God knows the difference, but do we?
How many times have I mentioned that in the flesh we put the cart before the horse in our
daily Christian lives? I constantly make the comparison between religion and True Christianity in this regard. Paul here puts it this way by comparing a life of talk verses power, and God knows the difference on the heart level and will judge accordingly. A life in the Spirit is what really matters. Only God’s Spirit can change us and put to death the sin nature in our daily lives. Only God’s Spirit can renew our thinking to effect change in how we act. Only God’s Spirit can instruct our minds to speak the very words of God. Only God’s Spirit can make us like Christ as moment by moment, we let him by faith. Consequently, he allows conflicts of crisis to bring to the surface that controlling element in our lives so that we can recognize it and confess it. On the other hand, religion is about our trying to “curb” our evil actions, “trying” to be like Jesus, “doing good deeds”, knowing the “Christian” words, all of which are good, but which only deceive us into thinking that we are spiritual because of what WE DO, not because of what WE ARE in Christ. As I like to say it, “You cannot do to be, first be, then you will be able to do” (acceptably to the Father).
Apostles of Christ
4 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (Verses 8-13 not included for brevity.)
14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who sanctifies and will judge my Children. I have given you this lifetime to mold you into the image of my Son and to allow you time to let my Holy Spirit control you and reproduce my life in you. I have given you your specific gifts and abilities to be used in my church to help others grow in grace and knowledge. I have given you my Word through the apostles teaching so that you can know me personally. One day I will call you home to stand before me to answer for what your faith accomplished in this life. It will be a time for joy as I reward your work of faith and accordingly give you responsibilities in my kingdom to come. Consequently, as my Spirit fills you, controls you and makes you holy in word and deed, let him displace the desires of the old man. Let my Word change your thinking and let your thinking be reflected in your actions and you will hear me say “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
He is faithful to make us holy
This passage is not talking about weighing out good deeds and bad deeds for getting into heaven, but about the testing of how we believers contribute to the building of the church. If you believe that salvation was a free gift by faith, and by faith you trust that Christ will perfect your faith one day when he takes you to heaven, then it stands to reason that our sanctification in this life is also to be by faith that Jesus is the one who makes you holy daily. Why do some feel like they have to earn / work for their sanctification and growth by self effort? They have fallen into the Galatians error. See Galatians chapter 3. As Paul says here in vs 7 “What do you have that you did not receive?” God will expose the secrets of our hearts. Unfortunately humans make spirituality about humans using human wisdom for human glory. If church is about our works and our responsibility to be like Christ, then success becomes about our better methods of spirituality over another’s. Consequently whomever’s method is best can have bragging rights humanly speaking and thus divisions are created among believers of which Paul was addressing here. Because He knows our heart attitude and will judge us before his throne, we would be faithful ministers if we stick to the message of sanctification by faith that He is faithful to make us holy in his way and time as we keep in his Word to know him more. Heb 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
More to come,