Guilty as charged

I agree with what Selwyn has written – that basically no one is ‘good’; all have sinned and have fallen short of the standard which God demands. In Romans 3:10; we read: “There is no one righteous, not even one … ”

In Luke 18:19, we hear Jesus say to a rich, young ruler: ‘ “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.” ‘

There is no one, who has ever lived – who can say: “I’ve never lied, never been angry, never looked at another lustfully, never wanted what I could not have – I have always loved God perfectly.”  The issue is that we must measure ourselves against God’s perfect standard, and not compared ourselves to the sinful ‘average’ of this world.

As Selwyn concludes: “We must accept responsibility for our sin before we can know the joy of deliverance from it.”

To accept our sinfulness is to realise that we are lost and need to be found and saved – to accept and take responsibility for our sinfulness is the first step to accept God’s salvation.

A world indictment

Selwyn’s verses for reading and meditation, come from Paul’s letter to the Romans 1:24-32 (NIV): ” …  Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;  they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.  

Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. … ”

You may hear at times, various people trying to downgrade the meaning of Paul’s words – but there is no room for misunderstanding what he is saying.

In short, the people who do not have a moral/ethical compass – those people who live as if there is no God, eventually reach the point where Paul’s words apply. That is – if God is not directing your life then Satan is in full control of your heart.

In my Western culture – Selwyn’s introduction especially applies: ‘Not many people in today’s world are willing to face up to God’s moral and ethical question – “What is this you have done?” ‘

Those people who have been placed in positions of (church) leadership carry the added responsibility of ensuring that they teach what’s in Scripture; and, they must not attempt to minimise God’s Word by saying: ‘Times have now changed from when Paul wrote – we need to re-intrepret what he wrote, in the light of today’s culture’.  God’s Word will never change – it will be ‘in effect’ right up to the time when our Lord Jesus returns. 

As Selwyn says: “Special rebuke is reserved for all those who positively approve of the practice of things condemned by God.” For example, any church minister who calls on God to bless a relationship, which is clearly forbidden in Scripture – will fall into the hands of an angry God – if, they don’t turn away from their lies, repent and seek forgiveness.  

Your views?

The heart of the matter

I’m finding that there are a number of people who call themselves Christians – followers of our Lord and God, Jesus. Who have a good intellectual knowledge of Christianity, and some understanding of what’s written in Scripture but who have not yet allowed Jesus to take completely over their hearts.  Their head knowledge of God is evident; but the lack of love in their lives and the evil they hide in their hearts also shows in their lives.

The key verse for today’s study, Matthew 15:19:For out of the heart come; evil thoughts, murder (anger), adultery, sexual immorality (lust), theft, false testimony and slander (gossip).” Just thinking evil, sexual thoughts results in the same consequences for the person as the actually undertaking of the associated actions. It also demonstrates the lack of a strong, loving relationship with Christ. 

Selwyn writes: “To read the third chapter of Genesis is like looking in a mirror. We see that what went on in the hearts of Adam and Eve is going on in our own hearts. Do you recognise the tendency of your own heart to avoid the questions God asks with a view to helping you mature; the tendency to run and hide when you have ignored or broken one of His laws, the desire to blame other people when you have done wrong? … When we turn away from God, we turn away from all that is meant for our good.”

I think that we all try to minimise our personal ‘blame‘ in regard to our sinful thoughts and actions; and, to maximise the ‘made me do it’ aspect; in regard to the  involvment of Satan, other people and circumstances.

There is a day coming, and it will soon be upon us – when we will stand before Jesus, and only be able to speak the truth about our lives. Don’t allow it to be the only time that you ever do it!

The prayer for today is worth repeating: “Father, I hear echoes of what went on in Eden in my own heart. I’ve laid things on others and blamed them for my difficulties. I am to blame for what I am. But, no useless regrets. I about-face. I repent. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

The choice is ours …

Selwyn now looks at the third question God puts to Adam and Eve, in this case one directed to Eve. The question was this: “What is this you have done?” (Genesis 3:13).

God knows what Eve has done  – yet, He is confronting Eve with the fact that she was a responsible person, who must take ownership of her actions (or lack of action).

This following statement of Selwyn’s, I think is very thought provoking: “One of the privileges of being made in God’s image is that our choices matter. We have been created in such a way that, just like God, our actions make a real difference in the world. … What we think and decide actually counts for something in God’s world. … “

The consequence of accepting this statement are far reaching; he goes onto say: “If our choices are meaningful, we are responsible for them and we must be held accountable for them.”

Perhaps the mark of a mature Christian, is one who takes full responsibility for their actions; and, who doesn’t seek to place all or part of the  blame on  circumstances or other people.

Selwyn’s summary – is great: “What we do – is what we choose to do.” (Often with the Holy Spirit’s help if the choice is to follow Jesus.)

Something for you to think about – as you go about your life, making decisions.

Toxic shame

Selwyn looks at the difference between healthy shame and toxic shame.

He writes:“Healthy shame … can help us to build respect within us for our own boundaries and the boundaries of others, keep us modest as opposed to being exhibitionist, restrained as opposed to being bold and possibly vulgar … By contrast, a total lack of shame – being shameless – is something that is consistently warned against in Scripture. Shamelessness shows itself in inappropriate behaviour, to expose oneself flagrantly, to flaunt convention arrogantly.

There is an unhealthy sense of shame experienced by some people which can be described as shameful. Healthy shame warns us that something is wrong within us and calls for it to be put right. Some, after setting matters right, continue to feel unworthy and full of self-contempt. This is sometimes referred to as toxic shame, which dissolves self-respect in the acid of self-loathing. … When sin is confessed, there be no further sense of shame.”

God’s love for us – as shown by Jesus’ death on the cross – is complete; in terms of His forgiveness of our sins. We know (from Scripture) that Jesus’ atonement is perfect – there is no sign of sin remaining; there are no black marks on our souls  – they is no reason to feel shame after we have accepted God’s forgiveness. There may still be the consequences of sin that we have to deal with – but, God’s forgiveness is complete. However, Satan works in this area to constantly remind us of our failings  – in an attempt to erode our self-confidence – with the intention to raise doubts in our hearts, about the perfect forgiveness we have received – to erode our trust in God’s mercy.

As the psalmist wrote in Psalm 25:3: “No-one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame.”  We, followers of the living God, Jesus – will experience the perfect peace of an amazing relationship with God – when Jesus returns. We should live our lives, during this time of waiting, with the confidence that Jesus has paid the full penalty for ALL our sins – and, no shame remains when we have fully taken this truth into our hearts.

Do you agree?

Shame – God’s device

There are a whole lot of interesting side-issues regarding Adam’s sin, and his initial response to God.

As Selwyn writes in his introduction: “One of the first things Adam and Eve realised after they had sinned was that they were naked. Adam’s interesting response to God’s question – “Where are you?” was this: “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

In a perfect relationship with Jesus – there is no fear; when we cease to love God, and we put ourselves first – fear and anxiety enters our lives. There is something deep inside of us that knows we become vulnerable to external forces when we live separately from God. We become ashamed of our weaknesses – and we attempt to hid from the gaze of others; for fear, that they will see us as we really are – ‘naked’ – without love.

Eventually, we can become so practiced at hiding from God and others that only the Holy Spirit can find us and lead us home. We can’t do it – because we have completely lost our bearings & therefore, unable to find the way back – by ourselves.

Come home …

I think that the summary of today’s study, and the prayer are excellent.

Selwyn writes: “The soul’s proper home is God. No matter what we try to replace Him with – pastimes, friends, work, marriage or even service (within the church) – we will suffer ‘perpetual homesickness’. If you do not yet know God in a personal way, permit me to ask you: isn’t it about time you came home?”

“Heavenly Father, I accept that my soul was made for You and to be indwelt by You. My inner being is restless when You are not present. Come, and dwell in me by Your Holy Spirit I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

The whole world is starting to groan loudly – there is strife in every part of this world. We can see that the elements are in turmoil –  the natural order of seasons is becoming volatile. The extremes of weather are being felt around this planet. Floods, in one area – drought in others – I feel there is a definite call from God, to be alert – Jesus is coming back. What do you think?