Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Am I A Sinner Too?

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." Galatians 3:10

We are all sinners (Rom 3:23). Those of us who live respectable lives in the eyes of the world are still sinners. Those of us who attend church services, pay our taxes, and help others are still sinners.

One of the ways we tend to sin is in the area of self-reliance. All too often, instead of acknowledging our helplessness apart from Christ, we think we are saving ourselves by righteous living. Of course, his grace teaches us that we should live righteously (Titus 2:12). Of course, we should be transformed by the grace of God into his image; this is the only reasonable response to his mercy toward us (Rom 12:1ff). But it is his mercy that created the response, not our response that created the mercy. It is his grace that trains us in righteousness, not our righteousness that causes his grace to exist.

I do not know which should horrify us more, the thought of presuming on the grace of God by continuing to live in sin (Rom 6:1ff), or the thought of trying to earn our own way, thus declaring the cross of no value.

God is not glorified when we willingly live in sin. Neither is God glorified when we do deeds of righteousness only to earn a reward.

God is glorified when we live righteous lives out of thankfulness, acknowledging that we are saved only by his grace, not at all by our merit. Only when we live in appreciation of his past mercies, and in hope of his future grace, do we live lives that glorify him. And not only does such a life glorify the Lord, it is also a peaceful, blessed life for us as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

This Is Going To Hurt

Years ago I read an account of a surgery performed onboard a 747 as it traveled from Hong Kong toward London. The lungs of a young woman on the plane collapsed. Advised by the pilot that it would take several hours to reach an airport, a surgeon onboard decided that the only way to save the woman's life was to insert a tube into her chest using what he had available (his pocket knife, a water bottle, a wire coat hanger, and some plastic tubing). He used some liquor from the galley to sterilize things as best he could. Then he said, "Be brave, my lass" and went to work. There was no anesthesia.
I am sure it hurt. The doctor was wise in that he did not pretend otherwise. It hurt; but the woman survived. But for the surgeon's willingness to inflict, and her willingness to endure, the pain of having that tube inserted into her chest, she would have been dead hours before they reached London,

That is an extreme case, of course, but the practice of medicine often involves the inflicting of life-saving pain. So does the presentation of the gospel.

Peter had to convince them that they were guilty of murder before the people at Pentecost could be saved (Acts 2). Paul had to convince the men of Athens that idolatry was sin before the message of the death, burial, and resurrection would benefit them (Acts 17). The message of Jesus was always, is always, "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15).

Those who present a pain free message, a message that promises everything and demands nothing, are not presenting the truth. They are not presenting the gospel of Jesus. They may be self-deceived, or they may be deceivers, but they are not true spokesmen of God.

Are we willing to inflict life saving pain, or do we prefer that our friends, relatives, and neighbors be left to themselves to perish eternally?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Who Are We Fooling?

Exodus 32:5 Aaron made proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord."

The above statement is from the story of the golden calf. Aaron claimed to be serving the Lord, even as he was disobeying and insulting the Lord. It was not the Lord they were pleasing when they held a feast in honor of the work of their own hands. They were merely pleasing themselves and pretending that it was being done in honor of the Lord.

The odd thing is that they may have fooled themselves. It is funny how we do that. We lie to ourselves and sometimes get to believing our lies. We say, "I am doing this for the Lord." Often we get others to believe it. Sometimes we believe it ourselves. But the truth is that we cannot honor the Lord by means of things he has forbidden.

Idolatry is sin. I did not say so; God said so. He has said it over and over again (Ex 20:4; 1 Cor 5:10; 6:9; 10:7; 10:14; 2 Cor 6:16; Gal 5:20; 1 John 5:21; Rev 21:8). Yet people still venerate idols and still pretend that they are honoring the Lord in doing it. Those claiming this may fool others; they may even fool themselves; but the Lord is not fooled.

Sexual immorality is sin. I did not say so; God said so, over and over again (1 Thes. 4:3; Hebrews 10:26-29; 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 18-20). Yet many people engage in premarital and extramarital relationships and still tell themselves that they are faithful Christians. Those claiming this may fool others; they may even fool themselves; but the Lord is not fooled.

It is time for each of us to take an honest look at our lives. We cannot disobey God and honor him at the same time. If we are disobeying, we are not honoring. If we are to honor him, we must obey.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Living With Purpose

As we begin a new year, perhaps it would be a good time to remind ourselves of why we are here. This year, like any year, will best be lived if it is lived with our purpose in mind.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches that the chief purpose of man is "to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." We are often called "consumers", but God did not put us here to consume. We are often told that we are to "pursue happiness", but God never tells us that the path to happiness is a direct one. We will have happiness not when we pursue it, but when we pursue God. We will have enjoyment not when we try to enjoy ourselves, but when we seek to glorify God and enjoy Him. This is our purpose, and we will find the new year a blessing to the extent we stick to this purpose.

Isaiah 43:20-21 The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 4:10-11 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.