Tag Archives: Consequences

Enough…

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned–every one–to his own way…
[Isaiah 53:6]

The Jewish prophet Isaiah wrote this sometime around 700BC. I think that was also around the time that I made the last post on this blog.

However the drought is over. I am no longer going to keep quiet for the sake of a false peace. Starting tomorrow (November 1st, 2011) I am planning to post something at least six times each week. There is so much to say, and so little time to say it.

I am going to begin this hopefully permanent flurry of activity by explaining why the Bible refers to us as sheep, and what it means to have gone astray.

And then I am going to talk about the wolves that have infiltrated the flock. God’s flock.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
[Acts 20:28-30]

He doesn’t like it when wolves masquerading as shepherds attack His sheep.

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds”, declares the LORD.
[Jeremiah 23:1-2]

“Wail, you shepherds, and cry out, and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock, for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come, and you shall fall like a choice vessel. No refuge will remain for the shepherds, nor escape for the lords of the flock. A voice–the cry of the shepherds, and the wail of the lords of the flock! For the LORD is laying waste their pasture, and the peaceful folds are devastated because of the fierce anger of the LORD. Like a lion he has left his lair, for their land has become a waste because of the sword of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.”
[Jeremiah 25:34-38]

Of course, much of the trouble with contemporary Christianity cannot be blamed on the leaders of the churches. We are all responsible before God for our own actions, thoughts, speech and attitudes. We have all – with few exceptions – become lazy sheep, lounging around in the swampy pasture beside stagnant water. We think we can cuddle up with the world – join in with its pagan, occultic pastimes such as Halloween, or its twisted ‘holy’ days such as All Saints Day – and avoid any negative consequences.

We can’t.

Enough.

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Free Indeed!

So Jesus told those Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are really my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They replied to him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves to anybody. So how can you say, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty that everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the household forever, but the son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

(John 8:31-36, ISV)

The last words of my previous post on the subject of freedom were: “Yes we are free to choose, but we have never, are not, and will never be free from the consequences of the choices that we make.” The problem is that humanity has developed a twisted view of what freedom really is. We think that we have the right to do what we want, when we want, how we want – without suffering any negative consequences. We call that ‘ideal’ freedom. In a nutshell, what we think of as ‘freedom’ is actually rebellion against authority. We don’t want to be held subject to anything – whether it be obvious authorities such as governments, employers or anyone else who tries to physically tell us what to do, or less direct authorities such as the passing of time or the ingestion of too much chocolate. I would like to be able to eat nothing but chocolate without suffering any negative consequences, but common sense tells me that is impossible. Therefore I am unconsciously admitting that chocolate (or more accurately the effects of chocolate on my body) has authority over me. We cannot escape from this! Our human bodies, emotions, and spirits are ALL slaves in one way or another. We are NOT free! We live, pay taxes, and die. What is the answer?

Before we move on to examine the passage from the Bible I quoted above, we need to get to the ultimate root of the human problem. We have touched on it briefly in previous posts, but we are going to look at it more closely today.

The root of the human problem is sin.

Sin is a dirty word in contemporary society. It is intensely disliked, simply because (as we’ve been discussing) it stamps all over the ideal of freedom that we think we should be able to live by. The concept of sin – things we do or say that are somehow wrong or offensive or even evil – is almost universally derided in the western world. Of course, society is still happy enough to point a collectivist finger at the really bad people (murderers, rapists, global-warming deniers, fundamental Christians…) and call them sinful, but the word simply doesn’t apply to anyone else. How DARE anyone say that it is wrong for a man to have sex with another man? How DARE anyone say that it is wrong for those men to marry and enjoy all the benefits that society offers to married couples? Well, I for one dare to say those things because it’s the truth. Of course, my truth is founded solely on the Bible and the teachings it contains, so therefore anyone who rejects the Bible is probably also going to reject much of what it says is right or wrong. For the purpose of this post all I’m going to say to you if you fall into that category is “have you actually read the whole Bible with an open heart and mind?”.

So the Bible tells us that certain things are sinful. Let’s have a look at a few examples:

The LORD told Moses to tell the people of Israel:

I am the LORD your God! So don’t follow the customs of Egypt where you used to live or those of Canaan where I am bringing you. I am the LORD your God, and you must obey my teachings. Obey them and you will live. I am the LORD.

Don’t have sex with any of your close relatives, especially your own mother. This would disgrace your father. And don’t disgrace him by having sex with any of his other wives.

Don’t have sex with your sister or stepsister, whether you grew up together or not.

Don’t disgrace yourself by having sex with your granddaughter or half sister or a sister of your father or mother.

Don’t disgrace your uncle by having sex with his wife.

Don’t have sex with your daughter-in-law or sister-in-law. And don’t have sex with the daughter or granddaughter of any woman that you have earlier had sex with. You may be having sex with a relative, and that would make you unclean.

As long as your wife is alive, don’t cause trouble for her by taking one of her sisters as a second wife.

When a woman is having her monthly period, she is unclean, so don’t have sex with her.

Don’t have sex with another man’s wife–that would make you unclean.

Don’t sacrifice your children on the altar fires to the god Molech. I am the LORD your God, and that would disgrace me.

It is disgusting for a man to have sex with another man.

Anyone who has sex with an animal is unclean.

Don’t make yourselves unclean by any of these disgusting practices of those nations that I am forcing out of the land for you. They made themselves and the land so unclean, that I punished the land because of their sins, and I made it vomit them up. Now don’t do these sickening things that make the land filthy. Instead, obey my laws and teachings. Then the land won’t become sick of you and vomit you up, just as it did them. If any of you do these vulgar, disgusting things, you will be unclean and no longer belong to my people. I am the LORD your God, and I forbid you to follow their sickening way of life.

(Leviticus 18, CEV)

Wow. Sounds like God hates sex, doesn’t it? And let’s be honest here – a vast proportion of the hurt, pain, fear, sadness, loneliness, grief etc. etc. that life dumps on people is the result of sex, or the desire to have sex, be sexy, appear physically or financially attractive to the opposite sex for the purpose of having sex… When it comes to the modern ideal of ‘freedom’, NOTHING shouts louder than sexual freedom. And it appears that God doesn’t like that! Money, power, control…. all the other big cheeses when it comes to personal freedom bow down beneath the altar of sex. Why am I using this example? Because I believe we are ALL guilty of sinful behavior of one sort or another in this area of life. It is universal. The Bible tells us that if we even LOOK lustfully at another person’s spouse – we are guilty of adultery. Thinking about any sort of sex outside of a marriage relationship is sinful. We’ve all been there, done that. So at this very basic, very universal level we are all sinners. We have all broken God’s law and offended Him beyond our ability to understand. So we are back to basics. God gives us all the freedom to choose whether to obey His rules or not, but our actions will have consequences. We are not free. Emotional and physical disease as a result of immorality is almost as universal as the immorality itself. Anyone can see that. Abortion, AIDS, broken families, murders, rapes, hatred… The list is endless. All because we want to be ‘free’.

Well, we can be.

The laws (including those found in Leviticus 18) that God gave to the Israelites were given for one purpose. The law reveals the truth about the heart of each and every human, and that truth is we do not meet God’s standards. God was very clear for generation after generation – if you obey me and do only the things that are good for you (remember – God designed us, and He knows exactly what is good for us and distilled that knowledge into law) then you will be blessed beyond your wildest dreams! I will be your God, and you will be my people! We will have an eternal, perfect relationship because you will be worthy of being in my presence!

The law reveals that we are all law-breakers, and deserve to be punished for breaking it.

Sadly, the punishment would be eternal separation from God, because no matter how hard we try, we can not change ourselves into something acceptable to Him. The imperfect cannot make itself perfect. Never, no how, no way. Religion (including much that calls itself Christianity) is man’s attempt to do something to earn God’s approval. Tithe, pray, go to church regardless of whether it’s a game day or not, feed the poor, go on a missions trip and get an icky disease from the natives….

Filthy rags. That’s what the Bible calls our very, very best most earnest, sincere efforts at pleasing God.

Well, after all that – let’s look at the verses from John’s Gospel that I quoted somewhere up there beyond the top of the page:

So Jesus told those Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are really my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They replied to him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves to anybody. So how can you say, ‘You will be set free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, I tell all of you with certainty that everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the household forever, but the son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”

(John 8:31-36, ISV)

This won’t take long. The truth is so clear. The Jews thought they were free because they knew the law and tried to follow it. They refused to understand that their best efforts were worthless. The One and Only thing that can really set us free is the Truth Himself. Everyone who commits a sin (in other words, everyone) is a slave of sin. Slaves to sin cannot live in God’s presence. Only children of God can do that. And Jesus was, is and always will be the only One who has the power and authority to free us from the eternal consequences of our sin.

And if He does that, we will be free indeed.

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