Sin in the Camp

Romans 14:23b  For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

How big is that “whatever?” Seems to me that it includes anything without limitation–no exclusion. Any action, any thought, any deed, any spoken word, anything at all must come from faith or it falls into the category of sin. That’s heavy duty, and can become kind of scary.

However, the Lord is merciful and will not hold things against us for which we have no light. But, as light is given, we become accountable.

I am now accountable for something in which I failed significantly last night.

I was asked by an unbeliever whom I have known for a few decades how we were doing financially.

This particular person lives in fear, is very negative in his outlook, and despises most things about the government. He is promoting the need to find alternative means for living in the coming crisis, such as storing food, investing in precious metals, and living beneath the radar of the government’s watching eye.

Our income was cut in half last September, just after we moved to PA. We have managed okay, but it has been thin, and is getting thinner. The winter months are especially hard here with heating costs being what they are. Our meager savings are now gone. But, we are not destitute.

The Lord has been faithful to provide in various ways. I will occasionally get a call to go preach somewhere, and there is usually a monetary gift with that. Sometimes, someone will visit my website and make a donation through that. So, the reality is that the Lord watches over us.

But, that is not the reality I presented to the person on the phone last night. I painted the picture as gloomily as I possibly could without lying. I spoke the truth insofar as the natural phenomena are concerned.

I did not speak faith. Not once. Not once did I say the Lord is providing, or the Lord will make a way.

But, that is what He has been teaching me the last few months. He has been showing me that I am to speak faith, to call those things that are not as though they already were. (Romans 4:17)

Even though I am not yet at that level of faith, I could have at least spoken about the Lord’s provision and how He has provided and will continue to provide.

I was presented with a perfect opportunity to magnify the Lord when I was told to seek alternative means of income. I missed the opportunity.

In that place, I did not come from faith, so all my speech was sin. I missed it big time.

Will I recognize the opportunity the next time? Will I be bold for the Lord in a similar situation?

What about you? Have you ever had occasion to speak your faith and let it slide?

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Faithful Repentance

Ac 20:21
Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.     KJV

There is so much in this one little verse! I do not see that I will even be able to mention everything, let alone write about it. But, let’s begin.

The testifying that we are to do is to be before both those within the church and those without–both Jews and Greeks. Notice that there two things that are to be mentioned: repentance and faith.

Repentance comes from changing your mind about something. What we saw yesterday is that repentance should produce a radical life change.

Most of the time, repentance is connected with being sorry for our sin. That may be a place to begin, but it is not the place to end. It is not sufficient in and of itself.

If our sorrow is simply because “we got caught,” or that we are feeling guilty, then it produces nothing worthwhile. Being sorry is only a slick way to assuage our guilt for a moment, or to avoid some form of displeasure.

Repentance requires a complete change of attitude toward something.

However, it is possible to repent of something, have a complete attitude change that produces a radical life-change, and still not be saved. How is that possible?

Consider those who have quit smoking because their life was threatened. They repented of the damage they were doing to their body. They changed their attitude about their ‘need’ for nicotine. And they produced a radical life-change. But, they missed the most important aspect of repentance.

There must also be a turning towards as we turn away.

1 Th 1:9
…and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;      KJV

It is one thing to turn from our idols. It is another thing altogether to turn to God.

True, valuable, lasting repentance must be of the kind that turns us to the Lord.

The second thing that Paul mentions here is that he also testified of faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, it is possible to repent without turning to God. It is also possible to to repent, and turn to God in a way that has no lasting value.

Hindus repent and turn to God, but that turning is ineffectual. Moslems repent and turn to God, but that turning is ineffectual. Jews even repent and turn to God in an ineffectual way. So do many Christians.

If we do not repent and turn to God with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for our strength, our salvation, then our repentance will not be effectual. We will not be pleasing to God.

How do I know that? Why am I so bold?

Heb 11:6
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.          KJV

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Just simply cannot be done. And pleasing God is my only desire, my only reason for getting up in the morning, my raison d’etre.

Will you join me in this? Will you let this be your overriding desire?

The Knowledge of Ignorance

Ac 17:30
“God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better — but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change.
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)

Many fail to understand that God has mercy on our ignorance. Paul knew this from firsthand experience:

1 Ti 1:13
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.        KJV

Ignorance of something is understandable–for a while. In our laws, we are told that “ignorance is no excuse.” That is absolutely true.

There is a difference between an ‘excuse’ and a ‘reason.’ A reason explains why something happened. An excuse is necessary in order to avoid the consequences of that event.

Therefore, ignorance may be the reason, but it will not excuse you rom the consequences.

Take, for instance, our current modern problem of distractedness while driving. Multitudes of people are ignorant of the fact that a human being is only capable of one emotional focus at a time. That ignorance causes them to think that they can do many things at once.

They truly believe that they can drive a car while talking on the phone, smoking a cigarette, drinking a soda, and trying to change the radio station. Those actions will one day have consequences of a wreck.

Ignorance will be the reason they were doing all those things at once, but will that excuse them from the consequences of the bent fender?

So it is with God.

We might be able to claim ignorance for a season, and as a reason; but it will not be an excuse when we stand before Him who knows the heart.

The verse under our consideration says that the days of claiming ignorance are over with. We now know.

My heart is burdened for the Church in this condition of ignorance. I know the verse speaks to the lost who need to know the Lord; and I am concerned for them. But, the Body of Christ is also trying to function in a great time of ignorance, and it is costing us dearly.

Hosea 4:6 says that “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.” That lack of knowledge is called ignorance. Ignorance is no longer something that the Lord will wink at. We can no longer claim to be ignorant.

What if we truly don’t know? How will that affect our walk with God? How long can we continue to claim ignorance?