“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2, NKJV).
Few activities are more common to mankind than what we often call “the blame game.” Whatever problem I may face, it is never my fault. My difficulties are either caused by or should have been prevented by someone else. If “the devil did not make me do it” then “the government should do something about it.” Rarely do we hear, “I guess I need to make some changes.”
In ancient Israel many Jews were apparently blaming God for their sinful condition. Perhaps they were making the same claim we sometimes hear today: “If God was really a loving God he would not let this kind of thing happen.” Continue reading “What separates us from God?”
“As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! Because he committed this cold-hearted crime, he must pay for the lamb four times over!” (2 Samuel 12:5-6 NET). So said King David when Nathan told the story to convict David of his sin with Bathsheba. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this is exactly the price David paid: he lost four of his children.
The first child to die was the one who had been conceived the night he spent with Bathsheba. God struck him with an illness and a week later the child died (2 Samuel 12:15-18). Continue reading “Further consequences of David’s sin”
In Acts 13, as Paul was speaking at the Jewish synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, he made this statement about King David: “God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.’” (Acts 13:22 NET). What higher praise could anyone have than for God to describe them as someone who is “after my heart.”
Yet David was far from perfect. We read in 2 Samuel 11 about his affair with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his inner circle of warriors (he was one of the thirty listed in 2 Samuel 23). But that wasn’t the end of the story. Bathsheba became pregnant and when David couldn’t get Uriah to sleep with his wife to cover up the pregnancy, he set it up so that Uriah would be killed in battle, in reality committing murder. He then sent for and married Bathsheba who, in due course, gave birth to a son. Continue reading “Sin has consequences”
Some people have no shame, when they ought to show it. “The righteous person hates anything false, but the wicked person acts in shameful disgrace” Proverbs 13.5. Are there any more wicked than religious figures preaching false doctrines, creating their own kingdoms, living in dissolution, and loving the attention, power, titles and diplomas?
Then there is that sinner who is so overcome by his shame that he fails to come forward and confess his sin. Instead of drawing closer to God, he allows shame to drive him away from the Lord. Jeremiah has it right on this one: “Let us acknowledge our shame. Let us bear the disgrace that we deserve. For we have sinned against the Lord our God …” Jeremiah 3.25. Continue reading “Like the Lord, despise the shame”
“But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23,24).
The word Paul uses in Greek for “stumbling block,” is skandalon – a “scandal,” or an “offense.” First century people did not feel warm and fuzzy emotions when they thought about crucifixions; they felt fear and revulsion. Continue reading “Offensive”
“Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:7).
Following Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my beloved son” (Matthew 3:17). Immediately afterward, Jesus was taken to the wilderness to fast and be tested 40 days.
Satan tempted him there. His temptations all began with, “If you are the son of God…” He began with something that seemed perfectly reasonable: make stones into bread and feed yourself.
Men easily err when they think of what is perfectly reasonable to them, but fail to consult God. Why not turn stones to bread? He had the power. He had the opportunity. Continue reading “Logically right but spiritually wrong”
Behind sin works a living, personal, spiritual force called Satan. He opposes God and he considers mankind his battlefield. We know little about his origin, but we have learned much about his tactics and objectives. These should be studied carefully.
When we speak of sin, therefore, we are actually speaking of the work of Satan against God’s special creation of mankind.
It cannot be controlled. It is the lion crouching just outside the door ready to pounce and kill, Genesis 4.7; 1 Peter 5.8. It is the kudzu that will not stop growing until it has covered every good intent and smothered all good works. There is no dabbling in sin, no setting limits for sin, no negotiating with sin. Continue reading “Five hideous truths about sin—and one great truth of hope”
Green peppers are ripe in the garden! Oh, the possibilities — pepper pizza, fajitas, stuffed peppers, and any number of dishes with these tasty green fruits as a flavoring.
I brought in the first two bell peppers from the garden yesterday. One was perfect! The other was a terrible disappointment, after cutting into it and finding brown spots on the inside. I needed to know how to prevent the rest of my pepper crop from succumbing to such an unappetizing problem. Continue reading “Isolate the cause”
Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46)
Jesus was unconventional in so many ways, but never more than in his claim to be sinless. It is audacious. It is something the gospel writers would not have chosen if they were merely inventing Jesus. It was an unnecessary risk. Continue reading “Who will cast a stone at Jesus?”
Job expressed the desire to have never been born, so great was his suffering. In his moral confusion, Solomon considered better than both the living and the dead “the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth” Ecclesiastes 4.3.
The Lord Jesus used this idea, of better to have never been born, for the one who betrayed him. Continue reading “Better to have never been born”