Holiness Is A Fruit

Holiness Is A Fruit

Luke 11:42 “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

When Jesus said, “and not to leave the other undone,” it is clear that He is not arguing against doing what is right. God’s Word stresses holiness in our actions. The Pharisees’ error that caused Jesus’ rebuke was that they believed their actions could produce a right relationship with God. But a proper relationship with God can only come by humbling ourselves and putting faith in a Savior, who is Jesus. God cleanses our hearts by grace through faith… Ephesians 2:8, and then we have our fruit unto holiness… Romans 6:22. Holiness is a fruit, not a root, of salvation.

In a similar instance found in Matthew 23:26, Jesus told the Pharisees, “Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” True Christianity comes from the inside out. A good heart will change a man’s actions, but a man’s actions cannot change his heart.

One of religion’s favorite doctrines is that if you will just act right, you will be right. Nothing could be further from the truth. You must be born again. And if you are born again, then holiness is a by-product and not the way to a relationship with God.

This is the heart of the Gospel. Every major religion of the world has a moral standard it enforces, but only Christianity offers salvation through a Savior. Presenting holiness in any way other than as a result of salvation is denying Jesus as our Savior and places the burden of salvation on us. Improper emphasis on achieving holiness or salvation through one’s own actions can damn that person. We must trust Jesus completely.

Grow In Grace

Grow In Grace

Luke 11:38 – “And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.”

A sure sign of the error of legalism is misplaced priorities, as we see here with these Pharisees. It is not recorded in Scripture that the Pharisees marveled at the wonderful works of Jesus. They were too busy looking for something to criticize… Mark 3:2. But they marveled at Jesus not washing His hands. This is a classic example of straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel… Matthew 23:24.

Those who seek to earn righteousness through keeping the Law are consumed with “doing,” while those who receive righteousness by faith are simply confessing what has already been done. This is a simple and yet profound difference. If we are still “doing” acts of holiness to get God to move in our lives, then we are still operating under a “Law” mentality that is not faith… Galatians 3:12. When we simply believe and confess what has already been provided through Christ, that’s grace.

A person who is living under the Law and a person who lives under grace should have very similar actions of holiness, but their motivations are completely opposite. The legalist has their attention on what they must do, while the person living by faith has his attention on what Christ has already done for him. For instance, the Scriptures teach us to confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts, and we will receive from God. The legalist thinks, That means I can get God to heal me by confessing, ‘By his stripes I am healed.’ However, the person who understands God’s grace will not confess the Word to get healed. They will confess, “By His stripes I am healed” because they really believe it has already been done.

Analyzing our “mind set” is the simplest way of discerning whether we are operating in true Bible faith or a legalistic counterfeit. If the motive for our actions is to be accepted with God, that’s legalism. If we live wholly out of faith and gratefulness for what God has already done, that’s grace. Grow in grace!

Be Filled

Be Filled

Luke 11:13 “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

The Holy Spirit is a gift… Acts 2:38. You cannot be good enough to earn the gift of the Holy Spirit, but you do have to ask. This is speaking of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is subsequent to the born-again experience.

The Holy Spirit resides in our spirits, and once He comes, He doesn’t leave… John 14:16. There is an initial filling when the Holy Ghost first comes. However, His control and influence over our souls and body does fluctuate proportionally to how well we have our minds renewed to His will … Romans 12:2.

In that sense, we can be more full of the Holy Ghost than at other times, although in our spirits the presence and power of the Holy Spirit does not come and go. Therefore, even after we receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost, there will be times when our souls and bodies stray from the leadership of the Holy Spirit and we need, once again, to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

In Ephesians 5:18 believers are commanded to “be not drunk with wine…but be filled with the Spirit.” Being filled with the Holy Spirit is in the present tense, making it a continual command for the believer. In the book of Acts, the same people who were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost were filled again. Most people don’t get drunk on just one drink.

Likewise, being filled with the Holy Spirit is not just a one-time experience. There is an initial filling of the Holy Spirit, but many subsequent fillings. Just as drunkenness can change a person’s personality and make him or her act totally different, so being filled with the Holy Spirit can make us act just like Jesus. Be filled with the Spirit today.

Our Loving Father

Our Loving Father

Luke 11:11 “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”

The most loving Father in the world cannot compare to our heavenly Father and the love He has for us. And yet, many times, we find it easier to believe in the willingness of a father or mother or mate to help us than in the willingness of God to use His power on our behalf. Relatively few people really doubt God’s ability, but rather, it is our doubt of His willingness to use His ability on our behalf that causes most people to do without. Jesus is assuring us that God’s love, and His willingness to demonstrate that love, is far greater than we can ever experience in any human relationship.

The Lord didn’t just save us out of pity or a sense of obligation as our Creator. He saved us because He loved us… John 3:16. It was the “good pleasure of his will” for us to become adopted sons… Ephesians 1:5. We are wanted and accepted by our Father! What a wonderful thing this is! It would have been more than any of us deserve to be forgiven by God. Then to be given certain rights and privileges would have been more than we could have expected. But the Lord went further than that. He has actually accepted us.

The dictionary defines “accept” as “1. to receive gladly; 2. to receive into a place or a group” (New American Heritage Dictionary). The Lord does not just tolerate us; He actually loves us. He even likes us. He rejoices over us with joy… Zephaniah 3:17.

Prayer Power

Prayer Power

Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’.”

When you consider that Jesus was the greatest miracle worker who ever walked the earth and the greatest preacher who ever lived, it is amazing that His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. Why didn’t they ask Him to teach them how to work these miracles or how to preach and amaze the people with their doctrine?

It’s because Jesus’ prayer life was even more powerful than His miracles or His doctrine. Indeed, it was His union with the Father that gave Him His power to work miracles and His authority to speak as no man had ever spoken before. Jesus said repeatedly that it was His Father who was doing the miracles through Him and that His doctrine was not His own but the Father’s.

The same holds true today. Jesus said in John 15:5 that without Him, we can do nothing. There are many things that we should do in addition to prayer, but there is nothing that we can effectively do without prayer. Prayer is one of the main ways of abiding in Him… John 15:7. Therefore, our request should be like these disciples’ — “Lord, teach us to pray.”

We should come expecting to receive answers to prayer. The Father is ready and willing to answer our prayers. Just ask and you shall receive.

Who Crosses Your Path?

Who Crosses Your Path

Luke 10:29 “But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?”

This question of “who is my neighbour” can be used by Satan to deceive us in more than one way. Not only can he deceive men into thinking they have fulfilled the command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” when they haven’t, but he will also try to apply this command in a way that condemns those who are seeking to fulfill it, by making them think they are not doing enough.

We cannot meet the needs of every single person in the world. Jesus wasn’t teaching that. This wounded man was directly in the path of these three men. The priest and the Levite had to walk around him. Jesus is simply teaching that we should take advantage of the opportunities we have. The fact that we can’t help everyone is no excuse not to help anyone.

Jesus, through this parable, defined a neighbor as any fellow human being who crosses our path and is in need of our assistance. The Samaritan went to the full extent of his ability — and beyond — to help the man. The priest and Levite did nothing.

There was a racial and religious hatred between Jews and Samaritans. Devout Jews would not associate with or even talk to a Samaritan. The priest and the Levite that passed by this wounded man were his fellow-countrymen, and yet they didn’t help him. This Samaritan, who was considered by religious Jews to be of another nationality, was the true neighbor. Jesus made it clear that you could not define “neighbor” on the basis of geographic origin or your familiarity with someone. A neighbor is anyone that God puts in your path.

Focus On Jesus

Focus On Jesus

Luke 10:20 “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”

We were never instructed to have a Ph.D. in demonology. However, some justify focusing on Satan and his activity to an inordinate degree. This will actually encourage demonic activity and become a device that Satan can use against us.

As Paul said, we should not be “ignorant” of Satan’s devices. We certainly need to know that the devil and demons exist, and we need to recognize when we are facing demonic activity. But we need to keep our focus on the Lord.

Some people who are excessive in “spiritual warfare” actually spend more time talking to the devil each day than they do talking to God. That’s not right.

The best defense against the devil is to be so “God-centered” that we give no place to Satan. People who are very sensitive to the devil’s presence usually do so at the expense of being sensitive to the Lord’s presence. David said, “If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there”… Psalm 139:8. Any time Satan’s oppression is there, God’s presence is present too…Hebrews 13:5! It’s just a matter of which one we focus on. Focusing on the devil is a trick of the devil.

Our total ability in the Christian life is found in Christ. It is not our ability that makes us strong, but our availability to Christ that enables us.

Paul said, “For when I am weak, then am I strong”… 2 Corinthians 12:10. He was saying that when he recognized his inability and, therefore, relied on the Lord, then the Lord’s strength flowed through him. We can do all things THROUGH CHRIST.

Sharing God’s Love

Sharing God’s Love

Luke 10:2 “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

It is commonly thought that an evangelist is someone who has a passion to lead people to the Lord. But every believer should have a passion for souls. When presenting the Gospel, we are not just presenting a theory about God but the factual account of God’s dealings with man as revealed through His Word, with the ultimate witness being the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Our personal witness of the reality of Jesus being alive in our lives brings Christ from theory to reality.

The early Christians had experienced the love of Christ in an intimate and life-transforming way. This motivated them to reach their known world with the Gospel of Christ more than any generation of Christians has done since. They didn’t have the benefits of our modern technology, but they did have the benefit of being full of the love of Christ. Experiencing the love of Christ causes us to be filled with the fullness of God… Ephesians 3:19, and makes us a witness that the world cannot resist…John 13:35.

Today, much of the emphasis of the church is placed on techniques of evangelism or spiritual warfare. We motivate people to witness through feelings of guilt or punishment if they don’t. Much of our evangelism has become as dead and non-productive as that of the cults who knock on doors and argue people into their way of thinking. The early Christians had a much greater impact on their world because they were full of, and motivated by, the love of God. The church today needs a revival of our personal relationship with the Lord. When we can say with Paul that the love of Christ constrains us, then we will impact our world for the Lord too. You can’t give away what you don’t possess. We need to personally know the love of Christ in an experiential way before we try to share it with others.