by Mike Ratliff
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV)
People who are genuine Christians are Born Again. Their hearts have been regenerated. They are New Creations. That means that their hearts now regard Christ spiritually rather than through the flesh. This is an important point for there are growing numbers of people calling themselves Christians who refuse to surrender to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of their lives. They regard Christ via their Human reason rather than spiritually. By this, they prove that they are simply religious converts rather than regenerated disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of this, these pseudo-Christians are spiritually blind, yet they believe they are legitimate because they love Jesus and are involved in their “ministries.” However, they preach not the truth because they don’t know the truth. They pick things from scripture they like, but refuse to submit to the parts they don’t . The Jesus they love and “serve” is another Jesus, not the one we see from scripture when it is studied exegetically.
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:18-21 ESV)
Today if we proclaim a call that is bound by the necessity of obedience to God in all areas of our lives, then these same pseudo-Christians will cry foul claiming that we are causing disunity in the body of Christ. They claim that we are divisive. They say we are spiritually arrogant because we claim to know the truth and refuse to accept their version of the truth. Look at the passage above. Paul tells the Corinthian Church and us that it was God, through Christ, who reconciled himself to Christians and, along with that, gave the ministry of reconciliation to them. The prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ, was born as the Angels proclaimed peace on Earth and goodwill to men. (Luke 2:14) This peace and goodwill is between God and those whom he reconciled to Himself through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross. Therefore, the peace that Christians have is between them and God.
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)
The believers who obey God will also be those who draw near unto God. That means they seek Him because they love Him. They delight in Him. They live for His glory. In return, the spirit of God fills them. This life of being filled with the Spirit is a continually growing one of submitting to those God desires they submit to. In return, they grow deeper in their love and delight of the Lord. (Ephesians 5:17-6:1-9) This life of being filled with the Spirit is one of striving for peace with everyone along with one of personal holiness. These cannot be separated. Personal Holiness, which is an obedient life in the eyes of God, is both born from and is a catalyst for being filled with the Spirit. Neither of these things are purely experiential. Instead, the experience is a product of an obedient life.
Yes, we are to strive for peace with everyone, but are we to compromise or make peace with professing Christians who refuse to surrender and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? We should always be ready to tell them the truth and pray for their repentance, but we must not compromise the truth. However, we are also not to be hypocritical in this. We must make sure that we never attack others or publicly rebuke anyone from the foundation of feelings, emotions, or any other motivation other than following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. 6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:1-6 ESV)
In Matthew 7:1-6 we read that we are not to judge others according to a standard we ourselves are not upholding. That would be hypocrisy. However, we also read in v6 that we are not to give that which is holy to dogs nor are we to cast our pearls before pigs. What does that mean? If we are dealing with people who hate the truth, if they react in anger, resentment, and outrage when the truth is given to them then we must judge how far to go in sharing the truth with them. If we continue and there is no repentance then we are in danger of being trampled along with the truth as their rage burns against us. This is not a violation of the command to submit to our enemies as Christ said in Matthew 5:44. We obey Christ in not giving what is holy to dogs and pigs because of our respect and love for what is holy. We must treat the truth, the gospel, and all other commands from scripture for us as holy. When we share it and people respond as dogs or pigs then we must obey our Lord by moving on.
14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. (Matthew 10:14 ESV)
That may sound harsh, but we must obey. We learn God’s will by responding to how He providentially provides for us or not. If people refuse to believe the truth then we know they are in rebellion against God. If God does not change their hearts then they will never believe. We must continue to preach the truth to all, but when God pushes us away from people then we must obey and minister to those whom God gives us.
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