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Watch 2022 online sermons » Creflo Dollar » Creflo Dollar - Is Your Belief System Offline? - Part 4

Creflo Dollar - Is Your Belief System Offline? - Part 4

Creflo Dollar - Is Your Belief System Offline? - Part 4

Are y'all good? You still love me so far? Well, let's see if I can change that right here. John, John chapter 16, verse 8 through 9. We're still in review. There's a lot of stuff going on and we're still, all right, 16:8-9. Verse 8 he says, "And when he has come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin," he says, "because they do not believe in me". What matters is not your lifestyle, but your belief system. Now, let me put a little bit more meat on that. What matters, as in the primary focus, as Christians, the primary focus is not your lifestyle, but your belief system, because what you believe will directly influence your behavior.

See, what we've done is we've made the primary focus our behavior. What you doing, what they doing, how they're living, what they've done. But you understand the Holy Ghost, he got a plan to change all that, but he can't do nothing until you first of all make your primary focus your belief in him. See, the Holy Spirit says, "I'm going to go to work". See, we forget about the Holy Spirit. "You can't be a Christian, 'cause you're doing that". Yeah, but the Holy Ghost says, "If they believe in me, I'm going to change it". "Well, they can't be a Christian because of their lifestyle". Holy Ghost said, "Oh, but I'm working on that right now". He says, "I can do the job. I'm equipped to do the job. I just need you to believe it". He says, "I'm even working on people who don't know me. Because they don't believe me, I'm trying to convince them to believe me, and I can change the behavior".

We've got it backwards. We have churches all over the world trying to change people's behavior. I can't change your behavior, but the Holy Ghost can, if you believe in him. He can work in you. "Well, how he gonna do that"? Honey, he's got so many ways to change you, 'cause nobody knows you like he knows you, and he can go right down deep in the root of where that attitude came from, right down deep in the root where that behavior came from. You might think that's you, and that's what the devil wants you to do. He wants you to define your identity by your behavior, and God says, "No, your identity is not defined by your behavior. I have given you an identity, and you should define yourself by who I made you. I made you righteous. I made you redeemed. I did that".

But the devil wants to define you by your behavior. He says, "Now believe in me, believe in who I said you was, were, and are, and I will change your behavior. I'm working on you. I'm gonna take away your old desires, the stuff that used to be a habit, that habit that you had, that you just couldn't seem to break. You prayed, and you prayed, and it seems like it was too late". Then you turn it over to Jesus, and then you stop worrying about it, gave it over to the Lord, and he worked it out. Oh, yes. But you keep running into, "But what do I do? But what do I do? But how do I change it"? You can't! How many times you done tried to change your stupid, nasty, in the booth, in the back, in the corner, in the dark habits that don't nobody know about but you and Jesus? You know what he's waiting for? He's waiting for you to stick your hands up and say, "I surrender".

You know the greatest day of your life? You know the greatest day of your life is when you stick your hands up and say, "I quit, God, help me". And he said, "About time you out my way. I just need you to believe me and renew your mind". Renew your mind with this gospel. The more you renew your mind with this gospel, you're going to start thinking in line with this gospel, and it's gonna keep on. It's gonna work, and I'm gonna do some stuff in you. You're going to wake up one day, and you might have this little thought in the back of wanting to return to that, but then when you think about returning to whatever that is he's delivering you out of, you found out you lost the desire for it. And your habits have lost their value, and you don't know how you did that. You didn't do that. The Holy Ghost came in and started rearranging your furniture.

Oh, God, help me, Jesus. The solution to any and all areas of wrong behavior, the solution of toxic emotions, the solution of failure is the finished work of Jesus and hearing of the beauty and the love that God has displayed in Christ. See, you've gotta understand something. Oh. The theme is God's unmerited, abounding provision in the unrestricted operation of his love. His love is infinite. He loves you. He says, "You're restricting my love because you won't believe me. I don't need your education, and I don't need your efforts. I need you to believe my unrestricted, infinite love, that I love you so much, I'll heal you, I'll deliver you, I'll get you out of the toxicity, I'll deliver you from the debt, I'll take crazy from you, I'll take loneliness from you, and I'll fill you with joy. I'll do everything that pertains to life and godliness. My love has been satisfied. I'm no longer restricted where loving you is concerned. Because of my Son, Jesus Christ, now I can love you with no restrictions. Will you believe"?

Now, that's not what religion says. Religion says you're smart, you're intelligent, you're going to take these Scriptures, you're going to devise a little program, and you're going to do this three times a day, this four times a day, and you're going to put self-effort in there, and you're going to get involved in the gospel of performance, and then through your efforts and your sweat, then you're going to go ahead and get it done. That's religion, that's tradition, and that is a slap in the face of a loving God who will still love you in spite of yourself. See, that's the deal. We've been acting so crazy, but don't think nothing wrong with it, because our crazy couldn't stop him loving us.

All of that stuff we believed, all of our unbelief, and he still was there. He was still fighting for you. He was still doing stuff in your ignorance. And somehow you thought you were okay, because God was showing up here and there. His love moved him to do that. But it's not to ignore the truth, because you can find areas where he loved you anyway. If you understand that, say amen. Man, I don't think I'm gonna make it off the summary. Even as believers, we can sometimes believe, act, and live as if we were still in the domain of sin, can't we? Oh, I didn't hear but two people. Can't we still act and live as if we were still in the domain of sin? Okay, let me make it plain. How is it that you can be saved and still act the same way you used to act before you got saved? Yeah, you do. Yes, you do. Yes, you do.

Somebody make you mad, you still cuss them out, talking about, "Lord, forgive me". But through the gospel of grace message, the Holy Spirit continually convinces us that in Christ we have been rescued from the mess and the junk of sinful disobedient living. Look at Colossians chapter 1:12 through 13. Here's where we stopped. Let's look at this in the NLT, Colossians 1:12 through 13, now, we're picking up from where we stopped. He says, "always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son". Somebody, shout, "I've been rescued". Jesus has qualified us to live without sin. He's qualified us to live without disobedience. He's qualified us to walk in step with his Spirit within us. He's qualified us.

Now, I want to show you something. I want you to go to St. John chapter 15, verses 1 through 5, in the New King James Bible. Another way Jesus explains how God deals with those who are not producing healthy fruit... how does God deal with those who are not producing healthy fruit? Which many would view as disobedience. All right, how does he deal with those people who are not producing that healthy fruit? Tradition tells you, you know, you know, you're not doing right, so God's gonna get you. You're not bearing good fruit, so that's why you've got cancer. We're always, sin gets the credit for all the bad thing that happened.

You remember, I think it's John 9:1, there was a boy, I think, who was born blind, and the disciples came by, and they said, "Who sinned, the mother or the father, that this boy was born blind"? And Jesus answered, he said, "Neither, nobody sinned, but that my glory might be seen". And that's the thing you've gotta stop doing. When bad stuff happen in your life, you shouldn't be asking, "What sin caused this to happen? Who did sin for this to happen"? Listen to me carefully. Some of you think, "Well, you sound like we can just go out and do stuff". When you've got the Holy Ghost, and you believe, that's not going to be a part of the equation. You're not gonna want to do that, so quit going that way, as an excuse.

Now, I'm gonna use this illustration the Bible uses; and I don't know about you, but you've read it, you've heard it, but now I need to bring a picture, draw a picture, so you can really see what he's talking about. He used this illustration, because it's actually what happens in reality when you're dealing with a vine and a branch. We're going to look at a wine dresser, a viticulturalist, I believe is what it called. Now look at verse 1. He says, "I am the true vine, My Father is the vinedresser". Isn't that interesting? "I'm the true vine, My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away..."

Underline that phrase, "He takes away". Religion teaches you that if you don't bear fruit, God's gonna take you away. You know that can't be right. You know that can't be right. You get saved, and if you don't bear fruit, you're taken away. That means you're no longer saved anymore. You know that's not right! But it's okay that tradition tells you he's gonna punish you, he's gonna get you, he's gonna get you. You've gotta renew your mind where that's concerned. He says here, "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you: As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you're the branches". Somebody, shout, "I'm a branch". Say it again. "I'm a branch".

Okay, can a branch survive detached from the vine? See, you want to know that? Go home and get something and break the branch off. He's using this illustration to illustrate our relationship with him. I'm the branch, he's the vine. Attached to him, the vine is going to bear the fruit that'll come through the branch. It doesn't work the other way around. The branch, I don't care how hard the branch work, it ain't never gonna bear no fruit without the vine. Say out loud, "I need Jesus"! "Well, I'm gonna be good. Well, I'm gonna be patient, where I'm gonna be loving". Not without the vine.

I don't care how many times you come to church. I don't care how many Scriptures you memorize a day. Without the vine, without a personal relationship with him, you ain't bearing nothing. You're gonna still be the same old hellacious person you've been all your life, trying to be the vine, trying to be like the vine without the vine. You just, you just, you just starter wood, that's all. That's the only thing you good for is burn up. All right, now, listen to me carefully. Pruning and being cut off or taken away, man, that sounds pretty painful, right? And the legalist, religious traditional legalist people love to use this verse to say that unless we are obedient, we will find ourselves under the punishment of God. If you're not obedient, you will find yourself under the punishment of God, because they're still defining obedience by actions.

However, the Scripture says no such thing. In fact, the Greek term for cutting off these unfruitful branches, they're unfruitful branches that are attached to the vine, and the Scripture says, and this is, I think, the Greek word here for cutting off or taking off is the word airo, A-I-R-long O, airo, which in this context it means, this is what airo means, this phrase, to take away or to cut off, it means (write this down) to elevate, to raise up, to lift up, to elevate, to raise up, to lift up. So, what is he saying? "Every branch in me that does not bear fruit," he will elevate that branch, he will raise up that branch, he will lift up that branch.

Now, in order to really understand why he chose to use this illustration, let's check out what vine trainers do. And, you know, you can do it yourself. Go to Wikipedia and look up vine training, and it'll give you how they operate. It reveals that grape vines to not produce fruit unless they are exposed to sunlight. It's gotta be exposed to sunlight. Now, if you don't train or lift the branches, then excessive shading will inhibit fruit production, and it will encourage disease. But the wine grower would never throw away a branch, for that would be like amputating part of that vine. Unfruitful branches are lifted out of the dirt, lifted out of the shade, redressed so they can be nourished by the sun. All God is saying is if you're not bearing fruit, my job is to train you. I've gotta elevate you. I've gotta lift you up out of the shade. I've gotta put you in a position where you can get some sunlight.

So, the Greek word for pruning that's used in John 15 more accurately is translated as cleanse, and you see him mentioning that in those first four or five verses. So, this is why Jesus declares to his disciples who have been regularly hearing, he said to his disciples who have been regularly hearing his Word, he says, "You're already clean," in verse 3. He says, "You're already clean. You're already clean". He's talking about, "You are hearing my Word. You're already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you".

So, it's not just hearing any sermon, or it's hearing the sermon of the gospel that you're already clean. You're being pruned. Every time I sit up here and preach this gospel of grace, you're being pruned. You're being lifted up to the sunshine. You're being elevated where the sun shines. Your thinking is not in the dark anymore. It's elevated up here, so you can get some light. After the disciples came back from being sent out in Luke 9 and 1. I mentioned that, but this is when the disciples were sent out with power and authority to heal, the authority to cast out devils.

You remember Jesus sent them out and says heal the sick and raise the dead. Okay? They started arguing after they finished that mission. And their argument was, "Who's the greatest amongst us"? They had an argument. All right, now they're in the shade. They're in the shade. They're coming back. "Well, who's the greatest now? I cast out three demons. How many did you cast out, John? I got four people healed. How many did you get healed"? He says, "Dude, you're in the shade now". You're in the shade now. And in Luke 9:46-48, Jesus said something. He's responsible for lifting them up and elevating them. He started pruning away, pruning away that bad thinking. And can I show you this real quick?

Luke chapter 9:46-48, I don't want to go, Jesus told them, "Let the greatest among you be a servant". And in verse 46, he says, "Then a disciple rose up among them as to which of them would be greatest," 47, "And Jesus, perceiving the thoughts of their hearts, took a little child and set him by Him, and he says, said unto him, 'Whoever receives this little child in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me... has sent Me. For he who is least among you all will be grace, great.'" So, the least, he said, will be the greatest.

In another Scripture, he talks about servanthood. The least of them will be the greatest. Now, what happened when he did that? He pruned away their wrong thinking, and he lifted them up to a higher place in him. They got lifted up into a higher place in him. If you hear the gospel message being preached, so you can be elevated out of self-righteousness, be elevated out of shame, be elevated out of condemnation, be elevated out of pride, then you're not gonna bear fruit. But the thing that's gonna elevate you is the preaching of this gospel of grace. That's the point I'm trying to make. The thing that's gonna elevate you is the preaching of what Jesus has already done for you. It's the preaching. You've gotta start thinking higher than what you're thinking. You keep thinking based on religion that you got at your mamma and them church when they, you know, you were working real hard to do what you needed to do to try to please God.

And what you don't understand is God is already pleased. The day you got born again, he called you his beloved. You are loved by God, and you keep trying to do stuff to get him to love you. You are loved by God. Say out loud, "I am loved by God". Okay, the day you believed that you're loved by God, then that's the day you'll believe that when any mess takes place, it's not gonna, you're not gonna worry about that because "I'm loved by God". The doctor say you're sick, "Uh-uh, I'm good. I'm loved by God". You have lack in your life? "It's good, I'm loved by God". And I tell you what the evidence of your faith is gonna be your rest, when you can enter into rest. I can rest, because I know I'm loved by God. I can rest when I'm sick, 'cause I know I'm loved by God. I can rest when I lost my job, and I know I'll get another one, 'cause I'm loved by God. I can rest, because relationship problem, but it's gonna be all right. I know I'm loved by God. I can rest.

And that's what the issue is. Church people aren't at rest! Church people are not at rest! Some of the most frustrated people I meet in the world are ones who go to church! Why are they not at rest? Why are they still feeling inferior? Why do they still feel like they're not accepted? Why do they still feel like they're going to hell? Why do they still feel the way they feel? Because they don't believe God loves them, and they're acting like the world, trying to seek acceptance, and you've already been accepted, but you won't believe it. So, we travel around in different weird lifestyles searching for what Jesus has already given us.
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