“Wise Fools” July 30

 

Wise FoolsAn unwillingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society on a dangerous downward spiral. But the rejection of God is not done in ignorance. Romans 1 tells us that creation alone provides each of us with enough knowledge to know there is a God. It’s not a lack of truth. Instead, men and women suppress the truth because they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to respect God’s authority in their lives. The consequences are evident in our world today.

Many of those who reject the truth most vehemently are the most educated in our society. Our schools, colleges, universities, and professions are full of people who think they are wise with all their science, business acumen, and knowledge. But God says they’re fools!

 

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 part 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 …

 

Wise Fools

 

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) has 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 rest 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”!

 

Claiming to Be Wise

 

Then beginning in verse 18, we have what can be called “the downward spiral of sin.

This passage explains how an unwillingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society on a downward spiral. But this rejection of God is not done in ignorance. Paul tells us that creation alone provides each of us with enough knowledge to know there is a God.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

It’s not a lack of truth. Instead, men and women suppress the truth because they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to respect God’s authority in their lives. The result and its consequences are evident in our world today.

And sadly, many of those who reject the truth most vehemently are the most educated in our society. Our schools, colleges, universities, and professions are full of people who think they are wise with all their science, business acumen, and knowledge. But God says they’re fools!

21 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. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools.

How scientists can study the intricacies of the human body and the wonders of the earth and deny the existence of God is beyond me. It takes more “faith” to believe a lie than to believe the truth! But they are putting their faith in the wrong things. You have to wonder what the Day of Judgment will be like for some of them, when their utter foolishness has been totally exposed and “every knee bows” to the God of the universe—too late for them to accept Him personally.

Because of their sin and rejection, three times it says, God “gave them over” or “gave them up” (Rom. 1.24, 26, 28). You can see in this passage how lives and societies spiral downward. The more they turn away from God, the more they turn toward sexual immorality and other sins, eventually reaching the point where it’s commonplace. At the bottom of the spiral we see these verses:

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Debased minds, sexual immorality, maliciousness, murder, hatred toward God, pride, disobedient children … doesn’t that describe our world today?

And at the very bottom we see this phrase “but also approve of those who practice them.” That is what so many in the LGBTQ movement want, not just the freedom to do as they please, but universal approval. And if you disagree they want to be able to attack you, call you “intolerant,” charge you with discrimination, or worse.

As you read today’s passage in Nehemiah, imagine how he would respond if he visited our nation today? When he returned to Jerusalem and found people buying and selling on the Sabbath and ignoring other clear commandments of God, it says, “So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God …” (Neh. 13.25).

We can’t stop standing for the truth either. I’m not advocating that we act unloving. In fact, 2 Timothy 2 says:  Continue reading

“Is It Godly Sorrow or Worldly Sorrow?” May 6

 

Is it godly sorrow or worldly sorrow? Sin makes a mess of our lives. Many times we are miserable about the consequences of our sinful choices: a broken relationship, financial cost, punishment for bad behavior, or the loss of respect. But sorrow over consequences isn't necessarily godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow may involve emotional distress, fear, anger, even self-abasement. But it's goal in the removal of consequences. Just as it did with Saul in today's reading, it can, actually, lead to disqualification instead of restoration. Godly sorrow involves genuine repentance (brokenness over our sin against God) and leads to a changed life.Is it godly sorrow or worldly sorrow?

Sin makes a mess of our lives. Many times we are miserable about the consequences of our sinful choices: a broken relationship, financial cost, punishment for bad behavior, or the loss of respect. But sorrow over consequences isn’t necessarily godly sorrow.

Worldly sorrow may involve emotional distress, fear, anger, even self-abasement. But it’s goal in the removal of consequences. Just as it did with Saul in today’s reading, it can, actually, lead to disqualification instead of restoration.

Godly sorrow involves genuine repentance (brokenness over our sin against God) and leads to a changed life.


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

 

Is It Godly Sorrow or Worldly Sorrow?

 

1 Samuel 14 & 15:

Downhill Fast

 

Things are going downhill fast for Saul.

God had judged the Amalekites for years of sin and idolatry (1 Sam. 15.1-3). So Saul was commanded to utterly destroy them and their property.

God was, also, giving Saul another opportunity to demonstrate his obedience. Instead of taking God at His Word, Saul decided to do what seemed right to him.

And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed (1 Sam. 15.7-9).

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'” (1 Sam. 15.13).

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.

So when Samuel rose early in the morning to meet Saul, it was told Samuel, saying, “Saul went to Carmel, and indeed, he set up a monument for himself; and he has gone on around, passed by, and gone down to Gilgal” (1 Sam. 15.12).

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).

But 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 (1 Sam 15.21), then he tried to say he took the forbidden spoil so he could sacrifice it to God (1 Sam 15.21). 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'” (1 Sam. 15.30).

 

Godly Sorrow or Worldly Sorrow?

 

godly sorrow brokennessThe 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, merely, sorrow over the consequences of sin like a child who has been grounded for breaking curfew. He begs to be let out the consequences, swearing to never do it again. But he lacks any brokenness over sin or any change of heart.

Godly sorrow brings genuine repentance (brokenness over sin) which leads to a change of attitude and a change of behavior.  Continue reading