Mercy and Not Sacrifice? #7

Thursday, September 12, 2013

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7,8 KJV).

What did our Lord mean in today’s Scripture?

The Pharisees, as well as other religious leaders of Israel, were not serving the LORD of the Old Testament Law that they studied. While they were highly educated and appeared good, they were not merciful toward the sick and hungry. They were sticklers for not working on the Sabbath day, and yet, they had no idea what the Sabbath day even represented. Blinded by their religious tradition, they preferred to see the hungry faint and the sick suffer, than even dare break the Sabbath!

Jesus told the Pharisees, “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless” (today’s Scripture). The Pharisees’ heartlessness originated from a desire to serve a denominational system rather than let the love of the Lord Jesus Christ operate in their hearts and actions. The disciples were hungry, so Jesus Christ—the Person who authorized Sabbath-day observance—permitted them to pick food on the Sabbath. The Pharisees erred in presumptuously criticizing Christ’s disciples. They failed to realize that the JEHOVAH who had instituted the Sabbath-day observance, the “Lord of the sabbath day,” was Jesus Christ—the Person standing right in their midst!

One last interesting tidbit to conclude: In the companion passage of today’s Scripture, our King James Bible has the unique expression, “the second sabbath after the first” (Luke 6:1). That Sabbath of today’s Scripture loops back to the original (first) Sabbath of Genesis 2:1-3. The time of the fulfillment of the purpose of that original Sabbath—the establishment of God’s earthly kingdom—was near during Christ’s earthly ministry. Alas, the Pharisees failed to make that connection between those two Sabbaths. Religious tradition had caused them to ignore the God of the Sabbath, thereby causing them to be merciless and self-righteous for the sake of religion, and worst of all, they missed God’s kingdom altogether!

That is what our Lord meant in today’s Scripture.

Who Is a Sinner? #4

Monday, August 19, 2013

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Behold, God’s standard of righteousness, of which we all fall short!

Earlier, we briefly mentioned the three types of religious people we meet on a daily basis: (1) those who are too self-righteous to admit that they are sinners, (2) those who are attempting to obey a set of rules to keep God happy and hopefully merit His favor to get them into heaven, and (3) those who believe that their imperfections and transgressions will be dealt with in purgatorial flames. The Bible believer simply cannot hold to any of these viewpoints:

  1. “I AM GOOD ENOUGH ALREADY” — This viewpoint (self-righteousness) is flawed. When compared to some, we appear good, but when compared to others, we appear bad. Determining our “goodness” by focusing on someone else’s sins is unwise, for others also use our sins to establish their “goodness.” Using this system, one can never definitively conclude who is good and who is not! The standard is not you, I, or any other sinful creature—the standard of righteousness is God (today’s Scripture).
  2. “I AM TRYING TO BE GOOD ENOUGH” — This viewpoint (self-reformation) is also defective. No matter what set of rules we attempt to keep, we never can keep them perfectly. Although we can keep from committing certain types of sins and we can stop certain sins, we still have plenty of other sins that complicate our lives. How can God be pleased with our “good” deeds when He is too offended by our sins?
  3. “I WILL BE GOOD ENOUGH AFTER PURGATORY” — This viewpoint (self-suffering) is faulty, too. Can a person suffering in flames of fire really burn away his or her wicked nature and all its resultant sins? Nay, the only flames in the afterlife of which the Bible warns are hell and the lake of fire, where people are never reformed or purified, only preserved and punished!

Dear readers, I warn you in love that these three viewpoints can be summarized as self-delusion. They ignore the very reason why Jesus Christ came to this planet in the first place…!

Who Is a Sinner? #3

Sunday, August 18, 2013

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Behold, God’s standard of righteousness, of which we all fall short!

When I asked a religious person where her soul would go when she died, she insisted her “Law keeping” would merit her heaven. I then reminded her of James 2:10: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” I explained to her that by her breaking one commandment, she was guilty of breaking all of God’s laws. The Law demands absolute perfection. She replied, “I can only do so much.” Exactly—we cannot be perfect!

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written [Deuteronomy 27:26], Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith [Habakkuk 2:4]” (Galatians 3:10,11). God gave the Law so “all the world may become guilty before [him]. Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin(Romans 3:19,20).

The prophet Habakkuk wrote of the LORD, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…” (1:13). God is so holy, so “separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26), that He cannot even look upon our sin! Thus, when God the Father “made [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21) on Calvary’s cross, He and God the Holy Spirit literally had to forsake Jesus Christ. Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46).

Law-“keeping” only condemns: it saves no one! If we want God to deal with us on the basis of our performance—and much of the world admits in religion they want Him to do this—the Bible says that we are setting ourselves up for burdens, misery, uncertainty, frustration, and a curse….

Who Is a Sinner? #1

Friday, August 16, 2013

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 KJV).

Behold, God’s standard of righteousness, of which we all fall short!

I recently spoke with a religious family member about her soul salvation. My question to her was simple and direct, “Do you have the assurance of going to heaven, and on what basis do you have that assurance?” After a long pause, she uttered softly, “Heaven, because I have never done anything wrong in my life.” I then politely explained to her that that was a lie—calling God a “liar” is “doing wrong” in and of itself! Additionally, I reminded her of today’s Scripture, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Oddly, she actually agreed that all have sinned (despite her earlier comments, “I have never done anything wrong”).

The above conversation demonstrates the spiritual blindness of works-religion people. Religion distinguishes between “good people” and “bad people.” As long as you attend church and submit to the denomination’s demands (rites, rituals, ceremonies, et cetera), “doing the best you can,” you are considered “good” and “heaven-bound.” “Bad” people—those going to hell—are the people outside the church membership—gang members, fornicators, thieves, drunkards, murderers, and atheists.

As the Berean Bible student knows, this system of relative morality is flawed: no human, whether religious or secular (worldly), is the standard of righteousness. There are absolute right and absolute wrong, and they do not vary from person to person. Today’s Scripture plainly shows us that we have “come short of the glory of God.” One person may appear to be better than another, but both persons are sinners when compared to the absolute righteousness of God (Jesus Christ)! The standard of righteousness is the same for everyone; every person is not an independent standard. As Paul reminded, “they…comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12).

Works-religionists fail to understand that they too are sinners, but not because they commit “more heinous” deeds than others. They are sinners because their character, their nature inherited from Adam, is anti-God. That nature (sin) then produces wicked actions (sins)….

Saved from Hell, But Lost in Tradition #2

Saturday, February 16, 2013

“…God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3,4 KJV).

Can someone go to heaven without ever learning dispensational Bible study?

Soul salvation and spiritual growth, although related, are not to be confused. SIN, not a failure to correctly use and/or comprehend the Bible, is what prevents people from going to heaven.

Lost people are going to hell, not because of their sins (plural), but because they are spiritually dead (the “Adamic nature” that causes their sins). People are not sinners because they sin; they sin because they are sinners. Their main problem is not that they do bad things; their primary issue is the sin nature that causes them to do those bad things. This nature is completely opposed to God, and people gratify it by disobeying Him.

Paul describes the predicament of lost mankind: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his [God’s] sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:19,20). Our sinful actions simply confirm that we have a nature that is thoroughly anti-God.

The Mosaic Law (specifically the Ten Commandments) condemns us. Because of our wicked nature, we cannot even keep 10 rules to make God happy with us. As the Apostle John wrote, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). In our identity in Adam, we have no righteousness (that is, we have a bad standing before God). A lost soul needs to be made right in God’s sight, before he or she physically dies and goes to hell. In order to go to heaven, his or her sin and sins must be dealt with, and Christ’s finished crosswork provides salvation from those sin and sins. Additionally, God has for this person a teaching curriculum to explain why He will save him or her….

Honesty or Flattery?

Friday, January 25, 2013

“He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue” (Proverbs 28:23 KJV).

Which will ye?

Which type of person would you “favour” more? Someone who told you a feel-good message, that which “tickled your itching ear,” or someone who was honest with you, and rebuked you when you did something wrong? Do you prefer a lie, or the truth? Behold, Satan’s lie, and God’s truth. Choose ye!

LIE #1: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.
LIE #2: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.
LIE #3: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.
LIE #4: Do your best, and then God will do the rest.

While the lie appeals to our flesh, and is thus very popular, it is vain flattery. We enjoy hearing, “You are good enough for heaven if you do the best you can.” Yet, we know deep in our hearts that our shortcomings are our “best.” If they are our “best,” then we are headed to anywhere but heaven!

TRUTH #1: “There is none righteous, no, not one… For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10,23).
TRUTH #2: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
TRUTH #3: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4,5).
TRUTH #4: “But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:24,25).

The truth, although it hurts our fleshly ego, is still in fact, the truth! Christ’s finished crosswork is a testament to our sins. This “offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11) insults our self-righteousness, and demolishes any notion that our religious performance can give us a right standing before God.

In what have ye trusted? The truth, or the lie? Honesty, or flattery?

Be Not Content to Be Spiritually Impotent

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners?” (Luke 5:30 KJV).

The “goody-goody” scribes and Pharisees are at it again! How will our Lord respond to “put them in their place?”

In the context (verses 27-32; cf. Matthew 9:10-13; Mark 2:15-17), the Lord Jesus is eating in the house of Levi (later the Apostle Matthew; Matthew 9:9), a “publican” (as a tax collector, Levi was one of the most unpopular people at that time!). Many publicans and others are present with Jesus in Levi’s house.

The Pharisees and scribes notice the assembly, and like religious people today, piously exalt themselves. “We obey Moses—we fast, we pray, we circumcise, we keep the Sabbath…. But, look at those sinners ignoring Moses… the harlots, drunkards, and dishonest tax collectors… Oh, and Jesus and His disciples eat with them! Thank goodness we are not sinful!” These religionists proceed to ask Jesus’ disciples why they are eating and drinking with “publicans and sinners” (today’s Scripture).

“And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (verses 31,32).

Certainly, everyone in Levi’s house, except Jesus Christ, was a no-good sinner—even the (self-righteous) Pharisees and scribes (whom Jesus repeatedly called “hypocrites”). But, as Jesus explained, “Yes, they are sinners, but these are the very people I came to save! I am the doctor and I came to save the spiritually impotent!” (Ironically, these “godly” religious leaders of Israel—not the “sinful” people in Levi’s house—would later demand Christ’s crucifixion.)

There are millions upon millions who recognize their lost (hell-bound) state, but religious pride forces them to ignore it. Sadly, many will never trust Christ’s righteousness: like the Pharisees, they condemn “sinners,” but will never admit that their deeds are equally offensive to God. They will go out into a lost eternity, damned forever in hellfire, never to change their mind about salvation in Christ. Trust Christ today—be not content to be spiritually impotent….