The Sweetness and Bitterness of the Christian Walk

I Peter 4:12-17

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:13  But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.14  If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.15  But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.16  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.17  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?18  And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?19  Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

James 1:2-8

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;3  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.4  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.6  But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.7  For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

These verses contrast well the Christian walk. It is not all roses and no thrones. The Christian life has both bitter times and Sweet times. Times of Joy, and Times of sorrow. Times to rejoice and time to cry. We often forget 

Often, I have believers ask my why do they have to go through the things they endure. They have this idea of God that since He loves, we should never have any complications or trials. Everything should be smooth sailing. Well, I am here to tell you, that just is not the case. A good parent will allow their child to endure some uncomfortable times in teaching them. They will not give them everything they want because a good parent knows that is not always what is best. Life has ups and downs and the Christian walk is no different. So today, let us look at the bitterness and how it leads to sweetness. This is a very hard and difficult subject to develop so I hope I give it the justice it deserves.

I. This life leads us to a far better life –

I Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls

II. Trials lead to spiritual maturity – without the trials, there is no growth – we would always be babes –

a. We would be unable to understand spiritual things
b. We would live an alienated life
c. We would miss life’s greatest blessings

I Corinthians 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able

III. Some of the bitter things we face even as believers

a. Death
b. Illness
c. Financial and job loss
d. Loss of loved ones
e. Betrayal
f. Persecution
g. You can name many more
i. During these difficult times, we have something that the world does not have.

  1. His promise – Hebrews 13:5 -6 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
  2. The Spirit to comfort – John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
  3. A supernatural power the world does not have – Luke 24:49-53 – And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.51 And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: 53 And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
  • Only believers are able to praise during struggles
  • Only believers are able to “bless God”
  • Only believers can witness to God’s tremendous grace, mercy, and goodness.
  • Only believers can worship God when things are not what we expect

IV. We have the church that provides comfort for and strength

Ephesians 4:8-13 – Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

  1. We all are gifted for service
  2. We all are blessed with opportunities for ministry
  3. We all are blessed with being edified and being able to edify
  4. We all have a unity of purpose with fellow believers – a. we are not alone,
    b. We get to experience His fulness
    c. we are being made complete in Him – Romans 8:29-31 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
    d. We will be totally conformed (made like Him) to His image
    e. We have a large eternal family
    f. We are called, justified, and glorified
    g. GOD IS ON OUR SIDE – He is for us.

Sunday vs Saturday Worship

Mark 2:23-28

23  And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.24  And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?25  And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him? 26  How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the hewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him? 27  And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: 28  Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Colossians 2:16-17   Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17   Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

Let us begin by looking at the Sabbath in the old testament. It was more than just a special day. It also pointed forward to a future rest, the rest of redemption yet to come. The Sabbath was also a reminder not only of rest after six days of creation, but also the fact that God had delivered His people from Egypt. In Exodus 20:8-11 God told His people to keep the Sabbath because He rested. You will notice NO work of any kind was to be done, not even preparing of meals. This was given to the children of Israel before they entered the promise land.

In Deuteronomy 5:15 we see a change added. In verse 15 the Sabbath now becomes a reminder of their deliverance from Egypt. You will remember while they were in Egypt; God came and slew all the first born of Egypt. Only those who had the blood on the door post would be spared the loss of the first born. This was the foretelling of  the deliverance God would provide when the sacrificial Lamb’s (Jesus Christ) blood would purchase (redeem) us to Him. Hebrews 10:1-10 explains this very well. The blood sacrifices under the Law could not redeem. They could not make one perfect. They were a reminder man’s sinfulness and man’s inability to save himself. God prepare a body (Jesus’) to be the once for all sacrifice. The laws and the sacrifices under the law were replaced by the perfect sin offering.

Hebrews 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

Isaiah 53:4-5; 11-12   Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.12  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

We see even in the Old Testament the promise of the once for all redeemer ould come. In Romans 8:3-4 we see:

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Galatians 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

While the Children of Israel were in captivity, the “promised” land was enjoying 70 years of rest (Sabbaths).

II Chronicles 36:21 To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

When the children of Israel took Jericho, they marched around the city for 7 days, once each day the first six but seven times on day 7. What a picture of them entering the promise land, their land of rest, after 70 years of captivity and 40 years of aimlessly wondering about in the wilderness. The old covenant (testament) was all about looking forward to the coming promised redeemer,

John 4:25-26 – The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. Jesus was the promise that was to come.

Jesus fulfilled the Law on the cross, once and for all paying the price for all sin. He declared redemption work finished. John 19:30 –“…It is finished…” We now see the finished product. Our redemption has been secured by the resurrection. The resurrection is as vital to mankind as the creation was. In the beginning God is paramount to everything else. This new “rest” redemption preceded even creation.

I Peter 1:18-20. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

This plan, the prefect plan, was put in place “before” the foundation of this world was laid. God knew the law would not suffice. He knew a perfect plan had to be instituted.

After the resurrection we see a change from the believers, followers of Jesus. They begin meeting on the first day of the week. Jesus met with them as well on the first day of the week as they gathered. We no longer see them gathering on the seventh day, but on the first. Let us examine the evidence.

  1. The resurrection was on the first day of the week –
    Matthew 28:1
  2. Jesus appeared to others on the first day of the week.
    John 20:20, Luke 24:13
    3 Jesus met on the first day of the week with the disciples as they were gathered together.
  3. The Holy Spirit was given 50 days after the Sabbath of the
    Jewish Passover. That would be on the first day of the week. Again, the followers of Jesus were together on the first day of
  4. In Acts 20:7 the believers were together in worship on the first day of the week, not the seventh, but on the first. Paul preached to them This was the day, after the resurrection, that the church came together.
  5. In I Corinthians 16:1-2 Paul encourages them to bring their offerings on the first day of the week. Throughout church history this has been the scriptural habit of believers. The churches in the New Testament gathered on the first day of the week.
  6. They came together on the Lord’s day. The apostle John was banished to the Island of Patmos. He may have been the
    only one of the original 12 who was still alive. In Revelation 1:10 we see Him in the spirit on the Lord’s day. He referred to the day as THE Lord’s day. It was a particular day. He did not say the Sabbath day, but the Lord’s day. It was the day that Christ defeated death. He had conquered the last enemy of sin, death.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It was on the first day of the week that Jesus defeated all the enemies, even death. That is “THE LORD’S DAY.” Christians began to gather on the first day even during the life of the apostles. We celebrate His resurrection as well as the coming of His Holy Spirit at Pentecost to indwell all believers. The command to honor God one day in seven is still in practice. It is clear that the New Testament church gathered not on the seventh day, but on the first day. Note again, Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. It is clear when they came together. It was the first day of the week. Since the earliest mention of the church, Sunday, the first day, has been the day they came together.

Let us conclude by the following passages of scripture. The law was imperfect in that it could not save. God fulfilled the old with a new and better covenant.

Hebrews 9:11-15 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

Christ became the mediator through death of the new covenant.

Hebrews 8:6-7 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

A new covenant had to be given because the old could not save, it could only show one’s sinfulness.

Galatians 3:16-24 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. 20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. 22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Even Abraham could not be saved by keeping the Law. We clearly see the Law cannot save. It can only point one to the promise of Christ, the redeemer of the world. Praise be to God for His unbelievable grace and mercy.

Jude 24-25 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion, and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Only Jesus, not the law will present your faultless. Amen and Amen.

Law vs Grace

Only one can save

Read Galatians 3:1-19

As we read this passage of scripture, we see some very important discoveries. Galatians is a book that defends justification by faith in Christ alone and warns against reverting back to the Law as a means of salvation.
Verse 19 is a key verse in the law vs grace argument. The key phase being “till the seed should come”.
The Law was never given to bring salvation, but to lead one to the one who could bring salvation.

Galatian 3:19 – Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Wherefore – why was the law given?

  • It was added because of the sin already present.
  • The law as given to show the depravity of man because of man’s sin.
  • Man is by nature (naturally) a sinner.
  • All the law could do was reveal the sinfulness of man.
  • The law is just a reflector of the sin that is already in man’s heart. It mirrors what is already there.
  • A mirror lets you see what is outside, but a mirror cannot clean what is on outside.
  • The law does not wash away sin.
  • The law only proves that man is indeed a sinner, incapable of keeping the law or saving himself.
  • It was temporarily till. Till literally means the temporary will be replaced by something else.
  • The something else was a somebody else, Jesus Christ.
  • He fulfilled the law.

Hebrews 10:1-10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Once for all.
That settled it.
There is no more offering for sin.
He paid the bill in full once and for all.

In this passage, we learn that no sacrifice under the old covenant offered year by year can save the lost. It is impossible for any other sacrifice but Jesus to take away sin. God the Father is not eternally satisfied with burnt offerings or sacrifices as a payment for sin.

Isaiah 53; 11  He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:11

Jesus came to do the Father’s will. 

Note Hebrews 10:9 (Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second) this verse tells us He came to remove the first covenant and or establish (set up) the second and permanent one.
The old was not perfect in that it could not produce salvation.
The second was perfect in that it is the only way to receive salvation.

John 14:6 -Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
We are made acceptable in Christ, not in our own merit or works.

Let’s look at three key words in Galatians 3:19 –

Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.

Galatians 3:19
  1. Added – To add means something else existed first and remains. Something is added to what already existed, it does not replace what existed. In this case, sin existed and the law was added. Sin still remained. The Law was not a stand alone document.
  2. Till – The word signifies a limited time. It would last until it was over. If I announce that we are going to have workday on Saturday from 8 till 12 one could rightfully assume that at 12:00 we are finished with the work. We worked until 12:00 then we were finished. The law was established until.
  3. Seed – The law was added until the seed came. The seed fulfills the Law, He does not add to the Law.

Matthew 5:17-20 tells us who the seed is. 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  • The law was not abolished, it was fulfilled.
  • Its purpose today is the same.
  • It points out the sinfulness of man.
  • It does not save sinful man.
  • The righteousness of man is never enough to satisfy a Holy God. The only way to satisfy a Holy God is for us to receive His holiness through Christ.
  • The word fulfill means to render full or complete.
  • Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life, fulfilling (completing) all points of the Law.
  • He then took all our sins with Him to Calvary offering His blood as payment (ransom) for our sin.
  • He took our sin upon Himself on that Cross.
  • This makes it possible for us to be righteous.
II Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:21

This verse of scripture shows us we are made in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

We are not made worthy in our righteousness, but in His.
Galatians 3:23-26 clarifies this even more. 23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul refers to we, our and us in verses 23-25.
In verse 26 he transitions to ye.

Who is he referring to?

In verse 23-25 he is referring to his Jewish roots.
He was Jewish by birth.
In verse 26 he was referring to a different group, the Gentiles, who were not Jewish.
They however were trying to satisfy God by keeping of the Law.
It was not what God intended for them.
The law just reminded them of that sinfulness until the seed came; Jesus came.
These Gentile believers had fallen back to keeping of the Law as part of their salvation.
Paul said this was not to be. The Law could not save, but rather was a reminder until the seed came. The Law had not passed away, but it had served its purpose. The outward observance of the law was over and that is a good thing.
Jesus is the only one who ever kept the whole law.

James 2:10 plainly states that the breaking of any one law is the same as breaking all the Law. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

In Galatians 3:10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Paul explains that the law produces a curse, IT DOES NOT PRODUCE SALVATION.
Instead the law condemns.
That which condemns cannot be the remedy.
Jesus on the other hand did not come to condemn, but to remove the condemnation that the Law points out.

John 3:16-18 clearly shows this. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. We are saved by grace through faith.

Works, the keeping of the Law has absolutely nothing to do with one’s salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Grace received by faith, plus nothing.

Galatians 3:21 – Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

If the Law could save, then Jesus died in vain.
Why would He die if the payment was already available? It wasn’t so He did.


We are bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus did what we could not do in the flesh. He fulfilled the law and took our sin debt to the cross and paid our sin debt in full. THIS IS LOVE!


9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11  For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12   For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:9-13

This Easter Sunday we are going to look at what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ.  So many today are relying on a prayer somebody told them to repeat.  Others are relying on their own goodness, still others on being baptized or become a member of some Church. All these ideas are taught in churches across the country.  Today, we will examine what a true follower looks like. 

A true follower of Jesus must:

Be born again John 3:1-7 –   There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

This is a conscious act on behalf of a person

Acts 16:28-3228  But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29  Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30  And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32  And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

  • Believe – to trust someone else completely and totally
  • NOTE: It was God’s word that was used to produce salvation, not their own word
  • Their actions lead to the man’s desires – NOTE: Even in prison, they were faithful to the things of God.
  • NOTE their attitudes –
Acts 16: 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
Acts 16:25

They are made new – completely remade

II Corinthians 5:17-18 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

Our desires and attitudes change

Ephesians 5:16-20 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Our friends change

I Corinthians 1:1-4 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

Our behavior changes

Luke 19:8-10 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him ourfold.9 And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Follow and obey His commandments

John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:21  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Mark 12:28-31 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29  And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Your love for God changes from a knowledge of God to a desire for God.

This love for Him will be evident by your love for others, even your spiritual enemies.

Matthew 5:43-45 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

This kind of love leads to the ability to bear much spiritual fruit,

John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Carry your own cross, not His

Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
Luke 9:23

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. suffer for doing right

A. We are not called to carry His cross, we are called to carry our own.
B. A believer must be ready to endure persecution and suffering, even rejection.

Isaiah 53:3-5 – 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
C. This is a natural part of being a believer –

I Peter 4:12-14 – 12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

Love all other believers

Proof of our relationship to Him

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:35

1 John 3:10-14 – 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death

I John 2:8-11 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

A. Love begins at the church – Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
B. It includes loving other believers too, who are not of this body
C. This is step one in being able to win the lost.

Sacrifice self needs for the needs of others

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Mark 9:23-24 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.

Luke 14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Luke 14:11

Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

A. Selflessness is a mark of a true follower of Jesus
B. A willingness to show kindness to other believers us a mark of a true follower of Jesus

Make disciples of others

Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Matthew 28:19-20
  • This should be a natural result of being a believer.
  • We are all called to be teachers and disciple makers.
  • We have this great promise HE IS WITH US ALWAYS

Seven Stages of Temptation (continued)

The seven stages

  1. The Look – drawn away.
  2. The Lust – our own desires.
  3. The Lure – the bait.
  4. The Conception – awakening of desires.
  5. The Birth – The following through with desire – committing the sin.
  6. The growth – Sin has finished its deadly deed.
  7. Death – Brings forth death.

The Birth – Quickly happens after conception in most cases

  • Time between conception and birth is that one last chance to change your mind and not sin.
  • The Holy Spirit will use this time to plead with you to stop!
  • Conviction will become very strong.
  • Mercy is offered – one more chance for the escape route to be taken.

At this point, WE MUST force ourselves to submit to the Holy Spirit before it is too late

James 4:1-10   From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?2  Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4  Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5  Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?6  But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.10  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

Verses 1-3 the result of our own lust
Vs. 4- Spiritual adultery – cheating on God
Vs. 5 – Our natural spirit is on of lustful desires
Vs. 6 – Grace is offered to those who will humble themselves
Vs. 7 – Submission is the result of humility.
Vs. 8 – 9 – Repentance – I John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgives us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Vs. 10 – Deliverance – total victory over the sin

I have concluded that OUR way is always the same route – Humility that leads to submission will ALWAYS lead you out.

  1. Humility – the bowing before in subjection
    1. Submission – acceptance of another’s desires as more important than your own – accepting that His plan is always the best plan for my life.

James 4:11-17 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12  There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? 13  Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14  Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 5  For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16  But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17  Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

  • We become judgmental
  • We begin to act like we are god over our own lives
  • We stop considering God’s will.
  • Pride takes over
  • We no longer desire Him, but our own pleasure
    takes us away from Him.
At this point, we lose all sight of Him – (Sin has blinded us from the truth.)

Guilt and shame become our controllers.

The deceiver continues his full-scale attack.

James 4:13-20 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: 15  And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. 16  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17  Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18  And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. 19  Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20  Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

  1. verse 16 – confess – Pray fervently (If need be, get counsel)
  2. Take counsel
  3. Return Home – He is always waiting with arms wide open

Let it stop here or it will continue to grow

The Growth

  • Anger leads to wrath
  • Wrath leads to murder
  • Lust leads to adultery
  • Covet leads to stealing
  • Love of money leads to more evil

I Timothy 6:9-12  But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.11  But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12  Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

  1. It will cause you to depart from what you know to be the truth – Faith
  2. The result will lead you to greater sorrow
  3. Flee and seek after

Righteousness – integrity, virtue, purity of life, correct thinking,

Romans 12:1-2 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

b. Godliness – respect for the things that our God’s
c. Faith – Faithfulness of things of God
d. Love – brotherly love (loving others in Christ)
e. Patience – steadfastness, consistency, endurance
f. Meekness – humility

But you young man, run for your life from all this.  Pursue a righteous life, a life of wonder, faith, love, steadfastness courtesy.

The Message 1 Timothy 6:11

Keep His word

I Timothy 6:14 - That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ
1 Timothy 6:14
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