Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Salvation and the Wedding Garment
I had a person ask me a very frank question…
"I can't reconcile salvation with the wedding garment. Is there such a thing as eternal security?"
Matthew 7:21-23a begins to churn in the brain and we begin to become worried, "Am I even saved?"
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you..'"
If this is you, let's put this issue to rest!
Truly, this one of those mental battles that everyone deals with at one time or another in their Christian walk. But I assure you that you can know that you are saved and on the right path if you have an active relationship with Jesus; whom gives us many parables in the bible to help flesh out the path set before us.
The wedding garment is our conforming to christ.... our diligence to being holy and righteous. All day long we can say this or that.... but if we do not move past being a 'hearer' only....into being a 'doer' as well... we are not putting on the attire we need for the banquet. The wedding garment is tied into the condition of our heart.
And this is easy to understand if we also turn it into a parable....
John says, "Will you marry me, Martha?"
"Yes John," she says and she slips the ring onto her finger.
She has the appearance of betrothal doesn't she?-- But Martha continues to act as though she is single...she meets other guys at the coffee house etc. She shows no respect for the commitment she's made.
God has told us everything we need to know....He's given us everything.... His Spirit in our hearts to convict us as well.... there's really no excuse.
So let's fast forward to the wedding day.... will John take Martha's hand? Will she even remember to show up? The commitment was made, but she didn't honor it by changing her lifestyle to fit it. The groom will not marry a whore.... He cannot look upon her. Traditionally, an engagement lasts 6 months…..in all that time, she did not get ready....she did not change!
Martha would honor John by going beyond wearing the ring (claiming salvation) into behaving as a bride... but as it stands now….we need to start at Matthew 7:20 for the full context:
"So then, you will know them by their fruits."
To begin to conform to His image we must understand and trust what the Lord says about Salvation within the Holy Scriptures. The Word is our measuring rod.
If you begin to dig in and study, you begin to note a theme that 'we are not perfect and His sacrifice has redeemed us'. If we are examining ourselves --learning the Word and what it is to become the likeness of Jesus.... we are getting ready. What Jesus did is the free gift... but we show our love and commitment by honoring Him through our life. We begin to not only recognize that we need a Savior, but clearly, we must be born again. Have you assumed that in receiving Jesus as Lord that you have automatically received the baptism in the Holy Spirit?
No, you have to ask.
I would like to encourage you to watch Derek Prince's teaching on Receiving the Holy Spirit in it's entirety so that you can clearly see what the scriptures say.
But you say…. "What about if Martha tries and tries, but she just didn't try hard enough, she just wasn't as attentive as she could have been, and she never got completely cleaned up in time?"
As a believer it is healthy to be concerned by our sin, but not in by being overwhelmed by our shortcomings. As we know, they are many! We cannot beat ourselves up over the lifelong process-- we are not perfect.
In the example I've given, it clearly shows that Martha has NOT given John her heart and exhibits that by her bad fruit.
So to further this, 'what is commitment' theme, let me share about being married....
I can say that over and over my spouse and I have issues that arise... we disappoint each other... are not thoughtful at times.... we are not perfect....but we ALWAYS reconcile.... always forgive and pick right back up where we've left off. With Jesus, mind you... he is ever faithful .... it is us that must humble ourselves and return to pick back up where we've deviated the path.
With my marriage, though little struggles happen, we never go so far as to abandon our covenant in unfaithfulness, or abandon our children.... we do not deliberately hurt each other.... to do so would be bearing 'bad fruit'... that would compare to Martha's whoredom. That kind of fruit would prove a heart that has not changed... not committed... does not truly love.
In Spiderman 3…. Spiderman makes a very bad decision. He encourages the girl at the rally to kiss him because the crowd is shouting 'kiss her' oblivious that, 'that kiss' was only for him and Mary Jane. There is no amount of saying, "She's just a girl in my class."(like he had done in a previous movie) They were dating and he crossed a line that damaged their relationship.
Later, he repented and relationship was restored.... but what we need to be wary of is either not repenting and/or not changing. If he'd continue to do stunts like this, Mary Jane would see the fruit that, he was all talk & didn't really love her.... this goes the same with God.
We do 'screw up'.... look at the life of David whom had 'a heart after God' [Acts 13:22]…. he made some really bad mistakes, but he repented and then did not fall and do those same big sins again. To really appreciate what it is to screw up big but then have a heart after God, check out Psalm 51. It is David's very cry and return to the Lord from a bout of grievous sins including covetousness, adultery, deceit and murder.
Psa 51:11-12 "Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit."
God used the Prophet Nathan to speak a PaRaBle to David to open his eyes to the inevitable drift and rift that blinding sin had caused in his relationship with Father God.
However, those sins still carried the responsibility for transgressing.
2Sa 12:10a “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house…"
We are warned in advance not stray in the first place! This is the fair and Just God we serve, else people would be more prone to willfully sin knowing a magic pill would take all the bad away as soon as they repent.
Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
Past bad choices still bear a harvest time. Though we are forgiven we can't expect what we've sown to disappear....no, what we sow, we shall still reap.... but we can be forgiven and on the path to a pure, clean wedding day. Ask any newly born again Christian in a jail cell! Now that's HOPE!
Don't doubt your salvation because you're in a rough place that you created. God WILL work all things to the good on your behalf...
Rom 8:28 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
...but like David we need to 'man up'… clinging to His mercy, but accepting the rippling consequences that sin has in this life.
[2Sa 12:22-23 "He said, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.' But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." ]
As you know… our sins welcome attack from the accuser of the brethren. Learn something from David though… throughout the Psalms he often sings the Praise-- the character-- the attributes of God, and later Jesus quotes the truth about God as well. If you've made some big screw-ups, of course the enemy will try to rob you of your free gift of salvation. Ironic that oftentimes the first place we should be looking in overcoming-- taking any thoughts captive that oppose the truth and simplicity of salvation-- is the last thing on our minds. In this life we don't deal with flesh however. If we care about offending God, we are on the right track, but if we beat ourselves up about it guess who oppresses and robs and steals etc. See the real enemy….bind any spirits of doubt and loose our tongue like David--- like Jesus to speak the Truth of God, the Faithfulness of God to His promises-- our effective sword in the spirit.
We do mess up at times but our path must contain forward motion. By our fruits we are known [Mat 7:16, Mat 7:20]. As a professing believer in Jesus we must be a doer and not a hearer only [Jam 1:23-26]. It is true that we cannot blame everything upon the devil because of our other enemy… 'our flesh'.
Our flesh must be made our 'slave' [1 Corinthians 9:25-27].
Have you ever looked at a memory chip before? If you look at the strips of metal on one in your camera you see evidence of a worn path. There are habits, there are people that are bad influences that we might have soul ties with… we might have negative expectations, soul wounds, forgiveness to be displayed… let's face it… when we really lay out our wedding garment and scrutinize we must realize that part of our walk is a process and we cannot expect it to happen overnight. God will in-fact, use this process of purification to prove us.
Hbr 12:6 "FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES."
Again, we cannot allow the enemy to come in and condemn us, but it is our responsibility to press into God as we wage war with the flesh, so that we can conform to the wedding attire that will be proper at the banquet.
If I speak an offensive expletive, it is not good.... it's something i need to work on in being holy and it takes time... but I have not rejected God by doing so. I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit.... I may still curse, but OVER TIME, I do so less and less because it is my desire to please the Lord and be Holy. I may have to choose to keep away from people that harbor an environment where filthy talk is welcomed.
Conversely, let me show an example of outright rejecting God... let's say a Christian KNOWS that Islam is a false religion, but a cute girl has invited this guy to an Islamic function known to honor allah...and the guy accepts only because he wants to date the girl. See the difference between these examples? The second ignores the prior covenant entirely-- is willing to abandon God's commands of not having anything to do with foreign Gods. It is true that he can repent and 'about-face', but It's likened to that 'Mary Jane kiss', it needs to happen quickly, not something that keeps going and going, because like Nathan having to give David a parable, continued sin deafens our ears to the voice of God.
Romans 1:28, 32
"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper..."
"...and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."
When it comes down to it, we can see that 'salvation' is simple, --believe what God says about it. Then grow in relationship by reading the Word of God and seeking more than a 'honk if you love Jesus' bumper sticker on your car. No, in a committed relationship, you don't just 'look' like you know Him… you take Him with you!