No Pretenses

Acts of the Apostles 5:4   (NLT)   The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”

Pretense is a serious offense in the Kingdom of God.  Good deeds marred by lies—especially against God’s very own children—can have devastating consequences. Deceiving God’s people is a direct assault on God. God doesn’t take those things lightly.  Acts 5.4 - No PretensesSin of all kinds always has consequences. The consequences may not manifest right away; some wrongdoers may think they’re getting away with it. Consequences—though they may not come immediately, they will come surely.

We better be careful with the words we speak; there is wisdom in thinking before speaking. Believers aren’t invincible when it comes to deception and lies. Others want to appear better than who they really are; they want their work to appear bigger than what they really do. Who doesn’t want to look good, right? Pretense becomes a weapon in accomplishing this. We must be very careful not to be lured into its very superficial benefits.  As believers we ought to be careful in using figures of speech: exaggeration, hyperbole, euphemism, similes, metaphors, overstatements, etc. They are beautiful and creative ways of expressing ideas when utilizing them obviously as that—figures of speech. But the temptation is there to exalt oneself by blurring the line between creativity and reality. We ought to be careful; it will keep us from trouble.

Dear God thank you for being a God of integrity and honesty. You’re not One who lies to us. You are the God of truth. In fact, you are the Truth. We can absolutely depend on You because what You say is what it is. There isn’t a pinch of possibility that You don’t mean what You say, or that You ever deceive us. Help us to be like You in this. May we be people of truth. Let nothing—bribe, greed, envy, jealousy, self-exaltation—lead us to embellishing or twisting reality. We are children of truth—children of light. Help us to live as one, fearless of exposure because we have nothing to hide.

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Punishment for Believers?

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (KJV)   That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.

1 Thessalonians 4:6-7   (NIV)   and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

The context of these verses has to do with sexual sins.  God still avenges or punishes sexual immorality or uncleanness even under the Covenant of grace. He has given straightforward warning regarding this.

Christians ought to be bold and brave in telling the truth as it is. We’re very vocal about grace and God’s forgiveness. And that’s good. But, there are those of us who put on our breaks in declaring that God still deals with disobedience. In dealing with consequences for our sins, we comfortably refer to God’s “discipline,” and that’s true too. But we’d like to avoid any possible consideration that God still has the right to deal with sin. Let’s remember: He has the divine prerogative to punish unbelievers for their sin, and (ready for this) believers for our sins.

Didn’t God punish Jesus for all our sins? Yes He has. But it seems like verses like the ones above tell us that we don’t get a free ride to sinful practices without any consequences. Jesus took all our sins that we may be saved. As saved, let’s watch our steps. Even if God forgives us for lying, or stealing, or sexual impurity, there may be consequences for our forgiven sins that are irreversible. That can be true as well in the spiritual dynamics. Let’s not buy into the lies that purity is evil and harmful and that we ought to just be free in living out all our sexual passions because it is through that that we can really enjoy the fullness of life. Powerful lies that has victimized even believers. Truth: unbridled ungodly sexual passions lead to tragic crashes.

Choose real freedom. Choose punishment-free living. Choose purity.

Dear God, thank You for Your grace and forgiveness and salvation. May our steps be that of the righteous and holy. Many of us have fallen into and excused our ungodly sexual behaviors and practices. Help us to be serious in ridding ourselves of them. Please help us to realize that You will still deal with us – punish us because of our ungodly sexual indulgences. Save us Lord from its power. Or save us Lord from our foolishness, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Death of the Innocent

Luke 23:41  (KJV)   41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

Unlike the traditional religious beliefs, there was really no bad thief and good thief; both of them were thieves and they both started off insulting Jesus. Unlike many who are caught in a crime, they didn’t claim innocence. One of the two thieves crucified with Jesus eventually humbly admitted that they were guilty and thus justly deserving of the crucifixion they were suffering. He also pointed out that unlike them, Jesus was completely innocent. Jesus died for no crime He personally committed. But die for crime, He did. His condemnation, suffering, and death were substitutionary. He died for the sins of the world. 

Thief or not, we’re all guilty of sin. And if we will be humble enough, we ought to admit our guilt and how deserving we are of our sins’ consequences or punishment. Obviously, there is a natural desire to get away with our wrongdoings. There are many of us who would desire to, plan to, and commit sin and not think about the consequences. Worse still, when dealt with the natural result of our foolishness, we ask, “Why me?” But there are those of us who awake to this humbling reality. Thank God because we’re not left without an answer to the dilemma. There is Jesus. He didn’t deserve to die but He willingly did for the very help we need. We need forgiveness from sin. We need salvation. That’s why He came; that’s why He died. He is the Savior.

Dear God our Savior, thank You for Your loving Provision and sacrifice. May we all be honest about our true condition and need. May we all find the wisdom of fully depending on the only One Who gave His perfect life for our salvation. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Love and Marriage: Order

Genesis 34:2-4  (KJV)   And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

Shechem was strongly attracted to Dinah. That attraction turned fatal – not because attraction was wrong; the order, the process was. He first got intensely attracted, then he raped her, then He started dealing nicely with her, then he pursued marriage. His position as a ruler’s son may have made him feel comfortable and entitled to get what he wanted without much thought of order and consequence. His impulsive reaction didn’t help either. He decided with his emotion without due regard to wisdom. It could be legitimately argued that he may not have known that what he did was wrong since he wasn’t an Israelite who had the convicting guidance of God. I may be wrong, but I believe that in reference to objective moral law, rape is a universally recognized taboo. The horrible consequence: death of all the male in his town – including his fathers’ and his – from the vengeful and bloody hands of the girl’s two brothers.

To be in love is wonderful; to be intensely attracted to someone gives us an inexplicable walking in the cloud feeling – especially if the attraction is mutual. But to act according to feelings and our desires mindlessly outside proper boundaries can and will have consequences. And the consequences can be extremely dreadful. We can’t undermine proper order and proper process or procedure. Be in love – great. Instead of passionately jumping straight to bed, it will be very helpfully appropriate to know each other first. When we’ve sufficiently and “safely” known each other and given all the essential aspects considered, pursue marriage. After marriage, consummate that marriage with the most intimate physical expression/s of love. Instead of a curse; it will be a be a blessed attraction and relationship.

Loving Father, may our love and all its expressions be pure. May we show that our love really is love and our actions are not just a shallow expressions of lust presenting itself as a deep and passionate love. You are love. There is nothing improper, disorderly and impure about You. May those we love be assured of love that is true from us, not just through our spoken words, but by the godliness of our actions as well.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.