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Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.”  (1 Samuel 8:4-5)

Oh no. Looking back we see that Israel has made a grievous error. When God chimes in, we see the full depth of their mistake and the consequences that will follow.  Take note: these consequences are in essence a promise from God.

The Lord speaks (verse 7):

The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.

We immediately see the root of the problem – the people have rejected God. These religious folks only wanted to be religious up to a certain point.  They would be great Jews on the Sabbath, but as for the rest of the week, well not so much. As a result they would receive exactly what they asked for and the consequences that would go along with those choices.

There Are Always Consequences

So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king. He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:10-18)

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Choose

When a nation collectively rejects God, this is what we get. I don’t know this 11for a fact, but I suspect there were at least some Jews who did not want a king. Too bad for them. We can assume that their efforts were in the minority and had no bearing on what Israel would ultimately receive. So it is for our nation.

Am I suggesting that this First Samuel passage is applicable for today? That’s exactly what I’m suggesting and I can’t find anything in the Bible that undoes the consequences (promises) that God established as a result of our historical desire for secular leadership.

But we’re Christians! Jesus is Our King!

This is true. But nevertheless, the consequences linger – we have adopted a system of governing ourselves and we are stuck with it. The best men can do is modify this broken system, which in many instances only makes the situation worse; i.e., communism, socialism, fascism, capitalism, etc. At the end of the day, and regardless if we rightfully claim Christ as our king, we will have this earthly leadership, that is, until Christ returns. Then and only then will the kingdom be restored.

But Until That Day…

“(Let) Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1-7)

God in His infinite wisdom has given us a way to deal with it. In the same way God placed regulations on slavery (not because He condoned slavery, but because slavery is a reality to this day), God gives us regulations for living in harmony with the secular, government system. Again, we’re stuck with it (in subjection to it), until Christ’s return, so this is how we’re to deal with it. God puts it this way: “This is my ordinance and if you oppose it, you’re bringing condemnation upon yourself.”

This is my ordinance and if you oppose it, you’re bringing condemnation upon yourself.

The American Dynamic

It appears to me that God allowed something unique for the United States. Don’t get me wrong – God is not a respecter of persons in that regard, but at the same time God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

I believe God showed our founding fathers some of this mercy when they set out to create a republic that fully recognized God as creator and the giver of rights. As a result, we the people were given access to God-given rights that in many cases the government had previously denied. Just that we could now cast a vote for our leaders was positive, but this system went even further: we could dictate the kind of leader we desired, including his religious affiliations. Naturally, in these early elections, Christians were commonly running against Christians, and therefore Christians commonly won.

So what happened?

I suppose we could call it the Ancient Israel Syndrome: through the years we wanted less God and more of ourselves. In a word, the system is still broken. We redefined Christianity over and over in our desire to make our faith fit our culture, rather than having our culture conform to our faith. As a result we have a country with laws (I still can’t believe it) that allow drug use, homosexuality, murder in the womb, and general moral decline. We have become a nation of those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (Isaiah 5:20)

The Christians Rebel

Is it too late for this country to recover? Can Christians rally to get a solid, evangelical, fundamentalist Christian in the White House to save America? I believe it’s too late, but in the same way that it was too late for Israel way back in First Samuel. Ever since they rejected God and desired secular kingship, the dye was set and rule will not be restored until Christ returns to establish His Government.

Now What?

Let’s go back to Romans 13:1-7. In it we see a brief description of what we and these God-ordained leaders are supposed to do.

Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.

Ideally, if we do good (if we obey the laws of the land as long as they’re not in opposition to God’s law), we can live fearlessly. This is of course where Christians have the advantage; if we adhere to God’s Biblical mandates and are persecuted for it, we have the assurance that our eternal futures are secure. Non-Christians have no such promise.

The passage goes on to say that these leaders are sword bearers, in other words they are the God-ordained mechanism for protecting the people militarily. So, if you’re pacifist, no worries! God has established a government to fight for your protection; avengers and bringers-of-wrath to evil doers! But take note that while these rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this wrath, that does not necessarily mean that they are followers of Jesus Christ or (hold on to your Easter bonnets), do they have to be.

Blasphemy!

Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I want ALL my leadership, from the POTUS to my local town mayor, to be Christian. Why? Because I know that Christians (theoretically) have the same moral values. However, the reality in these United States is that although we have the freedom to vote, we really don’t have the freedom to elevate the best candidates to be elected. That process is pretty much done by the government and as a result, our choices are severely limited. Honestly, sometimes our choices are horrid.

Then Don’t Vote!

Not voting is not really an option and I’ll remind you why: Romans 13:1 says we’re to be in subjection to the governing authorities. These authorities have established laws and our civic privileges, and as good citizens we’re to take full advantage of them. If collectively we refuse to vote, the system will take advantage of our failure and usher in a dictatorship by default.

That leaves us with voting for what we’re given, and if we’re not pleased with the choices, we’re to essentially choose the candidate that will do the least amount of damage to our moral structure, national security, economic stability, and personal freedoms. Keep in mind, Billy Graham is not running for president this year, nor is Franklin Graham, Max Lucado, or Greg Laurie.

Now this might shock you, but I’m not sure I’d vote for any of those guys anyway. Sure, they’re abundantly equipped in one particular area, but I suspect they fall way short in others. Obviously I don’t know what kind of expertise they would bring to the table, I’m just making a general observation.

As for 2016 (and at the time of this writing), the field has been effectively narrowed down to three possible candidates (for me) and my choice (which I have voiced on social media) is not sitting well with many of my Christian brothers and sisters. Actually, the phrase ‘not sitting well’ is being kind. Some of my ‘brothers and sisters’ have become outright nasty over my choice because (I gather), he is the least Christian of the bunch. While they’re hoping to pick a ‘Pastor-in-Chief’ from the group we’re given, I’m leaning towards that sword-bearing, avenger of wrath that God told me about, praying that in addition to keeping the nation secure, he will also serve to protect what’s left of our Christian morality, despite the fact he isn’t the model of Christian morality himself. In other words, through constant prayer, I’m trying to vote for the best overall candidate given the circumstances.

Vote For Whoever You Want

I hope that it’s clear that you should vote for whoever you want, but if the last paragraph riled a few Christians up, remember to love others, love your enemies, and behave in a way that is pleasing to God. If you have a beef with your brother or sister, go to them privately and try to settle it, keeping in mind that every player in this next election has a log in their eye, skeletons in their closets, and a penchant to sin.

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“Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of (counselors) there is safety…Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding (walks) uprightly. Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of (counselors) they are established.” Proverbs 11:14 & Proverbs 15:21-22

Well there you have it; according to God’s Word, counselors win. Debate over. But hold on a moment, the Bible has more to say on the issue. The Apostle Paul reminds us that we need to consider the Bible in its entirety, as it pertains to any given matter. We simply cannot take a Bible passage (or two, or three) and twist them in such a manner that would justify a particular agenda — no one should proclaim (for example), “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry,” before digging a little deeper into the full counsel of God.

 “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:22)

Regarding Wisdom

Essentially there are two types: worldly wisdom and Godly wisdom. One is from above and the other is base. One regularly changes with the tide of an emotion-centric culture, while the other never changes. One is self-centered and the other is Christ-centered. One leads to everlasting death and the other to life everlasting. Both will claim they only have your best interest at heart, but only one of these claims can be true.

I believe we see a clear distinction between the ‘worldly vs Godly’ counsel throughout the Proverbs. Beginning in Proverbs 2:16 the writer [Solomon] lucymakes reference to ‘the strange woman,’ aka the ‘adulteress who flatters with her words.’ Literally speaking, seductresses are a reality and we should take heed lest we fall, but I submit to you that Solomon is figuratively directing our attention towards the charmer, the one that leaves the companion of her youth, forgets her covenant with God, and leads men (mankind) astray with wisdom that tickles the ears and caters to carnality. This wisdom screams, “It’s all about you (and) you deserve a break today (and) if it feels good, do it.”

Solomon continues, ‘her house sinks down to death and her tracks lead to the dead; none who go to her return again, nor do they reach the paths of life.’ In other words, she and her words are to be avoided like the plague. Our Father in Heaven would not have us go that way, which is why He chose to begin that blessed Proverb with these wise-words:

“…If you will receive my words and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; for if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course. For wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you” (Proverbs 2:1-11)

See the picture that God is painting: any counsel which is not steeped in His Word, His Commandments, His plan, and His good will, is errant counsel. Run away from it. Short term there may be some benefit, but long-term it leads to destruction. If the wisdom you receive is based on worldly logic, focused primarily upon your emotions, well-being, and self-discovery, that counsel (and counselor) should be summarily rejected. Arguably, you might save your marriage, you might sober up, you might be free of that porn-addiction, but I ask you, “Where is God in that equation?” God is the only One by whose stripes we are truly healed. Any solutions we proffer in our flesh are short-lived at best; a bargain-store bandage that covers temporarily, but does not heal.

Disciple-Based Counsel

If we’re to combine discipleship and counseling, both must adhere to a strict interpretation of God’s Word. Then and only then are we in God’s will and grace. When Jesus said go and make disciples of all nations, it was the discipler’s understanding that they were to go and counsel the unsaved in this manner. My point is this: wise counsel is true wisdom only if it’s given in the spirit of Christian discipleship. Anything short of that, even counsel that might be seasoned with occasional Biblical morsels, is worthless, at least as far as the big picture is concerned.

Where in the Bible did you come up with that?”

If you are a Christian and your counselor is not a Christian, or they profess to be a Christian, but routinely omit Biblical doctrine from their advice, you should politely dump that adviser. And if you’re not sure the wisdom they’re spewing is Biblical, ask them. Simply say, “Where in the Bible did you come up with that?” If they can’t adequately respond, you have identified a problem that needs correction – you need a disciple-er, not a counselor.

Start With a Basic Premise

Are you a Christian struggling with sin? Is your marriage in a shambles? Are you addicted to alcohol, drugs, or pornography? First things first – are you sure you’re a Christian; you may in fact just be a believer. That is to say you believe in Jesus Christ, but you’re not a follower. It’s the difference between believing in parachutes and actually putting one on and jumping out of an airplane. You might be surprised to learn how many professing Christians only believe in Jesus, but do not adhere to (follow) any of His teachings. Where do we get such a notion? From Jesus. He said…

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do…If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:12 + 15)

Simply put, love for Jesus is revealed in obedience. Conversely, disobedience of the habitual sort is a sure sign you have no love for the Messiah. It’s also a good indicator that you’re not being discipled, or you’re being discipled very poorly, or you’re not paying attention in class.

Discipleship 101

Let’s assume that your salvation is real — did you know you possess the power to not sin? Did you know that sin only imprisons non-believers, but believers have been freed from these bonds?

In regard to your addictions, your failures, and your sinful shortcomings, the shackles have been removed, the jail doors have swung open, and the prison walls have been torn down. You are a free man. Don’t take my word for it, consider the source: God’s Word…

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life… knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:3-4, 6-7)

The last portion gives us this assurance: ‘he who has died (that is to say, the born-again believer/follower of Christ Jesus) is freed from sin.’

“Then,” you may ask, “Why do I still sin?”

The answer is simple: you still have access to your body of sin. In other words, you are freed from the bondage of sin, but you can choose to return to that jail cell if you desire. For this reason the Romans passage exhorts us to constantly consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ, and to not let sin reign in our bodies so that we obey its lusts. In other words, remove every sinful thing from our lives. If you’re prone to drink, get rid of the alcohol.  If pornography is your thing, trash the PC. If you can’t control your anger, stop harboring violence on your TV. As Romans 6:13 says…

“Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

Still caught-up in habitual sin?

Then please tell me how you’ve been presenting your members as instruments of righteousness to God?

You know what? You won’t be able to, because you haven’t been. If you’re a chronic sinner, you’re not following Jesus – you’ve dug up your ‘old man’ and performed a little CPR on him. You have revived that which you formerly crucified with Christ. It’s not huge problem though – confession will put him back in the grave.

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23)

For this reason Jesus instructed His students (disciples)…

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Picking up our cross signifies that by faith we have been baptized into His death. It’s like recalling our baptism everyday. Jesus counsels us to do this daily because He knows our penchant towards sin and earthly pleasure.  The fact that some (many) Christians still have a desire to sin addictively is not news to Him. Jesus is not surprised that bodily pleasure often rules the soul. This is why He tells us beforehand, “Deny yourself and follow Me!”

Does it not make sense that if we’re going to take-up our cross daily, we must first put-down whatever is currently in our hands? The teaching is so elementary. We might recall that Jesus said His teachings are easy and His burden is light. If you do not find this to be the case, then you’re not doing it right! This is discipleship 101 and some of the wisest Biblical counsel you will ever hear!

You’re not a special case and your particular addiction is not unique.”

If you’re struggling with these fundamental doctrines it simply means you need more discipling and you need to start practicing that which you already know. You’re not a special case and your particular addiction is not unique. You’re a sinner just like everybody else and you need to stop doing things your way and start doing things His way. Fire your worldly counselors and seek out some Godly ones through a pastor and church with the same mindset. Find a Bible-thumping, God-fearing church, and jump in feet first. Read your Bible, do your devotions, seek the Lord through prayer, plug-in to church activities, do what Jesus would do in every instance, and pick up that cross every day and hold onto it firmly with two hands.

*If you enjoyed the blog, please like it, share it, subscribe to it, or leave a comment below. If you’re a non-Christian counselor, I’m not here to argue, but please feel free to leave your remarks.

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Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that beare ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1-2)

Government: What’s a Christian to do?

Have you ever listened to a Bible teaching on Romans 13:1 and come away believing all an American Christian can do is vote, and then trust God for everything that vhappens after that? Well if we lived in a country where all we were allowed to do was vote, that would be true, but that is not the case in the United States. Voting is only one of several activities that the government (whom we are submitted to), encourages it citizens to exercise. It could be argued that if you’re not exercising all your liberties [as they pertain to government function and personal citizenship], then you are not wholly submitted to these higher powers.

What are those activities? Here’s the short list:

Rights, Responsibilities, and Duties of a U. S. Citizen (and Christian)

  • Vote
  • Serve on a jury
  • Run for office
  • Become eligible for federal grants and scholarship
  • To communicate with the world.
  • Demonstrate and/or protest
  • To express and/or publish one’s opinions or those of others.
  • To practice one’s religion
  • Support and defend the Constitution
  • Serve the country
  • Participate in the democratic process
  • Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others
  • Participate in your local community
  • To enjoy equally the rights, privileges and protections of personhood as established by law.
  • To petition an official for redress of grievances
  • To petition a court for redress of grievances
  • To petition a legislator
  • To help enforce laws and practices and to resist those which are not

Jesus Didn’t Do These Things

Jesus didn’t vote either. One reason may have been because the government in Jesus’ day gave little or no such freedoms to their citizens. I suspect if the topic of voting was brought to His attention (and if voting was a liberty granted by Caesar), Jesus would have said ‘vote,’ and vote wisely.

Without any doubt, there is ‘no authority except from God, and those governments and officials that exist are established by God,’ but ask yourself, is God establishing these offices based on our civil participation (or lack of participation) in the legal process?

  • Do we get political tyrants because we have only voted and did little else?
  • If our government grants us liberties and we ignore them, can we consider ourselves submitted to these higher powers?
  • Are we resisting the very ordinance of God laid out in Romans 13:1-2?
  • Are we in fact getting what we deserve?

How do these things line-up with Psalm 37?

Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers.  For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Psalm 37:1-3

It cannot be argued that Christians are ‘strangers and pilgrims’ here on earth, but nowhere in the Bible are we counseled to forgo our responsibilities towards stewardship in citizenship. Quite frankly I believe the United States is in the downward spiral that we’re in because Christians have not been faithful with these duties. Some Christians don’t even vote! That is a complete failure in submission to Christ Jesus and His ordinances regarding this matter. If something is wrong with government locally, federally, or on the state level, and we’re sitting on our hands and biting our tongues until the next election, then we deserve whatever political wrath that comes down the pike.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Genesis 1:28; Colossians 3:23-24)

Consider the list of liberties above and how God would have you exercise your freedom as a citizen subjected to those with authority over you.  If you have been given rights by your government (like voting) and you ignore those rights, you are submitted to apathy and negligence rather than those who rule over you.

What are your thoughts?

Please use Bible Scripture to support your position if possible.

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“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

How many sermons on salt have you heard?

Me too.

Frankly, I’m a little salted-out. What really salts my wounds is when the sermon-ator gets all caught up in his saliferous illustration and dismisses all other analogies as savor-less stepchildren.

saltI found a solution! 

Lets call it a “Make-Your-Own-Sermon” kit. From the list below select a singular salty trait and meditate on it. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the briny, and of course Bible-ly similarities. For example, take the first word from the list below and ponder the ‘preserving’ aspects of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. To complete the exercise, discover (or rediscover) a portion of Scripture using the concordance in the back of your Bible, an online Bible search tool, or Google inquiry that will enhance and support your supposition.

Preserves ~ Purifies ~ Flavors ~ Heals ~ Penetrates ~ Melt Ice ~ Gives Traction  
Trans-cultural ~ Works in All Temperatures ~ Unbiased ~ Stimulates Hunger
Quietly Works ~ Cleanses ~ Lingers ~ Promotes Thirst ~ Provokes Interest
Necessary for Life ~ Readily Available and Usable ~ Inexpensive ~ Valuable
Gives Identity ~ Absorbs Moisture ~ Irritates ~ Does Not Go Bad (ever)
Misunderstood ~ White ~ Pure ~ Set a Part (Holy) ~  Created by God

Let’s remember that individually and corporately, the church is likened to common salt. Since salt does not rot and Christians cannot be plucked from God’s hand, they share eternal qualities. The only way salt (or a saint) can lose its flavor is if it’s polluted; that is to say watered-down. Think about that as you meander the narrow road of faith.  Are you picking up contaminates along the way? Are you keeping your flavor Holy? When you share the Word of God, are you adding to Scripture things that dilute and weaken the message?

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:18-19

We have been entrusted and blessed with a priceless commodity. Let us be mindful to protect it and share it liberally.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” (Matthew 5:13)

 

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For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. Hebrews 10:1-3

 A Shadow of Our Savior

We should recall that the writer of Hebrews is admonishing Jewish Christians to not return to their old sacrificial, ‘first covenant’ system. In the Hebrews 10 passage above, they are specifically being reminded that if these old ordinances were of any effect, they would not have to do them over and over. So while it’s true the rituals covered their sin (for a year at a time), it’s also true that they did not remove their sin, doing very little for the conscience and nothing towards salvation. With each and every sacrifice, the liturgies were doing little more than bringing their transgressions, and the guilt associated with them, into their memory.

How was this happening?

shoePut yourself in the Jew‘s shoes. Every year the sinner (in this case, every Jew) would bring his prized little lamb or mighty bull to be sacrificed. As per the law, these animals were to be the best of their best, born and hence maintained to be without imperfection. Naturally, their hearts would ache as they walked these beasts from their homes to the temple, knowing the animal’s fate. Finally, when the priest took possession of the their animal, and the knife was plunged in, and the critter would squeal, and the blood would begin to flow, how could they not lament that their sin caused this dreadful thing to occur. Animal sacrifice was never meant to be a pretty thing and subsequently they were reminded each year, “Nothing has changed; I am still an appalling sinner. Look at what I have done.”

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. 2 Cor. 7:9

God had a purpose in all this — these things were a picture of what was to come in Christ Jesus, but as we have come to know, pictures and shadows do not save a man. Our sin should make us sorrowful, but in Christ Jesus it is a one-time event. After the Law (the old covenant) has done the job of identifying us as sinners, we can take the offenses, along with the guilt and the shame, and leave it at the foot of the cross, once and for all. The accuser of the brethren might bring up our sin, but Jesus never will.

Not to worry…

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. Revelation 12:10

Our new covenant in Jesus, His ultimate and final sacrifice, has done away with the old system. As a result, we no longer lament.

Today, Jesus says in our communion with Him, “Do this in remembrance of Me!”

Nowhere does Jesus ever say, or will He ever say, do this in remembrance of your sin.  So while Godly sorrow (appropriate sorrow) works to bring us to a place of repentance, we do not need to sacrifice Jesus over and over. For this reason we do not recall the sin, but joyfully recall the Savior of our salvation. We celebrate Holy Communion, we don’t bewail it.

The work is done, we are forgiven, we are free, and we are at peace.

For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:13-14

Sacrificial System = Dead Works

But you say, “I’m not sacrificing animals for my sins; never have, never will.”

Me either. However, many are guilty of doing good works that they falsely believe will save them, while others are faulted in rejecting His grace and embracing their shortcomings, beating themselves up with the ugliness of their sinful past.  Jesus would not have us fall into that trap, which is why the Book of Hebrews is applicable to every believer.

Christ desires that we would celebrate Communion often as a reminder that He finished all the work on the cross, and that we need not get sucked back into our own little sacrificial systems; those “Oh, I sinned again,” pity-parties that we have a tendency to throw for ourselves.

Final Exam

Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Corinthians 11:28-29)

Why are we to examine ourselves?

To give worth to Christ’s deed, and not to be consumed with our selfish impulses and false ideologies. When we acknowledge the work is done, we are free and we are at peace with the Lord, hence we do not condemn ourselves. In other words, the examination process is to focus on Jesus (giving Him worth) and not ourselves, lest we fall back into the practices as the Hebrews were doing. Behaving in an unworthy manner only serves to bring judgment upon ourselves.

So let us celebrate our salvation. The tomb is empty, we are free, and we are saved!

Rejoice and stay the course!

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We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Piano Man

In order for a full size piano to generate sound, the 240 (or so) strings together must bear approximately 20 tons of tensile pressure. However, tension and stress alone do not pianoproduce music. For this to occur, access must be granted to the one who can adjust and tweak those strings, otherwise the tones produced would be disturbing rather than delightful. It doesn’t take much effort to appreciate that the piano maker and the piano tuner are specially gifted, as is the one who ultimately plays the instrument.

In some ways we are like pianos. We’re intelligently designed (no one looks at a piano and thinks that it created itself), we are subjected to and endure stress, and we’re designed for a specific purpose. A piano cannot create itself, tune itself, or play itself. The comparison comes to a head when we grasp that our Craftsman, and our Tuner, and our Pianist are all One.

Sadly, most humans believe they can both tune and play, while simultaneously rejecting the truth regarding their own creation. These folks (of which we were once also) are simply operating in their own flesh (operating in the flesh is the false notion that we know better than God).

This is not how God designed us.

It reminds me of Proverbs 14:7

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

The Apostle Paul put it this way:

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:12-14

That should be our wake-up call!

Yes, God did make each of us, but our functionality rests in Him and upon Him. In order to drive home the point, God gave each of us choice and a mirror. This mirror we call the Ten Commandments, and when we gaze into it we can see just how bad our choices have been. Most choose to smash the mirror, but a small number of believers opt to see it for what it truly is.

What is it?

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Galatians 3:24

In Christ

Let’s take the same tension, the same stress, and the same purpose, but put it under the control of the Master who knows how much pressure each string can bear and knows the music best suited for the instrument He made. Suddenly the strain and the pressure are bearable, and the music is delightful. It is in fact pleasing to the ear; both our ear and the Creator’s ear. Nothing much has changed; same characteristics, but different results — better results.

Christians often call this unspeakable joy!

How can this be?

The change is a direct result of discovering that our ‘old man’ (that persona we left behind when we repented and turned towards Christ Jesus) was an impostor masquerading as a piano tuner and a piano player. But because we have submitted ourselves to the One who created us, the music is sweet and satisfying and honors God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

Consider these Bible verses:

  1. Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you.”
  2. 2 Timothy 1:9, “God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”
  3. Romans 7:4, “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.”
  4. Ephesians 4:7, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”
  5. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Read those verse again, pausing for a moment to weigh the Divine implication of each one. Understand that we are but tools in the Master’s hand, created and put here for His good purpose and pleasure. Furthermore understand that Christ’s teachings are easy and His burden is light. Christ came to save us and give us life abundantly — if that is not your testimony after having submitted and committed your ways to Jesus, then you can have your old life back.

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