Tag Archives: Sin

What God Hates Man Loves (and Vices Versus)

Yesterday, I wrote down a couple of short lists I had been thinking about on my drive in to work:

God in His natural state (The Spirit):
Hates
sin, injustice, unrighteousness, selfishness, dishonesty, deception
Loves
grace, justice, righteousness, selflessness, honesty, truth, order

Man in his natural state (The Flesh):
Hates grace, justice, righteousness, selflessness, honesty, truth, order
Loves sin, injustice, unrighteousness, selfishness, dishonesty, deception

In thinking about our “natural” tendencies, it is striking to note the clear opposition between God and man (the Spirit and the flesh).

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17)

I recently got Andrew Gray’s A Door Into Everlasting Life and started reading it just last night.  Written by this Scottish preacher who died at the age of 22, I felt almost as if we were having a conversation as he expounded and expanded upon my thoughts of the day.

It is a very sad, but yet an apparent truth, that there is no creature in the world so merciless and mischievous to itself as man is. For whereas everything naturally desires, or tends to its own preservation, man unweariedly endeavors his own destruction. He becomes his own murderer and executioner, by loving vice, and hating virtue, by forsaking Christ, to follow the world, by poisoning his soul to please his senses, by leaving the safe and pleasant way of holiness, to walk in the dangerous and destructive way of wickedness. Wicked men turn their backs upon God, and are ruled by sin and Satan at their pleasure. Such profane beasts are many. They glory in their shame. Like Sodom, they carried their sin in their foreheads, oathing it, telling of their cheats, how many they have defrauded, and of their whoredoms, how many they have defiled. Alas, they have not so much as one grain of grace in their hearts, nor the least sign of holiness in their lives. Though, by the ministry of the word, they be called upon to be holy, yet the more they are called unto holiness, the further do they run into all sin and wickedness.

Yes, God’s own children make but little progress in holiness. The estate of many is a declining estate. They have lost the savouriness of their spirits, and their delight in communion with God. They are weak in resisting temptations to sin, from the devil, the world, and the flesh. They are often overcome by sensuality, pride, worldliness, envy, etc. Their heart is less watched, their tongue less bridled, and their conversation more vain than formerly. What then more needful, than to have before our eyes such arguments, as are most likely to deter us from sin, to prevail with us to loath and leave all our lusts and transgressions, and to walk humbly and holily before God all our days. May the Lord open our eyes, to see the baseness of sin, and sanctify our hearts, that we may never welcome nor embrace it anymore, but may grow holier every day than the other. So living holily, may we die happily, and after death, reign with God gloriously forever.

In order to realize this, let these following considerations sink into our hearts. We must be holy, because the Lord our God is holy. “You shall be holy—for I the Lord your God am holy” (Lev. 19:2). “It is written, Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). God’s holiness is the great ground and cause of our holiness, and the motive of all obedience. “Let them praise Your great and awesome Name, for it is holy” (Psalm 99:3). “Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at His holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9). We are not bound to be essentially and infinitely holy—as God is holy; yet are we bound to be perfectly holy for our state, as God is holy. You call God Father, and if He is your Father indeed, you will be like Him in holiness. You will both have the same nature for likeness. You read a Holy Bible, serve an holy God, pretend to be led by a Holy Spirit. Oh, what shame and trembling then should cover you, if you be unholy! You pretend to love God, and why are you not an imitator of God? Is it not a known saying, likeness makes love? Likeness is the cause of love, and an effect of it. If you would have God to love you, you must labor to be like Him. If you remain unholy, think with yourself, how can an infinitely holy God delight in such an unholy wretch, in such an unlovely and loathsome soul, in such a vile abominable sinner? How unfit am I for His love and embracements! If unholy, you will not endure the purity and presence of God, nor will God’s purity and presence endure you. (Andrew Gray, A Door Into Everlasting Life)

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The World, The Christ, and Us – Part 3

The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life…

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 NKJV)

15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NASB)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NKJV)

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.  (1 John 2:15-17 ASV)

15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world— 16 the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever. (1 John 2:15-17 HCSB)

15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17 KJV)

15Love not ye the world, nor the things in the world; if any one doth love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,  16because all that [is] in the world — the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the ostentation of the life — is not of the Father, but of the world,  17and the world doth pass away, and the desire of it, and he who is doing the will of God, he doth remain — to the age. (1 John 2:15-17 YLT)

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NIV)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the des ires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

It is interesting to note, also, that what the Apostle is doing in this warning passage is not just referring to the world, but to all three of the cords that bind our souls for destruction: the flesh, the world, and the devil.  The lust of the flesh obviously refers to the flesh.  The lust of the eyes refers to the desire to obtain and find pleasure in the things of this world.  And the “ostentation” or vain-glory of life is that Satanic influence to exalt and glory in ourselves, rather than to be humbled to the dust by the glory of our magnificent Creator.

Consider what our Lord Himself says in the gospels.  In the gospel of Matthew, we read his words:

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” (Matthew 5:28-30)

In the gospel of Mark, we hear something very similar:

“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'” (Mark 9:43,45,47-48).

In the passage from Matthew, Jesus starts with the heart and the sinful intent.  He then goes on to say it is better to cut off your hand or tear out your eye if they cause you to sin.  Of course, it is not the hand and the eye that cause the sin; they are the just the medium for its consumption.  It is the heart (or mind or affections) that control the members of the body.  The addition of the foot in the gospel of Mark is interesting, since this suggests the way we walk as well as that which we stand upon.  The Greek word “peripateo” means “to live” or “to walk”.  For a practical example of how our “walk” is basically the same as the life that is lived out of our heart, see Ephesians chapters 4 and 5.

Considering these warning passages in the gospels, there seems to be many parallels in John’s epistle.  I do not think that Jesus, the great physician meant for people to literally maim and mutilate themselves.  I do think He intended to underscore the severity of dealing with our sin.  The hands that so often feed the flesh the desires of its appetites; the eyes full of desire, seeking their satisfaction in whatever delights them; and the feet–the way we walk and what it is we are standing on.  They are both saying the same things different ways.  Seeking sensual pleasures, earthly treasures, and self-glorification will separate you from God eternally.  They are antithetical to the will of God.  Their end is hell and hopelessness.  If we are pursuing such ends, we MUST REPENT and turn again… for “God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” (Acts 3:26)

It should also be noted that the fruit of the hand and the eye grows from the root of heart.  A rotten heart may produce bad fruit (the works or use of the hands and eyes), but they do not make the root bad.  It is not the fruit that corrupts the root, but the fruit stems forth from what is in the root.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit.” (Luke 6:43)

And he said, “Are you also still without understanding?  Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled?  But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:16-20)

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” (Luke 11:34-35)

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The World, The Christ, and Us – Part 1

The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the boastful pride of life…

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4 NKJV)

15Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  17The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NASB)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NKJV)

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.  (1 John 2:15-17 ASV)

15 Do not love the world or the things that belong to the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. Because everything that belongs to the world— 16 the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever. (1 John 2:15-17 HCSB)

15Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  16For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  17And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17 KJV)

15Love not ye the world, nor the things in the world; if any one doth love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,  16because all that [is] in the world — the desire of the flesh, and the desire of the eyes, and the ostentation of the life — is not of the Father, but of the world,  17and the world doth pass away, and the desire of it, and he who is doing the will of God, he doth remain — to the age. (1 John 2:15-17 YLT)

15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NIV)

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the des ires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

I looked this verse up in many translations that I would consider to be reliable and printed them here to reflect on.  I like the ESV translation, especially with regards to the first two of the three—“the desires of the flesh” and “the desires of the eyes”—but as I continue to mull over and meditate on this passage I think that “pride in possessions” falls a little short of what I think John is saying.  I’ll try to make more sense of that as I proceed.  First, though, I’d like to consider the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes.

The lust (or the desires) of the flesh… these are physical appetites of the body.  It is important to understand that these may be God-given needs—such as food to feed the body, physical comfort (so that we may rest), and sex (both for pleasure and for pro-creation).  But as a result of Adam’s sin, and of our fallen and corrupt natures, these physical needs and appetites are distorted and out of balance.  We should be in control of our appetites.  But because of sin, they are most often in control of us.  We are slaves to food, alcohol (or other intoxicants), and to sexual passions, but God did not create man to be enslaved by these things.  He created these (some of them anyway) for man’s enjoyment, not his enslavement.  The enslavement to them is a result of sin, and results in further bondage to sin.

I understand the lust (or the desires) of the eyes pertain to those things that are external to our bodies.  The lust of the eyes is most often associated with covetousness.  Our eyes are seeking things to derive pleasure (or worth) from, although this is a certainly different from the sensual pleasure that comes from sex, food, or intoxicating substances that have a direct effect on our physical nature.  The pleasure that comes from gambling or winning the lottery, from buying a boat or a new car or a new house, or even some new clothes or jewelry is very real and can be very intense.  And most certainly there is an emotional aspect to the acquisition of such things, but it is obviously pleasure of a very different sort than would be had from a large meal, sexual intercourse, or an intoxicating substance.  It is a pleasure that is more oriented to the mind or, as our Christian forefathers centuries ago might say to the “affections” (or the heart) than it is to the body.

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Is TV Really So Bad (Joel Beeke)

Is TV Really So Bad?

by Dr Joel R. Beeke

We are living in a sin-sick, morally degenerate, and pleasure-mad world. Our society continually demands entertainment, amusements, and pastimes at an ever-increasing level.

What is the goal of this “continual-entertainment” spirit? To keep modern man happily busy.

In a certain sense, entertainment does succeed in its goal. It keeps thousands and millions busy.

The very words themselves reveal this fact. The word amusement comes originally from the French and literally means “to stare at fixedly so as to prevent musing or thinking.”  The word pastime speaks for itself. It means to kill or use up time as a thing of little value; to pass time away. The root of the word entertainment means to divert. Thus it implies something which takes us away or diverts us from the normal, real world of everyday life.

In other words, entertainment, amusements, pastimes are things which keep us busy – busy avoiding the realities of life and truth as they are set down in God’s Holy Word. They keep us busy avoiding thinking about eternity, hell, heaven, sin, God, Christ, salvation, our own selves, and especially our need for a new heart.

But if entertainment succeeds in its first goal of making man busy it fails miserably in its second: happily busy. Never has there been so much restlessness, dissatisfaction, and yes, unhappiness – in spite of the millions who immerse themselves in modern-day entertainment. Despite our freedom from poverty, our multiplication of opportunities in nearly every walk and aspect of life, plus our continual drinking in of entertainment – no age has been as unhappy as modern man.

Entertainment can never give enough – it always leaves an empty feeling behind. The more it is practiced and relied on, the emptier it becomes.

It has turned our society into an object of pity, for we are victims of our own system. Society goes full cycle, from being pleasure-hungry to pleasure-mania to pleasure-boredom.

But do you know what is even worse? Not only the world, but also the church has begun sliding down the slippery slope of entertainment which can only end in sin, and disastrous results.

Satan does not stop with liberal churches only. He comes also among us. We who believe that the truth is still preached among us – who know so well that the Word of God says, “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” who read continually, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me” – are also beginning to fall victim to the idolatrous god of entertainment.

Step-by-step some are beginning to look for new things (in the church and outside of the church) with which we entertain and keep ourselves busy. Step-by-step the old-fashioned, plain gospel message with its emphasis on the necessity of conversion, is being increasingly de-emphasised. Less and less time is being spent praying together as a family, reading religious books together with children, talking together in family circles about spiritual matters.

Are we not all guilty? Do we not all fall short in experiencing the reality of the seriousness of life, death, the judgment day, and eternity? Today we have a carefree, laughing society, but you never read in the Bible that Jesus took life lightly. Rather, especially referring to our day, He said: “Watch, and pray, and again I say unto you watch!”

But by nature we don’t watch. By nature our question is, “How far can I go and still not sin?” instead of, “How far can I flee from sin and avoid the very appearance of evil?”

At the very heart and center of our modern entertainment spirit stands TELEVISION. This is an obvious fact. Television sets are in the homes of 97% of Americans today and 91% of all television time is dedicated solely to the purpose of entertainment. Entertainment-addiction and television-addiction cannot be separated from each other.

Our society has become TELE-HOLIC. On a night when wives do not leave home, 95 out of 100 will spend it watching TV and 85% of their husbands will do likewise. Among teenagers, 80% will follow their parents’ example, and 75% of children will also spend their evening drinking in the sin shown on TV.

There are people, however, who do not believe that television becomes an object of slavery in the home, and for that reason we have to consider the power of it in the homes where it is allowed. I shall seek to show you from plain facts that a television owner usually becomes addicted to TV with respect to (A) TIME, (B) SIN, and (C) CONTROL.

(A) TIME. The average TV viewer spends 5½ hours per day watching TV. By the time an average American youth becomes sixty-five years old, he will have spent fourteen years of his life watching TV (compared to one year spent in church, Sunday School, and catechism if he comes faithfully to all). In the U.S.A. children three to five years old spend fifty-four hours every week watching TV, which is 64% of their time awake. When the average graduate from high school receives his diploma at seventeen years of age, he will have spent 11,000 hours of his life in school, but 22,000 hours watching TV. Every time an adult sits down to watch TV, he/she averages 3½ hours of watching time before turning the TV off. Children are glued to TV for an average of 2½ hours per sitting. With the exception of sleeping, the average American will spend more time in his life watching TV than anything else – yes even more than working. Do we not have a tele-holic society with respect to our precious, God-given time?

(B) SIN. TV is a flood of sin. It numbs its watchers against all ten commandments.

First commandment:  Anything we put above God becomes an idol. Modern man has become addicted to putting TV before God.

Second commandment:   If not in reality, in practice TV has become a graven image in the hearts of most of its watchers.

Third commandment:  TV causes its hearers to become addicted to hearing the name of the Lord used in vain. Profanity is used so often that it becomes an inoffensive thing. Few TV watchers realize that every time they willingly watch and hear such things, all those sins are reckoned to them on account of their willing participation.

Fourth commandment:  Even the Sabbath Day is not holy enough for TV watchers to keep it turned off, or, if a small percentage may still do so for conscience’s sake, desire and craving for it usually remains even on the Lord’s Day.

Fifth commandment:  TV does anything but honor father and mother. It continually degrades fatherhood and motherhood, and even frequently glorifies the disobedience of children. Family life, respect for authority, and obedience to government are repeatedly violated on program after program.

Sixth commandment:  Instead of “thou shalt not kill,” one study reached the conclusion that by the time a child is fourteen at least 18,000 violent assaults and murders take place before his eyes. Another study confirmed that the average child between five and thirteen years of age soaks in 1,300 murders each year, so that violence, assaults, and murders no longer speak the message of sin or its consequences. Murders, hatred, violent actions and words assume  the role of normal behavior. The average child’s program contains thirty-eight acts of violence per hour (adult program: twenty). A New York City judge who spent his life in courts judging juvenile delinquents and teenage criminals has plainly said that those who investigated the situation know that TV is a prime cause of crime. Another judge said: “Parents, one hour of TV can teach your children more crime, rebellion, smart-aleck freshness, and sex than you can counteract in months if you work at it.”

The trouble with violence on TV is that it does not show the real consequences of violence. The guilt that is left behind in the soul of the murderer, the bereaved family, the orphaned children, the filled hospitals, and the solemn graveyards are not shown. Especially in children’s programs violence is often totally unreal. Their heroes are often crushed or blown into pieces and moments later reappear unscathed. TV is artificial violence glorified instead of showing real violence in all of its ugly and terrible long-term consequences. Is it a wonder then that there have been thousands of examples of tragedies nationwide when children have “played TV together”?

Seventh commandment:  How can the TV viewer remain pure with respect to the seventh commandment when seven out of eight references to sexual acts on TV take place between those who are not married? How can he remain pure when the TV viewer sees on an average of three times every hour sexual misconduct between unmarried adults? How can he remain moral when countless circumstances, conversations, immodest dress, actions, and behavior all point to the excitement and acceptability of sinning against the seventh commandment in a false and unrealistic way?

Eighth commandment:  Can an hour be found that goes by when TV actors do not unashamedly steal before their audience? It is not wonder that thousands of thefts in real life have been patterned after TV plots and heroes.

Ninth commandment:  Lying against a neighbor becomes a normal, acceptable, and even expected form of behavior on television shows.

Tenth commandment:  Covet is a desirable word for TV viewers. Constantly they are reminded through advertisements of a stream of unending luxuries which they are told they shall never be happy without. There is always something they must have which they don’t have. The programs themselves are not an exception. For one man to covet another man’s wife (or vice versa) is the main theme of entire shows.

From beginning to end TV glorifies sin. On TV the only thing that is “sin” is morality. TV applauds sin, approves of sin, and forces its watchers to minimise sin through tens of thousands of countless repetitions. Over and over again the traditional family life is despised as old-fashioned: fatherhood is replaced with heroism via pathways of sin; motherhood is rejected as demeaning; obedience from children is laughed at as being too boring to be entertaining.

TV has become a catalogue of sin, and all studies reveal it is getting worse. It has become the devil’s classroom. The devil is smart enough to throw in a little religion too, and occasionally even a little morality, to pacify consciences enough not to throw it out. Does not TV make a tele-holic society with respect to sin when it feeds lust, perverts morals, presents impurity as love, pictures murder as thrilling, exalts nakedness and indecency as beauty, and seeks to legitimize all kinds of sin against every command of God?

(C) CONTROL Here the addiction becomes even more serious. Thousands of family fights take place regularly because no agreement can be reached on which show to indulge in. In American homes 35% of mealtimes are spent in front of the TV set. Nightly thousands of parents realize the programs that will come on are demoralizing and harmful for their children but yet are so hungry themselves to drink in the sin which they contain that they often let their children watch it too, having no power to control it.

People who say they can control TV are usually speaking idealistically, not realistically:

(1) Our natural hearts love sin, our ears listen for sin, our eyes look for sin. That is just the problem with TV. It is not the box itself that is the problem, but it is our hearts. TV shows what the heart of man wants to see. We have enough “TVs” already in our hearts without buying one for our home. It is our “TV hearts” that are inclined to TV sets. We do not stand above a TV watcher – just the opposite. We desire to come so low that we confess we would not trust our own heart with such an instrument.

(2) Who is able to keep sin from flashing before them on the screen at any moment, whether it be through the program being watched or through advertisement?

(3) Is a person who has owned a TV set for some time, and consequently become hardened to many sins, really qualified to know what is necessary to “control”?

Man does not control TV. TV controls him. Only one study of many will prove this point. Approximately four years ago in St. Catharines, Ontario, the newspaper headlines read one day: $500 paid for disposing of TV. The article went on to say that a study was done in Detroit in which the goal was to find out to what degree people are controlled by TV. Two hundred fifty families were scientifically selected from various races and classes to be offered $500 if they would live without their TV set for one month. After thirty days they could take it back in, and receive $500 free. Out of 250, only fifty families agreed to do it. How many families “made it” through this trial of thirty days? Eight! The other forty-two forfeited their $500 sometime during the month – one family took their TV back in on the 29th day. The eight who made it through were interviewed extensively. All said it brought their family closer together without TV. Six fathers said they first learned to know their children. One father said: “The day that I disposed of our TV  was the first day in twenty-five years that no one was killed in our living room, no sirens screamed, no shots rang out, no artificial merriment told us when to laugh, and no one slashed anyone else.” And what was the final result of these eight families of whom seven said their family life was considerably more rewarding without TV? The last line of the article tells us: “All eight families took TV back in.”

Tele-holism. Knowing it does more harm than good, and still keeping it – that is slavery.
Dear friend, I urge you to dispose of TV today on the following grounds:

(1) It is against the word of God. In Psalm 119 the Lord commands us to turn our eyes from vanity. The entire Bible speaks against television because of its unending list of evils.

(2) The sinfulness of television damages your own soul. Every secular and/or religious study has revealed TV’s over-all effects. Since you know that we are fallen children of Adam and Eve, corrupt, and prone to backsliding, why do you unnecessarily feed your own corrupt nature with still more corruption through this instrument of sin?

(3) Studies on television reveal that TV also hinders the God-given treasure of family life and communion. This alone should be reason enough to dispose of TV immediately.

(4) By keeping television you are stepping on and fighting against your own conscience.

(5) You are wasting precious God-given time for which you will have to give an account one day. Would it not be far better that you take the time spent watching TV to read Scripture or good books, or listen to sermon tapes?

Do yourself a favor: for the Word of God’s sake, the church’s sake, your own soul’s sake, your family’s sake, your conscience’s sake, dispose of your television today. Do it permanently before you become its lifelong slave.

Finally, may it become the prayer of all of us with David: “I will set no evil thing before my eyes. Turn Thou my eyes from beholding vanity.”
(Pilgrim’s Gate; Condensed)

(This article from Fair Dinkum, Free Autralian Magazine, issue 52. All statistics are taken from studies conducted between 1979 and 1999.)

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Thoughts on the Rapture

The more I think about “the Rapture”, the more convinced I am that it has already happened.

And that it is happening right now.

And that it will continue to happen.

It happened when the Holy Spirit visited the believers in Jerusalem.  And it has been happening ever since.  The “rapture” is the calling out of the believers from the world.  That is what it is and what it means.  It’s what occurs to the “called-out” ones.  It’s not people floating up toward heaven in their earthly bodies, but it is the spiritual ascent of a once earthbound nature ascending meet the Lord in glory.  Even now, the Lord Jesus Christ is breaking forth from the clouds on the white horse, wielding the Sword of the Spirit and claiming His own out of the world.  Even now, judgment is being pronounced and some are being called out.

What happens in the Rapture?  The world loses its hold.  It loses its appeal… loses its grip on some poor sinner’s soul.

The rapture happened to the early church, and has continued to happen since its formation as the Spirit has continued through history to call men out of darkness for His good pleasure.  It is happening right now.  And it will continue to happen.

But not only is this true for the church, it is true as well for the individual. . .

What happened to me?

I was raptured.

I was a vile and worthless sinner who justified himself.  I didn’t believe in sin. . . the worst that I would confess was maybe a couple of bad habits.  Because I saw no sin in me or in the rest of the world (I was totally in denial of this doctrine) I saw no need of a Savior.  I didn’t imagine myself needing to be saved by anyone from anything for any reason.  I was depraved and liked the way I was.  I liked the the alcohol and the cigarettes and the other indulgences I partook of.  I saw nothing wrong with any of that.  I was totally content to live for my own self and for my own self-pleasure.  Though I had gone from an atheist to someone that thought they knew much about God, and loved Him, the truth is I hated Him.  I would not read His word.  I hated Christianity with a passion.  I fancied myself enlightened and thought Christians narrow-minded and ignorant.  I mocked them and rejected Jesus as “the Savior” and the “only way”.  But then one day because of His great mercy, God opened my eyes.  He gave me a new heart.  He convicted me of sin and showed me how great my need for a Savior really was.  And it began that day.  I was raptured.  I was called out of this world.

What is happening to me?

I am being raptured.

I find that since that day, there has been a lot of change taking place.  Some things happened quickly, almost instantaneously.  Some things have taken some time.  But over time, I have found that I don’t want to listen to certain kinds of music that want to glory in the world and the flesh, that boast in man and all the sin that dwells in the domain of darkness.  I do not want to watch scary movies I once enjoyed.  I do not even want to go to video stores for all the grotesque or lewd movie cases.  I really don’t care to watch tv shows or movies that are blatantly opposed to Scripture.  I have a hard time with so many movies because they are all about willfully desecrating the commandments (you shall not kill and you shall not commit adultery takes out about 95 percent of Hollywood’s options right there).  I am not interested in “the news”, or politics, or political discussion.  I don’t spend several hours during the week or on the weekend watching sports.  I don’t want to go play pool and hang out at a bar.  I don’t want to drink or smoke cigarettes (or anything else).  I don’t want “a buzz”.  I don’t want to go to concerts or spend hours talking about sports and other meaningless stuff.  I don’t even enjoy riding in a car with coworkers on the way to a restaurant when they are listening to God-abominating music or engaging in crude conversations.

I want to talk about God!  Nothing makes me happier than spending time with my brothers and sisters in the faith, sharing with them, meeting needs, talking about the things of God, glorifying Him in word and deed, studying the Scriptures, and praying and giving thanks to God for everything I can see Him doing, sharing with my wife and my children the glory of God.  “What is wrong with me?” the world would ask. I’m being raptured!  I’m being called out of this world.

And the more I ask “What is right with this world!?” the more it asks, “What is wrong with him!?”

What is going to happen?

I will be raptured!

I am not getting any younger.  The days of my youth are behind me and the grass is already beginning to wither, the flower beginning to fade.  Where once there was a proud (or shall I say vain) crown of locks, there is only skin.  The whiskers of my beard grow whiter by the month.  The aches and pains in my body increase, and I know that at some point I will probably get sick and die, unless the Lord sees fit to call me out suddenly.  But one way or the other, one day I will no longer be in this body or this world. . . but I will dwell with the Lord in glory forever.  The thoughts of this world will fade away, and the thought of me in this world will fade just as quickly.  Here I am but a vapor.  But on that Day I will be with Christ forever.  I will be raptured!  I will be forever called out!

Oh, take me, Lord.  Rapture my soul.  But before you take me out of this world completely, take this world out of me and let me shine as a light for your glory.  Just for a little while.  May it please You, my King, to glorify Yourself through me.

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Hosea 3: Redeeming Love

I have been reading and thinking on the prophecy of Hosea recently and came across this article last night by Doug Goins of Peninsula Bible Church.  I don’t know anything about him, but I appreciated his reflection on chapter 3, entitled “Redeeming Love”.  I am posting just the very beginning of what he wrote on this chapter here because I thought it was worth sharing.  You can read his entire commentary on this book on-line here.

REDEEMING LOVE
Hosea chapter 3
by Doug Goins

This series in the prophecies of Hosea is examining the heart of God and the heart of the great prophet Hosea. God’s word was revealed in Hosea’s life as he lived it and in what he wrote and preached to the northern kingdom eight centuries before Jesus was born.

The narrative in chapter 3 returns primarily to the relationship between Hosea and Gomer, after dealing in chapter 2 with the relationship between God and the nation Israel. Verses 1-5:

And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is beloved of a paramour and is an adulteress; even as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.

And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days; you shall not play the harlot, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”

For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to His goodness in the latter days.

God came to the prophet and told him to marry a woman who would become a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, and that is what happened, as we have seen in our studies of chapters 1 and 2. Now, try to get inside Hosea’s skin and imagine his anguish over Gomer’s rejection of his love for her. Try to identify with his growing realization that she is caught in an addictive compulsion that drives her to relationship after relationship. Empathize with his need to steel himself against the gossip about his wife’s adultery. Allow your heart to be broken for both Hosea and for Gomer as he learns that she has gone from promiscuity to Baal cult prostitution to slavery. For she is no longer just the plaything of other men, no longer the sexual object of this sensual fertility cult. Now she is actually being sold into the violent debauchery of the slave market. Try to give vent to the sense of outrage, anger, and judgment that Hosea justifiably feels, as well as the shame and humiliation. And hear your own heart echo Hosea’s anguish.

Now try to imagine the consternation and utter amazement that Hosea must feel when God commands, “Go again and love this woman.” The very idea must send shock waves through his heart. On a personal level, should he set himself up to be hurt and humiliated again? And on a religious level, as God’s spokesman to the nation, how can he reverse his justified condemnation of this woman who stands for Israel? It would be anathema to everything he believes in. These are significant questions.

But in verse 1 the how is superseded by the motivation or the why of Yahweh‘s command: “…Even as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” The source of the strength and the will power to follow God’s command will be God’s own example and the power of his love expressed toward his people. The choice that Yahweh is making to love his own people is the same choice that Hosea has to make. He is to go and be reconciled to Gomer, even though she doesn’t deserve reconciliation, and in fact has done every maligning thing she could to ruin his career and scathe his moral sensibilities.

I read a simplistic description of Hosea in one Bible commentary a couple of weeks ago: “A bad wife produced a good prophet.” That is not true. The call to love a compulsive, rebellious wife led a faithful prophet to experience the greatness of God. This is really about God much more than it is about Hosea. The essence of God’s greatness throughout this wonderful book is his initiating love and the reconciliation that he is committed to for us. In our study of chapter 1, I suggested that this whole book is a symphony of grace. And chapter 3 in just five verses is like the whole orchestra’s playing a wonderful crescendo of that prevenient, before-hand, undeserved favor.

But again, very personally and privately in your own experience, can you really empathize with Hosea? You probably have not had to endure the pain of a spouse like Gomer. But before you write off Gomer’s psychological or character disorder as some extreme that you thankfully have never had to deal with, think of the pain and frustration that we all have experienced with friends and family members who have done us seemingly irreparable harm. Consider the people you have cut off because of what they have said or done to you or the violence that you have experienced because of them. Now hear the call of God, “Go again and love!”

Furthermore, and most importantly of all, when we think of our own relationship with God, the full impact of this passage is experienced in identifying not just with Hosea but also with Gomer. None of us naturally desires God; we are all part of a fallen creation. We have a bent toward willful independence and disobedience, and we don’t want God to be the sovereign Lord of our lives. Because we find it humanly impossible to make him Lord of our lives, he always has to come first as our Savior-Redeemer, buying us back. Our sin, though perhaps different from Gomer’s, is no less serious. And the wonder is what God came to earth in Christ to do for us on Calvary—to atone for our sins and to reconcile us to himself.

This passage presents God’s love for humanity and for each one of us personally, and it also presents what our attitude and actions should be toward others who through their sin have fouled up our lives as well as their own. It is through the lens of the atoning work of Christ on the cross that we view these five verses of redeeming love. We never really know how much a person loves us until we know how much they are willing to suffer for us.

Read the rest of this article here.

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Radical Depravity – Conrad Mbewe (True Church Conference)

Unfortunately I was not able to make it to this conference, but my wife and several members of our church did and my lovely bride brought back the DVDs from the speakers at the conference.  The first one that I watched (and that I’ve seen three times now) was Conrad Mbewe’s teaching on the Radical Depravity of man.  I think this doctrine is one that offends many people, but to hear this gentle, gracious man speak about this thoroughly Biblical doctrine is moving… to say the least.  The topic of repentance gets passed by far too quickly in the church today, which is why today’s contemporary church differs little from contemporary society.  I lament the fact that in our culture of relative comfort, so many “Christians” pursue avenues of enjoyment and ease (that ultimately are fleeting) and pursue them with far more passion than they pursue the God who created us–the only one truly worthy of our worship.

Now, dear reader, I may not know you from Adam, but I do know that one thing you and I and Adam all have in common is that we’re sinners. So please understand that this is not directed at you, per se, but to all of us who too often place more importance on the “creature comforts” than we do the glory of God. I am no less guilty, so if you think I’m pointing the finger at you just know that I’m pointing three more back at me.

But here’s the thing. I do truly love my Savior, just as I hope that you do. I don’t just love Him on Sunday and on Wednesday nights. I want to love Him every glorious day He gives me. But I must confess… His love is PERFECT. Mine is not. I get distracted. There are lots of things that would call my attention away from Him. And they may not necessarily be evil, or working as a part of that unholy trinity: the world, the flesh, and the devil. But like that old hymn says all too well:

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

When the eyes of my heart see clearly and are focused on the only object worthy of affection, I long so much for true revival. And I know both from the Biblical record, and from the history of the church that revival tarries when people’s hearts remain unbroken over sin. True revival only comes with true repentance. And though I am encouraged that men in our American churches are beginning to stand up and sound the bell, I see so few people who truly desire God. I know so many people who get more excited over their favorite weekly TV show, or favorite sports team, or their favorite band’s new CD, than they ever get over their time in prayer or study of God’s Word! And I am not talking about the unchurched or the unsaved here, I am talking about the people in our churches! I am not trying to be rude or judgmental. I love to see people get excited about the things of God! But we are so selfish and superficial, we often get more excited about the things of the world and the desires of our flesh than we ever do about the things that are pleasing to God.

It is a travesty how quickly we passover and divert our attention away from the subject of OUR sins, the ones we should be truly broken over. I recently read a response from an admirer of Rob Bell who (because Vodie Baucham used Rob Bell and the book “The Shack” as examples of taking sin too lightly in his sermon) that said, “From my personal perspective, I have never been more broken as a result of nor seen anyone more broken about systemic injustice and sin in the world than that of Rob Bell. Assuming the role of the convicting Holy Spirit is not something that we are called to do and those who do assume that role are really poor at actually causing any change inducing conviction within people mainly because they can see right through the agenda that should not be theirs in the first place. Conviction over sin should be something that someone internalizes and demonstrates, not preaches from a pulpit.”

That is the exact quote. It took me two or three readings to make sense of this. The basic ideas being expressed were 1) He had never been more broken or seen someone more broken than Rob Bell over other people’s sins; 2) Vodie Baucham was trying to play the role of the Holy Spirit by preaching on sin and brokenness; 3) preaching on sin from the pulpit for the purpose of conviction and repentance is wrong; and 4) conviction over sin is something that should be “internalized” not preached. I am not making this up. This is where too many people who say they are Christians find themselves today on the subject of sin and repentance. But clearly, the Biblical example of every prophet and apostle that God called forth in the Old and New Testaments preached to the people for the express purpose of conviction over sin and repentance to return a wicked people’s heart to God.  And it is not for the conviction of other people’s sins–sins that we have absolutely no control over– but for our OWN sins, for these are the ones for which WE need to repent.  Not that we should condone the sins of others, especially our sisters and brothers in Christ.  But at the same time, neither will be condemned by them, either.

Yet here in our culture of “comfortable discontent”, it seems that most of us “Christians” would rather be entertained than to confront our sin and great need for repentance. Or if we do focus on those things, it is usually (as the person I quoted above demonstrates) with regard to other people’s sins, not our own. I thought what Conrad Mbewe had to say about the subject of radical depravity and the condition of our hearts at the True Church Conference was excellent, for if we fail to understand this issue of radical depravity, we cannot understand our great need for repentance.

This is not everything Mr. Mbewe had to say, but I will share a bit here.  May it speak to you as it did to me, and draw your eyes not to the sins of others or the depravity of our society as a whole, but to the sins and depravity that still exist in our own hearts. 

From Conrad Mbewe on Radical Depravity:

The subject of repentance cannot be exaggerated. Jesus himself said, “unless you repent you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3)”, nothing can be more clear than that. This is non-negotiable.

If you play hide and seek with this you will be doomed for all eternity. This needs to be repeated tonight. If you are here and you have not genuinely turned from sin, you will perish.

And when you see on the other hand that the Bible offers a free and eternal salvation, then why are not the people of the world falling all over themselves to accept this free offering of salvation?

This is the same question that the apostle Paul is asking in his conclusion and the answer is that all men and women are totally depraved.

Verse 9 says, “What shall we conclude then,” what is the summary of the many words I have spoken…the reason why the warning is not being headed, why men and women are not rushing to embrace the cross, is because all human beings are deprived and depraved, Jews and gentiles alike.

When we go into 21st century America with all the progress that has been made, with the number of churches that you see; you may perhaps begin to think that here are a people that will be more willing to gladly embrace the message of the cross. However, if you have attempted to do evangelism you have come home depressed. The message of this text is that there is no difference between those who live today in America and those who lived 3 centuries ago in Africa, we are all in the same boat.

What about those who have been brought up in a Christian home and have been taught the Bible from an early age. You would t
hink they simply need to be elbowed and they will fall over into the kingdom, but many have perished in their sin with this type of background. The charge has been made that all, even Jews brought up with an understanding of the Old Testament, are in radically depraved.

This is necessary for us to understand when it comes to repentance and our work of evangelism. No matter who we are dealing with, we are all in the same boat and are radically depraved.

There isn’t a people group somewhere that’s different, that is looking for the true God of the Bible in order to embrace him. The Bible is telling us that there is no one who has an advantage.

Why is that the case? What does Paul mean by the phrase that “all are under sin?”

What are we up against as we do evangelism, as we knock on doors, as we give out literature? What are we up against?

When Paul speaks about being under sin, he is referring to one of the major pillars of Christian theology; he is taking us back to Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned against the living God. At this point a drastic change took place in their beings, a moral change. Having been alive they became dead, spiritually.

Yes, there was a change that couldn’t be missed; they would now run away from God. Even when we hear that today there are those who are running to God, Adam and Eve ran away. They wanted nothing to do with him, because their hearts had become sinful.

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

Here the whole of the human race are being divided into two categories, those who are living according to the Holy Spirit and those who are hostile to God, enemies of God. They may be religious people and church goers, but all you need to do is open the God of the Bible before their eyes and before long they will be hissing at you and will run you out of the church. They are worshipping a God of their own making

They are worshipping a god who doesn’t mind their sin and pleasure seeking. A God who tickles them in the midst of the sinfulness, that god they will worship.

But once you declare a holy and righteous God who is jealous for his own honor and who says you are to live for me and sacrifice to me and I am to be your all in all; that God they do not want.

This is the God that they are hostile toward. They will not submit, they cannot submit, they are totally unable to do so.

And between the mind and the will we find the heart. The heart is desperately wicked and is beyond cure as Jeremiah teaches us. The power of sin is enslavement and therein lies the depravity. We are corrupted by a foul power.

It is not in our power to simply decide to want God. However moral, or religious, or educated; powerless is the state we are all in, without the Grace of God. Unless the power of God visits us we are in this enslavement.

–Conrad Mbewe, 2009 True Church Conference in Muscle Shoals, AL

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