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.

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.

Be a refreshment to others through your love

“For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” (Philemon 1:7)

We should seek to refresh one another in the faith, being a blessing to them. We should be a joy for others to be around. We should love others in such a way that they are reinvigorate them rather than deplete their energy.

Philemon was a refreshment for Paul so much so that Paul gained much love and comfort from Philemon’s sacrificial love for him. Oh, how we should should long for someone to say the same about us. That we refresh them. That they derive much joy and comfort from our love.

May we be refreshing brothers and sisters in Christ.

Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” (1 Tim 1:15)

Jesus did not come as a good example or to blaze a trail to the afterlife that we can now follow. No, Jesus came to save. He came to save because we are sinners who need saving. We don’t need good examples. We don’t need trails to follow. We need to be freed from our rebellion, freed from the grip of sin, freed from the blinding thoughts and desires that cause us to run from God instead of to Him.

It is fruitless for Jesus to blaze a trail to the afterlife because we don’t want to follow the trail. We run from the trail seeking to blaze our own. Sin causes us to believe we are capable of pleasing and reaching God in and of ourselves. We believe we somehow have the inside track and everyone else doesn’t. Sin causes us to think much better of ourselves

Instead of believing we are worth saving, we must see ourselves through God’s eyes — we are wretched sinners who don’t deserve salvation. Notice Paul ends the verse by admitting he is the chief of sinners. We must admit the same as well. When we are willing to admit we are the chief of sinners we can rest knowing Jesus is at work in our lives. We should praise Him for His work in saving us from an eternal life outside of the presence of God. As well as freeing us from the effects of sin on our life now.

Jesus came to save sinners — that’s you and me.

Pastor, please the Lord, not self or man.

”For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess 2:3-4)

True workmen for the Lord do not have ulterior motives. They should not be greedy. Their desire should not be to amass wealth, status, or position off the backs of those they are to serve and to whom they are to preach the good news. One should not enter ministry for riches or acclaim.

Ministers are entrusted with the gospel. They are speak the truth in love, not to please man, but to please God. Here in lies the difficulty. God is our boss/master not man. Sometimes those two are at odds. When they are at odds with one another, our default should not be to please man, rather our default should be to please God, trusting He will care for us.

Pastor, why do you preach? Why do you serve? Is it for your own gain or the gain of others? Do you trust God to provide or do you fear man? As Pastors, we serve an audience of One (God) to the pleasure of many (the congregation). Our focus must always be on pleasing the Lord not self or man.

Set your mind on the things above to live out your new humanity in Christ

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2)

It is easy to focus on the here and now. What is going on around us often steals our attention. It consumes us. The thoughts, actions, ideas, philosophies of the surrounding culture presses in on us. As believers, however, those who have been raised with Christ, we are to set our minds on the things above. In other words, we are to live according to God’s will.

Where is God’s will found? It is found in His Word. We must use God’s Word as our daily guide. If you are a believer, yet you never read God’s Word, you are incapable of setting your mind on the things above and living differently than the culture.

But those who are believers, those who have been raised with Christ, whose life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3), you should set your mind on the things above. You should be motivated to do so because Jesus came to die. He didn’t come to die in order for you to continue to be influenced by the culture as you once were.

Jesus sacrificed Himself in order for you to be different. Not just live differently when you feel like, but to literally be different. If you skip down to verse 10, you discover that our self is new. In other words, in Christ, we are a new humanity. As a new humanity, we are to live differently. We are to live according to God’s original design.

The problem with living according to our new humanity is that we live in a world pressing in on us. Since we currently live in the midst of a sinful world, we must set our minds on the things above in order to live out our new humanity on a daily basis.