Tuesday Afternoon, October 5, 1999
By God’s grace, I’d like to impart to you some tools for understanding and discerning people’s behavior. Let’s suppose for a moment that we have before us, five chairs. And seated in those five chairs are five individuals representing five types of people that you are likely to meet during your journey on earth.
The First Two Chairs
In the first chair, we have an unbeliever or pagan—someone who makes no claim to follow Jesus at all. Perhaps this person is a Muslim or a Hindu or an atheist. This person does not claim to be a Christian.
In chair number two, however, we have a person who claims to follow Jesus, but this person does not obey Jesus. At meetings, this person appears to love Jesus. But he does not really love Him because he does not obey Him. In Matthew 7, Jesus said that there would be many people who say, “Lord, Lord.” There will be many who do high-profile works in His Name, but to whom He will say, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.”
Everyone knows that the person in chair one is not saved because this person doesn’t even claim to follow Jesus. We know that unless you have the Son, you cannot have the Father. Unless you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, the Blood will not wash away your sins. This person does not claim to be interested in the Savior. He doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God. This person cannot be saved because he does not trust in Jesus. Jesus’ Blood does not wash away this person’s sins. Until this person in chair one surrenders to Jesus, he cannot be saved. He might be considered a wonderful person and a good father and a good worker, but he cannot be saved without the cleansing of the Blood of Jesus.
On the other hand, the person in the second chair says, “I’m a Christian.” But the behavior of this person is bad, even though this person may do seemingly “good” works in Jesus’ Name. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said that on the Day of Judgment, people like this will say, “Jesus, you taught in our streets. You ate at our table. We did miracles in your name. We gave our wealth to the poor.” But Jesus says to these people in Matthew 7:21, “You did not obey me. You did not do the will of my Father. I never knew you.” Jesus is indicating here that many people who profess to be Christians, and even do mighty works in His Name, are actually on the broad road that leads to destruction. These people claim to be Christians, they claim they are members of the Church, but in reality, they are not.
The person in the first chair is not saved because of unbelief. The person in the second chair is not saved because of disobedience, which the Bible says is also unbelief.
The Other Three Chairs
Now the people in the next three chairs represent true, Blood-bought followers of Jesus. These three are Christians. But I want to clarify something so that there is no confusion with the person in chair number two.
There is a very intriguing passage in 1 John 2 that identifies the individuals we have in our last three chairs. John said, “I write to you children, I write to you fathers, I write to you young men.” And then he said it again, “I write to you children, I write to you fathers, I write to you young men.” Now our normal way of thinking of the order of things is children, young men, and then fathers. Right? But God gives this order, “Children, fathers, young men.”
Children, fathers, young men—these are all saved individuals. These are people that believe Jesus is the Son of God, and their sins are forgiven and they are washed in His blood. Chair three represents children, chair four represents fathers, and chair five represents young men. You could think of them as babies, mature or responsible adults, and then warriors.
The thing I want to make clear is that sometimes the behavior of children, even though they are totally saved, looks like the behavior of unsaved people (like the person in chair two). But the person in chair three (the True child) is washed in the Blood of Jesus. The person in chair two may claim to have been washed in the Blood of Jesus. This person might even sing songs about the Blood of Jesus saving them, but because this person can go on and on deliberately rebelling against Jesus, this person is not truly a Follower of Jesus. “Anyone that claims to be in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” “Everyone that will not listen to Jesus will be completely cut off from amongst the People.” “Everyone that has this Hope purifies himself as He is pure.” “No one who is truly born of God will continue to sin, because God’s Seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.”
The Chair Two/Chair Three Dilemma
Sometimes the behavior of the person in chair two might even be better than the behavior of the person in chair three. But there is something you have to understand about the Good News of Jesus. The person in chair three is saved because he has surrendered to Jesus and sought cleansing in His Blood. In Ephesians 1 and Galatians 3, God said that when a person believes in his heart (not just in his head) in Jesus Christ, that He gives that person the gift of the Holy Spirit to live inside of them. The Holy Spirit is given to everyone who truly believes and trusts in Jesus from the heart.
So now you have a dilemma. If you’re only judging by the behavior, how do you know how to respond? What if you encounter the baby Christian who behaves poorly, and you have an unbeliever that claims to be a Christian, but, for all you can see, perhaps behaves a little better? Well, has anyone ever been saved from sin because they have good behavior? Is that the Good News of Jesus? Is the Good News that we’re saved by our good behavior? Of course not! We’re saved by the Blood of Jesus. We’re saved from our sins past, and we’re saved from our sins future by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
So then, why does it say in the Bible in the book of Galatians that everyone that lives like a sinner will not enter the Kingdom of God? That sounds like our salvation is affected by our behavior. But we know that can’t be true. We’re saved by the Blood of Jesus, not by our behavior. So then, why does the Bible say that everyone who lives in sin and continues to live in sin cannot enter the Kingdom of God and will not go to Heaven? Why did Jesus say, “The sheep are the ones who do My will and obey Me, and the goats are the ones who would not obey Me”? Jesus said the sheep are going to heaven, and the goats are going to hell. And Jesus said you know the sheep by what they do, and you know the goats by what they don’t do. That sounds like we’re saved by our behavior. But we know that can’t be true.
Resolving the Dilemma
What is the message here? How do we understand this aspect of the Gospel? Well, this is the mystery and the power of the Good News of Jesus. Everyone who has truly given their heart to Jesus and has turned away from their past is given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We read in the book of 1 John that there are many signs of what the indwelling Spirit looks like in a person’s life. There are many who will say, “Lord, Lord,” but will hear Jesus say, “I don’t even know you.” So we know that a person is not necessarily a Christian just because that person claims to be or does seemingly wonderful things in the Name of Jesus.
The book of 1 John was written about sixty years after Pentecost. The Apostle John was perhaps eighty-five to ninety years old. John had many years to think and to pray about what a true Christian looks like. By that time, sixty years after the day of Pentecost, there were many people that had grown up in the Church. There were new babies born who grew up and had their own babies in that amount of time. So there were many people that grew up saying the right words because their parents said the right words. By this time, there were many people who “grew up in the church” and so knew all the songs and could clap and sing and say all the right words. But John recognized that though some might appear Christian, they might have never truly given their lives to Jesus. A person is not a Christian because his or her parents are Christians, right? A person is not a Christian because that person attends Christian meetings. A person is not a Christian because of mentally believing the right things. A person, according to Jesus, is not even a Christian by virtue of performing miracles in His Name. There are going to be people on that Day, who have apparently done miracles in His Name, and He will tell them, “Depart from Me into outer darkness. I never knew you.”
A Deposit of the Holy Spirit
As I mentioned, the book of 1 John was written sixty years after Pentecost. John answers many of these same questions that he likely had to face also. John wrote many different things in the book of 1 John that describe what a genuine Christian looks like. Over and over he describes what it looks like if someone has evidence of the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that everyone who is truly a Christian has a deposit or a down payment called the Holy Spirit.
When a person is buying a house or buying a car, sometimes they will give a down payment or a first payment. That deposit, or down payment indicates that the buyer is serious about the purchase. That first payment is like a guarantee that the full payment will come. The Bible says that God, as a down payment, gave the Holy Spirit to everyone who believes. This is the proof to us that we will inherit eternal life forever. If someone is missing the down payment, the deposit of the Holy Spirit, it is an indication that there has been no agreement or covenant made between this person and Jesus.
This is why John, the apostle, says that the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is not whether they do miracles, not whether they believe the right things, but whether they have the Holy Spirit. And what does it look like when a person truly has the Holy Spirit? Is it doing miracles? Is it singing and attending meetings? No, those are not indicators that help us understand who has the Spirit and who does not. The person in chair three, who is a baby in the faith, may have truly surrendered to Jesus from the heart, but might display bad behavior sometimes.
Some Love the Light
John and Jesus gave us one very important test to help us make sense of this confusion. Jesus put it this way, “Some love the light, and some hate the light” (Jn. 3). John said, “If we can continue to sin, then we don’t know God, and we have proven that we don’t have the Holy Spirit” (1Jn. 1-4).
Jesus said, “Some love the Light, and some hate the Light.” This saved person’s behavior might not be very good sometimes, but because this person has the Holy Spirit in their life, this person will love the light and love the truth. Like a newborn baby, this person will crave the pure spiritual milk of the Word. When you approach this person and say, “Your behavior at work, or with your wife is disconcerting, brother. Do you realize that when you do these things you’re hurting many people, including Jesus?” The person in chair three may start to cry and say, “You’re right. I know you speak the truth. In my heart, I am sad about how I have treated my wife. Thank you for coming to tell me. I want you to tell me these things. I need your help.” This is very strong evidence that this person has the Holy Spirit and is truly saved.
Perhaps this person’s behavior is not very good at home or at the workplace at first, but the Bible says that if one is truly saved, the Holy Spirit will manifest Himself with a love for the Light and exposure of Truth. This person will say, “Pray for me! Ask Jesus to help me! Please—YOU help me, too? I invite you to speak the words and insights of Jesus to me anytime. I will open my heart and welcome Light and Truth and His Priesthood of all Believers.”
What does the person in chair two say? This person does not have the Holy Spirit. This person may appear to do miracles in Jesus’ name. This person may sing and dance and even preach sermons, but still not have the Holy Spirit. How do you know this person does not have the Holy Spirit and is not really saved? Because when you go to this person and say, “Your behavior is not very good with your wife,” this person says, “You’re judging me! Get the log out of your own eye! You’re being legalistic! Mind your own business! Who do you think you are to talk to me like that? Don’t you know I’m a ‘pastor’? You can’t talk to me like that! Touch not God’s anointed!” This person is not saved, because this person does not love the Light. There is strong evidence that this person does not have the Holy Spirit, because this person does not love the Light. Some love the Truth and so are saved. Some do not love the Truth and are not saved (2Thes. 2:10). Some love the Light and some hate the Light because their deeds are evil (Jn. 3:19-21).
So, if you judge only by behavior, you’ll make mistakes. Sometimes the behavior of the chair number two people and the chair number three people looks very similar. In fact, sometimes chair number two people look better than chair number three Christians. Chair number two people appear, at times, to be doing great works for Jesus. But Jesus in John 3, and the Apostle John in the letter of 1 John say behavior is not how you judge. You can only understand who is saved and who is not by who has the Spirit. And a key evidence of the Spirit living inside of a person is that person’s response to Light.
The New Covenant
I’ll go back all the way to the Old Testament to prove this point. The prophesy about the coming of Jesus in the New Covenant can be found in Jeremiah 31 and also in Ezekiel 36. In both cases, He said the same thing about the coming of the New Covenant. God said that in the Old Covenant, a man says to his neighbor, “Know the Lord, know the Lord!” (We’ve tried to re-enact the Old Covenant in modern church for many years now, and it’s the wrong idea.)
The New Covenant, according to both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, works like this: “The proof that I’ve forgiven their sins and remembered their transgressions no more, the proof that I’ve truly forgiven their sins and made them Christians is that I’ll put my Spirit in them and I will cause them to keep my commands and decrees.” The proof that a person is truly a Christian and their sins are forgiven, according to prophecy six hundred years before Jesus, is that Jesus will put His Spirit in them and He will turn their hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He will put His Spirit in them and now the sheep will know the Shepherd’s voice.
The Proof of the Holy Spirit
A Christian, a partaker of the New Covenant, loves the Truth (2Thes. 2:10) and loves the Light (Jn. 3:19-21), and is now a “partaker of the DIVINE nature” (2Pet. 1:4; Rom. 6:1-14). That’s the proof that the Spirit lives in them or in any of us. We don’t have to take everyone’s word for it just because they say, “Lord! Lord!” This is good news! Pagans or false religionists no longer can control the Churches! We can now obey, out of relationship, the command to “get the leaven out of the batch” without being “judgmental”! If they do not love the Light of exposure because they earnestly desire to grow in Jesus, but rather resent and resist and close others out by being defensive, they are not saved, according to Jesus, and cannot be considered part of His Church. Now, remember: ONLY WITH DAILY RELATIONSHIPS can you EVER know if anyone loves the Light and the Truth, and is therefore a child of God. A few meetings a week will never allow anyone to know if someone loves the Light and is just weak, or if they hate the Light and therefore are not yet Saved. If they do not love the Truth and desire it with all their hearts (rather than resist the Truth with pride and defensiveness and blame-shifting), then the Holy Spirit says they are not saved at all. This is very helpful to understand! IF they are saved, they WILL have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9, Galatians 3, Ephesians 1). And the PROOF that they have the Holy Spirit in them (no matter how many times they tell you a great “testimony” and say, “Lord, Lord!” Matthew 7) is that they love to obey. They are new creations and now love the Light, and love the Truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10), and “like newborn babies crave” the Word of God to be applied in their lives (1 Peter 2). Under the New Covenant, we won’t have to convince someone, “Know the Lord, know the Lord.” We won’t have to say, “Change your behavior so you can act like a Christian.” Now we can say, “You’re behavior is not like Jesus.” And true believers, like newborn babies craving milk, will say, “You’re right. God forgive me! Will you forgive me too? 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 say I need your help to be all I can be for Jesus. Can you help me? Please pray for me. And if you see me acting like that again, please come to me again. And if I’m not listening to you very well, please bring two or three and come talk to me again, the way my Master and my beloved Jesus said to do.”
Do you remember that scripture in Matthew 18? If you talk to a brother or sister and at first they don’t understand you or won’t hear you, Jesus says you should bring two or three others to help them understand. Then, if they still don’t understand and won’t change, you should tell the whole Church. Isn’t that what our Lord taught us to do?
Now, let’s say you come to me and I’m angry with my children, and you say, “You shouldn’t be angry with your children like that. You can be kind.” Or I’m quarreling with people and having arguments with people, and you come to me and say, “God said the Lord’s servant must not quarrel.” If I’m a little baby, I might say, “You know, I don’t really see what you’re saying. I don’t really agree with you. I don’t understand what you’re saying. You say my behavior is bad, but I don’t really see it that way. Will you please bring three others to help me understand, because I don’t agree with you? If you’re right, I want to know about it, because I want to change. So please bring two or three others to help me understand and then even tell the Church if you need to, because I want to understand.”
Look at the Heart, Not Behavior
This heart is the proof that the Holy Spirit lives inside of a person. The gift of the Holy Spirit is the deposit that guarantees their inheritance. “This is the verdict,” says Jesus, in John 3. This is what separates innocent from guilty. Not that everyone is perfect, but the ones who have their sins forgiven ALL “love the Light.” They have the gift of the Spirit that they didn’t have before. Now, from deep inside, their hearts of stone have become soft hearts of flesh. From deep inside, God is causing them to keep His commands and decrees. From deep inside, they care about Jesus’ words about their behavior. The sheep know the Shepherd’s voice because they have the Spirit of Jesus. The sheep say, “I want to follow Jesus! Lead me that way.” The goats say, “Leave me alone! I can do miracles! I can give my money to the poor! I know things. I’m better than you, and I don’t care what you say.”
Looking at behavior is not the best way to understand the heart. If a person’s behavior is bad, that’s an indication that there is a problem. But if you cannot talk to them because they do not love the Light, then you have a serious problem. That person is not saved. If, on the other hand, a person’s behavior is not very good because they are still a baby, the behavior is still a problem. They just may not know any better, but they love the Light and want help. And that’s a very workable situation.
We must not look only at the behavior problems. Many people have problems because, perhaps, their parents raised them poorly. Others perhaps had friends who were bad company before they became disciples of Jesus. Perhaps before coming to Jesus many were deep in sin (as I was and some of you were), and so we came into the Kingdom with pretty bad habits. Again, the issue is do we love the Light?!
Do you remember this example from Scriptures? The believers in Corinth were new Christians. None of them had been Christians for more than three or four years. They lived in a very wicked city called Corinth. There were many evil things in that city. Many of the believers in the Church in Corinth had been involved in those evil things, including homosexuality and many other things, according to the letter. These believers had come out of those evil, wicked things, but they were still babies. They had given their lives to Jesus, but they still had weaknesses and bad habits. So their behavior was not yet perfect. But do you remember what Paul said when he confronted some of their problems? He said, “I knew that you would obey.”
In the second letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 7 Paul said, “When you got my first letter, you responded with great energy and great repentance. You were frightened by the evil that you saw in your own lives. You were alarmed by it, and you were very earnest and passionate to rid yourself of that sin.” Paul said, “I bragged to Titus that I knew when you got my letter that you would repent.” That’s what it says in 2 Corinthians 7.
Their behavior was very bad in the Church in Corinth. Paul wrote the first letter to them confronting all of their different kinds of sin. But they were truly saved, and Paul knew that they were, so he was able to write, “I knew you had the Holy Spirit, so I knew that when I brought these things to your attention that you would repent. And I even told Titus you would repent. So now Titus has returned to me and brought me a lovely message, and it brings great joy to my heart to hear you have repented just as I told him you would.” Any person who truly has the Holy Spirit will welcome a letter or welcome a brother coming to them and helping them. They want to change.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is that we are washed by His Blood and all of our sins are forgiven because we put all of our faith in Jesus as our Savior. The proof that we have done that from the heart, the deposit that guarantees our inheritance, is the Holy Spirit given to every true Christian. If a person has the Holy Spirit, they will love the Light and love the Truth... and then their behavior will begin to change. They repent of how they treat their husband or their wife, and they change. They repent of how they treat their coworkers, or their children, or their neighbors, and they change. They repent of their past sins and wicked habits, and they change and become more mature.
God’s Plan for Growing Us Up
Now, do you see how the Church comes into this issue? God’s plan is a treasure in earthen vessels. God’s plan is a priesthood of believers. God’s plan is for His people to “admonish one another every day.” As we truly live this out together, one benefit is that all of God’s true children become more and more mature. Another result of walking together as God intended is that if someone doesn’t love the Light, then they are exposed as a pretender. If they are uncorrectable, if they don’t care what Jesus says about these things, if they get angry and arrogant, then they are exposed as being a counterfeit Christian. It becomes clear that they must not have ever really given their life to Jesus because the truth is one cannot have the Holy Spirit and not love the Light (John 3, 1 John 1, 3).
So, if the church is truly being the Church, then as priests we will all help each other to grow in maturity. We will all be Light and Life to one another. We will all help each other see things that we can’t see in ourselves. If I’m selfish, I can’t always see my selfishness. But my selfishness is hurting Jesus. My selfishness is harming my ability to love Jesus. If I have selfishness, it’s harming my ability to be blessed by God, because God won’t bless selfishness. It harms my testimony for Jesus if I’m a selfish man. So the purpose of a priesthood is to help each other know God better every day—in the marketplace, in the home, in the workplace. In the Church, I can grow from being a baby who is selfish, and eventually become a true man of God.
Paul said (1Cor. 3) that some people who are saved barely escape through the flames. These people go to Heaven, but they sneak through the flames to get there. Read it in 1 Corinthians 3 yourself. The Bible says that some people are saved, but they are burned escaping through the flames. But that is not God’s intention! It is not God’s desire that we just barely make it to Heaven. God’s intention is not that a bunch of babies with lots of sin in their life go to Heaven. God’s intention is that we be a City set on a hill that cannot be hidden. God’s intention is that we be established as the Chief among the mountains. God’s intention is that we be a Bride that has made herself ready. God’s intention is that we be a pure, spotless and blameless Bride. God’s intention is that His Church be an equal yoke for the Son of God when He comes back for His Bride.
Everyone permitted by God into the Church loves the Light. Some of us may be immature. Some of us may even behave badly sometimes. But if we truly have the Spirit of God, if we are true Christians rather than counterfeit Christians—then we will love the Light. And loving the Light together with other brothers and sisters, we will be able to help each other to grow. Then everyone will grow stronger and stronger and wiser and wiser. We can have more and more love of Jesus and more and more power from God in our lives. The testimony of Jesus can get stronger and stronger and humiliate the enemy. There will no longer be a bunch of babies who are an embarrassment to Jesus’ Testimony—a bunch of babies with bad behavior that look nothing like Jesus. A bunch of babies with bad behavior is not impressive to the gates of hell. A bunch of babies with bad behavior will not help unbelievers become followers of Jesus.
If we are a Church of men and women of God who are mature and look like Jesus with our lives...if the Church is a glorious, wise, wonderful Bride for Jesus with the power of God and the character of God in our lives every day, then people will be very impressed with Jesus and they’ll want to come to know Him!!
So, consider this issue of what a false Christian is (chair number two) and what a true Christian is (chairs three, four and five). Consider that good behavior does not necessarily mean you’re a Christian (Mat. 7). Consider that bad behavior does not necessarily mean that you’re not washed by the Blood of Jesus. The real issue according to John 3, 1 John 1, 2 Thessalonians 2, and 1 Peter 2 is that a true believer has the Spirit of God. A true believer’s behavior might be bad sometimes, like sometimes a young child’s behavior is not good. But if they are truly born a second time with the Spirit, like a newborn baby they will crave Truth and crave Light. The purpose of the Church is to help the person with bad behavior who does love Truth to have the wisdom and the courage to obey Jesus and become more mature.
So, we must define a Christian properly. We must also live like the Church is supposed to live—admonishing one another daily so that none are hardened or deceived by sin. We must live as a priesthood. Then all the babies will get stronger and stronger. Then Jesus will have His testimony—a Bride filled with His Spirit and His personality. Jesus will have His Church that the gates of hell will not prevail against. And then, the beauty of Jesus will be here for all of Islam and all of Hinduism and everyone to see. We must not be just babies who say the right things, but don’t live like Jesus. And, the Church is not a collection of counterfeit Christians who say the right things but don’t have the Spirit of Jesus living inside of them, as a Person. But we can be and will be a glorious Bride for Jesus. This is the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
Power to Change, Power to Expose
Now, back to the five chairs illustration. The people who might sit in chairs two, three, four and five are all found in most religious assemblies today. These four kinds of people are all in Baptist, Nazarene, Methodist and Pentecostal Assemblies. Because we have been building the Church wrong, all of these people are all together. All the “four chairs” are together, including those in chair number two that should not be permitted in the Churches as “members.” But, for lack of true, deep relationships in a daily Priesthood (as God has desired and commanded), those in chair number two are welcomed (in disobedience to the Master, [1Cor. 5]). And just as bad, those in chair number three are often ignored or rejected. Frankly, more than 85% of those permitted in the churches worldwide are either in chair number two or chair number three. This is very sad. This is also unnecessary if we were building JESUS’ WAY! Very seldom would you have an Islamic or a Hindu man that thought he was part of the Church. But the normal religious church (which is not really a church as God defines a Church) will have all four of these kinds of people together. Do you understand?
If we live the way Jesus said and begin to build the way the Church is supposed to be built, then we can find out who the pretenders are and who those who are weak are and we can help. If the Church is built around daily relationships instead of a meeting on Sunday, then all of these four types of people will be having relationship every day. The pretender and the true children, fathers and young men will be in relationship with one another every day. As you know, the Bible says to admonish one another every day. The Bible says true Christianity confesses sin one to another on a daily basis. We know the Bible says we’re supposed to serve one another, love one another, and bear one another’s burdens in order to fulfill the Law of Christ. If that’s what the Church looks like, then you have power to change things and to expose things.
Do you remember in Acts 2:42-47, from the very first day of Christianity, all of the believers were together and had everything in common? This was not because of “culture” or “expedience”—it was people living out the Life and Teachings of Jesus. People today hide behind arguments of “culture” to excuse the fact that they love the world and the things of the world, and want a god of convenience for Sunday morning and Wednesday night, and “cell group Friday.” But GOD’S People, born from above with JESUS’ PRIORITIES were daily and in public and from house to house. They were all together every day, devoted to the apostles’ teaching, devoted to fellowship, devoted to breaking of bread, devoted to prayer. They did not have a “common purse” (Acts 5:4-5), but the New Life inside of them, as Jesus commanded, “counted none of their possessions as their own.” The Bible says they were of one accord, contending as one man for the faith. The Bible says they were joined and knit together by every supporting ligament. That is the New Testament Church—daily, close relationships. Every single member of the Church lives like they have a hundred mothers, brothers, and sisters. If that’s how we build, there is power from God to change, and power to expose and remove the enemy’s strongholds in our lives.
We Must Build God’s Way
If we build the way men build, with the traditions of men, we have a Sunday morning meeting and a sermon, and then these people, even false Christians in “chair number two,” just all show up like an audience. Now, 1 Corinthians 5 says we must get the leaven out of the batch. The Bible says if there are gossipers among you, or immoral people, or selfish, idolatrous people, or people that love the world, we must remove them from the assembly. The Scriptures say we must not even eat with people who claim to be believers but live this way. We must not associate with them or be their friends. JESUS says we MUST “expel them from your midst.” The Bible says anyone that calls himself a brother and lives in those sins must be removed from the assembly. Now, how do you do that on Sunday mornings? We can’t do that. It’s impossible on Sunday mornings, or a quality of life that is defined by Sunday morning for many of the “members.”
Why isn’t it possible to obey the Scriptures that call us to be One, and to “get the leaven out of the batch”? Because we have built wrong. Because of the way we have built with the traditions of men, this weak person (the child in chair three) looks very bad, and this person who is not even saved (chair two) looks like a hero many times. Sometimes he is even a deacon, or an elder, or the “pastor”! This chair two person is doing “miracles” in Jesus’ name. On Sunday mornings, this man is a hero—and he’s not even a Christian! This other person in chair three looks weak. But this weak person is saved—and this person in chair number two that makes excuses and does not “love the Light,” this “hero,” is not saved at all. He is leaven, and God said he must not be permitted to be there.
Now some people use the teachings of Jesus in the parable of the wheat and the tares (Mat. 13) to excuse sin in the church, saying, “We must let the wheat and the weeds grow up together, as Jesus said. The angels will take care of it at the end of the age.” This is a terrible mistake. It is twisting what Jesus said (sometimes unknowingly, sometimes knowingly for their own benefit!) Read the parable yourself, and you will see that Jesus did NOT contradict Paul, who by the Spirit commanded us to remove the leaven from the batch! Jesus did NOT say, “You must allow weeds to grow up in the Church.” Jesus said, “The field is the WORLD!” Jesus did NOT say, “The field is the CHURCH.” Of course, we are “in the world, but not of it,” and the enemy will sow weeds “IN THE WORLD.” We are NOT to try to create a social and spiritual “utopia” in the “WORLD” by trying to remove all the weeds from “the WORLD.” We are to be “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world,” and “this is how ALL MEN will know that you are My disciples”! The Church must be “a city set on a Hill that cannot be hidden,” so that “they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the Day He visits us.” We ARE to allow the weeds to grow up with the wheat, “IN THE WORLD.” However, Jesus did NOT say, “The field is the CHURCH.” The weeds and wheat do NOT grow up together in the Church, according to God.
“Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
“I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you’” (1 Corinthians 5:6-13).
Jesus did not contradict Himself, of course. The “field” where wheat and weeds grow together until the end of the age, is not “the Church.” According to Jesus, the “field is the WORLD.” Do not ever let anyone mislead you with a message of disobedience and compromise!
Now, to be practical. If we will begin to build correctly, the way the Bible says a Church is to be built, then all four of these kinds of people will have relationships with each other every day. This person in chair number two looks like a hero in a meeting—he can sing SO good, and he knows SO much Bible! Isn’t he wonderful! But as you have relationship every day, you can see he is angry with his wife. When you walk up to his house on a Tuesday, you may hear him yelling at his children. Or you go to his house on a Thursday night just to visit and read some Scriptures with him, and you find he is not at home. You might ask his wife, “Where’s your husband? I wanted to read some Scriptures with him?” And she says, “I don’t know where he is. He is not at his office. He just leaves, and comes back late and I don’t know where he has been.” How are you going to find that out on Sunday mornings? You only find out this man loves the world and has a secret life if you’re at his house on Thursday night. He’s not going to wear a sign on Sunday morning that says, “I’m a hypocrite and I have a secret life.” So, then you say to him, “I came to your house to pray with you and to read the Scriptures last night, and you weren’t there. Where were you? Your wife didn’t know where you were. Were you off with a couple of brothers sharing Jesus in the streets?”
He responds, “No, I wasn’t. But it’s none of your business where I was.”
Then you say, “Oh, okay. Then you will not talk with me about this? Can I know why?”
“It is none of your business. Get the log out of your own eye. You are being legalistic and judgmental.”
“Okay, I hear where you are coming from, and would beg you to soften! Maybe there are no problems at all. I just need to ask, because I am unsettled in my heart. But won’t you at least talk to me and help me understand?”
“No. Mind your own business.”
“Well, then, I need to do what my Jesus said to do next, in a case like this. I guess I need to go get two or three brothers and we’ll have another conversation about this. Anyone that you would prefer, that we both would agree is sold out for Jesus and is discerning? Jesus has commanded me to bring two or three others and talk about these things. Since you claim to be a follower of Jesus, you won’t mind if I obey Jesus and bring two or three others and we can sit down and talk about this.”
He responds with, “I don’t want to talk to two or three brothers. Mind your own business.”
Then you realize, “Oh, we have a bigger problem here.” If it does not change, then the fact that he does not “love the Light” or “love the Truth” proves that he is instead “leaven” which must be removed from the Church if there is no repentance.
A Helpful Tool
Now, how did we find out we had a very serious problem in this family? This man was such a superman on Sunday mornings. How did we discover that this man was a hypocrite leading a double life? We found out by being in his home on Thursday night. In the end, we found out this brother did not love the Light. And because he didn’t love the Light, he proved he did not have the Spirit. He didn’t want to change. He didn’t care what you thought. 1 Corinthians 5 says if a person calls himself a brother, yet lives in sin, do not eat with him, do not associate with him as a friend, and put him out of your midst. If we build the way men build, then we would never even KNOW there is a problem in this man’s life! His conscience is getting harder and harder. But if we build the way Jesus tells us to build, by admonishing one another daily, perhaps this person could become a Real person.
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But admonish one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first” (Hebrews 3:12-14).
If we build in the traditions of men and do a Sunday morning preaching thing, we may think this man is a Christian. But God says, “I never knew him.” How can we help him if his sin or rebellion or love of the world is never exposed? Sometimes the best evangelism happens inside the traditions of men to people who already think they are Christians.
If we build the right way every day, from house to house, then sin will be exposed and we will find out whether or not others love the Light. If they do not love the Light, then we put them where they should be, which is, according to God, “Expel them from your midst.” Now this man is not a superhero anymore. He is going to start thinking about his own soul, because he doesn’t have all the props around him anymore. Perhaps now he can become a true Christian.
Also, by building God’s Way, we discover true RICHES we would never have known! If we are, as God has commanded, involved in each other’s lives and families and jobs and their Work for the Messiah together every day, wonderful things will happen that would never have happened just by some “cell group program” or Sunday morning meeting. IF we will live as God said, “contending as one man for the Faith,” “we being many are ONE,” and “ALL the Believers were together and shared everything in their lives”—wondrous things will happen. But this requires “seeking FIRST the KINGDOM” rather than leading self-centered, separate lives according to flesh and blood rather than according to Spiritual re-birth.
History shows many men that were in “chair number two” and were christian leaders, but not even yet saved! Have you ever heard of Charles Finney? As a grown man, he was a choir leader in a church. He found out that he wasn’t even a Christian. Then he had a true conversion and became a man of God. Charles Finney went on to bring 500,000 people to Jesus in his lifetime. Did you know John Wesley was a very zealous and religious man growing up? And he found out that he was not even a Christian. He then had a true conversion and became a true man of God. I can name many, many other men that we know of today as very powerful men of God from history—they were even leaders in Christianity—and they found out they were never really Christians yet.
If the Church is really a Church with daily relationships, then we can help people that are pretenders. By obeying God and being involved in their lives, being a Priesthood and bringing and receiving daily “Light” and “admonishment,” we will be serving them and serving our God in a wonderful way! And, if they are very proud and stubborn, if necessary we will have to obey God by putting them out of the Church if they won’t hear the Word of God. This is a “tool” in God’s “toolbox” to truly help people that are very proud and disobedient. But, if we do it God’s Way, we can truly help them to be a miraculous story like Finney or Wesley, perhaps! We can make them hungry for the Word of God, by “do not eat with them, and do not associate with those that call themselves brothers, but will not turn from sin.” This is far better than allowing them to instead be deceived into thinking they’re already okay. Perhaps, they will repent and become true children of God. Some of the most powerful men of God that history has ever known once thought they were Christians. They learned they were not and later became true Christians.
So the best thing we can do for a person that does not love the light is to obey what Jesus said and what Paul said, “Go to them and them alone” and try to win them. If they continue in sin and they won’t hear you, then bring two or three others. If they don’t love the light and they don’t care, then we must obey God and put them out of the Church. Perhaps their soul will be saved because we used this tool that God gave us to wake them up. We don’t do this out of anger or out of self-righteousness. We do it out of obedience to God. We love them. We want them to have true conversion rather than be self-deceived. This is a tool that God has given us to help wake up people who are religious, but deceived.
Unless we admonish one another every day and have true relationship every day, this person’s true condition might never even be known. The Bible says a little leaven leavens the whole batch. So, if a person has a secret sin in his life and hasn’t dealt with it, then all of God’s people are hurt because of it. God’s People were beaten severely in Ai because of one man’s (Achan’s) idol buried in his tent. God had His PEOPLE deal with this matter, as you recall. We must build the Church the way it is supposed to be built so that we can really have an unleavened house. Only then can more and more people move from chair number two, to chair number three, to chair number four, and chair number five!
Let’s Help Each Other Grow Up
Now, there’s another reason we must build the Church properly. This has to do with the weak person [chair three]—the one whose behavior isn’t very good, but they are truly saved. If we build the way men build in the traditions of men, then we will preach sermons to this person. We may try to get him involved in a program. But if we build man’s way, this person’s sin will also continue and go unexposed. Perhaps he cries about that sin when he goes to sleep at night because the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice and he is a true Christian with a soft heart. This person doesn’t want to be weak. This person talks to Jesus about the sin. But in the traditions of men, he doesn’t have any Help. He hears a sermon and he tries very hard. But many times, the sin goes on for years. Then he gives up.
On the other hand, if we build the way God has told us to build, there is much hope. In God’s House this same person, by the time he is one week old in Christ, will already have four or five brothers who are helping him with his weaknesses. They are praying together. They’re talking together. They are talking about the words of Jesus. This person is confessing his sins to others. These believers are admonishing one another daily and bringing their gifts into this person’s life. So, instead of suffering alone, this baby Christian has people involved in his life every day helping him to change. No one has a secret life, or a separate life unknown to those that Jesus has “joined and knit” him to, “baptized by one Spirit, into one Body.” We’re all helping each other with our weaknesses (and we all have them). There are no heroes. We’re all helping each other as brothers among brothers.
So, let’s say this person has been a Christian for one week. He has true faith in Jesus as his Messiah. The Bible says his sins are washed away. The Bible says if he confesses his sins to Him, God is faithful and just, and the Blood continually cleanses us of all sin. So, let’s say these brothers are working together to help this new Christian, and he has not yet totally overcome that sin, but his heart is soft. He has the Spirit and he loves the Truth. He wants to change. What if this believer dies before that sin is conquered in his life? This person is as saved as Jesus Christ and Paul of Tarsus. By the Blood of Jesus, this person is as saved as any man could ever be saved. It is not our behavior that saves us! It is the Blood of Jesus that saves us from our sins! This believer loved the truth. He wanted to change. So he is totally saved, not partially saved. This is the great salvation that we have, brothers and sisters. Amen?!
The Good News of the Kingdom!
Let me give you one Scripture that helps pull all of this together. In the book of Hebrews, the Bible says that we are made perfect and being made holy. We’re made perfect—that has already happened when we truly gave our lives to Jesus. Made perfect and being made holy. The word “holy” means pure and useful to God. The Father loves the Son, and as many as have been baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. As many as have given their lives to Jesus from the heart have put on Christ and have become clothed with Christ.
Therefore, the newest baby Christian and the most mature Christian are saved exactly the same because the Father has saved His Son, Jesus. So, when the Father looks down and He sees people that are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, the death angel marches right on by and will not touch them. The Blood of Jesus has made this person 100% saved. In our illustration of the five chairs, all those in chairs three, four, and five (children, fathers, young men)—they are all 100% saved.
Only Jesus was truly perfect, right? When we’re clothed with Jesus, we become perfect like Jesus. As far as our salvation goes, we have become perfect like Jesus when we put on Jesus. We’re made perfect and being made holy. That’s what the scriptures teach. If you have the Spirit inside, when you’re truly saved, then you are made as perfect as Jesus Himself. Your sins have been atoned for. The price has been paid for all of your sins. You are made perfect in the Spirit of Jesus.
Now the other issue we’re talking about relative to the Church is the process of not only being made perfect, but also becoming holy—a “useful vessel in the House of God.” If the Church is built the way God wants the Church to be built, and we’re involved every day in relationships with each other and we’re a Kingdom of priests, we’re not going to help anyone be more perfect. They are already perfect by the Blood of Jesus. But we will help make them more useful to God. We’ll make them stronger in Christ. We’ll make them have more of a love affair with Jesus. And now, instead of us just getting salvation from Jesus, Jesus could get something from us! The babies get something from Jesus. The fathers and the young men give something back to Jesus! The Lamb of God should get the reward of His suffering. Amen?
The Church that Jesus wants to build is the process of all of us becoming mature. If we build with the traditions of men, most people stay babies forever. They are an embarrassment to Jesus rather than a joy to Jesus. If we build according to God’s plan, according to the pattern, then babies turn into Stephen, Philip, Paul and John. And from the least to the greatest, they all become more and more like Jesus together and the Church becomes a City set on a hill that can’t be hidden. Together, according to Paul, we become a habitation of God by the Spirit. And not only do we get a reward of salvation, but now, at last, Jesus gets the reward of a true Church! That is the Good News of the Kingdom. Made perfect and being made holy.
“God is light; and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He, Himself, is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the Blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.
“If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us and to cleanse us” (1 John 1:5-9).
There is a person who loves the Light. There is another person who claims to be without sin, but really loves darkness. From this passage, it’s very clear God regards them very differently.
“I am writing to you little children because your sins have been forgiven for His name’s sake; I’m writing to you fathers because you know Him who has been from the beginning; I’m writing to you young men because you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:12-13).
If we build God’s way, it will be clear who loves the Light and who loves the darkness. And if we build God’s way, all who love the Light can go from being young children to fathers to young men. This is wonderful Good News!!