Sunday, August 28, 2016, 5:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Jesus, Lead Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 John 4 (ESV). Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. Test the Spirits There are many people in our world today who profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives who live just like this: They are addicted to sin, and it has a stronghold on their lives. They are liars, deceivers, and manipulators, who act like they are following God with their lives, but who are skillfully conducting their lives according to the sinful nature, and not in accord with the Spirit of God. They are double-minded with divided loyalties, who give off a false image on the outside while inside they are full of wickedness. They pretend that all is well, when it is not. They often live in a make-believe world, engaging themselves in fantasy and not in reality, i.e. they live under a dark cloud of deception, and they are deceivers themselves. They perform sleight-of-hand tricks or other illusions in order to deceive others into believing their lies and their false persona. They are great actors and pretenders who will often stuff their true emotions and thoughts in order to give a false impression of what they are really thinking or doing, so no one knows. When confronted with their sins, they may react in anger, rage, and defensiveness, or they may display an eerie calm, and act as though what is being said to them does not bother them at all, but later it comes out that it did, when their guard is down. They will minimize the serious nature of the sin, or call it something else, or isolate each sinful act so as to not face the reality of the sin pattern (addiction), and then claim that God’s grace covers it all. They may show no sorrow over their sin at all, or they may express sorrow and even have tears come down their cheeks, but inwardly refuse to repent, i.e. refuse to turn away from their sin and turn to follow Christ in obedience. They refuse to stop being enslaved to sin and to turn to become a servant of righteousness. They break off their covenant relationship (vows of fidelity; their engagement) with God/Jesus through their continuous acts of adultery and their refusal to repent, i.e. they quench and grieve the Spirit of God, so there is no true fellowship between them and God, although they like to pretend that there is. Or, they never truly knew God, but only faked their relationship with Jesus Christ. When confronted with their sins, or when they are in danger of being caught, or when they want to set the stage for a sin they plan to commit, in order to try to make someone believe that what they are doing is something else - even faking devotion to God and to his service in order to cover up what they know is wrong - they might display these characteristic traits: rationalizing, justifying, or explaining; blaming and accusing others; debating and arguing, and/or dodging pointed questions or switching the topic in order to avoid answering. They may also joke and tease, or compare themselves to others, trying to take the focus off themselves, or they may agree or even cooperate on some level to avoid being found out. Or, they may “throw someone a bone,” i.e. admit to something lesser or make minor concessions in order to appease, while withholding something much more serious or something they want even more than what they were willing to give up or admit to. The addict may also practice the silent treatment, or threaten suicide, or make jabbing remarks intended to hurt another, or act dumb, refusing to take responsibility. If they feel backed into a corner, they may go on the offensive and may try to discredit the person who knows them best, and who is trying to help them, and they may create a false scenario about that person for the benefit of maintaining this false impression which they want to present, which is either completely false or is somewhat true but taken out of context and twisted to their advantage in order to gain sympathy for themselves from others, and in order to make their perceived opponent out to be the “bad guy,” and them the victim. Again, they are great actors and deceivers, and many of them will go to most any length to protect their addiction and to keep themselves from being discovered, even if it means destroying other people, their marriages, and the like. In other words, they deflect (sidetrack), redirecting attention and even accusation of wrongdoing to another in order to avoid being found out. They must protect their addiction at all cost, no matter who gets hurt in the process. This is the nature of the beast (sin addiction). Those who love them deeply, and who know them best, will see these patterns when others, who may be fooled by them, may not. Abide in Him We who call ourselves Christians are to walk in the fear of the Lord. We are to revere, respect, honor and obey God and his holy Word. We are to take him and his word seriously, and not throw him or his word out the window so that we can live however we want. God has set boundaries for us for a reason. They are not optional. They are also not to make us miserable and to spoil all our fun, as Satan would have you believe. God loves us so much that he sent Jesus Christ, God the Son, to the earth to take on human form and to die on a cross for our sins so that we could go free from bondage to sin and free from having to spend eternity in torment in the fires of hell. Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live to please ourselves, but that we might live for him who gave himself up for us. He died that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who walk not after the flesh, but who walk according to the Spirit. Yet, so many who say they believe in Jesus have stubborn and rebellious hearts which want to continue in their sinful ways. So many of these have been drawn to a false grace gospel which requires no death to sin and no following our Lord in obedience to his will for our lives. It gives free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse, which is why, I believe, so many people today are living with sin addictions, because not many people are telling them that God requires them to turn from and to die to sin, but they, instead, try to make them feel good about themselves while they engage in such sinful behavior. They lie to them and tell them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he looks upon them with delight, even while they are engaged in sinful acts. May this never be! And, the people love it this way, because it gives them permission to keep on sinning, to show no reverence for God, and to live however they want, while still promising them heaven when they die. Jesus said that if we want to come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily (die daily to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die to sin), we will gain eternal life (Lu. 9:23-25). Paul said that if we conduct our lives after the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). The way we come to know Christ is by putting off our old self, by being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and by putting on our new self, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (See: Eph. 4:17-24). God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). We do not have to walk in sin, because Jesus set us free! He has given us the way out from yielding to temptation, but we have to take the way out he has given us. God has delivered you from sin if you know Jesus, and he can lead you to victory over sin addiction, too. Jesus, Lead Me / An Original Work / July 22, 2011 Jesus, lead me all the way. Be my hope and be my stay. Gently lead me where I should go, So Your Spirit, I want to know. Open up my heart to You. Fill me with Your love and truth. Make my heart want to obey. Be my Lord today. Gently lead always. Jesus, lover of my soul, Cleanse my heart, and make me whole; Be transformed in my heart today, As I turn from my sin and pray. Make Your will known to my heart. May I not from You depart. How I long to hear You now, As I humbly bow. Jesus, hear me now.