It seems unthinkable that the profile that Paul described to Timothy fits so many people not just in the world today, who have no relationship with God, but also people in the church professing to have relationship with the King of kings. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, without self-control, headstrong, are characteristics that are totally opposite the signs that communicate relationship with God. In fact these characteristics are evidence of a culture and mindset that separates us from God, and thus the power to live as God has called us to live.
We have allowed the practices of the world to seep into the church and take our attention off of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, off of what He has taught us to teach others, and to put in to practice. We wonder why we are not able to experience the power of a victorious life through Christ Jesus, when we have invited and incorporated evil into the house of God. Jesus quotes the prophet Daniel in Matt. 24:15 when he referred to the abomination that brings desolation. “So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand.”
*In 167 B.C. a Greek ruler by the name of Antiochus Epiphanies set up an altar to Zeus over the altar of burnt offerings in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. He also sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. This event is known as the abomination of desolation.
In Matthew 24:15, Jesus was speaking some 200 years after the abomination of desolation described above had already occurred. So, Jesus must have been prophesying that some time in the future another abomination of desolation would occur in a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Most Bible prophecy interpreters believe that Jesus was referring to the Antichrist who will do something very similar to what Antiochus Epiphanies did.
1 John 4:3b declares “that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is in the world.”
When we bring influences of the world into the house of the Lord and try to call them holy we are presenting the abomination that brings desolation. Many of our churches today are bringing in Halloween pumpkins and encouraging children to go out in their neighborhoods and demand a trick or a treat, and sometimes they run into evil of razors and glass in their fruit or candy.
We bring Christmas trees into our sanctuaries and we sing, “Oh come, let us adore Him,” as we stand around it, when the Word of God clearly states that we ought not do so.
3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.
4 They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. (The tree is not alive, and the tree is not self-existent nor eternal, it had to be born.)
We want to invite Peter Cottontail off of his bunny trail, onto the road de la Rosa. But Peter Cottontail didn’t die on the cross for you, and the rabbit didn’t die on the cross for me. His chocolate eggs can’t save me, and his colored eggs can’t raise me. To continue in these practices is to engage the very acts of abomination that brings desolation, these are the acts of the Anti-Christ, because it these are acts intended to X-God out! And it is evidence of God’s absence.
We need evidence of God’s residence in our lives.
John 15King James Version (KJV)
15 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
Making known is another way of saying teaching, instructing, informing, or revealing. Jesus is saying as my servants you would just have to do what I tell you to do, but at this moment your position has changed! You are my friends, and as a result I will teach you what has been taught to me, I will instruct you in the way that I have been instructed, I will inform you about the information that has been given me, I will reveal to you what my Father has revealed to me, because I love you and I want you to grow as I am growing. You are my friends.
Every opportunity we have to gather in the presence of the Lord is a teaching moment. It is an opportunity for God to upload and unlock the weapons, and the giftings, and the skills that we will need to win the battles as we face the vicissitudes of life! It is God’s opportunity to pour out His unction for us to function in the midst of what appears to be impossibility.
Jesus is communicating this process of uploading and unlocking in the first 14 verses of this chapter. Evidence of His residence occurs when we are connected, as branches to the True Vine, which is Christ Jesus. It is only then that we can produce much fruit. Here we see the Trinity at work in our lives. As we are connected to the True Vine, the Father begins to prune us and remove from us the things that will hinder us from growing and being fruitful as Christians. As a result of being connected the life force of the Holy Spirit indwells us and works through us to produce the fruit of the True Vine! The Apostle Paul is inspired to identify the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.
The fruit is evidence of His residence! An apple tree produces apples. A fig tree produces figs. The type of fruit identifies the tree from which it was picked. The True Vine produces Love, Peace, Patience, Joy, Kindess,Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-control. God thus blesses us with a blessed assurance of His presence in our lives.
May we be those who have evidence of His residence in our lives, who can truly proclaim, "Greater is He that is inside of me then he that is in the world." 1John 4:4 Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen