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.

Ichabod—Has the Glory of the Lord Departed from the SBC?

Hello, my friends. I write this with a heavy heart. I grew up attending Southern Baptist churches, my undergrad and graduate studies were at Southern Baptist schools (except my senior year), and I presently attend an SBC church. There was a time, I believe, when this denomination was a beacon of light; however, for the last several years there has been a growing darkness within it. There have been weeds, planted by the evil one, growing to choke out the truth, as ministers of darkness have crept in teaching doctrines that are contrary to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us not dismiss stern warnings in Scripture. Jesus warned,

Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ~ Matthew 13:36-42

Jude warns of an ever present danger:

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. ~ Jude 3-4

Understand, my loyalties are not to the SBC, as much as I care about it. For the SBC is not my Savior or Redeemer. I have an issue with those leaders who are drifting to the left and further away from sound teachings of Scripture. Let’s be clear, the Scriptures are not silent about issues like abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, or even godless philosophies underlying the whole “woke” nonsense (these will be discussed later). But I also have an issue with those drifting to the right who minimize the seriousness of sexual allegations and abuse, as well as racial tension. The Scriptures, likewise, are clear about moral and pure conduct, discipline for the immoral, and the value God places on His people of every ethnicity.

I read articles of so much bias, half-truths, outright lies, slander, arrogance, and deliberate stirring of division. Churches and individuals can pay lip service of doing “all for the glory of God” until the return of Christ, but is Jesus truly honored by any of this? Is He pleased or glorified by people behaving in their flesh and sin? Is He honored by persons casually setting aside His statutes? Indeed, He is a God of grace, but He is just as much a God of truth. We must strive to not separate the two.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17

For example, I read and article in which Beth Moore, as well as the author, accuse the “Trump cult” conservatives of criticizing her for her verbal attacks on Trump (Note: Trump was not who I initially desired to see become president). No, for many of us, our criticism has little to do with that as much as her hypocrisy. In her open condemnation of Trump for sexual allegations, she openly gave full endorsement of Hillary Clinton, whose DNC platform was nothing short of a celebration of death of the unborn. Not only that, Clinton’s position on nearly everything is anti-Christ and clearly in opposition to biblical teachings and values. Furthermore, while Trump was condemned for his injustice toward women, nothing was ever said about Hillary and Bill’s friendship with Epstein, or about their visits to his island in which human trafficking was taking place. As a former boss of mine had said so well of Hillary supporters, “They condemn Trump for being a sinner, but give their support to a devil.” And this is my issue with Beth, she condemns Trump as an evil man, yet endorsed a person three times the child of hell as him.

Before I continue, what we are seeing is nothing new. If one reads the Prophets, often some of the persons and practices cried out against were corrupt priests and false prophets who permitted sin; child sacrifice; immorality (including temple prostitution/homosexuality); greed; presumption; and idolatry. For modern deceivers who dismiss the Law and Old Testament as irrelevant, Jesus states that He did not come to abolish the Law but fulfill it (see Matt. 5:18-20). Also, the people and the judgements in the OT serve as examples for us (see 1 Cor. 10:1-11; 2 Pet. 2:5-6; Jude 6-7).

We are living in a time when many are either too afraid, or simply refuse, to call sin sin. Many who call themselves Christians have made an unholy alliance with the woke culture, which the very philosophical foundation of this movement is Marxist and anti-Christ. Let us ask such a question along with the apostle Paul,

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Elsewhere, he 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. ~ Colossians 2:8

The “woke” movement, claiming to want to eradicate racism, promotes Critical Race Theory, which portrays whites as being bad on the basis of being white. Such foolishness not only disregard the fact that all people are made in the image of God, but it simply breeds more racism and tension. Furthermore, “wokeness” promotes, breeds, and applauds lifestyles the Bible condemns. It breeds covetousness and discontentment, disregarding solid work ethic, as persons believe we should all have all things in common. Where is this told in Scripture? Rather, we are taught to work, be productive, and to be content with what we have.

As for homosexuality and transgenderism, and the sanctity of marriage, there are those who try to pit the teachings of the apostles against those of Jesus, but there is no conflict. And ultimately, all of Scripture is breathed out by God, and each writer was carried along by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:21-22). But as for Jesus, He can get no more explicit than when He declares the very institution of marriage God has ordained:

[Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” ~ Matthew 9:4-6

Such behavior is clearly condemned in Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. Understand, this does not mean we are to mistreat such individuals; however, churches sin whenever they refuse to call such behavior what God calls it—sin. This is no more hateful than calling out heterosexual couples who are committing adultery or fornication. 

Note also, Jesus declares two genders of which God created—male and female. There are no other genders. Then from whence does such confusion come from? Paul says that “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33), so we know such confusion within individuals does not come from God. And we can learn further from biblical principles when the apostle writes,

Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God. ~ 1 Corinthians 11:14-16

Let me now switch gears. What about the various sexual allegations which are being swept under the rug? This is serious error of some of those on the right. It angers me when I hear of churches not only silencing women or children who have told of sexual abuse, but of some who have turned a blind eye to known pedophiles. Does God turn a blind eye to any of this? Check out what Jesus, the King of love, declares:

Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 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. ~ Matthew 18:5-6

Or what about racism? While, indeed, CRT is certainly wrong, so is dismissing the concerns of non-white Southern Baptists. I believe, if the denomination as a whole was honest, there is a measure of inequality and segregation. There are some rock solid preachers who are not white, but why are they in the background? Let us be very clear on this matter, Heaven is multicultural by God’s design. We read in Revelation,

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God. ~ Revelation 5:9-10

I could go on, but the question remains, has the glory of the Lord departed from the SBC? This is an important question for churches to be asking. Persons can boast of what the denomination has accomplished, but let us take heed to Jesus’ warnings when He 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.” Matthew 7:21-23

If the glory of the Lord were to depart, sinful religious persons will continue to perform religious duties. However, such churches would be nothing but whitewashed tombs, attractive on the outside but death within.

Brothers and sisters, we have sinned greatly as a people and a denomination. May God grant us repentance, broken hearts, and contrite spirits. May we repent of all sin, and may the glory of the Lord return. And may we cease to glory in our denomination but glory only in the Lord.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Hello, my friends, I hope your week may be off on a good start and finish likewise. In my last post I was talking about the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. I am continuing on the subject.

The Beatitudes of which Jesus teaches are an internal, progressive work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. After all, by nature we are not meek, pure in heart, or merciful. We do not hunger and thirst for righteousness or mourn over sin. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, which require the inner working of the Holy Spirit, because only when these are activated within a person can the rest of the teachings begin being applied. Understand, Jesus’ teachings are not a list of do’s and don’ts to try to live by. Jesus is not interested in religious behavior. No, He is interested in redemption and transformation. And these we are completely dependent on Him and His Spirit, for we cannot accomplish these.

In the second Beatitude Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Some translations read, “Happy are those who mourn,” but I think the word favorable is more accurate than happy. In any case, what is Jesus saying, that it’s good for people to be sad? No, not quite. He is building upon the first Beatitude, which is “blessed are the poor in spirit.” The poor in Spirit are those who recognize they are completely incapable of paying their sin debt before God, that no amount of “good deeds” can cancel their guilt before God. Those who mourn are those who recognize the wickedness of their sins and are not only remorseful, but repentant before the Lord. Such persons will be comforted because these are the ones who will find mercy and justification. A prime example of this can be seen in Jesus’ following parable:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. ~ Luke 18:9-14

Three unfortunate, yet all too common, responses to sin—even in modern Evangelicalism—are to get angry when someone exposes our sins, to simply deny the sinfulness and seriousness of sins, or deflect in order to expose others’ sins to get attention off of ours. Sadly, all three of these inappropriate responses are representative of many churches. 

The first response can be seen in those who get upset with the pastor, “Preacher, you went from preaching to meddling! How dare you!” The second response can be seen in statements like, “Everybody is welcomed here! God loves you as you are!” No, God does not love us as we are. He loves us, yes; but He hates our selfishness, meanness, pride, immorality, hatred, etc. Then the third response is all too common in conservative churches, as the sins of society are highlighted and condemned, while all the pride, hypocrisy, partiality, division, anger, and the like are ignored in the lives of the “faithful.”

Is it not strange how easily sin can be detected in others but not ourselves? And when it is our sin, well, we have a justifiable reason (whereas others do not). For example, one’s child comes home from school with a bad attitude. How dare they behave that way! Yet, Dad comes home and slams the door, kicks the dog, and yells at his wife. “Well, I had a bad day,” he says. As if children do not? Young people today face a lot of stress triggers that didn’t exist when I was in school. At a deeper level, persons can judge the various behaviors of society, all the while ignore the arrogance, apathy, greed, lust, and hypocrisy swirling around within their own hearts.

When I was a child, I remember times getting in trouble with friends or family. “What about them?” I would ask. “You are in trouble for what you did,” I’d be told. In Jesus’ parable, notice the Pharisee’s deflection. “God, thank you I’m not like sinners, but I tithe and ….” But elsewhere, Jesus says of the Pharisees,

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…. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. ~ Matthew 23:23, 27-28

But notice the response of the tax collector in Jesus’ parable. He did not observe the Pharisee’s hypocrisies and such, nor did he mention the sins of others. However, he was very aware of his own sins, and was grieving over them. He could not even lift His eyes, but simply looked down while beating his chest, saying, “God, forgive me, a sinner.”

As Christians, we can all too easily decry the sins of society, but what has happened to our mourning over sin—our sins? How can we curse the darkness if we are guilty of blowing out our candles? 

At a personal level, God will deal with others and their sins in His own time. But the Lord asks of me, “Geno, what about your anger, unkind words, and those sinful thoughts entertained in your head? What about your own lack of compassion and laziness when some things could be done?”

Why are we afraid of the Lord’s light exposing us and our sin when He offers forgiveness? Yet, you and I need to take the Lord’s teachings seriously. We are not justified in decrying everyone else’s sins. We find comfort and justification only by turning to Him, and dealing honestly with our own sins. If we would return to genuinely mourning over our own sins, we could maybe see real revival throughout our land.

Lessons In the Dark (Failure Does Not Have to Be Definitive)

There are times when a person must go through times of darkness. The reasons vary, but sometimes darkness comes as a result of immense failure. Such was the case for the man of God Samson.

Before he was even conceived Samson was ordained to be a deliverer for the people of Israel. By the Spirit of God he was granted incredible strength and valor. His life was to be holy and consecrated to the Lord. Yet, when we read the account of Samson in the book of Judges, we read of a man who squandered his privileges (even having sex with a prostitute [see Jud. 16:1]), and who took his abilities for granted. This squandering eventually cost him dearly.

Samson later falls in love with the woman Delilah. The lords of the Philistines convinced her to seduce Samson and find where his strength came from. After three failed attempts, Delilah pouted and reasoned, “How can you say you love me if you are not willing to tell me your secret?” Being beguiled by the woman, Samson shares his heart and what was not to be revealed. After he falls asleep, Delilah cut Samson’s hair and the Philistines rush in to subdue him. We then read the dreadful words,

And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” And he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. ~ Judges 16:20 (ESV)

For so long Samson took his privileges, anointing, and victories for granted he was oblivious to the fact the Lord departed from him. He was to experience such profoundly humiliating defeat. After rushing on him, the Philistines gouged out Samson’s eyes, put him in shackles, and imprisoned him at the grinding mill.

Samson was alone in the darkness of his blindness, yet it was here that he had time to reflect, grieve, confess, and listen. He was learning hard lessons of squandered privileges, of pride, of immorality, etc. Yet, among all these lessons he would also learn of God’s grace and faithfulness. God would yet hear Samson’s prayer and grant him a major victory. Centuries later he would be named among people of faith:

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. ~ Hebrews 11:32-33

Perhaps you have tasted the bitterness of failure and experiencing its painful consequences. May you take courage in the Lord and find some peace in His promises. Due to your folly, may you listen to the instructions of the Holy Spirit and gain some wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~ Proverbs 1:7

Your failures do not have to define your identity or your future. Consequences might be devastating, but they do not need to demolish hope if you will be still in your darkness. Turn to Christ, and listen to His Spirit. Confess your sin(s), admit your guilt, and own up to your failures. There can still be mighty victories won through Him.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light. I have sinned against the Lord. And so I must endure his anger, until he comes to my defense. But I know that I will see him making things right for me and leading me to the light. ~ Micah 7:8-9 (CEV)

The Self-destructive System 

A couple of posts ago I wrote on several problems with Critical Race Theory. Does all of the world’s problems boil down to the color of a people’s skin? (Be careful calling this race, lest you think persons of different pigmentation are different races. We are not, for there is one human race).

When one truly considers the problems in the world, the vices affect persons of every ethnicity. Whether North or South American, African, Mexican, Asian, etc. you will find communities infected with corruption, poverty, human trafficking, drug addiction, exploitation, perversions, greed, deception, etc. No group of people has a monopoly over such things. If there was a great genocide of a people of any color, the problems would remain. The problems are not due to the color of skin but the sinfulness of the human heart—including yours and mine.

Confounding the issue more is that of what the Bible calls the “world,” a system which deifies self and exalts even our basest lusts.

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

Here, the apostle is referring to the world system. Like a strong vacuum,  this system pulls at each of us. Like a raging fire, we feel the intensity of its flames trying to ignite passions and set us ablaze. We can see its ungodly effects in Hollywood, Washington, media, and the universities. Where man is perceived as his own god, and people seek to live and indulge in their own pride and lusts. The color of skin is not even a factor.

Until we recognize the real problems in the world is the fallen condition of human hearts and the godless world system which seeks to exploit them, we will continue trying to blow out matches but never dealing with the actual blazing and destructive fires. And the only way we can begin to do this is by turning to Jesus Christ, believing on Him, and allowing Him to change us from the inside out.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:1-2

The Anarchist’s Hellish Paradise

I have not seen (nor do I have any desire to see) the movie, The Purge or its sequels. Part of the plot, the way I understand, is there is an annual holiday, for 12 hours, when crime (murder, rape, etc.) is legalized and no legal authorities are on patrol. Society is free to unleash its depraved desires.

I mention such a movie for a reason. We are living in a day when there has been a growing number of voices desiring anarchy. The voices often claim the desire stems from a desire to promote “justice” and to do away with the corrupt legal authorities; however, the whole reason we have laws is because, if left to our own devices, society would become more unjust, corrupt, and brutal still. Contrary to the warm-fuzzy teachings in much of modern psychology that people are “basically good,” the Bible teaches otherwise—and history surely supports the Bible.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? ~ Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

Before the great flood we are told:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ~ Genesis 6:5

Even the apostle Paul writes of humankind in the New Testament:

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” ~ Romans 3:10-18

Can we truly argue that these are not accurate portrayals of us as human beings? The thought is scary as to what brutal evil we are capable of if you take God, law, and retribution out of the picture.

You do not believe me? Jesus says that from the abundance of what fills our hearts our mouths speak and actions come forth (see Matt. 12:34; Mark 7:21). Now, consider the vile things people post on Twitter, Facebook, and the internet. From school campuses to political realms people declare persons or groups should get sick and die, be assassinated, burn in hell, etc. There have been pictures posted on the internet depicting President Trump being decapitated, and videos of persons being injured or killed, simply for trying to protect their businesses—their means of earning an income to provide for themselves and their families. We can close our eyes to the reality of the Bible’s teaching of original sin, but what if God, law, and retribution did not stand in the way? Do we not shudder at the thought? If, indeed, people were truly “good” and could self-govern themselves, we would not need so many laws; furthermore, the news would not consistently tell of real life horror stories. But, if we are honest, we know that we are not essentially “good.” Something within us is deeply distorted.

Anarchy does not—because it cannot—promote peace or justice. Without law and order people become a law unto themselves. As in the case of a tragic Old Testament period, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; 21:25).

The anarchist’s dream is, in reality, a hellish nightmare filled with brutality, injustice, fear, and tyrannical reign of the “survival of the fittest.”

It is no exaggeration to say we are in desperate need for redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, an inner transformation, and the filling of His Holy Spirit. And this is all possible for anyone who calls upon Him and believes.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Only through the redemption of Jesus Christ and the regeneration of His Holy Spirit can our sinful hearts with evil passions be set free from the cruel bondage of sin.

It’s a Beautiful Morning

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to live in deliberate or habitual sin. We are asked, “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1 -2, ESV). Furthermore, elsewhere the purposes of both grace and salvation are explained:

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. ~ Titus 2:11-12

Even so, the Bible teaches us, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins, (Ecc. 7:10) and “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).  And life teaches us experientially that we can sometimes blow it profoundly! How many of us have asked, “Will God forgive me of this? Again???” In fact, some give up altogether that God still loves them and can forgive them.

My friend, perhaps you have asked such questions. Maybe you are wrestling with such doubts now. Believe me, I have been there numerous times. But God’s grace truly is amazing, and the death Jesus died in our stead transcends our understanding. I hope you will be encouraged by the following passages:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. ~ Psalm 103:13-14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~ 1 John 1:9

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:17

Perhaps you have blown it big time and guilt haunts you. My friend, look to the cross and the glorious and merciful Savior who had been slain upon it and is now alive forevermore! Find refuge in His mercy and peace in His great love for you. His mercies are new every morning, and there is never a time when we are not in need of them.

Unchained, but Still Bound

People often view liberty as freedom from all restraints. For example, in the Scriptures we read,

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” ~ Psalm 2:2-3

However, in the New Testament we read of a poor fellow who dwelt among the tombs, driven by the demonic:

And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. ~ Mark 5:3-5

Many today boast of their “freedom” as they cast off all restraints, all the while bound tightly and oppressed by their vices, addictions, and shame. However, just as it was true for the man in the tombs, so Jesus can also heal people of such miseries today. You can know genuine freedom through Him if you will but cry out to Him in faith.