Your walk must match your confession

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 Jn 1:6)

Not as much today, but certainly in days past, cultural Christianity was dominate, especially in the Bible Belt. As time has progressed, cultural Christianity has waned, even in the Bible Belt. While that might mean Christians don’t experience as much favor in society as we once did, I don’t believe the death of cultural Christianity is a bad thing. For one, it has actually strengthened the church. Those who profess the name of Christ are actually believers and churches operate less like Country Clubs and more like, well, the church.

While Christianity has begun to lose its pull on culture, another form of Christianity, one just as detrimental, has increased. Progressive Christianity is filling the vacuum of cultural Christianity. But while cultural Christians were still exposed to the true gospel, progressive Christians are not. The true gospel is replaced in progressive churches with a different message.

While the difference between cultural Christianity and progressive Christianity is stark, neither represent the truth and neither provide true life change. Both are false gospels that keep one walking in darkness.

As we learn from our verse this morning, those who continue to walk in darkness, even if they say they have a relationship with Jesus, are liars and are not practicing the truth. Those are strong words, but they are true. Those who adhere to progressive Christianity and cultural Christianity need to hear those words. As well as those who attend a gospel-centered, Bible believing and preaching church need to hear those words. Our life much match our confession. If it doesn’t, we do not have fellowship with Jesus. We are not Christian. We don’t have hope.

In saying our life must match our confession, I am not saying we should live a legalistic lives. That is one of the major mistakes of cultural Christianity. The idea that we can clean ourselves up is a false one.

If we can’t clean ourselves up, how can our life be a test of our faith?

Our life can be a test of our faith because a life lived for Christ springs out of a heart changed by Christ.

If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, our heart has been changed. Our heart, in biblical language, refers to our will, wants, and desires. Those have been changed to match God’s. When our heart is aligned with God’s heart, we live in manner consistent with the light. We won’t want to walk in darkness. We will instead desire the light. We will desire the things of God.

Whether you are on the more liberal or legalistic end of the spectrum or right in the middle, your walk must match your confession or your confession is not true.

We have more than we deserve, bless the Lord all His saints

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pe 1:3-5)

We are such a blessed people. Not only has the Father given His only Son so that we might experience salvation from His wrath. But He has caused us to be born again to a living hope. A hope that will not perish or be defiled. It will not fade. Instead, it is kept in the most secure place possible — it is kept in heaven.

When Jesus returns, He will bring His kingdom with Him. A kingdom that is perfect. One that will never be defeated. One that will last for all eternity. Finally, when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, we will be able to experience life as God designed. There will be no sickness, no death, no disunity, no racism, no winter storms. There will be nothing that hinders our ability to live as God has designed.

We can trust that will take place because Jesus was raised from the dead. After three days in the grave — there was no way He was just faking it — He rose from the dead. After interacting with well over 500 people for 40 days, He ascended into heaven in front of the disciples. He promised to come back. His promise is guaranteed because we have been sent the Holy Spirit who works in our life day in and day out.

We are a blessed people. As blessed people, we should bless God. We should praise Him. We should submit our lives to Him giving Him His due worship by allowing Him to guide and direct our lives instead of trying to guide and direct it ourselves.

Blessed the Lord all those who have experienced God’s blessing. We have much more than we deserve.

Let the gospel empower you to run the Christian race with endurance

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Heb 12:1)

Many have come before us and Lord willing many will come after us. We are not the first and only generation to follow the Lord. We exist in a long line of witnesses (see Heb 11). These witnesses should serve to bolster our faith in the Lord. When life is not going as planned, we can think back to Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel and others and meditate on how they continued to trust in the Lord despite the adversity they faced.

Our God is a faithful Lord who is worthy of our trust and worship. We should, as the writer exhorts in today’s verse, lay aside our burdens and the sin that clings to us and faithfully run towards the Lord with endurance.

How do we run with endurance?

We look to Jesus and the good news of His sacrifice on our behalf. The writer continues in verse 2,

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2)

If we are wavering in our trust, if our burdens seem too heavy, and sin too appealing, we need to look to Jesus. We need to mediate on, preach the gospel to, ourselves. The gospel should both warn us and encourage us. On the one hand it should warn us. Our sin is so repugnant its wages is death. But on the other hand, our God loves us so much that He was willing to pay the penalty for sin Himself so as to rescue us from its misery and outcome.

Let that sink in. God died the death we deserve so that we might experience release from the bondage of sin and death. What an amazing God we serve!

On this cold winter’s morning, turn to Jesus and let Him warm your heart, let Him and His cross work melt your burdens and sin away so that your affections grow hot for Him. Praise Him! Worship Him! Trust in Him! Run the race set before you with endurance!

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25)

There are no Lone Ranger Christians. We cannot live the Christian life on our own. We need one another. If we believe we can live the Christian life alone, we are sadly mistaken. Jesus and our Bible is not all we need. We need one another.

Not only do we need one another, but we need others who will be honest with us. We need brothers and sisters in Christ who will speak the truth in love into our life (Eph 4). If all we surround ourselves with are people who refuse to stick their neck out to tell us the truth, we are no better off than living the Christian life on our own.

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

In saying that we should prioritize community, I’m not saying it will be easy. Living in community with others is difficult. It is even difficult to prioritize the time to be with one another. We must be intentional and purposeful. Community doesn’t just happen it is planned and fought for.

Turn to Jesus, not the Law for salvation. He is a perfect High Priest.

“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” (Heb 7:26)

Keeping the Law doesn’t save, but Jesus does. The law in what we refer to as the Old Testament doesn’t provide us with salvation because it cannot make us perfect (Heb 7:19). But Jesus is a better hope. He makes it possible for us to draw near to a perfect God. Our verse this morning highlights the reason. Jesus is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners in every way.

If we place our trust in rules and regulations, if we believe keeping the law and adhering to the commandments will make us righteous, we are sadly mistaken. The Law made it possible for man to live in God’s presence. Not through our goodness, but through the sacrifices the priesthood offered daily on man’s behalf. It was that covering for sin that allowed man to live in the presence of God.

Jesus is that covering for us today. Except He is a perfect covering. One that will not end. He is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. A priest who has no beginning and ending. A priesthood completely different from the old order (Heb 7:17; 22; 25). Jesus, then, is able to save to the uttermost, making intercession for us as a faithful and eternal high priest (Heb 7:25).

Turn to Jesus, not the Law for salvation. He is a perfect High Priest.

You are a theologian, be a good one.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

(Heb 5:14)

You are a theologian. You may not believe yourself to be a theologian but you are one. You have an opinion about God. You believe He does and doesn’t operate in one way or another. You even tell others what you believe about God from time to time. Your belief causes you to act in a certain way. You are a theologian. 

You may not be a very good theologian, but you are one. As Christians, we should want to be good theologians. Our understanding of God should be accurate. The only way we will have an accurate understanding of God is if we are in a constant state of growth. 

When we come to faith in Christ, we have ideas about God. But those ideas need to be adjusted and shaped. Our wrong thoughts about God need to be replaced with right thoughts about Him. As well as what we don’t know needs to be sured up. 

Sadly, many Christians don’t grow in their knowledge of God. They are happy to exist with the knowledge they already possessed. Or they are happy to remain in an immature state. But remaining immature like little babes is not a mark of a good theologian. It doesn’t benefit us nor does it benefit those with whom we live in community. In the previous verse, the writer chastises those who are immature when he says, 

“for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

(Heb 5:13)

Those who are immature are unskilled. They are not able to handle the Word of God rightly, which leaves them vulnerable, unable to “distinguish good from evil.” (Heb 5:14b) and unable to accurately communicate who God is, and how they and others should live in light of who God is. 

Immaturity in the faith is not a badge of honor. It opens you and others up for harm. You are a theologian, be a good one.