Tuesday, June 2, 2015

"Is God's judgment coming ... or is it already here?!!"

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth ..."  (Romans 1:18).

Because I know that many people think Jesus was all about loving people and ignoring sin, here are some words from Jesus to the disciples shortly before His crucifixion:

"And when He (the Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged" (John 16:8-11).

Sin and unrighteousness are those things that are contrary to God's revealed truth, both His creation and His Law.  Everything is judged by God by measuring them against the standard that HE has set.  While the Supreme Court, for example, determines the legality of same-sex marriage, God not only established the covenant of marriage to be one man and one woman, but also declares ALL sexual relationships outside of this covenant of marriage, including heterosexual and homosexual acts (and lust and abuse even inside the God-ordained marriage relationship) to be sin in His eyes and so worthy of His judgment.

Those in the world, and an increasing number of people in the visible church, believe that people who stand on God's Word are guilty of "judging others," and we all know Jesus said, "Do not judge!"  Actually, though, Jesus did not say that we should not "judge" the actions of those around us.  What He DID says was this:

"Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eyes?  Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:1-4).

It certainly sounds like Jesus is telling us not to judge others!  But listen to what He says in the next verse:

"You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and THEN you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:5).

The assumption made by those who think we as Christians are "judging" them is that all Christians are hypocrites.  Certainly, there are some hypocrites among us, but the definition of a "hypocrite" is one who pretends to be something they are not, and that does not define me or many others who truly know Jesus Christ.  I confess that I am a sinner, saved by grace.  The Apostle Paul described himself and God's mercy in the following verses:

"I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.  BUT I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost (the worst of all sinners), Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life" (I Timothy 1:12-16).

Every true believer in Jesus Christ is fully away of his or her own sin and rests in the grace of God for forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit that leads to confession and repentance (turning from sin to righteousness) and FREEDOM ... freedom from the guilt and power of sin, freedom to love and worship God in the righteousness He has described in His Word, freedom to know the truth about myself and my need of a Savior and then the joy of telling others the truth that they, too, may be saved.  When Jesus said, "Judge not!", He was pointing out that we must not set ourselves up above anyone else as though we were the final judge and jury or that we have the authority to condemn anyone.  GOD is the Judge and He WILL judge ALL people.  The only hope is faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that confesses, repents and believes in God's grace and forgiveness and which then produces "good fruit" (Matthew 7:15-20).

Those of us who by God's grace have been set free now desire to live a life pleasing to the Lord our God and because we know His love and forgiveness and grace we long for others to be set free from their bondage to sin.  Those who are enslaved by any sin, including sexual sins of all kind, are in bondage and unless they repent will face the just judgment of God.  WE don't judge anyone, but God has given to us the responsibility to proclaim His truth and to OFFER forgiveness to those who are convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit and who desire to turn from it.

What is happening today, however, is that people don't want to hear the truth ... the truth about themselves or about sin and its consequences.  They refuse to believe that God will punish anyone for failing to confess their sin and repent and believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness.  The very Jesus whom people claim "loves everybody" and who "would never send anyone to hell," spoke repeatedly of eternal life AND eternal death.  In fact, in the very same message where Jesus said, "Judge not, that you be not judged," Jesus said a few verses later, "Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.  For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are FEW" (Matthew 7:13-14).

And because people refuse to hear the truth, to listen to God's warnings and to turn from their sin, they WILL face God's just judgment against their sin - not because I say so, but because GOD says so ... because JESUS says so!  As the Apostle Paul wrote about God's wrath and judgment in Romans 1, he explained that people "suppress the truth" (vs. 18) that God's Word is true, that His Law is good, that His standard of righteousness is perfect ... that obedience to God is FREEDOM and that living in sin is bondage.  They know it, they feel it, but they do everything they can to deny it.

Here's the disturbing thing when it comes to the latest cultural shift in our nation towards the approval of same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage, transgender and other such issues:  these reveal that God's judgment is not only coming in the future ... it is already here!!  In Romans 1 we read that the consequence of mankind's refusal to acknowledge the one true God and to come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ is this:  "God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator!!" (Romans 1:24).

Again in verses 26-27 we read, "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.  For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error."

And he goes on in verses 28-32 to say, "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.  They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.  They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

God's judgment is upon our nation and our world, and the only escape is to confess your sin, to repent and to believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness.  By the power of His Holy Spirit Christ makes us new creations and gives us a new life, putting off the old nature and putting on the new, in righteousness and true holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).  Only by the power of Jesus Christ can you or I or any person experience true spiritual freedom.  No other religion, no mere man-made philosophy, no theories or ideas of man can overcome the old nature of sin and escape the just judgment of God.  ONLY through faith in Jesus can you or I approach God as our Father in heaven and know that He loves us, that we are forgiven and that in Him I have eternal, everlasting life in the presence of a holy God who cannot look upon sin.

What an amazing message!  Yet most reject it because they refuse to acknowledge the truth about God's standard of righteousness, about sin and about judgment.  What about you?  What will YOU do?  What HAVE you done?  Some think that people like me are "haters," and words like these may soon be branded as "hate speech."  The truth is, it is because I know my own sin and my need for a Savior that I am compelled to tell others.  "We are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake He made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Corinthians 5:20-21).

This is the message that those who are in bondage to any sin need to hear.   People engaging in sexual sins, whether heterosexual or homosexual need to understand that God's wrath is upon those who do not confess, repent and believe.  Those who refuse to confess that they ARE sinners in need of God's grace and who "practice" another religion or even claim to be Christians, but who rely in their own goodness, will face God's judgment.  SAFETY is found only in Jesus, "for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved!" (Acts 4:12).  Saved from what?  From God's judgment.

As I hear about a famous man declaring himself to be a woman and the media and people offer their opinions, I grieve for a soul in torment.  Then I read of those taking advantage who declare that we should not have genders and should allow children to decide if they are boys or girls.  And I think of Romans 1, "And God gave them up ..." ... "And God gave them up ..." ... "And God gave them up ..."  What happens to a person, to a people, when God gives them up to their sinful passions?  Despair ... and finally, judgment.  Being a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, is determined before birth.  In rare cases ... VERY rare cases, there may be a medical problem which, in most cases, can be corrected by a balance of hormones.  The lie of the enemy is that this is "normal," that "this is the way God made THEM." 

To those caught in the bondage of a nature that is contrary to God's perfect righteousness (and that includes ALL of us), there is hope.  For some it will mean leading a single life ... Christ and His body welcome you as you walk this road.  For others it will mean overcoming the temptations to act on the sinful impulses that come from the old nature in order to seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness.  For all of us, in one way or another, it means relying on God's grace and on His strength every single day as we long for that day when we will enter His presence and be made like Him, free once and for all from the enslaving power of sin and the bondage it brings.

Meanwhile, we who believe in Jesus and who have found forgiveness and life through faith in Jesus are called to be light in this dark world.  Jesus offers freedom ... He really does ... but He says that the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to life.  JESUS is the Way and the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through faith in Him (John 14:6).  Have you come to Him?  Have you experienced the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross.  God says, "Come, let us reason together; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18).

Stop believing the lies of the enemy of your soul and listen to the voice of Jesus, who came to give Himself as a ransom for many, that we may receive real life, eternal life, through Him, as His Spirit works within us.  God's judgment is here!  Our nation is under His judgment even now, along with the rest of the world.  But until Jesus returns there is time for one more ... for YOU or someone you know and love ... to be set free and to find in Jesus eternal life, the life that brings hope and peace and joy inexpressible!! (I Peter 1:8-9).

"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved!"  (Acts 16:31).