Tag Archives: Ten Commandments

Unborn Again

I was listening to Paul Washer today when I was reminded that Christianity isn’t about morality or being a good person.  This is oftentimes the message that unbelievers hear.  A common belief is that God is loving; therefore, He will overlook my sins because overall I’m a pretty good person.  After all, I’ve never killed anyone.  I even help old ladies across the street.  But the truth is that I’m not good.  It doesn’t matter what I do.  It is impossible for my good works to overcome my bad ones.  

In reality, I have no good in me apart from Jesus.  Yet people despise the godman and attempt to earn their own salvation.  When we get caught up in religion, we are no more saved than the unregenerate.  

Paul Washer had an analogy that clarified this.  Suppose a preacher went to visit a member of his congregation at his house because he has not been attending lately.  The man says, “Preacher, you’re right.  I need to get back in church because it is good for me.”  The preacher confronts him on his drinking.  The man retorts, “You’re right preacher.  I’ve been getting drunk a lot lately.  I like boozing but I need to quit because that’s what’s best for me.”  Now the preacher confronts the man about his infidelity.  The man says, “I know it’s not what’s best for me.  I need to quit carousing.”

The following Sunday, the man comes to church and fellow church members are amazed that the preacher was able to lead a sheep back into the fold.  The truth is that this man never was a sheep.  He’s just a goat attending church.

We shouldn’t be doing what we hate doing because it is good for us.  It’s not like force feeding yourself kale because it is heart healthy.  If we are secure in Christ, what we love should be a reflection of that.  If we love our sin we aren’t saved.

This reminds me of a former friend.  After sharing the gospel many times, he claimed that he has “accepted” Christ.  After only a few weeks, he shed his identity with Christ as easily as he allegedly identified with him.  He actually says he was born again (but no longer).  One cannot be saved only to become unsaved.  Either you are born again or you are not.  

It is clear that he doesn’t know what it means to be born again.  He never was born again.  He was blinded by his own wisdom and goodness.  He doesn’t realize that he is a bad man in need of a savior.

There are people just like him in the church.  They are caught up with religion or self righteousness.  They don’t understand that keeping law will not save them.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t obey God, but we don’t follow God’s laws to be saved.  We strive to keep the law because we are saved.

Advertisements

A Shattered Delusion

There was a time when my life was illusory and paradoxical.  I used to have a bleak outlook where I believed that my life was purposeless and I was wasting the years that had been given to me, yet I was certain that I was a pretty good guy purported by my strong character and perfect sense of right and wrong that would ultimately garner an exceedingly favorable afterlife.  On October 9, 2009, my life was completely upended.  I had a vasectomy, a relatively minor procedure that left me in crippling pain.  October 8, 2009 was probably the last pain-free day I’ll ever enjoy.  Interestingly enough, that fateful day was the most important day in my life.

I didn’t realize that one must be utterly broken to come to the Cross.  After all, I had already asked Jesus into my heart, was sprinkled as an infant, and was confirmed when I was thirteen.  I was in the system.  I was so saved that I didn’t even need Jesus.  At least I lived that way.

Deep in the hidden recesses of my heart I knew I was in big trouble but I told myself that I was a swell guy.  In comparison to everyone else, my flaws were so minute that God could easily overlook them.  My foibles were infinitesimal in comparison to the godless heathens running the streets.  I was a terrific catch for God.  It’s not like I murdered anyone, right?  Or have I?  In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus tells us that unrighteous anger is murder in the heart.  Oops.

Then there is the lying, the stealing, the dishonoring of my parents, even adultery of the heart.  That’s a tough one to swallow, but Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 5:28.  If we delve into the OT, Hosea illustrates that we are all adulterers to God.  The marriage of Hosea and Gomer is a picture of the marriage of Christ to his church.  His unfaithful bride. Our broken vows.  An ongoing affair where we turn to our success, our money, our vices, our hobbies; we turn our idols into cheap substitutes for our Redeemer.  Yet Christ made an unbreakable covenant with his people.  This was the God I rejected because I already had my ticket to heaven punched with all that I had done.  I created my own paradise in my mind where I was my own savior.  I lived in a world where I had broken all of the Commandments before breakfast, but in my eyes, I was a good person.  I was delusional.

I was blinded by my relativism, and my veil of perceived goodness had to be pierced.  Not just pierced, but utterly shattered by a curse that left me with a lifetime of pain.  This was much more than hurt feelings, but enduring physical pain that will forever remind me of what I once was.  This curse was perhaps the greatest gift that God could have given me because it afforded me the opportunity for saving grace.

I can clearly see that I once lived in a world of make-believe.  I persisted in a fictitious realm where I usurped God’s authority and redefined the qualifications for entrance to heaven much like people redefine gender and marriage today.  I am still a bad man, but I am a bad man who has been redeemed by a good God.

CC image courtesy of waferboard on Flickr.

Doing What is Right in Our Own Eyes

You’ve heard the old atheist canard regarding how the Bible is written by a bunch of illiterate sheepherders, so it must be devoid of all wisdom and has no value (literary or otherwise).  If you read the Bible carefully, you find some of the greatest literature.  There’s poetry that rends the heart.  There’s stories of intrigue.  There’s battles and prophesy.  All of this is written from 66 different authors and the entire text points to Christ and his work on the Cross.  That is an achievement in itself to have a book written over thousands of years that is cohesive.

Atheists really are not concerned with what the Bible says.  It comes from God, so they spend their efforts to undermine Him.  Proverbs 21:2 states it succinctly:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
    but the Lord weighs the heart.

The unregenerate believes that he is good because he has devised his own moral code that he lives by.  Even when he falls short of his own standard, those sins are regarded as one-offs.  But to have a proper grasp on the idea of goodness, we need to have a firm understanding of wickedness.  In matters of eternal justice, there are two places for the righteous and the wicked:  heaven or hell.  Silenceofmind explains, “[I]f a person does not understand the meaning or idea, or form of justice, then it is not possible to understand the meaning or idea, or form of Hell.” Essentially, the unregenerate decides in his own mind that this is unjust, therefore God is a bully, and they reject Him outright.  At this point, the atheist is clinging to a fallacy.  He is adhering to the argumentum ad baculum.  The Threat of Force fallacy.

The problem is that one cannot grasp the wisdom of the Bible without the Holy Spirit. The atheist regards the Bible as rubbish, so while he may read it for trivia games and to indict God for being a big meanie, he cannot understand it as the ultimate author (God) intended if he is not born again.

It’s true that much can be gleaned by the atheist (like the Ten Commandments), but he thinks they are a quaint set of rules that are simple to maintain. “I’m good, I’ve never murdered anyone, I’ve never told any real lies, I’ve never stolen anything of consequence, I don’t covet my neighbor’s fancy car, I’m not committing idolatry when I place little Tommy on a pedestal, or I don’t idolize possessions though I have my credit cards maxed out.”  The unregenerate mind cannot see his inherent badness.  In fact, he is rotten to the core and he is blind to the fact that he is already dead.  The unregenerate mind believes that he is good and his works are good, when in fact, he cannot keep even one law perfectly. James said it best when he said if you are guilty of breaking one law, you are guilty of breaking all of them.

The point is that the Christian knows he is broken and is in dire need of a savior. The unregenerate believes he is good because he rationalizes his sins. He is certain that he is in no need of a savior.  Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law.  He didn’t come to make bad people good.  He didn’t come to share some new philosophy.  He came to make dead people alive.

Paul explains, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:1-7 ESV)

That is why true understanding of scripture is elusive to the atheist.

Is God A Tyrant?

Richard Dawkins is quite descriptive when he states, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”  Interesting.

It’s interesting when an atheist invariably paints God as some sort of cosmic bully, yet they are unable to see His goodness.  It’s not a matter of finding a balance between God’s niceness and meanness.  God is Love, yet God is Justice.  We, as fallen humans, have a tendency to frame the argument from a position of innocence.  Can we honestly say that we are innocent?

If we are honest with ourselves, we would admit that we are covetous and murderous thieves. Those are strong words, but we must remember that Jesus upped the ante when he said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭21-22‬ ESV) We choose to indict God when we are guilty rather than to humble ourselves and repent.

Perhaps we want to blame God for our sinful nature. Why would a loving God make us broken, only to cast us into hell? That’s a good question, but God did not make us sinful. He created Adam and Eve without sin. The sin nature of Adam passed to his descendants. We are not direct creations of God like Adam and Eve. We are born of Adam. Sure, there is the Jehoiachin problem, but if it wasn’t for the virgin birth, Jesus would have inherited this sin nature.

We say that God is immoral for upholding His perfect and moral law. The Ten Commandments are so deceptively simple, yet impossible to maintain. Is God immoral because these rules are so hard? No. The Law doesn’t make us bad any more than it makes us good. The Law reveals our inability to be righteous on our own. The Law points us to our Savior. But we reject the Savior.

We say God is immoral when He upholds His impossible laws, yet we are upset when He extends grace to rescue us from our dire situation. We choose to remain dead in our trespasses and blame our Creator for our sins. God then offers us salvation and we have the audacity to call him a tyrant.

Where is the Line?

How can one decide to walk the line if he doesn’t know the line?  Is the line merely of an external nature where one will be nice to others and tell the truth?  Perhaps, but that would be incomplete.

To even know what the line should be, one must know what truth is.  Without truth, our parameters are arbitrary.  Consider the spoon bender in the Matrix.  Fine.  There is no spoon.  We can say there is no ultimate truth.  If there is no ultimate truth, there is no truth at all.  Only the illusion of truth.

History can testify that this relativistic view of “what’s true for you is not necessarily true for me” is alive and well.  One view that can be adopted is the Machiavellian end justifying the means.

This is the fruit of postmodernism.  It should ALWAYS be illegal to murder.  It should ALWAYS be illegal to commit adultery.  It should ALWAYS be illegal to rape.  History’s relativism suggests otherwise.

Perhaps the most discussed question in history is, “What is truth?”  Pilate asked that very question in John 18:38.  I am no theologian, but I am a Christian and I believe that the Bible as a whole, answers that question quite nicely.

Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai.  These Commandments were a code given by God that we are to live by.  Even today, I would guess that most people agree with some of them.  Murder is bad. So are stealing and adultery.

Regardless of the code we choose to live by, even if your motto is, “To thine one self be true,” you betray yourself.  Are you always true to yourself in all cases?  Are there exceptions?  These exceptions, intentional or not, would betray the above maxim.

God’s law was meant to show our shortcomings.  Our sinful nature. Jesus really put the screws to us when he said he is most concerned with what’s inside.

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:27, 28 ESV)  Our thoughts condemn us in the eyes of God.  We thought we were keeping this commandment by not physically cheating on our spouses.

Jesus also stated, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:21, 22 ESV)  Anger is equal to murder? I’m guilty of unrighteous anger.  According to Jesus, I’m guilty of murder perhaps tens of thousands of times in my life.

The law was never intended to measure our good deeds with.  The law crushes the lawbreaker under its weight.  This is why we need the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

So, what is the line?  I submit that it’s the Ten Commandments.  Do I walk the line?  At best, I stumble alongside the line.  Thanks to Jesus, I am not condemned by the line.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/prompt-walk-the-line/