- The @YouVersion Bible App has a permanent spot on my home screen. Read, watch, listen, and share…all in a free app: bible.com/app 9 hours ago
- Do I really want to buy software, no mabber how accessible, when the author’s web site won’t work with a major screen reader? #a11y 10 hours ago
- He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be saved. bible.us/90/pro.28.26.l… 11 hours ago
- So much more here – Is Snowden a Patriot or a Traitor? — The Patriot Post patriotpost.us/editions/18668 3 days ago
- This makes me really glad we sponsor a child through Compassion International. It works! tinyurl.com/lfzdmta 4 days ago
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Tag Archives: sin
Isn’t that usually what we mean when we use the term “righteous indignation?” We’re offended at something that has been done that is so outside our moral code that we can’t imagine anyone doing it. At least that’s what we want people to think when we spout off about it. Maybe we even believe it ourselves. Maybe in a particular case it’s even true.
Even people outside the church are familiar with Jesus’ admonition not to judge lest we be judged. We misuse that little snippet of scripture in an attempt to justify ourselves or at least to forestall criticism of our actions. We don’t read the other scriptures that clarify what He’s saying. The standard you use will be applied to you, so it better be His standard.
His standard is much different than ours. His judgment is truly righteous. He looks at what is in our hearts, and that is where we are in trouble. All sin creates a separation between us and God. Though there is Biblical foundation for degrees of sin, it’s all sufficient to destroy our relationship with a pure and holy God. That’s why He had to come and save us.
Are we then not to confront sin? That’s not at all what Jesus is saying. He confronted sin, most often that of the most religious people of His day. Also read Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Co. 5.) Where we get in trouble is imagining ourselves to be superior to the one who has been caught in sin. We know we aren’t without sin, but we convince ourselves that ours are not as bad as someone else’s. We are all lost unless we fall upon the mercy of Jesus, giving ourselves to Him as He gave Himself to us.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. ” (Matthew 5:7)
We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably all said it of ourselves. Advertisements are full of it, and we’re all too ready to believe it. Is it true? Whatever “it” is, do we really deserve it?
When we speak of ourselves or someone else deserving something, we’re relying on our concept of justice to make that determination. Whether the desert is good or bad, we did something for which it is a just consequence. We may use the concept more generally regarding someone’s overall character, but character is revealed in action.
I cannot at this moment recall any time I have heard the phrase “I/You deserve it” spoken truthfully. The speaker may have believed it, but that didn’t make it true. We usually have an inflated view of ourselves and what we deserve. God tells us what we deserve through the Bible (Rom 6:23) and there’s nothing good about it. We deserve death. Every breath we take is an act of His mercy. Every good thing we have comes from Him (James 1:17.) When we start thinking this way our whole attitude changes. Demands are replaced with expressions of gratitude. Pride is overcome by humility. There is no room for jealousy. We will find ourselves glorifying Yahweh, creator and Lord of all that is and the only one who truly does deserve it.
Today: A world without Jesus, Ray Comfort answers common objections to God’s plan of salvation, the affect of illegal immigrants on elections, rising expectations and revolutions, more on net neutrality, the one thing government does best
“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.” from the Diary of Anne Frank (last entry). Your God damns her to hell after the hell she lived through. Your suggestion that she deserved eternity in hell because your God is so just is revolting.” MollyKnits
Now for a totally different subject. I suppose i should have realized this, but it came as a surprise to me this morning. We need to fix this. If we won’t send them home or keep them out the least we should do is stop counting them and adjusting voting districts based on that count.
Census data released Tuesday reflects how illegal immigration could shape the makeup of Congress, with border states and other immigration magnets registering big gains over the past decade.
A few years ago, I was in China and, through the help of a friend, had the chance to spend a few hours with a senior editor of the People’s Daily — the Communist Party’s voice, and the most influential journal in China.
The highly intelligent editor — himself, of course, a senior party man — was cool and dispassionate until we came to a discussion of the causes of revolutions. On that topic, he displayed an almost scholarly knowledge and focused in — with great passion and concern — on the dominant role that rising expectations of the people plays in starting a revolution.
When bureaucrats talk about increasing our “access” to x, y or z, what they’re really talking about is increasing exponentially their control over our lives. As it is with the government health care takeover, so it is with the newly approved government plan to “increase” Internet “access.” Call it Webcare.
I often bash government. I say it can’t do anything better than people in a free market.
But the government is unequalled in producing one thing: negative unintended consequences. Show me a government activity, and I will show you bad results that even the program’s advocates probably don’t like. Here’s one example.
When the Obama administration first went to the Supreme Court in March 2009 to explain its understanding of the First Amendment, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart said the administration believed the government could prohibit a corporation from bouncing a book off a satellite into someone’s Kindle if that communication took place within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election and if the book included words advocating the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office.
We’ve all heard that, or something like it. It probably came from your mom as she watched you swinging from that tree or flying down the street on your bike with your hands proudly waving in the air. Maybe she demanded that you stop immediately. Sometimes parents can be a little too protective, but we grow to understand the motivation. When you got older, the messages may have become more complex, but the underlying meaning was still the same. “Don’t eat too much candy.” “Don’t forget your homework.” “Be home before midnight.” “Stay away from that boy/girl.” Our parents did what they could to help us grow up to be whole and well-adjusted adults and to keep us from the many perils of life in this world until we made it there. Despite their best efforts, some of us don’t quite make it.
I suspect that only one child in the history of humanity accepted His parents’ rules without complaint. We don’t like rules. We don’t like anything that keeps us from having what we want when we want it. Often we rebel and do as we please anyway. When we were children, our parents responded to this rebellion with some form of punishment. In this case the consequence of our action is contrived, but with good reason. If we do not learn that our actions have consequences as children, we will learn it as adults and they will be much more severe. Examine our prison population if you need proof. A majority of the offenders there lacked strong discipline at home.
Why did our parents treat us this way? In most cases, they were not exercising power for its own sake. They did not take pleasure in causing us pain. They did what they did because they loved us. All of the rules, admonishments, lectures, and punishments were intended to shape and protect us. They were saying, “I love you. I want the best for you. Don’t hurt yourself.” Most of us figure that out at some point in our lives. We come to understand that love doesn’t require unrestrained indulgence.
This letter is written to all of us, but in particular to you who for whatever reason may have kept your distance from God or “religion.” Or, maybe you just aren’t comfortable with everything that’s in the Bible. For the purposes of this post I’m going to assume at least an acknowledgement that God exists and has a part in human affairs.
It is no mere accident of language that God defines Himself as our Father. He gives us (though regrettably not including me) children so that we can understand that aspect of His love for us. He sets boundaries for us and gives us instruction to protect and nurture us because He loves us. If you’ve ever read the first few books of the Bible, you saw a whole lot of rules. They are there to help us understand our relationship to a holy God and our abject need for His redemption, but many of them also served to protect His people. In an era when no one could have known about the unseen pathogens that spread sickness and disease, God provided detailed instructions regarding clean and unclean that kept the people as safe as possible. All of the rules were motivated by love.
Though Jesus has made a new and better way (Rom 5:8-9) and we know that salvation cannot be earned (Eph. 28,) He has given us instructions that are for our own good. The ultimate tragedy is to refuse the gift that Jesus offers in Himself. Miss that and nothing else really matters. Yet it remains true that following the principles of living that He laid out for us in the Bible will keep us from much harm. This is the ache that is in my heart when I see people making poor choices. When we share the Gospel message, one of the verses commonly referenced is Romans 6:23, which says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We speak of the final damnation in Hell, but one need not look so far to see the truth in this passage. Most of us will experience the consequences of our sin while we yet live on this earth. This is often true even after we have repented and been forgiven. We may be spared the ultimate consequence, but some things are going to happen just that’s because the way things work. Unless God in his mercy intervenes, we will not be spared earthly repercussions.
Oh loved ones, I wish I could call you by name, but that would not be appropriate here. Choose life! Enough suffering comes to us just because we live in a fallen world. Please do not add to your misery by choosing short term pleasures that will bring you long term pain. Study God’s word and live by it. He makes no promise of freedom from suffering in this life. In fact if you are truly devoted you may find that too brings you grief, but the reward is eternal! Do not turn away from the One who loves you with everything He has. I would see you truly live and not die. In my own poor way I love you, but His love will never fail.
I’ve got a friend who is greatly disturbed that the church has moved away from preaching God’s judgment in favor of His love. I do understand the concern. Our entire society is moving away from the idea that any action must have consequences. This denial does not negate the fact. I think that most judgment comes in the form of cause and effect. When we act contrary to God’s design, He need not actively intervene in most cases in order to bring about punishment. His judgment is built into His creation. Admittedly this may be considered just word play. It is through His active creative energy that we exist at all. In that sense it cannot be said that anything happens without His doing it. This used to make me uncomfortable, and I know that for many in the tradition I come from it amounts to heresy. It seems to make God the source of evil. The same logic that leads us to His existence inevitably leads to this conclusion. If He created everything, then He created the potential for evil, if not evil itself. Or, perhaps evil exists in the basic structure of reality. Anything that is contrary to Him is by definition evil, since He is good. That still leaves us with God creating beings with the potential to do evil, thus being an indirect cause of the evil we suffer. Why?
I’ve addressed this in prior posts if you would like more perspective on that question, but I believe the answer is love. In order to love Him, we must be able to choose. We cannot choose if there is no choice. That doesn’t compromise His sovereignty. Since He already knows the end from the beginning, all of us have been predestined by the fact of our creation. That he knows our choice before we make it does not absolve us from making the choice. In fact that choice is crucial.
That is why I can say that judgment is part of love. I would agree with my friend that we do a disservice to those we would reach with the good news of God’s love when we do not expose the consequences of spurning it. I only suggest that we need not deemphasize love in the process. Just like a good father who teaches his children through discipline, Yahweh teaches us. Would anyone who has studied the Bible thoroughly doubt that He loves His people Israel? What then can we make of His many pronouncements of judgment except that He means to redeem them? That is exactly what He did, and the entirety of the Bible shows how He used even the evil to bring about ultimate good. He has completed it in Jesus, and this generation may well be the one to see the final evidence thereof.
When we share the good news, we don’t need to try to strike some sort of balance between judgment and love. We do need to speak of judgment with love. If you saw a child running into oncoming traffic, would you not try to get him out of harm’s way? If you saw a blind man walking toward the edge of a precipice, would you not warn him to turn around? Would you spend any time wondering if these people might reject your attempts to save them? Most of us would not, yet there are people all around us who are heading for their own eternal destruction. We just stand by and watch, fearing some minor bit of unpleasantness if we should intervene. Thank God that you do not live in a country where your life truly would be on the line if you speak the truth. Use what you have been given. I am writing to myself as well. Whether Jesus comes back tomorrow or centuries from now, our own time is short, and every day we remain silent someone loses life forever. What kind of judgment awaits us for our lack of love for the dying around us? Maybe it will be that we find ourselves living in one of those countries I made reference to. We could be closer than you think. Maybe this would be God’s love in action for us. It would force us to choose between love of our comfort and love of our God.
How can I share with you what I think God has given me this week? It is a personal experience, but I think it has given me insight into how we can all come closer to Him. So many things are running through my head. I don’t know that there is any direct prompting from the Holy Spirit for me to write this, but if I have chosen to express my thoughts and feelings in this way before how can I not share this? If ever this has been a platform for sharing the message of truth then how can I omit one so powerful? So I pray for Yahweh’s wisdom as I attempt to share something with you that should be new to no one who has had sound Biblical teaching. What makes it new is the personal revelation of what it really means. I pray that I can say it in a way that will make it as real to you as it is becoming to me. I have known the words most of my life. I have believed them with my mind. It has taken longer for them to work their way into my heart. I do not suppose what follows to be complete, though I pray there will be no error in it. I just want you to see what I am seeing and be set free thereby.
Have you ever thought about who God must be? If you are willing to acknowledge that He is, what do you think He is like? How did all of what we see around us come to be? Though I will not spend much effort here arguing for His existence, I think it is important to lay just a little foundation on that point. It is not possible to bring something from nothing. The problem with any theory on how the universe began that does not acknowledge intelligent design is that it must generate substance where there is none. No matter how far removed one imagines that instant of beginning, ultimately it must be faced. Nature and logic demand a creator.
If there is a creator, consider what sort of being He must be. He must be outside of space and time. He has the power to create all that we have ever known or seen. To say that He is big is a poor description at best, because He must exist beyond the physical realm where size has any meaning. He is so much greater than us and so much different than us it is a wonder that we can relate to Him at all. I’m using mail terminology because that is the way He has chosen to reveal himself to us, but the creator of procreation who has no equal cannot be said to have gender in any way that we would understand it.
How can such a being relate to us? Why would he? What would motivate Him to create in the first place? Even scientists who still refuse to acknowledge Him note that everything about the universe is fine tuned for life right here on earth. Though I doubt not the power of God to have created the conditions for life anywhere of His choosing and not necessarily discernable to us, what we have learned seems to show that we are the focus of all His creation. Can we suppose that He did all of that because he was bored? Can we imagine that he takes no interest in the life He designed the universe to support?
If I may resort again to the inadequate metaphor of size, we must be to God less than the sub-atomic particles observed by scientists only with the most sophisticated technology are to us. The difference is impossible to describe. What could His interest in us be? Certainly it is more than the scientist’s for said particle, which is at best an object of rewarding study and perhaps a living.
There is an answer that bridges the incomprehensible gap between man and his creator. That answer is love. I do not speak of the perversions we label as love, but that which is patient, kind, humble, respectful, unselfish, forgiving, truthful, and everlasting (1 Co 13.) Some of these may seem strange words to describe the love of the almighty creator. I did do some considerable paraphrasing, but when you understand what He did for us, they don’t seem quite so strange. Amazing, yes! The passage referenced above concerns the kind of love we ought to have for each other, but it uses the same Greek word we find associated with God’s love (1 John 4:7-8.)
I’m trying to keep the apologetics to a minimum, only using enough to illustrate who God is versus who we are, but as I hope to speak also to those who have not yet decided what they believe or who may be convinced of the truth, I will touch briefly on the written source of that truth. That is the collection of historical documents, poetry, prophecy, and letters of instruction that we call the Bible. There are those who say that it contradicts itself, but if the supposed contradictions are understood in context they disappear. I suppose one may say that about any religious writing, but what cannot be said about any other book is that the more we discover the more evidence we find of its accuracy. The cohesion of the disparate material written over thousands of years that comprises the Bible is unmatched. It is the revelation of God’s nature, purpose and relationship to man. It tells a story of love that has no equal. This is why you will see references to its text as substantiation for what I share with you.
The Bible also tells us who we are without Him, and that is not a pretty story. We rebelled from the very beginning (Gen 3.) We’ve been doing it ever since. Most of us are ok with the obvious stuff. We agree that it’s wrong to lie, cheat, steal, or murder. Even adultery remains on the bad list for the majority of people. Now consider what Adam and Eve did. Most of us wouldn’t think that was so bad. So God said not to eat off of this one tree and they did it anyway. Surely this is worth a slap on the wrist at worst, right? Oh how tragically wrong!
Why did God create this tree in the first place? Why would he even give them the opportunity to disobey? It is because love is not evident until it is tested. Without this test, we could neither know the depth of our love for Him nor the depth of His love for us. It is this love that He desires. He knew what would come of this tree and of His commandment not to eat from it. Yet he created it anyway, knowing what He would have to do to make things right again.
God does not give us rules for the sake of rules. He is not a controlling despot with a sadistic streak waiting to catch us breaking a rule so that he can punish us. This is the nature of Satan, not of Yahweh. Though it must have broken His heart to do so, he gave them the opportunity to love something else more than they loved Him, so that one day His creation could love Him fully as He loves His creation. Even in this He showed His loving nature. He gave them the commandment to spare them from harm. That is the motivation behind God’s laws. They are meant to show us the way that leads to real life. When we do things that are contrary to his design for our lives, we bring upon ourselves all manner of evil. God does actively bring judgment on those who have spurned His love, but mostly He may be said to have done so only in that things worked as He designed them to. Beyond the fact that He is the one who sustains all of creation, most of what happens to us is a consequence of exercising natural laws, just as stepping off a cliff will result in a plummet to the bottom whether done so with intent or not.
In this first story we see his exacting standard. It was not the act itself which condemned them. It was the intent of their hearts. Jesus illustrates the same concept when he expands on the commandment not to commit adultery.
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:27-28 NASU)
Most of us think that we are good people. We may acknowledge a little sin, but we think it’s not so bad. We imagine that if the weight on the good side of the scale is heavier than that on the bad side, God will let us in. We forget with whom we are dealing. Our creator defines and demands perfection. He is only interested in our deeds in so far as they reflect our hearts. He is looking for perfect love. Because he is God, we cannot hide our true nature from Him. He says of us through Paul quoting David in Romans 3:10-18:
10 as it is written,”
THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
13 “THEIR THROAT IS AN OPEN GRAVE,
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
“THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
14 “WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”
How is it that our creator who knows us all intimately can say this of us and yet still love us? This is a mystery we may never fully comprehend. Yet He does love us. It is this amazing pair of facts that is finally beginning to sink in to me. It is only at the point when we realize how depraved we really are that we begin to appreciate the mercy and grace of God. Raised in a pastor’s home and staying mostly out of trouble, I have lived what most would consider a good life, but I have seen the standard by which I must be judged, and I have been found greatly lacking. I look back over that so-called good life and see a series of terrible mistakes. I also see something else. I see God’s mercy. I see how just as he did throughout the Bible He has taken even my error and woven it into a pattern that will result in good. That does not mean He condoned the evil. He saw it coming and planned for it. That’s just what he did for all of us. Before we could know or love Him and while some of us even hated Him, He came as one of us to die for all of us (Rom 5:8-9.)
This is an amazing truth. We have already explored just how indescribably awesome God is. Would you become an ant to rescue all ants from extinction dying in the process? That doesn’t’ begin to illustrate the difference between us and God. We don’t have much love for ants, but what about dogs? Would you do it for dogs? Most of us regard our own lives more highly than that. The truly astounding fact is that even though we are so much less than God, He loves us with everything He has. He created us in His image to love and to be loved. In the physical realm there is no comparison between us, but in the spiritual realm we have been made like Him and are destined to be with Him forever.
Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:32).” It has certainly happened for me. I can’t earn the love He freely gave to me (Eph 2:8.) That means that when I pray, it is not because I must but because I can! When I read the Bible, it is because I want to know and love my creator, not because he expects it of me. When I sin it is not the fear of punishment that drives me to my knees, it is the knowledge that I have grieved the One I love who first loved me. I am learning to trust that he knows my failures past, present and future and will not abandon me. I can come to him not in the fear of my flaws, but in the assurance of His grace and mercy. I can do the things that He wants me to do in the assurance of that love.
I do not want to speak of judgment. I do not want to contemplate the end of His mercy. I have been well aware that his patience does have an end and have always feared that I have surely reached it. However, I cannot leave off that part of the message. God will not force you to love Him, but you cannot be in His presence unless He through the sacrifice of his Perfect son has cleansed you from your sin. He is just as well as loving, and he cannot be so if he suspends justice for ever. I believe that all of us who take an honest look at our hearts know that we do not meet His standard of righteousness. The worst thing about Hell is not the fire and torment that the Bible describes. The worst thing about Hell is eternal separation from the best lover you could ever have. Hell is the end of all hope for that which God created you to know.
He made it so simple. He gave you all of creation to testify to who He is. He gave you the Bible to explain it. He gave you His son to redeem you from the curse of your sin. He allowed the misery in your life not to destroy you but to show you that the end of your way is death. Just as he presented Adam with the choice in the garden, he presents you with a choice now. Turn from that which destroys to Him to gives life. He has loved you with everything that He has. Why would you choose to break His heart by turning away? There is no pleasure on this earth that is worth the cost of that decision.
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” (Rom 10:9-13 NASU)
If you don’t know Him yet, don’t wait. Give yourself to the one who gave Himself for you and learn what real love is.
I got an email this morning from Nathan Tabor, former owner of The Conservative Voice (tcv.com) now part of townhall.com. It said “Merry Christmas,” and not recognizing the name I almost deleted it as spam. I guess he kept the email addresses of the people who signed up to leave comments on the site. In preparation for a book he is writing, he asked for feedback on the supposition that people believe it is easier to do wrong than to do right. I decided to share my response with everyone.
Yes, it’s often easier to do wrong in the short run, but the long-term consequences are deadly. Even Jesus said, “ Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.” (Matt 7:13 NASU) The best things in life are not free (arguable exception below.) They require diligence, self denial, and commitment. We all too readily sacrifice the best pleasures in life in exchange for the temporary. What does this have to do with right and wrong? The right way leads to the long term satisfaction we’re all seeking. God’s way is the best way and yields the best rewards. The result of sin is death (Rom 6:23,) and the sad thing is, people often don’t recognize the miserable state their sin has put them in. Life on earth is not easy for any of us, but there are some things no one should have to experience. If we will choose to follow the truth of god’s word, it will spare us much heartache.