May 24, 2014

Practice May Not Make Us Perfect – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:52 pm by sranderson0103

But it usually makes us proficient- especially when practicing sin. The word “practice,” like many words, can be used as either a noun or a verb. As a noun, “practice” refers to an activity that is repeated until it becomes a habit. As a verb, it refers to the repeated rehearsal for the activity itself. Thus, sin can become our “practice” (noun) if we “practice” (verb) it diligently and consistently.

In Ephesians 2:1-2, Paul included himself when he described some who “walked according to the course of this world” and “lived in the lusts of our minds, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind” to such an extent that they became “by nature children of wrath.” Becoming “by nature children of wrath” clearly does not refer to a genetic predisposition to sin, or some otherwise inherited sinful nature, because he emphasizes personal activity and indulgence as being the cause. So, there are sinful choices being made and practiced. What is being highlighted in the text is the principle that repeated indulgence of fleshly desires through sinful practices changes our habitude (native or essential character). We do not become sinners by being born that way, cf. Ezekiel 18:20ff; we become sinners when we chose and “practice” the “works of the flesh” over the “fruit of the Spirit,” Galatians 5:16-26.

The more often that we make the choice to “practice” (verb) sin, the easier and faster it becomes our “practice” (noun). Just like any other activity, repetition leads to proficiency. Whether turning a double play on the baseball diamond, or baking a cake in the kitchen, repetition makes us better at performing the activity. It is no different with sin. By repetition, we learn what “works” best for us. We learn how to better hide the activity from those we know will disapprove. We learn how to better salve our consciences with excuses and justifications. And, we learn how to better mitigate any concerns of spiritual conscience, and minimize the physical consequences that may accompany the sinful practice(s). Thus we become proficient at sin by practice. And since we typically enjoy and indulge in the activities at which we become proficient, sin becomes easier, and therefore also becomes more and more the “practice” (noun) of our lives.

But thankfully, the same principles of practice apply in the other direction too. Just as we become more proficient at sin by practice, so too we can become more proficient at righteousness by practice! When we first decide by faith and repentance to live godly rather than sinful lives, the “practice” of righteousness is decidedly difficult. Like a baby learning to walk, there are many falls, bumps, and bruises along the way. 1John 1:8-10 makes it clear that sinful mistakes are just simply part of the process of learning to “walk by faith” (2Corinthians 5:7). But just like practicing sin, practicing righteousness leads to proficiency, and proficiency makes our walk of faith easier. There is no trick to it, and there are no short cuts. It just takes “practice”- diligent, repetitive, consistent, and concerted practice.  The good news is that anyone can do it. If we genuinely want to please God by turning from the “unfruitful deeds of darkness” (Ephesians 5:10-11), are willing to study and learn the playbook (Ephesians 3:3-5), and are willing to really dedicate ourselves through diligent “practice” (Ephesians 4:11-16), then we can “walk no longer as the Gentiles walk” and “be renewed in the spirit of your mind” and “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:17, 23,24).

1John 3:4-10, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He appeared to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” Our “practices” (verb) determine our “practice” (noun).

 

 

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May 11, 2014

Concealing and Confessing – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. (Proverbs 28:13)

WikiAnswers says the average person lies one billion times every five years. This is the standard spiel of secular psychologists who “confess” that the average person lies many times a day. One might get the impression that these insightful, authoritative counselors have such a high, lofty standard of morality that they see flaws in conduct that we are just not honest enough to perceive.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. They are professional sin belittlers. They are paid to make guilty people feel better. Their strategy is to claim that eeeeverybody does it aaaall the time. Therefore, how bad could it be?

Of course, they would never stoop to the foolishness of relying on the blood of Christ for forgiveness, especially for something so trivial. So, with a straight face they tell this tall tale. It does not work very well but is the best they can do.

It is true that the most godly Christian has committed acts of sin, sins of omission, if not sins of commission.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8)

Unlike the world, we do not have to dilute sin’s significance by multiplying it’s incidence, nor do we need to belittle our sin in any way. There is no reason for us to deny its real, eternal significance. We understand that it cost the Son of God His life blood. We can afford to acknowledge how terrible it is because we have a solution.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9)

This forgiveness is based on the fact that

“the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:7) ”

How foolish it is for Christians to try the more natural courses, to try to justify, or deny, or hide their damning sin. We have a supernatural solution. We don’t need the Devil’s lies.

The truth is, as the inspired author of Proverbs 28 counsels, we must confess and forsake sin(s). This confession, however, cannot be simply a generalized confession (“please forgive all my sins”), but a specific “naming” of the particular sins, acknowledging that it was, indeed, a sin in the sight of God, deserving of divine punishment and repudiation by a holy God.

Similarly, the term “forsakes” (Proverbs 28:13) does not mean simply to refrain from the practice, but to renounce, to disown. If possible and applicable, this would also entail confessing and making restitution to anyone who had been injured by that sin; otherwise, the confession need be made only to God.

Then the Christian can be absolutely confident that God will forgive and cleanse. Then, “forgetting what lies behind,” we can “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God inChrist Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!” (Psalm 32:1)

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

 

May 4, 2014

Divine View of False Teachers – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The wishy-washy, relativistic attitude toward truth, demanded by main-line religion today, is obliterated when we realize that God has revealed absolute truth for us. Because God has done this, Jude writes,

“appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” (v.3)

This admonition from the Lord’s apostle and brother is poles apart from the pluralistic “tolerance” of all doctrines insisted upon by those whose doctrine is not found in Scripture. They cannot and will not tolerate a lack of tolerance. With great insight, G. K. Chesterton observed that, “The one value that you have left when you have lost all your principles is tolerance.”

Jude proceeds to describe these false teachers. Specifically, they “turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” and “reject authority.” In other words, they say, “God will have mercy on those who disobey His moral law without repentance.” They pervert the doctrine of grace. And they say, “We will worship without God’s authority. We have our own.”

It should not surprise us that such Bible teachers abound today. What is the proper attitude toward such teachers? It is not determined by popular polls. Jude provides inspired, vivid imagery designed to mold our attitudes.

“like unreasoning animals” (v.10)

God has given us a wonderful gift that distinguishes us from beasts. That gift brings responsibility, the obligation to reason with integrity. Isaiah appealed to rebellious Israel saying, “Come now, let us reason together.” Isaiah 1:18. Even the invitation is insulting to these brutes.

“hidden reefs” (v.12)

Ships approaching harbor often have to avoid disastrous reefs. Some are concealed, submerged just below the surface. The way appears calm and safe. The result is devastating.

“clouds without water” (v.12)

Water was more critical in a desert land like Israel than it is in Arkansas. Approaching clouds appear to bring the promise of life giving water, which can make a desert bloom. We can only imagine the disappointment in a parched land when their promise is unfulfilled.

“autumn trees without fruit”(v.12)

James says they are “doubly dead, uprooted;” They are dead in same sense that rainless clouds are dead.” They produce nothing. Furthermore, they are lying on their side with roots in the air. Expecting nourishing fruit from these trees is doubly dumb.

“wild waves of the sea” (v.13)

We can plan and prepare for regular waves, even large ones. “Rogue” waves are different and often disastrous, even to large ships.

“wandering stars” (v.13)

Most stars are dependable, like the North Star. Such stars provide trustworthy direction for lost souls. “Wandering stars” refer to planets which appear to meander about the heavens. Five planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) were clearly known in Jude’s day. Their behavior had been plotted for many centuries. This figure not only depicts undependability, but also their ultimate fate, “black darkness…reserved forever.” These “stars” may wow some for a season, but they are reserved for an eternity in hell.

How many graphic figures must God inspire before we get the picture? Teachers who do not teach the truth do not deserve our respect, no matter how often and how loudly other false teachers demand it. They are enemies who destroy souls. If we faithfully “earnestly contend for the faith,” we will expose and refute.