Below is something I wrote (just the first part) to Kim, who wrote a post entitled "Do Christians Have the Right to Instruct Each Other in How to Live?":
"Many times, the hard truth is that we don't want to hear anything that might result in our having to give something up that we like, or change in some way that doesn't please our flesh.
You wrote, 'They say it doesn't matter what they wear, how they look, how they live, so long as they love Jesus.'
I have encountered that attitude many times. I always think of Jesus' own words: 'If you love me, you will obey what I command' (John 14:25) and 'If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love' (John 15:10).
Love is inextricably tied to obedience. I simply can't claim to love Jesus if I disobey Him. Love is defined by what God says it is, and He says it's obedience. Who am I to argue?"
That is not to say we do not stumble--of course we do, and if you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you (1 John 1:8). But what I am addressing here is the prevalent belief that you can do whatever you want, and actions don't convey your love for Jesus one way or the other. It is nearly gnostic, divorcing what you do from what you "believe." And in from a Biblical standpoint, it's absurd.
"But I DO believe in Jesus," protests the drunkard. No, you don't, or you'd be doing what He said to do.
I, too, used to think that "belief" meant some form of mental assent, a recognition that something is true. If I believe in Jesus, I recognize and assent that He is the Son of God and died to save my sins. That is belief, right?
Well, in a sense, but that belief won't do much for you on the Day of Judgment.
What Jesus wants from us is faith in Him and obedience to Him. What does James say about belief?
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
It is not enough simply to "know" what Jesus did for you and live as you please; James makes it clear that the demons' sure knowledge of God does nothing to save them from His wrath (that's why they are trembling). No one may live however he pleases (the definition of lawlessness, by the way) and call himself a disciple of Jesus.
Many people are upset by this idea, but they are allowing themselves to be upset by the Gospel itself. Jesus came to set captives free from sin, not just to let them "know" what He did so they can continue in it. Our freedom in Him is freedom to obey, not a license to do whatever we want.
Jesus said I show my love to Him by my obedience. Thus, God's commands are of paramount importance to me and to any of His followers. I love Him, so I seek to obey Him.
People get so hyper about "works" that they don't even want to touch the word with a 10-foot pole--someone might think they believe in a "works"-based salvation! I don't; we are sinners saved only by the grace of God. But James had no such qualms with "works," and neither should we. And did you know that the Bible tells us to actually try to please God? It's not wrong. It's not "striving," except in a good way, as long as you realize that only the sacrifice of Jesus saves you--you couldn't do it yourself. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to do, or that works is a bad word! Check it out:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
2 Cor 5:9
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
[T]he one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
And look at this about "striving" (below). It's not a bad word. It's okay to seek to please God and to strive to know Him and to walk the narrow road. Be encouraged! Seek to live as God commands!
Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
The Bible says that God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. He empowers us to live holy lives by His Spirit...and He expects us to pursue holiness. We dare not live lawless lives.
1 John 3:4
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
You try to look like upright people outwardly, but inside your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Surgery, Part One
2 years ago