"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Sin (Page 1 of 2)

Technically faithful; Actually unfaithful

“If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak” (Numbers 24:13).

Balak, king of the Amalekites, hired Balaam to curse Israel. But three times Balaam blessed them instead. Predictably, Balak was angry. But Balaam had warned him repeatedly that he would only speak what the Lord spoke to him. Balaam seems to have done this faithfully. He refused to curse those God blessed.

Though Balaam refused to curse Israel he showed Balak a way to get Israel to curse themselves.

“… the women … on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD …” (Numbers 31:15-16).

“Balaam … taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:14).

“Balaam … loved gain from wrongdoing” (2 Peter 2:15).

There is a way to remain technically obedient yet to do evil. We may “preach” faithfully but fail utterly. We must guard our preaching but also our hearts.

“Keep a close watch on yourself and on your teaching” (1 Timothy 4:16a). It is both “yourself” and your “teaching.” You may remain technically correct in the latter and fail utterly in the former.

“Above all else, guard your heart for from it flows the well spring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Glad Deliverance

“How sweet it suddenly became to me, to lack the ‘sweetness’ of those follies, and what I was afraid to be separated from was now a joy to part with! You cast them forth from me, You who are the true and highest sweetness. You cast them forth and entered in their place Yourself …” –Augustine

Two Problems; One Solution

“Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!” (Job 31:35)

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

anguish_stone

This morning my devotional reading juxtaposed two men, both in deep woe, but for profoundly different reasons. My Old Testament reading concluded in Job 31, which is Job’s last gasp of complaint over what appears to him to be the injustice of his sufferings. My New Testament reading included Romans 7 and 8, where we find Paul crying out in despair over his struggle with sin.

Both men are tormented and distraught; both are crying out in anguish. Job goes through a litany of seven areas of sin, showing how thoroughly he has probed his heart for any evidence of sin as he tries to find a reason that makes sense of why God would let him suffer as he does (Job 31:35-37). Paul, on the other hand, is in anguish because everywhere he turns in review of his ways he finds nothing but sin. He sees sin everywhere in himself. He is looking for someone who can save him from God’s just judgment and the power of sin.

Job sees no sin anywhere in his life, yet he suffers. Paul sees sin everywhere in his life, yet he is powerless to deal with it. Both are beyond distraught.

The answer in both cases is: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25a).

Job repeatedly longed for someone to stand between him and God as a mediator (Job 11:33; 16:19-21; 19:25-26). Paul knows Jesus to be just that one, a perfect Mediator, who at the cost of His own life paid our sin penalty (Romans 8:3), whether we are able to discern those sins or not (Psa. 19:12-13). Jesus causes us to gladly cry, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1). Plus, Jesus sends His very own Spirit to reside within us (8:9), to deeply and personally make real our connection and fellowship with God (8:15-17), and to produce through us all that He requires of us (8:2-4)!

In Jesus we find the one and only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5-6), in whom we may rest as life and its hardships do not make sense. In Jesus we find the one and only sin sacrifice, in which we may rest when our sins overwhelm us. In Jesus we receive His Spirit, in whom we may rest, trusting His empowering to free us from the power of sin.

Truly we cry, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Authority is Unavoidable

checkmate
“If within us we find nothing over us we succumb to what is around us.”
“You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody. “
–Bob Dylan (“Gotta Serve Somebody”)
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”
–Apostle Paul (Romans 6:16)
“… by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.”
–Apostle Peter (2 Peter 2:19b)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”
–Jesus (John 8:34)
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