You’d Better Run!

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:14 ESV)

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Dictionary.com defines flee as to run away, as from danger or pursuers. Idolatry is dangerous. Fleeing is the only sane response. Making it practical, here are five ways to flee idolatry:

  1. End ungodly relationships. The right relationship with the wrong person is still the wrong relationship.  Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Proverbs 13:20 ESV)
  2. End ungodly habits. Stephen Covey said, “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) What you do today will determine who you are tomorrow.
  3. Don’t just run from–run to. If you flee idolatry without running to God, you will replace your old idol with another one.  The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10 ESV)
  4. Begin godly relationships. You are not designed to walk alone. From the beginning, God knew Adam should not be alone so he made a helper for him. John called this walking in the light:  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7 ESV)
  5. If you fall down, don’t freak out, ‘fess up.  If we say 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. (1 John 1:8-9 ESV) God is faithful when you fail. Run to him.

Heaven on Earth

I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:19-23 ESV)

You have a choice. If you sin, you will sin more and more. One sin leads to another. When you present yourself to your old habits, you heighten the desire for more sin. And you can’t get enough. Before you know it, you are engaging in sin you thought you would never commit. You look back and wonder how you ended up where you are. If you do the right thing, you will do the right thing more and more.   One act of obedience leads to another…and another…and another. As you continually obey, the old habits begin to fade. You are no longer feeding your flesh. Your will sin less and less.

For when you were slaves to sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. In other words, before Christ, when you were enslaved to sin, you had no desire to please God—righteousness had no claim on your life.

But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. (Romans 6:21 ESV)  What fruit were you producing before you came to know Christ? What fruit came from your life—that life that you are now ashamed of? The outcome of those things is death. There is pleasure in sin for a while—but sin always leads to death.   “What kind of death?” you may ask. For the believer who engages in sin, sin leads to spiritual death. When a believer continually sins, his is a death-like existence. He dies a spiritual death. There is an inner turmoil that drains him emotionally and physically. His life is a living nightmare and he feels trapped between what he knows to be the right thing (that’s the Holy Spirit working on the inside) and the wrong thing he continually does.

There is good news. Look at verse 22. But now. Now—that’s today. That you have been set free from sin (you no longer have to report to the old master) and have become slaves of God (you have a new master), the fruit you get (there are great rewards from this new master), leads to sanctification (living the life that pleases God), and its end, eternal life.

And finally, Paul paints the picture in terms that we are able to understand. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. When the Christ-follower engages in sin, her paycheck is death. When the believer is enslaved to obedience, her paycheck is eternal quality of life. Her life on this earth will have an eternal nature that she thought before was impossible.

This is what I call Heaven on earth.

Your 3 Greatest Needs for 2015

I’m always hesitant to reduce the Christian life to a formula. Here’s why. Christianity is not a religion–it’s a relationship. Christianity is possible because God invaded our space with His Son, Jesus Christ. The very stories about Jesus’ life (called the Gospels) are not a list of dos and don’ts–rather, the stories are Jesus’ encounters with everyday people like you and me. When they met him, He changed them.

Yet on New Year’s Day, the nagging question some of you have is, “How can I live for God in 2015 better than I lived for him in 2014?” It’s a legitimate question. If you’re asking it, you have already won half the battle. Lou Holtz said, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” If you’re reading this blog on New Year’s Day 2015, my assumption is that you want 2015 to be different–you want to grow significantly in your walk with God.

Consider Titus 1:1-2…

for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.

Paul, in a short letter to Titus, is describing his raison d’être–his reason for being. Paul experienced a dramatic turnaround in his life when Jesus Himself confronted him on the Damascus Road. After that he lived for the sake of the faith of God’s elect. If you know Christ you are God’s elect. In Paul’s personal purpose statement he outlines what you need: faith, knowledge and perspective. Let me explain.

You need faith in God. 2014 may have been the toughest year of your life. In very difficult times you will be sustained by faith. The writer of Hebrews defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (11:1) Simply put faith is believing in what you can’t see because you trust in the God of the unseen.

Then how do you get such faith? Their knowledge of the truth. Romans 10:17 makes it plain. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Paul existed for others’ faith. They way he bolstered their faith was through the Word. You must have a knowledge of God’s Word if you are going to faithfully experience the trials and joys of 2015.

Perspective. In hope of eternal life. If you’re expecting life on this planet to satisfy you, 2015 will be a series of disappointments. You won’t get skinny enough, buff enough, rich enough. Life on planet earth is not ultimate. There’s a brighter day coming.

So here is my commitment to you. Beginning today, I’ll provide daily encouragement. It is no substitute for your personal time in the Word. View it more as a coach on the sideline calling a play. The play only works if you execute.

My desire is for the sake of the faith of God’s elect. I can’t wait to see how you come to know God better in 2015.