“A Dangerous Downward Spiral” July 30

 

A Dangerous Downward Spiral - Unwillingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society on a downward spiral of sin. Sadly, it's not a lack of truth, instead people suppress the truth because they just don’t want to hear it.Unwillingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society on a downward spiral of sin. Sadly, it’s not a lack of truth, instead people suppress the truth because they just don’t want to hear it. The result and its consequences are much of what we see in our nation today.

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 12 & 13
Psalm 89.30-37
Proverbs 22.3-4
Romans 1.1-32

 

Well, here we are finishing up the book of Nehemiah. Do you realize we have finished well over half of the Old Testament, 16 books in total and a good portion of Psalms and Proverbs? We’ve finished the four gospels and the book of Acts, the historical books of the New Testament.

bible on a chairNow we are starting the Epistles of Paul in the New Testament, beginning with the book of Romans and tomorrow we’ll start the book of Esther in the Old Testament. It’s exciting to see the progress we’re making.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Well, on to the word …

 

A Dangerous Downward Spiral

 

Romans 1.1-32:

An Overview

 

As we start the book of Romans, it might be helpful to consider a couple of things. Romans is primarily a book of doctrine, but don’t be put off by that. It doesn’t mean it’s a dry book with no relevance to our lives, quite the contrary! This epistle (letter) contains some of the most important truths for us to understand in our Christian lives. In his Study Bible, John MacArthur says:

“The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God: the glorious truth that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.”

That is the foundation of our faith. If you are a newcomer to reading through the Bible or you’re new here, you might find it confusing that at the end of Acts, Paul is in Rome and here in Romans he is expressing his desire to go to Rome. It’s important to remember that the books of the Bible are not always arranged in chronological order.

In the New Testament the first four books are the Gospels, the four accounts of Christ’s life and ministry. Acts is the historical overview of the first three decades of the Church, ending its account in about 60-62 A.D.

quill pen scroll parchmentThe remainder of the New Testament, except for the book of Revelation is a series of letters written by various church leaders to churches and individuals meant to be circulated to others within the church. They’re not in chronological order, but are grouped by author. Romans through Philemon, and possibly Hebrews, were written by the Apostle Paul. Romans was written about 56 A.D. before his imprisonment and journey to Rome.

 

The Joy of Christian Fellowship

 

So here we are in chapter one and there’s so much in this chapter. I love verses 11-12 where Paul is expressing his desire to visit Rome:

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”

What a picture of the joy of Christian fellowship and one anothering (Rom. 15.14; Gal. 6.2; Col. 3.16; 1 Thess. 4.18, 5.11; Heb. 10.24-25; Jas. 5.16; 1 Pet. 4.9).

 

Not Ashamed

 

Then verses 16-17:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Are you tempted to be ashamed of the gospel? In the workplace? Or with your unsaved family? Are you afraid to share the truth because someone might make fun of you or think you’re simple-minded? Even after being beaten, stoned, ridiculed, and all the rest, Paul was “not ashamed of the Gospel”!

 

The Downward Spiral of Sin

 

downward spiralThen beginning in verse 18, we have what can be called “the downward spiral of sin.” You’ll see this in individual lives and in nations and societies, as well. It starts with “suppressing the truth.” It’s not that most people don’t know the truth, they just don’t want to hear it. Sound familiar? Verses 21-22 say:

“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools …”

Our schools, colleges and universities, as well as other arenas, are full of people who think they are so wise, with all their science and knowledge, but God says they’re fools!

The downward spiral and its consequences don’t come from a moody God who is just taking out His annoyance on people. This is the result of a purposeful rejection of the truth by the people involved. Continue reading

“Godly Sorrow or Worldly Sorrow?” May 6

 

Is it godly sorrow or worldly sorrow? Worldly sorrow can lead to disqualification as it did with Saul and others, but godly sorrow leads to repentance and a changed life.Is it godly sorrow or worldly sorrow? Worldly sorrow can lead to disqualification as it did with Saul and others, but godly sorrow leads to repentance and a changed life.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 14 & 15
Psalm 57.1-3
Proverbs 15.24-25
Luke 23.1-25

 

1 Samuel 14 & 15:

Downhill fast

Things are going downhill fast for Saul. God had judged the Amalekites for years of sin and idolatry. It was also another opportunity for Saul to demonstrate his obedience to God. Instead of taking God at His Word, Saul decided to do what seemed right to him.

After disobeying God’s direct command, notice how he greeted Samuel:

“Then Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, ‘Blessed are you of the LORD! I have performed the commandment of the LORD'” (v. 13).

Because he had obeyed part of what God said, he thought that was good enough! And notice, the first thing Saul did after his victory, was to set up a monument for himself (v. 12).

Proverbs tells us that every man will proclaim his own goodness:

“Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the hearts (Prov. 21.2).

The Lord weighs the hearts. God knows our motives and He knew Saul’s, too.

And when he was confronted by Samuel for his disobedience, he immediately began blameshifting! First he blamed the people (v. 21), then he tried to say he took the forbidden spoil so he could sacrifice it to God (v. 21). And when he realized Samuel wasn’t buying it, instead of repenting, he only wanted to save face with the people:

“Then he said, ‘I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God'” (v. 30).

 

godly sorrow brokennessGodly sorrow or worldly sorrow?

The question for us is how will we respond when we blow it? With brokenness because we realize we’ve sinned against a righteous and holy God? Or with worldly sorrow?

Worldly sorrow is sorry for the consequences that often result, but godly sorrow brings genuine repentance. It brings a change of attitude which results in a change of behavior.  Continue reading