Paul, On Sin

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

David speaks of Transgression’s first deceitful counsel. “You don’t need to fear God.” Notice, Transgression doesn’t advise, “You don’t need to believe in God.” Rather, he counsels, “You don’t need to believe God matters.” David says that for the person who listens, “There is no fear of god before his eyes.”

Did that statement sound familiar to you? It might. Paul quotes it in his dissertation on sin in Romans 3:18. For David, this lack of fear is the foundation for a life that sinks deeper and deeper into sin. For Paul, it is the culmination of sinful attitudes and behaviors. Either way we recognize the entire package of sin and its deceitful schemes.

Sin doesn’t have to convince us God doesn’t exist. Sin only has to convince us God doesn’t matter to our lives today. He isn’t watching. He doesn’t care. We can hide our sin from Him. We can always repent tomorrow. Everybody does it.

Ooh! Let’s stop and think about that last justification. Because that is actually part of Paul’s declaration on sin. His whole point in Romans 3 is that both Jews and Gentiles sin. The passages he quotes, including Psalm 36:1, stop every mouth and make the whole world accountable to God (Romans 3:19-20). Hold on, Sin told me my iniquity cannot be found out. Sin told me I’d never be held accountable. Sin lied.

In fact, consider one of Sin’s most insidious lies. “Don’t worry about me being in your life,” Sin says. “That’s why Jesus died.” Can you tell why that one is so insidious? Because it contains more than a kernel of truth. Your sin is the reason Jesus died. But Sin, Transgression, Satan want you to believe Jesus died so you would never be held accountable for your sins. They want you to believe Jesus died so you can keep living in sin. To Sin, Jesus’s death means sin doesn’t matter. But that isn’t what Paul teaches, and that isn’t what David was teaching.

Jesus did die because you sin. However, He didn’t die to let you continue in sin. He died to let you repent of your sin. He died to strengthen you to abandon your sin. He died to empower you to overcome your sin. Paul explains in Romans 6:1-4, that when we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death. When we are raised, we have died to sin. We must not continue to live in it. Rather, we live a new life by the power of Jesus’s resurrection.

But understand this. After you are baptized, Sin and Satan are going to pull out all the stops trying to convince you to come back into their arms. Don’t listen. Jesus died to set you free from sin. Don’t let His death be in vain for you. Hang on to Jesus. He will set you free.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

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From Bad to Worse

Today’s reading is Psalm 36.

Imagine yourself at the fork of two paths where two guides encourage you in opposite directions. You know one of them leads where you ultimately want to go, but the other looks fun. It is more pleasing to the eye. It doesn’t look quite as difficult. “Besides,” the guide for that path tells you, “after you’ve had all your fun on my path, you can always hop over to the other path. Just look at how close together they are.” They do seem pretty close. That sounds like a pretty solid plan.

The problem is the guide is lying. That isn’t how it works. Once you start walking on Transgression’s path, you get farther and farther from God’s path. While it is true you always have the option to repent and make your way to God’s path, the farther down Sin’s path you go, the more settled, the more deceived, the more entrenched you become. It is not that repentance becomes less of an option, it simply becomes less likely.

David shows us the path in sin, reminding us again of the very first psalm. In Psalm 1, we see the general settling and entrenchment of the wicked. They start by walking according to the counsel of the wicked, progress to standing in the way of the sinner, and finally settle down to sit in the seat of the scoffer. In Psalm 36, Transgression begins with flattery. “No one will know. You won’t get caught. It’s not that big of a deal. Just this once.” But it is trouble and deceit that ends by having evil thinking and plotting at all times, even when lying in bed. The wicked, no doubt, always assumes eventually they’ll get back to God’s path. But they end up on an evil path that is increasingly difficult to abandon.

That voice telling you today’s sin doesn’t matter that much is lying. Don’t trust it. Trust God. He knows the way of the righteous. His steadfast love is precious. He delivers.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 36.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post.

Continue reading “From Bad to Worse”

Save, O Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 12.

Since Psalm 3, David has been begging God to rise up and save. There was the oasis of pure praise in Psalm 8, but otherwise, in one scenario or another David has been asking for deliverance. And why shouldn’t he? In Psalm 1, the declaration was that the one who meditated on God’s Law would be blessed. In Psalm 2, The declaration was that God’s anointed would be vindicated. Almost every psalm since then has shown the psalmist in the exact opposite situation begging for God to do what He said He would in those first two psalms. Then we get to this psalm in which it feels to David like it is as bleak as it can possibly be. There are no godly ones. No one is loyal and faithful. All around the wicked prowl. All David can see is vileness. In fact, David pictures the surroundings just like Noah’s. He alone is faithful while the thoughts of everyone else are only evil continuously. And what does the Lord do? He rises up. He judges. He vindicates. He delivers His people, His anointed from the perverse generation that surrounds them. Wait! That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Do you remember what Peter proclaimed on Pentecost in Acts 2:40? “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” How did people respond to that? “Those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). “Save us, O Lord,” we cry, “from the perverse generation that surrounds us.” And so He sent Jesus who rose up and delivers. The question is will we be buried and rise up with Him in baptism? Will we go through the separating waters like Noah? Will we hang on to Him no matter what like David? The Lord does arise and save! Praise the Lord!

Next week’s reading is Psalm 13.

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Why Didn’t Paul Tell Them He Wasn’t a God?

Today’s reading is Acts 28.

I’m shocked. I’m stunned. I’m completely surprised. When Paul didn’t die or even get sick due to the snake bite, the people on Malta decided he was a god. But he doesn’t say anything against it. He just moves along and then heals someone of fever and dysentery. Then he is greatly honored by the people as they finally leave. Wow! Did you expect that from Paul? Of course not. In fact, even as you’re reading that, you are saying that I am wrong. But go read it again. The text doesn’t include any protest from Paul. There is no correction. Hmmm. Why didn’t Paul tell them he wasn’t a god? The answer, of course, is that he did. Certainly Paul corrected them. But Luke doesn’t have to tell us that. Why? Because in earlier chapters, Acts 14 to be precise, Luke had already revealed how Paul responds when people think he is a god. Luke doesn’t need to repeat it for us in this second event for us to know. I simply want to draw out a parallel. In Acts 2:38, when the post-resurrection gospel is preached for the first time, Peter declares that the proper response is to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. In later cases of conversion, Luke doesn’t have to repeat those same words or mention those same actions every time for us to know they happened. He told us at the very beginning how people receive the remission of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, later accounts are not variations or alternative methods. Rather, they are merely accounts written with an awareness of what was written earlier. Paul really did tell the Maltans he wasn’t a god. And we really need to repent and be baptized for the remission of our sins. Have you done that? If not, can we help? Let us know.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 28.

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What are You Waiting For?

Today’s reading is Acts 22.

I’m not writing for everyone today. Today, I’m writing for you who have not been immersed in water in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins. I have one question. What are you waiting for? It’s what Ananias asked Saul. Honestly, it is the only question you need to answer. Are you waiting for better health? What if it doesn’t come? Are you waiting to be more holy? I can promise you that won’t happen unless you are baptized for the remission of your sins. Are you waiting to see if you can really measure up? You can’t. That is why you need Jesus, His grace, His strength, His gift of the Holy Spirit that all come through baptism for the remission of your sins. Are you waiting to be convinced you are a sinner? If you don’t already believe that, may I suggest considering how the sin of pride may be your downfall? Are you just not sure you want to give Jesus full allegiance? Well, that is a problem. I encourage you to count the cost. But may I remind you the cost Jesus paid for you? He stepped off His heavenly throne, came into the world, lived as one of us, and then died on a cross to fight the battle against death on your behalf. And He won! Just as God defeated Pharaoh’s army while Israel simply marched through the sea, Jesus defeated death, sin, and Satan. Why would you do anything but give your allegiance to Jesus? What are you waiting for? Comment below and we’ll figure out how to help you give your allegiance to Jesus in baptism today.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 22.

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Error Has Consequences

Today’s reading is Acts 19.

I know we are in a completely new chapter this week. But have you ever wondered why there were 12 “disciples” who weren’t actually disciples in Ephesus in Acts 19? Why were there men so devout that Luke gives them this label, but then describes them in terms to demonstrate they can’t really be what he has called them? Again, remember according to Matthew 28:19-20, disciples are made through water baptism in Jesus’s name and correct teaching. The chapter break may throw us off, but surely we are told about these men right after we were introduced to Apollos and his baptism error because the latter is based on the former. Error has consequences. Apollos’s error had consequences. I know there has for a long time been a huge debate about what actually constitutes a “false teacher.” Is a false teacher someone who gets teaching incorrect or does a person have to have some false motives and insincerity to be a false teacher. If the latter, we’d never classify Apollos as a false teacher. If the former, maybe. But doesn’t this whole story demonstrate the debate about the definition of false teacher is a red herring? Whether you label Apollos a false teacher or not, his error had consequences. These men were sure they were serving the Lord, they were sure they were disciples. However, they weren’t. Their confidence was false whether their teacher was or not. They needed truth. After all, truth is what sets us free. Let’s hunt for truth always.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 19.

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There is More to Baptism Than Water

Today’s reading is Acts 19.

Paul came to Ephesus and found 12 disciples. However, Luke’s use of the word “disciple” is ironic. Paul quickly figured out these men may have been students, but not of Jesus. After all, Matthew 28:19-20 explains Jesus’s disciples are made by baptism in Jesus’s name. These 12 had been baptized. That is, they had been immersed in water. They had been immersed in water for a legitimate reason. At least, it had been legitimate at one time. They had been immersed in water as a baptism of repentance in the name of John, the cousin of Jesus. Please, notice how close to the truth about baptism what these men experienced was. It was a water baptism. It was an immersion in water. It signified repentance. It was for the remission of sins. The only shortcoming was that it was in the name of John, not the name of Jesus. Baptism is more than an action. It is a particular action (being immersed in water) for a particular purpose (to receive the remission of sins) based on a particular authority (Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection). Just because a person has done something similar to the true biblical baptism doesn’t mean the person has been truly baptized. Many today are “baptized” with a different action (sprinkling, pouring–or some with no action at all, claiming it is a Spirit baptism). Some are baptized with a different purpose (an outward sign of inward grace, a testimony of having already received forgiveness, in order to be a member of a denomination). Though similar to New Testament baptism, those who participate in these rituals are in the same boat as our 12 would-be disciples. They need to recognize what John taught. Jesus was coming and we need to be baptized in His name. That is, we need to be immersed in water for the remission of our sins based upon the authority of Jesus Christ. Only then can we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (and not otherwise). Have you? If you, like these 12, realize your teaching, and therefore your surrender, was incomplete, let us know. We’d love to help you.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 19.

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Listen to Those Who Know More (Apollos: Part 2)

Today’s reading is Acts 18.

Apollos was eloquent. He was competent. He had been instructed. He was fervent in spirit. He spoke and taught many things accurately. However, he was wrong about John’s baptism. And that is where Priscilla and Aquila come in. They taught him the way of God more accurately. How did Apollos respond? He listened. This shows us the flip side of Apollos from what we learned yesterday. Apollos was bold. He didn’t know what he didn’t know, but he didn’t sit on the side lines fretting that he didn’t know enough to get the message out. He got it out there. But for all his boldness, he also had humility. He was willing to listen when someone came along with more accurate teaching. In these two parts of Apollos, we see the perfect combination of characteristics for teaching, preaching, evangelism, gospel work. Don’t be so humble that you never speak. Don’t be so bold that you never listen. Or, saying it in a positive light, be bold enough to speak, but humble enough to listen and learn. That’s Apollos for you.

Next week’s reading is Acts 19.

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Be Bold in What You Know (Apollos: Part 1)

Today’s reading is Acts 18.

Apollos was eloquent. He was competent. He had been instructed. He was fervent in spirit. He spoke and taught many things accurately. However, he was wrong about John’s baptism. Honestly, it is hard for me to understand how he had so much going for him and yet didn’t know the distinction between John’s baptism and the baptism in Jesus’s name. You might be thinking, “Oh man, what don’t I know that I don’t know I don’t know?” (Were you able to keep up with that sentence?) It’s enough to cause us to say we need to just keep quiet about what we think we know about the Lord. However, I think that is missing a big lesson we can learn from Apollos. If he had kept quiet, he would never have attracted the attention of someone who knew more accurately, and he would never have learned. If he had kept quiet, he would never have developed great habits of teaching and speaking. No. I think the lesson from Apollos is not for us to keep quiet because of what we might not know or what we might be getting wrong. I think the lesson is we need to be bold, fervent in spirit, with what we do know, just like Apollos was. Certainly, we’ll make mistakes along the way. But as the old saying goes, the only one who doesn’t make any mistakes is the person who never tries anything worthwhile. Be bold with what you know.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 18.

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Many Corinthians Believed and Were Baptized

Today’s reading is Acts 18.

For some reason, many today bring up 1 Corinthians 1:14-17, claiming it teaches we don’t need to be baptized for the remission of their sins. Their, Paul wrote that he was glad he hadn’t baptized many of the Corinthians himself, lest they boast in him. Then he says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel…” Paul’s point was not that we do not have to be baptized in order to have our sins forgiven. His point was that we do not have to be baptized by Paul (or any particular person for that matter) to be saved. In fact, Acts 18:8 demonstrates that when the Corinthians heard Paul’s teaching, they responded by believing and being baptized. They may not have been baptized by Paul himself, but when Paul preached what Jesus sent him to preach, people believed and were baptized. If we are going to teach the same thing as Paul, we may not be the ones doing the baptizing, but people should respond by believing and getting baptized just like the Corinthians did. Otherwise, we aren’t teaching the same thing Paul was sent to teach. How about you? Have you responded to the gospel by believing and being baptized? If we can help you respond, let us know.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 18.

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