Going Beyond Fairy Tale Marriage

October 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, Hosea | 6 Comments
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We prefer our love stories to be fairy tales, but the reality of marriage is not always sentimental. Few marriages are a perfect story-book from beginning to end. The Book of Hosea shows the stark reality of what it means to love in difficult circumstances. It shows marital love from the perspective of God’s love for us.

We can not be sure of exactly what happened, but Hosea married a woman named Gomer who either: (1) was already a harlot (prostitute); or (2) became a prostitute after the wedding. Then he ultimately redeemed his wayward wife in obedience to his prophetic call, as one of the greatest demonstrations of sacrificial love in the Bible.

And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.

Hosea 2:19-20

God used Hosea to demonstrate His betrothal covenant to His people, and in our marriages we need to exhibit the characteristics and attributes of God’s covenant relationship with us.

Righteousness

God the righteous imputes the righteousness of Jesus to all who are truly born again.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:20-21

We have no authority, standing, or ability, as sinful human beings, to impute any sort of true meritorious righteousness to our spouses (or to anyone else for that matter, regardless of the erroneous and heretical teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and its fictitious “treasury of merit”), but we must stand for righteousness on behalf of our spouses. We must be good husbands and wives and try to avoid sin to protect the sanctity of our unions.

Judgment

God’s judgment against sin was satisfied in the Cross for all who believe. We deserved God’s judgment, but Christ intercepted it in love.

Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

Romans 5:18

Jesus willingly bore the judgment He never deserved. We must bear unrighteous judgment at times on behalf of our spouses.

Lovingkindness

God redeemed His people because He loved us and wanted to show us kindness.

At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

Jeremiah 31:1-3

As redeemed creatures we were “meant” for God. In marriage we must think of ourselves as “meant” for each other – ordained by God to show His glory in our union and relationship, and practically, to help work out our sanctification.

Mercies

God withheld from us what we deserved.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

In marriage must never punish each other for things for which God has already punished Jesus. Be merciful to each other.

Faithfulness

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

II Timothy 2:13

God is perfectly faithful. We are not. However, we need to do our utmost, with God’s help and by His grace, to be faithful spouses.

From What Were You Saved? (C)

August 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Posted in Salvation | 15 Comments
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In the first part of this lesson we looked at salvation through:

Christ’s A.gony
and
Christ’s B.ruising

Now we will see:

Christ’s C.onquest

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:6

We must disabuse ourselves of the notion that we deserve sympathy from God – as though Christ had to die for us because we were weak, uneducated, and ignorant, and that if we had just been a tad more obedient, God could have blessed us apart from the Atonement. No, friends, the “ungodly” in that verse are you and me, and it is a reference to our rebellion and the extreme nature of our iniquity.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

These “sinners” in Romans 5:8 are enemies of God – God-hating and God-mocking people. The term “sinners” should conjure up the image of a desperate, wicked gang of vile criminals trying to drag the Prince of Peace down from His throne and put Him to death. That is the category to which we belonged when God through Christ did what He did in Romans 5:9: “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

What we are saved from is not, strictly speaking, a “what” at all. It is a Who. We are saved from God and His wrath. When we hear Jesus on the Cross say, “It is finished,” He is saying that God is not unjust. He did not waffle regarding sin. He did not ignore the dilemma of a just God seeming to declare the wicked to be righteous, nor the just to be condemned (Proverbs 17:15). God Himself poured out the stored-up wrath for all believers’ sins for all time on His Own Son – on Himself – because only He could withstand it and only He would be acceptable to satisfy God’s justice and truth – God’s holiness and God’s love – God’s wrath and God’s forgiveness.

Why did God look away from Jesus on the Cross?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

The Father didn’t look away from His Son out of weakness. There is no weakness in Him. He looked away from His Son because the Son had been made sin, and sin is detestable to the truly holy God.

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Ephesians 2:16

Enmity is hatred that includes the cause of hatred. Jesus slew the hatred between God and man that existed because of man’s sin.

The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

Psalm 11:5-6

In the Garden of Gethsemane, before His Crucifixion, Christ prayed about letting the cup pass from Him. That was the cup of God’s wrath, and it was filled with His wrath because of my sins. If you are truly a Christian, God’s wrath may never be poured out on you, because Jesus drank every drop! There is none left for God’s children.

Now I hope you know from what you need to be saved. What a tragic thought that God crushed His Son for you, but you haven’t received Him. What we deserve is the wrath of God, and that wrath would send us to the Lake of Fire to burn in torment for all eternity. My prayer today is that you would see what your sin has cost Him, and that you would cry out to Him to save you. Otherwise, you are rejecting Him, expressing hatred for Him, and making yourself His enemy. It’s one or the other. He made you and He alone has the right to judge you. Will you trust Him right now? This could very well be your last chance. Will you be saved before it’s too late?

Salvation Is Not Like Shongaloo

December 29, 2011 at 10:54 am | Posted in John, Salvation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Eternal salvation is a life-changing experience. It is dramatic. It is miraculous. It is a real, personal, one-on-one encounter with Jesus Christ the Lord, the Almighty Son of the Living God, the Prince of Glory, the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

John 10:9

Therefore, the statement, “I think I’m saved, but I’m not really sure,” is suspicious. Salvation results in a complete change in our ontology – the essence of who we are.

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Ezekiel 36:26-27

The Lord Jesus compared the event of salvation to the physical birth of a baby.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Therefore, if the answer to the question, “When were you born again?” is, “I don’t really know, I’ve just always been ‘born again,’” there is again reason for suspicion. If someone is asked, “When were you born?” in the natural sense, his response is more likely to be, “October 14, 1980,” than, “I’ve always been born,” or, “I was born over a period of weeks while I read a book about humanity, and contemplated whether I wanted to be born.”

The Bible states that salvation results in a fundamental change in our attitude about sin.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Knowing this, if a person who claims to be saved never experiences conviction and repentance concerning sin in his or her life, there is cause for suspicion.

I grew up near a town in northwest Louisiana called Shongaloo. I once heard someone say that, when you drive through Shongaloo, if you blink you’ll miss it. Salvation is not dependent upon a “feeling,” because it is a factual event. It is not dependent upon behavior because we are saved by grace through faith, not of works. However, it is so magnificent that, if your belief is that it somehow happened to you and you missed it, then it is time for you to stop the speeding car of your life, open your eyes wide, stare deep into the Bible, and call upon the Lord with all sincerity to reveal to you the truth about yourself.

Fitted by God

October 28, 2011 at 10:28 am | Posted in Romans | 6 Comments
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Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

Romans 9:4

The Holy Spirit here is answering the argument of those who say that it would mean that God is unfaithful to His promise of salvation to the Jewish people if He has given grace freely to all people. In other words, if Gentiles can be saved the same way Jewish people can be saved, what’s so special about being an Israelite?

The Holy Spirit’s response to this challenge is:

1. The Jewish people were adopted as “His people.”

2. He gave them the Old Testament covenants.

3. He gave them the privilege of having His glory dwell among them in the Old Testament.

4. He gave them the Law.

5. He saved them from among the nations, and delivered them from bondage in Egypt.

6. He made them special promises.

7. He caused Christ to come through their “family line.”

8. He gave them all the signs that pointed to Jesus being the Christ: the Messiah.

Even though they rejected Him, and crucified Him, God will remain faithful to His promises to Israel.

As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Romans 9:13-14

In the history of the Church and in Christian theology this has been a controversial passage of Scripture. People don’t like to think that God could “hate” anyone. Some theologians feel that this refers to “national election.” In other words, God “chose” the nation of Israel (Jacob’s descendants) over the nation of Edom (Esau’s descendants). Others feel that God “hated” Esau only in relation to Jacob. In other words, they say that God didn’t really “hate” Esau – He just really loved Jacob a lot, and therefore His great love for Jacob made His feelings for Esau seem like hatred in comparison. I have to say that I find very little warrant in Scripture for this second interpretation. It seems to come from the dogmatic assertion (and Christian cliche’) that God hates sin but loves sinners. This assertion, we might say, has “some truth” in it, but on its face it is contradicted by Scripture (Psalm 11:5; Psalm 7:11). Part of the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of hatred. Most people who are aware that God is love (I John 4:8) and know that God is immutable can not reconcile in their minds how God can be loving and hateful at the same time. What they fail to perceive is that love and hatred are not mutually contradictory, nor are they even opposites. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is indifference. God is certainly not indifferent! It might surprise many modern evangelicals to learn that the Greek word translated as “hated” in Romans 9:13 means – quite directly – “hated.”

Now, let’s think about Esau for a second. He’s the one who made the decision to sell his birthright – his heritage as a primary heir of God’s covenant promise to the children of Abraham and Isaac. And even though Esau made this “decision” he was at the same time under the decree of God Who had predetermined that Jacob, and not Esau, would be the heir of the promise. The Holy Spirit brings up the example of Pharaoh to support the way God works out His sovereignty and providence in the affairs of men. Pharaoh hardened his own heart – in a sense – but the serious student of Scripture can not deny that God also hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Romans 9:17-18 (emphasis added)

Pharaoh made the decision to reject God and His mercy, but God was plainly ruling over this “decision.”

The Holy Spirit anticipates sinful man’s reaction to this revelation of God:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Romans 9:19

How can God find fault in us for the way we are, when He made us that way?

Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Romans 9:20-21

Does the clay argue or talk back to the potter? “You should have made me a dinner plate instead of a cup! I didn’t want to be a cup!” The potter had every right to make the clay into a cup instead of a plate. He could have made the clay into a toilet bowl if he wanted!

For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.

II Corinthians 5:12

God does not show favor based on His surprise at finding us “worthy” in our outward deeds or appearance. God is omniscient. He can’t be surprised. And He can’t “learn” anything. He makes some vessels unto honor, and some to dishonor. No vessel decides for itself with what it’s going to be filled. As living, breathing vessels, with souls and consciences and consciousness, God made us so that we can think and make decisions. Some vessels are “fitted” to destruction the same way that some spoiled and angry and rambunctious children are said to be “fit to be tied.” Whose fault is it that they need to be tied?

The Gentile vessels, compared to the Jewish vessels, did not have all the advantages outlined above. But God, in order to show His goodness and His longsuffering to the vessels who insisted on being filled with wrath, decided that those who are His vessels will be filled with mercy, instead of wrath.

I will not pretend that these truths are easy to explain. They get us into the sticky doctrines of election and predestination, which, by the way, are Bible terms. For a Christian teacher to say “I don’t believe in predestination” is to seriously call into question his view of Scripture and, therefore, his qualification for teaching. Some people believe God made us like wind-up toys, and that we are mindless puppets. That is not the teaching of Scripture. Others believe that God could not have chosen according to the good pleasure of His Own will to save some people from the penalty for their sin, and not others, because that would violate our “free will.” As finite creatures, we are not going to be able to grasp all the eternal decrees or wisdom of God. God is eternal and infinite, and His ways far above our ways. Here are some things we know for sure:

1. God is righteous, not unrighteous.
2. God is just, not unjust.
3. God is good, not evil.
4. God keeps His promises.
5. God tells the Truth in His Word.

Light Produces Life

August 19, 2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in Biblical Light, John | 6 Comments
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Living things need light. A plant will die if it is left in the dark. Human life as we know it on Earth requires sunlight.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis 1:3

For Christians, Jesus is the Light which gives us life.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

John 1:4

Jesus was present and active in the creation of man. The “divine spark” which God placed in Adam, giving life to the human race, came from His Divinity. Since the beginning He has associated light with life.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12

Jesus’s deliberate use of “I AM,” God’s Self-revealed Old Testament Name, showed that He was in fact God incarnate, possessing not only the power to create original life, but the power to create the new life we receive when we trust Him as Savior.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

John 9:5

How bright is the world around you? Has your life grown dark? Only Jesus Christ has the power to illuminate spiritual darkness.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25

Our lost friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors are spiritually dead. But the Light of Jesus Christ is so bright and so powerful that it can bring them to life. Jesus’s Light produces life because He Himself is “the Life.”

Strange Weapons Lesson 2: The Peg (illustrations)

April 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Strange Weapons | 7 Comments
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Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

Lesson Two: The Peg (continued from previous post)

Here are three illustrations drawn from Jael’s “nail” (what we would call a “tent peg.”)

1. The peg was a hidden weapon.

The first thing Sisera would have done when he entered Jael’s tent would have been to look around for a sword or a dagger. Being a trained warrior and a man on the run, not sure who he could and could not trust, he would have immediately scanned the tent for possible threats or advantages. But he probably didn’t even notice a peg and a hammer. These items would have been common.

The weapons of our spiritual warfare are spiritual weapons – they don’t look like material weapons. Prayer, for example, doesn’t seem like a weapon, but, like a tent peg, it stabilizes. It also marks out the boundaries of the territory God has given you. Maybe God has given you a spouse or children. Maybe he has placed you in a Sunday School class or some organized group of fellow Christians. If so, those are some of your “territories,” your “tents.” The peg of prayer is very important. How would you like to come back to your tent and find that it has been blown away? Prayer is simply talking to God. It should be an everyday, ordinary thing. It’s always lying around the tent. You mostly use it in secret, but it is potent. When the enemy invades your tent, you can reach for it and defeat him.

2. The peg was a honed weapon.

“Honed” means “sharp.” Jael’s tent peg had to have a very sharp point* in order for her to be able to pound it into the hard baked earth in that part of the world. When it comes to spiritual weapons, we have the sharpest weapon of all – the Bible.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

The Word of God pierces and cuts. It stings. It gets past the superficial into the heart of the matter. It breaks up hard ground. A Bible looks like a book – everyday leather and paper. Like a peg, it doesn’t look especially dangerous – until an expert pegswoman or pegsman wields it. The business end of the Word of God can go right into a man’s brain and it can make a serious difference.

3. The peg was a handy weapon.

Prayer and the Bible should always be handy if you are a Christian. However, there are times when your Bible might not be right there next to you. There may be times when you are willing to pray, but, in a crisis, you are not always afforded the time to gather your thoughts, have some peace and quiet, and pray effectively. One of the handiest weapons we have in spiritual warfare – the one that’s always right there – is love. Love is always right at hand. You don’t have to special-order it. If you’re truly a Christian, it is not even “second nature” to you – it’s first nature! Love is the key component of Christianity.

Prayer, your Bible, and love are three of the tent pegs of the Christian life. They are the hidden, honed, and handy weapons of our warfare. Jael’s tent peg slew Sisera; these weapons slay sin. Sin is kind of like Sisera if you think about it. Sin is an oppressor. It will control people. It will dominate their lives. It will steal their possessions, but, more importantly, it will steal their joy. It will put people at risk. It will create danger in lives. Sin is cruel to begin with, but when it starts to get routed – like when Barak routed Sisera – and when it gets “on the run” in our lives – look out! Sin will get desperate, and will be especially eager to come into your home.

And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

Judges 4:18-19, emphasis added

Sin wants to be hidden.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

Judges 4:19, emphasis added

Sin is thirsty. It will dry you up, and create a desire for more.

Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.

Judges 4:20, emphasis added

Sisera wanted Jael to lie. Sin breeds more sin – and different kinds of sins.

And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

Judges 4:19, emphasis added

Deborah was the one who encouraged Barak to fight against Sisera. Her name meant “bee.” Bees are associated with honey. Jael used milk to sedate Sisera. Therefore, Sisera had trouble in the “land of milk and honey.”

Now, here is something that many Christians don’t realize: Sin can be sedated. I Peter 2:2 calls the Bible the sincere “milk” of the Word. Sin can be sedated by Bible study, prayer, accountability, safeguards, even will power – to some extent. But those things can’t “kill” sin. It will inevitably (and sooner rather than later) wake up, escape, and wreak havoc. Sin can be sedated by the lesser “pegs” we have talked about, but it can only be killed by one truly great PEG.

And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.

Judges 4:22, emphasis added

Christ was held to the Cross by “pegs” (nails). He knew no sin, but was made sin for us. To claim the victory that Christ wants you to have in Him, you are going to have to come into the tent and see sin slain. Get a good look – see sin slain on the Cross of Christ – then look in the tomb and see the Slayer of sin has risen – victorious!

I find it significant that the Bible makes a point of saying that the peg went through Sisera’s “temple.” Your temple is the place between your eye and ear – the place where you “conTEMPLate.” It is also the word we use for the place where people worship. Have you made your mind a place of worship – a place where Christ is the center of all your thoughts?

So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.

Judges 4:23

That’s when God will subdue the “Jabin” that is invading your thoughts. Worship Him – the Lord God – as King of your “temple.”

 

*loose reenactment of Judges 4:21 during camping trip to Lake D’Arbonne:

reenactment of judges 4

Discipleship Lesson 7: Sin

March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 22 Comments
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If you are a Christian, when you were born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), you became a new “man,” (or new woman if you are female). But the old man did not disappear. The old man – in the image of Adam – has a sinful nature. The new man – in Christ Jesus – has God’s nature. These two men are at war with each other. It is an intense struggle.

I. What is sin?

A. Sin is breaking God’s law.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

B. Sin is any unrighteousness.

All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

I John 5:17

C. Sin is anything done apart from faith.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

II. What causes sin?

A. My inherited sinful nature causes me to sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

I Corinthians 15:45-49

B. My old nature draws me into sin.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:14-25

C. We are tempted in three major areas: we like to feel good; we like to look at that which is pleasing to the eyes; we like to feel important in the eyes of others.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:16

III. How does God deal with sin in the life of a Christian?

A. God judged at our sin at Calvary.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

B. God chastens His children when they continue in sin.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Hebrews 12:6

C. God allows us to reap what we have sown.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:7-8

IV. How can a Christian get the victory over sin?

A. By accepting responsibility for his own sin.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

B. By refusing to allow sinful thoughts to control his mind.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

C. By not giving the flesh an opportunity to achieve its desires.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

D. By remembering that he is dead to sin in Jesus Christ.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:1-10

D. By agreeing with God about his sin (judging it).

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

I Corinthians 11:31-32

E. By confessing his sins to God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

F. By recognizing that God has made a way to escape from every temptation.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

G. By remembering God’s Word.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

H. By trusting God’s promises and praying.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

II Corinthians 7:1

I. By walking in the Holy Spirit.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

J. By being led by, and following after, the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

K. By submitting himself to regular examinations by the Holy Ghost.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

V. Memory Verses

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

Calling Witnesses (Part 1)

March 2, 2011 at 10:16 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Salvation | 10 Comments
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One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Deuteronomy 19:15

Lord, the testimony of Your Word is so plain, so clear. I pray that Your Spirit would make it even clearer as we read it. I pray that no one would be confused. I pray, Lord, that You would present us with the clear choice You always have: to reject You or trust You. To doubt or believe. To obey or rebel. I pray that even the rejecters, and the doubters, and the rebels would have a clear understanding, but, by Your power and Your divine will, I pray that all would repent, believe, trust, and obey. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.

Mark 14:55-65

Witnesses can be unpredictable. Generally, the testimony of many is more convincing than the testimony of one. I have seen instances where a parade of witnesses – all expected to testify for someone – actually ended up testifying against that person. You might be reading this as someone who has heard the testimony of at least one witness who has testified before you of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone, at some time, has told you that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God; that He lived a perfect, sinless life; that He died on the Cross for the sins of the world; that He was buried; that on the third day He rose again from the dead; that He was seen by hundreds of witnesses – physically, bodily resurrected; that He ascended to Heaven; that He lives today, ready, willing, and able to save the souls of all who trust Him; that – even today – even RIGHT NOW – if you will repent of your sins, believe these things about Him are true, call upon Him to save you, and receive Him as your Savior – He will place His seal on your eternal soul, He will be your Lord and Savior, and you will one day go to Heaven, to be with Him forever.

Maybe you have heard these things from at least one witness, but yet you remain unconvinced. When I ask you if you know for sure that you will go to Heaven one day, your answer is:

“I hope so.”
“It depends.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Nobody can know that.”
“If others in my church are going, I’m with them, because I’ve done what they’ve done. If they’re going, I’m going too.”
“I’m trusting the fact that I’ve been baptized.”
“I’m trusting my own good deeds and good works.”
“I’m trusting Brother So-and-So or Sister So-and-So or Pastor or Minister or Father So-and-So – if they’re going, I’m going too – I’m at least as good as them.”

In case someone reading this remains unconvinced of the Truth, I intend to call a number of witnesses. I could call on many to testify for the Lord – to proclaim the wonderful change He has made in their lives. But instead I want to address those who may have heard those types of testimonies before yet remain unconvinced.

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 14:2-3

If you are not seeking God, what are you seeking instead?

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Philippians 2:21, emphasis added

You want your own way instead of Jesus Christ’s way. Therefore, instead of calling witnesses for the Lord, I will call witnesses against you. These are not “hostile witnesses.” They are not testifying against you because they are mad at you. They love you. In fact, they are in a great state of anxiety over the condition of your soul. They long to see you saved. But make no mistake – while you refuse to surrender to Christ their testimony is “against” you.

FIRST WITNESSES: TRUE CHRISTIANS

When I ask them about what it is like to be a true Christian, you will observe something remarkable: They know about their future rather than wonder about their future. If you are a child of disobedience, you may have slandered these witnesses. You may have called them a “bunch of hypocrites.” You may have heard them say they were Christians, but then you saw them commit a sin, and it made you doubt their authenticity. Or you may have ridiculed these witnesses: “Here comes Billy Bible. Here comes Holy Roller Susie.” You may may have even persecuted these witnesses: “Get out of here with that religious talk.” Maybe these witnesses are the types of people who offend you because they appeared to be “too Holy” – too much interested in talking about God. But let’s get the roles straight: You are the rebel; they are obedient. Rebellion pays tribute to obedience in the form of insults, mocking, and threats.

In their testimony you will notice both a surety and a fear. Not a fear of you, but a fear for you. They have a fear of the horror of your sin and the price you must pay for your sin if you will not trust Christ. For if you die without Christ, your future is almost indescribable – and indescribably horrifying.

We don’t say much about hell these days, but the Bible is clear.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11

These witnesses have a fear not only for your future, but also a fear of their God. That fear is a blessed fear. It is the fear of a son’s fervent desire to please his father. These witnesses – because they do fear God – do not fear anything else. On the witness stand they testify lovingly toward you, and they tell you that if you do not fear God, you must fear everything else.

Would you cross-examine these witnesses? Would you ask them, “Why should I trade fear of death, fear of eternity, fear of hell, for fear of your God?”

They will easily answer with irrefutable truth. They will say, by God’s power, my fear of Him has given me a peace that defies your ability to understand.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7, emphasis added

They will say, “I know I have a Master, and that makes me a servant, but who would not want to serve a Master Who has died for His servants, and who wants better things for them than they want for themselves?”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28; 30

These witnesses have established a strong case against the unconverted, but I have many more witnesses to follow, which I will continue calling next time.

He Was Beside Himself

February 21, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Mark | 13 Comments
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And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

Mark 3:21, emphasis added

This is an expression we still use for people today when we are implying that they are not “in their right mind.” Some of the ancients believed that a person’s psyche could actually leave his body and hover next to the person, inducing a state of madness or lunacy. The friends of Jesus who knew Him before He began His public ministry were concerned that He may have lost His mind, going around performing miracles, preaching, and claiming to be the Messiah. After all, He was only a simple carpenter’s son from Nazareth.

C.S. Lewis is known for positing the so-called “Trilemma:” He wrote that the claims of Jesus Himself were such that no one can marginalize or minimize His ministry or Person by referring to Him as simply a “good teacher.” The life of Jesus and His Words leave us with only three alternatives: He was a liar, He was a lunatic, or He was Lord. The overwhelming evidence (and in fact the incontrovertible Truth) is that He was Lord.

Paul and the Apostles later faced this same accusation.

For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

II Corinthians 5:13, emphasis added

If you serve God and proclaim the Gospel in this dark world, where sin and unbelief are the prevailing atmosphere, there are going to be times when your sanity is questioned. This has never stopped the Lord’s true servants. We rest in the knowledge that we are not “beside ourselves.” In fact, we are more sane and in touch with reality when we walk in the Spirit of the Lord than we are at any other time.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Acts 26:24-25, emphasis added

We may not be able to stop people from calling us “mad,” but at least we can make sure that there is “a method to our madness.”

Jesus and Joseph and Their Brethren

January 17, 2011 at 11:42 am | Posted in Genesis | 4 Comments
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When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, first there was weeping, then there was some shame, and some fear, but look at the response of Joseph:

Come near to me, I pray you…

Genesis 45:4

Not only should we want to spend time with Jesus, but we should be thrilled to find out that He wants to spend time with us.

The Book of Genesis ends with the story of Joseph, but it begins with the story of Adam. Throughout the Bible, we find that God, for some reason, wants to spend time with men.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:8-9

“Where are you Adam? I want to talk to you!”

“But I’m a bad person, God!”

“Adam, I want to walk with you in the cool of the day!”

“I’m afraid of you, God!”

“Adam, I want to spend time with you.”

“I’m not the only one who messed up, God, go find Eve and bother her!”

“Adam, I want to communicate with you.”

“I don’t want to admit I did wrong, God!”

God didn’t call out “where are you Adam?” because Adam was the all time champion of hide and seek and could actually conceal himself from God. God called out because He wanted love freely given, obedience, worship. What if Adam had come running, begging for forgiveness?

Joseph told his brothers “come near to me, I pray you,” and he made himself known to them. “I am Joseph whom you have wronged.” (Genesis 45:4) Jesus wants us to remember, every single day, that He’s the One who was sent by God to preserve our lives.

Once Jesus has made Himself known to us, He will begin to reveal the blessings He has in store for us.

And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:

Genesis 45:10.

The Lord wants us to relocate permanently to the land of blessings – not just pay Him a visit once in a while.

And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.

Genesis 45:13

When Jesus has revealed Himself to you, go tell others – your family and friends – and bring them back with you. God does not have a limit on His attention. When He reveals Himself to you, He wants you to bring others into communication with Him also. The revelation of Jesus to His brothers will cause His brothers to want to relocate, to want to bring others with them, and to communicate better with Him.

Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

Genesis 45:15, emphasis added

They had a lot of catching up to do. You can talk to God anywhere, but how can you get God to speak to you? Read the Bible. It is a more sure word of prophecy.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:19-21

There are really only two good times to read your Bible – day time and night time. Not only can the Holy Spirit teach you out of the Scriptures, but God can speak to you directly while you’re reading and studying and meditating on His Word.

Look at the effect of Joseph making himself known to his father through his brethren:

And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Genesis 45:25-28

Jacob revived. He came back to life with new motivation. Just as Jacob was motivated by finding out Joseph was alive, we should be motivated because we serve a living God, a living Savior.

I serve a risen Savior,
He’s in the world today;
I know that he is living,
whatever men may say;

“He Lives,” Alfred H. Ackley

Jacob was motivated because Joseph was “governor over all the land of Egypt.” We should be motivated because our Brother is the Maker of Heaven and Earth and everything in them.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

II Corinthians 5:9-10

Believers will be judged for the good works we’ve done for God. This judgment will not determine our eternal destination. They only way to Heaven is by grace through faith, not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Jesus will reward His brothers.

Jacob was motivated because he knew he was going to die.

And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Genesis 45:28

Jacob said it is “enough” that my son is alive, but he didn’t really mean it. He wanted to see him, too. And he was conscious that he had a limited time to do it. I believe Jacob lived to be 147, and he was about 130 when he found out Joseph was really alive. He had had 17 years to enjoy Joseph and his grandchildren. You and I probably won’t make it to 147, and, unless the Lord comes back, we are all going to die. The death rate has been remarkably consistent over the centuries. It’s always been about “one per person.”

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11

As Christians, our Brother will not be the Brother of those who have rejected Him. This should motivate us. If you have been born once, then you have to die at least once. But you can be born a second time, and you don’t have to die twice. Time is short. God’s Spirit will not strive with you forever. Maybe the the Holy Spirit is speaking to you now. Will you believe that He’s on your side and that Jesus wants to save you?

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