Sunday, December 29, 2013

Understanding Sin

For all have sinned,
and fall short of the glory of God

Being Justified as a gift by his grace
through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:23-24

These two verses say almost everything you need to know about being a Christian, and being forgiven of your sins from God’s viewpoint.

1. All have sinned.
2. All fall short of God's glory.
3. We are justified by grace (free gift)
4. We are redeemed eternally by believing in Jesus Christ.

The controversy in the media today seems to be that some people are offended because of the things that the Duck Dynasty leader said in an interview about his views from the Bible. I have never watched the show and only seek the truth here. But I must say that many people are confused about what sin is. It seems that many want to create their own definition of sin so that they can feel better about the stand they have taken, or to be viewed by the unbelieving world as tolerant and politically correct.

One Christian even said to me this past week that homosexuality is not even mentioned in the New Testament. When I asked him to explain the following verse … 
his response was silence. 

"For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper." Romans 1: 26-28

Now anyone is free to disregard this teaching. But for Christian’s to disregard teachings they don’t like for the sake of tolerance and political correctness is dishonest, and is a primary reason that many Christians are considered to be hypocrites. Do not make up your own religion and call it Christianity. There should be NO tolerance for that.

But at the same time, God’s truth is clear … all are sinners, not just one group or another. And from a standpoint of forgiveness and eternal life, a sin of pride has the same end result as a sin of lust.

Phil Robertson would be doing no-one any favors by twisting the truth and saying what people want to hear. It really does not matter what any of our personal opinions are, God is the judge, not us. There are literally hundreds of ways we can sin and as a result none of us will get a pass based upon what we have or have not done.

God’s definition of sin is divided into three categories.
All sin falls into one of these three groups.

           1. Lust of the Flesh
           2. Lust of the eyes
           3. Pride of life

Can anyone say they have never been guilty of some form of fleshly lust?
Can anyone say that they have never been guilty of coveting things?
Can anyone say that they have not been consumed by anger, bitterness, or resentment?

The answers to these three questions is: no, no, no. This is why judging a homosexual or anyone else is wrong. Nobody (besides Jesus) has ever met or currently meets the sinless perfection God requires for forgiveness and eternal life. 

But on the other hand, there is a big difference between judging a person and judging an action. For example: would you be upset with me if I said that it is a sin ... to lie, to murder, or to steal? I think not.

So are the various homosexual acts a sin? Yes,  without question. 
Will a person who commits these sins be saved or condemned? 
That is between the person and God.

"For 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." 1 John 2:16

Notice it says all that is in the world. So does this literally mean: all? Yes, without the saving grace of Jesus Christ we are all incapable of doing any good thing. From the view of men or the world we can do many good things; but God does not look at things from the view of the world or men. I know this is difficult to believe; but God’s Word clearly tells us that this is the Truth.

Every man's way is right in his own eyes; But the LORD weighs the (motives of the) hearts.”  Proverbs 21:2  All have sinned over and over every day and as a result all are judged and condemned.   ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” Romans 3:12

This is why Jesus came and died as the sacrifice for our sins … we all need a Savior from the consequences of our life apart from Christ. Even though Jesus calls us to love others, and to live out His loving ways, He did not come to feed the hungry and heal the sick; but rather He fed the multitudes, and healed the sick in order to demonstrate who he is. The purpose of Jesus coming to earth was to seek and save the lost, whoever and wherever they were. 

"For the son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" Luke 19:10

The word is perfectly clear: He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotton Son of God. John 3:18 

Every person has either believed or not believed in Jesus Christ. This determines whether one is a Christian who will receive eternal life in heaven … or not. There is no other criteria of Christianity.

It is not being judgmental to point out this truth. This is what the Bible teaches. 
It would be dishonest not to point it out.

So what can we conclude? According to Jesus, the world is divided into two groups of people: sinners who believe in Him and are not judged; because of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins … and those who do not believe, and have been judged already as a result of their sins. Good deeds and being a good person from a human point of view will bring rewards only for those who have believed in Christ. 

This is obviously going to be offensive to those who have rejected Jesus and have already been judged. But this is their choice and they are free to believe upon Jesus Christ at any time for redemption.

According to Jesus, we are to build our life upon the foundation of His Words and not upon the teachings of the world. 

"Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one who hears these sayings of mine, and does them not, shall be likened to a foolish man which built his house upon sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it." Matthew 7:24-27

The atheistic wisdom of the world has taught an entire American generation otherwise. Pointing out this false teaching should be a mission of every Christian. To promote that which is the opposite of God’s eternal Truth is a gross hypocrisy that leads many away from the Creator of all things.

God Bless you my friends, Bob

Monday, December 9, 2013

What's Wrong With Religions?

Matthew 23:13

Some time ago ... 

I was talking to a friend who asked me; 

“what religion are you?” 

"I’m a Christian, I replied." 

“Well, I know that but what religion are you?”

I explained to her that I was not a member of an organized religion but attended a non-denominational church which believes that to receive eternal life we must believe in Jesus Christ alone, and it is my opinion that religions can often get in the way of a personal relationship with Jesus the Messiah.

“You’re not one of those born again Christians are you?” Why I asked?
“My husband says they are the ones who cheat him at work, she said”
I replied; it does not matter what your husband or I think but rather; it matters what Jesus says about this. Would you like to see what Jesus has to say about being born again? “Yes she said.”

I then turned to 1 Peter 1:23 and again asked her to read:

She was silent and confused and then asked; “I have been a Catholic for 35 years, why hasn’t the church taught me this?” I did my best not to be critical of her religion. A short while later, this friend and her husband prayed to be born again.

This story shows the biggest problem with many religions. They claim to be Christian; but often do not teach their followers the most important Words of the Savior; but rather the principles of their man-made religion are the primary focus. They then add a few out of context and misinterpreted Bible verses and a man-made false religion is born.

This is clear in the opening verse above. Jesus called out the Pharisees for the exact same thing. This led to their hatred of him, and His eventual crucifixion.

Here is another example: A friend came up to me and said. “Bob you are a Christian, right?” Yes I answered, why do you ask?
“Well we have been visiting with some elders of the Mormon Church on Wednesday nights at our home and we are considering joining. What do you think?” I replied with confidence; “although they are most likely good and sincere people ... the Mormon religion is not a Christian religion."

Put off … she said, “why would you say that, who are you to judge them?” I will give you more specifics tomorrow, if you like I replied; but the fact is that Christianity is a monotheistic belief system (with only one god) and Mormonism is a polytheistic religion (that believes in many gods.) Like oil and water, the two beliefs are totally opposite and not compatible. Both could be false, but both cannot be true.

The following day I gave her a tape and a personal challenge to the Mormon elders. My friend was surprised by the claims on the tape and decided to ask the Mormons to listen and give answers to the questions raised. The elders said they were not allowed by the church to listen. They refused and left the house … never to return again. My friend later told me she was not interested in a religion where you are not allowed to ask questions.

I could go on and on with examples of religions and their teachings that come between sincere seekers, and Jesus their Messiah, but I will close with what I believe is possibly the most deceptive of all.

Churches that teach we achieve eternal life by being a good person and following the perfect example of Jesus Christ. What could possibly be wrong with that you might ask? The scriptures teach otherwise. This idea will possibly lead to better people; but not eternally redeemed people.

Atheists may well decide to be good citizens and care for others more than themselves; but this does not make them a Christian.

See the words: “through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;” For “all who believe” means “all who believe” … nothing more and nothing less for those who desire to receive redemption.

Recently, a friend said to me; “I only follow the love teachings of Jesus” Many religions teach a variation of this idea. What could be wrong here? Only that the person or religion making that decision is the one who is deciding his own belief system, and therefore disregarding the clear teachings of Jesus. The redeemer has made the only path to His eternal redemption quite clear.

So what is God saying here … that doing good deeds and being a good person counts for nothing? No, not at all. But good deeds do not count in regards to forgiveness and eternal salvation. We are told that we will receive rewards for our good deeds.

But more importantly we were created in Him to do good deeds and to live the love of Christ every day. It is our duty to not be conformed but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. 

For the redeemed, their redemption is an occurance in the past ... not something they are working towards. These good deeds and our spiritual service of worship begins the day of our redemption, not before.

There is a difference between receiving eternal redemption through faith in Jesus Christ; and living the Christian life once we have His free gift of never-ending redemption.

In closing, what’s wrong with religions? Like the Pharisees, often religions created by men, their teachings, and human logic “shut off the kingdom of heaven from the people” and lead the faithful away from the promised eternal redemption that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.

God Bless you my friends, Bob