Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Same Old Story

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6)

Solomon lamentably commenting on human affairs rightly stated, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Satan’s tactics have not changed. He still tries to cast doubt on God’s Word: “Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden’" (Genesis 3:1). He still attempts to defame God’s Word: “Ye shall not surely die!” (Genesis 3:4), and he still endeavors to denigrate God’s character: “God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5).

Sadly, humans still fall for the same old temptations: “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). From our text, “the woman saw that the tree was good for food” – the lust of the flesh; “it was a pleasant to the eyes” – the lust of the eyes, and “a tree to be desired to make one wise” – the pride of life.

In 6000 years, nothing has changed; Satan still employs the same strategies, and people still fall for the same old temptations. The good news is that “when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). To all who believe in Him, He has given the power to become sons of God (John 1:12), and with that power comes the strength to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). For the believer, it does not have to be the same old story!

Monday, September 19, 2011

God's Limit

My spirit shall not always strive with man, … (Genesis 6:3)

It seems out of character for God to run out of patience. We know God to be infinite in love and mercy. The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression …” (Numbers 14:18). The word translated “longsuffering” is actually a Hebrew construct of two words: ’arek, which means long, patient or slow, and ’aph meaning nose or nostril and implies the flaring of the nostrils in anger. So the sense here is that the Lord is patient or slow to anger, but this does not imply infinite patience.

Peter writes, “The Lord is … longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The Greek word translated “longsuffering” is makrothum√©o, which means to be long-spirited. The Spirit could take revenge, if He liked, but refuses to do so. The word also means “forbearing,” that is, to hold back from doing something. God is within His rights to call down judgment upon every sinner, but He is holding back.

In our text, the Hebrew word translated “strive” is duwn and it means to judge. Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said that, “he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8), but this striving has its limits. “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). “All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men … whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32). God is infinite in his love and mercy, but He has set a limit on His patience.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What Manner of Person

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:11)

The impermanence of this world is an oft repeated truth in the pages of Scripture. Jesus cautioned against storing “up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The impermanence of the material things we treasure in this world is clearly demonstrated on a daily basis. Clothes that are stylish one season are “retro” then next. Even the most expensive cars are destroyed in a matter of seconds due to a careless maneuver on the highway. A newly built house can be burned to the ground or decimated by a storm.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world … the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15, 17). “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21).

Considering the impermanence of this world, “what manner of persons ought ye to be?” Peter tells us that we need to have a “holy conversation.” To be holy means to be set apart especially for the service of God. “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). The King James word “conversation” translates the Greek anastrophe which means behavior or one’s manner of life. Knowing, therefore, that nothing of this world will last, everything in this world will be dissolved by fire, and that our treasure should be stored up in heaven, our lives should be lived in dedication to our Lord.