Thursday, August 17, 2017

Lay Aside the Weight of Insincerity

Lay Aside the Weight of Insincerity

Just like everyone seems to value patience, kindness, and forgiveness, so we all value sincerity in theory. No one says, “Hypocrisy is a great character quality,” or, “I aim to be as disingenuous as possible,” or, “Please, just be two-faced with me.” But like patience, kindness, and forgiveness, sincerity is far easier to affirm than to practice.

Each new day confronts us with numerous temptations to be insincere. In fact, it’s likely that we’re more insincere than we realize, since insincerity is a pervasive cultural practice. It’s woven into our rituals of social courtesy. Greeting: “Hey! How’s it going?” Expected response: “Great!” Christian subcultures also have insincere courtesies: “I’m so sorry to hear that. I’ll be praying for you.”

But it goes far deeper and serious than superficial courtesies. Society places high value on success, wealth, power, and fame (or “popularity” at lower levels). Remarkable achievement, or the appearance of it, in one or more of these value categories earns social admiration, which our sinful pride craves. This powerful craving begins to shape our thoughts and behaviors early in life, and we develop habits of insincerity that manipulate others’ perceptions of us in order to gain social admiration. These can become so ingrained that we are only dimly aware of or even blind to them.

But God is not blind to them. He knows how they obscure his glory, steal our joy, and hinder our progress in holiness. And he desires that we have lives of “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). So he wants us to lay aside the cumbersome, closely clinging sin-weight of insincerity so we can run with endurance our long-distance race of faith (Hebrews 12:1).

Without Wax

The word sincere has a helpful history:

Our English word sincere comes from two Latin words: sine (without) and cera (wax). In the ancient world, dishonest merchants would use wax to hide defects, such as cracks, in their pottery so that they could sell their merchandise at a higher price. More reputable merchants would hang a sign over their pottery — sine cera (without wax) — to inform customers that their merchandise was genuine. (Taking Hold of God, 69–70).

So “sincere” has its origin in marketing. As long as trade has existed, mendacious merchants have employed misleading marketing to make money.

And it’s easy to see how this idea transferred to “personal branding.” I myself am a clay jar (2 Corinthians 4:7). I am a clay jar that is quite flawed. And my sin nature is a mendacious marketing merchant. It does not want you or anyone else to see my defects. It wants to hide the defects behind a deceptive wax. It wants to sell you a better version of me than is real.

Multiply me by some seven billion and you get one global mess of promotion distortion. The serpent gave Eve the “wax treatment” in the garden (2 Corinthians 11:3) and we’ve been “waxing our wares” for each other ever since.

Nothing Left to Hide

But the gospel is the end of our perceived need to mislead. Jesus came to transform selfish self-sellers like us into sincere lovers of others (1 Peter 1:22). He came to cleanse us dishonorable jars and transform us into honorable jars (2 Timothy 2:20–21). On the cross, as Jesus became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), all our wax was removed, and our sin was revealed for what it really is: death and destruction. And then he took these sins away (1 John 3:5).

This means that Christians have nothing left to hide.

Perhaps your heart objects to this claim. It does not want its ugly cracks and defects exposed. It wants to be bought with the currency of others’ esteem. It does not want to be rejected. Perhaps it does not feel safe being viewed by the judgmental eyes of others.

I understand. But that is pride and fear speaking. What you need to listen to is God speaking, and here is what he says:

  • All your sins and defects are “naked and exposed” before my eyes (Hebrews 4:13), but because of Jesus, you are now “holy and blameless and above reproach” before me (Colossians 1:22).
  • Everyone who believes in me will not be put to shame (Romans 10:11); and if I am for you, who can be against you (Romans 9:31)?
  • Therefore, do not live as a people-pleaser. Do not do eye-service work, but as a servant of Christ, do the my will from a sincere heart (Ephesians 6:5–7).
  • You cannot love others and be insincere at the same time. Aim to live a life of “love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).
  • Only disorder and evil will result from jealousy and selfish-ambition, but peace will result from those who are “gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).
  • So remove the self-promoting leaven that not only infects the bread of your life but others around you as well, and live in the unleavened holiness of sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:6–8).

Put your trust in what God says, not what your pride and fear say. Pride and fear will shackle you with weights, but God’s promises, if believed, will liberate you.

Reveal Jesus’s Glory and Run Free

We have another even deeper reason to stop waxing our jars to impress others.

Our jars, however we might feel about them, however unimpressive we fear others will assess them if our defects are exposed, are not about us. We are not our own; we belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). Life is Christ and about Christ (Philippians 1:21; 2:9–11).

And no one more is more impressive than Jesus. He’s the one we want everyone else to see. The glory of his grace is more clearly seen through our sins that he has paid for and forgiven, and the glory of his power is more clearly seen in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9–10). When we wax our jars, we are doing far more than concealing our defects; we are concealing Jesus’s glory.

So let’s resolve to live and love without wax. Let us not listen to our marketing-merchant sin nature, but instead be as real and genuine as possible so that the glory of Jesus will be most clearly seen in us, others will be most loved by us, and we will run with greater freedom and endurance. It is a wonderful, triple gospel incentive to lay aside the weight of insincerity.

Date: August 17, 2017 at 05:03PM
From: “Desiring God”
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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Desiring God Blog

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Local Atheist or Modern Pharisee — Who Is the Greater Threat?

Local Atheist or Modern Pharisee — Who Is the Greater Threat?

Jesus faced more opposition from the Pharisees than the Romans. Are religious formalists a greater threat to the church today than our secular neighbors?

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Date: August 17, 2017 at 05:00PM
From: “Desiring God”
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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Desiring God Blog

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Do We Need a Stronger Word for ‘Faith’?

Why theologian Matthew Bates would have evangelicals profess ‘allegiance’ to Christ.

In his provocative book Salvation by Allegiance Alone, Matthew W. Bates expresses deep concern that Christians—particularly North American conservative evangelicals—misunderstand what the Bible means when it calls people to faith. Too often, he argues, they reduce faith to cognitive assent, as if believing in Christ simply means agreeing with certain propositions. Further, they often reduce conversion to saying a one-time prayer, thus presenting faith as a kind of “fire insurance”—a way to avoid God’s judgment, no matter how one decides to live. The effect is to disdain good works and God’s law as self-righteousness, creating a false opposition between faith and obedience and neglecting the Bible’s call to love God by keeping his commandments (John 14:15).

Bates has two main concerns: first, that gospel is too often equated with justification by faith alone. But this equation is not faithful to the New Testament. The gospel is something Jesus announces and embodies; it is the story of the eternal Son becoming one with us in his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement as king and judge. God’s people are justified by faith alone only as they are united to the risen King by the Holy Spirit. Our faith, then, is rooted in the story of Jesus the King; we celebrate his victory over sin and death while also submitting to his everlasting reign.

This takes us to Bates’s second concern. He argues that the term pistis, most often translated as “faith,” should instead be translated as “allegiance,” because this concept more faithfully conveys the New Testament understanding. This allegiance has three dimensions: “mental affirmation …

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From: “Christianity Today Magazine”
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Category: Christianity Today

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You Are Better Having Loved and Lost

You Are Better Having Loved and Lost

You are as precious to God as you have ever been, and he is using every inch of this to make you more like himself.

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Date: August 17, 2017 at 10:00AM
From: “Desiring God”
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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Desiring God Blog

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1 Peter 3:8-11

Suffering for Doing Good

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,

“Whoever would love life
    and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
    and their lips from deceitful speech.
They must turn from evil and do good;
    they must seek peace and pursue it.

NIV Listen

Date: August 16, 2017 at 11:00PM
From: “Daily Manna”
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Category: Daily Manna

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White Evangelicals Oppose Calls to Impeach Trump

President’s faithful want him to stay in office, and trust him on Russia.

Even before the fallout over President Donald Trump’s remarks on the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, a growing number of Americans hoped to see the country’s 45th leader impeached. However, white evangelicals—a group that largely voted for Trump—were among the most likely to want him to stay in the White House.

A PRRI poll conducted in early August found that 40 percent of Americans believe the President should be impeached, up from 30 percent who said so in February.

Among white evangelicals, 79 percent oppose the calls to impeach Trump—more so than white mainline Protestants (63%), white Catholics (61%), and nones (45%). Overall, about half of Americans say Trump does not deserve to be impeached.

The findings fit with broader trends in Americans’ approval ratings of the President, which have lagged behind those of previous administrations. Evangelical leaders have cheered Trump’s US Supreme Court appointee, challenged his immigration and refugee policy, and awaited much-anticipated changes to the healthcare system. But Trump has also faced ongoing criticism over his rhetoric, turnover among White House staff, and investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“There is an effort to do whatever is necessary to take this president down,” said Robert Jeffress, one of Trump’s evangelical advisers and head pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, on CBN this week to describe the negative media coverage of a president whom Jeffress views as “very honest” and who “refuses to be politically correct.”

Last month, a different poll by USA Today/iMediaEthics listed evangelicals among Trump’s strongest supporters, with about half …

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From: “Christianity Today Magazine”
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Category: Christianity Today

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State Department’s Unusually Short Religious Freedom Update: ISIS Is Bad

Months late, the new Secretary of State quickly highlights ongoing genocide in the Middle East in intro to annual report.

The US State Department kept its annual assessment of international religious freedom unusually short this year, reiterating the country’s commitment to the cause and calling out ISIS as perpetrators of genocide.

Over the past five years, the executive summaries for the department’s annual religious freedom report have averaged more than 5,000 words. They typically detail problems such as North Korea’s religious prisoners, Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, and the instability caused by Islamic extremism in the Middle East.

This year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skipped the lengthy executive summary and laid out a preface just 440 words, naming only a single concern in his written introduction: ISIS.

“ISIS has and continues to target members of multiple religions and ethnicities for rape, kidnapping, enslavement, and death,” the Trump administration appointee and former Exxon CEO wrote. “The protection of these groups—and others who are targets of violent extremism—remains a human rights priority for the Trump administration.”

The report was also a few months later than normal, released on August 15 rather than by May 1. In his remarks, Tillerson repeated the genocide designation for ISIS and also referenced the nomination of Governor Sam Brownback as the department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.

The annual report reviews the state of religious freedom in 199 countries, and CT has highlighted six places where Christians continue to face significant barriers to worshiping freely: Iraq, Indonesia, India, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.

Deadly Terror in Iraq

ISIS was responsible for half of all verified casualties (5,403) in Iraq during the …

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From: “Christianity Today Magazine”
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Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Christianity Today

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5 More Things I Wish Older Christians Told Me

Quick Reminder: There are only 3 days left to get my limited-edition, 800-page Titan on discount. The Titan is the detailed follow-up to my books Pagan Christianity and The Untold Story of the New Testament Church. It will only be printed once (never again). The discount ends this Sunday, August 20th. Some are calling it “dangerous” and “problematic” — like contraband.

Everyone who orders the Titan will receive my new digital book – due to release this October – entitled MINISTER TO MINISTER: 48 Laws of Spiritual Power as a bonus.

If you haven’t ordered your copy yet, go to ViolaTitan.com – the FAQ will tell you everything you need to know. Thanks to all of you who got a copy already – you have no idea how much I appreciate it. If you feel you can’t afford it, read the FAQ for an idea on how to resolve this.

Now for today’s article …

“The man who views the world at 50 the same way he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”

~ Muhammad Ali

Sometime ago, I wrote an article entitled 5 things I wish older Christians told me. Because of the positive response to the article, I decided to add five more things to the list.

These are things I wish older Christians told me when I was in my 20s. It would have saved me a lot of aggravation, frustration, discouragement, [fill in the blank].

Here they are …

1) Things aren’t always what they seem.

In my youth, I quickly drew conclusions without hearing the whole side of a story from all parties involved. Regrettably, I still see this happen today, even among “seasoned” Christians.

Someone hears a rumor or reads an attack against a fellow Christian online. Instead of going to the person being attacked (Matthew 7:12), countless Christians believe the rumor.

But if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s this: There is always more than one side to a story, and things aren’t always what they seem.

I learned this lesson the hard way a long time ago. (I wrote about it here.) Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.”

2) The greater the spiritual impact you will have, the greater your sufferings will be.

This is God’s way. It takes a good amount of breaking for God’s light to penetrate the dark places and create a clear way for that light to seep out. Put another way, it’s a seismic task for the Lord to clear the pipes so the sludge can get through. As I put it in Revise Us Again, “As high as God is going to elevate you is as deep as He digs to lay the foundation.”

It would have been nice to know what to expect when I put my hand to God’s plow. But as a young believer, all I heard was how glorious it was to serve the Lord. No one told me the heights, depths, and lengths to which God goes to break His servants!

(My chest just tightened typing that.)

3) Jealousy is at the root of most divisions, conflicts, and persecutions.

I admit my naivety here. I used to think that jealousy and envy were things that went with middle school and high school drama. I thought, “adults don’t engage in that kind of juvenile behavior.”

Man, was I wrong. Jealousy is pervasive among adults, in business, education, and also in the world of ministry.

Have you ever wondered why some of the most gifted and anointed speakers aren’t ever invited to speak at certain Christian conferences? Jealousy is often at the root (the fear of being upstaged).

Ever wonder what’s behind so many personal attacks in the Christian world? Jealousy is almost always at the root.

The meanest people in the world are those who are drowning in the rip tide of their own egos. The human ego has a voracious appetite, and the more its fed, the hungrier it becomes. Jealousy rears its ugly head whenever a person’s ego hasn’t been crucified.

Years later, I discovered that religious jealousy is what incited the murders of Abel, Jesus, and Paul.

4) Transformation is a (really) slow process.

Spiritual transformation is real. God changes people. And conformity to Christ is an essential aspect of God’s ultimate purpose. However, it takes time. Years. It’s not a sprint, but a marathon. As a young man at the age of sixteen, living on the momentum of a new Christian, I made the mistake of equating knowledge with experience. “If you know it, you’ve got it.”

Equating knowledge with experience is like dropping a rose pedal down the grand canyon and waiting for it to echo.

It takes years — and a lot of breaking — for God to translate any spiritual insight you have into experiential knowledge.

If you’re in your 20s, measure the space between the top of your head and your heart in inches. Someone once said that it takes at least that many years to move what’s in your mind to your spirit.

I think that’s pretty accurate.

5) When someone imputes evil motives to another person’s heart, they are merely revealing what’s in their own.

I can multiply examples of this, but let me give you one.

I once heard a “Christian” (we’ll call her Sally) judge another Christian (we’ll call her Sharon) of being “full of pride” simply because Sharon regularly employed humor.

Not only does that calculation not compute (Jesus often used humor and irony), but it only reveals one thing. Sally was exposing herself to be a prideful individual.

You see, when people read intentions and motivations into another person’s words, they are merely exposing what’s in their own hearts.

Few things throw sand in the gears of one’s spiritual growth faster than adopting a critical, judgmental attitude.

Therefore, never judge another person’s motives. Always think the best. If you have a concern about someone, ask them directly (“Why did you say or write or do such and such?”).

So there you have it. Five more things I wish older Christians told me when I was younger.

I’ve left out a lot more. But again, this isn’t a book.

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, I trust this helps.

If you’re older, do me a favor and share this blog post with those who are younger — assuming you agree. (Which if you don’t, we can still be friends. It will be awkward and all, but still friends. 🙂 )

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Date: August 17, 2017 at 04:15AM
From: “Beyond Evangelical | The Blog of Frank Viola”
via original RSS feed: http://ift.tt/2uT7Yz7
Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Beyond Evangelical

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Philippians 1:7–8: A Strange Evidence of Saving Faith

When God saves someone, he not only gives them a new love for himself, but a new love for his people.

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Date: August 17, 2017 at 04:00AM
From: “Desiring God”
via original RSS feed: http://ift.tt/2x7mDro
Reposted by: To Live Like Jesus Clothing Company
Category: Desiring God Blog

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