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Friday, July 21st, 2006 | Author:

“One Of The Most Profound Questions In The Bible”

How shall we who died to sin still live in it?Let’s just let the Bible answer that for us!

“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it

never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us

who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore

we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was

raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness

of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly

we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our oldself was crucified with

Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so

that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if

we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that

Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is

master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life

that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive

to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you

obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments

of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the

dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be

master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin

because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know

that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves

of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting

in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became

obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking

in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented

your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness,

so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

(Set apart as holy for the service to God) For when you were slaves of sin, you

were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving

from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is

death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your

benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin

is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (emphasis

added) Romans 6:1-23

That clears up that question profoundly! Then why do those professing faith in Christ,

in our modern world, ignore this clear teaching? Many professing Christians are running

neck and neck with the unbelieving world in many areas of blatant sin. Materialism,

gluttony, sexual sins, lust and many others are just a few of these. By the way,

lust is not just sexual. It can be lust for power, position, wealth, possessions, ego and

many other areas. Self is still on the throne in far too many areas of our lives. How

careful are we in choosing what we set before our eyes? I have had believers tell me

that one must be mature to watch movies with sexual content and filthy language. Say

what? What does maturity have to do with this? This is the very opposite of spiritual

maturity. It is just another way to dodge obedience to our Lord and Savior Jesus

Christ and do our own thing! King David wrote, “I will set no worthless thing before

my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not fasten its grip on me.”

Psalm 101:31

We justify our overeating with a joke about the old waistline. Believers climb into bed

and have sexual intercourse with someone to whom they are not married and call it

an affair or doing what comes naturally. Self-control is still one of the fruits of the

Spirit! Sexual sin is clearly spelled out throughout Scripture yet many professing Christians

don’t give it a second thought. Pornography is viewed without a tinge of conscience

yet Jesus clearly said that to look at a man or woman with sexual lust in our

hearts is equal to adultery. “… but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman

with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew

5:28

What do these attitudes do to the heart of our Lord? Will He condone disobedience

just because it is “convenient” or “pleasurable” to us? I love a quote I came across a

few years ago. “God is more concerned about our character than our comfort.” Most

believers will say a hearty, “Amen!” to this and yet without hesitation continue with

self centered behavior a minute later. What is at the root of this kind of thinking?

“Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before

their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at

all?” Ezekiel 14:3

Let’s face it, we all struggle with sin. Hebrews tells us of an easily besetting sin. This is

an area of sin that we are individually weakest to. It is always there waiting for us and

our old nature has a weakness toward it.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also

lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run

with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and

perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the

shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

The Greek of this passage actually says, “who instead of His ever present joy.” Jesus

enjoyed constant fellowship with the Father until He was nailed to the cross and began

the process of being judged by His Father for the sins of the world. He was willing

to put our salvation ahead of His perfect fellowship with His Father so that we could

enjoy fellowship with God both now and forever. In other words, Jesus was willing to

interrupt His perfect union with the Father and Spirit in order to pay the awful penalty

for the sins of the whole world. He gave it all so that we could live lives that would

bring honor to God. Demanding unswerving obedience is not too much to ask of us.

We obey because we love Him not to earn some merit from Him.

“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny

himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life

will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For

what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For

whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him

when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’ ”

Luke 9:23-26

The apostle Paul made it clear what we must do with this area of weakness. “All things

are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will

not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledgeof God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…”

2 Corinthians 10:5

The question that we must all answer honestly or end up trying to play smoke and

mirrors games with the all knowing God is, are we destroying speculations and every

lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and are we bringing every thought

captive to the obedience of Christ? Are you still with me? This is usually where our

ego, pride, selfishness etc. tries to get us to stop reading and just “do something

else.” Stay with me as we are both in the same boat.

This article is the beginning of what I feel God calling me to do for the body of Christ.

God is challenging me to ask first myself and then the church, the people of God, the

hard questions about obedience to His commands. God’s commandments have for

too long been presented to His people as a multiple choice issue rather than an obedience

without rationalizations issue. I will do my very best to get the mind of God on

every article He prompts me to put to paper. The people of God are very precious to

me. I have served His people for over thirty-one years now and my love for them has

only intensified. I never want to be a hireling before God and His people. I want to be

a shepherd after the heart of God.

So, together let’s take a sharp right turn and decide right now that nothing and no

one shall cause us to compromise our obedience to His Word. From Genesis to Revelation

we are going to dig deep into His precious treasure and choose to follow Him

without compromise. One fellow said that he hated compromise so much that he refused

to use half-and-half in his coffee. I like that!

Henry Blackaby writes, “He (God) has a right to interrupt your life, He is Lord. When

you accepted Him as Lord, you gave Him the right to help Himself to your life anytime

He wants.” Makes perfect sense considering He is Lord. We no longer have time of

our own. At the moment of salvation we turned over all the minutes and hours of our

lives. The problem seems to be that we still think that we can do whatever we want.

“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for

these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you

please.” Galatians

5:17

Obedience is not optional. It is expected of every blood bought child of God. May the

Lord’s best blessings be on each of you as you seek to walk closer to His heart.

Pastor Ike

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Wednesday, July 12th, 2006 | Author:

Let’s just let the Bible answer that for us!

“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.”  – Revelation 13:11-17

 With today’s brand of “believe for the benefits you get gospel,” I greatly fear for many souls who will face this awful choice some day. There will be a generation of believers who will face this question and at the moment it will seem that it would be to one’s advantage to just take this mark since we can rationalize that, “God would not want me to be unemployed and unable to take care of my needs and the needs of my family.”
This kind of thinking comes from the “Name it and Claim it, God wants you rich mentality.” God is not there to serve us but we are here to serve Him! We forget that there have been martyrs throughout the history of the Jews and the church to this very day. People are this minute being killed for their faith around the world. Don’t buy into this false teaching of escape before it hurts. Rationalization at this point is eternally dangerous. The critical issue is that God will take care of this tribulation generation of saints and does not need our rationalizations to help Him out. Fearsome consequences face any and all human beings who take this mark. I strongly believe that taking this mark will also involve renouncing our faith in Jesus Christ in order to get the mark. It won’t be some blind sided trick that the government or some other entity comes up with to “trick” you into taking it. It will also put our very lives at risk by refusing to take it. Many in our society already are trying to make Christians the oddballs because we will not play their international king of the hill game with them. The believers were blamed for just about everything bad that happened in Rome in the first century and it will be very similar in the last days. What will happen to those who do opt for the so-called “safe” route and take the mark.  (Note: I strongly hold to eternal security but also hold that the truly born again would not hesitate to die for their faith in Jesus rather than sell out the most precious thing in their life.)
Read on and the Word of God will make it very clear.  “Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment
goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ ” – Revelation 14:9-11

“So the first  angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image.”  – Revelation 16:2
“And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.”  – Revelation 19:20
“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”  – Revelation 20:4
It seems to me that the time is now to make up our minds to refuse the mark of the beast and let God take care of us and our loved ones. This will take faith far beyond any of our imaginations. It will most likely mean loosing everything we own, our employment and even our lives. Can we grasp the reality of all of this?
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake
will find it.”  – Matthew 16:25
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake
and the gospel’s will save it.”  – Mark 8:35
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake,
he is the one who will save it.” – Luke 9:24
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”  – John 12:25
Why is this verse repeated in all four gospels? Because it is critically important that we get it and cling to it!  Something very similar to having a mark to work happened in the Roman empire in the first century. This last time will be final. The only ones left standing at the end of this one will be the believers who remained faithful and true to the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is a very sobering thought and not one to be put off till later.  “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  – Revelation 2:10

Critical Note: As far as the idea that you will escape this time because you will be raptured out of it, well you probably want to do a little more research on when the rapture doctrine started in Christianity. Dr. Walter Martin, now with the Lord, did an awesome study that can be obtained through the Bible Answer Man program. He makes a good case for every Christian to think carefully about the question of, “what if I do have to go through the tribulation?” Martin points out that for the rapture to occur there would have to be two first resurrections. How can we have two of one event? He says that for nineteen hundred years the church knew nothing of the rapture teaching.
The early church fathers made no mention of such a teaching. I personally am all for the rapture but I also want to be a realist and face the possibility that this could happen in my lifetime. This mark is very real and on its way into our society rapidly. Do not be caught off guard. Make the choice now to stand strong in your trust in Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews warns us of the consequences of shrinking back from our trust.
“But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith
to the preserving of the soul.”  – Hebrews 10:39
I know that this article is a lot to swallow all at once. Don’t let fear cause you to just put this issue away. It is as real as a heart attack. I only write what I sense God leading me to write. I don’t have all the answers but when the Word of God speaks as clearly as this on any subject I think we need to heed what is written.  May God give us eyes to see and hearts to obey His wonderful Word.

Pastor Ike

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