Saturday, January 03, 2015

God's View of Humanity (Part 1)

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; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 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. (Romans 01:28-32, NKJV).

In the news recently there was an enhanced view of Earth from a spacecraft 4 billion miles away, which on the scale of the solar system is just “down the block”. Our planet appeared as a pale, blue, barely visible dot in a vast sea of emptiness. The “Big Blue Marble” was rendered as a mote of dust from that perspective.

That our barely visible “third rock from the sun” is the center of the spiritual universe seems to be an absurd proposition when looked at from the merely physical side of things, but what does size have to do with essential importance? The smallest microorganism can wipe out whole populations.

Despite that blue dot's surrounding emptiness, God views us as so significant that He sent His Son to save us; to enable us to be transformed from unrepentant sinners into sons and daughters of God. Remember that when someone tries to argue that we are accidents of time and chance, residing on a tiny sphere on the edge of a nondescript galaxy in the backwaters of the Universe. When viewed without God, we appear as nothing, but from His perspective we are the second most important things in existence. The first is His Son.

And while the physical space around us may appear empty, what God sees from Heaven's viewpoint is a planet whose resident human population is full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and evil-mindedness that expands and rises to the heavens. Understanding that perspective requires us to acknowledge first that God is holy and righteous, and in Him there is no darkness at all (1John 1:5). We need to realize that everything about us that we might consider good and right is skewed by sin. We can't see straight, but God does and His view is that ...we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6, NKJV).

The good news is that while God is perfectly righteous and holy, and cannot abide sin, He is also a God of mercy and grace and love and has provided us a means to escape the inevitable and eternal consequences of our sin through His Son's substitutionary death on the Cross. As Paul writes later in Romans:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NKJV).

It is instructive to understand a bit more of what while we were still sinners means, for it shows us how unlovable we are in ourselves, and broadens our appreciation of that love God demonstrates toward us.

Before looking more deeply into Paul's continuing list of human evil, it is necessary to keep in mind that not everyone is guilty of doing all these things outwardly, but that each one of us, if left to our own devices, is naturally capable of every item in the list. That we may go to our graves not having actually committed some of these is only through God's grace and our own lack of opportunity. Also we must remember Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, wherein we are taught that, from God's perspective, thought and intent make us just as guilty as the done deed. Without Christ, therefore, we are utterly helpless in our depravity.

By full of envy, the Apostle is describing that state of our being which makes us crave what we do not have, and despise those who do.

Being full of murder means that while we may not physically take someone's life, if our thoughts or feeling could kill, corpses would be strewn across the path of our life. I believe that it is only after we are saved that we can begin to understand how truly murderous our impulses are, but there our hints even in our speech, amply sprinkled with casual references to “murder” and “kill” those people or things that get in our way.

Full of strife paints the picture of our inherent, reflexive impulse to be contentious, argumentative, and divisive because we are incapable of living in peace. It is not that this strife is intended to accomplish anything on our behalf, though it may incidentally get us what we desire, it is that, like maliciousness, it is something that bubbles up from the cauldron of our natural badness. And while the unrepentant may succeed in controlling this impulse somewhat, it takes nothing away from the fact that being contentious is who we are and what we do.

When Paul includes full of deceit in his list of evil attributes he is emphasizing something about us that we all know to be true: the impulse to lie. Even very young children never have to be taught how to lie since they are born with that knowledge. It is a natural as breathing. And unless instructed otherwise, that impulse will pervade all their interactions with others.

You can also see the collective effect of deceit in this fallen world. Lies permeate our modern culture, from preaching Evolution as fact and Abortion as good, to Christianity as intolerant and regressive. When you think about it, the concept of lying, of communicating something not supported by reality, is a form of mental illness, and yet from the human perspective, we believe it to be perfectly normal. That is because we are all perpetrators of deceit. It is reflexive as breathing.

Does this mean we are all afflicted with mental illness? Yes. Sin is a sickness that afflicts first the mind, and then metastasizes into other more obvious areas of our lives. Of all the warnings in Scripture against evil, guarding against deceiving and being deceived is the most prevalent. And from where does this evil originate? Jesus Himself provides the answer:

You [the Pharisees, and by implication, all mankind] are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (John 8:44, NKJV).

Finally, Paul writes that unredeemed humans are full of evil-mindedness. This is from a Greek word that means all-pervasive malignity. Think of a lesion or tumor in the physical body. When it is diagnosed as malignant, it means it is life-threatening, and usually in a slow and agonizing way. Evil-mindedness is evil for evil's sake, meaning there is no other purpose from which it derives its energy. It is like that mindless tumor, sucking the life out of someone by destroying the healthy tissue cell by cell. It is the natural state of being of an intelligent life form without God. It is far more than lack of empathy. It is overt malevolence.

The ultimate expression of this in modern society is the serial murderer, someone who seeks out victims for the pleasure of inflicting upon them agony and death. Our culture attempts to explain such behavior with a raft of high-sounding psychological terms, but this is mostly to deflect the simple truth that it is the result of sin and evil, and that attempt at deflection itself is an act of deceit that perpetuates and facilitates the very evil it attempts to explain. It does so by postulating that it is a neurological condition amenable to some, as yet, undiscovered treatment, rather than a spiritually terminal affliction only treated by being born again.

Given Paul's divinely inspired list thus far, we should not be surprised at the very bad things we see going on in the world around us. What should surprise us more, is that in this life, things are far from being as bad as they could be, and that is God's grace and mercy, for which we should be increasingly grateful.



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Filled With All Badness

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; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 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. (Romans 01:28-32, NKJV).

The old American expression, “full of yourself”, is an apt description of a bad person, someone who is empty of compassion, mercy, and morality. It is someone who cares nothing for others, and who looks at everything in the world, including people, as objects to be used, ignored, or discarded. It is impossible for such a person to be good, and the amount of people who are this way in a society proportionately increases as God is shoved further away from collective thought and consciousness.

To be full of oneself is to be as the Apostle Paul describes above. Note the repetition of the concepts filled with all, and full of. Each of the words that follow those thoughts are indictments of the natural human character; the one that is ours from physical birth.

Left untouched by God, the infant is destined to be filled to the brim with the nightmarish qualities Paul lists above, and it is instructive to take a deeper look at each of these attributes of moral horror. But as we do, understand this: every individual will either be filled with God, or filled with themselves. There is no middle ground.

And the indicators are whether a life produces the fruit of the Spirit,, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...(Galatians 5:22, 23, NKJV).

or the unmitigated darkness of a man devoid of God.

What then does it mean to be filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness?

The simplest definition of the Greek word translated filled is, crammed to overflowing, made replete, to level up a hollow. The idea is that once the filling is complete, there is no room for anything more, all available space has been occupied.

The word all has the same connotation in Greek as English. It means “every and any”, with nothing left out or missed or overlooked.

In other words, those who are without God are crammed full with any and every kind of God's opposite, as if a vacuum exists that must be replaced with one or the other. It cannot remain empty, and there are only two sources of filling, God or not-God. That is why we are all either with Him or against Him. And that which is not-God is, by definition evil.

Paul continues with a painstaking list of what is involved when that filled human hollow is devoid of God, and he starts with all unrighteousness. That carries the meaning of being opposed to God's morally legitimate laws in thought, word and deed. Whatever God deems righteous, this is its opposite. Instead of love, this is hate. Instead of truth, this is deceit. Instead of life this is death. What God commands in terms of not being covetous, this is full-fledged murderous greed and self-entitlement. The apostle is saying that those without God leave no unrighteousness behind, and practice “every and any” kind of moral lawlessness.

Next is all sexual immorality. Remember from previous verses, God, who invented sex, has proscribed the parameters by which this most important human activity is at its best and most satisfying. Anything outside the marriage bed of a one-man-one-woman lifelong relationship is sexual immorality, and unlike other sin, is something that humans engage in against their own bodies. Those without God open themselves up to this kind of behavior to their own harm, and, as the Apostles writes in verse 32, not only do these things but approve and encourage others to do the same.

Now the world will attempt to persuade you that such restrictions on sex are “repressive”, “damaging”, “unnatural”, “old-fashioned”, and even “idiotic”. Except for “unnatural” (for because of the Fall our inherent way of life is against God, so sexual immorality is indeed, “natural”, as is pain, sickness and dying), in reality, God's laws of sexual morality are not repressive, but honoring of the God-given bond between husband and wife. It is sexual immorality that is damaging to all concerned, and self-destructive behavior of any kind is logically idiotic. God's restrictions should be seen as protective, not prohibitive, like guardrails along a highway, preserving that special intimate relationship reserved only for holy matrimony.

Coming to all wickedness, we have vicious depravity in view. This is evil activity with the primary aim of causing others to suffer, and to take twisted delight in that suffering. It is hurting someone or something and experiencing pleasure in seeing them writhe in pain. And this pain is not just physical, but includes emotional and spiritual agony, as well. This is the stuff of nightmares, but is nevertheless all too real in this life.

All covetousness is the desire to have that is which is not rightfully ours, and to take it whenever possible no matter what the cost. This is part of David's many sins in committing adultery (sexual immorality) with Bathsheba, which ultimately caused him to murder Uriah, her rightful husband. He coveted Bathsheba and took her for himself in complete disregard of the pain and suffering it would cause. He felt entitled to her because if his position as king, and a necessary component of all covetousness is that same grandiose sense of entitlement.

Lastly in view here is all maliciousness. This is utter badness and malignity (deadliness) towards others. It is behavior motivated by sheer hatred, and needs no prior or outward cause, but is evil that erupts from within the godless soul. The modern world tries to explain this by postulating all manner of psychological phenomena to account for it, through willful ignorance refusing to understand what is its only root cause: the inherent evil of fallen man without God.

Even this partial list makes us shudder, and, as your father, my daily prayer is that God protects you from these rampant evils throughout all the years of your precious life, but I do not want you to be ignorant of these things, so that you are never caught unaware.

The world wants you to believe that God, if He exists, desires to rob you of joy, but the truth is that His moral laws are provided to ensure that your joy is full.



Saturday, December 27, 2014

Unfit and Overflowing

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; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 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. (Romans 01:28-32, NKJV).

Paul's list of evil in these verses is prefaced with two characteristic symptoms of sin: the doing of things which are not fitting, and being filled with those attributes, attitudes and actions that are diametrically opposed to the nature of God.

It reminds me of a toilet incapable of being flushed clean, or the palpable, slimy, impenetrable, and odious darkness of a backed up sewer.

There is nothing at all good in his list. No redeeming quality or saving grace, just overflowing badness that is, at its essence, uniquely and utterly human. In some respects, I believe even demons are surprised at the depth and comprehensiveness of mankind's depravity.

And the added horror here is that those God has given over to this debased state have room in their beings for nothing else. All light and goodness have been crowded out by their opposite, so that not even a sliver of anything else remains.

I mentioned previously that individuals living this kind of life are on a downward spiral into Hell, and that only God's grace can save them. But that is true for all of us, and as I contemplate what the Apostle has written, the very words he has chosen by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, I become increasingly convinced the people in view here have hardened themselves beyond redemption. These are those who will not be saved, who have exercised the human potential for total depravity to its fullest extent, going well beyond the transient thoughts or impulses that plague all of us into the horrid realm of unrestrained evil action.

In my lifetime, there have been notorious examples of men and women who appear to be in this category of overflowing evil; unrepentant and remorseless rapists, torturers, and murderers who revel in their horrible legacy of doing those things that you in your youthful innocence have not even considered. But I suspect that there are other, less publicized villains who have lived, or are living now, according to that same pattern of reprobate behavior.

These are the living nightmares of complete godlessness that when their deeds are exposed cause the rest of us to marvel in incomprehension at the level of sheer cruelty of which humans are capable.

But there is even a more dire message in these verses that takes us from contemplating the inhumanity of others, and pierces deeply into the heart of what we ourselves are capable of without God. From our finite, four-dimensional perspective of time and space, this Doctrine of Total Human Depravity, as it has been called, does not mean that the unsaved are guilty of doing everything evil that it is possible to do, but that each of us has within us the potential to fall that far.

But I strongly suspect that God has a very different perspective than we do, one described by Jesus Himself in the Sermon on the Mount. In that He teaches that to think or feel a thing is equivalent to the doing of it, where the emotion of unrighteous anger is the same as murder, or merely looking upon someone with lust is the same as the act of adultery.

This is very bad news indeed. So bad that to understand it is to come to a complete end of hope in ourselves, for the longer we live the more we will inevitably violate God's holy standard of right and wrong, and the more guilty we will become.

Unless we come to the Cross and to the Savior who made Himself payment for our depravity, who took upon Himself our sin-filled nature and cleansed it with His sacrificial blood.

The Christ-rejecting world looks upon these truths as primitive superstitions at best, and toxically shameful and damaging at worst, but that is because they are looking through debased eyes from within the sewer of human depravity.

It is only when we come to Jesus that He lifts the veil from our vision and shows us the true way of things, and provides for us the only hope available – Himself.



Debased Mind

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; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 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. (Romans 01:28-32, NKJV).

First God gives unrepentant sinners up to vile passions, and then He gives them over to a debased mind. He surrenders them to their own lusts and impulses and crooked thinking; all in judgment for their willful and arrogant ignorance of Him.

He allows them to continue unabated in the very activities that prove their continuing rejection; activities that are guaranteed to increase their misery and condemnation. It is a horrible, ravenous place to be, rife with unsatisfied lust and frenetic, unending restlessness. There is, literally, no peace for the wicked. There is only an increasing spiral downward, with one depraved behavior followed by another. When a person reaches this point they are a danger to themselves and to those around them. They cannot be trusted or reasoned with, nor do they value truth. Their focus is only on what they can get for themselves, without concern or thought to the damage or cost to others.

These debauched individuals are the epitome of selfishness and self-centeredness, and know nothing of love or giving. They are takers only, and unless God intervenes, each one is destined for the eternal fires and torment of Hell.

And it all starts in the mind.

Human thought is a powerful force. God intended it to be so. It envisions, plans, invents, motivates and can change the course of history. It is where sin is conceived, and left unrestrained, it is what feeds and nourishes the evil in which mankind is so demonstrably skilled.

That is why Scripture teaches us to take every thought captive and to renew our minds in the truth of God. Despite today's popular misconceptions, Christianity is very much concerned with the realm of human thinking, not to restrict or prohibit, but to guide upwards.

Many of the great inventors, scientists, philosophers and innovators of the past were unabashedly Christian. They sought to expand their knowledge of the Universe motivated by the unbridled certainty that the Intelligence behind Creation was orderly and knowable. Their intellectual achievements were the result of their desire to know more of God by the study of His handiwork, and in pursuing these objectives they changed the world for the better.

There was a popular slogan years back that said, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” It was meant to encourage secular education, but it was a statement of profound truth nonetheless. For we are made in the image of God, meaning we possess personhood, intellect, will and emotion. We are conscious of self and of the world around us as separate entities, related but distinct. Therein, I believe, lies the main difference between men and animals. And a wasted mind, one given over to debased thinking, is a terrible thing.

It is also said that evil men are “animals”, but this is untrue. Animals are incapable of evil, for even the most voracious predator does not inflict pain or suffering for its own sake, but for survival in a fallen world. Humans, on the other hand, are more than capable of perpetrating the most vile acts while taking immense satisfaction in the resulting misery of their victims.

And we are often guilty of using our immense and powerful minds to devise the most heinous evil.

Paul's description of this descent into depravity lays the responsibility where it belongs: at the feet of Man. It is the inevitable result of God removing His providential care and allowing human evil to take its natural course.

This by the way, is the answer to the skeptic's or atheist's question as to why evil exists in the world. In one sense, evil is the result of God's forbearance and mercy. He provides mankind with revelation of Himself and the way of salvation knowing full well that most will not avail themselves of the gift. And He allows the temporary continuance of human evil for the sake of those who will come to repentance and forgiveness.

In the future, His forbearance will cease, and all evil will be eradicated once and for all. When that Day of Judgement comes, there will no longer be opportunity for repentance.

In the meantime, we who are His children by faith are to be occupied until He comes, walking in those good works which He has prepared beforehand, not to earn our reprieve, but as proof that we have already obtained His forgiveness, and are being transformed into the image of His Son.

There is an element of conscious mind control in all this, a willful surrender to the thoughts of God, rather than stubborn adherence to our own vain imaginings. As Paul writes in Philippians:

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8, NKJV).

This is the prescription for both taking our thoughts captive and for renewing our minds. It is the means by which God has ordained for us believers to avoid being conformed to this world, and to let Christ's mind be in us. It is a goal and a destiny that is as far from a debased mind as it is possible to get.



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Willful Ignorance

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; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 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. (Romans 01:28-32, NKJV).

The first chapter of Paul's letter to the Roman church ends with a comprehensive list of human evil. It is as evident and accurate today as when the apostle penned it 2000 years ago. It is also as incisive and perceptive now, as then, and it begins with the primary cause of human badness: willful ignorance.

It is not that we humans don't know what is right and wrong. Every culture, every individual, throughout the world and throughout history has an innate, God-given moral compass: our conscience. It's there. We're born with it. It is why the youngest child when about to do something he or she knows to be wrong, experiences a momentary twinge of guilt, and while it is logically impossible to deny the existence of the human conscience, it is possible to sear it into ineffectiveness.

And the first step in that process is always conscious rejection of the knowledge of God. The knowledge in view here is not detailed, systematic doctrine, but the general, undeniable evidence of the supernatural Creator of heaven and earth. As David wrote a thousand years before Paul:

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. (Psalms 19:1-3, NKJV).

Paul echoed that conclusion when he wrote earlier in Romans 1 that humans are without excuse when it comes to knowing of God.

This often leads to the question posed by skeptics and believers alike, “But what about residents in uncivilized parts of the world, who have never seen a Bible and have had no missionary visits?”

It is a good question despite the fact that the sentiment behind it is sometimes contemptuous, combative or dismissive.

But the question itself presupposes something about faith and the knowledge and character of God that is not in evidence. If God is real and is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, which by definition He must be for Him to be God, then why would we think that He must rely only on those things with which we, in our limited perspective, are familiar?

Isn't it entirely conceivable that a transcendent Intelligence could choose to make His existence known by other means? He is, after all, outside of time and space and possessed of all power, and is the inventor and manufacturer of human beings in all our wondrous complexity of perception and thought. Must we limit such a Being to merely natural means of revelation?

It would be utterly convenient for the skeptic if we could, but it would be a proposition based on faulty premises.

The truth is that missionaries who have gone into “unreached” portions of the world, have frequently testified that, upon arrival, they have encountered people groups “prepped and waiting for them”, informed by supernatural visions and dreams that God has provided a means of escape from the judgment of sin through His Son. Sometimes these revelations are so detailed that the evangelist finds his or her work already done.

We can disbelieve these reports if we choose, but that is Paul's point. It's a choice of the will to reject the knowledge of God, and if we do so often enough in the light of God's self-revelation in the world and in our hearts and consciences, he will give us over to a debased mind to do those things which are not fitting...

Note where that judgment begins – in the mind, for that is where all sinful doing is birthed.

I have known people so invested in lifelong denial of God that the very mention of Him, and especially of His Son Jesus, causes a disproportionate eruption of hatred and contempt. I was such a one. These individuals are ironically unaware that their intense and vituperative reaction is itself a demonstration of their innate knowledge of His existence. Otherwise, why respond so irrationally at the very mention of His name?

Why not just let us Christians go about living our lives in what is from their perspective, a “delusion of faith”, displaying our Nativities, praying our prayers, and building and attending our churches? Why not just “live and let live”, as long as no one is compelled by threat or harassment to change his or her beliefs?

The truth is that it is impossible to be completely neutral about God's existence. Jesus said that someone is either for Him, or against Him. There is ultimately no middle ground. In the end, you will either accept Him as the way, the truth, and the life, or you will willfully discard Him from your repository of knowledge and die in sin.

So be aware beloved, that when the world (or your relatives or friends or acquaintances, or government officials) hate you, they are hating Him in you. Despite the pain involved, it is a clear affirmation that the Bible is true, for that is precisely what Jesus warned His disciples (see John 15).



When God Gives Up

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 01:26-27, NKJV).

There are several forms of divine judgment described in Scripture. One of these is the punishment of abandonment; when God removes His protection and allows sin, and the deleterious effects of sin, full reign.

This is different from active judgmental intervention by God, and is in some ways more tragic, for it shows how fallen human beings really are, intrinsically. It is never pretty.

In this day and age, modern culture virtually denies that there is such a thing as sexual sin. All manner of sexual activity has been rebranded as “natural” or “normal” that in generations past was considered unthinkable and shameful. The argument that something is good because it is natural has many logical flaws. Most fatal diseases are equally “natural”, and painful death is most assuredly “normal”, but does that make these good?

When God gives humans up to their own devices and fallen impulses, chaos, destruction, and heartache are the inevitable result. It is only when He restrains these “natural” activities that peace and safety are even remotely possible.

Today, promiscuity, homosexuality, adultery and many other forms of sexual sin have been culturally normalized. This is tragic. In consequence, incalculable damage has been done to individuals, families, communities and nations. It is historical fact that when a civilization turns away from God's design for marriage – one man and one woman – the family unit is compromised, and with it, the foundation and cohesion of a nation is destroyed.

While all sin separates man from God, sexual sin is in its own special category for it is something that a man or woman does against his or her own body. It is the literal joining of one person with another, and unless done within the confines that God has ordained, it is always damaging.

This means that any sexual activity outside the boundaries of the marriage bed is sin. Conversely, anything done within those boundaries, in the love of a husband and wife for each other, is honorable and undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). This is both liberating and perfectly sensible, although the world views it as restrictive and dictatorial.

Biologically, monogamous, lifelong heterosexual relationships are conducive to healthier living than their transient homosexual or heterosexual counterparts. Statistically, traditional couples live longer, have more powerful immune systems, and less emotional and psychological stress. These are facts, documented by scientific studies over the years, but the world is increasingly unwilling to judge things based on facts. Emotion is king.

And while it is true that in times past, those guilty of sexual sin suffered terribly at the hands of society, and in some places in the world this is still horribly the case, the remedy is not rampant permissiveness, but loving instruction in the truth.

Women or men stubbornly practicing these kinds of sins, exchanging God's perfect design for their own imagined wisdom, are doing themselves and each other harm. And continuance in these practices is often a sign of God's judgment of abandonment. He gives them up to vile (shameful) passions.

And in this, modern culture is complicit and will be held accountable. Currently, in government schools in this country children are propagandized into thinking that “anything goes” sexually, and that your are “born one way or another”, and can do nothing about it. This is conditioning of the most hopeless kind, taking away all possibility of change. It is an overreaction to harsh condemnatory practices of the past, and is equally destructive. It replaces the possibility of a rewarding, god-honoring life with a prison sentence of fatalistic resignation to the supposed fate of involuntary psychological (not physical) gender identity, as if anatomy was not in the least determinative. This is the arrogant folly of those who, professing to be wise, became fools.

The Bible views all sexual sin equally. Any and all sex outside of a monogamous man-woman marriage relationship is sin. No sinful behavior is beyond God's grace.

So what is the Christian response in today's society?

It is this: immerse yourself in the truth of God. He invented sex, and marriage, and when practiced according to His perfect design, there is no more satisfying or pleasurable way to live. And while we should neither mistreat nor disrespect those who despise us and our Christian beliefs, neither should we compromise on the Bible's clear teaching on sex and marriage.

Sin is sin, and requires the sinner to seek forgiveness and repentance through faith in Jesus Christ. Then He empowers us to change – to be transformed from darkness into light. There is nothing different in that regard with respect to sexual sin. It is a serious and damaging as any other sin, and equally subject to sincere faith's transformative power.

The difference is that today, world opinion is more and more arrayed against all things Christian, especially in regard to sex and marriage. While clearly foretold in the Bible, this turn of events is no less problematic for the Christian attempting to live according to scriptural principles.

This will be harder for you than it was for me, sweet one, as society becomes increasingly godless, but remain steadfast and loving, and do not grow weary in doing good.

We know who wins in the end.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blessed Forever

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 01:24-25, NKJV).

In these two words, “blessed forever”, Paul provides us with the only proper response to God. A perfect way to understand what he means is to look at how the NIV translates it: He is to be forever praised.

God is worthy of our praise, and being honored as God, for all eternity. There is no diminishment over time, there is no reason ever to do less, and it brings to mind the magnificent ways the Bible reveals to us the character and essential nature of our Creator, especially in relation to us, His creatures.

I have listed below just a few of these. Note how and what God is... It is clear why we will praise Him forever. These are things about God that are vital for you to know, and to keep close to your heart, for the world and the enemy will try to take them from you, but they cannot.

God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? - Numbers 23:19

For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. - Deuteronomy 4:24

for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ - Deuteronomy 20:4

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” - Joshua 1:9

God is my strength and power, And He makes my way perfect. - 2 Samuel 22:33

...for our God is greater than all gods. - 2 Chronicles 2:5

...for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.” - 2 Chronicles 30:9

God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered? - Job 9:4

God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day. - Psalms 7:11

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. - Psalms 46:1

For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. - Psalms 47:7

Behold, God is my helper; The Lord is with those who uphold my life. - Psalms 54:4

When I cry out to You, Then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. - Psalms 56:9

I will wait for You, O You his Strength; For God is my defense; - Psalms 59:9

In God is my salvation and my glory; The rock of my strength, And my refuge, is in God. - Psalms 62:7

Our God is the God of salvation; And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death. - Psalms 68:20

My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. - Psalms 73:26

For God is my King from of old, Working salvation in the midst of the earth. - Psalms 74:12

For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. - Psalms 84:11

Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His holy hill; For the LORD our God is holy. - Psalms 99:9

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; Yes, our God is merciful. - Psalms 116:5

The king answered Daniel, and said, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret.” - Daniel 2:47

The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills... - Habakkuk 3:19

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” - John 4:24

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? - Romans 8:31

And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. - 1 John 4:16

In addition to all these magnificent truths, there is one other that never ceases to speak to my heart:

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1, NKJV).

God is not a man and does not lie. He is a consuming fire and is with you wherever you are for all time and beyond time. He is your strength and power and is greater than all gods. He is gracious and merciful, wise and mighty. God is a just and righteous judge, and is, and always will be, your refuge and strength. He is the King of all the earth, and your King. He is your helper. He is for you and will always be your defender. He is your salvation and glory. Only through Him will you escape the bonds of death. He is light and protection. He is holy and merciful. He is your shield and your reward.

He is all these things for you. He loved you so much (He IS love) that He sent His Son to die so that you will live forever.

I want you to know who your God is, beloved, so that no one deceives you with empty words or the futility of the philosophies and imaginations of mere men.



Saturday, December 20, 2014

Creature Worship

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 01:24-25, NKJV).

Rather than acknowledging the truth of a Creator, rebellious humankind have exchanged that truth for “the lie”, and in consequence have inexplicably, and historically, worshiped the work of the Creator (the creature) rather than the Deity whose power is the source and origin of all Causality.

This creature worship includes not only living things, but the planet itself, investing it with attributes of life and consciousness that flies in the face of all demonstrable fact and experience. This break with reality would be labeled insanity in a sane world, but in ours it is termed, “spiritual”.

Know this, when God is purposefully divorced or exiled from our thinking, vacuous irrationality ensues. I know from personal experience.

Gaia (Mother Earth) Worship is an example of this, and is as prevalent today in some circles as it was millennia ago. There are otherwise intelligent men, women and children who have forsaken God, replacing Him in their irreverence with an inanimate, non-living lump of rock orbiting a nuclear furnace.

Certain proponents of AGW (Anthropological Global Warming – the unproven theory that human activity is changing the planet's climate) are unapologetic Gaia Worshipers. Their sometimes unexpressed, but implicit belief system is that Mother Earth would be infinitely better off without human beings (presumably, except for themselves).

The Bible teaches the diametric opposite: that earth was created expressly for humanity and that we are to take dominion over it. Before the Fall in Eden, that stewardship was expressed as Adam “tending” (not exploiting or ravaging) the Garden. The intent was for humans to use their God-given intelligence and abilities to responsibly use planetary resources to maintain and imprint (put a uniquely human stamp on) earthly life.

I can only imagine what this would have entailed without sin having corrupted the plan. Perhaps ancient mythical tales of magnificent and almost magical kingdoms and realms comes closest to what it might have been, but the reality is quite different.

Fallen humanity has taken this directive of dominion and perverted it. Instead of responsible stewardship, there is exploitation, instead of “tending”, there is destroying. So the impulse of Creature Worshipers, while utterly without foundation, is nonetheless understandable. It is an expression of that divinely instilled desire to have the earth be as God intended.

Ironically, while this impulse comes from the Creator, its outworking in this pagan religion is the denial of the very God who made the heavens and earth and all the creatures in it.

There is a profound spiritual principle involved in this outcome, and it's this: the most brilliant human intellect becomes imbecilic without God. And the corollary is this: the most noble human impulse, without God, becomes idiotic.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that this replacement of the Creator with His creature is done through irremediable ignorance. It is willful arrogance and pride. The heavens themselves declare the glory of God, unmistakably. It takes work to look at the complexities of existence and attribute them to time and chance, or to the Universe itself, rather than to a Transcendent Intelligence and Power.

But what alternatives do the pagans or naturalists have? If they let the evidence of Creation speak for itself it can only lead to God, and that is entirely unacceptable.

As Harvard biology professor Richard Lewontin, speaking for the scientific community, famously remarked, “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Note that last remark: we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

And materialism, like Earth Worship, is just another instance of substituting that which is created – in this case matter and energy – for its unfathomable Source.

All this would all be excusable except for two things: one, every human being is endowed with an inherent certainty that there is Something beyond him or herself. This is seen by the innate desire each of us has to worship that something – either imaginary gods, intellect, materiality, or ourselves in some mystical sense. Secondly, God's self-revelation, both through the canvas of existence, and the gift if His Word, leaves us without excuse.

As Paul wrote in a previous verse... Professing to be wise, they became fools.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Lie

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 01:24-25, NKJV).

It is interesting that Paul uses a definite article to refer to a singular falsehood that humankind has exchanged for the truth of God. Whatever outward form of that lie was prevalent 2000 years ago, I believe its essential nature has been the same since shortly after the Fall of Man. It's this: God is not the Sovereign Ruler and Author of Life and Creation.

Today that falsehood is encapsulated in the Theory of Evolution and it has powerful deceptive properties and ramifications. For me, it was the single most significant obstacle to my becoming a believer. Evolution, along with its corollary of Long Ages directly opposed the plain truth of Scripture, especially the foundational book of Genesis.

Do not think that Evolution was invented by Darwin. The first recorded instance of it was by the ancient Greeks centuries before the birth of Christ, and the bedrock of its appeal then and now is Materialism, and Naturalism. Its seductive delusion is that nothing exists that is not material (meaning there is no spiritual realm and therefore no life after death), and the only things that can exist come from Nature (and thus nothing Supernatural – like Deity – is allowed in the picture).

I have discovered in life that these two basic premises, Materialism and Naturalism, actually underpin the unspoken philosophy of many who consider themselves religious. By this I mean that many people who claim to believe in God, hold a kind of unexamined belief, based on their own imaginations and largely materialistic upbringings, that conceives of God as having invented the Universe and then having mostly sat back and let things unwind.

This is Deistic thinking at heart, along the lines of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, with a token mixture thrown in of conditional Supernatural favoritism bestowed by “the man upstairs” upon those He favors. This is not Christianity, and for most purposes of living, is not very far removed from purely Naturalistic Evolution.

And the pervasive Lie, is the same: God is not the God revealed in the Bible, who is the Creator, Judge and Sovereign Ruler over all that is.

Today, most professional scientists are atheistic Evolutionists. It is a virtual prerequisite. And the vast majority of College graduates are, as well. This is in large part due to the fact that The Lie of Evolution is the only thing allowed to be taught in government schools.

Make no mistake, Evolution, with its insistence on Long Ages and Survival of the Fittest, is a philosophy that enables unspeakable evil. It views Life, including human life made in the image of God, as an accident of chance over time, and thus no different in value from any other life.

It facilitates genocide and ethnic cleansing, and what the Nazi's termed “Life Not Worthy of Life”. It makes abortion not only acceptable, but despairingly logical. It gives permission for any and all human behavior because it removes God's transcendent authority completely from all moral equations.

Evolution is a brilliant and effective scheme of the enemy, and plays right into mankind's inherent rebellious hatred of God, and self-justifying pride.

I have heard the following said by “highly educated” men. “The problem with the world is all these religions and all the violence associated with people trying to impose their religious beliefs on others.”

This is demonstrably and historically false, especially within the last 100 years. In reality, far more people have been killed – millions more – by atheistic communist states than all the “religious wars” throughout history combined. Furthermore, in the world today there is only one “religion” that proclaims conversion or death (the ultimate imposition), and that religion is most emphatically NOT true Biblical Christianity.

We will see what this reductionist view of human life leads to more thoroughly in subsequent posts, but know this, it is impossible to logically and consistently believe in the salvation offered through Jesus Christ unless the book of Genesis is understood to be literal history.

To many this is an utterly shocking statement, instantly relegating me to a lunatic fringe of religious fundamentalism, but do not read into my words in the previous paragraph more than their literal meaning. I am not saying that those who deny Genesis but believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are doomed to Hell.

I am saying that their belief in Jesus and the need for Him as Savior is inconsistent with a non-literal view of the origins of the Universe, humankind, and sin as recounted in Genesis. Thankfully, consistency is not a requirement for salvation, only sincere faith in the Person of Jesus Christ.

But consider this as well. It is obvious that Jesus viewed Genesis as actual history. Examine His statements in the gospels about Creation, Adam and Eve, sin and marriage. Consider also the fact of His Deity (a necessary tenet of true Christianity).

If the Lord Jesus rejected The Lie of Evolution, and embraced Special Creation, then so should we.