Tag Archives: wickedness

DEATH OR LIFE?

DEATH OR LIFE?

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19.

Have you noticed the progression in what Paul was saying about our slavery either to sin or to obedience? Slavery to sin sets us on a downward path to unrighteousness which is nothing but purely selfish living, gratifying every whim and fancy of our fleshly nature, dehumanising us until we are fit for nothing else but the trash heap.

Slavery to obedience puts us on another path; this one leads to righteousness, imitating our Master who loved, cared for and served others. Righteousness leads to holiness, to being set apart from sin. The more we care about what God wants above what we want, and the more we obey Him instead of following our own appetites, the more we hate the sin that once enslaved us and enslaves the people who refuse to follow Jesus. We see what it does to them and we pull away from doing what they do.

Obedience to Jesus as our Lord puts us back on the path to becoming human again, and we become more alive to God and less alive to sin and to what the people in the world do. We have the assurance that God will complete the job of perfecting us in holiness and giving us the gift of everlasting life.

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at the time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you receive leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:20-23.

When we serve sin, we earn wages – like an employee working for an employer. If we have never received the new life Jesus offers us by accepting His forgiveness and turning our lives over to Him, we have to serve sin because sin is our master and because we are bound to it as slaves. We earn the wages that sin pays, death, and there is nothing we can do about it.

But eternal life isn’t like that. It is God’s free gift to us. We cannot work for it; we can do nothing to earn it; no amount of effort can produce it. God freely gives it to us when we respond to His invitation to receive it by receiving His Son and becoming God’s son or daughter.  Once we have received His gift, it us up to us to respond in faith and obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in our spirit and who leads and prompts us to follow Jesus.

Only those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). When we give ourselves to Him to obey Him, we set off on the pathway to becoming fully human again , in other words, towards becoming the people God created in the beginning to be in perfect harmony with Him. God’s intention is to remove all sin so that we can once again be sinless and perfect.

Watch the progression. As we choose to obey God and to become slaves to righteousness, we progress towards holiness – separated from sin to God – and holiness will eventually lead us to eternal life. Sin leads to death. Obedience leads to life. The gift of eternal life is already ours but we must possess it by following the path to eternal life.

And so our participation in eternal life is a co-operative venture. It is impossible for us to possess it by our own efforts but, at the same time, we cannot just sit back and float towards our future. It is through trust in God and obedience to the promptings of His Spirit that we progress towards holiness and take hold of eternal life.

It begins by recognising that we died with Christ, were raised to new life with Him and are now in Him by His Spirit. It continues by participating with His Spirit by counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, progressing towards the possession of eternal life by choosing to do what is right, shunning sin and being perfected as true human beings once again, perfectly united to God once more when Jesus returns.

Which path are you one?

Acknowledgement

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

IT BEGINS WITH INGRATITUDE

IT BEGINS WITH INGRATITUDE

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:18-21.

Well, at least Paul was not afraid to call a spade a spade!

If he wrote this letter to explain to the Roman believers the righteousness of God in providing salvation, why did he start by painting such a bleak picture of human behaviour? Who is he talking about?

Paul spent half of chapter one, the whole of chapter two and half of chapter three taking pains to show his readers that everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, is guilty before God. There is not a single righteous person who can escape God’s wrath against sin because of their good behaviour.

What did Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have to say?

First of all, there is a whole group of people who ignore or deny the clear evidence of a Creator, which is written on every leaf and blade of grass and on every star in the sky. They choose to live as though He does not exist; they never give Him the time of the day let alone acknowledge His goodness by thanking Him for the very breath they breathe.

The road to ruin begins with ingratitude. Anyone who fails to acknowledge God by being ungrateful for what they are and have is in danger of taking the road to perverted values and a perverse lifestyle. Ingratitude makes God angry. Ungrateful people are self-centred and discontented. Ingratitude kept the children of Israel who were delivered from slavery in Egypt, out of the Promised Land.

Ingratitude is the first step towards muddle-headed thinking and mental “darkness”. What is darkness? Darkness is the absence of light, and in this case, the light of understanding. When people throw God out of their lives by refusing to acknowledge Him or His goodness, they lose their ability to think straight.

The light of understanding has only one source – God. David knew that, and he wrote about it in the Psalms.

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130.

God is the source of light, truth and understanding. Without Him, we are left to make sense of our lives on our own and, unfortunately for us, we cannot make sense of anything because we have thrown out the “glue” that holds it all together. All we can do is think up nonsense which has not connection with reality. How pathetic we are to think that if we believe what we made up, that makes it true!

There is a terrible downward path to destruction for people who choose to disregard God and go their own way. Unfortunately for them, they do not know that it is not God who chooses their end; they do because their empty and futile lives are only fit for one thing — the rubbish dump. God did not plan their lives to be useless and worthless, and it makes Him angry to see wasted potential when He had so many good things in store for them.

The problem with denying God’s existence is that we have to replace Him with someone or something because we all feel incomplete in ourselves. We all need someone bigger than ourselves on which to depend. When God is no longer there, and we have muddled brains, who or what are we going to put in His place?

Acknowledgement

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

Death or Life?

DEATH OR LIFE?

“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19.

Have you noticed the progression in what Paul was saying about our slavery either to sin or to obedience? Slavery to sin sets us on a downward path to unrighteousness which is nothing but purely selfish living, gratifying every whim and fancy of our fleshly nature, dehumanising us until we are fit for nothing else but the trash heap.

Slavery to obedience puts us on another path; this one leads to righteousness, imitating our Master who loved, cared for and served others. Righteousness leads to holiness, to being set apart from sin. The more we care about what God wants above what we want, and the more we obey Him instead of following our own appetites, the more we hate the sin that once enslaved us and enslaves the people who refuse to follow Jesus. We see what it does to them and we pull away from doing what they do.

Obedience to Jesus as our Lord puts us back on the path to becoming human again, and we become more alive to God and less alive to sin and to what the people in the world do. We have the assurance that God will complete the job of perfecting us in holiness and giving us the gift of everlasting life.

“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at the time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you receive leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:20-23.

When we serve sin, we earn wages – like an employee working for an employer. If we have never received the new life Jesus offers us by accepting His forgiveness and turning our lives over to Him, we have to serve sin because sin is our master and because we are bound to it as slaves. We earn the wages that sin pays, death, and there is nothing we can do about it.

But eternal life isn’t like that. It is God’s free gift to us. We cannot work for it; we can do nothing to earn it; no amount of effort can produce it. God freely gives it to us when we respond to His invitation to receive it by receiving His Son and becoming God’s son or daughter.  Once we have received His gift, it us up to us to respond in faith and obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in our spirit and who leads and prompts us to follow Jesus.

Only those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). When we give ourselves to Him to obey Him, we set off on the pathway to becoming fully human again , in other words, towards becoming the people God created in the beginning to be in perfect harmony with Him. God’s intention is to remove all sin so that we can once again be sinless and perfect.

Watch the progression. As we choose to obey God and to become slaves to righteousness, we progress towards holiness – separated from sin to God – and holiness will eventually lead us to eternal life. Sin leads to death. Obedience leads to life. The gift of eternal life is already ours but we must possess it by following the path to eternal life.

And so our participation in eternal life is a co-operative venture. It is impossible for us to possess it by our own efforts but, at the same time, we cannot just sit back and float towards our future. It is through trust in God and obedience to the promptings of His Spirit that we progress towards holiness and take hold of eternal life.

It begins by recognising that we died with Christ, were raised to new life with Him and are now in Him by His Spirit. It continues by participating with His Spirit by counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, progressing towards the possession of eternal life by choosing to do what is right, shunning sin and being perfected as true human beings once again, perfectly united to God once more when Jesus returns.

Which path are you one?

Acknowledgement

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

 

 

Rotten Through And Through

ROTTEN THROUGH AND THROUGH 

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve those who practise them.” Romans 1:28-32.

What am I reading, the Bible or the newspaper? Who is Paul writing about, the people then or now? Nothing has changed, has it? What a description of dehumanised people and a dehumanised society!

In my country, the decision was made by parliament to write into our constitution that we are a secular country. God is no longer welcome or acknowledged. The results are obvious; many wicked practices have been written into our law books as legal; abortion and homosexual marriages, for example; human rights now tip in favour of the criminal and the lawless ones; parents are losing their right to discipline their children and there is now a move to disallow parents the right to have a say in their children’s education.

Lawbreakers, thieves, fraudsters and corrupt public servants simply disappear from one portfolio and turn up somewhere else, as arrogant as ever. Convicted criminals who happen to be public figures are let out of jail on trumped up health issues.  They quietly move back into society as though nothing happened.

The prophet Habakkuk had the same complaint about society in his day. He took his problem to God: “Therefore the law is paralysed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” Habakkuk 1:4.

Although God seems silent and inactive; He is actually righteous and just by simply allowing the wicked to go their own way. Their judgment is written into their choices and actions. God does not have to do anything because they have done it to themselves. They have become incapable of living decent human lives. Their minds have become so depraved and perverted that they call right “wrong” and wrong “right” and applaud those who do what they do.

There is no place in God’s presence for those who think and behave contrary to the nature of God. They are rotten and putrefying in their sin and the only place that will accommodate them in the end will be the rubbish dump. They enjoy their wickedness now, but they have no idea what it will be like to live forever in complete darkness, physical and moral darkness so dark that they cannot even see a finger in front of their faces and can only think evil thoughts always.

Hebrew people described hell as a boundary less place. Boundaries are never intended to be restrictive, but protective. When people deliberately overshoot the boundaries, they have to face the dangers that lie on the other side. To deny them does not make them any less real. God had clearly stated His boundaries and when they are ignored, the consequences come into play.

Why did Paul paint such a gloomy picture of his society and ours? For two reasons: firstly, because it was accurate and secondly, because it formed the backdrop to God’s amazing answer, His grace revealed through His righteousness. But first of all, Paul had to show his readers that the whole world is guilty before God. There is not one sector of society or of the world that escapes God’s judgment. Before he can give them God’s answer, he has to ensure that they understand their plight.

No amount of religious fervour or rule-keeping can change the heart of a human being. Of what use is it to eat or not to eat certain foods since food only influences our bodies? What can the “holy” water do to cleanse a polluted conscience? It only touches the skin but leaves the soul unchanged. How can doing good alter our debit balance in God’s books? Even good works are done by people rotten with selfishness.

Paul is building up to a solution so breath-taking that only God could have thought it up!

Acknowledgement

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

 

 

It Begins With Ingratitude

IT BEGINS WITH INGRATITUDE

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Romans 1:18-21.

Well, at least Paul was not afraid to call a spade a spade!

If he wrote this letter to explain to the Roman believers the righteousness of God in providing salvation, why did he start by painting such a bleak picture of human behaviour? Who is He talking about?

Paul spent half of chapter one, the whole of chapter two and half of chapter three taking pains to show his readers that everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, is guilty before God. There is not a single righteous person who can escape God’s wrath against sin because of their good behaviour.

What did Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit have to say?

First of all, there is a whole group of people who ignore or deny the clear evidence of a Creator, which is written on every leaf and blade of grass and on every star in the sky. They choose to live as though He does not exist; they never give Him the time of the day let alone acknowledge His goodness by thanking Him for the very breath they breathe.

The road to ruin begins with ingratitude. Anyone who fails to acknowledge God by being thankful for what they are and have is in danger of taking the road to perverted values and a perverse lifestyle. Ingratitude makes God angry. Ungrateful people are self-centred and discontented. Ingratitude kept the children of Israel who were delivered from slavery in Egypt, out of the Promised Land.

Ingratitude is the first step towards muddle-headed thinking and mental “darkness”. What is darkness? Darkness is the absence of light, and in this case, the light of understanding. When people throw God out of their lives by refusing to acknowledge Him or His goodness, they lose their ability to think straight.

The light of understanding has only one source – God. David knew that, and he wrote about it in the Psalms.

“For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105

“The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130.

God is the source of light, truth and understanding. Without Him, we are left to make sense of our lives on our own and, unfortunately for us, we cannot make sense of anything because we have thrown out the “glue” that holds it all together. All we can do is think up nonsense which has not connection with reality. How pathetic we are to think that if we believe what we made up, that makes it true!

There is a terrible downward path to destruction for people who choose to disregard God and go their own way. Unfortunately for them, they do not know that it is not God who chooses their end; they do because their empty and futile lives are only fit for one thing — the rubbish dump. God did not plan their lives to be useless and worthless, and it makes Him angry to see wasted potential when He had so many good things in store for them.

The problem with denying God’s existence is that we have to replace Him with someone or something because we all feel incomplete in ourselves. We all need someone bigger than ourselves on which to depend. When God is no longer there, and we have muddled brains, who or what are we going to put in His place?

Acknowledgement

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