132. Feeling Guilty? Is It Conviction By The Holy Spirit Or Condemnation By The Devil?

A friend remarked recently that the motivating factor in the incredible change in his life came through a deep conviction by the Holy Spirit. The experience  gave him a sense of his lost-ness and a feeling of guilt from deliberately living life without God. He also shared that when he first started going to church, a sense of guilt remained for some time. But it raises the question as to whether new believers (or sometimes more mature believers) are suffering from unnecessary guilt.

We need to remember that we live in a fallen world and that none of us are, or ever will be, perfect. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit of God whom we received at our conversion to Christ, is to convict us of our sin. Jesus said in John 16:8, And when he (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. The word for “convict” here is  ελέγχω (elegchō). It has meanings in the New Testament such as these, to convict, expose, reprove, rebuke, show fault, to prove to be wrong. It is used in a similar sense in Jn 3:19-20, where it is said that light “exposes” darkness,  Jn 3:19  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.Exposed” here is our word (elegchō).

As many have discovered, the Holy Spirit exposes the sinfulness of sin to human hearts. However humans by and large have no great desire to change. That is why light is so threatening to many people. They believe that if they get close to the light, their sins might be exposed and they don’t want to be unmasked in that manner.  By contrast believers are not afraid of the light because they want to walk in the light, in ways that honour God.  They welcome the light that exposes any sin in their lives, so that they can repent of it and then can ask and receive God’s forgiveness and cleansing.

It raises the question however whether believers should have feelings of guilt? Of course they should if they are guilty in any way. But the Christian life is meant to be an ongoing growth in maturity and in holiness. The Holy Spirit can and does convict believers of their guilt when they transgress or step out of the will of God for them. In spite of our growing likeness to Christ, there will never be a time when we can go it alone. We will always need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to bring about that transformation. He shows us our faults (convicts us). But He also empowers us to overcome those faults by His grace, love and power.

Throughout my ministry I have come across many believers who were weighed down with guilt. Why? Because they had failed to recognise the difference between the ministry of the Holy Spirit in convicting us of sin and the strategy of the devil in seeking to make us feel guilty. I once put in a diagram to show the difference.

What is the difference between:-  Conviction by the Holy Spirit?  Condemnation by the accuser? (Reading across the columns from left to right). 

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin  so that we might repent of our guilt and sin So that we turn to God to ask for and receive God’s forgiveness The end result. So that we might walk in freedom from guilt by the grace of God
The Devil (as Diabolos the accuser) accuses us and condemns us of our sin so that we might feel guilt and remorse (but not repentance) So that he may entice us to turn away from God in our guilt, feeling worthless and useless and “dirty” The end result. So that we might be held captive in our “guilt” to the Devil.

It was quite amazing when I taught this truth in large seminars that so many attendees suddenly realised what was going on in their minds and in their lives.  Some of them later admitted that they had been having troubling thoughts. They were rejoicing in their salvation, but were often plagued with condemning thoughts. Sometimes this had led to thoughts of self-condemnation. Other times they had felt that they were too unworthy to keep on serving God. Many of these folk realised that there was a battle going on in their minds.

We need to remember that our thoughts come from various sources. The Bible teaches something that many of us have come to realise. That is, the Satan, the Devil (Diabolos)  is able to plant thoughts in our minds. He can do that in the realm of temptation as he sows tempting possibilities in our minds. But he is also known as the “accuser” which is the meaning of  the word “diabolos”. As the diagram above shows he accuses us so that we begin to feel condemned and guilty, so that we come more under his power. That is why we need to take stock of what is going on in our thinking.  We need to learn to recognise the origin of the thoughts that form in our minds. Are they from God, from Satan or just our own reflections? Is God trying to convict us of something in our lives that is not according to His will for us? As we respond to Him, we learn to walk in greater freedom. Or is it Satan having a go at us to lead us away from God.

Well, how do we discern what is going on in our minds? St Paul shows us the answer in 2 Corinthians 10:5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. It means not allowing our thoughts to get out of control. Rather we are to take every thought to Jesus to let Him rule on it so that we continue to live in obedience to Him. If we continue to dwell on our thoughts  we can begin to “own” them as the product of our minds, when in fact they may have been thoughts planted by Satan. The German reformer Martin Luther  saw the danger of dwelling on our thoughts. He said regarding temptation, “You can’t stop the birds flying over your heads, but you can stop them building nests in your hair.”  In other words, temptations are sure to come to all of us. It is inevitable in a fallen world where the Devil is opposed to God and to His children. But what we can and must do is to stop those tempting thoughts from taking root in our minds. Otherwise we give them power by feeding them by dwelling on those thoughts.

If you have a troubling thought in your mind you are able to do something about it. You don’t have to remain a “victim”of a diabolical attack. You can take the thought to Jesus for Him to deal with. You could pray a prayer like this one.

“Dear Lord Jesus. I thank You that You know everything about me. You know every thought I have. I confess that I have been focussing on this particular thought ….. . I want to obey you in all that I do. If this thought is from You then give me peace about it and the grace to act on it. If this thought is not from You, I ask that You break the power of that thought in my mind so that I don’t continue to focus on it. Please renew my mind so that You become the Lord of my mind. I ask this so that I might bring glory to your name in all I think, say and do. AMEN.” 

Blog No. 132.  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Saturday 23rd November 2013

Posted in Bible verses. Comments, Forgiveness, Healing, Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

241. Homophobia. Who Is Guilty? A Surprising Possibility!

In Australia, we are now in the process of voting in a plebiscite. The question for the plebiscite is this “Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry?” There were many folk who were not in favour of a plebiscite because they believed that nasty things could be said during the time of the plebiscite. That has already shown to be true even though the nasty language seems to be coming mainly from supporters of one side of the argument. As journalist Miranda Devine commented recently, “SO now we see why rainbow warriors didn’t want a people’s vote on same-sex marriage. It was because they knew we’d see their true, intolerant colours. Yes campaign HQ knows thuggery won’t win over Middle Australia, but their foot-soldiers are revealing themselves as fascistic bullies who vilify and intimidate anyone who dares to disagree.” [NOTE 1] Language such as “homophobes” and “bigots” is being used to berate those who intend to vote “No” on the issue. These are serious accusations and perhaps we should look more closely to see what is mean by the term “homophobe.”

A “homophobe” is described in some dictionaries as “a person who hates or fears homosexual people.”  Or those who have an “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.”  The Cambridge English Dictionary has the definition of homophobia as “a fear or dislike of gay people.” There are many in the homosexual world who say that those who do not accept homosexuality as a life-style or who say homosexual activities are wrong, are guilty of homophobic attitudes or hate towards them. Thus they see many Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who reject homosexual practice as being homophobic, bigoted and guilty of hatred.

 Living In A World Where There Are No Absolutes

If we live in a world where there is no God, there can be no absolutes.  Where there are no absolutes, everything is relative. People in such a world simply conform as much as possible (mainly to their own advantage) to the changing cultural patterns of the day. Those who criticise or condemn the behaviour of their fellow humans are seen as biased and bigoted. Who are they to pass judgment on another person’s behaviour if there are no absolutes to follow?  So, it is argued, in a world where everyone is free to do their own thing, people shouldn’t be critical of the behaviour of others who live differently from themselves. It would mean in such a world, that no one is in a position to criticise anyone else. In such a world, different kinds of sexual activity among consenting people would have no value judgments placed on them.

But What If There Is A God Of This Universe? (And it would naturally be a very big ‘if’)

What if there happened to be a God in charge of this world? One who created it? One who made certain demands of His creatures? What if this God has revealed Himself in His creation? What if He has given messages describing what He wanted, to people like Moses and the prophets? What if this God gave them commandments like the Ten Commandments and many other commandments over a period of centuries? What if He has declared many things to be wrong in His sight? What if He caused to be written, the words to males in Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And also in Lev 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.”

What if He inspired His apostle St Paul to record His will in the book of Romans where Paul states that homosexual behaviour is part of the result of the general judgment of God upon people who reject Him? Judgment in the sense that He has deliberately allowed people to do what they wanted to do, to exercise their free-will as they rebelled against Him and against His will for humans. The three verses in Romans chapter 1 stating that “God gave them up” or “handed them over” don’t mean that God has “given up” on such people. Rather He “delivered them over” to their passions or allowed them to fulfil their own will while rejecting His will, Rom 1:26  “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” What if this God is saying that homosexual activity is not in accord with the purpose for which He created the different sexes in His world?

What if homosexual practice (as described in verses 26-27) is included with the other sins coming from human rebellion that Paul mentioned in Romans 1 such as, Rom 1:28 ”And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless?” What if this God includes homosexual activity as one of the results of the general rebellion of humans against their creator?  What if He also condemned them for giving approval to others who also practiced the same things, as St Paul wrote in Rom 1:32, “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them?”

In such a world, with such a God, it could appear that the homophobic people (those who hate homosexuals, by their definition) are those who engage in homosexual activity. Why? Because they involve other people in activity that this God has declared to be contrary to His will.

A Surprising Possibility

So the “surprising possibility” might be this. If there is a God who created this world, then many of those who try to warn and discourage those engaged in homosexual activity, are those who truly care about them. They care enough about them to be concerned for their present welfare and for their eternal future. On the other hand it would mean that the real homophobes (those acting without love, and with hatred towards homosexuals) in this world in which God exists, would be those who involve and encourage others in their homosexual activities! If this is God’s world, then to deliberately encourage another person to participate in activities condemned by Him, would never be an act of love in the sight of such a God. It would be an unloving act, a homophobic act because it does not seek the best interest of the other person.

Does it really matter which way we vote?

Mind you, if there is no God, then none of this matters one little bit. In such a world you are free to make your own choices in life about everything. But what if God does exist and has revealed His will for how the humans He created are to behave? For many people this would be the classic inconvenient truth! Better in the eyes of many such people to deny the existence of God! Better to mock Bible teaching! Better to ignore the teaching of Jesus that marriage is between a man and a woman! Better to prevent young people from hearing Bible truths which speak of these “inconvenient” truths! Better to intimidate people wanting to attend [or force to cancel] meetings where the value of a “No” vote would be discussed! Better in the eyes of such people to besmirch the character and motives of those who would seek to help them understand this truth, that in a world in which God exists, actions and attitudes have consequences!

If God did exist then it means we would have the awesome responsibility of living in the way He meant us to live, and not contrary to it.  It would mean that people would need to seek His help to refrain from all sexual activity outside His will, AND from all the other things St Paul mentioned in Romans 1:28-31 as coming from a debased mind. It means that everyone should be turning away from “all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hatred towards God, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, new forms of evil, disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness.” God is not picking on homosexuals. He sees all these sins in Romans 1:18-32 as contrary to His purposes and destructive to the welfare of mankind. He wants all people to repent of sinning in all the above ways and to seek His forgiveness in Christ. He wants all people to seek for His grace and help to overcome the temptations to be involved in all these practices that He sees as sin. He wants all humans to live in the freedom that Christ came to bring by His death and Resurrection and by sending us the Holy Spirit to indwell us and to empower us to live in His way and by His power.

The need to face reality and not live in denial

If the reality is that there is no God, then you can do as you like. However, if God does exist and has told us what He likes and what He dislikes, it becomes an entirely different matter. Issues then are not just based on human rights and values (important as they are) but on His values and His will and purposes for humans in this world. Reality, is the world as God meant it to be, not necessarily what seems right and loving and fair to humans. To ignore or neglect or rebel against His revealed purposes and will, is running away from reality. It doesn’t matter how important are the politicians who tell us we need to vote “YES” as a human right, or how attractive are the same sex oriented celebrities who are trotted out to encourage us to support “love” relationships, God is still God. His will is His will. His world is His world. We are His creatures, privileged to be alive in His world BUT now and eternally responsible to Him for the way we live our lives.

As I have written above, many of those who are concerned about the homophobia they believe they see in others who are against same sex marriage, may themselves be guilty of homophobia when they involve others in their homosexual practices or encourage homosexuality. True love is seeking the best interests of every other person, which means encouraging them to enter into the centre of God’s will for them. His will, according to the Bible, does not allow for same sex activity.

Let’s face it! We have all fallen short of God’s glory! None of us is perfect! We all need forgiveness! But forgiveness only comes as we repent of all our sins and ask God for His grace not to do those things again. Only a God who exists can enable people to refrain from all the things mentioned in Romans 1. From all the indications in the Bible, the God of the Bible would be delighted to help those who asked for His help. Many of my friends who once cried out to Him for help to overcome various temptations, have found He is always ready to help those who humbly turn to Him. Not only that but they have found that He is able to keep on strengthening them to live in the way He always wanted them to live. Therein is freedom! And reality! In God’s world!

[NOTE 1] Miranda Devine in The Daily Telegraph on Sunday 17th September 2017.

Blog No.241. Jim Holbeck. Posted Sunday 17th September 2017

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Politics, Sexuality, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

240. If in doubt about a change in the definition of marriage in Australia, don’t vote for change!

In an article in The Australian newspaper on Tuesday 12th September 2017 Joe Kelly and Simon Benson wrote, “Malcolm Turnbull has been ­accused of handing a “blank cheque” to the parliament after the government declared it would not move to provide religious protections before the same-sex-­marriage survey is finalised. Senior ministers yesterday confirmed that no bill outlining ­religious protections would be ­endorsed by the government until after the result was declared, arguing it would only be required should a Yes vote be returned.

The decision flies in the face of a warning from former prime minister John Howard, revealed in The Weekend Australian, calling for ­religious protections to be outlined before the end of the postal survey so Australians could participate with the full knowledge of what they were voting for.”

Parliament, not the Government, would legislate changes

If that is so, then it presents a scary scenario. It would seem that Parliament and not the Coalition government would be setting out legislation regarding religious freedom and freedom of speech.  There is no reason to feel comfortable about that situation. If, as many pundits believe, Labor will be in Government at the next election, if not before, there could be severe restrictions on both religious freedom and freedom of speech. Consider for a moment what has been said previously by Labor spokespersons. In an article by Jason Tin in News Corp Australia Network in May 2016 he wrote, “The Opposition has already promised to introduce marriage equality legislation into the Parliament within the first 100 days of the next term. The new LGBTI commissioner will cost $1.4 million over four years, with the appointment tasked with being a “champion” of the community’s rights.”

 What changes could we expect if the “Yes” vote prevails?

Jason Tin in the same article also wrote, “Labor’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, yesterday announced the commitment to appoint an LGBTI discrimination commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission, which would cost $200,000 in the first year and $400,000 a year after that. “An LGBTI Discrimination Commissioner will ensure lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex Australians can feel safer, more secure and more included in Australian society,” Senator Wong said at an event in Melbourne. “The Commissioner will address structural discrimination, work towards ensuring our schools, workplaces, and communities are free from discrimination.

He quotes her words as she spoke about bigotry and discrimination, “We are here because we reject hatred, we reject bigotry and we reject discrimination,” she said. But most of all we are here because we believe in a principle — the principle of equality.”

That means then that Labor in its declared anti-discrimination policy will honestly and fairly outline this policy as well, “Labor’s leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, [will one day announce] the commitment to appoint a discrimination commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission, which would cost $200,000 in the first year and $400,000 a year after that. “This Discrimination Commissioner will ensure that all those who are NOT lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex Australians will feel safer, more secure and more included in Australian society,” “The Commissioner will address structural discrimination, work towards ensuring our schools, workplaces, and communities are free from discrimination (against all Australians of all political persuasions and gender identifications.”)

 Equality which is really about equality for all Australians!

Is Penny Wong really going to push for that sort of equality for same-sex folk and for those who are not same-sex? Of course! She is committed to it. As she has stated openly, “We believe in a principle — the principle of equality.” The principle of equality demands equality for all, not just for some groups.

Mind you they could scrap the appointments of all discrimination commissioners and save the money and the associated divisiveness. Many think the whole “Human Rights Commission” could go as well!

 Will this “equal equality” really happen?

If justice is justice, and fairness is fairness and non bias is non bias and non-discrimination is non-discrimination, then it could! However, one would not think so, based on what is happening at the moment in Australia and overseas. The bias is heavily weighted in one direction especially in the media.

What should happen right now if we have to vote?

It is obvious that with so little transparency about what is happening and about what could happen in the case of a “yes” majority, the wisest thing would be to vote “No” to changing the definition of marriage until political parties get their act together. When they are able to  formulate their intentions and learn to communicate them in truthful transparency, then it might be time to vote. But not until then. Bullying from either side to force a result is not called justice. It’s called bullying!

This present definition of marriage in the Australian “Marriage Act of 1961” is looking better day by day, “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” And our Creator God gives it the tick too! After all, it was His idea!

Blog No.240.  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Tuesday 12th September 2017

 

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Politics, Prayer, Salvation, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

239. What is involved in Voting Yes or No for same-sex marriage?

The question being put to eligible Australian voters in the plebiscite on same sex marriage is this, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”

The question seems to be innocuous enough. But there are some difficulties with it. For example, what is meant by “the law?” Do those voting know what the present law is?  In what ways will a change in the law (allowing same-sex couples to marry) affect other aspects of the legal system for all Australians? None of these topics seem to have been addressed at the moment and yet people could be voting on this matter in a matter of days, if not hours.

It’s a bit like signing a blank cheque and hoping that those to whom we give it will not abuse the opportunity we are giving them to do the right thing. Signing blank cheques is a sure recipe for people to take from us more than we were expecting to give them. What freedoms might people take with our vote if we voted for a change in the law?

 What is “the law” that could be changed as a result of our voting in the plebiscite?

 Well it is certainly not the law of God our Creator. His word is eternal and He has already informed us what He intended marriage to be and should continue to be.  Gen 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”

When Jesus came to earth as the Son of God He was asked about divorce. However He went back to the beginning and quoted these words from Genesis chapter 1 as He replied, Mat 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Not only are these words the teaching of the greatest teacher who ever lived, and God’s anointed, the Christ, but He was also God’s agent in creation as the New Testament declares in many places. (NOTE 1) The One who created the world and the people in it might know a thing or two about His creation! And about marriage! And about who qualifies for marriage! And who doesn’t!

 Well is it the law of the land (which may or may not submit to God’s created order?)

It appears that what is being referred to, is this section from the Marriage Act of 1961, “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” That definition seems to be in accord with God’s created order and certainly marriage has been seen as that relationship over millennia. So why should it be changed?

Here again there is confusion. Does a change in the law mean that the definition is changed to something like this, “Marriage means the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” However, many same sex couples (by their own admission) don’t want their relationship to be monogamous. So, will the definition become, “Marriage is the union of two people?” Or something more insipid? We haven’t been told, to my knowledge.

It seems to be a big fat cheque we are being asked to sign with no indication of what will follow a “Yes” vote. Will freedom of speech be guaranteed if same sex marriage is approved.  Not just for religious celebrants and groups but for every Australian. Will the victimhood cease with a Yes vote and will accusations of bigotry and homophobia cease against those opposed to same sex marriage.

Unless these factors are addressed immediately, like in the next day or so, especially the issues of religious freedom and free speech, one would be a fool to vote “yes” when all these issued have not been addressed. Signing a blank cheque is bad enough. Signing a death warrant for personal and religious freedoms would be infinitely worse.

================================================================

(NOTE 1. John wrote of Jesus,  Joh 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” And Joh 1:10 “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

Paul wrote of Jesus, Col 1:16 “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”

The writer to the Letter to the Hebrews wrote, Heb 1:1 “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.”

 

Blog 239. Jim Holbeck. Posted Monday 11th September 2017

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Forgiveness, Politics, Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

238. The Anglican Church of Australia agrees with me! About same-sex “marriage”.

It’s nice when people agree with you. Especially on sensitive issues! Especially when you are a retired Anglican minister and you want your church to remain faithful to the revealed will of God in the Scriptures! I was going to title this blog (with tongue in cheek) as “The Anglican Church of Australia agrees with me! It must be right! About same-sex marriage.” However not every one has the same sense of humour. Some might have thought that I was prideful in seeming to suggest that my opinion was the only correct opinion. But it was encouraging to read this decision of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia at its meeting last week at Noosa in Queensland.

In previous articles on this blogsite I have written on the subject of so-called “same-sex marriage”. I found that the concept could not be based on the scriptures. The resolution of General Synod printed below uses the same argument I used from the words of Jesus in Matthew 19 verse 6. This was their resolution last week,

General Synod –
a) notes with regret that the Scottish Episcopal Church has
amended their Canon on Marriage to change the definition
that marriage is between a man and a woman by adding a
new section that allows clergy to solemnise marriage
between same-sex couples as well as couples of the
opposite sex;
b) notes with regret that this step is contrary to the doctrine of
our Church and the teaching of Christ that, in marriage, “a
man will leave his father and mother and be united to his
wife, and the two will become one flesh” (Matt 19:6), and
c) expresses our support for those Anglicans who have left or
will need to leave the Scottish Episcopal Church because of
its redefinition of marriage; and those who struggle and
remain and
d) prays that the Scottish Episcopal Church will return to the
doctrine of Christ in this matter and that impaired
relationships will be restored.

Though I was glad that sanity had prevailed,  that the words of Jesus were taken seriously and that the teaching of the Scriptures had been upheld, I was saddened a little to see the voting. It was as follows in terms of voting for this resolution.
House of Laity: 60 Yes; 45 No.  House of Clergy:68 Yes; 42 No.  House of Bishops: 12 Yes; 6 No

I would have preferred to read regarding the resolution of General Synod above, the numbers being recorded as Laity 105 Yes and Nil for No. Clergy 110 Yes and Nil for No.  Bishops 18 Yes and Nil for No. But I am very grateful that the Anglican church in Australia wants to honour Jesus in such decisions and not ignore His teaching as many churches have done in other parts of the world.

Christian love means siding with Jesus in what He says, and acting in loving ways towards everyone, seeking their best interests on every occasion. Their best interests are NOT served in encouraging people to act in ways that are not pleasing to God and contrary to His eternal purposes for humankind throughout the ages.

Blog No.238. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Sunday 10th September 2017. 

 

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Prayer, Salvation, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

237. What does the Bible say about marriage? Is it just between a man and a woman or can there be other “couplings”? What will a plebiscite do for marriage in Australia?

What is marriage supposed to look like? How do we know what form it should take? Fortunately, we don’t have to guess. God the creator has revealed this to us in His word, which could be called the “Maker’s Handbook.” He tells us as the Maker, how it began; what is its purpose; and for whom it was intended. We find those truths in Genesis chapter 1 describing the beginning of human existence and also in other passages in the Bible. Unfortunately, in today’s world many people are failing to look back to the origins of creation, marriage etc and have become focussed on things like what they feel human rights should look like, and on other human issues. They fail to realise that all of life has its origin in Him and that we are privileged (not entitled) to be alive in His world. However we are responsible to use our God-given free will to willingly live in the way He meant us to live.

Some folk judge the Lord to be non-existent or if they think He does exist, they see Him as unfair, malevolent, uncaring, discriminating and powerless to help. The problem is that for humans He ultimately will be the judge and all must answer to Him for every thought, word and action in their lives. We don’t have the capability to judge Him. He does have the capability to judge us, and to do so, absolutely fairly.

So how do we go in comparing our idea of what marriage should look like, with His original pattern. As we look at the following passages that tell us what marriage is all about, we need to remember that this is how the Creator Himself planned it. It is the product of His mind. If our opinions are different to His regarding marriage, which of us needs to change? Even as I write these words I think of many folk who are talking unwisely about marriage and pushing their own ideas onto susceptible people. If they knew how seriously God views marriage and resulting family life, they would take time to reconsider their opinions about Him and about marriage.

Just a quick summary of what is brought out more broadly below.

1] God made this world and all the people in it.

2] God designed marriage to be between a male person [a man] and a female person [a woman.]

3] God designed them differently so that together they could reproduce in a way that other “couplings” could not.

4] God made marriage in such a way that it would take priority over other relationships except for the totally committed relationship that both partners should have with Him.

5] God doesn’t want marriage partners to be separated from each other by the introduction of any other person.

The following are the verses that tell us about the origin and meaning of God-given marriage. The text is in the left hand column and the corresponding comments are in the right hand column. I have included the Hebrew and Greek words to show their occurrence in different passages. (The LXX is short for the Greek version of the Old Testament translated by 70 [hence LXX] scholars between perhaps 300 and 200 BC. It was known and quoted extensively by New Testament writers.)

 GENESIS Chapter 1. The beginning of all things and of human existence

Gen 1:26  Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Hebrew Bible text.

“Mankind”. [’āḏām].  Used for male and female humans.

Their value is that they are created by God and made in His image to have dominion in His creation.

 Greek LXX text.

“Mankind”. [ánthrōpos, ἄνθρωπος]. Used for male and female humans.

Gen 1:27  So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Hebrew Bible text.

“Mankind”. [’āḏām].  Used for male and female humans

“Male.” [ zāḵār.] Male human or male animal.

“Female.”  [neqēḇāh.] Female human or female animal.

 

Greek LXX Bible text.

“Mankind”. [ánthrōpos. ἄνθρωπος] Used for male and female humans.

“Male.” [ársēn, αρσην] A male human.

“Female.” [thḗlus, θήλυς] A female human.

Creation is made up of two sexes, male and female according to God’s revelation about the creation of the universe. Though they are both equal in status, in being made in His image, they are different in some of the functions they perform in life.

Gen 1:28  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. …”

 

God instituted marriage to be between a man and a woman so that they might be fruitful and multiply. He created them to be different to each other so that together they might accomplish this purpose.

No other coupling can produce this result naturally.

MATTHEW Chapter 19.

The context is that some religious leaders were questioning Jesus about divorce. However He took them back to the origin and purpose of marriage by quoting from Genesis chapter 1. He affirmed that marriage is between a male human [a male] and a female human [a female]. The man takes on new responsibilities as he now adjust his priorities in life to make his wife his number one priority after God.

The resulting marriage normally leads to a one flesh relationship which is viewed by God to be of His making and no one is meant to come between that couple.

Mat 19:3  Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Man”. [ánthrōpos, ἄνθρωπος] In this case the man has a wife.

 

 

Mat 19:4  “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’  The creator created humans as male or female.

“Male”. [ársēn, ἄρσην] A male human

“Female” [thḗlus, θήλυς]. A female human

Mat 19:5  and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? Marriage brings a change in relationships.

“Man”. [ánthrōpos, ἄνθρωπος] the man is to take to himself a woman who will then be called his wife.

“father”.  [patḗr, πατήρ] The male parent of the man.

“mother”. [mḗtēr, μήτηρ]. The female parent of the man.

“wife”. [gunḗ, γυνή]. Can mean woman or wife depending on the context. Here it is “wife”.

 

Mat 19:6  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” “One flesh.” Physical union as implied in verse 5, “be united to his wife” where “united” is [kolláō, κολλάω meaning to glue to, to adhere to. English “collage” is from this root.]

“joined together.” [Is from suzeúgnumi,  συζευγνύμι meaning to yoke together. This is what God does. ]

The coming together of a man and a woman in marriage is seen to be God’s intention for one flesh relationships.

No one should seek to come between the couple.

MARK 10:2-9. The corresponding passage in Mark 10:2-9 has the same phrases as shown above in Matthew’s account.

EPHESIANS 5:31-33.

In the context of mutual submission in the relationship between husbands and wives, Paul adds this statement, Eph 5:31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” Again the words are almost exactly the same as in Matthew 19:5. What that should mean in practice is found in verse 33, “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” They have God-given responsibilities to genuinely care for each other.

 OBSERVATIONS

  • If we are going to use the term “marriage” it should be used in its right context, namely the coming together of a man and a woman in a committed relationship to be united in what would normally become a one flesh relationship.
  • There is no other “coupling” that can be called a “marriage” in Biblical (God’s) terms. The term “same-sex marriage” is an oxymoron in Biblical terms because no such entity is considered by God to constitute marriage.
  • Care must be exercised when dealing with people who believe that marriage is a human right for all people and that to deny marriage to same sex couples is unloving. It may be that they may not know what the Bible has to say on the subject and are trying to be loving and accepting towards all people. They may be ignorant of the fact that God has actually revealed His plan for marriage.
  • In Australia we are soon going to have a plebiscite to get the general population’s opinion on whether the Marriage Act should be changed to allow for same sex marriage. The Marriage Act at present specifies that “marriage” means “the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” That definition accords with God’s revealed will in the Bible concerning marriage. If the Marriage Act is eventually changed to include same sex relationships it may become lawful in the eyes of the law in Australia but it would be unlawful in the eyes of the Lord. However His love will always be available for those who take Him, His laws and His purposes for His world (including marriage) seriously.
  • All decisions in God’s world have consequences. One prays that whatever decision is reached, people will be motivated by love, self-denial and fairness in their relationships with each other.
  • It needs to be realised that there will always be some people throughout the world who will vote against the introduction of same sex marriage because they believe that God has declared His purpose for marriage and it does not include marriage between people of the same sex.

Blog No.237. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Friday 8th September 2017

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Politics, Questions and Answers, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

236. How Did The World Come To Be In Such A Mess? There is an answer in Romans chapter 1! And a message of hope!

There are many who are saying in 2017 that we are living in an upside down world where “good” is called “evil” and “evil” is called “good”. Others say that the world is in chaos, out of control. Still others are saying it’s as though darkness is overcoming the world and  we are living in a world of unreality, a world of madness. Evidence of that is seen in recent months and years where we have seen nonsense being espoused by some scientists in their writings about “extreme” global warming threats.  Or office bearers in Medical and Law bodies in Australia making pronouncements that their organisations had certain views concerning sexuality issues. But they did not have the right to speak on behalf of their members who had not been consulted. They were reprimanded by many of their own members for misrepresenting their views.  Or we might think of politicians who are taking their countries further and further into debt with seemingly no desire to do anything about it! It is a sad world indeed when one cannot accept as truth what many scientists, medicos and legal folk are saying whilst we are being led into an ever -increasing national debt.

Why is the world like this? I wrote about this some 5 years ago when I was studying Romans chapter 1. The passage talks about a world in rebellion against God and how He has handed people over to do their own thing, to do what they wanted to do. They responded by misusing the free-will they were given. The passage also tells us what takes place as a result. That sad story is being played out before our eyes at the moment throughout the world. The following is that article which I think is still highly relevant today. It is actually my extended paraphrase of Romans 1.

Reproducing Article No. 87 written in August 2012
“How Did The World Come To Be In Such A Mess?” Well it’s pretty clear really! We’ve turned our back on God. When you turn your back on God you can get into a hell of a mess (literally). God has shown us in His book (the Bible) how we are meant to live but we have ignored what He said. What we did know, we didn’t act on anyway! But how about people who don’t have Bibles? How do they know how they are meant to live? A good question! But there is an answer. God showed a lot about Himself in the world He made. For example the more you study the world the more you realise that you didn’t make it. Neither did your wonderful parents or grandparents! It shows such intricate design and order that it is obvious that no human could ever have designed it or created it. Some supernatural being must have done it. A being who is above nature, who made it all.

We can paint beautiful life-like flowers on canvas but we can’t make them live. We can harness the wind to derive energy, but we can’t produce the wind ourselves, (well some blowhards do better than the rest of us but it is infinitesimal in the grand scale of things.) We use some explosives to do a bit of damage but a violent tornado or earthquake does far more damage in a matter of moments. We marvel at the food chains in the world and marvel that it is all so coordinated, as though someone planned it that way. It is indeed a short-sighted person who says that there is not a supernatural being who made it all. Seeing the order and the power in creation is meant to lead everyone to know more about this being. The creation does bear witness to the existence of a Creator whom people are meant to “search out” in whatever way they can.

However the Bible says that instead of searching out more about this Creator God, humans refused to acknowledge His existence. They refused to thank Him for the privilege of living in the wonderful world He had made.  By taking their focus off Him as creator they began to think silly thoughts about God and to live as though He didn’t exist. This led to more foolish thinking. In fact what happened was this. They made their own gods. They did this in three ways.

I). Firstly they tossed aside the evidence that the creator God had shown in His creation. In its place they made images to be their gods. Some looked like humans. Others looked like birds or animals or even (shudder, shudder!) nasty looking reptiles. Fancy thinking that lifeless images could compare to the creator God!

II). Secondly they rejected the truth about God that He had revealed about Himself. They began to live a lie. They realised that they had strong feelings. But instead of expressing those feelings appropriately in the way the Creator God wanted, they did their “own thing” independently of God.   Their focus went from being on the Creator God to being focussed on the creation itself. It’s as though they were saying, “We don’t need you Creator, if you exist that is. We can manage this world. We are sufficient of ourselves to run the show. We don’t need you even if you do exist!”

So God did something very significant. It’s as though He said, “Well if you want to run your own show, I’ll let you do it. I gave you free-will in the hope you chose to worship and follow me. But I’m now handing you over to do what you want to do”. What happened? They did what they wanted to do!

III).  Thirdly, they rejected God in rejecting His order in creation. Some women, for whatever reason, felt an attraction towards other women. So they acted on it and formed same-sex relationships. It was not what God wanted (Genesis 2:24). It was contrary to the purpose for which God had created the world and the people in it. Some men also, for whatever reason, gave up the way God had made the world composed of males and females. They turned their backs on women and focussed their consuming passion on other men. And expressed their passions inappropriately from God’s point of view. He saw it as shameless. He saw it as an error on their part. He saw their actions as coming from a debased mind. But you can’t act contrary to what God wants and not expect consequences.  One of the consequences was that God continued to hand them over to do what they wanted. What they continued to do was not what He wanted for them. But He gave them a chance to turn to Him to act in the ways He wanted them to act. They refused His help to become the people He wanted them to become.

Was God just picking on those who were involved in same-sex activity? No, of course not!  He is against everything that is harmful for His creatures. The following are some of the things that earn the displeasure of God when people turn away from Him. It is not only anti-social behaviour, but anti-God behaviour as well.

Other signs of rebellion against God in His world

People who lose their focus on God to whom they are accountable, wrongly focus on other people. They can become nasty to them. Instead of being righteous people they can become filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They can be filled with many anti-social attitudes and actions. Their envy may lead them to destroy others by harbouring murderous thoughts towards them, creating strife, being deceitful and being malicious. They continue on this downward spiral by gossiping about people, by slandering them, by being insolent to them.  They maintain haughty, boastful attitudes and fail to have due respect to those who brought them into the world. They may even try to work out how they might inflict even more damage on those they don’t like. As those who have given up on God they have nothing to offer in relationships. In short they are the “less than they might be people”, senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

There is a very, very sad thing that happens. The people who are guilty of any or all of the things mentioned above in their rebellion against God, also encourage other people to do the very same things. They actually applaud those people when they do the things that are anti-God and thus anti-social, Rom 1:32.  Although they know full well God’s just sentence–that those who practice such things deserve to die–they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.

The very sobering thought behind all this is that when people turn away from God and act in rebellion against Him, as seen above, He takes them seriously. He purposely hands them over to do what they want to do apart from Him.  Freedom to rebel. Freedom to run their own lives. Freedom to ruin the lives of others through inappropriate speech and behaviour which is repugnant to God.

So there is the answer. The world is in a hell of a mess because the powers of darkness run rampant in a society which has turned its back on God. People unknowingly become the puppets of evil powers even while they think they are running their own lives.  St Paul once wrote to Timothy a church leader who had to deal with people who were false teachers. He advised Timothy how to behave, 2Ti 2:24-26  “The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, (25)  instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth. (26)  Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.”  How scary to realise that when you think you are running your own life, that it is the Devil who is “calling the shots”.

Is there any hope? Yes, amazing hope through amazing grace. The transforming power of God is available to make new creatures out of those who turn from their rebellion against God. To those who have focussed on creation, to now turn to focus on a relationship with God through Christ. As ‘The Message’ version of the Bible puts the words of 2 Corinthians 5:14-19, (14)  “Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do. Our firm decision is to work from this focused centre: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat.(15)  He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.(16)  Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore.(17)  Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!(18)  All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. (19)  God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins.”

Do you want to get out of the mess you have gotten into in life? As ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step’, so the change in your life can begin with a simple prayer to God.

Prayer:- “Lord, I am sorry for running my own life apart from You. I’m sorry for all the hurt and pain I caused others as I lived that way. Please forgive all my sins and transform my life by Your Holy Spirit so that I can become more like Jesus in all I say and do. I ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.”

(PS. The words in the article above are really an extended paraphrase of the words in Romans chapter 1:18-31. I will write in more detail on this passage in future articles. But read the passage now and get blessed!)

Blog No.236.  Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 6th September 2017

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Politics, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, Sexuality, Temptations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

235. What insight does Romans 1 have to the same sex marriage debate? Does it favour a “Yes” or “No” vote?

In the last few articles I have looked at an article that appeared recently on an ABC website. The writer was attempting to show that the Bible did not argue against same sex marriage.  She did correctly emphasise that when one examines Bible verses, one should also look at the context of those verses to understand them properly. Unfortunately as I did that with the verses she quoted, I came to opposite conclusions to what she had written.  I found I did the same as she wrote about Romans 1. These are her words from that article, “In Romans 1:26-27, Paul condemns people swapping out their usual partner for one of the same gender. He claims this is a result of idolatry and uses it as part of his argument for why one should only follow (his) God. It is typical of the strong “them and us” rhetoric of the ancient world, serving a larger argument and is not a statement on sexuality per se.” [Rather a brief summary of such an important passage of scripture, and one that takes great liberties with the text it would seem.]

I remembered that I had done a summary of some articles on Romans 1 some years ago. Just a few minutes ago I discovered that I had done so exactly 4 years ago today! It was blog [No 129]. Summary of Romans 1:17-32. Human Rebellion against God. This is what I wrote then and I am posting it here for your convenience. Remember this was in September 2013 and all I can say it that the world situation has gotten much worse since then.  The following is that article.

4th Sept 2013. What has gotten into some of the world leaders in recent months? Some have taken gigantic strides in directions that were not expected. Some seem intent on changing the world as we know it, into an image they have created in their own minds. Now they want to see this vision reproduced in their own countries and even in other nations. Are we looking at world-changing visionaries in our midst? Or are we seeing the results of human wisdom gone mad? Humans out of control?

Once again chapter 1 of St Paul’s letter to the Romans has some answers for us. Recently I wrote some material on this chapter where I showed that three of the major factors in today’s world can be explained from its message. It is a description of human rebellion against God in three main facets of life.

1). In Rom 1:17-23, [blog 123] we saw that human rebellion against God leads to idolatry in which God is replaced by aspects of His creation. It means that Jesus, His agent in creation, is also not accorded His God-given position as Creator and Lord of His universe. One of the factors I noted in the articles was this. If folk reject God, they also reject His declaration that humans are made in His image. If people are merely different bits of this world structure then they (particularly the foetus or near-born or newly-born) can be disposed of at will because they are expendable “bits” with little present significance. There are many national leaders actively supporting almost unlimited abortion on demand. But some of them are not content with that. Now they want to have that particular concept of abortion on demand extended to other countries as well. There is talk that some of these leaders might want to make the acceptance of wide-spread abortion a qualification for receiving aid from the “richer” country! To stop “populution”? Or to extend their longed-for “power”?

God (YHWH) doesn’t see this “option” as wise management of human resources. He has a name for abortion done purely for the convenience of the person or the family or the nation. It’s called “murder”. Jesus once warned about putting stumbling blocks in the way of the young, Luke 17:1 “He said to His disciples, “Offences will certainly come, but woe to the one they come through! 2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” If causing the young to stumble brings such condemnation, then what does the supporting of the extinguishing of the young, merit?

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are destroying fellow humans who are made in the image of God. He says they are! As such they are to be protected and valued! Not destroyed!

2). In Rom 1:23-25 [blog 124] we read that this rebellion takes on a sinister turn. Humans created by God reject their Creator AND begin to worship and serve “something created”. This is what false religion is all about, when humans begin to take their eyes off God as the pre-eminent One in the universe and begin to exchange the truth about Him for a lie. The lie is this; that something or someone can take His place. Such people put their focus onto something or someone else, a part of God’s creation. Instead of following God’s commandments and His revelation of His will in the Scriptures, they place their allegiance in things or people.

We noted in a previous article that Jesus as the Creator-Redeemer of humans was called “the truth” and that His teaching is to be followed and not rejected nor added to. He was called also the “wisdom of God” for His words were the Father’s words. His wisdom was obvious to all who heard Him. We read in Mat 13:54, He went to His hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “How did this wisdom and these miracles come to Him? Paul called Him the “wisdom of God” in 1Cor 1:23-24, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Similarly in 1Cor 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption

True religion is based on the wisdom of God rather than the wisdom of the world. One way of assessing all the present day religious movements is to look at how they operate and what are the ideologies and the motivations behind their actions. The wisdom of God (YHWH) in James 3:17 is described like this, … the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favouritism and hypocrisy. What a wonderful peaceful world it would be if we lived by the wisdom of God! As we examine all the current religious movements are they marked by these qualities? If they are, then they appear to be elements of true religion operating with God’s wisdom especially when they exhibit true love knowing “God is love” (1John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.)

If the religious bodies today are not characterised by these qualities, they may not be of God. Religions or ideologies operating from a human source of wisdom rather than a divine source have these features seen in James 3:14-16, bitter envy, selfish ambition, bragging, defying the truth. James writes here that this “wisdom” it is not from above, from God. It has to do only with the dimension of the human senses. It may be demonic, influenced by the powers of darkness. The outward expression of worldly wisdom is disorder and every kind of evil. A quick glance at our daily papers sees the evidence throughout the world of disorder, murder, the absence of love and utter evil in some of the religious movements. It would seem that false religion is alive and expanding on planet earth. It is false religion that brooks no rivals. True religion looks to God for wisdom on how to behave and to live in the peace of God that passes human understanding.

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are worshipping and serving the lie that you can replace Him with something or someone! He brooks no rivals. However He offers all people a relationship of peace with Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.

3). Romans 1:26-27. [Blog 125] We saw in a previous article that this passage speaks quite openly about homosexual practice and God’s attitude to it. In Leviticus chapters 18 and 20 He declared His repugnance. “Abomination” and “detestable” are never pretty words. How much more when they come from the mind of God Himself! If He used such words to describe these activities, it is sad that His people today are being labelled as homophobic for simply expressing what He said. But people in rebellion against God will reject His words especially when they come through fellow humans.

Recently we have seen that some national leaders are not only in favour of homosexual practice, but are pushing for same-sex marriage. One leader even wants to send expert teams out to other countries to help facilitate the acceptance and legalisation of same-sex marriage in those countries. Foreign aid with a twist! Again is it a case of such leaders being world-leading-visionaries who are taking the world into whole new expressions of freedom and liberty? Or something quite different!

But what if? What if there is a God who has revealed Himself in the Bible and through Jesus, and whose revelation we have in the Holy Bible, the Scriptures? What if He told us almost 2000 years ago that He had dealt with people in rebellion against Him and delivered them over to “do their own thing”. What if people presume He doesn’t exist or isn’t concerned when they do things He had forbidden and are not struck down dead as a result? What if the words of 2Peter 3:9 are true, “The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” What if His apparent failure to deal with human sin is not a sign of His pathetic weakness, but of His incredible patience and amazing grace and astonishing love in giving them time to turn from their rebellion against Him, to seek His forgiveness and to find true peace with Him as the true God?

We need to wake up! Humans in rebellion against God are encouraging practices that God has strongly condemned in unmistakeable terms! He isn’t going to change His mind! He isn’t going to adapt to cultural changes! He isn’t going to water down His word to gain more acceptance or to elicit a greater following! He has spoken! Clearly! Definitively!

A realistic appraisal of the whole human situation. Romans 1:29-32

God’s appraisal! We have seen in a previous article that these verses apply to every human ever born who has been rebellious against God. That’s all of us except for Jesus. We may look at these verses and pat ourselves on the back that we are pretty good in comparison with some notorious sinners in this world. But when we come to words such as greed, envy, disputes, deceit, gossips arrogant, proud, boastful, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful, we realise that we ourselves have failed to get a perfect score in those areas of life. It means that we are sinners just like the ones we have judged as being guilty of sin.

Only one way for all of us

There is only one way out of our predicament for all of us because we are all sinners in the sight of God. And that is by accepting His offer of forgiveness and salvation in Christ. It is a free gift to us in Him. It is an offer coming from His grace and love. But it is not cheap grace! It meant that Jesus the Son of God, the Messiah, had to die for the sins of all the peoples of the world throughout the ages. His death brought the possibility of forgiveness and new life for every person who would receive them in Christ. But “receive them” is the operative phrase. What is happening in today’s world is that people are making their choice. To seek truth in the God of truth, or to turn their backs on Him and to continue on in their rebellion.

Perhaps when St Paul wrote Romans chapter 1 at the inspiration of the Spirit of God he did not envisage a world as rebellious as it is now. But God did! In His love He has warned us through St Paul in this chapter that human rebellion would always take the form of idolatry, false religion and sexual inappropriateness. In His love He has warned those rebelling against Him in this way. However He also warns each and every one of us in the latter verses of the same chapter that we can’t criticise others, for we too are guilty before Him. The fact that we seem to be free to do whatever we wish without punishment may be an indication that the words of 2 Peter 3:9 are true, “The Lord … is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Repentance from all of us! No exceptions!

A Prayer for someone to pray who feels they are not right with God

Dear Lord. You have shown us so clearly in Your word that none of us can stand before You, trusting in who we are or in what we have done. We have all rebelled against You in many and various ways. I confess that I am guilty before You and I need Your forgiveness and love.

I have learned that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross so that I might have forgiveness. I have learned too that He rose from the dead and is alive today.

I invite You Lord Jesus to be my Saviour from sin and to be the Lord and Master of my life. Come into my life to make me a new creature and to guide and strengthen me to live as I should, from this day forward.

I thank You by faith for the victories I shall experience in life with Your help. Please accept my thanks in Your precious name of Jesus. AMEN

Blog No.235.  Jim Holbeck.  Posted 4th September 2017

 

 

 

 

Posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Healing, Prayer, Salvation, Sexuality | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment