Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

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SELFIE- Jan 5

January 5, 2015

“The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9b

I don’t really understand the preoccupation with “selfies”. I scroll through Facebook and I am amazed at the number of pictures that my “friends” post just of themselves, taken by themself. I read this article, Why we really take selfies: The terrifying reasons.

Dr Terri Apter, psychology lecturer at Cambridge University, says taking selfies is all about people trying to figure out who they are and project this to other people. “It’s a kind of self-definition,” says Dr Apter. “We all like the idea of being sort of in control of our image and getting attention, being noticed, being part of the culture.”

However, I wonder if it isn’t a manifestation of something more. The reality is that we all like to get attention, be noticed, and  be  part of our culture, but have you stopped to wonder why?

Why do I want attention?
Why am I posting a picture of myself?

Consider the immediate response after ingesting the knowledge of good and evil:

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. (Genesis 3:7)

Nakedness in the Old Testament suggests weakness, need and humiliation (Deut. 28:48, Job 1:21, Isa. 58:7) The impact of receiving this mysterious knowledge was an awareness of self. Before they ate of the fruit, Adam and Eve were not even aware that they were naked. It was not that they were comfortable with their bodies. They were blind to their nakedness.

I have no idea what that could be like.
I have never been naked and did not know it.
In fact, I have rarely, if ever, been unaware of myself.

The knowledge of good and evil causes everyone to function on a basis of self awareness. It is an awareness particularly of our deficiencies. We know the difference between good and evil and we can see it in ourselves. As a result, this awareness drives us in pursuit of selfish desires, often absent is a compassionate consideration of our impact on others.

I wonder if the phenomenon of “selfies”
is just another manifestation of original sin.

If they had the technology, I don’t think Adam and Eve would have been taking “selfies” prior to the fall. After all, they would not have had any place to carry their cell phones but more importantly, I don’t see a person, unaware of himself, being inclined to take a “selfie”.

Now, I don’t want to be a curmudgeon.

However, I think that it is always good to evaluate why we do what we do. It is important to hunt out all the secret ways we feed our desires for self.

cold run 1

We just might be feeding our sinful appetite for self one selfie at a time. 

PRAYER: Father, you know how much I love myself.  Forgive me of all the ways that I seek praise and attention from the world.   Forgive me for seeking my self-worth above yours and others.  Lord, help be to think less of myself.  Father, I give you all my nakedness.  I give you all my failures and deficiencies.  Help me to no longer seek to cover them.  Help me to forget myself. I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

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“BUT GOD WANTS ME TO BE HAPPY” – Nov 14

November 14, 2013

“When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”  Hosea 1:2

“God just wants me to be happy; therefore I am going to do ________________.”

Murder…Divorce…Adultery…
Homosexuality… Fornication… Theft…
Overeating… Laziness… Disrespect…

I have heard these actions used to end this sentence.  This one sentence may just be the most frequently used justification for sin in our generation.

We accept a lie from the bowels of hell when we believe that our earthly happiness trumps the commandments of God.

English: "The whole world smiles with you...

God’s greatest priority is not our earthly happiness.  His sovereign plan is not contingent upon my personal feelings of joy and satisfaction in the circumstances that I find myself.  In fact, God does not want you or I to be happy in our sin.  He wants us miserable in our sin.  He wants to kill the sin of our flesh.

God did not tell Hosea to marry a wife of whoredom because He knew that would make Hosea happy.  God had a purpose for Hosea that was beyond his happiness.  God was going to allow Hosea to be deeply hurt to show how the actions of Israel were hurting Him.  God was calling Hosea to unhappiness so that the beauty of repentance and the renewal of a loving relationship with the Lord would be shown to God’s people.

True happiness is found only in the love of God. 

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Photo credit: JesseBarker / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  (John 15:10-11)

We experience the love of God, when we abide in His love.  We abide in His love, when we keep His commandments.  That is when our joy will be full.  It is by our obedience that we can remain joyful in unhappy circumstances.  Our joy is not dictated by circumstances.  Joy is a gift of God to all those who abide in His love.

The escape from unhappiness lies in the loving embrace of God, experienced through our obedience.

God does want me to be happy – in His love.“God just wants me to be happy;
therefore I am going to be obedient to his commandments through all my unhappy circumstances.”

PRAYER: O Lord, you know all the justifications that I have used for my sin.  Thank you for your forgiveness.  Thank you for leading me to repentance and returning me to your love.  Help me to abide in You.  Help me to desire your love more than my happiness.  Help me to endure sadness and disappointment through the hope that you have given me.  Help me to be joyful even if you are taking me through unhappiness.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“LET’S (NOT) RODEO” – July 20

July 20, 2013

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12

English: Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. ...

English: Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. Photo by Chuck Szmurlo taken July 10, 2007 with a Nikon D200 and a Nikon 70-200 f2.8 lens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to a rodeo the other night and was reminded of the amazing power of bulls.

Bulls possess the most natural raw power that I have ever witnessed from an up close and personal perspective.  I grew up around bulls, which instilled in me an incredible respect for their power.  I have seen a bull effortlessly rip a stanchion section from its moorings.  I have been sent running when a bull inadvertently flipped a 500 lb feed manager in the search of some remaining crumbs.  I have been aghast to watch a cattle trailer bulge unnaturally when some bulls decided to enter three abreast … after a slight encouragement on my part.  (That was a big oops!)

Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. The "...

Bull riding at the Calgary Stampede. The “bullfighter” or “rodeo clown” is standing just to the right of the bull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the rodeo, I saw a 2,000 lb animal repeatedly leap about four feet into the air with a 170 lb man on its back while spinning until the rider was flung from its back like a rag doll.  That is power.  It is enough power to dissuade me from any inclination of crawling onto their backs and going for a ride.

I have always been apprehensive around bulls.  Growing up on a dairy, I had several jobs that required me to get into a corral with a bull.  I don’t know what it is but Holstein bulls seem to be more ornery than other breeds and we had several ornery bulls.  If they got too mean, my dad would get rid of them but too mean was always more subjective than I thought it should be.

I remember bedding down the animals during the winter.  We would get all bundled up in our insulated coveralls, boots, and gloves, mount-up on the tractor, and pull a trailer full of straw into the corral.  My dad and I would lug straw bales over the frozen and pocked surface of the corral, spreading the straw out to give the cows some protection from the temperature and slop.

The corral was an obstacle course of tripping hazards from iced, craters where animals had lain to frozen mounds of manure that had become heaped by mysterious forces.  Add to this pleasant landscape, the circus act of juggling an eighty pound bale of straw between walking, jostling knees while suspending it in the air from bailing twine stretched tight by a precarious backwards lean.

There were plenty of reasons to keep your eyes on the ground so that you would not take a tumble and find yourself immersed in all that animal goodness.  Unfortunately, the necessity of watching your step had to be shared with an eye toward the most aggressive resident of the corral.  While we spread the straw, the bull would circle our little perimeter.  He would paw the ground, head down and steam rolling from his nostrils.  He did not like us in his corral and his low, bray was a continual challenge to a fight.  My eyes were constantly darting from the ground to the bull and back to the ground.  I worked hard to keep as many cows, equipment, straw bales, and whatever else that was available between me and that ornery old bull.  It was a dance that I did not enjoy.

It was a dance that haunted my dreams.  One of my youthful reoccurring nightmares was of running from that bull.  I remember waking up exhausted from spending a dream filled night of jumping over fences, diving through stanchions, and sprinting across a corral while a bull was bearing done on me in a full-on charge.

I have never thought that playing with bulls or ignoring them were good ideas. 

It seems to me that there are many people who treat sin like a bull to play with.  They have a bull rider’s mentality when it comes to sin.  They don’t respect the power of the flesh enough to stay away from it.  They think that they can mess around with sin for their eight seconds of delight and walk away unscathed.  I find bull-riding the most unnatural of events at a rodeo.  All bull riders eventually get hurt.  I watched two riders limp away from their ride attempts just from our night at the rodeo.  Bull-riding is a very dangerous business.  In a rodeo, the bull always wins.  The rider may last for eight seconds but he is still flung to the ground and has to run out of the corral as the bull rampages.  In the same way, playing around with sin is a dangerous proposition.  Many of us allow the lingering attitudes of resentment, discontentment, gossip, sensuality, lust, crassness, etc. in our lives and think that nothing bad will transpire; as if we can manage spiritual forces of evil.  When I have done that, I am attempting to ride the bull of my sinful flesh.  It has never gone well for me.  Sin cannot be managed.  There are forces behind it.

There are always consequences to sin.  Some consequences may go unnoticed but the sweetness of my relationship with God has always affected when I have sought my delight apart from Christ.  No one gets away unscathed.  Eventually, someone is going to get hurt and in the meantime your life turns into a spiritual rodeo.  The eight seconds of delight has never been worth it.

However, I think that the greatest danger to most of mankind is indifference toward God.  I have never thought that ignoring a bull was a good idea.  It is an even worse idea to ignore God because an indifference to God is an equal indifference to the present darkness of this world.

Being indifferent to powers and principalities of this world is like taking an afternoon stroll through a corral of angry, ornery bulls.  We live in a world that is in rebellion.  It is a world that opposes our God and us by extension.  Why would we walk around indifferent to it all?  Our enemy is not indifferent to a Child of God.  God is not indifferent to us.

Why would we be indifferent to all that is occurring in the heavenly places? 

Life-Savers In Action

Life-Savers In Action (Photo credit: Bill Gracey)

Living our life in a manner that is indifferent to our advocate and protector is sheer folly.  Just consider the attitude that allows us to go days without thinking about our savior; foolishness.  God actively protects those who are His.  God is much more than our bull-fighter but He does that very well.  Christ has put Himself between us and our enemy.  We should be doing all that we can to keep it that way. We should be living our lives with an eye toward the path before us but also be aware of the most aggressive resident of this world.

That means following Christ with all of our heart and stop the rodeo of sinful disobedience.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for playing around with the evil of this world.  Forgive me for not taking the spiritual forces of evil seriously.  Thank you for keeping me safe.  Thank you for keeping our enemy away.  Help me to follow you.  I don’t want my life to be a rodeo of sin.  I want to be more and more like you.  Please continue to transform my heart and help me to see this world for what it is.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

 

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“A HEADWIND OF MY OWN MAKING” – May 27

May 27, 2013

“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealously.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  Romans 13:13-14

I have a century (100 miles) bicycle ride coming up way too fast and I am not ready.  I have not had the time to ride any distance greater than 34 miles.  So, I was determined to solve that problem yesterday.  I went for an early morning ride on a route that would garner me 60 miles.  I left my driveway with the sun still coming into its full light.  There were dark clouds in three directions but I figured that I would risk it.

It was a beautiful ride.  There were no cars on the road at that time of morning.  I had the countryside to myself.  The cool morning kept the sweat from my eyes as giant clouds paced me through the undulating hillsides.  It was so quiet that the songs of the birds created a melody with the rhythm of my breathing and the turning of my bike chain.  The words of Matt Chandler and then John Piper were preached from my ipod straight into my mind.  The Word they expounded was confirmed in my soul as I beheld the glory of God in the delicate wild flowers along the fence lines and the power in the gathering storm clouds.

My ride was going so well.  I passed through the town that marked my halfway point and began pedaling the return leg of my long loop.  I felt good.  I was still attacking the climbs and powering through the flats.  I was maintaining a respectable 18.5 mph/ average.  I had not had to stop.  My confidence in being able to do a century ride was rising with each pedal stroke.

I held my crouch with my forearms firmly on my aero-bars as I pushed to better my average speed.  I passed over pavement that had recently been wetted by a light shower.  I craned my neck to see what clouds lay ahead of me.  It did not look very promising.  However, I did not have many choices at that point.  My route was set.  I had decided to head out this morning with threatening clouds so this was not much of a surprise.  Home and rest lay ahead.  So, I had to just keep pedaling.  I was feeling good and my average speed was still 18.4 mph.  I rode through the last town of my route.  I had about 7 miles to go.  No problem.

English: Corn blowing in the wind

English: Corn blowing in the wind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It hit me just as I passed beyond the city limits and into the open farmland.  A brutal headwind that stretched flags and bent trees had taken possession of the land that a mere 3 hours earlier had been so pleasant and tranquil.  I geared down and hunched over to try offering the wind the least amount of opposing surface area as it flowed into my face.  My neck began to ache.  My thighs began to cramp.  My eyes dried out.  My heart was evaporating as quickly as my speed.  I struggled to keep a 13 mph pace.  I mourned the loss of my 18 mph average.  I just wanted this once enjoyable ride to be over.  I thought about calling my wife to come pick me up.  I could not do that – I was just 5 miles out.  I could make it but it was no longer fun.  I no longer felt good.  I no longer felt strong.  I was being spent at an alarming rate as I pushed through this wind.

Dave Zabriskie attacking the final 3 kilometer...

Dave Zabriskie attacking the final 3 kilometers of the USA Cycling Pro Individual Time Trial Championship in Greenville, SC. Zabriskie won the US title when defending champion Chris Baldwin fell on the course’s last corner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I finally made it back to my driveway.  I did not feel very good.  I felt a little sick.  However, I was very thankful that I had spent the time that morning to clamp my aero-bars back onto my bike.  My aero-bars had helped me get home by giving that wind the least provision of holding me back.  It would have be so much worse if I had been forced to ride upright.  I was disappointed because the wind had affected me, slowed my average to 17.8 mph and stole the joy of my ride.

That wind makes me think of my flesh.  My sinful desires so often feel like a brutal headwind.  I will be feeling confident in my spiritual walk.  I will be feeling so good and strong.  My joy will be overflowing and no distance will seem insurmountable.

I will turn into the headwind of my own flesh and my pace and optimism will be spent in a matter of moments.

The truly frustrating part is that this headwind is usually of my own making.  I know where the dark clouds of my life are.  I know where the storms reside.  I know where I am particularly weak and susceptible.  I am well aware of where I have stumbled in the past.  I know the routes that hold the headwind of my own sinful desires.

I usually end up bucking a spiritual headwind because I have turned into it.  God has promised us a route around every temptation.  We are not required to ride through our own sin.  There is a route that God has paved that will protect us from the headwind of our flesh.  Every provision for sin that I allow in my life is a road sign directing me to a lie.  It is a lie that I sometimes believe.  It is a route that has always led to difficulty and pain.  It is a route that has ground me to a near halt.  It has stolen my joy and expended my strength.

English: Blowing in the wind Lonely daffodils ...

English: Blowing in the wind Lonely daffodils on the River Trent embankment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The good news is that I have never been abandoned because of poor routes that I have taken along the way.  We can still ride through the headwind of our failings.  God will still give us strength to overcome the powerful resistance of our sinful desires.  He will guide us back to the safe route and into the light.  When we find ourselves confronted with the headwind of our flesh, then we need to hunker down to give it the least area for it to cling to us.  We do that by going to our knees in repentance, preaching the gospel to ourselves, believing the promises of our Redeemer.  We cut off the powerful headwind of our flesh by eliminating all the provisions for it in our lives.  We are told to not give any provision for the flesh in our lives.  Every area of our lives that we expose to the gratification of our sinful desires is an area for sin to cling to and hold us back in our sanctification. God has paved a way for us that is easy, with a burden that is light.  May we not believe the lies of our flesh.  There is no lasting pleasure in the gratification of our flesh.  We have been given a narrow road to glory that already has many challenges.  Let’s not add a headwind of our making to the challenge of our daily walk.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for never abandoning me.  I know that I allow too many provisions for sin in my life.  Show them to me.  Teach me to kill the sin that resides in me.  Thank you for always providing me with an escape from my sinful desires.  Thank you for always providing me a route home to You when I have taken the wrong route.  Father, complete the work that You have started in me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“FREEDOM!” – May 11

May 11, 2013

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who
has died has been set free from sin.”  Romans 6:6-7

 Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key (1814)

English: American Flag blowing in the wind
English: American Flag blowing in the wind (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I live in the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I realize that the US is the land of the more free, but is it the land of the completely free?  Freedom is the core issue in many political debates.  There is an inevitable hint of freedom embedded in the topics of abortion, gun control, employment, morality laws, private-property, taxation, wealth redistribution, etc. The concept of freedom is generally understood but rarely well-defined.  Your definition of freedom may vary significantly from my definition of freedom.

I have been pondering whether it is even possible for created man to be free in any respect.

I was recently catching up on some of my podcasts.  I am subscribed to a podcast called Philosophy Bites.  It is podcast that interviews university professors in specific areas of philosophy.  I listen to the podcasts to get a general idea of what is being contemplated in the ivory towers of our universities.  I was engaged by the podcast Alan Ryan on Freedom and Its History.

The interview centered on the intriguing question of “What is it to be free?”  One definition in the podcast that caught my attention was: freedom is the ability to do whatever you want to do.   I think that we can agree that under this definition no one is completely free.

You agree to a promissory note; you are no longer free.
A speed limit is posted; you are no longer free.
You have children; you are no longer free.
You agree to be employed; you are no longer free.
You are required to pay taxes; you are no longer free.

You are no longer free because you are not able to do whatever you want to do.

Many people state their objection to Christ in terms of freedom.  They view salvation in Christ as a loss of their freedom; their ability to do whatever they want to do.  The deeper question is whether they are giving up any freedom.  Those who have not received Christ as their Lord and Savior are not as free as they might think they are.  For instance, they are not free to please God.

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8

It is not possible for people who are not in Christ to please God even if that is what they are determined to do.  Therefore, they are not free.  Humanity is born under the bondage of sin.  They are not able to do anything other than sin.  They are enslaved to one whom they obey.  There is not a person who can live without sin apart from Christ.  There is no real freedom for those who reject Christ.  They are enslaved under the bondage of the appetites of their sinful hearts.

However, there is no freedom for those in Christ, in the sense of doing whatever you want to do.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. Romans 6:22

When we come to Christ, we become slaves to righteousness, for we are slaves to what we obey.  We become debtors, when we receive the Spirit of adoption as children of God.  We are not our own.  We have been bought with a price so that we can glorify God with our bodies. (1 Cor. 6:19b-20)  The paradox of the Christian life is that we are set free only when we willingly submit to enslavement.  We remain enslaved to sin while we pursue our personal freedom.  The desire for personal independence is a manifestation of a love for self.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Romans 6:12

What was your first reaction to my statement that you are a slave of God?  Did you recoil from that concept?  Why should that concept be objectionable to us if we love God will all that we are?  Our desire for personal independence is a sin that enslaves us to the passions of our self-love.  I think this paradox is captured in this quote from Dag Hammarskjold:

God desires our independence – which we attain when, ceasing to strive for it ourselves, we “fall” back into God.  Dag Hammarskjold, Markings

The child of God finds true and complete freedom in Christ only when they give all to the Father in heaven; when they die to their self and submit completely to God – willingly becoming a slave of God.  When we “fall” back into God, trusting that He will catch us, then we are given a new heart, with new desires.  What we want changes when we are a new creation in Christ.  Freedom, doing whatever we want to do, is only available by being born-again.  It is only with this new heart that we can please God by loving him without compulsion.

There is no freedom available to the will of man. 

Every person must make a decision about who will enslave them.  We are enslaved by the one whom we obey.   May we humble ourselves and come to Christ as willing slaves.  In submitting to the Lordship of Christ, we will receive the fruits of righteousness that leads to sanctification and true freedom as children of God to do what we want to do, which is to love God.

The question for us all is who are we submitting ourselves to?

PRAYER: Lord, you know how inclined my heart is to go off on its own.  You know that I am so prone to wander away from You and be enslaved by the passions of my sin.   Father, keep me in You; continue to give me a new heart that wants You more than anything else in this world.  Lord, I submit myself to You with all of my heart, soul, and mind.  Thank you for giving me true freedom in your Son as I fall back into your loving arms.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“WHAT ARE WE ACCEPTING?” – May 10

May 10, 2013

“Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”  Romans 1:24

paul pierce kevin garnett jason collinsIn April, history was made.   Jason Collins, a NBA basketball player, announced  that he is gay.  He is the first active male athlete in a major American team sport to come out as gay.  The general coverage has been universal acceptance. Mr. Collins received a telephone call from President Obama congratulating him on his bravery in coming out.  He has been proclaimed a hero.  He is scheduled to headline a fundraiser with First Lady Michele Obama at the end of the month.  Some have speculated that this might be an avenue for Mr. Collins to extend his 12 year NBA career.

Jason Collins’ announcement is part of a larger shift as explained by Jessica White in her article, Is it really no big deal that pro-athlete Jason Collins is openly gay?  As she writes, “These days, America is starting to see the moral urgency in dismantling homophobia, not defending it.”  Homophobia as Ms. Write defines it, is not accepting the gay lifestyle.  “This is how acceptance works in the public imagination.   Once bigotry recedes to the wrong side of history, few people want to be associated with it. They do not want to acknowledge that it remains in force anywhere – that hatred does lasting damage. That would implicate them.”

Those who believe what the Bible says about certain behavior are on the wrong side of history according to Ms. White.  Paul is very clear in Romans:
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; an men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” (Romans 1:26)

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind (Photo credit: @bastique)

Many in the gay community will consider anyone who believes that verse to be a bigot.

The Bible identifies homosexuality as a sin; right alongside “…envy, murder, strife, maliciousness, …gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” (Romans 1:29-31)  All of those behaviors are examples of God giving people over to a debased mind to do what they ought not to do because they have not seen fit to acknowledge God. (Romans 1:28)

How should Christians respond?

Those who exhibit any of those behaviors should draw the compassion of followers of Christ.  Their behavior demonstrates their need for Christ.  I am praying for Jason Collins because his announcement is not historic in the sense that it is just another refusal to acknowledge God.  That type of announcement is made every day by millions.

I realize that many who read this will lump me in the bigot category.  There is not much I can do about that.  I don’t hate anyone in the gay community.  Just because I do not accept a person’s lifestyle, does not mean that I hate that person.  There are a lot of behaviors in my own lifestyle that I do not accept but I do not hate myself.  I hate the sin that I do because of what it reveals about the condition of my heart and my attitude towards God.  My attitude towards the gay community is actually the opposite of hate.  The sin that is front and center in the gay community reveals the heart condition of those living that lifestyle and their attitude towards God.  I want to see all come to a saving relationship in Christ.  I want to see all who refuse to acknowledge God as Lord of their lives to come to repentance.  There is forgiveness of all sins, including homosexuality, in Christ.

Acceptance of sin is the worst action a follower of Christ can do for an unbelieving world.  How hateful is it to allow the lost to remain in their sin and face the judgment of God because we felt compelled to accept their sinful behavior?

The most compassionate act that I can do is to bear the stigma of bigot while calling the lost to repentance. 

Unfortunately, compassion is not what the gay community has generally experienced from the Church.  Hate and condemnation has been more of the response.  The reality is that those reactions are sin.

Jesus came for sinners.  He came for me.  He came for Jason Collins.  He came for all of us.  May our message to the gay community and all communities be the gospel;
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.  This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:23-26

PRAYER: Lord, I pray for Jason Collins and all those who are living a gay lifestyle.  Father, they need their eyes to be open.  They need to see you clearly.  Help me to show love and compassion to my gay friends while at the same time not accepting their behavior.  Lord, give us the fortitude to consistently preach your gospel to all people, at all times, in love and compassion for the lost.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

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“SIN, Light” – Feb. 18

February 18, 2013

“And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.  And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of  Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal King of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him.”  1 Kings 16:30-31

What does it take for actions that are “evil in the sight of the Lord” to become a “light thing”?

How does sin become common place?

Ahijah's prophesie to JeroboamThere are some who think that the Church harps far too much on sin.  “Fire and brimstone” is from a bygone age.  Christians who point out the sins of other people are often ridiculed for being up-tight or backwards.  They  are way too concerned about other people’s private lives.  They don’t understand the modern world.  Those types of Christians are regressing to the dark ages by focusing so much on sin.

The world that we live in does all that it can to normalize what is evil in the sight of the Lord and to make it a light thing.  Sin is not a light thing.

It is sin in the life a person that earns them God’s condemnation. That is a big thing.

The result of living in the flesh (sin) is death.  No one who is in the flesh can please God.   That is a big thing.

It was for sin that God sent His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, to condemn sin in the flesh.  Jesus, the Son of God, came to this earth for the purpose of condemning sin.  That is a really big thing.

Sin is a very big deal.  It was for your sin and my sin that Christ died on the cross.  What could be bigger than that?

I don’t like the fact that I can see some of my own attitude toward sin in a man like Ahab.  Ahab considered sin a light thing.  I have a tendency to down-play the magnitude of sin in my own life and the lives of other.  I think that it is a common attitude in the Church.  In comparing the Church to the rest of our society, I don’t see much difference.  I am disturbed by our comfort level with that which our Lord calls evil.

Ahab’s attitude toward sin did not originate with him.  Ahab came from a culture where sin had been normalized:

King Jeroboam – “but you have done evil above all who were before you and have gone and made for yourself other gods and metal images, provoking me to anger, and have cast me behind your back,…” (1 Kings 14:9)

King Nadab – “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father, and his sin which he made Israel to sin.” (1 Kings 15:26)

King Baasha – “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of Jeroboam and his sin which he made Israel to sin.” (1 Kings 15:34)

King Zimri – “because of his sins that he committed, doing evil in the sight of the Lord, walking in the way of Jeroboam,..” (1 Kings 16:19)

King Omri – “Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more than all who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:25)

Israel had a culture led by one king after another that treated sin lightly.  They disregarded what was evil in the sight of the Lord.

We live in a culture that is working very hard to normalize what is evil in the sight of the Lord.  I see so many professing Christians who are daily feeding on a buffet of content and entertainment that is seasoned throughout with what our Lord calls evil.  We willingly consume it without a second thought.  We are fools to think that a steady diet of evil does not affect what we consider to be normal.  Just consider the allowable topics in many Sunday sermons.  It is a sad reality that many actions, which the Bible clearly calls sin, cannot be taught in many pulpits and youth ministries because it is no longer considered that bad.  We don’t want to offend people with the magnitude of the evil in their lives. That is the result of years of evil being normalized into our lives.

Sin is a big deal.  When I down-play the magnitude of sin in my own life, I am equally down-playing the magnitude of the gospel.  I am undervaluing the supreme worth of the sacrifice of my Savior.  I am treating the greatest gift ever given as a stocking stuffer.

It is when we remember that sin is a really big deal that our passion for the lost is revived.  It is the greatest of tragedies to make a person comfortable in their own condemnation.  It is when we treat sin as a light matter that we can become indifferent to the eternal destination of those who are not in Christ Jesus.

I look at my own life and know that I take sin a lot lighter than I should.  I hate that.

I look at the lives of other professing Christians and see them taking sin a lot lighter than they should.  I hate that.

I hate that we flirt along the edges of what is evil in God’s eye and don’t think it is that it is a big deal.  I hate that we are numbed to the flagrant proliferation of evil in our society and we just take another bite.

Sin is a big deal.

The good news is that the Gospel is a bigger deal.  We have been saved.  Christ has condemned sin in our flesh.  Let’s take a big bite of that.  Let’s set our minds on the things of the Spirit.  Let’s reject all of those things of the flesh; all those things that the Lord calls evil, don’t allow your mind to be settle on all that this world is telling you is normal and natural.

All of that is not normal for a child of God.  Those who set their minds on what God calls sin will die.  Those who live according to the Spirit will set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  They will have peace and life!

What will you set your mind on today?

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for saving me from the condemnation of my sin.  Thank you for sending your own Son to do what I could not do.  Forgive me for under-appreciating the magnitude of my sin.  Forgive me for treating sin lightly.  Father, give me your eyes to see sin as you do.  Lord, I pray for your Church.  May we take what you call evil as seriously as you do.  May we never be comfortable with what we have been saved from.  Lord, give us an understanding of man’s condition apart from you and motivate us with hearts of compassion to be your witnesses to the end of the earth.     Amen

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