Sunday, 22 July 2018

The Sin of the Devil

“Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.” (Exodus 18:11)

This is the first mention in the Bible of the sin of pride, and it appropriately refers to the primeval sin of the “gods”—that is, the supposed deities of the heathen.

Led by Lucifer, a great host of the created angels had rebelled against their Creator, seeking also to be “gods” like Him. Lucifer, later to be called Satan (i.e., “adversary”), thought he could become the highest of all. “O Lucifer . . . thou hast said in thine heart, I will . . . exalt my throne above the stars of God: . . . I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

Satan’s sin—and that of the other self-proclaimed “gods”—was that of “being lifted up with pride . . . the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6). But they shall all, with him, eventually “be brought down to hell” and the “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

This was also the sin of Adam and Eve, for Satan had seduced them with the promise “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5).

It is also the sin of all humanists and evolutionary pantheists, from Adam’s day to our day, for they seek to do away with God and make “gods” out of “corruptible man.” They have “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:23, Romans 1:25).

But “pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Our Lord of creation is “above all gods,” even in that “thing wherein they dealt proudly.” The sin of pride was the very first sin and is still the most difficult sin to overcome, but “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). 

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Why Did Christ Die?

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

This passage is often considered the defining passage of the gospel, stating the great truth that Christ died for our sins, then was buried (thus stressing that His resurrection was a physical resurrection, not just spiritual), and then rose again. As such, it is interesting that verse 1 which introduces it (“I declare unto you the gospel”) contains the central mention of the more than 100 times the Greek word for “gospel” occurs in the New Testament.

However, it does not say why Christ died for our sins. It was not just to pay for our salvation and make us happy. There are, in fact, numerous references to His substitutionary death that do give us further insight into just why Christ died for us and our salvation.

For example, “he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15). And consider Galatians 1:4, in which Paul tells us that Christ “gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world.”

Peter’s testimony and explanation was that the Lord Jesus “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). John said: “[God] loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).

There are many other verses to the same affect. Christ did not die merely to save our souls but to empower us to live in a way that would glorify God right here on Earth.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Fellowship with the Father

“. . . and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3)

One marvelous reason for which God has adopted us (Ephesians 1:5), indeed part of the very “calling” to become God’s children, is to fellowship (1 Corinthians 1:9) with the great God of creation!

Jesus prayed (John 17) that His chosen disciples might have the same kind of relationship with the heavenly Father that Jesus Himself had throughout eternity. Our minds may not totally grasp that wonder down here—except as we try to understand something of the key of walking “in the light” (1 John 1:7).

The nature of light in our universe gives us clues:


Light is unchangeable; one cannot make light dark.
Light exposes everything (reveals and brings clarity).
Light is the sustainer of all life as we know it.

The nature of darkness is also very instructive:

Darkness is driven away by the smallest spark.
Darkness covers everything (hides and obscures).
Darkness will kill all life as we know it.

“The path of the just is as the shining light. . . . The way of the wicked is as darkness” (Proverbs 4:18-19). The promise of fellowship with God is that He “will lead them in paths that they have not known” and that He “will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight” (Isaiah 42:16).

Therefore, “let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8). Since we were “sometimes darkness” (Ephesians 5:8) but have been delivered from “the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13), we should no longer “fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).

Thursday, 19 July 2018

They That Wait upon the Lord

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

This is one of the best-loved promises of the Bible, for it is easy to grow weary and faint in our mortal bodies, even when doing the work of the Lord. The answer, we are told, is to “wait upon the LORD.”

But what does this mean? The Hebrew word (gavah) does not mean “serve” but rather to “wait for” or “look for.” It is translated “waited for” the second time it is used in the Bible, when the dying patriarch Jacob cried out: “I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD” (Genesis 49:18).

The first time it is used, surprisingly, is in connection with the third day of creation, when God said: “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place” (Genesis 1:9). That is, the all-pervasive waters of the original creation, divided on the second day of creation, now are told to wait patiently, as it were, while God formed the geosphere, the biosphere, and the astrosphere, before dealing again with the waters.

Perhaps the clearest insight into its meaning is its use in the picture of Christ foreshadowed in the 40th Psalm. “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).

“The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary” (Isaiah 40:28), and His gracious promise is that we can “renew our strength” (literally, “exchange our strength,” our weakness for His strength!) by “waiting upon [Him].” We wait patiently for Him, we gather together unto Him, we look for Him, we cry unto Him, we trust Him, and He renews our strength!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Thine, O Lord

“Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

This is one of the great doxologies of Scripture, originally a part of King David’s prayer at the time of Solomon’s coronation as his successor. Although David and Solomon were the greatest kings of Israel, and two of the greatest kings in the world of their age, David rightly acknowledged that the Lord Himself was the true King, not only of Israel, but of all heaven and Earth. He is head, the supreme ruler, over all.

This is the first occurrence in Scripture of the great testimony of worship: “Thine is the kingdom.” In the modern world, however, there are relatively few who acknowledge Him as King of creation. Except for a small minority, most people believe that the universe has evolved and man is king.

But David’s prayer will be echoed again in the great prayer of the cherubim: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). Then, soon afterward, “the four and twenty elders” utter their prayer: “We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty . . . because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned” (Revelation 11:16-17).

Someday, every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess Him as King of kings and Lord of lords. “Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion. . . . Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. . . . Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:6; Psalm 2:10; Psalm 2:12). In that day, “there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3).

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

The First Love

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)

This is the very heart of the moving prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ in the upper room before His arrest and crucifixion. As we hear Him pray, we are translated back in time, before time began, and there we encounter the indescribable love within the counsels of the triune Godhead—Father, and Son, and Spirit—three persons, yet one God.

Then, after speaking of this love, Jesus prayed—in the final words of His sure-to-be-answered prayer—“that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26).

This love—the love within the Trinity—was the primeval love and, therefore, is the spring from which flows every other form of true love—marital love, mother love, brotherly love, love of country, love of friends, love for the lost, or any other genuine love.

It is appropriate that the first mention of love in the Old Testament refers to the love of a father (Abraham) for his son Isaac (Genesis 22:2), and then that the first reference to love in the New Testament (Matthew 3:17) speaks of the heavenly love of God the Father for God the Son. In both cases, the son is called “beloved,” yet in both cases the father and son are prepared to go to the altar of sacrifice, that the will of God might be done and a way of salvation be provided for lost sinners.

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). One day—as He prayed—we shall be with Him, see His glory, and even experience His own eternal love in our hearts.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Strive Not About Words

“Of these things put them in rememberance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.” (2 Timothy 2:14)

This command emphasizes the necessity to avoid “word fights.” The apostle Paul has much to say about this in other passages. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Our words should be “wholesome words” (1 Timothy 6:3), “that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

We are not to “give heed to fables and endless genealogies” (1 Timothy 1:4), but are to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables” (1 Timothy 4:7). We are not to listen to “commandments of men, that turn from the truth” (Titus 1:14), and we must “avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law” (Titus 3:9), “knowing that they do gender strifes” (2 Timothy 2:23).

According to 1 Timothy 6:4-5, those who love “word fights” are “proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words.” Such a person is a “questionaholic.” Here is a short list of the biblical warnings about such fights.

It brings ill will toward others; wrangling; bickering.
It produces “railing” defamation or dishonor of others.
It encourages private plots to hurt.
It produces an incessant meddlesomeness.
It ends up rotting the intellect and robbing truth.
It equates personal gain with godliness.

May God protect us from those who are driven to strive “about words to no profit.” May God increase our love for “acceptable words; and that which is written, upright, even words of truth” (Ecclesiastes 12:10).