The Chain Reaction of Sin

The Chain Reaction of Sin

There were only fifteen judges chosen by God to deliver his people.  They hold a special place in the history of Israel.  They did great things by the power of God.  Their leadership often guided Israel away from sin.  However, their leadership was not always perfect.  A poor action by a leader can affect generations.  Such effects have been seen by rulers around the world.  The people often take upon themselves the attitudes and behaviors of their leader and once sin is born the tide of consequences are rarely turned.

The sinful behaviors of one man can change the course of the world.

The sinful behaviors of one man can change the course of the world.

Gideon, despite following the direction of God in the deliverance of Israel, also led them into sin.  Following the triumph over the Midianite kings, Gideon took the spoils of war and fashioned an ephod in his city Ophrah.  An ephod is a shoulder garment worn by a priest.  The 8th chapter of Judges declares Gideon’s Ephod was a snare to his house and it caused Israel to go a “whoring” after it.  This phrase is in reference to the relationship between God and his people.  God was as a husband and Israel as his bride.  Israel chose to worship the ephod as they did the golden calf when Moses was on Mt. Sinai.  God declared then that Israel should have no other Gods besides Him (Exodus 20).  The action of Israel in the time of Gideon was that of adultery against God.  Certainly, this was not the original intent of Gideon, but he was the cause of it.

When Adam sinned, it affected an entire world (Genesis 3).  When Korah sinned his actions led to the death of approximately 15,000 Israelites (Numbers 16).  In Judges 17-18, household idols formed by a man named Micah would ultimately be taken and worshipped by the tribe of Dan. Their sinful idol worship would continue until Israel went into captivity.  Many New Testament books speak of sins coming into the Church and spreading.  Sin is infectious and frequently does not stop with one person.  It certainly did not with Gideon.

Many of us can look back on our lives and wish to take away sinful actions which caused pain and stress upon ourselves and others.  Let us walk carefully in the way of the Lord and seek to do His Will with every step.

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The Rich Man, the Eye of a Needle and Heaven

The Rich Man, the Eye of a Needle and Heaven

As far back as I can remember I’ve heard Christians say, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” In fact, in past years, this is what I said that Jesus said about this topic. I was wrong when I taught this. Let’s take a moment to carefully examine what our Lord said. Let’s take time to learn the importance of reading the Bible more carefully.

Do you trust in God or the wealth and power of the world?

Do you trust in God or the wealth and power of the world?

So, let me ask you, is the following statement true? “The Bible teaches that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven.” True or false? Suppose I were to say that this is not what the Bible says. There is a context in which these words were said. However, we far too often fail to read the verses before and after a single favorite verse. Matthew, Mark and Luke record the words of Jesus in this way. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” How then could I have said, “This is not what the Bible says”?

Take time to study the matter more deeply. Mark adds another aspect of the rich man which so many have overlooked. Just before Jesus spoke of the rich man and the needle, Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 10:24). The kind of rich man Jesus had in mind when he spoke of the eye of the needle was the rich man who trusts in his riches. It was not the possession of the riches which was the problem, it was the trust rich men foolishly place in their riches.

Think about it for just a moment. How rich was David? How rich was young Solomon? How rich was Job? Have you not known Christians who were rich, yet their riches did not destroy their spirituality? We have failed to see precisely what Jesus was saying. The dangers of riches is that because of them men begin to trust in their riches more than in God.

There’s one other thing we need to see about rich men and the eye of a needle. The passage is not discussing entering heaven but entering the kingdom of heaven. What is that kingdom? The Bible clearly shows that the kingdom of heaven is the church! Jesus was not saying that rich men have problems entering into heaven, but they have problems entering into the church. Those who trust in riches rarely become Christians, but if they truly die to self in their repentance, they become tremendous assets to the cause of Christ. When they die to self, their riches no longer control them. They control their riches!

Let me encourage you to read the Bible more carefully. Read it more slowly. You may be overlooking great truths!

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Stirring Up to Love and Good Works

Stirring up to Love and Good Works

And let us consider how to stir one up another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the church building about 40 minutes before Bible class started.  There was a message on the answering machine from a dear sister in Christ who had called at 3 a.m. after going to the emergency room.  She had called simply to inform me that she wouldn’t be at church that morning.  Something she said at the end of the message stuck with me:  “Wish I could be there.  I’ll miss you guys.”

Stir up those you love and whose desire is to serve God!

Stir up those you love and whose desire is to serve God!

Here’s something for us in the church of Christ to think about.  Lost amidst all the study and debate about whether it’s truly forsaking the assembly if you purposefully miss Sunday morning Bible classes, Wednesday night Bible classes, Sunday evening worship services, and gospel meeting assemblies, or if you have to work during an assembly time, or if you go on vacation, etc., is our focus on the biblical purpose of our meeting together in the first place as shown in today’s scripture.  And on what should our focus be?  Encouraging each other and edifying each other.  Stirring up each other to love and good works.

I see a sharp contrast between the brother or sister in Christ who either reaches for any and every excuse to not come to church or who will critique the faithfulness of those who do not come as often as them…and this sister in Christ who had to miss one Sunday’s worth of assemblies because she was sick and yet while in her pain felt the need to call in the middle of the night not to ask for our prayers but simply to tell us that she was sorry she couldn’t come and would miss seeing all of us.

We “go to church” not only to worship God, but also to get our spiritual batteries recharged.  Our batteries are re-charged not only by our praise in song, the prayers we give to our Redeemer, the memorial Supper we eat as we remember Christ’s sacrifice, the cheerful giving of our means to further the work of the church, and the biblical message we hear.  Our batteries are also re-charged by the smiles we give to each other, the cheerful pats on the back, the right hand of fellowship given in a friendly handshake, the “holy kisses” on the cheek given in love and friendship, the laughter and smiles shared by God’s family as they briefly leave the sin-filled darkness of the world in which they struggle and toil throughout the week and bask in the light of fellow believers who are trying to serve God just like them.

Not only do we need the strength that comes from worship and praise, not only do we need the strength that comes from Bible study and prayer, but we also need the strength that comes from each other.  So let’s ask ourselves some questions as the next Sunday/Wednesday/gospel meeting night/special assembly time approaches:

  1. When I walk through those auditorium doors, do I expect to be encouraged above all else…or am I looking for someone else to encourage first and foremost?
  2. When I walk through those auditorium doors, is building up every person I see my top priority…or is having my own wants and idiosyncrasies met by those around me what I care about the most?
  3. As the next assembly time approaches, am I selfishly looking for excuses to stay at home…or am I excited about yet another opportunity to not only worship God with brethren but also to see my brethren and build them up?
  4. Whatever our answers to the above questions may be, let’s ask ourselves why.
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