The Power of the Gospel, Part 8

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Many in the modern church operate by what they want and desire. They gather teachers to tickle their ears and they “worship” the way they do because “I like it.” We might think of this as selfish on their part, but in fact it is how the sinful heart operates. The sinful heart always does what it wants the most. The sinful heart is enslaved to its lusts and pleasures. The sinful heart is in bondage to its own lusts and pleasures and will always choose what pleases it the most. The sinful heart will become religious and even be very devout in that religion but it will not give up its control and it will still operate according to its own lusts and pleasures. The sinful heart, as set out in Titus 3:3 and Jeremiah 17:9, is a deceitful heart as well. This sinful heart can defend its sinful lusts and pleasures by giving spiritual and apparently rational reasons. It will also defend itself and even its own sinful lusts and pleasures by referring to the Bible. It will do this in the world and it will do this at church. The sinful heart follows its own lusts and pleasures rather than denying itself and following Christ. “For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3).

The effects of following our sinful hearts are simply the effects of living for self rather than for God. All the destruction of the soul and body that follow sin are the result of following after the lusts and pleasures of the heart. The heart is deceitful above all else (Jer 17:9), but what the heart does in its deception is make excuses and give a rationale for following its own desires and pleasures. The heart is in such bondage to itself that it will follow itself to destruction. The heart that is in slavery to its lusts and pleasures will interpret all things in light of how to obtain and keep its lusts and pleasures. This is a heart that is in full deceit of itself and of others. This sinful heart will deceive others in order to obtain its lusts and pleasures. That kind of heart is one that will flatter others or curse others in order to obtain what it is lusting after. That kind of heart will make all sorts of arguments to defend itself and to give good reasons for what it did because, according to it, the heart will always have a good reason (itself) for what it did. After all, the god of each sinful heart is itself. So the heart was deceived by what it wanted and will continue to deceive itself when it commits acts of sin to get what it desires. The sinful heart is its own standard of morality and its lusts and desires determine for it what its own ultimate morality is. It expects God to agree.

We simply do not understand in our day that God must not only save us from hell to save us, but He must save us from our own hearts in order to save us. If God saved us from hell but left us in our sin, we would not be saved but have the brood of hell in our very own bosom. There is no hell apart from sin. It is impossible to save a person from hell apart from saving them from their sin. That is why the Gospel is a Gospel of the power of God. The book of Ephesians points to a few things in this regard: “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Eph 4:22). The word “corrupt” also has the meanings of ruin, destroy, lead astray and seduce. The lusts in the heart are deceitful. The lusts in the heart show us how we are being ruined and destroyed. The lusts in the heart seduce us and lead us astray. Much like the woman in the book of Proverbs (7:6-27) who enticed, deceived and persuaded the young man to follow her to sin, so our own lusts do the same thing to our own hearts. We see something and our hearts deceive us about it as the lusts entice and persuade us to do it. We want to do it, yet we are in bondage to our lusts which lead us to death.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ must be powerful to break the stranglehold of hearts that are deceived and yet follow after the lusts and pleasures of the soul. The soul that is enslaved to its lusts and pleasures is a soul that will hate the one that demands that the soul turn from its lusts and pleasures. It is not just that the soul must suffer in not fulfilling its lusts and pleasures, but the heart must be changed to having different desires and pleasures. The Gospel is not a Gospel at all if it leaves people in the bondage and enslavement of their old lusts and pleasures. The Gospel of Jesus Christ who is the power of God for salvation changes hearts and as such changes the pleasures of the soul in order that the soul will be a love-slave to God. The Gospel speaks of a God who is the pleasure of His people: “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psa 16:11). Jesus came to change the joy and pleasure of the heart: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). Would it be a powerful Gospel without a change of the pleasures of the heart from being enslaved to self to love for God?

3 Responses to “The Power of the Gospel, Part 8”

  1. michael Says:

    You see, when I read a sentence like this one, I wonder who you are referring to?

    “Many in the modern church operate by what they want and desire.”

    I wouldn’t assign anything like that to the “Church”. Could it be that what you are referring to is a phantom of the devil’s doing and not what God is actually doing in the world today?

    The Church is the “Bride”. And when I read verses like these, I discount the meaning you are intending to put on Her with a sentence like that.

    The verses:

    Psa 46:4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.
    Psa 46:5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

    Psa 79:5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire?
    Psa 79:6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name!
    Psa 79:7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.

    Psa 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
    Psa 110:2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!
    Psa 110:3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.

    Psa 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands,
    Psa 149:7 to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples,
    Psa 149:8 to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron,
    Psa 149:9 to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD!

    and finally

    Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
    Rev 22:18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book,
    Rev 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
    Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
    Rev 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

    I am one who squarely stands in Christ for the Glory of God and make a distinction between the “Bride”, Her work in the world and what some call the “church” functioning in the world.

    She is alive. She is Holy as the Holy Ghost and She is now calling: “come”!

  2. Richard Smith Says:

    As you probably know there is a distinction between the visible Church and the invisible Church. When you read a sentence like that, you can assume that the writer is most likely speaking of the invisible Church. However, it is also true that not all who are truly redeemed are perfect yet. It seems as if many people within the church at Corinth were not exactly perfect. The churches in Revelation 2-3 also had people there who were not truly redeemed. Since the Bible sure seems to use the word “church” to encompass those that were deceived about their salvation, I think it is okay to use the term “Church” at times without taking a paragraph or two to define exactly what the Church is each time it is used. There are many tares mixed in with the grain and many if not virtually all local churches have tares mixed in. I think it is okay to still refer to those as churches.

  3. Norma Says:

    I agree with your statements. It is good to remember that God knows who are truly His and these make up His Church. It is also true that it gets tiring to have to explain what you mean by church all the time. I find myself using the terms true believer, true church because of thoses who ‘say’ they are believers but have no fruit and because of those within the ‘church’ who have made professions, attend church but have no desire to personally read, study, and follow the Word of God.

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