by Pastor Tim Burt
Our local car wash has a free vacuum that has fantastic suction. That’s great for cleaning the car but it often sucks up a pen or something that I didn’t want to be sucked up. The world is like that vacuum in that it’s always trying to suck Christians into the worldly lifestyles that corrupt and steal from this life, and undermine the abundantly blessed life Jesus wants us to experience. I have heard too many Christians say these kinds of things too many times. Oh well, what can I do? Times have changed. Open and greater sexuality is just a part of life. It’s everywhere! Do you expect me to be a monk? You can’t watch TV without seeing sexuality and hearing profanity. You can’t find a movie without it, so I might as well accept it and get used to it. Or, I can handle it—it won’t hurt me. I work with people who swear and tell dirty jokes and talk freely about their sexual exploits all the time. Its a part of my daily life so I don’t see the big deal if I watch it on TV or the movies. It’s not going to hurt me!
People that think they are immune from corrupt sources affecting them, are lying to themselves. They’ve already experienced spiritual setbacks but are blind to it. 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV) says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
The Apostle Paul warns us in Ephesians 5:3-11 NIV writing, “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. 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. Have NOTHING to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”
I remember as a young Christians learning to read the Bible and reading these words for the first time. In a moment’s time, I went from feeling saved by Jesus, to feeling unsaved. I was so far from living what these scriptures were calling for that I instantly felt condemned. To me, the standard the Apostle Paul was instructing us to live felt impossible. I was re-convinced I couldn’t live the Christian life—that it was impossible for me to accomplish this.
Let’s get this straight! God loves us! The depth of His love, mercy, and grace is incomprehensible! Condemnation is not His plan or message to us! His intend in these verses is not about condemnation, but warning us from a position of love, that these evils will influence us. They will get in our head. They will make there way to our heart. They will have their impact on our walk with God. There is no argument. This is a fact! The cry of God’s love is trying to protect us from being lured into and taken captive by Satan.
The Apostle Paul wasn’t writing to condemn. His heart was to protect and is clear in these verses: “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose Jesus he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26 NIV
For those with a conscience and a soft heart intact, living on the fence with one foot in both worlds is a spiritual nightmare. When people are caught living between this sinful world and God’s world, we hear those words of God crying out in our heart: 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV) “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”
I had to learn to go all out for God or not at all. I learned to make Bible reading, prayer, attending church (where the Bible was taught), commitment in service to God in some capacity, fellowship with other Christians, and sharing Jesus Christ with those around me, the standard and priorities I would live my life by. All these things combined became the ultimate source of strength and shield to help me walk out the Apostle Paul’s instruction. I am not saying it was easy. It wasn’t. But it was right. And it was pleasing to God. But making commitments that result in godly transformation only come with greater internal battles that God will help you win. This is what Jesus meant when He spoke the words, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24 (NIV) ). These are battles one by going to God’s throne room of grace and receiving His grace to overcome one at a time. And slowly but surely I did. Satan has no hold on me! That is what God’s word teaches and I had to believe it! Ungodly living was and is still being purged from my life. God’s blessing is no longer undermined by behaviors that Christians are supposed to separate their lives from. This is what God meant when He told us to “come out from them and be separate…” This is the life that brought me joy and peace. Anything less left me dissatisfied and disappointed in myself.
I can look back now and praise God that I did not waste years in captivity feeling beat up, accused, and condemned by the devil. Jesus had already forgiven me. He set me free from the power of sin, and empowered me to change with the help of His grace and Spirit. I just had to quit trying to have some of both worlds.
You may be in a work-place or in daily surroundings filled with ungodly influences. But, you don’t have to cave to them. You can stand strong in the Lord today! You can be the light in the darkness. You can be an influence that helps others while helping yourself. It may not seem like you have much impact initially, but I guarantee you that as you look back ten years from now, you’ll have a smile. You will have grown in your walk with God and touched lives along the way. You will have experienced greater blessing. And your heart will be overflowing with thanksgiving to God for His mercy and grace helping you to become separate and an influence for Him!
Eph. 5:10-11 (NLT) “Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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