How do we become a child of God? It’s an easy process. You receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). It’s easy to become a child of God but harder to live like one.
Jesus was perfect, and our perfection is only through Him. He is our example of how to live a holy and set-apart life. He was in the world but wasn’t of the world. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). He was falsely accused of crimes He didn’t commit, but when on trial, He kept silent. He was accused of blasphemy because He said He was God. That accusation was false because He was and is still God. Yet, He was crucified for standing on truth. As followers of Christ, we are not to falter in standing on God’s truth, but we are to stand in love.
We tend to judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves. If we see someone who professes Christ stumble in their walk, we point fingers and say they aren’t a true believer, but when we stumble in our own walk with Christ, we justify our failures. “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8). Pride is the cause of most of our shortcomings. “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit” (Proverbs 29:23).
If someone offends us, it’s easy to hold a grudge or try to get even with them. Whether or not the other person intentionally tried to offend us, we get our nose out of joint, hold a grudge, or get even. A spirit of revenge comes over us, and we make it our mission in life to be sure the offending party is punished. We tell others how wrong they are. Our face shows our ungodly feelings toward the other person. I’m not pointing fingers because I’m as guilty as anyone of this sin. I do seek forgiveness and ask for God’s help to overcome my sin. My question is this, how does this attitude of judgment serve Christ? It doesn’t.
It’s a human failing that we excuse our own behavior but act as judge, jury, and executioner toward others. All we have to do is look to Scripture for examples of the attitude we should hold. We shouldn’t cast stones at others. For example, sexual activity outside of a one man/one woman marriage was punishable by death according to Old Testament Law. God holds marriage to a very high standard. Modern life today accepts adultery, fornication, rape, homosexual activity, and more that can destroy a society. These actions have no place within the church. Disease is spread, children have no real family, babies are murdered in the mother’s womb, and more, resulting from sexual sin.
These sins are so serious that Jewish Law required those guilty of these sins to be stoned to death. When the very self-righteous and religious Scribes and Pharisees brought a prostitute before Jesus, expecting Him to condemn her, Jesus upset their plan. The accusers were as guilty as the accused. Adultery is a two-party sin, so both were guilty, but the accusers only brought the woman. Jesus thwarted their plan of condemnation when He brought to their attention that they were sinners too. Was one of them a participant in the adulterous situation? Maybe, but they certainly were guilty of other sins.
Jesus didn’t condemn the woman. He knew her sin, but He also knew the sin of her accusers. “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). His words were enough for the Scribes and Pharisees to see that they were sinners, as guilty as the woman. They justified their own sins, but their sins were as deadly as the woman’s sin.
After being convicted of their own misconduct, the accusers left, and the woman was alone with Jesus. “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:10-11). The woman clearly sinned but found forgiveness in Jesus. He told her to “…go and sin no more.” She wasn’t condemned, but she was convicted.
Jesus changes sinners, but sinners don’t change Jesus. Don’t try to change Jesus to fit your own sins. Are you a Pharisee who feels superior and able to look down upon and accuse others of sin? Or are you a sinner who is being accused and condemned by sinful people? Don’t cast stones at others. Jesus forgives those who repent, but we are to “…go and sin no more.”
Christians aren’t perfect, but we are forgiven. Just like the prostitute, we all have sinned, but when we come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness, we are forgiven. The profession of faith must be more than words. We must earnestly believe that Jesus is God and that His blood has atoned for our sin. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
From the moment of true belief, we are a new creation in Christ. We will still struggle against the sin in our life, but we can always turn to Him for forgiveness. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
Instead of being very aware of the sin in others, we need to see our own sin and ask Jesus to forgive and help us overcome it. The world is a wicked place; the sin and corruption found there touches everyone. Sadly, non-Christians see no fault in their sin. So, if we point out the sin of non-believers, we will be talking to deaf ears. That shouldn’t stop us from representing Christ in this fallen world. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Jesus said that, so it’s important.
In all things, Scripture is our guide. When we see Jesus, Paul, or Peter performing miraculous acts, they didn’t inquire to be sure the people needing healing had insurance or that they attended the correct church. The good works they did were healing, and the evangelism they did was by spreading the Gospel using words, not works or gimmicks. Although Jesus was raised by a carpenter, He never built a house. By trade, Paul was a tent-maker, but he didn’t repair tents in hopes that someone would notice he was a Christian and ask about Christ.
Use words. Use your gifts for God’s glory, not your own. Works won’t bring salvation. They are nice, but if done to bring glory to yourself, they will be burned at the judgment. The Christian’s foundation is in Christ. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
The congregation in Corinth was a very dysfunctional and tolerant group. The Corinthians were deep into the world and accepted all manner of sinful ways. Sin within a congregation cannot be tolerated. If the woman taken in adultery was a member of the Corinthian congregation, she would be accepted with open arms and left in her sin to spend eternity in Hell. She should be welcomed but not left to die in her sin in the name of tolerance. Jesus told her to stop being an adulterer, and sin within congregations can’t be tolerated. Not just on Sunday mornings but every hour of every day.
We need to build upon the foundation of our faith – Jesus Christ. That building means to do good works for the proper motives. That motive is to glorify Christ, not yourself. “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
When building upon a foundation, it’s important to use the proper building material. Using flimsy cardboard to build a skyscraper won’t get far. When doing good works, remember you don’t bring glory to yourself. Be cautious of any “purpose-driven” good works. “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
Be humble and do work for God; don’t seek your own glory. If your motives are wrong, when judgment day comes, your good works will count for nothing. You won’t lose your salvation, but you won’t receive any rewards from Jesus.
Everyone will die one day, and there are two judgments. If you haven’t received Christ’s free gift of salvation, then you will eventually stand before the Great White Throne of God. That’s where you’ll be judged by your works. Nobody can be good enough by their own efforts to be saved. We need to look to Jesus for salvation and do our good works for Him. If you haven’t accepted Christ, then you’ll face the judgment of God.
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works…. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-12 & 14-15). That’s what relying on your good works will bring. Death is eternal, but you have a choice of where to spend your eternity. If you reject Christ, then you’ll be judged by your pitiful works. The lake of fire will be your destiny.
The other choice you have is to realize that you are a sinner and cannot possibly be good enough to stand before the Holy God who created you. Nobody is good enough. One sin is enough to disqualify you from eternity in Heaven. One angry thought is a sin worthy of death. Does that seem fair? God has warned us through Scripture, and He always provided a way for humans to spend eternity with Him – Faith. Prior to the cross, the Old Testament saints had faith in God’s promise of the coming Redeemer. “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25). Job lived long before Jesus was born, but he had faith.
Numerous Old Testament prophecies told about the Messiah, where He would be born, how He would be born, and how He would die. Jesus fulfilled all of those prophecies and more. Many people received healing and had demons cast out. Many heard His words and believed. Because of the men who followed Jesus and believed, we have Scripture to guide us, and we believe. When our faith results in us doing good works for Jesus’ glory, we receive rewards. There are many crowns listed in Scripture that we can earn (1 Corinthians 9:25, Philippians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, and 1 Peter 5:4).
God gave us prophecy about the end of days. In watching world events, it’s obvious that the Rapture is on the very near horizon. Everyone will die one day unless the Rapture takes us home before death. Christians will all go Home in the Rapture, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). God’s wrath is not meant for Christians.
Prior to Daniel’s 70th week (the final 7 years), all who have truly accepted Christ for salvation will be taken to Heaven. We will also face judgment. Our judgment won’t be one of condemnation but one that judges what we have done for Jesus. It’s known as the Bema Seat Judgment. That’s when Jesus will look at our good works, and if they were done for personal glory or gain, they will be burned up. You won’t lose your salvation but will not have earned crowns. The things done for Christ’s glory will earn crowns. The only way we can thank Jesus for the sacrifice He made for us is to live for Him.
The Apostle John was shown what will happen during the end times. He also saw what will happen in Heaven right after the Rapture. John saw the twenty-four elders sitting on thrones. These elders, representing Christians, had crowns of gold on their heads. The crowns are “stephanos” and are given to victors. These are the crowns the saints have earned.
There will be living creatures around the Throne continually praising Jesus. “And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:9-11). What an amazing sight to see and hear. The only way to be a part of it is to give your life to Christ.
Casting stones or casting crowns? Which do you choose?
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
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