søndag 24. mai 2015

1 Timothy 3:16-4:5 True Truth

1 Timothy 3:16-4:5

What we believe affects us deeply. It affects how we see and evaluate ourselves, how we see and evaluate others, and how we see and evaluate all that happens in the world. If we believe this is a dog eat dog world where only the cruel survive – that will lead to a certain kind of lifestyle. If we believe that there is a God in heaven to who we are accountable, if we believe that all people are valuable, created in God’s image, if we believe that we are utterly sinful – but amazingly forgiven and loved – that will lead to a certain kind of lifestyle.

That’s why the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write v14 and 15 “14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth”.

We looked at this two weeks ago, the key verses of this letter to Timothy, and saw how we need to know the truth, see the truth, and live the truth. But what is the truth?

1. Jesus is the Truth

What is the truth? The truth is the gospel of Christ Jesus as explained in chapter 1: the truth that we are sinners, we have broken God’s good law - but equally that we are forgiven “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners” (1:11). That is, indeed, a trustworthy saying!
Those are the two dimensions of the gospel: sin, and forgiveness – and we need both to see in 3D, to see the full picture.
If we only have one: forgiveness but not sin, or sin but not forgiveness – it’s like watching a 3D movie with only one eye. You’re not getting the full picture! Forgiveness but not sin is no gospel – people hear “Jesus loves you”, and they think of course he does, why wouldn’t he? There is no repentance, no acceptance of Jesus as Lord, and that leads to many who say “Lord lord”, and Jesus will respond “I do not know you”.
Sin without forgiveness leads to harsh religion – the wagging finger, the great burden you’ve got to carry to earn your salvation. And either leads to Pharisee who think they’re right with God, but aren’t, or depression, because you can’t do it.
You need both eyes – see in 3D: sin PLUS forgiveness. Then we will see that the gospel is not about us oooh I’nm so loveable or I can do it – but about Jesus, the Christ. 16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ. (Christ means anointed one – he is the promised rescuer, the redeemer).

Verse 16 seems to be a quote from a hymn that was sung in the early church, and its focus is simply Jesus. He is the mystery of our faith. Not words, not ideas, but him.

The false teachers come with empty words – in chapter 1 we saw power through genealogies, being linked with powerful ancestors. And here we see strict rules to follow to make you acceptable to God. Do not marry. Do not eat. Then you will be acceptable to God. That is teachings from demons says 4:1. False philosophies and empty ideas from the pit of hell.
But the true Gospel is not empty ideas, not power through genealogies, not mere words, it’s not following rules – but a Person, the Living God revealed in the flesh, seen in both heaven and earth.

16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory.

16 Christ was revealed in a human body is the miracle of the incarnation, that is, God becoming man. To look at Jesus was to see God himself. As Jesus said to Philip the apostle: if you have seen me, Philip, you have seen the Father. (John 14:9).
Do not be fooled by teachings from demons like that peddled by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Iglesia ni Christo, who claim that Jesus is not God and that he must not be worshipped. That is not what the Bible says.
Jesus was seen by angels, not the “other” angels, but angels – and therefore he’s not an angel. But he’s not just a man – because he was “revealed” in a human body… greater than man but not an angel – there is only God.
And when we see that Jesus is now in heaven in glory, something that is never spoken of of angels, and when we see that the mystery of our faith is not that Christ reveals “Jehovah” the God behind Jesus, but that he himself is the mystery of our faith, and when the hymn calls us to believe not in Jehovah or the Father or God but in Jesus – I think we can safely say that the apostles, the early church, tell us that Jesus was God revealed in the flesh. That is a mystery indeed! Hallelujah! What a God we serve!

The Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:3 (ESV) ...[E]very spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.
Our faith is focussed on Jesus. He is our good confession. He is the centre of our faith. Jesus is not a conduit (a pipe through which we flow to the real God). He is not a messenger. He IS the message. Jesus did not just bring the gospel, or just tell us about the gospel – he IS the gospel. Our confession is Jesus, not Jesus said, or even Jesus did. Our confession is Jesus. That’s why this hymn, this confession of faith, is solely focussed on him. He is the mystery of faith.

16 Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. The word vindicated means “to be shown to be right”.
When was Jesus shown to be right? When was all his words and actions vindicated? When was the seeming failure of the Cross revealed to be a great victory over death and salvation for all? That’s right, when he rose from the dead.
His resurrection was his vindication. When suddenly all saw that here was indeed the son of God, the King, the Holy One of Israel. He was indeed the promised Messiah (Christ).

His resurrection changed everything.
It certainly changed the apostles! They were all depressed, huddled in a room in Jerusalem. Other followers were walking home to Emmaus, faces sad, their hopes dashed. “We thought he was the Messiah”, they said in Luke 24. And the women, well, they went to the tomb with burial spices to anoint his body. All of them thought he was dead. None of them expected him to rise from the dead.

But he did. And showed himself to them. And that was the explosive truth that spread so rapidly around the world that within a few years it had reached Rome and within around 25 years was so large, so well-known, and so hated that in 64AD the Emperor himself, Nero, burned parts of Rome to the ground and blamed it on the Christians. It was a world-wide religion, reaching even to the Emperor of Rome, within about 20 years! That is the power of the resurrection life!

Not surprising that the hymn continues that Jesus was announced to the nations and ... believed in throughout the world. It is amazing to think that when 1 Timothy was written, in about 62AD, the gospel had already spread across the whole world. So much so, that singing about Jesus being announced to the nations and believed in throughout the world was a perfectly normal part of church. That is the power of Jesus. As he said in Acts 1:8 (Mia?) “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus is the gospel. Jesus empowers the gospel. And finally, Jesus is seated now in glory, overseeing the gospel.

V16 ends, having taken us through the incarnation, the resurrection, and the spread of the gospel, to lift up our eyes to heaven where Jesus now sits enthroned in glory. He was taken to heaven in glory.

That’s what we’ve just celebrated: Ascension Day (Kristi Himmelfart). After saying “you will be my witnesses” the next verse in Acts continues: After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. 10 As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

This is the glorious saviour we love and serve. Jesus is the gospel. He who knew no sin became sin for us. What love is this when God himself comes to bear our sins, pay the price we deserve, break the power of sin and death over us and set us free. Praise Him! And now to give us His Spirit so that we can share His joy, his forgiveness, this great Gospel with everyone around us.

Now, when you have such a glorious truth to share – why would you settle for anything less?

2. Satanic lies (anything other than Jesus is not the truth)

4:1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons. 2 These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.

What does the Apostle Paul mean by writing that the Holy Spirit tells us that people will turn away? How does He tell us?

Well maybe it is a direct revelation from the Holy Spirit, but it’s probably because Paul knows his Bible! That’s where the Spirit’s voice is heard clearly, authoritatively, objectively.
The Holy Spirit reveals quite clearly what the leaders of God’s people are like in the history of Israel. You don’t really have to know the Old Testament that well to be able to say “the Holy Spirit warns us that people will turn away from the true faith”.

As the prophet Jeremiah warns us in Jer 17:9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.
And so because of greed, lust for power, a desire to be God, these men have been lured away from the truth by Satanic lies, and now they peddle those same lies. And their method is always the same: appear to be godly, be impressive, have lots of pomp and ceremony around you – maybe flashy clothes and white suits, or big religious hats, collars, cloaks, and a large silver cross – all things that say “I am a representative of God”. And then speak words that seem true, but aren’t.
“Brothers and sisters, we must obey God. He has wiped our past sins away, but now we must earn his trust by obeying his law.” To some of you that will be very familiar – you’ve heard your teachers saying those very same words – words from Satan. We were saved, but now we have to earn our salvation. They are evil words, for they deny the sovereignty of God in salvation, and make our salvation dependant not on the finished work of Christ – but on our own efforts.
It is evil because it’s close to the truth, but it is not true truth. We are called to obey, but our salvation is not dependant on our obedience. It is dependant on Christ’s obedience. We do not obey to be saved – we obey because we are saved,

Satan always wants to tear down Christ from his position of honour. Beware of any teaching which puts man at the centre, and shifts Jesus away to the side. Because that is not the Gospel. Jesus is the gospel – not you, not me, not our efforts, not the church, not even the good of mankind – Jesus. To him be the glory, and no other!

But these men are not satisfied with just taking the focus off Jesus – oh no, they need the focus on them. So then they start making up silly, unbiblical rules – not only saying “you need to follow the law”, but, just like the Pharisees, adding to the law. Do not marry, they say. Do not eat certain foods, they say. That is how you impress God.

They did not care about the gospel. They did not see the church as the pillar and foundation of the truth. They did not care about the lost. All they cared about was themselves, their own power, their prestige. How many leaders in the church today are like that? Twisting the Scriptures to enhance their own popularity...
For example. Have you heard this “Brothers and sisters, the law of God is love. Same sex marriage is an expression of love. Love is not a sin. Same sex marriage is not a sin.” Hooray. I’m sure the fact that homosexuality now so accepted in our society has nothing to do with their change of heart. In fact, I’m sure all the bishops were championing this form of “God’s love” 20 years ago.
What, they weren’t. Oh. How strange.

If I replace the word with adultery we’ll see how deceptive it is. “Brothers and sisters, the law of God is love. Adultery is an expression of love. Love is not a sin. Adultery is not a sin.”
Both adultery (sex with someone other than your spouse) and homosexual sex (sex with someone of the same sex) are sin, just like lying, murder, gossip, and all the other things we do which God would not do!
May I just point out that being attracted to members of the same sex is not sinful. That’s often not something we can control. I’m deeply attracted to my wife – but I can’t stop myself finding certain other women attractive as well – because they are - just like a homosexual man will find certain men attractive – because they are. It becomes a sin when I act on that attraction – either in my head or by actually doing it. When I give in to the attraction.
There are many godly men and women with same-sex attraction serving the Lord. If you need help thinking through this issue, have a chat with me after the service. A website www.livingout.org is a great resource. However, the real problem in the church today is not homosexuality – it is our attitude to God and to his Word.

We are saying yes to things God said no to, and saying no to things God says yes to. And it matters because we are sending people to hell. The church is the pillar of the truth – not a hotbed of lies.

3 They will say it is wrong to be married and wrong to eat certain foods. But God created those foods to be eaten with thanks by faithful people who know the truth. 4 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.

Where do we say that “in order to be a real Christian you need to accept Christ and... stop smoking, wear the right clothes, not eat meat with blood in it, not get a tattoo, not dance on Sundays, not read Harry Potter, not close your curtains.” The list goes on and on of stupid rules we can make up. And we need to repent.

There is freedom in Christ. Eat your food with thanksgiving. Enjoy life with praise. Ascetism (denying yourself things to impress God) is ungodly. Only Christ impresses God. Trying to impress God without Christ or outside of Christ is trying to impress God with sins!

Dear friends, Jesus is all that matters. Do we proclaim Jesus in the way that we live, eat, entertain, do church? Or do we proclaim Satanic lies? Where have we been guilty of saying to people “you need to do this and that and then Jesus will accept you” – perhaps not with our words but just with our actions. Is our church open to everyone?
Where do we put ourselves in the centre – our own efforts - instead of Jesus? It’s easy to slip into a DIY Christianity, where we’re judging our salvation by our performance, and comparing ourselves to others.

This is the mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory.

onsdag 20. mai 2015

Why do we gather every week to hear someone preach?

Why do we do church?
Why preach?
Christopher Ash helps us think through these two issues in two very short but very helpful articles.
1. Poor little talkative Christianity (Why preach)
2. Assembly Required (Why gather for church)

søndag 10. mai 2015

1 Timothy 3:14-15 The guide to Christian living

1 Timothy 3:14-15

Imagine that you’ve just become a Christian. For some of you, that’s pretty easy – it wasn’t so long ago! Praise the Lord! What now? What do I do? How do I live? How do I behave?

I remember my Dad telling the story about one lady who became a Christian and was so excited that she had to celebrate. So she did. The only way he knew how. And got completely smashed (drunk)!

We laugh, because it’s both so wrong and so very understandable!

But how do we know how to behave?
First: we need to know the truth.
Second: we need to see the truth lived out
Third: we need to live the truth

1. Know the truth

How do we know how to behave as Christians? Well, one of the things we do is to read the Bible. For example, 1 Timothy.

14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

The word truth there at the end of v15 is alethias (a-lay-thi-as), which means “a message that conforms to reality” that is a true message. That truth is the Gospel.

The Bible tells us how to behave. It gives us a truthful way to live – a way to live in accordance with the truth, with reality. Reality is that God is alive – he is the living God – and rules the world. The reality is that this world is under judgement, and so in many areas we see the effects of sin in our lives and in the people, towns and countries around us. War, famine, disease, disaster, murder, theft, rape, fraud, deceit, cheating, tax evasion, sexual immorality, harsh words, violence, cutting remarks, fighting – all these things which God allows, as part of his judgement on us, in order to make us realise that we have a problem. To turn us around to face Jesus.
Oh, he limits the effect of our sin – what we see in this world today is only part of our sin unleashed. Revelation tells us that it’s about a third. The full extent of our sin would be three times worse. And, if we’re honest, when we look into our own hearts and take a good honest look at what lives within us: anger, jealousy, pride, foolishness, debauchery (being wild), violence – all there just bubbling under the surface. Imagine all of that with no restraint. No God keeping it at bay.

So that’s one part of reality.

The other part is, as it says in 1:15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” Reality is that we are sinners. Reality is also that God is full of mercy and came to save sinners. He did not set down a bunch of rules and say “good luck”. No, he gave us those rules, what we call the Old Testament Law (or the Law of Moses) to show us that we can’t keep them. Because as you try to keep them, you fall short, and you realise you need some way to say sorry to God. And that’s why he gave them, at the same time as the Law, the sacrificial system in the Temple. A way to say sorry for breaking His Law, a way to be made right with God. And all that came to fulfilment in Jesus Christ: who both kept the Law fully, perfectly, and then died as a sinner, a Law-breaker in our place – so that he could be our perfect sacrifice.

So we don’t have to pretend that we are good when we are not. Drop the pretence. Turn to God. Cry out for mercy. And accept his forgiveness. Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners. 1:16 Paul continues God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honour and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Praise the Lord! Now friends, this is the Gospel, the truth that we have been given. This is what dominates our lives. It guides and steers us through every word, every action. I am a forgiven sinner.

Has anyone here watched a 3D movie – either the new ones with the fancy glasses or the old ones with the blue and red lenses? Have you ever shut one eye, and looked, and then shut the other eye, and looked? What happens? You see two slightly different pictures (or two different colours). Two perspectives on the same scene. That’s what it’s like to live as a Christian. We have two perspectives on reality at the same time – and seeing both gives us the full picture of reality. We are sinners. We are forgiven. We are depraved. We are perfect in Christ. We are unholy law-breakers. We are holy, with lives lived in perfect praise to our Father. That is who we are.

Know the truth.

But how do we work out that truth in practice. What does it look like to live as a sinner made perfect by Christ. Well, that’s why we have each other: the household (or family) of God.

2. See the truth (lived out)

14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

You see, it is important the way we relate to each other in church. Because most of the time we don’t do what people say – but what they do. So the way we interact with each other is important. You’ve all heard my Dad tell the story of how he was drawn to Christ through Gordy and his relationship with his wife and children. Seeing how Gordy behaved said “This is Christ in action” – and my Dad wanted to know more. It matters how we behave. Imagine if Gordy’s wife had been all up in his face with “don’t you be telling me what to do and thinking you’re all that” – or if Gordy had just ignored his children, or spoken harshly to his wife.
Our behaviour matters.

Because we do what other people DO, that’s why chapter 3 is so specific on the CHARACTER of the elders and deacons – the leaders in the church. Because as your leaders go, the church goes. Did you notice last week that there was only one “skill” required: “Able to teach”. All the rest concern character.
The most important thing for a leader of a church is not dynamic up front, ability manage a team well, fantastic people skills, and so on. It is their character. Because what they do, we do. No pressure!
I feel it. If I mess up, it affects us all. I hope you are praying for the leaders in this church. Without Christ, we are lost. Pray for us.

It’s a lot like being a parent. You can say “don’t swear” or “put your shows away” as much as you want – but if YOU swear, or don’t put your shows away… what will your children do?
Your children will do what you DO not what you SAY.
By the way, if you haven’t heard last week’s sermon on chapter 3, get it from our website when you get home, sit down, and listen to it. It isn’t a boring sermon on “church leadership” but it is a great sermon on the power of the Gospel in the church – in our lives as ordinary Christians.

Because what did we see last week? Elders, deacons, and Christians. The requirements of leaders in the church is that they must be Christians and that their lives must show it. There was nothing required of church leaders that doesn’t apply to every Christian. You must be a faithful husband, self-controlled, living wisely in a respectable way (basically a good citizen), and have a good reputation. Is any of that not required of all of us? Being hospitable (having guests in our home) – our homes should be open, generous, we should always be welcoming people. Not a drunkard, or greedy or miserly (the opposite of generous with money and things). Gentle, not argumentative, not violent, with a family, children, who respect him, as well as generally a good reputation amongst non-Christians.

A whole bunch of people, living like that – now that’s attractive. That gets people asking “what is with these people”? And it helps each of us when we see our brothers and sisters acting in this way. Before I had kids I watched how Christian men brought up their kids. When I sat at the dinner table I learnt a huge amount just seeing them interact. Oh, that’s what Ephesians 6:1-2 “bring up your children. When you hear guys praying you think “wow, that’s what 1 Timothy 2 was talking about: lifting up holy hands in prayer. That’s how you do it”. You see the women in the church – the way they act, the way they dress, the way they are with their family, and you think “wow, that’s what it means to be a godly women, like in chapter 2”
We see the truth lived out.

But, if we’re not spending time together, we can’t learn from each other, influence each other, encourage each other. The church is our lifeline.

But v15 “how people must conduct themselves in the household of God” doesn’t just mean how we behave on a Sunday in this room. It’s how we are, with each other, out in the world. Because it says God’s household not God’s house. There is no such building which is the “house of the Lord” or “God’s house”. So please don’t call the church building the Lord’s house or the sanctuary – as if it is somehow holy. No. God teaches us that we are in fact the house of the Lord – since He through His Spirit, lives in us. We saw that when we read Ephesians. Here in Timothy, the picture is us as God’s household.
My household consists of myself, Debby, Kristin, Kaleb, and now Eowyn. It is those people or animals who live in my house. My family. I am the head of the house: the provider, the guardian.

It is the same with God’s household. We are his householders – those who live under his protection and his provision. We are his family. Isn’t that amazing?

Isn’t it a fantastic picture? All joined together, united, a holy family, with God as our Father. We join together for the big family meal on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s (or Monday’s if you’re a Mom with a baby!) – and the rest of the week we’re out in the world – but we’re still family, Still connected. We don’t stop being family when we walk out of the door! When my son waves goodbye and opens the gate on the way to school he doesn’t suddenly stop being my son.

We see each other, we learn from each other as we’re in each others’ homes, as we serve each other at work or at the shops, as we meet each others needs, as we pray for each other, as we meet together each week.

But this brilliant picture doesn’t work so well if we’re all half-hearted with our commitment to each other – to the church – does it? If I’m half-hearted with my commitment to church, what is the truth that others, my brothers and sisters, are seeing? Come if I feel like it. Not too important. I don’t really care about you. That’s not truth – that’s a lie.

You see, being part of a family is both a privilege and a responsibility! If I’m never at home, if I’m never spending time with my family, I would be a terrible Dad. If I didn’t care about my Mom and Dad, I would be a terrible son. Being part of God’s family comes with responsibilities.
And that can be annoying. We’ve got to love each other. We find ourselves caring about each other. Being involved in each other’s lives. We have noisy kids ruining our quiet services. We have people moaning about our noisy kids ruining our coming to church! You know, sometimes it would a lot easier just to check out. Lock ourselves away. Not care about each other.
But that’s not the Gospel is it? That’s not how God treats us so how can we treat each other like that. We have his Spirit, and He gives us the strength to bear with one another in love. To carry each others’ burdens. To rejoice with each other and go through suffering together. We are a family.

We need to see the truth – and others need to see the truth in us.

3. Live the truth.

3:15 [The household of God] is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

This letter is written to the church: the leaders and the members, to tell us how to behave in as a church. Why does it matter how we behave? Because it is not our church, but the church of the living God. And because this church, the church, the worldwide body of Christ, including the little part of it meeting here this morning: we are the pillar and foundation of the truth.

We carry this truth: the truth that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. We are a pillar standing strong. We are a secure foundation - strong and sturdy to build your life on. That’s our job as a church. So why would you preach, teach, live out, anything other than the Word of God? Jesus’ word will never fail – but everything else will. The church must be a solid strong foundation and support.

But the word there “foundation” has another meaning. The sense of a fortification – that is, a supporting wall or defensive structure. Part of our job is to defend the truth. That is by preaching the gospel, by telling those who preach a false gospel to keep quiet, by living such good lives that people see how attractive the gospel is. You know, this church is getting a reputation because of the way we care for each other. Because you guys see when people are in need, and you go and meet their needs. That’s fantastic. People genuinely care about each other. Praise the Lord.

That is defending the truth. It’s not setting up guns to shoot at people from inside our little castle. Ooh, he’s evil. Pow. We do not gather and look inward. The way to defend the truth is to live it – out there. To love each other. To share the gospel with other. Let them see the outworking of Christ in our lives.

We need to know the truth. We need to see the truth. And we need to live the truth,

That’s why we need to be involved in a church – to regularly attend the services and Bible studies so that we HEAR the gospel truth – to be reminded of the reality in which we live.
And to SEE the gospel in action in each others’ lives, at meetings and in daily life. As we are in each others’ homes and see the gospel in action.

And we need to display that, show that to others. For example Hospitality – opening your home to others: that’s a powerful witness. Let people see your lives.

Now I know what you’re thinking. But I’m not good enough. I’m a failure. I get things wrong. Yes, but you’re looking through one eye. In 2D. Open both eyes, see in 3D, and see that God is also working in and through you,. You’d be surprised at how much of Christ people see. Just look at v 15 again, and where it says “this”, put your name : Daniel is part of the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

We part of it! Isn’t that exciting. And even our failures – God uses to show his grace. One final story before I close. It’s from the book “Thank God it’s Monday” and a guy was taking stationery from work – like a lot of people did. Bit of paper, few pens, and so on. One day, the Holy Spirit convicted him that it was wrong, and he felt that he had to confess to his boss. But he thought “what will that do to my witness”. He’d been trying to get his boss along to church, talk about Jesus, but got nowhere. And outing himself as a petty thief wouldn’t exactly make things better! But the Spirit, He does not let us off so easily, and so this man eventually went into his bosses office, confessed that he’d been taking office supplies, and apologised. His bosses’ response shocked him. He said “Oh I’ve known for ages you’ve been doing that – quite a few do. But no-one has ever just come in and confessed and apologised. If that’s the kind of person your Jesus can produce, I want to know more.

The power of saying sorry, of confessing your sins to non-Christians. Don’t underestimate it. We are sinners. We’re forgiven. We can do that. Most non-Christians can’t, because they’re too busy trying to cover up their sin. For us, Christ has dealt with it. We have nothing to fear.

So, know the truth: you are ridiculously sinful, and amazingly loved.

See the truth: be in church, be with your brothers and sisters, see the truth in action. And recognise that you too are showing the truth in how you live.

And live the truth. Get people in your home. Be honest at work, at the sports club, wherever it is – let people see something of the work of Christ in you. Don’t worry that you’re not perfect – Christ will shine out whether you realise it or not.

Ask others. Ask others how you’ve changed.