Last week we talked about learning to walk like Jesus in the world and how this could only be done if we learned to walk "in" Jesus through this world; knowing and relying on Him completely and being filled with His fruits of the Spirit. But, there are many Christians in our generation—by far, probably the majority just as in Jesus' day—who have truly believed in, and accepted Christ as Lord, but are living double-minded lives still clinging to many of the thoughts, sins and attitudes around them; not truly giving yourselves completely to Christ, letting Him in their house but keeping Him restricted to the front foyer.
Scriptures tell us what our Christian lives will be like if this is us: James 4:4-7: He is surely talking to fellow Christians because he says, "The Spirit that dwells in them yearns jealously!" But he says their friendship with this world, their love for this world—it’s ways, thoughts, and attitudes—are enmity with God. James (Jacob) is saying our double-minded ways, our thoughts and our actions which are still rooted in this world, keep us alienated from God. So cleanse your hands, your heart and your double-minded ways, or God will resist you in your pride; He will stand distant from you because He cannot be a part of that mentality. Herein lies the clue to why the majority of followers in James' day—in our day—in most of history never walk in the powerful fellowship, peace and strength of Christ because most Christians feel they are walking in given and devoted lives. After all, they aren't sinning in some terrible, outright way. They are looking much different from the crazy world around us. They have a warm fuzzy feeling about Jesus. But, being better than the world has nothing to do with being what Christ called us to be in heart. And a warm feeling towards someone is not complete devotion and passion for them. And the heart, which is all that truly matters, is often still deeply embedded in the world as we go about our lives deceived and broken. You may be surprised to see just how urgently, repeatedly and powerfully God tells us to stop and literally evaluate ourselves. Take inventory of what we have inside. Take a true, deep look at our hearts and actions as compared to Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 13:5; Lamentations 3:40-41; Galatians 6:3-4; 1 Corinthians 11:27-29; Psalm 119:59-60;
Psalm 139:23-24; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; Psalm 19:12-14. I believe it is very safe to say that God is serious about us. Taking the time to evaluate ourselves in His Presence and with His Word, to see where we truly stand in his eyes. Every aspect of your walk with Him depends upon knowing your own heart—maybe even your very salvation. Are you Holy? Or Hiding?
Rather than telling you that we need to do this someday, we are going to take the remainder of this service and do it together. Let's ask ourselves some hard and revealing questions based upon our modern lives which will only help us if we are honest with ourselves. Because we are not here to impress anyone else. Only God and you will benefit from the answers.
Question #1: When something truly hits you hard—unravels your world and stops your life—what or who do you turn to for comfort and clarity? Social Media for as much attention and pity as you can get? Friends and family just to be let down or get worldly advice? Alcohol, sex, pornography, drugs, work? God is not the last resort when all else fails. If He truly has become your everything, He will be the first One you run to. He will be the One you poor your heart out to. He will be the One Whom you look to for direction and identity. And you will stay rooted in who you are in Him. You will follow His words and way, no matter the course. Rather than find a reason to justify getting lost in the sins you covet more than Him anyway as comfort. The honest answer to this question alone may reveal truth to many of you because in moments of grief or stress, many have turned to sins for comfort rather than God—which they never came out of again because it is secretly what held their heart all along.
Question #2: What do you indulge yourself in when absolutely no one else is around you? Do you immediately recognize an opportunity to do things you would not normally do? If so, these are the things that hold a special place in your heart over God. The sin is not even so much what you are focused on, but that you do not covet Jesus, intimacy with Him, and the things that He says will bring righteousness and joy. If you really wanted Him more, if you really believed these things would hurt you, you would resist them with true earnestness.
Question #3: How critical are you in your thoughts and speech towards others? So many Christians look at the people around them with constant criticism, disapproval, and harshness; judging them on the shallowest of levels, not knowing their true pains, motivations, or desires, and speaking unnecessary words of disrespect, judgment, or ridicule stemming from their own self-righteousness or insecurities (just like the world). Is that loving God and His people? Is that walking in Jesus? This self-focused sin—which many hide by saying, "That's just my personality," is as far from walking and seeing in God's Love as anything could be. Because there is nothing selfless, nothing encouraging, nothing caring about it. Only gratification, power and self-esteem. Do you have any idea of the long-term self-esteem issues, the pain, the social crippling some people cause with a just a few unharnessed, unnecessary, sharp words spoken to give yourself a moment of satisfaction or pride? Do not fool yourself into thinking you are doing God's Will or walking in His fellowship when this is your spirit.
Question #4: How respectful are you to those in authority? How good are you at being submissive to others? Scriptures repeatedly, adamantly say we are to be in subjection to others—employers even when unfair or unlikable, elders in the church, government officials, husbands—do you give yourself in service and subjection to your boss? Or do you find ways to get around their authority; challenge them in everything? Do you respect order and spiritual authority in the church? Do you place yourself under the leadership of those you choose to sit under? Most feel no conviction whatsoever to respect or follow their elders today. They simply challenge, criticize, divide, and leave if they don't like something rather than be submissive and correct their ways. Do you, as a wife, talk to and treat your husband with respect in public and in private? I can answer that question for some here because it is apparent even within these walls. If you have a spirit of rebellion in these areas—areas even in which Jesus Himself as God submitted Himself under in Love—your heart is not truly given to Christ; not truly trusting His Ways; not truly loving selflessly.
Question #5: Are you characterized by your anger, arrogance, unforgiveness, self-pity or spitefulness? Do you hold grudges? Keep people under your thumb? Sometimes even have a hidden desire to make sure someone knows you are displeased and angry with them because it gives a sense of power or control over them? If so, just be honest with yourself. This is about as far from walking in God's Gifts of the Spirit as possible, destroying anything God is trying to do in your heart and making your walk—your example of Him—a train wreck.
Question #6: What is the content of your private thought life? Do you secretly walk in a constant state of lust and self-gratification? If you indulge in pornography of any kind, I can guarantee you do, because your mind has been trained. Others do because you have learned to simply feed your own selfish lusts, never really trusting God’s Wisdom or considering that your uncontrolled thought life makes you oblivious to that person’s worth as an individual, precious soul in need; makes you oblivious to the sexual value you are losing for the one who deserves it, or the prison you place yourself in needing more. It makes you oblivious to the one who you are disrespecting and robbing by coveting their treasure; makes you oblivious to the fact that you are hardening your heart, training your mind to only think of what you want at all times rather than walking in true love and recognition of the value of others. For so many today—because you have sold out for the world's ways—this has become your mind's downfall. But you are too in love with your sin to even try to escape and you have no idea of the freedom and excitement in obedience.
Question #7: Do you even have regular times of study and prayer with God? It completely amazes me that people can think they have a real and personal relationship with someone whom they say is the greatest person in the Universe; whom they say has given their life and riches to save them; whom they say is their new reason for living; whom they say they want to be closer to than anyone—and yet they can’t find the time in their busy worldly affairs to read His very thoughts and desires for their life; to talk with Him, share with Him and seek Him. If this is you, does it sound like you have truly given your life to Him based upon your fruits? This is not a guilt trip. It is a loving attempt to make us see our true ways and give us a chance to change.
Question #8: Last question: What is the front and center motivation for your life? Acceptance, attention and popularity? Respect and power? Money or things? Relationship or sex? Success? If God is not the center of your very life—if He is not the reason for your choices in career, relationships and way of living—you have not given your life to Him in trust and love. Ask yourself: Do you even seek His will in your life? Or have you changed, warped, rewritten, ignored His true will? So you could live the life you desire? Not Him. Do you simply want His favor in the life choices you make, like so many who seemed to follow Him then?
How did you do on the exam? I want us to close in reflection on all of this with one of our opening verses: 2 Corinthians 13:5-6. Some here today must see that your love for the world has greatly affected your walk with Jesus and He deserves more—you need more. Revelation 2:4-5. Some here—after careful consideration—may feel the Spirit telling you that you have never truly surrendered yourself to Christ at all. you have simply been fooling yourself. Matthew 7:20-23. Do you not realize that many followed Jesus in His day with great excitement and belief, but were still self-satisfying not ready to love Him and live for Him with everything? And He drove them away because they were deceived and did not truly want and receive Him. None of this is to scare anyone or to bring guilt, but to help you see your own heart and intentions so that you and I can come to Jesus with all of the real love He deserves; all of the real love He has already shown us. If you know now that you have not been totally devoted to Him, He is excitedly, expectantly waiting. Leave your trust and love for a fallen, hateful, confused world behind and find purpose in Him. Some need to admit you have never really given yourself to Him at all—you just wanted His benefits and security—and change the course of your eternal life now.
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