Sin Is Lawlessness

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” {1 John 3:4 NKJV}

“Sin” is a word we don’t hear in our society much anymore. We hear about whether or not an activity is “socially acceptable.” We hear whether it is “politically correct” or “sensitive” to someone else’s feelings.

What’s odd to me is that people understand the concept of something being legal in our society. Those who ignore the law or violate the law are sometimes referred to as “outlaws” because of their disregard for the law.

However, violations of God’s laws are far more serious because of the eternal consequences. Consider God’s very clear warnings:

  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…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 1:18,32 NKJV}
  • “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  {1 Corinthians 6:9 NKJV}
  • “…I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” {Galatians 5:21 NKJV}
  • “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” {Revelation 21:8 NKJV}

But, what are these things that are so are deserving of such a strict punishment? Only murder? Only the deepest, darkest of evil?

  • “…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. 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. 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;…” {Romans 1:24-31 NKJV}
  • “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” {1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NKJV}
  • “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told [you] in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. {Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV}
  • “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” {Revelation 21:8 NKJV}

Many people, even Christians, are surprised to learn that these condemnations exist in the New Testament. Mostly because they have never heard these passages read from the pulpit or lectern even though they are clearly part of God’s inspired message to His people. And, many have never taken the time to read God’s word for themselves.

God’s law is not changed by what is socially acceptable, politically correct, or what laws are passed in any country.

Will you be lawless outlaw? Or will you abide by the inspired law of God?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

I Thank My God Always Concerning You

“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, [that you may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” {1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NKJV}

In this passage, Paul expresses his thankfulness for the brethren in Corinth. This is not an unusual sentiment for the apostle:

  • “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” {Romans 1:8 NKJV}
  • “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:” {Ephesians 1:15-16 NKJV}
  • “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;” {Colossians 1:3-4 NKJV}

Paul’s thankfulness for the Corinthian brethren was not unique to those brethren. However, it may surprise some to hear Paul’s thankfulness for these brethren considering some other things Paul had to say about this church:

  • They were divided and contentious: “For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s [household], that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.'” {1 Corinthians 1:11-12 NKJV}
  • They were spiritually immature: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual [people] but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able [to receive it], and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where [there are] envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like [mere] men?” {1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NKJV}
  • They were arrogant: “Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power.” {1 Corinthians 4:18-19 NKJV}
  • They were tolerating sexual immorality in the church: “It is actually reported [that there is] sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles–that a man has his father’s wife!” {1 Corinthians 5:1 NKJV}
  • They were taking each other to law: “But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers!” {1 Corinthians 6:6 NKJV}

So, how could Paul be still be thankful for these brethren? The keys are in the text we started with:

  • “The grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus”
  • “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you”
  • “That you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ”
  • “You were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Paul was thankful for the shared relationship in Christ. It was not about his brethren being perfect, but about them being fellow heirs in Christ. His desire for them was that they would reach their full potential in Christ.

Are we only thankful for brethren with whom we share common interests or with whom see as spiritually strong and mature? We should be thankful for all of our brethren and pray for them to reach their spiritual potential in Christ!

Dan Fontenot
(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

I Will Mock When Your Terror Comes

{20} Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. {21} She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: {22} “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. {23} Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. {24} Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, {25} Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, {26} I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, {27} When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. {28} “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. {29} Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, {30} They would have none of my counsel [And] despised my every rebuke. {31} Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. {32} For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; {33} But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.” [Proverbs 1:20-33 NKJV]

Years ago (true story) a family was buying a house. It was an older house and all the appliances were used. The real estate agent suggested that the new owner purchase a home warranty to cover if any of the appliances should break. The purchasers decided that it was highly unlikely that more than one of the appliances would break any time in the near future and thus the cost of the warranty wasn’t justified. As luck would have it, in the first year every major appliance in the house died and had to be replaced. However, now that calamity had struck, it was too late to buy the protection.

What does this have to with Proverbs 1? In this passage wisdom is picture as woman calling out to those who are sure to face trials and trouble ahead:

{20} Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. {21} She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: {22} “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. {23} Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. [Proverbs 1:20-23 NKJV]

However, those who are passing by refuse to stop and take heed:

{24} Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, {25} Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, [Proverbs 1:24-25 NKJV]

How many reasons do we have for not gaining the wisdom of God’s word today?

  • We are too busy.
  • We aren’t having any real problems right now.
  • Our marriages are OK or we aren’t married yet.
  • Our kids are still young or we don’t have kids yet.
  • Things are good at church.
  • We don’t know (or aren’t looking for) anybody to talk to about the gospel.
  • And on and on and on…

But, then calamity strikes:

  • We are stressed out over problems at work.
  • Our relationships with our friends are struggling.
  • We are married to someone who is tearing us down spiritually.
  • Our marriage is falling apart.
  • We can’t agree on how to the raise kids.
  • Our kids behavior is terrible or they have become unfaithful to the Lord.
  • There is strife in the church.
  • I need to talk to a close friend about why what they believe and I don’t know what to say.
  • And on and on and on…

Suddenly, in the midst of the storm we need wisdom, but we aren’t prepared. Now what?

{25} Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, {26} I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, {27} When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. {28} “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. {29} Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD, {30} They would have none of my counsel [And] despised my every rebuke. {31} Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. {32} For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; [Proverbs 1:25-32 NKJV]

Now, it’s too late. It’s too late to board up the windows of a home after the hurricane is blowing rain into the broken windows of the house. It’s too late to buy the warranty after the appliances are broken. And, too many times, it is too late to seek wisdom when the storms of life hit. What was needed to avoid the issues was the wisdom beforehand. Wisdom to…

  • Recognize that spiritual wealth is more important than the wealth of the world.
  • Build relationships and friendships built on a common faith in the Lord instead of the transient pleasures of this world.
  • Not marry someone with different spiritual goals in life.
  • Discover if your spouse will share your views on child rearing and assure those views are built on the principles of God’s word.
  • Raise your children from infancy on the principles of God’s word instead of waiting until their hearts are hardened to serve the devil. (Note: Even children raised correctly can go astray, but too many times the foundation is not laid until far too late.)
  • Set an example of faithfulness, service, and love for children instead of only paying lip service to honoring the Lord in our lives.
  • Study God’s word to have the wisdom to know what is opinion versus what is truth and know when the truth must be defended and when opinion must sacrificed in love.
  • Study God’s word to make our faith our own and not just something we heard at church all of our lives.

The beauty of the advice comes in the final line for those who will seek wisdom ahead of time before the storm hits:

{33} But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil.” [Proverbs 1:33 NKJV]

Will you stop and listen to wisdom’s call before the storm hits and it’s too late?

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

By What Authority?

Authority is  concept that most people understand many situations.

  • Not everyone has the authority to make laws. If we did, chaos would reign because every individual would make laws that benefit themselves. Thus, we have a system of government that is designed to make laws and those who are elected are given the authority by the people to pass laws to govern our society. That authority comes primarily from the constitution of the nation or state as set forth by our founders.
  • Not everyone in a company has the same level of authority. Some have authority to purchase items for the company. Some have authority to make rules of behavior for employees of the company. Some have authority to grant time off for employees of the company. This authority ultimately is granted by those highest up in the company, whether it is the owners themselves in a private corporation or those appointed by the stockholders of a publicly held company.
  • In social organizations such as clubs or charities, there is a chain of authority that is generally established by a charter of some type. Those who lead in these organizations are bound to follow the charter or other guidelines set forth when the organization was created.

In each of the cases mentioned above, those who fail to recognize the ultimate authority in each situation can find themselves facing severe consequences for violating that authority. Most people understand and recognize this. It is part of why we have jails to house criminals and courts to settle civil disputes.

But, this concept of authority is neither new nor unique to the non-religious world. The Jews of Jesus’ day understood the idea of authority. Even more, they understood the concept of Divine authority. We have record of an occasion where they questioned Jesus about this very concept:

23 Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?” [Matthew 21:23 NKJV]

As Jesus so often did, rather than give a simple, straight answer, He took advantage of the teaching opportunity and turned the question back on those questioned Him:

24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 “The baptism of John–where was it from? From heaven or from men?” [Matthew 21:24-25 NKJV]

Jesus’ response is interesting because it only gave them two choices for John’s source of authority: heaven or men. This is the crux of what we need to understand. When we claim we are serving or worshiping God, we must determine by what authority we are engaging in the activity we claim honors His name. Is what we are doing authorized by heaven (God) or men? Note in there reaction that they clearly understood the consequences of each choice:

25 … And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 “But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.” And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. [Matthew 21:25-27 NKJV]

They knew that whatever is authorized by heaven cannot be rejected. However, they had not followed John’s teaching and this would put them in an awkward position. By contrast, if they could justify themselves by saying it was from men. This would make their rejection of John’s teachings acceptable because the authority of men is not binding in spiritual matters. The problem for them was the multitudes. They believed John was a prophet and teaching was from heaven. So they dodged the question and said, “we don’t know.”

Many religious people today dodge the question in various ways:

  • The Bible is too hard to understand, we just can’t know what the truth really is.
  • My church says this is the right the thing to do.
  • This just feels right and I can’t believe God would be displeased with something that makes me feel so good.
  • If certain things in the Bible are true, that means a lot of people are going to be lost.
  • And the list goes on…

Because of the intent to keep these articles relatively short, we are not going to address each of these in this article, but we will in subsequent articles. But think about this as we close and you think about whether or not having authority matters…

  • Could a new hire at a company walk up and fire his boss because he doesn’t like something about her? Why not?
  • Can an employee use company funds for any purpose they desire? Why not?
  • Can a member of a charitable organization with a charter for raising funds for cancer research on their own decide to use the funds for hurricane relief? Why not?
  • Can lawmakers make just any law they want without any regard for the structure of our government? (I know that’s a loaded question when it comes to real life, but in principle?)

Why, if we can understand in every other phase of life, the importance of authority for what we do, is it so hard to understand that we must have authority for what we do to honor and glorify God? Clearly Jesus expected that men could know the difference.

In subsequent articles we will look at…

  • God has clearly revealed His will to mankind and expects man to understand and follow it.
  • The ability to communicate His will to man and expect man to honor it is one of the things that sets God apart from the idols of men.
  • Failure to recognize the authority of God and His revealed will carries significant penalties.

Dan Fontenot

(Note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)

 

Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice…?

“Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice…?” This was the question asked by Pharaoh, king of Egypt, when Moses, God’s chosen leader, approached Pharaoh with the command to let the people of Israel leave Egypt to worship God as He had commanded. This exchange is recorded in Exodus 5:1-2:

1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ ” 2 And Pharaoh said, “Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.” [Exodus 5:1-2 NKJV]

This situation provides an interesting opportunity to look at how God expects men to believe in Him. Many seem to think that He expects people to have a “blind” faith with no proof or evidence. This is just one example that such is not the case. God knew that Pharaoh would not be willing to let the people go and told Moses, “I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go.” (Exodus 3:19-20). But God’s intent was was actually twofold. It is interesting to note that God points out that the events that would follow were not only for convincing Pharaoh and the Egyptians, but also the people of Israel:

And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them. [Exodus 7:5 NKJV] 6 Therefore say to the children of Israel: “I [am] the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I [am] the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” [Exodus 6:6-7 NKJV]

God wanted to clearly demonstrate to both the Egyptians and the Israelites that He was indeed the one, true living God. Let’s look at some of the things He proved through the plagues:

What was the result of God’s demonstration of His power? Pharaoh’s initial reaction was, “Who [is] the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.” [Exodus 5:2 NKJV] Then, after the final plague, Pharaoh’s attitude had changed:

Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, “Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said. [Exodus 12:31 NKJV]

Just as God provided evidence to Pharaoh and the nation of Israel, He has provided evidence from the beginning of time of not only his existence, but His power and knowledge. In another article we we examine in more detail some of the evidences of God in His creation, but for now, consider the following verses:

1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 [There is] no speech nor language [Where] their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, [Psalms 19:1-4 NKJV] 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown [it] to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify [Him] as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. [Romans 1:18-21 NKJV]

God expects all people to have faith in Him, not based on blind acceptance, but because He has demonstrated is power, love and wisdom over and over again since the beginning of time.  Do you believe?

Dan Fontenot

(editor’s note: Verse references are clickable links that will open the verses in context in BlueLetterBible.org)