal with our own sins, but just what general concept do you embrace, or which “topic” are you still mulling over, which should be left as either a sin or a weight which so easily besets us and keep us from that race which not only points to Jesus, but is Jesus? This is serious business and we all have a choice between the freedom of open discipleship or a stagnant profession which has for too long been treading water. We are faced with the obedience of our own way and will or dying to it all in a wave of unbridled worship and devotion. For too long we have avoided the personal sacrifice of our own crucified death made in His likeness, and instead we have rushed to the empty tomb and claimed we have risen from the dead.

But no one can arise from a tomb unless he has died. But the cross has become a ride in the Holy Land experience where you can be impressed while eating a hot dog as the Savior suffers, but as you leave you are certainly glad that you did not have to suffer. The resurrected life is a fraud without first a profound and painful visit to the cross. Jesus died for our sins and we can never be a part of that. It was and is finished. But the same Jesus who died upon the cross has called us to our own cross. That concept has been lost to the church. And it reveals that the church at large has rejected the Scriptures as God’s Word and in so doing it has rejected Christ Himself. The church turns on its doctrinal neon lights which proudly spells out their inerrancy credentials. But the self serving glow of those lights blind us to the undeniable fact that we have stopped following Jesus, and are now spectators to our own doctrinal fireworks.

Following Jesus has given way to a religion. It uses many of the same words and phrases, and it even uses the name of Jesus sometimes. But it does not deny self nor sacrifice anything because its pursuit is not of Jesus. There are so many teachings by our Lord which are forceful and compelling commands about the life which dies to live for Jesus. The commandments of Moses are easy compared with the commands of Jesus. And yet why does “living for Jesus” seem so easy and even effortless within this fallen culture? The answer is painful and obvious. We have softened, compromised, and even ignored the commandments of Christ in order to enjoy the fruits of this culture while maintaining a semblance of religion.

So how do we come out from among them assuming we actually desire to? There is no other way. We need a change of heart. There is no doubt the Lord rewards sacrifice and diligence. Our concentration must be upon Him, and then these things will be removed from our lives. I used to drink quite a bit of Coke soft drinks. And when I would give it up for only a month when I would taste it again it seemed way too sweet. And when we release these things from our lives something wonderful happens. The strength with which they held our desires weakens and our desires change.

But it is actually called repentance. Without it no progress is possible. To be granted a new heart we must reject the old one. But the giants guard the fortress. They are armed and ready for battle. When was the last time you laid everything – EVERYTHING – before the Lord and surrendered fully and allowed Him to return to you only that which pleases Him? The easy way out awaits you. We all are familiar with that path.

But anther path, His path, also awaits you. But in order to take the first step on that path you must be willing to deny yourself, and slay these giants. Which path do you desire? One will require spiritual warfare. One will find much fellowship. One may be lonely. One will seem like freedom but it will be bondage. One will seem like bondage but it will be freedom. But only one is filled with His presence. Go ahead, prepare your heart and get ready.

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