When Things Get Real

January 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 4 Comments
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Jeremiah had placed himself in a collective position with the people: not just speaking on their behalf, but speaking as one of them. Perhaps we should pray this way when praying for our children and our spouses, when praying for our church, when praying for our nation.

The Lord answered Jeremiah in Chapter 15. We say that He always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.

Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.

Jeremiah 15:1

This was not an insult to Jeremiah. Actually, it was something of a compliment, but even the most influential of God’s servants and prayer intercessors would not be able to dissuade Him from what must be done. The Lord told him to “let them go,” as if He would allow them to choose their own form of judgment – although any of the four choices would be terrible: death by disease, death in battle, death by starvation, or humiliation and slavery.

And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.

Jeremiah 15:2

God made it clear to Jeremiah that He had no delight or joy in this. He does not rejoice in the death of the “wicked,” much less His own people.

For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?

Jeremiah 15:5

He recognized that, without Him, they would be utterly alone and defenseless in a hostile-to-God world.

Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Jeremiah 15:6

They had done this to themselves. They had “forced” God to do it. How heartbreaking that God’s right hand, which longs to stretch out in deliverance and comfort and protection and provision, would now be stretched out – heart-wrenchingly – in destruction. We see the use of anthropopathism and anthropomorphism in the description of God being weary. Time and again He had “repented” – reconsidered venting His wrath, and relented in mercy to allow more opportunity for the people’s repentance – and now He was sick of it. He had only been taken advantage of time and time again. Oh, never let us say that our God is some cruel impersonal force! Let us never say that He is not merciful and longsuffering, nor that He dispositionally “wants” anything for us other than the absolute best – which is repentance, faith, and obedience to Himself.

The Lord’s lamentation provoked Jeremiah’s lamentation, but it was a confused lamentation, because it was a real, human lamentation. As “great” as Jeremiah was, Jeremiah was a man. When his emotions took control – when they eclipsed his faithfully rational mind – He expressed bad theology, but at least He sought God while doing so, rather than trying to consult some worldly philosophy, false idol, or his own imagination.

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

Jeremiah 15:10

Jeremiah’s “woe is me” was a curse upon himself, as he was able to see himself only as cursed because He was hated like a bill collector, forgetting that, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

The Lord did not coddle Jeremiah in response. Instead, He let him know that, if he thought he had it tough now, he would soon have reason enough to reevaluate how tough it could really get.

Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.

Jeremiah 15:13-14

Jeremiah pleaded for God to help him, based on what he had done for God.

O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.

Jeremiah 15:15-17

But then he blamed God, and dared to question God’s method and honesty!

Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

Jeremiah 15:18

God’s response to this was to give Jeremiah an opportunity that He would not give again to the nation as a whole who had squandered it: Repent.

Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.

Jeremiah 15:19-21

What do we stand to lose if we fail to follow God? Our freedom? Our health? Our prosperity? Our lives?! We can’t always control how God will treat our countrymen, or even our kinsmen, but we can make sure that we are surrendered to Him, that we are trusting Him, and that we consider it an honor, rather than a betrayal, to suffer for Him.

When We Can’t Wait to Celebrate

December 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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When the prodigal son returned to his father, there is no doubt that he was exceedingly sorrowful over not just the deplorable, debauched, and destitute condition into which he had fallen during his season of sin, but he was even more sorrowful over the fact that he HAD sinned against both his father and his God.

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

Just as the son is beginning to address his own unworthiness, though, we get the impression that he is cut off, midthought, by his father, whose joy over the repentance and return of his son demands a joyful celebration, not a recounting of past wrongs.

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

New clothes, feasting, and merriment are what he wants, not a trial period of wait-and-see probation to determine whether the wayward boy is truly sorry, or whether he is just hungry and manipulative.

If we take the father’s exuberance as our cue, how much more should we be ready and anxious to celebrate when someone we know returns from wandering in the fields of sin and despair, and comes back home to Christ? Let joy and praise be our default mode, rather than skepticism and wariness, if we wish to imitate our Heavenly Father Who delights in repentance!

It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Luke 15:32

Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Luke 15:10

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

Micah 7:18

Rest / Repentance

October 2, 2014 at 11:17 am | Posted in Hebrews, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 7 Comments
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Rest

“Rest” can have different meanings. It can mean to take it easy – sort of the opposite of hard work. It can also mean to cease from activity. On the seventh day God “rested” – not because He was tired, but because He was finished with the original work of creation. When a lawyer has finished putting on all his evidence and calling all his witnesses, he says, “I rest my case.” But in this lesson I am talking about a specialized kind of “rest” that we find in the Bible.

For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

Hebrews 3:16

To set the scene, Hebrews Chapter 3 is discussing the exodus out of Egypt, when God’s people were on their way to the Promised Land and they provoked God with their lack of faith.

But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

Hebrews 3:17

The people left Egypt, but they did not reach their “rest” at that time because of their disobedience and lack of faith.

And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

Hebrews 3:18

Notice the Holy Spirit’s logic here. God responded to their unbelief by giving them the logical outworking of failing to trust the God Who had miraculously set them free pursuant to prior fulfilled promises.

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

Hebrews 3:19

If you are truly a Christian, then you were saved by grace through faith, but you also receive the assurance of salvation by faith.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Hebrews 4:1 (emphasis added)

This is the kind of rest I’m talking about it in this lesson – the kind of rest that is truly “comforting” now – but not the precise kind of rest that we’re going to have when we reach Heaven.

A mistake that many Bible teachers have made – even some of the hymn writers – is equating the crossing of the Jordan River (the crossing over into Canaan, the Promised Land) with going to Heaven. The entering into Canaan is not an Old Testament picture of believers entering into Heaven, because in Canaan there were still enemies to fight, still giants to drive out, still mountains to conquer, still idol-worshipers and sinful tribes all around to tempt God’s people. None of that will be in Heaven.

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Hebrews 4:9 (emphasis added)

The Greek word translated as “rest” in Hebrews 4:10 has a connotation of the calming of the wind after a storm. It reminds us of Jesus commanding the wind and the waves and telling the storm, “Peace, be still.

Biblical rest comes with inner peace. It is the comforting peace of God that goes beyond even knowing that our sins are forgiven. God could have saved us and locked us away in a dark place other than hell. He could have made us servants like the angels. But instead, God has given us His presence, so we do not have to wait to get to Heaven to experience the peaceful soul-calming rest of knowing God. You can abide in His presence right now – by faith. You are not a slave to sin – and you are not a slave to any laws or rules – if you are in Christ Jesus. You are a child of the Father.

But remember, I said that this rest is not the opposite of work. In fact, if we turn this comfort over and we examine the other side, some of us will be completely surprised with what we find there. Others will not be surprised at all. When you turn over the comfort of “rest,” you see:

Repentance

Repentance is an ongoing part of resting in Christ, and it is not – as some might imagine – antithetical to rest. It is the other side of the same pancake along with rest. In Psalm 38 we can see an extreme example. David was a man who went after God with wild abandon, and he was a man who, when he turned from God and went after sin, he went after it with the same wild abandon.

[There is] no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither [is there any] rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink [and] are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome [disease]: and [there is] no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.

Psalm 38:3-8 (emphasis added)

The first step in repentance is admitting that I have sinned and that my sin is against God. Have you ever felt like David in these verses? So distraught and devastated and downcast that you thought couldn’t stand it? Perhaps when you lost your job? When one of your kids got into serious trouble? When the medical tests came back positive? When somebody close to you betrayed you or ignored you or mistreated you?

But what about when we sin? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that sin has separated you from God’s two-sided comforts. David didn’t.

For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.

Psalm 38:15

For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.

Pslam 38:18

Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me. Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.

Psalm 38:21-22

David was resting in God, but his rest was the flip side of his repentance. They were inextricably linked together. David knew the paradox of the rest/repentance principle. He knew that the man of God, and God’s people, must labor to enter into rest.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

Hebrews 4:11

That’s why, so often at the end of a “hard sermon” on sin, you will see the older saints weeping in repentance: not because they are doubting God’s assurance, but because they find rest in Godly repentance.

Ezra, Ezra, Read All about Him

December 2, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Posted in Ezra | 2 Comments
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Ezra Chapter 10 is an example of sin being dealt with clearly, quickly, and decisively.

Arise; for this matter belongeth unto thee: we also will be with thee: be of good courage, and do it.

Ezra 10:4

During a time of exile, God’s people had become unclean. They needed to feel the remorse that comes with true repentance, and they needed to take action, which is the evidence of true repentance.

Below are links to the previous lessons on the Book of Ezra:

1. Returning from Exile
2. Different Levels of Separation
3. Leading by Example
4. Beware Fractious Frustraters
5. Getting a Hand, Giving a Hand, and Handing It On
6. Returning to Holiness
7. Post-Exilic Confession

The Lord’s Laundry

July 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms | 4 Comments
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Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Psalm 51:9 (emphasis added)

When David pleaded for a “blotting out” he was asking the Lord for a miracle, because the Old Testament Law did not provide a sacrifice for the types of deliberate sins of which David was guilty. David appealed to God’s mercy and grace.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7 (emphasis added)

Under the Old Covenant, ceremonial cleansing would make a sinner safe for society and give others protection from the sinner’s defilement. “Wash me,” David prayed. I am the one in my household who does the laundry, so I know a couple of things about washing clothes. In fact, all that is required of the other members of my family is that they bring their dirty clothes to the hamper or the laundry room. There are certain kinds of stains that are tough to remove from garments – even for today’s high-tech washing machines. They require hot water, harsh detergent, and an agitation cycle. When we seek to be cleansed from our iniquities before the face of God, we need to be willing to submit to His chastening. For Christians, God is more than willing to wash our clothes, but we’ve got to be willing to bring them to laundry room.

David’s sins were against his family, his people, Bathsheba, and Uriah, but he also recognized that all sin is ultimately against God.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

Psalm 51:4

The Holy Spirit used the poetry of Psalm 51 to inspire the revelation of the Gospel through the Apostle Paul.

God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Romans 3:4

When God truly cleanses, He also restores.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

51:10

A renewed heart must be created. It must come from God Himself. A tainted heart would continue to pump out iniquity, re-contaminating the whole body. David wanted to be cleansed and he wanted to be restored – so he could be used. He wanted to be an effective witness.

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalm 51:13

David also wanted to be an effective worshiper.

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

Psalm 51:14-15

He wanted to be an effective builder.

Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

Psalm 51:18-19

Those who have been broken and rebuilt by God can be used very effectively by God to help rebuild others.

You the Man!

June 29, 2012 at 10:24 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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Psalm 51 is a penitential psalm. It was written during a time of suffering. The suffering was a form of discipline used by God. The suffering in this case was the result of sin.

And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

II Samuel 12:1-7

Nathan told David, “Thou art the man.” There is a popular expression in our day where one man will congratulate another man on some superficially impressive achievement by telling him, “You the man!” That’s not the way Nathan was using the expression. David was “the” man – and David was “a” man – with all that implies concerning the condition of human sinfulness. We are all “the man” in the sense that, like the first man, Adam, we have sinned against God and deserve divine punishment. But God has made one Way – and one Way only – to escape what we deserve. Does that sound bigoted or intolerant to you? To hear someone proclaim that Jesus is the only Way to God? Jesus Himself is the One Who said this. Or do you find it strange that God would make only one way when there are so many people in this world who might be more responsive to other ways? I can tell you that the amazing thing is not that God made only one way. The amazing thing is that He made any way at all!

Here is the beginning of David’s prayer of penitence and repentance:

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.] Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

Psalm 51:1

When someone breaks down and admits that he has done wrong, we say that he “comes clean.” David’s prayer is not so much about what he did (explanation), but more about who he is (examination). When we sin, explanation about why we did it profits little. Examination of what our sin says about who we are may profit much.

David asked God to blot out his “transgressions.” We might think of “transgressions” as “going across” (trans) God’s boundaries with aggression. We have all done this. We have presumptuously crossed the boundaries marked out for us by God.

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:2

Sin is “missing the mark” of God’s standard. We have all sinned and “come short” of the glory of God. You may have heard the illustration of the child who wants to ride a roller coaster at the state fair, but isn’t allowed to because her head doesn’t reach the line on the chart marked “height requirement.” None of us have come close to reaching the standard of God’s righteousness, which is moral perfection from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Transgression is crossing the wrong mark; sin is failing to meet the right mark.

“Iniquity” refers to the condition of being twisted, bent, or perverted. This is the totally depraved inherently sinful nature which we inherited from our earthly father, Adam, and from our spiritual father, Satan, prior to regeneration.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

If we are truly Christians, transgression, sin, and iniquity should make us feel dirty. Unsaved people, like pigs, don’t mind being dirty. In fact, they actually like it. It’s not that true Christians never get dirty with sin. We do – and far too often. But a mark of salvation is that you do not like being dirty, and that you want to get clean.

A word of warning, though: If you are a true Christian, be diligent about your confession and repentance when you sin. Each unconfessed sin is like a new layer of dirt, and each layer of dirt makes us more and more used to the dirt. How dirty I “feel” is not always a good indicator of how dirty I really am. The mirror of God’s Word (which is really what Nathan held up to David) is a better indicator of how dirty I really am.

Pining Away

May 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Ezekiel | 2 Comments
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The expression “pine away” can be found in Ezekiel 33:10 (also Ezekiel 24:23, Leviticus 26:39, and Lamentations 4:9).

Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?

Ezekiel 33:9-10

The English word “pine,” as it is used in these Verses, is from the Latin word for “penalty” or “pain:” “poena” – like “subpoena.” Some translations use “waste away” or “rotting,” instead of “pine” away, but “pine” does a better job of capturing the connotation of the emotional pain described in these Verses.

Outside of the Bible, the expression “pine away” is used to describe the feeling of a separated lover, who feels not only physical pain, but emotional pain as well. It is a feeling akin to “remorse.”

God told Ezekiel to preach to the nation of Israel as a whole. Israel wanted to accuse God of being unfair, and of having dishonestly “fixed” scales. The Israelites blamed God for placing them under a “generational curse.”

God didn’t want their remorse – He wanted their repentance. Repentance is painful, but, when the burden of sin is lifted off, life becomes bearable again. An earthly lover may pine away for a lost sweetheart, but we never have to pine away for Jesus. He’s not far away – He’s as close as repentance. He’s as close as the Word of God. There is no reason not to spend time with Him every day.

The Solemn Ascension

May 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 10 Comments
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Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:3-5

This is a good text to use if you ever have a “solemn assembly” service at your church. It is okay to be solemn in church, and solemnity is very much lacking in the demeanor of many modern Christians. Titus Chapter 2 says for the elder men to exhort the young men to be sober, and for the older women to exhort the younger women to be sober. Sober means solemn, serious, alert, vigilant – serious about getting sin out of your life. We all need to be serious about getting the sin cleaned out of our life. Even the Apostle Paul said he did not speak as one who had already attained or who was perfect (Philippians 3:12).

If you read the Bible long enough, you will meet yourself – your true self – and you will not like what you will see. You will hunger and thirst for righteousness – and a knowledge of God – and you will be blessed. But we must do more than just agree that the Bible is the Word of God. We must resolve that, if the Word says we are in sin, we will get out of sin – that’s repentance.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3

Who can ascend? Who can climb the hill of the Lord? The strong? The swift? The worldly wise? We must throw out our worldly ideas of what it means to “ascend” – to go up. Can the prestigious ascend? The famous? The wealthy? The influential? Since this hill is the Lord’s hill, and since He recognizes no strength in men because He created all men from dirt, who will ascend?

Will the ones who ascend be the weary ones? “No,” says the world, “you have to have your own energy to ascend.”

Will the ones who ascend be the contrite ones? “No,” says the world, “it takes boldness to climb a mountain.”

Will the ones who ascend be the broken ones? “No,” says the world, “there are no handicapped mountain-climbers.”

But what does God say?

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

God says no one will ascend His hill under his or her own power. The only ones who will ascend are the ones who get weary, but do not depend on their own strength.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones who have a Guide who will lead them over or around the streams and boulders of temptation.

The only ones who will ascend are those who have the right foot-gear – their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones who the Lord Himself will lift up.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3

And who will stand? Who will remain in the holy place? Who will draw near and stay near? Billy Sunday said, “Revivals may not last. Neither do baths, but it’s good to have one occasionally.” However, we want to ascend and stand – to stay there – to get right and stay right.

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalm 24:4

We will stand and remain by having clean hands and pure hearts. This means more than following a set of rules and regulations. Jesus was hardest on the Pharisees because they claimed to love the Law – but wanted nothing to do with the Lawgiver.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

We are going to have to, by faith, follow after the Lord. We must realize that our hands are dirty, and we must trust Christ to clean them. The hands of sinners are stained and bloody. They are filthy and vile. But:

… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

What makes our hands so unclean?

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

I Timothy 2:8

Wrath makes our hands unclean – so does doubting. When we have an unpleasant ministry job to do, we say we’re “getting our hands dirty” – but spiritually we are not defiled by unpleasant tasks of love. Jesus was not afraid to touch the unclean. In our flesh, we are quick to touch the attractive. Who doesn’t like to hold a cute baby? Or hug an attractive person? We are not so quick, however, to lift our hands when it’s time to take out the trash. Water can wash away physical uncleanness, but what can wash away sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

“Clean hands and pure hearts,” Psalm 24:4 says. But what washes the heart to make it pure? The Word of God. Christ gave Himself for the Church,

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

The heart that truly wants to know God will not lift itself up to vanity. Ultimately, vanity is idolatry. If vanity is anything that is spiritually empty, then 99.9% of what the average person does is lifting up his soul to vanity. What should we be doing with vanity? With emptiness? With anything that is what the Bible calls “imaginations” – anything without eternal worth?

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

We should be casting it down, not lifting ourselves up to it. Casting down means destroying. In the Old Testament, God wanted the Canaanites destroyed – even the women, children, livestock, altars, statues of false gods – everything. Why? Because they were like thorns or weeds or cancer. If they were only trimmed down, they would spread and grow back stronger. If we are going to have repentance – and revival – we are going to have to cast down imaginations, not just what the imaginations produce. We must seek the cause of our sinful behavior, and get the root out. We must cast out imaginations and worldly thinking. There is no revival without repentance. If you’ve ever been closer to God than you are right now, then you are backslidden. Here is the result of getting right with God:

He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:5

The Consequences of Forgiven Sins

January 18, 2010 at 9:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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David’s sins had been great. Looking with lust upon Bathsheba, he soon found himself involved in adultery, murder, and lying. David repented, and the Lord was faithful to forgive, but David was learning the harsh realities of the consequences of forgiven sins.

Bathsheba had given birth to a child who had no name, but the child was due to be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. David spent six days in fasting and prayer, asking God to suspend His principle of sowing and reaping. But on the seventh day the child died.

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.

II Samuel 12:18-19

This was not to be the end of David’s chastening, but it was a key moment in David’s walk of faith. Rather than turning from the Lord, he continued to turn to the Lord. Bathsheba also received forgiveness from God, for we find her in the genealogical line of Christ. In II Samuel 12:15 she is called “Uriah’s wife.” Uriah was the man whose death David had arranged so he could have Bathsheba for himself. However, in Verse 25 Bathsheba is referred to as David’s wife.

When God chastens His children, the chastening can seem harsh and severe. But we know He chastens in love. Christians who have stumbled, and then have sought and received the Lord’s forgiveness, must not be discouraged if there are consequences to their sins which still must be dealt with. God does not always deliver tidy explanations, but He does give dependable promises.


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