Sin

When “Magor-Missabib’s” disguise themselves as “Pashur’s”

In Jeremiah 19, God’s prophet was instructed to warn the people of Judah and Jerusalem that, because of their unrestrained sin and stubbornness, a harsh, but just, judgment was coming. Despite the clarity of the message which spelled doom for the unrepentant people, there were leaders who promised peace, and who also treated Jeremiah horribly; of which included a governor and son of a priest whose name, Pashur, meant freedom. But in Jeremiah 20:1-6 this same Pashur received a personal message from God that included the new name of Magor-Missabib, which meant a cause of terror on every side.

Beware! There are those in the religious world today who promise peace and freedom without repentance from sin and conviction toward God. Such are modern-day “Magor-Missabib’s” in that they promise what they cannot deliver while delivering those to whom the promise is made into a fiery terror on every side called Hell.

Make no mistake about it, there is freedom from sin to be found, but there is no lasting freedom found in sin. EA

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” 2 Peter 2:19-21

There is no Grace without Law

One of the greatest misunderstandings about God’s New Covenant that people live under today is that this covenant is all grace and no law.

Now let me quickly say, on top of the fact that the Law of Moses is no longer in effect spiritually (Hebrews 8:6-7, 13), that I completely agree that the Bible teaches that no one is justified by the works alone of any law, because once a law is violated all a law can do is condemn (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 2:16). But let me also quickly say I completely disagree with anyone who believes that this situation means we are no longer under any law today because of God’s grace (Romans 6:14-16).

As Christians we are indeed under law today. For example, there is:

  • the law of faith – “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith.” (Romans 3:27)
  • the law of Christ – “to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ, that I might win those who are without law;” (1 Corinthians 9:21)
  • the law of the Spirit – “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
  • the law of liberty – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:10-13)

More could be said, but enough should be enough and enough has been said to help us see the truth of God’s will concerning law and sin and grace.

You see, there can be law without grace, but there can be no grace without law because without law there is no need for grace (Galatians 6:1-3). EA

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us…My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous…Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 1:9-10, 2:1, 3:4)

Do we have a direct line to the Divine when it comes to morality?

Hillary Clinton, in a recent interview about the evolution of her view on homosexual marriage with Terry Gross, host of NPR’s “Fresh Air”,  said:

One of my big problems right now is that too many people believe they have a direct line to the divine and they never want to change their mind about anything,

Well one of my big problems with that is when it comes to homosexual marriage and its morality we do have a direct line to the divine – it’s called the word of God (a.k.a. the Bible).

As surely as the word of God reveals his righteousness (Romans 1:16-17) it also reveals the sin that violates it (1 John 5:17). And as surely as the word of God contains the answer to sin (1 John 2:1) it also contains the sins that create the need for an answer (Romans 1:18-32; Galatians 5:13-26; Colossians 3:1-10; Revelation 21:5-8, 22:10-15) which includes the sin of homosexuality.

The problem doesn’t come from not knowing whether or not we have “a direct line to the divine” – it’s that people are ignoring what they hear when they pick up the phone! EA 

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

The Jesus Factor

Often times when people make decisions concerning their attitude toward the church, their sin, their lifestyle, their prayer life and their eternal destiny they do so without considering the “Jesus factor” into the equation.

Many try to seek God without considering the church – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (Matthew 16:18).

Many try to seek God without considering the necessary atonement for their sins – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (Matthew 26:26-28).

Many try to seek an avenue to God without considering any constraint in their life choices – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (Matthew 7:13-14).

Many try to seek God through various mediators without considering the medium – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (1 Timothy 2:5).

Many try to seek an eternity with God without considering his eternal word – the Jesus factor says that it can’t happen (John 1:1; 14:6).

If we fail to add the “Jesus factor” into any equation of spiritual problems we will fail regardless of the problem we’re trying to solve. EA

Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:4-5)

Out of the Woodwork

 “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.” (Psalm 12:8)

King David, who understood well the effects of a leadership’s morality on their nation, was saying that wickedness and rebellion toward righteousness has a way of coming out of the woodwork when acceptance of sin finds a seat among the honored and the authorities; and in case you haven’t noticed – America’s “woodwork” has been emptying out lately!

Since 2008 approximately 24 States have passed laws recognizing homosexual “marriages” and unions; these include states who have had the will of the people overturned in the courts. People in at least another dozen states are challenging state laws that limit marriage to one man and one woman. Since 2008 the same-sex spouses of the federal executive branch employees have received tax payer funded benefits. Since 2008 the nation’s military has done away with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and “D.O.M.A.” is a thing of the past.

So what happened in 2008 to make the woodwork let loose? Vileness was exalted. EA

But they paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spoke by His servants the prophets, saying, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols), therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle.” (2 Kings 21:9-12)

Don’t Let Your Sweet Tooth Trick You

Proverbs 20:17 says, “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards, his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

In other words, when we know it’s wrong to say we’d do well to not say it no matter how pleasant it may taste!

It’s important to remember during this candy eating time of the year that many a “sweet tooth’s” have given in to speaking hatefulness, half-truths, whole-lies, twisted words, words in disguise, words of envy and whatever other sinful way of speaking you can think of only to find out that the lasting effects aren’t as pleasant as the temporary flavor it starts out with.

At the end of the day sin will always leave us wounded no matter who our words are aimed at, and if we’re not careful it may steal our ability to enjoy the flavor of God’s grace. EA

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1-3

Four Seasons Found in the Bible – Part 4

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;”                (Hebrews 11:24-25)

It might come as a surprise to some, but the Bible never denies that physical pleasure comes along with many sins. Instead, the Bible says that sin’s pleasure lasts only for a season.

In other words, the pleasures of sin can and will leave as fast as they showed up!

The high, the sex, the satisfaction, the popularity, the power, the benefit, the financial gain, the retribution, the friends and the pride only lasts so long.

One day these pleasure filled things will be exchanged for the low, the STD, the emptiness, the fickleness, the fall, the drawback, the loss, the vengeance, the loneliness and the humiliation that comes with sin.

It may not happen today or tomorrow but like every other season that comes and goes, a delay does not do away with the inevitable!

That’s why God’s word uses the wisdom of Moses to remind us about the devil’s, the world’s and the flesh’s empty promises. EA

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17)

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God Yearns To Show Mercy

Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?”            (Ezekiel 18:23)

God had a big lesson for Israel in this little rhetorical question. Akin to the mentality of many people today, there were some in Israel who had the wrong idea about God, his mercy, his wrath and his judgment. Instead of taking personal responsibility for their own sin, Ezekiel’s generation sought to blame their forefathers, their looming captors and even God for their current condition. Their impression was that God was putting the people on edge because he enjoyed it and not because they were responsible for it. God said think again!

The very accusation they had toward God revealed that they did not know God. They had forsaken his ways in their heart. They had rebelled from being his special people to being a people headed for ruin:

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31-32)

God pleaded with his people through his prophet. He wanted his people to turn and learn; but they wanted to turn and spurn. They refused a yoke that bound them to God in exchange for a yoke that bound them to sin.

Does God yearn to show mercy? You can’t read his word and not learn the answer to that, for he still offers the yoke of salvation that keeps us from wearing a yoke of bondage to sin (Matthew 11:28-30, Romans 6:16-18). EA

The Lord is not slow in keeping his word, as he seems to some, but he is waiting in mercy for you, not desiring the destruction of any, but that all may be turned from their evil ways.” (2 Peter 3:9BBE)

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Where’s the Complaint Department?!

The power of negativity affects more than just atoms, metals and magnets – it affects people too!

Sometimes we think we can change something or make it better by complaining. If we don’t like it we want to let someone hear about it, right? Well, others do not always like to listen do they? One time, I saw a sign hanging on the door to a house that had a mousetrap with a little button glued to the part where you put the cheese. Under the mousetrap were the words: “Complaint Department – Push Button For Service.” I think their point was something similar to leave your complaining at the door.

If we liked to complain as much as we liked to listen to it then most of us probably wouldn’t do it as much as we do, and God can feel the same way when it comes to listening to our complaints.

The Almighty in Heaven recognizes and knows when we have been unfairly treated, and the Holy Spirit teaches in God’s written word that we can talk to God about these things:

Because for long enough, in times past, we have been living after the way of the Gentiles, given up to the desires of the flesh, to drinking and feasting and loose behaviour and unclean worship of images; And they are wondering that you no longer go with them in this violent wasting of life, and are saying evil things of you: But they will have to give an account of themselves to him who is ready to be the judge of the living and the dead. For this was the reason why the good news of Jesus was given even to the dead, so that they might be judged as men in the flesh, but might be living before God in the spirit. But the end of all things is near: so be serious in your behaviour and keep on the watch with prayer;…Putting all your troubles on him, for he takes care of you.”(1 Peter 4:3-7; 5:7 – BBE).

In this situation God is a sympathetic Father who will listen to us as we express the sorrows and troubles we are wrestling with in our life.

On the flip-side, the Holy Spirit also teaches in God’s written word that God will not tolerate complaining, backbiting, gossiping or murmuring forever. All of these words are used in the New Testament to one extent or another and all of them are condemned, sometimes with harsh warnings:

nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyerFor I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;…These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” (1 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Jude 16 – NKJV).

Paul expressly warned the Corinthian church about murmuring and he used what happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness that murmured against Moses and Aaron as an example of God’s attitude toward that sin (Numbers 14,16,17). It was at the end of that warning that Paul penned the familiar and lesson filled words, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Complaining, backbiting, gossiping and murmuring were definitely some of those sins that Paul had in mind there.

Often times if we would only listen to ourselves when we complain negatively then we would hear how childish it can be. There have been times when I have reflected on something that I was complaining about and I realized how ignorant and petty it really sounded in the end. It didn’t change the situation and it definitely wasn’t changing me for the better!

The next time we start complaining we should ask ourselves if God would be willing to listen with a sympathetic ear, or would He be disappointed?

Remember that a lot of people like to visit the complaint department but not many people want to work there for a good reason. So let’s break the bad habit of complaining before it breaks us. EA

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9)

One Big Housing Bubble!

It has been truthfully said by some that the new sign of commitment among my age group (the millennials) isn’t a ring on the finger but rather a ring with a house key on it.

Friends, make no mistake, truthful saying or not, there’s a huge difference between being committed to a house and being committed to each other! There’s a huge difference between taking the plunge and plunging one’s self into debt.

Playing house comes with spiritual, emotional and financial bills that are real. Shacking up racks up the debt on your morality, your children and your culture. It’s a faux reality. No brick and mortar house will ever replace the stability or reliability in a relationship that a godly marriage provides (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Marital commitment replaced by a commitment to a home loan? That’s one big housing bubble that won’t do anything but burst!

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4)