There is a threat so suttle in Churches across America, the undead sittin in seates occupying spaces and without a slightest beat of a heart or sign of life, yet they are there among us.
These are code blue flat line souls that are dressed up to look like the living but they are still dead, “dead in their sins and transgressions” according to Ephesians 2.
I used to be one myself and just sat in my decorated coffin adorned with flowers to make me look alive, but dead as a doornail. Some know all the right words to say, and all the prayers to pray, but yet still have yet to come out of the grave.
Jesus clearly taught that “Unless a man be born again he will not see the kingdom of God” John 3
The problem often in many American churches is not the genuine followers of Christ but the one’s who walk through the door that we failed to check their pulse. Many people in the church are still non believers with Christian costumes and religious party attire, blowing the confetty of lip service and phony profession.
There was a man once named Bob Johnny and he boasted his apple orchard grew the best ripe crispy apples in town, one day he invited his friends and family to see Bob John’s Crispy Orchard. But when one of his friends reached out to touch the apple, he said, “Why is this apple orange and soft?” Bob John was offended and angrily protested, “Dean how dare you judge my one of a kind crispy red apples'” Dean replied, “Im sorry Bob but these are not apples but Florida oranges”
Jesus taught in several places to beware of the fruit of some who parade themselves to be Christians. (Luke 6:43-49) “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
Matthew 7:19-23 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Can a Christian sin? Yes. But as a general rule of thumb are more apples on that man or woman’s tree good then rotten?
Or are the predomanent number of apples on that individuals tree sour, rotton and full of worms?
Every Christian that is genuine will have an occassional rotten apple, when we sin we produce nasty fruit yet when we are led by the Spirit the byproduct is “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control.” Galatians 5:22-23
Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
But in contrast, a man or woman who claims to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and habitually and unrepentently displays the characteristics Galatians 5 calls the “acts of the flesh” or “the acts of the sinful nature” will look like this the majority of the time,
Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. –
Who wants to follow a Christian like that? Or who looks up to people like that? Very very few.
But what about if I am producing bad fruit? Can I just try to be better or honker down and produce a good fruit? No not really because out of the sinful nature even our attempts to be good and godly are soured by selfish motives. Take for example a man who gives his money to charity but he may do so for a few reasons, 1.) He wants to look good for others to see, 2.) It makes him feel better about himself. This is often deep down why many try to do good deeds, because we feel bad about our sins and imperfections and become like Adam and Eve sowing fig leaves together to cover our nakedness- yet good deeds cannot truly cover our naked souls now can they because a person loaded down by guilt can never do enough to get the weight to completely go away.
(Philippians 1:9-11) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
What is God’s most important quality he wants Christians to possess? I would say love, love is the embodiment of every command of God or rule he has set to follow. To love God with all our heart’s soul mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves is fullfilling the Laws of God.
Mark 12:29-34 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Yet how can anyone possibly love everyone the way God requires? It is not possible humanly speaking in human effort, just try to be loving for a day around the sand paper people in your life and you will see your flimsy will power erroded like a cell phone battery trying to power a semi truck. This is why we must come to know a love so much greater than our limited understanding and capacity for love- Jesus said to love even our enemies,
(Matthew 5:43-48) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
It is easy for us as people to love our friends and family members and those we like. But is love, real love tied down to what other people do to make us happy? No, that is bought shallow comradre not love.
And when a man or woman truly grasps how great their personal failures are in God’s eyes and yet He still loved them enough to send His Son to die on a cross for their sins then they see true extravagant, generous, deep and unselfish love there, and then head facts become heart truths, and such love is tasted in the soul then this makes it possible to love even our most terrible enemies because Christ forgave our terrible offenses that hung him on the cross.
John 15:5-17 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.
the world does not know or grasp such things, they do not know God or real love that does not fit into there understanding or rational. In the eyes of the world the way to succeed or get treated right is to be ruthless, after all as their saying goes “its a dog eat dog world”
but Christ never taught his disciples to live that way. No on the contrary,
Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Remember Galatians 5, the acts of the flesh? Well it continues on to say
Galatians 5:15-16 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
So much for dog eat dog philosophy- and in the words of Christ the night of his crucifixion Peter tried to kill the servant of the high priest with a sword and missed, but only cut off his ear,
(Matthew 26:50-56) Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
Even as gentle and kind as Jesus was and after all the miracles he performed the stubborn son’s of the darkness armed themselves with swords and clubs expectimg Jesus to fight them? And what about Peter? He thought he could use violence to prevent Jesus’s arrest? Yet had also forgotten that Christ’s ways were marked with humble obedience to God even to the forfeit of His life not by fighting those in the world who know nothing but war, and blood, vengeance and retaliation.
For it is also written,
(Romans 3:9-18) What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
The key marks of someone lost in the realm of spiritual death is angery malice, poisonous vemonous words shooting out like vipers and spewing the firey breath of a dragon. Just watch someone lose their temper on facebook or the nasty comments left by many on youtube or twitter, then one can see what this human race is truly made of when pushed to the limit and hidden rage spills out like toxic waiste containers dumped over. Not only this but immoral, reckless, selfishness is the way of those who do not yet know Christ, we were all steeped in it to some varying degree or another.
The problem is all of us before God’s love is truly realized in the heart, and we realize the greatness of His sacrifice for us. We cannot help but respond in hate or sin in various ways until our eyes are open to something so different and better that it gives us an alternative option.
(Titus 3:3-7) At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
The blessed Lord and Savior came and in essence volutarily allowed himself to be nailed to a cross and along with him was also nailed our old sinful nature, its rotten stinking maggoty flesh nailed to the cross and we receive the empowering grace in return to walk in newness of life!
(Titus 2:11-14) For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
So the genuine disciple of Christ is not one who loves sinning and pretending he or she has grace to just sin more freely- such a person is phony and does not realize that this sacrifice was costly and not without the price of devotion and loyalty. Jude discribes these people as ones “Who change the grace of our Lord Jesus into a liscence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereing Lord.” And the Apostle Paul also says “They claim to know God yet deny him in their actions”
To be a Christian is to follow Christ not self and sin- “For if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily” – Jesus-
Daily crucifying selfishness, pride and sin and choosing to live for Christ and scorn this dark and sinful world’s ways is the way of freedom and the cross.