Monday, December 29, 2008

A Mediator

Today, we jump back into our study in Galatians 3:20 where it says, “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” The very idea of a mediator implies that there are two parties involved. In the given of the Law, it was God and the People with Moses playing the mediator. However, when God made the covenant with Abraham, there was only one party; Himself. We see this in Genesis 15 in that God actually placed Abraham asleep and made the covenant with Himself and Abraham had nothing to do with it. In other words, God would not rely on Abraham keeping his end of the deal for Him to fulfill the covenant. It is what we call an unconditional covenant in the Bible. A conditional covenant requires both parties to comply while an unconditional only requires one.

The same can be said of the promise that Christ has given to us in salvation. It was between Christ and God who are one and the same. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ…To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself…” It is not conditional upon us keeping the Law but in Christ already doing it for us. What a deal!

Notice v.21, “Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” The Law could not give life in that it only pointed out the sinfulness of mankind.

Notice v.22, “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Again, the Law could not save, only the promise that was given to Abraham that looked forward to the Seed (Jesus) could save and our faith in that promise.

On that note, I sometimes hear people say that the folks in the Old Testament were saved by keeping the Law. A thousand times, NO! They could not keep the Law. If they could have, Jesus’ death on the cross was in vain. On the contrary, those in the Old Testament were saved by their faith in looking forward to Jesus and we are saved by our faith in looking back at Jesus!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Overcoming Anger, Part 4

Today, we are still discussing the issue of anger. Something else that I want us to remember about anger is that it can be fueled by our own imaginations. I heard one time that life is one percent reality and ninety-nine percent perception. Oh, how true that is. Any of us can look at the same situation and walk away with completely different interpretations. Why? – perception. It kind of depends upon what kind of “luggage” we bring to the party. We all have predetermined dispositions that are based upon our own life experiences.

I once read, “Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.”

We must be careful that we do not allow anger to destroy us. It does no good to replay scenarios in our heads. Scenarios of what should’ve, could’ve and would’ve been said or done. Instead, we must learn to yield our thoughts to the obedience of Jesus Christ and let him bring them into captivity. That’s what Paul meant when he said in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” That word “arguments” in the old King James Version means “imaginations”.

We must always remember that anger is a choice. Yes, you don’t have to get upset when somebody crosses you or when something bad happens to you. You can choose to be controlled and manipulated by other people who make you upset or you can choose to disregard them. It’s always our choice in how we respond to anything. Paul said in Galatians 4:12 “Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all.”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Overcoming Anger, Part 3

Last week we were still looking at how to overcome anger. As we mentioned, anger in and of itself is not sin. However, uncontrolled anger is and it can result in other sins as well. We have already looked at the resulting sins of retaliation, cursing, slander and gossip. Today I want to encourage those of you who are struggling with these sins that you must learn to let your anger go.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 “Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.” The encouragement here given by the Apostle Paul is that you must never allow the sun to go down on your anger. In other words, don’t take it to bed no matter how upset you are with each other. My wife and I don’t always agree on everything. I’m sure that many of you can identify with that. However, when it’s time to turn in for the evening, we always express our love for each other. It may be through gritted teeth, but it does happen. Why? First of all, it shows that our love is bigger than any argument that we could ever have. Second, the Bible tells us to do so. Otherwise, we would be giving place to the Devil in that area of our lives. If we are not careful, we will allow that anger to turn into bitterness. Bitterness is destructive to you and everyone around you. I believe that’s why the writer of Hebrews warns and encourages us when he says, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” Yes, allowing anger to seethe into our spirits causes defilement. Defilement is “to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute; taint or debase. None of those are good by the way!

Some will say, “I have a short fuse and I can’t help myself.” That is an excuse for a lack of self-control. The writer of Proverbs 14:16-17 says, “A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless. A quick-tempered (short fused) man acts foolishly, And a man of evil devices is hated.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Overcoming Anger, Part 2

Last week we started a new series on how to overcome anger. We left off discussing how that anger in and of itself is not sin. However, uncontrolled anger is and it can be followed by other sins as well. The first we discussed is the sin of retaliation. The second sin that can result is cursing. Cursing is the “expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person or group.” That is certainly not very Christlike! The writer of Psalms 59:12 said, “On account of the sin of their mouth and the words of their lips, Let them even be caught in their pride, And on account of curses and lies which they utter.”

The third sin that may result is slander. Slander is “oral communication of false statements injurious to a person's reputation.” Anger can certainly lead to slander. Proverbs 10:18 says, “He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool.” Other verses include Psalms 34:13 and 1 Peter 3:10.

The fourth sin that may result is gossip. Gossip is “idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.” The first thing that we do when we are angry with someone is share it everyone else. That is a big no-no in the Bible. The Lord shared the method of dealing with others when we feel that we have been wronged in Matthew 18:15-17 when he said, “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…”. That is the biblical way of handling someone who you are upset with…not by calling every person on your speed dial!

On another note, Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 2:14 that when we speak evil of someone to another person, we are actually “subverting” that person who we are speaking to. The word “subvert” means “to ruin”. We are ruining that person by making them also think evil of someone else, thus dragging them into our sin.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Home Bible Study

I really do believe that the Lord would have me to start a Bible study in our home. Please help me to pray about which night of the week would be best for that. I miss the fellowship and intimacy that a home fellowship affords. Let me hear from you if this would be something that you would like to be a part of as well.

Overcoming Anger

Today, I am going to take a little detour from my normal series through the book of Galatians to speak about overcoming anger. Ephesians 4:26 says, “BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger.” There are several things that I want us to look at about anger. First, we must realize that anger in and of itself is not sin. As a matter of fact, Jesus got very angry in Matthew 21:12-13 when he “…entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves…and said to them, "It is written, 'MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER'; but you are making it a ROBBERS' DEN." The point is that being angry is not sin. However, uncontrolled anger is.

We must never let our anger control us. Some people say that they can’t help themselves, but that is not what the Bible teaches. On the contrary, Paul said in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Did you notice the fruit of “self-control”? That means that you can, as a fruit of the Spirit, control your anger.

If anger is left uncontrolled, it always leads to sin. I want to discuss here and in the next few articles the result of uncontrolled anger. The first result can be that of retaliation. Oh, we all know what it feels like to want to get even. We learned that on the floor of K4! “Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”! However, Paul said in Romans 12:17-21 that we are to “never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men…never take your own revenge…but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Wow, I don’t know about you, but that flies in the face of my natural instincts.