As I was making my 18 month-old’s bottle this morning, I wondered, “How much turd-laden dirty toilet water would be okay to put in here? A teaspoon? A half-teaspoon? A quarter-teaspoon? Five drops?” How much dirty toilet water would you say is okay to put in my baby’s bottle? Most sane people would recoil in horror and say, “Absolutely none!” For you to understand why I thought this, let me give you the context of what I was thinking about prior to my musings about how much dirty toilet water would be okay for my child to consume.
As Christians, our faith demands that we, “‘Come out from them and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'” (2 Cor 6:17). Notice that verse doesn’t say, “…says Kalli” or “…says the Baptists” or “…says the Catholics” or “….says the Pentecostals”. That verse says, “…says the Lord.” Yet for a vast majority of contemporary Christians, we have no problem being double-minded or having a divided-heart when it comes to walking out our faith. We have no problem allowing the dirty toilet water of the world into our lives.
How much of the world is it okay to bring into our new life in Christ? Five rated-R movies? One pornographic image? Three afternoons of gossip? Two drunken weekends? Ten secular songs glorifying the things of the world? How many times must I hear, “That’s legalistic….I’m only human….it’s only a t.v. show….we’re going to make mistakes…”? No, a mistake is something you do by accident or because of overwhelming weakness. God gives us grace for our mistakes and weaknesses. God gives us grace for our ignorance as we are growing in spiritual maturity. Rebellion, on the other hand, is something you do with full knowledge and understanding that what you are doing goes against the basic tenets of your faith. God may give grace toward rebellion for a time, solely at His discretion. But for the most part, rebellion forfeits God’s grace and brings a person into judgment, saved or not. In all circumstances, rebellion requires repentance, confession and forgiveness:
-“If we deliberately go on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins remains, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume all adversaries.” (Heb 10:26,27)
-“Anyone born of God refuses to practice sin, because God’s seed abides in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil can be distinguished: Anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:9,10)
-“Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God–I say this to your shame.” (1 Cor 15:34)
What do we do with verses like that? Where do they fit in our comfortable, excuse-laden version of Christianity? How do they reconcile with our buddy-version of God, Who winks at our sin and is utterly devoid of fearsome wrath? Here’s the deal: We can claim the Christian faith all we want, we can make excuses, we can continue our lame attempts to justify our behavior, but after it’s all said and done, the Lord we claim to worship and serve said that it is our faith which manifests itself in obedience that makes us His:
-“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15)
–“Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me.” (John 14:21)
–“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23)
–“If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.” (John 15:10)
–“By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3)
–“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
–“And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” (2 John 1:6)
Wow Jesus, You’re so legalistic.
Our obedience doesn’t save us, but it is our obedience that distinguishes the authenticity of our faith and sets us apart from the world as belonging to Christ. Our obedience does draw us closer to God, our obedience does serve to protect us from the fiery darts of the enemy, our obedience does help us to hear God’s voice more clearly, our obedience does make us a sanctified vessel fit for use in God’s kingdom to bear Him fruit, “God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord must turn away from iniquity’… Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Tim 2:19-22).
Do you belong to Christ? Then live a lifestyle of repentance, daily turning away from iniquity, daily bearing your cross to your own death, daily seeking God’s presence and asking Him to fill you with a hunger for obedience and a thirst for righteousness. We must daily surrender to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to pull us out of this world, because even a little leaven (or toilet water) works through the whole batch of dough, “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?.. A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Gal 5:7,9). Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, because that is what it truly means to be a Christian.
“But just as He Who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: ‘Be holy because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father Who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives in reverent fear during your temporary stay on earth.” (1 Peter 1:15-17)
“Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the very start. This is why the Son of God was revealed, to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:7,8)
“But you know that Christ appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin. No one who remains in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has seen Him or known Him.” (1 John 3:5,6)
“We know that anyone born of God does not keep on sinning; the One who was born of God protects him, and the evil one cannot touch him.” (1 John 5:18)
“For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that when you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, whether you are slaves to sin leading to death, or to obedience leading to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you once were slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were committed. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (Rom 6:14-18)