26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. (Romans 1:26–27, NKJV)
When God’s word speaks, we either believe it and conform our thinking and our lives to it, or we reject it, raising ourselves above and against God. As an example, take the subject of homosexuality. The Bible is crystal clear on the matter. Homosexual uses of the body are not normal and natural, but express “vile passions” that are “against nature.” God’s truth clarifies LGBT issues for us, just like soap and water cleans a dirty window. Such conduct is described as “vile passions;” “Against nature;” “Leaving the natural use of the woman;” Burning “in their lust for one another;” “Men with men committing what is shameful;” Producing a just penalty for “their error” that is due and received. Until one will believe God’s truth on the subject, he or she will exchange the truth for the lie that gay love is just the same as straight love (Rom. 1:24-25). It is not. But you see, when people worship themselves and serve the lusts of their hearts instead of God, every lie is preferred over the “word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:5). God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). God’s truth frees us from our sins when we believe it and obey it (Jno. 8:31-32). Do you believe the truth, or have you exchanged it for the lie?
22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 1:22–25, NKJV)
It is truly sad to watch human beings in the death spiral of sin. Pride blinds the unbelieving heart, producing all manner of false gods and therefore, false hopes. While God desires all men to be saved, that choice must be freely made; He will not force us to follow Him. When lust reigns in one’s heart, the shame of moral defilement results. As the body is used to serve lustful impulses instead of honoring God, divine truth is exchanged for foolish lies. The moral defilement of unbelief amounts to worshiping and serving ourselves instead of our Creator. Do not be defiant against God; that will always end poorly. Instead of sin’s death spiral, be lifted up from its darkness by following the Jesus, the light of the world. Hear His word and follow it, and move out of darkness into light (Eph. 4:17-24).
1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion; and to You the vow shall be performed. 2 O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come. 3 Iniquities prevail against me; As for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them. (Psalm 65:1–3, NKJV)
God’s sovereignty is in full view in this psalm, as David and the citizens of Zion yearn to praise Him. Those who inhabit Zion (God’s kingdom, His people) set their hearts upon praising God. David cites two reasons his opening refrain for us to praise God. These reasons compel us to honor and extol His greatness, while keeping our pledge to serve Him. (1) God hears our prayers. He alone is the God who is near, who hears and answers the prayers of His children (1 Pet. 3:12; 1 Jno. 5:14-15). Although sinners mount up against God’s people, “by awesome deeds of righteousness” God will answer us and deliver us from evil (Psa. 65:5) (2) God forgives our sins. God provides atonement for our sins through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:10). These are among the reasons Christians yearn to worship God. God hears us and God saves us! Lift up your voices, inhabitants of Zion! Our God reigns!
Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:25, NKJV)
Ah yes, a convenient time. “Not now,” says the heart that has been hardened by sin, when urged to repent. “I want to be left alone,” says the defiant soul who refuses to be snatched from the fires of sin and destruction. “Maybe later,” says the reluctant soul who has not yet taken full responsibility for his or her transgressions. Felix heard the truth of God and was terrified by its prospect, yet he would not yield his heart and life to it. Claiming to be interested in a more suitable, opportune time to believe and obey, Felix put off doing God’s will. From all we are told his convenient time never came. It never does. It is not convenient to obey the gospel. The heart must be changed. Sin must be admitted and ceased. Different living must begin. These things are not easy; they are not convenient. But, they are necessary if we are to follow Jesus (Lk. 9:23-25). Being saved and being a faithful Christian demands the focus and fortitude of faith to forsake the sins of the past and to live according to the will of Christ. Immediately, without delay. Especially when it is not convenient.
18 You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the Lord your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you. (Deuteronomy 16:18–20)
Our elected representatives are presently considering a nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. A righteous nation seeks to appoint judges who will judge among the people with “just judgment” (v. 18). Such justice requires impartiality – a judge who will not be bribed or swayed by the outward circumstances of either the plaintiff (seeking judicial relief) or the defendant. Poverty and wealth hold no preferential sway over the righteous judge. If it does, then injustice will prevail. Israel was told, “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Lev. 19:15). Impartiality is required if justice under the law is to prevail. The judgments of God’s law are “true and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). Therefore, let us use them to “judge with righteous judgment,” without the bias of circumstance or the prejudice by emotion (Jno. 7:24).
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:6, NKJV)
True friends tell us what we need to hear, when we need to hear it. They know the difference between sparing our feelings and watching us make dreadful mistakes that damage our lives and our souls. Friends have our best interest at heart, and give us sound counsel, even when it brings a momentary pain (wound). Such a friendship is forged in the crucible of life’s trials, its joys and sorrow, its pain and grief. That is the friend we need. That is the friend we ought to be to others. Feigning care and concern, while paving a path of deceit in order to gain an advantage over someone, is not the action of a true friend. The next time your friend tells you what you need to hear – even though it is painful to hear – thank them for it. They are a true friend. The world needs more of their number.
We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:6, NKJV)
We hear a lot about fake news these days. Vying for attention and credibility, fake news causes people to doubt all news as tainted. Similarly, there are many fake gospels in the world which give skeptics an excuse to reject the genuine message of Christ. Yes, many “false prophets” peddle their bogus gospels, and we must test them to see if they are from God (1 Jno. 4:1). The test is whether their message agreea with the testimony of the apostles of Christ, who heard, saw and handled “the Word of Life” (1 Jno. 1:1-4). The New Testament is our standard of truth; whatever does not conform to it is fake. For example, salvation by “faith only” is a fake gospel, since the Scriptures say, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). The gospel that says Christians cannot fall from grace is fake, since the Scriptures say, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). We must test the gospels people preach to us, to know whether it is the truth, or error. By searching the Scriptures and comparing what we hear to what they says, we can discern between fake gospels and the true gospel of Christ.