Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Spiritual Malpractice
...when pastors fail to restore those fallen into sin

Confrontation is never pleasant, but will most of the time when done in truth, grace and love prove rewarding, healing and profitable.

Confronting other believers is even harder.

Confronting other believers that you know and that know you; whom are your friends and long-term members of the same church can even be more nerve wracking; stretching ones spiritual constitution to the cliff’s edge.

But this is precisely what the duty of the faithful under-shepherd of Christ is to be. Doing all things without partiality; preferring to honor Christ over personal convenience; caring more for the purity of the church than for individual comfort; and ultimately, giving all—forsaking reputation, opportunity and station of life to present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28-29; 1 Timothy 5:19-21; 2 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5). One of the greatest acts of love a pastor can ever demonstrate to his people and one of the most Christlike examples he could ever model for the body of Christ is when he and the other elders of the church confront someone in unrepentant sin, seeking for their repentance, restoration and reconciliation (Matthew 18:15-20).

The antithesis of this is also true: like a well-meaning parent who gives strict rules to their children, but rarely, if ever, disciplines when they disobey, is akin to the pastor who from week to week preaches a good sermon, but fails to hold the congregation accountable to its truth. They may agree with the message and even like the messenger, but they never learn to fear the Lord. They have grown accustomed to rhetoric without consequence—they are left to themselves. This is what Paul means when he says “bear another’s burden…” and “…thus fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-3).


Church Restoration – A Loving Act of Worship
The purpose for church discipline is not for retribution or personal revenge. It is not a "spiritual witch-hunt" against someone you have it out for. It is to protect the purity of the church 1 Corinthians 5:9-13); to assure the purity and testimony of the individual believer in Christ (Galatians 6:1-3); to guard against future sin (Acts 5:1-11); and to bring glory to God so that our worship is unfeigned (Leviticus:1-3). It is an act of love (1 Peter 4:8), done in humility (Galatians 6:1), bathed in grace and forgiveness for the repentance and restoration of another (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). It is no cause for rejoicing or pride among anyone in the church when the table of grace must be turned into a table of correction. Oh dear under-shepherd of Christ, you are never acting more like the Lord, than when you are 'winning over' a sinning brother or sister to live for Christ through a repentant, broken life as a result of church discipline.

This is why it is deeply disturbing to hear, without exception, that the most forgotten duty today by local church leadership is the failure to lovingly restore those fallen into sin. It is estimated by some that only one out of a thousand churches in America practice any kind of church discipline whatsoever. This has left the church venerable and susceptible; for God can never be glorified where sin is pacified—and He can never be exalted in praise where sin is entertained and practiced! Matthew Mead, that powerful Puritan expositor insightfully instructs pastors with these profound words when saying, "If sin be as terrible as you say it is, why then are our lives not lived more holy; and if sin is not as terrible as you say it is, why then do you preach against it with such fury?"

Sin's consequence causes the precious Holy Spirit to be grieved (Ephesians 4:30); our prayers to go unanswered (1 Peter 3:7); disqualifies us from ministry (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); causes our praise to be unacceptable (Psalm 33:1); withholds God's blessing from us (Jeremiah 5:25); forfeits our joy (Psalm 32:3-4; 51:12); hinders our spiritual growth (1 Corinthians 3:1-3); causes our fellowship to become polluted (1 Corinthians 10:21; 1 Corinthians 11:28-29); our lives to be endangered (1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 John 5:16); and most paramount, our holy God dishonored (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Sin causes the whole church to suffer (1 Cor. 12:26); it provokes discipline (Matthew 18:15-20); has as its roots the "doctrine of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1); and as its father - the devil himself (1 John 3:8)!

Is it any wonder that the great Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, said  
"that a sign of sanctification is a hatred of sin...one who not only leaves sin, but loathes it." That is precisely why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 28:13, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes [repentance] them will find compassion." 
 He who covers his sin, God will uncover; he who uncovers his sin, God will cover!

Playing Politics with God
Why does this occur? What turns brave men of God in the pulpit into cowardly ineffectual leaders in the pew? I believe that pastors fail to exercise church discipline for four fundamental reasons: 1. Fear and the fear of man; 2. a low view of sin; 3. failure to tremble at the Word of God; and, 4. a vanishing view of the transcendence of God.

Firstly, is fear and the fear of man. I hear pastors almost on a monthly basis express to me that they are fearful of being sued, black-balled in the church, or possibly even losing their pulpit if they honor the Lord in their churches and discipline sin. No question that congregations can turn against faithful men of God for holding fast the faith preferring their own sinfulness over holiness. Fear usually stems from a lack of knowledge, by the greatness of evil or by the inability to overcome the evil. We are all plagued by this aren’t we? But the man of God must be tempered with the steel of righteousness In his breast and has Paul has said, “by the terror of the Lord I persuade men.” He must not give in to a spirit of timidity; but with firm resolve rely on God’s provision of love, power, and a sound mind. When Better to fear the Lord, honor Him and do the right thing, than to fear man, be paralyzed in ministry and forfeit the blessing and favor of the Lord on their church. It is a dangerous thing to play politics with God!

Secondly, they have developed a low view of sin. The reasoning goes something like this, “who are we to judge… we all make mistakes don’t we? After all, we’re only human? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” But sin is so powerful and so fatal that it took nothing less than God the Son to give His life as a ransom for many, as our Divine Substitute, High Priest and sacrificial Lamb; to propitiate the holiness and justice of God so that we may have peace with God forever. “He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). How can we treat sin so lightly in light of what it cost our Savior and Lord?

Sin strikes at God and says, “I don’t care what You said, I’ll do what I want.' It is God’s would be murderer. Sin would un-God God if it could. Sin defiles the conscience. Sin is irrational and forfeits blessing. Sin is painful—it hurts. Sin is damning. Sin is degrading it mares the image of God and man. Like Samson, it cuts the locks of purity and leaves men morally weak. Sin poisons the springs of love and turns beauty into leprosy. Sin defeats the mind, the heart, the will, the affections and it has made a whole world of people—all of mankind—children wrath by nature; objects of God’s wrath. Sin brings man under the domination of Satan and his sick sin system, which he controls. Man and the world is a slave to sin, open rebellion and defiance to God and a slave to Satan."

Thirdly, they fail to tremble at the Word of God. This is foundational to all genuine ministry. A low view of Scripture leads to a high view of self, a low view of sin and a diminished view of God. To not tremble at the Word, as Isaiah puts it (Isaiah 66:2), is to show a lack of contrition, humility, and to live in arrogance against the Lord. The battle for the sufficiency and authority of Scripture is as great today as it was in Luther’s time.

“This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrine is holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be saved, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here heaven is open, and the gates of hell are disclosed.

Christ is the grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul, and a river of pleasure. It is given to you here in this life, will be opened at the judgment, and is established forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and condemn all who trifle with its contents.”
–Author Unknown

Fourthly, the loss of the transcendence of God. This is the most disconcerting and troubling. When we speak of worshipping a transcendent God what do we mean? Transcendence means that God is lofty and divinely other than who we are. He is holy—I am sinful; He is Eternal—I am created; He is omniscient—I am inadequate in my knowing, etc. When a pastor lives daily in the presence of His glory and has as his supreme objective and pleasure to please the Lord in all things, then he is transformed from being a professional churchman to a worshiping servant- leader in whom God finds favor.

The Catastrophe of Compromise
Several years ago I was privileged to teach a weekly Sunday School class at a local church in Nashville. One night after a concert, I received a heartbreaking phone call from a woman whom with her husband had founded the class. Through tears of brokenness, she told me she had just learned her husband had been unfaithful to her. She was obviously devastated. She asked if I would meet with him as soon as I returned home from the weekend of concerts. I was more than willing to do so.

Over the next few days of painful conversations with this man, he finally revealed that he had had not one, but seventeen affairs over six and half years. This was not a “David” situation, but a lifestyle with him. He asked me if I thought he was a Christian, I told him no, for the practice of his life was one of adultery and those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). The road to repentance is never an easy one—whether for salvation or sanctification—and in this case it wasn’t going to be either.

Miraculously, his wife still wanted him back even after all of his infidelity. If he was going to have any hope of restoring his marriage and family he needed to do four key things (for the scope of ones influence demands the scope of ones repentance) :
1. Confess and ask forgiveness from his wife;
2. Confess and ask forgiveness from each of his families;
3. Confess to the Sunday School class that he had started and to step down from any future leadership position for due to his lifestyle he was disqualified forever in serving in any kind of local church leadership role, and
4. Go with an elder of the church to every one of these seventeen women in the Nashville area and ask for forgiveness as well.
His wife needed to know, as well as the church, that he had not left any stone unturned, but was willing to do whatever it took to demonstrate true repentance and a new heart in Christ.

What Ever Happened to Sin?
He did the first three with me and with others present to give proper accountability. When he was about to begin the fourth and most crucial area, I received a phone call from the senior pastor of the church. He said he had appreciated my leadership in this situation so far, but things needed to change now. He informed me that this was too much adultery for him as a pastor to deal with and what this man needed was to attend a series of “sexoholic” meetings. I thought to myself, what in the world is a sexoholic and they even have meetings? The pastor recommended ninety sexoholic meetings in ninety days as the way to deal with this tragic situation. (Mind you in these groups you cannot be challenged, you cannot be called to repentance, you cannot be told your views are wrong or out of bounds regardless of the filth that may be shared in those settings. You are simply allowed to vocalize your struggle with what ever sexual perversion is crippling your spirit.)

Long story short, this man came back to me after thirty meetings and said the following, “I have a medical problem. There is an endorphin that my body secretes that forces me to uncontrollably satisfy its impulse by having sex with other women. I also have parental issues: Dad not hugging me enough as a child; Mom not being as nurturing as she could have… I’m sick. I have a disease. And these people can help me.” I immediately thought, he’s bought the lie and the church helped him do it.

I reassured him that he wasn’t sick, but a sinner; he didn’t have a disease, but was disobedient; he wasn’t addicted, but was an adulterer. He didn’t need therapy, but church discipline. He didn’t rehabilitation, but repentance from sin. Unfortunately, the pastors and elders of his church never disciplined this man for his adultery—they didn’t believe in it and to this day still do not. The pastor told me they would never do that (church discipline) because many of them had left “those kinds of churches” to build their church so to be more “grace based” in ministry. What fools! I have never seen that man since then. Sadly, we were left without option and our family had to leave that church over this situation.

Grace Doesn’t Wink at Sin, It Confronts It and Seeks Restoration and Reconciliation
Though we have entered into our eternal rest by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) - grace never leads to the fulfilling of further ungodliness and worldly desires (Titus 2:12); that grace never indulges the flesh (Romans 6:1-2); that grace does not cherish lust or seek its pleasure (Psalm 66:18; Hebrews 11:25-26); but that grace hates sin and calls all who know its voice to turn from their sin and to turn to God. That is what repentance is: an abrupt about-face, in the face of sin.

Grace doesn’t wink at sin; grace doesn’t tolerate sin or turn a deaf ear to its ugly seducing voice. Grace confronts sin, disciplines sin and restores one trapped in its clutches. In the tragic account above, she needed grace for forgiveness; he needed grace for repentance. Regrettably, neither ultimately occurred because the spiritual malpractice of the leadership of that church.

The Evidence of Saving Faith—A Notorious Repentance
The truly repentant person will not put any prohibitions or conditions to what he has to do to demonstrate genuine repentance. He will want to do whatever it takes not as little as it takes. As Spurgeon says, “when ones repentance is more notorious than their sin—then you know it is genuine.”

One of the foundational evidences of a truly regenerated man or woman is their repentance from sin and their hatred of it. Unfortunately, repentance is a forgotten word in the church today! That powerful, truthful word has been exiled and excused from most church pulpits, elder meetings, prayer gatherings, and worship services all under the guise of glorifying God the Father and exalting our Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance means a change of mind, a turning away from, a reordering of the entire life, an about face, turning from sin and turning to God. It is the amputation of sin from our lives; the cutting away of the gangrenous so the healthy tissue thrives. None of us can negotiate with sin—we’re not strong enough. We must “cut off our hands, pluck out our eyes” and be done with it, or it will be the undoing of us. The young man depicted above thought he could negotiate with three deadly sins: unguarded pleasure, unbridled passion and unbroken pride. He was sorely mistaken.

Paul gives this same encouragement to a young timid Timothy when he says to his true son in the faith, "flee youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Tim. 2:22). John the Baptist said, "repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). Our Lord Jesus said, "repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). Paul talked of a "repentance without regret" and a "godly sorrow that leads to repentance" (2 Cor. 7:9f). And finally Peter tells us that, "the Lord...not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Am I Christian? Evidence That Demands Fruit
How do I know that I am truly saved when my life is constantly being bombarded with sin and its luring? A.W. Pink makes this outstanding observation, "How may I know I'm elect?:
First, by the Word of God having come in divine power to the soul so that my self-complacency is shattered and my self-righteousness is renounced.

Second, by the Holy Spirit convicting me of my woeful, guilty, and lost condition.

Third, by having had revealed to me the suitability and sufficiency of Christ to meet my desperate case and by a divinely given faith causing me to lay hold of and rest upon Him as my only hope.

Fourth, by the marks of the new nature within me - a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ.

Fifth, by the resistance which the new nature makes to the old, causing me to hate sin and loathe myself for it.

Sixth, by avoiding everything which is condemned by God's Word and by sincerely repenting of and humbly confessing every transgression. Failure at this point will surely bring a dark cloud over our assurance causing the Spirit to withhold His witness.

Seventh, by giving all diligence to cultivate the Christian graces and using all diligence to this end. Thus the knowledge of election is cumulative."

40 comments:

Sparks said...
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homo unius libri said...

As usaul Steve a timely and well-spoken word. I just have one quibble, when the man you counseled asked whether or not he was a christian, you answered no. That bothers me because it gives the appearance/impression that a a believer can lose their salvation through a serious enough sin. I would have counseled that man that while he was still a Christian, he was a backsliding one and would unless he repented suffer some grave temporal discipline/punishments from God. Paul in dealing with the sinner in I Corinthians never said the man was unsaved, but just needed to be turned out unitl he repented. And in 2 Cor we see that it worked.

MARK JOHNSTON said...

Good job Steve. I would like to add one more thought about what pastors are afraid of: Money leaving the church. Not only are these guys afraid of being sued, but the last thing they want to see is the money walking out the door.

Shawn L said...

Red state and reformed?,

Are you reformed?

He didn't lose faith, he never had saving faith in the first place.

Faith is not simply believing that God exists and is cool, it believing that having Christ is greater than anything in the whole world.

Faith changes the actions and heart of the believer and acknowledges sin as it really is, not blaming chemicals. The bible makes it clear that continued unrepentent sin such as this you are with those who are not entering the kingdom of God.

What you are trying to say is that he is a "carnal Christian" which is not biblical in any sense. We can't say we love Christ and love our sin so much more today.

A believers life is one of continued repentence.

Shawn L said...

Steve Camp,
Wow what an article and it will have me searching the scriptures more tonight. Very good one and I think will pass onto my pastor and elders and other friends I study with.

I've been reading Pilgrim's Progress, you remind me of Bunyan lately. Mostly because your articles are so full of scripture. Does your blood flow with scripture as Spurgeon said?

Terry Rayburn said...

Church discipline is an important and necessary thing. However, church discipline would not be needed nearly as much if shepherds taught the sheep the following basics:

1. Good Anthropology (Doctrine of Man) - our co-crucifixion with Christ (Gal. 2:20); our being dead to sin, dead to the Law, and alive to God (Rom. 6:11); our new nature as new creations in Christ, (2 Cor. 5:17); our union with Christ, having become one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17).

2. The New Covenant as it relates to Law. Most Christians don't realize that the Old Covenant is obsolete (Heb. 8). I've asked many Christians (including church leaders) to complete the following:

"For sin shall no longer be master over you because _______".

I have yet to have anyone complete the sentence! Isn't that amazing? Some have exclaimed, "Oh yeah, that's right!" when I tell them that it's Rom. 6:14 and ends with, "...you are no longer under Law but under grace". When's the last time you heard your preacher expound on that verse? (It's likely he doesn't have the slightest idea what it means.)

3. The radical nature of grace, not just for initial salvation, but for the Christian life. Most Christians don't know that there is nothing they can do to make God love them more, and nothing they can do to make God love them less. So they settle into a performance-based Christianity, resulting in pride (when they think they are doing better than "that shmuck over there"), or despair (when they realize that they can't "measure up"). Both extremes keep our eyes off Jesus and put them on Self. Thus, no communion with Him. No rest, no peace, no joy.

4. How to "walk by the Spirit". Be honest now, when's the last time your pastor taught you how to do that simple but vital thing? After all, if we walk by the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).

Masses of believers are in bondage, some even under church discipline, because their shepherds have given them a bunch of laws and rules, demanded that they keep them, beat them on the head when they failed, and never told them the simple truth that "the power of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56), but under the glorious Grace of God, He "is at work in us both to will and to do His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).

Carpe Gratiam,
Terry Rayburn

Bhedr said...

This area of discipline has been experienced by both my father and I. We are both better for it. The counseling we recieved was sound and convicting. I recomend some of Dr Lutzers books in the areas of sexual temptation. They cut to the quick and are very helpful without going into psychobable.
Lutzer's friend once asked a group of Christian men who has struggled with porn and 23 of 25 raised their hands. An unaccountable sin. Victory in this area is possible. I recommend Lutzers book "How to Say No To A Sinful Habit"and "Living With Your Passions"
If King David had nipped it in the bud early on with a content eye for the wife he had, instead of collecting more along the way; would he have been on the roof lingering and looking at Bathsheba? Elohim burned it out of him though.

Matthew2323 said...

"Atonement fully vindicated the justice of God; and pardon is thenceforth freely offered to sinners through Christ. But yet is cannot be consistent with justice to pardon sins which are loved still, nor to pass over offenses which are willfully repeated."

John Jackson – Repentance: Its Necessity, Nature, and Aides, 1866 as quoted in Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel by Richard Owen Roberts (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002).

Jeremy Weaver said...

When will we realize that we are making matters worse for the lost and the church by giving those who lead sin-controlled lives our stamp of approval?
The argument most given to me by others regarding church discipline is that of 'love'.
To this argument I always respond, "I love them enough to confront them with their sin and by doing so have the opportunity to save them from hell. But you are telling me that by not confronting them with their sin, asking them to repent of that sin and leaving them to live with unrepented sin, that you love them more?"
The conversation usaually goes south at this point and I have to step away.
How would you recommend addressing this issue?

Matthew2323 said...

Brother Camp,

I appreciate your list of 4 reasons pastors fail to administer their duties, it reminds me of the four charges Nathan levels against King David in 2 Samuel 12:

1. You have despised the Word of the Lord (v. 9).
2. You have despised Me (vv. 10-11).
3. You did it secretly (v. 12).
4. You have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme (vv. 13-14).

These four charges are leveled because we must repent not only of what we do but we must repent of what we are! The problem is not merely that we sin, but that we are sinners (Ps 51:5). Remember David had committed adultery and murder. He had sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, his own physical body, and his kingdom but the prophet cuts to the heart of the matter; his low view of God and his pride.

Thanks be to God that Jesus will "save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

O Lord, how we long for the day when men will have a proper view of Who You are! We long for a day when shepherds will be after Your heart (Ezekiel 34) and will not heal Your people "superficially" (Jeremiah 8:11).

Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? (Ps 85:6)

Matthew2323 said...

Jeremy,

When people use the "love" argument take them to the Scriptures, it will never return void.

Start with Galatians 6:1,2 and James 5:19,20. These verses teach that confronting evil covers a multitude of sins. Then show them 1 Peter 4:8 which teaches that love covers a multitude of sins. Thus we can conclude that confronting evil amongst the brethren is an act of love. And of course, Paul tells us that love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

If the "do not judge" excuse is used suggest John 7:24 and 1 Corinthians 5:12,13.

Bhedr said...

*Think* Why did Israel have to sing a song of disobedience before they committed sin in the new land (Duet)? *think*

What did the adulteress not have power to do until being released from condemnation?*think*

Why was Judas more noble in his remorse than Peter? Yeshua had to seek out Peter to reconcile him. Think! Don't let other men think for you.
Go and see the differance between Metamellomia/Metanoeo.
Take your eyes off of yourself and put them on Yeshua. That was Judas' problem. He never saw Yeshua as the answer.

Peter now saw himself and had the strength to help others see. Get away from the mentality Peter had before the death and ressurection.

Sparks said...
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Bhedr said...

Sparks,
Unfortunately pastors and churches are so out of touch with discipline that the blade is all too dull. Also secret sin is rampant in the church. Don't be surprised if when you try to do the right thing it will backfire in your face.As it did Campi's.
Something needs to start happening though and this is why Steve's article is so important. Confrontation is not an easy thing though. A godly man(Ross Olsen)came and confronted me when my life was spiraling out of control. He did'nt say I wasn't saved though. He did call me to examine my faith and then encouraged me that as I have recieved the Lord so walk in Him. I am so thankful for what he did back then. It really made me come to terms with sin in my life and now Elohiym is giving me victory. Cut what fuels your flesh(it may be rock and roll or movies or even driving through the red-light district or a lack of firewall on your computer) and focus on the hope found in Yeshua. Rest on Him and nothing else. Understand that you have the capacity for anything in your life. Let him that thinketh he stands..... You don't need to tempt Elohiym by your denial as Peter did; but look to Yeshua and rest in His hope. Chario(rejoice) as He has given you the victory and live that way every day.

homo unius libri said...

Shawn,

Yes, I am quite Reformed. And no, I am not saying that this man was a "carnal" Christian. I am saying he was (and here I would need some more info from Steve, that he was a christian who sinned greatly.)
Granted this man took the "easy" way out by blaming everything but himself, but without further evidence I can't consign him to either heaven or hell. I was just asking for more clarification from Steve on this.

But, to follow your line of reasoning would relegate David to the postion of non-believer since he sinned with Bathsheba.

Bhedr said...

Hey Redneck I mean red state and reformed...:-)

You have a good point; but I will say we walk a fine line in this. Dr James White calls it a dividing line. Faith alone. 1 John does state that we know we know him if we keep his commandments, so Steve did have good reason to believe he may not have been saved. We do have to be careful though; if we focus to much on fruit and get the one counseled to focus on fruit then we can start focusing on flesh which can ultimately lead to the line of reasoning found in psychobable.

I once blew up and lost my temper with the kids. Feeling terrible about it I grabbed a Bible to make me feel more guilty; instead when I opened it the words sprung out at me: "You are my beloved son, I take delight in you!"

I began to weep. This has done more to control my temper than anything I know. God is good and he loves me in spite of myself. This alone should be my motivator. The fruit will abound from this. His grace is irreversible in my life.

Bhedr said...

Let me clarify. We must see that God is good and if you are born of His spirit then you are a son of God. He loves you as much as he loves Jesus. In John 17 Yeshua prayed that Abba love us as He loves Him.
I am clothed in his righteousness. My man of sin is dead on the cross and no longer exists; only the flesh that will burn away once I see him. I walk in newness of life and great promises found in the ressurection. I no longer have to sin. I am greater than John the Baptist because of the work of Yeshua. If you truly believe this then power over sin is broken.

You can take copper wire and cram it fitly into a bottle and once you break the bottle the wire will stay in the same shape. Once the slaves were emancipated they tried to serve their old masters. You no longer need do this...You are a son of the Living God. You have the power over sin. Believe this and only this.

Shawn L said...

Red State and Reformed,

My reasoning is not saying that David was lost because he was sinning sexually, my reasoning was in reguard to fact that this man didn't have fruit keeping with repentance.

Those who follow after such things with continued unrepentent sin for 7 years with 17 affairs really make it hard to show any kind of sign of being born again given the scriptures about sexual immorality and those who follow after it are not inheriting the kingdom of God (Ephesians 5:5 & Hebrews 12:15-17 & Galatians 5:14-22).

My point is that God in His sanctifying Grace makes it clear this man would have repented of a continued lifestyle or pattern of sexual immorality.

Here's what I'm speaking of as well, God does and will forgive those who are sexually immoral, but those who live with continued unrepentant sin are shown to not Love God in keeping with repentence (all a work of Grace I might add). All of this is clearly seen in the teaching of scripture. My beliefs though is those who are born again all look to Christ to be transformed that's part of what God has given to all those who love Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Bhedr said...

No man can know what is in the heart of another man. I share with you in hopes that you will find hope in my weaknesses and hope in Yeshua alone. For far too long men have been dishonest as they feel they have it all together. It is my hope that you will see that Yeshua came to heal the sinner and not the righteous.Believe in Him.
David had a serious problem in his collecting wives along the way;an adulterating heart for many years. His son's learned his trade. Elohim may appear to wink at sin but in reality He is letting it come to a head. "The wheels of justice turn slowly but they turn ever so fine."
In the situation with Bathsheba; it had come to a head. From that time on he faced unparalleled sorrow and thorn.
Take heart that at the end of his life a beautiful women was sent to lay with him to keep him warm and he knew her not. Elohim burned this out of him.
"Oh he was too old to know her" you might say. Nay my friend there are plenty of dirty old men with lust in their hearts to the death. The chastening; this is the sign of the redeemed.
Speak not of what you know not and pray that you will never find out.

Shawn L said...

Bhedr,

Who are you talking to?

If you are talking to me, then the real question is how do we then deal with the scriptures I talked about. That's all I'm saying not trying to judge another's sin as worse than mine. I'm just trying to deal with the scriptures on this topic

I am quite a sinner and I know that for a fact and I do believe it is by Grace we are all saved!

Efrayim said...

I thought about this for awhile before I decided to make a comment. But it only seems right to at least say something to address a very common misunderstanding regarding the Torah of Elohim (commonly called "the Law").

Terry Rayburn said (among other things):

2. The New Covenant as it relates to Law. Most Christians don't realize that the Old Covenant is obsolete (Heb. 8).

I realize that this is only part of his thought, and a complete and thorough examination of this particular subject would not be possible here. But it is a subject in which I have a great deal of interest.

To say that the Mosaic covenant is "obsolete", or useless, would not be entirely accurate. If that were true, then John must have been mistaken when he said that sin is a transgression of Torah (1 John 3:4). How could transgressing (meaning lawless behaviour or iniquity) "obsolete" commands be interpreted as sin? Remember that Torah is taken as a whole. Break one commandment and you have broken them all. If one commandment is "obsolete", then all are.

Since the topic of this discussion is sin and what we should be doing about it, including the relevancy of Torah would be wise. There have been other posts about this, and I don't intend to repeat them, but, suffice it to say that without Torah, we would be ignorant of what YHVH considers to be the sin from which we are to repent.

The context of chapter 8 of Hebrews is the sacrificial system and earthly priesthood, which has been replaced under the new covenant. The righteous demands of Torah have not fallen to the ground and become useless. Just how we are to deal with our disobedience to them has changed. Note also that YHVH intended to write His Torah in the minds and on the hearts of His people. He did not say that He would write new laws on anyone's heart. But that He would write the ones He had already spoken. It does not make sense to get rid of something that is perfect because you are bringing in something that is somehow MORE perfect.

The problem was not Torah, but rather the people who refused to keep it. As Sha'ul said, "do we make null and void (obsolete) the Law through faith? Elohim forbid! In fact we establish Torah"
It doesn't get much plainer than that.

So much more can be said, but I will honor Steve's request to keep it short, and if possible, sweet.

Shalom

Bhedr said...

Shawn I say this to you and any man who is like passioned as I. I am a red blooded American male. I wish to be honest about it and say that I cling to Elohiym everyday to gaurd what springs forth from my heart. I tremble at this subject and only wish to be helpful.

I leave you with the words of a humble man that has led a disciplined life and never fell to gross sin. His name is Dr. Erwin Lutzer and the book is called Living With Your Passions:
"For nearly two years I debated whether to write this book. First it involves some *risks*. A friend who teaches marriage seminars said that whatever topic he delt with on Sunday, he struggled with the next week. Satan the enemy of our souls, would like to destroy us in areas where we are trying to help God's people. I'm not immune from sexual temptation. Paul warned, "Therefore let him who stands take heed lest he fall"

Shawn and friends I leave you with this. I no longer wish to talk about this. I only wanted to help you see the reality of this. This was no game for me and has brought untold years of heartache. I pray you will understand this.

Shawn L said...

Bhedr & Red State,

Awesome words to leave us with when talking about a subject.

Very important and please forgive me for any offense to both of you. I was just searching the scriptures on this one.

From what you have said Behr about temptation said it reminds me of my own lust in my life as well and something to bring me low on my face before God and thanking Him for His Perfect Grace.

I think that email or writing on boards is hard as you can't always tell the emotions of the person behind it... Thank you for the reminder.

May God be glorified in us sinners to make know Christ's salvation...

2Tal said...

Thank you Steve,
It is impossible repudiate a workman of the word here. I for one did some major soul searching once again as I read this and this scriptures passages so graciously provided. I guess my only question is how do we define becoming disqualified for ministry. As as said yourself in a song "we all have skeletons to hide" so where do we draw the line? Should everyone know of the most seedy things ever done by us as Christians or should it be priviledged information? What would qualify being disqualified? This apparently requires much grace of wisdom lest we condemn ourselves to the point of becoming ineffective in ways God never intended.

Terry Rayburn said...

Efrayim,

It wasn't me who said that the Old Covenant is obsolete, it was the writer of Hebrews.

"When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete..."--Heb. 8:13.

Are you sure you wouldn't like to retract your statement that to say it is obsolete "would not be entirely true"?

You then say that if it were obsolete, then John (in 1 Jn. 3:4) would have been mistaken when he said that sin is a violation of Torah. But that's not what John said. He said that sin is "lawlessness" (Gk. "anomia"), which is an attitude of rejecting the will of God --- as expressed in His various laws at various times --- and subtituting the will of man, making one a "law" unto himself.

Torah, in it's typical sense refers to the first five books of the Scriptures. Surely you wouldn't say that all the 600+ laws contained in the Torah are still in effect, would you?

Unlike the obsolete Old Covenant the New Covenant is "unilateral". That is, there are no conditions on the part of man to effect the covenant (even "faith" is produced by God).

Though God's laws (not The Law, as in Torah) are put into our minds and upon our hearts, the New Covenant itself is instituted, ratified, blood-bought, and regeneration-sealed by sola gratia, grace alone. From start to finish, He is the Author and Finisher (totally unlike the obsolete Old Covenant, which was dependent on man to "obey", and thus doomed from the start).

Yes, The Law was perfect and good, but it couldn't bring life, and so the Covenant based on The Law was scrapped in favor of a "better" covenant. And we participants in the New Covenant are no longer under law, as beautiful and perfect as it may be, but under grace (Rom. 6:14).

And we can thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for that, because that is the very basis on which sin is no longer master over us (Rom. 6:14).

Blessings,
Terry Rayburn

Efrayim said...

Terry,

As I stated previously, this is not the place to go into a long, detailed accounting of the relationship between a new covenant believer and the Torah. But keep in mind that the Torah was a PART of that previous covenant, not the sum total of it.

And I think it is not possible to separate "lawless" behaviour from "law". You can't have one without the other.

Please do not think that I am saying that the realities of grace in Messiah Yeshua are somehow not complete. They most certainly are. But what I have seen in these RB blogs, for the most part, is a great concern for the current state of what is commonly called the "church". It is my opinion that one of the causes of these types of problems (won't list the problems here) is the idea that the covenants of YHVH are separate and distinct from each other. They are not.
As one example, read how Sha'ul ties the covenant with Avraham together with the new covenant. It is not just an historical comparison. Otherwise the "seed" of Avraham would be just an interesting but meaningless metaphor. We know that it isn't.

The Mosaic covenant did not rely on man to "obey" for salvation. It was never intended for Torah to "save" anyone. It was intended to sanctify (separate) the people of Israel out of the world to be YHVH's own special treasure from among the nations. The children of Israel were saved by faith through grace then just like we are today. There has never been any other way to obtain eternal life.

As far as all of the 613 mitzvot of Torah still being in effect, none of YHVH's words ever fall to the ground (a Hebrew idiom) and become useless. It would be foolish for any person to place their trust in a Creator whose words can fail. The writer of Hebrews is careful to explain the fact that it is people who fail, not YHVH, His covenants or His words. Consider for a moment the audience for that particular letter. What would their concerns be? Temple service and sacrifice was as integral to their worship (service) to YHVH as church attendance and all its related activities are to Christians today. If you knew that church attendance had been replaced with a better form of service to YHVH, how would you describe that new reality to people who were clinging tenaciously to what they already knew? Would you indicate that there are parts of what they are doing that are no longer in effect (obsolete) and could be let go?
A rhetorical question, I know, but it is an interesting line of thought. And during a restoration, it is no longer rhetorical.

So much to say, so little space...

Thank you for responding,

Shalom

Bhedr said...

Shawn I apprecite your humble Spirit and forgive me if I came on too strong. My father fell into adultery as a former minister. He is a state prison gaurd now. This was years ago. This kind of thing has quite an affect on a young man and gets his eyes off of flesh pretty quickly. Unfortunately at the time only the men of Armenian persuasion(Keith Green types) reached over to help back up. This is all the more I will say as this is a dangerous subject for me.

My mind is Calvanistic in doctrine and oh how I wish those who hold to it would see it's deep call to practice. This is why I apprecitate Steve's ministry because he stands with a clarion call for men like Rick Warren to not toss doctrine under the rug.He holds their feet to the fire. Some of them may one day listen.

I told Jeremy on his blog: The fire of Spurgeon and his commitment to truth in the walk of Mother Theresa. Hey...It could happen. Maybe we should both aim for that.

Redneck in a reformed state, I appreciate your points:-)

Bhedr said...

To address Russ and Terry in their discussion:

The Law was established in Yeshua. It proves Him righteouss while it is our death warrant. When Yeshua ascended into heaven to be with His Father he did so not to re-establish it in letter; but to pour out His Holy Spirit so that we could understand and bear witness of Him in walk and talk.

Yeshua said John was the greatest of the old and the least of us would be greater than him.

When you make plans to build a house, you survey the land and then did into the ground to prepare the foundation. The law is like the surveying and planning while John is like the ground in preparation for the concrete footing or foundation. Yeshua is the conrete poured into the ground that was prepared for Him. It was for Him and Him alone. Those of us born of His spirit now stand on that solid foundation and are lead directly by that foundation.
Those that reject that foundation and try to build elsewhere will perish.
The best Scripture for this is 2 Corinthians 3. The letter kills while the Spirit gives life.

Efrayim said...

Behdr,

To clear up some confusion:

1. Torah was not "established" in Yeshua. It had been established long before He arrived in earthly form. The righteous demands of Torah were "completed" by Yeshua. A very different reality. Which reality we now depend on for our justification.

2. Yeshua was referring to Yochanan's earthly work compared to the glorified state of those found worthy to be in the first resurrection. It was not a "OT" "NT" comparison.

3. The "foundation" of the temple of which we are a part is comprised of Yeshua and the apostles. They share the foundation. We are spiritually built upon that revelation of the redemptive work of Yeshua. And whether someone looks forward to or back to that event, if they look in faith, the result is the same. Life from death. Those who lived with the "letter" had the same access by faith to the Ruach HaKodesh (Set-Apart Spirit) as we do. Otherwise they could not have been born again and consequently could not have inherited the kingdom of Elohim. Why do think Yeshua was a little impatient with Nicodemas? He should have known these things. But they had been forgotten by the religious sects of the time because they were depending on their works instead of Elohim. The children were led by the Spirit in the wilderness. We are led by the same Spirit today. Creating a distinction where there isn't one can cause folks to misunderstand the continuity of the covenants, which may lead some to think that what has been going on for the last 2k years is something totally new.

Which brings us back to the original subject of Steve's post. How can someone who is shepherding the people of Elohim deal successfully with sin when that shepherd believes he is somehow disconnected from the covenants and should be "walking in love and grace alone"? Without a good understanding of the previous covenants and their relationship to us today, the very context of what sin is and how it is to be dealt with would be a mystery. And the results of that should be obvious to all.

May He bless your study,

Shalom

Bhedr said...

Russ, I have tremendous respect for you as you are a most blessed Jew. I can learn much from you and your years of study in Torah and Hebrew are exceedingly benificial in this blog.

Perhaps I should have used the word complete as Telos was what He said on the cross.

You are also correct that the foundation is Yeshua as the chief cornerstone and the apostles finishing the foundation.

Brother I must say however that I rest absolutely nothing on the law as far as my justification is concerned and I seek to be led by His Spirit(Logos) in order to fully understand the graphe or debar(is it in hebrew). My sanctification is wrought out in this. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholy lean on Yeshua's name.

Also as a side note: Where is it written that Yeshua was impatient with Nicodemas?

Efrayim said...

Bhedr,

Look at John chapter 3. The first 15 verses give the account and in verse 10 Yeshua indicates that Nicodemas, as a teacher in Israel, should know these things about the working of the Spirit.

Perhaps if I modernize it just a bit (which usually means more words);

"What?, you're supposed to be teacher of My people and you don't have any idea what I'm talking about here? Where have you been!? I explained all this in the TaNaK very carefully. How is it that you do not understand how a person enters into life eternal?"

Perhaps Yeshua was more disappointed and possibly frustrated than impatient, but the text indicates that He was expecting Nicodemas to know what He was talking about. Otherwise He would have answered the question differently.
In other places in the gospel texts Yeshua is presented with the same basic question, but His answer is quite different.
Suppose you approached me with a question about how to repair a car engine. You asked me because you believed that I was a master mechanic. My answer would depend on whether you were a mechanic as well and had not yet learned the required technique, or you were a guy who was happy if he could get the hood open.
Yeshua obviously thought that Nicodemas should know more than he knew. And then went on to explain spiritual realities that we have come to take for granted as part of our belief system. I imagine Nicodemas's eyes being very wide through most of the lesson.

Shalom u'vracha (peace and blessing)

Bhedr said...

Wow I guess it is all a matter of perspective there Russ. Unregenerate man cannot recieve the things of the Spirit as the wind blows where it wishes. I looked that passage over and don't see what you see. I see great patience as our lord spoke with him as that is his character. He is meek and lowly of heart. I think that was the biggest stumbling block of the Pharisees. They had a lopsided view of God. The elder prodigal as well and even then the father told him in patience, "You have always been with me and all that I have is yours."
Yeshua also told James and John they knew not what manner of spirit they were of. God is patient as David bore witness of this. We have not come to the mountain to fear but to cry out Abba. This is the Elohiym I behold and delight in. There is a day when his patience will run out but that day has not come yet.

Efrayim said...

Behdr,

How would see this event:

Mat 17:14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,
Mat 17:15 "Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
Mat 17:16 "I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him."
Mat 17:17 And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me."
Mat 17:18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

Was the Messiah just tired? frustrated? perhaps a little impatient with that "generation's" unbelief?

Do you think that maybe Moshe might have a different perspective of YHVH's impatience with man than what we have today? Moshe experienced the heat of YHVH's anger, and saw the results. So did many other great men and women of faith over the centuries.

YHVH does not change. What kindled His anger then would kindle it now. But, because YHVH is holding back the flames of His anger until the fullness of the nations has been gathered back into the whole house of Israel, that does not mean He is always patient with the works of man.

Being disciplined by an organization (church) is quite different than being disciplined by the Ruach. YHVH is not influenced by the affectations of man. His Word is swift and sure and does not spare.

But in saying that, please do not think that I have lost site of His tender mercies and His gentle lovingkindness. For we, being evil, discipline our children in love. At least we should be. But it is discipline nonetheless. And when the correction is properly received, repentance is met with mercy.

And just prior to that discipline, is there sometimes impatience when the instruction has been given many times and ignored? Of course there is. But, I am not only sure that YHVH has much more patience than any of us, I count on it!

And I can understand your not wanting to live in fear of YHVH, but, in looking around at the current state of Christianity, I would say that the lack of proper fear of YHVH is the root cause of much of the drifting away from His Kadosh (set-apart)ways. Perhaps we could discuss that at another time.

Shalom

Efrayim said...

I meant "How would YOU see this event".

It sure would be nice to be able to go back and edit our typos. I usually don't see mine until after I hit the Publish button.

Bhedr said...

Russ you make good points and I have even thought much over that passage with the demon possessed boy. This passage ought to stir us to fast and pray as I think that is what frustrates YHVH. Does He not wonder that there is no intercessor? Remember his disappointment with His disciples as they slept.Should we also give up our pleasure seeking in order to raise our families correctly?

I just don't see where this fits in with Nicodemus. He was seeking and I believe Yehovah drew him there.

For forty years Israel walked in the wilderness and only 2 saw that YHVH was good. Only two believed in Him. Yehoshua and Caleb.

I will agree with you in that proper balance is a must. Elohiym made both a shark as well as a puppy dog.

I do think what is lacking is a proper understanding of the power of the Cross. There is a form of godliness today that denies it.

Yeshua broke the power over sin and we no longer have to obey it's lusts. We are free from that and His first word to the disciples was Chario(Rejoice)

We are told to rejoice always and pray without seeking. If we all committed to that and the contentment that is found there then there would be no need for irreverant gimick Christianity. The power to obey flows from Yeshua as we are told to Abide in Him and that is the key for apart from Him we can do nothing. I always look forward to your posts and will meditate more on them as in my humanity I am retarded in regards to the complete Knowledge of YHVH and everything I can gleen(especially from Yewish men) are golden nuggets.

Don't worry about the typo's as I make them all the time:-)

Terry Rayburn said...

Efrayim,

With all due respect, brother, your response to my last post seems basically irrelevant to my comments.

1. I pointed out that Heb. 8:13 says that the Old Covenant is made obsolete by the New Covenant. You respond that God's covenants are not separate and distinct. "Obsolete" is by definition separate and distinct. One is "shadows", one is the reality.

2. I pointed out that the New Covenant is unilateral (in which Christ is now living His Life through us), not dependent on man's performance, and the Old Covenant was dependent on man's obedience. You say that the Mosaic Covenant didn't rely on man's obedience for "salvation" and that the Torah was never intended to save anyone, which I agree with, but... First, I hadn't said anything about "salvation" by the Old Covenant, but only that man had to obey to fulfill his side of the covenant (for blessings, and to avoid cursings, actually). And I certainly didn't say anything about the Torah (the five books of Moses) saving anyone.

3. I asked, "Surely you wouldn't say that all the 600+ laws contained in the Torah are still in effect, would you?" And your puzzling answer SEEMS to be, "Yes".(!) So I would assume that you don't touch pork chops, and don't build any fires or travel more than a few hundred feet on Saturday.

I had merely pointed out the glories of the grace of the New Covenant, through which we can walk by the Spirit, and thereby not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

We are, unfortunately, in utterly different paradigms of biblical understanding, and nothing you wrote seems relevant to anything that I wrote.

I trust that we nevertheless worship the same wonderful Lord Jesus, the sacrificed Lamb of the New Covenant, and for that I'm grateful.

Blessings,
Terry Rayburn

Efrayim said...

Terry,

Yes, we could go on for some time explaining and defending our different positions and understandings of Scripture. But this is Steve's blog, so I will stop.

And yes, we do worship the same Lamb of the new covenant. And should we ever have the opportunity to explore it, our reasons for doing so would probably be much the same.

Shalom

Bhedr said...

Russ,

I spent much time meditating over the demon possessed boy today. I did want to leave you with one thought:
Does Yeshua's vexation of Spirit mean that He was impatient? Is it possible that this incident further proves his patience. I am just not sure that vexation and impatience are the same.
In fact; it is Yeshua's goal through trials and temptation to teach us patience. It would seem that we are the ones impatient and since the dawn of time Elohiym has proved He is not.

CD-Host said...

What is the justification for "disqualified forever"? Saul of Tarsus was in the business of killing christians before his conversion. Should he have been disqualified for murder? I've started a thread on my blog as well. I'm not sure whether I'm misreading your solution is phrased poorly or you are deny the effectiveness of the crucifixion.

Elizabeth Davis said...

Hello Steve,
Thank you for this post!

I concur with all you have said about this topic, specifically your statement, "...without exception, that the most forgotten duty today by local church leadership is the failure to lovingly restore those fallen into sin."

Also, the statement, "One of the greatest acts of love a pastor can ever demonstrate to his people and one of the most Christlike examples he could ever model for the body of Christ is when he and the other elders of the church confront someone in unrepentant sin, seeking for their repentance, restoration and reconciliation (Matthew 18:15-20)."

One thing that I think it worth mentioning on this topic is really a question I have for you: could it be that a means God uses to keep believers from sin is the continual preaching/exhortation they should be receiving from their pastors/elders prior to getting to the point of pastors/elders needing to proceed to the latter steps of church discipline?

In other words, do you see (in addition to what you have already mentioned) a "spiritual malpractice" in the church today in regards to calling believers out in their sin and to repentance on a more consistent and day-to-day manner, thus resulting in (by God's grace) the believer ceasing from his/her habitual sin so as to not require the church discipline you have written of?

Just some thoughts I had while reading your post. Thanks again for writing this!

May Christ Increase,
Elizabeth