Love ≠ Tolerance

intervention

The seventies instilled in us the belief, er, wish that “all you need is love” to be happy and succeed in life, politics, the workplace, relationships, whatever.  Love and peace were the mantras echoed against the Vietnam war and turmoil of the draft amongst other things.  Today the battle cry has morphed into tolerance.  We do indeed long to be loved, but we are more concerned with having the freedom to believe and do whatever we darn. well. please.  Sure, it would be great if you loved me for what I do – but I want the government to protect me from you disagreeing with me, bullying me, or trying to prove me wrong.  This mindset is permeating our culture at such a rate that parents are now hesitant to teach and discipline their children, friends consider the highest form of mutual respect to be unmitigated acceptance, and employers and professors are now afraid of their employees and students – for fear that the wrong policy or statement might end in a lawsuit.

Deep in our hearts, on the most visceral level, we know that tolerance does not equal love and tolerance is not a sustainable value in education, maturation and interpersonal relationships.  If a child wants to play with a poisonous snake we tell him no and we explain the dangers.  If a young person believes that babies arrive by storks delivering them to happy parents, the eventually need to be given sex education to learn about how our bodies work and why certain changes have happened to them as they grew older.  If an American moves to England, someone must sit him down and explain driving on the left-hand side of the road and how the turn signal is opposite from the windshield wipers in the US.

Tolerance sounds great:  Live and let live, however we all recognize that there must be confines within which that tolerance resides.  Proclaiming “peace” and declaring that “all we need is love” will not stop terrorists from killing people who are not fighting.  Withdrawing from war will not force the Sudanese people to suddenly get along.  Ignoring evil will not make evil go away.

We also recognize that we must teach children to read and write, to learn math, to walk, and countless other basic skills.  To play a sport or a game there must be rules otherwise the game falls apart.

Ok, so the philosophically elite argue then that tolerance should be encompassing of our “immutable characteristics and belief systems”.  Simply, religion and carnal desires – and general worldviews that would encompass cultural tendencies and desires, as long as you are not hurting or imposing on someone else’s rights.  Again, this sounds very neat and tidy up front, but what about the culture that marries children?  What about the culture that allows multiple spouses?  What about the person who is born with the addiction to cocaine or the person who is genetically prone to alcoholism?  What about the religion that sacrifices animals?  What about the religion that eats human flesh to interact with their gods?  Or has sexual relations with animals?

We are left again with a difficult situation:  to tolerate and allow one person to practice their worldview will cause another to feel discriminated against in almost every situation.  If there are no absolutes, then everyone will find an opponent and it is asinine to expect the government to be able to rule on such a wide and vague range of topics.

That, however, is a side topic.  My main argument is that this kind of tolerance is not only impossible, it is illogical.  If a person truly believes whatever it is that he is proclaiming, then the truest form of love is to tell others and try to convince them of this belief.  If I truly believe that you will die if you step onto the street in front of that speeding bus, then it is not loving of me to philosophically evaluate the situation and consider your worldview and decision.  I will shove you out of the way or pull you back onto the sidewalk.  If I truly believe animals have rights and deserve to be treated humanely, I will join PETA and try to save animals from abusive homes and from religions that would sacrifice them or fight them for sport – and try to convince you why it is wrong to do so.

And most importantly, if I truly believe that apart from Jesus Christ we are all sinners and condemned to Hell, the most loving act for me is to warn you of the coming judgment and tell you of the hope in Jesus Christ.  If I believe that you are headed to Hell because of your sin and never tell you how to be forgiven in Jesus, I either hate you or do not truly believe that, because an eternity separated from God in the lake of fire and torment is infinitely worse than getting hit by a bus.

Tolerance, therefore, is essentially indifference.  To allow someone to do something and live something that is contrary to your belief system – if there is a consequence involved – is to not care.  Or worse, to hate.  One cannot truly validate another’s worldview and opinions without invalidating his own – unless he someone has a completely illogical all-inclusivism which would leave him with fundamentally no belief system.

Philosophy is greatly complicating our relationships and politics.

Therefore, let us cling to the long-standing authority of the Bible which has never been disproven and has withstood the test of centuries of critiques and cultures.  Alcoholism is not new.  Mysticism is not new.  Homosexuality is not new.  Nothing that our culture attempts to throw at the Bible in an effort to discredit or defame it is new.  And while it is a work of the Holy Spirit to draw someone to the Truth of the Bible, Scripture is clear that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  Therefore, we must share so that people can hear and be saved.

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”

– Rom 10.17

If you believe the Bible, if you believe in Heaven and Hell, to love your friend and neighbor is to tell them about Jesus.  To tolerate them is to not talk about Jesus and to not love them, but to condemn them to Hell via inaction.  Once they have heard, there is a level of tolerance required, but true love would continue to be concerned about their eternities and souls, and to never leave the topic far from conversation.  Let us love people, and earnestly try to reason with them so that they may be saved.

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.”

– Charles Spurgeon

Fruit is not optional

fruit

When Jesus calls a man, He bids him come and die.  This is how Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes the conversion experience.  Jesus calls it the new birth, where we gain Spiritual life added to our physical life.  When we meet Jesus, and are given Spiritual life, our Spiritual walk becomes an ongoing battle between our flesh and spirit:  we are dying to our sinful habits and sinful ways, while growing in Spiritual and godly ways.  Paul says that the two are always at war with one another:

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

– Gal 5.16-17

Paul and Jesus clarify this by defining our actions as “fruit”.  Jesus says that a tree is known by its fruit – good trees bear good fruit, and bad trees bear bad fruit.  A bad tree cannot bear good fruit and a good tree cannot bear bad fruit (Matt 7.18, Luke 6.43).  Paul goes on to explain what the different (good and bad) fruit are:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

– Gal 5.20-21

The deeds of the flesh, or the bad fruit are those things that come naturally to us and are displeasing to God.  The fruit of the Spirit, however, are the exact opposite:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

– Gal 5.22-23

The person who is Spiritually alive, and being made more like Christ will be marked by all of these characteristics.  We will struggle with and fight against the deeds of the flesh, but we are not marked by them.  When we are tempted to envy, to fight, to go out and get drunk or give in to any worldly pleasure, the Holy Spirit convicts us and even if we give in on occasion we will repent of those sins and fight against them.

Jesus says that He is our source and our life.  He uses the imagery that he is a vine, and Christians are branches that grow off of the vine.  We are extension of Him, and we depend on Him for our sap, structure and support.  Without Jesus Christians cannot survive.  He provides everything that we need to survive and thrive.  Interestingly enough, however, He paints a grim picture in terms of our fruit production:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

– John 15.1-2

This teaching echoes the sentiment of the parables of the sower and the seeds.  The seed of the Gospel will be sown in four different types of soil:  the hard road which cannot receive it at all, the rocky ground where it will grow but be scorched by the sun, amongst the weeds where it will grow but be choked out, or the fertile soil where it will grow and produce fruit.  The rocks in the soil are the persecution that cause some to turn away from the faith and the weeds are the cares and pleasures of the world that cause others to turn away.  Those people who hear the Gospel and receive it, yet are either distracted by a love for the world or chased off by persecution cannot bear fruit.  They were never true believers with deep roots and productive lives.  They were branches that were seemingly connected to the vine, but proved themselves dead by not producing fruit.

Therefore Jesus says He will cut them off and throw them into the fire.

This simple fact teaches us that we can text ourselves by our fruit.  Sometimes people ask, “How do I know if I am saved?”  or  “How can I know if I was born again?”  The answer is simply, “Are you Spiritually alive?”  We can know if we are Spiritually alive by examining the fruit of our lives.  Are we marked by love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control?  The term utilized in the Scripture is the singular form of fruit.  Therefore, all of these characteristics are necessary.  We cannot have just one or two, we must have them all.  Or are we marked by the deeds of the flesh (plural, therefore any of them)?

Our cultural love affair with tolerance and acceptance has tempted the church to make peace with sin.  Gross sins that Jesus says will render us fruitless, therefore dead, therefore unsaved.  We believe that since we are better than some, that since we have trained one another to placate ourselves, that we are all “ok”.  I went on a prayer walk this weekend with some friends and we got into conversation with two men.  We told them that we were out praying over the neighborhood and asked if there was anything we could pray about for them, and they said, “No thanks, we will be fine”.  Unfortunately, apart from Christ, none of us will be fine.  The standard is not societal acceptance or creature comforts, it is Godly perfection.  We cannot attain Godly perfection, therefore we need to be covered in Jesus’ righteousness and through His enabling, produce the fruits of the Spirit.

The point is simple.  Fruit is not optional.  A healthy branch will produce fruit, and a branch that produces no fruit or bad fruit is already dead and will be cut off.  Let’s check our fruit today.  How would people characterize you?  How would God identify your heart and driving passions?  Are you at war with your flesh and dying to sin?  Or are you coasting, assuming that you will be ok?  Let’s not toy with eternity.

“Only God can judge me.” Does that not scare you?

only god can judge me

As we walk through the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage last week, people are lashing out at one another from both sides.  In the midst of all of this chaos, there is a quote from Rick Warren floating around the internet world that says,

“Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.  The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believer or do.  Both are nonsense.  You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

But yet our need for approval and self-fulfillment yearns for everyone to not only agree with us but to support and affirm us.  This, obviously, is impossible in a world where people have different belief systems and different values.  Thus we cry “tolerance”.  Live and let live.  But subconsciously by tolerance we really mean, “agree with me”.

And a very interesting response to disagreement these days is the statement, “Only God can judge me”.  It is intended to be a conversation ender, to put off someone who would call someone else out on an action or deed, but the irony is that God will indeed judge us, He has given us sixty-six books to help us understand exactly how and for what He will judge us, and yet we think we are walking with His affirmation.  In short, the person who will judge most fairly and most harshly is God.  He will not overlook any small sin that our moms, our teachers, or even the law overlooked.  There is no “warning” for speeding.  If you are guilty, you will pay.  There is no “I will let it go this time” or “extra credit” to make up for where we were lacking.

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”

– Rom 3.23

as it is written,
“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”

– Rom 3.10-12

Scripture teaches us that there is none righteous, and that all have sinned.  Every. Single. Person.  And what is the punishment for sin?

“For the wages of sin is death…”

– Rom 6.23

Everyone who has sinned deserves and will suffer physical death.  And those who have not found salvation in Jesus will suffer eternal death in Hell:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

– 1 Cor 6.9-10

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

– Rev 21.8

Have you ever told a lie?  That alone is enough to be sent to Hell.  Did you ever eat a cookie that your mom said not to eat?  That was sin enough to get Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden and bring the curse upon the entire world.  Now, based on that fact, whose judgement would you rather have?  God’s or man’s?  This is why Jesus admonishes us,

“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

– Matt 10.28

God sends people to Hell.  And Jesus says that that should be the most fearful thing, not even someone who would murder you.  God’s judgment is that much stricter and worse than man’s.

“…when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

– 2 Thess 1.7-9

God does judge.  And He will judge.  And it is a terrible thing to come to judgment day unprepared.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

– 2 Cor 5.10

“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.”

– Rom 2.5-8

Finally, Jesus’ teaching of “judge not lest you be judged” is not intended to make the impact, “live and let live” (Matt 7.1-2).  It is making the point that by the same measure we judge we will also be judged, because God does not allow hypocrisy.  We are taught to hold one another accountable, to help keep our brother from stumbling into sin and to restore people who want to repent with gentleness, knowing our own tendencies to fail.  Accountability is vitally important.

So which should we prefer, for someone to tell us in love (or even with ill motives) that our heart of unbelief and our sinful actions will lead us to an eternity of suffering – or for us to be left alone and to meet God when it is too late to change and suffer a fate of damnation?  Do we truly want to let only God judge?  Or do we want someone to step in and tell us about the hope of salvation and forgiveness in Jesus Christ?

God will judge.  There is no doubt about that.  But let’s humble ourselves to the Bible and to the accountability of people who care enough about us to warn us that the path we are traveling would be that unto destruction.

We were darkness.

What do you believe about yourself?  Are you a “basically good person”?  Our culture has made true faith a difficult thing to cultivate amidst our narcissism.  Consumer-based hedonistic morally blasé societies do not facilitate introspection or examination, but glorify differences and dispositions as leverage for uniqueness and attention.  We all need the new Iphone 6.  My neighbor has it, and I don’t want to be left with my old, crappy Iphone 5.  The 6 will make me happy.  It’ll take better pictures so I can upload them to instagram and facebook to make everyone believe that my life is the best and most interesting.  What’s that?  You have an open marriage?  You are so advanced in your thinking!  Good for you for not being closed minded.

We thrive on change.  The industrial revolution has forever marked our world as “progressive” and the rate at which we throw away traditions of old is now multiple times per generation.

Some change is good.  Some change is Biblical.  But to build the foundation of openness (or need) to change on the cornerstone of blanket acceptance and validation squarely disputes the Gospel.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

– Eph 5.6-10

Apart from Christ, Paul says that we were darkness.  We were not good people roaming around lost in the darkness.  We were not people affected by an outside disease of darkness or sin.  We. Were. Darkness.  Our souls were black.  We hated the things of God.  In American society, there is a level of glorification for dark people.  The melancholy thinker is so insightful and enlightened.  The death metal band offers verbalization for those who are depressed and in need of a friend.  The pessimist is now simply a realist and hipster.  A woman from my city just this week met an ISIS terrorist online, went to receive US military training to give him insight for terrorism, and was arrested trying to board a plane to fly overseas to meet and marry him.

Many of us do not revel in the outward darkness at such depths, but we validate this subculture and exemplify the darkness that we are by materialism, competition with our neighbors, coworkers or friends, and narcissism.

In this same passage, Paul defines the people of darkness as those who have any immorality, impurity, greed, filthiness, silly talk or crude joking.  Have you lusted lately?  Felt greed for a possession?  Have you laughed at a dirty joke?  Or enjoyed a sitcom that glorified any ungodly deed or language?

But when Christ transforms us, we become light.  Our nature is transformed from darkness to light.  We are in the light, because the ultimate source of light is Jesus, but since He takes residence within us, and because we are covered completely in Him, we ourselves become light.

…for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth.

– Eph 5.9

We need to get real about our nature.  Apart from Christ we are darkness, and we need to quit glorifying it.  Because even if our culture at large believe something to be hip, cool, acceptable or even honorable, if God does not approve it, it will receive His wrath (Eph 5.6).  So which are you?  Are you darkness or are you light?  Are you an enemy of God or a child of God (Col 1.21)?  There is no middle ground.  And all facets within our culture can be evaluated and understood in these simple, Biblical definitions.

light_in_darkness

Because I’m happy!

What is truth?

 – John 18.38

A few weeks ago I was home and my mom introduced me to a song that apparently the entire world already knew except for me, “Happy” by Pharrell.  Ironically, the pastor at their church spoke to the theology and cultural tendencies revealed in just one short sentence of the chorus the very next morning.

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

Happiness is the truth.

What does that even mean?  The next two phrases characterize beautifully the prevalent values in our culture:  individualism and tolerance.  “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you” and “clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do”.  I am not going to make you clap along, but you are welcome to join in if you want to.  It’s totally up to you.  And we all have our own definition of happiness and consequently truth, so clap along if you have figured it out for yourself!

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

 – John 8.31-32

When Jesus spoke of the truth, He spoke of an absolute truth.  It is not different for me than it is for you.  It is how He defines it and it only sets us free if we know it as He teaches it.  When we know Him, and the truth that He teaches – only then can we hear His voice:

“For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

 – John 18.37

Does Jesus’ truth of the Gospel make us happy?  Absolutely.  There is no greater pleasure on this Earth or in eternity than knowing and experiencing God.  But happiness is most certainly not the truth.  Happiness is a temporary consequence of knowing the truth.  But happiness ebbs and flows, and even though it is written in our declaration of independence that we are all free unto life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, happiness in and of itself provides us with nothing.  And life is not completed or defined by happiness.

Otherwise, how do we reconcile believers who remained joyful and strong during the Holocaust like Corrie Ten Boom?  What about the church for her first 380 years who existed as persecuted, hated, murdered and scattered – but went from a handful of people to the predominant religion of the world?  What about the faithful generation through both of the World Wars or the Great Depression?

What about this brave Sudanese woman who has been sentenced to death by hanging because she will not renounce her faith and turn to Islam:

Christian-woman

Do you think she is happy right now?  Perhaps she has the joy of the apostles who were “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5.41), but I doubt that she has a happiness that will clap along with this very catchy tune.  

There is only one truth, and it is not happiness.  In fact, it is centered in grasping reality and understanding our own sinfulness and the consequence of that sinfulness.  That is why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit”, and “those who mourn” (Matt 5.3-4).  Not because Jesus wants us to be gloomy and depressed, but because we can never truly be happy or joyful until we realize the depth of our wickedness, the height of His goodness, the breadth of His mercy and the weight of our forgiveness.  When we understand our sinfulness, we will mourn.  When we sin after having been forgiven, we realize that we are indeed poor in Spirit.  It is only then that we can rely on and trust in God through Jesus.

Jesus is the Truth.  He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14.6)!  And when we know Him, He sets us free.

So go ahead.  Clap along.  If you know that Jesus Christ has set you free from the bondage of sin and death.  He has forgiven you of your sins by paying your punishment and raising again.  But please remember.  Happiness is not the truth.  And Truth is not relative.  Truth is Jesus Christ.  And there will be times that you and I are not happy, but there is joy unspeakable and full of glory even through the trials and tribulations (1 Peter 1.8).

Does Jesus Judge Me?

God is love.  

He doesn’t judge me.

He accepts me how I am.

This is the mantra of 21st century narcissistic individualism.  Because we elevate and glorify “unity in diversity” and tolerance, we neutralize God to our own individual ideas of love because He says,

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

– 1 John 4.7-8

We have come to believe that love means leaving one another to our own devices.  We are beginning to see tendencies of a shame based society where we are making it illegal to speak ill of someone or an idea.  Tolerance no longer means allow to exist, but respect as true.

Is that how God loves us?  Does Jesus judge us for our sin?

John the Baptist, when Jesus came to him to be baptized, declared Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (John 1.29, 36).  This title was prophetic in that a lamb is a sacrificial animal and Jesus came to be the final and perfect sacrifice for our sins.

When we look at the book of Revelation, the prophecy of what is still yet to come, we see a very ominous picture:

Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

– Rev 6.15-17

In the end, the Lamb of God – Jesus – will return in wrath and judgment.  He came in love the first time, to offer Himself as the sacrifice for sinners.  He shed His blood, taking the punishment that we deserve for our sins, so that we can stand before Him with the verdict, “Time Served”.  When we are saved, we do not stand guiltless but we stand redeemed.  We stand as one whose time has been served, but not by us.  And it is in this redeemed state that we will be able to stand when He comes in wrath.  His wrath will condemn the un-redeemed to Hell.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.  And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

– Rev 20.11-15

Jesus will judge our sins at the end.  And not only that, but He judges our sins now.  The very fact that Jesus died for us should cause us to stop and think.  Why did Jesus die?  He died because we deserve to die physically and spend eternity in Hell.  He judges and despises sin.  But because He loves us, He took the punishment for us to offer us eternity with Him.  Sin, even though we all do it, is not trivial.  It required Jesus’ blood and will require ours if we do not repent.

When He was on the Earth, Jesus never once met someone in their sin.  Jesus did not go to the brothels and the bars.  Jesus did not condone people for sinning.  Rather, Jesus drew the sinners out and ate with them in people’s homes and He boldly proclaimed that their faith had saved them and instructed them to “Go and sin no more” (John 8.11).  Jesus loves us enough to save us and transform us, not to excuse us and leave us in our wickedness.

Does Jesus judge us?  Yes.  We will all give an account one day for every careless word that came out of our mouths and every single action that we preform (Matt 12.36, Rom 14.12).  And Jesus also loves us and offered Himself as the sacrifice and punishment for our sins (John 15.13).  If we want to be saved, we must believe and repent.  We are not left to our sins, we are instructed for holiness.

hell

What is the best form of government?

The Hebrew people were God’s chosen people.  God made a covenant with Abraham that He would multiply his descendants until they were as numerous as the sand on the shore – both physically and spiritually.  The family ended up in Egypt where they were enslaved over a few generations.  Then God miraculously led them out of Egypt and they wandered in the desert for forty years.  Finally he brought them into Canaan, the “Promised Land”, under the leadership of a man named Joshua.  God did not want for Israel to have a king like the rest of the nations.  He wanted to be the king.  He appointed priests and judges to intercede between the people and Him and to judge according to His statutes, but He was to be the king.  He had given them the law, judges to uphold the Law and He promised to reward each one according to his own obedience.

However, the people did not obey:

“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

– Judges 21.25

The judges ebbed and flowed.  The people disobeyed.  And their demise was the simple fact that “everyone did what was right in his own eyes”.

Sounds familiar, does it not?  Live and let live.  Whatever you believe is good for you.  All that is our judge now is the almighty god of tolerance.  You can believe what you want as long as you do not tell me I am wrong.  But what we truly desire is affirmation.  You can believe what ever you want, but you may not believe I am wrong.

Unfortunately, the very real truth is that what is right in our own eyes is not what is right in God’s eyes.  The Hebrew people, by doing what was right in their own eyes, constantly “did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (Judges 2.11; 3.7, 12; 4.1; 6.1; 10.6; 13.1; etc).

How do you determine your actions?  Your thoughts?  Your goals?  Your values?  Do you first determine what God has to say about it?

When Jesus came to the Earth, He came as the perfect prophet, priest and king.  After dying on the cross and raising again to conquer death, He established His role as the great high priest whereby we can access God (Heb 4.14).  That is why the veil was torn in the temple:  God no longer resides in a hidden room, accessible only by one man, one time a year.  Now we can all approach Jesus as our intercessor to God directly (Rom 8.34).  He has written His Law on our hearts and has given us His Spirit to convict us of sin (Jer 31.33, John 16.8).

Thus we can know the truth by the internal conviction of the Spirit, and testing of Scripture.  But the heart is deceptive above all else and desperately sick (Jer 17.9).  We cannot depend on our emotions, feelings or desires.  The Scripture is our rock and standard.  Do you feel like it would be a good thing to have the money to provide for your family, so stealing or embezzling from your company is excusable?  Scripture is extremely clear that stealing is wrong.  And the root of this sinful attitude is not trusting God to provide our daily needs.

Is your marriage so terrible that divorce is the only way out?  God hates divorce (Mal 2.16).  And even with the excusable grounds of adultery, it most glorifies God to forgive and redeem that which is broken.

Do you want to live in luxury?  Have a big house and drive a fancy car and give the excess to charity or to your church?  Jesus said that the widow who gave the only two pennies she had was the one who gave faithfully, and those who are rich have their reward in full now (Luke 6.24), and we are disobeying the command of Scripture to love and give sacrificially.  With a cheerful heart (2 Cor 9.7).

If I live as appears right and good to me, I will cross what is right and good to you at some point.  This cannot and will not make for a peaceful and God-honoring society.  We must all, as brothers and sisters in Christ, choose to let God reign on His throne and submit to what He has to say.

He did, after all, write the book.

theocracy