July 22, 2011
Romans 7:21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
This is a type of law that operates in the background. Our natural lives are influenced by a number of physical laws that operate along the same lines. The law of gravity is one of these background laws. Everybody experiences this law constantly. Step on the scales and shudder! Yet because gravity always works on us we take it for granted and don’t think about it. Yet we are never free of its influence.
In a world where the predominant mindset is a kind of shallow materialism, few think about spiritual laws working in their lives. Fewer still would grant the existence of any kind of spiritual (dis)order in their lives. However, Paul’s law of the proximity of evil and its influence on intention and action operates in the background of human life as much as the law of gravity does. If it didn’t, then the moral progress postulated by many secular humanists would certainly have turned this planet into a paradise by now. The world is not a paradise, what ‘force’ is working against the good that we humans are supposed to be so collectively capable of?
Paul sums up this law working in his life by writing; “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. … For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:15, 18,19) In your own life have you ever asked yourself; “Why do I keep repeating the same mistake over and over again? I hate doing this. It causes so much trouble!” If you have, then you have experienced this law working in your life.
As a physics teacher, I know that to overcome a force in one direction another greater force has to be applied in the opposite direction. Evil must be overcome with Good. Thankfully we have available the countermeasure to the evil that so closely stalks our intentions and actions. Paul cries out; “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24,25)
Denial of the laws which work behind the scenes, physically or spiritually doesn’t alter the reality of the operation of these laws and their influences on us. If you deny gravity, you will fall. If you deny Jesus, you will fall.
July 18, 2011
Romans 3:23- 25 “… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”
Good news! Jesus died for you too even if you aren’t as ‘bad’ as my friend and me (see earlier post). Maybe your sins are small ones that hide under the porch like a ‘brown recluse spider’. These spiders are said to get agressive if you shine a light on them. If your sins aren’t public or apparent Jesus died for you just the same as he died for the car thief, the drunk and the hypocrite. If your sins exist mainly in the cobwebs of your mind (judgmental attitudes) or are hidden beneath the floor boards of your heart (resentments) – it doesn’t matter; God loves you just as much as anyone else. The Bible tells us; “… Some men’s sins are evident, going before unto judgment; and some men also they follow after. ” (1 Timothy 5:24) No one who looks good on the outside is beyond God’s reach.
Nobody is too good to be saved unless maybe you’re like the Pharisees. They knew their Bible. They did their Bible studies diligently but they didn’t believe that Jesus needed to save them because they were way too good. They didn’t need Jesus! They placed their (self) righteousness in the law! Jesus said to them; “And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not. Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; and ye will not come to me, that ye may have life.” (John 5:38-40)
God doesn’t think you’re too good to be saved. But you may and that attitude stands between you and Jesus.
July 18, 2011
Romans 5:6,7,8 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
I knew a man once who had real difficulty believing that he was worthwhile and redeemable. He believed that he had done something that was so ‘bad’ that he was out of anybody’s reach – even Jesus’. He believed that Jesus, couldn’t save him because of his actions years ago. This man was dying and he was suffering terribly from illness and his idea that he couldn’t be saved. He was in a very bad state physically and spiritually. How can you minister to someone suffering like this?
We were good friends so I asked him straight out – what did he do? We had talked a lot with one another and we had shared a lot of things about each other so it wasn’t a big reach for him to tell me. He hadn’t done anything worse than I was capable of. A lot of things in my past would measure up just as ‘bad’. We talked some more and I shared my experiences with doing ‘bad’ stuff. I was trying to let him know that he wasn’t unique in his ‘crimes’ and that we were both cut from the same cloth. He concluded that we were both bad and we were both out of reach! We couldn’t be saved! I wasn’t doing very well helping my friend out of his pit!
Now I was getting desperate enough to silently pray for help. Romans 5:8 came to my mind – ‘He died for us while we were yet sinners.’ I said; “I’ve got some good news for you my friend”! I shared this scripture with him. Sure both of us were nasty characters. Even though both of us were very sorry for what we did we didn’t deserve to be ‘let off’. We were bad and bad guys should pay! The good news is that God’s love can cover our sins. Jesus knew what we were going to do. Jesus knew what we did and Jesus went ahead anyway and died for us two nasty guys. Who were we to throw that selfless action back into Jesus’ face!
From the look of hope and joy in my friend’s eyes I knew that the Holy Spirit had hit the mark. My friends pain was eased and he was assured. Praise the Lord!