ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE LOST
In Luke 18:19 Jesus says: "No one is good...except God alone." This is true for the lost; but it is also true for Christians. The only good that is in a Christian is Christ himself. Until a Christian physically dies, he still has flesh attached to him that will fight for its existence and satisfaction. According to John 3:19 our flesh loves darkness. The flesh never improves. We as Christians improve from our minds being renewed (Rom. 12:2). A renewed mind means we are not going to think like we use to and therefore we are not going to behave like we use to (Pro. 23:7). A renewed mind means to see yourself and your circumstances as God sees them.
The difference between the lost and a Christian is that the lost are enslaved to their flesh, and the Christian is not; but only if the Christian chooses to walk in the Spirit. The Spirit (or Christ) in us and the flesh are contrary to one another. Within the Christian there is a constant ongoing battle that will never end until the day he dies (Gal. 5:17). Sometimes we lose this battle, or I should say, a lot of times we lose this battle and unfortunately our worst judgemental attacks come from other Christians. Jesus doesn't hold our sins against us because he has taken them away, but other Christians who evidently have a higher standard than Jesus, will hold our sins against us.
When the lost see a Christian sin, it gives them an excuse to remain lost because in their mind your life really isn't any different than their's. You just happen to be religious and they are not. They think that being a Christian means to give up the life you really want to live and start living a life to be a good person. Even Christians think this way. Being a Christian is not about being a good person vs. a bad person. It is not about doing good things vs. bad things. It's not about setting goals not to sin. That's the kind of stuff you do when you are religious.
Being a Christian is about obtaining a life...a spiritual life. And the only life that is being offered out there from God the Father is the life of Jesus. Jesus said in John 10:10: "I am come that they might have life." Salvation is about life. This spiritual life is needed because we were all born spirtually dead (Rom. 5:12). At birth, every human being that has ever been born is already on their way to hell. At birth they are already in a condemned state (John 3:18). And all this is so because of what we inherited from Adam (Rom. 5:12-14). 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' (1 Cor. 15:50). The physical cannot go where the spiritual (kingdom of God) is. The physical cannot understand the spiritual (John 3:3); (1 Cor. 2:14). That's why Jesus said we must be born of the Spirit (John 3:7). He didn't say you have to be, nor did he say you should be. He said you must be. Once a person becomes born again and receives the life of Christ, his new identity is that he is a child of God (John 1:12-13); (1 John 3:1-2). All men are not children of God; only those who have received the Son. The essence of being a Christian is to now learn to trust this life of Christ who lives in you and through you.
People will never admit to anyone that they love darkness, because everyone keeps this dirty little secret to themselves so they can continue to live the facade that they're OK. Who would ever want to purposely expose a heart that is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9). A heart that most of the time, oozes out evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony and slander (Matt. 15:19). In particular everything the lost does is done in comparing themselves with one another (you know, at least I'm not as bad as that person) so that if there does happen to be a God, then maybe they'll get graded on the curve and make it through the pearly gates that way.
To remain lost is to never come to the understanding of why you are the way you are. God who made you has come and told you that your problem is sin; but to you this comes under the category of religion, and so you treat it as not being relative to the world you live in. In your mind instead of becoming religious there has to be another way. We as Christians understand all this because we use to be the lost.
However, because of bad teaching (when I say bad teaching, I mean teaching that comes from tradition rather than teaching that comes from what the scriptures plainly say) there are Christians who do not know what it means to be a Christian. And if this is the case for some Christians, what chance is there that the lost understand what it means to be a Christian? The lost are called the lost for good reason. A lost person does not know where he is going. He doesn't have a clue what life is about, other than being told from other lost people. The blind leading the blind. They don't know where they came from, don't know why they are here, don't know why they are the way they are. They are a lost cause. That's why Jesus said when referring to saving people, "What is impossible with men is possible with God" (Luke 18:27).
So far we have been talking about that category of the lost who are at least honest with what they experience about themselves. They know something is wrong. The other category of the lost are those who the scriptures refer to as being of a depraved mind, or of a reprobate mind (Rom. 1:28). If you read Rom. 1:18-32, you get a detailed description of people who right along side of the religious lost (the worst of the worst) have such hatred for Jesus that their ultimate end is to be nothing more than another log for the fire.
The lost's understanding of Jesus, to whatever degree that may be, is only through the prism of religion. They see all the religious systems within Christendom (including the cults) evoking the name of Jesus and think that religion and Jesus are one in the same. It is only when the prism of religion is removed that the lost can discover Jesus for who he is. For who he is for them. Jesus did not come to establish religious institutions. This is what man has done. This is what man is good at because man is always about the show (Matt. 6:1-4). Man has always been the religious one, whereas God has been the practical one. Jesus came to sell himself. This is who needs to be discovered. The god of this world, the author of confusion (Satan) has been very successful at confusing the lost by hiding the truth through the religious systems he has established. The history of the church, for putting out the truth, for the most part has been like the history of Israel of the Old Testament...a failure. God has not intervened in man's free choice to make these disastrous decisions, and he never will. Free choice given to us from God is a big deal with him for good reason.
To trust Jesus who lives in us and not the flesh is what faith is. This is what pleases God (Heb. 11:6). To try to please God by trusting the flesh is what the definition of religion is. To trust Jesus is how the fruit of the Spirit is produced (John 15:4-5). This is the only fruit that is acceptable to God. That which comes from trying to please God in the flesh is unacceptable. God calls this kind of fruit...filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). This is mostly what has been produced throughout the history of the church. Who can blame the lost for not wanting anything to do with God. If Christians are not taught the clear cut distinction between walking in the Spirit vs. works that come from the flesh, then they will succumb to what is natural...the flesh.
The law was written for the flesh, not for the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). The purpose of the law is to reveal to us what our problem is...sin (Rom. 7:7). Its purpose is to lead us to Christ and then once it has done that, we are no longer under it. Now we live by faith (Gal. 3:24-25). Christians who insist on being under the law are called legalists. To be under law (bad teaching) is to be alienated from Christ (Gal. 5:4). To be under law is to be religious. The lost hate religiousity, and rightly so, but so should Christians. It is very significant that the religious insisted that Jesus be killed. When Jesus walked the earth, his harshest words were to the religious. They were so offended at what he had said to them that it drove them to want to kill him (Matt. 15:12); (John 8:58); (John 10:25-33).
The newest hobby horse in the world now is 'political correctness.' Whatever you do, at all costs, try not to offend anybody. The truth is; there is a time and a place when people need to be offended. You don't think that seven eights of the world's population is offended when Jesus says he is the only way to the Father (John 14:6)? He just eliminated every religious system in existence.
The lost need to discover the radical Jesus who makes statements like this. Read the gospel of John. In there are many radical statements by Jesus; and this was always the intent of the Father. It has always been the Father's purpose for humans to easily make a decision about Jesus. And here is why: Because of such radical statements, we are left with only two choices in regards to who Jesus is. He is either God who became flesh as he claimed to be; or he is an insane person who died on a cross for a lie. There are no other options. Therefore the decision is one or the other. I challenge any lost person to go into the gospel of John and read it for yourself. Forget about what someone else has told you; do your own research. When God the Father judges all of mankind in the end, he is not going to show a video of all our mistakes for all to see. He is simply going to ask: What did you do with my Son? At least give yourself the benefit of the doubt and make the attempt to find out about the Son.
I end with the words of John the Baptist, from John 3:35-36: "The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
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