Archive for May, 2022
“But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).
As if we didn’t have enough “things” in storage bearing testimony to our materialistic lifestyles, unrepentant humanity is also storing up for itself the wrath of God, to be revealed on the day of judgment. “Storing up wrath” is the opposite of storing up treasure in heaven (Mt. 6:20) and, as such, becomes the indicting body of evidence the unrepentant build against themselves. The tragedy is that while the mercies of our Lord can continually be rejected, there is nothing else available for the redemption of humanity.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads your to repentance” (Romans 2:4)?
The divine characteristics of kindness, tolerance, and patience should not be misconstrued as tacit approval, or as a license to continue on in disobedience and rebellion against God. These gracious attributes of the Father are best understood as a window of time for repentance; an opportunity that expires at the final judgment. Being the elect of God is not a promise of exemption; it is, however, the establishment of an expectation of how his people shall then live.
“But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God” (Romans 2:3).
The life we live is relevant in the final judgment of God. In fact, there is no final judgment scene depicted in the entirety of scripture apart from works. This should not be understood as the holding forth of a salvation-by-works theology. “Practice” (v.1,2,3), is the living proof of the genuineness of faith, and the life of Christ dwelling within. We all have this unattractive quality that makes us ignorant of ourselves while being arrogant toward others and our judgment of them. The real danger, however, isn’t our self-ascension to the throne of judgment, but that we do the very things we condemn; thus, bringing condemnation upon ourselves. Practice grace!
“I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4).
A gift received can be easily forgotten or taken for granted. God’s grace, however, is a gift that should have a glaring presence in our daily lives. That we fail, in so many ways, to live up to the standard of faith set before us serves as another confirmation that salvation is, by necessity, God’s doing and not ours. He has accomplished and is accomplishing in us what we could not.
“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand” (Psalm 121:5).
While the term “blindside” is, currently, most associated with football and the need to have a large, athletic left-tackle to offer protection behind a right-handed quarterback, it also captures the watch-care of our Heavenly Father in shielding even the most vulnerable areas of our life. That the Lord is our shade is a metaphor for his protection. In ancient battle the right side was more vulnerable since the shield was held in the left hand. Whether left or right-handed, and no matter what your battle, the Lord has your back.
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their way of life, imitate their faith” (Hebrews 13:7).
If leadership is about influence then the followers of Christ must not withhold their voices from the public square; allowing only secular opinions to be heard. In failing to speak up on matters of faith and practice, most will say, “I prefer to lead by example.” As necessary and vital this might be, it’s not enough. In fact, all we are doing in living our faith is that which we are supposed to do. To only live my faith, but never speak of it, says too much about me and too little about the Savior. If the right voices don’t speak up, the wrong voices will be heard. The result is subverted minds, resulting in perverted behavior.
“And I will put My Spirit within you and will bring it about that you walk in My statutes, and are careful and follow My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27).
In both the Old and New Testament, the expectation is that the people of God will be obedient to the ordinances of God. Just as the banks of a river guide its path, God’s ordinance provides the boundaries that guide Kingdom life. Without banks a river is but a quagmire of stagnation. God, however, does not leave us to the quagmire of our own desires. He has provided principles and precepts that, when followed, fulfill His design and direction for life. Be aware of the cultural voices seeking to eliminate boundaries. In so doing, they are saying there is no Boundary Maker.
Let our voices and actions say otherwise.
“And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).
The evidence of being given over to a depraved mind (v.28) isn’t just sexual deviance (v.26-27), but it is demonstrated in the attitudes and behaviors of envy, greed, gossip, unfeeling, unmerciful, untrustworthy, causing strife, inventing evil, and many more (v.29-31) that are but reflections of what we see in the mirror. It’s a reminder that the line between good and evil isn’t drawn between “us” and “them;” it is a line that runs through the heart of every person.
“For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged natural relations for that which is contrary to nature” (Romans 1:26).
On the three occasions Paul utilizes the verb “exchanged” (v. 23,25,26), it represents the volitional choice of those seeking a way of life according to something other than God’s creative design. When humanity worships the creature rather than the Creator (v.25), the resulting behavior is an exchange of the natural for the unnatural. Paul’s continuing allusion to the creation account, “male and female he created them” (Gen.1:27), points to the “natural,” obvious, visual, anatomical differentiation between male and female, and their complementary roles within God’s design for procreation. Scripture holds forth that human sexuality is not an inalienable right to be expressed as one chooses; that when done outside the prescribed boundaries, it becomes distorted, corrupted, and destructive. What was designed and given by God with fruitful intentions (Gen.1:28) has become a fatal indictment of all (Rom.2:1).
“For they exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen” (Romans 1:25).
In one verse the apostle, Paul, captures the cancerous origin of the sin that plagues humanity; the exchange of worshipping God for the worship of self; a corrupted model that abandons the design of God’s created order; where the object of worship is now the creature rather than the Creator. When finite man supplants the infinite God of creation, to borrow a thought from Luther, we have tied a knot that only a Savior can untie.