Posts Tagged With: sin

Listen to God

“Has God indeed said?” These are the very first words spoken by Satan as recorded in Genesis 3:1. They were words not intended to question what God had said, but to manipulate and twist what God had intended in an effort to cast doubt on His love. To clarify, God’s original statement to Adam was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16). Yet when Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t go to Eve and try and deny that God spoke those words, he just mischaracterized them. He used the very scriptures God had spoken, but he completely twisted what He had said. Cunningly, he questioned whether God had really meant what He had said to Adam. “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).

When Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden, Satan used God’s own words intended for love and protection and distorted them into a negative prohibition designed to cast doubt on God’s graciousness. He effectively misrepresented God’s words, which led Adam and Eve to question God’s love for them. Thus, he was able to substitute the truth with his own lie and got Adam and Eve to believe God was holding something back from them. Through his deceptive ways, Satan took God’s positive invitation to eat from every tree, misquoted the Bible, and then turned those elements of truth into a justification for sin; “What a snake!” you might say. No pun intended.

As the story progresses, Adam and Eve having now sinned before God for eating the forbidden fruit, felt shame and tried to hide from the Lord. But as any loving father, God called out to them, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). As the Bible states, God is an omnipresent God; He’s “All-Knowing.” Therefore, God wasn’t calling out to them because He didn’t know where they were. But His intention was for Adam and Eve to confess what they had done so they could make things right. For God cannot forgive a sin that has not been confessed. Yet this is how many Christians live their lives today.

Have you ever played hide-and-go-seek with a small child? They are so innocent that you can go show them a hiding spot, go back to the tree and begin counting, and what will they do… they’ll literally go hide in the exact spot you just showed them. That’s what it is like when we try and hide from God. Just like in the case of Adam and Eve, God wasn’t looking for them for He already knew where they were. He was looking for them to confess. And like Adam and Eve, when we sin, God already knows what we’ve done and where we are.

Unfortunately today, Satan is still up to his old ways. Now instead of the Garden of Eden, he has infiltrated our pulpits. And once again he has manipulated God’s Word and twisted it into a wayward version of the truth. He has created an epidemic that has saturated the American church for the last twenty to thirty years. It’s an epidemic of “Perverted Grace.” As John Bevere states, “The grace taught and believed by many of our churches is not real grace, but a perversion of it. This is the result of overemphasizing the goodness of God to the neglect of the fear of him” (Bevere 95). When the doctrine of love and grace is overly emphasized and not balanced with the doctrine of obedience and repentance, what we see in the American church today is the result. And it is an error of God’s perfect plan for our lives.

We have “Changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). Yet even more frightening, is that while we are still listening to Satan’s old lie, “Has God indeed said?” now we have become even bolder in our disobedience. Unlike Adam and Eve, many Christians today are not even trying to hide their shame and sinful ways anymore. Where Adam and Eve once feared and hid from God, we now see man making brave statements like, “God is my friend, He understands my heart” or “I love Jesus, He’s gonna forgive me anyway, so what’s your problem?” This false sense of grace and goodness has led to “sin rationalization.” A rationalization by which sin is not repented of, but stemming from a group of “Cultural-Christians” that filters “God’s Word and commands through their own culturally influenced thinking” (Bevere 22). And as sin is more rationalized, a false sense of security occurs within the believer. The person trapped in the bondage of sin begins to convince themselves that since they haven’t been caught or punished, then God must be okay with it. But know this, as God showed when looking for Adam and Eve, He is never okay with sin. And no matter how you try and rationalize your actions, God says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

I’m often amazed at people that think they are fooling God. They will know that a specific scripture states something is sinful, yet they will try and use a scripture that is taken out of context and try and condone that sinful nature. They will use a scripture like “Love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). There are two things wrong with this statement. First, it says love covers over, it doesn’t say love covers up your sins. Secondly, when people use this verse, and I have had it used on me, they fail to realize that the verbiage states a multitude of sins, it does not say ALL. If this is you, STOP! You are not fooling anyone, and you are surely not fooling God. If you believe that the Bible is the ‘Infallible Word of God,’ then you can’t believe for a second that it will show you it’s okay to sin. In fact, His Word confirms, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:13-14). It’s that same lie from the devil cropping up all over again…

God doesn’t want your excuses, He just wants YOU. Now don’t get me wrong, God’s plan for your life is not some rigid pathway based upon unrealistic performance in order to receive His blessing. Actually the Bible says all of God’s laws are about righteousness and peace. By righteousness it’s referring to the blessing of things working out right. But it’s not talking about a rigid type of righteousness that if you do one small thing your salvation is at stake. However, it is asking you to do your part. And that begins by His call to alignment. Aligning ourselves with His Word, His ways, and His law. Maybe your sitting there thinking, “Well that seems pretty rigid, and pretty narrow.” The Bible says that, “The gateway to life is very narrow” (Matthew 7:14). But believe me, it’s not saying that you are just creeping along two narrow walls hoping to get by. God provides us with enough elbowroom to maneuver in. We’re not confined in some straightjacket that makes it impossible to move around. But He does want us to follow His desires. It’s learning to understand that we can’t decide to do whatever we want and expect that things will always work out because they seem right in our own eyes.

In His Word, the Lord has provided guidance, and it clearly shows that God has pointed out the limits. And that’s what He ultimately wants from you… To live life to it’s limits! But to do this, you’re going to have to do your part. God intends for each one of us to use our own judgment, our gifts, our talents; He was the one that gave those things to us. Furthermore, He didn’t set these limits as a way to control your fun. His Word simply points out these limits and says, “Don’t go past this limit, because when you do, things will begin to deteriorate, and life will get a lot messier.” Yet it never fails, there are always those who try and put God to the test. They go about life saying, “Well I think I can navigate through that. I’m an adventuress soul.” And to you I say, “Well lot’s of luck. Go ahead and make the attempt.” Because no matter how long you seem to manage on your own, remember judgment delayed is not judgment denied, and eventually there always comes the place of the back firing.

If you are reading this and feel as if you’ve been allowing Satan to whisper to you, “Has God indeed said?” I want you to fear not. The Bible says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To “confess” means “to agree with.” So when we confess our sin, we are agreeing with God and His ways. Take the time to pray and humble yourself before the Lord. Let Him know that you repent of your sins and no longer wish to try and hide from Him in the Garden. Just like Eve, you too have a choice. You can either continue listening to the master of all lies, or you can finally reject him and just Listen to God. 

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Works Cited:
Bevere, John. The Fear of The Lord. Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006. Print.

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Categories: Daily Living, Forgiveness, The Church | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Never Said at a Funeral… But Christians are Thinking it

The passing of a loved one marks a very difficult time for those who are experiencing a loss of a beloved family member or friend. As a pastor, I have attended more than my share of funeral services. These vary from the most conservative Christian ceremonies, to the ceremony that God is never even mentioned. However, it seems that no matter what the setting, I’m assured to hear one statement being tossed around more than any other. You know the one, that infamous, “Well, at least they’re in a better place.” Brushing all political correctness aside, let’s be honest, if you’re a Christian who knows God’s Word you’re not really thinking that when someone makes that claim about an unbeliever. Let me paraphrase what most of us our actually thinking, “You’re loved one is eternally burning in a lake of fire, tormented day and night, with no escape.”

Now that statement may seem brash to some reading this. But the fact is, it’s the truth! The Bible states two very important facts about Hell. First, Hell is conscious torment. It is described as a “Furnace of fire…where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50). And its inhabitants, “Will be tormented with fire and brimstone” (Revelations 14:10). Second, Hell is not some temporary weekend stay at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons. The Bible says that Hell is eternal and irreversible. “The smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night” (Revelation 14:11). “Anyone’s name not found written in the book of life, will be thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Unfortunately, conventional wisdom has interceded and watered down biblical truth. Atheists and agnostics aside; the majority of people if asked today what happens when they die believes in the good person/bad person consequence. The belief that when you die, you will stand before God, and as long as you’ve done enough good things that outweigh the bad things, then you get into Heaven. Because only good people go to Heaven, and Heaven is for good people, right? On the flipside, the belief also asserts that if you’ve done enough bad things, which outweigh your good ones, then you will go to Hell, because Hell is only for bad people. Essentially the belief is: Heaven is for good people who get in by doing good things, while Hell is for bad people who have done too many bad things.

Almost everyone believes they are good person… but the real question you should be asking yourself is Am I good enough to get into heaven? How do you know? The Bible says that each one of us, “Will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Romans 14:10). If this philosophy is true, then by who’s standards are you measuring your eternity? God’s Law is the Ten Commandments. And even Mother Teresa herself said she was unable to keep them. So ask yourself this. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever stolen… anything? What about that hot guy or girl you see at the gym… ever lusted over them? Then you assuredly have broken one of these; and these are only 3 of the 10 Commandments. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Well compared to some people I’m a saint.” But the standard which we are measured against is God’s Law; not other people’s. Take for instance if you’ve sinned just once a day in your life. That’s 365 sins in one year. If you live to be 80, you will have broken God’s Law 29,200 times. And you will have to answer to God for each one of these sins you have committed. If breaking God’s law just once keeps you from going to Heaven, do you think that being a good person is going to help you now?

I once knew a friend who was raised in a Christian home. And all though brought up well, rebelled against God for most of his life. Often I would try and have a serious discussion about life or it’s meaning, and whether he understood God and His plans for our afterlife. To this I was always met with him saying, “I don’t want to talk about it.” One day God impressed upon my heart that I needed to go minister to him again. So I went to see him and said, “I want to talk to you about the meaning of life and what happens after we die.” Once again I got, “I don’t want to talk about it.” This time I said, “No today, we are going to talk about it.” And we finally got to really talk about life and God’s plan for us. As a result, He committed his life to the Lord. It was only a month later that He was unexpectedly killed in a tragic car accident. I am so glad that while the conversation was not an easy one, I didn’t take “no” for an answer that day.

A funeral is a time when man comes face to face with their own mortality… and morality. While you may think you are doing the right thing by stating politically correct words of condolence; you are actually doing them an eternal disservice. I’m not saying that we need to confront people at their weakest moments with in your face comments like; “Sorry to tell you, but Johnny is burning in Hell.” To be honest, once a person is gone, the Bible does not say that those left behind can pray their loved ones back into Heaven. But we should be using it as a time to aid those who still have a chance.

The Bible is clear, everyone will exist eternally either in Heaven or Hell (Matthew 25:46, John 5:28). And each one of us will become responsible for which one of those places we eventually wind up in. Still think that if you’re a “good person” you’ll just squeak by into heaven? This way of thinking is completely inconsistent with what the Bible teaches. On the contrary, the Bible tells us that Hell has been prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41); it was never prepared for bad people at all. Likewise, Heaven is the dwelling place of the Godly. When you stand before God and He makes the decision if you get into Heaven or are cast down into Hell, His deepest concern is not whether you were good or bad. The pressing question on God’s mind will be, “Did you believe in My Son Jesus Christ?

The assurance that we will go to Heaven because we are a “good person” is not as our culture often tries to convey. Our assurance lies within the pages of the Bible and what God teaches; not man. It a Son question—not a Sin question. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Good News is that it is never too late. Even if you have lived a sinfully wicked life up to this point, all you need to do is call out to the Lord Jesus Christ in genuine repentance, and you will be assured a place in Heaven.However, if you are still living in a cloud of disbelief that you are relatively a “good person” who lives morally and does good deeds, yet have never put your faith in Jesus Christ, then you will not go to Heaven. Oh and by the way, there is no measurement of good works that would ever outweigh your bad works in God’s eyes. I’m so thankful that’s not what we’ll all eventually be judged by.

Maybe you’re sitting here reading this saying to yourself, “I’ll get right with God one day.” Well, what happens if you’re like my friend I spoke of earlier and are killed in a tragic car accident on your way to work? The Bible says, “Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Are you really willing to put your eternal salvation into the hands of a day that has not yet been promised?

Make the commitment right now! Now with all your heart, turn away from your sin, and surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Please don’t put it off. You may die today and then it will be too late. Put your faith and trust in Him today. God doesn’t want you to go to Hell. And neither do you want to go there; so confess your sins to God right now, put your trust in Jesus to save you, and you will pass from death to life. When your day comes, won’t you be glad that you know you are going to Heaven; rather than hoping you’ve done enough good deeds?

In closing, I know that death is a topic that many try to avoid; likewise, the reality about a person’s salvation. And it’s even harder when it’s a family member. Maybe you don’t know how to lead someone to Christ; or don’t know what to do yourself. Look, it’s not some big spectacle at a church where it needs to take place. Your eternal security can be changed, right here… right now as you read this. And it begins by praying something like this to God:

“Dear God, today I turn away from all of my sins (name them). This day I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. He is the only way for me to be saved. He is ‘The way, the truth, and the life.’ Please forgive me, change my heart, and grant me Your gift of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

If you’ve taken the time to say this prayer I would like to congratulate you for making the commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Your obedience to God is proof of your love for His Son. From here you should go out and find a good church to help you grow. Don’t wait for an invite; iIf you have questions, call a local church and ask to speak to a pastor. The decision you have just made is not taken lightly, and it comes with eternal rewards. As the Bible says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). For now when that day comes and people are speaking about you at your funeral, and someone says, “Well, at least they’re in a better place;” you have the knowledge of knowing… you really are.

If you’ve made the decision to commit your life to Christ or have questions, please use the contact me form at http://pastordodd.com/about/contact-me/ to reach out and let me know.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Salvation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Kirk Cameron Under Fire… Again

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19). As many of us know, actor Kirk Cameron has transformed himself from the one time 80’s teen-beat idol, to one of today’s most out-spoken evangelical leaders. Just months after coming off the heels of a firestorm of sorts in which Cameron made comments about homosexuality being “Destructive” during an interview on Piers Morgan Tonight; it seems Cameron is now being brought under fire once again.

Recently, NOM (The National Organization for Marriage) named Kirk Cameron as “one of America’s most important champions of marriage.” To accompany this honor, NOM released a video on their website in which Cameron is shown speaking during an interview about the importance of preserving traditional marriage in the United States. Already, this interview has seemed to re-spark the debate against GLAAD and Cameron from months past; even finding media sources and bloggers alike to return to their keyboards in an attempt to revisit the Piers Morgan interview.

Ever since I read the controversy surrounding the Piers Morgan/Kirk Cameron interview, one statement that was made has always left me scratching my head. In their response to Cameron’s interview, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) attacked Cameron saying, “Cameron is out of step with a growing majority of Americans, particularly people of faith who believe that their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be loved and accepted based on their character and not condemned because of their sexual orientation.” As I read this, I was left asking myself one question. To say people of faith believe in the gay agenda makes me wonder what Bible are they reading? We who call ourselves “Believers” accept the Bible as the Infallible Word of God, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Therefore, if a person claims to be a Christian, they must accept God’s Word as truth. While times may change and people become desensitized to social issues, the Bible is clear; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

As Christians, sin is to be hated; there is no excuse for looking the other way or taking it lightly. There are many sinful acts that occur in all of us. And people who try and place homosexuality as a sin higher than any other are just out right wrong. Nowhere in the Bible does it describe homosexuality as a “greater” sin than any other. All sin whether it is theft, murder, dishonesty, or adultery; it’s still offensive to God. Homosexuality is just one of the many things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that will keep a person from the Kingdom of God. Therefore, we are called to love all sinners by being faithful in witnessing to them of the forgiveness that is available through Jesus Christ.

If we call ourselves followers of Christ, then we know that the truest act of love is treating someone with respect and kindness even though he/she knows you do not approve of their lifestyle or their choices. Looking the other way is not loving in the eyes of God. We are not called to allow a person to remain stuck in sin. Therefore, “We will speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). While people may stand upon their soapbox claiming Kirk or any other follower of Christ is judging or intolerable to the homosexual lifestyle, understand, it is not hateful to speak out against sin. In fact, the exact opposites are true. We as Christians are called at all times to love the person sinning. But as for the sinful acts, we must refuse to condone, ignore, or excuse them. Kirk Cameron’s remarks are not only biblically accurate, but in my opinion, refreshing in a day and age where Lukewarm Christianity is becoming socially tolerant.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

Categories: Marriage and Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unpardonable Sin

Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and the account surrounding the “Fall of Man.” They are also aware that God came to this earth in the form of Jesus Christ and paid the ultimate price to free us from our sins. Unfortunately there are those who believe that all sins have been pardoned by Christ’s death and therefore believe “once saved, always saved.” Yet, in the confines of sin, there is a sin that God Himself considers “unpardonable.” With respect to the Bible, can we unknowingly disqualify ourselves? When looking at scripture one finds that the book of Hebrews states, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance” (Hebrews 6:4-6). Therefore, can man lose their salvation? This answer depends on three differing positions. First, the view of the non-believer who outright denies Christ existed. Second, those who have heard the Word of God yet do not necessarily accept it. And third, those who accept the truth, yet still turn away from Christ’s sustaining and redemptive grace.

Today, society is representative of cross-cultural social acceptance. It is no wonder that many exist who may have heard the Word of God conveyed to them at times, and even professed a sense of faith, but not accepted Christ’s true saving grace. In essence they are non-believers. These people reject the belief that Christ came to this earth and paid for our sins. This is viewed as the intentional rejection of the salvation that Christ provides to man. “Such impenitence, if it continues throughout a person’s life, will lead to eternal separation from God because of the unwillingness to turn from sin” (Thorsen 159). And while many may elect to believe that this rejection is simply a singularly act of defiance. “It is crucial to recognize that the unforgivable sin is not a single act but a continuous, ongoing rejection. Anyone who has committed this sin would have no desire in this life to repent and believe in Jesus” (Hanegraaff 22).

Next, there is a link between Hebrews 6:4-6 and the parable that Jesus conveys in Mathew 13:2-23. This parable reflects one of a crop and soil that relates to a person receiving the Word, but due to their non-acceptance, is not essentially saved. In the eyes of the Lord, this is rebellion. As Thorsen warns, “Ongoing rebelliousness may, in fact, result in hardness of heart – a recalcitrance – that reduces a person’s ability to recognize and repent from sin” (Thorsen 159). In the confines of this rebellion, the unpardonable sin is looked upon as a sin that is developed over time; it is not a sin that one commits impulsively. It advances from ones opposition of the Holy Spirit, into a denial against Him. The final result is the permanent rejection of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, which results in the unpardonable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

The final approach that I feel takes on the most understanding is found in Hebrew 6:6, “If they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Hebrews 6:6). The key words here are “fall away.” “Those believers who adhere to the notion of eternal security have often suggested that the ones who are described as “falling away” were not really true believers” (Powers). As I Timothy 4:1 attests, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1). “The terms ‘fall away’ or ‘falling away’ means: ‘To fall away; to turn away; to commit apostasy. To turn aside; to deviate’” (Jackson 7). As such, the term “falling away” is not addressing those who are considered “backsliders.” On the contrary, this is a deliberate act to turn away from Christ and reject the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. These people are viewed in the same confines of those described in Hebrews 6. They were turning away from their faith and from the very salvation that Jesus provides.

In the confines of ministry context, I believe that there is substantial evidence to support the truth behind ones ability to lose their salvation. A good starting point is to convey the message of Mark, “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29). This passage seems to be very clear; the only true way that one can lose their salvation is if they choose to deliberately make the effort to do so. Furthermore, “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). As scripture confirms, contrary to popular belief, losing ones salvation is not done by accident. Thus, believers do not have to worry about inadvertently losing their salvation by a mere slip or indiscretion.

In summary, although the term “unpardonable sin” is not found in the Bible, there is one sin repeatedly described as “eternal,” and that is the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately there is much misinformation surrounding this unpardonable sin. As one has learned, it does not occur in one single act of defiance or rebellion. “It is the intentional and persistent rejection of salvation offered through God’s Holy Spirit. Truth be told, when one intentionally, with full knowledge, chooses to ignore the cautions provided by scripture and the Holy Spirit, they are leaning toward committing the unpardonable sin. Their decision to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is considered a “willful” act. And as such, this blasphemes the work of our heavenly Father and constitutes being cast away into the eternal flames of damnation.

Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time…

Pastor Steve

 

Works Cited:
Hanegraaff, Hank. The Bible Answer Book. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2004. Print.

Jackson, Michael. “Sins for Which There is No Pardon.” Nlag.net. 2011. Web. March 30, 2011.

Powers, Daniel G. “Observations from Hebrews 5-9.” Online.nbc.edu. 2009. Web. March 30, 2011.

Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.

Categories: Judgement | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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