Jesus the only way.

 

(ok, this is really long, you might want to print it out, there’s just no way to make smaller bites, or this would turn out to be a one year study)

This issue about how can Christ be the only way to God is one of the toughest objections that will surface. It used to be the questions that concerned the issues of why do the innocent suffer. But now, I think, this question has become perhaps one of the largest obstacles. Why do you suppose that’s true? I think it’s a growth of pluralism and the issue of tolerance. We’ve discussed this in a number of cases but in our culture people have been educating us to suppose that tolerance is defined by agreeing with people or at least agreeing that their view may be just as legitimate as your view.

That is to say egalitarianism when it comes to truth has become the kind of course of the time. In other words, we are egalitarian with regard to truth. It’s interesting that we are often still elitists when it comes to people but egalitarian when it comes to truth. As I see it, it should be just the other way around. We are to be elitists when it comes to truth and egalitarian when it comes to people. That is to say, treat people in such a way that tolerance would be defined as loving and caring for the person and agreeing sometimes to disagree but in understanding that when we disagree on a truth that does not mean I’m rejecting you as a person.

Some how people have got the notion that to disagree with your thinking is to reject you as a person. I don’t know where that came from but that’s never really been the case at all. Such things would have eliminated the whole possibility of debate and dialogue in the past. Rather you have the idea that it is a good thing. Come now, let us reason together. (Isaiah 1:18) Let’s think things through and let’s have an opportunity to kind of evaluate options in the marketplace of ideas to see which ones hold and which ones do not. That is really all we are doing here.

the immediate objection surfaces that how can Christ be the only way to God is that means it’s too narrow. Some will say that since religion is all basically the same, some people feel that does it really matter which one you believe. In other words, aren’t all those religions pretty much variations on the same kinds of ideas? Isn’t it a matter of personal preference or upbringing or an estimated 75% of the world isn’t Christian, can they all be wrong? This sort of notion comes up. Jesus may be the only way for you but how does that make Him the only way for everybody?

You see, these are all really variations of the same objection. When this question surfaces then we need to consider that there are three basic options.

One could say that it’s not narrow and to revisit the whole issue and to say actually, as some have tried to do, that Christianity has been redefined in many circles as being so inclusive that it includes virtually anything. The question is whether that really is acceptable within the idea of mere Christianity or historic orthodox Christianity and whether that’s compatible or whether that’s coherent or not. The other option is if it’s narrow it must be wrong. The third option is narrowness doesn’t make it right or wrong. The question is whether it’s true or not.

When C.S. Lewis came to faith in Christ, ultimately he communicated that it was not because he wanted to believe. In fact, it was very much against his predilection. His disposition was to go against that. In fact, he said, I was a very satisfied, smug atheist. Then all these friends, these people I ran into, kept on jostling me. An atheist, he says, can never be too careful these days! You might read something, you might run into something that might be factual and so it is. It was not really something he wanted but something that kind of embraced him. It was not unlike Paul’s experience. He was really fighting against this whole thing. It was when Christ laid His hand upon him- that became a decisive experience in his life.

So Lewis came to the point where he says, you need to understand, it’s not because of any pragmatic value that Christianity may or may not have, it’s not because I feel good about it or that it is something I want to believe, I happen to be a Christian because I happen to believe it’s true. There is no other reason I believe but because I happen to think it’s true. I have been persuaded that there is a veridical case for Christianity among the worldview options. It’s such that it has the best evidential base of any of them.

Let’s take a look at the first option then that it is not narrow. My argument here is that such a view would conflict with the very exclusive claims of Christ. Now some people are clever and they try to redefine those claims or try to say that well, it looks like He said it but He really didn’t say it, the church put those words in His mouth. We’ve talked about that a little bit with this whole issue about Jesus being a myth or a legend when we talked earlier about the bible and it’s reliability. But the bottom line here is to say that there is no manuscript or historical or ancient traditions that would support such a view. In fact, it’s a view that’s rather recent that has been imposed upon the material to reconstruct or one might better say to deconstruct the text to fit modern parameters of a more pluralistic context. As we know, we live in a culture where truth is now presumably socially conditioned rather than something that’s objective. In a postmodern culture, which is actually ultra modern, basically the idea is that everything is up for grabs. What may be true for you may not be true for me. We’ll talk about that in a minute but let’s look at least at the texts themselves first of all.

Here’s what people often suppose. It might be that there is a mountain and as we go further and further up this mountain toward its pinnacle there are different ways up this mountain. Various people go up by different routes, some circuitous and others more directly but eventually they’re all going to converge at the top. The idea is that everybody at the top of the mountain will realize it was all the same quest after all. We’re all meeting at the top and whatever god, as you define who God would be, we’ll all say, oh, so all the religions really were all about the same god or about the same thing. It just looked different in our own culture. It’s often presented this way or else they use a wheel illustration. We look at this wheel and the various aspects and when we look at the hub, we see again that we’re all actually kind of heading toward the same hub, same center, whatever that might be and we may not know what it is. There are some accounts given that are of a pluralistic nature that say, nobody of course can know what kind of god this is. The very nature then of god is unknowable.

Of course that’s a content statement that everyone has to ask, how do you know that He’s unknowable? Immediately you have to realize that they are importing backhanded some particular facts and making very specific claims that the various people who made claims to know about God were completely deluded.

In other words you cannot be totally neutral on this matter. I’m suggesting here that actually that kind of view does not take seriously into account the claims and credentials of Christ. Now in John 3:18, the statement made by Christ, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Often, Jesus will speak of Himself as the Son of Man or the Son of God. He has this very strong claim that He’s making. In John 8:24 He said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Again this is a very strong claim.

Many people say, well, Jesus never really spoke much about Himself but even if He wasn’t true or even if He didn’t live or even if He wasn’t raised from the dead, His teachings would still be true. This was what Gandhi actually held as his position. He said that I admire His teachings so much that even if there never was a historical Jesus, still they would be true for me. The problem is, Jesus’ teachings are always about Himself – unabashedly, constantly referring back to Him. He doesn’t talk just about general terms but He says, unless you believe that I AM, then you will die in your sins. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

I take it as well, as I look at the various founders of world religions that there is a radical uniqueness of Christ in a number of ways in this regard. Some people promoted their teachings as the only way to God. But as I said earlier, Christ promoted Himself as that way rather than a set of teachings. Some would say that it is only through the teachings of various so-called prophets, and some said truth is spoken of in many ways but Jesus was very specific about this. He was specific not only about his exclusivity but also about His deity and His unique position. He boldly made this statement, (John 8:19b), “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” He who does not know Me does not know My Father. This is a very strong claim indeed and can be seen in another text in Matthew 11. This is just before the important text we’ve all heard, Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My Yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus is inviting them not to come to hear His teachings but to come to Him and He will give you rest. Take My yoke- receive – He constantly talks about receiving Him. The verse just before this, Matthew 11:27 says, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” So you have this pretty strong kind of claim that has to at least be accounted for. In John 14:9, He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”

This other phrase that we just alluded to, I AM, often in bold letters, is seen again and again throughout the Scriptures in the New Testament as being a claim that Jesus makes. The I AM claim that He is making is related to the claim given to Moses. The proposition was given to Moses at the burning bush and you recall when Moses said in Exodus 3, whom shall I say is sending me? Who, will I tell Pharaoh, is sending me? Who, will I tell Pharaoh, is giving me the authority for this message? What did that voice give Moses? What was that name that Moses heard? Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” That is the name then for the self-existent One. He exists in and of Himself. He looks to nothing else for His derivation. When Jesus said to the Jews, (John 8: 58), “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” How do you suppose they reacted to such a phrase? By the way, He didn’t say, I happen to exist or I am He, He said I AM. Else where, when they came to seek Him and there was a cohort, some 600 of them armed, and they came at night, as you recall in the Garden of Gethsemane, to take Him away, they came armed with lanterns, spears, torches and so forth. John 18: 4b, “Whom do you seek?” John 18:5a, “They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I AM.” (Note: now in your bibles it might say He in italics but this phrase was ego eime- I AM) John 18:6, “So when He said to them, “I AM He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.” Something happened that was pretty powerful. In another case (John 57-59), when Jesus said, before Abraham was born, I AM, the Jews objected and said, You’re not even 50 years old and are You saying that You preceded him. They took up stones and wanted to stone Him to death for blasphemy because they understood that such a claim would be to make yourself tantamount to being God.

He supported His case for deity in a number of ways besides His numerous I AM statements. He also claimed the attributes of God. For example, the attribute of eternality is something that He claimed in John 17:5, “ Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” He claims as well the attribute of omnipresence. You see this illustrated in several passages for example when Jesus says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Now you can see where there are lots of times when more than 2 or 3 groups of people as well will gather together and it would imply a clear statement of omnipresence. “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b) I am with you. I’m constantly present with you. I would also say another claim, His sinlessness, is also a divine attribute. He would say, which of you convicts Me, charges Me with any sin. That’s a pretty strong statement. Now I have run into one or two people, maybe two people, who claimed to be sinless. They’re pretty rare but every so often I’ll run into someone who claims to be absolutely perfect. It’s an astounding claim but it requires no self-consciousness whatsoever or the perfection of those 3 defense mechanisms of denial, rationalization and projection. The only way I can account for a person who thinks himself or herself sinless is of course to see what friends and perhaps a spouse would reply to that statement about them! This particular person had to hold that view because he held a particular theology where by if he sinned at all, he would lose his salvation. What I did was I pressed him a little bit with that particular theology and said, well, what kind of sin are we talking about? Is it something pretty big or something more modest because the question is, where is your cutoff? I pressed him with that. He hadn’t murdered anyone. Then the problem would be, what if you hate somebody in your heart? Do you recall when Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said if you hate your brother you’ve committed murder in your heart? Then I pressed it farther and I got it down to where if he exceeded the speed limit, unbeknownst to him, by ½ mph, he would lose his salvation. Now at that point, frankly, he had committed the sin of pride in order to hold to such a stubborn position because he refused to acknowledge the incoherence of his position. The point is, if that’s your view then any sin will do it- thought, word or deed and it can be sins of omission as well. The sins of omission cut both ways as well. There are a lot of things I have done wrong by simply not doing them. Remember that idea- if you have a liturgical background part of the confession is that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and in what we have failed to do. That will nail you because there are all kinds of things that we should’ve done. We look back and say, I should’ve said a word of kindness to that person or I should’ve- you see where I’m going with that? Thought, word and deed will get you too. It’s not just your deeds but your thoughts and your words count too! We have a dilemma that we have to address. Scripture hits us front on with that.

There are a number of indirect claims that Jesus makes concerning His deity. There are a number of these but one of these is His ability to forgive sin. That is a pretty strong claim in Mark 2:5-11 and Luke 7:48-50 when Jesus says, I forgive them, and particularly when it was not a sin committed against Him. Try this at home- somebody complains to you about another person who had said something mean to your friend and your friend told you about this and whatever they did you say, that’s okay, I forgive them. Do you see the absurdity there? Wait a minute, what do you have to do with this, you weren’t involved? To make such a claim is to make the supposition that all sins are committed ultimately against Him. This would mean, of course, that He claimed to be God. In fact the Pharisees rightly said, who but God could forgive sins? They were right and again- they wanted to stone Him for these kinds of claims and these so-called blasphemies because they were right- if He wasn’t God these were indeed blasphemies.

Jesus’ acceptance of worship was pretty strong. Remember when, for example, Thomas sees Him and he says, my Lord and my God. (John 20:28) Peter worships Him in the boat and when Jesus says, all must honor the Son even as they have honored the Father. (John 5:23) The word that is used is the word for worship. These are very strong claims. That all people would face Him in judgment is not a modest claim either in John 5. Imagine me coming to say to you that by the way, when you die it’s going to be me that you give an account to- not anyone else- me. These are pretty strong claims if you would analyze the implications of that. Also, that judgment will be based upon what you did about Me is again, a very strong claim.

Stay tuned

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for James, he and his son have drifted apart.

Pray for Fritz, always been in church, never accepted the Lord because of “hypocrites.”

Pray for Robin M. a burned out child of the 70’s, never grew up.

 

Good intentions

May 19, 2018

Okay I’d like to tell you a story about how good deeds can backfire.

We were pastoring a small church and we had a lady named Gail who’s husband had run off and left her with four children, one of them and infant. And she had no marketable job skills and with the four kids and no income they were hard-pressed every month for groceries and rent, the church did everything it could to help them and she would bring her kids to church and clean and help with stuff and Gail felt like she had to do something to earn the money and help that we gave.

So one day I came to church and she was  in the sanctuary sobbing and crying and I asked her what was wrong and she said that by taking public transportation, (The bus) she had spent over six hours in the hot summer sun and she was sunburned. The kids are sunburned. The baby was sunburned. They’re all dehydrated and hungry and I had told her before we leave to go into the kitchen at the church and help themselves whenever they came here. Of course she felt bad about imposing in doing that, but I told her she needed to get fluids in everybody so they didn’t get sick.

So we decided that the church would buy her car, so we had several people in the congregation that were police officers and they  told us that a police auction was coming up soon and there would be a lot of cars to choose from.

So we went to the police auction and bought her a car large enough to haul four kids around and it was taken to a mechanic and proven to be reliable and we put new tires and belts and hoses on it just to make sure. well three days later it’s the weekend and I get a phone call from Gail and she is just about crazy with panic and fear, seems she came out of the grocery store and there the car was with all the doors open all the door panels tore out, the backseat tore out, the trunk open and all the carpeted panels tore out the trunk. the hood was up and several engine parts were laying on the ground and she just couldn’t believe what happened to the car.

So we went to get her and called the police. one of our men from the congregation who was a police officer was there and he said the car that we had bought at a police auction was probably a drug car and when the drug dealer saw the car back at the grocery store they thought maybe the drugs might still be in there and they had stripped the car looking for the drugs.

So Bill and I, we put the car all back together made sure it was running and we followed Gail back to her home.

Last Sunday when she came to church. She was a little bit beside yourself and I asked her what was wrong, and she felt that what happened to the car was a sign that she was not leading her life right or there was some unconfessed sin or some nonsense. I told her that was not the case and that it wasn’t her fault, it wasn’t bad stewardship or anything else and let’s get over it and move on, the chances of it happening again are slim.

 I remember when I retired from that church as pastor one of the hardest things was hoping and realizing that the pastor that was coming in behind me would care as much for the poor folk that we had in that church and would do all that could be done to help them like we had. So, it’s been 30 years later, all her kids are grown up and become missionaries or evangelists or pastors and she is gotten remarried and life has turned out much better for her. that car is long gone. but you have to wonder sometimes why things happen.

The good news is that God is sovereign, and we won’t ever understand why things happen they way they do. But like the old gospel song. ‘trust and obey for there is no better way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.’

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Alive Now

  “[God] hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

  There aren’t many truly happy Christians simply because there aren’t many who really abide in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our risen Lord is the source of our happiness as we rest in Him—triumphant over circumstances; not hopelessly underneath them. Happy is the abiding believer, “hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

  “I must not only see my position in the Lord Jesus, but I must come near to the One who set me there. Many are disappointed that after hearing with delight and receiving the truth of their position they are not more affected by it.

  “The reason is that they rest too much in the position and have not occupied themselves increasingly with their risen Lord; have not drawn nearer to Him, and recognized Him as the only One who can make it all experiential in them.

  Is the living Person now in heavenly glory really the Object of our hearts? For some time after I knew the Savior I used to think of Him as One who had lived and died on earth long years ago, and I well remember the day when I knelt down with a dear brother who prayed that we might know the Lord Jesus as a living Person in heavenly glory, and it dawned upon me that there was a present Object for my heart in heaven. Our hearts will never be satisfied until that glorified Lord Jesus becomes our Object bright and fair and presently alive, not just a historical reference.

  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Sherrie M, that she would behave like a godly woman

Pray for Henry G, prostate cancer (second time)

Pray for Anne B, 51 days sober.

 

Hard Knocks

May 17, 2018

John-Wayne-p15

  “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency, may abound to every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).

  Suffering takes us in condition where truth has us in position.

  We will never learn any truth in experience excepting in the deepening knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the lack of this which is the cause of weakness among believers; bare doctrine is not personal fellowship with Him. We have that which is lovely and full of blessing in Him; but if we are to know it as such; to prove its truth, to enjoy it always, it must be in taking these things as connected with Him.

  The passive power of faith needs for its sustenance closer communion with the Father than its active energy. Action, as it were, nerves us to the conflict; but quiet endurance of wrong, or suffering of any kind, which neither friend nor foe sees, but only God, this indeed needs divine power, and without God’s support none would bear the strain. Many a saint has shown the courage of faith before his enemies, as Elijah when he faced Ahab, but who, like him, quails and flees, where there is nothing to do, but quietly trust in God.

  There is but one thought with our Father in disciplining us, namely, to make our trials an opportunity for our heart to learn and discover more of His love, and the resources which are in Him as He has revealed them to us in His Son.

  “There is no way of learning faith except by trial. It is God’s school of faith, and it is far better for us to learn to trust our Father than to enjoy life.”

  “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:10).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

The path to peace

May 16, 2018

Yield_Sign_in_New_Hampshire

“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15).

  Peace does not, and cannot, exist in the fallen Adamic life; and as long as the old man reigns within, there is going to be turmoil both within and without. The path of the Cross is alone the path of peace.

  The moment came when the Lord Jesus could say, ‘Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you’ (John 14:27). This could only be on the ground of His death, for the man in Adam could never give up his will: to do so would be to give up his very existence. But the death of the Lord Jesus is—judicially, and for faith—the end of that man, and the Christian walking in the Spirit owns him no more.

  The believer can thus, and only thus, have freedom from the tyranny of sin as he reckons (having faith)himself to have died unto sin, and to be alive unto God as one ‘alive from the dead.’ He presents his body a living sacrifice unto God, and proves what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Thus walking, the peace of the Lord Jesus becomes an experiential reality in the heart of the believer. Thank God! we are no longer linked with the fallen Adam, and the Holy Spirit has placed us in union with Christ risen and glorified.

 The more clearly we enter, by faith, into objective truth, or what is true of us in the Lord Jesus, the deeper, more experiential and practical will be the Spirit’s subjective work in us, and the more complete will be the manifestation of the moral effect in our life and character.

  “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one” (Heb. 2:11).

It saddens me that our pulpits are deaf and dumb to the teaching of ‘reckoning’ oneself as crucified. We can memorize the verses but it needs to be taught more rightly about the crucified life. That we need to put ourselves on the cross daily and give no power to sin in our lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Matthew, picked up a parasite from a trip to Costa Rica

Pray for Greg W, threes years of intense IBS, some days like today totally crippling.

christ on cross

  “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (Phil. 3:7).

  Our Father has many reasons for administering trial —all good. Trial teaches us the futility of the old life, and the faithfulness of the Lord Jesus—our new life.

  “The Christian suffers the same calamities as others, perhaps even worse; he faces difficulties and losses in the things of this life; he has to be prepared to meet death itself. In all these circumstances he is calm and trustful; he is not only sure of ultimately going to heaven, but already abides there and enjoys something of it in his own heart.

 God is real to him and ever near. He knows a peace which passes all understanding, and he experiences a joy which no man can take from him. This, surely, should be our testimony in the world, but it can only be as the Lord Jesus Himself lives out this life in us.

  The world is divided into two things—pleasures and afflictions; I am more afraid of the pleasures than the afflictions. In afflictions you turn to the Lord. The danger is of being carried away by the very favors God has given to man.

  Those who suffer from chastening ought to be before the Father, owning His hand; and He who has wounded will heal. The Lord Jesus did not take the cup which He had to drink from us, from man, nor from Satan; but from His Father’s hand.

  “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Charlie, what he calls ‘man cancer’ he always has had a wicked sense of humor.

Pray for Paul C, a lost sheep,

Living Guilt Free

May 14, 2018

Guilt is that awful feeling that hits us in the pit of the stomach when we know we have done wrong, and we’ll do almost anything to get rid of it. Adam and Eve, our first parents, established a human pattern that continues to this day. First comes the cover-up. Then we play the blame game as we try to justify or rationalize our actions. We think that the more we can blame someone else, the less guilty we will feel.

Sometimes we try to escape from guilt through activities, alcohol, or drugs. Or we run to psychiatrists—but secular psychiatry has tried to solve the problem of guilt by saying there is no such thing as sin. Just ignore that guilty feeling, we’re told, because it has no basis in reality. We try, but somehow we just can’t pull it off. Why not?

We can’t escape these feelings by ignoring them because God built into our natures a knowledge of right and wrong—a moral code. God’s Word speaks of the moral conscience, which exists even within those who are not aware of His laws.

One example of this is described in Romans 2:14-15: “When Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”

GOD GAVE US A CONSCIENCE TO MAKE US AWARE OF SIN

There has never been a civilization on earth that didn’t have laws—rules about right and wrong. Even though humankind hasn’t always worshiped the living God, the moral codes of every civilization prove that there is an objective authority who has set a standard. The human conscience is evidence of God’s existence and His standards for behavior.

God is the One we offend when we sin, and only He can provide a remedy for our sin and guilt. From the third chapter of Genesis on, He required animals to be sacrificed for human beings who wanted to have their sins forgiven. And the New Testament reminds us again, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22).

But the blood of these thousands of animals could not remove sin. It only covered it, until the one perfect Sacrifice was made that completely satisfied the holiness and justice of God. When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, he said in one sentence the purpose for His coming to earth: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

God’s Only Remedy for Sin and Guilt Is Jesus

Jesus came to earth to die. He was the Substitute for us—He took our punishment in our place so we could be forgiven and made right with God. But what we don’t always understand is that God also wants us to be free from guilt. We learn this from His Word.

GOD’S FORGIVENESS INCLUDES A CLEANSED CONSCIENCE

Through Christ, God has wiped our record clean. He wants us to know it, and to live in that freedom. We’re told, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14).

When believers in biblical times put their faith in Christ, they acted like forgiven and cleansed people. Zaccheus, described in Luke 19, is a classic example. Everyone knew Zaccheus was a sinner—he worked for Israel’s oppressor, the Roman government. In fact, Zaccheus was head of the equivalent to the Roman Internal Revenue Service. He levied the taxes Caesar required, and he was free to add whatever he wanted for himself.

When Jesus invited Himself to Zaccheus’s house, He demonstrated publicly that He even accepted sinners as terrible as Zaccheus was perceived to be. Zaccheus responded by putting his faith in Christ as his Messiah. But notice how he gave evidence of it: “Zaccheus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Luke 19:8).

Zaccheus repented—he changed his way of life. He promised to make generous restitution to those he had cheated. The change was dramatic. That’s why Jesus could say in response, “Today, salvation has come to this house.” Zaccheus’s new conduct was evidence of his new faith.

THROUGH CHRIST, SIN IS GONE FOREVER

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s eternal remedy for human sin. When we trust Him, He not only forgives our sins, but He also cleanses our conscience of guilt. What happens to our sins? Once God has forgiven them, they are:

Out of sight: “You have put all my sins behind your back” (Isa. 38:17).

Out of mind: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34).

Out of reach: “You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19).

Out of existence: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more” (Isa. 43:25).

Our sins are gone, removed from existence as if they had never happened in the first place. We can start our new life with a clean slate. And God gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us with new strength.

Have you been trying to make it on your own? Perhaps you have done things that have filled you with guilt, and you think if you’re sorry enough and if you do enough good things, you can make up for the bad. No way!

GOD FORGIVES US BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST

Scripture tells us we are washed clean and given new life through faith in Jesus Christ: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

What wonderful words—kindness, love, and mercy! Have you trusted our kind and loving and merciful God alone to save you? If you haven’t, talk to Him in your heart and tell Him you’re through trying to earn your salvation. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness, eternal life, and a cleansed conscience. There is no other way.

SIN DAMAGES OUR FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

So now we understand what happens to our sin when we ask God for forgiveness—it vanishes! But most of us have to ask another question: What happens when we sin after we have trusted Christ? Can a believer, a child of God, lose his or her salvation? Do we have to be saved all over again? If all our sins—past, present, and future—are forgiven because of Christ’s death, why do we have to do anything at all?

The answer is this: When a believer sins, something happens that has to be dealt with. Our relationship with God cannot be broken, because we are His children by the new birth, but our fellowship with Him is damaged. Have you noticed that when you feel guilty because you’ve done something you know is wrong, you avoid praying or reading your Bible? You don’t feel like coming to church, and you may not even enjoy being with your Christian friends as much as usual. These feelings are evidence that your fellowship with God is broken.

Because He loves us, God wants our fellowship with Him to be restored. And He has provided a way for us to continue being cleansed from guilt for sins we commit after our salvation. The apostle John tells us how it’s done: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

The trouble is, we often don’t follow God’s directions for our cure. Sometimes we wait a very long time before agreeing with God that we have sinned. All that time guilt eats its corrosive way into our conscience. David’s story, in the Old Testament, is an excellent example of this process.

The Story of David and Bathsheba

God spoke of David as a man after His own heart; He chose David to be king over Israel. From his teen years, David was devoted to God in an extraordinary way. He followed God’s ways. He listened to godly counsel. And when he was a fugitive from King Saul for at least ten years, he constantly found his refuge in God, who rescued him again and again. David was a deeply spiritual man with a well-developed emotional capacity. He was also a man with normal human passions.

He was about fifty years old when he committed the sins that affected him for the rest of his life. Today this is called “going through midlife crisis.” David saw another man’s wife and lusted for her. It didn’t matter that her husband was one of his trusted soldiers who was out on the battlefield fighting for him. David sent for Bathsheba and slept with her. Then, when she let David know she was pregnant, he ordered her husband Uriah to come home so he could sleep with her and thus make it look like the child was his. That didn’t work, so David instructed his commanding general to put Uriah on the front of the battle lines so he would be killed.

Uriah died in battle, and after Bathsheba had finished her mourning period, David married her. The cover-up was in place. But then we read these ominous words at the end of 2 Samuel 11: “But the thing David had done displeased the LORD.”

God knew all about David’s behavior, and He would not let His beloved servant get away with such a flagrant and heartless abuse of power. During the unfolding of the story, about a year went by from start to finish—a year during which David seemed to be without a conscience at all. Remember, David was a believer, a man after God’s own heart, a man to whom God had promised a lasting dynasty. His would be the royal line from which the Messiah would come. Didn’t he feel guilty for sins as wicked as adultery and murder? Yes, but he had stifled his conscience. He wouldn’t listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. But he paid the price for his actions. Here’s how he described his experience: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Ps. 32:3-4).

So God sent the prophet Nathan to waken David’s conscience with a story that appealed to his emotions. Nathan told him about a poor man who had only one little pet lamb, which he loved like a child. A rich man, who had many flocks of his own, stole this little lamb and made it into shish-kebabs for a dinner guest. Here’s how David reacted to Nathan’s story:

“David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing” (2 Sam. 12:5-6).

Nathan looked into the face of his angry king who had just passed judgment on himself and said to David, “You are the man!”

How would David respond to the accusation and the punishment? He tells us his response in Psalm 32:5: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD—and you forgave the guilt of my sin!”

CONFESSION IS REQUIRED FOR GUILT TO BE REMOVED

David made no excuses; he blamed no one else. He said, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

You may be asking, What about his sin against Bathsheba and against Uriah? No, David saw his sin for what all sin is—an offense against the Lord. And he knew the punishment was just, because he knew the truth of this spiritual principle:

Forgiveness does not cancel out the natural consequences of our sins.

Nathan told David, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Loin show utter contempt, the son born to you will die” (2 Sam. 12:13).

The death of the child was just the beginning. David lived to see his son Amnon rape his half-sister, Tamar. Then David’s son Absalom killed Amnon and later tried to seize David’s throne, and he was also killed. In fact, from this time on, David’s life deteriorated until the day he died. His one act of unbridled passion permanently marked his family and his kingdom. But his fellowship with God was restored. After Nathan came to him, David wrote Psalm 51, which eloquently describes his sin, his repentance, and his forgiveness.

read Hebrews 9:14 to her: “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (emphasis mine).

“we have to act with our wills to apply what God’s Word says. Then He will eventually take care of our emotions.”

We Need a Clean Conscience to Serve God

Hebrews 9:14 provides an interesting insight about the result of our cleansing and forgiveness. God does this, the writer of Hebrews explains, “that we may serve the living God.”

Guilt keeps us from serving God. Yet God can even use the sins we have committed to make us more effective in our work for Him. Only when we refuse God’s provision for forgiveness, for cleansing, and for a new beginning are we incapacitated by our past sins. That’s why it is important for us to remember:

Satan wants us to be immobilized by guilt.

We have an enemy whose main purpose is to keep us from serving the Lord. In Scripture he is called the “accuser” of believers. If you continue to feel guilty for forgiven sins, you are hearing the voice of the enemy, not the Holy Spirit. Satan is a liar. Reject the fiery darts he shoots at your mind by holding up the shield of faith in the finished work of your Savior, and the devil will flee from you.

If guilt is the obstacle that has kept you from growing in your spiritual life, won’t you lay down your burden at the cross? Accept God’s forgiveness. Let Him cleanse your conscience. And commit yourself to living in obedience to God’s Word and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who lives within you. Your burden of guilt will be lifted—once and for all.

With God there is always a way back, we just have to accept it.

Come on, give up the guilt and shame, no matter what you have done God is willing to forgive you, just the fact that you are thinking about God and wanting forgiveness is the first step.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Put off, Put on

May 13, 2018

Putting Off the Old and Putting On the New

(Ephesians 4:22-24)

This is the end of our series on this passage in Ephesians. And this last devotional is a little long, you may want to print it out. Blessings

22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

In the first verses of Ephesians chapter 2, Paul described the unbeliever as being subject to the world, the flesh, and the devil. In most instances, the devil exercises control over lost men by means of the external pressure of the world and corresponding internal inclinations of the flesh. In Ephesians 4:17-19 Paul has instructed the Christian to turn from the corrupting influences of the world in which we live (our culture). Now, in verses 22-24, Paul turns to the subject of our flesh, urging us to put off the “old man” and to put on the new.

I understand Paul to refer to the flesh as our “old self,” or as the marginal note in the NASB indicates, our “old man.” In Romans chapter 8 this “old self” would be synonymous with the “mind set on the flesh” (Romans 8:6-7). The “new self” would be our new “inner man” (Romans 7:22; 2 Corinthians 4:17; Ephesians 3:16), the “mind set on the Spirit” (Romans 8:6).

Beginning at verse 25, Paul will specifically identify those attitudes and actions which we should “put off” and those which should be “put on” in their place. But here Paul is dealing with our manner of life in principle, in general terms. Our fleshly behavior is the outgrowth, the expression, of our inner fleshly nature, just as Christian conduct is the outgrowth and expression of the inner man, created and empowered by the Holy Spirit:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:16-24).

Paul persists in emphasizing the continuity between our conversion to Christ and our conduct in Christ, which should be evident in our manner of life.

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6:1-14).

6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Colossians 2:6).

In Christ, our old man has been crucified, put to death. In our daily conduct, we should crucify the flesh daily, and put aside the conduct which springs forth from fleshly desires. In Christ we were made alive, raised from the dead and seated with Him in the heavenlies (see Ephesians 2:5-6). We should therefore walk in newness of life, manifesting the work of the Spirit of God in and through us. It is by His power that we are both motivated and enabled to live in a way that pleases God:

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.… 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. (Romans 8:1-4, 10-11)

20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

This expression, “lusts of deceit” is somewhat puzzling as to its precise meaning. What we can be sure of is that there is a direct relationship between “lust” and “deceit.” I believe it is safe to say that “lust” is “deceitful,” and also to say that “deceit” is “lustful.” Lust is deceitful in that it does not produce what it seems to promise. Lust promises pleasure, but it ultimately produces death (see Romans 6:15-23, especially verse 21). Deceit is lustful in that it never seems to be satisfied, it always wants more victims (see Proverbs 1:10-19).

Jesus warned of the danger of attempting to remove evil, rather than replacing it (see Luke 11:26). Paul’s words indicate that our old nature and its deeds are not merely to be rejected, they are to be replaced. We must “put off” the old man and at the same time “put on” the new. While the old nature is continually being corrupted by the lusts of deceit, the new nature is renewing us, in accordance with the nature of God and His righteousness and truth. The old nature is being corrupted, the new is being renewed. The old is deceitful, the new deals in truth. The old is sinful, the new is righteous. The old is driven by lusts, the new by the character and purposes of God.

Conclusion

Christ did not save us in order that we may live any way that we choose. He saved us to live godly lives, and thus to live in a way that is radically different from our lifestyle as unbelievers. Our conduct, as Paul has indicated in verse 1 of chapter 4 is to conduct ourselves in a manner that is worthy of our calling in Christ.

The conduct which God requires of Christians should not come as a surprise to them after they have been saved. The gospel, as preached by John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles, called men to repentance as well as to faith in Christ. Men were required to turn from their sin to Christ, and it was clear that this meant a new way of life. The “gospel” of our day is not so clearly stated. It is as though we fear that men will be receive Christ if they know what is involved. The irony is that the gospel, the true gospel, is the power of God unto salvation. The more we seek to rid the gospel of its unappealing aspects (from the unbeliever’s point of view) the more we rob it of its power. We then rely more on our cleverness and deceit than on the power of the Holy Spirit to convince and convert lost sinners. When we share our faith, let us tell it like it is.

This text, and those which follow in Ephesians, make it clear that while salvation and sanctification are the work of God, they require man’s response. God is sovereign in the salvation and spiritual growth of those whom He has chosen. He also ordained that men are to be informed of the gospel and of God’s standards of conduct, and that we are to act in obedience to His commands, not in our own strength, but in that which He supplies. Let us not leave this text with a passive view of our spiritual life. God has made every provision for our sanctification, and we are to obediently make use of them, for His glory and for our good.

It is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the truths conveyed in the passage before us. While the verses which follow it will spell out specific conduct which befits the Christian, this text speaks of the basis for our conduct in general terms. It is our commitment to the general exhortations of this passage which will greatly affect our compliance with the commands that follow.

The Christian lifestyle will not be lived out by those with a pagan mindset. It is the Christian mindset of our text which works itself out in the conduct which befits our calling in Christ. Allow me to point out some of the inferences of Paul’s teaching in our text and its implications in our practical daily living.

Our pagan culture believes that the past is the key to the present. What we think and how we act, we are told, is the result of our past. It is only by understanding our past that we can live as we should in the present. In other words, the past controls the present.

The Bible reverses this. Paul teaches us that our thinking and conduct in the past was the outworking of our unregenerate thinking. Paul insists that we refuse to allow our past to control us in the present. Instead, Paul teaches us that what we now are, in Christ, is what should override and overrule our past thinking and behavior. What we now are in Christ should cause us to put away what we once thought and did as unbelievers. Our past should not be resurrected, analyzed and dwelled upon, it should be buried in an unmarked grave. It is not what we were that matters, but what we are. Let us ponder what we are, in Christ, and not what we were without Him.

In our culture, what you believe seems to have taken second place to how you feel. The sensitive, intelligent, and probing thing to ask these days is, “How do you feel about that?” Paul would rather have us focus on what we believe. What we feel is often a far cry from what is true, and even from what we believe. Faith, as I understand it, calls upon men to act on the truth God has revealed in His Word, not on how we feel. Abraham did not “feel” like leaving his homeland and relatives to go to an unnamed place, but he obeyed God. Neither did he feel like offering up his son, Isaac, but he was willing to obey. Our Lord did not feel like going to the cross of Calvary, but He obeyed the will of His Father. Let us act on what we know to be the truth as revealed in the Word of God, more than on how we happen to feel. As a rule, faith acts on the facts of God’s Word and disregards our feelings.

If the renewing of our minds is so vital to our Christian life, how is it done? The Bible is not a book of formulas, but I would like to focus your attention on one key element: the Word of God. When a person wants to learn a foreign language, what is the most effective way to do so? It is to enter into that culture and language and become saturated with it. This is how our children learn to talk and to think as we do. If we would desire to have our minds renewed, then we must find God’s thoughts and immerse ourselves in them. His thoughts have been incarnated in Christ, the Living Word, and recorded in the Bible, His inspired written Word.

I dare say that most Christians spend more time in front of their television sets, radios, magazines, and books than they do in their Bibles. Even many Christian stations and publications contain much that is secular thinking sprinkled with a smattering of spiritual jargon. If we would think God’s thoughts after Him, we will find them only in His Word. Let us become so saturated with His Word that we begin to reflect His ways, His values, His goals, His methods. This is the renewing of the mind which Paul calls for.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Learning Christ

May 12, 2018

Ephesians 4:20-21

20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus.

“Learning Christ” is not the typical way of referring to one’s coming to Christ in the Bible. It most certainly is not the normal way of referring to conversion today. Biblical terms such as “born again” are sometimes used, but more often unbiblical expressions are the norm. We talk, for example, of “inviting Christ into our lives,” which is both existential and self-oriented. We talk little of “learning” and we think that doctrine and evangelism are not closely related. “Let them first get saved, and then let them learn doctrine,” is the way many Christians seem to think.

Paul assumes otherwise, perhaps because some of those to whom Paul was writing came to faith directly or indirectly through his ministry at Ephesus (see Acts 19). Coming to Christ, as Paul believed and practiced, was not just an experience. It was learning. It was learning Christ.

One of the most foolish statements I have ever heard is, “I don’t worship doctrine, I worship Jesus.” Paul would never tolerate such mindless talk. How does one “learn Christ” without learning the doctrines which tell us who He is? Is Christ only a man, or is He also God? The difference is of great importance, and it is only from learning the doctrines of Christ in the Scriptures that we will know the answer.

I wonder how biblical our evangelism is, compared to that which we find in the Scriptures. Our method of evangelizing seems to be more of a sales presentation, which seeks to get as quickly as possible to the “bottom line”—some kind of assent to trusting in Christ. When Jesus evangelized, He taught. Everywhere we find Jesus speaking in the gospels, He taught. It often took a considerable period of time for the truth He was teaching to be grasped, and this was only through the ministry of God’s Holy Spirit (see Matthew 16:17). When Paul went to the synagogues, he taught from the Scriptures, demonstrating that Jesus was the promised Messiah (see Acts 9:19-22; 13:5, 14ff.).

As I understand Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:20 and 21, Paul assumes that those who have come to Christ have already learned much about Him, and about the nature of the Christian life which should result from trusting in Jesus as Savior and Lord. Suffering should come as no surprise, if our evangelism has been true to the teaching of God’s Word (see Luke 9:23-26; Acts 14:22; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12). There is no “small print” left out of our gospel, which comes unexpectedly after conversion.

There is a reason why faith in Christ and learning are closely related. This is explained in verse 21: “If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, …”

Jesus is not just a teacher; He is even more than the teacher. Jesus is the truth: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me’” (John 14:6). Jesus is the truth. To come to Him in faith is to come from death to life, from condemnation to justification, from sin to sanctification, and from ignorance to true wisdom. You cannot come to faith in Jesus Christ without changing your thinking. This is what true repentance is all about—changing your mind, and coming to see things as God does. And so it is that Paul links evangelism and discipleship. Coming to Christ by faith is the result of learning about Him (see Romans 10:13-17), just as it is also the beginning of learning.

The lifestyle which Paul sets out as God’s standard for Christians should come as a surprise to no convert to Christ, as radically different as it is from our former way of life. Our relationship to the world and to our own flesh is simply the outworking of the gospel which we should already have learned in coming to Christ. If, as may be the case today, some have not learned these general things of which Paul speaks in verses 17-24, then the gospel has not been fully or faithfully proclaimed.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Rayna, she is trying very hard to conceive, her body is a wreck from all the “procedures” the doctors have tried.

Pray for Bob Lee K,. his cataract surgery went sideways and he will have to have more surgery.

 

Part 3, fallen man, fallen mind

Ephesians 4:17-19

17 This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of[a] the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; 19 who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

The root cause of the distortion of Gentile thinking is also identified:

because of the ignorance that is in them

because of the hardening of their heart

After describing the mental condition of heathen Gentiles, Paul presses on to disclose the causes of their mental dullness. Their thinking is futile because they are ignorant. Ignorance here surely does not refer to one’s intelligence. Neither does ignorance seem to refer to what one does not know. Ignorance, as Paul uses the term, refers to the “knowledge” which unbelievers possess, in which they place their trust, and from which they base their actions. It may be brilliant ignorance, but when compared with the truth of God, it is ignorance.

The mind of man and the heart of man are closely inter-twined. When Paul speaks of the “hardening of their heart” he refers to the impact which the hardened heart has on the minds of fallen men. Hardness of heart keeps one from seeing things as they really are. This was true of Pharaoh, who could not see the “finger of God” in the plagues of the Exodus, even when his own servants pointed it out to him (Exodus 8:19). It was even true of the Lord’s disciples, who could not understand what He was teaching them (Mark 6:52; 8:17).

The mental condition of fallen Gentiles ultimately works itself out in the moral lives of these unbelievers. Men who are excluded from the life of God do not reflect the righteousness of God in their conduct. And so Paul describes the moral outcome of the Gentiles’ mental decadence: “And they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality, for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness” (verse 19).

Those who are mentally blind become morally callused. They lose any sensitivity to what is right or wrong. Consequently, they give themselves over to the pursuit of fleshly pleasure.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

Such men are not merely overcome by strong fleshly passions, they actively engage in the pursuit of these passions. They do not dabble in sin, they immerse themselves in it. They pursue the satisfaction of their fleshly appetites with a passion. They are greedy for fleshly pleasure. They can never get enough of it. They are, we would say, addicted to the pursuit of satisfying their fleshly urges.

The non believer is ignorant of God, defiling their lives with immorality. And yet they boast they need no god. Falling deeper into a meaningless life. Their spiritual compass broken, so they make themselves god, fashioned into their own image. The blind leading the blind.

And our calling is to be a beacon of love, compassion and mercy, to those that hate our God, who mock and defile.

Are you up for it?

Christianity, the toughest gig in the world.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Rickie R, failing kidneys

Pray for Norma, thyroid problems

Pray for Andrea and Todd, two great young Christians, who are going through the meat grinder. Pray for a blessing in their lives.