Tag Archives: good

CIVIL WAR

CIVIL WAR

As it is, it is no longer I myself but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:17-20.

Spoken like a true Hebrew!

Every year, during Elul, the last month of the Hebrew calendar, prior to the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah) which preceded the most holy day of the year, (Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), a trumpet was blown daily as a reminder to every Jew to prepare for Yom Kippur. This was the day when God judged and forgave all sin for another year.

Preparation consisted of three things, teshuvah, tephillah and tsidaqah – repentance, prayer and works of righteousness. However, repentance was not about turning away from sin but returning to the person God created them to be. Prayer was not about petitioning God but about turning towards Him and learning to think like He thinks. Works of righteousness were not about doing things for less fortunate people even though they were undeserving, but about being merciful and generous to others because God had shown mercy to them.

Paul recognised that sin was an invader, illegally occupying the person God had created him to be. This was not as God intended. He had been taken over from conception by a squatter who had no right to be there but whom he had no power to evict. He differentiated between his true self and the sin that ruled his life. He was not making excuses for his behaviour or trying to evade responsibility for his choices, but rather recognising that God was not responsible for what he was because sin was not in His blueprint for man.

God is good (functional) and everything He made, including man, was good (functional), working together in perfect harmony with God’s nature and with one another. The entire universe was created to be a unit. It would remain that way as long as human beings, who were to rule the earth, chose to live in harmony with God’s will.

When man rejected God’s way and set up his own rules, he and the whole universe became dysfunctional. He has repudiated God’s right to tell him how to live by giving his allegiance to a usurper, and paid the price God had warned him about – death. He was still man, made in God’s image with the potential to be one with God, but now his bent was towards rebellion. There was a foreigner in charge and he was obligated to obey Satan because he, man, had relinquished control.

Paul recognised that his sinful nature was dysfunctional, incapable of obeying God and doing the right thing. There was civil war in his inner being. He longed to be obedient to his Creator, but he had no power to change his nature which was under the influence of the enemy and driven by enmity towards God.

He was trapped in this inward conflict with no hope of ever getting out of it by his own efforts. The problem was that, legally, he in the dock, judged guilty, living in shame and fear and awaiting sentence on the Day of Judgment. By his own sinful life, he proved that he was in cahoots with the usurper and rightfully declared guilty.

What a terrible plight he was in. He knew he was condemned yet, at the same time, he yearned to be free to worship God and follow His ways. He was inside his prison cell peering wistfully through the bars at the beautiful world outside, with no way to get out and enjoy the freedom that should have been his.

What was he to do? He needed someone to step in and rescue him.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

THE GOSPEL OF MARK – TO DO GOOD OR TO DO EVIL

TO DO GOOD OR TO DO EVIL

1 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Je,sus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Mark 3:1-6

“Happy are those who are persecuted for doing right…” The battle lines are drawn. This incident is loaded – with emotion; with anger, frustration and determination. Both camps were adamant that they were right in what they believed to be true and in what they did. Of course, only one side could be right but it depended on their understanding of righteousness.

The crowning proof that Jesus was right was the healing of the man – something supernatural that came through the power of God and to which the Pharisees had no answer. On a previous occasion, when they contested Jesus over His forgiving the paralysed man, He responded, “Which is easier, to forgive sin or to heal the man? Just to show you that I have the right and power to do both…” He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home,” which the man did!

The Pharisees could do nothing to prove that they were right because all they were doing for “righteousness” was nothing!

They killed Jesus because of envy – not so much wanting what He had; far from it. They hated Him for what He was and had murderous intent towards Him. Envy says, “I hate your goodness; I hate your generosity; I hate who you are and I will get rid of you for it.”

This is the nature of the war that rages between God and Satan and between the kingdom of light and the dominion of darkness. There is nothing kind or benevolent in Satan’s realm. It is malevolent, destructive and utterly selfish and bent on sucking as many people as possible into its doom. Jesus is light and represents light. His entire bent is towards “shalom” – promoting the wholeness and well-being of others. He did whatever He could and wherever He could to alleviate suffering and offer the opportunity of life – righteousness, peace, joy and power in the Holy Spirit.

Slaves, Yet Free

SLAVES, YET FREE

Slaves, in reverent fear of God, submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (1 Peter 2: 18-20)

Why did Peter expect such a huge thing of Christian slaves? Surely they had the right, as human beings, to resist harsh treatment even if they were only slaves? In God’s sight they were human beings and had every right to be treated with dignity in the same way as any free person. Yet Peter was telling them to submit to their masters even if they were ill-treated. What good would that do? Would it not reinforce their masters’ attitude that it was okay to abuse them?

It all depends on from whose perspective you look at it. From the world’s point of view it is perfectly in order to resist abuse and harsh treatment. Whether one goes on strike, joins a protest march or resorts to some form of retaliation, this is the way to go. One has to express one’s dissatisfaction in a way that hurts the employer so that he knows that his behaviour is not appreciated. Accepting to status quo without some sort of protest is considered weakness.

But let’s look at it from God’s perspective. In the end, who was the slave serving? Since everything is about God, through God and for God, doing one’s job is about serving Him.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Col. 3:23-24)

Everything we do in life, the way we do it and the attitude we show towards those in authority over us in the end reveals our attitude towards God. It’s all about Him. After all, He treats us according to His own nature and never in response to our good or bad attitudes. Yes, He disciplines us when we step out of line, but not to get even with us. It’s to purify us so that we can share His holiness.

However, there is a flipside to this kind of situation. The right thing for any slave or employee is to submit to the master/employer, good or bad because it is the right thing to do. Masters are in charge and they choose the way that they will handle their staff but . . . , and here’s the crunch, they are also accountable to God for the way they treat their underlings.

Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favouritism. (Col. 3:25)

Slaves and employees are called to act like their Master, who never reacted to people the way they treated Him. He always responded out of who He was, the Son of God, not who they were – enemies. He was accountable to the Father for the right responses to people.

What a difference we could make in the world if we, as followers of Jesus, really got a hold of this principle! When we retaliate, we contribute to the chaos in the world by adding our sin to the sins of those who mistreat us. When we absorb the evil in ourselves by responding with humble submission, we put the cruel master to shame and stop the evil right there.

Paul dealt with this issue in the context of lawsuits. Corinthian believers were taking each other to heathen courts instead of settling disputes among themselves.

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters. Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Cor, 6:7-9a)

One thing we must remember – the way an employer treats his employee is a revelation of what’s in his own heart; the way we respond is a revelation of ours! When you squeeze a lemon, lemon juice comes out! If we are truly the sons and daughters of God, we will behave like His children.

Now that is true freedom!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Just Trust

JUST TRUST

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30.

How rich with meaning and promise these words are for God’s children!

With confidence in the character and faithfulness of God, Paul declared, “We know!” How did Paul know? Revelation, faith and experience! That’s how we know anything about God and His ways. Some only have revelation knowledge. They read the information contained in God’s Word. It lodges in their brain as something they remember but it makes no difference to their lives. This goes no farther than knowing about what God has said about Himself and His ways.

Others may go a little farther by believing what they have read and giving assent to it as the truth. But, until they act on it, it remains nothing more than information. However, when belief becomes action and becomes personal experience, like Paul, they can say, “We know!”

Hardships and trouble come to all of us. They are unavoidable, but the way we interpret and respond to them makes all the difference between stress and rest. Paul rested in God because, through experience he had learned that God was able to bring good out of the worst of situations. It all depended on his perspective on life. Like Joseph said of his brothers, Paul was able to say, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

Of course it all depends on our attitude to God. If we view Him as an enemy, we will blame Him for everything bad that happens to us. If we recognise Him as our loving Father, we will wait and look for the good that will eventually be revealed, even in the worst of circumstances. And we will understand the motive behind the situations He allows us to go through. He’s got a plan.

So much of our old sinful nature still clings to us. It must be chiselled away through tough experiences which drive us onto God’s mercy. Like little children we take shelter in Daddy’s lap. We learn that the temporal things of this life, possessions, activities, useless baubles and trinkets that decorate our lives and act as distractors, cannot support us when we are in physical or emotional pain. We need the comfort and love of our Abba to give us strength and reassurance in our suffering.

We learn to value the things that really matter – people, family, relationships, friendship, love, tolerance, forgiveness, patience, generosity, peace – and loosen our grip on the transient things of this world. God wants a family; sons and daughters who are like His Son Jesus. The raw material He has to work with, His new-born children, is not anything like His Son but, through the process of discipline and moulding, He slowly transforms us into the image of Jesus.

The outcome is sure because it is God, not people, who does the moulding. He shapes us according to His blueprint, His son, secure in the knowledge that, from His perspective, the work is already complete. When He predestined us, He had sons and daughters in mind. When He called us, He could see the end result. When He worked on us we were already innocent because He justified us through His Son’s death. As He crafted us, he could see Jesus mirrored in our faces.

What more can He do than He has already done? What does He want from you in return? Trust! Just trust! Instead of kicking and screaming, biting and scratching whenever life tightens its grip on you, just be still. He is at work in you. He will never do anything to hurt or destroy you. Because He loves you, He has a goal – to set you free from every destructive way so that you will become as beautiful and glorious as His own Son.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Civil War

CIVIL WAR

“As it is, it is no longer I myself but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:17-20.

Spoken like a true Hebrew!

Every year, during Elul, the last month of the Hebrew calendar, prior to the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah) which preceded the most holy day of the year, (Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement), a trumpet was blown daily as a reminder to every Jew to prepare for Yom Kippur. This was the day when God judged and forgave all sin for another year.

Preparation consisted of three things, teshuvah, tephillah and tsidaqah – repentance, prayer and works of righteousness. However, repentance was not about turning away from sin but returning to the person God created them to be. Prayer was not about petitioning God but about turning towards Him and learning to think like Him. Works of righteousness were not about doing things for less fortunate people even though they were undeserving, but about being merciful and generous to others because God had shown mercy to them.

Paul recognised that sin was an invader, illegally occupying the person God had created him to be. This was not as God intended. He had been taken over from conception by a squatter who had no right to be there but whom he had no power to evict. He differentiated between his true self and the sin that ruled his life. He was not making excuses for his behaviour or trying to evade responsibility for his choices, but rather recognising that God was not responsible for what he was because sin was not in His blueprint for man.

God is good (functional) and everything He made, including man, was good (functional), working together in perfect harmony with His nature and with one another. The entire universe was created to be a unit. It would remain that way as long as human beings, who were to rule the earth, chose to live in harmony with God’s will.

When man chose to disobey God and set up his own rules, he and the whole universe became dysfunctional. He has repudiated God’s right to tell him how to live by giving his allegiance to a usurper, and paid the price God had warned him about – death. He was still man, made in God’s image with the potential to be one with God, but now his bent was towards rebellion. There was a foreigner in charge and he was obligated to obey Satan because he had seized control.

Paul recognised that his sinful nature was dysfunctional, incapable of obeying God and doing the right thing. There was civil war in his inner being. He longed to be obedient to his Creator, but he had no power to change his nature which was under the influence of the enemy and driven by enmity towards God.

He was trapped in this inward conflict with no hope of ever getting out of it by his own efforts. The problem was that, legally he in the dock, judged guilty, living in shame and fear and awaiting sentence on the Day of Judgment. By his own sinful life, he proved that he was in cahoots with the usurper and rightfully declared guilty.

What a terrible plight he was in. He knew he was condemned yet, at the same time, he yearned to be free to worship God and follow His ways. He was inside his prison cell peering wistfully through the bars at the beautiful world outside, with no way to get out and enjoy the freedom that should have been his.

What was he to do? He needed someone to step in and rescue him.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.