Many good people who consider themselves Christians are convinced they are going to heaven but they are sadly mistaken. Even though they are not indulging in gross sin of any kind and are doing many good deeds, their zeal for good things has pushed aside the things of God.
Becoming so engrossed in building your business, advancing your career, providing for your family can take you away from pursuing the deeper things of the spiritual life. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This is not a suggestion, it is a commandment. Jesus was saying, “If you seek the Lord first, he will take care of all the things you’re toiling over. But you must make him your primary focus!”
The apostle Paul said, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:2-3). Again, this is not a suggestion but a commandment. The meaning is, “Direct your focus, or interests, on things above. Set your attention and concentration single-mindedly on the things of God — immovable, intractable.”
God does not demand that we sell our possessions, quit our jobs and become like monks, giving ourselves completely to meditation and prayer. But he does require that we choose to spend time in the Word and in prayer. He also says we are to gather together with fellow believers: “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
What takes priority in your life? Who does the waiting in your life: your personal endeavors/pleasures or the Lord? This is a personal choice! We must heed the warnings of Scripture lest we become so busy that we neglect the most important thing — time in his presence, seeking his face and growing in him.
God the Father appointed his Son Jesus to become a high priest for us in glory. Indeed, Jesus is in glory right now — as both Man and God — on our behalf. He is arrayed in the garments of a high priest and stands before the Father interceding for us.
No doubt the Father takes great pleasure in having his Son at his right hand, but the Bible does not say Jesus ascended for the sake of his Father. Nor does it say he ascended to regain his glory. No, Scripture says Christ ascended to heaven on our behalf as a high priest. “Christ … entered … into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).
John caught a glimpse of Jesus in his ministry as our High Priest in glory. He writes that Jesus appeared in the midst of seven candlesticks, representing his church, and ministered among them wearing a particular garb: “Clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band” (Revelation 1:13).
Exodus 30 gives us a wonderful picture of the ministry of the tabernacle and the high priest. An altar made of gold stood just before the entrance to the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. Incense was placed on the altar and burned at all times. Aaron, the high priest, took care of the lamps and wicks every morning and every night. Throughout all of Israel’s wilderness journeys, the golden altar filled the Holy Place with a cloud of sweet incense and the fragrance was constantly rising to heaven (see Exodus 30:7-8).
In the Bible, incense represents prayer and the ever-burning incense on that altar in the Holy Place represents the prayers of Jesus while he was on earth. Jesus prayed constantly — in the morning and evening, in solitude, in the mountains. John 17 is all about Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and his people who followed him and believed in him, yet he also prayed for those “who will believe in Me” (17:20). What a powerful truth—Jesus’ words include you and me. He was praying for us even when he walked this earth in the flesh.
Beloved, this prayer that Jesus prayed for us did not vanish into thin air. It has been burning on God’s altar all this time and God accepts his Son’s prayers for each of us. Our conversion, our salvation, is the result of Jesus’ prayers. Hallelujah!
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).
Jesus — the Messiah — healed, delivered, raised from the dead, cast out demonic spirits, walked on water, delivered from sin, and preached the truth of God like no other. He spoke with authority and deeply loved his disciples. So how could it possibly be better that he go away? The disciples could not imagine how this could be an advantage for them.
Jesus softened the blow of his announcement by assuring the disciples that the Holy Spirit would do great things for them and all mankind. “When he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged” (16:8-11).
Jesus implied that the Holy Spirit was to be a helper and would do even more than he had done while he was on earth. He would convict the world of sin, their need of a Savior, and that’s good. But he would also convict believers of righteousness. He was talking to followers of Jesus and saying that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their righteousness.
So, once you have met Jesus and he has washed you by his blood and cleansed you from all unrighteousness, he has taken you from the kingdom of darkness and delivered you into his marvelous kingdom of light. And now the role of the Holy Spirit is to convince you of who you are in Christ Jesus — to convince you of your righteousness! Hallelujah! You and I need this convincing every single day because when we fail, we might be tempted to just give up and go back.
The Holy Spirit is there to convince you not to entertain thoughts of giving up. He lovingly walks beside you to assure you that you do not belong back in that kingdom of darkness because Jesus has made you clean. He loves you and has made you righteous!
“My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). Now Paul was anything but a weak man in the natural; in fact, he was a leader among leaders. He even once declared that concerning works of the law, he was blameless (see Philippians 3:6).
I would not want to listen to a preacher who has no personal testimony of the miraculous power of God at work in his or her life. Paul was somebody you could look at and say, “There is a power touching my heart that I know cannot come from this physical vessel. It must be from the Spirit at work inside of this one who is speaking to me. Lord, let that be my portion in the days ahead!”
As a new generation of Israelites was about to go in and possess the Promised Land which others had forfeited through their unbelief, they went with the instruction that God gave to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor” (Joshua 6:2). Joshua got hold of that word, obeyed it, and led the children of Israel into the land of promise.
Are you are tempted to think of all the things you are fighting to get through? Begin to think, instead, about all the things God has done. Negative voices that are not provoking you to faith will lead you to die in a spiritual wilderness. Meditate on his Word today and be confident in him!
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
The foundational truth of Christianity is justification by faith. You will never know true rest and peace until you are convinced that your own works of righteousness can never make you right in God’s eyes. You may feel good because of the good works you do, and you will probably enjoy a moment of victory whenever you resist temptation. You feel God’s favor on you, but the next day you fall back into sin and lose your joy. Why? Because in yourself, you always fall short. And no righteousness of the flesh will ever stand before God. We are accepted by him only as we are in Christ.
“For you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Being “in Christ” means God credits Jesus’ righteousness to us. We are accounted righteous in our Father’s eyes because of Jesus. All our sins are washed away because of his work, not ours!
Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). We are to break from this world completely and be conformed to Christ alone.
Beloved, Jesus didn’t die just to take you to paradise; he died so that every day you could live in beautiful, close fellowship with the Father. You can talk to him, listen to him, ask him to lead you, guide you, tell you where you’re wrong, convict you of sin — all because he abides in you by his Spirit!
Yes, Jesus died so that we can enjoy deliverance in and from this present world. This simply means:
All you need in order to walk in this marvelous freedom is a faith that yearns to know him in whom you have believed and a hunger in your heart for him!