Monday, April 9, 2018

To Those Who Overcome: How to Be Free from all Sin


Note: This message is intended for mature Christians well along in their walks with God, not for new believers or for seekers. Understand that when reading.  Thank you.

"He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." -Revelation 3:21 NASB

William Booth said, "I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost; Christianity without Christ; forgiveness without repentance; salvation without regeneration; politics without God; and Heaven without Hell."

When I first read that quote from the founder, I thought to myself: Yeah, I mean, kinda, some of that is probably true, but William, that’s just too much. It’s grating on my ears. I don’t like to hear about hell, it makes me feel yucky. Don’t talk about repentance, just talk vaguely about repenting. And so on… and today I think to myself when I read that: Dead on. Exactly right.

But not here, not now, not amongst us, on campus, as cadets and leaders. We will be set aflame by the Holy ghost. We will preach Christ. We will teach true repentance. We will talk about heaven and hell. Today we’re looking at Acts 2, where we find a great example of full gospel minister, in the apostle Peter. 

"This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." -Acts 2:23-24 NIV

Peter preached his first message on this day, recorded in Acts chapter 2, on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came. Many of you here will be Peters going out into the field, to begin your service to Christ. And the rest of us will go out to our summer assignments to do the same.

Don’t let it ever be normal friends. This is special what we do. Peter preached boldly to the crowds on that day, and 3000 new believers were won. But they weren’t won by him. They were won by that Holy Spirit within him, and that Spirit in the people. It says they were cut to the heart by the message. They were disturbed, and roused from their antipathy to action/change. That change was wrought by the Spirit.

We often try to do things in our way, by human power. Don’t we? But Jesus said, “Human power is of no use at all.” (John 6:63 GNT)

Peter was totally yielded to God. But remember in the gospels, how Peter was? He denied Christ! But for each of the three times Peter denied Jesus, Jesus asked him: Peter, do you love me? After the 3rd time, Peter wept. Peter repented. Jesus restored him. (John 21:15)

When I began preparing to move here to training college 8 months ago, I asked the Lord to put a scripture before me, to provide guidance to my life here. God very clearly placed a scripture before me: Hebrews 12:1-2 “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”

Throw off everything that hinders us. And the sin that so easily entangles. The Lord has been speaking to me of sin so clearly lately. And I struggle so hard, regarding sin, and how to truly be free from all sin. And even questioned: Is real holiness even possible? My answer had been no. Now, my answer is yes, it is possible. And it is necessary. Without holiness no one will see the Lord. I keep being reminded of the scripture that says “Many will come to Jesus and say of the miracles they performed for Jesus, and Jesus will say to them, Go away from me, I never knew you, you worker of iniquity.”

We can’t keep playing games with God, sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, storing up images in our minds, and playing them over and over, acting as if God does not clearly know what is going on in our minds and hearts. (Galatians 6:7)

Could one of you, or I, be one of those ministers that faithfully served Jesus, who is told in the end: “Go away from me, you worker of evil”? We assume that something like that could never happen to us. We’re too special. And it is true that God loves us each with a special love. But God is a just judge, and He doesn’t show favoritism. (Romans 2:11)

Paul said, “run your race wisely, so that we will not disqualify ourselves.” So I plead with all of you today, to set aside the sin that so easily entangles. And I plead the same to myself. No more games with the Lord. (1st Corinthians 9:27) 

It's time to go deeper with the Lord.  Ask the Lord in prayer, on your knees, "Lord, go deeper into me. You've done a mighty work thus far. Now go much deeper into my soul and change me in deeper, more thorough way." When we go deeper with God, and honor Him in doing His will, not our own, He will respond in ways we can't imagine.

Our God is a fearful God. We must tremble before Him. He is so much higher than us and He loves us. He has prepared a place for his holy ones, his church, and he has also prepared a place for those who resist his Spirit and push forward in sin. (pause) I love our God so much, his grace and love. Those are true, real aspects of our God. But so is holiness, wrath, and judgment. If we truly want to honor God and be free from evil, the fear of God is the key to that doorway. Proverb 16:6b says “By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil.”

We can’t fear God though, we really can’t. Only the Holy Spirit can teach us that. So ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom here. Cry out to Jesus again and again, stubbornly, endlessly, for freedom from every sin in your life. Jesus will help us. He will set us free from every chain. Don’t give up, keep fighting!

It’s so tough some days, when my body cries out for something, anything that would feel good, even for a moment. But stand firm in the Spirit, which is obeying the will of God.

Each day we wake up in the flesh, and our default is to do things in our own human effort. Instead, shift over to the Spirit-life. Live out of the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, truly doing his will. You’re here at training college, which means you’ve begun to obey God, you care deeply about doing God’s will and not your own. Keep doing that, in every corps program, in every decision you make in the field, double-check it with God. Seek His will for your corps first.

Temptations will come and assault us deeply. Sexual temptations will come. Satan will offer up affairs to destroy our marriages, and controversies to test our resolve. Lusts of the flesh will come. Pride will come and attempt to destroy all our work for Christ. And many fall to those temptations. But put on that strong armor of God, to stand against every attack of the enemy. Spiritual warfare is a reality. And we are target number 1 of Satan our enemy, who wants to destroy and subvert the church. Fight back with the weapons of faith.

We have great and mighty works to do in the world. We have a great awakening to lead in the central territory. We can’t afford anything holding us back! Be holy as He is holy. We will succeed, I believe that, in Jesus name.

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Why? Because Jesus meets us on the way. When Peter fell short, denying Christ, he was afraid and falling apart. Jesus did not leave him there. Jesus came to him, and invited him to repent. Peter’s response was true repentance. And what came as a result of that decision? Peter became a great leader of the church, as He preached boldly, on the day of Pentecost, preaching about the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. And the Spirit was with him completely, ministering through Him, and 3 thousand were saved. Christ calls us to the same task today. And we will do it.