I have not written in a while because God has been teaching me how to be more bold. My entries in the past have been doctrines that have been more widely accepted. I never wanted to offend so I refrained from expounding on the beliefs that cement my life. This was an error that the Holy Spirit so sweetly brought to light recently. This entry along with others is direct and authoritative, as it should be. Sin is an ugly master and our tolerance and submission to its powerlessness must not be tolerated. Read on for a new, bolder perspective that has reminded me more of who Jesus is and should be in my life…and most importantly…yours.
I think we thank Jesus the most for his work on the cross when we allow it’s finished work to be displayed in our lives. The moment we receive healing, the moment we receive salvation, the moment we refuse condemnation and accusations from the enemy, the moment that we know our fullness in Christ, we thank Jesus for the work of the cross.
1 Thess. 4:8
Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
Before this scripture passage, Paul outlines various sins in chapter 3 and beginning of 4 that is considered impure and not reflective of who Christ is in us.
I think it is imperative to highlight this scripture passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 after you review all of those sins in the previous chapters. Disobedience is simply rejecting the power that has been given to you by God to overcome. We have been declared righteous and free from sin. To sin is not to disobey but evidence that you are not receiving Christ’s power that has freed you to obey. By his spirit, his Holy Spirit, we are infused with the power that keeps us from sinful desires. When Paul was naming the various sins in chapters 3 and 4, he was not doing it to remind us of what sins there are so we will be more conscious and obey. He was simply bringing to light areas in our lives that may need to be relinquished to the Holy Spirit so that we, by His power, obey. If those areas of sin are happening in our lives, then we simply make an exchange of our sin for His power. We put to death the areas that show us rejecting God and trying to abstain from sin ourselves. We put to death our efforts to obey so that we might receive His power that declares us righteous. We stop sinning when we proclaim our righteousness and holiness IN CHRIST. We are not holy and obedient outside of Christ. Where are we rejecting God’s power in our lives? What sins continue to be committed? Naming them is a starting point but we interject a “but God” at the end of our sin. We do not want to reject Jesus’ work at the cross by trying and laboring to stop sinning. As Paul said, we are not disobeying God, we are rejecting Him and His power. This does not please God nor bring Him glory.
Paul says in Colossians 3:20 that children obeying their parents “pleases” the Lord. I was a little disappointed by that terminology “pleasing the Lord”. Paul tends to use that phrase in random letters and it kept catching me off guard. The questions arose to God as I read, “But God, we are already pleasing to you before we obey and after we obey? Our obedience does not make us more or less pleasing. We are accepted in Christ as righteous. Your gospel of grace teaches this so plainly. Why would we need to please God?” I continued to discuss this with God by pointing out Colossians 2. The entire chapter recaps our identity in Christ and proclaims that He “canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross”.
Isn’t it lovely when questions arise in our hearts not to disappoint or perplex but to enlighten?
What displeases God is when we reject the power that was so selfishly and beautifully created for us as Jesus asked for death. That request made us alive to God and dead to sin. It pleases God when we receive this power and reject the notion that we have to try and obey God with our willpower. That is displeasing to God. What pleases Him is when we need him, when we ask God for help. We have no problem doing this at the time of salvation, when we make that public declaration of devotion to Christ. However, we tend to think that we must thank God for salvation by being obedient after we get saved. Preachers preach sin and point out sin with the intention they are making people more holy. Wasn’t that what Paul was doing in 1 Thessalonians 3 and 4? Paul knew more than anyone that preaching sin does not make us holy. In fact, he pinpoints the vapidity of following earthly rules that attempt to teach obedience in Colossians 2:20-23. So many people receive the burden to obey that they become over zealous to please. They begin to enjoy even boast of their effort to obey forgetting the power of the cross that already gave them freedom.
To make a simpler parallel, it’s as if you have been longing for a house, the perfect house but you have bad credit and no one wants to finance you. The odds are stacked against you and some have said in 3-5 years, you could get approved. Then one day some random stranger who thought you were worth it gives you a house. They just decided to give you a brand new home, free of charge, no strings attached. They proved it by giving you the deed to the home with your name on it. With keys and deed in hand, you say thank you but never go to the home, open the front door or even attempt to drive by to see if it was real. You just stashed the evidence in a drawer and continued to see loan officers and make your credit better, waiting and hoping by your striving you could measure up in the lenders eyes.
My friend, we have been given a title deed with our name on it and keys to the front door of freedom. We abide in the home of Jesus Christ where we are redeemed, righteous and holy. Returning to our efforts to measure up or please God is senseless and an affront to the blood of Jesus, the precious blood of Jesus that rebuilt you, renamed you righteous. God cannot impute sin to you because he can’t do it to Jesus. All our sins, our weakness and our inability to measure up have been dealt with at the cross. God is holy and His love for us decided to acquit us of all charges. Would a man declared innocent go back to a judge and say, “I am guilty” and return to the arduous trial process. No, that is insane. Once declared innocent, they go about their lives in the knowledge and behavior of their innocence. They act as if they are free because they are free. Why do we go to God and say “we are guilty” when he has declared us innocent of sin? He does not see our blight. This does not mean we have not sinned, it simply means that we have not renewed our mind and spirit to who Jesus can be in that area of our lives. We must say with boldness that we are righteous in this particular area of my life (the area of sin) because of Jesus. That honors the blood of Jesus and floods us with power. You are Christ, not your sin. Defining yourself by your sin affronts Jesus’ sacrifice. I am being repetitive intentionally. We must know that what accosts God is our works and belief that we can obey without Him. Pastors, evangelists, apostles and spiritual teachers who teach sin are wasting their breath. Why are we bringing up the millions of infractions we can commit in the flesh when we have an ambassador who went to hell and destroyed the power of sin which is death? We should use every breath to preach the finished work of the cross that makes us righteous right now; not after 18 confessions, 3 fully read self-help books and 42 letters to those we have hurt. No sin is too great for the blood of Jesus. A contrite heart is a heart that knows I need Jesus in every aspect of my life. Give him all of you. Preachers must teach Jesus. We must teach that in Him we are found. Our need to sin becomes impotent and devoid of power at the foot of the cross. Even our weeping and gnashing of teeth does not make us more forgiven. He doesn’t need us to mourn our failures but arise in the power and beauty of his forgiveness. He told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more”. That was not a command she could carry out. It was simply a new identity she could receive. Love defined her in that moment not her sin. This love would be displayed in Jesus’ work at the cross. He would create a path to obedience for her and us. Jesus knew that through Him she might know true obedience. Most of your sins are stemming from a root of lovelessness. A place where you are trying to fill a void that only Jesus can fill. Once love fills the void your need to fill it with the wrong thing is destroyed. We know right and wrong. Lying, stealing, cheating, murder…all wrong. The 10 commandments revealed the law but Jesus made a way to fulfill it once and for all. Your sin is an indicator of your refusal to trust God with that part of you. You made a choice to end the pain or find worth in the wrong thing. Jesus beckons you to fill it with himself to end the cycle of repeating the sin and to begin to see yourself worthwhile, holy and forgiven. If you need to weep and apologize for your wrongdoing, do it. Do it with freedom and beauty. Come to terms with your ugly need to please God by doing it yourself. Jesus will scoop you in His arms and cradle you until the last tear falls. You need to receive healing and forgive yourself. Our humanity needs that raw release. That is beautiful to God but it does not change us. It starts the healing process but Jesus changes us. After our weeping comes joy. A joy that knows our strength is found in His strength. We have been given the Holy Spirit who becomes our encourager, our path to the way, the truth and the life. We see the son and know the Father’s love for us. That changes us and creates in us a desire to love instead of sin. We become inwardly altered and the lusts and temptations that seemed so compelling and impossible to ignore simply dissolve. You remember your weeping and the bondage you had to the sin as waters that pass. You watch the urges falter. That is the love of God creating in you obedience. You simply can walk holy because those impulses are not in you. That is what Jesus meant by “go and sin no more.” Love swept her up and saved her life. That changes you. Friend, you have been saved from death. No one can cast one stone at you. You are forgiven, whole and cleansed. Proclaim that liberty over you. Don’t allow Satan to speak on your behalf. He is an accuser of the brethren, your prosecuting attorney that says you are guilty therefore you must pay. The funny thing is your court date came and went. You were declared innocent, acquitted of all charges. No one is in the courtroom to hear your case. It is just an illusion, a whisper, an evil voice that contradicts the verdict that has been announced and documented in blood. Recognize it for what it is, a lie, that says you are not worthy. Any voice, thought, phrase that challenges your worth in Christ must be denounced and taken in to question. Cover it with the promise that you are the righteousness of God IN CHRIST. Those last two words are everything to you and to the enemy. Declare them with confidence today. Shut the mouths of your oppressors, your accusers. Jesus did 2000 years ago. You have a title deed that you are forgiven. That proclamation is your freedom cry. Go and live like never before.