The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

The Necessity of Change, Part 2

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 22, 2016

My last post was about the necessity of change (repentance) in order to be saved. This post will focus on why we need to continue to be open to changing after we are born again.

When we are first born again, we are essentially blank slates, ready to be written on by God. Our past is forgiven, and we have turned from our old ways, and readied ourselves to learn how to do good as little children (Isa. 1:16-17). God’s law is written upon our hearts, and we now commit to cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, so as to perfect holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 7:1).

Before I go on, it is necessary for me to qualify what God does NOT mean by “perfecting holiness.

He does not mean that after your conversion, you can still be living in open rebellion against God and yet “blameless in His sight.” That idea is deception. I’ve met fornicators, drunks, etc. who have no intention of giving up their sins, who claim they are saved yet “being sanctified gradually,” as if you can gradually give up these willful sins over the space of decades. “God’s not finished with me yet,” they may say. Well, they haven’t even been born into His family unless they’ve ceased from the obvious sins which they know He hates.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. (Heb. 10:26-27)

Or, they may have had an honest conversion followed by a return to their old sins, in which case they are worse off now than before they believed–

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. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Pet. 2:21-22)

So, we have established that “perfecting holiness” is not remaining in or returning to old sins. A person who does this is headed for judgment despite his excuses and religious pretenses.

However there is a “perfecting of holiness” that needs to happen in the believer’s life, and this does require constantly being willing to change as God reveals His will. Just as little children do not know everything, but learn gradually as they mature, we need to mature as Christian saints. (Note: little children may not know everything, but they are required to obey those things they do know and are capable of obeying.) Maturing spiritually requires washing our minds with the Word of God and consistently seeking God’s will in every matter of life. It also requires being willing to change our understanding of who God is, what pleases Him, and how we should behave, as we search out His Word and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18). It requires being humble and teachable at all times, never assuming that we have arrived and have nothing more to learn.

When I was a newborn believer, I immediately gave up fornication and drunkenness, knowing God was displeased with these sins and required my repentance. I also began to cry out to be delivered from cigarettes, which I overcame by the time I was baptized. I began to study the Bible in order to learn more fully what would please God. I went to church and started putting money in the offering plate, as an act of obedience to what I thought would please Him. At this time, I had no idea the prosperity message was evil, how many false teachers were ruining God’s flock, how much false doctrine I actually believed (having grown up in various churches), that nationalism didn’t please God, that I should dress more modestly (the women in my church were less modest than I was), etc. God fully accepted me in this rough state, because I was a child ready and willing to learn all that He had to teach. He didn’t download everything I needed to learn at once, just like we don’t teach a 3 year old the same things we teach a 17 year old. What God required was ears that hear, and willingness to change old beliefs and patterns of behavior.

Eventually I had figured out alot of true vs. false doctrine, was much more selective in fellowship, dressed more modestly, turned away from things I now recognized as idolatry, made sure my money went to help the poor and evangelize rather than to finance a bigger church building, etc. Even though I was born again and walking with God, I had to repent of many things as I learned they were against God’s will. I was much more mature, but certainly hadn’t arrived.

At this time, I fell in with a certain group of Christians who stressed the need to be holy, but often overlooked carnality among themselves. They were very particular about doctrine, and zealous to evangelize, which is what first attracted me.  But eventually I realized they were no longer willing to examine themselves or find fault with themselves, or…change. They could not hear reproof from anyone. Because of this, they began to give teachings that justified their carnality, instead of repenting.   And I was troubled, seeing that we can be so easily deceived by our past changes and our knowledge.  I began to ask the Father for wisdom concerning this, as I wondered if I was as blind as they seemed to be.

The Lord began to address some issues in my heart that no man could see. He showed me that although this holiness group would accept me based on my dress and my core beliefs, there were things He wanted to change in my heart to make me acceptable to Him. He showed me how these heart issues sometimes spilled over at home with my closest family members, and if I did not change, I could not think I was holy. This was a deep and painful experience that lasted a long time. I had to continually hearken to the Lord’s voice and agree with Him about what He was finding in me. He was also showing me some pitfalls I could avoid if I would be careful to listen to Him rather than following the crowd (not even the holiness crowd should be followed blindly; they too can err.) I had already separated from so many people, I did not want to experience any more separation, yet here it was. I could follow them or follow Him. And I chose to follow Him. These changes were not totally comfortable, but they were necessary. If I had allowed myself to think I’d arrived at the pinnacle of Christianity, I would have deafened myself to the Lord’s instruction.

Have you stagnated in your Christian life because you feel you’ve arrived at all knowledge and cleaned up your flesh? Are you judging yourself by others instead of judging yourself by Christ? Are you patterning yourself after some group you belong to instead of after Christ? Comfortable in their acceptance, and no longer asking Jesus if He is pleased with your direction? Certainly we can learn from others, but we must not let the camaraderie lead us away from Jesus, and it can ever so easily. Not everyone who comes in His Name also comes in His Spirit.

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7:1)

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:2-3)

It can be very convenient for us to stop at cleansing ourselves of the filthiness of the flesh, while leaving our spirit contaminated, especially if our fellowship group is also neglecting this. Their spirits can easily contaminate ours (Prov. 13:20). Some have become haughty in their condemnation of those with filthy flesh, while their own spirits remain in need of tremendous changes. The Pharisee who thanked God he wasn’t like other men comes to mind; with such an attitude, how can God show us where we still need to change?

Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. (I Tim. 5:24)

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits. (Prov. 16:2)

We do well to remember that God weighs the spirits of men. While we may have been held up as a Christian example by others, and perhaps even developed a large following; God knows our motives, our thoughts, and any contamination of spirit. (Very often our families at home know some of this also, and they are not impressed with our reputation among other people! If we can’t consistently walk in kindness and mercy toward our family members, we should not deceive ourselves that we are holy.)

David knew God, but didn’t content himself with what he had already accomplished through God. He knew there could be a wicked way in him that he could not yet see–

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa. 139:23-24)

Dear friends, to walk with God requires ongoing submission to His Word, a teachable spirit, and a readiness to change. Let’s not assume we are more than what we are. Without constant connection to the Vine, our life would dry up and we would be twigs destined for fire just like others. We are the sheep of His pasture, and must follow His leading (sometimes changing direction). We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), not arrogance and pride. It will take consistent diligence in adding good things to our character to make our calling and election sure–

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.  Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Pet. 1:5-11)

But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. (Prov. 4:18)

God bless you as you continually gaze upon Jesus and are changed into His image!

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18)

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Washing Judas’ Feet

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 17, 2016

There are situations in life that give us the opportunity to discover whether we’ve really learned all that we think we have, and in my case, all that we have been preaching to others!  A situation like that occurred in my life this week. A sin was committed against me by a person I’d previously forgiven for the same sin. Learning of this was a knife to the heart. I could barely breathe, so great was the pain.

I was so distraught, I did not trust myself to confront the person. I also felt that a coerced “repentance” upon being found out was not what was best for the other person. There needed to be a deeper repentance and true godly sorrow over the sin, not just an attempt to appease me.

I was up most of the night crying and praying that I would walk completely blameless toward this person, and asking God what my response should be. I confessed my hurt, my anger, and also my willingness to obey God no matter how difficult it might be.

I can honestly say that He changed my heart toward my “enemy” that night. By morning I felt like a new person, a person on a mission.  The person who’d hurt me had become my missionfield. Where there had been insecurity and fear, there was now peace and a sense of rest for my soul. God had visited with me, caused me to feel His presence and comfort, and shown me the path for my feet. It would not be an easy path that would please the flesh, but it would be a path that would cause me to grow spiritually, and could potentially bring my enemy to repentance. It was the path He walked on His way to the cross, when His closest friends would desert Him, and one would attempt to cover a terrible betrayal with a kiss.

I started that very day, deliberately blessing this person and showing more kindness than even before. The response to my kindness was confusion and perhaps a bit of conviction.  I know there is no guarantee that godly sorrow and repentance will follow, but I have the peace of knowing I am following Jesus. I genuinely feel His smile upon my soul.

I know that going forward, continuing to bless and pray for this person, there is no guarantee I won’t get hurt again. When Jesus taught us to bless our enemies, there was no guarantee attached saying we’d never feel pain again. But my security is not in the belief that I won’t get hurt, but in the belief that God cares for me and will carry me through, even to the end of my days. I also know this–the greatest power in the world has been launched against the enemy–and truly flesh and blood is not the real enemy–the power of mercy. The power of the cross. It can break the most hardened heart and pierce through the lies of satan with blinding light.

The following poem came from the depth of my soul while I struggled before the Lord concerning how to respond to betrayal. It acknowledges that sometimes we find ourselves in situations where those who should love us can be turned aside to satan, and walk contrary to love. Satan’s goal is to destroy them, and to hurt or destroy us.  How will we respond in that moment of suffering?

I believe Jesus’ last interaction with Judas testified against his coming betrayal more than words of condemnation could have. There is no doubt that Jesus loved this man and gave him an opportunity to turn from his sin, but he would not. Judas would not, but others may. Peter did! I know that the kindness of Jesus while I was hurting Him is what changed me from a rebel to a servant (Rom. 2:4).

I hope this poem will be a blessing to others. Follow the Lamb wherever He goes!

Washing Judas’ Feet

Two thousand years ago,
You knelt before his feet
To wash them tenderly.
And with him, you did eat.

You pleaded with your friend
To love you back, but still
He kissed you like a traitor
And followed satan’s will.

Great sorrow filled your cup;
You drank it so that others
Would be able to become
Your sisters, brothers, mothers.

You washed the feet of Judas;
And with him, you did sup,
You said that we must follow you
And also drink the cup.

Your fellowship is nearer
When Judas dines with me.
He loves us, he loves us not.
He is our enemy.

I’m carrying the basin,
And I’m going to fetch the towel.
And why is it such agony
To force my flesh to bow?

Now Judas’ feet are in my hands.
Now they are clean and dried.
But I can’t make him love You.
There’s still some dirt inside.

I pray he finds repentance,
And in You, a new start.
For I was once a Judas too,
But mercy changed my heart.

And never was my Lord so near
Than now, when I stooped down
To wash the feet of Judas
On my journey to a crown.

Our tears will all be wiped away,
Our agonies well spent,
If we endure these trials with
A faith that won’t relent.

So set your heart on things above
And count this life as loss,
To win the resurrection
On the far side of the cross.

To all suffering saints, with love.

 

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The Course of this World

Posted by israeliteindeed on November 1, 2014

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Eph. 2:1-3)

Every day you can see the course of this world and people simply walking in it. This is especially obvious during the holidays, during which Americans spend billions of dollars on things that have no value.

It doesn’t take self-denial to follow the course of this world. You just go where the world leads (away from Christ and toward other things), and as long as you walk in that mainstream toward the other things, the world accepts you.

A quick look at the news, and a look around us at the devastation in people’s lives, reveals that the course most are walking in is not headed to a good place. Hopefully we ourselves have cried out to the Savior, and the Lord Jesus Christ has made us alive and delivered us from “the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.” If we truly have been delivered from that spirit, we are now walking with the Spirit who works in those who obey God! There is a sharp division between children of disobedience, and children who obey God. It is the difference between death and life.

It is interesting to me, this new obsession with the “zombie apocalypse.” People are storing food and learning self-defense, fearing that zombies may one day attack them. They do not realize that they themselves are the zombies because they are dead in their trespasses and sins (as I also once was), and they will never be able to live by bread alone. Even those who quit their televisions and learn how to “live off the land” (both good things in themselves) are still in darkness and death if they do not have Jesus, and if Jesus does not “make them alive.” And so we are surrounded by those who are dead, and who feed on death. Halloween with all of its glorification of evil and darkness is just one of many fruits on the tree that is rooted in death, and headed for destruction. It is one symptom of a society that has embraced death by sin.

It is horrifying to see that the mainstream has channeled right through the western church and swept away multitudes of so-called Christians. And the wolves–ever multiplying in our “judge not” and “tickle my ears” churches–are getting much more bold in their lies. In spite of God’s many warnings that we must not love this world nor follow its ways, these teachers tell us we can do so without consequence, and even that God will be pleased to use us in our compromise. They have managed to turn the truth on its head for those who did not receive a love of the truth. Such people, who first turned away their ears from sound doctrine, hurry like lemmings onto that wide road, assured by their fable-teachers that God does not object. But these are not hapless victims; they have rebelled against the Truth and strengthened one another in evil rather than taking God’s Word seriously.

Meanwhile, those who speak the real truth to them are legalists and Pharisees and other names which qualify them for mockery and rejection.

Jesus warned this would happen. He said the time was coming when the mainstream church would abuse the people of God (Matt. 10:17; 23:34). This is because the mainstream church is moving along with the course of this world. This world hates the people of God, especially when they testify that its works are evil (Jn. 7:7, 15:18-19, 17:14; I Jn. 3:13).

If you have light and life, hold onto these and let no man take your crown. Abide in Jesus, the narrow Way that leads to life. Steadfastly endure whatever comes and do not change course one degree. The course of this world will–literally–run its course, and destruction will be at the end. And then will come the hour in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:28-29)

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. (I Jn. 2:15-17)

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Biblical Confession

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 12, 2014

The word, “confession” may conjure up all kinds of definitions in people’s minds, depending upon their religious background. Some believe that confession is merely saying “sorry” for your sins, and that this can be done once daily or weekly while sin is ongoing. It is generally believed that as long as this “confession” is being done, God is ignoring the sin. Others believe that confession is listing as many sins as can be remembered to a priest so that he can forgive those sins which are listed. Some believe that if some type of penance is added to the confession, or money is given to a church, this increases the likelihood of finding forgiveness.

I am thankful that despite our different religious backgrounds, we can know the Truth, and the Truth can set us free. We can be forgiven and redeemed, but we must learn what God requires. Following are some biblical truths about the confession God accepts.

1. When we realize we have sinned, we must humbly confess our own unfaithfulness to God, confess that God has justly judged us, and accept our guilt (and its consequences.) For many, they confess without humility, with excuses, and hoping only to escape the just judgments they are reaping in their lives. “Yes, I sinned, but here is why I am justified, and why I don’t deserve my circumstances.” This is not acceptable to God.

But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt—then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land. (Lev. 26:40-42)

2. Confession involves being fully exposed and honest, hiding nothing, coupled with forsaking what was done. If we are still hiding things from God or others we have wronged, we have not properly confessed.

I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psa. 32:5)

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. (Psa. 28:13)

3. Biblical confession is accompanied by turning from sin and being willing to learn from God how we should walk (repentance).

When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk. (I Kings 8:35-36)

4. Confession is accompanied by doing God’s will and separating from evildoers who will lead us astray. If we continue to keep evil company, we will continue in sinful habits (I Cor. 15:33). Someone who insists on being the companion of fools will be destroyed (Prov. 13:20) because he will be led away from doing God’s will.

Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives. (Ezra 10:11)

5. Biblical confession should be accompanied by making restitution whenever possible. If we stole something, we should pay back with extra to prove we understand how unjust the theft was. If we lied about someone, we should do what we can to restore the person’s reputation. The “extra” demonstrates that we know we are indebted to the person we wronged. If we are truly humbled before the Lord, He will guide us in how to make restitution when it is possible. The restitution does not cancel our sin (this comes through God’s forgiveness and mercy), but proves our hearts are changed.

When a man or woman commits any sin that men commit in unfaithfulness against the Lord, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed. He shall make restitution for his trespass in full, plus one-fifth of it, and give it to the one he has wronged. (Num. 5:6-7)

Zacchaeus said to the Lord, “Look, Lord…if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house…” (Lk. 19:8-9)

6. Confession includes acknowledgement that Jesus is alive today even though He was crucified for your sins, and the honest profession that He is the legitimate LORD (Master) of your life.

…That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom. 10:9,10)

7. Proper confession, as it is defined by Scripture, is one of the conditions of receiving God’s forgiveness.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I Jn. 1:9)

8. Biblical confession (along with its accompanying humility, forsaking sin, submission to God, etc.) must come before baptism. Baptism of an unrepentant, unchanged person means nothing to God (despite what many churches teach!)

Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matt. 3:5-6; also Mark 1:5; Acts 19:8)

9. Biblical confession will be done by all people, sooner or later. But only those who voluntarily humble themselves and confess Biblically in this life will be saved. God is just, and will make all men acknowledge how they have rebelled and resisted His Truth. Isn’t it wise to make peace with Him now–through the means of salvation He has offered (Jesus)? Today is the day of salvation if you can hear His voice. He will not strive with rebels forever, but will close the door of salvation and punish them.

For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Rom. 14:11; also Phil. 2:11)

10. After we are redeemed, we need to confess personal as well as corporate sin. This involves examining ourselves regularly to judge (discern) the rightness or wrongness of our actions. If we determine what we have done any wrong, we confess and repent. We should also acknowledge any sin the church is doing as a whole. There is no room, in Christ, for walking in darkness and hiding sin. Too many churches are covering up sin rather than exposing it. This is dishonoring to God, and brings injury and spiritual confusion to many people. We have the examples of godly men, Daniel and Nehemiah–

Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God…(Dan. 9:20)

…Hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. (Neh. 1:6)

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

11. All believers are priests in the spiritual kingdom the God (I Pet. 2:9), and as such, can confess sin to one another. This is for the purpose of accountability, praying for one another, and teaching one another (Rom. 15:14; Col. 3:16).

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (Jam. 5:16)

Please note: Nowhere in the New Testament are sinners commanded to confess their sins to a priest in order to be forgiven. Our healing, forgiveness and redemption comes from God, through our High Priest Jesus, not from any other man. Jesus is the only mediator between God and men (I Tim. 2:5). He alone is able to save, and we must come to God through Him. (Heb. 2:17; 4:15-16; 5:9; 7:24-25) If any person or organization teaches that you must come to God through a man (whether he calls himself a priest or not), do not believe it or submit to it. Believe the Scriptures.

God bless you!

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Dear Backslider, …

Posted by israeliteindeed on January 1, 2014

Dear Backslider, 

Are you truly sorrowful for your sin?  Are you filled with remorse, wishing you could undo what you have done?  Do you honestly desire to be reinstated as an obedient child, forgiven and at peace once again?  Are you willing to cast your sins away from you in disgust and determination to submit to God?

God wants the backslider back. Don’t let satan cause you to doubt that.  If you are in a state of godly sorrow over your sin, there is hope for you.  Godly sorrow over sin produces repentance leading to salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10). 

No one wasted his life more than the thief on the cross, yet Jesus–even in personal agony on His own cross–was quick to forgive him and comfort him because he humbled himself. 

Peter was someone who knew the Lord and walked with Him, and heard His teaching and even had Jesus explain teachings to him on an intimate basis.  He fell away the night Jesus was betrayed, due to his fear of what men might do to him. But afterward he sorrowed to repentance, and Jesus not only accepted him back, but gave him instructions (“feed my sheep”–John 21:15-18).  Peter went on to be a strong leader in the church despite his failure (which the whole world knows about!)

Read Micah 7:18-19.  God “delights in mercy.”  He does not give mercy grudgingly to the humble. He gives it gladly. It rejoices His heart to see a sinner repent, and Jesus was careful to tell us that all of heaven rejoices with God over this too (Luke 15:10). 

Are you afraid you have messed up so much that you can’t come back? Many believe they may have committed the “unpardonable sin,” and this keeps them from returning to the Lord.

The “unpardonable sin” is a confusing topic, but read the passage in Matthew 12:22-32. Notice that the pharisees had accused Jesus of setting a man free from a demon by the power of the devil (vs 24). The truth was that Jesus had done it by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is the sin Jesus referred to, which would not be forgiven.  

It is not 100% clear to me why this won’t be forgiven. Perhaps it is because there is “woe to those who call good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)  If a man is in bondage to devils, and then he is freed by God, and you are so blind as to call his salvation from devils evil, what hope does God have at leading you to repentance by His Spirit?–If you are now referring to His Holy Spirit as the devil?  This is the terrible place the pharisees were in. They were so hardened in their hearts that even the most beautiful deliverance was evil to them. They could not recognize God the Son, and they could not recognize God the Spirit, but instead always resisted Him (Acts 7:51).  They refused the baptism that signified repentance (Luke 7:29-30), showing that they were not willing to let the Holy Spirit draw them to God. 

If you are not rejecting repentance, or attributing the works of the Holy Spirit of Jesus to the devil in an effort to reject Jesus, then you are not committing “the unpardonable sin.”   If you see your need, that is proof enough that there is hope for you

If you see that your wasted time is a debt you owe God, if you see that your sin should never have been committed, and if you desire to be restored as God’s child, and if you will sincerely repent and submit to Him, He will happily forgive you and let you start over!  Let the remorse over your past be a fuel that works for your good, and for God’s good! Let it bind your wandering heart more tightly to Him from this day forward.  

After I first got right with the Lord for a while, I backslid. In fact, I entered into sin more wicked than the things I had done before!  I can still remember hearing a voice in my head saying that I was destined to continue in sin. The voice said there was no way out. That voice was the devil lying to me (just as he may now be lying to you.) He had gained access to my life through my sin, but I began to plead with God to rescue me from the deep pit I was in. 

Something inside me knew that there must be hope, even though I did not know the Bible very well at that time.  God answered my repeated cries for help by having a Christian brother call me. He told me he had noticed I was “not right,” and asked if there was something wrong. I realized this was my “rescue rope” sent by God, and if I didn’t grab it with all my might, I might be lost forever. I humbled myself and confessed my dark secrets to him.  Thankfully, the Holy Spirit spoke to me through this man, telling me my sin had separated me from God, but if I would put away my sin and ask for mercy, I could start over.   I fully turned away from those things, including making changes that would help me keep from that sin in the future.  

It is always hard to go back to the beginning, and if the heart is properly tenderized by regret, it is a very humble and low place. It is a place of agonizing.  “Strive to enter the narrow gate” literally means “Agonize to enter” in the Greek.  But it is in that humble and low place that God begins to help us, for He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.  It starts out as agonizing, but it becomes a place of mercy and freedom as God washes us in His own blood, and draws near to us in our humility (James 4:7-10).  In this humble place, He teaches us that our own hearts and emotions are not to be trusted (they got us into alot of trouble), the world is not to be trusted, the lusts of the flesh must be crucified, and if we are to be overcomers, we must find a deep abiding place in Jesus. We learn to be humble sheep following our Good Shepherd and not wandering off. 

Read Hosea 5:14 through Hosea 6:3.  God tore at the backsliders as a lion would tear the prey, then He retreated to His den (seeming to ignore them) to wait for them to “acknowledge their offense.”   Do you feel the affliction and sense the awful separation your sin has caused?  There is hope for you.  He afflicted them SO THAT they would seek Him.  He could have just killed them, but in mercy He afflicted them and waited for their repentance.   All of this was in order to bring about the beautiful ending–Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.      After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.  

Dear Backslider, I hope that what I have shared here will increase your hope in the Lord, and that you will have a testimony of full restoration to share with others in the near future.  After you are restored to the Lord, get into the Word of God with all your might.  Seek God in the Scriptures and read to apply every word to your life. His Word will renew your mind and change you from the inside out. And it will fortify you from the false teachings that are everywhere. 

God bless you and help you!

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What is Self-Righteousness?

Posted by israeliteindeed on September 12, 2013

I was reading a devotional book by Rod and Staff Publishers*, and came across a statement which concerns a subject I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. Here is the statement:

“To continue in our own way is an expression of self-righteousness.”

That statement has the ring of truth!

I readily admit this is not the definition of “self-righteousness” we generally hear. I have told family members that they need to stop doing their own thing and obey Jesus, and they accused me of being self-righteous!  Clearly, their definition of the word is the exact opposite of that which is written above. Self-righteousness is one of several words that seems to have been re-defined to fit popular cultural ideas.  In this post, I’d like to explore what self-righteousness looks like Biblically.

Speaking of the Jews who had rejected Jesus, Paul wrote, “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10: 3)  There is much confusion about what this means, especially with all the sin-excusing, so called “Christian” doctrines abounding today. Many people think Paul was accusing the Jews of trying to obey God too much, whereas they would have found true salvation “resting” in an assurance that “Jesus did it all.” Their dangerous response to their false problem is being a lazy and compromising “Christian” with no standard, and refusing to judge any matter by the Word of God.

It is true that Jesus Himself made the only atonement that could wash our sins away, and it is by faith in Him that we are saved.  It is true that all the law and prophets pointed to the forgiveness offered and made possible by Jesus–and this is something many Jews were unwilling to accept.  But God has never been angry with people who obeyed Him from the heart, and in fact He earnestly desires this.  Obeying God from the heart is never self-righteousness. 

 
Psalm 50:23 declares that to him who orders his conduct aright, God will show His salvation. The man who orders his conduct aright does not save himself (atone for his own sins, or force God to forgive him)  by doing so. But his contrite heart is accepted by God, and because he has met God’s condition of repentance, he will be shown God’s salvation (Jesus), which he then can enter into by faith

The Jews that went about trying to establish their own righteousness were Christ-rejectors precisely because they first refused to order their conduct aright (repent). They had the writings of the law and prophets, which contained excoriating rebukes that applied to them and exposed their hypocrisy, but they did not humble themselves. It is no coincidence that both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries preaching that men must repent, and both preached against the religious hypocrisy that was so prevalent in their culture. These Jews were not called “self-righteous” because of their careful obedience, but because of their disobedience and hypocrisy. 

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  (Luke 12:1)

They failed to understand that all the law and prophets pointed to Jesus, the real sacrifice for sins. Why did they fail to understand? Again, I say it is because they refused to order their conduct aright, and so they stumbled over the Stumbling Stone. There were Jews who did come to understand these great spiritual truths, both in the Old Testament and the New. All of these were saved by their faith. The Pharisees and other Christ-rejecting Jews cherry-picked the Scriptures they had, so they could major on what profited them, and ignore what did not.  And as Jesus accused them in Mark 7:6-13, they outright rejected commandments of God in order to further traditions they had created to benefit themselves.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do;  but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. (Matt. 23:2-4)

In Matthew 23, Jesus detailed the many hypocrisies of Israel’s “blind guides.” But such hypocrisies were not limited to the spiritual leaders. There were many Jews who likewise went about trying to establish their own righteousness. They brought temple sacrifices and offerings, and claimed to be God’s people, while their hearts were far from God, and in fact in love with idols (Isa. 29:13).  They compared themselves to Gentiles and thought they were justified just because they were circumcised “children of Abraham,” and knew the one true God.  By insisting that they were already righteous as they were without a full submission to God, and while refusing to let God show them what would truly please Him, they traded in the righteousness of God for their own useless “righteousness.”  

What about those Jews who were doing their best to obey the law of God without hypocrisy? While such a life was pleasing to God, even one transgression must be atoned for. A return to obedience after disobedience, while commanded, cannot atone for transgressions. The law was never meant to forgive sins, but to bring the sinner to the One whose blood was shed for him!  Indeed, if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain (Gal. 2:21). If the law could make sinners righteous again, we could just preach the law to everyone, and once people returned to obedience, they would be saved. But Jesus was lifted up from the earth to draw all men unto Him. And He becomes righteousness to all who come to Him (I Cor. 1:30), not by imputation of His personal obedience to our account (as some teach), but by forgiving our sins and washing them from us in His own sinless blood.  Unless one comes to Christ, the only Way God has provided, one who has sinned can never be truly righteous, though he may have a form of fictitious, self-created “righteousness.”  

Therefore self-righteousness can rightly be charged against anyone (Jew or Gentile) who insists he can be acceptable to God any other way than by the Way God prescribes. 

  • The orthodox Jew that rejects Christ but practices Hebrew law-keeping, cannot, by these habits, appease Him; he has no faith in God’s Way of salvation, and without faith it is impossible to please God. 
  • The Gentile that goes to three church services per week, sings in the choir, and supports building funds and missionaries–while he still lives and thinks in his heart any way he chooses, is not accepted by God.  Oh, he may talk about the blood of Jesus, but that very blood he has been trampling by his willing disobedience will testify against him and prove him a denier of Christ (Heb. 10:26-29; Titus 1:16), and his righteousness a counterfeit. 
  • The Muslim meticulously praying  and washing according to man-made standards God has not commanded, will never find himself closer to God by these deeds. 
  • The atheist who thinks he is righteous by adhering to a standard of morals he has created for himself, has likewise created his own “way.” 
 
All of these ways, though they seem right to each man from his own perspective, will end in death (Prov. 14:12). 

There is only one Way that leads to life, and the Way is Jesus. To be a follower of The Way is more than acknowledging Jesus as a historical figure, or claiming to follow Him. It is  trusting in His merciful provision of atonement for our personal offences against God, and receiving His forgiveness; and then willingly walking in all His commands. Joining with Him in death (to self and the world), and joining with Him in a resurrected life that bears holy fruit unto God.

There are multitudes of self-righteous people that consider and call themselves real Christians.  Some don’t associate with the organized church, but many do. They judge themselves by standards that are man-made, or they judge themselves only by cherry-picked Scriptures to the exclusion of the whole counsel of God. Some are more moral than others. What connects them is that they will not submit to letting God Himself teach them what is right and wrong, and will not submit to His washing and regenerating influence. They insist they can decide for themselves what is right and how they will live, and resent anyone’s assertion that they should change. Some are masters at justifying their false way with little twistings of Scripture;  they know just enough of the Word to thoroughly damn themselves.

I will share a case in point:

I have an unsaved brother that hates homosexuality.  He is right to hate this sin, but he does not hate his own drunkenness, fornication, blasphemies, racism (he is a member of the KKK), and pervasive selfishness that continually hurts alot of people. He boldly told me he was a Christian.  He condemns the homosexual while claiming he is righteous. Jesus condemns all of the above, and calls both the homosexual and the heterosexual fornicator to acknowledge their own personal crimes against God. My brother will “preach” against homosexuality if the subject comes up, but if I preach against his own list of crimes, using the Word of God as the authority, then I am rejected. Why? He has not submitted to the righteousness of God, but is going about to establish his own. His life may be vastly different than the life of the orthodox Jew who carefully avoids fornication and drunkenness, but both are excluded from the kingdom of God together because neither is submitted to the Word of God.  When the Word is rejected, salvation is rejected. The Word of God is sent to heal us (Psa. 107:20), but disobedience to that Word leads to stumbling (I Pet. 2:8).  The wrath of God abides on all who continue in their own way.

A person like my brother can acknowledge that Jesus was a historical figure, and he might even say Jesus was a good man or a prophet, if he were pressed. A good Muslim would agree with these sentiments about Jesus, as would most Americans. But as long as men insist on deciding for themselves what righteousness looks like, they will never be saved, even if they live relatively moral lives, as do some Jews, Muslims, atheists, and professing Christians. Am I saying morality is inconsequential?–Absolutely not.  The law of God written on a person’s heart, and the Spirit of God directing a person’s steps, will produce a moral life because God is moral. But this will be a true morality borne out of a Spirit-led life, rather than a hypocritical, self-serving morality, such as the morality my brother walks in–or the morality some Jews, Muslims, or false Christians walk in. 

Returning to a point I touched on earlier, those who earnestly plead with sinners to abandon their self-led lives are not being “self-righteous.” It is the self-led sinner who assumes his own spiritual safety that is self-righteous.  But many sinners will hastily slap this label on the truthful witness that testifies against them and calls them to repentance.  Ear-tickling false doctrine streaming from too many pulpits facilitates this deception;  unfortunately many a false shepherd would agree with them and verbally crucify the witness!  Nevertheless, I think it helpful for the faithful witnesses to remember what self-righteousness really is, so that we are not intimidated by false accusations.

God bless you, readers!

Adult Bible Studies, Studies in Romans.  Crockett, Kentucky: Rod and Staff Publishers; January, February, March 2013.

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The Serious Consequences of Unforgiveness

Posted by israeliteindeed on October 29, 2011

Jesus said that the one who is forgiven much, loves much. I hope this describes you, dear reader, for love will cover a multitude of sins.

Just after Jesus told Peter that forgiveness must be given to an offender not seven times only, but seventy times seven, He taught an important parable that every Christian should be careful to remember.

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.  And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.  But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made.  The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.  (Matt. 18:23-27)

Firstly, I’d like you to notice that being a Christian is likened to being in a kingdom under the jurisdiction of a King who will settle accounts with His servants. Jesus came preaching “the kingdom of Heaven” (or “the kingdom of God”) of which He Himself was and is the eternal King.  Each of us who have entered the good graces of that King, have done so by falling down before Him and desiring to be forgiven of a great debt we could not repay.  What man can cleanse his offending record and justify himself from the sins he has committed against this good King and His holy law of love? He cannot do it; he must have the compassion and forgiveness of the master, or he is all undone.  The master in this story (a picture of God) was “moved with compassion”–for the Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy (Psa. 145:8).  He released him from the debt and freely forgave him, just as God will do for any sinner who humbles himself before Him earnestly desiring the Master’s patience.

“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’  So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt.  So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.  (Matt. 18:28-31)

Forgiven Christian, the question before you now is what will you do when one of your fellow servants becomes indebted to you through some injustice in word or deed?  Will you respond toward him the same way the King has responded toward you? Or will you hold the debt over his head, refusing to follow the example of the One who forgave you?  It is very important that we receive not the grace of God in vain. The kindness of God is meant to lead us to repentance. We ought not only to forsake the sin previously committed, but to become different people–people who respond to our debtors as God has responded to us.

Jesus instructed His disciples to pray, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” and adds this warning: For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.(Matt. 6:12, 14-15)  This is plain language indicating that our own forgiveness (and salvation) is in part conditioned upon our choosing to forgive our debtors.  If instead, we hold our debtors in the prison of unforgiveness, what will become of us? The Lord’s teaching is dangerously clear.

Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.  Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’  And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.  “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”  (Matt. 18:32-35)

Is it possible to be a servant of the Lord, fully forgiven of all debt (sins) by the compassionate King, and then through our subsequent choices, forfeit the mercy that was ours? Indeed, it is, for the Lord has spoken truly: So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. And what will He do?  He will hold our past offenses (which were previously forgiven) against us until we pay for them. How can we pay for them and free ourselves from “the torturers”? We can’t.

Dear saint, you are called to be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect (Matt. 5:48).  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy (Matt. 5: 7). Therefore be merciful, just as your Father in heaven is merciful (Luke 6: 36).  You must forgive your brother from the heart, if you wish to remain in the love of God. Offenses sting and wound us, but as we forgive them, we are walking in the perfect way of love. We remember how great a debt the Lord forgave us, and how great a wound our sins imposed upon Him; and in the light of this, we count the sins committed against us of little regard and easily forgiven.  We lavish the same love on others that has been given unto us, thereby becoming conduits of the mercy of God to others. But if we reject this mission of mercy, we become debtors to God once again.

By the Spirit of God, our brother James wrote: 

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

Did James write that we will merely experience some loss of intimacy with God if we grumble against one another, or did he write that we will be condemned?  The wise Christian will take warning, and not try to explain away the clear teaching of God.  Forgiveness is not always easy, but it must be done by choice despite our feelings.  We choose to obey our Lord and follow His example, knowing His ways are right and good, and He in turn comforts us in our afflictions and removes the sting of our wounds. You can have a still-smarting wound and choose to walk in forgiveness, just as Jesus said, “Father forgive them” even as He suffered on the cross.  Choose today to always forgive your debtors immediately and thoroughly, from the heart, and you will be blessed.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. (Col. 3:13)

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.  (Eph. 4:31-32)

May God bless you!

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Interpret the Writing on the Wall

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 6, 2011

Belshazzar the king of Babylon threw a great feast during which he called for the gold and silver dishes which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the Jerusalem temple, that he and his friends could drink their wine from them.

They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. (Dan. 5:4)

What, Belshazzar? What about your grandfather Nebuchadnezzar, who gave testimony about the high God whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom?  What about his dream of a huge tree filling the earth, suddenly hewn down with only a stump remaining?  What about Daniel’s warning to him that this was to be his lot unless he broke off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by showing mercy to the poor?  What about how after 12 months (Nebuchadnezzar’s space to repent), all these things came upon him and he went raving mad for 7 years, until he was sufficiently humbled and gave this testimony:

Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Dan. 4:37)

Belshazzar knew all this (5:22), and yet he praised created and temporal things, probably thinking in his heart that since he had the temple dishes, he had the better of Israel’s God.

Then into his vain revelries came a hand from heaven, writing holy words upon the wall–Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.  Belshazzar shook in terror, and no one could understand the words. Into this situation, Daniel–the man of God–was summoned, and he gave this interpretation:  God has numbered your kingdom and ended it, you have been weighed in God’s balance and found wanting, the kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.  That very night Belshazzar’s life ended, and his kingdom was given to Cyrus the Persian and Darius the Mede.  This author hopes that although Belshazzar himself was lost, some of his friends took warning from these events and turned from idols to God.

Christian, you will be summoned into situations like this, and your duty will be to cause the people to understand the holy writing.  Many people, like Belshazzar, have been exposed to prior testimony to the everlasting kingdom of God, the temporal nature of all earthly things, and their duty to repent and turn to God. In fact, all men have heard, at the least, the testimony of creation and are without excuse (Rom. 1).  Many SEE the writing of God but do not understand it. They have heaped up to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and turned their own ears from the truth until truth is a foreign language to them (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  Many will not hear the Words of God until they are terrified. Diverse horrors are falling on our land today–earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, fires, nuclear threats, wars, terrorist threats, debilitating disease and economic hardship. The writing is on the wall, and the kingdoms of men are falling. Possessing all the gold and silver in the world will not save anyone (it didn’t help Belshazzar.)

We must stand and deliver the meaning of the holy words,  the Holy Spirit in us convicting the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). That which we hear in the ear we preach from the rooftops, not fearing those who can only kill the body, but fearing Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 27-28). We preach the everlasting gospel, saying with a loud voice, fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. (Rev. 14:6-7)  We offer the perishing the hope of salvation in submission to Jesus Christ, and not a shred of hope in anything else.  

Psalm 2

 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 

Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.

 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.

 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.

 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

God bless you.

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Refuting Calvinism

Posted by israeliteindeed on July 5, 2011

This is a very well-written article by Doctor Patrick Johnston, demonstrating how Calvinism is contrary to Biblical reason and sound doctrine.  God bless you!

Refuting What Calvinists Believe with What Calvinists Know

Muting the Objection of Conscience and Creation

There are many Calvinists both dead and living who have earned my admiration over the years. That I believe that they are in doctrinal error does not mitigate my respect and admiration for them as mighty men of God. Some of the greatest open air preachers and evangelists during the first and second Great Awakenings were Calvinists. Calvinists are leading Christendom in the restoration of biblical order for the home, in pioneering Christian home education, and are at the forefront of the attempts to apply the truths of God’s Word to issues generally thought of as secular: public education, welfare, economics, criminal justice, and the lordship of Christ over all matters of life. For that, they have my deep respect.

A Calvinist I deeply admire is Greg Bahnsen, one of my favorite Christian apologists who taught me, through his writings, books, and sermons, the presuppositional approach to evangelism and strengthened my belief in theonomy – the belief that governments and nations should obey God’s Word in all matters. When I prepared to listen to a CD that he preached on the subject of Calvinism, I grew concerned that my worldview was going to come crashing down. I have never heard Bahnsen say anything where he wasn’t overwhelmingly persuasive. I felt for certain he was going to bring a probing application of presuppositional apologetics to prove that Calvinism was true, necessitating a sea change in my theological beliefs.

What I heard from him, however, was the opposite: rather than a vigorous appeal to conscience and creation to prove the veracity of the Calvinist system, he advocated rather a suspension of our rational faculties and the muting of the predictable objection of human conscience. He did so based upon a passage from Isaiah, which is often misinterpreted. I’m sure you’ve heard a preacher say it: “God’s ways our not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.” They often take that passage to mean that we just cannot understand God, and therefore shouldn’t try; just accept the truth of His Word by faith. However, a cursory perusal of the passage reveals the gross error in this thinking.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so our my ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your  thoughts.” Isaiah 55:6-9

If your ways aren’t God’s ways, you shouldn’t just accept the conflict as unavoidable – you should repent. If your thoughts aren’t God’s thoughts, you shouldn’t give up trying to think God’s thoughts – you should repent. That’s what this passage plainly means. To interpret this passage to mean that sincere Christians cannot understand God or His thoughts or ways is absurd.

Before one fully embraces the Calvinist system, they must first fall prey to the unstated presupposition that we must suspend our rational faculties and mute the objection of our consciences to simply accept by faith whatever God’s Word says about how He governs. First of all, this is an impractical mission. Without our rational faculties we could not even understand Scripture, much less build a cohesive theological system.  In order for Calvinists to suspend their rational faculties and mute the objection of conscience, they first must engage their rational faculties to come to that conclusion, and enlist the mandate of conscience to submit to the Word of God. Thus, the unstated presupposition of Calvinism is false based upon what Calvinists in fact do. Calvinism’s conclusions so plainly contradict the testimony of nature and conscience that we must constantly be reminded by Calvinists like Bahnsen at the onset of their teaching on Calvinism that “God’s ways aren’t our ways” and we just need to accept Calvinist doctrine in spite of its apparent contradiction to self-evident truths.

Is it not a sin to reason. “Come let us reason together, saith the Lord.” It’s as if Calvinists think that God made our bodies and the devil created our intellect and reason. No, we are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy mind.” (Read More)

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God Sees Your Sin, Pt. 2

Posted by israeliteindeed on June 21, 2011

In this post, I would like to present you with Old Testament Scriptures which demonstrate that God deals with people on a day-to-day basis. He makes conditional covenants (agreements) with people, but if the people violate the conditions for blessing and refuse to repent, God is not bound to bless them still. The covenant has essentially been broken. Though God is merciful and loves to forgive, He does not blind Himself to the future sins of His people, allowing them to sin all they want and still remain under His protection and grace.

Some will argue that the Old Testament has no bearing on the lives of New Covenant believers, but this is error. We must remember that Jesus and all the New Testament teachers taught new believers from the Old Testament! It is applicable because God changes not. His character in the Old Testament is still the character He has today. There is a newer and better covenant in place, with a greater High Priest and more precious promises, but God remains the same covenant God, whose conditions must be met if one is to remain in His favor.

The Old Testament Judaic law was a shadow of things to come (Heb. 10:1)–meaning it was a type, from which we can draw truth and parallels relating directly to the present gospel time. Paul wrote exactly that in I Cor. 10:1-12, warning Christians that although the Old Testament Israelites had exited Egypt (symbolically: separated from the world), lived under the cloud (symbolically: enjoyed the protection of God), were baptized in the cloud and the sea (symbolically: old man crucified in baptism, resurrection to a new life as God’s child), ate spiritual meat (symbolically: partook of the True Bread, Jesus), and drank of the Rock who is Christ (received living waters), most were still overthrown in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land. Why? They lusted, committed idolatry, fornicated, tempted Christ, and murmured in continual complaint, being unthankful. All these things happened to them, and were carefully recorded for examples to us, according to Paul!!

Therefore, we under the New Covenant can be sure that if we do the same things the Old Covenant people did, we will suffer the same fate. Though we have at one time separated from the world, enjoyed God’s protection, been baptized in Jesus, and feasted at the table of God, it is possible that because of our future sins, we will not receive the promise.  For this reason, the writer of Hebrews admonishes us,

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Heb. 10:36)

It is imperative for those of us who have faith in the promise of God to DO THE WILL OF GOD with PATIENCE–BEFORE we receive the promise!

Listen to the promise of God given to Israel in Deut. 31:8–

And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

Right after Moses delivered this wonderful promise to Israel, God gave him a snapshot of the future; Israel would “rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.” What would happen next? Would God overlook their future sin and “never forsake them”?–

Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? (Deut. 31:16, 17)

When Joshua’s men suffered defeat at Ai, he sought answers of the Lord. Hadn’t the Lord promised to be with them? Why was He not keeping His promise? The Lord’s answer:

Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff.  Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. (Josh. 7:11, 12)

Clearly, God’s promise to be with Israel was conditioned upon their remaining separate from “accursed things.”  God’s present favor is not a promise of unconditional future favor, no matter what you do.

If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. (Josh. 24:20)

The same warning was given to Solomon, a man gifted with wisdom from God:

Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.  (I Chron. 28:9)

Azariah, speaking by the Spirit of God, said the following to King Asa, and the people of Judah and Benjamin:

The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. (2 Chron. 15:2)

Let us not forget David, the man after God’s own heart, the shepherd king chosen to replace the backsliding King Saul. When he took another man’s wife and had her husband killed, “the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.” (2 Sam. 11:27)  The Lord did not overlook the sins of the man He had chosen. Many people believe that David remained in a perfectly safe, “saved” condition during the long period of time before he repented, but the Bible does not make this claim–contrarily, it claims that unrepentant adulterers and murders will not inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9; Rev. 21:8). Certainly, God’s mercy was extended to David in that he did not die in an unrepentant state, and His hand was heavy on David leading him to repentance. David could have hardened his heart at Nathan’s rebuke; thankfully, he did not.  We should not conclude from this story that David was an adulterer who was saved (unbiblical), but that God saw David’s sin and expected repentance.

In Ezekiel 8, the prophet was encouraged by God to look upon the wicked abominations–and greater abominations than these–being committed in the house of God. Was this not the house that once had the glory of the Lord resting upon it? (I Kings 8:11) But now God was angry at what the people were doing, so angry that He said,

Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them. (Ezek. 8:18)

Dear reader, God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day (Psa. 7:11).  He does not turn a blind eye to the future deeds of those who are presently considered “righteous.” In fact, He declared that if a righteous person turns from past righteousness  to future sin, none of his past righteousness will even be remembered! (Ezek. 3:20; 18:24-26; 33:12) A righteous person’s future sins are not invisible to God! Dare you say to the all-seeing God, “You can’t see what I’m doing”?

Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? (Isa. 29:15)

The Lord says to His chosen people that turn to sin, “I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins.” (Amos 5:12) Not only does He know them, but “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl. 12:14)  If you cover your sins (perhaps with unbiblical arguments like “God doesn’t see my sin”), you will NOT PROSPER, but if you confess AND FORSAKE them, you will have mercy (Prov. 28:13).

Although Israel had a covenant agreement with God whereby his sins could be covered and forgotten, his refusal to obey God’s voice, and his continuation in wickedness made his iniquity to be remembered (Ezek. 21:24). Because the people refused to restrain their wandering feet, the Lord no longer accepted them, but would now “remember their iniquity, and visit their sins.” (Jer. 4:10)

This doctrine that “God doesn’t see my sin” grieves the heart of God, who desires to heal backsliders of their ways if only they would “consider…in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before my face.” (Hos. 7:1-2)

Apostasy was so rampant when the prophet Jeremiah was preaching, that the Lord directly said to the people, “I will utterly forget you…I will forsake you…and cast you out of my presence.” (Jer. 23:39)  Because the people transgressed the covenant and “cast off the thing that is good,” counting the “great things” of His law “a strange thing,” the Lord would no longer accept them, but would remember their iniquity and send them back to Egypt! (Hos. 8:3, 12, 13)  Because the people went whoring away from the God who loved them, and insisted upon corrupting themselves, He would “drive them out of His house,” “love them no more,” and “cast them away.” (Hos. 9)

The Israelites were taught by God, through the Levitical system, how costly sin was by seeing their innocent beasts die for their sins. Whatever sins were remitted by the shedding of blood would not be remembered against them. It was not a one-time deal, but a lifestyle of obeying God’s voice, examining themselves, and making appropriate offerings to God while seeking His forgiveness and favor. A man who became careless with the things of God was “cut off from his people.” Although the blood of animals cannot take away sins, these things were written for examples to us, and for our admonition (I Cor. 10:11).  Our offering for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ (shed once for all time), but this does not negate the fact that we must live lifestyles of obeying God’s voice, heeding His correction, examining ourselves sincerely, confessing and forsaking sin while seeking the Lord’s forgiveness, and looking to the crucified & risen Lamb of God with faith in His blood.  Carelessness and callousness can still result in being “cut off.” I will discuss this same theme in New Testament Scriptures in the next post.

God bless you!

Go to Part 3

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