Islam & Mormonism, an answer in the Word of God

I was watching the following video and it reminded me of a story in the Bible which gives us a clear answer in regard to two world religions: Islam and Mormonism

Here is the video:

So, a guy in a cave comes along and claims, “an angel told me so” who then says that Jesus didn’t die on a cross, there was no resurrection, and God doesn’t have a Son… and we’re just supposed to believe him at the risk of our everlasting soul?

The Bible warns us about listening to anyone who ever comes along telling us, “an angel told me so” and illustrates this with a story in 1 Kings 13 (Click on link to read it)

Done reading it yet?

ok… sorry to interrupt. I’ll wait till you’re finished.

So… as you can see from this text, God is warning us here to disregard anything from Mohammed and Joseph Smith or anyone else who comes along telling them an angel told me so.

But didn’t Moses have an encounter with an angel that led him to go on a rescue mission for the captive nation of Israel? This story has one striking difference however, this angel (“messenger”) was in fact God himself who reveals his name as “I AM”.  He supported Moses and his message with signs and wonders that only the all powerful Creator God could perform. (See Exodus 3)

What proof or signs did Mohammed or Joseph Smith bring? None that I know of. But even they had many awe inspiring signs, this wouldn’t make it true. Even the antiChrist will have a “resurrection” though he blasphemes the only true God.

Did Mohammed or Joseph Smith prophecy a future event and then have any of their prophecies come true? Look it up.

But again, if we were only looking for signs without considering the truth and purity of the message we are also in danger of being deceived by the coming Antichrist who will perform many signs and wonders:

“For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24: 24 NIV

God allows false prophets to test us. To see if our faith is genuine.

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Cracked to the Core, Yet Not Without Hope

I found myself thinking about the scales again today. I wrote about this idea awhile ago. This kind of thinking that somehow we will be alright on judgement day when we stand before God if our good deeds outweigh the bad on his scales of justice. Those who are concerned about this spend a great deal of time trying feverishly to please God, appease God, to somehow win his favor by good deeds.

And while this thinking forms the basis for every other world religion, this is the antithesis to the good news (Gospel) of Jesus.

What if I was 51% good and 49% wicked. This would work just fine if talking about owning shares of the kingdom of God. However, this would be a failing grade in school… unless God graded on a curve. As I thought more about this I realized that according to God’s way of reckoning I would have to be 100% good to inherit the kingdom of God. Even if I somehow managed to be 99% good, he would still call me to account for the 1% – and the price to pay for my sin would be more than I could bear.

(When the bible talks about being good it isn’t just talking about an avoidance of evil but of a very actively loving life – pure altruism.)

I came to the conclusion from my last excursion through the Bible that God doesn’t even give us a 1% chance of being good. We are indeed evil through and through – cracked to the core.

“As it is written:

“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 NIV)

Cracked to the Core, Yet Not Without Hope

I have a confession to make. I lied to someone the other day. They had been reading my blog and they were worried about me. I told them that my blog is “delayed” and that it reflects things I used to think and where I used to be (albeit just a few short weeks ago). But, to say that I am “all better now” or that I have somehow “arrived” is simply not true… nor will it ever be… until God perfects all believers together one day in glory.

The simple and yet profound truth is that I will never be able to glory or boast in my flesh. As a Christian mentor once told me, we are cracked to the core. But this need not lead to hopelessness and here is why: because, as believers, we don’t for a moment depend on ourselves or our own merits for salvation. We are not our saviour – Jesus is.

If I did depend on myself as my saviour, I would live in absolute stark terror at any given moment (as I did for seven long years of severe depression). But as it is, I no longer give way to fear, but instead, I depend on Christ’s mercies. I no longer grasp for control… I just simply trust. This lack of control is deeply unsettling for the ego and this is precisely why many still suffer from anxiety. We must let the ego go. I have been saying again and again throughout this blog that the ego must be put to death. It must die just as Jesus said it must.

I focus on this problem of ego in most of my blogs because I still deal with this on a daily basis. Don’t we all? Isn’t this same ego in everyone? Paul writes that this is the sin that lives within us (Romans 7). The way I see it is that everyone seems to be attempting to glory in their flesh and inciting others to do the same. We flatter one another and we flatter ourselves. The Scriptures, however, are designed to expose this pride and set us free from the sin within us. Psalm 36:1-2 says:

“I have a message from God in my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: In their own eyes they flatter themselves too much to detect or hate their sin.” (NIV)

Yet God envisions a life for each and every one of us that is free from sin. This is the life of faith! Now instead of blindly following the commands of the old master of sin, we have a new master – Christ! We now get to be slaves to love’s impulses. We get to do whatever love prompts us to do! We get to be slaves of righteousness, slaves to God, and finally free! (Does it seem odd to anyone else that slavery to God leads to freedom?)

Fortunately, for believers in Jesus Christ, the ego (sin) has already been crucified with Christ. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

It may seem that I am too hard on myself as I often use myself as an example in my blog. It would be unkind to use anyone else. But I cannot emphasize enough how profoundly sick and broken I am as a human being… but nevertheless, I have hope. Can you explain that? I have a hope in Jesus and this pulls me forward. It causes me to grow in Christ and in love. It also gives me the courage to forgive myself and find grace.

The Christian life is simply this: Christ in us, the hope of glory. (see Colosians 1:27)

When we find this hope at work in us this shows us that God’s love is at work in our life – for love always hopes. Hope calms our fears, tenderly forgiving and cleansing us from every wrong. Hope picks us up, dusts us off, and puts us back on the path to life.

It’s all about Christ now – Christ in us! Christ, who alone is holy perfect love, who alone never sins (always loves).  So we have a choice to make. We can choose to cling to our own righteousness (which is on par with filthy rags – menstruel cloths) and perish forever seperated from God and love and hope and all things good. Or we can cling to Christ who is our righteousness and so be saved in the fullest sense of the word. Clinging to Christ is the essence of true faith.

Jesus didn’t come to sell us fire insurance. Salvation is not about God distributing “get out of hell free” cards. No, salvation is a transformed and Spirit led life. And THIS is glory!

Prayer:

God, teach us again to die to ourselves and to submit to your Holy Spirit’s leading. We trust that you, who began a good work in us, will be faithful to complete it. Thank you that salvation is all your doing.  We give ourselves to you. We give ourselves to love in Jesus name.

Reflections & Thoughts, the Bible in 66 Days

I read through the Bible in 66 days! In this video I share a few of the life changing discoveries along the way including, but not limited to, the secret to the Christian life!

This is a rambling reflection of my experience through God’s Word that I deem worthy of 17.65 minutes of your life. I know… arrogant of me isn’t it?

Enjoy! (If you can get through it)

Daniel Lovett  =0)

Reflections & Thoughts, the Bible in 66 days from Daniel & Catherine Lovett on Vimeo.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Now, I am tackling the Bible in 90 days! It was such an amazing experience the first time around I am now sharing this experience with some good friends. Want to join us?

90 Day Bible Reading Challenge!

More Than I Dreamed Of

Zechariah 3 tells of a man named Joshua who was the high priest. He is standing before the LORD dressed in filthy clothes (representing his sin) and Satan is there to accuse Joshua. What is the LORD’s response? He rebukes Satan and refuses to listen to his accusations. He removes Joshua’s filthy clothes and provides him with clean garments.

Was Joshua guilty of all Satan was accusing him of? No doubt he was, but the LORD overrules Satan anyway and says, “Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

Have you ever felt like that? Like a stick snatched from the fire?

A long time ago this passage of Scripture was shared with me by two separate people within the same week. I was the “firebrand”. Not exactly flattering to be called a firebrand, but yet, it is still hopeful. I am worthy of the flames, but instead I am rescued from the flames. Not only that but God takes this dried up worthless scorched stick and grafts it into the vine and causes it to bear fruit. Because he can. Because he’s good. Because redeeming and restoring is just what he does.

I just read how Paul said he was the chief of sinners and God chose to show his grace to him so that the very worst sinners could be encouraged and say, “Perhaps there’s hope for me too.” And indeed there is. But we must still take hold of that hope and do something with hope, don’t we?

My question is, do we want to continue living varying degrees of ruined lives? Or do we want to finally discover what Christ was talking about with offer of an abundant life?

He says, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10)

Do we really want this? To what lengths will we go to get it? To what lengths must we go? These are all questions I am asking of myself.

The following song is one I wrote inspired by the Scripture in Zechariah 3:

 

Self Esteem, and Why We Avoid the Bible

In third grade, my elementary school started a self-esteem program. My mom was concerned about the humanistic values that she suspected would be in this program and so had me excused from attending these seminars. So, while everyone else in my class went to the self-esteem seminars, I was left alone in the classroom.

And I have struggled with self-esteem ever since… if only she had let me go!

I’m totally kidding! My mom was probably right. After all, what does the world know about how to truly find value and worth as a human being?

Doesn’t God Want Me to Have a Good Self-esteem?

My little girl Ellie has discovered Veggie Tales. She is 18 months old and has never watched television or videos… up till now. We thought it would be fun to play her some veggie tales and now she is hooked. When she is in the living room she will point to the dark tv screen and say, “Bob? Bob? Bob?” (asking for Bob the tomato – I was just now reminded of Bill Murray in “What About Bob?”).

One of the episodes we watched together last night was  called, “A Snoodles Tale”. Written in the style of Dr. Suess, it is a lesson in self-worth.  I was touched. The story talks about a snoodle who struggles with self-worth and is brought down by all the other snoodles who belittle him because he isn’t good at anything. When he is finally told his worth by his creator, he is transformed from being burdened and weighed down by all the pictures others have painted of him to being so lighthearted and free that he begins to float above the ground and finally makes use of those wings he was given.

Watch “A Snoodles Tale” HERE on Youtube

This is what it’s like receiving our worth from God and hearing from him how he really views us and how he really loves us… unconditionally. He alone can give us purpose and a glorious destiny. When we believe and receive that purpose and destiny, we begin to fly above the confines of everything we have thought and might think of ourselves and also above all the ways others have defined us.

After reading as much Scripture as I have thus far (now in Hosea) I am absolutely convinced that God isn’t at all interested in bestowing upon us a good self-esteem. In fact, I would propose and submit to you that God doesn’t want us to have self-esteem at all… good or bad. God has something far more precious and totally awesome to give us then merely good self-esteem.

Our worth is only meant to be found in God and was never intended to come from within ourselves, independent of God. In fact, independence from God is how we lost our worth to begin with. Our pride is independence from God and is a vain attempt to find self-worth apart from him. Instead we build our self-made identities based on abilities, accomplishments, possessions, self-improvement, etc…

“Self-esteem” is how we see ourselves and it is largely influenced by how others see us, or how we perceive that they see us. Self-esteem is based on the principles of pride and on our performance, not on the grace and unconditional love God extends to us. God is the one who made us and it goes without saying that he wants us to care more about how he sees us and to set us free from this trap of self-esteem. He does this by giving us what I will call God-esteem.

When we take our eyes off of ourselves altogether and fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, we are then liberated to be the people he always intended for us to be, and it is beautiful!

Why We Don’t Read the Bible

Unfortunately, we are all bound, confined, and limited by our opinions of ourselves and of others opinions of us, that we don’t even think to go to God to find our worth. We are so caught up in the trap of self-esteem that we surround ourselves with only those who speak and think well of us, and we avoid everyone and everything that might cast us in a negative light… including the Bible.

While there is a glorious identity waiting for us to take hold of in Scripture, God must first break off and crush all our false ideas about who we are. We must first be humbled before we are even able to receive grace… before God can show us and free us with the truth of who we really are… in him.

God’s word is designed to deal a devastating blow to our self-righteous ego and kill any possible chance of a good self-esteem. This is why we avoid reading the Bible! It’s why I avoided it. It made me squirm like a worm on a hook. I felt cornered. Exposed. Undone. I mean, who wants to feel crummy about themselves? Who wants to be faced with all the various ways they have failed and the fact that at the very core, that you are a rotten person?

According to his law of love, God convicts the entirety of mankind and exposes us all for the self-centered, loveless creatures that we are. He then makes it abundantly clear just how much all our wretched sinfulness and rebellion has deeply offended him and incurred his wrath. We are all sinners and stand (or rather grovel) before him convicted, doomed, and damned because of sin. Apparently, sin is a really big deal! We would all be lost forever without someone to intervene and come to our rescue. Thank God Someone did!

All of this makes the good news of Jesus so much sweeter and more amazing! We are not without hope! The good news of Jesus is that he is our Savior. He is our hero who came to take the bullet for us. He became our sin and was condemned for it. On the cross, He absorbed all the wrath of God for sin! Jesus was convicted, doomed, and damned in our place that we might be saved as we trust in Jesus and follow Jesus! This is pure grace.

The Humbling Effect of God’s Word

Just the other day in Ezekiel I came across another contemptible sin I was guilty of. Upon reading it, I was so upset that I started swearing in my head and thinking, “Do I have any alcohol in the house?” I then remembered I had one beer left in the closet. I was planning to down the thing as quick as possible.  All while I was thinking this the Lord was speaking to my heart. In a very comforting voice he gently whispered, “Just come to me, just come to me.” As if to say he had all my sin covered and that it was alright.

I tried to have the beer anyway cause I still felt like crap. I opened it, took one sip and then poured the rest down the drain. I didn’t trust myself not to still attempt a bit of drunkenness. Then, as I sat at my kitchen table with my head resting on my Bible I said, “Okay God, now what?”

Any last flickering flames of self-esteem were thoroughly extinguished as I read for the umpteenth time of yet another way I had deeply offended God and I had to agree that I deserve his wrath. I just can’t win! And just maybe, this is the point.

I loathed myself just as Ezekiel wrote: “Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did.” (Ezekiel 36:31 NLT)

This is the humbling effect of the word of God. It humbles our pride. But, does God want to keep us in a perpetual state of loathing ourselves? No, of course not! He wants us to find our worth in Him and find pure unadulterated joy in our restored relationship and our new identity with him! He wants to show us a new way to be human and how to be what he always intended a human to be. Loving. Gracious. Kind. Forgiving. Free.

And yet, I foolishly still find myself attempting to find my value and worth in and of myself apart from him. I still try to think of myself as a good person. Every day my pride tries for a bit of glory and a bit of recognition. Every day I must, once again, die to myself just as Jesus said that we must. Every day we as humans still struggle with pride.

The Lord tells Jeremiah that, “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT)

Jesus once said, “No one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:18 NIV)

I don’t know about you but I am always attempting to make myself appear better, smarter, and more spiritual than I really am. Can you relate? Some of us do this by hiding our sin as best we can and then projecting a sanitized image of ourselves to the world (on facebook or twitter) trying to convince everyone that we are likable decent human beings who have important things to say.

I have seen thus far in my journey through the Bible that the entirety of the law and the prophets is designed to assassinate our pride, and then to lovingly restore us and yes, even resurrect us to a new way of life – a life marked by trust and love. I read the following verses today which just served to underscore this:

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us; 
   on the third day he will restore us, 
   that we may live in his presence. 

3 Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

4 “O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—
      to slaughter you with my words,
with judgments as inescapable as light.
6 I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.
7 But like Adam, you broke my covenant
and betrayed my trust.

(Hosea 6:4-7 NLT emphasis mine)

Pride is the source of all sin. It is like that black tar that afflicted spiderman. It’s tenacious clawing, grasping, and wanting to possess us. To control us. Pride is our greatest enemy and we must fight it… but how?

What is the antidote to pride?

Confession? Repentance? Humility? Love? All of the Above?

(I can’t help but remember one of my first blog posts I ever wrote which I entitled: Baring My Soul. )

What are some ways you have found that are a good antidote to pride? Leave a reply below.

Joshua, the Power in God’s Word! Hearing from God

“Be strong and courageous!” God tells Joshua. Three times he tells him to be strong and courageous, and then he adds, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

I remember an occasion when I was praying to God a while ago. To be honest with you, in that moment I was asking him to forgive me and I felt like a worm groveling before him. Then I heard him speak these words to my heart: “Be a man.”

His words had an instant effect on me. In that moment, it was as if I grew a spine. All of a sudden I had a boldness and courage in my heart that I lacked just moments before.

This is what I imagine went on in Joshua’s heart in these moments that the LORD was speaking with him. Joshua was likely feeling overwhelmed, timid, and afraid at the prospect of leading all of Israel by himself in the wake of Moses abscence. This same God who had spoken all the world, the sun, stars, and moon into existence with just a word, is now speaking courage into the heart of Joshua.

Have you ever had God speak to your heart and actually have what he spoke to you effect you in this way? Tell me about it! Leave a reply below!

Dear God, I pray that you would speak into our hearts what we need to face the challenges that lay before us. We open our hearts to recieve your word of love, encouragement, boldness, or strength. We are encouraged to know that you go before us and that you are with us as we follow you Jesus. All glory and power are yours!

Numbers, the Beauty of Repentance, the Gravity of Sin

This is the hardest post I have written thus far. It has been stalled for days as I pondered about how to, and whether I should, tell you the issues that the reading thus far has brought up for me. It opened a pandoras box of questions, doubts, and fears – like letting the smoke monster loose on the island. This reference may have been lost on some you. (Incidentally, after all the evil was let loose from the pandoras box, the last remaining item was hope.)

And so my blogging came to a screeching halt as I tried to sort through these issues. I have to warn you, not only is this post long, but it is regarding some very sensitive and grave issues regarding the Christian faith. I share this because it is the truth from Scripture, and it may even save the soul who takes it (the Scripture – not me) seriously. It is a deadly serious thing to continue to pursue a life of sin as a “Christian”. But there is always hope that things can change for the better in ways you can’t possibly imagine right now because God’s love always hopes, always perseveres, and never gives up on us! (1 Corinthians 13:7)

“Repent” was the first message that both the prophet John the Baptist and Jesus ever preached:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 3:2 & 4:17 NIV)

The word “repent” just smacks us in the ears, doesn’t it? It reminds me of “turn or burn” messages like Jonathan Edward’s sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which to be honest, deeply offends me.

I don’t believe Jesus and John the Baptist are delivering a fiery “turn or burn” message to their audience here, but instead, calling them to change their minds and hearts regarding God and the truth He has for them. Jesus always told the truth because that’s what love does. Love doesn’t hide the truth from those they love, even when the truth may be difficult to hear.

The word “repent” meant something slightly different to the original hearers of Christ’s words than it does to us in the 21st century:

“Prior to the Christian meaning we have inherited, which for the most part is similar to Webster’s definition, the Classical Greek metanoia (repent) meant something quite different—changing one’s mind or heart about someone or something.” (http://www.metanoiaministries.org/Historical.html)

So “repent” meant to have a change of mind or heart about someone (God) or something. I like that. Repent then, in essence, means to take on a new worldview – to think about things from a radically different perspective.

We absolutely MUST first and foremost repent (change our heart and mind) about our notions of who God is!

Perhaps the most important Scripture in the Torah is when God reveals his Name to Moses. God tells Moses who he is and what He is like as a person. (In the book of Numbers, Moses reminds God of what he said in the passage below when pleading for forgiveness and for the lives of rebellious Israel).

Exodus 34:5-7 NLT:

Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,

“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”

(Those last lines are regarding the far reaching consequences of our sin – see NOTE Regarding Exodus 34 at end of post.)

Just consider who this God is! He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! The Almighty powerful God to whom we are all responsible to, and, as it turns out, he is GOOD! Have you ever considered how lucky we are that this is the One and only God? How fortunate and blessed we are that God isn’t a mean tyrant, that he isn’t seeking to make us all as miserable, spoiling all our fun… though this is how he may be portrayed by some. (Such as myself and others who have struggled with a self-righteous religion).

What if God were not these things? What if he was a capricious God? What if he was a God that demanded thousands of human sacrifices a year like the Aztec’s god? (Ever watched Apocalypto?) What if he was a harsh taskmaster, impossible to please? What if?

How thankful we ought to be that this is the God we are dealing with – a God of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, filled with unfailing love and faithfulness, lavishing love to thousands, forgiving iniquity, rebellion and sin… yet, he is also just, He does not let the guilty get away with anything! Does this sound like a God you could trust? Does this sound like a God you would like to get to know?

I’d like to pray about this before moving on any further.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for being God! Forgive our suspicion and our mistrust of you. We acknowledge that you are a good and loving God. We repent, inviting a change of mind and heart concerning all our past and present notions of who you are God. Reveal yourself to us and may we follow you and love you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Thank you for being you!

Repenting of our Sin.

Let’s face it. How can what God said about not excusing the guilty bring any comfort to us when every last one of us is guilty? All have sinned!

In the law, the sins of homosexuality, adultery, blashphemy, dishonoring your parents, treating the holy and sacred (and the Holy God) with flippancy, or contempt all carried the death penalty. Of these sins, I was guilty of more than one!

In fact, I doubt anyone in the world could not read the Torah, the books of Moses and the law, without coming to the awareness that, by God’s law, they too are under the death penalty. For this is precisely what the laws purpose is! To condemn!

“If the ministry that brought condemnation (the law of Moses) was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!” (2 Corinthians 3:9 NIV)

And it doesn’t help our situation that Jesus in his “Kingdom Manifesto” (Sermon of the Mount) actually increases the weight of the law and applies it to the very motives of our heart. Hatred is murder. Lust is adultery. I was guilty of both.

I squirmed under the realization that God’s law condemns me. His law had it’s intended effect. That same night after reading through the law, I had a dream about how I treated the sin of lust so lightly. God considers my sin to be a far more serious and dangerous than I do.

Sexual Sin.

In the book of Numbers, when the seer Balaam was hired by Balak, the Moabite king, to come and curse Israel, God did not allow him to curse but instead compelled him to bless them three times. But Balaam’s heart was not for blessing Israel at all, as the story reveals. Balaam was more interested in the money Balak would have given him to curse Israel than in God’s interests to bless, so he told Balak how he could bring a curse to Israel. Send in the women!

His plan was to let the Moabite and Midianite women seduce the men of Israel into committing sexual sins and worshiping Baal Peor (a vile sex idol) to bring on God’s wrath. His plan succeeded and 24,000 of the men involved in this sin were killed in the subsequent plague from the Lord.

After considering this story in Numbers and my own sin, I felt the need to address and confront this particularly destructive sin of lust that afflicts 99.9% of all men.

Consider these two Scriptures regarding sexual sin:

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NLT – read more of the context here)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Jesus – Matthew 5: 27-30 NIV)

Cut off your hand? Gouge out your eye? This kind of hyperbolic language that Jesus uses here greatly emphasizes the gravity and deadly seriousness of this sin!

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT) (See also: Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV)

We must recognize what a gift it is to be able to renounce and walk away from sin. What a gift! Praise God! What if there were no possible means of forgiveness for sin and you had to pay the penalty for sin yourself?

Remember earlier how God said, “But I do not excuse the guilty”? After pondering this, I realized that He didn’t excuse the guilty:

God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

God sent his son Jesus to be the “guilty one” – to be sin – to condemn sin once and for all on our behalf. Jesus absorbed all the fiery wrath of God in our stead. Not only that, but can you believe it? Now we are his righteousness?

Scripture is clear throughout that only God is holy. Man is not. And then he commands us to “be holy as I am holy”. With the command would he not also make a provision?

It is by grace through faith that we (believers in Jesus) become partakers of his holiness. (Please dispel any notion from your head right now of a puritanical somber, holier-than-thou, religious idea of holy).

You come to life when you are holy! You become who God always meant for you to be when you become holy! You had no idea how good life could be, how fun, exhilarating, and adventurous, so full of hope and promise, joy and peace and love that life could be before becoming holy! With holiness you start to actually enjoy God and you fellowship with him, and actually hear from him, and you “share a meal together as friends” and have “wonderful times of refreshing in his presence” when you are holy!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV)

Guys, do you still want to pursue sexual sin, and dabble with porn? You have a free will. Go ahead. Indulge. But, don’t you realize that you are making yourself an enemy of love and therefore of God when you choose sin over him? It’s idolatry.

Consider the tenderness and forgiveness of Jesus in this story:

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8 NLT emphasis mine)

Jesus, thank you for the forgiveness of sin, victory over sin, and most of all, giving us your Holy Spirit, as we simply trust in you. Forgive us for running away from you. Forgive us for avoiding you. Forgive us for loving our sin more than you. We repent. Thank you for sharing your holiness with us as we simply trust in you. Please reveal to us all the vibrant beauty in what it means to be holy. May we pursue you with all our heart and remain pure in our devotion to you.

(NOTE Regarding Exodus 34) 

I don’t believe God is just being vindictive in his statement, “laying the sins of the parents on the children and grand children”. For in other places in Scripture he says he doesn’t punish the children for their parent’s sin (See Ezekiel 18). He is speaking of consequences of the parents sin.

As parents, we can pass on a blessing or a curse depending on whether we follow and love God, or not. If not, then the practical implications of inviting and serving demons in your home by choosing to sin is that your children will be raised with demonic influences. Not only will this impair them spiritually but they in turn will, more than likely, continue in the same sin patterns the parents followed and bear the same curse.

When will the sin cycle be broken? That’s up to me and you. Whatever the sin cycle is for you, whether it be alcoholism, a porn addiction, or an internet or entertainment addiction, the victory has already been won for us by Jesus. Jesus actually did accomplish something on the cross!

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