So how do we do that? “Therefore girding up the loins of your mind, being sober, perfectly hope for the grace being brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ, as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance, but according to the Holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:13-16
Think about it. The reason you and I ended up in prison is because we were thinking about whatever it was that got us into prison. If we had not been thinking about that which put us in, then we would not have been in that position and would not have been put in prison. Wow, what a mouthful. But don’t you see? By beholding we become changed!!!
(Those of you who have not been to prison, don’t pat yourselves on the back just yet. Your sins are even greater since you don’t even recognize them as sins. Just because your sin is acceptable by society, doesn’t mean it is acceptable with God.)
Let’s take a look at some who thought wrong. In Acts 8:22 Peter tells Simon, who had been baptized into the church, “Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.”
Get it? The thought was what caused the trouble. Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:3, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.” There it is again, our thoughts. That is why James is so point blank about this. He says, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire (thoughts), he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire (thoughts) has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:14, 15.
This is why God has given us the Bible. Instead of putting our minds on the things of this world and all the junk that is going on in it, let’s put our minds and thoughts on Jesus and on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Wow, what a difference that would make in our lives.
Hebrews says the same thing. Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus…”. As we fix our thoughts on Jesus, our attitude will be the same as that of Jesus. He had perfect love. What is love? First of all, we learned earlier in our study that love is the Ten Commandments. We would not know what love truly was without the Ten Commandments to point it out. But now, let’s go even deeper and see how those Ten Commandments can be put into practice in a more practical, everyday environment.
1 Corinthians 13 is the chapter on Love. On how to demonstrate it in our daily lives. Most of us will not go out and physically murder someone. Most of us will not go out and commit adultery. Most of us do not break the Ten Commandments in their grossest behavior. However, it is in the little things that we need to practice the keeping of the Ten Commandments. So let’s take a look at what we can do in our everyday life.
LOVE IS PATIENT
I am sure you have all heard the “prayer”, “Lord give me patience, and give it to me right now!” So few are going to heaven. Jesus has made that very plain. Are you starting to get the picture? Christianity isn’t what you think it is, it is what God says it is. Are you living up to what God says you must be?
LOVE IS KIND
Kind? Yep, kind!! Are you kind to people? Do you give of yourself?
Things are nice. Money is nice. But those are not the kindnesses that Paul is talking about. The devil gives things. Jesus gave of Himself in kindness and acts of personal attention. Kind. Wow, what a concept. Taking the time out of your busy schedule to actually sit down with someone and be kind to them, listening to them and be willing to watch and enjoy what they are doing. Kind. When was the last time you were kind to someone, as Jesus was?
LOVE DOES NOT ENVY
Paul was talking to his young friend Timothy. He wanted to make sure that Timothy would be properly instructed in this matter. In a letter to Timothy, Paul said, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:6-9.
Another problem with envy is it tends to produce gossip. You know how it goes, you confide in a “friend” some information that you want to share, but want it kept confidential. Later on your “friend” becomes envious of you for some reason and then betrays your confidence. Proverbs says, “gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13.
Talking about wicked people, Paul says, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy (there is that word envy), murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Romans 1:29-31.
All because of envy. The point is, evil is evil. A gossiper who breaks faith and betrays a confidence is a wicked person. Of course she will not think so, but the Bible says she is. Never are we to base our judgment on what we feel, but on the facts as the Word of God calls it. It is something like football. You, standing in the stadium, may see a play and feel that it was okay. The football player doing the play may feel that it was okay. In fact, the whole stadium may feel that it was OK. But if the referee says it was a wrong, it was wrong and that is that.
Again, that is why so few people are going to heaven. They think they have a right to gossip, or slander, or do this or that, since, they are “righteous” and the other person is a “sinner”. There are people in the church going around talking about this person who is gay, or that person who is divorced or that one who did this or that. Some even take others to court. The Bible says that the one going around gossiping is wicked and will not be in heaven. Keep your mouths shut people. Practice self-control.
This is another part of envy, looking up to the neighbors. Look at what is happening in our society. Look at the long hours we are putting into work, and for what? For things of this world that are about to pass away. Why? No one is content. Everyone is off trying to find contentment. Work, work, work. Buy, buy, buy. Get, get, get.
The consequences of all this are broken lives, broken families, broken relationships. It doesn’t have to be that way if you will follow the advice of the Bible. “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6.
“‘For whom am I toiling’, he asked, ‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’ This too is meaningless — a miserable business’”! Ecclesiastes 4:8.
Please folks, calm down, cut back, reduce your wants and your envy of what everyone else has. You don’t need it. All you need is what Jesus offers. Peace, health, happiness, joy and eternal life. Let this world go.
Another aspect of this “envy” and “gossip” are the TV and radio talk shows. There is nothing more sinful, wicked and godless than these shows. Gossiping and getting into everyone’s business. Totally against God. None of it does any good. All this airing dirty laundry is only for money, fame or spite. But lives are being ruined and destroyed. Be quiet, says the Bible, and know that God is God.
LOVE DOES NOT BOAST
LOVE IS NOT RUDE
Was Jesus “rude”? Yes – no. It depends on what side of the word you are standing. If rude to you means that someone has said or done something that offended you, then yes, Jesus was rude. If rude to you means that someone deliberately went out of his way to cause you trouble, then no, Jesus was not rude.
“Then the disciples came to Him and asked, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?’” Matthew 15:12. Absolutely. Jesus even answers this concept of rudeness. All wickedness is offended by righteousness. All the sinners will point fingers at the righteous and call them “rude” for saying such nasty things of them. I have been called vile by wicked people who think they are of God. This book has been called, “Scurrilous” and “of the devil”. Why? Because this book and I teach truth, the teachings of Jesus, and they don’t want to hear it.
This is what Jesus says, “He replied, ‘Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides.’” Matthew 15:13, 14. If you were a Pharisee you would think that Jesus was very rude to say that. But you see, Jesus was just speaking truth. The wicked hate the truth. Did Jesus go out of His way to say wicked things about the Pharisees? No. They were the ones who came to Him to lodge the complaint. That can be read in the first two verses. Jesus was simply defending His disciples. In other words, the Pharisees brought it on themselves. Keep our mouths shut and we won’t be getting into so much trouble.
Jesus loves, but He never shrank from delivering truth, even if it meant being “rude”. However, it was always delivered in love. Going on we find where we could say that Jesus was “rude” again. “Peter said, ‘Explain the parable to us.’ ‘Are you still so dull?’ Jesus asked them.” Matthew 15:16. What if you were Peter? Would you not think that Jesus answered you in a rude manner? If you’re honest, I think you would think so. If not, see how you respond when someone says to you, “Are you still so dull?” You might take offense also.
To explain this concept more fully, we move to the gospel of John. John, in chapter 6, is recording a dialog between Jesus and His antagonists. The speech Jesus was using was causing a lot of trouble among His hearers. So much so that they were “grumbling”. Jesus directly tells them to “Stop grumbling among yourselves.” John 6:43. They were very offended at Jesus and His manner of speech. They thought He was rude to them in His remarks. So offensive and “rude” was Jesus that “On hearing it, many of His disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’” John 6:60.
You see, in today’s world, as back then, if we are not “Politically Correct” (P.C.) in our speech, we might offend someone, or a church or a religion or a this or a that. The devil does not want us to be “rude”, but to keep truth to ourselves. Jesus was not afraid of being un-P.C. He taught truth. “Aware that His disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’” John 6:61. Yes it did.
Are we to be “rude”? Absolutely not. We are to be truthful, no matter what the consequences. I am not to hurt anyone. But if that person perceives a hurt just because I teach truth, that is his problem and not mine. But I will in no way go out of my way to be rude. In love I must be gentle in all that I do, including the teaching of truth. But I must teach truth and let the marbles fall where they will. “The Word of the Lord is offensive to them.” Jeremiah 6:10.
Outside of truth we must not be rude. We must not desire the first place, or the best food or the best clothes or the this and the that. Let us do all in our power to gently and humbly love those around us. But never to the point of giving up the truth.
Jesus was never self-seeking, He was never easily angered. Did He get angry, Yes. But never over self. His anger was directed against sin and those who were hurting others. He stood up for truth and righteousness, but never for self. They could beat Him, spit on Him and do all manner of evil against Him, and that was okay. But the minute they went against truth, He was there to stand up for it and defend it without hurting them.
If you want to know how angry God gets, as we are to get, just read the book of Jeremiah carefully. See how God gets angry. Then, as a Christian, you get angry at sin and wickedness in your life, and refuse to walk in it any more.
Are we to hate? Absolutely. Amos 5:15 will tell you to hate evil and to love good. The problem is, we have all been sanitized by the devil and allow sin and evil into our lives and think that it is okay. No, it is not. Get it out. Get angry at sin. Hate sin. Then live the righteous, holy, sinless life of Jesus by getting to know Him.
KEEPS NO RECORD OF WRONGS
Maybe there were wrongs committed. But haven’t we all committed wrongs to others? Haven’t we all done something that was not right to someone else, either knowingly or unknowingly? That is why the Bible is so strong on forgiveness. You must let go. You must let the past be buried and let the grass grow over the burial sight. Forget it. Your anger will not change the one who did you the wrong. Your anger will only destroy you.
Keeping score of wrongs is a miserable way to live. It brings no satisfaction. At the end of life what will you have to look back upon; nothing of any value. On the other hand, if your life is dedicated to loving God and serving all mankind, then you will have a life to look back upon that will bring you immense pleasure and pride. When walking through a rose garden, stop checking out the thorns and keep your eyes on the roses. Life will be a lot happier.
This brings up the next point, revenge. We all make mistakes. But are we to continue making a person suffer for their mistakes? We call ourselves “Christians” and then act in the most devilish way against those we think have hurt or harmed us. We have no love, no forgiveness and no grace towards those we feel have betrayed or wronged us or those we love. That is of the devil, not Jesus.
In Matthew 18:21-35, Jesus gives a parable about forgiveness. Simply put, a man owed the king ten thousand dollars and could not pay it. When the king put him and his wife and children up for sale to pay the debt, the man fell on his knees and begged. The king was moved and forgave him his debt. But when that man went out and saw a fellow servant who owed him one hundred dollars, he grabbed him by the neck and began choking him and demanded his money. The fellow servant fell on his knees and begged. But the servant had him thrown into jail until he paid the very last penny.
When the king heard of this, he sent for that wicked servant and said, “You wicked servant, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” Then he handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back all he owed.
The Bible says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:19-21.
If you are the one taking out “God’s wrath” on your enemy, then God can’t do any more to punish that person. He now must punish you for your wickedness. Drop it. Leave it alone. Let go of your anger and wickedness against those you think are bad, evil or wicked. You are only making yourself like them, no matter how you justify yourself.
It is time to become like Jesus and to surrender to the Love of Jesus. Treat all men: the wicked, the evil, the derelict, the murderer, gays, the child molester and all those who are not of your caliber, with the same love and respect that you would want to be treated by Jesus. You may think you are better and that you deserve to be treated better by God. You’re not. In God’s eyes, you are worse off, since you don’t see your need.
That is why the Bible says, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom (those today who belong to a church and think they are Christians) will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11, 12.
Understand? Those whom you, the state, the church, the “good” society think are bad, wicked, and “not up to par” will be the ones to feast in heaven. Those who think they belong there, the “subjects” of the kingdom, will be thrown outside. The weeping and gnashing of teeth won’t be by the “wicked” but by the “righteous” who thought they were going to be in heaven and are now finding themselves burning up. They will be weeping and gnashing their teeth.
Why? Because they did not forgive. They did not love. They thought they had the right to act “like God” according to their perverse understanding of God. They never studied the beauty of holiness, of forgiveness, of the loving kindness of God. Like Lucifer, they want the power of God to hate, hurt and bring vengeance, but they never learned to accept God’s meekness, love, kindness and forgiveness. We are to leave the “anger, hate, hurt and vengeance” of others to God. You are to practice the other attributes of Jesus if you want to get into heaven.
Yet look at all the “Christians” going to court against those they feel have hurt them or done them wrong. “Christians” who claim to believe the Bible refuse to listen to it or practice what it says. “But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers! The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.” 1 Corinthians 6:6-8.
“Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him.” 2 Samuel 14:14.
Did you understand that text? That is our example. If you think someone has done wrong to you or your family, etc., then it is your duty to do all in your power to bring that person back into fellowship with family so he will “not remain estranged”. That is true Christianity. If you are not doing that for others, God can not do that for you, and you will spend eternity “estranged” from God. It is called everlasting death.
Please surrender your pride, hate, hurt and all sin and let the love of Jesus into your heart. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. That is the only way we will be forgiven by God.
LOVE DOES NOT DELIGHT IN EVIL, BUT REJOICES WITH THE TRUTH
This takes us back to Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Love delights in the truth. If your church, denomination, minister, friend, music, video, TV programs are not teaching you positive truth that will make you perfect in Christ, TURN THEM OFF! Your life will be richer and happier if you will follow Jesus in every aspect of your life.
LOVE NEVER FAILS
No doubt about it, it is work. Keeping our eyes on Jesus is very hard work. The devil has invented more ways than ever before imaginable for keeping your eyes off what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy. The sad fact is, we feel right at home with most of his inventions.
You see, the only people Jesus can take to Heaven are those who are living the Heavenly life right now. If you are not, voluntarily, living the Heavenly life now, you won’t live it in Heaven. Why? Because salvation and righteous living is a choice. You can live it now, if you want to. If you don’t want to, you won’t be. And if you aren’t now, you won’t then. God cannot force you into righteousness. Laws are only necessary to keep the wicked heart under control. Since there will be no wicked hearts in Heaven, there will be no need for laws or law enforcement. All who are in Heaven will be there voluntarily. They will be there because they love God’s law and want to keep it - all of it from the heart.
Some may argue that they are what they are because of their genes or genetic code. That it would be un-Christlike to condemn them or destroy them for “being born that way”. I believe that medical science will discover that genes are not set, but motivated. Genes can be changed, i.e. switched on or off, become dominant or dormant. How is this possible? The Bible tells us how.
God, who created us, created genes to be motivated by our behavior and our thinking. “For as the thoughts of his heart are, so is he...” (BBE) Pr 23:7 These patterns of thought which then create patterns of behavior would then be transmitted “...to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:5, 6.
Now we understand the concept of what God has been trying to get across to us since the beginning of time. To Cain He said, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Genesis 4:7. In the New Testament He said, “...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,...” Philippians 2:12. He knew that “love” would never compensate for work. Only by the power of the Love of God through our hard work would we, God’s power with our power, be able to change the DNA genetic code of sin in our lives.
“Bygren and other scientists have now amassed historical evidence suggesting that powerful environmental conditions (near death from starvation, for instance) can somehow leave an imprint on the genetic material in eggs and sperm. These genetic imprints can short-circuit evolution and pass along new traits in a single generation.” Why Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny, By John Cloud Wednesday, Time Magazine, Jan. 06, 2010.
By the way, God’s love never fails, but He does withdraw it. “‘When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,’ says the Lord Almighty.” “The flock detested Me, and I grew weary of them and said, ‘I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.’” Zechariah 7:13; 11:8, 9. Your choice! Obey and receive God’s never failing love, or disobey and step outside of God’s never failing love.
However, God knows that we need a law of principles so we understand what “love” is. Without the true love of Jesus in the heart, man must be ruled by laws. Since the 1960’s when the churches down-played the Ten Commandments and became infatuated by the “you’re OK, I’m OK”, “Saved by Grace” philosophy, the laws of the land have more than tripled. With the Law of God in the heart, you don’t need so many laws of man. Without the Law of love in the heart (Ten Commandments), you need more and more laws and regulations to control the wicked heart of man.
Militant Islamics also claim to love God. They run around claiming that Allah is kind and merciful; while they slit your throat and cut off your head. They have made a commitment to force the world to accept Allah as the one and only God. Those who do not accept their god will be cut to pieces, mutilated and tortured.
The next time you hear your pastor, your church, your friend or anybody talk about, “all we need is love”, watch out! What love is he/she talking about? The love of “my rights”, “you must believe as I believe”, or the love of Jesus who humbled Himself and served others and allowed others to walk all over His rights. That is the only love that will go to heaven.