RSS

Tag Archives: condemnation

Faithful at the Oars

We need godly leadership in the body of Christ.  But what’s the greatest character trait that a leader needs?  As we continue our study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we see one that I think is high on the list.

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2

The Apostle Paul wrote this section of Scripture to encourage spiritual leaders to be faithful to their calling.  He’s talking to those who work in the ministry.

The word, regard, means, to account or to take inventory.  In essence, we’re told that when other people take inventory of our lives as leaders, it should be obvious to them that we’re servants of Christ.  It should be just as obvious that we’ve been entrusted with the secret things of God.

Unfortunately, what should be is not always what happens in reality.  There’s some uncertainty in Paul’s writing because he uses the phrase men ought to.  This means that he faced the same problem in his generation that we have today.  There are many leaders who don’t live up to their high calling in Christ.

The issue should be as clear to those around us as it was to the members of the Sanhedrin in the book of Acts.  It says that when meeting with the apostles they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  The apostles talked, ministered, and acted like Jesus.

That should be our testimony as well.  It’s sad that in many parts of the church, the ministry has fallen short from this ideal.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

In the context of this verse, Paul is teaching on the subject of the Lord’s Supper.  He makes it clear, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that if we would only take the time to judge ourselves we would not come under judgment.

When will we learn this simple lesson?  We wait for condemnation to come on us from the outside before we’ll take a long, hard, and honest look at ourselves.  Then, when we’re criticized for our failure to follow in the footsteps of Christ, it seems to be easier to get defensive than to take stock of our own lives.

We should be constantly comparing ourselves to the ministry of the Lord.  Only in that way can we be assured that we’re adequately portraying the role of a leader.

In the verse, from I Corinthians 4 above, Paul uses the word servant.  It actually refers to an under-oarsman.  Like those responsible for propelling the ship forward, we have a shared ministry with Christ.

Leaders need to be supplying vision to the people.  The church should have a forward momentum because of our commitment as those who lead.  In most cases, if a rowboat isn’t moving, the problem lies with the oarsman.

It’s up to us, as leadership in the body of Christ, to set the speed and direction as ordered by the Lord.

Questions: What are your areas of ministry?  How do you submit those areas to Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 4, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Power of Guilt

In my last post, I talked about how Jesus sent His disciples to prepare the towns ahead of Him for His arrival.  As they went, they begin doing the same miracles as Jesus.  Word starts to circulate about the power of Christ and His team.

Finally, word reaches Herod, the ruler of the region.  Mark now begins to explain the relationship between Herod and John the Baptist.  You may want to read Mark 6:12-29 before you continue.

King Herod is an interesting person in Scripture.  He was actually only Jewish by religion, not birth.  He used this religious affiliation as a means to wealth, and political power.

When he heard about the ministry of John the Baptist, he was attracted to the message.  But like so many people, he only wanted to hear God’s Word until it meant that he needed to change.

At one point, Herod took his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own.  She also happened to be his niece.  As a preacher of righteousness, John the Baptist had something to say about that.

For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Mark 6:18

Herod found himself in a tight position.  He felt the conviction and power of John’s words.  On the other hand, he didn’t want to stop what he was doing.  Not knowing what to do, he had John arrested and put into prison.

But there’s more to the story…

So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him.  But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man.  When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
Mark 6:19-20

There was a conflict raging on the inside of him.  It was the tension between the knowledge of truth and a refusal to walk in repentance.

It’s sad to say, but many believers find themselves in this position.  They hear a message about God’s call to a holy life, but they want to hold on to their present lifestyle.  They try to quiet the inner voice of the Spirit by convincing themselves that they don’t have to accept the “message of condemnation.”

Please understand; a call to repentance is NOT condemnation.  Being condemned means that you’re given no chance to repent.

Eventually, through trickery and deceit, Herodias’ grudge turned into full-blown murder.  She had John the Baptist beheaded.  You may think that this was the end of it.  It wasn’t because guilt seems to have a life of its own.

It continued to eat away at Herod’s thoughts.  That’s why, when he heard about the works of Jesus and the disciples, all he could think about was John.

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known.  Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”  Others said, “He is Elijah.”  And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
Mark 6:14-16

So strong was the guilt he felt, that he actually believed that John had been raised from the dead.  It was consuming him.

Don’t allow guilt to work death in your life.  If repentance is needed, then handle it quickly.  Allow the life of Christ to bring renewal and restoration.

Question: What are some positive results of repentance that you’ve experienced?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Call to Repentance

We’re continuing our look at John the Baptist in the Gospel of Mark.  He had a very important ministry.  He prepared Israel for the coming of the Messiah.

He’s also a good example of what our ministry should be like.

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Mark 1:4-5

John was a minister who didn’t feel the need to impress people.  He lived separately from society.  He didn’t let the day to day fads affect him.  He simply ministered the message he was given.

I’m glad that there are churches today that are attracting lots of people.  They have a modern atmosphere.  There’s smoke, lights, comfortable seating, and a professional sound.

That’s fine, as long as the message of Christ isn’t watered down.  When the methods become more important than the message, then we’re starting to compromise.  When the cash-flow required to maintain the look becomes the purpose; now the church is in trouble.

It seems to me that it was the message of John the Baptist that was attracting the crowds.  Their lives were being changed.  They came back from the Jordan River with a new outlook on life.

There’s also an aspect of John’s ministry that I think we miss because we’re on the other side of the cross.  We have to remember, while we read the Gospels, that the events described were taking place under the Old Covenant.

The people coming out to hear John’s message were “church people.”  If they were participating in the traditions of the Law of Moses, then they were saved and on their way to Heaven.  This was not the same baptism that we receive after salvation.

These people were already a part of the Old Testament congregation of believers because of the sacrificial system.  This baptism was a preparation for the continued work of Christ in the lives of His people.

Jesus didn’t just die on the cross to give me my initial salvation.  He took all my sins to the cross so that I could remain clean before God.  This baptism was looking forward to the ongoing work of grace in our lives.

That’s because we see the people confessing their particular sins, then being baptized for their removal.  It corresponds to the continued work of Christ’s cleansing in our lives.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9

This verse isn’t telling me that I need to be rebaptized whenever I fall into sin.  I’ve already been baptized to identify with Christ.  Now, all that’s needed is for me to confess my failures to God and receive His forgiveness and cleansing power.

I explained all of that, to simply say that this ministry is fading away in our generation.  Where’s the call to repentance in our day?  It seems that when someone preaches against sin and calls for repentance, a cry goes up that they’re bringing condemnation.  This is not the way it should be.

Yes, we’re righteous in the sight of God if we’re in Christ.  However, there’s an ongoing work of cleaning that the Holy Spirit wants to work in us.  That process requires conviction, confession of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and purifying.  Please don’t ignore the whole work of salvation that Christ wants to accomplish in you.

Question: When was the last time you went before God in repentance?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 29, 2017 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Restoration

Toward the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian church, he begins to talk about some important issues for dealing with people.  The first is working with people who aren’t perfect.  I think we forget, sometimes, that none of us walks in the clouds.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

Paul talks about someone who’s had a side-slip.  Whether intentional or not, we sometimes see our past sinful life try to make an appearance.  That’s why God has us doing life together.

The Lord’s desire is always for restoration.  It’s not about guilt or condemnation.  When we experience a failure, there’s usually enough self-condemnation, so that we don’t need to add any more from the outside.

I believe that’s why the Holy Spirit wants restoration to be accomplished only by those who are spiritual.  Notice that He didn’t say that those versed in psychology, or those who’ve never sinned, should work with them.

The qualification is for those who are spiritual.  They spend time listening to the Holy Spirit.  It’s evident from their lives that they consistently produce the Fruit of the Spirit.  They’re the ones uniquely qualified to bring restoration.

But even spiritual people aren’t above being tempted.  Tempted to do what?  Paul goes on to talk about this temptation.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
Galatians 6:2-5

In dealing with the weaknesses of others, there’s always a temptation to compare.  We end up comparing our strength with their weakness.  But that gives us an inflated view of ourselves.

It also makes it easier for us to begin judging others.  We start to criticize and condemn, instead of bringing the restoration of the Holy Spirit.

I think that an important part of this is understanding the difference between a burden and a load.  These are two very different words in the Greek.

The word burden simply means a weight – something heavy.  There are times where, because of what we’re going through, our life seems a little too tough to handle.  Spiritual people are a help during these times.  The law of Christ is their internal prompting by the Holy Spirit to bring encouragement during these times.

The word, load, on the other hand, speaks of an invoice or work-order.  That’s our God-given assignment.  No one can do that for us.  Mine is different than yours.  I can’t compare what I’ve been called to do with your calling.

There are people only you can reach and assignments only you can do the way the Lord wants them done.  So it’s not my job to take over because I think you’re inadequate.  If I truly am spiritual, then I’ll encourage and strengthen you so that you’re able to fulfill your unique destiny.

Comparison and condemnation have no place in the body of believers.  We’re here to fulfill the plan of Christ, not to please each other.

Spend time in the presence of the Lord and then be a blessing to those around you.

Question: What is a time that the Holy Spirit prompted you to be a help to someone else?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 3, 2017 in Encouragement, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hurtful Words

I’ve been looking at how we need to keep a tight rein on our tongue. This is what much of the book of James is about. It’s from our tongues that we can see our faith and maturity – or lack of them.

Your tongue also shows how well you’re able to relate in the body of Christ.

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?
James 4:11-12

James is telling us not to speak against our brothers and sisters. That means it’s all about attitude. Where is your heart focused on?

I’ve heard people speaking evil things in regards to someone. When challenged about it they say, “I’m not gossiping. Everything I’m saying is the truth.”

According to James, truth is not the issue. The question is whether you’re saying something that will hurt that person. What’s the goal of your statements? Are to trying to make them look good or bad in the eyes of others?

The greater context of James gives us more insight into this. When he says that speaking against your brother is speaking against the law, he’s not talking about the Old Testament. In this book, James keeps referring to the perfect law that gives freedom.

When you slander your brother, you’re speaking against the grace of Christ Jesus. When you stand in judgment over someone, you’re saying that God’s grace is ineffective in their life. You’re taking on the role of the Holy Spirit and that’s a dangerous place to be.

James tells us that there’s only one qualified Judge. But in this case, He’s the same one who saves. His blood not only forgives, but can change someone from the inside out. Instead of talking against this person, you should be praying for their growth and blessing.

But there’s a greater danger that you enter when you use your words to hurt others.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:37-38

I think it’s funny that we use these words of Jesus to apply to our money most of the time. Especially since it’s obvious that Jesus used them in relation to our words. He is giving us a warning in light of the law of sowing and reaping.

It’s clear that the Lord is talking about our words in this section. The same words you give will be given back to you – good measure, shaken together, and running over. This is true whether it’s words of judgment, condemnation, or forgiveness.

If you walk in grace and mercy toward others, you’ll find that you receive more in your daily life. When you sow grace, you receive grace. By your words you can set yourself up for the blessing of God. Just make sure your words are a blessing to others.

Question: How have you spoken a blessing into the lives of others?

Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Fellowship, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Our Culture of Darkness

SunriseA little over a year ago I posted a series about Christianity as a counter-culture. I want to pick up that theme again for a few more posts. Too many believers want to keep their feet in both the church and the world. That’s going to become increasingly difficult as we approach the Lord’s return.

The world hates Christ and His people. Please understand what I mean by this. I’m talking about the world system and not the individual people themselves. It’s the system – the way our culture has established itself – that’s against the knowledge of Christ.

The Lord spoke about it.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
John 3:19

We live in a society that hates the light – the knowledge of truth. This is because truth is an agent of change. When I begin to know and understand the truth, I’m responsible to do something with it.

Because of this, the default response of the world is, “I don’t want to know the truth.” They have found that ignorance is bliss – at least in the short term.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:17-18

Here’s what many people don’t understand. Christ didn’t come to condemn the world. And it’s definitely not our job either. We are not here to rebuke sinners for doing what is natural to them.

The problem arises when the light of truth becomes evident. Even though we may not directly condemn anyone, by rejecting the truth they stand condemned. In effect, they’ve condemned themselves.

When you know that there’s a right path, yet you knowingly chose the wrong way, you become self-condemned. At that point the only solution is to cram your life with so many distractions that you never think about this truth.

That’s where our society finds itself today. We have more opportunities to amuse ourselves than ever before. I chose that word on purpose. A-muse – it literally means to not-think.

On the other side of the coin, we as believers should be the ones who don’t fear the truth. We should delight in the presence of the Lord and His Word. We should be welcoming the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We can’t afford to pick up the attitude of the world. Don’t fall victim to the distractions of this age which will short-circuit your destiny in Christ. Spend time in the light of Christ and His truth.

Question: How does walking in the light differ from walking in the darkness?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Freedom and Confidence

Ephesians 3:12
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Christ bought for us the ability to stand clean before our God.  There is now no more guilt, no more condemnation, and no more fear.

When starting a new project or activity, if you know that you are prepared, there is a sense of freedom and confidence.  No matter how difficult the task is that you have chosen, there is no fear, only excitement and anticipation.

That’s how it is with the Lord.  He has provided us with all that we need to approach the throne of a holy God.  Equipped with that knowledge, we can put forth the faith that draws us near to His matchless presence.  As His Spirit moves upon ours, we can be free from the worry of shame, humiliation, or judgment.

Spend time with the Lord today.  Approach the throne of grace with the confidence that comes from knowing that your sins are forgiven and that you are a new creation in Christ Jesus.  Find in His presence the freedom and confidence that God promises to His children.  Then take what you receive and live it out in the world around you.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 17, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,