Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Fool Aware


A few weeks ago in Alaska, a man and his dog were hiking when the dog spotted a bear cub. The border collie chased the cub away, but mamma was not pleased. She went after the hiker, bit him a couple times before she gave up and went on her way. Bear attacks are rare because bears generally will avoid people if they can help it, but they have limits. Messing with her cub is one of mamma bear's limits. Earlier this summer, I preached a meeting out west, and much to the dismay of my boys (and the joy of my wife) we didn't see any bears in our travels. But I did see a lot of fools doing foolish things and that's more terrifying. Proverbs 17:12 says, "Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly." Since I was heading into grizzly I read up on some helpful literature from the Forestry Service on being "Grizzly Bear Aware". The Bible has good information about being "fool aware."

Folly is being ridiculously, absurd, and frankly, stupid. Coming back home, we stopped at a National Park for a few hours and went for a hike on a pretty famous trail. It has a beautiful view at the end, but a tad perilous in places. Just past a sign on the path that said, "Dangerous Cliff. Keep Right," a group of impatient teenagers, who thought we were walking too slow, passed us on the left (the side with the dangerous cliff) and jumped off a rock to get around us. One girl slipped when she landed, but was able to get her traction before she plummeted to her death. I passed erratic drivers texting on their phones while driving 90 MPH. I saw people shooting off fireworks in the middle of a drought, in the middle of a dry-as-bones prairie.

God made the world and the world operates according to God's rules. Folly is when you act contrary to or in defiance of God's world. Jumping off a roof is dumb, because in God's world, there is gravity. When silly people act without considering the consequences, or without wisdom, you get a dangerous situation. Most sane people know better than to get in the way of a bear and her cubs, but don't know better than to get in the way of God and His prophets (2 Kings 2:22-24). Sinning is also dumb, because in God's world, there are consequences for breaking his moral laws too. Many cultivate common sense, but not spiritual sense. We warn teenagers about texting and driving, but don't consider where they are going or who they are texting. We caution Jonah to wear a life jacket to stay safe, but not to consider the danger of rebelling against God.

I made it back to West Virginia without any bear encounters, but plenty of fool sightings. I was in much more danger of the fool than the bear.





Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mice and Men


"What do you want to do when you grow up?" I never liked that question as a child because I never thought of having a job as being something that anyone wanted to do. I wanted to play center field for the Cincinnati Reds, or be a fighter pilot, or herd cattle in the Old West. But since that wasn't going to happen, I had no idea how to answer the question. It always seemed to me like such a grave matter, a question with such finality that if you answered the question, your fate was sealed and your destiny was fixed. Once you started down that road, you could never turn back.

But often in our lives, even if we know what we want to do, the best laid plans go awry. Life doesn't always turn out like you hope. Proverbs 20:24 says, "Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?" The Christian must always live for the glory of God and commit our ways to the Saviour, and trust in his providence. We can plan, but since our steps are of the Lord and our goings are ordained by God, we can't really correctly predict how our life is going to turn out.

I read of a man who was most likely asked to leave the military because he had a drinking problem. His plan was to retire as an officer, but now out of military life, he was directionless and just couldn't seem to get his life in gear. To support his family, he started selling firewood on the street corner. His life certainly wasn't going the way he planned. Through a series of events totally out of his control and a helping hand from an acquaintance, he was given another shot in the Army. This time he did better and worked his way up the ladder. His name was Ulysses S. Grant and he eventually served as the 18th president of the United States.

Living with the understanding that our goings are of the Lord comforts the soul when life seems spiraling out of control, because in reality, God is in directs our lives. Especially when life is hard and we don't understand. Work to achieve your goals in life, but learn to roll with the punches. This truth gives us direction, as we should be more concerned with our the state of our soul. Our plans change, our lives may be drastically different from our plan, but the Lord never changes. No matter what state we find ourselves in, we can still live for God's glory. The answer to "what do you want to be when you grow up," is, for God's people, "I want to be holy, as my Father is holy. I want to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I want to be wise, understanding the will of the Lord. I want to be a doer of the Word, not just a hearer."

Thursday, July 1, 2021

A Different Kind of Victory


If I scored zero in a round of golf, I'd be thrilled. If my final score was zero in a game of basketball, I'll be embarrassed. The victors score looks different, depending on the rules of the contest. Most would agree in a fight to the death, the person left standing is the winner, but here too, it depends on the judge. In Revelation 15:2, there are saints of God in Heaven, who have "gotten victory over the beast." They were in heaven, instead of the earth, because they stood against the beast and were put to death. They refused to worship the false god, take the mark of the antichrist and for their stand, they were executed. And God called them victorious.

Revelation 13:11-18 tells us more about the power the beast has over the world. Anyone who does not take the mark is restricted from participating in society, they can not buy nor sell. Rich or poor, powerful or weak, free or in bondage, it doesn't matter, you take the mark and worship the beast. If not, you die. These faithful few stand refusing to worship the beast. Having their eyes opened by the Spirit of God, turning from their sin to trust only in Christ Jesus, they refused to bow to worship an idol god, even if it costs their life.

From earth, people will see what happened and will be afraid of following suite. They will participate because they don't want to die. All they have to do is take the mark. All they have to do is bow down and worship the image and they live to fight another day. A win, right? How foolish for these people to stand for Christ and get put to death, for what? What did they gain? Think of all the good they could have done. That's the perspective from the Earth. It looks a little different in Heaven. The martyrs lost their lives and immediately were in the presence of the Lord. They didn't lose their battle with the antichrist, they won. All the enemy could do in his persecution, is chase them up to Heaven. If we are worldly minded then we can only think of worldly victories. But the heavenly minded person sees the real battle and by faith knows what victory looks like. As the persecutor put their mortal bodies in the ground, he believed he was ridding himself of his opposition, so naturally, he was winning. But in reality, it was the martyrs who won. God has a different type of scorecard.

They are the victors. Not in a metaphorical way. Not just some sentimental words to comfort those who remain. They overcame the wicked one by the blood of the Lamb, declaring the gospel of Christ, that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ's work alone. They did not gain victory through their own death, but "they loved not their lives unto death," (Revelation 12:11). Faith was the victory that overcame.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Listen to Dad

Here are a few thoughts I had about dads and the book of Proverbs. Happy Father's Day. 

The phrase, "My son," is found over 20 times in the book of Proverbs. Several of those instances are the author pleading with his son to listen to him and to remember what he said. For example, "My son, hear the instruction of thy father," and  "My son, forget not my law," to name a few. This brought a smile to my face, because 2,990 years ago in Jerusalem, there was a dad who was repeating himself to his son, teaching the same thing over and again. People never change. And, there was probably a son who, at least in his heart, was thinking, "I know Dad."  The Bible reveals the thoughts and intents of our  hearts. It doesn't need to be updated for the times, because it shows us human nature. Fathers, read and apply the book of Proverbs to your children.

In Proverbs 4:1-5, Solomon tells his son the story of his childhood. He was, "my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother." We know all about David's  troubled family life in his later years, but it wasn't all bad. Notice the relationship Solomon had with David. He was his father's son. Solomon felt like he was the only and beloved son because of the affection and love David gave Solomon, like he was the only son. But we know that David loved his other children too, and deeply, by reading the heartbreaking words of David in 2 Samuel 18:33, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!”

David taught Solomon the Bible and applied it. "Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.  Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth."  Solomon is a dad instructing his son, and remembering what his father said to him. Just because your parents did or said something doesn't make it right. Many fathers pass on generational sins to their children by word or example. There are many people who come from a long line of fools and are proud to live out their family tradition. Solomon was passing down wisdom. He took God's Word and applied to. He's teaching his son how to walk in the fear of the Lord. Let the Bible be your family tradition.

Not only did Solomon teach his son wisdom, but he had to undo the bad influences from the world. Proverbs 19:27, "Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge." People never change. There always has been, and  always will be bad influences and dumb philosophies that steer kids in the wrong direction.  Whether it comes from another kid, a movie, or a song, a dad has to protect his children. Stop listening to people who lead you to do wrong. We would save ourselves from a world of hurt if we would listen to wisdom instead.


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Magical Mountain Elixir


Ladies and Gentleman, step right up, and gather round. Let me tell you about my Magical Mountain Elixir! Today is a special day, because do I have a deal for you! Does your life seem too joyful and too smooth? Do you long for habitual grief and despise the day of blessing? Would rather have continual gloom and despair? Is your life just a little too serene and what you need is some conflict to vex your soul? Do you grow weary of living peaceably with your loved ones and need some unjustified anger in your heart directed to those who love you most? "Ah," you say," now you are getting close to the desires of my heart." But wait, there's more! When you are talking with others, do you find yourself making too much sense? Are you too coherent and your thoughts are too eloquent and need to disable that restraint in your brain that prevents you from offending people, and making a fool of yourself? What if I told you there is a way to halt that annoying little self-check that keeps you from uttering all that is in your mind, would you believe it? Oh, my friends, what if I also told you that besides all that I've told you, I could also give you health troubles! Some are temporary, but others will plague you for the rest of your life! Dear friends, how about it? Step right up to get a bottle of my Magical Mountain Elixir which will provide you all that I've described and even more, guaranteed! Hello? Where did everyone go?

That may not have been the best sales pitch, but it's an honest one. Proverbs 23:29-30, "Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine." This is what you get in exchange for drunkenness. Years ago, I picked a man up for work. In the house I saw people laying passed out all over the place. There was a makeshift coffee table made of cases of beer, though much of the other furniture had been drank the night before. They were hung-over, sick, and foolish looking. I was embarrassed for them. A grown man, who had lost so much control to alcohol, lost control of his bladder and was laying in his own filth on the floor. His "friends" thought it was funny as they stepped over him. Sounds like so much fun. My co-worker started every workday sick with a hangover, and ended every night in drunkenness. He couldn't drive to work himself because he lost his license. He often drank his paycheck over the weekend and was penniless come Monday. Not quite a beer commercial, but it's reality. "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise," Proverbs 20:1. Don't be deceived by drugs and drunkenness.





Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Just Be Quiet



"A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness," Proverbs 12:23. A prudent person is cautious and careful. He looks before he leaps and thinks before he speaks. Prudence is wisdom in action. Maybe that's why you don't hear the word very much anymore. The prudent man doesn't have to tell all he knows but speaks when it's time to speak and by using his wisdom, knows when the time is right.

The prudent conceals his knowledge, not out of fear of man, but out of fear of God. It would be easy to convince yourself you are being prudent when you are just afraid, but wisdom is our guide and the Bible discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. The prudent uses his knowledge as a tool for good, knowing when and where to lay the hammer down. "A word fitly spoken," is beautiful, pleasing, and valuable (Proverbs 25:11). There is power in words, good and evil, and even the right word at the wrong time can, perhaps, not produce the desired effect. Having a heart to heart with a loved one about their health, and needing to make better choices in their diet may be a worthy endeavor. Having that talk at their wedding reception probably won't be received well.

The prudent man thinks about his answer before blurting it out (Proverbs 15:28). In many situations, you don't have to give an immediate answer to a question, and "I don't know, let me think about it and get back with you," is a perfectly acceptable response. Of course, there are situations where you need to be quick on your feet or the opportunity to speak is gone, but it may be better to think a minute before just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Some people have a quick wit and naturally have a ready response and a quick answer isn't necessarily a bad one. The wise can answer quickly because they studied the thing out long before you even thought of the question. But it may be better not to reveal the answer, but turn it back to the questioner and guide them to think it through for themselves. Jesus did this often.

The foolish man uses his words like a four year old boy with a hammer, whose goal is more focused on pummeling anything in his path than using the implement for a useful purpose. The fool opens his mouth and lets his words fly. Will his words do good? Will they help? Will they heal? It doesn't matter as long as he can give vent to what's on his mind. His main purpose is to be heard and let fly the words bouncing around his brain. When the torrent of words is released upon society, there won't be much worth hearing, because the "mouth of fools poureth out foolishness." The wisest thing a fool can do in this situation, is just be quiet (Proverbs 17:27-28).












Wednesday, June 2, 2021

God is Good

For thou, Lord, art good, Psalm 86:5.

When I was a teenager, a man asked me how I was doing and I said, "I'm pretty good." He looked at me for a second and said, "Nope, you're neither one." I was offended by the first, but I knew I wasn't the second. I'm not good, but God is. It's not just the fact God does good things, but His nature and essence is goodness. God is infinitely (Psalm 119:68) and abundantly good (Exodus 34:6) which means the goodness He shows to His creation is plenteous. He's overflowing with goodness. He is infinitely, inherently, abundantly good.

Look around and see the goodness of God in His creation. The Almighty could have created one type of plant, and made it sufficient for pollination, oxygen and food. Rather, He gave us a variety of unique, beautiful plants and trees. Flowers don't have to smell, but God is good. How many billions of dollars will we spend trying to colonize Mars, when God in His goodness, created a place for man and gave it to us, with the perfect amount of light, heat, air, and water? Not only does many deny God's goodness in creation, but he longs to escape it.

The Lord is good and created a variety of animals, with different uses, characteristics, and even tastes. You could eat a steak, drink a glass of milk, then loosen your leather belt because you ate too much, and it all came from the same blessed animal. Veganism (the philosophy, not the diet) stands in opposition to God's goodness and refuses God's good gifts (1 Timothy 4:4). Speaking of a good steak, God's goodness gave you taste buds. A friend of mine enjoys fine foods and one afternoon he brought home a very expensive variety of cheese. He sat it on the counter and went to the fridge to get a drink, turned around and it was gone. His dog was by the counter staring at him, licking his lips over an empty cheese wrapper. He told me the worst part was the dog didn't even enjoy it. You and I were given the great gift of taste buds where we can distinguish and enjoy various tastes.

We don't think about God’s goodness much because we get so much of it without asking or thinking about it. God is so good we take his goodness for granted and complain at inconvenience. An inconvenience presupposes there is a standard of the way things should be and the way things normally are. God is good to us and we despise it because His goodness is nowhere seen better than in Christ. God sent His Son to die for men who had rebelled against Him and to give eternal life, blessing, peace, and joy to a people who hated Him, freely by His grace and mercy. Romans 2:4, "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Peace in the Middle East


Last week, Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire. Depending on where you get you news, there are assorted speculations why there was conflict to start with. I read an article saying the hostilities are over territory and ultimately Jerusalem, and this has been going on for decades. This is true, if by decades they meant millennia, at least according to the Old Testament and all recorded history. Others, have a still yet more juvenile opinion and blame religion as the source of the clash because if you got rid of the religion in the region, the fighting would cease. Other neo-Nazis and anti-Semites blame the Jews, because of course they do.

There will always be unrest in Israel and it won't be solved by treaties or proclamations. Every promise to bring peace will fail because of the underlying reason of the hatred – Jesus Christ. To paraphrase H.A. Ironside, this tiny insignificant strip of land is, for God, the center of the earth. The Lord gave this land and defined its borders in the covenant He made with Abraham and gave to his descendants. It is there, in the City of David, God promised the throne would be established forever. It is in this strip of land the Lord Jesus was born, lived, and died. It was here the Lord Jesus was baptized, preached, healed the sick, and saved the lost, where He rose from the dead, then ascended to Heaven. It is to this land, He will someday return and establish His earthly kingdom.

Jesus is why there has been and continues to be conflict in the region. It's not religion, it's reality – Jehovah gave this land to Abraham and his children and the natural heart and mind is enmity against God. There is unrest in Israel because the nation of Israel also will not submit to her King.

Jesus will return to the Earth, as promised. When He does, He will rule this world, from Jerusalem, as Her King (Psalm 2; 2 Samuel 7:1-17). He came the first time, as the Lamb of God, to give Himself as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of His people. He will return as the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 19:11-21). One of my favorite passages on this topic is found in the book of Zechariah chapter 8. When the Lord returns, Jerusalem will be a city of truth, a holy mountain, a peaceful mountain. In verse 5 it says, "And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof." During the Earthly reign of Jesus Jerusalem will be a city of peace, safety, comfort, and joy. Righteousness will be regulated from the throne, and the wickedness that puts children in danger will be put down. When there is conflict (any conflict, not just nations), there is sin, and there cannot be peace without Christ. The Prince of Peace is the only hope for peace in Israel. Even so, come Lord Jesus.



Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Risky Business

I recently had a minor surgical procedure (minor to the doctor, but not so minor from my perspective). My doctor told me it was quick and easy, but said anytime you have surgery there are risks. He proceeded to do an impression of  a drug commercial, telling all the possible side effects and things that could go wrong – complications with anesthesia, infections, heart issues, stroke, blood clots and probably more, but I zoned out. After agreeing that I should have the surgery, he scheduled the pre-op tests. I had the blood work and the EKG to make sure the ticker was up to it and look for other possible maladies.  And, of course, the COVID test  I went to the drive through, got, what I can only assume was the ramrod from a black powder rifle shoved up the nostril then I was warned of the danger of COVID and possible outcomes if I contracted the virus.

The surgery went off without a hitch. On the way home we stopped to pick up my medicine (complete with warnings of possible side effects). The traffic was heavy and we had to cross both lanes.  It's a wonder how the traffic often seems to be synchronized as to never let people join them on the road. We saw an opportunity, only three cars coming our way and the other lanes were clear. But, to our disappointment, one member of the trio was out for a leisurely jaunt and their lack of urgency caused us to miss our chance. Not wanting to set up camp at Walgreens and stay the night, we waited until it passed, and quickly pulled out in the median. I saw a box truck and a semi rolling down the road and got in behind them. Finally, on the road. We turned the curve, and saw a wreck. The driver of the semi jumped out to take a picture of the scene. The box truck collided with a car that pulled out into traffic seconds before.

 

After all the tests, and warnings about the surgery, the prayers made on my behalf for the surgery, I could have been killed in a car wreck on the way home. That, I hadn't considered. The doctors told me about all the risks from the surgery, but not all the risks. There are always risks and dangers (James 4:13-15). On the other hand, God is sovereign and has set my time of death just as sure as He has appointed the time of my birth. That's not making light of dangers or ignoring my responsibility and casting aside common sense. But it's looking at things as they really are. God is sovereign and He rules this world from the smallest germ to the traffic in West Virginia. How few people think about what happens AFTER death. Many warnings of the dangers in this life, few warnings of  death without Christ. You are going to die. Then what?  I trust Jesus with my soul, and I trust him with my life. 

 

 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Christian Baptism

Charles Spurgeon:
"Still you say, “You do not regard it as essential to salvation and therefore why do you make this the ground of separation from your Brethren?” My dear Friend, are you a Congregationalist? You do not believe that your Congregational polity is essential to salvation–why then do you not join the Episcopal communion? Are you a Methodist? You do not think the Conference is to save your soul–why do you not return to the bosom of the Established Church? Are you a Free Church of Scotland man? You will admit that people can be saved in the old Church yet. Then why did you make such a fuss about that Disruption business? I do not blame you for the Disruption, not by any means–perhaps you did what was perfectly right. 
A thing may not be essential and yet it may be very far from unimportant. We cannot but regard infant Baptism as the main root of the superstitious and destructive dogma of baptismal regeneration, to which as Protestants we are opposed. We cannot but regard infant baptism as the chief cornerstone of State Church, to which as Dissenters we are opposed. We cannot but regard infant Baptism as unscriptural and to everything that is unscriptural we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, must be opposed. And we do trust that all who differ from us and however widely they may differ, will still admit that we are only doing what is right in maintaining what we believe to be the Truth of God with reference to this matter. 
Up to now it has been in disgrace and scorn and ridicule and oftentimes in persecution that these principles have been held. Up to now we have been a sect everywhere spoken against. Probably the first martyr burnt in England for religion and certainly the last, was a Baptist. And others had trials of cruel mocking and scourging, yes and of bonds and imprisonments–and became destitute, afflicted and tormented. We cannot glory in our numbers, we cannot glory in our power, we cannot glory in our wealth. But we can glory in the faith and constancy by which those who went before us were enabled by Divine grace to sustain the infliction of the most grievous wrongs–wrongs which were all the more keenly felt because they were received at the hands of fellow-Christians, fellow-Protestants and even fellow-Puritans. 
Up to now we have been few in number and have been oftentimes violently and bitterly opposed–nor do I think that there is now any very brilliant prospect of our rising to denominational greatness and basking in the sunshine of popular applause. And indeed, when I see what the effect of such greatness and applause has been upon some Christian churches, I am disposed to say, “God defend us from power and popularity, for these are more dangerous foes than all the contumely and persecution and straitened circumstances with which we have had to struggle in the times gone by.” 
I do hope and verily believe that we have a far purer object in view than mere denominational aggrandizement and that we shall be content, as heretofore we have been content, come evil report or good, to have the testimony of a clear conscience that according to the best of our knowledge and to the utmost of our power we have faithfully tried to maintain God’s Truth against the commandments and traditions of men."

Church Umpire



And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, Colossians 3:15. When I played Little League, we had an umpire that was one of a kind. After all these years, I can hear his long and rather ridiculous third strike call. He loved baseball and loved making much of his position as umpire. After decades of umpiring, he had his dance-like moves down to an art. Mention his name to anyone who ever played a game where he umpired, and they'll have a story and probably an impression. People loved to watch him, but hated to play when he was in charge because an umpire's job isn't to be the center of attention, his job is to judge. He has to know the rules to the game so well that he can see something happen in an instant and be able to quickly and accurately and apply the rules to the situation. When fans are booing him and managers are screaming, when the right call will break a kids heart or make his day, a good umpire will deal with the facts and apply the rules to make sure the game is played the right way.

Colossians 3 is dealing with church members. Born again, baptized, members of a local church, who have the peace of God. The Lord will give peace to His people (Psalm 29:11) and Romans 5:1 tells us believers are justified by faith and currently have the peace with God through Jesus Christ. Sometimes, rather than considering that our Father in Heaven supplies all our needs and knows what we have need of before we ask, we let our troubles dictate our actions. We consider our lack more than we consider the lilies (Luke 12:27-28). We think more how our sorrows will overtake us than we do how the sparrows are cared for (Matthew 10:29-31). When we forget the Lord's promises or focus all our heart on our trials the peace of God is not ruling.

The Greek word translated "rule" here is what they called umpires in the Olympic games. God's peace should be an arbiter in our hearts, discerning and ruling. All God's people, regardless of what we look like or where we came from are one in Christ and so, as one of God's elect, called into the one body of Christ, church members are to be merciful, kind, humble, and meek toward each other. God's people put up with each other, we should be longsuffering with each other, and forgive one another when someone does us wrong, forgiving as Christ forgave us. Love in a church is the glue that binds us together in unity. So when trouble comes to church, let the peace of God rule. When conflicts arise, let God's peace judge. When someone sins against us, let the peace of God be the umpire in the conflict, not our emotions or our pride. When we are unsettled, anxious, or confused by hard providences, let the peace of God rule.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Whippersnapper Wisdom?



Psalms 119:100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.

Without the second clause, this would be the life verse of most teenagers because the psalmist said he has more understanding than his elders. We are not reading a haughty young man disparaging the wisdom that generally comes with age and experience. This is not the prideful denunciation of some “boomer” who won’t get in line with “progress.” Really, the only way this makes any sense is if it were an unusual situation, the point being a rather remarkable thing has occurred — a young man has surpassed the elders in understanding. “I understand more than my peers” doesn’t really have the same punch and “I understand more than toddlers” is certainly not any better.

The second clause tells the story. There is a reason why there is more understanding and it doesn’t have anything to do with age, but with the Word of God. The wisdom the Psalmist has doesn’t come from experience, otherwise the elderly would have it. The reason the psalmist outstripped others was the source of his understanding and the means he procured it. The source of his understanding was the Bible and he got it through reading, study, meditation, and practice. We are dealing with a godly young man, who has put his heart to learning more of his Lord and Savior.

Since he has “more understanding” he actually knows the Bible. He’s not just “familiar” with themes and stories, but he’s dug down deep and studied the Word and grasped it’s truth. I believe that young people are capable of understanding the Scriptures. Listen to any group of 10 year old boys talk about their hobby and you’ll see rather quickly that if they care about something, they can dig deep and know and understand complicated subjects. The fact is, we do young Christian people a disservice by not pushing them to understand and grasp Biblical concepts.

He doesn’t merely know the Word, but puts it to practice. In order to keep a precept you have to know the law and know what it means. I know a person could be charged with “assault and battery” and until just a few seconds ago when I looked it up, I didn’t know the difference between the two. I have heard the terms for years, but never bothered to look them up. I knew they both had something to do with violence, but wasn’t familiar. Now, I know a little more, but if I were charged with either, you better believe I’d want a lawyer, someone who has more understanding, regardless of his age. Why? Because he would know the law, understand the law and what it says and doesn’t, and has practiced the law. Christian, you age doesn’t give you understanding. Church membership doesn’t either. Time won’t give you an abundance of this wisdom. Get in the word. Read it, study it, then put it to practice for the glory of Christ.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Parable about Parables


I read a story about a Sunday School teacher who wanted to teach her class the dangers of alcohol. She took two glasses, poured whiskey in one and water in the other. Then she put worms in each glass. Eventually, the worms in the whiskey glass died, and the worms in the water were still living. She asked the pastor’s son what he could learn from this? The boy said, “If you drink whiskey, you won’t have worms.” That’s an exercise in missing the point and he may have learned it from his dad. Some people view the parables the same way. We can try to figure out some special significance to every word in the parable and by doing so, we miss the point. I taught this in Sunday School once, and as an exercise, we decided to see if we could discern the meaning and significance of the Canadian Flag, the red and white flag with a single maple leaf. One young man said that he thought the Maple Leaf was probably related to the ancient vexillology of kings, the tree representing strength and stability. Another theory was it symbolized pancakes. Maple leaf, maple tree, maple syrup, pancakes. A third theory was maple syrup is sweet and so are Canadians. Well, it turns out, when we looked it up, there was no special significance to the flag. Canada needed a flag, and someone designed that one and that’s the one they liked. Our flag has symbols, the stripes and stars represent things. The Maple Leaf didn’t have any deep meaning at all. Sometimes a leaf is just a leaf. In the parables, sometimes a leaf is just a leaf. Sometimes, the character or setting in the parable is just a character or a setting with no special significance to the point.

We are much better off getting the truth where the truth is taught. The only sure footing is to follow God’s Word. If I teach and prove a right doctrine from the wrong place, consistency will eventually prove the passage doesn’t really teach that truth. I believe that method of preaching ultimately does more harm to God’s people than it does good. People will either lose confidence they can interpret the Bible, or stop trying to understand it themselves. I think if a pastor is going to preach the Bible, he ought to preach what the Bible says, where it says it. Parables are not spiritual inkblot tests where you stare at the Bible verse until you can see something in the text. You should read the parable, think about it, pray about it, compare it to other Scriptures, and then come to the conclusion of its meaning. Jesus told the parables to make a point about something and the wise and safe thing to do, in my opinion, would be to come to the point Jesus made. Creative interpretations make interesting sermons. But is that worth putting words in the mouth of Jesus?

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Bare Necessities


"Distributing to the necessity of saints," Romans 12:13. Thoreau wrote the necessities of life in Walden were, "food, shelter, clothing, and fuel." It appears much has changed about humans since the 1800's since according to some, the basic necessities of life include free college, free health care, and high-speed internet access. If high-speed internet were a necessity to life, we'd be in bad shape in Clay County. Other markers of basic necessities include well being, i.e., the place you live is getting better, or a safe and easy place to exercise. I certainly am not downplaying poverty, nor begrudge anyone for working to have any of these things. In my adult life, I've gone without and didn't care for it, and did my best to get out of the situation. When you start putting comforts equal to needs, you will soon have (or already have) a covetous and unthankful heart.

Paul puts down the basic necessities of life in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 as food and raiment. The Bible doesn't say we can't have comforts or enjoy what He gives us. But the more you think you are owed something, the more unthankful and indignant you are when you don't have it. If we have food and clothing, then we should be content. That's what we need and anything else is gravy on top. Godliness with contentment is great gain and money and possessions are not a danger just for the wealthy. It's not just those who have money, but those who love it who are in peril. I've known a lot of poor people who loved money and coveted after it and wealthy people who had a lot because they loved money and went and got it.

The text speaks of the saints in need, so being without doesn't automatically mean you are a bad person or bad with your finances. Some kids are born behind the eight ball and are in bad shape before they could even make their own bad decisions. Providence sometimes leaves us empty handed and needy. Many saints have lost it all – ask Job. The 'prosperity gospel' is a lie. Saints can have needs. Material prosperity is not a sign of God's love any more than not having anything is a sign of God's displeasure. Better to have necessities and be a saint than have it all and go to Hell. Being poor doesn't make you bad but it also doesn't make you good. Suffering now doesn't save you.

The church is charged in Romans to take care of those lacking the necessities in the household of faith. If a man won't work when he can, having needs are a great motivator. This text doesn't mean the church is responsible to make sure everyone has all they want and live equally with everyone else. It does mean though, if a brother is starving to death, you ought to put him on the prayer list only after you've fed him and got him some groceries.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Christians and Leviticus, together at last.

 

Not that Christians and Leviticus have been separated, but I put all the posts I recently wrote on the subject together in one article here:

https://discussions.substack.com/p/are-christians-hypocrites-with-leviticus

Going forward, if I have a serialized posts, I'm going to first publish them on Substack and then when it's all said and done, I'll publish the longform article here. 

 So, if you like the shorter posts delivered to your inbox, subscribe to my Substack feed. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

An Ordinary Baptism

 The Sunday before last, I baptized my youngest son upon his profession of faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord. He expressed his desire to be baptized and unite with the church and we received him into our number. It's really remarkable to think about what happened in Clay, though it may seem rather ordinary. It's what Christians do, go to church, preach the gospel, make disciples, and baptize believers.

We gather on the first day of the week because my Lord was risen on the first day of the week. Every Sunday we honor the fact Christ Jesus the Lord rose from the dead and pronounce our living faith in a living Saviour. The very day Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples gathered together and the next week, they did the same. And the week after that. And every Sunday for nearly 2,000 years, Christians gather on the first day of the week to worship their Lord, and we followed in their steps.

My Dad is the pastor of Beauty Ridge Missionary Baptist in Kentucky and we had him come and preach for us that weekend, so in God's goodness, he was able to witness the event. Sunday morning he preached the gospel of Jesus. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ, and before the Lord's public ministry, John preached repentance unto faith and baptism upon faith. When John saw Jesus he declared, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world." We met on the first day of the week, and were pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God. The Lord's people have been preaching that message for millennia as well. The same faith once delivered.

After the preaching, we headed to the water. It was raining that Sunday and I joked with my son that he was going to get sprinkled before he got immersed, but that wasn't true. It was sprinkling the rain, but not my son. The rain sprinkled on him, but he wasn't sprinkled. I baptized him, or immersed him as the Greek word means. That's what John the Baptist did, he immersed men under the water. It's a picture after all, of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It wouldn't be much of a burial to sprinkle a handful of dirt on a body. So we entered into the water and in the name and by the authority of the Holy Trinity, I immersed him. The sin didn't roll away in the water because the sin was paid for at Calvary. The blood before the water. Baptism showed what Christ has already done, a physical act symbolizing  a spiritual reality. Going under the water also symbolized him dying to sin, and then coming out of the water, walking in the newness of life, united to Christ. We baptized him the same way, for the same purpose, under the same authority as Christians have been doing since Jesus walked the Earth, just as He promised. 

So, in one way, it was an ordinary Sunday. There were no reporters on the scene to document Baptists going to church and baptizing a believer. It was ordinary because that's what we've been doing for centuries. But it was extraordinary in that God saves sinners. Christ Jesus, the Son of God, died for sinners, shedding His own blood for a propitiation and we receive it through faith, and united to Him, we are joint-heirs with Him, having everlasting life. It is ordinary, because that's what we do. It's extraordinary that we do it at all. It's extraordinary because God's amazing Grace. 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Mercy Me

The Good Samaritan is a good example of mercy (Luke 10:30-37). Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." The Good Samaritan was a blessed man. Mercy is compassion in action. While grace deals with sin, mercy deals with the consequences of sin and pity for the sinner to relieve their suffering. Thomas Watson said, “love is the friend who visits all and mercy is the doctor who visits the sick." Grace offers pardon while mercy offers relief from the sorrow.

Jesus told the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. They beat him, robbed him blind, then left him half dead on the side of the road. A priest, whose job was to have compassion (Hebrews 5:2) crossed the road to avoid him. Next, another religious man did the same. Later, a Samaritan comes to the scene.

Samaritans and Jews were not on the best terms. The forefathers of the Samaritans didn't follow God's commands of remaining separate from the Gentiles, married into pagan families then adopted some of their practices. The bad blood goes back centuries and the Samaritan man was the enemy of the priest, the Levite, and the beaten man – what would he do?

As this man laid dying, there was no 911, no ambulances, no expert to call. The first responder was the first person to have mercy and respond. The Samaritan stopped, mended the man's wounds, set him on his own animal to ride and led the suffering man to an inn to care for him. The next morning, the Samaritan still had his business to take care of, so he told the inn keeper to keep on taking care of him and put it on his tab. This is mercy. He saw the pitiful condition, recognized the hurt, the harm, the suffering, and went out of his way to relive the misery of someone else at great cost to himself. Empathy is good, but is not enough to have compassion. Feeling sorry about the situation wasn't going to help the man dying in the ditch. Compassion feels bad for someone. Mercy goes to help. Compassion feels sorry, mercy then steps to action to alleviate the pain and hurt.

Jesus is the perfect example of mercy. He came to us, dead in our sins and showed mercy to His enemy. He drew us to Himself, loved us, and cared for us. The Lord Jesus clothes believers in robes of His righteousness and binds our spiritual wounds and healing us through the stripes He bore. The Saviour took all we owed and put it on his account, paying our sin debt.

It's terrible that someone who receives mercy can be so slow to show it to others. Christians have received mountains of mercy from Jesus an so we should follow the Lord's example and be merciful as our Father is merciful (Luke 6:36; Ephesians 2:4) and who delights in mercy (Micah 7:18-20). Our compassion and mercy needs to be guided by Scripture and not our feelings. We can't trust our feelings to guide us because sometimes true mercy and compassion to sinners does the hard thing, which won't seem like mercy to those on the receiving end. Our love, compassion, and mercy must be guided by the Biblical standards of love, compassion, and mercy, not our standards, or the world's standards. 

Friday, March 26, 2021

Thirsty


July, 1945, Cpl. Edgar Harrell was one of a small group of soldiers and sailors who survived the torpedo strike on the USS Indianapolis in WWII. In a few minutes, the ship was gone and he was floating in the ocean. He tells about some of the horrors of the aftermath in his wonderful book, Out of the Depths. He was in danger of the sharks below the water, the Japanese who sank the vessel, drowning in the water, and, ironically, not having any to drink. Many succumbed to dehydration in the vast ocean because there was no water to drink. He wrote, "By the time the sun reached its zenith at midday, our lips were cracked and bleeding and our tongues were beginning to swell in our parched mouths and throats, making our speech slurred almost beyond understanding. Dehydration was becoming our new and dreaded enemy— one that had taken the place of the sharks that would come and go. The only answer for the dehydration was the one thing we did not have— fresh water." Unquenchable thirst.

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled," Matthew 5:6. When Harrell thirsted, nothing else could satisfy the great need – water. He must drink or he would die. They desired, thirsted for live giving water. Believe it or not, our culture is hungering and thirsting and striving for a twisted pseudo-righteousness, an arbitrary standard of what is good and right and the only way to be in good standing is to have the perfect righteousness of the zeitgeist. But it's an ever changing standard and it is never enough.

The righteousness Jesus spoke of is God's righteousness. Our righteousness is just not good enough. Usually it's our own standard of good, not God's anyway. You may feel the weight of condemnation of sin and know you've done wrong and know that you should do right. You thirst to be clean. So you decide to live right. Give to charity. Love your neighbor. Get right with God. But you are gulping sea water. Others try to become judge, jury, and executioner of their own standard of righteousness and appease their conscience by setting judging those who don't live up to their standard. But that self-righteousness is shallow and vain and is a dirty sort of righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) making you worse off than before (Matthew 23:15), dead in sins and dry as bones.

The blessedness of the gospel is God not only forgives sins through faith in Christ's blood, but also gives us Christ's pure and perfect righteousness by faith (Romans 3:22). The poor in spirit, desperate for forgiveness and righteousness may come to Christ, without money, without cost and be filled (Isaiah 55:1-2). John 4:14, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst." Do you thirst to be clean and to be free from condemnation? Come and drink and you will be given His righteousness for your own.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Are Christian Hypocrites with Leviticus? Not if you believe like a Christian


Taking the Lord's name in vain, wizardry, sorcery, adultery, and cursing your parents were forbidden by the laws given to the theocracy of Israel. While some people in our country say that religious conservatives are calling for a theocracy because we use Scripture as the fixed standard of morality, I don’t happen to be one of them. A theocracy is where God is the ruler and His laws are the law of the land – run by religious leaders. I am not in favor of a theocracy only when the Lord Jesus Christ returns and reigns. Sooner or later, the religious leader in charge turns his eye to those outside his denomination. Baptists fought for the freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. In the 1600's Baptist had their freedom and liberty canceled for thought crimes. It wasn't the progressive left, but the religious right who persecuted them. Baptists established the first instance of freedom of conscience and thought in a government in the state of Rhode Island. 

Israel was a theocracy and their laws were not voted on, but delivered. Their precepts where not passed by Congress but given by God to them and they do not apply to us today, not because God has changed his mind about sin, but because we do not live in ancient Israel and they haven’t applied there for a long time. Jesus was taken to Pilate because the Jews were not allowed to enforce the death penalty under Roman law. That is why Jesus was crucified, Israel no longer had the authority to enforce the theocratic laws of the Old Testament.

However, even in the laws given to the theocracy, separation laws, and laws of worship, there is a purpose behind these laws. No, there is no death penalty for dishonoring your parents now, but it is still a sin. There is no death penalty for adultery, but God still hates it. Those civil laws forbade sinning against God. They were both moral and civil. The authority to carry out justice is given to Earthly governments but even if a nation is accepting of dishonoring parents, it’s still a sin in God’s eyes. Enemies of Christ and confused Christians glibly say that if it is in Leviticus, it has nothing to do with us. Just say “shellfish, polyester, two kinds of seed in the garden,” laugh and move on. I wonder if people who make these arguments have ever read Leviticus? Maybe if someone makes says these things to you, ask them if they have ever read the book all the way through.


Leviticus 19 also contains:
  • Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy. (Lev 19:1 – I Peter 1:16)
  • Honoring your parents (Lev. 19:3 – Ephesians 6:1-3)
  • Laws for feeding the poor; God's Welfare system (19:9-10 – mercy & don’t work don’t eat)
  • Condemning liars (Ephesian 4:25)
  • Condemning taking the ord's Name in vain (Matthew 5:33-34)
  • Fair wages (19:11-13 - I Thes. 4:6)
  • Hating your brother in the heart (19:17 - Matt 5:22)
  • Standing up for the elderly (19:32)
  • Loving strangers/foreigners (19:33-34)
  • Just balances and weights (19:36)

What Christian, in his right mind, would object or oppose any such principle? What Christian would say that you are free to commit the forbidden sins, or under no obligation, in the Lord’s name, to honor Christ in obedience to His Word here? God’s moral law never changes. In the New Heaven and Earth, notice what will be absent: Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” In eternity, God will still hate the sin He hated in the Old Testament. God will still judge the sinner in the Lake of Fire and no unclean thing will enter, many of which are forbidden in Leviticus.

Yes, Leviticus says that homosexuality is an abomination. But so is a lobster dinner, hypocrite. Right? But, is that what it says? An abomination is a disgusting thing, a thing to be despised and hated. An object of hatred and detestation

Leviticus 18:22-23 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (23) Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Leviticus 11:10-20 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: (11) They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. (12) Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you. (13) And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: ,,,, (20) All fowls that creep, going upon all four, shall be an abomination unto you.

The text says one is an abomination, the other is an abomination to you. The act of homosexuality is an abomination to God according to Scripture. The Jewish people were to consider unclean animals as an abomination to them, and that law was later abrogated in the New Testament once it served its purpose. The reason why Peter recoiled at the eating of the unclean animals in his dream is because his whole life, those unclean foods were to be an abomination to him. They were not an abomination to God. Some things were to be viewed as disgusting to the Jews. Some things are abominable to God.

God doesn’t change. The morals of our nation may change. Laws may change. Your opinion of God’s law might change. But what God thinks about an action doesn’t change. But, could this be one of those instances where God condemned the act in the Old Testament, but allows in the New? After all, the food laws were actually put away, so could it be possible? No, because New Testament also condemns homosexuality. I Timothy 1:10; Romans 1:26-27 also condemn the sin. Matthew 19:3-6 shows the positive side, of what a marriage looks like. While upholding the positive, it would exclude and condemn anything else as negative.

1 Corinthians 6:8-11 Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. (9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Verse 8 is taken from Leviticus, “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour.” Paul lists a whole group of sins and included in the list is the effeminate and abusers, which is sodomy, one of the sins God calls an abomination. Yes, all sins will send you to Hell. There aren’t acceptable sins with God. But there are also particular sins that God says He hates. These are not my moral judgments or my ranking system. It’s not the ranking system of the Eisenhower administration. It’s what God says. God hates a proud look too. You might not have that on your list, but God does (Proverbs 6:16--19). As a Christian, I am a disciple of Jesus. I’m His student. I must learn His ways and be transformed in my thinking to get in line with how Jesus thinks and not be conformed to the spirit and thoughts of the day (Romans 12:1-2).

Leviticus 18:-24 Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: (25) And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. (26) Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (27) (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) (28) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. (29) For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. (30) Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.


After the prohibition against fornication, verses 24-25 tell us it was for these sins the nations were cast out of Canaan. The Canaanites committed these sins and polluted the land. These were not laws temporary prohibitions for a certain time, but God’s laws and standards for all time. God brought judgment upon them by sending Israel in to overtake them. Verse 27 – You don’t do these sins because the people who were here before you did them and verse 28 says, unless they want to end up like the Canaanites, you better not follow suite and not follow after the “abominable customs” and if you do, then you also will be removed from the land. So these were not ceremonial laws just for Israel. These were not merely theocratic laws for Israel. These sins were committed prior to the giving of Israel’s laws. These sins were committed prior to Sinai and the Canaanites were responsible for their sins and were judged for those sins. God doesn’t change.

I’m not a perfect man. Far from it. And if you read this and get offended, know that I write this because you and I are in the same boat. We were born under a curse with a mind that is contrary to the Lord’s mind. In fact, our thinking is enmity against God. But our way leads to an everlasting, burning lake of fire. I have escaped the wrath to come, not because I’m a good person and I don’t preach God’s law because I like to point my finger at others. God had mercy on my depraved soul that deserved Hell. And I don’t want you to go. Truly,  I don’t want you to be damned. I've tried my best to present the case of what the text of Scripture says. I would be a pretty bad Christian if I didn't seek to unfold what God says in His word and then live by that and tell others about it. 

Do you know how I came to understand this? God’s law. I didn’t come to see myself as a sinner as part of a “take back America” crusade to root out all sin. I heard the law of God and knew I was condemned. I was a guilty man. It didn’t matter to me what anyone else did. I could have cared less what other men did or didn’t do. I was condemned. I was judged and found guilty because I broke God’s law. And it was then, I turned to see Jesus. Dear and precious Jesus, nailed to a cross. Beaten and bloodied, dying on a cross of my sins. I knew Jesus stood in my place, condemned for the sins I committed and took my place to pay for my sin and also to give me His righteousness, the righteousness I didn’t have or couldn’t obtain.

I’m not justified because I am perfect, but because God gave me Christ’s perfect righteousness. He bore my sins and paid debt of divine justice on my behalf, then gave me his righteousness so I am in Christ and there is no condemnation for me any more. And if you receive Christ, by faith, you too will have the righteousness of God imputed to you. The law is there to show you that you have fallen short of God’s glory and judgment is coming and the law says you are condemned already. Flee from the wrath to come by turning to Christ for salvation.

I don’t write about this issue because this is one of my favorite issues to harp on, or because I think I’m better than anyone else. In fact, my main audience is Christian brethren who are too quick to listen to Dr. Reformed Reformypants, Th.D. because he’s very gospel centered and famous and likes to have theology condensed to meme form. Or, I write to those who say things that happen to be true, but don’t know why they are true and call anyone who asks a question a divider to avoid the difficult task of answering difficult questions. This isn’t a new issue. Men have been confused by the law and grace for about 6,000 years. It’s not an easy matter but it’s certainly not unknowable.


Part 1

Monday, March 15, 2021

Lawful Law

Are Christians Hypocrites with Leviticus part 5

Matthew 15:10-12 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?

1 Timothy 4:3-5 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

In the Old Testament God told the children of Israel they were allowed to eat some animals, others were an abomination to them (Leviticus 20:22-27) because God had made them a separate people. In the gospels, Jesus did not say the law was bad, but the law was misunderstood. The religious people in that day believed food defiled the person, but it wasn’t what when in the mouth that defiled but that which came out of the mouth. The problem wasn’t bacon turned a man into a sinner — the man already was a sinner. The problem was a heart problem. If an Old Testament saint ate shellfish, they were unclean, but they were unclean before that in truth, because they were rebelling in their heart before they boiled the water. The forbidden food made them ceremonially unclean. The dietary laws were outward, an Old Covenant mechanism to show and remind the people in and out of the nation, God chose them for His own, and they were holy separate people, which is a heart issue.

Jesus, fulfilled the law (Colossians 2:14-17). In His active obedience, He obeyed the laws of God in perfection for us and fulfilled all the pictures of the ceremonial laws. Hebrews 9-10 teach us our relationship to these laws now because Christ was the one they pictured and represented. The Old Covenant laws were but mere shadows of “good things to come and not the very image of the thing.” But that doesn’t mean Jesus said we were free from the moral obligation to the law, because in the gospels, Jesus asserted moral laws and lived by them. The “Golden Rule” doesn’t mean the law has no more to say for the Christian, for the Golden Rule is, well, a law. Loving your neighbor isn’t a substitute for the law, it’s the sum and substance of the law along with loving the Lord God with all your heart. And where did “love your neighbor” first appear? Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” The woman, caught in adultery was guilty, but the Lord forgave her sins and said, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” There is no condemnation in Christ and those in Christ walk after the Spirit, not the flesh. That’s a different use of the law for different people.

Jesus showed that some laws would be fulfilled in Matthew 15, in which he either ended the dietary law, or hinted the end would soon come, while also preached other laws as not only binding, but the sum of the law and the prophets, there must be some principle or guideline by which we can read and understand the law and the Old Testament. The overly simplistic and incorrect view is saying, “that is Old Testament law, we are in grace.” That doesn’t answer those questions and is not an accurate representation of how Jesus Himself taught the law and ironically makes the Reformed antinomian distant cousins to the hyper-dispensationalist. I can eat shellfish because I have Acts 10. I can wear mixed fabric because I have Acts 15. I can understand Sunday because I have Matthew 12. The New Testament shows me what was designed to lead to Christ and what was a law designed to show me sin and holiness. It’s not up to the individual to decide. The laws given to the country of Israel, to rule the people carry punitive justice. Since we don't live in ancient Israel, the laws of that country do not apply, though we can still see what pleases and displeases God in those laws. Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” That’s a civil law for the nation of that time, and also a law of the Old Covenant. I neither live in Israel, nor am I under the Old Covenant, so that law isn’t for me, in the sense that I am under threat of capital punishment if I break the law, or that I have any authority over any other person. But, what does that tell me God thinks of witchcraft? Is the Lord pleased with witchcraft today, or has He changed his mind about it? I can learn about what pleases the Lord and what displeased the Lord by the law he gave to Israel and meditating on the truth to see the principle of holiness it teaches. Many of my more liberal minded brethren, who will tell me they are not under the law will wax poetic about illegal immigration, and feel free to quote a few verses down in Exodus 22:21-22, “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.” Do we throw out the widows and orphans because it’s in the same chapter as Exodus 22:26, “If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down.” I’m not under the law, unless the law is popular with the elites, I suppose? However, I treat that verse the same as the witchcraft verse. What truth is there for me? What does that verse say about God, holiness, and my life? Should I despise another person because they are from another country or their skin is another color? No, I shouldn't’ vex or oppress a foreigner. Should I not pay back my neighbor if I borrow something from him, or should I steal from orphans and not care for widows or was true religion now what it always was? Should I join a Wiccan coven? Is it wrong for a man to dress like a woman? Does the Bible forbid it and if so, where?

I love the New Covenant. I love being free in Christ and have no desire in the least to go back under the Old. There are privileges and responsibilities being in the New Covenant. One, the Lord wants His people to be discerning and to think through every issue of our life with a renewed mind to discern the will of God according to Scripture and Scriptural principles. That is harder than just looking at a list, but isn’t it so much better? I’m not free TO sin, but free from sin’s dominion. I am not under the law, I’m under grace. I am justified and have Christ’s righteousness. But, does that mean, that since I’m united to Christ, by faith, I am free to live under the domain of sin? Does that mean that I take my body and use it as instruments of sin? Of course not. The ceremonial dealt with confession of sin rather than actual expiation of sins. The continual offering of sacrifice was a confession of sin and an acknowledgment that the bloody sacrifices would never, fully, take away and looking to God, by faith. The continual offerings were a confession that they deserved death for their sins and a plea for mercy and pardon, and pictures that it was not the perfect sacrifice. It also pictured that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission, but the blood of bulls and goats never could take sin away. But it did actually bring confession of sin to the believers. That was a three-fold use of the law in the Old Testament. It pointed to Christ by way of substitutionary sacrifice, it condemned and brought forth confession, and it instructed in righteousness. The sacrifices were done away with because Christ fulfilled them in His death on the cross. If we kept doing them, it would confuse the issue they illustrated. By ceasing to keep Passover, it actually provides a clearer picture of what the Passover was, and what Christ did. If they were done away with, then why have them to start with? Other laws were designed to keep God’s people separate and as reminders they were a called and chosen people and to remind them they were in the world, not of the world. They were not to wear mixed fabrics, to remind them not to mix with the unclean. They were forbidden to plant different kinds of seeds in the same field which, if they considered the spiritual meaning, taught them truths about sanctification. The principles behind these laws apply, but in Christ, but only to apply the lessons (1 Timothy 5:18). The New Covenant is superior to the Old and the object lessons of the Old Covenant are not necessary for New Covenant believers. Jesus said it wasn’t the meat that defiled (what went in) but what came out, so it is a heart issue. It always was a heart issue. The meat laws, fabric laws, seed laws were designed to illustrate heart issues.


Friday, March 12, 2021

Uses of the Law

Are Christians hypocritical with Leviticus, Part 4

Not all the laws in the Bible were issued to every person on earth at all times. That’s not a difficult proposition. Saying the “law is law” making no distinctions is a very simplistic view of Scripture when considering the uses of the law. When you are looking at the law in terms of justification, then yes, the law is the law. But we are examining the uses and purposes of the law for the Christian, and we must dig a little deeper. That’s why the antinomian can’t answer the charges levied by the proponents of homosexual marriage and transgenderism and the so-called ‘gay Christian’ theory. The Bible is eternal and God’s Word won’t pass away. The software I’m using to write this is telling me that transgender is not a word. The copyright on their dictionary software is 2006. Times change. God’s holy standard doesn’t. If your view of God’s law cannot answer the issues that appear today, it’s not the Bible that is antiquated, but your understanding has progressed off the cliff. But when your Deacon starts wearing a dress a heels to church, you may come to regret casting Deuteronomy 22:5 away for the sake of winning an argument. We cast aside Leviticus for Levi’s and now are paying the price.

The Biblical understanding is the law is good. A good God gave us these laws and God has different uses and purposes for the law (1 Timothy 3:8). Reading the Bible carefully, you can see different purposes of the law and sometimes different laws for different people. There is the civil use of the law given to the nation of Israel for the citizens within her boarders. There is the exposing and condemning use of the law, that shows all people, at all times, that we are sinners and condemns us before a holy God. And there is the teaching and guiding use of the law that teaches the Christian how we are to live, the law being rule of life for the believers. There isn’t only one purpose to the law of God as many “gospel-centered” preachers like to teach. God uses the law in different ways and we are to use the law, lawfully.

God gave laws to Israel as a nation that are only applicable to be enforced in their theocracy. The Levitical law is what God gave Israel in the Old Covenant which was designed to keep them separate from the nations and to regulate their worship to prefigure and typify the Lord Jesus Christ. The moral law instructs humanity in what God requires of human beings, made in His image. This is an eternal standard by which God reveals right and wrong. Some laws were to keep Israel separate from the nations. Other laws condemned the nations and were forbidden in Israel, because they were wrong anywhere.
Leviticus 20:22-27 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. (23) And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. (24) But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. (25) Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. (26) And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. (27) A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

The statues of verse 22 include civil laws, ceremonial laws, and moral laws. But notice the nation is to keep and enforce the laws, even unto death. Israel is supposed to be separate in the covenant (vs 25). They are not to be like the people of the land now, because God abhorred them. Why? Because they were under God’s moral law. They could not be under Israel’s dietary law and were not under their law. But there were moral laws even the Canaanites were under and judged for. But God separated Israel and the dietary laws, cleanliness laws, and civil laws showed that (vs 24).

So does that mean I get to pick and choose? No, that's not how this works. We are New Covenant Christians and the Spirit guides us in the law and will of God (Jeremiah 31:31-34). There are positive declarations and negative in this law (do this, don’t do that) that are a reflection of God’s holy character. We do not lie, because God is truth and cannot lie and demands his creatures to be truthful as He is truthful. We are freed from the commendation of the law, not free from it’s standards. Can I spread lies and vicious rumors about you? Can I set up an altar to Baal in your church building? If not, why not? Should I love my neighbor? If so, why? We are led by the Spirit, but the Spirit will not lead us to break God’s laws since we read the SPIRIT INSPIRED WORD which includes His Laws. Can Christians be wiccans? If not, why not? Is it ok to communicate with demons and familiar spirits? The answer is, of course, no. But does that mean the church has the authority to punish people who commit such idolatry such as verse 27? No, of course not. I read the Bible with a discerning mind, interpreting Scripture with Scripture as a New Covenant child of God. 

When we read the Old Testament we need to remember the New Testament’s explanation of the Law and use good hermeneutics to determine what we are reading. You don’t get to pick which ones you like and throw the rest out the back door. Nor do you get to say “Old Testament” and walk away. At this point, the antinomian says “you are making distinctions the Bible doesn’t make. We are free from the law and law is law. It is also at this point I’m called a legalist. The unbeliever will make a similar accusation and call me a hypocrite. 

But what about mixed fabric and shellfish? God gave Israel laws that prefigured and pictured Jesus by type, ceremony, and worship. There were laws given to Israel to show the difference between God's people and to protect Israel from the idolatry of the heathens of the land. When Jesus came, those laws are no longer necessary. Why celebrate the Passover when Christ delivered us from sin, and death, and died for our sins by shedding His blood? Why go to an inferior priest, when Christ is our High Priest? Why offer blood sacrifices of bulls and goats, that never washed away sin, when Christ died once for all for sin forever? The Old Testament was a figure of the New, so it is no longer needed.

Moses was a man under two covenants, Abraham's, and also, the covenant established in Exodus. However, God is of one purpose. God had not changed in giving the covenant to Abraham and will not change. God also didn’t change when he gave the law to Moses. Those covenants were not antagonistic. The nation of Israel was put under the tutelage of a strict ruler, to both keep them and to point them to the coming Christ. But once Christ came, the vehicle of the Old Covenant that bring us to Christ was no longer needed for that purpose. The Old Covenant was a servant to take God's covenant people from Abraham to Christ. It would be like if I drove across country to see the Pacific Ocean, and sit in the car for 40+ hours, arrive at the beach, then be content to stay in the car and smell the breeze of the salt air, but never go to the water. I’d be crazy to rejoice in the car. The car brought me to the ocean, and it was good. But it wasn’t the point of the trip. To remain in the Old Covenant is to view the means as the end.

In Christ, God's children walk in the Spirit, no under the law. So my question restated, which Old Testament Laws would the Holy Spirit tell you to break? Which law are you comfortable breaking in the name of Christ and for His glory? Which of Christ’s laws will you break in Heaven? 

We are not under the law for justification. We are not in ancient Israel and subject to that nations civil laws and Christ fulfilled ceremonial laws in His death and resurrections. But we are to be holy as God is holy and not live in sin. God's law guides us in holiness and by reading God's word, the Holy Spirit transforms us and our mind to know God's will (Romans 12:1-2). It's not God's will for His people to transgress His law.




Thursday, March 11, 2021

Meekness and Weakness


Ambrose Bierce, said meekness is, "uncommon patience in planning a revenge that is worthwhile.” Meekness is not a quality we want or admire in society. I knew a man who thought meekness as an attribute to be pitied and suggested the meek Christian needed to work to get out of that frame of mind. I think his problem wasn't with meekness, but with the dictionary. The meek are not fighters(!) and lack strength while getting run over by anyone and everyone. But that is timidity, not meekness. We are commanded to "be strong in the Lord" and "watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." The armor of God isn't decoration to hang in the living room, but we are to put it on and make use of it. God's people are not "men-pleasers" doing anything and everything we are asked to do, not to upset anyone one, or at least we shouldn't. As for getting run over? Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

Meekness is the Spiritual result of the Spirit's work in our soul. It's not a natural attitude or something you are born with, it's humility of spirit, lowliness of mind put into action in our souls. Matthew Henry wrote, “The meek are those who quietly submit themselves before God, to His Word, to His rod, who follow His directions and comply with His designs, and are gentle towards men” Meekness is gentleness, forbearing wrongs, and submissive to God's will. Happy are the meek? Happy are the assertive, not the submissive and blessed are the renegades not the followers. Happy are the rough and heartless, not the gentle. If you want to inherit the earth, you have to go get it by any means necessary, says the wisdom of the world. If you want temporary wealth and power, then by all means. The strong survive, for a little while. Do you think we could ever again elect a meek president? And if you think having a meek leader means weakness, read Numbers 12:3.

Broken by the poverty of Spirit, mourning for his own unrighteousness, the meek in Spirit is pliable to God's commands to obey, especially when it goes against our heart and natural tendencies (James 1:21). Followers of Christ have a teachable spirit and will come to the truth (Psalm 25:9) and readily receive correction from God's Word and will be pliable to God's direction. God's Word is to reprove, rebuke, exhort us, and the meek will be willing to hear.

Meekness, in fact, is strength under control, reigning in our emotions under God's direction. The meek know there is a resurrection. God will judge the wicked and set all things right. The Lord God will raise up, reward and bless. The earth will belong to the meek, because the Meek One is our King. Jesus Christ will rule this world, and the meek will rule with Him in His kingdom.









Monday, March 8, 2021

Under Grace

 Romans 6:15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

If our relationship to the las has changed, I wrote last time, what are Christians supposed to do with the law? We are no longer under the law, we are under grace. But what does that ? Romans 6 tells us we are not to use grace as a way to serve sin. This passage is talking about our relationship to the law. For the Christian, the law of God cannot condemn us (Romans 8:1) nor can the law cannot save us (Romans 3:28). As human beings, we are born with the imputed guilt of Adam’s sin (Romans 5). Born, under the law, born in sin, born owing a debt to God’s justice. We cannot earn salvation with the law, and the law justly condemns us for our sins. In Christ, we are freely justified by faith in the propitiatory work of Christ and faith in his blood. We are justified, having full and free forgiveness of our sins and the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:25-26). 

We are no longer in Adam, but in Christ. We have righteousness in His obedience to the law  imputed to us and by His righteousness we have justification unto life (Romans 5:18). The law came so that we would see the sinfulness of sin, and the more we see our sin, the more we come to Christ. The law shows us how bad we truly are, which shows us how great and amazing the grace of God. But that doesn’t mean the Christian keeps on sinning and is free to break God’s law.  The moral law of God doesn’t change. Our relationship to God’s moral law changes. 

Sin is the transgression of the law. The Christian is not to live in sin. But, in Christ, we have been justified. We are declared righteous. We have the righteousness of Christ, and we are not only free from sin but we are counted as righteous in Christ. Jesus’ active obedience is mine and I’m a righteous person. In union with Christ, I died with him and now I live unto God with him. I in him, he in me. Therefore, I’m no longer “under” the law’s condemnation. Apart from Christ, you are in your sin, and under debt to God’s justice.  In Christ, I am free from condemnation and live, not under the condemnation of the law, but under the grace of God. 

“I’m no longer under the law, I’m in the law of Christ.” Amen. But what is the law of Christ and how does it differ from the Old Testament laws that concern our piety towards God, our love for our neighbor, and the regulation of our hearts? 

As a Christian, I follow the law of Christ, which in substance, is the same as the law of the Old Testament. You may object to that and say, “I’m supposed to love my neighbor and God, I’m not supposed to follow the book of Leviticus.” Where in the Bible do you find that law to love your neighbor? Was Jesus the first to say that? If not, who was and where would you find it? It’s not as easy as saying “Old Testament bad. New Testament Good.” The same chapter, Leviticus 19, that tells us to love our neighbor is the same chapter that tells us not to wear garments of mixed fabric. The law of Christ is the same in substance and in matter in the Old Testament as it is in the New and you will find the law of Christ throughout the entire Scriptures. This law is agreeable to God and directs one to godliness, love toward our neighbor. God gave it to us as a rule of righteousness. It would be simple if there was one section that said, “Christian, do this and only this." Then we could read it straight through and call it a day. But God wants his people to think about how they live and think about what God requires of us and to apply the truth. The legalistic spirit wants a list. Either a list to follow or a list to throw in the trash for the antinomian, but a list all the same.  

It’s is God’s way, and a mercy to us, that we must be discerning people. To pray over matters, to search the Scriptures, and to mediate on God’s law day and night. 

The law doesn’t change, but your relationship to the law is based on your relationship to Christ. Thomas Boston said we should think of it this way, you don’t take the law from Moses hands. We don't take the law from God's hands apart from Christ. But we take the law from Christ. The Law remains the same, but our relationship to the law changes. 

Next we'll examine the uses of the law.


Friday, March 5, 2021

The Christian and the Law


Are Christians hypocrites when it comes to Leviticus? No, we are not, but from what I hear, a number of believers have a hard time explaining why. A good place to start is understanding our relationship to the law. In Christ, we are dead to the law, but alive unto God. We are free from that first marriage under the law by death and are “married to Christ” (Romans 7:1-6). If you are saved, you have been freed from the condemnation and guilt of the law. The law has no dominion over you anymore than a dead husband has dominion over a living widow. You’ve moved on to another country, and there is no extradition law. You are free. And of course, not free to sin because you are in a new relationship - not with the law, but with Christ, who also happens to be the law giver, the judge, and the propitiation for our sin. How anyone could think being in Christ equates to license to sin is beyond me. 

I worked on an illustration about marriage thinking of Paul’s illustration in Romans 7 to show the joy of being in Christ and no longer “married” to the law. I imagined a scene where a frustrated wife, and the comically bad, fat, lazy, and dimwitted husband she was bound to. My point was the wife was bound to the husband, whether she liked him or not. Only one problem with my illustration — it wasn’t making the same point Paul did. I made the woman a sympathetic figure and the first husband a dud. That’s the OPPOSITE of what Paul is saying. In fact, the reason Paul made that objection is for people like me who took the illustration and went the wrong way with it. The point wasn’t the law was bad and we were free from a bad marriage. The point was the law was good. We were the bad ones. We were the Anna Karenina. The law isn't bad, we are bad. Most antinomians talk like they were freed from a bad husband. But the law isn’t bad — we are bad and the law makes that very clear. 

Do you know why Paul said the law isn’t bad? Because Paul wouldn’t know sin without it. Paul wouldn’t have known what lust was unless the law said, “thou shalt not covet.” Lust is a forbidden longing and desire. Covetousness is to have your heart set on something you have no right to have. Even though it feels right and good for a man to look on another man’s wife with desire. Even though it’s “harmless” and doesn’t hurt anyone, so we say. But the law of God tells us our natural feelings and desires are wrong. We wouldn’t have known that, if it were not for the law. Paul learned it was wrong to covet and his conscience worked in him and he was a better man, right? Wrong. Sin, took the commandment and worked in his heart the very desire to covet and lust. Paul lusted more after he found out it was wrong than he did before. The natural heart didn’t run from sin because of the law, but sin awoke more desires to do wrong because it was wrong. Paul was fine, living his life and doing whatever he pleased, with no thoughts for anything but what he wanted to do. But the law came and slew him. The law showed him all those things he enjoyed so much, were actually wrong. The law made him miserable in the things he used to love.

Some love being drunk or getting high. Or chasing women. Or chasing men. They live for it. Work all week, get paid, then spend their money doing what the love. This is LIVING LIFE. Then, perhaps one day, someone witnesses to them and they hear from God’ law that their favorite pastime is actually a sin against God. Do you think that makes them happy? Of course not. They are miserable. Why? Because the law won’t stop them from running around, but just convicts them. They’ll still sin all the same, but now they will feel condemned over it. They won’t stop, and often, will do it more. Because they know it’s wrong, their heart will condemn them and they’ll think about their sin all the time. But instead of fleeing and turning to Christ, the judgment of the law stirs up in their wicked heart a desire to sin all the more because they think about it more and try to quiet their conscience. Or they’ll convince themselves the law was wrong and go deeper into sin. Some people will get angry at the Bible and lash out at Christians. Others will harden their hearts and sear their conscience so they won’t feel bad anymore. Other’s try to force people to accept their sin and shout they are “proud”.

Is the law bad therefore bad? No, the law is good and serves a good purpose. Was the law bad in Moses day? Is the law bad now? No, the law is still good and still does it’s good work (Romans 7:12; Psalms 119:97). There isn't anything wrong with God's law. We have the problem, and Christ provides the solution with justification and union with Him. He frees us from the condemnation of the law. We are dead to the law. Our sin has been paid for, we are justified in Christ and abide in Him, who died for our sins. In Christ, we died to the law and the law cannot judge us anymore. 

In the Old Testament, there were cities of refuge where, if a man committed manslaughter, he could flee to that city and be safe from the avenger. He was safe as long as he remained in the city, but if he left he was in danger. We are hidden in Christ, but not in a city, where the law might still judge us. We are dead to the law, hidden in the risen Christ. It's over - the law cannot condemn us before God anymore because Christ was our propitiation. The good law said we were bad and judged us guilty. The Lord, by grace and mercy, took our place and paid the sin debt, setting us free. We are justified. Righteous. Pure and clean before God. 

Our relationship to the law, in Christ has changed. Next we'll examine more about what that means for us in our daily life. 

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Good Grief


"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted," Matthew 5:4. Mourning is grief too deep to conceal so how can someone who mourns be considered blessed? I have attended funerals where the deceased did not know Jesus Christ as Saviour and unless God had mercy at the last moments of life, they were in Hell. The family, themselves without Christ, were despondent mourners, without hope. Does Jesus say these mourners are blessed? No, I don't believe so. The particular kind of blessing comes from a particular kind of mourning. The gospel mourning that brings blessing is a Holy Spirit produced mourning over sin. There is a worldly kind of mourning that works death and has no good end and produces nothing but more sorrow. Judas mourned this way after betraying Christ and his self-centered sorrow led him to commit suicide. 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 gives us a clear picture of the two different types of mourning, "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…but the sorrow of the world worketh death."

Jesus is talking about mourning over our sin, what it is, and what it does. Sin is the true cause of all our sorrow. The wages of sin is death and when sin entered the world, so did the curse for it. We should weep over sin, because of its treachery, and the destruction it wreaks on humanity. Sin is rebellion and lawlessness. It is enmity against God and dishonors His holy name. Iniquity tramples on God’s law, makes light of His love, and grieves His Spirit. Personally, sin steals our joy and robs us of all comfort. Trespassing the law is the path of the Devil, it wounds us, hurts us, hardens us, and kills us. Sin is a reproach to any people and the filthy garments of a wicked people. And we do it willingly.

Do you weep over sin? Do you cry out like the Apostle, "Oh wretched man that I am!" and if you cannot weep, do you mourn it? Sin hardens the heart and worldliness sears the conscience all the while, pulling us down the broad path that leads to destruction. The wages of sin is death. Not only physical death, but spiritual death and those who die in sin will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. The idea of the eternal night, where the worm dies not, is a horrid prospect. And the Bible says, "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

Do you mourn? Then lift up your eyes, because there is hope. 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Don't follow the path of Judas, but Christ. Indeed, mourn over sin, but then go to the one who can cleanse you. Christ heals those wounded, and brokenhearted mourners. There is happiness because those who truly mourn over sin will find hope, help, healing in the blood of Christ.