By John Foll
, finished writing 1/8/2018
© Copyright 2018 John Foll
It takes more than having the correct theory of the truth to be saved.
* This blog is not for everyone, but some may especially need to hear this message. If you are looking for a nice easy-going article that tells you that you are OK and just makes you feel good, this article is not for you. We are sorry if it appears too strong. But there are problems with the way many people believe about how they are saved. Since Jesus gave this message or a similar one to it, it still needs to be heard! But if you are not ready for it, then don’t read this article. If you would like to find out what you may lack or need to do to be saved, read on.
“And Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’” Matthew 16:6 NASB. “Then they [Jesus’ disciples] understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:12 NASB.
Jesus’ statement here is still valid today! We need to beware of the leaven of the modern Pharisees and Sadducees!
Today there are two basic groups within Christianity: the left and the right.
(We are not talking about Christian denominations here.) We are not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or put down anyone, but today there is a “general” condition of lukewarmness in many Churches that seems very hard to wake people up to, or it’s a cold spiritual state or it’s a party like happy-go-lucky state – no worries. They just don’t get it. This is similar in some ways to when Jesus walked this earth warning His Disciples against the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. What can be done to wake people up to their peril? This is our desire and ministry objective: Help people lose their lukewarm Christian state.
In our day some have been taught to presume on God’s great mercy, that everything is taken care of by grace … they don’t need to choose to let God help them, renounce the world, or make the changes He wants them to make, or they are taught that once they are saved that they cannot be lost. Some don’t think their choice plays any role in their salvation once they have become ‘saved’: it is automatic after this. Some believe that they don’t need to give themselves to God daily or don’t think this needs to be their concern, since they are ‘saved’ or because of ‘grace’ or whatever. Or they don’t give it any thought at all, since they are falsely comforted by their teachers. And many of them are taught that they don’t have to obey God; that if they try to obey Him this is works and bad. There are multiple variations and layers of this teaching, depending on which Christian denomination they are from. But the end result of all of them will be the same, unless a miracle happens and they change. There is not as big a difference between the variations of these beliefs as many might think, the end result is the same: trick people into thinking that they are safe, when they are not, so that they will be lost. Trick people into thinking that since they have ‘the truth’ or the correct beliefs, that they are good and will be saved. Some of them won’t admit that the points we are making apply to them. They hide behind their belief that because they believe ‘the truth’ or because of something that they have done or are doing that they will be saved in the end. Some people seem to think church membership is a membership into a club of the saved.
And in our day there are others who claim that they ‘know the truth’, and probably think that they are keeping it. But they really aren’t and they are often harsh and critical with others, not knowing their true need of God. Some believe that they are right because they believe ‘the truth’ and take a firm stand for it, and think that this alone makes them good – good enough to be saved. And they think that if you don’t agree with them and do as they do, that you don’t get it, implying that you are lost. They think that this is good behavior: talking about the sins and mistakes of others, but it is in fact, a terrible sin that will shut them out of Heaven, unless they repent of it. Others think that their salvation is secure because of grace, but if you don’t believe like they do, you are ‘under the law”, implying that you are lost. So this other side also believes that their belief saves them.
Many have a theory of the truth but do not have a vital connection with God, or their connection with Him is inconsistent. Many claim that the other side is in error without knowing that they are in error too. There is nothing you can learn that will save you by itself, even if it’s the truth, without the need to humble yourself before God, confess all your sins, yield to Him all the way moment by moment, and be fully converted and born again. What can be done to wake people up to these delusions? Many don’t realize that belief alone will not save them, weather it is the truth or not. Or they may think they are saved without having to yield to God, because they are saved or were saved at one time.
Do you believe?
You do well, the demons also believe and tremble! James 2:19. The belief in the truth is a good place to start, but unless you are daily converted and born again it is not enough. But do you believe in all the truth, or just what has been “cherry picked” for you by your teachers? Have you studied out all that the Bible has to say, the whole thing, and tried to learn everything that it teaches, without trying to force it through what you have been taught to make it fit? Jesus says that we are to beware of the leaven or teaching, or the doctrines of the Pharisees (on the right) and the Sadducees (on the left). We believe that Jesus would still say in our day to beware of ‘the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees', if He were here walking and teaching on this earth. He would warn us that we are to beware of their teachings and attitudes that do not line up 100% with God’s word in the Bible. And all attitudes that do not line up 100% with God’s love or are not compatible with it, should be discarded. (We are not saying here that God will not eventually carry out justice here against the unrepentant sinner, or that rebuke to sinners is not necessary sometimes, but it is always to be given in love.)
Many think that they know the truth, but if they are not changed by it to be kinder, gentler, more forgiving, more compassionate to others, more devoted to God, and more obedient to Him, it is of little value. You must be born again to enter the kingdom of Heaven, regardless of whether you believe the truth or not. John 3:3, 5. These are not my words, but Jesus’ words.
Jesus also said to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy:
“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them.’” Matthew 23:1-3 NASB. Jesus’ definition of hypocrisy is when people say things and do not do them. Notice Jesus didn’t say that everything that the Scribes and Pharisees were saying were wrong. He clearly indicated that the things that they taught from the Bible should still be done, but that we are not to do as they do, because they said things and did not do them. Why? Because they had no vital connection with God, and no one can live a righteous life apart from Him. All their righteousness was pretended. We think this adequately describes many of those on the left, as well as many on the right in our day too. Did you catch that? Yes you heard that right! All their righteousness is pretended.
Many on the left ‘claim’ that they believe that they are saved by grace, or that they believe in righteousness by faith, while they do not really know what saving faith is, or what it means to be born again, or they have forgotten or lost it. And they believe that since they are saved by grace, that this is all that is needed. They have a theory of part of the truth, but not the practice. (Yes, we are saved by grace!) But the way many of them live is really a form of self-righteousness (or no righteousness at all), just like those on the right who are not born again. Anyone who does not have Christ’s righteousness has either self-righteousness or no righteousness at all. No one can be good before God standing in the robe of their own righteousness or filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6. Only those who are confessing their sins and allowing God to cleanse them from all unrighteousness appear good in the eyes of God. 1 John 1:9. Because Christ will be their righteousness, He will give it to them. Philippians 1:11; 3:9; Romans 8:10. Only those who are yielding to God step-by-step, day-by-day are where God wants them to be.
Many on the right seem to think that because they believe ‘the truth’ and take a vigorous stand for it, and put down those who do not do what they say, and those who don’t agree with their views on everything, that this makes them good. What a joke. Many of them also say bad things about others behind their back, and try to assassinate their characters. (Many on the left do this too.) But this behavior is anything but good. Jesus declared: “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17 NASB. The King James Version for this passage says that we are to ‘tell him his fault between thee and him alone.’ But even though Jesus said this, it has fallen on deaf hears, for many do not seem to know that He said it, or they just ignore what He said. This is such a big problem! This can cause souls to be lost and can divide churches! (This could cause the soul of the person being talked about to be lost, as well as those who are talking about them, unless they repent.) Belief in the truth is never enough by itself, there must also be a change of heart and a love for lost sinners, not desiring to hurt any - that all would come to repentance. It takes more than a theory of the truth! The truth must take possession of the heart. The attitude must change. What truth especially? The truth of God’s love for humanity and desire to save everyone!! We believe that some on both sides have parts of the truth, but it is not complete or is just a theory to them.
‘Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers’ Philippians 3:2 NASB:
Beware of the false teachings and bad attitudes of the left and the right. To some, the left appear to be more correct, because they talk much of God’s grace and love, which is true and can be found easily in the Bible. But to others, the right appears to be more correct and in line with more Bible truths. (Some on the right believe that they are saved by grace too.) But many Christians are not born again or have lost it, and think that because they believe ‘the truth’ and try to keep it that that it is enough to be saved, or for others who do nothing at all, because they think that all works are bad and are careless of God’s requirements. Those who are not listening to God do not know their own true spiritual condition: that they are blind, miserable, and naked. Revelation 3:15-20. Those who don’t see their need to obey God’, or seek His help to obey Him are blind to their true condition. But God’s Holy Spirit is given to all that obey Him (Acts 5:32) and to those who want to obey Him. And those who don’t want to obey Him (or don’t think that He can help them obey) most certainly do not have the Holy Spirit and are not born again. If someone is not wanting to obey, or do not think that they can obey Him by His power, you can be sure there is a big problem in their life that they need to confess, repent and forsake. There is nothing too hard for God that He wants to do for His people, if they want His help. Jeremiah 32:17, 27. If you are born again you will have the love of God in your heart for others, and will have pity for those who are erring, and will not talk bad about them. And you will also love to obey God, and be sorry when you make a mistake or sin. You will not seek to excuse sin, but get forgiven, and receive God’s sweet Holy Spirit into your life again. When you are born again, sharing God’s love for others is a delight for you, and your life is oriented around unselfish service to God, and for the salvation of souls, or for doing whatever God has given you to do to help others. (God gives different gifts to each person who belong to Him.)
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees are the partial truths, the half-truths, and the falsehoods that they believe are the complete truth, without knowing they are missing something essential. For some of them, it is their attitude towards others that is wrong, more than their beliefs. These beliefs make them think that they are safe, OK, and right with God, when in fact they are not. They surround themselves with teachers who tell them they are OK as long as they have the correct beliefs. They both believe that they are right and that the other side is wrong. They say some things which are true, but do not do them. Both need to be born again, or re-born again. This is one of the ways the devil confuses people, he gets them into focusing on someone else as being in error, while they ignore their own errors. He holds up another group as being wrong, and gets them on a crusade against them. Unfortunately a lot of people in both of these groups are lacking the Holy Spirit dwelling in their heart, that all are required to have in order to be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven. John 3:3, 5. You must be born again to enter the kingdom of Heaven. This is not a statement about someone’s beliefs, but a statement about what they are or are not – born again or not born again. Belief will not save anyone, being born again will. (We are not talking about faith here, just people’s beliefs.)
Beware of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees!
Beware of those who say they believe the truth but do not do it!
Beware of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees!
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers.
It’s not ‘what you know’, but ‘Who you know’ that saves you:
Jesus says, ‘depart from Me, ye that work iniquity’ ‘for I never knew you’. “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” Matthew 7:21-23 NASB.
‘Do you know my Jesus? Do you know my friend? Have you heard He loves you? And that He will abide till the end?‘ Oh sinner, waste not a precious moment! Make the Savior your friend before your life is over. No one knows how much time they have left on this earth. Don’t believe for a moment that you are OK because you know the truth or that you are automatically saved by grace, and that you do not have to make a choice to humble yourself before Him, love, serve and obey Him.
* From the song ‘Do you know my Jesus?’ by Vep B. Ellis and William F. Lakey
‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16:30 KJV.
If you know that you are not born again, or find that you have been in error on any of the points we discussed in this article, or any others, and God is convicting you on it, you can get a clean slate right now with God! * He is always willing to forgive! Just humble yourself before Him right now, and tell Him you are sorry that you didn’t love Him enough to yield to Him all the way before, and obey Him in everything He asked you to do, or for putting it off. Tell Him you are sorry that you haven’t given your heart completely to Him before. Ask Him to help you be born again and fill you with His sweet Spirit. Ask Him to help you to love and obey Him in all things. Ask Him to help you become meek, gentle, lowly, and kind. Always obey Him willingly whenever He asks you to do something; ask Him for the help to do it. If you want to do your own thing, God will not force you to change or stop you from doing it, but it will make Him sad, because He loves you! If you decide to go your own way you cannot have this wonderful peace, love and joy in your heart that He wants to give you, and you will lose your earthly and heavenly security. But there is no reason for you to do this when you can have all the eternal riches that God wants to give you! And you can start to gain some of them right now! Do you want these eternal riches dear reader? They are yours if you will claim them! Give your heart to God now and every day and they will be yours! You will be so glad that you did! There will be a sweetness in your life that you probably never had or noticed before. Your attitude will change towards others who used to get you upset before, and you will want to obey God. And there will be Son-shine in your heart! Amen!
May the grace of God be with you, as you decide if you want to give your heart to God all the way. We hope and pray that you do. We want to see you in Heaven, and know the joy of the eternally saved! Amen.
* From the Song ‘He’, music written by Jack Richards, with lyrics by Richard Mullan.
There is a way to tell from the Bible if you are born again or not, if you will study it out. You should, your eternal life depends on it. But it must be more than a theory to you, you need to allow God to change you and you must give yourself to Him all the way. It must be your desire and practice. I.e. what you do, not just what you say. Only God can do this for you, but you must submit to Him completely, every day, if you want to be born again and stay that way. Amen, let it be so!
#Beware #Leaven #Pharisees #Sadducees #Hypocrisy #Left #Right #Liberal #Conservative #Grace #Truth #Lukewarm #Saved #Good #Harsh #Critical #Backbiting #Choice #Humble #BornAgain
By E. J. Waggoner
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." The word "predestinate" is the same as "foreordain," which is found in the Revised Version. Volumes of speculation have been written about these terms, but a few words are sufficient to set forth the facts. With respect to these, as well as the other attributes of God, it is sufficient for us to know the fact. With the explanation we have nothing to do.
That God knows all things is plainly set forth in the Scripture. Not only does he know the things that are past, but he sees the future as well.
"Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." Acts 15:18. "O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; thou understandest my thought afar off." Ps. 139:1, 2. Thus God can tell what people even yet unborn will do and say.
This does not make God responsible for the evil that they do. Some have foolishly thought it necessary to apologize for the Lord and to relieve him of the charge that if he is omniscient He is responsible for the evil if he does not prevent it, by saying that He could know if he wished, but that he chooses not to know many things. Such a "defense" of God is both foolish and wicked. It assumes that God would be responsible for the evil if he knew it beforehand and did not prevent it, and that in order not to be in a position to prevent it, he deliberately shuts his eyes from it. Thus their "defense" really puts the responsibility for all evil upon God. Not only so, but it limits Him. It makes him like a man.
God knows all things, not by study and research as man learns the little he knows, but because he is God. He inhabits eternity. Isa. 57:15. We can not understand how this can be any more than we can understand eternity. We must accept the fact and be not only content, but glad, that God is greater than we. All time, past, present, and future, is the same to Him. It is always "now" with God. The fact that God knew the evil that men would do, even before the foundation of the world, does not make him responsible for it, any more than
the fact that a man can see by means of a telescope what a man is doing ten miles distant makes him responsible for that other one's actions. God has from the beginning set before people warnings against sin, and has provided them with all the necessary means for avoiding it; but he can not interfere with man's right and freedom of choice without depriving him of his manhood and making him the same as a stick.
Freedom to do right implies freedom to do wrong. If a man were made so that he could not do wrong, he would have no freedom at all, not even to do right. He would be less than the brutes. There is no virtue in forced obedience, nor would there be any virtue in doing that which is right if it were impossible to do wrong. Moreover, there could be no pleasure or satisfaction in the professed friendship of two persons if one associated with the other just because he could not avoid it. The joy of the Lord in the companionship of his people is that they of their own free-will choose him above all others. And that which is the joy of the Lord is the joy of His people.
The very ones who rail against God for not preventing the ills that he foresees since he is all-powerful, would be the very first to charge him with cruelty if he did arbitrarily interfere with their freedom and make them do that which they do not choose. Such a course would make everybody unhappy and discontented. The wisest thing for us to do is to stop trying to fathom the ways of the Almighty, and accept the fact that whatever he does is right. "As for God, His way is perfect." Ps. 18:30.
The text shows that "whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren." God's thoughts toward men are thoughts of peace, and not of evil. Jer. 29:11. He ordains peace for us. Isa. 26:12. We read nothing about men being foreordained to destruction; the only thing that God has predestinated is that men should be conformed to the image of His Son.
But it is only in Christ that we become conformed to His image. It is in him that we come "unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Eph. 4:13. Therefore it is that men are foreordained or predestinated only in Christ. The whole story is told in the following passage of Scripture :-
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good-pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved."
Everything is in Christ. We receive all spiritual blessings in Him; we are chosen in Him unto holiness; in Him we are predestinated unto the adoption of children; in Him we are accepted; and in Him we have redemption through His blood. "God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thess. 5:9.
That is God's purpose and foreordination concerning man. Still further, "whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son." Whom did He foreknow? There can be no limit; He must have foreknown all. If there were any exception, then God would not be infinite in knowledge. If He foreknows one person, then He foreknows every person. There has not been a person born into the world whose birth God did not foreknow. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Therefore, since every person has been known to God even before the foundation of the world, and those whom he foreknew He predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, it follows that God has purposed salvation for every soul that has ever come into the world. His love embraces all, without respect of persons.
"Then everybody will be saved, no matter what He does," some one will say. Not by any means. Remember that the purpose of God is in Christ. It is only in Him that we are predestinated. And we are free to choose for ourselves whether we will accept Him or not. Man's will has been forever set free, and God Himself will not presume to interfere with it. He holds sacred the choice and will of each individual. He will not carry out His own purpose contrary to man's will. His will is to give man whatever man decides will best please Him. So he sets before man life and death, good and evil, and tells him to choose which he will have. God knows what is best, and has chosen and prepared
that for man. He has gone so far as to fix it beyond all possibility of failure, that man shall have that good thing if he chooses it. But the wonderful kindness and courteousness of the great God is seen in this, that He defers in everything to man's wishes. If man, in his turn, will but defer to God's wishes, there will be the most delightful and loving companionship between them.
Called, Justified, Glorified:
"Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." This is completed action. We need not stumble over it, if we will but remember that everything is in Christ. In Christ we have already been blessed with all spiritual blessings. All men are called to that which God has prepared for them, but none are "the called according to His purpose" unless they have made their calling and election sure by submitting to His will. Such ones are predestinated to be saved. Nothing in the universe can hinder the salvation of any soul that accepts and trusts the Lord Jesus Christ.
And all such are justified. The death of Christ reconciles us to God. "He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:2. His death has secured pardon and life for all. Nothing can keep them from salvation except their own perverse will. Men must take themselves out of the hand of God, in order to be lost. Much more, then, those who accept the sacrifice, are justified. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." "And whom He justified, them He also glorified." Have we not read in the prayer of Christ for His disciples, not only for those who were with Him in the garden, but also for all them that should believe on Him through their word and therefore for us, "The glory which Thou gavest Me, I have given them"? Peter said that he was a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. God has left nothing undone. Everything that Christ has we have if we accept Him. All that remains is that it should be revealed. "The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God." When God asks concerning His people, "What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it?" who shall presume to say that there is something that He has overlooked?
All Things Ours:
But we have anticipated the apostle. Hear him: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall he not with Him also freely give us all things?"
How shall He not? That is, how can He avoid giving us all things? In giving Christ for and to us, God could not do otherwise than give us
all things, "for in Him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Col. 1:16, 17, R.V.
"Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." 1 Cor. 3:21-23. This, then, answers the question, "Who can be against us?" Everything is for us. "All things are for your sakes." 2 Cor. 4:15. A general once telegraphed to the seat of government, "We have met the enemy, and they are ours." This is what every child of God is privileged to say. "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15:57.
"This is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith." 1 John 5:4, R.V. This is what makes us know that all things work together for good to them that love God. No matter how dark and forbidding the things may seem, if we are in Christ, they are for us, and not against us.
Blog Edited by John Foll.
If you were blessed by this article by E. J. Waggoner, you may want to check out some of our other articles by him or others on our Faith Blog: http://whiteraimentevangelismfaith.blogspot.com/.
A really good article on this site by E. J. Waggoner is: “Living by Faith Part 2 of 5: A Cause of Failure” http://whiteraimentevangelismfaith.blogspot.com/2016/10/living-by-faith-part-2-cause-of-failure.html
#Foreordained #Predestined #Destiny #Foreknew #Predestination #God #Kindness #Love #Delight #Companion #Companionship #Courteous #Sacred #Will #Free #Choice #Right #Justified #Glorified #Victory
By John Foll, Finished Writing 3/25/2017 to 3/26/2017
© Copyright 2017 John Foll
Jesus said, “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 KJV.
What is Jesus saying here? There can be no doubt that the scribes and Pharisees were zealous to keep God’s Law, the 10 Commandments. Jesus plainly declared here that our righteousness must exceed theirs! This statement by Jesus clearly shows the idea that the commandments mentioned in Matthew 5:17-20 are the 10 Commandments. How do we know this? Because the scribes and Pharisees believed that you should keep the Law and they endeavored to keep it. Did Jesus say that the scribes or Pharisees were wrong in trying to keep God’s Law or 10 Commandments? No. Why did Jesus say that our righteousness MUST exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees in order to be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven? Because it is true. Jesus said this because the scribes and Pharisees were trying to keep the 10 Commandments in their own strength, which is impossible. The scribes and Pharisees made a pretense of keeping the 10 Commandments, but were unable to do so since they did not have a vital connection with God (even though they probably thought they were keeping His commandments). You can never keep God’s commandments, unless you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:35-40. To outward appearance they might have appeared to keep them, but God looks not at the outside, He looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.” Matthew 23:25-26 NASB. We must allow God to clean the inside of our heart, and help us not be hypocrites, if we want our righteousness to exceed that of the scribes and the Pharisees: if we ever wish to enter the kingdom of Heaven. It is not an easy thing to be a “scribe” or a Pharisee; a person has to work full time at it, and be very zealous to keep the Law, being weighed down with guilt and self-righteousness, resisting the Holy Spirit’s plea for them to make the changes that God wants them to make, never knowing or forgetting how sweet it is to be totally right with God and clean before Him, with the peace and joy of knowing that your life pleases Him. If this is your case, your righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes or the Pharisees. These zealous efforts to be good are never good enough and never will be, because they fall infinitely short of God’s desire for us to have His PERFECT righteousness! No one can ever be saved, unless their righteousness exceeds that of the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees! No one can ever be saved, unless they have Christ’s righteousness. The best that we can do is useless to gain eternal life; we must have more than we can ever do in our own power and strength, and skill and will.
A corrupt, impure, or a self-righteous heart can never fulfill the requirements of the Law, or know the joy of having a heart full of love for God and their fellow man, unless they repent; for love is the fulfillment of the law. Romans 13:10. A self-righteous heart does not know peace, because it is not clean before God. The scribes and Pharisees tried their best to keep God’s Law, and prided themselves on keeping it, but Jesus said that their righteousness was not good enough to enter the kingdom of Heaven.
When Jesus says that your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, He is stating the truth. But how is this possible? You in your own desire and willpower cannot keep God’s Law of Love, though it might appear that you can to yourself and others. But only God is good. Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18. But (as Jesus said) if you want to be saved, your righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. The only way your righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, and to be good, is if you let God clean the inside of your cup first. If you want the inside of your cup to be clean, you must allow Him to not only forgive your sins, but to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. And you need to cooperate with Him and do everything He asks willingly. If you are not there yet, you can pray to God: ‘Have mercy on me a sinner, help me to be willing and help me to keep your Law.’ And He will hear your prayer and grant it if you mean it. The only way your righteousness can exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, is if you let God make you good! If you really know God, you cannot help but be good, because He will help you be good. This is because only God is good.
We know there are some saying that we don’t have to keep God’s 10 Commandments, that Jesus did everything for us on the cross, but the Bible says otherwise. We are not saying that our efforts to keep the 10 Commandments will save us, no not at all! We are saying that if we have God’s saving love dwelling in our heart, in the presence of the Holy Spirit, we would always want to keep the 10 Commandments or be sorry when we break them. The tempter has far too long kept this argument to two sides that are both wrong! Did you catch that? Both of the sides, on the left and on the right, are wrong. In general, liberals and conservative Christians are wrong on this subject. We say this, because liberal Christians tend to say that we cannot keep God’s Law, and thus should not concern ourselves with it at all since we are ‘saved by grace’, some of them even going as far as implying or saying that you are doing something wrong to even try to keep God’s Law. I.e. it is a sin to be good and it is good to sin. (They will probably deny this belief if you discuss the end result of their belief with them.) “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20 NASB. And there are many conservative Christians who are very zealous for keeping the Law, yet are not keeping it perfectly, although they will probably deny this. Their failed efforts to keep God’s Law does not please Him. But if they have confessed their sins to Him and asked for His help to keep His Law, this will please Him. But they have no room for pride over their erring brothers and sisters, if they themselves are also breaking His Law in thought, word or deed in any way! In the end, anyone who has not confessed all of their sins and yielded themselves completely to God, can never possibly keep all of God’s Law, for they are breaking the first commandment to have no other God’s before Him at the very least, and do not love the Lord their God with all of their heart, and all of their mind, and all of their soul. Exodus 20:2; Matthew 22:37-38. God requires His Laws and commandments to be kept perfectly in thought, word and in action at all times, something that is humanly impossible! We are not saying here that God cannot forgive sinners who have broken His Law. We must always keep in mind that God’s thoughts and ways are way above man’s ideas and ability. Listen to what God revealed through the prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV. Man’s ideas on whether he is keeping God’s Law or not, and his ability of keeping it are completely inadequate, unless he knows the whole truth of it and has God’s divine aid. Whenever someone is making the claim of keeping God’s Law, if they lose their temper, say bad things about others behind their back, or say hurtful things to them, or do not love God supremely or do not love their neighbor as themselves, then they most certainly do not have the right spirit and are breaking God’s Law, regardless of their claim, because ‘love is the fulfillment of the Law.’ Romans 13:10.
Some conservatives appear to think that if they believe the truth and endeavor to keep it and promote it to others, or if they point out the sins and defects of others that this makes them good, but it does not! Many conservatives believe and teach the majority of the truth, but omit the weightier matters of the Law like love and mercy, and have no ability of keeping God’s Law, because they do not have a vital connection with God. Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Matthew 23:23 KJV.
And many liberals think that there is no reason to even try to be good, or worry whether they are good or not, because they believe that they are only saved by grace and are not actually required by God to obey Him. But unless the liberal’s righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, i.e. unless their righteousness exceeds that of the conservatives, they cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven either. Did you catch that? There are no liberals or conservatives that are excused from obeying all of God’s Law or 10 Commandments. There are no liberals or conservatives who are excused from loving the Lord their God with all their heart, and with all of their mind and with all of their soul, or from loving their neighbor as themselves. Any who do not allow God to help them be good will eventually be weighed in the balance and found wanting. Daniel 5:27.
If you have a problem with what we are saying here in this article, these are not our words but Jesus’ words that were stated in Matthew 5:20.
Nothing but God’s perfect righteousness is ever acceptable to Him. So you find the truth that whether you are a religious conservative or a liberal, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Do you doubt the main premise of this article? Then consider well what Jesus said here:“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 KJV. If Jesus told you to do something, then it must be true. God cannot lie. Hebrews 6:18. Jesus the Son of God cannot lie either. (Jesus came to reveal the will of the Father to mankind.) Since Jesus said that you were to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, there must be a way for you to do it. To get perfection, you must get Christ's righteousness, which you can only gain by faith. Romans 3:22. We find that this statement by Jesus in Matthew 5:48 is in perfect harmony with His other statement in Matthew 5:20, in fact, they are in the same chapter! God has made provision for you, so you do not have to live in the flesh, and can have His righteousness! See Romans 8:5-17.
How did these lies or half-truths on the left and on the right ever become acceptable to ‘God’s people’? Because they allowed this to be, and because they haven’t challenged the idea enough that it doesn’t matter what you do, or the idea that it only matters what you believe, or you are OK if it looks like you are keeping God’s Law, and that you don’t have to actually live a righteous life or have love and kindness for others, that your intention to keep His Law is enough, even though the Bible plainly states otherwise. But Jesus said that you must be born again by the water and by the Spirit to be able to enter the kingdom of Heaven, John 3:3, 5. And that no good tree can bear bad fruit, and no bad tree can bear good fruit. Jesus said: “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” Matthew 7:16-20 KJV. So just believe what Jesus said. We are not trying to make you feel bad or to wound any; our desire is that regardless of what your problems are that you would turn to God for help and live, so that you get the help you need to be happy and be at peace. If you are unaware of the problems on the left or on the right (if any of these are your problems) you will be unable to get the peace, love, joy, faith and hope that you need to thrive spiritually and to withstand the trials that are ahead as this world’s history draws to a close.
So what do you do if you know you are not where you should be spiritually? Regardless of whether you fall on the left or on the right, the solution in both cases is the same. If you have been in either one of these groups (many of us have been in one or both of these groups in at least one point in our life) if you confess your sins, yield yourself completely to God, and learn to fully love Him, you will find it an easy thing to make the changes that He wants you to make. Did you hear that right: it is an ‘easy thing to make the changes that He wants you to make’? Yes you did hear that right! While it is an impossible thing to be good by yourself, if you know God and really love Him, it will be the most easy and natural thing in the world for you to be good, providing you keep abiding in His love for you. But wait not for tomorrow or for a convenient season to approach His throne of grace to obtain this help and mercy in time of need. Acts 24:5; Hebrews 4:16. God is even now waiting for you to completely return to Him and seek after Him with all your heart, then you will be found by Him. Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:11-13.
We wish someone had taught us the wonderful truth many years ago that God would give us the power to live a righteous life, if we would yield our heart completely to Him and let Him help us, then we wouldn’t have had to waste so much of our life; that He wants to fill us with His precious Holy Spirit to help us obey Him, and that we don’t have to go it alone. He will indeed supply all of our needs. Philippians 4:19. This is how our righteousness can exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees. Why is this a wonderful truth? Because God has placed in everyone’s heart the desire to be good, and they can never be truly happy until they allow God to help them be good. Whenever God asks you to do something, He always provides a way for you to do it! This message is the righteousness by faith doctrine of the Bible. See Genesis 15:6; Romans 1:17; 3:22,25; 4:1-23; Galatians 5:5; Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 11. It is a joy to love and serve God and keep His commandments, which only He can give us the ability of doing. God is even now longing to help everyone have His righteousness and bear good fruit for Him, if only they would accept His help and yield fully to Him.
Dear reader, there is no reason to try to live with the righteousness of your own filthy rags, because you are trying so hard to keep God’s Law, or the righteousness of your own filthy rags when you are not right with God, because you don’t think that you need to concern yourself with keeping God’s Law of Love (the 10 Commandments) or living a Holy life for Him. Isaiah 64:6. There is no reason to not have the assurance of your salvation right now, and no reason to not have the strength or the will to obey God, or to not have the forgiveness of all of your sins. Wait not a precious moment. There is no reason to wait, you can have this peace right now! There is nothing to be gained by trying to save yourself, because you cannot. There is nothing to be gained by the constant round of sinning and confessing with no way out, addictions, and thinking that you are clear with God without having to yield to Him all-the-way; nothing to be gained, and everything to lose. Jesus bore all of your sins on the cross for you, oh sinner, there is no reason to try to do it yourself. He will help you to be righteous for your Heavenly Father, to remove the shame of your sins and free you from your addictions (John 8:36), if you will have His help and yield to His loving heart. This is our prayer for you, dear reader. Amen.
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By John Foll, written between 12/16/2016 to 12/17/2016.
“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;” 1 John 3:21 NASB.
The real question is why should our heart condemn us? God has promised us that ‘if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’ 1 John 1:9 KJV. It is impossible for God to lie. ‘So that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’ Hebrews 6:18-20 NASB. Since Jesus greatly loves us, suffered and died for us on the cross for our sins, and is now in Heaven as our High Priest, we do have an anchor indeed for our soul! He will plead our case with His Father because He loves us, if we will confess them to God. We can trust that if we confess our sins, that God not only has forgiven us, but that He will also cleanse us from all unrighteousness, that is to make us more like Him, because it is impossible for Him to lie! So just believe it! So there is no reason for anyone who knows this to have any guilt in their heart!Why would you want to carry this heavy load of guilt? Jesus bore it for you, oh sinner on the cross for you, if you will accept it and believe. So confess your sins, and let Him take that load of guilt off of you now. There is no reason for you to carry it for a moment. Just confess and be free and cleansed and be happy!
Could this be the reason why many do not have the confidence in God that they should have? Could it be because their own heart condemns them, and they know that they stand guilty before God? You cannot have peace until you have confessed all of your sins, including not loving God with all of your heart, mind and soul – yes, that’s a sin! “Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.’” Matthew 22:37-38 KJV. This is the same thing as the First Commandment in Exodus 20:3. Of all of God’s commandments in the Bible, we believe that this is the most broken one! If you break any of God’s commandments, you are also sinning against Him by not loving Him more than anything else. So it appears that this could be the reason why many are not where they should be spiritually, even those who have been Christians for many years. Lack of full, specific confession to God may very well be indicated. This may also be the reason why many do not love Jesus or His Father enough to obey all of their commandments, because their heart is not clear with God. We must want to obey everything that God has told us to do, or revealed by His Holy Spirit to us personally, if we want to have full confidence before Him. (The Holy Spirit never contradicts the Bible.)
If we want to have confidence toward God, we must confess all of our sins and believe and want to obey Him. “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 NASB. If we have confidence in God, then we will have confidence in our salvation that He is giving us, because it is impossible for God to lie. If we love God we should know that He loves us, and that our salvation is secure in Him, and no one can take it away from us but ourselves. Paul says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 NASB. Are you in Christ Jesus? Then there is no more condemnation for you! But why would anyone want to walk away from the salvation that God is offering them?
If you know that you have not kept all of God’s commandments, the first step to fixing this (the first step), is to confess these sins to God, and let Him cleanse them from you, and He will. This is His work for you, not your own. If you wait until you are ‘good enough’, whatever that means, it will NEVER happen. Only God can produce this change in you, not yourself. All of our efforts to save ourselves are utterly useless. Only God can save. If you are tired of the guilt, and tired of the endless round of sinning, hurting yourself and others, then allow God to cleanse you and make you happy! It’s the only way you can be free and be happy!
Guilt may also be the reason why many do not love God as they should, for if they were free of this heavy load they would want to obey Him, or they do not fully appreciate this forgiveness. They have been forgiven little. Jesus said, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins (Mary Magdalene), which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Luke 7:47 KJV. Jesus was speaking this to a Pharisee named Simon, who had been healed of leprosy. See Matthew 26:6 for this other account that mentions that Simon was a leper, when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet, and Luke 7:36. While we don’t have proof that Jesus healed Simon, we have the fact that He and others were at his house, and that the Law of Moses forbids people from associating with lepers, Leviticus 13:45-46, because it says that the leper must cry ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ and must remain outside the camp, i.e. outside Israel, unless they are cured of leprosy. We also know that Jesus healed lepers (Luke 17:11-19), so it is natural to conclude that Jesus must have healed Simon of his leprosy, and that this man had invited Jesus to his home in gratitude. But apparently this man had some sins that hadn’t been forgiven, or maybe he had sins that he really didn’t want forgiven? Maybe he didn’t see all of his sins and his great need of forgiveness like Mary did? Whatever the case, he wasn’t truly grateful for his healing or for God’s forgiveness. (Yes, the fact that God was willing for him to be healed indicated that He had pardoned or wanted to pardon him, since He gave him a new lease on life by healing him of leprosy.) If he had truly believed that he was a sinner in great need of forgiveness and had been forgiven of all of his sins, he should have been as happy as Mary was, and even more so since Jesus had healed him from that living death of leprosy! Read the whole sad account in Luke 7:36-50 and in Matthew 26:6-13. Whenever someone sees their true guilt, and realizes that only God can pardon all of these sins, confesses and believes, then they will be so happy and be free! For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), so all must confess their sins to God if they want to be free and happy. Then they will love God greatly! So those who have been forgiven little, because they have confessed little, also love God little, and have little faith in Him. And they do not have confidence before Him that they would have if they had been forgiven much. It’s easy to love God, if you believe that you have been forgiven! It is the most natural thing in the world! You can’t help but love Him like Mary did when He removes that awful load of guilt from you and you are free! “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”John 8:36 KJV. There is no good reason why every Christian shouldn’t be free from the weight of sin, because Jesus has made all who believe in Him free by His death on the cross for our sins. John 3:16-17. Those that have been forgiven little, love God little, and have little faith, and their heart condemns them.
If you will confess all of your sins, God has promised to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Then when you are free from guilt, you will be free to have confidence in Him. When you are free from all of your sins, then you can pray what John says next after our main text: “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” 1 John 3:22 KJV. This prayer is for all those who have confessed their sins to God, and are free and have confidence in Him. If we are free and love Him, He will help us to keep all of His commandments and do the things that are pleasing to Him, and He will hear our prayers. What a wonderful promise! You don’t have to worry on how you can be good, if you will just confess your sins, and allow God to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, He will do it for you! Amen!
John also says this in another way: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7 KJV. So if we want to be cleansed from all sin, we must also walk in the light as God is light. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” 1 John 1:6 KJV. If we say that we have fellowship with God, that is to say, if we say that we are a Christian, if we walk in darkness then we are a liar and the truth is not in us. To put this with what we quoted from in 1 John 3:21, earlier in this article: if we have confidence in God, then we are walking in the light, and have fellowship with one another, and then the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we walk not in the light, and do not have fellowship with one another, then we do not have confidence before God, and our sin remains.
If we have confessed all of our sins, we will believe that God has forgiven us, and cleansed us from all unrighteousness
, and we will be confident that He loves us, and we will walk in the light of His love, and we will have fellowship with one another, because the blood of Jesus has cleansed us from all sin! Therefore all who believe in Jesus should also have this confidence in God. So confess your sins and believe, and then your heart will not condemn you, and you will walk in the light of His love, because the blood of Jesus cleanses you from all sin!
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