Monday, November 10, 2008

Just How Tightly Do You Cling to The Things of This World?

"And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death."
(Revelation 12:11)

Here we read a testimony of the great faithful believers of a day yet to come. This passage refers to saints of God who will endure persecution during the Tribulation that is to come. When it is, we don't know. But we know it is coming; we can be sure of it as if it has already happened!

Yet the tribulation they faced was nothing that could conquer them. It was by the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, applied in their lives, that gave them this power to over come. What Paul promised came to pass: "He that began a good work in you shall bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (my paraphrase, Phil. 1:6)

Believers overcome. And one mark of a true believer in Jesus Christ is death to self! Yet in our day, "Christianity" has become such a sloppy thing. Say a prayer, remember that you did it and trust in that like a tourist hangs on to a bus ticket. And whatever else you can distract yourself with while you wait for the bus to leave, so much the better!

Love of stuff. Love of self. Yet, Jesus said that we can't love both God and money. We can't serve two masters. And he also said that the gate is narrow and the way is narrow that leads to life! Still, so many imagine in futility that they can to through the narrow turnstyle of redemption with all their filthy luggage, love of self and love of this world and its toys. To the contrary! Jesus tells us that "If any man follow me...", in other words be converted, "...he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me!" Notice that He didn't say "You must be willing to...". No, the gate is much to narrow. To enter in, you must let go of the baggage and come alone.

Make no mistake about it; in Jesus' day when you saw someone carrying a cross, you knew one thing about that man -- he was going to die an ugly death. And one who would be His must die to self. You can only have one master.

If you have claimed Christ as your own, the Word gives you this mandate. To be His, you must die to everything but Him. The opinions of others, the things that this world calls valuable and even the greatest idol of all -- S-E-L-F! He and He alone must be supreme above all other things. But what is that in exchange for eternal life? Is that really a contest?

Our day is a day of rampant self-indulgence. Plain idolatry. Even the professing Church has decided that its focus is to find its "purpose". God is viewed as what has been referred to as a "Divine Butler" Who exists for our happiness and fulfillment. Gone is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe who rightly demands our obedience and worship! And do we ever tremble at the words of our Lord when He warns that He will turn away many who believe themselves to be His when He says to them "...depart from me, I never knew you...!" (Matt. 7:21ff). These were people who professed faith in Christ -- but Jesus referred to them as "you who practice lawlessness". Literally "...those of you who acted as if I never gave you the law!"

Our evangelism no longer speaks of sin and the need of repentance. The cry is "it's our lexicon! We must change our vocabulary!" No, we want to avoid the scandal of the cross and the Gospel. We don't want to face ridicule when the Bible says that we will most definitely face it if we " to live a godly life in this present world." When we do this, we are worshiping at the altar of S-E-L-F!

If this be true for any of us, we are must assuredly failing to demonstrate that we love not our own lives unto death.

The question then becomes "Before the Lord, can there be a valid sacrifice if there is nothing on the altar?" And according to the words of our Lord, if there be no death on our part can there be real life of God in us.

The days are short. They are getting shorter. And that cries out to us that temporal things -- even our very lives -- should be counted as refuse to us compared to the value of our Lord.

May we be found faithful as the dear saints in Revelation 12. And that is my prayer for you as well.

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