The Two Wages of Sin

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The Two Wages of Sin

James R. Aist

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

A great many Christians find it much easier to accept God’s forgiveness of their sins than it is to live free of the stains of those sins: guilt, shame and condemnation. In Romans 6:23, Paul correctly declares that the wages of sin is death, but, for many, these lingering stains are another wage of sin that needs to be dealt with. In this article I will show that a better understanding of how God responds to our confession and repentance of sins can help remove the stains of sin once and for all.

Let’s begin with the key verse, above. Notice that if we confess our sins to God, He will respond by doing, not just one, but two, things: first, He will forgive our sins;  and second, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness associated with those sins. These are not two ways of saying the same thing, but two very different, but related, things: forgive and cleanse. So, let’s focus on this cleansing from the stains of sin for a few moments.

In Isaiah 43:25, God says, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins, and Hebrews 10:17 says, “Their sins and lawless deeds will I remember no more.” Here again, we see two things that God does in response when we confess our sins and repent: First, he no longer remembers our sins, meaning that He will no longer bring them to mind and hold them against us; and secondly, He will “blot out our transgressions”, meaning, in effect, that He will “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In the book of Hebrews we find the same process of removing the stain of sin referred to as “cleanse your conscience from dead works” (Hebrews 9:14) and “cleanse them from an evil conscience” (Hebrews 10:22). Finally, we see the same theme recorded in Ephesians 5:25-27, “…Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, and that He might present to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.” And, concerning specifically the stain of condemnation, Paul had this to say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… (Romans 8:1a).” Clearly, God has promised to cleanse us from the lingering guilt, shame and condemnation when we confess our sins and repent, and He has surely done it. So, God, for His part, has released us from these stains of sin, but the question is, have we accepted His release as the final word on the matter and released ourselves from the stains?

How, then, can we be released from these stains left by sins? I believe that the first thing we must do is to forgive ourselves as God has forgiven us. This means that we must “remember our own sins no more.” In other words, we must no longer bring our sins to mind as if God still holds them against us! After all, it is to God, and Him alone, that we must give account (cf. Psalm 51:4), so why not let Him have the final say in the matter? And, we can have a very active part in letting go of the stains. Satan likes to remind us of our sins by putting evil thoughts about them into our minds, thoughts of guilt, shame and condemnation. But we do not have to allow ourselves to dwell on these evil thoughts until they consume us. Remind the devil that God has cleansed you from all unrighteousness. James exhorted us in this way, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7b).” Keep on resisting these lies of the devil until he doesn’t bring these accusations to mind any more. In this way you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2), and you will no longer have to struggle with an “evil conscience.” You can do this; God will help you, if you will trust Him!

(To read more of my articles dealing with biblical topics, click HERE)

A Rhema Word for a Worried Boy

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A Rhema Word for a Worried Boy

James R. Aist

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Among evangelical Christians, it is widely agreed that God speaks to us today primarily through His written word, the Bible. Many of us have experienced Bible verses seeming to come alive and commanding our attention in order for us to receive knowledge or wisdom from God to deal appropriately with a circumstance or decision in life that has us confused, worried or perplexed. This is one example of what Pentecostal Theology commonly refers to as “Rhema.” These Rhema can also take the form of visions, voices, dreams or even changing circumstances. This article is about a Rhema I received from God when I was only about nine years old, and it was just what I needed at the time. (For a sound, biblical teaching by Watchman Nee on the Rhema word, see text pages 51-59 at this link: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/bfa-media/ebooks/TGC-eng.pdf).

Some of you will be able to remember the early years of the atomic age, when American citizens were living under a constant threat of annihilation by atomic war that no one could stop if it ever got started. This very real threat made a deep and terrifying impression on me when I was growing up. Every other threat I had heard about could be dealt with, at least to some extent, by the medical profession, law enforcement, the military or, when all else failed, by my daddy. But, there was no one to protect me from being vaporized by an atomic bomb, should one come my way!

Good intentions aside, it didn’t help matters for our public schools to conduct those war drills in which we were instructed to take shelter under our little classroom desks to help us survive an atomic bomb attack! Somehow, we knew full well that such a maneuver would offer us no protection at all, but it surely did serve to remind us, repeatedly, that such an attack was a distinct possibility that no one would be able to escape. Every time I had to participate in that war drill, I just became that much more terrified.

The following encounter with God happened about one year after God had saved me in a revival meeting (click HERE). One day I was especially beset with dread and fear about the threat to me of an atomic bomb attack; we had had another of those drills at school that day, and I was terrified. Somehow, I managed to remember God at that moment, and so I asked God to protect me if I got bombed. Then God spoke into my mind saying something to this effect: “You don’t have to worry, you would not die. If that happens, I will take you to heaven to live with Me.” That is when I knew that I had nothing to fear, and a wave of calming peace came over me that is still with me today.

When God gives you a Rhema word, fear has to go, and it is replaced by the kind of peace that only Jesus gives (John 14:27). To God be the glory!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

The Parable Of The Sower…Revisited

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The Parable Of The Sower…Revisited

James R. Aist

“No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” – Jesus (John 6:44)

There’s an interesting and important aspect to the Parable of the Sower that is usually overlooked; namely, how did the “good ground” become good ground, whereas the other three “grounds” did not? To examine this question effectively and accurately, let’s reproduce it and its explanation here, and then unpack it, so to speak: “A sower went out to sow his seed. As he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on a rock. And as soon as it sprang up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. Yet some fell among thorns. And the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. And other seed fell on good ground and sprang up and yielded a hundred times the amount sown. When He had said these things, He cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”(Luke 8:4-8); “Now the parable means this: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are those who hear. Then comes the devil, who takes away the word from their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root, for they believe for a while, then in the time of temptation fall away. That which fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8: 11-15).

Here are some key passages from these verses that I want us to focus on for a moment. First, the seed represents the word of God. Second, the different kinds of ground represent different kinds of people who hear the word of God. Third, the seed on the good ground are those who, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience.  And fourth, at the end of the parable, Jesus cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (vs. 8). What in the world is that about? Why would Jesus punctuate this parable with such a seemingly peculiar command? Well, I believe that the key to understanding how the “good ground” became good ground is embedded in this outcry. Let me explain.

In an earlier article (click HERE), I pointed out that Jesus knew that, in any given audience, there would be some to whom God had not given “ears to hear” and that they would not be able to accept (receive) His teaching. One of the best examples of this is found in John 6:51-66, where many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him, because of His teaching on the requirement of His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood. And in Mark 8:17-18, Jesus seemed surprised, because it appeared that God may not have given His very disciples “ears to hear” the meaning of this parable. So, despite knowing that some in His audiences had not been given “ears to hear”, Jesus proclaimed His teaching anyway, for the sake of those to whom the Father had given ears to hear. And that’s why He said, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear”: His target audience was specifically those to whom the Father had given “ears to hear.” In modern parlance, we might refer to them as having been given a “teachable spirit.” Now, Jesus also said that “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44). So, let’s pull this all together and see if it tells us how the “good ground” became good ground.

All of those whom God will save are drawn, somehow, to Jesus by the Father. And, Jesus will raise all of them up on the last day. Only those to whom God has given “ears to hear” will, having heard the word, keep it in an honest and good heart and bear fruit with patience. That is what sets the good ground apart from the other three grounds: God has given them “ears to hear” the good news in an effectual manner. That’s why Jesus cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” at the end of this parable (vs. 8)! Their positive response to the good news is the final step in the process of the Father drawing them to Jesus. And what is the end result of this process? More born-again Christians, that’s what. And this is all to the glory of God the Father, who drew them all to Jesus!

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

Why this Evangelical Christian Voted for Trump (and Will Again)

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Why this Evangelical Christian Voted for Trump (and Will Again)

James R. Aist

“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” – Jesus

I rarely write about politics, although those of you who follow me on social media know that I am, one way or another, regularly outspoken on this topic. But, this is presidential election year again, and once again the very soul, core values and identity of our nation are at a crossroads. Many in the world of Christian evangelicalism are still staunchly opposed to President Trump, primarily because of his past sexual sins and his continuing, coarsely worded and often harsh, comments and tweets. Those who support Trump can’t understand why any Christian would not vote for him, while others can’t understand why any Christian would vote for him. It is my assumption that both of these opposing positions are based, ultimately, on the biblical instruction to not be condemned by what you approve (Romans 14:22b; see also Romans 1:28-32).  In addition, it appears to me that many evangelical Christians who oppose Trump have embraced false narratives (e.g., racism and misogyny) promulgated by the anti-Trump MSM concerning some of Trumps actions as President. Perhaps the most egregious of these lies is the accusation that Trump created the policies of separating families and caging children at our southern border. The truth is that children were already being caged there in 2014, during the first Obama administration (click HERE), and the Trump administration was forced to separate and hold immigrant children, temporarily, for their own safety until parental relationships could be confirmed (click HERE). Now, I am not naive enough to believe that I can win anyone over to my way of thinking on the matter, but some of you might, nonetheless, be interested to know what my perspective is, and why. The following is the short version, trust me.

At first, my support for Donald Trump was more of a disdain for Hillary Clinton than anything else. She promised to continue the legacy of Barack Obama, which we conservatives had suffered through for eight long years: a militarily weak, apologetic America, animosity toward the Bible, Christianity and Christian values, high praise of Islam, overt support of sexual perversions, open borders and endorsement of the globalist end game (one-world government), etc.  Moreover, I was familiar with the several scandals Clinton was involved with and did not believe that she possessed sufficient good character to handle the power of the presidency appropriately. Then, I compared the political platforms of the Democrat and Republican parties, and I quickly realized that the Republican platform was much more aligned with my Christian beliefs and patriotic values than was the Democrat platform. Next, I began to listen carefully to the positions Trump was taking on key issues, such as lower taxes, religious freedom, freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, abortion, regulated legal immigration, voter registration and a strong America, and it became clear to me that Trump was the clear choice, despite his past moral failures and ongoing coarse and harsh language.

But then, the infamous videotape surfaced of Trump speaking very crudely and offensively about his sexual exploits of women that occurred more than 10 years earlier. I believe that it was primarily this revelation that caused many evangelical Christians to become firmly anti-Trump. At first, Trump proclaimed that he had nothing to apologize for, which served to solidify the anti-Trump stance of these evangelicals, and for good reason. Meanwhile the liberal, mainstream media (MSM) was having a field day, feeding the public frenzy over this scandal. They were eager to report and replay this videotape in an effort to convince evangelicals to abandon support of Trump, on the basis of moral failure. They were also eager to perpetuate the false narrative that Trump is a racist, because he opposes open borders. But, predictably, they were far less eager to publicize what happened next.

Donald Trump confessed and apologized publicly for his despicable, past treatment of women (click HERE). He also made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ (click HERE). And, the conservative press began to point out Trump’s more recent attitudes and actions toward women, which were anything but misogynist. Sadly, those who were depending on the MSM to cover the whole truth heard only a steady barrage of the liberal, anti-Trump narrative.

So, Trump did, in fact, confess and apologize for his past moral failures and has subsequently demonstrated appropriate respect for women. Moreover, he did make a profession of Christian faith, contrary to the anti-Trump narrative which even some evangelical Christians continue to believe. And he has strongly and consistently supported many Christian values and practices as President. What more can any evangelical Christian fairly demand of a political candidate? After all, Trump ran for President, not Pastor, of the United States! And what would the genealogy of Jesus Christ look like today if God had not forgiven King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11)? Surely we can all agree that Trump’s past moral failures were despicable, but can we not agree also that he has upheld many Christian and conservative values in his actions as President? Isn’t it Christian to forgive past sins and move on? And didn’t Jesus say, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone…” (John 8:7)?

Since Trump was first elected, the Democrat party has drifted much farther to the left than it was before, calling for higher taxes, a socialist government, forced governmental funding of abortions, legal abortions of even babies born alive, open borders with unregulated immigration, confiscation of firearms from law-abiding citizens, governmental control of religious speech and practice, surrender of U.S. sovereignty to globalist ideologues and overt governmental support of sexual and gender perversions, to name a few. In view of the fact that our next President will be either Donald Trump or a Democrat, I have this question for evangelical Christians who still refuse to vote for Donald Trump, in 2020: “How can you, in good conscience, not vote for Trump?” In my view, to vote Democrat has become unthinkable, all things considered, especially for an evangelical Christian. And please, look beyond the now ultra-liberal MSM to inform your political views! You’re apparently missing a lot of relevant and important truths and facts. That said, I will staunchly support your right to see these things differently than I do, and I refuse to cause division in the body of Christ by accusing you of failing to demonstrate the love of God to an unbelieving world by opposing Trump.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind us all of a much higher calling than the one to “not be condemned by what you approve” (Romans 14:22b). That higher calling is to love one another, no matter what our differences may be. In fact, there are no less than 20 New Testament verses that command us to love one another! It is by this love for one another that unbelievers will know that we are truly disciples of Christ (John 13:35)! So, let’s not compromise our Christian testimony over something as worldly as who to vote for in 2020. Far more important than that is who or what we are putting our faith and trust in: is it Jesus, or is it worldly governments? The Apostle Paul gave us a clear and practical instruction in this regard when he wrote, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:19, italics mine). Certainly “all men” includes all evangelical Christians!

Along these same lines, you may also be interested in recent articles appearing in christianpost.com (click HERE) and americanthinker.com (click HERE).

(To read more of my articles with a biblical viewpoint, click HERE)