The Burden of Sin #1844

3 When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (Psalm 32:3–4, NKJV)

We saw in 2 Samuel 11:1 in yesterday’s Sword Tips (#1843) that David was not where he should have been, when he should have been there, or doing what he should have been doing. Failing to guard himself against sin, suffering came upon David, his house, his nation, Bathsheba, Uriah, and others. David was tormented with guilt over his adultery, deception, and murder(cf. 2 Sam. 11:27). You see, covering up sin does not comfort the heart of the person who is given to doing the will of God. David was such a person – a man after God’s own heart, in fact (1 Sam. 13:14) – yet he sinned (Psa. 51:3-4). He felt the internal pain of sinning against the Lord. He could not escape the turmoil that captured the depth of his soul. His vigor was sapped from him. David inserted a suspension in the music at this point in the psalm (“Selah”) – a pause, perhaps to reflect on the gravity of sin’s destructive powers and our futility to overcome it alone. Surely we should pause and ponder the depth and guilt of our own sins and our helpless condition without the mercy of God. David’s only real escape and renewal of hope was through God’s mercy and forgiveness (Psa. 32:1-2). The same is true of us (Eph. 1:7; 2:1-10). The guilt and shame for our sins need not be our undoing. Through Christ, we obtain mercy, grace, regeneration, and hope (Tit. 3:4-7; Acts 2:37-41).

Avoiding Sin’s Temptations #1843

It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1, NKJV)

Today’s verse introduces the record of king David’s sins of adultery, deception, and murder. It contains lessons that help protect us from spiritual danger – if we will heed the warnings. 1) David was not where he should have been. Where we are matters. Instead of leading his army into battle against the Ammonite enemy, he remained in Jerusalem while his general and servants took his army into battle. The obvious lesson is go where you ought to be, and avoid places of temptation (Eph. 5:15). 2) David was not at Rabbah when he should have been there. When we are where we are matters. Winter was over, spring has arrived, and David should have been besieging Rabbah. When we do not redeem our time to accomplish God’s will, we expose ourselves to temptations of neglect, waste, and worldliness (Eph. 5:16). 3) David was doing what he should not have been doing. What we are doing matters. Remaining in Jerusalem was comfortable, and more convenient than being encamped on the battlefield, but the cost was great. Putting personal comfort ahead of duty tempts us with selfish desires and the allurements of sin (Jas. 1:14). Avoid sin by being where you should be, when you should be there, doing what you ought to do.

The Lord’s Supper #1842

23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23–26, NKJV)

The Lord’s supper, initiated by Christ, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and eaten by Christians, is simple, solemn, and sacred. Far from the rituals and ceremonies attached to it through the centuries, the communion of the body and blood of Christ (“breaking of bread,” Acts 2:42; 20:7) is identified in today’s passage as a memorial and a proclamation (v. 24-26). The Corinthians were corrupting it by divisively perverting its purpose (1 Cor. 11:17-22). Corruption of the supper continues still. It is not called a “sacrament” or the “Eucharist” in Scripture. These are theologian inventions of Roman Catholic tradition. Scripture does not teach the elements change in substance, becoming the actual blood and body of Jesus (another Catholic departure). Scripture shows it is a weekly memorial, not an occasional option (Acts 20:7). By what right do men tamper with it? Only by their own, misguided, unscriptural presumptions. How about we just follow the Bible? Simple. Solemn. Sacred.

The Lord is Good #1841

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth. (Lamentations 3:25–27, NKJV)

Jeremiah ponders the goodness of God’s mercies, compassion, and faithfulness in the midst of the overwhelming sorrow of Jerusalem’s demise (due to her sins against the Lord, Lam. 3:22-24; 1:1-5). When sorrow comes into our lives, hope waits and seeks the Lord (v. 25). When we put our trust in the Lord and His sovereign will, He will send His salvation (v. 26). Youthful vigor must overcome impatience that burdens can aggravate and intensify (v. 27). God’s goodness will not overlook sin (as His punishment against Jerusalem shows). But, when we will abandon our sin and turn to the Lord, He will abundantly pardon (Isa. 55:7). The gospel of Christ explains how to receive His salvation (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-41; 3:19). God is good, and it is good for us to hope in Him, to wait quietly for His salvation, and to bear our burdens (Matt. 11:28-30).

The Time of Your Stay Here #1840

And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; (1 Peter 1:17, NKJV)

Christians sing the old spiritual song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…,” reminding us our stay on earth is transitory. Life is temporary, and when we live as if it is permanent we forget key components of a life well-lived in preparation for eternity. First, we forget we are immortal beings. Created in the image of God, we are not defined by the physical realm, but by the spirit, the inner spiritual person. We call on our Father in heaven, not on lifeless gods craved by the art and design of men. We live before God, and therefore we must live with an immortal perspective. Second, we forget what we do on earth will be judged by God, fairly and impartially. God sees and knows everything about us. We will each give account of ourselves to God. That should persuade us to live in His favor right now (Rom. 14:11-12). It should cause us to dread sinning against Him. God’s judgment of our lives will be personal, fair, and impartial (2 Cor. 5:10). We are convinced by God’s goodness and severity to do His will faithfully each day (Rom. 11:22). We are choosing what our judgment will be by the way we live. Remember, this world is not our home. So, live for heaven (Matt. 6:19-21).

“Oh, visit me with Your salvation” #1839

4 Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, 5 That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance. (Psalm 106:4–5, NKJV)

God’s historic goodness toward Israel is recited in Psalm 106. From Egypt, to the wilderness, to the land of promise, and to their exile among the Gentiles, Israel repeatedly repaid God’s favor with rebellion. “Many times He delivered them; But they rebelled in their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity” (Psa. 106:43). Yet, God “regarded their affliction,” remembered His covenant when they cried to Him, and showed them mercy among their captors (Psa. 106:44-46). The unrelenting goodness of God compels us to learn from Israel and live faithfully in His blessings under the covenant of Christ. Today, the Israel of God is the church – those who are of the faith of Abraham, not of the flesh of Abraham (Gal. 6:16; 4:21-31; Rom. 2:28-29; 4:12, 16). Those who serve the Lamb of God share in His powerful victory over Satan and his cohorts, for we are “called, chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14). God offers this salvation to the world through Jesus Christ. In Christ we are the recipients of God’s grace, we gladly rejoice as His nation, and we glory in our inheritance (cf. Psa. 106:5; Eph. 1:3-7; 1 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:3-4). Just as God gathered a remnant of Israel from the Gentiles, the church is gathered by the gospel as a remnant of grace from the nations. We thank God for His power and triumph in His praise (Psa. 106:47; Rom. 11:5; Isa. 11:11). Truly God’s mercy is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psa. 106:48).

Abide in Christ #1838

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1 John 2:28, NKJV)

The Christian’s confidence of eternal salvation in Christ is not over “when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11). Confidence or boldness before Christ when He returns will happen if we “abide in Him.” To abide means to continue, to dwell, to remain. The verb “abide” is written in present tense, active voice, and imperative mood. That means we are commanded to abide; it is not a suggestion. It means every Christian is the subject of the command, and that abiding in Christ is presently taking place. Being a Christian is a daily decision and daily action of continuing to be faithful to Christ. We must continue to live in Christ to have bold assurance before Him at this coming. Scripture says, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11). And again, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14). Do not only begin to be a Christian, but also continue to be faithful to Christ every day. Abide in Christ now, and you will have bold confidence in Him at His coming. “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Tim. 2:12; Matt. 10:32-33).

Hear, Heed, and Humble #1837

31 The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise. 32 He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. 33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, and before honor is humility. (Proverbs 15:31–33, NKJV)

When these proverbs are combined they give us good insight into developing and living in wisdom. First, we must accept the rebukes of life (v. 31). There are lessons to be learned from the school of hard knocks. Life’s ups and downs will teach us wisdom – if we will hear them. Otherwise, we foolishly continue to repeat the same mistakes. Secondly, redirecting our lives through instructive rebukes means we care our about our own soul (v. 32). Understanding comes from accepting wise instruction. Unfortunately, pride and selfishness will prevent us from learning and heeding the rebukes of life, as well as the rebukes contained in God’s inspired word (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Matt. 16:26). Thirdly, when we couple fear (reverence) of God with humility we will gain wisdom and its honor (v. 33). Jesus repeatedly said only by humbling ourselves will we be exalted (Lk. 14:11; 18:14; Matt. 23:12). God gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud (Jas. 4:6). Let us humble ourselves to hear the rebukes of life (v. 31). Let us reverence God and properly value the life He gives us (v. 32). And let us fear God, receive His wise teaching, and humbly do His will (v. 33). God will come in due time if we will hear, heed and humble ourselves before Him (1 Pet. 5:6).

When You Are Spoken Against #1836

3 For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries. 4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (1 Peter 4:3–4, NKJV)

Jesus taught that seeking the praise of men at the expense of truth produces spiritual grief: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Lk. 6:26). Seeking praise from peers tempts us to compromise truth for the sake of approval. Today’s passage also reminds us we are not defined by what others say about us. Here we have evil people speaking evil things about Christians who are not sinning, but who are doing the will of God (1 Pet. 4:1-2). We cannot expect people in the world to always think well of us. When they do not, it does not necessarily mean we have done something wrong in God’s sight. Jesus was hated without a cause, and He explained that will also happen to His disciples (Jno. 15:25, 18-20). We will be spoken against when we separate ourselves from worldly people and their excessive sins. It is unrighteous to judge a Christian guilty and reproachable merely because a worldly person has something evil to say against him or her. God’s approval is our goal. Therefore, “who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed” (1 Pet. 3:13-14).

A Pure Conscience #1835

I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, (2 Timothy 1:3, NKJV)

The conscience distinguishes us from birds, beasts, and fish. They operate on instinct to survive. Humans have been created in the image of God, unlike animals, and the conscience is one such distinguishing trait (Gen. 1:27). The conscience is a moral monitor of what we accept to be right and wrong, but not necessarily of what is right in God’s sight. It is not the standard of right and wrong – God’s word is. (Jiminy Cricket was wrong when he told Pinocchio to “always let your conscience be your guide.”) We can believe and act incorrectly, and yet our conscience can commend us in the error (Acts 23:1; 26:9). The conscience is like an early warning system, monitoring our choices and conduct to help us avoid moral danger. But, we have to train it with God’s truth for it to operate accurately. Just like sensors are adjusted and cleaned so they alert us of danger, our conscience must be “set” (educated) with God’s word and kept pure to accurately warn us of moral threats (see 1 Tim. 4:1-3). God cannot be served when our conscience is defiled by sin and error (Tit. 1:15). Jesus died to cleanse our consciences from “dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). It is up to us to educate and train our conscience with God’s word, and to keep it pure by serving God according to His truth.