I thought this week would be the end of the series on Christians dying with unrepented sin, but there are too many examples, so I'll finish next week - dealing with the Lord judging us if we don't judge ourselves.
It seems there are 2 extremes of teachings often heard - the 'Jesus never judges us, sin is past, grace is here so I'm not accountable to anyone' teaching, and the 'God is just waiting for me to step out of line and then POW, He will judge me' teaching. Let us find balance through the Word.
Jesus does judge Christians
In I Corinthians 11:29-32 Paul says of those prejudiced people: "For all those who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgement against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the rest of the world."
Unless one wishes to pick and choose which verses of the Word they believe are for today (and some do), this passage says the Lord WILL judge a Christian IF:
1) The person refuses to judge themselves.
2) Their refusal to judge themselves puts them in a position of potentially losing their salvation - '...when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.'
As I stated last week, when you got saved you judged yourself. When you admit sins as you commit them, you are judging yourself. Therefore you are not in danger of being judged by the Lord. Only those who refuse to deal with their sins to the point they could lose their salvation are potential candidates for Jesus judging them by calling them home early.
There are lesser judgements He makes as well, not salvation related but rather related to growing up in Christ, but that will be next week, so stay tuned. Today is about those who potentially could lose their salvation if Jesus doesn't step in and bring them home.
I arrived just as he died, his chest just collapsing as his last breath escaped. He had been a Christian since his teen years, and now at age 42 he was dead, an alcoholic whose liver had failed. His lifestyle was to be in bondage to alcohol for a few months at a time, to the extent he was known as one of the town drunks, then go to church and clean up his life for a few weeks or months, then he would go back to the bottle again.
I asked the Father; 'Do you want to raise him from the dead?' and I heard immediately: "No, I've brought him home lest he commit a worse sin."
In the Lord's great goodness, after years of this man's lifestyle of sin/repent, sin/repent, and not able to break through into permanent wholeness, the Lord removed His hand of grace which allowed the abuse his liver had taken through the years to be manifest in his body - his liver failed almost immediately the last time he left being sober to pick up the alcohol again.
In John 5:14 Jesus told the man who had been lame for 38 years before being healed: "Go and sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you." Jesus isn't saying the man had to be sinless the rest of his life, but rather that as a lifestyle not to sin, lest a worse thing (hell) come upon him.
That Jezebel spirit
I have a cd/MP3 series on what the Word states the 'Jezebel spirit' really is which you can get if interested, which is nothing like what is commonly taught, but my focus here is on the Lord's actions not hers. In Revelation 2:20-23 He says:
"...you tolerate that woman Jezebel...I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her fornication...Beware, I am throwing her on a bed, and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great distress and afflictions, unless they repent of her doings, and I will strike her children dead." (her followers, not literal children)
Notice the apostle John reports the same conditions as Paul does - people who are given time to judge themselves but do not, with the result of the Lord judging them, and again, sickness/affliction - but remember Paul said He does this that we are not condemned with the world. So even here we see His great mercy.
Among the believers in Corinth was a man who had a sexual relationship with his step-mother. Paul said that level of sin wasn't seen even among sinners. As stated in I Corinthians 5:1-13, no one confronted him, but rather accepted it and some even boasted of his exploit. Paul told them they should have confronted the man and dealt with it as a (house church) body. Because they did not, he had to step in to deal with it, saying:
"...I have decided to turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." v5
In other words, the Lord would remove His grace from the man's life, allowing him to suffer the consequences
of his sin, which would mean an untimely death. Whether that was illness or accident we don't know, but we do know the man's life would be cut short so that he could make it to heaven, lest he continue down the path of sin and lose his salvation altogether. 'That his spirit may be saved...' Paul said.
Notice the process - the man sinned but didn't deal with it when he had been given time to repent. Secondly, no one in the body of the local home based church confronted him. Because the man refused to judge himself, he was to be turned over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.
Let me say that this isn't something anyone can do. Paul was the apostle to the Corinthians, so he had authority before God on their behalf. I remember being in a small group praying for a relative of someone in the group, when a woman suddenly 'commanded' him over to Satan for an early death - much to the surprise of the man's relative who had simply asked for prayer for him! You cannot decide you have simply had enough of someone and think you can turn them over to Satan - the Lord won't listen to that prayer.
Turning over to Satan
In my nearly 40 years walking with the Lord I can only think of a handful of times I've been moved by the Lord to turn someone over to Satan and be taken to heaven lest they lose their salvation.
A case of mental illness, but he loved the Lord
The first involved a young man who was mentally ill. He loved the Lord, but had been kicked out of Bible school for unrestrained 'words' for people, among other behavior, leading to a stay in a mental institution. By the time he came back home and to our church, he was seeing demons nearly all the time, and tried to run them over with his truck.
The first accident he had from seeing and then trying to run over demons was about 1am one morning. He knocked on our door a little after that, having walked from the accident site. He said he saw a demon on a barbed wire fence, so tried to run him over - taking out a line of fence and damaging his truck. Over several weeks he got worse and worse, repeatedly trying to run over demons resulting in other damaged fences, driving across fields, and so on. His strong Christian parents were very concerned, and we all prayed.
Barb and I talked and prayed as his behavior continued, realizing there was only one solution, though he was only in his early 20's. Medical science had no answers, he would not or could not apply anything I had told him, and he refused to give up his desire to run demons over with his truck.
Finally I prayed a prayer I had never prayed before: "Father, we are all at an end. We don't want him to totally lose his mind, but something is clearly wrong beyond our understanding. His ultimate deliverance would be to go to heaven, for there seems no earthly cure nor his willingness to deal with it. As his pastor I ask that you remove your hand of grace and take him home, at your discretion and totally ignore me if I'm out of line." Or words to that effect.
Some 7 days later we got a call - he had died in a 1 car accident. No one knew why in the world he would drive off the side of the road right there, and at highway speed. But I did - he was chasing another demon. He died instantly when his truck hit an embankment of a creek. I was shaken to my boots that what I had prayed had actually happened.
The Sunday following his funeral, during our worship service, suddenly I saw him standing on the platform smiling at me. 2 other people saw him and several others said they were aware of him watching us that day as well. Lest you think that is weird, remember (dead) Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the apostle John saw and talked to people already in heaven in The Revelation.
Hebrews 12:1 says we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, the Word indicating they are allowed to witness parts of our lives from time to time, as in the case of Moses and Elijah in Jesus' life.
Caution - Let us not think that everyone that is sick or with a chronic condition must have some hidden sin that must be repented of, for that is not the case in scripture. But it is also true that sometimes as seen in I Corinthians 11 with the case of the prejudice in the hearts of some there, they were weak and sickly because they would not discern the body of Christ and judge themselves. My topic has a narrow application, but worth sharing on the ways of the Lord in judging believers and the whole process.
I've run out of room this week. Next week the conclusion, which will be lesser judgements from the Lord NOT resulting in an early death. Until then, blessings,