130116 BC&D-15 Platform.doc
Understanding How To Counsel & Disciple People Using The Platform Of Exposure To Sin
1 Corinthians 10:13
This month we are studying the Biblical Dynamics of Change. Please open to page 81.
There is a platform we each step onto at the start of every day, which is called the platform of exposure to sin. Our memory verse this week says it all.
Temptations are Always Stalking Us
Read it together with me: 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV) No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
The Spiritual Law of Sowing & Reaping
Turn with me in your Bibles to Galatians 6:7-9. One of the most vital lessons we as believers need to learn, and that we as Biblical Counselors & Disciplers need to share is found in Galatians 6:7-9.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart
God never sleeps, never gets distracted, and He notices everything we say, think, and do. The spiritual law that Paul here describes in Galatians 6 is called the consequence engine.
God’s consequence engine is regulated by the law of sowing and reaping. He has never revoked, altered, or amended this great truth. The consequence engines connected with sowing and reaping run with 100 percent reliability century after century in every generation:
whatever a man sows, that he will also reap (Galatians 6:7).
Consequences In Daily Life
Consequences abound in our lives. Driving over the speed limit can get us a speeding ticket. Driving under the influence can have more severe consequences. Not paying the rent usually causes a renter to loose his residence. Not showing up for work on time can get one fired. The slightest disobedience to the Drill Sergeant in military basic training can prove painfully costly.
“Sensible” people who are law-abiding and “moral” cause less trouble for themselves in this life, and are better off as long as they live–compared to the person who is irresponsible, or promiscuous, who abuses booze and drugs and can’t hold a job.
Neither type of individual may end up in heaven, but this present life is better off for people who see the intrinsic order in the world and who follow it as best they can, even if their motives are self-serving, and even if they do not know God.
Always remember that God takes note of everything going on–nothing escapes his notice, especially a person’s motives.
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (NIV)
The consequences of life, inexorable and unavoidable though they may be–do not usually bring immediate consequences in response to our actions. An old Proverb says, “The mills of God’s justice grind exceedingly slow–but they grind exceedingly fine.”
Because we often do not see the negative consequences of our bad choices right away, we are often persuaded to make bigger and more foolish mistakes. Because God’s judgments are usually long delayed in time, many think the Lord never judges anyone at all.
For the pagan “the wages of sin”–which is death–are inevitable, inexorable, and unavoidable. Sin also pays lost people back with boredom, guilt, shame, loneliness, confusion, emptiness, loss of purpose, but, in the end, not only with physical death itself—they must also face final separation from God—because they never laid hold of the saving life of Christ.
Paul, Peter, John, and Jesus all clearly state that some forms of life-style behavior exclude a person from entry into the kingdom of God altogether, thus revealing that many who say they are Christians never were in the first place (Matthew 7:21-29)! A list of these moral absolutes in the universe is found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and yet another in Ephesians 5:1-6.
The record books of life are being kept up daily by recording angels who miss no details. Judgment is totally fair and just–even for the lost. Punishment is appropriately proportional, following the great principle outlined in Romans 2–God weighs the motives of the heart as well as behavior, and He takes into account the individual’s actual knowledge of God.
Nonbelievers do not cease to exist when they die, nor do they pass into limbo or purgatory. After death they end up intact and conscious at the “last” judgment described in Revelation 20:12-13.
Revelation 20:12-13 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
Negative Consequences For Believers
Negative consequences in time and eternity occur when a follower of Jesus Christ does things in his or her own flesh, our natural energy and strength. A number of New Testament passages highlight this:
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
When believers fail to see the negative consequences of bad choices right away, they are often persuaded to make bigger and more foolish mistakes. And if God’s judgments are long delayed, many of them think the Lord never judges at all.
One of the features of the negative consequence engine at work is that we do not get to choose the consequences of our sins—God does. For instance, I grew up watching my parents help newly saved men from our local rescue mission get a fresh start. I’ll always remember what my dad said: “God saved their soul but He doesn’t give them a new stomach or liver!” Many of those radiant new converts went on to have years of terrible health problems—negative consequences of poor choices earlier in their lives.
Negative Consequences Believers Can Face
But what possible negative consequences can there be for those who are in Christ? Here are just a few:
- We have lost opportunities for service if we aren’t alert to God’s leadings.
- We have a greater propensity to make the same bad choice the next time we’re tempted after having yielded to a particular sin. For example, every time a believer rationalizes to find an excuse for not attending church, it becomes easier and easier to forsake the gathering together of God’s people. An increased vulnerability to temptation applies to anything in life.
- We run the risk of an early death. God’s Word says if you partake with un-confessed, unrepentant sins, God will judge you and bring weakness and sickness into your life—and may ultimately take you home to heaven in an untimely death.
Like negative consequences, the effects of the positive consequence engine at work in our lives do not usually show up immediately; they are long term. (This can be frustrating for those who crave instant gratification and expect daily rewards.) The big payoff for followers of Christ is in the next life rather than the here and now, as Jesus reminds us in His sermon on the mount:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Much of a positive consequence is also internal. Positive consequences of knowing God include wonderful inner qualities of wholeness, fulfillment, and contentment.
As we yield in obedience to the Lord, over time we become all we ever dreamed of being as whole men and women. For God will produce in and through us the fruit of the Spirit which: is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
Life Comes Down to Two Choices
We only have two choices in life—pleasing God or pleasing self.
We only have two choices in life—pleasing God by what we do or pleasing our self. Paul explained in Romans, that we are all servants (slaves), and there are only two choices of which master we choose to serve:
Romans 6:16-23 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We only have two building materials in life—what will last and what will not. That is another New Testament description of the consequence engine at work in the life of the Christian. What we do (build) in life will either endure or we will suffer loss:
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.
Spirit Led Living
The positive consequences in life are empowered by God’s Spirit. What really counts in life—actions that lead to positive consequences—are the works Jesus does in and through us when we make ourselves available to God. The basic rule of Christian life is this: Nothing coming from me, but everything coming from Him!
In God’s sight, there is nothing at all in us, in our flesh, that is able to please Him. We must die to self and be replaced by Christ living in and through us:
… Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works (Matthew 16:24-27).
… I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:19-21).
The High Cost of Sin
We all stand this moment on a platform known as the platform of exposure to temptation to sin. From it lead seven steps in each direction…
The Downward Steps of Bad Choices
- TRIFLING WITH SIN Psalm 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.
- SURRENDERING TO SIN Romans 6:13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
- HABITUALLY YEILDING TO SIN Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
- ABANDONEMENT TO SIN Ephesians 4:19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
- ABANDONEMENT OF GOD FOR SIN Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;
- Used By SATAN TO TEMPT OTHERS Romans 1:32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. 2 Timothy 2:26
- HELL: Sampled on Earth. Romans 1:24,26,28; 2:8 Hell is character as well as location. The one who hates everything that God loves is tasting a bit Hell now and Hell is in them.
The Upward Steps of Godly Choices
- Deciding You Want to Obey God: determining sin will not have Dominion over me. Daniel 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
- OVERCOMING SIN BY FAITH. Hebrews 11:25-27 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
- SEEKING THE HABIT OF SURRENDER. Romans 6:18 The strength from one victory helps you with the next. 2 Corinthians 2:14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
- SETTING MY MIND ON THINGS ABOVE: a life hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:1-2 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
- SEEING THE BEAUTY OF CHRIST. Isaiah 33:17; You trusted God now He trust you, like Daniel, greatly beloved. Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the man You choose, And cause to approach You, That he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Of Your holy temple.
- LIVING AS AN EXAMPLE OTHERS FOLLOW. Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
- HEAVEN: AND YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DIE IN ORDER TO GET THERE. Ephesians 2:6-10Heaven is character as well as location. The one who loves everything that God loves, is tasting a bit of Heaven now and Heaven is in them.
Mortifying My Flesh is a Life Long Struggle
Identifying the “flesh” in our lives is a life-long task–the flesh will do anything to avoid being put to death. We do not readily recognize the flesh in ourselves apart from our daily obedience to Jesus–and our ongoing feeding on the Word of God. Hebrews offers key insights into our day to day walk in the Spirit.
Hebrews 4:10-13 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
That is why Paul described the Christian life as agonizomai. What word in English sounds like that? Agony.
In other words, he was saying that the Christian life is a long, hard spiritual battle. In fact, if you’re not struggling, you are probably not making a lot of good choices. The more good choices you make, the more your life will become spiritually embattled because it’s an agonizing thing to bring the flesh under the domination of the Spirit of God.
Making the Choice Each Day to be: Living for Jesus
I know of no clearer pathway to killing selfishness and encouraging consecration than adopting the same life purpose that Thomas Chisholm embraced in his poem “Living for Jesus.” This poem expresses the marching orders of one who read these Scriptures and said, “Lord, how do I harness my life?” Chisholm did it when he declared: “O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee.”
Each of us can affirm his flesh-crucifying, life-consecrating words. Say them to the Lord because there is a positive consequence to what you express to Him. Decide today that you want to sow to the Spirit by denying and crucifying your flesh—and then make every day a day of living for Jesus:
Living for Jesus a life that is true, striving to please Him in all that I do, yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free—this is the pathway of blessing for me.
Living for Jesus who died in my place, bearing on Calv’ry my sin and disgrace—such love constrains me to answer His call, follow His leading and give Him my all.
Living for Jesus thru earth’s little while, my dearest treasure the light of His smile, seeking the lost ones He died to redeem, bringing the weary to find rest in Him.
Chorus: O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou in Thine atonement didst give Thyself for me. I own no other Master—my heart shall be Thy throne: My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.
—Thomas O. Chisholm (1866-1960)
 John Stam, The Triumph of John & Betty Stam, Moody Press, p. 22-23.