Can Authentic Christians Deny Jesus? Part 3
In Genesis 20, Abraham told Sarah to lie about their relationship. He actually wanted her to deny that they were husband and wife. She obeyed and was promptly taken to Pharaoh’s harem. Abraham was concerned about the Egyptians killing him if they knew that he and Sarah were married. This is a perfect example of a husband denying that he was actually married to a particular women. The reason was selfish, as though God had no ability to protect Abraham. Denying something can take on numerous forms.
In this particular short series (short so far!), we’ve been comparing our fellowship with the Lord to the marriage relationship and what it is supposed to be. We talked about the fact that if a guy is going to allow himself the time to lust after other women while saying he is married and committed to his wife, something is seriously wrong. That guy is headed for a huge fall because he is trying to do two opposing things. You cannot love your wife and be in relationship with her while also chasing after other women even if it’s “only” flirting. Flirting can lead to other things, but Jesus has already declared that lusting after a women in her heart is the same as having sexual relations with her (cf. Matthew 5:27-28). By the way, just because Jesus only mentioned men here, it does not mean that only men can lust. Women are capable of it as well so the same thing applies to them.
We are referring to our commitment to another person – whether in a deep friendship, boyfriend/girlfriend, or husband/wife. We’ve all had relationships with other people and we understand the highs and lows about them. Sometimes, though people move toward one another initially, they find themselves moving apart for whatever reason later. However, if the two people are married, they have made a commitment that they should honor. That requires work on the part of both spouses.
The man (or woman) whose eyes start to wander is in effect, denying their spouse. They are acting as though they are not married and their actions prove it. For the husband who spends his time at the office (or the store, or the game, or the gym), seeing other women as eye-candy and tends to “drink” them into his mind only to fantasize about them, is truly acting as though his wife is of no importance to him anymore. In fact, his wife has now been placed on the back burner because it is more titillating to fantasize about women who are oftentimes complete strangers.
That husband is effectively cheating on his wife. He has broken his commitment to love his wife. He does not fellowship with his wife as he likely did previously. He’s looking for new and exciting things instead of taking the time to learn more about his wife.
Imagine if in public, with his wife present, a husband actually denied that he was married to his wife! Preposterous you say? Not really. While we might think that this type of behavior is wrong (it is) and even unconscionable (it is), the plain fact of the matter is if two married people were out together and all the husband did was look at, stare at, undress with his eyes, and make audible positive comments about other women, his wife would likely not be too pleased. Moreover, anyone hearing or seeing this type of behavior from the husband would probably become angered. Why? It’s simple, isn’t it? We see that husband as treating his wife as though she was not his wife any longer and we would become indignant.
The reality is that people are all good actors, at least to some extent. This is exactly why the Bible says, then asks, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” in Jeremiah 17:9. We can convince ourselves we are doing something for one reason when in point of fact, we are doing it for another reason altogether. This is exactly why Jesus tells us not to judge other people (cf. Matthew 7:1). He’s telling us not to judge their intentions which we cannot discern. We can judge a person’s actions or words to determine the truth of what they’re saying (John 7:24). The Pharisees thought they were able to rightly judge based on what they saw and Jesus proved them wrong.
Jesus spent a good portion of His ministry telling people to follow Him. He wanted them to have eternal life and He knew that only in following Him would that happen. They would have to decide that He was who He said He was and whether or not His actions and words proved it. If they followed Him, it would show that they had decided He was who He said He was. Just before He left this world, He taught His disciples that they should abide in Him (John 15) and used the metaphor of the vine and the branches. This is another one of those areas where people believe that Jesus was saying that those who fail to continue following Him would lose their salvation. I don’t believe this is what Jesus was saying at all.
As I think I’ve pointed out as clearly as possible in Christ, Our Righteousness and Christ, Our Fellowship series, when we receive salvation, we gain eternal life (because Jesus via the Holy Spirit comes to live within us and Jesus Himself is eternal life, as we learn in John 17:3). We also gain the privilege of entering into fellowship with God. This is above and beyond salvation but no one can fellowship with God unless they first have salvation.
Now this is eternal life–that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
We begin this process of knowing Jesus at the start of our receipt of eternal life because we have received Jesus Himself. Having Jesus is synonymous with having Eternal Life. He now lives within us and He is eternal life, therefore, we have eternal life because of the fact that He resides within us. As I’ve stated before on numerous occasions, receiving salvation means receiving Jesus and this provides us with the privilege of beginning to start knowing God in Christ. Getting to know God is the process that we call fellowship, which starts the moment we receive salvation. The quality of our fellowship with God (of whether we enjoy fellowship at all) is dependent upon us. Is this any different from any other relationship we have? Our marriage is dependent upon how much we endeavor to enter into and remain in fellowship with our spouse. The huge difference of course is that God is always available (provided we have not sinned) and the lack of fellowship, unlike human relationships, is always on us.
We are essentially supposed to live the remainder of our lives (after having received Jesus, aka Eternal Life) pursuing God in fellowship. But as Jesus points out in John 15, it is quite possible that at least some Christians do not continue to abide in Him once having received salvation. He begins abiding in us the moment we receive salvation but we our continuing to abide in Him (or not) is completely dependent upon our continued pursuit of God in fellowship.
Most men chase after their future wives. Only some men continue to chase after their wives even after they’ve married. Too many men stop chasing their wives and most of us understand exactly what that means, don’t we? We must do the same with God to an even greater degree.
But the very important question that we must answer is how do we abide in Christ? How do we live our lives in such a way that causes us to continue abiding in Christ? First, we need to understand that when we read the term abide in Christ, it is almost always referring to being and remaining in fellowship with God. What keeps us from fellowship with God? Only one thing: sinful behavior. Sure, we can break that down into many areas and lots of examples, but in the end, it is all sin. Any and every sin will break off our fellowship with God. When we sin deliberately, we cease to fellowship with God.
Let’s again look at the human relationship we call marriage. When a man starts to lust after someone other than his own wife, he sins. That is clear. But what actually happens within that husband and to that relationship? Several things happen.
As the man begins to entertain fantasies or images of women who are not his wife in his head, his warmth, caring, and love for his wife grows a bit cold. Over time if he continues to fantasize and even start to flirt, he holds his wife in disdain. He is more interested in interacting with other women than his wife. He begins to take her for granted.
In short, that particular husband is moving emotionally away (as well as even possibly physically and certainly, mentally) away from his own wife. He has replaced her with images and fantasies of other women. Though he undoubtedly loved his wife (and may still love her), the emotional, mental, and physical connection he felt for his wife is now dissipating. Why? Because of the emotional investment in other women he is making, he is naturally gravitating toward them and away from his own wife. This spells disaster. If left unchecked, he will soon become terribly lukewarm toward his wife and come to a point where he doesn’t exercise the same love and concern for his wife that he did previously. All because he is now redirecting his emotional and mental (and possibly physical too), toward other women.
This is exactly what happens in our relationship with Jesus if we allow it. It will happen because something in the world has gained our interest and seems more interesting than our relationship with the Lord. There appears to be this constant tension in this world that attempts to drive a wedge in between us and our Lord. Satan’s goal of course, is to use the world to destroy our fellowship with God in Christ. He seems to be victorious way too often.
But the very serious question is how do we remain committed to our Lord so that the world does not pose a real threat to us? Is there a way to abide in Christ (remain in fellowship) from the heart that keeps us from falling so that our fellowship with God is broken? I think there is and I’m almost 59-years-old so I will admit right out of the gate that though I have studied this subject for years, it is just now starting to make practical sense to me. That may be the same for you.
Why is this? Well, I grew up reading books by Andrew Murray and others and the language (the way they explained things) tended to be off-putting to me. I recall on many occasions reading Andrew Murray’s books and asking to the ceiling, “What does he mean by abiding in Jesus?!” It didn’t make sense. The language was a barrier. It is sometimes the same with A. W. Tozer and others. Spurgeon was another one. Language has changed dramatically within the last 50 to 100 years. How people expressed themselves then is most certainly not how people express themselves today. But the truth of God’s Word remains.
Now that I have begun unraveling what have been serious mysteries, things have begun to clarify for me. Once they become even more clear, the next step is living things out in my life. Let me leave you with this for our next article. We can sum up John 15 with three words: Abide, love, and testify. These three words have to do with the commands of Jesus and it is those commands we are to obey.
I want to talk about that next time and compare that with the way a relationship should work between two people. The key will always be whether or not the two people “put on” their demeanor or whether or not they simply exude it from within, just like the image in this article. Obviously, the preferable way to do something is by having it well up from within, wouldn’t you agree, as opposed to putting it on from the outside (where we simply go through the motions and try to appear as though we really mean it)?
I hope I’m making sense. Join me next time.
Entry filed under: christianity, israel, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: abide in christ, abide in jesus, abiding in god means abiding in fellowship, christ our fellowship.