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.

Continue reading “Paul, On Sin”

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”

I Love Your Ways!

Today’s reading is Psalm 26.

Do you recall how the Psalms began? “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV). Psalm 26 is David’s declaration that he is choosing the right path. He is not walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of scoffers. He is walking in his integrity. Before we object too much, as I am usually wont to do, we should be aware God himself testified David walked in integrity in 1 Kings 9:4. I love Dale Ralph Davis’s explanation of this, “One might say he is not claiming to be without fault but without apostasy.” David refuses to turn to another god. He refuses to worship at another temple. He refuses to be guided by another’s counsel. He may not always quite live up to the standards of his God, but he always uses Yahweh’s standards as his guide, counsel, and meditation. And when he stumbles in his walk, it will always be the Lord’s counsel that calls him back and brings him to repentance. Therefore, this psalm begins and ends with a walk in integrity. He trusts the Lord and love’s living in the Lord’s house, so he will love and will walk the Lord’s way. This reminds us that God’s grace (yesterday’s love) is not cheap, and that there is another facet of His nature as declared in Exodus 34:6-7. God’s love not only abounds to the thousandth generation of those who love Him, but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the father’s iniquity on the children to the fourth generation. In other words, if I enter the Lord’s house and then start bringing rebellion, falsehood, stubbornness, idolatry, wickedness into it, He will kick me out. He will forgive my sin if I bring it to Him in humble submission. He will not forgive my sin if I decide that I’m just going to continue in it while I live in His house. Sadly, many people love the Lord’s house and His grace, but they do not love His ways. They want to walk their own ways, but still end up in the Lord’s house. It simply doesn’t work like that. If you love the Lord’s house, you must love the Lord’s ways. They go together. And He is ready to lead us in those paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 26.

PODCAST!!!

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

Continue reading “I Love Your Ways!”

The Only One Qualified

Today’s reading is Psalm 15.

Well, we’re in a bit of a quandary, aren’t we? Only the blameless get to dwell with the Lord. We water that down a bit so we can pretend we fit. However, we look at Psalm 15 as a mirror, and we can’t even see ourselves in it. Oh, we try hard. Sure, we are better than some people at it. But when the reality settles on us, we know there is really no hope for us. We start to turn away in sadness like that young ruler who had many possessions. We stop to wonder, “But who qualifies? Does anyone?” Yes! One is qualified: Jesus Christ, the righteous, the incarnate Son of God. He fulfilled every bit of this description of God’s welcome guest. He had every right to live on God’s Holy Mountain. And yet, what did He do? He died on God’s Holy Mountain. Every bit of the judgment for not fulfilling Psalm 15 was poured out on the only One who was qualified according to it. Why? To prepare a dwelling place for us (John 14:1-4, 24). The righteous requirement of the Law is that sinners die. Those who are unqualified don’t get to dwell with God. But Jesus, the only qualified one who knew no sin, died a sinner’s death fulfilling the righteous requirement of the Law. Those who die with Christ fulfill the righteous requirement of the Law in Him (Romans 8:4). And through that grace of fulfillment, we are granted access to God’s Tent on His Holy Hill. Again, none of this means we ignore the Psalm 15 qualifications for dwelling with God. Rather, through Jesus’s death and God’s Holy Spirit of grace we meet the qualifications. Yes, we still often fail at these qualifications, but we hang on to Jesus and keep climbing God’s mountain. By God’s strength and grace we will summit the Holy Hill and we will dwell with the Lord. Hallelujah! So my big question for you is not how good you are at being blameless, but have you died with Christ? Do you even know how? If you are interested in learning how, read Romans 6:1-4. Then shoot us a message. We’d love to help you take up your residence on God’s Holy Hill.

Next week’s reading is Psalm 16.

Continue reading “The Only One Qualified”

The Lord Sees

Today’s reading is Psalm 11.

The counsel David received, whether from others or from his own internal struggle, claimed the foundations were destroyed. That is everything is so bad his usually righteous morals and principles should be flung out the window. David, however, solidly lands on the side of maintaining his morality and his principles of faith. He has a couple of arguments. All of which claim the true foundations are actually still intact. The first foundation is that God is still God in heaven. Things may be a mess here on earth, but God is still in His holy temple. He is still sitting on His throne. He is still watching everything that goes on down here. His timing may not be my timing. I may be wondering why He hasn’t done anything about my enemies yet. I may be wondering why He allows injustice to continue in so many ways around the world. But abandoning His Word and Will is simply not an option. First, because I can’t hide from Him if I join those sinners in their foundation wrecking. Second, because He does see all those sinners around me. They aren’t getting away with it. And from heaven, He has a better perspective of what they are doing and what to do about it. Therefore, why would I ever flee to my own mountain? I will continue to take my refuge on His. No matter what it looks like, the one true foundation never crumbles. He always rules and He always reigns from a place that is unshakeable. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 11.

Continue reading “The Lord Sees”

Trust In the Lord

Today’s reading is Psalm 4.

There are some aspects of Psalm 4 that are hard to nail down. Are vss. 4-5 David’s continued speech to the men who are turning his honor to shame and going after vanity and lies? Is he giving them corrective instruction? Or are vss. 4-5 the beginning of David’s speech to the “us” of vs. 6? Has he already started encouraging his supporters? It seems to me a good case could be made for either. Maybe it is purposefully vague so that anyone who reads it, whether friend or foe, could make personal application. In fact, does it really matter? Isn’t the advice appropriate no matter which group David is addressing? The enemies have been attacking the Lord’s anointed. Even if they are angry and agitated with David and the Lord, instead of going after vanity and lies, they need to trust the Lord, offer right sacrifices, avoid sin. The supporters, on the other hand, might be getting very discouraged. They may wonder why the Lord hasn’t acted yet to defend His anointed against the lies and conspiracies. In fact, they may even be thinking the Lord has abandoned David. They may be getting angry and agitated. They may even be getting angry and agitated at the Lord for seemingly dropping His end of the covenant with David. David tells them to avoid sin, ponder and reflect silently without rebellion or angry words. Offer their sacrifices to the Lord and then trust Him to do what is right. The fact is no matter where I am today spiritually, the answer is I need to turn to the Lord in trust. Whether that means I need to repent and start trusting Him again or maintain my faithfulness and keep trusting Him, trusting the Lord is the right response. No matter what, today, I need to trust the Lord. Will you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 4.

Continue reading “Trust In the Lord”

Salvation Belongs to the Lord!

Today’s reading is Psalm 3.

This week, let’s begin with the end of the psalm in mind. “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!” We will actually see this over and over and over again throughout the psalms. We will probably highlight it every time we read it. Salvation is only in one place: the Lord. I can be confused by God, mad at God, scared of God, happy with God, frustrated with God, totally at a loss for why God is acting the way He is. But I need to understand this one very important point: I can’t be saved by anyone or anything except God. I won’t find salvation anywhere but Him. I can pursue it, work for it, search for it, run from it, try to accomplish it myself, but I won’t find it anywhere but in Yahweh, the Lord God. Therefore, though my enemies pursue, though my life stinks, though I am sick and in pain, though Satan tries to convince me God has abandoned me, how foolish it would be for me to turn anywhere but to God. Even if I cannot maintain the confidence that God will actually save me, the only place I can hope to find salvation is in God. Why would I go anywhere else? And so David hangs on to God no matter what. I will too. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 3.

Continue reading “Salvation Belongs to the Lord!”

Who Saved the Sailors?

Today’s reading is Acts 27.

God tells Paul through the angel that He has granted all the people on the ship and their lives will be saved. God is clearly going to save all these people. However, the text goes on to say that all the people either swam or found flotsam and jetsam to hang on to. Through those means, they all got to shore. So, here’s my question. Who saved these men? Did they save themselves? Or did God save them? No doubt, God saved them. He said He would. Yet, if they hadn’t swam or grabbed pieces of shipwreck, they would have died. But it was by God’s strength they could swim. It was by God’s providence they had floating pieces of junk to hang on to. To be truthful, this is one of those situations in which we see that we can’t quantify man’s effort versus God’s grace. I don’t know exactly what God did with each of these people. I can’t tell you how much of this was God’s grace versus man’s effort. I know this: if the people hadn’t swam or grabbed the flotsam, they would have died. I know this: if God hadn’t saved them, they would have died. This is very much like salvation. If I don’t follow God in faith, I won’t be saved. If God won’t save me, I won’t be saved. While we can certainly name some different aspects of our involvement and God’s work, we can’t quantify everything God does to save us. Yes, we need to swim. However, we need to give God thanks for His saving work realizing we haven’t saved ourselves by swimming. Praise God for His saving grace.

Next week’s reading is Acts 28.

Continue reading “Who Saved the Sailors?”

Obey God, OR You Can’t Be Saved

Today’s reading is Acts 27.

What an interesting occurrence. God had already declared that there would be no loss of life among the crew and prisoners. But when the sailors were seeking to escape the ship, Paul said, “If those guys leave, you can’t be saved.” In other words, if you don’t obey God, you can’t be saved. No doubt, the sailors didn’t earn their deliverance by staying on the ship. They were still saved by grace. The captain was still saved by God’s grace. Paul was still saved by God’s grace. However, if they had ignored God’s will about this, they would not have been saved by God’s grace. When it comes to our salvation, we need to understand, we don’t earn salvation by obeying God, but if we decide to ignore God’s Word and will, we won’t be saved. Trust in God’s grace and serve the Lord faithfully.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 27.

Continue reading “Obey God, OR You Can’t Be Saved”

Even Festus Knew Paul had Done Nothing Wrong

Today’s reading is Acts 25.

Paul was arrested, tried, found…well, he wasn’t found anything, but the Roman tribune didn’t let him go. Instead, Paul was transported to Caesarea. Again, he was tried and found…well, he wasn’t found anything. But Felix didn’t let him go either. Rather, he held on to Paul for two years and just left him in jail for Festus to deal with. Now Paul is tried again and found…well, he wasn’t found anything. But he appeals to Caesar rather than getting sent back to Jerusalem. And then Festus admits Paul hadn’t done anything wrong. He hadn’t broken any laws. He hadn’t neglected any requirements. He was a good citizen. And that is exactly what Paul had written to Titus about how we should live in our own countries and states even if the earthly kingdom itself is ungodly and awful. “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:1-2, ESV). We may get accused of awful things. But as we’ve said before, may those accusations always be false. And where they are true, let us turn to Jesus for forgiveness, but let’s be ready to walk through whatever civil consequences we must face and bring glory to God as we face them.

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 25.

A Word for Our Kids

Hey kids, with Paul we are talking about big issues of submitting to the government, keeping national laws, obeying local rulers. However, this point applies to you as you live at home, go to school, and grow up to get jobs. Unless your parents, your teachers, your employers ask you to disobey God, you need to obey them. Sure, your siblings, classmates, and co-workers may make accusations against you. They may cry foul and claim “He/she did it,” pointing at you. However, live in such a way that all such accusations are false. And if any of them are true, fess up, apologize, and take the discipline you deserve for the infraction. This will prepare you to live as an adult citizen of any earthly kingdom the way heavenly kingdom citizens are to live.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to listen to the podcast episode that goes along with this post.