A Life of Obedience, Not Compromise!

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A Life of Obedience, Not Compromise!

James R. Aist

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Who can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin”? (Proverbs 20:9). In this regard, I must confess that I am “a work in progress.” And I would venture to guess that the same is true of most modern Christians. But, heaven forbid that we should ever regard this condition as acceptable! In this article, I intend to step on a few toes (some of which are connected to my own feet!) in hopes that we all will begin to more fully live like believers. My focus will be on what we are feeding our born-again spirits through the various media (TV, radio, movies, books, magazines, internet, etc.) . So, please take a deep breath with me and allow the word of God to minister to your conscience.

The central message I am sharing here is that God has not called us to a life of compromise, but of obedience. A Christian acquaintance of mine once declared, “Its OK for me to watch anything I want to, so long as it doesn’t cause me to lose my faith in Christ.” That’s exactly the kind of attitude I’m calling out here. In this present world, we are bombarded daily with opportunities (i.e., temptations) to fill our minds – and thus, to feed our born-again spirits – with thoughts, images and behaviors that are not good and acceptable and perfect according to the will of the God we claim to serve. Every time we yield to these temptations, we are behaving as hypocrites, not faithful followers of Jesus, who gave His life as a sufficient sacrifice for our sins! We do not always consider our sins to be as serious as God does, but we should.

So, what, exactly, are these worldly “entertainments”, or subject matters, that we should not be entertaining ourselves with? Here is a short list, for our consideration: pornography, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, gender bending, cursing, profanity, lawlessness and mocking God. Regardless of how these themes and messages get into our minds – through our eyes or our ears or both – to the extent that we allow these things to enter under the guise of innocent entertainment, we are being conformed to the world, rather than being in the world but not of it. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, the world therefore hates you. (John 15:19).” God chose us out of the world, and He expects us to stay out of the world, even if the world hates us for it!

Now, I am fully aware that there are a number of fellow Christians who insist that it is acceptable practice to use movies with immoral themes or messages as teaching tools to present the Gospel as a better way to live and prioritize one’s life. While its not my place to condemn anyone for using this approach, I do, nonetheless, have some questions to pose in this context: Is the Word of God no longer “…alive, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12); and is the Gospel of Jesus Christ no longer “…the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek? (Romans 1:16)? And, if God is going to save someone, does He really need us to resort to the use of immoral media entertainment to get their attention?

Finally, to more fully present, for our consideration, what the Bible has to say concerning these matters, I have assembled several additional and pertinent scripture passages for us to ponder, knowing full well that if one will not listen and learn from the Word of God, then one will surely not listen to me:

Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:11);

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18);

I will set no wicked thing before my eyes. (Psalm 101:3);

Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8);

But I say to you that for every idle word that men speak, they will give an account on the Day of Judgment. (Matthew 12:36);

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Philippians 4:8);

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5);

What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God, and that you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19);

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you are sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30);

Beware lest anyone captivate you through philosophy and vain deceit, in the tradition of men and the elementary principles of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8);

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15); and,

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. (Romans 6:12).

Challenges

Our goal for this area of our lives should be obedience, not compromise. We must not put a question mark where God puts a period! So, if you will, pray this prayer with me, and let’s mean it together: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my concerns, and see if there is any rebellious way in me, and lead me in the ancient way.” (Psalm 139:23-24). And if you need it, then use 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Remember, there is no sin too great or too longstanding for God to rid you of it. “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:37).

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

How Could Jesus Have Been Born “Immaculate”?

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How Could Jesus Have Been Born “Immaculate”?

 James R. Aist

When Adam chose to believe Satan instead of God  and sinned (Genesis 3), two things happened that have affected all subsequent generations of mankind (Psalm 51:5; Psalm 58:3; Romans 5:12; Romans 5:17; and 1 Peter 1:18-19), not through a direct, genetic (biological) inheritance as we know it, but by a mysterious, spiritual inheritance that is associated with biological reproduction. First, we took on a “sin nature” (Colossians 3:9-10), or a predisposition to sin, that has been passed down to all subsequent generations, including ours. We have “inherited”, so to speak, from Adam, a “sin nature”, an inborn desire to reject God’s provision and follow our own path in life. This predisposition to sin is so pervasive as to render us, in our “natural-born” state, in rebellion against, and at enmity with, God. And second, we share in the guilt of the original sin of Adam that has been passed down to all of his descendants, because Adam was the representative of all mankind in his rebellion against God, just as Jesus, the second Adam, is the representative of all of Adam’s descendants who believe and trust in Him for their salvation (Romans 5:19; 1 Corinthians 15:22).

This sin nature and the guilt of Adam’s original sin that we are all born with present a dilemma that may seem irresolvable at first glance: the Lamb of God (Jesus) had to be “immaculate”; that is, without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19), entirely free of sin, the sin nature and the guilt of Adam’s original sin. So, how did Jesus escape inheriting the sin nature and the guilt of Adam’s original sin at His conception? All agree that Jesus did not inherit these from His Father, the Holy Spirit. But, what about Mary?

Let’s begin with the Roman Catholic solution to this dilemma.  According to Roman Catholic doctrine, Mary did not ever have a sin nature or guilt of original sin because of the direct intervention of God; Mary was immaculate as a divine privilege. Of course, there is no clear, unequivocal biblical evidence to confirm this view. It appears to me that the Roman Catholic Church invented this doctrine to resolve the dilemma, because they could not discover, in either the Bible or in Roman Catholic tradition, any other suitable resolution. Apparently, the main Bible verse they use is Genesis 3:15, which says “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.” They claim that this verse refers to a battle between Mary and Satan, but a natural reading of the verse indicates that the actual battle will be, instead, between Jesus and Satan. Nonetheless, if God did, in fact, solve this dilemma in this way, then it is not for us to declare otherwise apart from the biblical witness.

Another solution, associated with Protestantism, posits that the sin nature and the guilt of original sin are inherited from Adam, generation to generation, through the fathers only, as seems to be implied by Romans 5:17 and 1 Peter 1:18-19 when taken together: Since Jesus did not have a human father to pass the sin nature and the guilt of original sin on to Him (His father was the Holy Spirit) and the sin nature and the guilt of original sin are inherited through the fathers only, then He could not have inherited either the sin nature or any guilt of Adam’s sin. Once He was conceived in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit, He would automatically be the Lamb of God “without spot or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19). Problem solved. I have addressed this viewpoint more fully elsewhere (click HERE), and it does have its foundation in the biblical witness.

But, there is yet another feasible solution to the dilemma that I believe may be even more strongly and clearly supported by the biblical witness. This explanation requires knowledge and understanding that the Jewish followers of God, such as Abraham (and, for our purposes, Mary)  had an opportunity to go to Heaven based on their looking ahead to the price to be paid by the Messiah for their sins (based on Old Testament messianic prophesies), just as we today have an opportunity to go to heaven by looking back to the price paid by the Messiah, Jesus, for our sins (based on New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophesies). (For a more complete exposition of this biblical teaching, click HERE).

Now, to fully understand this third explanation, I will have to elaborate a bit, so bear with me if you will. Before Mary conceived, an angel spoke to her concerning who Jesus would be: “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Listen, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of His kingdom there will be no end.” Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore the Holy One who will be born will be called the Son of God. Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be unto me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her (Luke 1:30-35, 38).”

The first point I want you to see here is that, in effect, the angel preached “the Gospel of Jesus Christ” to Mary: 1) He will be the promised Savior (The name “JESUS” means “savior” or “God saves.” See also: Matthew 1:21, “She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”); 2) The Holy Spirit will be His father; and 3) therefore, He will be the Son of God. The second point is that, when Mary responded with “May it be unto me according to your word,” she was expressing agreement with, not only becoming pregnant by the Holy Spirit, but also with everything the angel had said concerning Jesus. Thus, it seems that Mary may have been the first person in the New Testament to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and accept it by faith. The third point is that Mary apparently was saved before Jesus was conceived. This is a critical point, because, if this is true, then, when she was born again through her faith in Jesus, she instantly “became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith”, the righteousness of God in Christ (Genesis 15:6; Hebrews 11:7; Romans 3:22; 2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, before Jesus was conceived, Mary may have already believed in Him (Luke 1:38) and, if so, she was already the righteousness of God in Christ and could not have passed on to Jesus either any guilt of Adam’s sin or a sin nature.

The gist of this explanation is that, if Mary was, in fact, saved before she became pregnant with Jesus, then there was no avenue whereby either the sin nature or the guilt of Adam’s original sin could have been passed on to Jesus, because  Mary’s new nature in Christ (2 Peter 1:4 speaks of the  “divine nature” of those who believe in Christ) would have already replaced her original sin nature (Colossians 3:9-10) and her righteousness of God in Christ would have erased her guilt of Adam’s original sin before He was conceived. If this explanation is, indeed, true and valid, then it’s a good thing the angel preached the Gospel to Mary before Jesus was conceived!

The “take home message” of this article is this, that one way or another, God saw to it that when Jesus was conceived, He was free of both the guilt of Adam’s original sin and of the sin nature. Add to that a sinless life (Hebrews 4:15) and we have a biblical explanation of how, when Jesus died on the cross, He could bear the sins of others (i.e., us). If He had had sins of His own to bear, then He would have died for His own sins, and our sins would still not be forgiven. In which case, it would not end well for us who believe and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls!

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

The Righteousness that God Requires

The Righteousness that God Requires

James R. Aist

“…not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ…” – Philippians 3:9

Atheists and other non-Christians often accuse Christians of being “self righteousness” hypocrites, meaning that they claim to be without sin, yet are not, or that God sees them as righteous because of their many “good works.” Unfortunately, there is often some truth to this accusation, as many Christians do not know and understand the true source of their righteousness, and do appear to be self-righteous hypocrites, guilty as charged. Let’s take a moment to see if we can sort this all out by consulting the Word of God on this matter.

In Romans 3:23, Paul writes that “…all have sinned and come short of the glory of God…” Another way of saying this is that we all lack the pure righteousness (glory) that God requires of us in order for us to quality for heaven, because we have all sinned. Isaiah put it this way, “But we all are as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness is as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), where “our righteousness” refers to our so-called “good” works. So, since we have all have sinned, and our good works aren’t really righteousness in God’s eyes, how in the world, then, can anyone meet God’s requirement for pure righteousness and, thus, qualify for heaven? Is it even possible?

The answer to these questions is both simple and profound. Jesus said, “I am the way…” (John 14:6). Paul, referring to Jesus, declared that “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And, in Philippians 3:9, Paul summed it all up nicely for us, “…not having my own righteousness which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God on the basis of faith.” Now we can see clearly that, if we are a born-again believer, then God has imparted to us the pure righteousness that is Christ’s. That is where our righteousness comes from, not from our “good” works; it is a gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s that simple. And it is profound, because it is this (pure) righteousness that qualifies us to spend our eternity with God in heaven! This is the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. How awesome is that?!

So, the next time someone accuses you of being “self righteous”, you can explain to them that your righteousness is not of yourself, but it is the righteousness of God imparted to you by God, because of your faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. And don’t forget to mention that they, too, can have this genuine, pure righteousness in the same way you received it. Jesus truly is “the Way!”

(To read more of my biblical teachings, click HERE)