12 Deceptions Christians Are Succumbing To

Each of us is deceivable and have fallen for lies of one kind or other, whether we were conned out of money, wooed and trusted sweet nothings, suckered by political rhetoric, etc. The trail of deception is littered with broken hearts, shattered dreams, oppression, vice, and emptied wallets and bank accounts. Deception is never innocent, and it always leaves behind tears, pain, and sometimes even death.

The Bible repeatedly warns persons against various deceptions. The proud and arrogant declare God simply wants to withhold freedom from us (God could easily bind us and cast us into hell if He wanted to, we are no threat to Him whatsoever), but God gives us boundaries and warnings for our protection. To dismiss these can result in dire consequences. Much like the accounts we hear of occasionally about those ignoring the posted signs at the Grand Canyon or on beaches. 

God has posted numerous signs warning us of danger. Sadly, many who profess to be Christians dismiss these signs, thinking their wisdom and goodness is somehow superior to God’s. My friend, this is an impossibly on both accounts. But let each of us be warned, to dismiss these can have severe ramifications. 

  1. Claiming to have no sin. One can become very susceptible to this deception when either he thinks a sin he is committing is not sin or if he thinks he is so spiritual that he thinks he is so severed with his sinful nature he is now above being tempted with sin. Note, the sinful nature (Gk. sarx) is not redeemed and it will neverstop loving and craving sin. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We must also beware of this deception when dealing with the sins of others. As one points out the specks in another’s eye, the log in one’s own eye must not be ignored (Matt. 7:1-5). The goal of confrontation is always to be for repentance and reconciliation, not for shaming and condemning.
  2. Being hearers of the Word but not doers. This is the grave danger of nominal Christians especially. We are told, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). God is not simply interested in church attendance, religious activities, or “good deeds.” He desires obedience from a pure heart. God spoke through Samuel to King Saul, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord?Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry” (1 Sam. 15:22-23). Think of it this way, a boss or a parent is not pleased when an employee or child simply hears instructions, but when the instructions are carried out and fulfilled.
  3. Empty words. Today, as in the days of the apostles, false teachers infiltrated churches promoting such things as vulgarity, immorality, and covetousness (greed). These dismiss the warnings of judgment and hell as they continue to speak empty words of flattery and desensitization. Paul writes, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience…. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible” (Eph. 5:5-6, 11-13).
  4. Thinking the unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God. This deception runs rampant solely because of teachings of cheap grace apart from the necessity of repentance, and sin being minimized, trivialized, or denied. Nevertheless, Paul sternly warns, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Certainly such sins can be forgiven of, and persons might still feel stirrings of temptation. However, to indulge in such practices as though God is indifferent, or even condoning, is a great deception, indeed. Such persons will not inherit the kingdom of God, nor are they citizens thereof.
  5. Thinking bad company doesn’t corrupt good morals. One of the unpleasant principles in this fallen world is that it is easier to pollute than to purify, to defile than to sanctify. It is unwise to think one can continuously keep company with persons who are immoral, vulgar, and the like and not be affected. We are warned, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Cor. 15:33). This doesn’t mean we are to cut ties with everyone who doesn’t believe, but it does mean we need to beware of our own vulnerabilities. If one desires to grow in Christ, wisdom, and purity, he must keep company with Christ, His Word, and His people. 
  6. Having one’s thoughts led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. The church today is just as susceptible to the cunning of deceitful liars promoting false Christs and false gospels. Paul writes, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Cor. 11:3-4). Many today are being led astray from a pure and sincere devotion to Christ for “health and wealth,” warm fuzzies, a false gospel demanding no cost or repentance.
  7. Thinking one is something when he is nothing. In context, this is more than just mere pride, but the thinking one is above showing gentleness and understanding towards one who has fallen in a transgression, thinking himself to be above succumbing to such temptation. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load” (Gal. 6:1-5). Each of us is in desperate need of grace, and none of us is above temptation or giving into it. One deceives himself to think he is somehow superior to  another who has fallen, be it another believer or otherwise. Each of us has fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Even among the righteous, there’s not one who never sins (Ecc. 7:20).
  8. Philosophy and empty deceit. A godless world and its philosophies/ideologies will always conflict and seek to undermine the teachings of the Scriptures. We can see this clearly in Darwinism, Marxism, Planned Parenthood, etc. Paul warns, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). The world and the kingdom of God—and the teachings of both—are like oil and water. Many attempt to make these compatible (but they are not) and wind up having their faith shipwrecked in the end. We must guard our hearts from any and all teachings which would draw us away from the truth of Christ and the Scriptures.
  9. Thinking sin doesn’t have repercussions. Moses warned the people of his day, and this warning echoes through the corridor of time to us, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). This warning is not empty. All sin has consequences and is injurious. One might feel its negative effects immediately or years later, but let us be sure that our sins will eventually find us out. In the New Testament, we are further warned, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:7-9). If one sows to his flesh (i.e., for his own selfish pleasures), he will eventually reap a harvest of corruption and death. It is the one who sows to the Spirit who reaps eternal life. God is not mocked, persons will reap what they sow. The seeds of sin being forth poisonous fruit, regardless how sweet and pleasant the taste might be, and poison is always harmful, if not fatal.
  10. Doubting God’s good character and motives. There are many mysteries which escape our understanding. For example, why were we born in our particular time, place, and circumstances? Some are born surrounded with love and security, while others are born in the midst of turmoil and hostility. Still, in a fallen world not everything is as it seems. Affluence often hinders persons from true blessings. Pain and heartache can develop character and compassion. Regardless, each of us grow in different circumstances in which we must make choices. Yet we are told, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27-28). Still, our environments present various temptations and vices. One can travel a dark, dangerous path if he begins blaming God for his temptations and failures, for this brings into question God’s benevolence. But we are told, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:13-17). When one begins to question God’s goodness, such a person falls for the same lie that led to the Fall.
  11. Thinking one is religious but not bridling his tongue. Here, “religious” is used in a positive sense, such as devoted, pious, and faithful. James says a lot about the misuse of one’s tongue, and declares that it is a world of evil. With the tongue persons boast, blame God, speak falsehood, and curse people who are made in God’s image. He writes, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:26-27). The great boasts of the tongue, even in the things of faith, are quite deceitful if one’s heart and life are contrary to God’s character and Word.
  12. Thinking one can practice unrighteousness and be of God. One of the grave deceptions of our day is the teaching that, because Jesus died for our sins and we are saved by grace, we can therefore live however we want, believe how we want. But the apostle John writes explicitly, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:5-8). Many who profess to be Christ’s are carrying on the works of the devil, practicing unrighteousness all in the name of Christ. The darkness of this deception is deep, indeed. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20). The apostle Peter says this of those who genuinely belong to Christ, “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. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

Many will dismiss the warnings and continue on in deception, but the further one goes the more entangled he becomes. God gives us warnings for our good but will not force our hand. The signs warn of danger, and those who disregard them do so to their own—and other’s—harm. If you realize you’ve passed a warning sign, stop and turn around (repent). Let the Lord guide you back onto safe paths.

A King and His Kingdom (Part 1)

Imagine a powerful and just king in history, of Babylon, Persia, or England, let’s say (although such kings as we know were not always just, but simply imagine). During His reign he sends out an edict listing certain behaviors and requirements of his citizens. These citizens consist of persons who were either conquered or rescued, but each are treated honorably. Fifteen years or so pass and there is division among the people. Some of the people profess allegiance to the king, but disregard his edict, casting doubt as to whether he issued it. Others, professing allegiance to the king, declare that certain parts of the edict are either outdated or need to be properly deciphered. Still, others professing allegiance to the king refuse to break ties with their old country. They claim to not miss it, but they still keep its flag neatly folded and kept in a drawer.

Some who profess to be citizens and loyalists join the ranks of groups outside the kingdom who are openly opposed to the king. They align themselves with customs and thoughts going directly against the king’s edict. Claiming to be devoted followers of the king, they stand in unison and raise the banners of those who despise the king and who would assassinate him if they could. 

What would have happened to such individuals? Would such a king honor such subjects, throwing for them a feast for their bravery and loyalty? Would he not instead have sent his army for such betrayers, and upon finding them have them executed for treason? If truly a good and just king, would he not have been justified?

The kingdom of God is , indeed, a kingdom. This kingdom has a powerful and just King. The true subjects of this King have been rescued from the tyranny of sin and the devil, and His citizens have been conquered by His love and grace. Although this King is humble in heart, He is true to Himself and will not share His glory with another (Isa. 42:8). This King is fiercely loyal to truth and righteousness. The King is just, and the time will come when He will punish the wicked and all who oppose Him (Matt. 13:36-43).

This King has, indeed, issued an edict. The citizens of His country are not warranted to select and choose according to their tastes and opinions. And the opinions and ideologies of non-citizens aren’t to bend the loyalties of the kingdom’s citizens. The King has laws and standards which are not to be trifled with. 

There are many who profess that He is their Lord, Savior, and King.

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” ~ Luke 6:36

“If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear?” ~ Mal. 1:6

Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. ~ 1 John 3:8-9

Today, there are many who profess to be citizens of the kingdom, claiming to be loyal to the King, yet they either cast doubt on the King’s edict or else disregard parts they disagree with or find distasteful to them. Many join the ranks of groups and align themselves with movements that are antithetical—even hostile to the kingdom. Although such persons profess loyalty to the King, they see no contradiction in raising rainbow flags beside the banners of the King. They see no distinction between the foundation of Black Lives Matter or Critical Race Theory with the Gospel, when there is an irreconcilable gap, indeed. One cannot be loyal to Black Lives Matter and to the Kingdom of Christ. The two are antithetical. To disregard BLM does not make one racist, but to reject a godless, Marxist ideology. One cannot be loyal to CRT and to the Gospel of Christ, for these stand in opposition to the other. CRT simply redirects racism, continuing to devalue persons based on color. The Gospel recognizes all people, regardless of color, as sinful persons although made in the image of God. The Gospel offers redemption to all people. CRT continues to divide person groups, putting value on some more than others.

There are some who profess to be of the kingdom, but they critique and scorn the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ, even penning it as “divine child abuse,” but this doctrine is the very heart of the Gospel and Christianity. For if Christ did not die in our stead, substituting His life for our, bearing the wrath for our sins, then why did He die? Why would we need a Savior at all! 

There are others who defy the King’s edict of purity, urging others to cast off any and all sexual restraints. Such persons, although supposedly proclaiming “grace,” they seek to shatter into pieces the true meaning of grace. Jude says of them, “Ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (v. 4). Biblical grace is not license to do whatever we want, fulfilling our base lusts; rather, it teaches and helps is learn self-control and lifestyles that are honoring and pleasing to the King. Yet these supposed citizens of the kingdom betray the King by joining the rebellion of the kings of the earth, who speak of the Lord and His anointed (the Son), saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us” (Ps. 2:3).

The Giver of Life who commands to let the children come to Him, for the kingdom belongs to such as these—what treachery that some see no problem with the ruthless mutilating of children unborn or leaving one who is born to starve alone in a corner.

Still, there is a would-be king of many. Although lifeless and powerless, yet like a hex—an enchantment—gaining control over them, many trade their hearts and devotion to it. Claiming to be citizens of the kingdom, they serve another. But Jesus says,

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” ~ Matt. 6:24

And Paul wrote of some, 

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. ~ 1 Tim. 6:9-10

Such persons profess allegiance to the King, but like the rich young ruler, they would soon rather part with the King than the wealth they obtained and the little empires they built.

Oh yes, and all this which has been written is true of those who see a president, whether Republican or Democrat, as a savior of a people. 

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. ~ Isa. 43:11

There, indeed, is a King and He has a kingdom. He is a King of truth and righteousness, and He will not compromise these for the sake of peaceful existence. He will not make treaties with the wicked and He will not shake hands with the treacherous. He knows who His true  subjects are, and He knows the hearts of those who hate Him.

No doubt, at the name of Jesus every knee will now and every tongue will confess that He is Lord, but not all will partake of His kingdom. He will separate the wicked from the righteous, the lost from the redeemed. Those who are not truly His subjects will be cast out into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

One is not a citizen of the kingdom just because he says he is. Someone will argue, stating the issue of grace. Yet Paul, the champion of the doctrine of grace, writes,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. ~ Tit. 2:11-14

Elsewhere he writes,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ~ 1 Cor. 6:9-10

If we profess that Jesus is our King and we are citizens of the kingdom, where is our loyalty. If He is our King, is our loyalty divided? If He is our King, can we truly slice apart His edict, keeping only what appeals to us. What does it mean to call Him King? Are our lives filled with treason? If so, let us return to Him with single-mindedness, and repent of our treacherous double-mindedness.

All hail the King!

Be Careful Little Eyes and Ears

Perhaps you’re familiar with the children’s rhyme, “O be careful little eyes what you see.” The second verse says, “O be careful little ears what you hear.” We might consider these nice words for a children’s song, but these are profound wisdom for adults. As Christians, we live in a culture immersed in godlessness. Music, movies, and literature glorify immorality, vice, violence, and sacrilege. Politicians use lying and deception for their advantages in power and wealth, and because of smoke and mirrors—and some blackmail—many get away with all sorts of crimes and sordid behaviors behind the scenes. Educational institutions vigorously promote secular humanism, where everything is permissible and/or rationalized—except for Jesus Christ and the truth.

For the person who truly desires to draw near to God and grow in his relationship to Christ, “be careful little eyes [and ears]” takes on deeper significance. What we choose to allow our eyes to see, ears to hear, and minds to entertain will affect our hearts and behaviors in one way or another. The Scriptures have much to say about these.

Jesus knows how visual men are and how prone we are to entertain lustful glances and thoughts. So serious is this matter, He says, “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” (Matt. 5:28-29). Although He speaks hyperbolically, He is stressing to men, “Be careful little eyes what you see. Do what you must to protect yourself from what enters.”

The apostle Paul says we are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). This responsibility is made more difficult if one takes into his eyes, ears, and mind those things which are sinful and anti-Christ in nature. 

Elsewhere Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). In another letter he warns, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy [i.e., ideologies and shifting human reasoning] and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits [or principles]of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).

Consider what you are allowing your  little eyes to see and little ears to hear. What affect are they having on your thoughts, and what’s funneling down to your heart? Are the things you’re allowing your eyes to see and ears to hear drawing you closer to Christ or pulling you away? Are you allowing pictures and videos to arouse insatiable desires within you? What about the music you listen to? Is it feeding sensual desires or emotions of anger or despair? What about the teachings you’re listening to and the literature you’re reading. Are they amplifying the Spirit’s promptings or muffling His convictions? 

“O be careful little eyes what you see.” Are these just words for children? No, but these are words inviting us to partake of the wellsprings of life. But do we have the ears to hear and the eyes to see?

When Temptation Comes Our Way

Let’s face it, each of us experiences temptation, and each of us has succumbed to it from time to time. This comes with being sinful humans in a fallen world. However, in Christ we can experience victories over temptation, and we don’t have to be defined by our sins and failures. The following list contains several things to consider when temptation comes our way.

  1. Temptation is not sin. Sometimes persons will beat themselves up for feeling tempted to do something wrong and immoral, but temptation is not sin. Temptation is merely an attempt to seduce and get us to sin. The writer of Hebrews says of Jesus, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). There is a great distinction between being tempted to sin and yielding to sin.
  2. Temptation promises more than it can deliver. Temptation always offers big promises to bring fulfillment, but it never follows through. This is not to say there is never an immediate pleasure, but it’s only temporary. When it comes to sin, one will always pay more than what the pleasure is worth. Ultimately, when it comes time to pay, the pain and regret will always surpass the amount of pleasure. Moses understood this. We read of him, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25)
  3. The breeding ground for sin is the entertaining of temptation. As mentioned, temptation is not sin. However, to dwell on and entertain the temptation can certainly lead to sin. One needs to squelch temptation early on. If not, the temptation will increase in strength and eventually lead a person into sin. James writes, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (1:14-15). In other words, the temptation caters to a person’s desire. As the person continues to entertain the desire it only becomes stronger until he no longer resists. The result is lethal in various ways.
  4. The inner battle is real. The inner struggle with temptation and sin is real. Even the great apostle Paul writes, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15). We are bombarded with various kinds of temptations to disregard God and His Word in order to do our own thing and to fulfill our desires in illegitimate ways. Elsewhere, Paul writes, “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” (Gal. 5:17). The purpose of temptation, as seen in Genesis 3:1-5, is to get us to doubt God’s Word and His goodness, and to seek to find fulfillment apart from Him.
  5. Resist, flee, and submit to God. The Bible refers to Satan as the tempter. Satan plants seeds of temptation in our minds, but he also uses ungodly people to tempt. I’m either case, we are to resist temptation, in some cases we are to flee from it. In all of this, these are to be done in yielding ourselves to God. James writes, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you’” (4:7-8). Paul tells the Corinthians, “Flee from sexual immorality,” and “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 6:18; 10:14). To Timothy, the apostle writes, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
  6. Take sin and temptation seriously. Sin is applauded, condoned, and trivialized by the world and in some churches. However, sin’s devastating effects are far reaching, and its impaling goes deep. Jesus teaches our dealing with our temptations and sins must be severe. “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” (Matt. 5:29-30). Jesus also gives strong warning to those who lead others to sin: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matt. 18:6-7). In Genesis, God warned Cain, “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (4:7).
  7. If you sin—confess and repent. The apostle John is honest about the reality of sin in our lives. He writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). He goes on to urge us to not sin, but notes that the true follower of Christ has hope through Him. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins” (2:1-2). Jesus bore the wrath of the Holy Father against our sin on the cross, satisfying His holy and just righteousness. This does not give license to sin, but should help us understand the severity of sin.
  8. Sin has consequences. “I’ll sin now and just confess later.” “There is security for the believer.” How many Christians have said things like these to talk themselves into sinning? These statements are true, but even for the forgiven saint sin has unpleasant and painful consequences. King David, a “man after God’s own heart” is a prime example. By all rights, and by Old Testament law, David should have been killed for his adultery and murder. Yet, he was honest and repentant of his sins, and the Lord forgave him. Still, the Lord allowed David’s reputation to be tarnished and his once peaceful kingdom to be filled with unrest and revolt—even by his own son. David was forgiven, but there was a limp and deep pain in his heart he bore for the rest of his life. It isn’t for no reason Paul warns us, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Jesus gives dire warnings to those who refuse to turn from sin and come to Him for salvation. “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3). Revelation tells the fate of all those who choose to love unrighteousness and ungodliness, and who refuse to repent of sin and turn to Jesus in faith. “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (21:8). Jesus describes the second death as a place of darkness, fire, and of weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:41). To reject Christ is to reject the very Source of life, light, joy, peace, holiness, justice, equity, and love. Eternal separation from Him is the tragic consequence of rejecting and renouncing Christ.

Hopefully the church in America will recapture the understanding of the seriousness of sin, and that each of us will see more clearly all that is at stake when temptation comes our way. An ounce of pleasure isn’t worth the price of a hundred pounds of pain and regret—or worse.

What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian? So much of what passes in American Christendom is not Christianity, but a hodgepodge of sensationalism, tradition, reconstructionalism, and in some cases, even paganism. Is it not strange that one can practice nearly any lifestyle or hold to nearly any ideology—regardless how antichrist these might be in nature—and still pass as “being Christian?

“Who are you to judge?” I’m asked. “Judge not, lest you be judged,” I’m told. Yet, the One whom they quote is also the One who warns of false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and weeds planted among the wheat. The One they quote is also the One who says we can know them by their fruit (this requires examining and judging between good and bad). And the One they quote is the One who says, Not everyone who calls me, “Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven … but those who do the will of my Father.”

People can throw out the “grace card” all they want, but grace is never extended just so we can continue living in sin and according to our own preferences and desires, just read Romans 6, Titus 2, 1 John, and Jude. No, none of us is perfect—but we are to grow in sanctification.

So, what does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to say Jesus is One’s Savior (He came to save us from our sins, not to continue in them). What does it mean to say He’s Lord? Does it mean we have an option to live however we want, when He tells us to take up our cross and follow Him? Does it mean we have a choice in what we will obey and what not? What does it mean to say, “I love Jesus”? When He says that the one who loves Him will keep His commands, but the one who does not love Him will not keep His commands.

A Pastoral Note

My blogs are not always well received by some. There are those who think I’m harsh, judgmental, and who accuse me of thinking I’m better than others. But I write with a purpose. See, I have not always been a Christian. When I was younger, I was far from God. Entrenched in death metal music, addicted to my immoral lusts, filled with anger and cynicism, while void of compassion. Life, for me, was completely meaningless and joyless. Then one night, after some amazing divinely arranged events, God drew me to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, letting me know He loved me—despite myself. He delivered me from the realm of darkness I dwelled in. I love Him for all this. No, I’m not perfect, and I’m not better than anyone. And I live with a lot of heartache and regrets.

Yes, I’m still tempted by sin, and I still struggle with my sinful nature, but I don’t want to go back to where I was—or who I was. I desire to know Christ, even if it means for Him to hurt my feelings by a rebuke or conviction.

Over the years a lot of water has passed under the bridge. So much of what is going on in churches and denominations are not truly to the glory of God and His Son Jesus Christ. So many are dismissing what the Bible says, pursuing their own agendas, and holding to ideologies and living lifestyles that our contrary to the very character of God.

Although the New Testament clearly teaches the life-transforming and moral aspects of the Gospel (see Jude 4; Titus 2:11-12), so many don’t want to hear it. The New Testament repeatedly warns of false teachers who will lead people astray—and this will grow worse as Jesus’ return draws closer, no one wants to hear this. It’s considered “judgmental.” 

Paul warns the time will come when people will no longer put up with sound doctrine:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Friends, the Bible is either true or it isn’t. Truth does not “evolve” nor is it “relative.” To dismiss the Scriptures is to jettison Christianity altogether, and to simply construct a religion of one’s own making.

Persons can accuse me of being harsh, judgmental, even hypocritical, but none of this makes the warnings of the Scriptures less valid or less true. I might remain unpopular, even unliked by many, but the Bible’s warnings are still sounding out. What people’s opinions of me is irrelevant. However, what each person does with the warnings is extremely relevant.

Our Passover and Shelter from the Storm

Have you ever had a severe storm come your direction? Your heart beat wildly as the weather reports displayed your area being right in line of the storm, but nothing happened. The storm seemed to simply pass over you while the news reported neighboring towns having a lot of damage.

In Exodus, we read of a coming storm, of sorts, coming toward Egypt. The Lord was bringing judgment and was going to kill the firstborn of every household. However, He instructed every household of His people to take a lamb, to slay it, put its blood over the door posts, then roast the meat to feed on. God’s judgment would pass over every household that followed His instructions.

This Passover was not only about judgment, but it was also about deliverance. The Lord was not only bringing affliction to the Egyptians but also a great rescue mission of His people from their slavery and captors.

Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it…. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. ~ Exodus 12:7-8, 12-13

Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb for His people. And just as the people of old were to get rid of all leaven in their homes in preparation, so too, we are told to get rid of the leaven of sin in our lives and homes.

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7

We were once in bondage, slaves to sin. God’s judgment was coming our way, but Christ our Passover was also the firstborn Son who was inflicted with the death which was rightfully ours. 

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. ~ Romans 6:15-18

The storm of God’s wrath against our sin was coming like a freight train, but God’s Lamb was sacrificed and the Firstborn incurred our punishment. His blood is sprinkled over the door posts of our hearts and conscience, and God’s wrath has passed over us.

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. ~ 1 Peter 1:1-2

The Bible tells us a storm is brewing once again, and the time is coming when God’s wrath is going to be unleashed again with fury against men’s sins and obstinate rebellion and unbelief (see Rev. 6-18). Yet, Jesus remains the Passover and Shelter for all who put their trust in Him.

Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. ~ Psalm 25:3

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you . ~ Psalm 91:1-3 

My hope and prayer for you, my friend, is that you know Jesus Christ as your Passover and Shelter. Only through Him is there safety and shelter from the holy wrath of God poured out because of sin. May you not get caught and swept away by the storm.

*Listen to this weekend’s podcast, “All Hail the King!”:


https://anchor.fm/geno-pyse/episodes/All-Hail-the-King-e144di7

Nothing Greater

People throughout the centuries have desired, plotted, envied, coveted, blackmailed, killed, warred, and sold their souls for the fleeting pleasures, riches, and empty praises of others. What a tragedy that many eagerly sacrifice everything for a mere “piece of the pie,” like Esau, trading blessings, honor, and inheritance for a mere bowl of soup.

If we are not careful, we can become so preoccupied with pursuing our dreams, accumulating money, desiring to be attractive, popular, or powerful that we neglect what truly matters.

Jesus warns,

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? ~ Matthew 16:26

The glory of kings fade into oblivion.  The wealth and prestige of the elite and powerful comes to an end eventually. Vain beauty and strength of youth eventually evaporate with time. And the applause of people, who can be so very fickle, eventually ceases. Nothing in and of this world is permanent, and none of these compares to the excellency of knowing Jesus Christ. 

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. ~ Philippians 3:7-9

My friends, today do you recognize the incredible privilege and excellency of knowing, and growing in the knowledge of, Christ?  Or do you simply take it for granted—or worse, don’t recognize it at all?

Caedmon’s Call said it so well in one of their songs:

“This world has nothing for me, and this world has everything/All that I could want and nothing that I need” ~ from the song, This World

Jesus Christ does not come to fulfill our carnal, selfish, and destructive appetites; yet, He gives what the world cannot give: peace, contentment, agape love, and salvation. Still, even aside from these, nothing can compare to His beauty, splendor, and majesty. 

The psalmist writes,

For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. ~ Psalm 84:10

Friends, what is important to you, today? What is capturing your attention? Whatever it is, there is nothing greater or comparable to that of the knowledge of Christ and beholding His glory. Don’t trade the eternal for the temporal. Don’t surrender what is truly glorious for that which is merely sparkly. Don’t let anything contend with the surpassing worth of knowing Christ.

Listen to this week’s podcast:

https://anchor.fm/geno-pyse/episodes/Nothing-Greater-e140i30

Is God’s Love “Unconditional”?

Hello friends, and dear brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope this finds you well today.

I ask you to think about an important question, because the way you perceive the answer will have major consequences. Is God’s love unconditional? I would venture to say most people would answer this question with a resounding “Yes!”—but is this answer correct? Does God love the wicked and the righteous equally and unconditionally? We hear in so many churches, “Come, God loves you as you are.” But is this true?

Jesus says, 

For God so loved [agape] the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

The love of God is certainly unmerited and undeserved, but is it unconditional? Again, is it true that He loves us as we are? Consider the following passages:

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. ~ Psalm 11:5-6

Every evil of theirs is in Gilgal; there I began to hate them. Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of my house. I will love them no more; all their princes are rebels. ~ Hosea 9:15

And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. ~ Luke 13:2-3

No, God does not love us unconditionally, and no, He does not love us just as we are. God hates our selfishness, greed, and immoralities; He hates our slander, hypocrisies, and lying; He hates our refusal to forgive, violence, and mean-spiritedness; and He hates our idolatries, corruption, and ulterior motives.

Throughout the world and in so many churches—both liberal and conservative, mind you—we’re patting ourselves on the back, all the while ignoring the grotesque sins we harbor in our hearts, and come floating to the surface in many of our words and actions. God does not love us “as we are”; no, He calls us to repent!

Lest someone says that what I am saying conflicts with the doctrine of grace, the apostle Paul teaches us:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. ~ Titus 2:11-13

No, God does not love us as we are. He calls us to confess and repent of all known sin. His desire for His people, those who are truly born again, to be conformed to the image of His Son.

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. ~ Romans 8:29

We can see so much around us, in every denomination, what Dietrich Bonhoeffer described as “cheap grace.” Many talk about God’s love and grace, even though they’re not being trained or changed by it. Many talk about Jesus being their Savior, but the question must be asked, from what has He saved them from? For Jesus came to save His people from their sin (and their bondage to it), not simply to save us from hell.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. ~ Matthew 1:21

Understand, God’s love and grace abounds exceedingly for those who come to Christ in faith. Indeed, He is so ever tender and compassionate, and understands our weaknesses. However, for those who want to indulge in their lusts and passions while professing an empty faith, such individuals do not understand God’s love or grace. Oh sure, they might go to church, but they are building their house on sand without a foundation.

What Is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel? Not simply in definition, but in practically? Put in another way, what does it mean to say, “I’m a Christian?” So much that is called “Christian” is not Christian at all. 

Going to church does not make one a Christian any more than stepping into a garage makes one a car. Neither does simply saying a prayer and holding to a confession of faith. Rather, is one born again by the Spirit of God? Is he yielding his life to the Holy Spirit, and is he becoming more like Jesus? Is one’s character being developed in holiness, love, and purity?

The significance of the Gospel is only recognized by those who realize they are deeply and grossly affected by sin. Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but by His resurrected life He seeks to change us.

My friend, how well do you understand the Gospel?

*For a deeper discussion on the matter, please visit my podcast, The PROCLAMATION!, episode: “What Is the Gospel.

https://anchor.fm/geno-pyse/episodes/What-Is-the-Gospel-e13an5i?fbclid=IwAR0_xClhVTR4P9GfzucuxU2q7qabTFJqxezkRyt9BKbHpIeVp8tz0WsgiN4