Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The False Prophet Puts on His Mitre

Some time ago, I identified the False Prophet in the Apocalypse as the Roman Catholic pontiff who will be in office at the time envisioned by the prophecy. That is a scandalous accusation in some quarters, but if the shoe fits... For this to be true, of course, it would mean the Pope at that time would be in cahoots with the Devil. History gives me no reason to doubt such a thing, but the current Pope has verified my suspicion recently (here too).

The most telling characteristic of a devilish, antichrist scheme is anti-semitism. Not just a dislike for the Jews, but specifically, either an effort to dispossess them of the promise of Canaan, or to destroy them as a people. These are both central aspects of God's promise to Abraham, out of which all nations are also promised the blessing of a Savior. If these promises fail, the rug is pulled out from under the promise of Messiah as well. The strategy certainly is sly and skillful, attempting to destroy two doves with one stone.

The Pope has now officially put the RCC into the Devil's camp and aligned the agendas of Rome and Pergamum. How much longer will it be for the fruition of such a policy to ripen? Who knows with any certainty, but I suspect it won't be too long. It seems that as our redemption draws nearer, the False Prophet has risen and put on his mitre.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sin's Effects on the Christian

I have said that my sins were put aside and the way to God was opened to me without regard to my sin: past, present or future. All my sin for all my life was wrapped up and put in Christ once and for all. He suffered its just retribution; so now,  I am an invited guest in the presence of God without so much as a shadow of sin over me. The curtain between us has been destroyed by God and can never be put back in place.

That is not to say, however, that sin committed after being born again cannot have any effects on the believer. It may not separate him or her from the love of God in Christ Jesus, but it can adversely effect what we do experience in God. Let us look at a couple of possibilities (not to say there are not others).

Sin Can Hinder Our Prayers
If anyone cherishes (i.e, hides like a treasure) some sin in his or her heart, the Lord is not obligated to look past that and hear them as if they were dealing with God sincerely. Peter applies this principle specifically to abusive Christian husbands (never mind the contradiction in terms), so it is not merely an OT construct. There is, of course, a difference between sinning and cherishing sin in the heart, but the latter at least seems to raise a question in the mind of God as to whether or not that one truly has faith in Christ.

For those that acknowledge sin as sin (i.e, they say the same thing as God does about it), they have no "sound barrier" with God. They confess it, he is faithful and just and forgives their sin and cleanses them from all unrighteousness. They stand before God in Jesus’ stead (name), heard, and their prayers answered.

Sin Can Torpedo Our Faith
By not maintaining a good conscience, or not doing what you know God would have you do, one can undermine how his or her heart perceives God. It is not something that happens in an instant. Over time, if one continues to act by the principle that sin doesn't matter, or by the assumption that God won't mind, eventually that one will come to the conclusion that God doesn't matter. Even if his words never say it, his faith as reflected in his actions will betray his absolute lack of trust in God. God can never be fooled, and faith can be shipwrecked.

Nonetheless, notwithstanding these considerations, the principle is clear and founded upon an unmutable fact of history, my sin has been put aside. Jesus became my sin and suffered my punishment; therefore, I am justified in Christ. I can fellowship with God, just as if I'd never sinned; talk with God, just as if I'd never sinned; experience peace with God, just as if I'd never sinned; and countenance no condemnation, just as if I'd never sinned! Sin may have its effects on the Christian, but thankfully Christ has a better effect on the Christian's sin.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Sin Is Put Aside

What kind of barrier between God and me are my failures, even those occurring after I was saved? Do they put me under a constant cloud that obscures the face of God? Do they threaten my soul with infinite loss? No, it is impossible that they could, and I’d like to explain why.

Sin was dealt with once and for all through the passion of Christ--all sin, for all time, at one time. Paul, the writer of Hebrews and Peter agree very clearly on the subject. As a matter of principle, any future sin I might commit has, in fact, already been remedied just as effectively, and by the same means, as any sin I have committed in the past. We do not walk in and out of the grace of God, our reconciliation with him, nor the righteousness of Christ, because as time unfolds we fail.

The reality was pictured in the veil of the Temple ripping in two during the crucifixion. The veil was a figurative symbol of the condition that exists between God and sinful man. The Holy God dwelt in the realm of the Holy, where sinful mankind could not see and did not have access. When the veil ripped as Jesus was experiencing God’s wrath against sin, that condition changed permanently: the way to God’s presence was opened to sinful man.

In Jesus’ name, my sin has been put aside I bear no trace of it any longer before God, so I can walk confidently into the presence of God and stand eye to eye with him as the righteousness of God in Christ, without so much as batting an eye. This is the effect, not of sloppy agape, or greasy grace, but of penal substitution. God is just to forgive what has already been punished.

I have a bit more to say on the subject...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Place to Sit

I remember the early days of being a Christian, the absolute determination to "go gaga" for God, firing on all six cylinders (good bye V8's of an earlier day!). I actually thought it was possible to be so thoroughly clean, so perfectly in tune, so intimately known of and knowing God that I could be like Jesus. I threw myself wholly into the effort, and expected others who followed Christ to do the same. To do less would be to dishonor God.

Part of the problem with that outlook was that it did not truly reflect the depth of wrong in my human heart. I thought I knew what my hangups were, the flaws in my attitude, the extents of my emotional fracture, the volatility in my desires, the shape of my depravity. I did not. I could not, most of that only rises to the surface through the testing process--the vicissitudes of life, the facing of challenges unfaced before, the sparking of temptations unknown before. The human heart is desperately wicked, who can know it?

Some place along the line, sometime, humans have to find peace. We need a space where there is no struggle within ourselves about where we stand with God and we fall back into the arms of his acceptance. I believe that place is ours in Christ Jesus: his work is a finished work, for nothing can undo what Christ has already done in history. If faith grasped the certainty of my place with God through Christ yesterday, faith can rest in it today. I wasn't worthy of it then, I'm not now, nor will I ever be.

Oh, I realize that we are working out our salvation, but that in no way, shape or form is the equivalent working for our salvation (or even working to keep it). We have peace with God through Jesus Christ--yesterday, today and tomorrow. God has plans for us, as long as we stay on the train. The life of the faithful is a lot like a bumpy subway ride, the journey is necessary, but a lot less anxious when we have a place to sit.