Friday, July 29, 2016

We are Either a Jacob or an Esau

Gen 25:29  Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. Gen 25:30  And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Gen 25:31  Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." Gen 25:32  Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?"
Gen 25:33  Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Gen 25:34  Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

I find this account very interesting in that it puts before us two types of people.  One can make a case that the Bible contrasts these two types throughout its pages.  In this case we have Jacob who is concerned for his future and does what he can to secure it and Esau who lives for immediate satisfaction with no regard to his distant future.  He is like the worldling who lives for the next “fix” or pleasure.  They will do anything to have it and will sell their own souls to get it.  Implicit in the text is that the birthright isn’t just concerned with their inheritance from their father Isaac but their connection to the Messiah and ultimately their salvation.

Notice some things in the above verses.  In vs. 30 Esau models an example for us that we must be careful to reject.  A Christian is to be moderate in all things so that nothing holds such power over us that we cannot serve God.  It would appear Esau was not used to saying no to himself.  He could have eaten a lot cheaper if he had waited a few minutes.  The writer of Hebrews bears this out when he states that Esau sold his birthright for a single meal.  His lack of discipline is amazing in that he didn’t even take the time to compare the value of one meal with his natural and spiritual inheritance.  But how many do this today?  For a fleeting moment of pleasure they will trade their family, job, and even their souls.  It is an investment in which there is no return.  The name Edom was a derogatory name which means red.  For some red stew he sold his inheritance.  It is foolish to live for that which you cannot take with you.

In vs. 32 we see his lack of control and rashness by him overstating his condition.  We should be careful of overstatement.  He was not about to die.  We sometimes use similar phrases, “I am starving to death”, “It was the worst thing that ever happened to me”, “I hate him”; “I love that more than anything”.  It is a sinful flaw in us when we overstate the importance of temporal things.  Even if he was about to die he shows his disregard for the promises made to his grandfather concerning the coming Savior.  When we Christians use such over statements we are in a sense denying our faith; certainly our faith in the Lord.  Such temporal things are not the “worst” thing that ever happened to us; we are not to love temporal things that much.  How different are the glorified saints in Revelation described, Rev_12:11  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Christianity is not putting the flesh first but our God; it is not being rash, uncontrolled and overly emotional and unthinking but bringing every thought captive to Christ.  Notice vs. 34, once he gets his fix, he is off again like nothing happened.  What a cheap price for his inheritance.  How animalistic; how ungodly; how sad is his life.  It is one of the saddest verses in the Bible.

I mentioned that the Bible contrasts these two types of people throughout its pages; those that live for eternity with God and those that live for the momentary, passing pleasures of sin.  We see this in Revelation 13.  In that chapter there are those that worship the Lamb who was slain and those that worship the Beast who slays.  Of the first group we read, Rev 13:9  If anyone has an ear, let him hear: Rev 13:10  If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.  Earlier Jesus tells those who will not love their lives unto death but instead live for eternity, Rev 2:7  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'  Jesus says in chapter 13 that the suffering for living for the future and not the immediate is going to come and so it is a call to persevere.  We only need persevere in things that are difficult, not easy.  Perseverance is living in the opposite way Esau lived.  It is to accept hunger for future reward.

It is said of the other group, Rev 13:15  And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. Rev 13:16  Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, Rev 13:17  so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name

The world will do whatever it must to survive until the next day, to have as much fun as it can from day to day.  This is what it means to receive the mark of the beast.  Being able to buy and sell and keep this body alive is more important than thinking about where their souls will spend eternity.  And so we see Jacob and Esau contrasted in Revelation 13 just like we do in Genesis 25.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Do You Believe in Karma?

Rev 20:11  Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. Rev 20:12  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. Rev 20:13  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Rev 20:14  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Rev 20:15  And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The above passage sets forth the basic biblical teaching of the general judgment that awaits all mankind when Christ comes back.  It is pretty plain that those saved by the grace of God in Christ Jesus will live forever with God and those whose names are not found in the Book of Life will spend eternity in the fires of Hell.

Unfortunately America has become thoroughly secularized so that if you ask people on the street if there is a judgment or hereafter or any accountability after death by far the answer you will get the most will not be based on the Bible at all.  Listening recently to just such a survey all the answers either brought in a sense of Karma or just a sappy, “If I do more good than bad, I will be Okay”, or both. 

It is amazing how even those who call themselves Christians will refer to Karma as how life and death generally work.  They assume that what goes around will come around when it comes to the hereafter.  Of course, they have neither studied Karma nor the Bible and so even though they are nominal Christians, their doctrine of the judgment is thoroughly pagan because humanism and paganism is allowed to be taught in the schools and airwaves but not the Bible.

The next time you hear someone say they believe in Karma ask them to explain Karma to you.  You can pretty much be sure you will hear an Americanized form of it that isn’t biblical and isn’t Hindu either.  The fact is that Karma teaches that one pays for past life’s sins in the following life until you finally are freed from earthly existence entirely after countless life cycles.  But here is the kicker.  If one is suffering in this life it is because of something they did in a previous life and so to be relieved of suffering means that you will have to suffer at some point in the future or you will never move to a higher level of existence. 

This helps explain why social conditions in a place like India have always been so deplorable and continue to be so.  Karma works well with the caste system or we might say the caste system is a result of Karma.  Charity work was pretty much unheard of before the English brought Christianity and reform to India.  That is because if you see people who are suffering you mustn’t give them relief because you aren’t allowing them to pay for their sins.  On the other hand if you are born into wealth, you must have deserved it and so it is perfectly acceptable to look down on the less fortunate. 

In other words, what forms the basis for western civilization when it comes to human rights and charity is turned on its head in societies that hold to Karma or a system of judgment similar to it.  So the next time you hear someone say they believe in Karma find out if they do or not and you have an opening to give the gospel of grace.  Karma is just impersonal law keeping in which grace has no part.  Some mindless, nameless force makes sure that every bad thing we do will be paid for with no hope of escape.  Grace is God paying the price for our sin so that we can escape the punishment. 

And by all means let’s make sure we don’t use terms like Karma that just causes more confusion and darkness in a world that is too dark to begin with.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Controlling Nature of Sin

Gen 19:9  But they said, "Stand back!" And they said, "This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them." Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.
Gen 19:10  But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door.
Gen 19:11  And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

Perhaps no passage in the Bible depicts the controlling nature of sin like the account of the homosexuals of Sodom.  As the two angels come into town to rescue Lot and his family the entire male population, “down to the last man” saw the visitors as merely sexual objects.  It didn’t matter that they were human being created in God’s image, as they would have assumed they were human; they saw them only as something to use and discard.  And of course, this is common with all sexual sin. 

But it is the above text that is truly hard to believe.  As they are trying to beat the door down to get at these men, they are struck blind.  Now you have to put yourself in their shoes.  It is dark and perhaps they had torches but all of the sudden you can’t see anything.  You might at first think that someone put out the torches but in a second or two you realize you can’t see.  You yell for help, telling anyone who will listen that you can’t see.  At the same time everyone else is relating the same thing. 

Now I am pretty sure that as a Christian who is pretty familiar with biblical morality; if I found myself engaged in a questionable activity with some others and we are all struck blind at the same time that the first thing I would think is, “maybe someone is trying to tell us something”.  But these men obviously didn’t have the Holy Spirit indwelling them and their conscience had been seared long ago in all likelihood. 

Being struck blind is merely seen as an inconvenience in their attempt to commit sexual perversion.  Instead of trying to make it home safely they actually wear themselves out looking for the door.  This has to be one of the starkest accounts of sinfulness that is found in the Bible.  It should remind us of how sin can control us and dupe us into thinking that what we want is more important than anything or anyone else no matter who we hurt. 

Unfortunately the controlling nature of sin is something that Christians must be aware of and do battle with.  I can think of plenty of times in which I wanted something so badly, whether it was my way or some object, that I had little regard for Christ’s will or how others were affected.  While it is easy to point a judgmental finger at these guys, it is easy to see that I sin in similar ways all the time. 

In fact, in this account we see righteous Lot showing a rather unbelievable lack of faith in verses 16-20.  He sees how wicked these guys are first hand, he is reduced to offering his daughters in exchange for the angels, he sees the angels strike the men of the town blind and yet he is hesitant to leave. 

Then apparently after being miraculously lifted and carried outside of the city he then proceeds to argue with the heavenly messengers that he knows best where he needs to flee.  Evidently God was smart enough to save him from Sodom’s destruction but not able to take care of him in the place where he tells him to flee.

But that is what sin does; it has us believing that we know better than the Lord.  I have had people come to me for help with the results of years of sin in their lives but when I direct them to church and to listen to what God tells them to do, they want none of it.  They might be miserable in their sin but one thing they know is that they are not going to give up their sin and certainly not submit to God.

And it is particularly sad when Christians’ pride and lusts have such control over them that no matter who they hurt and how much their lives fall apart they only get angry if you try to direct them back to where the Lord would have them.  They will argue with you and tell you that your theology is wrong but their view isn’t helping them at all!  

Yes, this chapter teaches a lot about sexual perversion but it teaches more about the deceitfulness of sin that we all are only a step or two away from.  May God grant us a tender conscience and a repentant spirit so that we can recognize when our sin is controlling the way we are living.  I think too often I see myself in this chapter more than I see the sin of homosexuality.