Mission…Impossible?

How often do we limit ourselves based on what think we can and cannot do?  “I can’t” is the rally cry of the weak.  Yet, Scripture says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13, emphasis added) and that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” (Romans 8:37).  So, then, why can’t we?  What is it that we are being prevented from doing out of fear, which is not of God (2 Timothy 1:7), or doubt, which is a lack of faith in God?

Oswald Chambers, in his classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, said:

We must never measure our spiritual capacity on the basis of our eduction or our intellect; our capacity in spiritual things is measured on the basis of the promises of God….When it is a question of God’s Almighty Spirit, never say, ‘I can’t.’ Never allow the limitation of your own natural ability to enter into the matter.  If we have received the Holy Spirit, God expects the work of the Holy Spirit to be exhibited in us.”

Is there something in us that cries out, “I can’t!”?  If so, it is one of two things:  Either I am not submitting to the lordship of Christ in my life, or I am not a child of God at all.  Either one can be devastating.

Can I Get A Witness? – 1 John 4:13-17

I had the opportunity to talk with a young lady after worship yesterday who is dealing with a lot of spiritual issues.  In tears, she said to me that she felt lost.  I asked in what sense she meant that and she told me that it seemed she was adrift at sea without any direction.  Remembering that on another occasion she had told me she had trusted Christ, I asked her about her relationship with Him.  She said, “I thought I had trusted in Jesus, but there has been nothing in my life to give evidence of that.”

I remembered back to John’s teaching in chapter 3, verse 6 [see commentary here]: “No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known Him.”  As we talked, she was right — there had been absolutely no transformation in her life since she “prayed a prayer.”  She still was unable and/or unwilling to give up the lifestyle choices she had made that were leading to destruction.

I suppose the good thing about this is that she continues to feel drawn at this point.  She still feels the tug of conviction, but she doesn’t have that ever-important element that John describes in the reading for today: the inner testifying of the Spirit of God that we are children of God.  The transforming work of love is carried out in our lives and we, then, “have confidence for the day of judgment…”.

I have great hope that she will truly come to trust in Christ because of the evidence that He is drawing her in to Himself, but when there is no transformation and no inner testimony of the Spirit that we are saved, there can be no justification.

A New Kind of Test – 1 John 4:1-5

Up to now, the tests in 1 John have been for us.  We have been given tests to demonstrate whether or not Christ really lives in us and if we are really following after Him.  Now, the tables are turned.

Testing the spirits is a vital operation that we must carry out constantly.   In an age of tolerance, we are pressured into accepting everything that comes our way.  Whether through social issues that arise or through spiritual teaching, discerning the Truth can be very difficult.  Subtleties lie around every corner.

John tells us that the bare minimum standard we must require is that the teacher fully affirm the diety and humanity of Christ.  If a teacher sounds good, appeals to the masses and gives glory to “god,” that is not enough.  Where do they stand on the issue of Christ?  If they waffle on any aspect of the person of Christ, they are to be rejected.

It goes further than this, though, because there are some who will claim the deity of Christ and get everything John is requiring here and still be misleading teachers.  For instance, there are some Christian leaders, denominations, etc., that will align very clearly with the Bible’s description of Christ, yet change other parts of the Gospel:  “Yes, Jesus is fully God and fully man.  Yes, He came to die in our place, was physically born, killed, resurrected and ascended…but, He’s not the only way to salvation.”  Bam! There it is, and they were sounding so good.

Some preach a health and wealth gospel which is not in line with Jesus’ teachings.  Some prove their own social agenda by denying that parts of Scripture are relevant today.  Others will deny the authenticity and even the inspiration of some writers (Paul is a popular target) because he doesn’t support their claim.  Watch out for these people.  Test the spirit!

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