To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

Singleness.

All of us either are or have been single. Although, God calls many to be married; He also calls many to be single. To be single is not a second class state. Churches therefore should value everyone in their particular calling. Never, should we pityingly give the impression to single people that one day they will find Mr Right or Miss Right and then everything will be fine. Let us look then at this calling to singleness.

The LORD Jesus

Let us remind ourselves that the only perfect life lived on earth was by a single man. Our Saviour was sinless in all His ways and lived as such without ever being married. Immediately then we realise that singleness is not a second class state to be in.

Also the LORD had close relationships with both men and women. We remember the family in Bethany who welcomed Him to their home; Martha, Mary and Lazarus. His twelve disciples shared in His ministry and developed a closeness to Him. The world around us leads us to think that any close relationship must have a sexual element to it. This thinking is wrong and single people should be encouraged to cultivate close and wholesome relationships. The relationship of David to Jonathan is an example of this.

Purity

The life of our LORD Jesus reminds us that it is most wonderfully possible to live a life of purity in the sight of our God. The calling to singleness is also a calling to sexual purity. Paul could say that to Timothy keep yourself pure (1 Tim. 5:22b) and that should be the desire of all that all single. The Lord in His Word prohibits sex outside of marriage and we fall into sin if we fail in this area. Single people who are “courting” before marriage should be particularly be aware of this. Sex is for marriage and nowhere else.

Freedom

Many think that if only they were within the security of a marriage relationship then they would be really free. However, Paul says effectively that the reverse is true in 1 Cor. 7:32b-34 An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs – how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world – how he can please his wife – and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world – how she can please her husband.  Here Paul is showing that the unmarried person is advantaged over a married person in that they are free to devote themselves to their LORD. A married person has legitimate obligations to fulfil which mean that their freedom in rendering service to their God is to a degree hindered.

Of course herein there is a challenge to the unmarried to make sure that they use their extra freedom profitably. So easily we fritter away the time we have available to serve our LORD.

Relationship

One of the great things that an unmarried person can miss is that of having a close relationships to another individual. However, one of the great things about being a Christian is that we have a relationship with our Eternal Father God in heaven. Satan would want to persuade the single person that they are lonely and missing out in living a fulfilled life. We should fight against these lies. The Lord is our faithful companion who has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Paul knew something of this wonderful enduring relationship and could say towards the end of his life when facing trial that At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength (2 Tim. 4:16-17a). People will let us down; even the very best of them. However, the LORD will never let us down. How amazing it is that we have such a great God.

(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of December 2004).

Church Newsletter

Here is our church newsletter for December 2017. It contains an article on conviction of sin.

Paddington 2.

I went to see Paddington 2 with my son, Daniel, on Monday.

One observation I had subsequent to going was the film’s desire to prove the point that there is something good in everyone. Obviously to be a proper film it had to have some baddies and goodies. But there seems a desire to make sure we knew that all have redeeming features.

This was particularly brought out when we saw the baddy, who had been put in prison suddenly emerge out of the end-of film credits, leading a song-and-dance routine in the prison and altogether making it a better place for everyone. We had to be informed that he was not so bad after all.

This all reminds me of the words from Paul McCartney in the song “Ebony and Ivory” which he performed with Stevie Wonder:

We all know that people are the same wherever you go.
There is good and bad in ev’ryone.
We learn to live, when we learn to give.
Each other what we need to survive, together alive.

I am particularly thinking of the line” there is good and bad in ev’ryone”.  And I do not want to downplay the kindness and self-sacrifice that can even appear in the life of the most unruly.

However, the biblical picture is somewhat different. All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Is. 64:6). This is the view of Scripture. Even our best stuff is contaminated by our uncleanness.

So we do not need to be patted on the back about our goodness. Rather we need to know our goodness it not as good as it seems. We need a Saviour.

By the way the film was OK. Solid family entertainment. A little predictable perhaps though!

Self-Justification.

I was responsible for a minor catastrophe this morning; I burnt the porridge. It was like this. I had a few moments before going out for some exercise, so I thought I would be clever and start cooking some porridge so that it would be well on its way to being ready to eat for when we returned.

After being out for awhile it came to my mind that I could not be sure whether I had turned off the gas on the hob or not. I came back post-haste to find a gurgling morass on the stove and a smoke filled kitchen and living room. Forthwith I sought to deal with the damage.

And then I had to face the family and in particular my wife, May Lin.

What shocks me in retrospect is the ease with which self-justification reared its head in my heart. I started to look for other circumstances or people to blame. Shocking really given that I was completely culpable. But was I? Yes of course I was. I had failed to turn the hob off. I had forgotten. I had caused the whole mess.

So I did apologise to one and all and confess that I was wrong.

But what had gone on in my heart still sobers me somewhat. So the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 remains.

The heart is deceitful above all things
    and beyond cure.
    Who can understand it?

Oh Lord deliver me from myself and my waywardness. i need you.

 

 

Problems And Solutions.

We breathe in the air of secular humanism constantly in the West. It is the dominating philosophy and we as Christians are relentlessly exposed to its insidious teachings. Continually, we are told that God either does not exist or if He does He is not relevant. The message is that it is material goods and possessions which are vital in determining our welfare. 

In such an atmosphere, all issues are viewed from a resource perspective. So governments are continually responding to matters by ‘throwing money’ at them. Politicians prove their success in dealing with a situation by how much resource has been put into a situation.

Having imbibed this culture we so easily follow suit in how we deal with matters in church. Accordingly, we look to bring blessing through bringing resources. Now, this of course has its place. Taking food resources to an impoverished family is going to bring blessing.

However, the reality is that the core problems of humanity are not to do with resources but to do with relationship. We were created to live in relationship with God and with other human beings. So much of the collapse of our society is to do with relationship breakdown. This may be on a macro scale when many people believe themselves disenfranchised from achieving in society. Or at a micro level with marriage and families in breakdown.

Resources do not rectify these breakdowns. There needs to be something deeper. It is only the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that can ultimately touch these issues and bring healing. When people are returning to a relationship with God then relationships with others start to heal.

Unthankful.

Everything starts to go wrong at the point of thanksgiving. Or rather the point of becoming unthankful. As God’s creatures we are beneficiaries of His goodness in so many ways. As a result it is only proper that we respond with thanksgiving to the God who provides for us with the air we breathe, food, clothing, families, education, water, parents, doctors and so much more. Our humanity is fully displayed when we are living in gratitude to God all the time. Hence, when we start to be unthankful we start to dehumanise.

In the light of this it is interesting to see where the rot of humanity set in in Romans 1:21-32, it began to seep in. It started as follows as recorded in Romans 1:21: For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. It started with a refusal to give thanks to God. From there all the other degeneracy of the latter part of Romans 1 developed. When God is no longer acknowledged for who He is then moral anarchy tends to ensue. Such a degeneration starts to manifest when people are no longer thankful to God for his good provisions. And terrible it is when they will not thank Him for the gift of his Son who came to bring them salvation.

The Christian, though, is not of this ilk; he is of a different kind. The Christian follows the pattern of David and says: I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds (Ps. 9:1). Thanksgiving should be the default position for God’s people. So we should follow Paul’s injunction  Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus ( 1 Thess. 5:16-18)

Adam And The Gospel.

We can never fully grasp the immensity of the cataclysmic events that unfolded in Genesis 3. We begin the chapter with a harmonious earth beautifully ordered, with man and woman taking their place obediently in their realm before God. We end the chapter with sin on the march, all creation under judgement, everything bearing the marks of the curse and man barred from the garden of Eden.

In the midst of all this chaos we find there is gospel hope. There is hope of a better day. It first comes with the promise in v15 and is found in these words of the Lord God to the snake (Satan).

And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.’

The seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, will have His heel struck and so will be brought to the cross. But in that cross He will crush the head of Satan and render him powerless.

This is the only bright word amidst the devastation, ensuing from the fall, that was all around him. And yet in v20 we read Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. Logic would determine that he must call her the mother of all the dying, because that is what prevailed all around. There was no life in sight. And yet, hanging on to the promise of v15, he, in faith, declared her to be Eve. He asserted that God would bring life through the crushing of Satan. Thereby he named her to be the mother of the living. This is amazing faith.

In v21 we see two further critical ingredients of the message of the gospel. In v7b we read how, consequent to the fall,  Adam and Eve realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. However, this was to no avail in being a proper cover. In v21 we read how God made garments for them. Before the fall there was no need of any garments because everything was pure and there was no shame. The fall brought shame and Adam and Eve knew they needed to be covered up. The need for coverings, whether they be fig leaves or skins, testify to the fact of mankind in sin. The wearing of garments by ourselves is a continued reminder that we are sinners. The coverings are an ongoing testimony to the reality of sin and us being sinners.

We also learn in v21 that the giving up of the life of another is necessary for a suitable covering to be made so that we can be acceptable with God. The coverings of v7 prove to be useless because they were man-made. But then the God-made (and provided) coverings of v21 were entirely sufficient. In the providing of these garments we see a foreshadowing of the ultimate giving up of life and shedding of blood to provide a covering for others when our Lord Jesus died on the cross. There he provided a coat of righteousness to all who believe.

So there is the gospel. The promise, faith, sin and the substitutionary offering. All this reminds us of our need of Christ and the provision of salvation in Christ.

 

 

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