Thoughts to Ponder

The Rock and the quicksand.

When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are set on the Rock. Look at what Isaiah says:

(Isaiah 26:4 NIV) Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

The world around us is like quicksand. It is sucking in people and refusing to let them go. Our job is to reach down into the quicksand and give people the chance to come up onto the Rock and be saved. The problem is that many people have only one foot on the Rock and one foot in quicksand. Which do you think will pull harder on the person, the Rock or the quicksand?

We must not try to remain partly in the world. We are to be a witness, but that means that we must be different in order to show the world who we are in Christ. If we are just like them, then there is no witness.

We are not to be linked or yoked together with unbelievers. This means several things. First a believer should never marry an unbeliever. The idea that once you are married you can bring them to Christ is a mistaken idea. The quicksand pulls harder then the Rock does.

Secondly we should never be in such a relationship with an unbeliever that it compromises our witness. I am not saying we can't be friends with unbelievers, but our friendship should always be centered around bringing them to Christ. If it isn't then there is a problem. Actually two problems. First, how can you be friends with someone and not care about their soul's eternal destiny? Second, if your friendship with this unbeliever is based on anything other then Jesus Christ and His love for this person then you are wrong in your focus. Do you love being around them as they are more then you would love to have them as a Christian brother or sister? If so then the problem is in your heart, and you have one foot in the quicksand. You are not willing to give up the world.

(2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NIV) [14] Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? [15] What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? [16] What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
[17] "Therefore come out from them
        and be separate,
        says the Lord.
        Touch no unclean thing,
        and I will receive you."
[18] "I will be a Father to you,
        and you will be my sons and daughters,
        says the Lord Almighty."

Be separate, be different. Show that there is a difference between you and the world. This does not mean condemning them and refusing to eat or be with them, but it does mean that you should not be one of them. If they do not see anything different in you then in the rest of their friends who are unbelievers then you are just one of them.

Does this mean dressing differently? Maybe. If the clothing has a significance which is not honoring to Christ, then yes it means dressing differently. Does it mean speaking differently? If the way they speak is dishonoring to Christ, then yes it means speaking differently then they do. Does it mean not laughing at their jokes? If those jokes are inappropriate then yes it means not laughing at them and not encouraging them.

Do your unbelieving friends act differently around you then they do each other? If not then maybe there is a problem. It can be disconcerting to have friends abruptly quit telling a joke or quit laughing or even quit talking when you come into the room, but if the reason is because they realize you are different and they are embarrassed to speak around you as they do when you are not around, then praise God because your witness is showing.

I have heard Christians (including some pastors) use vulgar language because they claim they witness to unbelievers and you have to connect with them on their level. That is dead wrong, that person has sunken a couple more inches into the quicksand.

I worked in the medical field for 10 years and it was always drilled into us that if your hands were sterile and you touched something sterile you were still sterile. But if your hands were sterile and you touched something which was not sterile then both of you were no longer sterile. Non-sterile plus non-sterile remains non-sterile. Sterile plus non-sterile became non-sterile. Only sterile plus sterile could remain sterile. It is the same with the world. If you mingle with the filth of the world you will become filthy. Non-sterile never became sterile by touching something that was, it took a process of cleaning (sterilizing) to make something sterile. If we become contaminated by the world we need the cleansing of Jesus' blood to renew us and make us sterile again.

This is in no way saying that we aren't to reach out and help those who don't know Christ, but we can't afford to allow them to contaminate us. We can't be friends on their level, we must be friends who are not of this world. I often hear that Jesus spent more time with sinners then He did with believers. That is true, but He never lost His message and they never missed the difference in Him and them.

Let me address what happens when a person tries to be both friends with the world and yet keep one foot on the Rock of their salvation.

(James 4:4 NIV) You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Many people miss the significance of this passage. Who is James speaking to? Is he speaking to unbelievers? Many people will try to tell you that, because their doctrine states that once you are saved you need never worry about being an enemy of God again. But is that the correct interpretation of this passage?

First let's take the context of this passage. As I am sure you know most of the New Testament, other than the gospels, Acts and Revelations are letters written to different groups of people. The book of James is all one letter, and it did not originally have verses or chapters, it was just a letter. So you can't take chapter 4 and say that James is now speaking to someone different then he was earlier in the letter. So let's see who he addresses elsewhere in the letter:

(James 2:1 NIV) My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.

He calls them brothers and believers in Jesus Christ! So we know that this letter was to believers. That is the context of James 4:4. Even without that context you can tell who he is speaking to in that passage. Let me ask you, who can become an enemy of God? Can a unbeliever become an enemy of God? No, an unbeliever is born into this world as an enemy of God. That is why we need the blood of Jesus Christ to cover our sins and reconcile us to God. So let me ask again, who can become an enemy of God? Only someone who is no longer an enemy. You can't become something you already are.

Only a believer can become an enemy of God. Some doctrines out there won't deny this idea because they can't, it is in the Bible, but they will claim that being an enemy of God does not mean you will suffer judgment, just the loss of rewards. Is that true? What happens to the enemies of God?

(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God!! Folks, being friends with the world and becoming an enemy of God is nothing to take lightly. Let me quote the next couple of verses in this passage:

(Hebrews 10:28-31 NIV) [28] Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. [29] How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? [30] For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." [31] It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

People will tell you that Hebrews 10:26-27 does not mean believers, it means people who have the knowledge but never made the commitment to Christ or in other words they were never really believers. Sounds good until you read the next four verses and then you see that can't be true. Look at verse 29; 'who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him.' Hum, since when is an unbeliever sanctified through the blood of Jesus Christ?

Oh you can find plenty of preachers who will tell you what your itching ears want to hear. Things like the idea that this judgment takes place in heaven and you suffer for a little while and then spend eternity with God in bliss. If your itching ears want to hear that it will sound good to you, but it is not biblical nor does it even come up to the standard of any true doctrine of Christ. Here is what I mean. What is the person being punished for? Sin! So what these teachers are saying is that even though you were forgiven of your sins by what Jesus did on the cross you will have to endure punishment for those very sins later. These same teachers will condemn the Catholic idea of purgatory on the same grounds and rightly so, but they miss their own false doctrine in the process. If we confess our sins He will forgive us.

(1 John 1:9 NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Once God has forgiven us He says He will never remember our sins again:

(Hebrews 8:12 NIV) For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

So how is it that these teachers teach that a person can be judged and punished for sins which are already forgiven? Either Jesus paid the full price for our sins on the cross or we are all in deep trouble with no hope of being spared from judgment. The good news is that Jesus did all that is necessary and we will not face judgment for sins which are under the blood of Christ, but we can't just go around and insult the Spirit of Grace and trample of the blood of Christ and live like the world and think we are still on our way to heaven.

Why do I keep preaching this, which I know is not very popular with many of you who read my articles? Because I believe it has eternal consequences far beyond the mere loss of rewards. The more I study God's word the more I am convinced that many will say to Jesus, Lord Lord and be told to get away from Him.

(Matthew 7:13-14 NIV) [13] "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. [14] But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

Don't allow some smooth talking preacher to put you on the wide road. Don't believe that you can live with one foot on the Rock and one in the quicksand and not be pulled off the Rock. Don't believe that you can be just like the world and still a follower of Christ. Don't believe that you can be willfully disobedient to God and still remain His child.

The Lord disciplines those He calls His sons and daughters. The Holy Spirit will convict and draw back to Himself those who pull away, but the quicksand of the world will pull hard too. The person who accepts the Lord's discipline and the urging of the Holy Spirit and confesses his sin and repents will continue in his relationship with God, but those who trample on the Son of God and treat His blood as an unholy thing will face judgment.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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May 2003