Sin Is More Than the Things We Do

Sobering thoughts on sin by Martin Lloyd-Jones on the blog, Poikilos.

poikilos

Nothing is quite so fallacious as to think of sin only in terms of actions; and as long as we think of sin only in terms of things actually done, we fail to understand it. The essence of biblical teaching on sin is that ti is essentially a disposition. It is a state of heart. I suppose we can sum it up by saying that sin is ultimately self-worship and self-adulation; and our Lord shows (what to me is an alarming and terrifying thing) that this tendency on our part to self-adulation is something that follows us even into the very presence of God. It sometimes produces this result; that even when we try to persuade ourselves that we are worshipping God, we are actually worshipping ourselves and doing nothing more.

– Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 301.

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Would you read on?

It’s been quite a while since I shared some fiction on this page. I got out a novel that I had started writing a while back, a sequel to one I had finished. I only have one and a half chapters finished, but am ready to conquer more. Here’s a sample. As you can tell, it’s a letter written by a lord to a king (Hopefully, you can read the font). Based on this sample, does it interest you to read further on?

 

Your dearest majesty, my Lord and my King,

I, your humble servant, Lord Kristofer Lemulae of the shores of Graelorn, Kingdom of Whiterock, wish to inform you of an incident which happened upon our coast this evening. Four men from a ship called The Morning Star, which launched out of a western kingdom called Malovaeus, were found barely alive beating upon the doors of our beacon in the dead of night during a dreadful storm.

A while later, their captain arrived. They told the keeper of the lighthouse a horrific story about how the storm and two fearsome serrantalius had overtaken their ship. The rest of their crew had either drowned or fell victim to the serrantalius. These brave men traveled four months from their coast in the west to ours in their east.

It seems their kingdom is in grave danger from a fierce foe who is bent on conquering their land. They have not enough armaments and warriors to defend themselves. Their king is readying the troops for battle now. He would like to form an alliance with kingdoms in the east. I wonder, your majesty, if you would be so kind and willing as to allow these men to address you, in an effort to restore peace to their land?

Some are in grave condition and I fear that only half, at best, will make it past the week. I ask, my Lord, that your kindheartedness shall not allow their sacrifice to be in vain.

Your truly devoted servant,

Lord Kristofer Tristan Lemulae IV

New discovery: ancient Old Testament fragment is identical to copy 2,000 years later

From winteryknight.com

WINTERY KNIGHT

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data

A new discovery of an ancient text fragment was reported in the Associated Press, of all places.

Excerpt:

The charred lump of a 2,000-year-old scroll sat in an Israeli archaeologist’s storeroom for decades, too brittle to open. Now, new imaging technology has revealed what was written inside: the earliest evidence of a biblical text in its standardized form.

The passages from the Book of Leviticus, scholars say, offer the first physical evidence of what has long been believed: that the version of the Hebrew Bible used today goes back 2,000 years.

The discovery, announced in a Science Advances journal article by researchers in Kentucky and Jerusalem on Wednesday, was made using “virtual unwrapping,” a 3D digital analysis of an X-ray scan. Researchers say it is the first time they have been able to read the…

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Lead, Follow or Get Out of THE WAY! by D Wadsworth

This is a blog post from a friend of mine, dated Sept. 26, 2013. He is now in full-time ministry. God has a way of aligning His dreams with ours. Have faith, be patient, and seek the Lord’s heart. Continue reading here: Lead, Follow or Get Out of THE WAY! by D Wadsworth

Paul, the unlikely hero (conclusion)

Luke 15 begins its chapter with these words, the New Living Translation put it this way: Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.  Did you hear that? Notorious sinners. In four of the five gospels, Jesus said “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but the sinners.”

And Paul himself, in his book to the church in Rome said, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Paul is the perfect example of that, isn’t he?

Character after character, the whole Bible is about redemption—about God knowing we are sinners who are trapped inside of something that we can’t get out of. But Christ comes to redeem, or restore, us to who He intended us to be. We don’t always know our own potential. Saul didn’t. But God does.

He sees us as who He originally intended us to be. Think about that. God did not intend for us to be trapped as sinners. Who he intended for us to be was established since before the foundations of the world, but it changed in the Garden. Who you and I are, our Godly potential, was established before the foundation of the world and changed millennia before we were ever born. But because of the cross, he can change it back. It doesn’t happen instantaneously and not even fully until we are rid of these bodies. But the process starts at the time of choosing Him.

In order for us to be an effective Christian witness to the world, as a church body of believers in the world Monday through Friday; as a church building and as a church service on Sunday, we need to see everyone around us with the eyes of whom God intended for them to be.

Now, I’ll admit, it’s hard sometimes, isn’t it? With some, it’s easy to see, but I have to admit it, I can be like Ananias. I can look at some people and think they’re irredeemable. I have a hard time seeing the potential in people. I have a hard time seeing how God could transform certain people. But if He can do that with Saul, he can do that with anyone.

I want us to think about how many testimonies you have heard where God changed someone’s life. Time after time, after time, after time we have heard testimonies like this. What about your testimony? Where were you at one time, and how did God transform your life?

Are you like Ananias? Does God need to change your vision? Does God need to help you see people for who they could be as redeemed sinners rather than notorious sinners? Maybe God is calling you to reach out to someone that you’re afraid might respond negatively, even harshly.

Are you like Saul? Are we thinking we’re doing the Godly thing, but in actuality are we persecuting God’s people? Are we not seeing people who are already saved for who they already are in Christ? Are we so judgmental against other Christians that we think we should put them down and persecute them because they go to a different church denomination, dress differently, watch movies we wouldn’t watch, listen to music we wouldn’t listen to, use language we wouldn’t use or drink something we wouldn’t drink? Is God telling you to stop laying down judgement, being divisive and persecuting His people?

We Christians have had a bad habit for far too long saying, so-and-so isn’t a real Christian because of such-and-such. It’s time to stop judging, putting people down and persecuting. It’s time to start living in such a way that lifts people up. Everyone needs encouragement no matter who they are; they need to be loved and respected. It’s called living the Christian life. And that was a commandment. And that’s how we show people the way to the cross. They already know they’re sinners, but they don’t all know they’re loved.

Paul, the unlikely hero (part 3)

Picking up where we left off yesterday, we see that God wanted to display his compassion more by using someone named Ananias to heal Saul.

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”

Yes, Lord,” he answered.

11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”

13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 19 and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

You’ll notice Ananias’ response. He was well aware of Saul’s reputation as a strong persecutor of the faith, Ananias had a right to be afraid. And he questioned God. You’d have to admit it must have seemed strange to Ananias. This is the one you have chosen to reveal the gospel to the world?

I like the way Tim Challies put it:

I have always loved Ananias’ response. Somehow he forgets his place and attempts to give God a bit of a newsflash. I can just picture Him stammering a bit as he takes it upon himself to remind God of just who this Saul guy is. I like to think that he began the sentence with uncertainty and confusion, and perhaps with with the words “Ummm…God….?” 

Have you ever questioned God? When you feel that tug in your spirit to say something, but you’ve felt afraid to do so? Why? Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid of their response when they find out we’re a Christian. We are afraid of just a little bit of backlash. But here, Ananias had some real fear to contend with.

Tim Challies goes on: Ananias had not only heard of how Saul had been systematically destroying the church in Jerusalem, hunting down men and women and turning them over to the authorities, but also knew that he was on the march to Damascus, ready to destroy that church as well. Paul’s hatred for Christ and His followers was common knowledge. We can well imagine that Ananias and the other believers were terrified as they awaited Saul and his cohort, for they knew their lives might be lost for the sake of Christ. They must have awaited his arrival at the city with great dread. And now here God asks Ananias to go and confront the ringleader of the persecutors.

Why did God ask Ananias to do this? It was for both Ananias’ benefit and for Saul’s. For Ananias, it was an act of obedience that resulted in God demonstrating to him just how far reaching God’s transforming love and grace really is.

For Saul, it furthered his belief in Jesus as Messiah because God gave a miraculous vision to a Christ follower, Ananias; and furthermore, that Christ follower extended grace by healing Saul. You see, God’s grace was proven to both Saul and Ananias. The first to a Jewish Pharisee who was an ardent persecutor of Christ. The second to a Christ follower who needed to see and practice the extent of God’s love. It’s evident that both were transformed, not just Saul.

That happens to us when we extend grace today. Both we and the other person are transformed by that grace. But what happens when we judge a person for where they are? Neither one of us experiences God.

This was all due to God’s ability to see Saul’s potential. God knew when certainly, Saul did not. Think about it. Would Saul have ever imagined where his life would lead? That he would leave a lasting legacy 2000 years later?

You never know where a step of obedience and grace on our part could lead someone else. Think about Ananias. His act of obedience was a leap of faith. He must have been scared to death the whole way to meet Saul. I can feel his stomach tightening as it must have seemed to take forever to get to that house. His mind spinning of what might happen when he gets there. But he did it anyway.

We never know what God might call us to do, and what one small act of kindness and obedience might lead. I think Ananias’ life was changed forever that day. I think he now looked at people with the potential of God’s transforming love. And he also, out of that one act of obedience, has a legacy that has lasted 2000 years.

And what is Ananias’ legacy? He obeyed God by demonstrating the love of God, and by seeing and believing that God has chosen Saul to do wondrous works of ministry for the kingdom. Ananias saw Saul now as a brother.

We need to see others for their potential in Christ, not remind them who they are as a sinner. Ananias had every right to rip into Saul. But he didn’t. He obeyed God and demonstrated grace and healing.