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Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Choose Life

James 1:14-15 (ESV)
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The news seems to be full of excuses given by people who have been caught doing something they shouldn't. It seems that stress or drinking or poor memory can make the worst of actions go away. Of course people blame others when that doesn't work A genetic reason excuses lying, stealing or a myriad of other failures when blaming others won't fit the bill. No one wants to admit that the problem is within.

Frankly, all of us are tempted to do things which we know we shouldn't. We are most assuredly doomed to commit these sins if we caress the desire. We believe we can toy with the exhilarating desire without it ever capturing us. We love the desire, we meditate on that desire and believe we are immune to it. How crazy is that?

We believe we have such control over the desire that falling into its clutches must have come from an outside source which we were blindsided by and, therefore, couldn't control. We argue that our inability to control rather than our choice to linger on our desire exonerates us from responsibility. And this leads to death.

Repentance should be seen as God's grace to convict and change our lives. It should be seen as His welcoming us back into a proper relationship with Him. It should be known for what it really is- life. We accept a terrible death when we refuse to repent. (Understand repentance is more than admitting you are wrong. It is an anguish that is felt as God has felt for the sin. It must include confession and commitment.) We lose the life of walking with our Lord. We lose the life which His word gives us. We lose the life of joy which we have traded for temporary happiness. We trade true fellowship with other believers for temporary connections. The lose the abundant life that Jesus has desired to give us but we can't blame the "thief" for taking it from us. We gave it away.

The word for "brings forth" in the above verse is used to describe the birth of animals. The idea is that we become like animals which merely give into their base desire rather than humans who know God. Thus, we do not criticize the wolf for attacking the helpless doe nor the eagle to takes the rabbit's life because this is their nature. We spawn death when we let our desires make us like an animal which gives into whatever it wishes.

While each of us have desires, we are not under their control. We can arrest their abilities to lead us into sin if we flee from them. We must run as hard as we can before it is too late.

I am often guilty of buying something that I really don't need. I follow the same pattern every time I do so. I look at what I desire. I study what I desire. I go to see and touch what I desire and then I give into what I desire.

Many genuinely sorry men have come to me after being unfaithful to their wives. Each one of them followed a similar pattern. Some try to blame it on their wives. Some try to blame it on their heritage. Some try to blame it on the world in which they live. I tell them there is no one else to blame but themselves. They can either repent and receive God's grace or continue to blame other people and other things and receive a spiritual death.

You know what's really strange? They have come to me for advice. I am a pastor who preaches Jesus who gives forgiveness for sins. I am one who frequently says that repentance is necessary to experience an unhindered relationship with God. I often tell people that the emptiness in their lives comes from their separation from God. Now, here' the strange part: They choose death. Why did they expect me to tell them something different now that they have committed the sin?

Our society hold very few people truly accountable. Thus, some politicians won't resign their positions when caught doing something especially egregious because they know society may criticize them for a while but will not truly hold them accountable. Everything wrong is an addiction or a coercion.

But the result is a death not only in the world but in the church. Churches have no life when the people on the inside refuse to repent.

As for me, I choose life.


Anthony Chia said...

We are man because God made us so.
We are man because we are with a spirit.
We are man because we are with volition.
We are man because we are to exercise self-control.
We are man because mortal death is NOT the end of us.
We are man because we are NOT animals.
We are man because we are the pinnacle of God’s creation (NOT angels).

Although we are created a little lower than the angels, we are the pinnacle of God’s creation, NOT the angels. But because we have NOT entered into our fullness, we are NOT of our own, more powerful than fallen angels (demons, or Satan and his minions), and we are NOT of our own, more powerful than every forces set in place in the universe, including mortality (physical mortality).

When do we enter into our fullness? When we get to Heaven, and be clothed with the incorruptible body, adorned with the fullness of our righteousness. When that happens, our volition is totally subservient to that of God. Until then, in earthly living, we are mortal man; and on passing on (mortal death), our body goes back to the ground, and our spirited soul lives on. Though we are mere mortal man, in earthly living, we are still whom God has made, man; we are still with a spirit (a weak one, for many [not vivified]); and we are still with volition, for some, a very marred volition but NOT subservient to the Devil, for others (believers), the Lord has rendered back to them, the authority and control of their volition.

One major difference between a believer and a non-believer is this:

By the victory of Christ Jesus, from His death and resurrection, He has wrestled back the authority and control of volition of man, from Satan. Satan got a hold of the volition of man, from and because of the Fall (in the Garden of Eden). Christ Jesus has broken that hold; and so, Jesus Christ holds the volition of man. God is a God of holiness, and is a God of love. When there is no volition, there cannot be love. Volition needs to be present for love. And so, for man to love God back (God is with volition, and God chose to create man, and He loves man, even right from Creation), He bestowed volition unto man at Creation.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. from above

When one receives the Lord as his personal Lord and Saviour (appropriation), the Lord renders back to the person, the authority and control of the man’s volition. On conversion, a believer is restored of his volition from Creation (subsequently marred by Satan). Correctly, he has to exercise it, all the time, in favour of the Lord, for the Lord was the one who has purchased it with His blood and life. Since volition, in essence, is “NOT to be coerced”, even so, that the Lord has ransomed it back, it is still we have to exercise it, of our own accord, in the Lord’s favour; this is the “should or ought to” that we must adhere to (Don’t listen to the overly grace teaching that purportedly said that “should or ought to” necessarily is implying salvation by works which would negate salvation [by grace]). We have to, daily, in fact in all that we do, exercise our volition according to the will and desires of the Lord or God.

For the non-believers, even though the Lord has wrestled back their volitions (in this sense, the Lord is the propitiation of the whole world, as said in Scripture), they have NOT appropriated, and so, Satan still has an apparent hold on their volitions. This is a “peculiar apparent hold”, NOT just an apparent hold or apparent authority, for when the non-believers continue to exercise their volitions in favour of Satan, they would be counted with Satan. One needs to be a believer, to be uncounted with Satan. Those counted with Satan will go where Satan is destined to go – the burning lake of fire of Hell; referred to, in Scripture, as the 2nd death.

Now, even for believers, when they lack the understanding that they already have their volitions fully restored back to them, they continue to be under the apparent authority or hold of Satan. When by their exercise of their volitions, they continue to persist to do so, in favour of evil, it is possible they would be counted once again with Satan, but this is judgment resting on the Lord (we don’t decide or nor judge).

When one, purportedly a believer, instead of recognising and owning up to he himself, is solely responsible for his exercise of his volition, still holds out that he has NOT the authority and control of his volition, he is in a “different ground” to he who simply commits a sin from his deliberate disobedience. The former is the holding in doubt, the works of Christ Jesus (this can amount to a grave unbelief), the latter, a “simple” disobedience. It is therefore, NOT unreasonable to expect Christians NOT to find excuses for their sins. Exercise of self-control is a hall mark of a believer, and is a fruit expected of us to develop (Gal 5:22). We are man, NOT animal; and we are a believer, and so, we must grow in our self-control.

Scripture said God does NOT tempt. When one gives in to temptation, he lacks self-control, and because God does NOT tempt, the desire that leads to action, is NOT godly desire, but the person’s own desire which he allows it to form. An ungodly desire, if NOT nipped, gives birth to sin, and when the sin has fully grown, it leads to death. Don’t entertain ungodly desires, resist temptation, don’t flirt with temptation, and flee from it, especially when it is sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18).

There is still hope for us, when we face our sins squarely, repent, confess, and ask God for forgiveness. He is just and faithful to forgive us and cleanse us of all our unrighteousness.

The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), choose life. Believe in the salvation works of our Lord, resist sins, be of self-control, and when sinned, repent, confess and ask God for forgiveness.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

King David was lazy and did not go to to the battlefield as he should. As a result the temptation of Bathsheba came about, and he gave into it(2 Sam 11).

Quite often we end up doing something we shouldn't because we first refuse to do what we should.

...and then we wonder why we are in the mess we are. What foolish people we are!