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4. What does the Bible Teach about Walking with God?


     The Greek word translated "fellowship" in our English Bible is "koinonia", meaning to "share", or "participate" in something together.

     God's Word states that we are to fellowship with God and with our Christian brothers and sisters. 1 John Chapter 1 is a dissertation on the importance, mechanics and joy of  maintaining fellowship with God.

     God has a Plan and God has a Life. Every moment of our Christian life, we are either fellowshipping with God through His Spirit and sharing and participating in His Life and plan, or we are "stiff arming" God and living our life on our own, "out of fellowship".

     In 1 John 1:6 & 7, our fellowship with God is described as "walking in light", and the breaking of this fellowship is "walking in darkness". Walking in the Light of God's will and Word, "in fellowship" and controlled by His Spirit is where the maximum blessings, growth, guidance, production, joy, & rewards of the Christian life are found.

     In Eph 5:18, we are commanded to "continually be filled (Greek word "pleroo" means controlled by)" by God's Spirit. The child of God is constantly and forever indwelt by God's Spirit. The issue here is not how much of God's Spirit do we have, but how much of US does God's Spirit have. When we are commanded by God to do something, we fully expect to find guidance on the "mechanics" of HOW to do it.

     There are two actions of our human will that are said to break our fellowship with God, "quenching" the Spirit of God (1 Thess 5:19), and "grieving" the Spirit of God (Eph 4:30). Quenching is best described as not doing the things God's Word clearly tells us to do (sins of omission) and resisting the control of God's Spirit by doing things "our way". At best this produces human good, which is unrewardable (1 Cor 3:11-15), and always falls short of God's best for us. "Grieving" the Spirit of God is knowingly and overtly committing sin in violation of God's Word.

     At every moment in time, we are either quenching the Spirit, grieving the Spirit, or fellowshipping with God.

     When we realize that we have sinned against God and broken fellowship, I find only one God given method to restore that fellowship, and that is the subject of  1 John chapter one. Honestly confessing our sin to our loving heavenly Father removes the sin that has come between us and restores us to full fellowship. 1 John 1:7 teaches that when we confess our known sins to the Father, that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin, not on our own merit, but on the basis of the work Jesus did on the cross.

     There are many, many, humanly devised methods for mankind to attempt to earn their way back into God's good graces. Every religion has a method of attempting to get back into God's favor.

     Many of God's children get caught in a cycle of beating themselves up in their mind, carrying a tremendous burden of guilt, and vowing to God to do better, then finally breaking down and re-dedicating. This cycle of guilt can even cause physical illness! It seems that the desire to do things our own way, without reading the directions is a powerful part of our sin nature. Assembling toys on Christmas morning is a good example. My mother even tells me that some of my earliest words as a child were "do it self". I guess we secretly want all the credit for our accomplishments, so we resist any form of help, even from our loving Heavenly Father. That is a pretty good definition of pride, the number one thing that God hates in Prov 6:17!

     I believe the Bible teaches that, instant confession of known sin, even a bad thought, is the most important key to the Christian life. This is God's grace method of restoring fellowship for His children when they sin. Paul says in 2 Cor 10:5, that we should be "bringing every thought into captivity, which results in obedience to Christ".

FOUR VERY IMPORTANT SUBJECTS CONCERNING FELLOWSHIP:

1. WHAT SIN IS: There are seven Greek synonyms for sin in the New Testament. They are translated as "sin", "trespass", "fault", and "lawlessness":

    a. Anomia, Paranomia =  Not even caring what God's Word says, lawlessness.


    b. Parabasis = Crossing the line, deliberate disobedience.

    c. Parakoee = Disobey a voice. (Adam and Eve did this)


    d. Agnoema = Ignorance when one should have known. (No excuse)

     e. Hettema = Diminishing what should have been given full measure. (quenching)


    f. Paraptoma = Falling when one should have stood. (An unintentional slip)

    g. Hamartia = Missing the mark, not quite good enough. (Comes from archery competition. The "mark" is the center of God's will. We miss the "mark" and fail to receive the full reward)

     When we don't line up with God's Word, we are doing one of the above actions. These actions take us out of fellowship. As we study God's word and fellowship with Him, we become increasingly aware of the myriad of actions and thoughts that break our fellowship with God. As we grow in Christ, and in "faith" we have more and more of His power to help us live in constant fellowship.

2. POSITIONAL TRUTH: Once someone asked me why Christians must confess their sins to God, when the Scripture is clear that our sins were all paid for by Jesus on the Cross, cast into the depths of the sea and remembered no more. The answer to this question requires an understanding of our dual relationship with God, our "position" and our "experience".

     Our "position in Christ" is sinless perfection, with our sins and trespasses marked through and the righteousness of Christ written in its place (2 Cor 5:21 & Heb 10:14). This sinless "position in Christ" is the only way we can be accepted as a child of God. I count 45 verses in the New Testament where the phrase "in Christ" refers to our sinless "position in Christ". A good example, 2 Cor 5:17, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new". Look for the phrases that state that we are "in Christ" when you read the New Testament. These Scriptures are stating our wonderful new "position" in Christ.

     But, our "experience" is down here sinning the sins that Jesus paid for on the Cross. As we become aware that we have sinned and confess that sin, in essence we are saying "I just sinned one of sins that Jesus bore in His own body on the Cross." New Testament Scripture is just about evenly divided in speaking of our "sinless, perfectly sanctified POSITION in Christ", and our human "CONDITION of being sanctified" in our experience.

     Our "position in Christ" remains sinless perfection, no matter what terrible sin we committed. That is because our position "in Christ" and forgiveness of experiential sin depends on Jesus and His finished work on the Cross, and not on anything we can do or not do. I have known Christians who feel that they cannot bring themself to pray, because their sin is so great, but God's grace is greater than all our sin. We are accepted by the Father, and can go boldly to the throne of grace, not on our own merits, but on the merit of what Christ has done for us.

     1 Jn 1:8&10 state that "if we say we have no sin, we are self deceived and the truth is not in us". When we begin to realize what sin against God is, we must have divine assistance. Even an ungodly thought is sin.

3. ETERNAL SECURITY: In Romans 8:38 & 39, God sees his children as already glorified and in heaven. God's justice was satisfied at the Cross. In Hebrews chapter 12 we even see that our divine discipline comes from God's love. Just as in a human family, our position in the family doesn't change when we sin, but our sin breaks our fellowship with the Father.

4. ORIENTATION TO THE GRACE OF GOD: Our whole salvation package is a gift from God (2 Pet 1:3). Our Faith is a gift from God (Eph 2:8). God motivates all of our works when we are in fellowship (Eph 2:10 we are ordained to walk in good works). "It is God who is presently working in us to will and do His good pleasure", Phil 2:13. In John Chapter 15 Jesus is the vine and we are the branches and we can do nothing without Him. God in His grace even promises to show us where we are falling short, Phil 3:15. In 1 John 1:7, as we maintain fellowship with God through confession of known sin, the blood of Christ "keeps on cleansing us from sinning" until we break fellowship by a sin from our own will.

       THE MECHANICS OF MAINTAINING OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD:

1. Instantly confess all known sin. 1 Jn 1:9 Fellowship is restored, the power of God flowing in our life again. The sin itself was already forgiven on the Cross.

2. Forget it, God doesn't remember it, and we shouldn't either: Phil 3:13 & 14

3. Isolate it: Heb 12:15, dwelling on past forgiven sin is failing to understand the Grace of God, and promotes bitterness.

                  ILLUSTRATIONS OF RESTORATION TO FELLOWSHIP:

1. God's relationship with Israel: Jer 3:13, They needed to confess their sin.

2. The parable of the "self righteous brother" (AKA the parable of the prodigal son), Luke 15:11-32 illustrates the grace of God in forgiving His children. The attitude of the self righteous brother also illustrates the improper mental attitude of the child of God who does not understand or believe in orientation to the grace of God. The story ends with the brother still angry, because the prodigal son confessed his terrible sin to his father and was completely forgiven !

3. David's restoration to fellowship after his periods of sin:

    a. Psa 32:5 David is restored through confession of sin to the Father.

    b. Psa 38:1-18 David confesses and feels sorry for his sin. His sin is forgiven no matter how he "feels", but quite often we feel very bad about our sin.

    c. Psa 51:3&4 and 16&17 David confesses again. Notice in verses 16 and 17 "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else I would give it: thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou will not despise." See, in actuality, the contrite heart and confession of the sin to the Father restored the fellowship, not the animal sacrifice and keeping of the law!

4. Solomon: Prov 28:13 "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."

SYNONYMS FOR  RESTORATION OF FELLOWSHIP:

1. Repent. There are two Greek words for "repent":

    a. "Metamellomai" , meaning "regret", or "an emotional reaction". Used 6 times in the New Testament. This is not what Christians are commanded to do, but what Judas did in Matt 27:3-10, after he betrayed Christ. He was "sorry", or "regretted" what he had done, but it did him no spiritual good. Jn 6:70&71, and Acts 1:25.

    b. "Metanoeo", meaning literally to "think differently", or to "change your mind". God commands all types of people, in every place to "repent", in Acts 17:30.

2. If we "Judge our self",  we will not be judged, 1 Cor 11:31. (The word for "judge self" is to "discern", or "examine" and for "be not judged" is to "not come under divine discipline"). If we do not compare ourself to God's Word and confess our sin to the Father, God will discipline (correct) us (Heb 12:3-11)

3. Confession of known sin to God the Father, 1 John 1:9. As 1 John 1:7 states, then the blood of Christ cleanses us of all sin.

4. Yield, Rom 6:13 and 12:1. Placing our will under God's will. I have been in churches where "yielding" was the subject of almost every sermon, but the pastor could not tell us HOW to "yield". Just do it. I believe that when we are told to do something, we should be given the mechanics of how to do it.

5. Obey, 1 Cor 10:5, same as "yield", the subject of many sermons. How many Christians feel like failures because they are trying to live the Christian life in their own energy and by trying to do things the pastor preaches but can't tell them HOW to do?

6. Lay aside every weight, Heb 12:1. This can only be done by means of the power of God. Everything that comes between us and our loving Heavenly Father is a "weight".

7. Be in subjection to the Father, Heb 12:9. Same as "yield".

8. Lift up hands that hang down, Heb 12:12. Sin paralyzes. Get going again, back to doing divine good works by God's power.

9. Make straight paths, Heb 12:13 and Matt 3:3. Stop wasting time on out of fellowship side trips.

10. Arise from the dead, Eph 5:14. Out of fellowship, all our works are "dead works".

11. Put off the old man, Eph 4:22. The only way we can break the control of our Old Sin Nature and walk in the Spirit is 1 John 1:9 confession of sin. Our Old Sin Nature never loses any of its power, we must GROW in Christ to rise above and dominate the Old Sin Nature! Without growth in God's Word, and God's power flowing in our life, we would go back to the worst condition of our life.

12. Purify self, 1 John 3:3. Again 1 John 1:9 confession of sin removes the stains of our experiential sin.

13. Abide in Jesus, John 15:4-7. 1 John 1:9 confession of sin restores sweet fellowship with Jesus.

14. Be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit, Eph 5:18. While we are in fellowship, we are controlled by the Spirit of God.

     Isa 66:18 says that if we regard iniquity in our heart, God will not hear us (no positive answer). We cannot do any of the above actions apart from confession of sin. But, when we come boldly to the throne of God's grace and honestly admit our sin and shortcomings, in effect, we are doing ALL the above; "repenting" (changing our mind), "judging our self", we are "yielding" our self, "laying aside every weight", we are "placing ourself in subjection to the Father", we are "lifting up hands that hang down", "making straight paths", "arising from the dead", "putting off the old man", "purifying ourself", "abiding in Jesus", and we are "filled with (controlled by) God's Spirit", and have God's power to be obedient, until we knowingly sin again.

     Without first confessing our sin to the Father, I do not find ANYTHING in God's Word that we can DO, or STOP DOING that will restore us to fellowship and to the control of the Holy Spirit. Confession of our sin directly to God the Father, in the name of Jesus, is God's Grace method of staying in His will and under the control of His Spirit.

OUR PROPER "IN FELLOWSHIP" ATTITUDE

     When we are "in fellowship", we should be producing the "fruit of the Spirit" as listed in Gal 5:16-26, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control. And our attitude should be that of the Psalmist:

--- CAUSE ME to hear your loving kindness & to know the way wherein I should walk. Psa 143:8.

--- MAKE ME to understand the way, and to go in the path, Psa 119:27.


--- JUDGE ME, Psa 7:8, 26:1, 35:24, and 43:1.

--- ORDER my steps in thy Word, Psa 119:133.

--- SHOW ME thy ways, Psa 25:4.

--- TEACH ME, thy paths, Psa 25:4&5.

--- TEACH ME thy ways, Psa 27:11.

--- TEACH ME to do thy will, Psa 143:10

--- LEAD ME, and guide me for thy names sake, Psa 31:3.

--- LEAD ME, in righteousness, Psa 5:8.

  Even the desire to confess our sin and maintain our fellowship comes from God!

1. 2 Cor 7:10-11 The sorrow from God that causes a change of mind. ("metanoeo", true repentance)

2. Acts 11:18 A God given change of mind that results in a changed life. (again, "metanoeo", true repentance)

3. God works in us to will and do His good pleasure, Phil 2:13, Heb 13:21, 1 Thess 2:13,

     Stay in fellowship through instant confession of all known sin, take in God's Word, seek to live by the Word through the power of God and you will, as Peter says in 2 Pet 3:18, "be growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever, amen."!