Sometimes it pays to stay with the simplicity that is Christ. What was important to Jesus? People can spend all sorts of time discussing and challenging one another’s lofty ideas, while at the same time failing to grasp and to practice what’s important to Him, biblically speaking – which is where the buck stops.
One thing that comes to mind and is so often overlooked is something that has been coming into focus a great deal of late: “And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” 1John 2:3.
1 John 2:4-6 clearly informs us, “Whoever says, ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God has been perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”
Christianity is meant to be an “evidence based” faith, the evidence being a growth in Christ likeness – love and holiness. 1 John 4:13 – “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” This is where the “can do” comes from, not of ourselves, but of God the Holy Spirit Himself!
It’s not about the right church or the right pew. It’s not about the religious traditions or commandments of men. It’s not about the latest church trends. It’s not about the politics of the land. It’s not about your favorite televangelist. It’s not about your best life now. It’s not about miracles, gifts, signs and wonders! It’s not about what your priest or preacher said last week – unless he’s in agreement with what Jesus teaches about the evidence. And the evidence is everything, per Jesus!
Here’s a key: “If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31b,2. The only way we can be sure about that is to become intimately acquainted with Holy Scripture. Read it. Pray it. Study it. Meditate on it day and night. Talk about it. See Psalm 1 and Psalm 119 for details.
It boils down to what Jesus taught, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
That we have been talked out of this by “can’t do” preachers of every expression of Christianity is a great tragedy. Why? Because Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35. It’s how the world knows we are His own! Love like His is the fulfillment of the law! The “can’t do” preachers love to dwell on how much we love sin and how impossible it is to live as Jesus calls His disciples to live. Certainly that is true up to a point – without the Holy Spirit we cannot, for that is the natural state of fallen humanity. But with God, the Counselor and Comforter, what He asks of us is possible. So how about setting our sites on something higher, according to the way Jesus sees things?
A way must be made for this to happen. Might this be why Jesus very clearly directs His followers: “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Luke 11:11-13. We are to ask and keep on asking, or as the Amplified Classic Version states, “… how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!”
And “Blessed are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6. How hungry are you? How thirsty?
“If anyone says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” 1 John 2:4-6.
It is also true that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8,9.
There’s a balance here. It’s not either or. When the Holy Spirit is bestowed, this begins the process whereby we are made more and more Christlike on a continuing basis. If this is not happening, some serious, prayerful self examination is in order. So, check into the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey Clinic and turn yourself around!
We need to abide and to grow in grace and in knowledge of the Lord. This is the way of a normal Christian life, with its ups and downs. But to think that we should abide always as “poor miserable sinners” forever, or live as we please in our sin, since grace abounds, is an eternally fatal error – not only for ourselves but possibly as well for all to whom we are a “witness.” There must, therefore, always be a continual surrendering to the Holy Spirit by way of godly sorrow for sin, confession, and repentance. And then, in receiving forgiveness, “With my lips I proclaim all the judgments of Your mouth. I rejoice in the way of Your testimonies as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.” Psalm 119:14,15.
So, KISS – Keep It Simple Saints.
And LOVE – Let Others View Emmanuel.