Categories
Bible Insights

Who Are We to Judge? We May Have It Backwards

Though the Bible Tells Us to Judge, Who We’re Supposed to Judge May Shock You

When Paul writes to his friends in Corinth, he has much to say because they struggle with many things, including judging others. He spends a whole chapter in his first letter addressing sin within their assembly: sexual sin, specifically incest.

In reading between the lines, it seems the people involved think God’s grace gives them the freedom to pursue this lifestyle, to live as they wish, while the rest of the church remains quiet on the issue.

Judge Ourselves

Paul is concerned one bad example will infect others and embolden them to go wild as well. As the saying goes, “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel,” though Paul’s first-century version says a little bit of yeast affects the whole batch of dough.

He tells them how to deal with this issue and the perpetrators. Though he expects them to assess the situation and take action, he places limits on the scope of their role of judging others.

The world fails to see the love of Jesus, because his followers fail to show the world his love. Click To Tweet

Not Judging Others

Specifically, he says not to worry about those on the outside, that God will deal with them. Instead, they need to worry about the people within their group, that self-policing is in order. Paul reminds them that they should judge folks within the church but they have no business judging others, the people in the world.

Much of today’s church has this backward. We delight in pointing a condemning finger at the actions of the world, all the while ignoring the behavior within our own community.

It’s no wonder the world thinks the church is comprised of close-minded, judgmental, hypocrites—because it is.

It’s no wonder the world fails to see the love of Jesus, because his followers fail to show the world his love. Instead, they show judgment, mean, hateful judgment.

Though we need to judge ourselves, we have no business judging others in the world in which we live. So stop it.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5-7, and today’s post is on 1 Corinthians 5:12-13.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Why We Shouldn’t Take God’s Grace for Granted

We dishonor God by persisting in sin because we assume his grace will cover it

A highschool friend heard about the doctrine of eternal security—which some people shorten to the more accessible mantra of “once saved, always saved”—and latched onto it. She took God’s grace for granted.

She reasoned this creed allowed her to act any way she wanted, that she and God were in a good place in their relationship, and her behavior didn’t matter anymore.

In short she took this as a license to sin.

She thought she had her get-into-heaven card, and that was all she cared about. She disconnected her reality on earth from her future in eternity.

Though she rightly embraced God’s grace, she incorrectly assumed it came with endless abundance. This didn’t feel right to me. Surely she overreached and grabbed onto an unwise conclusion.

I tried to talk her down from her extreme position, but she wouldn’t listen.

Instead she clung to her steadfast belief that nothing she did from that point forward would have any bearing on her spiritual future. After all, she had said the prayer, so she was in.

I wish I had read Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians. I wish I had known about the sixth chapter.

The deeper the sin, the greater God’s grace. Click To Tweet

In it Paul addresses this topic of sin and grace. The deeper the sin, the greater God’s grace. This is true. Yet some go too far and claim our ongoing sin serves to elevate God’s grace.

Paul says, “No way!”

When we follow Jesus we turn our back on our wrong behaviors (Romans 6:1-2).

I wish I had known that to tell my friend.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Romans 5-7 and today’s post is on Romans 6:1-2.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Save

Categories
Bible Insights

An Act of Omission is the Failure to Act

An Act of Commission is an Act We’ve Done

When I think of being punished, be it by God or people, I think in terms of things I do wrong. That is, doing things that I shouldn’t have done. Some people call this an “act of commission.” They are things I have committed.

However, there can also be consequences for not doing the things we should have done.  This is an “act of omission.” They are things I didn’t do, even though I should have.

Jesus talks about acts of omission in a parable about the sheep and the goats. The goats were guilty, not of doing wrong, but of not doing what was right. Their failure was a failure to act.

Jesus even gives specific examples:

  • a failure to feed the hungry,
  • a failure to provide water to the thirsty,
  • a failure to show hospitality to the stranger,
  • a failure to give clothes to those in need, and
  • a failure to look after the sick and imprisoned.
While one person can't solve all of these issues—or even one of them—each person can do something Click To Tweet

Each of these are huge issues—and overwhelming—but enormity is not an excuse for inaction. While one person can’t solve all of these issues—or even one of them—each person can do something to make a difference, be it simply to help one person who is hungry, thirsty, homeless, needy, or hurting.

Don’t be a goat; help someone today.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Matthew 23-25, and today’s post is on Matthew 25:31-46.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

When God Says Enough

Despite God’s longstanding patience giving us time to shape up, judgement will eventually come

The book of Ezekiel is an interesting one, packed with evocative prophetic imagery that portrays God’s power, patience, and eventual judgement. As follows through much of the Old Testament the people disobey God. He warns them to turn things around and is patient, hoping they will avoid the consequences of their wayward actions. He wishes for the best, and the people let him down.

But Ezekiel is confronted with a peculiar response to his messages of impending punishment. Like the boy who cried “wolf,” the people dismiss Ezekiel’s warnings (actually God’s warnings). They say, “Time passes on but these threats never happen.”

They stop taking Ezekiel (and God) seriously, which they never fully did to begin with. They feel quite justified in ignoring the word of God because they think there is no downside for disobedience.

There are consequences for disobeying God, and our time is up. Click To Tweet

There are Consequences

To this God says “enough.” He will withhold their punishment no longer and will fulfill all that he said. There will be no more delays.

I wonder how much we today are like these people of old, viewing God’s warnings as meaningless threats that will never happen. Since our wrong behavior receives no immediate punishment, perhaps we’re not so bad after all. Maybe God doesn’t really mean it when he says our wrong actions are sin.

To this I hear God again saying “Enough.”

There are consequences for disobeying God, and I fear our time is up.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 9-12, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 12:21-28.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

The Wicked Acts of Sodom and Gomorrah

Discover Why We Need to Help the Poor and Needy

Even if you’ve not read the Bible, you have likely heard about Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities God destroyed for their extreme wickedness.

The account of this is found in Genesis, chapters 18 and 19. In this text, the sexual depravity of the men of Sodom is portrayed. Despite that, it does not explicitly say that their sexual predilections were the reason for the annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Even so, most readers make that assumption.

However, the prophet Ezekiel does explain the reason that the people of Sodom were punished so severely. It’s not what you think.  Are you ready for the real reason? Sodom was destroyed because they “they did not help the poor and needy.”

That puts the idea of “wickedness” in a completely different perspective—God’s.

While sexual sin is a temptation we must avoid, it may be even more important that we don’t turn our back on the poor and needy. Many verses in both the Old and New Testaments command us to assist the poor and those in need. But it’s easy to breeze past those verses and focus on others.

Yet God’s heart is that we help those in need. Consider what we may do to assist them and in doing so, obey God’s commands in the process.

Though Jesus said there will always be poor people, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to help them (Mark 14:7). We do. The Bible says so.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ezekiel 16-17, and today’s post is on Ezekiel 16:49.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

How Much Did Jesus Suffer When He Died for Us?

Jesus Died as the Ultimate Sacrifice So That We May Live

The Old Testament of the Bible overflows with instructions about offering sacrifices to God and how his people but them into practice. One of those sacrifices served as an annual sacrifice for the sins of the people.

The people had to repeat it each year because the sacrifice offered only partial coverage.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Jesus came as the ultimate sin sacrifice to end all sacrifices. He accomplished for all time what the Old Testament sacrifices could only cover annually.

When followers of Jesus look at his sacrifice, some celebrate him as the suffering Savior who died for our sins and others laud as the risen Savior who overcame death. Which is it? Both. Jesus died and defeated death so that we may live.

In his death as the ultimate sacrifice for all the mistakes we’ve made, Jesus suffered greatly. Each of the Bible’s four biographies about Jesus include the account of his sacrificial death: Matthew 27:32-61, Mark 15:21-47, Luke 23:26-56, and John 19:28-42.

Physical Pain

The first-century people who read these passages knew too well about the physical pain and suffering that crucified people endured. They witnessed it firsthand many times. Therefore, the writers of these accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion didn’t need to give details of the agony he endured.

The people understood it. They comprehended what Jesus underwent.

For us in the twenty-first century, we lack this firsthand understanding of the physical pain brought about by death through crucifixion. Yet a medical description of what Jesus underwent is truly horrific. But there’s more.

Emotional Pain

Beyond the physical trauma of receiving a beating beyond recognition, being nailed to a cross to suffer, and then dying, Jesus also endured emotional pain. All around him people mocked him, taunted him, and belittled him and his mission.

He worried about the future of his mother, Mary. He carried concern about his disciples wondering if they could manage without him. And when Jesus needed it most, his Father had to look away.

Spiritual Pain

Yet even more than the emotional agony and the physical trauma of his execution, Jesus endured a spiritual pain. It was most horrific.

Recall our embarrassment over the most shameful thing we’ve ever done. If you’re like me, you’d rather not. Now multiply that over a lifetime of mistakes. It’s a huge weight to shoulder. When King David considered this, he said that his guilt overwhelmed him. It was a burden he couldn’t bear (Psalm 38:4).

Now multiply one lifetime of shame times several billion people. That’s what Jesus bore when he died as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. At that one moment, the sins of everyone who ever lived and ever will live all fell on Jesus.

What an overwhelming, incomprehensible weight to bear. Yet Jesus took all of our sins, for all people, for all time and sacrificially bore them so that we wouldn’t have to.

Jesus suffered, died, and overcame death so that we may live with him forever. Thank you, Jesus.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Biblical Murderers and How They Relate to Us

Biblical Murderers and How They Relate to Us

Consider some of the best-known biblical murderers.

Cain Kills Abel

We’re only four chapters into the Bible when the first murder occurs. Cain kills his brother Abel. The account in the Bible suggests that Cain premeditated his actions. First degree murder.

But let’s not view Cain as all evil. Like his brother, Cain worships God and brings an offering to him. (We do this too.) Yet God finds Cain’s offering lacking. As a result, Cain is angry with God. (Are we ever angry at God?) Out of jealousy (another common human trait), Cain kills his brother (Genesis 4).

Although we haven’t likely killed someone, we have more in common with Cain then we want to admit.

Moses Kills an Egyptian

Another well-known and esteemed person in the Bible is Moses. Yet Moses is another one of our biblical murderers. Moses witnesses an Egyptian overlord beating a Hebrew man, one of Moses his own kind. Seeing no one else watching, Moses kills the Egyptian and hides the evidence (Exodus 2:11-14).

Again, we see another instance of premeditated murder. Though we might sympathize with Moses’s actions or even say it was a just killing, the reality is that it’s still murder. But despite Moses killing another man, God still uses Moses to free his people. God later has an intimate relationship with Moses, one that we’d all like to have.

David Kills Uriah

The third of biblical murderers is David. David spends many years of his life leading an army and slaying his enemies. But we don’t call him a murderer for his military exploits. We call him a murderer for planning and ordering the death of his lover’s husband.

Not only is David a murderer, he’s also an adulterer (2 Samuel 11).

Yet the Bible later calls David a man after God’s own heart. Yes, David suffers for what he did, but God restores David into a right relationship with him.

Paul Kills Stephen

Paul, a key figure in the early church and the New Testament’s most prolific writer, is another of our biblical murderers. Paul, a righteous and devout Jew, a godly person, is zealous in his opposition to the followers of Jesus. Paul does this for God and in the name of religion.

History is full of people who kill for their faith, but that doesn’t justify their actions.

Though Paul kills many for his religion, the Bible only gives us details of one: Stephen (Acts 7:57-8:1). Yet despite Paul’s violent opposition to team Jesus, Jesus later calls Paul to follow him and grows him into a most effective missionary.

Judas Kills Jesus

Let’s not forget that Judas is another on the list of biblical murderers. Though he doesn’t physically kill another person as did Cain and Moses, and he doesn’t orchestrate a death like David, Judas is the catalyst for another death, Jesus.

Jesus—the most significant death to occur in the Bible, for humanity, and throughout all time. Though Jesus’s death is necessary to save us, that doesn’t forgive Judas for his part in making it happen.

Like Cain, we must realize that Judas isn’t all bad. He is a follower of Jesus, after all, a disciple. Yet he is also greedy, and in his greed he sells out Jesus (Luke 22:47-53).

Though Judas might have received forgiveness from Jesus—just as Jesus forgave and restored Peter into a right relationship with him—we’ll never know. Judas commits suicide out of remorse over what he did to Jesus.

Who Do We Kill?

Jesus teaches us what the Old Testament commands: killing is wrong. Yet he goes beyond the physical act of murder to tell us that even being angry at another person is a sin. Implicitly it’s murder. As a result of anger, we are no less innocent than someone who murders another.

But there’s more. Much more. Though we blame Judas for Jesus’s death, we are part of it too. Because of our sins, Jesus had to die to reconcile us with Father God. Our sins made it necessary for Jesus to die. As painful as it is to say, we helped murder Jesus.

Are we willing to put the past behind us—such as murder—and move forward to serve Jesus and advance the kingdom of God? Click To Tweet

Biblical Murderers

All five of these biblical murderers had a relationship with God. And at the time of the murders they committed, orchestrated, or approved, they weren’t in a good place with God on their faith journey. But it’s what happens afterward that counts.

Are we willing to put the past behind us—regardless of how horrific or benign it might be—and move forward to serve Jesus and advance the kingdom of God? We can do much like Moses, David, and Paul. Or we can falter like Cain and Judas. The choice is ours.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Do We Have a Positive Influence on Others or a Negative One?

The Evil Queen, Her Good-Bad Grandson, and the Influential Priest

In today’s passage we read about Queen Athaliah, her grandson Joash, and the priest Jehoiada. Here’s their story.

The Evil Queen Athaliah

Athaliah’s son Ahaziah is King. As with most mothers, she influences her son. But she doesn’t have a positive impact on him. Instead she encourages him to do what’s wrong, to behave badly. He does.

When he’s executed, Athaliah takes control. She kills the royal family, which includes her children and grandchildren. Then she sets herself up as Queen, with no one in the royal bloodline to challenge her. She rules for six years.

The Boy King Joash Who Starts Out Good and Ends Badly

However, one baby escapes her purge, her grandson Joash. He’s secreted away by his aunt, Jehosheba, who’s married to the priest Jehoiada. Together they protect baby Joash.

When he’s seven, they orchestrate a coup against Athaliah and kill her. Then they make Joash King. He does what God says is right. He’s a good king—at least at first.

The Godly Priest Jehoiada Who Influences the King

Since Joash was rescued by Jehosheba and kept safe by her and Jehoiada, Joash likely views them as parental figures. It turns out that Jehoiada must have influenced the king greatly. But instead of being a negative influence like Athaliah was on her son, Jehoiada is a positive influence on Joash.

But then Jehoiada dies, and without his godly influence, King Joash becomes unmoored. He turns wicked, changing from a good king to a bad one. His life and legacy don’t end well.

May we have a positive influence on others and seek to surround ourselves with those who have a positive influence on us. Click To Tweet

Be a Positive Influence

In this story we have Queen Athaliah who influences her son to ignore God and embrace evil. We also have Jehoiada who has a positive influence on King Joash, but when Jehoiada dies, Joash waivers and does evil.

May we have a positive influence on others. And may we seek to surround ourselves with those who have a positive influence on us.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 22-24, and today’s post is on 2 Chronicles 22:3-4.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Bible Insights

Moses Blames the People for His Mistake

Not Taking Responsibility for Our Actions Goes Way Back

We often shake our heads in dismay over people who refuse to admit when they have done something wrong. Instead they want to blame others. They refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes. This is not a new development. Even Moses, who spoke to God face-to-face, had this problem.

Moses blames the people for what he did wrong.

Here’s his story.

Moses’s Failure

After Moses leads God’s people out of Egypt into the desert, they’re thirsty. They clamor for water. God tells Moses to go to a rock and speak to it. Then water will pour out of it for the people to drink.

Moses does go to the rock, and he does speak to it, but he also whacks it with his staff—something God didn’t tell him to do. God sees this as a lack of trust on Moses’s part. Because of Moses’s failure to completely obey God, he won’t let Moses enter the promised land (Numbers 20:2-12).

This seems a bit harsh, but that’s what God determined.

Moses Blames the People

Fast forward about forty years. God’s people are ready to enter the land he promised to give them. Moses has them ready to take the territory. They’re poised to move forward, camping at its border.

Moses then recaps what’s happened over the past four decades. He reminds them about their journey and reiterates some of the laws God gave them.

Then he tells them he won’t be going with them. Instead Joshua will lead them. Joshua will realize what Moses had hoped for, what he worked hard to achieve for forty years.

Moses is bitter over this. But instead of admitting he disobeyed God, that he sinned, he shifts the blame. He blames the people for his failure. He says, “It’s because of you, that God is angry with me” (Deuteronomy 3:26).

Yup, that’s right. Moses blames the people for his mistake.

We can’t truly repent when we blame others for our mistakes. Click To Tweet

Blaming Others

Of course, playing the blame game didn’t start with Moses. It goes way back to the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve committed the first sin by disobeying God, their second sin was trying to shift blame.

Adam blamed Eve instead of admitting his own error, and Eve blamed the serpent instead of assuming responsibility for her role in committing the first sin.

Blaming other people for our actions is a moral shortcoming that is the result of sin. Failing to take responsibility for what we have done and pretend that someone else is at fault is another sin.

Repenting so that we may follow Jesus acknowledges our sin, our mistakes, our failures. To repent is to regret what we have done, to be sorry. But we can’t truly repent when we blame others for our mistakes.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 1-3, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 3:26.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Categories
Christian Living

Don’t Judge Jesus By His Church or Its Clergy

Our Spiritual Leaders May Fail Us and Let Us Down but Jesus Never Will

Relevant magazine cited a Gallup poll that revealed America’s trust in the clergy has hit a record low. And it’s fallen steadily since 2002. In the early 80s two thirds of people respected spiritual leaders. Now only a bit more than one third (37 percent) do.

Though the clergy appears above the midpoint on the list, they’re still far from the top. Nurses hold the top spot at 84 percent, with the bottom slot going to members of Congress at 8 percent.

I mourn this decline in the standing of our clergy.

If there’s anyone we should be able to trust, it’s our spiritual leaders. Yet trust must be earned. And once it’s earned, it must be maintained. As a group, today’s clergy isn’t doing enough to maintain trust.

I won’t name names or mention specific organizations. I’m sure you can quickly make a list. It saddens me that most everyone can site a religious leader who has let them down through their moral failings or ethical lapses.

Our spiritual leaders may falter and let us down, but we must remember that Jesus never will. Click To Tweet

Standards for Clergy

Although the clergy are human and subject to temptation just like everyone, they must rise above their human failings. Because of their influence, they will be held to a higher standard (James 3:1). Yet they don’t always do this.

And when they falter, everyone knows it. Their sins are (eventually) broadcast for all to see (Luke 8:17).

They must be an example for us to follow, not to avoid. Paul got this. He urged people to follow him, in the same way he followed Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). That should be the standard for every leader in Jesus’s church

However, we shouldn’t judge Jesus by the shortcomings of our religious leaders. We shouldn’t turn our back on God and reject him, just because some of his representatives failed us and disappointed us.

Our spiritual leaders may falter and let us down, but we must remember that Jesus never will, and Father God never will either (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.