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This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

In continuing with our discussion on sin last Wednesday, we explored 2 more of the 10 commandments listed in Exodus 20.

1. Thou shalt not kill, Exodus 20:13. There is a difference between killing and murder. In this statement, the Hebrew word for kill specifically means to murder. In Exodus 21:12-15, the people of God are instructed to handle premeditated murder differently than an accidental killing. We are commanded not to take someone’s life or testimony through hate. If we hate our brother, we are just as accountable as a murderer. 1 John 3:15

2. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14. In Matthew 5:27-28 defines the concern of adultery in the New Testament, it isn’t just the act of a relationship of a married person and someone other than their spouse, but it is the act of lusting after another person. Lust is adultery in the heart. God is not just concerned with adultery among people, but also between his church, the Bride, and Christ. God commands us to refrain from lusting after another god.

This last weekend we had a revival at our church from which I was able to gain ground and strength in my soul. One of the messages was about this great hope that we have in and because of Christ. One scripture that was brought was Hebrews 7:19 “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.” KJV The beauty of this spoke to me and as I have read further in the scripture and meditated on this thought I have marveled at the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus was for us.

The Amplified Bible: Hebrews 7 verses 19 through 28
For the Law never made anything perfect, but instead a better hope is introduced through which we [now] come close to God.

And it was not without the taking of an oath [that Christ was made Priest],

For those who formerly became priests received their office without its being confirmed by the taking of an oath by God, but this One was designated and addressed and saluted with an oath, the Lord has sworn and will not regret it or change His mind, You are a Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. [Psalms 110:4]

In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement – a more excellent and more advantageous covenant.

[Again, the former successive line of priests] was made up of many, because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office];

But He holds His priesthood unchangeably because He lives on forever.

Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost – completely, perfectly, finally and for all time and eternity – those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.

[Here is] the High Priest [perfectly adapted] to our needs, as was fitting, holy, blameless, unstained by sin, separated from sinners and exalted higher than the heavens.

He has no day by day necessity, as [do each of these other] high priests, to offer sacrifice first of all for his own [personal] sans and then for those of the people; because He [met] all the requirements] once for all when He brought Himself [as a sacrifice] which He offered up.

For the Law sets up men in their weakness [frail, sinful, dying human beings] as high priests, but the word of [God’s] oath, which [was spoken later], after the institution of the Law, [chooses and appoints as priest One Whose appointment is complete and permanent], a Son Who has been made perfect forever.

It is so beautiful to me that we no longer have to live under the law. All the way up until Christ sacrifice and rising from the dead, God’s people had to offer a sacrifice every year for their sins. They were never free of them; they were just rolled forward till the next sacrifice. I am thankful for that better hope that we have in Christ. Through ONE final sacrifice, he paid for our sins, not only those sins that were previously committed but those that were still yet to come. He took that weight upon himself and showed us the most perfect love. Jesus is the high priest that is able to save us from ALL our sins and intercede for us before God. It is through him we have an example of how we should and can live holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Because of his sacrifice we are able to live a righteous and holy life through power that he supplies.

1 Corinthians 3:16 – Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

We are the temple of God. We cannot compare ourselves against others to see how well our temple is being kept up. We need to ask God, what do YOU think of my building?

God wants to own our house, to be able to open the door and walk thru the whole building. If God cannot dwell in the whole building, he doesn’t want a room. God is not satisfied with being a visitor in our house. We can’t say God, “Make your self at home, and go any where you want, except the back bedroom. It is just a mess; you don’t want to see it.” We can’t limit God’s ownership of our house. Can we truly say, God fill my building, dwell in every aspect of my life?

If we don’t allow God to take complete control of our house, it will be come uninhabitable. Our life will fall to pieces. We cannot take things into our own hands. If God is kept out of any space in our house, we become in danger of loosing our salvation. As God is allowed back into our building, the word and truth will be lifted up in its rightful place once again.

In speaking of the literal temple of God, 1 Kings 8 verses 10 and 11 explain the presence of the Lord in the temple.
And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.

With out God filling our building, the temple of God, our lives, it is just a building and nothing special. We have no power to live free from sin, those around us see no difference in us, we become apart of the world. We are no longer set apart to fulfill his plan.

Let us confirm and ask God to search us, in each aspect, every room, drawer, closet, each space to make sure that we have allowed him to have complete control over everything.

When God saves us, we undergo metamorphous becoming a new creature, putting aside the old man with its habits, thoughts, and behaviors and acquiring new habits, thoughts and behaviors that are more becoming a child of God. Ephesians 4 verses 17 through 32 itemize what needs to be replaced.

THE OLD MAN

Ephesians 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, (After salvation we are to be different from what we once were and from those around us. We are to have control over our mind and thoughts. Those that walk in the “vanity of their minds” allow their mind and thoughts to go about unrestrained.)

Ephesians 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (A hard heart is the result of turning away from and ignoring the check or voice of God.)

Ephesians 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (When one is past feeling, they are past shame. Psalms 81:11-12 describes a people that refuse to hearken to the voice of God to the extent that he has turned them over to their selfish desires.)

Ephesians 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ; (Christ was not our example in these actions. We didn’t learn how to behave this way from Jesus.)

Ephesians 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (Conversation is also to say the way of life or how one carries themselves. In salvation we need to put off the conduct or way of life that we used to live, the old habits, ideas, and behaviors of the old man, to become a…)

THE NEW MAN

Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; (Begin to think about live from a new perspective, Isaiah 55:8-9 tell us that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours, it is with God’s eyes that we begin to view the world.)

Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (When we are born, we are made in Adam’s image (Genesis 5:3), when man was first created and when we get saved, God makes us in his image (Genesis 1:27). We are completely different.)

Ephesians 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. (The new man considers others, not only putting them first but speaking always with an obligation to always present the truth and be clear in our communication instead of leaving choice details to be determined by the hearer causing confusion.)

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (It is ok to be angry, in fact we are going to be angry sometimes, but we can be so with out being carnal. When the new man becomes angry he is going to behave or react in a different manner than the old man would. By not letting the sun go down on our wrath, we are taking control over and care of the situation instead of the situation controlling us.)

Ephesians 4:27 Neither give place to the devil. (When we put the previous two scriptures and those following to practice, we are taking opportunities for the devil to work away. We are more careful to watch what is said and done and are more quick to resolve a situation before it gets out of hand, opening the door for the devil to take advantage.)

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (The new man is a hard worker not willing to mooch off of others, giving and assisting those that are less fortunate. He doesn’t have an attitude of all take and no give.)

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (All that is said should be for the good offering encouragement, grace, strength, wisdom and not fluff or hurtful words.)

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (If we are not faithful in the things that we have learned or feel a warning from God and don’t head it we will grieve the Holy Spirit. While we can grieve the Holy Spirit and still be saved, if we continue to cause grief we can loose our soul.)

Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (The attributes that need to be discarded along with the old man when we receive salvation.)

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (The characteristics that we need to acquire along with the new man that we become after salvation.) KJV

As Christian’s let’s be careful to put off ALL of the old man and add ALL of the new man, God does not accept hybrids.

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