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 Others, professing allegiance to the king, declare that certain parts of the edict are either outdated or need to be properly deciphered.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!

6 Warnings of Living in the Last Days

The Bible warns of a time of growing confusion and tribulation, as a chapter in human history comes to a close. Like a great novel or movie, evil will intensify and seem to have the victory; however, the final chapter will reveal that good will prevail. Nevertheless, the devastation (considered by the wicked mere collateral damage) evil will leave in its wake is, and shall be, real and horrible.

The Bible gives warning to believers to not be taken by surprise or swept away by the foretold events of the last days. We are exhorted to be alert, and given instructions to watch for certain happenings. While we don’t know the time of the Lord’s eventual return, we do know we are in the last hour (1 John 2:18). We are drawing ever closer to the hour when all hell will break loose throughput the world. As we consider the following things the Scriptures tell us to watch for, we might be closer to the hour than we realize.

  1. A world of mounting turmoil, lawlessness,and confusion. Jesus says to watch for a time when there are wars and rumors of war, famines, and various earthquakes—but these are only the beginning. John MacArthur notes that these “have always characterized life in a fallen world … Jesus indicated that things will get notably and remarkably worse at the end of the era.” [1] Persecution of Christians will increase to a global scale. Presently, around the world there is a growing hostility toward Christianity on all fronts, and many are abandoning the faith even within churches. Of natural consequence, since people’s hearts bend toward sin, false prophets arise to speak what people want to hear and people increasingly throw off restraints. Hollywood has always been a haven for sensuality of all kinds, but many politicians are nothing less than criminals, guilty of extortion, blackmail, prostitution/human trafficking, and all sorts of deception. Around the world we are seeing evil applauded as good and good condemned as evil. It is not surprising that love will grow cold where hearts cannot be warmed by genuine love’s flames.
  2. Perilous times. The apostle Paul, being guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” (2 Tim. 3:1-5). Is this not descriptive of much of what we are seeing today? Can we deny the three great loves of the day is self, money, and pleasure? We see much arrogance and abusive speech, the resistance of any kind of authority. Even the natural affection of a mother for her child is cast off as persons literally celebrate after having abortions. Many persons of the cloth, having the pretense of servants of God, are nothing more than wolves gratifying themselves. Genuine Christians must beware of this and not turn a blind eye.
  3. Itching ears. Paul later writes, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound[a] 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 Tim. 4:3-4). The apostle urges pastors to preach the truth of God’s Word, although the time will come when people will refuse to listen to it. Many will continue to be “religious,” but they will find preachers who will condone their sinful behaviors and won’t offend them with sermons on the Cross, Christ’s exclusivity, God’s offense against sin, and the like. It is no exaggeration to say many seminaries are nothing more than breeding grounds for snakes and many churches are nothing more than a refuge for the vile, where the Lord and Christ of the Bible is not truly welcomed.
  4. The falling away. Paul, again guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed” (2 Thes. 2:3). Before the Antichrist comes onto the scene, there must be a preparation for his coming, a conditioning before people are willing to accept such evil incarnate. There are many today who unashamedly renounce Christianity. The last couple of years this has become in vogue.
  5. Scoffers. The apostle Peter, also guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). There was a time when theology was considered the loftiest of the sciences. Today, universities have become hostile towards true theology. Many scoff with such disdainful arrogance. William MacDonald notes that Christians “should not be bowled over by the arrogant and blasphemous denials of these men. Rather they should see in them a definite indication that the end of the age is nearing.” [2] Often it seems the most aggressive against Christianity are wicked men in defiance of God and the Christians’ warnings of hell. MacDonald writes, “What they really say is this: “You Christians have been threatening us with warnings about a terrible judgment upon the world. You tell us that God is going to intervene in history, punish the wicked, and destroy the earth. It’s all a pack of nonsense. We have nothing to fear. We can live as we please.” [3] An irony is many godless individuals who are adamant about there being no God—thus, no moral Law Giver—are ones who talk about evil in the world. Strangely, many of whom are indulgent in their own passions, be it in sexuality or cruelty. We witness much condescending scoffing in our day.
  6. Antichrist spirit. John, another apostle guided by the Holy Spirit, writes, “it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:18-19). John wrote this approximately two thousand years ago. If it was the last hour then, how much more now? There is an antichrist spirit that has taken hold of politics, education, ideologies, and entertainment all around the world. There is a growing acceptance of the most despicable behaviors, yet a louder outcry against the sacred and holy. This is no less true within modern Christendom. Every major mainline Christian denomination has been severed by those with itching ears wanting sins and ungodly behaviors to be condoned and treated on par with what is sacred. Let true believers stand true to the Scriptures which are “God-breathed.” John writes that we are in the last hour. Even today, many have gone “out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” 

The Scriptures are given to us for a reason. They’re not meant to confuse us but to guide us, as well as to help us discern between what is false and what is true. But the only way the Scriptures will benefit us is if we are first willing to yield to its authority. If not, then we greatly risk being swept away by the deception and wickedness of the last days.

[1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1172.

[2] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, 2nd ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2016), 2399.

[3] Ibid., 2400.


For further reading:

10 Major Teachings of Christ Being Ignored in Many Churches

  1. The absolute truth of God’s Word. It has become all too common for seminary professors, preachers, and authors to question the validity of the Scriptures, therefore causing others to question the trustworthiness of God’s Word. The Scriptures of Jesus’ day (the Old Testament) were copies of copies, yet He completely trusted God’s sovereignty over the giving and preserving of His Word. Jesus taught the accounts of Adam, Eve, Moses, and Jonah as historical facts (Matt. 19:3-5; 12:39; 8:4). Furthermore, Jesus  declared the solidarity and authority of the Scriptures when He says, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18), and He teaches that all the Scriptures point to Him (John 5:39). And when praying over His disciples just prior to His passion, He says to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus also states His words are equal in authority as the Scriptures (Matt. 7:24; 24:35). For a person to cast doubt on the integrity of the Scriptures is to trust one’s own opinion above that of Jesus’.
  2. Repentance. The exclusion of this teaching can be subtle but the effects are not. All too often the Gospel is presented as simply turning to Jesus and believing on Him, but nothing more. However, to not teach on the necessity of repentance is to not preach the whole Gospel or Christ’s teachings in their entirety. Many churches so stress Jesus’ teachings on love, but to neglect repentance is to neglect the true aspects of  love. Sin, whatever kind, is rebellion against God and is harmful to ourselves and others. Jesus’ first instructions for people when He began His earthly ministry is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Twice in Luke 13 He stresses that unless people repent they will perish (13:3, 5). Some will say, “We are not saved by works,” but repentance is not a work. It is, in part, what it means to walk with love, and to abide in Christ (John 18-24; 1 John 3:4-10). Churches do not benefit others by neglecting this vital doctrine. In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable of the great wedding feast. In it He tells of a fellow who did not come to the feast prepared but was inappropriately dressed. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen” (22:11-14). The point is we are to repent and come into the King’s presence appropriately.
  3. Self-denial. Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly notes, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Oswald Chambers notes, “The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, with His rest at the heart of my being. He says, ‘If you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself to Me.’” Such teachings are not popular in American Christendom, as many pulpits are nothing more than pep rallies on how to better one’s self and not on how to become a better disciple and servant. Yet, while many are striving to become well-known leaders for Christ, what is often set aside is Christ’s teaching, “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). Added to this is the desire for vain glory (popularity, big church buildings, etc.), Jesus says, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Much of the church in America has adopted a consumer mentality focused on one’s own preferences, needs, and amusement. Consumerism is never about self-denial.
  4. Salvation exclusively in and through Him. Pluralism, ecumenism, and even universalism have infected many churches. Each of these ideologies blatantly go against what Jesus teaches about salvation and the way to Heaven, as well as trivialize the whole purpose for which He died. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns that the path to life is narrow and few will find it, while the path to destruction is wide and broad and many will travel it (Matt. 7:13:14). Many are familiar with His famous words in John 3:16, but He says in verse 18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” He also declares that those who do not believe who He says He is will die in their sins. Yet, He states His exclusivity most explicitly when He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). For persons and churches to claim Jesus is just one way to Heaven is not only to minimize His death on the Cross, but also to call Him a liar.
  5. The kingdom of God. Much of Jesus’ teachings centered around the kingdom of God/Heaven. Jesus began His ministry with the command, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).  The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is instructive of what kingdom living looks like, consisting of genuine godliness, purity, honesty, faithfulness, humility, and integrity. Many of Jesus’ parables in Matthew are revelations (i.e., “revealings”) of the secrets of the  kingdom (13:10-11). With complete seriousness He says, “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (13:12-13). In other words, those who receive and obey the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures will receive more understanding from the Holy Spirit, but those who trivialize Jesus’ teachings and the Scriptures, or who treat them as a smorgasbord of one’s own choosing, will simply be carried away by their own delusions. Although the kingdom is worth giving up everything for (Matt. 13:45-46), the kingdom has enemies, including ones who infiltrate the gatherings of God’s people here on earth (Matt. 13:37-43). It is vital to have an understanding of there being two very distinct kingdoms in opposition, and there is no middle ground or walking the fence. 
  6. False teachers. Although Jesus (as well as the New Testament writers) repeatedly warn of false teachers and false believers, such warnings are rarely proclaimed from many pulpits today, lest one appears judgmental or anyone is offended. Yet, Jesus instructs plainly, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15-16). He warns of the increase of false teachers who will lead many astray, even performing wonders (Matt. 24:11. 24). In one of His parables, Jesus warns that the evil one will plant false believers among true believers to spread destructive teachings (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). Elsewhere, Jesus warns against having the appearance of being a person of God, but inwardly having a godless and corrupt heart (Matt. 23:1-36). A passage that should terrify each of us is when Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21-23).
  7. Separation of the wicked and righteous. The old negro spiritual correctly says, “Everybody talking’ bout heaven ain’t a goin’ there.” There are many persons who attend church and do nice things but who are going to be separated from the righteous and redeemed. Jesus is not silent about the last day when there will be the separation of the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the evil from the righteous (Matt. 13:24-30; 25:31-46; 13:47-50). The assumption of many is they will one day be welcomed into Heaven, despite the profanity and unholiness of their hearts and lives.
  8. Divine judgment. Perhaps no other teaching of Jesus today is downplayed than that of divine judgment and eternal damnation. “Jesus teaches us to love,” people say, as though love disregards offenses and justice. Indeed, Jesus offers every person grace and life through Him, but declares that apart from Him persons will be judged. For those who refuse to listen to the message He gave His disciples to proclaim, He says, “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town” (Matt. 10:15). Later, He warns that at the day of judgment everyone will give account even for every careless word spoken (Matt. 12:36). He warns of eternal torment for those who are not redeemed through Him (Matt. 25:41). He urges people to strive to enter through the narrow door, lest they are cast away to a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:22-28). Jesus is not only the Savior of the redeemed, but He is also the Judge of the condemned (John 5:22-29). Men can choose to deny divine judgment against sin, but Jesus warned repeatedly to repent or be condemned.
  9. Watchfulness. Another greatly neglected teaching of Jesus today is that of being watchful. Being watchful has at least three aspects: being watchful of lifestyle, false teachers and their teachings, and preparedness for Christ’s return. While it is true one is saved by grace through faith and there is security in Christ, these do not nullify or make void Jesus’ teachings. He warns, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35). He says to watch and beware of false teachers (Matt. 7:15; 16:6). These instructions tie into the warning to keep alert and prepared for Him. Jesus sternly warns against following the practices of the world and casting away one’s vigilance. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant,whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 24:45-51). Jesus is not speaking rhetorically, and we would be wise to take heed.
  10. The Holy Spirit. The misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit can—and does—lead many churches awry. Jesus clearly reveals that the Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead (Matt. 28:19), but He reveals much of the character and work of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John. First, the Holy Spirit is a Person who indwells the true followers of Christ, but not those of the world (14:15-17). Jesus refers to Him as the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and Helper (14:17, 26). The Holy Spirit will bear witness about Jesus (15:26). Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” and “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (16:8, 13-14). The work of the Holy Spirit will always be in accordance to the truth. Furthermore, His purposes are to convict people of sin and to draw people to Christ. He does not seek to draw attention to Himself. Churches are in error whenever they focus on the Holy Spirit and treat Him as though He is some circus animal who is to cater to their whims. If people are being carried away from the clear teachings of the Scriptures (truth), if people are not being convicted of their sins, and if Christ is not the focus, then it is highly doubtful any workings persons claim to be happening is truly of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

To dismiss and ignore Christ and His teachings is to no longer have the Christian faith. Many who profess to be Christians, in fact, are not Christians at all. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8-9). In many churches, the prevailing views of culture override the teachings of Christ and the Scriptures. To do so is to declare that the world is Lord and not Christ, and this is to betray Christ who is Lord over His church. And His church consists only of those who are truly redeemed by His shed blood.

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.

Neither to the Left Nor the Right

Hello friends, dear brothers and sisters in Christ.

The modern church is grossly guilty of politicizing Christianity, and labeling is quite deceptive. We hear about “liberal” Christians and “conservative” Christians. Some describe themselves as “moderate” Christians. Such labels are very misleading, because the real issue is whether a person is a biblical Christian; is one’s life marked by biblical holiness, love, and purity—as God prescribes? 

The “liberal” claims to do things in love, but has he disregarded God’s holiness? The conservative says he holds to God’s holiness, but has he set aside God’s love? Often, in both camps, God’s mercy, justice, and righteousness are neglected. Again, the issue is not whether one is liberal or conservative, but is he biblical?

Let’s be clear, God’s ways do not always make sense to us. But we have brains about the size of a softball. The Creator of the heavens and the earth is perfect in wisdom. What He calls right or wrong goes. Our thoughts and feelings on the matter is completely irrelevant.

Friends, we need to return to biblical Christianity. For if what we call Christianity is not biblical, then it is not Christianity at all. “To the teaching and to the testimony!” (Isa. 8:20).

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:7

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” ~ John 14:23-24

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:16-17

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!

When All Speak Well of You

Hello, my friends. It’s a beautiful, sunny day here. I hope you have been having a good week.

There is a peculiar thing that has transpired in our world when it comes to communication. Whether it concerns church, education, or politics people will note if a speaker is funny, offensive, tactful, mean, positive, negative, encouraging, depressing, entertaining, or boring. Often the speaker will be judged on these—but not on whether or not what he says is true

A well-known speaker (some call him a preacher, but he’s actually more of a motivational speaker) always gives light, warm fuzzy messages with humor and charm. Admittedly, he has a likable personality. After all, by his own admission, he doesn’t want to be negative. So, for a half hour or so he gives emotional head pats and belly rubs, but he will not give words the Holy Spirit can use to convict people of their sins so they can get right with God. In fact, he does not give clear instructions by which persons can be made right with God. To do so would be offensive to some, and this is negative.

Another falsely so-called “pastor” is a woman who is not quite as well known. With a foul mouth, she has acknowledged that her ambition is to destroy traditional teachings of purity, claiming its “oppressive” to people’s sexuality (she totally dismisses everything in the New Testament calling people toward purity and temperance). So committed to her cause, she encouraged persons to send her their purity rings (in return, they each received a “Certificate of Impurity”), and these rings were melted and then formed into a vagina sculpture to be presented to the pro-abortion feminist Gloria Steinem. Of course this received applause. She teaches you can have salvation and your sins simultaneously. However, the Bible does not teach this whatsoever. 

Someone recently commented on my last post, saying it was “too negative.” History supports what I wrote, but so many do not care about this. They just want words that make them feel good. But I want to caution men and women who profess to be followers of Christ. The Gospel message has nothing to do with giving people what they want but what they need. Just like going to see the doctor, as much as we want to hear that everything is fine, it would be malpractice to say everything is fine (just to be “positive”) if the truth is our bodies are being destroyed by cancer.

Jesus warns us sternly,

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. ~ Luke 6:26

The majority of the prophets of God were not viewed as heroes of the day. Many of them were despised, persecuted, and sometimes even killed. For just like people today, the people then didn’t like men of God condemning their idolatry, immorality, greed, or injustices. The people didn’t like being taught about God’s holiness or judgment any more than people today. 

We are also warned,

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 and wander off into myths. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

My friends, where do you stand as a speaker or listener. The masses will adore those who can get them to laugh and enjoy their sins and tell them they do not stand guilty before God. What about your listening? Do you dismiss anything that makes you feel uncomfortable? 

Friend, what a tragic thing if all you have in the end is some fleeting laughs and emotional massages, but you reject the Gospel of Christ, the only means of salvation, because you thought it to be too negative. Also tragic is if you gain the approval and applause of people but not of God.

Is Persecution Coming?

Hello, friends. I hope this article finds you well. The subject is an uncomfortable one, but Christians need to stop ignoring it. The threat of persecution is growing, as is hostility towards Christians. Is our faith in, and love for, Christ able to endure?

Jesus says for the final Beatitude,

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. ~ Matthew 5:10-11

It is important to note the distinction Jesus is making. Simply being persecuted does not bring about blessing. Rather, being persecuted for righteousness’ sake and on account of Jesus. It is true, to follow Christ will invite persecution, but so will being a jerk. It is important that we know the difference. If you are disliked at work because you are arrogant and rude, don’t blame such ostracizing on the Christian faith. Such “persecution” has nothing to do with faith. No one likes a jerk.

However, there is a flip side. Several years ago a book was released, entitled, They Like Jesus but Not the Church. This is a catchy title, but it’s simply not true. It is true that many people are turned off by the hypocrisy in churches, but this is merely an excuse for not following Jesus Christ. Jesus never calls people to follow His followers. No, He calls persons to follow after Him.  Using the hypocrisies in the church for an excuse to not follow Christ is an understanding one, just not an honest or acceptable one.

Jesus tells us plainly,

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. ~ John 15:18-19

[The world] hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. ~ 7:7

Following and surrendering to Christ has nothing to do with the church, but everything to do with one’s desire for Christ and His love. Many persons are familiar with John 3:16. However, after this Jesus says,

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. ~ John 3:18-19

Many churches and believers have tried to befriend the world at the expense of godly conviction and true biblical teaching. But when push comes to shove, they will be loyal either to Christ or the world. If Christ, they will be persecuted by the very ones they sought to befriend.

We are told, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). An example that comes to mind is Tim Tebow. Here is a man who conducts himself with class and dignity, one who is very consistent in his Christian walk, and one who does not bad mouth others. Yet, the media loves to slam this man. Why? What wrong has he done? 

Yet, I want to move on to even more serious aspects. There is an ever growing acceptance of Marxist ideas (socialism) in America, both in Washington and academia. What is more astonishing to me, however, is how many who profess the name of Christ are supportive of individuals who hold to such ideas. But mark my words, as Marxist ideas become increasingly rooted, Christians will reap the fruit of intense persecution.  Karl Marx (followed by men such as Nietzsche) was an angry individual who held to a hatred of Christianity (and humanity), and this is made evident wherever socialism/communism rises to power.

At this point, some will accuse Christianity of the same, bringing up the Roman Catholic Church and the Crusades. This must not be ignored, but there also must be understanding. Many of the Popes (including the present one, I dare say, who is in league with those holding Marxist ideas and occultic New Agers in quest for the New World Order, which is anti-Christ at its core) were/are godless men who love and abuse power. In fact, many genuine Christians were tortured and killed under their regimes. As for the Crusaders, many of whom were godless, worthless fellows who delighted in cruelty. These men were not Christians in any sense of the word. 

So, is persecution coming? I believe it is not a matter of if, at this point, but when. Part of this, I believe, revolves around God’s judgment, first of society and its immersion in sin, but also the modern church for its own compliance with and complacency. 

In Romans, chapter 1, Paul discusses three levels of judgment that can come to a people. First, God gives people over to their open and accepted immorality. 

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. ~ Romans 1:24-25

Next comes when God gives people over to practice their desire for homosexuality and other unnatural passions.

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. ~ Romans 1:26-27

Third, God gives people over to their acceptance and approval of sins of all kinds. 

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~ Romans 1:28-32

Are we not seeing this happening in our own society as what is evil is called good, and what is good is mocked and called evil. What will eventually happen, just as it did with the fall of Rome, is Christians will be blamed for the collapse and chaos. We are seeing this even now as some are teaching that Christian ideas, the Bible, and prayer are “dangerous.” Society will use Christians as a scapegoat, denying that it is their own lusts, greed, idolatry, and violence that brought the chaos (Augustine writes about this in his work, The City of God).

I believe the writing is on the wall. If the course we are on does not change, then we are going to face real persecution. Are we ready? Our attendance to cool worship services will not sustain us, but only a genuine faith in Jesus Christ and the filling of His Holy Spirit. As it is, we can continue to play religious games, but if persecution comes then such games are going to stop. Persecution will reveal what we are made of.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. ~ Matthew 5:12