Thoughts on Christian Culture 2: The Lawless Ones

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Image courtesy Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, Paul’s 1 Timothy 1:8 statement about “lawful use of the Law” is rather intriguing in light of current disagreement over what is the proper place of the OT legal code in Christianity.

Of course, when the immediate view is expanded to include v 9-10, it becomes apparent that Paul said the Law was given not for the just, but for the lawless, disobedient, ungodly, sinners, etc… In other words, these rules were intended (at least in part) to bring order to an unregenerate society that would surely destroy itself without them.

Me: The Law highlights the fact that human beings are sinners who tend to do things that are contrary to God’s nature. We need outside help because our natural, internal moral compass doesn’t work so well.


This also brought to mind Jesus’ Matthew 7:21-23 declaration that there would be many who one day would come to Him with both recognition of accountability and lists of things they believe should gain them sure reward and welcome into His presence.

Only…it doesn’t work. And He said He will dismiss them with what I believe is the most terrifying sentence in all of scripture; “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”

Workers of lawlessness. But good deeds done in His name don’t count?

This gets more interesting when we consider that Jesus’ audience included Jewish religious teachers who adamantly claimed to love GOD, to honor the Mosaic Law, and  had a thing for making even more rules to ensure that they looked extra good.

These people had Guidelines. Structure. Order. Religiously enforced. And they had penalties for breaking prescribed ordinances.

They were Law Keepers….right?

Wrong.

They were the false prophets, wolves and diseased trees that Jesus spoke against in Matthew 7:15-20.

Why?

Because the Mosaic code also told of a Chosen One who would come and fulfill their beloved Law in order to lift the curse attached to our inability to personally attain the perfection that is necessary to safely enter God’s presence.

They rejected their designated Law Keeper who is to be welcomed by faith in God’s goodness toward us (Matthew 5:17; John 4:39-40; Romans 3:20-26). And they led others away from the Truth, as well.

They were then warned by God Himself to repent of this stubbornly destructive, imagined sense of personal goodness. It is a very harsh-sounding reprimand, but I do believe it was actually done out of love for these people.

Me: To “keep” God’s law is not to simply follow a prescribed method of scripturally-founded ethical improvement. Neither does it involve the diligent consultation of a mutually agreed-upon set of church by-laws, for that matter. If a professing Christian is relying heavily on such things, then it is entirely possible there is still a need to attend the business of repenting of a rebellious, self-indulgent, God hating attitude. 

To keep the Law is to gratefully honor the One who embodies the Spirit of the Law, has freed us from the consequences of our sin, and who now teaches us what it means to love God and others from a renewed heart, the way the Law originally outlined.

Then they said to Him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” (John 6:28-29 ESV)

As this is the result of my own study, I highly recommend that readers check my references and consider my words in light of the overall message of scripture before accepting or rejecting my conclusion. Thank you.

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Thoughts on Christian Culture 1: Gospel Saturation or Moral Paganism?

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Image courtesy smarnad @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Gospel message (including the books of Acts, Hebrews and the first several chapters of Romans) is for the entire world (Mark 16:15)
The NT Epistles are written instruction to members of the early Church. From them, we may continue to glean godly insight and wise instruction as we await Christ’s return.

~Everyone, regardless of how long they have claimed the label “Christian”, can benefit from hearing the true Word of salvation. (Revelation 14:6-7)

~It is acceptable to help others see their need through “lawful” use of the OT Law (Romans 7, 1 Timothy 1:8) …maybe will come back to this thought, later

~It is acceptable to (respectfully) share with an unbeliever the reason for your faith (1 Peter 3:15-16). Personal experience can be very convincing evidence. The OT narrative offers a record of our tendency to be wrong. Paul provided an explanation of our desperate spiritual need in the early chapters of his letter to the Romans.

~It is acceptable to work out God’s love at a social level to help counteract the injustices of society (Galatians 6:10; Philippians 4:5; Romans 13:7-9)

~It is not remotely helpful for Christians to attempt to direct the behavior of the unconverted through external moralization which is based on Christian principles. In fact, Jesus soundly condemned this practice when He spoke “woes” over those who traveled land and sea to make a single convert…only to sink that person even deeper into a state of spiritual lostness (Matthew 23:15).

Return of the King

To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of Him.
Even so. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who was and is and is to come, the Almighty.
Revelation 1:5b-8 (ESV)

Liar, Liar (2)

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Image courtesy Stuart Miles @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, it appears I had time to finish my thought today, so I’m just going to briefly refer back to my earlier consideration, as it lays necessary groundwork for what I’m about to suggest regarding a biblical understanding of what it means to be a liar.

  1. The Bible pronounces a pretty harsh judgment upon liars.  See Revelation 21:8. Also, 1 Timothy 1:8-10 speaks of the law in relation to the “unjust”, and lists liars among them.
  2. However, the Bible also declares that we are all liars (Psalm 116:11). I’ll try to remember to come back to this in a bit.
  3. The act of telling a lie indicates a degree of separation from the fellowship with God..whether due to open rebellion (pride), fear, ignorance or hidden malicious intent.
  4. Some people appear to either not know how to tell the truth or they just do not care that their words are unreliable or deceptive. This can create serious trust issues.

Introducing a few more angles

  1. There are several incidences of lying in Scripture which actually appear to be blessed by God (ie. Abram told his wife to tell a half-truth about their relationship in order to protect his own life…see Genesis 12:10-20 and 20:2-18; midwives lied to Pharaoh in Exodus 1:15-20; Rahab the prostitute lied to protect Israelite spies in Joshua 2, 6:17-25 etc.  Link to cited passages is HERE.  While I do not believe it honors God to make a practice of deceiving others, I must acknowledge what the biblical record actually says.  There is a possible explanation for this, but that is a different discussion for a different time.
  2. At least two people in the NT are said to have been struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit (God) rather than to another human being. (Acts 5:1-11)  Lying to God is a serious offense. And we can’t fool Him anyway, so why bother trying?
  3. Lying in general is discouraged in scripture, since it is identified with the “old”, unregenerate nature (Leviticus 19:11; Colossians 3:9).
  4. Lying to other people can create some serious interpersonal conflict, in spite of the fact that God has the ability to work things out in the end.  The Rebekah, Isaac, Esau, Jacob, Laban, Leah, Rachel fiasco of Genesis 25-33 comes to mind, here.

 

 

Two more verses that help me to better grasp the definition of “liar”:

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22 (ESV)

 

Circling back to point 2 of my review, regarding the fact that we all are counted as liars: It is not even in God’s nature to lie (see related verse, above). But everyone who has been cut off from Him has this tendency.

There is a solution, but only one solution, by which we may remedy our inherently wrong state of being.

My conclusion:

The liar that scripture condemns to the lake of fire/hell is the one who adheres tenaciously to the Romans 1:21 perspective that God is not actually good and/or that there is a better way to attain knowledge and wisdom than to gratefully submit to His beneficial claim to authority in our lives.

According to scripture, a liar is one who internally denies that Jesus of Nazareth is the Anointed Savior of creation and thus remains cut off from a relationship with God as their source of life.   At this level, it does not matter whether my mouth makes truthful statements all day long if my heart rejects Christ Jesus as God’s perfectly righteous and merciful mediator.  And this lack of relationship can take the form of a non- or pseudo- Christian religion or secularism, so long as the individual remains primarily dependent upon his/her own ability to direct the course of their own life.

The solution:

The Bible instructs us to be reconciled with our Maker through belief in the One He sent expressly for that purpose. We refer to this phenomenon as repentance and receiving of forgiveness for our sin of unbelief/rebellion. It is a simultaneous turning from an attitude of self-reliance and toward one of dependence on God’s provision.

This restoration will not only give us hope for something better beyond this mess we now know as “life”, but it will also release us from the deadly side-effect of that separation (compulsion to habitually sin), today.

I’m not asking anyone to take my word for this.  I linked to most of the passages I cited and strongly encourage you read them and do your own additional research regarding this topic.

Sing a Song of Redemption

I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing O mountains O forest, and every tree in it!
For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.

Isaiah 44:22-23 (ESV)

Exposed

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Not my edit.  Design credit belongs to preachthegospel.org

I have seen this quote accredited to Charles Spurgeon on more than one occasion, and assume the photo attribution is correct.

No doubt about it, though.

Knowing Christ means encountering illumination as we have never before experienced.
And, the brighter the Light shines, the more clearly we will be able to see the dirt in the corners and under the furnishings of our lives.
Isaiah 2:5 (NKJV) O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the LORD.

John 8:12 (NKJV) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV) If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that 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.