Tag Archive: Sin


Above It All

20150731_074724-1

This Mother’s Day…

As believers, let us never forget we can rejoice and praise the Lord in both the good times and in the bad.

We all have so many hopes and dreams, especially for our lives and our children’s lives, yet often this world sends storms beyond our control and we can do nothing but simply watch as our course and the courses of those we deeply love are altered. Sometimes these changes are, in part, due to decisions we have made. Other times, they are just the result of living in a broken and fallen world.

Special days like Mother’s Day can be so exciting, a time to thank our mothers and be thanked as mothers, yet it’s also a time when sorrow can quickly invade. There are many circumstances, some of which I understand first hand, that have affected families, ones that cause days like today to be quite difficult. Regardless of time, wounds are often still present. But dare we never forget that even in the worst of storms, the sun still shines above it all.

Praise Jesus, because for the born again believer, there’s eternal hope beyond the temporal storms and successes, above the peaks and valleys of this world. Regardless of the tragedies, trials, broken hearts and even beyond the earthly successes, there’s a wonderful kingdom above it all. This heavenly kingdom is eternal and available for any and all who choose to receive the full and free forgiveness of Jesus Christ. “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46.

Despite what we’ve been told, true life is not the sum total of all our expectations, experiences, hopes, and desires. Life is so much more than us. True life is Jesus Christ and no matter what storms come across our course, as Christians, we can still know victory because our God is outside and above it all. Jesus endured it all and laid down it all. He became sin for us, so we could finally be brought above it all to know what life’s really all about.

He became the lowest of all and then raised up to highest of all to provide the only way for mankind to receive Him as our All in All! Only because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection can we have true life, ETERNAL life! In John 17, Jesus reminds us, “And this is life eternal, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”  John 17:3. The Christian life is not easy. In fact, it’s frankly impossible. Only Jesus lived it perfectly and only Jesus can live His life in us. True life is only discovered when we once and for all give Jesus the reins, letting Him lead us Home to our Heavenly Father.

But the old life I chose to mortify still knocks on the door of my heart and mind. It still wants to be appreciated, noticed, and coddled. It becomes jealous when anyone else gets the attention, most of all Jesus.The world, the flesh, and the devil will often remind us of the tragedies and fleshly triumphs, desiring nothing less than for us to lose sight of the Son above, all together forgetting about our risen Lord and Savior.  And days like today can sometimes become grand opportunities for the flesh to come knocking.

Instead of opening the door, may I embrace the true Comforter, the Savior and sanctifier of my soul. May I take my eyes off myself and instead look intently at the only One I truly cannot live without. May I learn to embrace the difficulties this planet offers as opportunities to steadfastly grow closer to my Rock and Refuge.

The Lord has called us to so much more than we can ever comprehend this side of Heaven. May we take time to love Jesus today, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. And then let us simply continue serving Him, letting Him take care of every outcome. There are perhaps many tragedies filling your heart today. May the Lord bring us above them all, empowering us to continue running the heavenly race He has set before us with joy and grace in our hearts!

May we simply abide in Christ, continually feasting on His wonderful Word. Then let us continue faithfully planting and watering His Word in all those He puts in our path. We cannot truly change the course of anyone, but we can point them to the only One who can. His light will shine, even piercing through the darkest of storms, and with it comes true life. What an absolute privilege and blessing to wholeheartedly love and follow Jesus, knowing He truly is above it all!

“Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12

“Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Advertisements

The Only Way

image

I wonder if perhaps one reason the Lord created the earth to orbit in such a way that it never gets anywhere new is to help us remember to stop trusting in the same old, man-centred habits we’ve repeatedly embraced and performed for so many years.

There is a tree firmly rooted in this sin-soaked soil, one that every prideful heart pledges to protect at all cost. This tree is watered and fertilized with every vain philosophy and false religious system formed and followed by the first Adam’s fallen race. Sadly, the fallen nature in each of us delights in its temporary beauty, food, and shelter.

Ever since sin came in, the mantra of man has been onward and upward by whatever earthly means possible. No matter how many times mankind’s failures reveal his own futility, he stubbornly refuses to switch directions. Our persistent pride is truly deplorable! We have repeatedly fulfilled Proverbs 16:25, “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

There’s only way to get off this earthly orbit. If we desire to truly be free, to truly live, our heart must move, not only off this planet, but out of the universe. Creation is fallen so it can do nothing but cause us to fall back to this world. We must move past all of creation and instead wholeheartedly fix our full and undivided attention upon the Creator. Only by turning to the One True God, the Creator and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, will we pass from death to life.

“Jesus said… I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24

Robber or Redeemer

wpid-cross-bridge.jpg-bridge-of-hope.jpg.jpeg

“Now at that feast the governor was accustomed to releasing unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will you that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” Matthew 27:15-17

Pilate said, “But you have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the Passover: will you therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” John 18:39-40

From the cereal isle at the grocery store to the food court at the mall, there’s no doubt this world is inundated with an almost endless amount of choices. We are constantly bombarded with advertisements featuring the “latest and greatest” of everything. It’s no wonder we’ve almost become completely desensitized to the daunting amount of decisions staring at us day after day. Yet, in spite of this mountainous menagerie, our choices really don’t have to be that complicated. You see, when it’s all said and done, we are left with only two simple, but absolutely crucial decisions in all that we believe, do, say, and think – the robber or the Redeemer.

When Christ was led before the people, Pilate gave them a choice, Barabbas or Jesus.  The people had arguably made hundreds of thousands of choices in their life times, yet all those decisions could all be boiled down into one of these two categories, the robber or the Redeemer.  The same can be said for all of mankind throughout time. Although material is not necessarily good or bad, our hearts, being stubbornly self-willed, tend to allow us to become completely distracted by the lusts, pleasures, and pain of this planet. In a very real sense, we are often more than willing to be robbed of the joy and peace and wonderful knowledge of Christ for what is, at best, a measly bowl of stew. (Genesis 25:29-34). When examining the presence and power of the robber and the glorious reality of the Redeemer, there are definitely some things worth carefully considering. Here are just a few.

The Robber: Destroying the Foundation
This sin-soaked world, comprised of the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, only has one goal, one aim… to steal all the glory from God!  Jesus called Satan a thief and a murderer and reminds us that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  Even though he is the thief of all thieves, the devil obviously cannot actually steal the Lord. Nor can he kill the truth. And he most certainly cannot destroy the Word of God.  Some might wonder about Psalm 11:3… If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? Doesn’t this verse teach that the foundations can be destroyed?

There are two vantage points to consider when examining this verse, man’s and the Lord’s. Considering the Lord, we know there is nothing that can stand against Him, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Since this is the case, we can logically and biblically conclude that this verse is not saying that God’s Word can actually be destroyed. However, mankind’s love for and access to God’s Word can most definitely be rotted, replaced, and ruined.  I have absolutely no power to actually destroy God, but I most certainly have the capacity to infect and influence the hearts and minds of myself and others, causing a lost desire and direction for the truth, in essence, stealing away the one true foundation. So although the foundation, that is to say, God’s Word, endures forever, we do know that our appropriation, understanding, and application of that foundation can assuredly be robbed from us.

One example of this is found in the parable of the soils (Luke 8). The “birds” (the devil) snatched the Word from the hardened heart, therefore removing the only foundation that will endure forever. Did the Word actually get destroy? No. But the Word was robbed from taking root in the hardened heart.  So, it might be better to say the robber’s strategy is an attack of the heart, an attack designed to prevent us from seeking and being satisfied in the Lord and the truth of His everlasting Word. This attack often involves offering us deceptive distractions and distorted doctrines in an effort to keep our hearts calloused and “dull of hearing”. (Matthew 13:15-16, Hebrews 5:11)

The Redeemer: All Things New
So many have said that we all have a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only Jesus can fill, and while this is true, it is not completely the case. Jesus does not come to simply fill the hole in our old, selfish hearts. No, He comes to remove the stony heart and transplant a new and living heart, His love and life, in its place.  God’s Word calls this the new birth. (John 3) Jesus does not simply fill our old, prideful, flesh-driven and glory-gleaning hearts. He does something much more amazing! He gives a total and spiritual heart transplant. God’s promise to Israel through Ezekiel is also a promise to all who desire to receive His full and free forgiveness in Jesus –  “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 a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26.

Not only do we receive a new heart, we also receive a renewed mind. The Bible calls this the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Jesus does not desire to fill a portion of our self-centered, “me, myself, and I” preoccupied mind. No, He instead gives us a renewed mind. Being born again means we receive a new heart and a new mind.  This is the truth of the new birth only made possible by the righteous Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The Reality: Being Born Again is Just the Beginning
Jesus represented all of humanity and as that perfect representation, the Last Adam walked the walk mankind (the first Adam’s race) was always supposed to walk. Just as Jesus fully and freely laid down His life to the will of His Heavenly Father, so too are we to do the same. Jesus does not steal our old nature. He is no robber! He truly is the remarkable Redeemer! He paid our sinful price in full, offering all who are willing to come to Him. He purchased us from the slave market of sin, self, and Satan and in its place, He offers us new life in Him. Jesus freely offers His Spirit, His nature, as the great exchange for all who are willing to turn to Him, all who choose to be redeemed. But this exchange is not the end. Actually, it’s just the beginning. Just as in all births, being born again means there’s a lot of growth to come.

Even though those who have been born again have passed from death to life, having received a new heart and new mind, there is still the presence of the old man and of this broken, sinful world. That is why, for our good and His glory, the Lord requires us to bury the old man by daily turning from ourselves and this rebellious world to the True and Living God, Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever and ever, amen!

My Reasonable Responsibility: Wearing the Redeemer’s Clothes
Although the old, selfish, and rebellious man has been dethroned, he will not be completely eradicated until the rapture or in death. Oh, what a day that will be, to see without the fleshly veil, my great and glorious King! Oh, what a day that will be!!! So, in order to keep myself from being robbed by the riches and cares of this world; if I am to prevent myself from having my love of Jesus and His Word stolen through subtlety, then burying the old man daily is a must! (1 Corinthians 15:31, Colossians 3:4-11)

Great, but what are practical means necessary to keep from being robbed of the depth and beauty and glory of the Lord? “Just give me a list,” says the baby Christian. “Tell me the things of this world that Satan will use to rob me of the knowledge of Christ. Then I will be prepared.” The Bible definitely gives us some broad and sometimes even detailed lists of what we should “take off/mortify”, however it is interesting to note that God’s Word does not account for every single, specific danger we will face in the world. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, but arguably one of the main reasons has to do with our hearts.

I’m sure we’d all agree that even good, godly things have the potential of robbing the throne of the new heart, the throne only Jesus deserves to sit upon.  So, it’s not necessarily just about following a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s more about diligently guarding our hearts daily. (Proverbs 4:23) It’s about putting on the full armor of God so we can daily stand against the wiles of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11-24) Mortify the old man, yes!  Make no provision to the flesh, yes! But we have the privilege and responsibility of putting on the new man by clothing ourselves everyday with Christ. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” Romans 13:14.

Get to know the Good Shepherd’s voice by reading His Word often, praying fervently, knowing our righteousness is in Christ, and obeying our Heavenly Father willingly and wholeheartedly.  Then, and only then, will we be able to prevent our hearts from being robbed of the amazing beauty and joy found solely in Jesus Christ, our great and glorious Redeemer!

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth.” Job 19:25

Jesus said, “All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:8-11

Pulling Back the Curtain

imageSin is so terribly destructive, so utterly diabolical! Sin is so horrific that it’s true power and perversity are arguably unfathomable by the human mind. How much more so for the father of lies, the father of sin!?

We dip and dabble at it as if certain sins are permissible. We tolerate sin in our lives and sometimes even encourage it as if it’s as harmless as a squeaky screen door. Perhaps our reluctance to resist the devil (in the Lord’s strength of course) has something to do with our own perspective of sin and the father of it.

What if you discovered you were born into a family that had been hunted and killed for years? What if you also discovered that there was one person behind it all, a person only known as the prowler? You are forced to grow up on the run and after a decade of fear, the unthinkable happens. Your parents, your brothers, and sisters are all trapped and killed. Some how you are able to get away, only to go on the run again.

Another decade goes by, and you finally think you’re safe so you decide to settle down. Not too long after you move into your first place, a package arrives in the mail. Wrapped in beautiful, shiny paper, this intriguing gift causes you to let down your guard. There’s a small card attached. Your curiosity gets the best of you. You open the card. The message reads, “Dear Boy, I hope you accept my gift. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Your Friend, The Prowler.”

Would you open the gift? If not, then why? Why not open a present offered by the one responsible for hunting and destroying so many?

Of course, it’s not always so black and white with Satan, the enemy of our souls. Or is it? Perhaps it is that clear, but because of our deep personal devotion to the flesh, we often allow the issues to become muddied so we really don’t have to think too much about them.

Maybe if we’d ask the Lord to seriously pull back the curtain on sin, Satan, and our own selfish hearts, we’d begin understanding the deep destructiveness of the worldly nets we’ve wrapped ourselves in. Perhaps if we’d sincerely ask the Lord to give us eyes to see the sinfulness of sin and the beauty of Himself, we’d choose to leave this world’s temporary temptations alone, instead clinging wholeheartedly to the only gift that truly and eternally matters, Jesus Christ!

image

“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 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. That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:15-18, 21

Bible Light Bulb ImageThere are many questions and even more supposed answers about eternity. Lots of people have said there are many ways to get to Heaven.  After all, don’t all spiritual roads lead to the same place? Does it really matter what religion we follow?  If we’re simply sincere, devoted, and passionate about whatever we believe, won’t it all work out in the end?  Can’t my good works outweigh the bad things I’ve done in the past?  How can we really know for sure?

What’s the Answer?

Maybe you’re wondering some of the same things.     If not, you should be. After all, eternity is a lot longer than the few short years we’ll spend on this planet.  Asking good questions is important, but finding the right answers is even more crucial! If you’re lost and stop to ask someone for directions, it really does matter whether the directions he/she gives you are right or wrong. So in hopes of preventing anyone from getting even more lost, let’s examine several of today’s most popular myths.

We’ll examine seven basic misunderstandings/ myths in pursuit of discovering the true answer to how we can know for sure we are going to Heaven.

MYTH 1: The majority must be right. Just because people have answers doesn’t mean those answers are true, even if a majority agrees. A survey of 35,000 American adults shows that 70 percent believe there are many paths to God, but just because a majority believes the same thing doesn’t necessarily make it true.  Consider Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Just because many were in agreement with Hitler doesn’t make what he believed and did correct. Following the majority isn’t the answer!

MYTH 2- Sincerity is what matters.  Just because someone is sincere in a belief doesn’t make it right.

  • Does it matterif a sincere pharmacist puts the wrong pills in a bottle?
  • Does it matterif a surgeon sincerely believed he removed a kidney when in fact he removed the liver?
  • Does it matterif a woman ate a poisonous mushroom, even though she sincerely thought it would be good for her?

It is possible to be very sincere, but be sincerely wrong. The critical question is not whether someone is sincere, rather what is the truth?  Sincerity is not the answer.

MYTH 3: Pretty good is good enough. One of the greatest lies ever believed is that human beings can be good enough to get to Heaven!  I’ve heard this so many times and at one point even believed it myself.  I’ve even had professing atheists tell me if there is a ‘God’, then when they die they’ll be okay because they’ve been pretty good. Here’s the thing, being pretty good isn’t the real issue. God’s standard isn’t pretty good, it’s perfection. After all, God isn’t simply pretty good. He’s perfect.

Being pretty good isn’t the answer.

MYTH 4: Religion is good enough.  At some level, all religions say we must do good works in order to be right. Biblical Christianity is totally unique.  In religion, man has to reach up to God by his good works. In Christianity, God reached down with the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. He was crucified for the sins of the world. If religion, rituals, and traditions worked, Jesus would’ve never had to come and die.  Religion is not the answer!

MYTH 5: My future good deeds will make up for my past bad deeds. Here’s the problem. Let’s say you get a speeding ticket for driving 55 in a15 mph school zone, then stand before the judge and tell him you’ll never speed again. Will that make up for the crime you’ve already committed?  No. What if you tell the judge you’ve driven through that area many times before, always following the law? Will that make up for your crime?  No. We don’t get extra credit for following the law. The law requires that we follow it completely. That’s the whole point. Following the law tomorrow will never make up for the fact that we broke it today.  Simply said, the price has to be paid!  Future good deeds are not the answer.

Myth 6: I’m a good person.  We all tend to compare ourselves with one another; forgetting people are not the standard.  We did not make this universe, and we did not make the moral laws any more than the physical laws of this universe. God is the Creator, and He is the standard, not us. All one has to do is look at God’s law, which can be boiled down to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)  to see if we really are good people, if we measure up to the holiness of God.  Here are a few of God’s moral laws:

  • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  Telling the truth is the backbone of any society and the Bible. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie…” God is truth.  Have you ever told a lie; even a “little” one?
  • “You shall not steal.” Have you ever taken something that is not yours?
  • “You shall not commit adultery.”  Jesus took this commandment to a deeper level when He said, “If you have even looked upon someone with lust, it means you have already committed adultery in your heart with that person.” Matthew 5:27-28. Have you ever looked at someone with lust?

Now things get a little more interesting.  James 2:10 says, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

So if we’ve even broken one of God’s commandments, we’ve broken them all.

 I ask you again, “Have you broken any of the Ten Commandments?” If you’re honest, you’ll have to say yes. Since we’ve all broken God’s law, it’s clear no one is really a good person.

Here’s the truth:  The reason sincerity, religion, and good works just don’t cut it is because they all originate from men and according to God, we’ve all willfully sinned. That is to say, we’ve all come short of God’s standard of perfection. Period!  We’re not the solution, frankly we’re the problem.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

God knows we’ve sinned.  We know we need His forgiveness. “For I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” Psalm 38:18  

The shedding of an animal’s blood reminded the Israelites that death was a result of man’s choice to rebel against his Creator. It was also a clue of God’s faithfulness to one day send One who would pay the ultimate price by dying for all of humanity, One who would not only die, but take the spiritual and eternal punishment we deserve so our penalty against God would be fully paid. A male lamb without spot was used in the Old Testament for a yearly sacrifice to God. This was a clue that One would come, not as a spotless lamb, but as a sinless man and God to die for the sins of the world.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29  

Jesus is the Lamb of God that the Old Testament pointed to, the One that would be the final, complete, and eternal sacrifice to God the Father by dying on the cross for our sins. God the Father literally poured out the anger and wrath we deserve upon His Son!

“He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Are you ready to repent (turn) and put your    belief in Jesus and His finished work on the cross for you?

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…” 1 Corinthians 15:3-6  

Myth 7: Christianity is just too narrow-minded.  With so many religions around the world, this might seem reasonable. Jesus claimed to be the only way to Heaven, yet many believe this is too narrow-minded. But is this bad? When I walk through the front door, does it ever bother me that there’s only one door? When I enter a gas station or a store, do I ever stop to complain when there’s only one door?  No. One door doesn’t mean anything other than there’s only one way in.  One way, in reality, makes it simple. There’s one way, making it very easy to identify both the true and the false doors.  Yes, one way to Heaven is narrow, but narrow doesn’t mean it’s bad. The God of the Bible says He’s one God (Deut. 6:4), so why not only have one way? God doesn’t want us to follow a lie. All may enter, but we must enter His way, not our own. Being too narrow just isn’t an excuse. Believing there are many ways to Heaven isn’t the answer.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

 THE TRUE and ETERNAL ANSWER

The answer of eternity is found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!  You have two choices. Sadly, most choose the wide road to exit planet Earth. The other way is the narrow road which is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.

WHICH ONE WILL YOU CHOOSE?

“If you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For the Scripture says, “Whosoever believes on [Jesus] shall not be ashamed.”  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9-13  

“For [God] says, “I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I helped you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”  2 Corinthians 6:2  

There is only one way to get to Heaven. The true path is through Jesus Christ and Him alone. You must make this decision before you die. There’s no second chance after death.

Repent and believe on Him for the forgiveness of your sins before it’s too late.

(Originally produced and distributed by Once Lost Ministries)

“One of the most important things to realize is that the Christian life, the real Christian life, humanly speaking, is impossible. It was never intended to be lived by human beings. It was to be lived by God within the heart of the Christian, by the power of God, the presence of God, of Jesus Himself living within us in a victorious way. Sadly, most of us live the Christian life with two Christians in one body. We open our heart, we invite Jesus Christ to come in. We now say I’m a Christian, but then we have Jesus who sits there for most of our lifetime wanting to take over while we’re showing Him how to be a Christian.” 
 
“The interesting thing about the Christian life, you really don’t need two Christians in one body. One is quite adequate. When we’ve already invited the finest Christian who ever lived with our life, why do we spend time trying to impress Him with our efforts to do it?  Basically Jesus is saying, I got into your life through My death on the cross and you’ll get into victory through your death to Me, dying to self, dying to your unbelief, dying to all your carnal wickedness and corruption and nature. When you give up on that and stop making promises on how hard you’re going to try and good you’re going to do and simply start saying, Lord I’m going to look to you, then you’ll realize there’s no way humanly to do it.”  ~Don McClure  
“Faithful is He that calls you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

Eternal Freedom

 

God's love to peopleFreedom is the song all men long to sing. Yet too often freedom means free from the true God; free from His “constraints.” Sadly many will realize only after it’s too late that Jesus Christ is the only One who offers true, everlasting freedom. Deep down inside we believe we can somehow attain freedom to do what we want, yet this is an unattainable illusion. Too often we believe we can actually attain a level beyond servant hood, yet again this can only be done by deluding ourselves.

We will always be servants. We will always serve someone or something. The question isn’t whether or not we can ever be truly free to do what we want. The question is whether we can ever truly be free enough to follow the One we were designed to pursue. You see we were never designed to live apart from the One who created man. Currently men are shackled by their own selfish desires, yet they foolishly seek heavier irons all in the name of freedom, all the while making them more the slave to sin, self, and Satan.

Jesus came to make men truly free. Free to follow God. Free to leave self and pride behind. Free to love and worship God the way He intended all along. Freedom is the lover’s song and only the sinner saved from his eternal chains by Jesus Christ dying for his sins can know eternal freedom. Only the wretched man who humbles himself before the Almighty God will ever know what it feels like to truly be free, not free to run from God, but finally free to run to Him.

If you seek to be free from God, you already have it. If you seek to be free to follow the true and living  God, His invitation is for you. Perhaps today you would desire to once and for all be freed from the bondage of sin and selfishness. “Jesus answered them, Truly, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. If the Son [Jesus Christ] therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:34,36 OldRuggedCross_B&W

Who is the Real Enemy?

Self LoveSo often people speak of Satan as being the enemy, which he clearly is. (1 Peter 5:8) However, there is almost no mention today of the enemy that follows us around everywhere we go. It wasn’t Satan that caused Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden and it surely isn’t Satan that forces men to sin today. Yes, he is the tempter, but we are personally responsible for our decisions. “…But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:13-14

We sin because our flesh has chosen to place self, instead of God, upon the throne. Self is as much the enemy as Satan. The old man, cast in the image of his father the devil, doesn’t just vanish upon being born again. The old man, the self life, along with all its affections and desires, MUST be crucified daily by the power of Christ who lives in every born again believer. (Luke 9:23)

All the talk today from popular psychologists, authors, and preachers of self acceptance, self love, self worth, etc. is foolishness to the cross and the cross foolishness to their false teachings. Although unbiblical and destructive to the soul, sadly many professing believers have rallied around the idea of self love as if it is the saving Gospel of mankind. After all how can someone actually feel worthy to accept God’s forgiveness until they learn to love themselves?

How far we have come from the truth of Paul… “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing… O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” Romans 7:18a, Romans 7:24  Even popular, professing Christian singers have begun injecting self love into their lyrics. May the day never come when we sing, “I lift me up! Oh yeah and Jesus too.”

“I lay me down and lift Jesus up!” ought always be my love song to the One who died for a sinner such as I.

OldRuggedCross_B&WQuestion: You claim that the payment for sins was not through the physical sufferings of Christ inflicted by man, but spiritual sufferings endured at the hands of God. Yet Isaiah 53:5 says “…and by his stripes we are healed.” The NASB has, “…and by his scourging we are healed.” Please admit your error!

 

Answer: The NASB is wrong. The Hebrew chabburah translated “stripes” occurs six other times (Gn 4:23; Ex 21:25; Ps 38:5; Prv 20:30; Is 1:6) and it and it never means Roman scourging. Do you really think (as Mel ibson’s film erroneously attempts to show that Roman soldiers’ torture of Christ paid the eternal penalty for all of the murders, rapes, wars, hatred, jealousy, and unimaginable evil committed by billions of people during the history of mankind? Sinful soldiers can’t mete out to the Holy Son of God the righteous punishment for the sins of the world!

 Peter specifically says Christ paid for our sins on the cross (1 Pt 2:24), not when scourged. It was during those 3 hours of darkness on the Cross that God laid on Christ the infinite penalty for the sins of the world—and only when He had paid for our sins in full did He cry in triumph, “It is finished!” Not because of His scourging, but as a result of what Christ accomplished on the Cross, the rocks were split, the earth quaked and the veil of the temple was ripped open (Mt 27:51). First Peter 2:24 indicates that the healing by “stripes” is not from disease (as some teach) but from sin: “Who his own self bare our sins….” That this refers to spiritual punishment is clear: “thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin” (Is 53:10). Like the soul, sin itself, though expressed in physical acts, is spiritual: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness…” (Mk 7:21, 22).

Salvation is spiritual and can only be by faith. To receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life as a gift from God is the greatest spiritual good conceivable. Physical punishment executed by sinful men could never make that gift possible. Thus the physical stripes Christ received in fulfillment of prophecy could not pay the penalty for sin; only God’s spiritual punishment could do that. Healing from sin and its penalty is what the gospel is all about: “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3) —not that “Christ died for our physical ailments.” The promise, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31) clearly pertains to salvation from sin, not from disease. Christians in general are neither healthier nor live longer in this life than unbelievers —but we have eternal life.

 The Hebrew noun chabburah translated “stripes” is singular in Isaiah 53:5, indicating one blow from God one blow from God wounding Christ “for wounding Christ “for our transgressions,” bruising Him “for our iniquities”—not the many stripes of scourging that were a major focus of Mel Gibson’s attempt to show that Christ’s physical sufferings paid for the sins of all mankind. Do you really believe that what Christ physically endured in the scourging and crucifixion was equal to what sinners will endure for all eternity in the lake of fire?

 There is nothing in any of the four gospels (other than crowning Him with thorns and mocking Him as a king) to indicate that Christ’s scourging and crucifixion were any worse physically than that suffered by thousands of others. That “Pilate marveled if he were already dead” (Mk 15:44) contradicts the idea that Christ was scourged and tortured within an inch of His life. Thus the statement that “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Is 52:14) could not be due to unusual physical beating, but to such intense spiritual agony that His features were so distorted that it was awesome to behold.

 The idea that the physical suffering Christ endured at the hands of men paid for the sins of the world is neither biblical nor rational for at least four reasons:

 1) Christ didn’t come even close to suffering more physically than any other person. Some men hung in agony for days on crosses, the Assyrians flayed their enemies alive, some victims of the Inquisition were roasted for hours over a slow fire, and the Inquisitors competing to develop the most excruciating torture—sometimes even bringing victims back from the brink of death, letting them heal, and then torturing them again;

 

2) if the physical “stripes” paid the penalty for sin, Christ’s physical tormenters would have played a vital role in our redemption and would in a sense be our co-redeemers (and what if they failed to torment Him enough to save us?!);

 

3) the punishment for those who reject Christ is eternal, but those who scourged and crucified Christ were incapable of inflicting eternal punishment; and

 

4) physical suffering could never adequately cause the moral and spiritual pain which must be involved in the just punishment of sin—in fact, it would obliterate it. The error that physical scourging paid for our sins is also refuted by Scripture’s declaration that Christ “made peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:20), not “the blood of his scourging,” which took place before He was led to Golgotha. We are “justified through his blood” (Rom 5:9), which includes His death. Had he merely bled but not died, we could not be saved. The phrase “shedding of blood” (Lv 17:11; 2 Chr 29:24, etc.) always means death, not wounding as in scourging—and this is the only means of atonement: “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb 9:22). Christ “by himself purged our sins” (Heb 1:3). While this could not be without the shedding of His blood at the hands of others, there was something which He alone had to do to purge us from our sins. That could only have been to endure eternal punishment at the hands of God which no man could exact from Him—something far worse than the “stripes” of scourging. Christ’s spiritual sufferings for sin are beyond our understanding and Scripture only hints at them:

 “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me…? smitten of God, and afflicted…wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities…the chastisement of our peace was upon him…the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all…for the transgression of my people was he stricken…it pleased the Lord to bruise him…thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin…the travail of his soul…poured out his soul unto death…he bare the sin of many…he hath made him to be sin for us, [he] who knew no sin…” (Ps 22:1; Is 53:4-6,8,10-12; 2 Cor 5:21), etc.

Christ’s sweating in spiritual agony “as it were great drops of blood” (Lk 22:44) and pleading with His Father in the Garden to be spared “this cup” (Mt 26:39,42) could not have been in dread of the scourging and crucifixion (as implied in the film) which thousands of others also endured. “This cup” from which He shrank could only have been that He would be “made sin for us”—that He would “bear our sins in His own body” and be punished by God to the full extent demanded by His justice for the sins of the entire world. During those three hours of darkness on the Cross, all the “waves and billows” of God’s wrath against the sins of all mankind rolled over Him (Ps 42:7; 88:7; Jon 2:3).

Isaiah declares that Yahweh “bruised [Him] for our iniquities.” It is unbiblical and irrational to suggest that the Roman soldiers were guided by God in each blow as God’s means of punishing Christ for sin. Christ said, “No man taketh it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of myself” (Jn 10:18). It is God’s law which men have broken, He pronounced the penalty and He alone can execute it in righteousness. Therefore, the payment for our sins could only have been through the punishment Christ endured at the hands of God, not men. Christ had to be more than mere man: He had to be God manifest in the flesh to endure the eternal punishment due for the sins of all mankind in the three hours of darkness.

 We are told that He “by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9). That had to include the “second death”—eternity of punishment in the lake of fire which is yet future for the lost. This could not have been at the hands of the Roman soldiers who scourged and mocked Him, but only at the hands of God.”  ~Dave Hunt

Q&A from The Berean Call Newsletter, May 2004, http://www.thebereancall.org/sites/2011.thebereancall.org/files/may04.pdf

Bible Sword ImageAnother easily forgotten facet in this spiritual battle is this- people are not our ultimate enemies.  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12. Oh, how easy it is to walk by sight, losing our eternal focus!  Although men are the enemies of God, may we never forget they are also blinded by sin, self, and Satan.  In the end God will be their judge, not us.

In an earthly battle, a sword is nothing less than an efficient and effective instrument of combat, one that has accompanied many a hand over the centuries.  Before His arrest, Jesus even instructed the disciples to buy swords to carry with them in their travels. (Luke 22:36) Although many around the world no longer own swords, spiritually speaking the battle still rages and only a sword will do.  God’s Word is our sword and the Word serves as the only effective offensive weapon in our spiritual arsenal.

The Word of God is both living and active, which reveals that the power of the Word does not merely come from the ink on the pages of the Book.  Rather it is the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Word of God.  Working through the power of the Holy Spirit, His truth and love flow from Heaven’s throne, bringing to life His Word, bringing the light of the glorious Gospel to life in hearts and minds of all willing readers.

%d bloggers like this: