The End Approaches

As The End Approaches

When Paul wrote his epistle to the church at Rome, he reminded them of the urgency of being prepared for whatever was in their future. The Romans knew the times that lay before them (13:11), and Paul told them how to prepare. Their approaching trial may be different from one each of us faces—the end of our lives—but Paul’s words seem so applicable to what each of us must do as we see the end approaching.

The end approaches

The End Approaches…

As the end approaches, we must awake out of our sleep (13:11). Paul said, “It is high time to awake out of sleep for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.” There is a grave danger of complacency overtaking us spiritually. We may be like the apostles in Gethsemane who failed to listen to the Lord’s admonition, “Watch and pray.” Yet, they slept! As the end comes closer to each of us, let us watch and be sober.

As the end approaches, we must lay aside six fleshly sins (13:14). Paul said, “Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness . . . let us walk properly . . . not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.”  Our God created us as eternal souls residing in fleshly bodies, but it is so easy to forget this and live fleshly lives. One of life’s greatest sorrows is to see those who were once steadfast in their devotion now allow the flesh to gain supremacy over their souls. Look at the six sins Paul lists and guard against them. Our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, but so is our condemnation if worldliness destroys our spiritually. Christianity is a life of continual growth which began at our spiritual birth and ends with our physical death. The end is coming!

As the end approaches, we must clothe ourselves in an armor of light (13:12). Paul said, “Let us put on the armor of light.” The words “put on” are set in contrast to that which we must “cast off.” The six sins he lists are called the “works of darkness,” and our guarantee of victory is found in the armor of light. Paul amplified these two verses later when he said, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Becoming like Christ begins when we put on Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27), but it does not end there. We walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7), and we are transformed every day to be more like Him. As the end approaches, let us put on Christ.

As the end approaches, we cannot make any provision to compromise with sin (13:14). Paul said, “Make no provision for the flesh.” There is no room to compromise when it comes to truth. Truth is absolute, and it is always right to do right. That determination we had to stand for truth when we first believed must never leave us.

The end is approaching: watch, pray and be sober!

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Harmless Sins?

Seemingly Harmless Sins

When the subtle serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden, she knew not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Nevertheless, “the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil’” (Gen. 3:4-5). In other words, the serpent told Eve, “Eating of the tree is harmless!” From that day forward, Satan has been deceiving people into believing that certain sins are harmless. To illustrate, many people believe that some lies are harmless, referring to them as “little white lies.” Moreover, it seems as if many in the greater religious world believes that doctrinal sins are not nearly as threatening to God as moral sins. Thus, most rational people realize that moral sins, such as murder, adultery and stealing, are deadly sins. Yet, many sins seem harmless to many people, but are very deadly.

harmless sins

Harmless Sins?

Notice a few examples of seemingly harmless sins in the Bible.

• In Numbers 13:32-36, a man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day. This was in direct opposition to the will of God. Therefore, when they brought his case before the Lord, God sentenced him to death by stoning. Did it seem harmless to gather sticks? Sure, but it was very deadly.

• In Second Samuel 6:6-7, the ark of God was brought to Nachon’s threshingfloor on a cart drawn by a team of oxen. When the oxen shook, the ark was about to fall and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark by simply touching it. Did it seem harmless to touch the ark to steady it? Sure, but it was very deadly, because God struck Uzzah dead right on the spot. God had commanded that only Aaron’s descendants could carry the ark (Num. 4:1-15).

• In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira sold one of their possessions to give to the church, but kept back part of the price. This is what we would consider “a little white lie.” It certainly must have seemed harmless to them, since they were doing a good deed by giving a portion of the price, but it turned out to be deadly. God struck both of them dead.

• Even when Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew 4, his temptation to turn stones into bread seemed harmless. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).

What can we learn? Just because something seems harmless in our eyes does not mean that it is satisfactory with God, because even seemingly harmless things can be very deadly. Sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2), and is transgression of His law (1 John 3:4). Many people, especially young people, are deceived into thinking that if it seems harmless, it must be acceptable. Dancing seems harmless, but it is very deadly! Fondling with the opposite sex seems harmless, but it is very deadly! Gossiping seems harmless, but it is very deadly! Many sins seem harmless, but watch out! They are deadly!

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The Life of Christ

I Gave My Life For Thee

“He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

He Gave His Life for Use

He Gave His Life for Us.

Located in the Bayerische Staatsmuseum in Munich hangs a painting Italian painter Domenico Feti (1589–1623) entitled Ecce Homo (“Behold the Man”). At the bottom of the canvas the Latin inscription, “Ego pro te haec passus sum, Tu vero quid fecisti pro me: This have I suffered for you; now what will you do for me?” After seeing this painting Francis Havergal was moved to pen the words to the beautiful hymn “I Gave My Life For Thee.” It is time that we as Christians not only sing these hymns but truly commit to meaning what we sing by making the necessary changes in our lives.

We need to be reminded that Jesus said, “whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:33). We come to Christ to be saved and are required to submit to His will, to give up our own selfish ambitions, and put God and others above ourselves. Yet, few do. And sadly many of the problems we see in the church are solely due to the fact that we have to have things done our way or we pout and/or throw a fit. Paul admonishes us to “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). Just as egregious are those who sing the last stanza of the great hymn stating “None of self, and all of thee” and are for all intents and purposes lying to themselves and God.

There are two types of people I would like for us to consider:

Those Who Have Never Forsaken Anything: Like the Rich Young Man who comes to Jesus desiring eternal life (Matthew 19:16–22; Luke 18:18–23). When Jesus told him that in order to be perfected he would need to go and “sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Luke 18:22) he “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22).

Those Who Have Returned To Their Old Life: Much like the prodigal son who wasted his father’s inheritance (Luke 15:11–32), are those who forsake their Lord in order to return to the love of the world. Yes, we know the Bible says, “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). Nonetheless we are “choked cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). Indeed, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The fact remains that you and I have either forsaken all for Him or we have not. There is no middle ground! What do I treasure in my heart more than heaven; Family, friends, sinful behavior, selfish ambition (even that which is disguised in righteousness)? “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21).

Be faithful my friends!

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