Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thoughts on Our Struggle Against the Enemy

I would like to draw attention to a few Scriptures about our Enemy and our relationship to him.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Eph. 6:12)

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Eph. 1:18-21)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient… And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:1-2, 6)
My point is that although our struggle is against the rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, and although we were once dead in transgressions and sins and followed the ruler of the kingdom of the air, we are now seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion.

In other words, our struggle with spiritual evil is one where we are with Christ, far above our opponents. Our struggle is not one of defeat.
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Col. 1:28-29)
I hear Christians say that they are “struggling.” They usually mean that they are being defeated. But “struggling” in the Scripture is winning, not losing.

In the right sense, the struggle here seems to be more intense. The attacks on the saints are heavy, but we are winning.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

God's Personal Interest in Everyone

Have you ever noticed that God expresses a personal interest in everyone? Here are a few of those statements:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9)

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. (1 Tim. 2:3-6)
He has given us some commands to obey concerning everyone:
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone. (1 Tim. 2:1)

Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (1 Cor. 10:32-11:1)

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:9-10)
We find we are to pray for, to be kind to, to not stumble, and to please all people; all of this is part of the means of their salvation. We are also to be good to everyone.

Are we obeying God in practice and with the salvation of all people in mind?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Praying for Our Leaders

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior. (1 Tim. 2:1-3)
I had a boss once who loved to make decisions. He did not make them rationally or emotionally or under God’s guidance—he just made them.

We are to pray for the authorities mentioned above so that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all godliness and holiness.

The leader you are praying for may not be a Christian. Pray for conviction of sin. Pray that he will hear the gospel and receive Christ. Pray for his decisions, that they will be good ones. And thank God! “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Thursday, January 11, 2018

You Go to the Best Church in Town, But...

Is your religion pure and faultless?
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
If you are normal, you want to be in the best church in town, and you may be in it. However, does this church (or any church) fit God's definition of pure and faultless religion?

This is in the sight of God the Father. He is paying attention to see if your religion is pure and undefiled. There are two requirements: 1) to visit orphans and widows who are in distress and 2) to keep yourself unspotted from the world.

Concerning the first requirement, you may not know any widows or orphans in distress. However, they are there in your town. Ask God who they are.

The second requirement is not letting the filth of the world touch you at all. Jesus prays in John 17:15-17, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). In evangelistic churches today, Christians seem to watch their doctrine much more closely than they watch their lives. Timothy was told to watch both.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Jesus, the Name High Over All

Jesus, the name high over all
In hell, or earth, or sky;
Angels and men before it fall,
And devils fear and fly.

Jesus, the name to sinners dear,
The name to sinners given.
It scatters all their guilty fear,
It turns their hell to heaven.

Jesus the prisoner's fetters breaks,
And bruises Satan's head,
Power into strengthless souls it speaks,
And life into the dead.

Oh, that the world might taste and see
The riches of his grace!
The arms of love that compass me
Would all mankind embrace.

His only righteousness I show,
His saving truth proclaim:
'Tis all my business here below,
To cry, "Behold the Lamb!"

Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp his name!
Preach him to all, and cry in death,
"Behold! behold the Lamb."

- Charles Wesley

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Feelings: More on Depression

Thank you for the comments and questions I received via email.

A woman’s menstrual cycle is not sin. If however, she loses her temper because of the hormones, that is sin and must be confessed.

I lost a classmate from suicide due to depression when he was a student at the Naval War College. There is no question in my mind that he was under the influence of the Enemy.

The Holy Spirit has fruit in the Christian’s life. The fruit of the Spirit is given to all Christians when we receive Christ. At that moment, all of our sins were forgiven.

When, as a new Christian, a person sins, he is chastened by the Lord (Heb. 12:5-11). No chastening is joyous. He loses his joy in the Lord. When he is chastened for his sin, he confesses it, and his joy returns.

God gives us the fruit of the Spirit. They are all emotions: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Each of these things is also commanded. We are not commanded to do these things in order to receive them, but because we already have them.

None of the commands in the New Testament are moderate. Many contain superlatives. A few examples:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:16-18)

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! …. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4, 6-7)

Do everything without grumbling or arguing. (Phil. 2:14)
Not giving thanks in everything is sin. It is disobedience. “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). This is the way to obedience.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Help for Getting out of Depression

Depression seems to be common among many of my Christian friends. It is not only common—it is accepted as normal. There are several causes—physical, emotional, the cycle of the seasons or your latitude on the earth. Some of these can be helped simply by moving south.

Even where depression is not caused by sin, once it sets in, it is sin in itself. How do I know? There are commands in the Bible like, “Rejoice in the Lord always—again, I say, rejoice!” That is a command to Christians. It says always. Sins do not travel in singles. Sins associated with depression are anxiety, impatience, and anger.

Whatever the physical causes, there is a solution to the spiritual sin. It is calling it sin, being convicted by the Holy Spirit with guilt for this sin, and being forgiven for it, back in the joy of your salvation.

How do I know there is a solution? We do not see depression as a fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:22-24).

Regularly (most recently, talking with a woman in Florida) I give this solution: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Is this true? If so, then thank God for this truth all day long. Thanking God moved the truth from your head to your heart.

“Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). Obedience comes from the heart, not the head.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). Again, the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. Fill your heart with good things from the Word by thanking God for them.

Read books on joy: Philippians and 2 Corinthians. Keep your sins confessed up to date. You will have the joy of your salvation.

Depression is the ultimate in self-centeredness. “Nobody likes me; everybody hates me.”

Here is the long-term solution:

• Love God.
• Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
• Love the brothers.
• Love the strangers and foreigners.
• Love your enemies.

Loving these people is a choice that is possible for you to make because you have the fruit of the Spirit. Quit thinking about yourself. Quit introspecting.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Confession & Sins the World Does Not Recognize

We as Christians have been influenced by the world to have similar views of right and wrong—lying, cheating, and stealing are a few of the common sins. So as long as we do not lie, cheat, or steal, our conscience does not yell at us.

There are other sins, such as complaining, arguing, not being thankful, not rejoicing, being anxious, and being depressed. These are all very clearly sin. They need to be in your conscience. You should be convicted of sin when you do any of these, convicted so that you confess them and get forgiven. The non-Christian will not be convicted of these. He does not have the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Stealing Continued

In the recent post on stealing, you will have noticed that stealers are also liars. However, many types of lying do not include stealing. There is one form of lying in the Ten Commandments. “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16).

Other forms of lying are:

• Bragging about some experience you had which never happened. I certainly did that in letters to my older brother when we were both in the Navy. Later after I was a Christian, I wrote fiction to my girlfriend. Later, I confessed it to God and to them.
• In my junior and senior years in high school, I worked 8 hours a day after school, from 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. As a result, I did little or no homework for all of my classes. I lied to some of them. History and chemistry teachers were led to believe I was studying when I wasn’t. in algebra, I told the teacher how many math problems I did in homework when in reality I had done none. The same with English. I told the teacher how many books or articles I read when I had read none.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Revisiting An Old Subject

It has been several years since I taught on this subject. It is time for another reminder.

If you are a normal, moral person, that is, not into drugs, sex, or alcohol, you are probably still guilty of stealing and lying. Today it will be about stealing, not bank robbery, but just taking things that are not your own.

This is described in Leviticus 6:1-7. Pay attention to the text. “The LORD said to Moses: ‘If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving a neighbor about something entrusted to them or left in their care or about something stolen, or if they cheat their neighbor, or if they find lost property and lie about it, or if they swear falsely about any such sin that people may commit—when they sin in any of these ways and realize their guilt, they must return what they have stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to them, or the lost property they found, or whatever it was they swore falsely about. They must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day they present their guilt offering. And as a penalty they must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, their guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for them before the LORD, and they will be forgiven for any of the things they did that made them guilty.’”

• It is unfaithfulness to God. “You shall not steal” (Ex. 20:15).
• It includes several types of stealing.
• The solution includes taking it back to the owner.
• This restitution includes adding 20% of the value stolen.
• You confess it to God. His forgiveness is based upon Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection. The animal sacrifices were prophetic events that pictured Jesus’ sacrifice.

Exodus 22:1-15 gives more details on restitution.

If the thief steals an ox and kills or sells it, he must return 5 oxen or 500%. If it is a sheep that he kills or sells, he must return 4 sheep or 400%. If the oxen or sheep are alive when they are returned, the thief must return double what was stolen.

Restitution includes things stolen before you were a Christian. When you were saved, all of your sins were forgiven by God. However, the items you stole are still not yours and must be returned. It is like robbing a bank and confessing the robbery to be forgiven by God, but keeping the money. Confessing and restitution go together.

Number 5:8 tells us what to do when we can’t find the original owner. “But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the LORD and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer.”

Monday, January 01, 2018

Three Types of People Christians Don't Love

There are three types of people in the world that Christians do not love with the Gospel. The first type are the people we witness to and do not love. The second type of unbelievers that we do not love are the ones we do not witness to. The third are people we love and do not witness to.

That sounds like double talk. Let’s change it. 1) We witness to people we love. 2) We love everybody and witness to them with love.

As Christians, we have the fruit of the Spirit—love. We are commanded to love neighbors and enemies. The first thing is to have the love. The second is to choose to love our neighbors and enemies.

Sometimes we can’t make the choice because we have lost the fruit of the Spirit, love. We lack the fruit of the Spirit of love because we are under the chastening of the Lord because of unconfessed sin. In order to get the love back, we must confess sin.

Once we get the love back, we can choose to love our neighbors and enemies and preach the gospel to them.