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”

Zealous for God

Today’s reading is Acts 22.

In Romans 10:1-2, when Paul prayed for his Jewish brothers and sisters according to the flesh, he explained that they had zeal, but not according to knowledge. He was able to say that because he knew exactly what that was like. In Acts 22:3, he tells the Jewish mob about his own past. He was zealous for God. So zealous that his parents had sought the strictest religious education possible for him. So zealous that he adhered to the Law in the strictest manner possible. And so zealous that he would brook no competition with the Law. The Gospel had no place, neither did its adherents. He was so zealous he was going to do all he could to stamp out the Way. He hunted Christians down. He arrested them. He imprisoned them. He persecuted the Way unto death. And yet the Way overcame Paul. How is it that a man so zealous to stamp out the Way could become its most zealous advocate and ambassador? Because Paul wasn’t zealous for the Law. Paul wasn’t zealous to destroy the church. Paul wasn’t zealous for his reputation. Paul wasn’t zealous for leadership. Paul wasn’t zealous for a following. Paul wasn’t zealous to prove himself. Paul was zealous for God. But he lacked knowledge. When he received the proper knowledge, he didn’t have to change his zeal. That remained the same. His zeal had always been for God. When it was revealed to Him that Jesus was God and Christ’s church was the Way, His zeal for God couldn’t help but lead him to be an ambassador for Jesus and His Way. The question I have to ask is what am I zealous for? If God is my zeal, I may be wrong today, but I won’t be wrong forever. If God is my zeal, my zeal will lead me to God. If God is my zeal, when God reveals Himself to me, I will follow. Of course, if I’m actually zealous for my way, it won’t matter what God does to draw me, I won’t follow. That is how it worked for Paul. That is how it will work for me. That is how it will work for you. For what are you zealous?

Tomorrow’s reading is Acts 22.

Continue reading “Zealous for God”

Live for the Will of God

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 4.

So many of us fret and worry wondering, “What is God’s will for my life?” We wonder if that new feeling in our heart is God leading us somewhere or if that sudden circumstance is a sign of God’s pleasure or displeasure about some choice. Perhaps we’re barking up the wrong tree with that. Perhaps God’s will for our lives today isn’t about whether we choose to eat at McDonald’s or Burger King, or whether we choose to move out of state or stay put, or whether we choose to accept that new job or hang on to the old one, or whether we marry this person or that one. Perhaps God’s will is in whichever of these choices we make, we choose to live for God rather than for the passions of the flesh. We’ve already spent enough time pursuing those passions, today choose to surrender to God’s direction for godly conduct and behavior, then He will be able to use whatever other choices we make for His glory. Then we will be walking in God’s will for our lives without worry and fear that we are missing out on some secret plan God has for us.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 5.

Continue reading “Live for the Will of God”

Free Slaves

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 2.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”

Wow! We are free. But we are slaves. We are free slaves. How does that work? In the same way that we are under a law, but it is a law of liberty (James 1:25). As the Israelites had been set free from Egyptian slavery in order to serve Yahweh in His land, we have been set free from sin and Satan. But if we use that freedom to cover up evil, we are actually still just living in the slavery of sin. We have been set free from the one, so we might serve another–that is Yahweh. But how amazing that is because His yoke is easy and His burden light. His yoke is not intended to enslave us, use us, and abuse us, but to deliver us, benefit us, and bless us. Praise the Lord! We are His slaves and not another’s.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 3.

Continue reading “Free Slaves”