What does it mean to be under condemnation?

It’s Monday Grace!

Maybe it’s because we are so small. Maybe it’s because our lives are so short. For some reason, we find it hard to think of the bigger picture when it comes to the gospel message. We seem to think it revolves around us and our actions.

When most people think about their sins, they have certain ones in mind. Bad habits, stupid decisions, wicked acts. They know what they have done. When they think of being under condemnation, they think of those particular sins.

But that isn’t what it means to be under condemnation. You and I were not under condemnation because of certain things we did before we came to Jesus. Those who are lost today are not under condemnation because of specific things they did. No, there is a state of condemnation.

A large apartment building housing hundreds of people was recently condemned. Inspectors noticed cracks in the foundation. On further examination, they realized that the builders had used the wrong concrete formula. The building wasn’t very old, but there was nothing that could be done to make it safe. All the tenants were moved out with their belongings and the building was destroyed.

That’s what it means to be under condemnation. The whole thing was broken, unsafe, beyond repair. For a building to be condemned means it has to be destroyed. It is already incapable of doing what it is supposed to do: house people safely.

Human life apart from the Savior is so damaged by sin that it is said to be “under condemnation.” There is nothing that can be redeemed. The old must pass away. The new must be given. So, the old man dies with Christ on the cross, and Jesus gives us His new life.

You see, people don’t need salvation because they committed adultery or lied. They need salvation because they are broken beyond repair. No one is good enough to escape this condemnation. Nothing we can do will be enough to make our old lives worth fixing.

“All have sinned,” the Scripture says. Even our righteous acts and motivations are as “filthy rags.” It cannot be enough. The old life cannot be saved.

The builders of the faulty building could spend a lot of money to cover or even try to fix the foundation, but the building would still be unsafe. There is nothing any of us can do to fix our own broken lives. In fact, there is nothing society or tradition or morality can do to fix us. We simply need to be built again from the ground up, born again.

God is not concerned about the specific sins of the sinner. He doesn’t like those sins, but He knows they are symptoms of a larger problem. Like the cracks in the foundation, our obvious sins are evidence of a deeper brokenness, damage that cannot simply be covered or repaired.

To be under condemnation is to be judged systemically broken, faulty beyond repair.

But there is more than hope; there is a promise of life in Jesus!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Learn How to Fall

It’s Narcissist Friday!

In almost all sports, the ability to fall without getting hurt is important. From football to ice skating, learning how to fall could save broken bones and even more serious injuries.

Dancers fall. Wrestlers fall. Soldiers fall. Busy moms fall. Old people fall.

There are articles, even classes, to teach us how to fall. Especially as I grow older, I am concerned about falling. A fall can break a hip or worse. No one wants to fall, yet most of us will.

So, we plan for it.

Step one: Avoid it if possible. Whether it’s ice or clutter or a rough path, things that cause us to stumble often cause us to fall. So, avoid the things that make you stumble.

Step two: Relax. The more you fight the fall, the more likely you are to get hurt. People who try to catch themselves often break wrists or arms, while people who simply curl up to land on softer parts of their bodies may get by with a bruise.

Step three: Get up carefully. Assess the situation. How hurt are you? Do you need help? Do you know why the fall happened? Some people get hurt trying to get back up.

Now, if this sounds like there could be a spiritual application, that’s good. The Bible often warns us against falling. Of course, those warnings are about falling into the consequences of sin. If you don’t want to get hurt in life or suffer from bad decisions, avoid the things the Scriptures warn you against. Be careful in relationships. Be careful trying to satisfy your desires. Step carefully. None of this is new.

But we rarely learn anything more about falling. We all fall sometimes. We give in to our lusts, whatever they are. We hurt other people. We do the things God warns us against. What do we do then?

Relax. Remember that your sin, your mistake, your stupid decision will not send you to hell or make you lose God’s love. Try to minimize the effect of your fall. Protect others. Apologize.

Get up! Yes, you fell. Assess the damage. Understand what happened and why. Then get up and move on. There’s more of life ahead of you. Don’t rationalize or blame others. Just get up, do what you have to do, and move on.

This does not minimize the sin or the consequences. But I assume that no one here is going to say, “Well, if falling can be handled so easily, I guess I’ll just relax and fall more.” Not only would that be stupid, but it would hurt. Who wants to get hurt or hurt others repeatedly? No, the Spirit will guide you into truth and kindness rather than foolishness and meanness.

I can just imagine a group of older people who take a class on falling. As they learn how to deal with a fall, they leave the class to practice on the way home. They throw themselves on the sidewalk, they purposely trip over obstacles, they blindfold themselves and run. All so they can practice falling. Nonsense? Of course! Yet, that’s what some people think will happen if we tell people to get up and move on after their sin.

What we need to understand as believers is that the sin and failings of our lives do not change our relationship with the Lord. He still loves us. He still wants good for us. Yes, there are consequences for sin that we will not want, but those consequences are not eternal.

The Lord does not want us to fall. Others might want us to fall. They might laugh and mock. They might try to arrange our fall so they can use it against us in the future. They will remind us of our failures and sins. All to manipulate us. But God does not do that.

In fact, God forgets our sins. Since they do not affect our relationship with Him, He does not focus on them to remember them. At the same time, He allows us to remember. Why? So that we will take our walk seriously and avoid the dangers. Why does your body register pain? You might think that’s just natural, but why? So that you remember. So that you can avoid the danger in the future.

Don’t sin. It isn’t worth it. It will hurt you and it will hurt others. Even the little things have a way of pulling us off course or infecting us in small ways. Sin, like falling, is nothing to laugh about. But if you do sin, look to Jesus.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1–2, ESV)

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

What does it mean to receive the free gift?

It’s Monday Grace!

Every day I get emails offering free gifts. Ebooks, classes, recipes, plans, on and on. Very few are actually free. They are short-term trial periods which will become expensive subscriptions. Or they have very little value unless you also buy some product. When I have to give my credit card to get something free, I refuse. I know better.

So the concept of a free gift might be somewhat tainted in our day. We have been taught to be skeptical. We look for the catch.

When the Scriptures refer to salvation as a free gift, some people are skeptical. They say that it isn’t really free. After all, you have to “sign your life away.” If you have to sign a contract or pay a price, then it isn’t free. If you have to give something up to get it, then it isn’t free.

Others point to the fact that not everyone is saved and say that the gift is not free because you have to do something to get it. You have to reach out and take it or open yourself to it. Unless you actually do nothing, then it isn’t free. And, if you do nothing to get it, then all are saved.

These objections make some sense if a person sees his or her life as something substantial and of value. (How else are we supposed to see our lives?) But the Scripture is also clear that we are dead in our sins. Our “lives” are not as substantial nor as valuable as we think they are. Sin took away our lives. There is nothing to give up, nothing to give away, nothing from which we could pay a price.

To give up something that is dead and corrupted is no act of goodness. It is just an acknowledgment of the truth. If I have a television that doesn’t work and someone offers to give me a new one for free, I would be a fool not to take the deal. Right? The old one is trash. If the person asks me to give it to him, there is no loss to me. I will not have paid a price or earned a favor. Carrying the new television into my home will not count as a good work on my part. It is an uneven exchange.

The exchange of my old life for the new life Christ offers is likewise uneven. He gains nothing, while I gain everything. He has already paid the price for my salvation, and He offers it to me as a gift. I do not “sign my life away” or pay anything for what He gives. I simply receive a gift.

The difference between the saved and the unsaved is not based on the price they paid, but whether they are willing to receive something Another paid for. Jesus paid the price, the only price, of our salvation.

One more thing: If my friend forced me to take the new television, gave me no choice, then the gift is tainted by the obligation. Many of us have received “gifts” that are burdens we didn’t want. I know people who have given puppies as gifts. But some people really don’t want puppies. It doesn’t seem like a gift if it is forced on you.

So, God will not force anyone. Those who will be saved must be willing to receive. He offers a gift of love, but He doesn’t force anyone. He may work to convince a person of the value of the gift, but the choice is still left to the individual. The only reason anyone would not be saved would be their own choice.

For as long as I can remember, people have been saying that Heaven is a free gift. Sometimes the language that is used is misleading or even wrong. They say that we should “make Jesus Lord” or “take Him into our hearts” or “turn our lives over to Him.” Those things sound like something we have to do if we want to be saved. But the truth is that Jesus is already Lord, He is knocking already at the doors of our hearts, and we have no lives to turn over to Him. He simply wants us to accept what He offers.

The gift is free. Take it.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Pride vs Confidence

It’s Narcissist Friday!

All my life I have been told not to be proud. So have you. “Pride is the greatest sin of all,” the preacher said. “Pride goeth before a fall,” the King James Bible said. “Don’t think you’re so smart,” Dad said.

If you do something wrong, that’s your fault. If you do something right, that’s someone else’s credit. Don’t think too highly of yourself. Never be prideful.

There’s truth in that, of course, but it had the effect of making most of us doubt ourselves and limit our contributions. Many of us have walked through life with our eyes cast down and our mouths shut. Even if we knew the answer, we would hesitate to speak because we didn’t want to show off.

Now, pride is a sin, and it’s wise to beware of it. But there is also a sin in thinking less of yourself than you ought to think. How many great contributions have been lost because people have been told to keep quiet or convinced that they are less than others? How many good things could you have done if you weren’t quite so cautious?

Narcissists and other self-absorbed people never seem to have a problem with pride. They embrace it and use it to their advantage. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, they say. They would rather speak out and muscle their way into being noticed and believed than to actually be right. If they are shown to be wrong about something, they just blame the error on someone else. We obviously don’t want to be like them.

Ok, pride is bad. So what do we do? I would suggest that the positive characteristic we should allow is confidence.

Isaiah quoted the Lord as saying, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” It is interesting how those two go together. Narcissistic confidence is rarely quiet. Rather, it is boastful and arrogant and loud. But you can connect the quietness you have learned to confidence and find strength. Not just strength for yourself, but strength to benefit others as well.

The thing about confidence is that it has to be based on something solid. Narcissistic confidence is based on the desire for superiority the narcissist carries. But there is no substance to that confidence. The narcissist makes up for this by being loud and confrontational or by accusing and manipulating. The narcissist will lie as boldly as he will proclaim the truth. Whatever it takes to look superior. But, again, there is no support under his stand.

Your confidence, on the other hand, must be based on the character and work of Jesus. In other words, have confidence in Him rather than in yourself or the things of this world. If you do that, you can hold your head high, speak boldly, and contribute as He leads.

Avoiding pride is a matter of avoiding self-focus. You know that you have weaknesses and compromises, but you don’t have to look at them to move forward. Just look at Jesus.

When I tell people that I am certain of going to Heaven and being forgiven and being loved by God, some of them think I am being prideful. But I am just confident that He is who He says He is. I trust that God is not lying or mistaken when He speaks of me. He says that He loves me. He says that I am forgiven. He says that Heaven is mine.

So, walk in confidence. Let your confidence be seen as strength. Pride will lead to a fall, but confidence in the Lord and His truth will hold you securely.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What does it mean to be an enemy of God?

It’s Monday Grace!

You can see it on television every day. Someone is murdered. The investigators ask, “Did he have any enemies?” Nope. Not one. Yet someone murdered him.

It seems to me that someone who murders another person is, by definition, an enemy. Even if the act was a sudden impulse, the act itself defines an enemy.

Some people, when they think of being or having an enemy, consider murder to be the definition. Since they can’t think of anyone they want to kill or anyone who wants to kill them, they say they have no enemies.

And when it is suggested that they are enemies of God, they disagree. “I don’t hate God. I just don’t believe in Him,” they say. “How can God be my enemy when He isn’t even real?”

Even some of those who believe in God and want His Heaven don’t think of themselves as His enemies. There was a time when they ignored Him or disagreed with Him, but they never thought of Him as their enemy.

Yet, the Scriptures refer to those apart from Christ as enemies of God. Believers were enemies but were reconciled, just as they were perishing and are now saved. It doesn’t seem to matter whether someone felt like an enemy of God.

“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10, NKJV)

You see, the concept of enemy doesn’t always have to do with hatred or murder. Sometimes it just means opposition. Yes, the word in Greek is strong, but there are enemies that have nothing in particular against each other. It is a common story that soldiers can talk and laugh with soldiers from the other side, even though they will each try to kill the other. The point is that they are on opposite sides.

Jesus said,

“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Luke 11:23, NKJV)

That may seem harsh to us, but He understood something people still struggle against. Jesus is the dividing line. Jesus is the focal point. Salvation comes only through Him.

On one side are all the good things: peace, forgiveness, freedom, righteousness, joy, and more. On the other side are all the bad things: hatred, brokenness, evil, pain, and more. The dividing line is Jesus.

So, those who are not with Him are against Him. Those who are not reconciled to God through Jesus are enemies of God. Those who are lost are not found; who are broken are not whole; who are evil are not good.

Even the thinking is different on the two sides:

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7, NKJV)

You and I might struggle with this “black-and-white” perspective, this clear delineation of sides, but it is still the truth. The world might not like for us to think this way, but it is the way God thinks.

Now, let’s be clear: God still loves His enemies. He tells us to love our enemies, and He shows us that love in His own relationship with those who reject Him. He still wants them to be saved. He still calls to them and opens His heart to them. He still grieves at the broken relationship.

Years ago, I came across a little story about Abraham Lincoln. It was just after the Civil War, and Lincoln welcomed a man from the side of the South to the White House. His critics chastised him and said that he should not try to make friends with the opposition, he should destroy them. But Lincoln answered with wisdom. He said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

It is the desire of the heart of God that His enemies would become His friends. He reached out to us to bring us in, and now we love Him. He continues to reach out to others with that same love.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

No One Has It All Right

It’s Narcissist Friday!

I have written before of the mysteries of our faith. I believe the truth is far richer, far deeper, and far more wonderful than any of us understand. The person and work of Jesus has filled my life with a purposeful wonder for many years. I don’t expect to understand all of what He did or Who He is even in Heaven.

So, I readily confess that I don’t claim to have all the answers. In fact, the few answers I think I have may not be as right as I think. That’s okay with me. The foundation of the love of God remains secure.

No one else has it all right either. Yes, I know there are those who think they do. They take pleasure in telling you where you are wrong. They have their arguments ready for anyone who disagrees. Most people like that get more value out of overwhelming others with their arguments than they get from knowing the truth. The truth, in fact, sometimes gets in the way of their arguments. It just seems better to admit that there are many things we don’t know.

Now, I believe the Bible. I believe in what the Bible teaches. I even believe that God wants us to understand the Bible. I am just not confident that my understanding of what the Bible says is as certain as I would like. Nor am I confident in the understanding of others. Instead, I open myself to the Lord, and I study. I believe He leads me into truth, or at least enough truth to satisfy my need at the time.

I also believe that truth is truth. There is not one truth for one person and a different truth for another. God is not capricious, Albert Einstein said. He doesn’t give contradictory information. At the same time, He often doesn’t give all the information to one person. We are supposed to look to the Spirit as He leads all those who believe. Some have experienced and learned things I have not. I should be ready and willing to listen.

In spite of what the narcissist thinks of himself, he doesn’t know everything. In spite of what the legalist thinks of himself, he isn’t doing everything right. So, we can’t just accept everything these folks tell us, no matter how that frustrates them. Search the Scriptures and pray. Ask for the wisdom you need. It might come from someone else, but it might not. Trust that the Lord will get His word to you.

And, in the days ahead, be willing to live with mystery and wonder. In that mystery, you will find the hand of God to lead you. You will hear His voice in the wonder. You don’t need the answers. You do need the One who knows.

I love this verse:

“But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV)

There are marvels in this world and promises in store for us beyond our comprehension. That’s good! It reminds us that God is real and active in our lives and in our world.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What does it mean to be righteous?

It’s Monday Grace!

In their desire to make their products attractive and palatable, sometimes manufacturers create dangerous look-alikes. Laxatives that look like chocolate bars. Medicines and soap pods that look like candy. Cleaning liquids that look like soda or kool-aid. Easy, but dangerous, to mix up.

I remember eating a piece of chocolate candy as a child. It tasted terrible. Then I learned that it was a dog treat. Not the same, but not particularly dangerous. I survived.

It’s even worse when the substitution is purposeful. When a product is made to look like something else just so it will sell. Certain alcohol products are packaged like drinks for kids. Nicotine gum that looks like regular gum. Certain brands with ingredients you have trusted are imitated by ones loaded with things you can’t trust.

When religion creates a product it wants to promote, it will make it look like something good. Church service, financial generosity, positive actions, good reputations. All these are desirable, so the church has suggested that they are the same as righteousness. “Do these things and God will credit you with righteousness.” At least that’s the message you are supposed to get.

So, a lot of church people work hard and give generously because they trust that righteousness will be the result. God will overlook their sins and their place in Heaven will be secure on the basis of their good works.

I remember an older man who told me that God and he “had an understanding.” He said something like: “I take care of Him and He’ll take care of me.” He meant that he would be generous with the church, in time and money, and God would see to it that he could enter Heaven. It was an arrangement, he thought.

But righteousness does not come by human effort, even if that effort is in the context of the church. In fact, one of my favorite words (righteousnesses) is used in the King James Bible in a negative context.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; And we all do fade as a leaf; And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6, KJV 1900)

And again,

“When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.” (Ezekiel 33:13, KJV 1900)

All our righteousnesses only look like righteousness. They are not the same. Human works, no matter how good or sacrificial they are, can only be poor imitations of true righteousness.

Righteousness before God is moral perfection, a truly clean life. Clean from sin. Unstained by iniquity. Our sin is so strong, so pervasive, that no amount of good work can undo it. Even if we could cover our sin with good works, the sin is still there. We would not be righteous.

No, righteousness is a gift, an exchange. Jesus took our sinfulness on Himself and our old life died on the cross with Him. Then He brought new life to us in the Resurrection. He took our sins away and gave us righteousness. The sins were ours. The righteousness is His. And He gave it to us.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21–26, ESV)

We are made righteous by His grace, His work of love, through faith. As we depend on Him and trust in Him, that new life is ours. A righteous life.

To be righteous is to be made clean by Jesus. There is no righteousness apart from Him. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags compared to the gift He offers.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Believe in Miracles

It’s Narcissist Friday!

“Anything God has ever done, He can do now. Anything God has ever done anywhere, He can do here. Anything God has ever done for anyone, He can do for you.” – A. W. Tozer

You must believe in miracles. How can I say that stronger? I really, really want you to believe in miracles. You have to believe in miracles. Miracles do happen, and they can happen for you.

Why do I think that is so important? Because miracles remind us that God is real and active. A real God, one who cares like the God of the Bible says He cares, reaches into our lives once in a while. When He does, things change. Our God is active.

The world notices coincidences and sometimes calls them miracles. There are times when good planning and hard work come together without trouble, and some call those times miracles. There are times when just the right thing happens, and we get what we want and call it a miracle. But are those really miracles?

A miracle comes from the hand and heart of God. A miracle is personal. A miracle connects us to God. Without God, there is no miracle.

The unbeliever might credit the universe or luck or human effort, but you will recognize the hand of God in your life. You will know that something happened that didn’t have to happen, maybe that shouldn’t have happened, and you will remember the love of your Lord.

Even in the church, few expect miracles in their lives. Many believers continue to explain away the work of God. I have been a part of the organized (denominational) church for a long time. Two very different denominations. Both used the Bible, although they believed different things about it. Both spoke of Jesus. But neither really saw God as living and active in practice. They spoke of miracles, but didn’t expect one. Instead, they told us to work hard for ourselves to make the kingdom come about. Good things came as a result of hard work and good planning, according to them.

But I could tell you several things that have happened in my life which I cannot explain, that I have to attribute to the loving God. Most of these were personal things, small things from the perspective of others, but they meant a great deal to me.

Coincidence? Perhaps, but a very handy one. The result of human effort? Perhaps, but one unimpeded by the normal troubles. Luck? Maybe, but very good luck indeed.

I don’t want to try to tell God how He should do something. If He wants to use the kindness of others to work His miracle in my life, that’s great. If He wants to use some kind of convergence of beneficial events to bless me, that’s okay with me. If He just wants to dump something special in my lap, I’ll take it and be thankful. The miracle is the move of His hand on my behalf.

Of course, all of this begs a different question. Why does God not give His miracles? Why don’t we always get what we want or need?

There are the standard answers, and they are not wrong. God may know that what you want is not best for you. There may be a special blessing in walking a difficult path. It may not be the best time for a miracle. There are some good answers, even if they don’t seem to satisfy our hearts.

But one thought that has come to me is that a miracle is personal. If we could put our twenty-five-cent prayer into the slot on the miracle machine and our miracle would pop out, what would that be? God is not mechanical so that He must respond to certain rituals or words. Nor is He our servant required to jump when we have a request. His desire is not to solve all our problems on command, but to draw us to personal relationship with Him.

I understand that there are times of panic and frustration in our lives, times when a miracle would really help. I know that there are times when we feel God must act. But those are not times for us to demand or to try to manipulate to get our way. Those are times to trust in the love of our Lord. Those are times to seek His peace and His will.

Never stop believing in miracles. God does love you. He knows your need and your heart. He is active and good.

Years ago, a singer named Kate Smith had a song on a record that my folks liked to listen to in the evenings. The song had a phrase I have never forgotten:

“I believe in miracles for I believe in God.”

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What does it mean to face God’s wrath?

It’s Monday Grace!

God’s wrath is either an overstated or understated topic, depending on which church you go to or which teacher you listen to.

While some preachers depend on the subject of wrath to keep their people from sinning, others hate to think about it. Some might say that I would fall into the latter group because I rarely talk about the wrath of God. There’s a reason for that.

So, let’s be clear. You can’t avoid the subject of God’s wrath, even in the New Testament, if you trust the words of Scripture. God’s wrath against sin is real. I am not sure I could define it well, but that doesn’t make it less real.

A friend and I have a running discussion about wrath. I tend to think that it is the intense love of God for the sinner that is focused against sin. He thinks wrath is something more than that, an anger in the heart of God. He may be right. We should not make the mistake of confusing God’s love and God’s wrath.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Romans 1:18, NKJV)

Whatever the wrath of God is, whether the natural consequence of unbelief and separation from life or the intentional antagonism of God’s heart against unbelief, we cannot dismiss it. Those who remain apart from the salvation offered in Jesus will discover the reality of that wrath.

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”” (John 3:36, NKJV)

AT THE SAME TIME (notice the emphasis?), there is no wrath for the believer.

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9, NKJV)

There is no concern about wrath for those who are in Christ. None. Not any. Nada.

“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9, NKJV)

Those preachers who use God’s wrath to threaten believers are just plain wrong. There are natural consequences for sin still in the life of the believer, but no condemnation and no wrath of God. Sin will still hurt you and still hurt others, but God will not pour out His wrath on you. It just will not happen.

And listen: God does not want His wrath poured out on anyone. He gave His Son so that anyone could come in faith and be saved from wrath. God does not want the lost to suffer wrath, He wants them to come to Him and find His love.

Maybe we put a little human weakness on God when we think of His wrath. Maybe the problem is that we feel good when we let our anger loose. Maybe we enjoy seeing others “get theirs.” But that isn’t the heart of God. He loves even the worst sinners. The desire of His heart is that all would be saved.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV)

We may warn unbelievers about the wrath of God, but we call them with the love of God. They are given the right to choose and something of wrath is very real, so the love of God calls to them. But to those who are saved, the message of wrath is wrong. Believers should be taught to trust the Lord who loves them. We are warned about sin only from the context of that love.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Fight Lies with Truth

It’s Narcissist Friday!

Lies are a primary tool of narcissists and other abusers. In fact, some victims of these people suggest that the abuser will not tell the truth when a lie is handy. The reason for that is control. Lies keep the victims off center, away from the strength the truth provides.

Other narcissists and manipulators are more careful to use the truth when it is convenient or helpful. But the simple fact is that they have no aversion to lying. None.

What do you do when they lie about you?

Most of us have had it happen. Someone begins to tell others something about us that isn’t true. It might be about something we did to that person, something about our character, or something about our past. It usually doesn’t matter to the one who is telling. Could be pretty much anything as long as it makes us look bad.

Sometimes the person actually believes the lie is true. Sometimes he/she knows full well that it isn’t. Again, it probably doesn’t matter. The point is to tell something negative and hurtful about us. And, too often, the people who hear it will either believe it or wonder.

I probably should have put a trigger warning at the beginning of this post. So many have been seriously hurt by these lies. They can destroy so much that you hold dear. When friends turn away, when opportunities close, when strangers know the false story about you, it hurts more than almost anything.

First, don’t give up. The truth has a way of showing itself eventually. Friends often come back with apologies. New opportunities come. Trust in the Lord’s love and keep going.

Second, the best defense against lies is truth. Consistent truth in your life, as a lifestyle, can make the lie seem unbelievable. When you compromise yourself, the lies have more opportunity. For example, if you steal things, a lie about you stealing will seem easy to believe. If you cheat or lie or openly do wrong, others may find it easier to believe the lies about you. It may not seem fair, but it will happen. The best defense is to be an honest and trustworthy person day by day.

Third, the best offense against the lie is the truth. Even if you have done wrong in the past, begin now to live the kind of life where people would not believe the lie. The day will come when people will look at you and find the lie hard to believe because of who you are today.

And when you find yourself trying to overcome the lie among friends or family, just tell the truth. Keep things simple and straight. Tell the same truth to each person. The story will be easy to remember because it is the truth. Stay on target.

A lie, at worst, will change some things in your life; but it won’t destroy you. You can rebuild. You will find new friends, a new job, or whatever you need. Time may not undo the damage that was done, but it will restore many things.

Take your broken heart to Jesus. Tell Him how much it hurts. Listen for His message of love. He knows the truth, and He knows how much you are hurt. He is with you every moment of every day.

Lies are worse than physical attacks in so many cases. The body has a natural healing process. There may be scars and sensitive bruises, but they fade. The lie hurts the heart. We remember, and we relive the frustration and betrayal.

Tell yourself to move on, then look to Jesus for the strength. Trust in His love.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized