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Miranda Writes: Spiritual Physical, Part 3




by Omar Miranda



Over the past two weeks we’ve been talking about the importance of making sure that we live our lives as true Christians. We’ve been critically examining our words, thoughts, motives, actions—our very lives—as we strive to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).

This week we’ll take a look at some descriptions of the attitudes of people who have and who haven’t given God their all.

The apostle John in four of his five books in the Bible (John; 1–3 John) keeps coming back to this central point: as Christians we ought to be known for our love. He then focuses on how this love should affect not only our relationship with God, but also our relationships with our Christian family and others. You might call him the “apostle of love.” I know, I know, it sounds like some kind of cheesy radio or TV show host name. But all joking aside, why would a guy who spent so much time with Jesus, spend so much time focusing on this issue? Surely there are more important issues that we could focus on, right?

Well, I’ve given it a lot of thought, and the only thing that I can think of is that John spent three years hanging out with Jesus, so he ended up becoming like Him and focusing on what Jesus wanted to focus on. In John 3:16, 17 John records Jesus’ core mission statement: “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them!”* Did you catch it? Don’t miss it.Jesus came to this world because God loved us so much that He couldn’t bear to see any of us die, so Jesus sacrificed Himself for us.

I also think it’s interesting that the night before He was crucified, Jesus brought together His disciples, and they spent special time having one last meal together. Before dinner was over, Jesus abruptly got up, washed everybody’s feet (usually what a servant or slave would do), and then proceeded to drop a bomb on them. These words encompassed what He had been about since He was born, and they would continue to ring in John’s ears until the day he died. Here’s what Jesus said: “But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:34, 35). BOOM! Jesus basically said it’s not what you say, it’s what you do . . . and the kicker is that we should love each other as Jesus loved us. How did Jesus love us? Sacrificially! This is the only way that we can ever change the world. I guess the lyricist Hal David was right when he wrote “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” 

John knew this, too, and he made this incredible claim: “Everyone who sins breaks God’s law, because sin is the same as breaking God’s law. You know that Christ came to take away sins. He isn’t sinful, and people who stay one in their hearts with him won’t keep on sinning. If they do keep on sinning, they don’t know Christ, and they have never seen him. Children, don’t be fooled. Anyone who does right is good, just like Christ himself. Anyone who keeps on sinning belongs to the devil. He has sinned from the beginning, but the Son of God came to destroy all that he has done. God’s children cannot keep on being sinful. His life-giving power lives in them and makes them his children, so that they cannot keep on sinning. You can tell God’s children from the devil’s children, because those who belong to the devil refuse to do right or to love each other” (1 John 3:4-10). Whoa! This is a serious claim that John is making. He’s saying that if you’re truly a Christian, you won’t continue sinning. Well, that statement is true and not true. Let me explain. It is true that the Holy Spirit teaches us to say no to sin and strengthens and empowers us not to sin. But sin is deeply ingrained in our bodies and minds; that’s why Jesus tells us that we have to die to sin and to our sinful nature (flesh). There is no way that we can give our flesh a sensitivity course on the importance of sharing with others, being holy, and the like—it does not care! It wants to do what it wants to do. Have you ever tried to reason with a newborn baby? When it’s hungry, it’s hungry—and it doesn’t care if you’re asleep!

John also says that you can distinguish the devil’s children from God’s children through two very important behavioral indicators: (1) they refuse to do right; and (2) they don’t love each other.

John isn’t talking about somebody who for the majority of their life is living a strong Christian life and has a slipup now and then. He’s speaking about people who consistently and purposefully continue sinning—even when they know what is right. That’s why he says those people “refuse to do right.” They know better, but they don’t do it.

Do you see a theme forming here? It’s all about what you’re doing, because what you’re doing is an incredibly accurate indicator of what you’re thinking and feeling! No matter where I go, I hear from teens, “C’mon, Omar, you can’t just always lump people into one group or another based upon what they do, can you? Maybe they’re just nice people, but you don’t know them? You don’t know the whole story!” You know what I say? If a person put a gun to your head and robbed you, would you argue that the person was a nice person and just misunderstood? Would you argue that we just can’t figure out what kind of stuff they’re thinking or feeling or what their true motivations are? No! Of course not! Why? Because you just got robbed at gunpoint—and they were at the safe end of the gun! That criminal’s behavior made it crystal clear what they were thinking about, didn’t it? That’s exactly the point that John is trying to make.

Basically what John is trying to say is that God’s children truly have His Holy Spirit controlling them, and it changes them from the inside out. Verses 8 and 9 are probably the clearest I’ve ever seen someone explain the positive life-changing work of the Holy Spirit: “Anyone who keeps on sinning belongs to the devil. He has sinned from the beginning, but the Son of God came to destroy all that he has done. God’s children cannot keep on being sinful. His life-giving power lives in them and makes them his children, so that they cannot keep on sinning.”

It’s a pretty cool circular argument—that makes sense. If you have been saved, then the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you and you become a child of God. If you’re struggling with sin, but are making a genuine and concerted effort to fight your evil flesh, then the Holy Spirit stays to empower you to win the battle. As you win battle by battle, the Holy Spirit continues to clean you up from the inside out, and you continue not to sin and continue being a child of God! But if you consistently, continually, and blatantly sin, without conscience—and if you continue—then you are a child of the devil. Why? Because the Holy Spirit can’t and won’t live somewhere He’s not wanted. If you tell God that you’re going to run the show, He’s sad, but He leaves. Remember, you can’t be filled with both yourself and God (the Holy Spirit). It’s either you or Him; someone’s got to be in charge and someone’s got to go. So in light of all of that, I’ve got only one question for you: whose child are you? God’s or the devil’s?

Next week we’ll take a serious and somber look at what awaits people who consistently and purposefully act as though they are god of their lives and focus on themselves by continuing to sin. We’ll see what reward they have to look forward to.
 
Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omarmiranda@earthlink.net; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org; or you can check me out or send me a message at my Web site, thriveatlife.org; or you can reach me via snail mail (slow!) at the address printed below.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, certified Christian counselor
Abundant Life Ministries
155 Earl Street
Plainville, GA 30733
Phone: 1-770-354-2912

*Scripture quotations in this article are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

Omar Miranda is a Christian counselor with 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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