People of The Living God

Isaiah 4

 

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July 2014



 

 

WATCHMEN ON THE WALLS

A PLACE CALLED SODOM

Randall Walton

        Sodom! The very word is anathema to thousands of people who rightfully relate that inglorious city with everything that is base and evil.  Its reputation as the capital city of sin has endured for over forty centuries.  Though it hasn’t existed in all those years, its spirit lives on in the hearts of millions of its citizens who even today carry its banner unashamedly throughout the world.

        Its stigma lay in its culture, a culture defined by the Creator God as an abomination which was both unnatural and arrogant.  Its inhabitants adamantly opposed God’s ordained manner of marriage between opposite sexes and, instead, defied the Almighty with their heinous perversion which became known by the name of their city – Sodomy.

        Sodom was an up–and–coming metropolis in its heyday.  Built upon the rich alluvial plains near the Jordan River, it enjoyed the prosperity which came its way through inter–nation commerce and trade.  They evidently catered to the wealthy and the elite with their fancy restaurants and pleasure palaces.

        “They did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded” (Luke 17:28).  In fact, it isn’t difficult to see an amazing resemblance of that great city with the United States of America.  The parallel is startling, to say the least!

        Every one of those circumstances abounds to an outrageous degree today: here we see gluttony, drunkenness, materialism, hedonism, profiteering, money–mongering, excessive affluence.  It is obvious that the Sodomites had no time for the living God.  The pursuit of their own selfish desires was the driving force which caused the arteries of the city to pulsate with energy.

Time On Their Hands

        “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister, Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good” (Ezekiel 16:49–50).

                1.  Pride
                2.  Fulness of bread
                3.  Idleness
                4.  Poor and needy neglected
                5.  Haughty
                6.  Abomination (homosexuality)

        A description of the U.S.A.?  Precisely!  But also of most of the rest of the world.  The very sins for which God poured out His wrath upon ancient Sodom are relentlessly and surely overpowering the countries and societies of the world and, indeed, are being encouraged and abetted by many national governments, including this one.

        Pride:  It’s chic, it’s savvy, it’s the way to go.  The doctrine of self–esteem is nothing less than the nurturing of pride in oneself.  As a nation we are proud of our accomplishments, proud of our heritage, proud of our military might, our trip to the moon and back, etc.  The Good Book is very plain about the results of pride and self–esteem.  Humility and self–denial are the virtues God looks for.

        Pride fosters hatred, animosity, rivalry, independence, competition and arrogance.  It will destroy all those who give themselves over to its power.

        Fulness of bread: This could refer to many things: prosperity, opulence, self–sufficiency, wealth, self–indulgence, control of trade and commerce, or a super–state in which agriculture has become a successful fine art.

        Abundance of Idleness: “Nothing to do.  Bored.”  This is the state of affairs in much of the world today.  People are without goals, having no purpose in life.  Living for God is certainly not a priority for many folks today.

        Perhaps the surplus idleness in Sodom contributed to their experimenting with perverted sex.  With nothing constructive toward which to steer one’s life, a person is vulnerable to every kind of temptation imaginable.  The Sodomites established sexual deviation as a way of life; they became the very embodiment and personification of corruption and substitution, substituting the male anus for the female organ.

        This is one of the dangers of having nothing to do.  A Christian should never be idle; there is so much to be done toward the furtherance of the gospel and the kingdom of God.  Prayer is a vital necessity for a deep walk with God; study of God’s word is a must; David said a blessed man is one who meditates in the law of God day and night (Psalm 1:1–2).

        But today’s Christian manages to fill a large portion of his/her time watching entertainment.  Idleness has taken on a new meaning in this part of the 21th century.  Modern movies and TV programs are produced to appeal to the tastes of sensual, worldly, and ungodly people, not to saints.  The “abundance of idleness” among professing Christians is slowly but surely draining the spiritual life blood from countless millions who should know better.

        Neglect of the Poor and Needy: Since Jesus stated that conditions in the world in the last days would be similar to those in Sodom, we need only to view the present circumstances to have a view of what life was like for the poor and needy in Sodom.

        Evidently, the aged and infirm were considered burdensome to the younger generation who shipped their parents off to a “nursing home” or a “poor house” where they were left to the caprices of their caretakers.  Tight–knit families were a rarity; in fact, the word “family” was given a new definition: it applied to any kind of a group of people who huddled under the same roof!  The idea of a husband, a wife, and children was passé.  The old was out and the new wave was in.

        Poor and needy were considered unwanted extra baggage.  Handouts were offered but not with the idea of helping the poor to become self supporting; just enough to keep them coming back for more so that they became totally dependent upon the authorities for their existence.  The Sodomites did not “strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”  Their programs were designed to keep the poor people poor.  The wealthy became richer; the poor remained poor!

        Haughty: What a horrible word!  Haughtiness and pride complement each other.  Most proud people are also haughty; that is, they look down on other people with great disdain.  Their feelings of superiority are keenly apparent.  How many times have we heard that the U.S. is the greatest nation on earth; that our abundance of wealth and resources gives us the right of leadership for the rest of the world.

        Now we can also boast that we have one of the most corrupt societies on the face of the earth.  As Sodom of old, we officially accept homosexuality as a legal, responsible, and viable way of life, and we are proud of it!

        Haughtiness in Sodom was on vivid display the night two angels visited the Lot family to warn them to flee the city before judgment fell.  The ungay crowd demanded access to these two “men” and were ready to tear Lot’s house down so they could “know them.”  How haughty a show that was.  It reminds us of the infamous march on Washington on April 24, 1993, (and several more times since then) of several hundred thousand ungays and lesbians who demonstrated just how haughty/naughty humanity can become without God.  The goings–on were so despicable as to be unmentionable.

        Not only was there a show of defiance against straight society, the unruly crowd defied the God of heaven; it was as if they dared the living God to intervene and put a stop to their demon–inspired shenanigans.

        Abomination: “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners exceedingly” (Gen. 12:13).  The extremely filthy practice of Sodomy is, in the eyes of God, an abomination (disgusting, an abhorrence).  God created the human body to function as a complete unit with the various parts for specific purposes.

        He specified that a man should be bound to his wife and that they were to be “one flesh.”  A wife by definition can only be a woman, not another man.  God created the husband and wife with the means of having a joyous and pleasurable relationship with the capability of reproduction.  He made the anus for but one purpose: the repository and elimination of waste products from the digestive system.  There is no other legitimate purpose than this.

        Sodomy involves the use of the anus by a man (whether the person so used is a man or a woman).  God says it’s wrong; it’s an abomination.  In addition to sodomy, there are many other practices which homosexuals succumb to, and God is against them all.  They are all practiced in defiance of God’s standards and laws.

        Paul plainly describes these evil practices in Romans 1:24–32, and he ends this by saying “that they which commit such things are worthy of death!”  Pretty strong stuff for this man of God.

        Paul also stated that homosexuals are not saved (I Cor. 6:9,10).  “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (NKJV).  There is only one hope for them, and that is for them to repent from their wickedness and be converted.  The fact that this can be done (and has been done) is undeniable proof that homosexuality is not inherited nor a result of queer genes.  Homos are homos because they choose to be.

        Homosexuality, along with all the other characteristics native to Sodom, is on the ascendancy.  It is gaining in acceptance and popularity, and is highly approved by the federal government.

        Sodom as a city was destroyed over four thousand years ago, but its descendants are alive and doing O.K. today, except for those several thousand who have been destroyed by AIDS.  From all appearances, the U.S. is on a rapid downward slide heading toward a moral abyss from which it is not likely to recover.

        If God destroyed Sodom, Gomorrha, and a few other “cities” of the plains (Gen. 19:24,25), will He not also destroy other nations which have followed the same course?  The answer, of course, is Yes!  The question we are all asking is, “when?”  When will judgment begin to overtake this once great nation whose motto was “In God We trust”?  Only God knows for sure, but there are signs along the way which indicate that circumstances are heading toward a great and tumultuous crisis from which there will be no escape.

        This is the time to make our calling and election sure.  This is the time to set our affections on things above, and make God our highest priority.

        REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE!

 

 

MY PEACE

James Sanderson

        People everywhere yearn for peace.  The problem is that most search for it in the wrong places.  Jesus, in His discourse to His disciples after the Last Supper, stated, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” (John 14:27).  What kind of peace does the world give?  The world can never give true and lasting peace.  The Apostle John declares, “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (1 John 2:17).  What the world has to offer is transitory and illusory.  Illusory because it satisfies only a momentary pleasure (lust, as the Apostle John called it) denying the recipient the peace that his soul desires.  The world can only offer a false peace.  The peace that Jesus imparts holds promise for this life as well as the one to come (I Tim. 4:8).  What is peace, that is Biblical peace?

        The Greek word for peace comes from a Greek verb that means to join (Strong’s Concordance).  Peace is that state of being in which the individual is joined in harmony with God.  Jesus walked in complete peace because He was in complete harmony with the Father. “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).  Our Lord Jesus Christ was at peace throughout all the difficulties, trials, and crucifixion that He faced.  Jesus provided the way for all His followers to possess that same peace.  “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

        Peace and faith walk hand in hand.  The Sea of Galilee was a body of water prone to sudden and violent storms.  One day after Jesus sent away the multitude to whom He had been ministering, He and His disciples pushed out to sea to pass to the other side.  Jesus lay sleeping at the back of the ship.  A storm suddenly arose practically filling the vessel with water.  The disciples, quite fearful, awoke the Lord and said unto Him, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38)  Jesus calmed the sea and the wind; then, He said unto them, “Why are ye so fearful: how is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40).  While Jesus lay resting with full confidence in the Father’s care, the disciples were beside themselves with fear.  Since their faith was weak, they had no peace during this unfavorable ordeal.

        Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace” (Gal 5:22).  Peace is also one of the attributes of the Kingdom of God.  “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 14:17).  Paul also speaks about “the gospel of peace” (Rom. 3:15).

        There are impediments to peace.  The Apostle Paul declares, “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).  The carnal mind works to destroy peace.  In a sense, peace is a choice.  The more one feeds the spiritual mind the more one has peace in his life.  The Apostle Peter says, “let him seek peace, and ensue (pursue in Greek) it” (I Peter 3:11).  The Apostle Paul writes, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body” (Col. 3:15).

        The cares of this life can be a great hindrance to peace.  One day, as Jesus was passing through a certain village, He stopped to visit at Martha’s house.  Martha’s sister Mary was also there.  The Scriptures say that she “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39).  The passage continues, “But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?  Bid her therefore that she help me.  And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40–42).  Martha allowed the cares of life to rob her of her peace in God.  It is quite interesting that the phrase art careful in Greek is the same word Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount, “Take no thought for your life”(Matt. 6:25).  Berry’s Interlinear translates, “Be not careful as to your life.”

        Throughout the ages, the servants of the Lord had peace in the midst of some very terrible trials.  Picture Joseph, thrown into an Egyptian prison; Daniel, dropped into a den of lions; the three Hebrew children, cast into a fiery furnace; and Paul and Silas, thrust into prison and placed in stocks.  The Apostle Paul aptly called this peace that Jesus offers “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Phil. 4:7).  Berry’s Interlinear translates this verse, “the peace of God which surpasses every understanding.”  There are no words in man’s earthly vocabulary to fully describe the peace that God offers His people—peace in the midst of the storms and tribulations of life.

        The Lord, through Moses, commanded Aaron, the high priest, to grant this blessing upon the children of Israel, “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Num. 6:24–26). 

 

 

A PRESENT KINGDOM

Alfred King

        The kingdom of God seems to be one of the most prominent teachings of the New Testament, especially with the words of Jesus Christ in the four Gospels.  It was proclaimed first by John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming.  John’s no–nonsense preaching of repentance, bringing forth fruit which would demonstrate a genuine contrition, and his bold, straight–forward and fearless condemnation of the hypocritical religious leaders of his day, were all words of warning that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and all men needed to begin to set their spiritual houses in order.  He warned that, with the coming of this kingdom, God’s ax would be laid to the root of the tree and those trees not bearing good fruit would surely be cut down and burned.  In this kingdom God would thoroughly purge out all of those which do iniquity and will not conform to the message of the kingdom.  He proclaimed there would be a separation of the good and the bad, the wheat and the tares.  God was gathering the wheat (fruit bearers) into his barn but the chaff (fruitless) would be burned with a fire that could not be quenched (Matt. 3:1–12).  Such language as this in today’s world of such childish and immature sensitivities would be considered “hate speech,” the message would be (and is) rejected, the messenger would be ostracized, criticized and considered a kook.  It would be socially unacceptable, and John would not have had to worry about Herod nor Herodias for he would be under the fierce hand of criticism and condemnation by the religious leaders and even by the “Christian” church itself.  However, shortly after John’s appearance on the Judean scene, God stamped His approval on John’s message when Jesus, God’s incarnate Son, came to him to be baptized in the Jordan River.  After forty days of temptation in the wilderness Jesus, Himself, came into Galilee preaching the same gospel that John preached, the gospel of the kingdom and saying, repent for the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15).

        Most of the parables spoken by Jesus were relative to this kingdom Jesus preached.  In Matthew 13, where several parables are given in one chapter, He introduces most of these parables with, “the kingdom of heaven is likened unto ” (Matt. 13:24,31,33,44,45,47,52).  After having given a couple of very pertinent and important lessons through allegories, His disciples asked why He spoke to the multitudes in parables.  His answer, although a bit shocking, was relevant to the kingdom of God.  “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matt. 13:11).  Clearly these parables each concern themselves with certain aspects of the kingdom but were only for those who had ears to hear, those who would take to heart these words and apply them to their lives.  Following are a few more references to parables found in Matthew’s gospel concerning the kingdom spoken by Jesus: Matt. 18:23–34; 20:1–16; 22:2–14; 25:13; 25:14–30; 25:34–46.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentioned the kingdom seven times and in the four gospels, He referred to it many times.  Yet as much as is written in scripture on the kingdom of God, controversy still exists today over the kingdom concerning its importance, its relevancy and its time period.  With such prominence placed upon the kingdom by Jesus and the Apostles throughout the New Testament, one would think that it would be a subject easily understood and there would be agreement among God’s people as to its time period and its pertinence in the life of Christians.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.

        The great importance of this topic is also unveiled by the very fact that Satan has endeavored tirelessly and tenaciously to confuse the issue, distort any truth concerning it, postpone its immediacy and relegate it to some future time lest Christians embrace its truth to the destruction of his kingdom.  Satan’s kingdom is this world.  In II Cor. 4:4 Paul informs us that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  If we seriously consider scripture relative to the kingdom, we find there are only two kingdoms in the spiritual realm, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness.  There are only two kings, two lords, and they are Jesus and Satan.  Every man is in one of these two kingdoms and under the rule of one these kings.  This fact alone makes this topic most important.

        In His discourse with Nicodemus recorded for us in John 3, Jesus teaches unmistakably that for one to enter His kingdom he must be born again.  It is through the new birth that a person is translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13).  As essential as this is, it is not enough to be born again and think that this one–time experience gives the individual a through ticket to heaven or eternal life.  Spiritual life begins at this time but is only the beginning of one’s walk with God.  God expects (and rightfully so) the new believer to mature and bear fruit unto holiness.  God requires a life of holiness and righteous living to become the believer’s goal.  This walk every born again believer is called to is one of constant struggle and determination to choose daily the path which will honor his king.  Our lives either honor God or they honor Satan: it just depends on whom we are serving.  As true as it is that we must live righteously in this life, if we go no further in understanding the kingdom than that it is a kingdom of holiness and a path of sacrifice and a struggle for righteousness, we have missed the very heart and soul of the kingdom which Jesus preached and made available for those who will follow Him.  God is looking for changed lives because they have a changed heart.  God is developing in His people hearts that love Him perfectly.

        The kingdom of God is so much more than a life of struggle and sacrifice to produce righteous works.  It is a life of hope, mystery, anticipation and wonder as the believer experiences God’s marvelous power working in his life through the Holy Spirit, producing changes that amaze his soul and astonish his mind.  It is called “the glorious gospel” in II Cor. 4:4 and “the everlasting gospel” in Rev. 14:6, and rightly so because the power that works in the one who will possess this kingdom is beyond human strength or man’s futile determinations, and he is acutely aware that the power is of God and not of himself.  It is not some Pharisaic, conjured up walk of self–righteousness which serves only to puff up the ego while disgusting those who have to witness such nauseating haughtiness.  This is not to say that those who possess the kingdom of God will avoid the cross, for they, like John the Baptist, will proclaim God’s truth and anger those who have soft–soaped the gospel with a once saved always saved mentality.  The cross will be faced daily and the messengers of the kingdom will be hated of all nations for Christ’s sake, yet they will find their joy in God and not in the opinions of carnal and worldly men.  They will embrace their cross, for they know that the way of the cross is the path that will lead them into a closer relationship with Christ, the very Person in whom they find their real and lasting joy.

        The postponement of the kingdom to some future one thousand years is one of the greatest lies fostered upon modern Christianity by the enemy, the god of this world.  As long as Christians believe this lie, they will not possess the kingdom Jesus offers, and Satan will maintain his power over an ignorant world.  Jesus’ words in Mark 1:15 are more important today to Christians than they were in the day He spoke them.  “Repent and believe the gospel.”  To think that Christians would take the deceitful teachings of Dr. C. I. Scofield over Jesus’ plain words and claim that Jesus failed in accomplishing His purpose in coming to set up His kingdom, is a nocuous lie that has permeated our Christian ranks and created a weak and malnourished church, the results of which are seen all around us.  Let us read what Scofield wrote in his Scofield Reference Bible, found in his notes on Matthew 12:20–30, page 1011, footnote one.  “The kingdom of heaven announced as ‘at hand’ by John the Baptist, by the King Himself, and by the twelve, and attested by mighty works, has been morally rejected.”  Continuing under his second footnote we read, “The new message of Jesus.  The rejected King now turns from the rejecting nation and offers, not the kingdom, but rest and service to such in the nation as are conscious of need.  It is a pivotal point in the ministry of Jesus.”  So what is Scofield saying?  One: The kingdom that was announced to be “at hand” is not at hand even though Jesus Himself said it was.  Scofield contradicts our Savior!!!!  Two: Jesus changed His message; He has a new message.  He, Who never changes and Who knows all things, did change because He didn’t know Israel would reject Him???  Three: Christ no longer offers the kingdom, which He had preached.  So Jesus lied to those to whom He preached the kingdom???  Four: He offers instead, rest and service until some future time (greasy grace).  None of this is scriptural.  Jesus came to die on a tree for the sins of the whole world.  Not just Israel.  He never intended to set up a physical kingdom on this earth, for His kingdom was and is a spiritual kingdom that comes not with observation (Luke 17:20) or in a manner which can be seen with the physical eyes.  The kingdom He offered man was and is a kingdom that is within the heart of every believer (Luke 17:21), and is why one must be born again in order to enter.  This kingdom of God is an everlasting kingdom, called the everlasting gospel in Revelation 4:6 and not a kingdom that lasts only one thousand years.  The kingdom Jesus preached is not in word but in power (I Cor. 4:20), which power was demonstrated by the church in the book of Acts.  The kingdom life experienced in Acts is the same kingdom power and life that is for the church today.  Those who postpone this kingdom have sold themselves short, living in spiritual poverty, having accepted the lies of him who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10), rather than experiencing the kingdom portrayed in Acts and which, in that day, turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).  It seems that because we don’t see the kingdom today as it was in the early church, we have to change the Gospel to fit our modern Christianity rather than change our modern Christianity, make it Biblical and deal with our unbelief.

        We are living in the days just prior to the Lord’s return when He will again pour His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28–29; Acts 2:17–18) and the saints will possess the kingdom Jesus preached and offers man through His sacrifice on the cross (Dan. 7:18).  Jesus did not die on the cross so we could be “greasy grace” Christians but that we might be empowered through the Holy Ghost and live and demonstrate kingdom life.  The days ahead are days when the powers of darkness will be released from the pit and Satan’s kingdom will rise up to challenge God’s kingdom.  The kingdom of God will once again be, not just words, but a demonstration of power and glory the world has not yet seen.  But it will be for those and among those who believe the gospel and embrace its full provision, which was afforded in Christ Jesus.  The glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former (Hag. 2:9).  There will be a restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began (Acts 3:21).  These signs shall follow them that believe.  They shall cast out devils, heal the sick, cause the lame to walk, open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears.  They will also call for judgment upon the ungodly just as Moses, Elijah, Elisha and other great men of God did.  It not a time to be overly concerned with what men are calling “climate change,” “one world government,” or the many others things too many Christians are concerned and in turmoil about but a time to seek first the kingdom of God and begin to be more conscious of God, Whose judgments are certain to come upon this sinful generation.  May God awaken His sleeping church.  May God open our hearts to the reality of His present kingdom that we may not be found sleeping when the master of the house arises.  May His church be ready for the marriage supper of the Lamb when Jesus will drink anew with us in the Father’s kingdom.

 

 

WHAT ABOUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

James Sanderson

        “The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul” (Ps. 19:7).  The Psalmist who penned these words truly understood the inestimable value and supreme importance that God places upon divine law.  The security and integrity of God’s throne rests upon the “Immutability of His counsel” (Heb. 6:17).  The turbulent history of nations demonstrates that no human legislation can begin to compare with the superior quality of divine jurisprudence.  God’s law is a reflection of the nature of God Himself.  Only a truly benevolent, just, and impartial Being could establish a system complete and so perfect that no being in the universe can add to it or detract from it.

        A law is a rule that governs any action or operation.  There are physical laws such as the law of gravity that govern the material world.  Since God is the creator of all things, He is responsible for the physical laws that control the world about us.  The psalmist above was not referring to these physical laws which have no effect upon the souls or hearts of men.  Rather, he was referring to that category of divine law called the moral law, which is a body of law that establishes definite rules of right and wrong.  A moral precept is “concerned with the goodness or badness” of a particular action or conduct (dictionary).

        God’s moral law is designed to meet the needs of free moral agents.  A free moral agent is one who has the power of choice and is “capable of distinguishing between right and wrong” (dictionary).  Man is a free moral agent.

        One of the most profound expressions of moral law recorded in the Scriptures is the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deut. 5).  God chose the number 10 to testify to man the completeness of His moral code.  These ten mandates from heaven summarize perfectly man’s obligation to God and to his fellowman.  The first four deal with man’s relationship with God while the last six deal with man’s relationship with man.

        The Ten Commandments are completely compatible with the nature of moral beings.  Those who apply these moral precepts to their lives enjoy the blessing of God and discover lasting peace and tranquility.  On the other hand, those who choose to walk in disobedience reap judgment and eternal loss.  “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God” (Deut. 11:26–28).

The Present Moral Crisis

        Society is facing a moral crisis of major proportions because of its rejection of those standards of right and wrong set forth by the Ten Commandments.  Some years ago, Joseph Fletcher declared in his book Situation Ethics, “Principles, yes; but not rules” (page 31).  This statement epitomizes the present disdain for moral law.  Modern man wants to chart his own course in life without being accountable to a Creator who demands adherence to moral absolutes.

        Recently, an official in a nearby state lamented the fact that many young people there are graduating from high school without the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.  This situation should come as no surprise.  Society is merely reaping what it has sown.  For several decades, there has been a systematic removal of Judeo–Christian values from our public schools.  In the early sixties, the courts determined that prayer and Bible–reading were unconstitutional.  Again, in 1980, the Supreme Court declared that the state of Kentucky could not require the posting of the Ten Commandments in public classrooms because the Ten Commandments were “plainly religious…and may induce children to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and to obey the commandments.”  Shoving aside God and His law continues to the present date and moral decadence, crime, drugs, murders and sin in general have steadily increased. 

        This complete disregard for God’s moral law has produced a spiritual and moral vacuum which is now being filled with the relativistic philosophy of modern humanism and New Age religion.  “The (moral) vacuums in culture and education have given society several generations of people who no longer have a concept of traditional absolutes.  In many there is even a hostility toward traditional religion” (The End of Man, John Whitehead, page 60).

        This wholesale decline in moral standards is not confined only to the unregenerate.  Much of modern so–called “Christian” theology has produced a general disrespect for God’s moral law even among many of those who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  This condition is a much more serious affront to the great God of heaven than the lawlessness of the unbelievers.  Jesus Christ declared in unequivocal terms, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).  God’s Word, His will, and His law are all one and the same.  The Father’s will certainly encompasses obedience to the Ten Commandments.

        In his reference Bible, C.I. Scofield maintains, “The law (here he includes the Ten Commandments) was added because of transgression, i.e. to give to sin the character of transgression.  Men had been sinning before Moses, but in the absence of law their sins were not put to their account” (page 1244).  Hal Lindsey, in agreement with Scofield’s theology, states: “When God gave the Ten Commandments and the various other laws to the nation of Israel, for the first time the people knew just how far they could go and still not sin.  Before the law was given, if a man had a weakness for sleeping with other men’s wives and his conscience didn’t bother him, then it wasn’t sin.  The other husbands may not have liked it, but there was no law to which they could appeal to convict the other man of wrongdoing.  There may have been certain tribal laws, but there was no larger moral law which could be invoked against the man” (Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth, (page 172).

        What are the implications of this erroneous doctrine?  (1) There was no moral law before Sinai.  (2) The Ten Commandments were not in force until the time of Moses.  (3) Although there was supposedly no moral law, man could still sin.  (4) Man could sin and not be accountable to God or to his fellowman.

The Ten Commandments Before Sinai

        When the Lord issued the Ten Commandments at Sinai, He was actually establishing the terms under which He would maintain a covenant relationship with His people.  It is interesting to note that the Lord did not give the Ten Commandments through a mediator as He did the other laws.  Instead, God chose a manner of presentation that would leave no doubts in the minds of the people concerning His expectations.  Not only did He declare these words with His own voice, but He also etched them in tables of stone with His own finger (Deut. 5:22).  The Lord was demonstrating the great value that He placed upon these ten precepts even above all the other ordinances that He gave to Moses.  Furthermore, unlike the other laws, these Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant by the direct command of God Himself.

        Of all the commandments that God enumerated not one could be considered a new commandment.  Every one of these commandments had existed from the beginning and had the force of law.  None of them was added because of sin.  Moral law defines sin.  If there were no moral law before Sinai, there could be no sin, “for where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15).  “Sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4).

        There is no record found in the Bible where any individual’s sin was not found accountable before God.  Sin existed before Sinai.  The word sin is used seven times in the book of Genesis.  When the Lord was speaking to Abraham about the conditions in Sodom and Gomorrah, He declared, “their sin is very grievous” (Gen. 18:20).  The judgment that these two cities endured attests to the fact that God held them accountable for their sin.  It is very difficult to imagine a God who would rain destruction upon so many people for disobeying a law that had not yet been given.  Where there is sin, there is law.  Where there is law, there is accountability.

        Long before Sinai, Abraham was well aware of God’s law.  “Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Gen. 26:5).  Were these laws and commandments only for Abraham?  Jesus called Satan a murderer and a liar from the beginning (John 8:44).  God brought a curse upon Cain for killing his brother and attempting to lie about it (Gen. 4:9–12).  The Lord rained judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah for their “unlawful deeds” (II Pet. 2:8).  At creation, God sanctified the seventh–day Sabbath by divine decree (Gen. 2:1–3).  God destroyed the world with a flood because of wickedness and corruption (Gen. 6).  Joseph refused to “sin against God” by committing adultery (Gen. 39:9).  Noah observed the first commandment by building an altar to the Lord (Gen. 8:20–21).  Eve coveted the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:6).  Joseph and his brothers knew that stealing was wrong (Gen. 44:8).

        Scofield attempts to support his arguments with a distorted view of Romans 5:13.  Nowhere in this verse does Paul suggest that people can sin and not be held accountable to God.  Nor can anyone infer that there was no moral law before Sinai.  In reality, Paul is strongly implying that there had to have been moral law before the formal proclamation of the Ten Commandments at Sinai because “sin is not imputed where there is no law.”  A paraphrase of this statement would simply say, “An act is not considered sinful where there is no law governing that act.”  All sin is imputed sin, or it is not sin.  The only time sin is not imputed is when the individual repents and God forgives him.  “Sin is, indeed, a neglect to do known duty and a refusal to comply with known obligation.  It is deliberate, intelligent, and intentional rebellion against God” (Charles Finney).

The Ten Commandments In The New Testament

        With the advent of Jesus Christ, there is no doubt that certain dramatic changes took place both in the heavenly realms and in the affairs of men.  Satan and all his hosts of fallen angels were cast down.  With the institution of “better things,” animal sacrifices and temple rituals were no longer necessary.  The shed blood of Jesus Christ now made atonement for all sin.  The priesthood of believers replaced the priesthood of Levi.  The circumcision of the heart superseded the circumcision of the flesh.  “Whosoever will” could now enjoy the blessings of the Kingdom of God through the new birth.  In light of all these wonderful changes, the question remains, “Are Christians still obligated before God to obey the Ten Commandments?”

        Scofield maintains that the law is “of necessity a ministry of condemnation, death, and the divine curse.  Christ…redeemed the believer both from the curse and from the dominion of the law.  The commandments are used in the distinctively Christian Scriptures as an instruction in righteousness” (page 1245).  According to this confusing doctrine, (1) the Ten Commandments are a “divine curse.”  (2) The Ten Commandments no longer carry the force of law in the life of the Christian.  They are merely nice moral lessons.

        There is a certain aspect of man’s nature that has little appreciation for divine law.  Paul calls that inner condition the “carnal mind.”  Those who walk according to the flesh or the carnal mind will invent any type of excuse to avoid obligation to God’s law.  Jesus Christ confronted this problem when He asked the Pharisees, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your traditions?” (Matt. 15:3).  Through certain theological maneuvers they had devised a way to circumvent the fifth commandment.  These church leaders had not openly declared themselves in opposition to the Ten Commandments, but their doctrine had, in essence, “made the commandment of God of none effect.”  The teachings of Scofield produce the same results.

        Every New Testament writer upheld the authority of the Ten Commandments in the life of the believer.  Many of these writers even quoted directly from the Ten Commandments as their authority in order to impress a certain moral truth.  For example, Paul uses the fifth commandment to instruct the Ephesian church (Eph. 6:2).  James admonishes his readers to look into “the perfect law of liberty” and continue therein (James 1:25).  The text of his epistle shows that he meant The Ten Commandments (James 2:9–12).

        Every one of the Ten Commandments finds expression in the New Testament.

1.  “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).
2.  “Keep yourselves from idols” (I John 5:21; also Eph.5:5; Acts 17:29).
3.  “That the name of God…be not blasphemed” (I Tim. 6:1; also Titus 2:5).
4.  “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27).
5.  “Honor thy father and mother” (Eph. 6:2; also Matt. 15:4).
6.  “If thou kill, thou are become a transgressor of the law” (James 2:11).
7. “Neither fornicators…nor adulterers…shall inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9).
8.  “Let him that stole steal no more” (Eph. 4:28); also Rom. 2:21).
9.  “Liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire” (Rev. 21:8).
10. “Beware of covetousness” (Luke 12:15; also Rom. 7:7).

        There is not a single verse of Scripture that declares that any of these ten precepts has been repealed.  The abolition of the various ceremonial and civil laws did not affect the Ten Commandments.  Jesus Himself declared, “Think not that I am come to destroy (abolish) the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (perform, accomplish).  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17–18).  On one occasion Jesus told the rich young ruler, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 9:17).  This young man’s unwillingness to give up his riches demonstrated his failure to observe the first and second commandments.

        Although God never abolished His moral law, the inauguration of the new covenant did produce some significant changes.  First, there was a change in the method of administration of the law (II Cor. 3).  Instead of the ministration of those who “sit in Moses’ seat,” there is now the ministration of the Holy Spirit.  “And when he (the Holy Spirit) is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).  Second, the law is no longer recorded merely on tables of stone.  It is now written in the heart.  “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts” (Heb. 8:10).  The Spirit of the Lord took the Ten Commandments that had been etched in stone and wrote them in “tables of the heart” (II Cor. 3:3).  Finally, Jesus magnified the law.  One’s motives, as well as the outward act of obedience, must comply with the law.  For example, even he who is angry with his brother has committed murder in his heart.  God now weighs the thoughts and the intents of the heart.

The Law Was Not A Curse

        The Bible never calls God’s moral law a “divine curse.”  Jesus died on the cross to deliver mankind from the “curse of the law” not from the “cursed law.”  When God gave His law, He bestowed upon man a rich blessing.  “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Rom. 7:12).  The curse that man incurred was the result of disobedience.

        Since all have sinned of their own volition, all have come under the curse.  The good news of the gospel is that through Jesus’ death on the cross not only can man find forgiveness with God but he can also be redeemed from a state of disobedience.  Note this one point very carefully.  Jesus Christ redeemed man from a state of disobedience to moral law, not from the law itself.  Under the ministration of the Holy Spirit, “the righteousness of the law” can now “be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:4).  Authority and power are available to the Christian to live a victorious life above sin.  He no longer has to live under a curse.  He can now enjoy the blessing of obedience to God’s law.

Love Does Not Replace The Law

        “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:36–40).

        Here in this passage of Scripture, Jesus summarizes the whole moral law as love for God and love for one’s neighbor.  Because of this new emphasis upon love in the New Testament, some have expressed the idea that love somehow replaces the law of God.  According to the antinomians, man no longer needs a list of rules.  He only needs to allow love to govern his life.

        Love does not replace law.  Nor can law replace love.  Love and law walk hand in hand.  “Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).  In simple terms, love obeys the law of God.  The man who truly loves the Lord delights in the law of God and meditates upon it day and night (Psa. 1:2).

        Jesus expressed the relationship between law and love quite clearly, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.  He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” (John 14:15,21,24).

Following Christ Includes Obedience To Law

        A half truth is often more deadly than an outright lie.  The enemy is quite adept at distorting real truth in order to gain an advantage, especially if he can cause people to deviate from a walk of obedience to God’s law.  Satan used this scheme when he tempted Jesus to cast Himself from a pinnacle of the temple.  He even quoted a verse of Scripture that seemed to support his suggestion.  Fortunately, the Lord perceived the insidious plan of the devil and resisted his temptation.

        There are those who maintain that since the advent of Christ Christians no longer follow the Ten Commandments.  Their only obligation now is to follow Christ.  One verse of Scripture that is often quoted in support of this idea is Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

        Christ Himself followed and obeyed the Ten Commandments.  On many occasions He even quoted from them in order to convey divine truth to the people.  The Lord placed His stamp of approval upon all ten of these commands in the following verses of Scripture:(1st) Matt. 22:37;(2nd) John 4:24;(3rd) Matt. 5:34 (see Lev. 19:12);(4th) Mark 2:27–28;(5th) Matt. 15:4–6;(6th) Matt. 5:21–22;(7th) Matt. 5:28;(8th) Matt. 19:18;(9th) Matt. 15:19 “false witness”;(10th) Luke 12:15.

        One cannot claim any higher authority than that of Jesus Christ.  His example and teachings are sufficient proof that God’s people are still obligated to follow the Ten Commandments.  The servant is certainly not above his Lord and Master.

        In the days of Paul and the other apostles, most of the Jewish nation had rejected the lordship of Jesus Christ.  They had attempted to obtain righteousness by observing divine law apart from the authority of Christ and the agency of the Holy Spirit.  Their works accomplished nothing as far as God was concerned because there was no change of heart (see Rom. 10:10).

        The Ten Commandments were not at fault.  The problem was the method by which they sought to gain righteousness in the eyes of God (Rom. 10:3).  Their motives were also wrong.  Devotion and love for Jesus Christ were not the motivating factors in their attempts at obedience.  Righteousness is only obtainable as one applies God’s moral law to a heart cleansed by the blood of Christ and sanctified by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  That is, one must first be born again into the kingdom of God.

        Paul was not declaring an end to the Ten Commandments in Romans 10:4.  He was simply pointing out that all obedience and works of righteousness must be centered in Jesus Christ.  Compliance with divine law must emanate from a heart that loves Jesus Christ.  All other efforts are merely dead works.  To everyone who truly believes, He is the end or reason for all their works of obedience to God’s law.  Paul did not “make void the law.”  In reality he was establishing the law’s rightful place in the life of the Christian (Rom. 3:31).  The Christian no longer obeys law for law’s sake but that he might exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in his life.

        The pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction.  The Jews in Paul’s day wanted a system of law without Christ.  Today, men want a Christ who will free them from obligation to divine law.  Such a Christ would allow them to set aside part or all of God’s moral law while they still retain His approval.  Such a Christ does not exist in the Word of God.  What would happen to a soldier who declared that he would follow his commanding officer, but he would not follow any of the orders that that commanding officer gave?  The absurdity is quite obvious.  Nevertheless, this very same situation prevails in much of institutional Christianity.  Men want Jesus Christ, but they do not want Him to tell them what to do.  Those who truly follow Jesus Christ will make every effort to apply the Ten Commandments and all the other words of Jesus to their lives.

 

 

THE MINISTRY OF SUFFERING

Mary C. Woodard

        “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Phil. 1:29).

        If there is one thing above all else that the human mind and body resists, it is suffering.  We recoil from it.  We try to avoid it by every means possible.  We let our minds dwell for a moment on the sufferings of Jesus, and we somehow think it unfair that we should suffer, forgetting the words of Jesus himself, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord” (Matt. 10:24).

        Jesus drank of the Cup of Suffering and was baptized with the Baptism of Death, and He has left us these words, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Pet. 2:21).

        As Jesus went to the cross, His human nature cried out, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:” but His spirit prayed, “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).

        If we would embrace the Way of the Cross, we must also accept the Cup of Suffering.  Let us see, then, what the Way of the Cross requires of us.

        The Way of the Cross is a Way of Self Denial.  It is no longer what we want, but what God wants for us.  “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).  Our cross is His cross.  Jesus did the will of the Father (John 4:34), and so must we if we are His.  “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).  “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matt. 12:50).

        The disciples forsook all to follow Him (Matt. 19:27).  The apostle Paul suffered the loss of all things (Phil. 3:8).  The rich young man went away sorrowful because he was not willing to give up his many possessions (Matt. 19:22).

        The Way of the Cross is a Way of Persecution.  “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12).  The sinless Son of God suffered at the hands of the mob.  “And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him…and the servants did strike him with the palm of their hands…and they clothed him with purple, and plaited a crown of thorns, and put it upon his head…and they smote him on the head with a reed…and led him out to crucify him” (Mark 14:65; 15:17–20).  Space would not permit the accounts of the persecutions of the prophets, of whom the world is not worthy (Heb. 11:35–38), nor of the cruel treatment and death of the apostles, nor of the accounts of men and women through the ages who have given their lives for the sake of the gospel.  Around the world today there are many who are partaking of the Cup of Suffering because they have chosen the Way of the Cross rather than deny their Lord.  To these I would remind you of the words of your Lord, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matt. 5:11,12).

        The Way of the Cross is a Way of Reproach.  It is a savor of death to those that are lost (II Cor. 2:15,16).  If you are a friend of the world, you are an enemy of God (James 4:4).  If you go the Way of the Cross, do not expect to be popular.  You will be misunderstood.  You will be treated as the filth of the world, and as the off–scouring of all things (I Cor. 4:13).  But “being reviled, we bless, being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat” (I Cor. 4:12,13).  “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye: for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you” (I Peter 4:14).

        The Way of the Cross is a Way of Physical Suffering.  Jesus, “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).  How much more you and me?  The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet” him, but the Lord said unto him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  “Most gladly therefore,” said the apostle, “will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me: (II Cor. 12:7,8).  We must be made weak in ourselves so that we can be made strong in Him.  Yes, as many as He loves, He rebukes and chastens (Rev. 3:19), and this chastening sometimes takes the form of a thorn in the flesh, a physical suffering, something which drives us to our knees and causes us to rely on Him and His strength.

        Physical suffering is coming to many at the hands of the enemies of God today, and we pray that God will give them grace to boldly say, “the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:6).

        The Way of the Cross is a Way of Offence.  Just before Jesus went to the Cross, He told the disciples, “All ye shall be offended because of me this night” (Matt. 26:31).  Many of His disciples walked no more with Him because He told them, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53,66).  The world will accept a crossless, bloodless religion.  If you accept the Way of the Cross, you will not only offend those who are lost, you will offend the professors of Christianity who choose to remain lukewarm and carnal rather than, like Moses, to suffer affliction with the people of God (Heb. 11:25).

        The Way of the Cross is a Way of Forsaking.  “whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).  It is a forsaking of sin (Prov. 28:13).  It is a forsaking of one’s own self, of one’s way of life, of one’s ambitions.  It is a forsaking of the world.  “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world” (I John 2:15).

        The Way of the Cross is a Way of Aloneness.  As Jesus surrendered to His captors, his friends “all forsook him and fled” (Mark 14:50).  At the most crucial point in your life, you may find yourself alone, bereft of all human help.  True saints of God often find themselves without the fellowship and understanding of those about them.  There’s only room for two on the pathway of the cross, but the One who walks with you has promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).

        Yes, the Way of the Cross is a Way of Self Denial, Persecution, Reproach, Physical Suffering, Offence, Forsaking, Aloneness and much more.  It is the way that Jesus walked, and it is the way we must walk.  Whatever comes your way, rejoice that you are counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name (Acts 5:41).  Amid the suffering there will be joy, there will be peace, you will have meat to eat that others know not of (John 4:10–32).

        Accept your cross and carry it proudly, unashamedly.  “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (I Peter 4:19).

        “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him” (II Tim. 2:12).

 

 

FORGIVENESS

Anonymous

        Is there anything anyone has done to someone else that cannot be forgiven?  If that person is truly sorry and apologizes, can we as Christians refuse to forgive and, just as importantly, forget?  What does God’s Word say?  Luke 6:28–38 deals with this in no uncertain terms.

        “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and to him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.

        “Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.  And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise (Put yourself in their shoes and then see how you want to be treated.).  For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those who love them.  And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? For sinners also do even the same.  And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners to receive as much again.”

        It just kills old man self not to be able to take revenge or receive something in return for generosity.  Our first instinct is to hit back, take back, return evil for evil, and hold a grudge to the bitter end.  At best, we’ll refuse to trust or believe even when an apology is made.

        Verse 35–38: “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

        “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

        “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

        What a tall order!  To love, do good, lend without return; not only to your brother but to whoever asks…I don’t see where it specifies any certain ones to do all this to…it says “every man.”  Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  So we are to obey to the best of our ability.

        Romans 2:1 warns us not to judge another.  We tend to judge one another sometimes and become offended because “they don’t act like they should.”  Just because a person isn’t what we think he ought to be is no excuse to be offended or unforgiving.  Jesus said, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17).  There is no excuse for not forgiving and forgetting.  If Christ could forgive the ones who crucified Him (which was a most unforgivable thing!), then we are required to do the same.  Has anyone nailed you to a cross? Spit upon you? Beaten you? Called you names? Ridiculed you?  Forgive them, love them, pray for them, help them up when they fall, desire good things for them, give all you can and God will return it to you an hundredfold.  Even more important, Jesus’ name will be glorified.

        Mercy is defined as “compassionate treatment of an offender, enemy, etc.; clemency.  A disposition to be kind and forgiving.  Alleviation of distress; relief.”

        There are few worse feelings than to do something wrong, apologize for it, and realize that you were forgiven in words only, and a grudge was still being held.  It can give much distress and pain.  If you want to make someone really suffer agony, tell him he’s forgiven and then continue to act as though you are still offended and don’t trust him.  Satan will love you for it!

        Luke 17:3,4: “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”  Do we count seven times and then say, “That’s it!  I won’t forgive the eighth time!”?  NO!

        Matthew 18:22–35 tells us to forgive even more – seventy times seven.  I have a feeling Jesus means to keep on forgiving without end.  We are warned that if we don’t forgive others, God will not forgive us our sins (Matt. 6:15).  Even the Lord’s Prayer that we repeat reminds us that we must forgive others the same way that we expect God to do for us.

        Ephesians 4:31–32: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour (brawling), and evil speaking (slander, gossip), be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

        We cannot continue complaining about what others have done to us if we have forgiven them (Phil. 2:14,15).  We can no longer be bitter or angry with them.  Forgiving and forgetting are nearly the same, as they both mean to overlook something, to disregard or pardon it.

        God is willing to forgive us and forget our sins.  We become as new creatures (II Cor. 5:17) and all old things are passed away.

        I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  We say we’re sorry and Jesus not only forgives but also forgets our sin.  Isn’t that what we should do?

        Colossians 3:12–15 tells us to forbear and forgive one another and to put on charity or love.

        We could find many more scriptures on forgiving – wonder why?  It must be very important.

        Now, forgiveness is impossible without God’s help and the love of Jesus Christ flowing through us.  We must seek help from above.  It has been my experience that when I tried to forgive someone, it was impossible.  I would try and try, but if I didn’t watch it, I’d be remembering what they had done and get boiling mad all over again.  When I will get on my knees and pray for God to forgive me for my anger, I begin to make progress.  Then I must ask God to help the person to see how much his actions are hurting himself!  I must pray with a concern for his soul and with love and compassion for the harm he does himself and others.  Then God can work, for I have asked for help for myself to love and forgive.  And then I can have mercy and love for the person who has hurt or offended me.  Satan is stopped cold because I have dealt with one or more of his devices – anger, bitterness, etc. (II Cor. 2:11).

        In II Corinthians 2:5–8, Paul states that the excommunication of a man was sufficient punishment but, also, – verse 7 – “So that contrariwise (or “now instead” NIV) ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.  Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.”

        An unforgiving attitude can cause much damage and can cause the person who is not forgiven to lose his way and become bitter, turning away from people and God.

        We will be called to account for the hurt we cause to others and can even have their blood on our hands by not forgiving and causing them to be bitter.  Each of us must search our hearts and deal with any bitterness or resentment we might have towards others.  May God help us to be honest with ourselves and with Him.

 

 

FAMILY: THE BASIC UNIT OF SOCIETY

Alfred King

        “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24).  In the beginning God created male and female and God established the family.  It is from this basic unit of society established by God that all societies stem.  When this fundamental unit loses its importance in a culture, is attacked, torn down and its existence threatened, that society will ultimately fall.  A civilization that will attack God’s original plan and order for His creation, will destroy itself from within, it takes no outside force or enemy to conquer that society or nation.  God in His infinite wisdom and knowledge, instituted an order which will bless all people and all nations, and His mandate was inaugurated because He loved man whom He created and desired the best for him.  That which is best is male and female in holy matrimony, bearing and rearing children with the attendance of both the masculine and feminine influence.  It is through God’s divine order that societies would live most happily and successfully.

        In God’s great love for man, He gave us Ten Commandments, each intended to bring about a pleasurable existence for man on this planet.  It is sad that many Christians today feel the commands of God are oppressive and restrictive, and not realizing their value cast them off as a shackle of bondage.  Little do they realize they are casting aside that which God gave in love.  God did not give commandments in order to enslave men but that they could live lives of freedom, with peace and security.  To any who look upon the commands in scripture as bondage, you have received a lie of the devil, for it is he who sinned from the beginning and is the father of lies and the father of sin.  And what is sin?  Transgression of the law (I Jn. 3:4).  Sin is disregarding and breaking God’s law.  Sin opens the door for Satan to work in an individual’s life and from there to spread like a cancer throughout society.  Sin invites Satan to destroy a person, a society or a nation.

        Since the destruction of the family affects society and nations, we want in this article to concentrate on the seventh command, “Thou shalt not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14), one major transgression that affects this nucleus of society.  Grievous as it is in our twenty–first century many Christians don’t see anything wrong with adultery.  When we observe the troubling statistics that the divorce rate among Christians is equal to that of non–Christians, it appears that Christians today are ignorant of the seriousness of the effects in breaking this command.  As a Christian, I am appalled at how much emphasis professing Christians put upon sex and physical beauty rather than on those things that God deems important such as good works and Godly character.  God told Samuel that while men look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (I Sam. 16:7).  Jesus accented this fact in His Sermon on the Mount when He said, “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt 5:28).  The modern idea among many Christians is that as long as it stays in the heart, it is permissible and we are not to worry or be overly concerned about it.  Another lie of hell!  God is dealing with the heart and its motives, for what is in the heart will eventually come out, sometimes when we least expect it.  Previous to Christ’s statement regarding lusting after a woman, He says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt. 5:8).  God is looking at our hearts. 

        The question then arises: How important is God’s law to the church?  When the church forsakes the law of God, the society in which it exists loses any moorings it may have had and is like a ship cast upon a stormy sea, finding itself at the mercy of the seas.   Rejecting the commands and laws of God is to set the stage for the perfect storm, and the ship will not recover. The threat of a stormy sea is not as great as the jeopardy of casting off the law of God, for when the God’s commands are rejected by society, it will find itself at the mercy of sin and Satan, neither of which have any mercy whatsoever.

        Christians today are faced with the grave issue of gay marriage and many pastors and churches are caving in to the pressures of the homosexual and perverted militants.  The rejection of the seventh command has paved the way in which homosexual marriage has found entrance into our society.  If adultery had not become so prevalent today, the gay marriage debate would not even be on the table.  American society has cracked the door and sin has pried it open and entrance has been made for all sexual sins which are destroying our society today.  The wise man Solomon states the great deception of looking at the outward beauty rather than the purity of the heart in Proverbs 7 and so I will allow him to complete this article with his words of wisdom.

        Prov. 7:1–27 (KJV)  “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.  Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.  Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.  Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman: That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.  For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house, In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night: And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.  (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)  So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.  Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.  I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.  I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.  For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey: He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.  With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.  He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.  Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.  Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.  For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.  Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.”