Monday, 27 July 2015

Licence to Kill

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry      (Colossians 3:5)

Sexual immorality is everything that defies God’s original creation prototype of marriage – the one man-one woman lifelong monogamous relationship laid down for the human race in Genesis 2:24 (see Christ’s endorsement in Matthew 19: 4,5). It is because the Lord is FOR marriage (and for chastity outside marriage) that we have a licence to kill off, within our selves, all things short of this!  How is this done?

STARVE THEM OUT – by monitoring our input of literature, TV and films. If the Holy Spirit lives in us, we have the power to walk past places, products and people that blunt our Christian living.

CROWD THEM OUT.  We are more likely to fail when on our own; when we lack fellowship with other believers. But a crowd – of loving, fellow-believers with whom we regularly meet – will help keep us accountable!

SQUEEZE THEM OUT. There is nothing like Christian ACTIVITY – a piece of volunteer service – to soak up energy, and effectively kill those strange obsessions or fantasies that can waste away months and years.

WEAR THEM OUT. Sometimes we may fail. Then is the time to confess our failure, get up again – and declare ourselves back in the fight once more for the very purity of Jesus Christ himself; to maintain vigilance – and by sheer persistence to wear out the opposition.

Believers have been raised with Christ. The new life is swinging in! The things associated with the past are now listed for Death Row.


Monday, 20 July 2015

The Real Power

 “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above”    (John 19:11)

So said Jesus at his trial before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.  There was an element of power play at the time of the Cross.

1. Raw power.  In an attempt to win their way, the enemies of Jesus had relied on bribes, lies, and secrecy; on torches and lanterns, blood, fists, sticks and nails. Was that ever the way to win?  Such tactics might obtain a short-term result –but history demonstrates that tactics of force are ultimately an admission that the argument has been lost.

2. Vested power.  Ultimately it was the religious interests that felt most threatened by Christ. In the clamour for His blood, it was the most revered and supposed upright leaders of society who – for all their God-talk – took the lead in shouting that Jesus be crucified, and then jeering in His face as he died before their eyes.

3. Token power.  Christ’s enemies knew how to manipulate the weakness of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, to their own ends. He was desperate to keep his job – and finally he caved in, handing Jesus over to be executed. He had no true power at all – as Jesus had pointed out. He was finally summoned in AD 37 for trial in Rome. Greek historians wrote that he was eventually forced to commit suicide.

4. Silent power.  It wasn’t Pilate, but the silent Jesus who, in reality, occupied the Judge’s seat throughout the proceedings. He had the control.

And – as resurrected and ascended King at the right hand of power on high - He still rules, until the end of time.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

God’s Own Forgetfulness

 “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sin no more”     (Jeremiah 31:34)

The worst things we have ever done – and which we would like to forget – have not ‘happened’ yet in the far reaches of the universe.  Because light travels at a certain speed, something we did ten years ago has – from the perspective of a distant star - yet to take place!

What then of the Creator who inhabits all space and eternity?  Our evil actions are not over and done with.  In his sight they stand out for ever.  Our every shameful act and word will come back to condemn us at the end of the world when the books are opened and the divine sentence is pronounced.

BUT – it is at this point that the miracle of complete forgiveness - in the future ‘Covenant’ prophesied by Jeremiah - touches every believer in Christ.  For He is ‘the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world ‘ (Revelation 13:8).  The Cross straddles our whole existence, and so can cover every sin – to the extent that God not only forgives our sins – but he has the capacity to bury them in the sea of his own forgetfulness!

We say, “God, do you remember that terrible thing I did those years ago?  You must hate me.”


If we have prayerfully been to the Cross of Christ for free forgiveness, no situation will ever occur when God can press the memory button on some divine computer, and – hey presto! – bring them all up again on an accusing screen!  They’ve been trashed – for ever.


Sunday, 5 July 2015

Hypocrisy Can’t Survive Long

“The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out too”     (Acts 5:9)

Terrifying!  Could you and I withstand a rigorous investigation? The deceit by Ananias and Sapphira was unable to survive in the white-hot purity of that early apostolic church! It wasn’t that the owning of property itself was forbidden; all giving was voluntary (verse 4). Their sin lay in pretending they had given a certain sum of money – while in fact secretly keeping back part for themselves. “You have not lied to men, but to God,” they were told.

1. THE IRONICAL ELEMENT – it’s the first flaw in the beautiful emerging story of the Church!  Now it could be argued, ‘These Christians are not special; they’re doing quiet deals on the side like everybody else.’   

2. THE ETHICAL ELEMENT.  The issue here was that, when deceit invaded the fellowship, either Christ’s Spirit must leave the church, or the hypocritical Ananias must leave! There was no room for both.

3. THE ECCLESIASTICAL ELEMENT.  This sin dented  and disrupted the entire church!  Let us never say that our sin is ‘private.’ 

4. THE ESCHATALOGICAL ELEMENT.  For here, in this dramatic episode, was a stern reminder to the early church - and indeed to future generations of believers – that, running through our whole human existence, and up to the end of time, is the theme of wrongs being eventually dealt with, in divine judgment.

The overall lesson is that we are to exercise self-judgment NOW, before the time! Ananias could have repented. If he had, he would have been forgiven. He might even have become a leader, instead of being dead!