“The List”

https://vimeo.com/127118312Did you know that God is intently watching every single one of us?

From His dwelling place He looks [intently] upon all the inhabitants of the earth—He Who fashions the hearts of them all, Who considers all their doings. Psalm 33:14-15 AMP

What makes this far more amazing than simply the fact that He considers the ways of all people at once, is that God is so big and so powerful beyond our comprehension that the Bible also tells that in order to regard even the heavens He actually has to humble himself. When we we view something new in the heavens it makes the news and we highly praise the ability of man to get a snapshot of one small piece of creation, but for God, the creator He is so far beyond His amazing creation in His glory, power, and wonder that it is an act of humility to pay us any attention!

The Lord is high above all nations,
His glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God,
Who dwells on high,
Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?
Psalm 113:4-6

This really helps me to get in perspective because really if God is in a humble state to regard us, then shouldn’t I also be walking in a continual posture of humility before Him in His awesome dominion and power? Also, there should be NO ONE that I am not willing to humble myself to talk to, to care for with dignity because God Himself regards them and myself, although we both at our best are like abhorrent, filthy rags before Him…

Furthermore, we learn that not only is God humbling Himself to watch us, and considering all of our ways, but he is also keeping track. He’s making “a list”, He forgets not one of our words or deeds:

“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14

For those that reject the payment of Christ and refuse Him as Lord on earth, it will only be them, their list of sins, and an all-seeing, all-knowing God on the day of judgement. The scriptures make it clear that when we live like this we are storing up wrath for that day.

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: Romans 2:5-6

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Revelation 21:8

Andy Adams, Nathaniel Hall, and Curtis Randle recently wrote and performed a puppet skit that illustrates how Christ gave His very life for us, so if we are truly sorry for our sins and repent we can have our “list” forgiven and be protected on the dreaded day of judgement:

For those that  are protected by Christ righteousness, who had a repentant heart and turned to Christ, their offenses are dismissed because the payment of their sin was made when they submitted their thoughts, words, and deeds under the leadership of Christ. However, even they will still face God for a judgement, the judgement of what they built in this life upon their new foundation of Christ:

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

We are each accountable before God, which list will you approach the throne of God’s judgement with?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Fornication Everywhere

Illustration by Naomi Hodawanus © 2014

Today many may wonder “why should we wait until we are married to have sex?”.

Fornication is so common, even in the “church”…My heart is filled with sorrow to even have to write that. I am witness both young and old who profess Christ but who deny Him at once by blatantly living in and proclaiming their fornication with no shame, with no fear of God.

I’m Not a Priest!
My heart stirs within me to unpack this further ’cause if someone lacks the fear of God why should they care about obeying God and crying out to Him in the midst of the crucible of temptation? As desires that can be overwhelming rack their body, what will motivate them to deny themselves and conform wholly to Christ when all they know is that God is loving and forgiving? Plus, if all things work for good for those that love God then even if they take advantage of God’s grace He will make it all work out in the end, right? They may think to themselves that “if God is so loving and benevolent then He’ll just understand that I’m not one of those ‘super-saints’ and He’ll forgive me, I’ll be married to the love of my life, this temptation will be over and everything will be just peachy right? Plus if only “1% of people” are actually obeying God in this area then reaaalllly, c’mon, I’m not a priest!”*

A pseudo-slap on the wrist, a coy grin, or its ok ’cause we’re not the preacher may be how many people within the church approach fornication, but God is not so lackadaisical about the whole affair.

What God Has to Say About It
God specifically says that sex outside of a lifelong marriage between one man and one woman is a sin [sin: an act that breaks God’s holy law (1 John 3:4); an act of enmity towards Him who is holy (James 4:4)].

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. I Corinthians 6:9-110

In Exodus 20 God laid down the law by saying “Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery”. Then Jesus raised the standard in the Sermon of the Mount saying that if we even look at someone with lust we have committed adultery with them in our heart and not only that, but that we will end up in hell if we gratify ourselves with lustful thoughts, just like those who act these thoughts out in fornication.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble,gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:27-32

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24

A Long List
This high standard of God’s holy law leaves us guilty beyond hope, and this just deals with one of God’s commandments: 1 man, 1 woman married for life (Matthew 19:4-6) Tack on how God records and keeps track of all of our words, even the idle ones (Matthew 12:36-37) and of everything we do (Revelation 20:11-15)….that is a looooong list of offenses.

In light of the high standards over divorce some may wonder, as the disciples did:

Matthew 19:10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

Burning With Temptation!
How did Jesus respond? He said that for some it is better to live sex-free for life for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. We also know from I Corinthians 7 that Paul says it is better to remain single in order to devote maximum time and effort to the Kingdom of God, but because of strong passion marriage provides a place to protect oneself from sin. This same passage makes it clear that the follower of Christ should marry someone who also belongs to and is in submission to the Lord.

This would be a good time to bring up I Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind…”

This part of the verse is both comforting and disturbing when one thinks of all the temptations that have ever flitted through their mind!

“…and God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

I bring this up because most, if not all of us will come under heavy temptation in some form of sexual immorality and for the single people out there the first thing to do isn’t to dive into an everlasting blood covenant. First of all, our flesh is exceedingly wicked and marriage alone doesn’t make temptation go away. God makes it clear that if we submit to God and resist the devil that the devil will flee from us (James 4:7-8) and that God is faithful to help us resist in the first place. Furthermore, we should never make any major decision like that unless it is God’s good and perfect will for our lives [see post about God’s will & post about discernment]. God created marriage and he delights in being able to play matchmaker and give the wedding gift of sex, and the responsibility of raising children unto the Lord for some, but we should leave it all up to Him. If Christ is Lord, He is Lord over whether or not we marry, who we marry, when, and over our sex life. If He is not our Lord then the acts of our flesh will profess who really is in charge, even if we don’t own up to it with our mouths:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Galatians 5:19-21

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4

The Fear of God
Now that we’ve established how completely guilty we all are by unpacking God’s stance on fornication, what is the final kicker to stop us from simply talking “Christianese” and actually living it out? Simply put, God is serious about right and wrong, and He is good. A good judge isn’t bribed, isn’t partial, and doesn’t let the guilty sneak through, no He ensures that justice is paid because of His goodness. Even if we are not a priest we will still go to hell if we are a fornicator, or a perpetrator of any sexual immorality, including those adulterous fantasies…incredibly for some this may still not seem all that bad if one does not understand or have knowledge about what the Bible tells us about hell, so here are a couple of verses to help us with that:

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

“If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.” Mark 9:43

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:40-42

We can either store up the fiery brimstone of God’s wrath for the day of judgement or we can submit ourselves now to the purifying heat of His Word. His Truth sets us free, free from complacency, free from sin.

It is not until we begin to recognize how incredibly guilty we are, how much God’s wrath literally burns against those that act out in lewdness before His Holiness, and how our soul’s punishment is imminent that all of a sudden we see how desperate we are for a Savior, and God’s grace becomes amazing [2].

Desecrating the Doorstep
Jesus said I AM the Door, no one is saved except by me. (John 10:9) The problem is that a lot of people claim Christ, profess Him as Lord, but have never gotten past the front stoop. They gaze longingly over their shoulder at this world and continue to commit gross sexual immorality on God’s front doorstep! They tell themselves that a loving God couldn’t possibly be offended at their appalling sexual sin on his front porch. In fact there is a quite a congregation on that doorstep!

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23

You see, that door is very narrow, and we can’t look back on Sodom and Gomorrah (our life under the authority of our flesh) like Lot’s wife did, we must set our eyes on Jesus. Only by His power and might can we fit through because no sin can enter through that Door. Christ can only cover the truly repentant with His Righteousness. The weight of our sin must be removed through His payment on the cross, and He will not offer His blood and righteousness unless we are in earnest, detesting and mourning over the sin that keeps us from Him, crying out for freedom from our own sinful desires.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Simply believing that Jesus is the Door does not mean we have entered through the Door. We must repent. Only then will our heart be circumcised and the Holy Spirit bear fruit, otherwise as Galatians 5:19 states, the flesh will manifest itself.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

*It is the sad reality that over 40% of pastors in the U.S. have admitted to having an extra-marital affair SINCE becoming a pastor!!![1] Um and those are the ones that told the truth. Could it be ’cause they lack the same fear of God that should send us all trembling to the cross, clinging on to the anchor of our soul for dear life? Really, for the life of our soul, which is dear indeed.

1. http://www.intothyword.org/apps/articles/?articleid=36562.
2. http://www.smithworks.org/evangelism/making_grace_amazing.html