Sin and Paranoia

August 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The ultimate temporal consequence of sin is death. The ultimate ETERNAL consequence of sin is the “second death:” conscious torment in the lake of fire. Christians have escaped that consequence through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, even Christians must prepare to face the mortality which awaits us at the end of our journey through this earthly life.

While we long to see our Lord face to face, we cherish our earthly life, and want to avoid careless or senseless danger, but, make no mistake about it, we do place ourselves in great earthly danger when we take for granted the grace that God has bestowed upon us, and foolishly sin against Him.

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

I John 5:16

Christians should not scuttle through life in a state of abject fear, but we do need to be aware of the danger that unconfessed sin brings into our life. The difference between believers and unbelievers is not a careless disregard for our mortal safety, but a faithful assurance that the righteousness imputed to us by Christ allows us to confidently face circumstantial danger, and fiercely battle and overcome sin itself. Whereas, those who do not know Christ ought to tremble at every lightning strike, unsafe driver, outbreak of sickness, and “breaking news” alert.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

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Matt Smethurst: S.W.I.M. Down Deep

June 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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If exploring sin brings you to the deep end of the pool, exploring mercy will take you to the Mariana Trench. And awaiting you at the bottom of the dive is not a black hole but a solid rock.

Matt Smethurst

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Our Kids Are Not Good Kids

February 20, 2017 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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As Christian parents we must talk to our children about some hard truths and difficult subjects that are page one headline material in the Bible, even though it might be tempting to shield our children from these truths when they are very young. The temptation is there because, in our sentimentalism and worldly conception of “love,” we do not relish the idea of giving them information that might make them uncomfortable. However, they need to know, understand, and believe that:

1. You are not a good kid.

According to the Bible, children come into the world as simple, but not virtuous. They are ignorant, but not innocent. As parents we don’t want them to be “wise” ABOUT sin, but we do want them to be humbled by the truth that they ARE sinners.

Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth. The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

Psalm 58:2-3

We think of using these verses about wickedness when witnessing to strangers (and we should), but look at Psalm 58:1 and see to whom they are addressed: “the congregation” (which would include the children of God’s covenant people).

The Bible makes it clear that children are not exempt from the classification of “wicked sinners.”

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

Why is it so important for our children to understand that they are not inherently “good?” Because we want them to be looking for a Savior, not a participation trophy. We want them to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord, not to hear that they have something about which to be proud. We, as their parents, are charged with the task of utterly convincing them of the absolutely supremacy of God.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

As a Christian father, I do not want the children that God has entrusted to my care to have self-esteem; I want them to have “God esteem.” I do not want them to have self-worth; I want them to recognize God’s worth. Children will not naturally want to admit they are evil, but it’s true. They are not basically good – they are basically evil – just like Dad and Mom. They will love God more truly and deeply when they understand that they themselves are not the initiators, nor the instigators, of God’s love for them. We ONLY love God because He first loved us. And He ONLY loves us because He is love.

Next time we will face another difficult truth for children.

Catechism Question 9

July 18, 2014 at 9:40 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 3 Comments
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Question 6: What is wrong with you?
Answer: I was born a sinner, and I have sinned against God.
Prove it.
Psalm 51:5

Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
Prove it.
I John 3:4

Question 8: What is the punishment for sin?
Answer: The punishment for sin is death.
Prove it.
Ezekiel 18:4

Question 9: Since you are a sinner, how does God feel about you?
Answer: Even though I am a sinner, God loves me.
Prove it.

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

Romans 5:8

When you ask question nine to your child, what you are hoping for here is an amazement – almost an incredulity that God could love a wicked sinner like me. You want your child to think or ask, “How can He forgive me when He has promised to punish all who sin?” You know you’re on the right track if you are getting those kinds of questions.

Do not gloss over the wickedness of sin. HOWEVER, you must not gloss over the richness of God’s love, either. Dwell on it here.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

II Peter 3:9

Catechism Question 7

June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 5 Comments
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Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
Prove it.

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

I John 3:4

“Trans” means across. Sinning is going across the boundaries of God’s law with ag”gression.” Two broad categories of sin are sins of “omission” and sins of “commission,” which are, respectively, any lack of conformity to, or transgression (violation) of, the law of God. In other words, both doing bad, and failing to do good, are sin.

Other verses to consider:

And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the LORD; though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity.

Leviticus 5:17

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

James 4:17

Catechism Question 6

May 16, 2014 at 10:49 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 13 Comments
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Question 4: How was everything when God created it?
Answer: It was very good.
Prove it.
Genesis 1:31

Question 5: What went wrong with everything God created?
Answer: Sin brought the curse of death into the world.
Prove it.
Romans 5:12

Question 6: What is wrong with you?
Answer: I was born a sinner, and I have sinned against God.
Prove it.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

You may remember a popular television commercial from several years ago. A dad finds marijuana in his son’s room, and confronts him about it. Finding the son less than forthcoming, the dad demands in an angry self-righteous voice, “Where did you learn to do this?”

https://i2.wp.com/i.ytimg.com/vi/KUXb7do9C-w/hqdefault.jpg

This prompts the son to respond indignantly, “I learned it by watching you!”

When you tell your child that he or she is a sinner you will be violating every self-help book, counseling guideline, and child psychology tactic known to man concerning building up a child’s self-esteem. But you will also be obeying the Bible, so it must done. And like the sullen boy who blamed his drug use on his dad’s own example, you, too, may get the same question thrown back in your face. “I’m a sinner, you say? Well, what about you, Dad? What about you, Mom?”

And the only right response is, “Yes, me too. Everyone is a sinner.” Which is a great lead-in to be able to explain that no one can stop sinning on his or her own. It is in our fallen nature, and fallen sinners need help from God.

Other verses to consider:

And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart [is] evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:21

Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a child; [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 22:15

Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Reflective)

May 14, 2014 at 8:53 am | Posted in Exodus, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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We have seen:

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments
2. The Restrictive Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Now we will look at:

3. The Reflective Purpose of the Ten Commandments

Under the revelatory purpose I said that the Ten Commandments in a sense reveal (or reflect) the character of God. However, they reflect the other way, too, and I believe this is the main purpose of the Ten Commandments: The Commandments are God’s mirror to show us what we really look like.

Do you look in the mirror in the morning? I don’t like it, but I do it, because it tells me the truth about me – what’s on my face, what’s between my teeth, whether I accidentally grabbed a purple tie and green socks. The mirror does nothing to help me look better – except to show me the truth.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

Romans 3:19

No one can look at the Ten Commandments honestly or even with partial honesty, and deny that he is guilty before God.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Romans 3:20

That’s why we use the Ten Commandments in evangelism. They let us hold up a mirror to lost sinners without us acting as their judge ourselves.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:21-23

When the Bible says that all have sinned, most people will see this as an excuse instead of an accusation. “Okay, I’m a sinner, but so is everyone else.” It’s not an excuse. We are people of unclean lips, but the fact that we are part of a group doesn’t excuse us. It makes things worse. We are not just sinners. We are part of a sinful race of people.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Jeremiah 17:9

“The” heart is a universal subject. It means that everyone’s heart, apart from Christ, is like this. The Ten Commandments do not let us get away with those kinds of rationalizations. They are universally applicable, but they are also pointedly personal: thou shalt; thou shalt not.

God does not grade on a curve when it comes to sin, but even if He did, Jesus is the ultimate curve-breaker. He scored a perfect 100 on the “do not sin” test. The reflective purpose of the Ten Commandments is to show us our need for that perfect Savior, and to destroy any hope we might have in ourselves or in our own works.

Teach your children the Ten Commandments, but don’t teach them like a rule book. Teach them like a mirror. And make sure that you yourself have really looked into that mirror, as well. There’s no such thing as a “good person.” There are only wicked vile wretched worthless useless sinners, some of whom have been saved by the grace and mercy and love and blood and death and burial and resurrection of a good and a great Savior.

Catechism Question 5

April 30, 2014 at 11:58 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 7 Comments
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Question 4: How was everything when God created it?
Answer: It was very good.
Prove it.
Genesis 1:31

Question 5: What went wrong with everything God created?
Answer: Sin brought the curse of death into the world.
Prove it.

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

It is important to teach the relationship of sin to death. This is also a good opportunity to explore the question, “Why are we paying the price for what Adam did?” In response to this question we can discuss the idea of “federal headship,” and explain that, while it was Adam’s sin that is the origin of our sinful condition, he was an accurate representative for our race, in that all of us have sinned (and do sin often and regularly) of our own volition.

This is also a good opportunity to explain what God was working out in allowing one man’s sin to bring death, and one “Man’s” (the Lord Jesus Christ, the “God-man”) obedience and sacrifice to bring life and salvation for all who would believe.

Another obvious question is, “Why did just one sin affect the whole universe and the whole human race?” Here is where we can highlight the seriousness of sin and the holiness of God.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

God sent the curse, but He is not the author of sin. He gave Adam and Eve fair warning, and He keeps His word.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.

James 2:10

God is not determining “guilt” on a sliding scale. One sin is one sin too many, and God is righteous and just in condemning every single sin and every single sinner – which is why everyone needs a perfect Savior!

Our Own Worst Enemy

March 21, 2014 at 9:47 am | Posted in Micah | 3 Comments
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Micah Chapters 1 and 2 contain warnings. Chapters 3 and 5 contain promises. Chapter 6 is a challenge. Micah sums up the attitude of the people when faced with the idea that God is displeased with their worship.

Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

Micah 6:6-7

You can’t build up a credit of good works with God while planning to sin. You can’t bargain with God: “If I do A, B, and C right, will You let me get away with X, Y, and Z?” The Lord is truly righteous. In Him is no sin at all.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:9-14

No man will make God his debtor. The stealing of land or property by the rich and powerful from the poor and weak is a sin which seems to trigger God’s judgment.

Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword.

Micah 6:13-14

God’s judgment sometimes begins slow like a train, but it always comes into the station right on time.

For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.

Micah 6:16 (emphasis added)

The sins of the “common” people are just as offensive to God as the sins of the leaders.

For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.

Micah 7:6

Micah 7:6 is quoted in Matthew 10:36: “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” Why would Jesus say this? There will be some families where some family members are saved and some are not. Those closest to you can be some of the worst stumbling blocks, and thereby your worst enemies. As Christians, we don’t hate our enemies – we love them – but there are times when our devotion to Christ calls us to separate from even parents or children.

According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.

Micah 7:15

When every enemy is united against God’s people – when we don’t have anyone else to trust – that’s when the Lord does great miracles of deliverance.

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. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19 (emphasis added)

The greatest victory God will ever win in your life will be the victory over you.

Beware Foolish Functions

June 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Selected Psalms, The Fives | 3 Comments
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We tend to think of foolishness as childishness or silliness: frivolous behavior that does not meet the standard of wisdom, but is ultimately harmless. I used to have a middle school teacher who would lightheartedly admonish the students whispering in the back of the classroom to “stop actin’ a fool!” God, however, takes a much more serious view of foolishness.

The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

Psalm 5:5

We must all seem extremely foolish to God when it comes to our intellectual capacities. After all, God is infinitely wise and omniscient, and there are times when we can barely remember where we put our keys! Here, though, as David the Psalmist prays to the Lord about his (and His) enemies, he is talking about a whole different level of folly.

You may note that the foolish men whom God will not allow to stand in His sight are sandwiched in the middle of verses that talk about God’s complete lack of pleasure in, and hatred for, the wicked, evil, and abhorrent.

You and I need to remember God’s passionate intolerance of sinful foolishness, and we need to especially remember it the next time we are tempted to gauge the seriousness of our sin by how silly, frivolous, or inconsequential it might seem to our biased minds. The Holy Spirit through David groups the “foolish” with those who “work” iniquity. Certainly God is judging us by our hearts, but our actions – those things in which we delight to participate – seem to be the best indicators of exactly what our hearts are embracing. Christians stand before God justified by the blood of Jesus, not by our works, but the application of that blood to our lives is supposed to result in holy living and sanctified functioning.

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