Filthiness and Foolishness!

Friday, October 19, 2018

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6 KJV).

Human nature, often assumed to generate only “worldly sins,” is actually composed of two extremes. Yes, we are naturally inclined to lasciviousness, dirty sins, wild living (what the religious crowd “shuns” and “condemns”). However, a more serious (but seemingly innocuous) vulnerability exists within us.

We are also inherently ascetic, self-disciplined, strict. Religion—offering our works to please God—actually leads to greater evil. Self-righteousness attempts to replace God’s righteousness (cf. Romans 10:1-3). Mankind believes he can substitute his “goodness” for God’s and God will supposedly be none the wiser. We can indeed fool other people but God looks beyond outward appearances. He sees our intentions, heart attitude (1 Samuel 16:7; Jeremiah 17:9,10). We really want Him to let us into Heaven, not solely because of Jesus Christ’s work, but rather because of our work. God sees it as foolishness!

God considers all human nature wicked. Thus, He deems all (not some) of its works unacceptable. Whether in religion or non-religion, man is constantly striving to replace God’s efforts with his, God’s ideas with his, God’s objectives with his. Almighty God will not overlook it: He will not alter His plan of salvation simply because we want Him. He will forgive us all our sins and save us unto eternal life, and then He will do good works in and through us. It is not to be confused with religion—us doing good works to gain forgiveness and eternal life. From all outward appearance, what God produces in and through people is identical to what religion produces in and through people. Nevertheless, God sees the difference inside.

When God the Holy Spirit comments on human “goodness,” His inspired Word calls it “but dung” (Philippians 3:8). How flattering! Notice today’s Scripture—“all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” The Hebrew root employed implies the monthly courses of a woman’s menstrual flux. “Filthy rags” is literally “menstruous cloths” (“sanitary pads” in modern English). Dirty, soiled! (Consult Leviticus 15:33, Leviticus 20:18, and Isaiah 30:22.) Again, from God’s vantage point, human “goodness” is filthiness!

These Three Men

Sunday, October 7, 2018

“Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 14:14 KJV).

These three historical figures—yes, they were real characters—would not have been enough to save Israel’s land from God’s wrath!

Noah lived centuries before the nation Israel was formed. “…Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Second Peter 2:5 remarks concerning the wicked, multimillions of violent people of that day: “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly….”

Daniel, a prophet and descendant of King David, had a ministry throughout the entire 70-year Babylonian captivity and beyond. A believing Jew in pagan and idolatrous Babylon, he risked his life to follow God rather than man. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself” (Daniel 1:8). “Now when Daniel knew that the writing [law] was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime” (Daniel 6:10).

Job was Jacob’s grandson through son Issachar (Genesis 46:13). His immense suffering under Satan’s hand is highlighted in the famous Bible Book that bears his name. Despite his many hardships, he declined to renounce his faith in his God. “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8 cf. Job 2:3). “In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).

If Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in the land of Canaan, God would still not spare it. Israel had defiled it with pagan idolatry, especially Jerusalem (His capital city). The Lord GOD would remove those three men and then judge the land (see also Ezekiel 14:16,18,20)!

God Spared Not

Monday, August 27, 2018

He made a way to his anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence (Psalm 78:50 KJV).

On five occasions in the Bible, “God spared not.” What can they tell us about Him?

Today’s Scripture is part of a colossal song that spans Israel’s history from the early patriarchs (especially Moses) up to King David’s reign. The verse sits among those that describe the 10 plagues or judgments God poured out on evil Egypt before the Red Sea experience (see verses 43-51). “They” of today’s Scripture are the heathen Egyptians: Israel’s God was not reluctant to use death to prove to them that He alone, not their lifeless idols, was Almighty God.

“For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Romans 11:21). This chapter closes Romans’ three-chapter dispensational section. As God was not lenient in setting aside unbelieving national Israel for a time, the Gentile nations (unbelieving) had better not boast as if He will not remove them from access to Him and return Israel to her esteemed position.

“For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). God was not at all shy in punishing the angels that followed Satan in his rebellion against the Creator. The worst of these spiritual beings are imprisoned in Hell awaiting final judgment (1 Peter 3:19,20; Jude 6).

“And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5). God was not averse to cleansing the sinful antediluvian (pre-Flood) world of Genesis chapters 4-6. In four instances, He was harsh in punishing sin; the other case involved Him readily paying for sin!

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Father God could have withheld His Son from being offered on Calvary’s cruel altar (the cross), but He hesitated not. Christ Jesus’ soul would be made an offering for our sin (Isaiah 53:10)—and, praise God, He was “spared not!”

Liberated to Serve

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Today, as we in the United States celebrate the 242nd anniversary of our nation’s independence, we invite our Christian brethren worldwide to rejoice with us concerning our freedom in Jesus Christ.

When we proclaim Romans 6:14—“Ye are not under the law, but under grace”—people tend to assume “loose living.” Does “grace living” really mean we can now live any way we want? Lest anyone be misled in that regard, God the Holy Spirit moved the Apostle Paul to write in the next verse, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God never let that happen!]” (Romans 6:15). Grace living is not Law-keeping, but it certainly is not Law-breaking either.

God still cares how we live, albeit He is not operating the “weak and beggarly” system of “bondage” (Law) that He once did with Israel (Galatians 4:9). God proved to the entire world that since Israel could not keep His commandments perfectly, no other sons of Adam (the Gentiles) could either: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them [Israel] who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world [Gentiles] may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19).

We sinners cannot keep the Law. However, God in His grace provided us a way to escape that condemnation by sending Jesus Christ to offer Himself on Calvary’s cruel cross to pay for our sins. By simple faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as the fully-satisfying payment for our sins, we can now be “made the righteousness of God in [Christ]” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We can be delivered from the penalty of sin (hell and the lake of fire) and the power of sin (flesh-walking).

Why are we Christians free? To selfishly live any way we want? NO! Today’s Scripture says we are liberated to now serve others, especially our Christian brethren, just as Jesus Christ selflessly served His Father and selflessly died on our behalf. That is grace living!!!!

Please see our 2011 Fourth of July Bible study “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land,” which can be watched here or read here.

Nothing But the Blood #2

Monday, May 7, 2018

“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18 KJV).

Today’s Scripture highlights the second verse of Robert Lowry’s 1876 hymn, “Nothing But the Blood.”

“For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

The God of Israel “pardoneth iniquity.” Why? He “passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage.” Why? He “retaineth not his anger for ever.” Why? How can He do these things? “He delighteth in mercy.” The God of the Bible is compassionate. Furthermore, He actually takes pleasure in holding back what we sinners deserve! How will He accomplish this? The Prophet Micah does not have the complete picture. All he can say is that wicked Israel, facing divine judgment (the fifth course of chastisement—the Babylonian captivity), will be forgiven one day. The LORD God will not be eternally angry at Israel!

In his Book, Micah also speaks of the (yet future) Tribulation period and violent, wrathful Second Coming of Christ. Despite that destruction, the Holy Spirit allows Micah to see Israel’s ultimate pardon. While there will be fury, there will also be mercy. God will hold back what sinful Israel deserves. How can He be fair, and yet not punish them to the extent that they deserve? With the revelation of the mystery, the Pauline revelation, now we see. It is on the basis of Christ’s shed blood!

Returning to Romans chapter 3, part of God’s Word to Paul: “[23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;….” The “remission [forgiveness] of sins that are past” (cf. Hebrews 9:22b)—the cleansing of Israel’s sins—is found in the cross of Christ.

Nothing but the blood indeed….

How to Know Jesus Christ

Saturday, April 7, 2018

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3,4 KJV).

Friend, have you ever wondered how to know Jesus Christ?

We all have an innate longing for someone or something beyond us. One philosopher said, “There is a God-shaped hole in every human heart.” If you want, spend your whole life studying various world religions. You can look, and look, and look even more—traveling far and wide, reading all sorts of texts found in numerous and sundry languages. Everyone, you will discover, agrees that at least one “higher power” or “supreme being” exists. Some argue for myriads of gods or goddesses (polytheism); three spiritual systems declare one God (the monotheistic systems—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).

Whatever religion you choose to follow, you will notice that works are demanded: your performance is vital to being “set right” with that higher power or supreme being. Here, you encounter more difficulties than you imagined. The harder you attempt to do right, the more you fail and more miserable you become. Right? Find religious rules and regulations, and throw all away except one. Forget juggling numerous commandments—try keeping one. When you fail with that one, you need not bother to keep the rest. You are already condemned to Hell!

Religion, a performance-based acceptance system, points out human frailty and failure. The Holy Bible titles this imperfection “SIN.” It may come as a shock to you, dear friend, but you are not perfect! You are a sinner. The God of Judaism and Christianity already knew that—long before you were born and failed so miserably. In His unfathomable love, tender mercy, and abounding grace; He became a Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die to pay for those sins (today’s Scripture). Yea, Christ died for every last one of your sins. Once His rich, royal, sinless blood was shed, He was buried. Then, He resurrected in great power, victorious over sin and death! Do you believe that in your heart? Do you trust His finished crosswork at Calvary as sufficient payment for your sins?

Two Sons and Two Fathers

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:” (Luke 23:18 KJV).

One son will be liberated to live, and the other Son will be sentenced to die!

At the time of Christ’s trial, Barabbas is a prisoner (Matthew 27:16). Barabbas is a murderer, a robber, and guilty of “insurrection,” or rebelling against the government (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18,19; John 18:40).

It is Passover. Roman governor Pontius Pilate has a custom that, at the feast, he releases a prisoner, whomever the people desire (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6). “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:20-22).

Israel’s chief priests, rulers, and common people all demand Christ’s crucifixion and Barabbas’ release, so Pilate gives the sentence (Luke 23:23-25). Guilty Barabbas is set free to live, and innocent Jesus Christ is condemned to be crucified. While Barabbas’ involvement in the matter seems insignificant upon first glance, God included it in His written Word because to provide us with an amazing illustration!

“Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Barabbas is a criminal, and he represents sinful, rebellious mankind who is worthy of death. He is bound by sin, and faces eternal death. Spiritually, sinful mankind is the son of Satan—man is of his father the devil (John 8:44). Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, God, “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), but took upon Himself our sins and was punished in our place.

Innocent Jesus Christ took the place of guilty Barabbas, which actually represented Christ taking the place of the whole world, suffering God’s wrath on our behalf! “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust…” (1 Peter 3:18). Thus, through Christ’s finished crosswork, we sinful sons of Adam (and Satan) can be freed from sin, and we can become the righteous sons of God.