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Declaration of Dependence

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In AWANA, the children often play a game of tag where the doors, in the Sunday School area,  are the safe areas.  Any child who is “it” cannot touch the others while they are on the safe areas, that is, while they are touching the doors.  And so it goes, the one who is it chases the others and tries to touch them before they touch a door.  They sure have a wonderful time.

Now, we adult Christians play a similar game of tag with Jesus and Satan.  When we try to play this game, we will get hurt every time.  This game is a dangerous game of tag, in which we will lose unless we play with the right rules.  And, of course, the best is not to play at all, but many of us will play anyway; and that is what we will be illustrating today.

Turn to John 15:1-5. 

John 15:1-5 (NASB95)
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away (lifts up); and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

 4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

This passage is talking to Christians – those who are in Christ and Christ is in them (verse 3); they have been cleansed by Christ’s word.  For Christians, we are already clean, but we have the responsibility, from our side, of abiding, or living in Christ.

In verse 2, we see the Christian who needs to be lifted up.  The Father never discards us, because we are not bearing fruit.  He does whatever it takes so that His fruit will come out of our lives.  The Father then prunes us so we become more like His Son.  He exposes sin in our lives.  He helps us to become humble, and obedient to His will.

Verse 4 gives us the secret to a successful life in Christ.

Verse 5 states that we can do nothing without Jesus Christ.   Imagine that this pulpit is Christ and I am a Christian.  Every time I stay in touch with Jesus, Satan cannot touch me.  I am safe.  I am secure in the arms of Jesus.  But what happens when I sin?

When I sin and the Holy Spirit, or another Christian confronts me; if I become proud (fold arms), belligerent or arrogant, then I stand in defiance.  Now I am vulnerable.  Now! Satan can have his way with me.  This is a very dangerous tag game.  This is a tag game that you cannot win.  If you do confess your sin, Jesus is faithful to forgive you of that sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9).   In other words, Jesus is telling us to keep short accounts when it comes to sin in our lives. 

John 15:1-5 Without Christ you can do nothing.  We need to declare our Dependence.

Verse 6 tells us what will happen if we do not abide in Jesus.

John 15:6 (NASB95)
6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Yes, if we do not abide in Jesus, we will become dried up, lose our joy, become lifeless. 

Verses 10, 12, 14, 16-17 tell us how to abide in Christ.

John 15:10-17 (NASB95)
10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. 12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 “You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 “This I command you, that you love one another.  1 Cor 13

The only way to abide in Jesus is to obey His commands.  The one command that He gives here is to love the brothers and sisters in the faith.  As soon as we do not obey Jesus, we jeopardize our fellowship with our Lord. 

As soon as you or I sin and take up our defensive position, we take a step away from Jesus and into danger.  You begin to stubbornly evaluate “hey this isn’t so bad”, but you have not realized that you are falling from Grace.  You are not lost - because God is still faithful to His Word and if you are saved you are still saved; but you have harmed your relationship with God.  You become like the frog that was put in warm water and became comfortable to the temperature.  As the water temperature was raised slightly, the frog did not think much of it, until it was too late and the water temperature was high enough to cook him.  This is the same way sin works in the Christian’s life.  You become used to the temperature of your surroundings and think you have gotten away with that sin.  Then before you know it, the sin is ruling over you.  You are cooked; you are fallen from grace.  Now, you are capable of doing the worst evil that you can imagine.

You have 2 choices.  You can repent of your sin as God tells us in 1 John 1:9, or you can take  another step away from your Savior.  If you take another step, you are putting yourself into even more spiritual danger.  You need to make a Declaration of Dependence.   We need to get back to Jesus and state our dependence upon Him.  We need to verbalize John 15:5 - Jesus I can’t do anything in my Christian walk, without You.  I need to dwell in you.  I need you Holy Spirit to guide me.  I need to listen to You.

When you take those steps away from your Savior, Satan begins to blind your eyes (John 12:40).  Satan is the great deceiver.  Then when he gets you away from your Savior, he attacks you until you fall deeper into sin; then he becomes your Accuser.  Your only recourse is to repent (name the sin as sin and turn away from it) and to get back to your Savior, but for most of us, we need to get to the end of ourselves and have no where to turn before we come back to our Savior.

Satan tempts you, then convinces you that you are alright, then becomes your accuser.  Yes, Satan is the great Accuser of all who are righteous in God’s eyes.

Illustration #2: Don’t become an accuser.  Don’t act like Satan. 

Matthew 25:40 (NASB95)
40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

Let’s say that you are abiding in Christ; you see a brother or sister involved in sin; and you begin to accuse them in prayer to Jesus.  Your Savior will say (pull that hand back.  They already have an accuser.  They need prayer.  I showed you their sin, in order for you to have compassion on your brother/sister and that your heart would break like Mine).  Yes, you are being transformed into the image of the Son.  Galatians 6:1 tells us to be humble and help those Christians that have fallen into sin, with a humble spirit, less we too become entangled in sin and fall ourselves.  A humble Christian will weep over a fallen brother/sister and help them to climb out of the sin they are stuck in.  A proud Christian will condemn a fallen brother/sister and will become an accuser, causing division in Christ’s Church.  But God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.  God asks us to pray for all the saints.  They need prayer for power to live the Christian life and prayer to fight off the temptations of Satan.  Leave spiritual discipline to those who are called to that position – the elders of the church.  Parents, you are to discipline your children.

Gal 5:16 we need to walk in the Spirit, so we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.  Jesus walked on the earth, full of the Holy Spirit.  A humble Christian is a strong Christian who will walk in the Spirit, abiding in Christ and showing the weak brother/sister how to live victorious in Christ.  We need more Christians willing to abide in Christ, instead of seeing how far we can live away from Christ.

Paul wrote “When I am weak, then I am strong”.  Weak in ourselves, we become strong in Christ.  Have you come to the end of yourself?  Have you come to believe and trust in the promises of God’s Word?  Have you declared your dependence upon Christ?

Romans 12:1-2 tells us to renew our minds and offer our members as living sacrifices to God as instruments of righteousness.  It is the Christians responsibility to take the step of obedience.  If you are caught in a sin, you must make the effort to come back to God.  You must repent, turn around, confess your sin (that means be sick about it; agree with God on it terribleness) and come to the end of yourself  and come back to Christ.  Then you can be healed. 

Do not play a tag game with Satan.  You will lose.  He will tempt you to fall; then, if you do fall into sin, that sin will become your master; then Satan will become your Accuser. 

Why do we so often allow our allegiance to go away from our Savior and follow the temptations set before us? 

Why do we blame God, when we are the problem?   We know we are in a sinful world: we know we have Satan as an enemy, walking around trying to destroy us.  But as soon as we get in a bad situation, we blame God and turn from Him.  We turn away from our source of deliverance and turn to the one who caused us to be tempted to sin.

Why do Christians do such things?  How does this happen?  They have forgotten where they have come from.  They have forgotten what they used to be.  They have allowed one Unconfessed sin to ruin their spiritual growth.  That is what happened to the Corinthian church: as soon as they became proud and divided over who they followed (Paul, Apollos or Peter), they stopped growing spiritually and became baby Christians (1 Cor 3:3).  They needed to get back to Christ and make a Declaration of Dependence; which they finally did.

1 Peter 5:6-9 (your declaration of Dependence)

6 Humble yourselves, therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.  8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your Adversary, the Devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  9 But resist him, firm in (your) faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NASB95)  (renew your mind)
18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Gal 5:16 tells us if we walk in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 

Gal 5:19-21 give us a list of sins that are the character traits of those who are lost and do not know our Christ. 

Gal 5:22-23 give us a list of the fruit of the Spirit that are the character traits of those who do know Christ and who abide in Christ, being led by the Spirit.

In my short life here on earth, I think that I have seen the one sin that seems to entrap more Christians - the sin of unforgiveness.

What did our Savior tell Simon on this in Matt18:18-22

Matthew 18:18-22 (NASB95)
18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” 21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

With the delegated power of God comes responsibility.  God will not allow us to go around in His name and His power with chips on our shoulders.  Because every time we forgive, we stand close to Christ, until we become conformed to the image of Christ and can forgive easily 490 of the same offenses; knowing that obedience is better than sacrifice.

1 Cor 13:5 love does not take into account a wrong suffered.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, we see forgiveness also presented.

Luke 11:1-4 (NASB95)
1 It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 3 ‘Give us each day our daily bread. 4 ‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’ ”

It is time to Declare our Dependence upon Christ.   If you do not abide in Christ, you are on the way away from Christ.  It is your fault.  If you do not forgive, your spiritual stagnation is your fault.  (reminds me of Luke 15 the prodigal son.  The younger son went away into sin but confessed and came back.  The older son stayed physically with his Father, but went away with his heart into the sin of unforgiveness, which led to bitterness and hatred).  The older brother experienced the Word written in Gal 6:1-2.  His unforgiving spirit caused him to fall into the same sin of departing from his loving Father.

Col 3:13-14 (written by Paul while in prison waiting trial by Caesar)

..bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you (forgive others).  14 and beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity…..

Colossians 3:24-25 (NASB95)
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

Jesus is serious in punishing His child for doing wrong, when we are filled with God’s Holy Spirit and can read His Word to know His will.

Paul understood the importance of forgiving, as he wrote to the Corinthian church.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 (NASB95)
10 But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.

Yes, Paul was aware of this need to not play around with Satan.  Satan is the great deceiver, the great accuser, the Father of all lies.  That roaring lion who walks about seeing whom he can devour.

Yes, that one sin that seems to be rampant among believers today is unforgiveness.  We bring baggage with us from our years growing up.  We are Christians now, but we will not forgive our parents or our sibling.  This is our step away from our Savior.  Then we are vulnerable.  Now we are open to be sifted by Satan; sifted so that we are capable of committing even worse sin.  We will not obey our Lord (fold arms and step away) and confess our sin as he told us in 1 John 1:9; so we suffer for being disobedient to our Savior. 

So husbands, how are you treating your wife?  Well, (cross your arms) I am angry with her and will not forgive her for __________.  Husbands, you have taken a step away from Christ: you are not abiding in Christ.  You are not obeying His commands.  You are getting ready to fall.  Maybe you are harboring unforgiveness to your Mother, and that causes you to distrust women.  You need to go back and find your root sin, and forgive the offense and the offender.

John 15:4-5  Jesus is the vine, we are the branches.  We can do nothing with out Him.  Declare your dependence upon Him.

Wives, how are you treating your husband?  Well, (cross your arms) I will not forgive him for ________.   Wives, you have taken a step away from Christ.  You have broken your fellowship with Him.  You have opened yourself up to Satan’s influence.  Maybe you have unforgiveness toward your Father and that causes you to distrust men.  You need to go back and find your root sin and forgive that person.  You need to declare your dependence upon Jesus.

Christian, are you holding a grudge against another Christian?  You are stepping away from Christ.  You are responsible for your own spiritual down fall or spiritual stagnation.  (fold arms) I won’t forgive that person.  You become bitter.  You lose your joy.  You either get right with Jesus by confessing your sin, or you start infesting others with your bitterness. 

God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud.

Yes, it is time to make your own personal Declaration of Dependence.   

Another Illustration: So Christian, when you have a hard day at work or home; spend time with your Savior and forgive all.  Tell Jesus of your hurts, but forgive those who have hurt you.  This is the standard for this Kingdom age.  The early Christians understood this.  They could sing and praise God that they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ.  They could sing as they were escorted in the arena to be torn to pieces and eaten by wild beasts.

Another Illustration: Your Christian brother or sister does something different than you wanted in the church.  So what?  Be quick to forgive, or you will be the reason why you stop your Christian growth.  That was the problem with the Corinthian church.  As soon as they divided over who was the best preacher, Peter, Apollos or Paul, they became infant Christians again and stopped growing/maturing in Christ.

Maybe you are holding a grudge for your Mom or Dad or Brother or Sister when you were young and growing up.  Forgive that person.  That is your standard.  Abide in Jesus.

Application: Take time to read and meditate upon John 15 this week and live in Jesus, being led by His Spirit.  And may God the Father be pleased with our walk, this week.

Declare your Dependence upon Christ.  Your dependence upon Him for the power to live the Christian life.  Your dependence upon Him for forgiving all offenses.  Your dependence upon Him for your walk of holiness.

You have the responsibility to say yes to God and no to Satan.  Don’t get caught up in the game of tag with Satan for you will lose.  You must fight Satan on God’s terms.  That means you must abide in Jesus, and be continually in Him:  close to Him.  Stay humble, confess sins, love all the brothers and sisters of the faith, pray for them.  Don’t be an accuser.  Declare your Dependence upon Christ.

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