In this current election season, I’ve been hearing references to “low-information” voters. Apparently these are voters who pay little attention to the issues and just vote based on what little information they’ve heard from friends or from TV commercials.

When I heard the phrase it prompted me to think about what I’m going to call “low-information Christians.”  I’m not necessarily using the phrase derogatorily.  There are many reasons why a person may be a low-information Christian. And in some respects, we’re ALL low-information Christians.  We never truly fathom all the riches we have in Christ. That’s what’s so magnificent about the Christian life–there’s always more to discover.  So it’s not wrong to be a low-information Christian, but I do believe it’s wrong to stay a low-information Christian.  We must grow or we become stagnant and die.

In this two-part post, the second half of which will appear tomorrow, I’ve identified ten indications that you (or I) might be a low-information Christian. Let’s ask ourselves if any of these apply to us.

1. We’ve forgotten or neglected the fear of the Lord, which is “beginning of wisdom.” Low-information Christians are often clueless about the fear of the Lord. “That’s Old Testament!” they may object. But high-information Christians know that the fear of God is the fear that dispels all other fears. The fear of God is good; not something to be avoided. Psalms 19:9 tells us “The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.” We never outgrow the fear of the Lord.

 2. We’ve minimized the danger of ongoing sin in our lives. Because some of our sins are comfortable to us and some have even become socially acceptable, we become lax about sin. We forget that sin is poison to our spirit. We no longer “reckon” ourselves dead to sin as Paul urges in Romans 6. We forget that if we continue to ingest the sweet poison of sin, we become sick. We suffer needless pain. We also open ourselves to deception. Make no mistake about it: sin is a great deceiver.

 3. We don’t rightfully discern the times. Much has been made in recent decades about the return of Christ. Will it be in our life time? I don’t know the answer. I used to think so, but now I realize that every generation needs to be prepared for that day. The parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 is as relevant to us today as it was when Jesus spoke it. Readiness for whatever happens is the mark of a high-information Christian. We need to be discerning the times in which we live and order our lives accordingly. For example, during the present day, we see Christians in other lands being killed for their faith. Will it happen here? Indications are that the small amount of persecution we suffer in this country may increase as other philosophies (including militant atheism) take hold. Are we ready for that experience, should it come?

Failure to discern the times is another invitation to deception. In times like these false doctrines swirl like autumn leaves and those with “itching ears” are all too ready to jump into the whirlwind. High-information Christians understand the times. They discern when deception is taking place and refute it with the truth.

 4. We’ve become entangled with legalism. Legalism is trying to be acceptable to God based on our good deeds or religious actions. But legalism is the enemy of the grace of God. We may feel satisfied by our good works, but unless those good works are motivated by the Holy Spirit within us and done through faith and love, they count for nothing. (See 1 Corinthians 13). A good healthy dose of understanding the grace of God will cure legalism. But be aware that the purpose of grace is not that we may continue in sin, but as we read in Titus 2:12…

[Grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…

If our understanding of grace isn’t teaching us to say no to ungodliness, then we’re missing the whole point of grace. As I’m working on a book proposal for The Magnificent Christian Life, I’m calling one chapter “Magnificent Grace,” but more and more I’m realizing that title may be worthy of a book itself. The grace of God is truly magnificent!

 5. We are in love with this world. God tells us plainly that to be in love with this world is to be at enmity with Him. That’s a hard saying, isn’t it? But if we’ve pursued the world and been burnt by the experience, we understand the fleeting nature of this life. We then set our affections above. Again, this is an area that can lead to deception. I wonder how many low-information Christians are enamored of the world’s fads to the extent that they watch movies or TV shows (or read books) with heavily occult themes. It’s unwise in the extreme to buy into evil themes in our entertainment. What we put into our mind will affect the way we think—and act. I cringe when I see young kids or teens experimenting with occultism, knowing its power to destroy.

Tomorrow I’ll post the remaining five indications that you or I could be a low-information Christian.

If this post resonates with you, feel free to share it on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Today I feel like offering a reminder to us all—me included—about the disastrous nature of sin. Here then are a dozen things we all need to remember about sin and its designs on us. I’m working on an outline for what I hope will be my best book yet, The Magnificent Christian Life. In that book I’ll amplify all these points. Until then, I hope this shorthand version will be helpful.

1. Sin hurts us both short-term and long-term. We usually don’t see that when we’re tempted. It’s only later that the sad effects sting us.

2. Every Christian is a delivered Christian. We have been (not will be) delivered from the power of sin.  Read Romans 6.

3. We must carry our deliverance (and freedom) from sin with us 24/7.  Temptation comes at the oddest times. We must always walk securely in our freedom from sin’s power.

4. Always remember: “You do not have to do this anymore.” Forget the common excuse “I couldn’t help myself!”

5. Sin is progressive and it starts in the mind.  A suggestion, a thought, a visual image.  And in the mind is where it must stop.  In Romans 12 Paul tells us renew our mind. A renewed mind is a strong deterrent to sin.

6. Develop the ability to stop sin in its tracks at its first appearance. Sin is like a cancer that grows. Cut the cancer out when it first starts and you will avoid the eventual disaster that accompanies sin.

7.  Never toy with sin.  Never. Sin always promises more than it delivers and takes away more than it gives.

8. Know the unique strategies Satan has designed for you and know God’s specific remedy for each strategy. “We are not ignorant of [Satan’s] devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

9. Avoid temptation zones: places, people, or things that set you up for a fall.

10. Remember, temptation is only effective against the “old nature.” Temptation has no power over your new nature. Abide in your new life, walk in the Spirit, and sin will have no power over you.

11. We overcome sin by the promises of God. Learn those promises—especially the ones that relate to your temptations. Live those promises. If you need help understanding how God works through His promises, get a copy of Power in the Promises.

12. Lastly, remember that Jesus was and is a friend of sinners. He is not embarrassed by your sin. It was for sin that Jesus came to set us free.  Self-condemnation for sin is not from God. Never allow Satan to have a foothold of condemnation in your life. If you’ve sinned, confess it, be forgiven (you are forgiven) and move on. Don’t stay stuck under the black cloud of guilt and condemnation.

I hope this helps someone who is struggling with sin.

A few months ago I made a decision. At the time I thought it was the right decision. Now, I have my doubts.  In the scheme of things, it wasn’t in any way a life-altering decision, though it was important.  Nor was it a matter of sin or disobedience. Nor did I have the wrong motives for deciding as I did. It was just a matter of taking the wrong fork in the road.

For the past few weeks I’ve been going over that decision in my mind, replaying how and why I made it, and wishing I had made a different choice. But today the light bulb went on and I realized an important truth I too often forget:  God always redeems my “wrong” decisions when I submit them to Him in faith.

It’s true. I can look back on many decisions that, although perhaps wrong in my mind at the time, were nonetheless eventually redeemed by God.

Now that I’m past the regret stage of that recent decision, I can look forward with anticipation to how God will redeem my choice. See, when facing an important decision, it doesn’t matter so much which choice we make if it’s a decision made with full trust in God—either at the time of the decision or at some point afterward. In my case, I made the decision hastily. If I had waited longer, I might have made the “right” decision.  But now I’ve come to the place where, realizing my mistake, I can shift gears from focusing on my wrong choice and instead trust God with my “mistake.” I know by faith that God turns any wrong decision into the right decision.

Is there a wrong decision you’ve made—either recently or in the distant past?  No worries. It’s time to let go of whatever feelings you’re harboring about that decision (guilt, regret, anger, self-doubt, etc.) and be free to watch God bring full redemption out of that decision. I want to encourage you to offer up your entire situation—the decision and its aftermath—to God in prayer. Then just wait and watch…in faith. God will keep His promise to redeem.

I just hope I remember this the next time I make a poor decision.

“Then they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer” (Psalm 78:35).

Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, (2 Corinthians 3:5 NASB).

When I was still in my teens, I began to be only too aware of my many inadequacies. At the time—being a typical teenager—it was not good news to realize just how “inadequate ” I was.

But at age twenty I became a Christian and as I grew in my faith, I began to see that my sense of inadequacy had been a gift from God all along. I saw that God’s greatest work in a person’s life is to bring about a sense of personal bankruptcy of spirit. That was certainly true for me. Every revelation of my own inadequacy (of which there were many!) brought about God’s purpose for me—and that was to allow a far greater adequacy to come into my life from God.

We really can do nothing of value in ourselves. This is taught over and over in Scripture. Paul believed there dwelt “no good thing” in himself (Romans 7:17). Jesus told us “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, ESV).

We can do nothing?

“Nothing” is a hard word for us to hear….unless God has already brought us to that grand realization that HE is the supplier of the life in us that brings about good. We can’t bring it about ourselves. We are empty. Inadequate. But thank God for that realization. It’s only by seeing our own inadequacy that we are enabled to be filled to overflowing with His adequacy.

If you’re in the midst of a revelation of your own inadequacy, it’s time for you to rejoice. This revelation is from God. And it’s only the first half of the revelation. The second half is when He allows you to see your true (overflowing!) adequacy in Him.

I have even more good news for you. God’s revelations of our own inadequacies (and His adequacy) will never end in this lifetime. And for that, we can be thankful.

“True prayer is an awareness of our helpless need and an acknowledgment of divine adequacy.” Ray Stedman