Got Truth?

1 John 1:8 ESV
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

The insidiousness of self deception is tricky. On the one hand we look to the obvious route of flattery and self-love. The idea that a human knows in his or her heart that they are wrong in their thinking but choose to deceive themselves. I don’t think this is what John meant when he wrote 1 John 1:8. Of course we all sin. We were born in sin. We all have a sin nature. His readers knew and understood this probably way better than we do today. Today, people really do think they are better. This year, ABC News reported that 83% of Americans consider themselves Christian. A 2009 Barna poll found that 40% of American “Christians” feel that Satan is just a symbol of evil and not an actual being. That same poll found that 22% of them believed Jesus sinned while on earth. A 2013 Barna poll found that 51% of all people who identify themselves as Christian live less like Jesus and more like a Pharisee considering themselves to be self-righteous. If over half of all Christians, or at least those who call themselves Christians feel that they somehow have the ability to work their way to Heaven and overall have a general high view of themselves as being self-righteous, then, Houston, we have a problem.

There is a systemic issue in our “Christian” American society that states “I am better than my neighbor.” Very few people would consider themselves a “worm.” Our high view of ourselves has pushed out our own ability to even see that we have deceived ourselves. That is why Satan, who is real by the way, has artfully woven into our hearts the deception of our own sin and is laughing all the way to his fiery bank where he is successfully depositing soul after soul of deceived people. The deception is real and the consequences are real. Pray right now that you would not be deceived. Swap out your lofty view of yourself and trade it in for a new and improved high view of God. Beg God to reveal himself to you. Plead with him to breathe life into you that is unmistakably Truth. Ask Him that the blinders be ripped from your eyes and the stoppers removed from your ears. Recognize that you are a sinner. Recognize that we are ALL sinners. It is who we are, not what we do. Our unrighteous actions are an outpouring of our very nature.

Consider this simple question: There are three figures in the room. On the far right is Jesus. On the far left is Hitler. In the middle is anyone from history that you feel was the greatest human who ever lived such as Paul or Mother Theresa, or Ghandi. Take your pick and then in your mind place that person closer to Jesus or closer to Hitler. Got it? Are they in position? Now do the same with yourself. Where would everyone be in the lineup? Closer to Hitler or closer to Jesus? This little “test” is done again and again in seminary schools across the nation. Guess where most students place Paul or any of the historical “good” figures? Closer to Jesus. Where did you place yourself? Probably closer to Jesus but not as close as the example figures. If that is how you answered, I can assure you that you and every other person who answered that way is dead wrong. Every single person should be firmly planted right next to Hitler. Not close to him, not sort of in the middle, but right next to him. This is where our warped sense of self comes into play. You may be wondering why? How absurd? The simple answer is because Jesus is GOD and the rest of us are sinners. We have no business thinking we are any better than any other human. We are ALL sinners. Of course we will be judged based on the fruit of our life in light of bringing God glory, however the simple notion that I am somehow better than others is a very slippery slope of deception. Get right with God. Study who He is. Change your view of Him. Raise it as high as you can think and then raise it again and again. You can never go high enough. I pray that the Truth is in you and that you have not deceived yourself. The blessing of having hope that is built on confident assurance is something easily missed but oh so precious when you get it. Get hope. Get truth. Get God.

Are You Actually Kidding Yourself Straight to Hell?

1 John 1:6 ESV
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Fellowship was a word not used by the secular writers of the day. It meant to have intimacy with God. This was a foreign concept to both the Jews and those of other religions. But Christians understood the gospel meant that they now have access to the Father through the Son. The literal and figurative veil was torn at the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The resurrection and the following receiving of the Holy Spirit guaranteed and sealed their fellowship. The Holy Spirit is our internal guide. He is our Truth. Our True North. We might “say” we are intimate with Jesus. We might even go so far as to “say” we love Him and think He loves us back. The give-away that this warped sense of reality is, in fact, not true is when someone who claims Christ as the one they follow also practices unrighteousness.

The word here in Greek is περιπατέω which is transliterated as peripateō which means to walk, however the Hebrews used this word to mean the conduct of one’s life. I realize that we often speak of ourselves or others as having lost their way. But John is clear when he says if someone says they are a Christian but the conduct of their life is counter to God’s word, then they are not a Christian. At. All. I will say it again, as I have said in multiple other posts: Satan has had thousands of years to perfect the art of deception, and you better believe he is excellent at his craft. Don’t believe the lie he is telling you. Start looking at your life through Truth. Through what the Bible has to say. Please do not lie to yourself thinking you are better than the next person. What are you holding on to? While you may be a “good person” what does that actually mean? I want to give you some solid examples rather than leave this up to interpretation. Here is a very short list of typical claimed-as-non-sin “sins” people commit in entitled America who call themselves Christians but are actually not.

TYPICAL LIE #1
You are sleeping with your girlfriend or boyfriend. (I am going to expand on this first one just a bit so you can see what I mean). You have somehow justified this law as either antiquated or you are engaged or in the eyes of God you are already married.

I remember having a long conversation with an older man in my neighborhood who identified so strongly with Jesus and was extremely involved in his church. He was divorced with kids and was dating another woman from his church who was also divorced with kids. Somehow in the conversation he mentioned three things. 1. They are living together. 2. Yes, they are sleeping together but they said vows to each other so in the eyes of God they are married. 3. They are not getting along so he thinks he is going to break up with her soon. WHAT??? I could have just let it alone but I called him out on his obvious erroneous thought process. He has believed so many lies and was living one HUGE lie after another. He sort of ho-hum agreed with my rebuke and I never saw him again.

Another person in my life believes it is OK that they are sleeping together because they are getting marred and have also stated some sort of private vows. Not only is that unbiblical on several levels, it is also an issue because they were sleeping together LONG before they ever even started to talk about getting married. She agrees to disagree with me.

A friend of mine believes the man she is marrying will “come around”. She says he promised to come to church with her and she is hopeful he will get saved soon. She also says that she can walk down the isle, say her vows, and then ask God to forgive her for going against His word by becoming unequally yoked. How are all these lies are becoming truths? Satan is just that good. She is no longer speaking to me.

TYPICAL LIE #2
You call yourself a “cussin’ Christian”
What does THAT mean? Well, you say bad words. Often. Or perhaps you use the Lord’s Name in vain and really don’t think much of it. Sorry, you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #3
You chase money. You tell yourself it is not money that is bad, it is the LOVE of money. While yes, that is true, it is still a lie. If you are chasing money and using that line to back up your idol, then again you are living a lie.

TYPICAL LIE #4
You are a prayer warrior. Your gift is not evangelism. You leave that to people who are gifted at talking to strangers or who are gifted at sharing the gospel with others. Usually that gift is for pastors and people in full-time ministry. Again, a HUGE lie. We ALL are commissioned to spread the gospel. ALL.

TYPICAL LIE #5
You consider yourself a normal Christian but you have friends who are Jesus Freaks. You reserve that name for the really intense Christians in your life but that is not you at all. You fit in. Your way of witnessing to others is by not being crazy, because who is really going to respond to that anyway, right? LIE!! Being a Jesus Freak does not mean being out of your mind crazy, it means living a life that is counter to how the world lives. Living based on the Bible. Yes, that would most likely put you in the Jesus Freak category, but not in the, stand-on-the-street-corner-holding-an-end-of-the-world-sign crazy. Make sense?

TYPICAL LIE #6
You attend church, you read your Bible as often as you can, maybe a few times a week, maybe every day if you remember. You go on short term missions, or you tithe or give offering to the church. You made a profession of faith when you were 13, you got baptized and you are from a Christian church. I realize not all of this describes you, but some of it may. Christianity is not a checklist. While you may do all these things, they do not, in and of themselves, make you a Christian. Check your growth. Check your fruit. This lie is one of the BIGGEST there is.

2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

The HUGE Lie about Christianity

There is a HUGE lie that is going around in regard to the picture people are painting about Christianity. “Come to Jesus, and you will find rest!” “Let Jesus into your heart because He loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” (skip to the bold to understand why I am writing about this.)

These benefits sound amazing right!? Well, truth be told, and you know I love me some truth pills, all of that could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is the exact opposite! Jesus GUARANTEED we would have troubles in our earthly life if we chose to follow Him. I will concede, however that those statements above about finding rest, and there being a wonderful plan for your life are 100% true and 100% taken out of context. Your rest will happen in eternity. Yes, there is great peace in trusting in Jesus and knowing our final destination, however actual physical rest here on this Earth was never promised. Yes, He does have a wonderful plan for you, but it won’t be what you think of as wonderful. You won’t get the perfect job, marry the perfect person, and have a perfect life. As a Christian, that just won’t happen. Sure there will be times of great joy in this life. Be sure that God not only loves you, He also LIKES you. He will give good things to you. He will shower love on you. HOWEVER, He wants you to GROW! You will not grow unless you suffer and experience hardships. There are over 100 verses in the Bible that talk about hardships and suffering specifically for God’s children. At the end I have listed a few to give you an example.

But get this! Not only are there hardships and sufferings that God allows and sanctions in your life to help you grow, degree by degree, but there is another, quite infuriating hardship that we must endure. If you are a sideline Christian, you most likely will not experience this. If, however, you are an “all-in” fully sold out for Jesus kind of person, then you better bet you will experience this and if you don’t you should worry and question why you are not.

WARNING: This may be upsetting.
If you are a sideline Christian, I am going to challenge you to figure out what that means. Sideline Christians typically consider themselves sort of lukewarm. They may call themselves “Cafeteria Christians” or “Carnal Christians” or my favorite, “Cussin’ Christian.” My heart breaks for you if that is you. There is no room for this type of Christianity ANYWHERE in the Bible. If you consider yourself a sideline Christian, consider with all your being your actual salvation. Really study this and figure this one out. You may not be a Christian. Please read my testimony to see what I am talking about. I considered myself to be a “Cafeteria Christian.” While I did not use that phrase, when someone described it, it made perfect sense. I cherry picked all the stuff in the Bible I liked. The stuff I did not understand or felt was antiquated (really just meant for people back then, and couldn’t possibly mean for me, such as women not being able to be pastors) all this “stuff” I literally shoved out of my self-created religion.

So, where am I going with this? The closer you are to the Target, the more you will get hit. By whom? Satan and his henchmen. The Target: Jesus. All those fallen angels are wildly upset with the fact that their fate is sealed. Their one and ONLY goal is to get people messed up. They have a very skilled two-pronged approach.

    1. Get people to THINK they are Christians when they actually are not. (see Matthew 7:21-23 ESV) No really, LOOK IT UP, this may be describing you!
    2. Get the actual Christians so distracted with trial after trial, persecution after persecution, that they will not be as effective witnesses and therefore less people will come to Christ and obtain the very thing they are no longer able to get: eternal salvation.

I am writing this today because in June of this year I decided to go to a different church with my husband that was more his pace. After an entire summer being away from my church and not really involved in the new church at the request of my husband I can tell you not only was it the worst spiritual growth I have had over a 3 month period, but it was also the easiest from the spiritual battle perspective. No major trials, no major suffering, after a full, and I mean FULL 2 years of major trials, one after another every 2-3 weeks something new hitting me hard. It was exhausting, but I was also ON FIRE. I was witnessing to everyone, serving in any capacity I could, I was growing, and thriving in Christ but being beaten up literally by the world. 

I even questioned why I was getting off so easy this summer. I was nervous at the fact that God was being so silent in my life. I knew in the pit of my stomach it was because I was not as close to the Target as I am when I am at my old church. The spiritual battle is palpable at that church. I even started getting nervous about the possibility of going back because I knew I would be starting the battle again. I would be growing more and Satan does not like that, so I am sure I have some new henchmen assigned just to me. Then, on Sunday, I declared to two of my friends that I am coming back to my church since my husband has not been coming with me to the new church as promised and I never want to force him to do anything. That is not my style. Monday morning I start a potentially life-saving Periscope daily broadcast going through 1 John, one of the most convicting books in the Bible and then later that morning, I get hit with some major tax news that put me into a tail spin. Tuesday, today, my son got punched in the eye and sent to the principal’s office (soooo not like Jacob AT ALL) and I got hit with a lawsuit for imagery infringement (those of you who know me, know I am a big contender for image usage rights, but this one was an honest mistake and I am now facing legal action.) Needless to say, here we go again. Pile it on! In this life, as a sold out servant of Christ, you better believe I am going to be bombarded with distractions and suffering from Satan’s minions. But I will COUNT IT ALL JOY! I know I must endure. I must learn. I must grow. And soon, YES, very SOON, I am going to see Him face to face and for that I hold my hope close to my chest. For THAT my hope is secure.

If you find that your life is pretty easy and things tend to always go your way, I would re-evaluate where you are with your salvation and your relationship with Jesus. We are all on different paths and all have varying degrees of faith and ways in which He teaches and leads us. I look around at my friends who clearly are not Christians based simply on their lifestyles, yet they claim Christianity. Guess what? They have it pretty good. Their life is not spiritually attacked and they may be blessed in ways you and I will never be. Just remember, this may be the best they ever have it. I really REALLY want you to take time this year and evaluate your life. Evaluate your sanctification. Do a fruit audit. Get right with the living God. He may come back way sooner than we all expect!

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Philippians 1:29 ESV)

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. (James 1:2-4 ESV)

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.(Romans 8:18 ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (2 Timothy 3:12 ESV)