It has become abundantly clear to me that God hates all sin with such a passion that even the smallest, seemingly most insignificant, sins are an abomination to Him. His holiness is so intense and shines so brightly that even the slightest glimpse of His face would drop us dead on the spot. Does that seem a little extreme? I have no doubts Scripture teaches us this over and over again, yet we are mostly unwilling to hear it.
Sin is deceitful and it always coddles and subdues the vileness that it is to God. He is the standard of truth, the only true due north, that one can find their way. If we don’t believe everything He says and does is the standard of truth, then we are serving another god.
If sin is hated by God, shouldn’t it be hated by us?
We suffer from a low view of sin, because we have a low view of God. To fully understand God’s view of sin, we must gain a more accurate view of God Himself. This is not easy. Our flesh fights against knowing God. The carnal mind is at enmity with God, and there is only one way to kill the carnal mind and that is to have it renewed through the Scriptures. We must be conformed to His will and not our own.
And he (speaking of Azariah) did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah had done, except that the high places were not removed; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death; so he dwelt in an isolated house. – 2 Kings 15:3-5
God had clearly defined ways in which He is to be worshiped, but in his pride and arrogance Azariah usurped God’s authority. He decided it was okay to perform the priestly duties. Does this really seem like it’s a capital offense? Azariah’s leprosy eventually killed him, in effect; God killed him through the disease that He gave him. God was offended and the punishment was death.
We see this cycle repeated over and over again in the life of the King’s of Israel, but to bring it closer to home, do we see this repeated in our lives? Do we see that our disobedience brings God displeasure and chastening?
How do we apply this seemingly, insignificant lesson to our lives, because talking about something that happened 2800 years ago doesn’t always seem relevant.
Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.” – Hebrews 4:6-7
Sin is hardening to our hearts, and a constant reminder of our need to depend on Jesus for His mercy and grace as the needed medicine for a diseased heart. He is the only hope we have, He is the great Physician.
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:11
Many will fall because of disobedience. The Word of God is clear on that subject. This is a horrible and fearful thought for me to consider. I must strive to enter through the narrow gate, because it’s the only place I can find rest, and I must never cease striving against sin. I will kill sin, or sin will kill me. If you don’t battle sin every day, then sin will overcome you, and take you by force.
I urge you beloved, to seek His mercy and His grace, and if you are redeemed, then you will have victory. This does not mean perfection, but if you wallow in the same sin as you’ve always wallowed, if you continue to return to your vomit, then you are probably not saved.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise. – Proverbs 12:15
The life of a Christian can be marked by certain signs or fruits that give validity to their claim of Christianity. We live in a time and in a culture that many will say they are Christians. People will say things like, “I was born into a Christian family”, “I’ve always believed”, “I was baptized as a child”, etc, etc…
The Bible gives us instruction for Christian living and last week I talked about the role of Scripture in the life of a believer. If you don’t have any sort of a relationship with your Bible, no matter what you think or what you say, then Scripture says you most likely are not. Of course there are some extreme exceptions to that rule, such as the Thief on the Cross, but for most it’s not the case.
In the time since my conversion to Christianity I’ve seen and experienced a lot of people in the church world and in particular in our local gathering that bear fruits of salvation for a season. They experience life change, they come to all the meetings, they fellowship and do life together, but then something happens. It’s consistent that one thing drives them away.
My experience is that they will “hear” counsel, but they won’t “heed” counsel.
Many will hear…but the difference is do they listen?
The word (shama`) – to hear, to listen to, obey, yield to.
This is not very common in this day, because most of us think we’ve got it all figured out. We live in a world of rugged individualism, a world of autonomy, we desire our own freedoms and to be our own “man” or “woman”.
We might listen to someone and then weigh it out to see if it makes sense, but to obey is a completely different subject. Only if it makes sense for me will I do what I’m being asked to do.
In the book or Proverbs we see this message repeated over and over again, and I’m guessing this was done purposefully to get our attention.
Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. – Proverbs 19:20
The word “listen” is the same word as “heed” in the previous verse; its meaning is far deeper than just hearing what someone has to say, it means that you will be convinced by the speaker with a desire to obey.
A wise man will “hear” (shama`) and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel. – Proverbs 1:5
This surely begs the question who is the wise counsel?
In most cases this is where the church has failed to teach properly. I use the word “church” in a broad sense, but I’m in particular referring to a true church, a gathering of God’s people that places the authority, sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture as the rule by which we must live our lives, where the holiness of God is exalted and the sinfulness of man is exposed. A place where Jesus Christ is the focus of the only hope sinful man has for salvation and they attempt to live a life wholly pleasing to God and use Scripture as their guide. There is certainly more to a true church, but if these are not in the forefront the gospel has no teeth.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Here we see the New Testament argument for Believers and this points us to who should be our primary line of wise counsel. This is speaking of the Elders in the church, and the word “obey” (peithō) means to be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded; to be induced to believe.
The Elders should be persuading and most importantly we should be persuaded and not only persuaded but then listen to and obey. Yield to them. “Wise” counsel should be informed and persuaded using the Word of God. This is the lynch-pin by which this must hinge.
Unless you are being asked to sin, you should be persuaded. It’s pretty simple, and if you are being asked to sin, from that you should flee. Elders have been placed over you as protection for your soul, and when you disobey, it’s unprofitable for you and it grieves them.
By today’s standards this is completely counter-cultural and hated by most professing Christians because most want to be in control which by definition is wise in our own eyes.
Many good Christians don’t have churches that practice this, nor do they even have good churches, and in that case you should seek out the godliest counsel you can obtain given your circumstance, but don’t use it as a crutch and an opportunity to sin. If you are given good counsel, listen to it, and obey it, because someone truly loves your soul and wants what is best for you.
Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day. – Psalm 119:97
This is a verse that really smacks me upside the head. I just don’t know how to say that with much more impact or clarity. It really is a dividing line between those that say they love Jesus and those that really do love Jesus. Our relationship to the Bible is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
How can we really love God without knowing God and how do we know God without reading His Word? The Bible says of itself that it is sufficient for all things pertaining to godliness, righteous living, correction and instruction and then it summarizes that statement by saying “so that the man of God can be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So it really seems to make the most sense that if you say you are a man of God you would be quite infatuated with the Word of God doesn’t it?
But what about “The Law”, that seems so harsh and unloving…it seems so legalistic to many modern day evangelicals.
The law or the Torah is simply a precept or a statute, and it primarily refers to the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) or the Pentateuch (Books of Moses). The law is a reflection of the heart of God. God is all these things and to have a proper understanding of God we must understand and love the things that He loves.
Why is this important?
Loving the law of God gives us wisdom and understanding. It is the most important thing we can gain, in fact it is said to be more valuable than gold or fine silver.
I have more understanding than all my teachers… – Psalm 119:99
I understand more than the ancients. – Psalm 119:100
God’s Word restrains us from evil and is a light unto our path. In other words it keeps us on the straight and narrow. It causes us to hate evil, to despise false ways, and bad thinking. How can one gain knowledge and wisdom without knowing God’s precepts and commands?
I have restrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your word. – Psalm 119:101
Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. – Psalm 119:104
The professing church today is full of those that really don’t care for the Word of God, much less the Law of God. They don’t read the Bible, they don’t know the Bible, and what they do know of the Bible is generally misquoted or taken out of context. The Bible should be the lifeblood of a Christian. It is like a gold mine that can never be fully harvested. It should be something we can never get enough of as we desire to grow in godliness. Jesus said if you’ve truly been born from above you will hunger and thirst for it. (Matthew 5:6)
The Law is the heart and etiquette of God and those that pick and choose, or those that dislike or even despise the law are at enmity with God no matter what their mouth might say. This is a real gut check. It’s a great way to examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith. What is your relationship to your Bible?
Teach me, O LORD, the way of
And I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I
Shall keep Your law;
Indeed, I shall observe it with my
Make me walk in the path of
For I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your
And not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking
At worthless things,
And revive me in Your way. – Psalm 119:33-37
If you find a professing Christian indifferent to his Bible, you may be sure that the very dust upon its cover will rise up in judgment against him. — C.H. Spurgeon
Antinomianism is alive and well in the professing church today. It won’t take you long, or many Facebook conversations, to find out the reality of this statement. Many people desire to “be blessed”, many people desire a savior, and I’ve not met that many people that say they are unconcerned about an eternity in hell. But…they don’t mind going out and living like the devil.
So what is this word “Antinomianism”? And why is it such a big deal.
“Antinomianism teaches that “the believer was completely free from all obligation to the Law and any concession to legal duty was an infringement of free grace.” Roman Catholicism attacked Protestantism for allegedly granting a license to sin through its doctrine of justification by faith alone. The council of Trent, in its decree on justification (1547) implicitly accused the Reformers of abolishing the law for the Christian.
In their view of the law, the Reformers spoke of three distinct “uses” or applications of the law.
- Civil – guide the civil magistrate in rewarding good and punishing evil (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Tim 2:1-2) Luther wrote – “The first understanding of the use of the Law is to restrain the wicked…This civic restraint is extremely necessary and was instituted by God, both for the sake of public peace and for the sake of preserving everything, but especially to prevent the course of the Gospel from being hindered by tumults and seditions of wild men.”
- Evangelical – drives sinners away from their own righteousness to trust in Christ alone. (Galatians 3:10, 24, Gal 2:17) Calvin said the law warns, informs, convicts and lastly condemns, every man of his own righteousness…
- Directive or normative – it serves as a didactic “rule of life” to guide believers in ways that are pleasing to their God and Savior. The law drives sinners to Christ through whom they “become doers of the law”. – James 1:22”  – From A Puritan Theology by Joel Beeke & Mark Jones
2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
What is Paul referring back to when he says “therefore”? We must look back at what Paul just said. He supports his upcoming argument with his previous statement, and as is the manner of Paul he consistently uses the Word of God, just as we should when we argue for the truth.
2 Corinthians 6:17 Therefore
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the LORD.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
What we will consistently see is an argument against the Bible to support man’s sinful desires, and often we will see the twisting of the Scriptures to get them to say what we want them to say. This is most often done in church going people, or people that want to hold onto their sin. Thus Antinomianism, which means “against law”. Antinomians love to argue against the law. They want to be free from the guilt of obeying the law, but yet their conscience continues to bear witness against them and so they suppress the truth in their unrighteousness.
So what are we to understand about God’s law as New Testament believers? Are we under the obligation to keep the law? Can we keep the law?
One thing all must do, and all are responsible to do, is to understand God’s Word in full context. The best way to interpret Scripture is with Scripture. If you see something that doesn’t seem to make sense, use other Scripture to help you interpret.
Psalm 119:1-2 Blessed are the undefiled in the way. Who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!
Psalm 119:11-12 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You, Blessed are You, O LORD! Teach me Your statutes.
I won’t have the space to highlight all of Psalm 119 and the heart of a true believer, but it’s unmistakable, that there must be a heart transformation, and a burning desire to follow God’s law, IF, you are truly saved.
Paul knew this so well and he continued to drive home this point.
Romans 6:1-4 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death…even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The whole message of Scripture is a newness of life. It’s unmistakable, and those that want to continue in their sin are deceived. This does not mean sinless perfection. It means gaining ground on sin consistently. It means we will grow in holiness, because without holiness we will not see God.
This is the life of a Christian, or you’re not a Christian. This must be stressed, because it causes self-examination. It causes lamenting and mourning when we fall back into sin. It’s a constant desire to repent and turn from our sin. The stakes could not be higher. Don’t be deceived by the deceitfulness of sin and risk that you will someday stand before the righteous Judge and hear these words.
And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:23
How many times have you said this to someone? Well, as a Christian I hope you would never say this to someone, but as a Christian how many times do you say this to people in act or in deed? I’d say we all do this more times than we can imagine. I actually shudder to think how many times I do this.
Just recently a man died. His name was Jack. Jack woke up not knowing this day would be his last. I’m sure he had a lot of things on his to-do list that day and I’m certain he expected he’d accomplish all, if not most of his tasks. I didn’t know Jack; in fact, I know almost nothing about Jack except that he was in his forties. I’m sure he was a family man with a wife and kids. Maybe he was a church going man, I’m not sure. Maybe he wasn’t.
The thing is it’s possible I’ve talked to Jack at some point in my life and I wonder if in that encounter I told him about Jesus? I wonder if I told him that there is a Holy God that we will give account of our lives. I wonder if I told him that we’ve all sinned and fallen short of This God’s glory, and because of that problem justice must be served.
We are all guilty criminals; guilty of the most heinous of all crimes, against an infinitely Holy God. That God has given us life and everything good that we experience on this earth and we really have no thoughts of Him and we certainly don’t care to thank Him or honor Him. No, we just go along in our daily endeavors rarely thinking, if ever thinking, that this day might be our last, that today will be the day that we must stand in His courtroom and tell of all our deeds.
This courtroom has a much higher level of strictness and judgment than any earthly courtroom could have. In fact it is so strict that it requires perfection or we will be found guilty. In this courtroom anger is considered murder, in this courtroom looking with lust, or sexual desire is the same as adultery.
I don’t know if Jack knew that or not? I’m sure there will be a funeral where a minister will say a lot of nice things about Jack. How he was a good father, a good husband and probably a “good” man. But I wonder if that minister will remind those people that today or tomorrow could be the day they will face the judge?
Today I wonder if you or I, Mr. and Mrs. Christian, will tell people that today could be the day that they will face the judge. Will we tell them that He is a righteous judge, and that He is angry with the wicked every day? That if they don’t turn from their sin, and place their trust in Christ Jesus as their only hope that they will spend an eternity in a place called Hell, the place where God punishes guilty sinners just like I was, or just like you were?
Do we tell the guilty sinner that the only hope they have is in Christ? Not their own goodness?
Or do we really tell them to “Go to Hell!” I don’t want to take the time… I don’t want to risk the embarrassment… I don’t want to risk the rejection… I don’t want to risk being labeled a freak…
In other words, you just don’t care about their soul. In other words, I don’t care about their soul.
If we believe the Bible, and I expect most reading this post will say they do, did we forget the imperative command of the Lord Jesus Christ, when He said “Go” and make disciples, teaching them to obey My commands? (Matthew 28:18-20) Did we also forget He said He would be with us, as we did it?
Did we forget that He said the first and greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself? Loving our neighbor certainly includes calling them to repentance doesn’t it?
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” – Ezekiel 3:17-19
My dear friends, if your evangelistic zeal is non-existent, or seriously lacking, please consider your testimony today. Do you really love people, or do you just love yourself? Do you prefer to protect yourself, or do you really desire to live for the glory of God?
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. – Luke 9:24
Let’s consider today, how many Jack’s we will pass by and tell them to “Go to Hell!”
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. – Colossians 3:1
We live in a culture saturated and obsessed with sex. There is no other way to describe it. This past week I was on a flight to San Francisco and I was sitting in an aisle seat and all of the seat backs had televisions. The woman in the middle seat in front of me had the show Sex in the City playing from the time we left Chicago until we landed in San Francisco and I was at an angle where I could watch it quite easily. It was a show that my wife and I once watched before we were saved. I remembered many of the episodes that would catch my attention from time to time during the flight and I was disgusted by the ease at which men and women are portrayed slipping into and out of bed together.
I was disgusted by the man that I once was, and yet at the same time so grateful for what the Lord Jesus Christ has delivered me from. In the confines of marriage sex is a beautiful thing, but like so many other things the world has to offer, outside of proper boundaries, it’s an abomination to God. Sexual immorality is very subtle and can creep into the lives of the saints. It’s as simple as spending too much time observing what’s going on in the seat in front of you. It can start as a very small seed and blossom into full blown sin if not mortified and put to death.
God’s word is clear on the matter.
Therefore put to death your member which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5
Put it to death…kill it, mortify it, says the Apostle Paul.
Here’s the catch, “if” you were raised with Christ. This message is for believers. If you call yourself a believer and you are living in these things, you will either, kill them, mortify the deeds of the flesh, or you are not a believer. The word if is a primary particle of conditionality, in other words it connects these two thoughts together. So if you were raised with Christ, then this is now what you will do.
This requires the act of obedience. It’s really plain and simple, because the worship of God requires obedience.
We must… because of who God is…and because of what Christ has done.
I must look away from the television screen; I must not look too long at the woman that is standing next to me, or allow my mind to dwell on her physical attributes. I must desire to kill those members that desire these things.
For men, we know this is not an easy thing to do. And it’s impossible if the Spirit of God does not live inside of us, but if the Spirit does indwell us, then we will and we must, or the Spirit does not indwell us. Does that make sense?
A couple years ago I was challenged by my Elders to decide to whom I would write this blog and it was at that time I decided I needed to minister to believers more than non-believers, but today this post needs to apply to both camps. If you are living in sexual immorality, it’s important to understand that you are not in right relationship to God, that you are an enemy of God, and the future is bleak should you continue in that pattern.
Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience. In which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. – Colossians 3:6-7
There is no mistaking what this means. If you live in sexual immorality, and this means fornication which is sex outside of marriage (living together), homosexuality, adultery, pornography, or any other sort of sexual perversions the wrath of God abides upon you. The Bible makes this crystal clear. There is no way around it and in fact Jesus even raises the standard and says that if you even look with lust, you’ve already committed adultery in your heart. (Matthew 5:27)
Do not be deceived, no matter what your mouth says, no matter what you think; what matters is an obedient life. This obedience is what proves your salvation. It can’t save you, but the pattern of your life is how one knows, it’s how a person works out his salvation with fear and trembling.
Obedience is a big deal.
And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:23
If you are involved in any sort of sexual immorality, I urge you to repent and turn from your sin. You must have a change of heart, leading to a change of life that brings the Lord Jesus Christ glory. I know who I was and I know who I am now and those two men are completely different men. Paul leaves us with hope when he says “In which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” His letter is to believers, and the way we know we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is that we “once” walked, but no longer walk in that pattern of life.
Soli Deo Gloria!
We live in a world that is all about more. It’s everywhere you look and it’s indoctrinated into this culture that the more you have, the better you are and the happier you will be. This generation like no other has incredible wealth. There are those in this country that are considerably more wealthy than others, but yet I’ve not seen anyone sitting on a street corner with bones showing because they didn’t have anything to eat and they couldn’t find food.
You’ve seen those pictures from places like Africa where people are literally starving to death, the images from the Nazi death camps, where they are walking skeletons. That’s what I’d consider poor, completely without anything. We, in the US, have a completely different concept of poverty, and although there is compassion for those that have less I also have as much compassion for those that have more, but yet are without Christ.
The riches of this world blind our eyes, and cause those to trust in those riches. I know when I have a little cash in my pocket it makes me feel good about myself. It lightens the load, so that I really don’t need to worry as much about Jesus providing my needs. I’ve got that one under control, but “Oh Lord, you are sooooo good…I’m sooooo blessed!” “Thank You Jesus!” After all, doesn’t He want that for us?
The thing about the Christian experience, that I once wrote about, is that it’s really a bizzarro world. It’s completely upside down. First is last, last is first, those that desire to save their life will lose, but if you desire to lose your life you’ll save it. It’s stuff that just doesn’t seem right to most people. It’s certainly why Jesus said, there are few that find life, and many go the way of destruction, because it just isn’t logical.
God has spoken a lot about money. Money is clearly something He cares about, and it should be something the Christian should care about, but not in the same way as the world will care.
Two things I request of You
(Deprive me not before I die):
Remove falsehood and lies far
Give me neither poverty nor
Feed me with the food allotted
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the LORD?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God. – Proverbs 30:7-9
God has given us balance. He’s shown us what we should desire in money and worldly possessions, just enough. The god of this age tells us we need more. The god of this age tells us we can be blessed by god if we only have faith, because god wants us happy healthy and wise. The charlatan preachers peddle this like crack cocaine. It’s easy to get you hooked because it sounds so good. Once you’ve had a taste it’s hard to go back. But that’s not what the Bible tells us…
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts wich drown men in destruction and perdition. – 1 Timothy 6:6-9
Desiring more is a snare. It will drown you.
Have you ever heard about how natives catch monkey’s in Africa? They take a coconut and hollow it out, just big enough for a monkey to get his hand inside and then put peanuts inside. When the monkey smells the peanuts he’ll grab hold and not let go. He’s trapped by his desire for the peanuts. All he has to do to get away is let go of the peanuts. Yet he will die rather than let go. This is exactly what Paul is telling us about money. We don’t know what’s good for us, so we’ll hold onto those peanuts until it kills us.
“Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:31-34
Here is our remedy. This is the answer to the problem that we face concerning our desire for wealth and prosperity. Seek first the kingdom of God. Let go of your peanuts, seek Christ and His righteousness and then stop worry about your money as if it’s yours anyway; if you can’t do this, then consider if you are truly saved or not. Money will not have a hold on the true believer and if it does he is not a believer.
What does it mean to preach, I mean after all it sounds so “preachy” and kind of harsh. I started thinking of things like being called a “Bible Thumper”, or “Holier than Thou”… My flesh cries out against this idea because it’s just not politically correct or culturally relevant. How many of today’s buzz words can I employ that convince myself and you that this is just not the way to go about it? Shouldn’t we be “relational” and utilize “friendship evangelism”? Shouldn’t we “invite” them to church, or have them attend a less hostile atmosphere, make it cozy and comfortable? Isn’t this a better method in the modern age?
Preaching seems to be something only reserved for those that get paid to stand in front of a church congregation. In a stodgy old building, and he or in some cases she, but we can discuss that another day, wear a suit and a tie and yell at people for an hour. Wouldn’t it better if that guy would come down to our level and wore a cool t-shirt and skinny jeans? He could be more conversational, and make it a little more relaxing? It seems that would be more effective.
Should the Bible get in the way of what we think works? Don’t get me wrong, I think evangelizing to friends is a great thing, but it’s not the only way and it shouldn’t even be the primary way. If we believe the Bible, shouldn’t we do what it says? Shouldn’t we use the language it uses? After all it is the Word of God right? Should we do as Paul said “imitate me as I imitate Christ”?
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17
The word “preach” used here is Kēryssō –
- to be a herald, to officiate as a herald
- to proclaim after the manner of a herald
- always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed
- to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done
- used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers
Did you catch the part about gravity and authority? Jesus preached with authority and gravity, He demanded a response from His listeners. Jesus never gave people a pass, He wasn’t that gentle little mouse that people make Him out to be, that gives everyone a hug and tells them it’ll be okay. When they encountered Him it was to be confronted with their sin and be forced to make a decision about their condition. He used different techniques depending on His audience, but He always preached with gravity.
Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sin.
Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news; it is something to be proclaimed with authority and demand a response, so that some might be saved. If you are a believer it’s your job. It’s why you were saved. Not all are going to stand on a street corner and proclaim the news, but some will and some should. The meaning of the word calls for it, and the early church understood this. Paul knew it, and he lived it. And it didn’t take him very long to get to it.
Acts 9:20-21 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose…”
No time to think about it, not time to reconsider, or even hesitate, Paul just gets up and starts preaching…what a remarkable event.
But what do we preach?
But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” – Luke 4:43
This word is euaggelizō and it’s the “good news”, we must preach the good news, after all its news right? (Voddie Baucham – loosely quoted) Shouldn’t we be talking about news, especially good news? Christ must be preached, and the kingdom of God must be proclaimed as the only way of salvation. Are you willing?
Not all are called to preach from the pulpit, not all are called to preach in open air, or in the public arena, but we are all called to preach.
If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ!
This might mean friendship evangelism for some and maybe for most, at the very least, but it means what it says, and preaching is proclaiming with gravity and authority, and demanding a response. Doesn’t that seem weightier than “sharing” the gospel?
The only time the word share is used in the New Testament it has to do with sharing in other’s sins, or actual sharing of goods, so I’m going to do my best to drop this word from my vocabulary as it relates to the gospel.
I will preach the gospel, and I will proclaim the gospel, and maybe on occasion I’ll share the gospel, but I think preaching is just more manly and more Christ like, and more Paul like, so I’m going to try and be like them.
Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:2
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.
What differentiates the wise from the foolish?
It seems an obvious answer as we read this Proverb, but yet how often do we return and continue to fall into the same sins again and again? In times past I had a dog and I can vividly remember the sound of the dog removing the contents of her stomach only to lap it up again. I don’t care how cleverly I try to write that it brings an image to our mind that is repulsive. And it should be repulsive, because it’s just disgusting.
Isn’t that the point?
There is a razor thin line between the true church of Christ and those that profess with their mouth Jesus is Lord. As Scripture repeatedly points out, it is the life we live that affirms or denies our confession. Many, and probably most of the professing church are apostate. How can I say that? That certainly is judgmental on my part. Who are you to say such a thing? Are you without sin? You are a legalist!
I’ve heard it all before and the only way I can make such a “judgmental” statement, if you must call it that, is those are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one that told us “many” and “few”. He said the path was narrow and difficult that leads to life, and the road is wide that leads to destruction. He asked us the hard question, “Do you also want to go away?” (John 6:66).
It’s really easy to get caught up in the doctrine of humanism. It’s really out there today, as it has always been. It’s really easy for it to be all about us. We can slap a little Christianity on it and even throw down a passage of the Bible and call it “religious”, but Jesus said it just wasn’t that easy. He drove home the point that He would separate families; that our enemies would be from our own households. (Matthew 10:35-37) That’s really hard stuff.
So how do we really know? Shouldn’t we have a way to examine our lives?
How often do you return to your own vomit?
Look at what Peter says about this, as he is speaking about the false prophets that were so prolific then just as they are today. These are words for us to heed today. These are words that must be taken seriously, and examine the legitimacy of those that preach the word. Does this sound familiar?
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh… – 2 Peter 2:18
What are you being taught? Is the Scripture opened and explained properly to you? Does the Scripture and teaching point you to God’s greatness, and your littleness? Or does it tell you how you can live better, how you can like yourself more, or get ahead in the world financially. Even more, does it allow you to leave unconvinced of any sin in your life? Does it let you know the vomit is okay to return too?
2 Peter 2:18b-21 …through lewdness (lustful), the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog return to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
We have a very clear picture of apostasy in the church. It’s clear there are false teachers, and they abound. They build great buildings, and have lots of people in attendance. They build big audiences through social media because people like what they say. The words are sweet to our ears. Their condemnation is certain. They will not escape the wrath of God, but what about us?
Do we return to the vomit again and again? Does your sin continue to be justified in your mind and you convince yourself it’s only once more? Or it’s, “but you don’t know my…you fill in the blank.”
“If they wouldn’t do that, I wouldn’t do what I do…”
It’s a dangerous place to live, and it would be better that you had never known the way of righteousness. Please don’t count the blood of Christ a common thing. If you continue to wallow in your sin I urge you to repent today. I urge you to seek counsel from your pastor or your elders, if they are true shepherds of Christ’s church, and then heed that counsel.
Your very soul may be asked of you tonight. Do it now, while it is possible for salvation and then grow in grace, that you may bear fruit and bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.
At this time last week I would have never expected I’d be writing this post today. It just didn’t seem possible. There appeared to be too much sin and too much hardness of heart. It looked as though someone I dearly love would remain entrenched and would go the way of many others. It was sad, it was heavy, it was heart wrenching…there appeared to be very little, if any hope.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21
Amen! Let it be so!
God can sew in the hardest of ground and I saw a man stand before the assembly broken over his sin. He repented and he confessed his sin. He was afraid of the terror of the Lord, because he saw what sin does in the hearts of men.
We live on this earth for such a very short time and for the majority of the people they never consider their sin. There is no fear of the Lord! He’s a Sunday school story they heard and forgot long ago, He’s a by-product of some ignorant sheep herders, just something written by man thousands of years ago, certainly not relevant today.
Or worse yet, the practice of church discipline’s for the fanatics. It’s for the legalistic that only desire to go around pointing out others sin. “I’m okay, you’re okay”, is what they think. As long as we are here on Sunday, or Saturday night, everything is cool.
He’s rich in mercy and abundantly ready to forgive, yet that hard and stony ground must be plowed over and churned up, there’s difficult work that needs to be done. That hard and leathery heart must be pierced with the needle of the law so the gospel can enter in, and without the law breaking a mans heart there is no hope.  There must be conviction; there must be an adherence to God’s Word. It must be dealt with biblically, or it’s only man’s wisdom. Not the power of the Almighty Himself.
Bones must be broken…or there will be no healing.
For I acknowledge my
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I
sinned, and done this evil in Your
That You may be found just when
And blameless when You judge. – Psalm 51:3-4
Sin must be dealt with and the only way to deal with it properly is to first acknowledge the sin. Sin will blind us. Sin will harden us. Sin will deceive us and cause us to think all kinds of “good” things about ourselves. Only by God’s truth can we be set free, because sin also enslaves us.
We need God’s church and we need God’s Spirit to convict us, to call us to repentance and then to gently and lovingly restore us. I’m sure it didn’t feel very loving for quite a long time, because this battle has raged for what seems like a very long time. The enemy was well fortified, but God’s power is far greater and the victory has already been won at the cross.
But from our perspective we must remain engaged and fight. We don’t know if the soil is good or not. We must do our part and the Scriptures are clear, although mostly ignored by the “church” today.
Today the hard work really begins for this brother. He has a mess to clean up. Time will tell if the confession is real or not. It was really awesome to have him back, to see a completely different countenance than I’ve seen for almost a year. But when reality sinks in, and the pressures of life resume, outside the walls of the safety of the assembly, what will happen? Only God knows and time will tell.
The Lord Jesus Christ deserves His witness to proclaim His name. To seek forgiveness for the wrong that has been done, to acknowledge Him where He has been denied, to call sinners to repentance and preach the gospel of peace.
Outside of Him there is no peace and those that have been around this man need to know that. They need to hear a broken confession and humble acknowledgement of sin. It’s going to be a narrow and difficult path for sure if it’s a true testimony and I trust that it is. I trust he won’t fail the test, but the trials will be difficult most certainly.
Today I am hopeful, I’m joyful and I’m humbled. I feel a sense of peace that I’ve not felt in a while over this situation. I’ve seen it go the opposite way too many times. I’ve seen the hardheartedness of men too often turn away and go somewhere that isn’t quite as difficult. They might fool themselves, they might fool others but God will never be mocked and I hope it is well with their souls. The Christian life is full of trials, it’s full of difficulty and not every day is Friday. In fact most days are Mondays if we are truly in the faith.
Create in me a clean heart, O
And renew a steadfast spirit
Do not cast me away from Your
And do not take Your Holy Spirit
Restore to me the joy of Your
And uphold me by Your generous
Spirit. – Psalm 51:10-12
 This thought from Behold Your God Page 164 – “The needle of the law must puncture the hard leathery heart before the thread of the gospel can pass through.”