A Crisis of Righteousness

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 5:20)

Who Can Get Into Heaven?

What shocking words these must have been to some of Jesus’ followers. The religious leaders were in most people’s minds the most connected with the things of God, yet Jesus said that their righteousness was not good enough for the kingdom of heaven. His listeners might have been thinking to themselves “If these guys aren’t making it in, then how will I ever make it?” To make that statement even harder, Jesus says “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” That would have sounded to some like the final nail in the coffin of hope for the kingdom of heaven.

These are some hard statements coming from the Lord, but they are so important because they tells us man’s most serious problem, and they also lead us toward an understanding of what God truly requires in us.

The Perfect and Uncustomizable Law of God

We like to make thing more comfortable. We adjust and personalize things so that we can rest at ease.  That is what the scribes and Pharisees were trying to do with God’s law. God’s law requires perfection. It requires us to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors to the degree that we love ourselves. The problem is that we fail and can’t live up to it. The law serves as a stinging, condemning reminder that man’s heart has a disease called sin. Instead of admitting our inadequacy, and in order to ease the conscience and sooth the discomfort, we make a way to adjust the law down to our own comfortable standards by making a “righteousness” of our own that is more tolerant of sin. The problem though is that God’s law hasn’t changed.  God is perfect in goodness, and He requires that in us. 

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt 5:18)

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt 22:37-40)

Enter the Hypocrite

So what does a man do? He knows God’s law is good. He wants the self-assurance that he is on good terms with God. So instead of coming broken before God over sin, he plays the hypocrite, trying to keep the appearance righteousness, yet the condition of his heart remains unchanged. This is where Jesus points out man’s real problem. Man doesn’t not want to admit or turn from sin. It wasn’t just the religious leaders, but this is the hypocritical game all men play before God. All who deny their sinful and inadequate state before God fall short of the kingdom of God, even if they appear to be a religious person. Man knows that God is good. Man knows that the thoughts of his own heart are sinful, so he puts on the face of innocence and hides his sin. That is why Jesus says that such “righteousness” cannot give man entrance into the kingdom of heaven because God requires true righteousness in the inner man.

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matt 15:8)

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6)

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:19-20)

What Should Man Do?

To be a sinner in the presence of a Holy God is a fearful thing.  In self-deception man hides and pretends, thinking his sin won’t being exposed, but God knows all things. A person can only hide for so long.  Someday the judgement will come and there will be no place to hide. Every person will stand before God. 

Now for the good news. Those who come into the light and admit their sin find something very wonderful about the God who requires perfection in us. The Bible says that the One who requires the perfect law also gave Himself for us as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. He lived, died, was buried, and rose again so that we could be forgiven and set free from the penalty of our sins. God did not bend his law one inch for our salvation.  The perfect law was satisfied in Christ who lived a perfect life in our place and suffered the punishment for our sin. We have to stop avoiding God, abandon our own “righteousness” and be saved by the righteousness that Christ offers to us. Will you give up your love for sin and accept what Christ did for you?  Don’t hide from the truth, come to the Lord, confess your sin and receive the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ. 

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebews 10:31)

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:11-12)

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor 5:21)

“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.“ (John 3:16)

A Battle Worth Quitting

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.  (Psalm 2:1-3 kjv)

Picture a man standing on the beach facing an oncoming hurricane. With shotgun in hand, he readies to take aim at the approaching storm. That’s sounds ridiculous, but it is no different than what unrepentant sinners attempt against God. 

God appointed David as King over Israel and there was a wicked plot to overthrow him.  In the same way, Christ has authority over the nations, but a sinful world does not want his rule.  We know the end of the story, though, Christ will come and set up his righteousness kingdom. 

This is bad news for the rebellion camp. They are plotting a vain thing because the Lord’s judgement will prevail.  A better game plan is to recognize one’s sin and find shelter for the day of judgement. The good news is that Jesus, the Righteous Judge, is also the one who can save us from our sins. 

“…but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”  (Acts 17:30-31 kjv)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  (Romans 5:8 kjv)

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 kjv)

-Andy

A Happy Life Hack

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  Psalm 1:1-2 kjv

The secret to a happy life all comes down to one simple thing; thoughts. The blessed man delights and meditates on the Word of God, and it brings about the fruit of a righteous life.

I make good headway each day when God’s Word is on my mind. The Spirit works through His Word to produce joy, thankfulness, and wisdom, even in troubled times. If we lack these things, then here is the problem. When we drift from God’s Word, the Lord moves far from our thoughts, and we start thinking with the “wisdom” of those who have no consideration for God or His ways.

This first chapter of Psalms can be taken as a promise. If we delight ourselves in God’s Word, our way will be blessed, but the way of those who have no thought for God will perish.

So many things are competing for our desires and thoughts (especially at home under coronavirus lockdown in front on the computer).  Let the Word of God be our delight and meditation, and we can expect the fruits of the blessed life.

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Maybe you read this and have no idea what I am talking about. You need to know one thing. The only way that we can have true joy is through Christ.  We have all sinned against God and the only way to be reconciled to Him is by turning from sin to Jesus who died for our sins on the cross and rose again. Salvation is a gift. The only way a person can walk in joy and thankfulness is to know one’s sins are forgiven. This is the gift of God. Go to Him and ask Him. If we refuse Him who offers, then we will suffer the consequence of our own way, which is eternal destruction.  If we come to Him be faith we receive this gift.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 3:23 kjv)

-Andy

The Face of God

“And they shall see his face…” (Rev 22:4)

A Shameful Deed

When I was about five years old I remember throwing mud all over the surface of our neighbor’s car. I still remember the moment they came out and saw what my brother and I were doing. Run for cover! At that moment I did not want to see anyones face, especially my parents. I ran into the house and hid under the bed in the darkness. There was something about looking into my neighbor’s and my parents face that would have intensified the shame and brought fear of punishment. 

The Holy Face of God

That is but a taste of what it is to look into the face of God. When Moses asked to see God’s face, the reply was “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.”  God’s holiness is such that even the angels who have no sin still cover their faces in His presence. What does this say about sinful man looking into the face of God. In Revelation 6:15-16 in shows unrepentant sinners getting a glimpse of the face of the Lord. They call to the rocks and the mountain to fall on top of them to hide them from the Holy terrifying gaze of the Lord who comes to judge in righteousness. Some day, before the great white throne, heaven and earth will flee away and there will be no place to hide.

“And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:”  Rev 6:16

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there wasfound no placeforthem.” Rev 20:11

An Amazing Promise

An amazing statement is made in Revelation 22:4 about the redeemed of the Lord in heaven. It says that “they shall see his face”.  How can that be?! Praise the Lord for what Christ has done! The Lord has dealt with sin on the cross, cancelling the sin debt, making us righteous through His blood.  There is a future promise that when He returns, that those who have trusted in Him will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.  Salvation in Christ qualifies us for heaven. Not because of what we did, but because of what He did for us. He has made us whole again. We shall look into His face without the fear of judgement.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Matt 5:8

What about you?

Are you hiding from the face of God? The Bible says that those who love the darkness live in fear of the light. They fear the judgement of God, and run from Him.  And rightly so, for he is the Righteous Judge. 

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:20

There is only one way that a person can escape the coming judgement of God, and that is to look to Jesus and believe on His name. On the cross, Jesus took the wrath of God for sinners. By looking unto Him and placing your trust in what He did for us, our sins can be forgiven.  Will you look to Jesus today and be saved? 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

(Would you like to be added to Andy’s Blog? If so, please send me and email at Andy@ThatChinaMayKnow.com)

Christ Crucified

…Christ crucified…’ 1 Cor 1:23

The wisdom and foolishness encapsulated in these words.  Christ crucified?! How could the promised Messiah be crucified?!  The world was not looking for a crucified Savior.  It made no sense. It seemed foolish.  But to those who believe, it is the power of God to save. 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isa 53:5)

“…we preach Christ crucified…” 1 Cor 1:23

The message of the cross is the most powerful and important message that a person can hear and preach.  It is not man’s message about God, but it is God’s message to man.  The cross is God’s plan to reconcile the world to Himself. Trusting in what Christ did on the cross for us is what reconciles us to God., because in His death, the sin debt that separates us from a holy God was paid.

Paul’s ministry was defined by the cross of Christ.  In his letter to the Corinthians, he said that the only thing he was concerned about was that the full weight of their hope was on what Christ did on the cross. The reason is because it is THE message. His cross and resurrection is the only thing that can bring forgiveness of sin and qualify us for heaven. This is why Paul spoke so sharply against any other message.  Any alteration, misrepresentation, or addition to a simple hope in what HE did for us is cursed.  Any OTHER message, no matter how wise is sounds, keeps people from God. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.

‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.’ (John 3:14-16)

I Need A Reset

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.                                     (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“This stupid thing!” Phrases like that are heard right before someone does a factory reset on their device. I don’t know about you, but I did that a few times on my last phone.  It’s refreshing to clear all the junk and start fresh.  

Proverbs 3:5-6 is my factory reset. I can recall vividly several times when I was full of worry, doubt, fear, and bit of hopelessness. Suddenly this verse came to mind*.  Instantly I realized that I wasn’t trusting the Lord with all of my heart.  I needed to stop following my own reasoning and thought patterns, and start filling my mind with the promises of God’s word. Before I make a decision, I need to consider the Lord’s ways because He promises to direct our paths. He lead us in the way that is pleasing to Him. 

Lord, help me to do a daily reset with Proverbs 3:5-6 every morning! 

*[Note to Sunday school teachers] When I was 8 years old, my Sunday School teacher made us memorize this verse. It has been a treasure ever since. 

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.              (Proverbs 3:7)

The Gospel Message:     

If you don’t know what it means to “trust in the Lord”, here is how you can trust Him.                                                                

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ out Lord.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”

The Bible says that Jesus came into this world, not to condemn us, but to save us from our sins. Our sin separates us from God because He is Holy.  It doesn’t matter how good we think we are or how good we try to be. There is only one way that a sinner can be reconciled with God, and that is by believing in the One He sent into the world, Jesus Christ.  

Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

No Fear

And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.                                                                    (Philippians 1:28)

It’s God’s Battle

If it were our battle, then fear might be a good idea. It’s the Lord’s battle. Don’t fear those who rebel against His word. They war against Christ, and they will give account one day.  We need only rest in Him and walk in His word.

Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word.  (Psalm 119:161)

…and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (Luke 10:16)

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (Rom 2:16)

What do they oppose?

God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn it, but to save it. At the cross, sinners can be made righteous. God provides salvation through Christ’s death on the cross. By believing in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, we can be reconciled to God. Jesus has purchased heaven for us. It is a gift to all who would receive Him. What is there to oppose?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom 6:23)

A Vain Rebellion – A Sign of Their Destruction

The psalmist said that the kings of the earth vainly oppose the God of Heaven. They and all who follow them love their sin and reject His mercy. They would not have God rule over them.  

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. (Psalm 2:1-3)

They perish because of their own willful rejection.

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thess 1:8-9)

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)

A Sign of Salvation

Persecution from the world is a sign of salvation. The world rejects Christ. If the world loves us, we might need to examine our loyalties.  We rejoice in persecution and suffering because they refine us, and they remind us that we belong to God. 

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Tim 3:12)

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 5:3-5)

The Proper Response

Yay!

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously. (Psalm 96:9-10)

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

No Middle Ground

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”  (Philippians 2:3)

The Lie of the Middle

The Bible says that the “heart is deceitful.” It creates an imaginary neutral ground, where we don’t feel selfish and are exempt from serving others. Really, there is no middle ground. Paul mentions only two options; pride or humility.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

Two Options

There are really only two options for life; the counsel of the Word of God or the counsel of the wicked; the road to life or the road to destruction. There is Christ as the means of eternal salvation or vain attempts at self-righteousness, which only leads to death. There are no third options.

Jesus said “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matt 12:30)

Serve God or Self

“Follow me” Jesus said. The Lord of Heaven took on the role of a servant for our sake. He suffered and died that we might live. That is our example. There is no space for strife and vainglory following Jesus. There is also no room for the veiled selfishness of neutral ground. We are called to serve God by serving others, just as Christ served us.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

“For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”df (John 13:34)

Not Yet Bound

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,  And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. (Rev 20:2–3)

The Reality of the Enemy

I have heard people say “I bind you, Satan!” All that happens is Satan plays the “peek-a-boo” game. Let’s not fool ourselves, Satan won’t be bound until his day comes. He is no less active than he was when he tempted Jesus in the desert. He is still roaming to and fro looking to steal, kill, and destroy.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10)

“…your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pe 5:8)

The Range of His Deception

What started in the garden of Eden has expanded to the world. He has blinded the minds of those who do not know God. He doesn’t care what people believe, as long it keeps them from seeing the glory of Christ and finding salvation in Him. Therefore, Jesus commanded us to go and preach the good news of salvation to the ends of the earth. 

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Co 4:4)

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations… (Mt 28:19)

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. (Mk 16:15)

The Right Response 

Satan hates God and hates His creation. His days are limited and he knows it. There is one objective on His mind, and that is to keep the lost deceived in their lostness, and that also means keeping believers from being effective for the Gospel. Our response should be to do as the Bible says, to know that the days are evil, redeem the time, and take the gospel light to the world

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  (Eph 5:15-16)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Co 15:58)

If you died today, do you know if you would go to heaven? 

We can know. In fact, without Jesus we can know that we won’t go to heaven. God has provided a way that we can know for sure. Not by trusting in what we can do, but trusting in what He did for you.

All Have Sinned Against God..

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23)

the penalty for sin in eternal punishment

The penalty for sin in eternal punishment, shut out from the glorious presence of the Lord. Hell is a place when people ultimately get what they ask, separation from God and all His goodness. The Bible describes it as a place of torment and suffering.

For the wages of sin is death… (Ro 6:23)

the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,  In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Th 1:7-9)

The Bible says that Jesus came into this world so that we could be saved from the penalty of sin. He, the righteous one, took our sin upon Him on the cross.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Co 5:21)

The Bible says that all who look to Jesus and call upon His name, believing that He was raised from the dead for our justification, will be saved. You can have your sins forgiven and know that when you die you will spend eternity in His presence. 

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (Jn 3:17)

Trust Him today.

The Light

“the world knew him not” (John 1:10)

Have you ever stared at the sun? Most of us tried that when we were little. The sun is bright. So bright that no one ever needs to tell another that the sun is out. The sun is so bright that it illuminates all things on the earth. Actually, there are some who need to be informed. They are, the blind. They cannot see the light.

The True Light

The Bible says that “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” is Jesus. The only way to know God and understand the world is through Jesus. He made all things, and that includes our bodies and our consciences. Every book in the Bible also points us to Him.

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Col 1:6)

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) 

God Became Man

The One who made all things became a man. He became like us in every way, except for our sinfulness. He was without sin, but took our sins upon Himself as substitute for us. By Him we can be saved.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor 5:21)

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)

The World Was Blind

He came into the world without regard to what man esteems as “wise”. He came full of grace and truth. The unbelieving world was looking for something else.

He came unto his own, and his own received him not. (John 1:11)

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)

Yet, those who are willing to obey the truth, see Him, the Lord of Creation. The light of Christ shines in their hearts like the sun in all its glory.

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Eph 5:14)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

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Have your eyes been blinded to Christ’s Glory because of unbelief? Have you realized who He is and the reason why He came into this world? The only thing that separates you from God is refusing to believe and trust Him.

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Cor 4:3-4)

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Roman 5:8)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Call upon Him, and believe on His name.