Sunday, August 25, 2013

Why Are We Such Hypocrites?

So many of us Christians fall for the lie that we are powerless in this world. Certainly we can pray to God but he doesn't always answer, right? It still leaves us in a place of powerlessness. Have you ever thought that the reason it doesn't appear like God is answering is because he already gave us the authority to do something about it?

What do you know about the Holy Spirit? Most of us know some fundamental stuff but few of us understand that Jesus did what he did through the power of the Holy Spirit. Few of us comprehend that the apostles only did what they did through the power of the Holy Spirit, given to them and the whole Church by Jesus. And what do you think is the greatest power Jesus gave to us?

The authority to forgive sins.

If you realize you have the power to forgive sins then you will realize the power to heal the sick, calm the storms, see into people's thoughts, raise the dead and whatever it is that God would have you do on your mission for him.

We read in Luke 5 about a bunch of men who have faith that Jesus could heal their friend. They were so determined that they ended up making a hole in Peter's roof and lower the man in front of Jesus. What was the first thing that Jesus did? He forgave the man his sins. And what was the reaction of the religious community? Blasphemy! they said. Only God can forgive sins! they said. Here is Jesus' reply:

“Why are you thinking that? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? But now you will see that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.” Jesus then said to the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk home.” (Luke 5:22-24)

Of course the man did exactly that and everyone was shocked. But which had the greater impact on eternity, the forgiveness or the healing? When Jesus had given the disciples the authority to drive out demons they returned all excited. But Jesus told them not to be excited about that authority, instead be excited over their own salvation.

That's fine, you say, Jesus is God and God forgives sins. But Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit so we can operate in his authority. Look at John 20:

After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, “I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don’t forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven.” (vv. 21-23)

Before you consider the option of not forgiving you had better consider the entire instruction of Jesus. In Matthew 6 Jesus instructed:

If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. (vv. 14-15)

A sobering thought about our responsibility and the authority we have been given with the receiving of the Spirit. But let us not forget what else Jesus did for that man who he commanded to pick up his mat and walk home.

What kind of authority do you think has been given to you? If you have the authority to forgive sins and those sins are no longer held against that person by God, would you not think you also have the authority for the less important physical matters as well? You sure do! Why doesn't the world believe in Jesus? Because the Father's children have an identity crisis. These are the words of Jesus:

Have faith in me when I say that the Father is one with me and that I am one with the Father. Or else have faith in me simply because of the things I do. I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same things that I am doing. You will do even greater things, now that I am going back to the Father. Ask me, and I will do whatever you ask. This way the Son will bring honor to the Father. I will do whatever you ask me to do. (John 14:11-14)

In this day and age of zombies, vampire lovers, mystics, meditation, ghosts, card reading, and magic, why do we who are believers struggle with the Holy Spirit and the authority we have been given? When the world can chase after fantasy and believe, why do we struggle with our spiritual reality? It is crazy dumb and the biggest critics of the Holy Spirit are found within the Church. We are willing to take all the lovie dovie stuff, the good feelings, the crutch stuff, but we aren't willing to walk in the power and authority of Jesus Christ. We would rather hold on to our depression, illness, incurable diseases than to take Jesus at his word. I hear constantly that God uses all kinds of ways to heal but yet in the Word of God I only find one.

We are a bunch of hypocrites and no one is being saved from the pit of hell because of it. We claim to be a people of faith but what do we have faith in? We certainly don't take Jesus at his word. We would rather find all the loop holes and excuses to explain our lack of faith. No wonder Jesus questioned whether he would find faith on the earth on his return.

I have tasted of this authority and it has scared me. I would rather serve in my own skin, in my own ability, where I am comfortable. But that is not what Jesus called me to. Those are not the instructions he has given. So I repent of my selfishness and seek the full measure of the Holy Spirit, that I will operate in the authority of Jesus Christ in what ever God gives me to do in that given moment. I am a preacher and a teacher of God's Word but I must be more. I must be a doer and I have been given the Holy Spirit to enable me to be exactly that, a doer of God's Word.

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