Tag Archives: Sin

Too Precious for Profit

The west Texas summers were hot and the houses weren’t air conditioned. Summers are supposed to be hot, that’s why there are lawn sprinklers. You could play in the water all up and down the block, get soaked, and in a matter of minutes be dry again. Ah, the good ole summertime, what fun!

It wasn’t such fun for my parents. I remember their guarded glances and whispered conversations one particularly hot summer. A playmate of mine, a little girl named Ruthie, fell ill. She lost the ability to move her arms and legs and she was unable to breathe on her own. She had to be placed in an “iron lung.” Polio had struck our neighborhood.

A Cure

Two American physicians, Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin, were working feverishly and independently of each other in an attempt to develop a vaccine for this crippling and deadly disease. By the mid-1950’s both had produced a vaccine. Salk’s “killed virus” vaccine was injected while Sabin’s “live virus” vaccine was administered orally.

I still remember clearly the day we were lined up and marched to the school nurse’s station to be vaccinated for polio. Vaccinations had always meant needles and I was concerned about crying in front of my schoolmates. But instead of a syringe, the nurse handed us a little cup containing two sugar cubes to eat. Now that’s my kind of vaccination!

It was sixty-three years ago last month that health authorities announced the development of the first safe and effective vaccine for polio. Thanks to these two men, their staffs, and research facilities, the disease is unknown today in the United States and is about to be eradicated in the rest of the world.

And you want to know something else? After years of work, research, and development, neither Jonas Salk nor Albert Sabin patented their vaccines. They gave it away – it was too precious for profit!

Disease Worse Than Polio

But as bad as polio or cancer or AIDS or a host of other physical diseases are, there’s another killer out there that’s far worse – it’s called sin. Physical disease destroys the body, but that’s all it can do. Sin destroys not only the body but the soul.

The soul is the eternal essence of mankind. It is immune to physical disease. An individual may suffer from polio or cancer or have diseased coronary arteries, but those have no effect on the soul.

The soul is susceptible to only one affliction, sin. It’s wide-spread; in fact, everyone has it. It’s as pernicious a malady as one can imagine. Yet its symptoms are often eagerly embraced and its nature ignored or even made the object of lighthearted humor. But make no mistake about it, sin is no laughing matter – its terminus is eternal conscious hell.

The Cure

There is only one vaccine for sin – sinless blood – the blood of a divine innocent victim, the blood of God incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth. Throughout the long storied history of human existence, no one ever devised or developed a remedy for sin, though they’ve tried. The heavenly bodies, the sun, stars, and moon, have been made objects of veneration, as have the mountains, rivers, and forests. Animals have been offered, plants offered, even other human beings have been sacrificed to atone for sin. “Nothing can for sin atone, nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

Seeing our helplessness, our susceptibility to sin and its awful consequences, God, our Creator, offered His own Son to be our sin offering:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5.6-8).

And though the “wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6.23). O! Thanks be to God who loves and cares for us so much that He gave His own Son away – we are indeed too precious for profit!

–Bill

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.

 

The Cross and the Resurrection, Part 1

From Death to Life

“But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6.14).

Today there’s no terror associated with the cross. It’s merely a piece of jewelry worn about the neck on a gold chain. But twenty-one centuries ago, during the lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth and the Roman occupation of Palestine, it was the object of a shameful, terrifying, and agonizing death. How then, could Paul say he gloried in the cross?

As horrible as the reality of the cross was, there are statements in the New Testament that indicate the cross was more than a torturous obscene death.

  • It was a symbol of love! Could that be possible? God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3.16). Because His love for us was so great, He gave His Son to die, and to die on a cross.
  • It was a means of attraction. But how could that be possible? The thought of a naked bloodied man writhing in agony would repulse most people. Yet Jesus declared in John 12.32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
  • It was the strategy for victory. Jesus boldly claimed (John 10.17-18), “I lay down My life so that I may take it up again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”

The Nature of Sin

To understand the need for the cross we must first understand the nature of sin. Sin is the complete antithesis of God and His will. “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (John 1.5). “Darkness” in that verse represents “sin.” Just as light and darkness cannot exist together, neither can sin and God – “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59.2).

So what are we to do? We’ve all sinned (Romans 3.23).

The Answer to Sin

Well, Paul answers that a couple of chapters later, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5.8). God did for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves – He redeemed us, bought us back from the condemnation of sin through the sacrifice of His Son. And He chose to do that on a cross.

Events occur throughout the Scriptures that have a larger significance than the actual event itself may have indicated at the time. For example, the killing of the Passover lamb was merely the slaughter and preparation of an animal for a meal – it was done all the time. Now this particular meal was a little unusual in that certain prescribed details were to be specifically observed, but for all practical purposes, it was simply a meal. However, centuries later that “sacrifice” and “meal” were directly applied to Jesus of Nazareth and His purpose for coming to earth – “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1.29).

John Stott has observed,

“Perhaps the most striking of all is the fact that Jesus made deliberate provision for how He wished to be remembered. He instructed His disciples to take, break, and eat bread in memory of His body to be broken for them, and to take, pour out, and drink wine in memory of His blood to be shed for them. Death spoke from both elements. No symbolism could be more self-evident. How did He want to be remembered? Not for His example or His teaching, not for His words or works, not even for His living body or flowing blood, but for His body given and blood shed in death” (Through the Bible, Through the Year, 264).

– Bill

(To be continued)

 

“This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying,

“This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Luke’s own editorial comment, describing the context in which the three parables of chapter fifteen were told, is too often overlooked. The tax collectors were despised both because they collaborated with the hated Roman occupation (or, in Galilee, worked for Herod Antipas) and because they were usually guilty of extortion. Sinners, on the other hand, was a term of abuse that the Pharisees gave to common people ignorant of the law.

The Pharisees ostracized both groups. So when Jesus associated with them, they were outraged. “This man receives sinners,” they said in shocked horror. But Luke records this with his approval and even admiration. So should we.

In fact, sinners are the only people Jesus receives. If He didn’t, there would be no hope for us.

The Lost-and-Found Parables in Context

Jesus told His three lost-and-found parables in order to highlight the fundamental difference between Himself and the Pharisees. He welcomed sinners; they objected and rejected them. They had a false notion of holiness. They thought they would be contaminated by contact, so they kept their distance. Jesus, however, fraternized with them freely and was even called “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11.19).

If Pharisees saw a prostitute approaching, they would gather their robes around them and shrink from her, but when a prostitute approached Jesus, He did not shrink from her but accepted her devotion.

So the question before us is whether we resemble Jesus or the Pharisees – whether we avoid contact with sinners or seek it.

We must not misunderstand this. The fact that Jesus received sinners does not mean that He condoned their sins. On the contrary, all three parables end on a note of repentance and celebration. Jesus rejected the opposite extremes of Pharisaism and compromise. There is joy in heaven, He said, over even one sinner who repents.

What About Us?

Because “this man receives sinners,” we must receive them too. Such is the nature of our calling and commission.

“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’

I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18.10-14).

Justification is a legal term, the opposite of condemnation. The Old Testament magistrates were instructed to justify the innocent and condemn the guilty. So we can imagine the indignation of the Pharisees when Jesus pronounced the sinful tax collector justified and the upright Pharisee condemned. Was Jesus daring to ascribe to God an action He had forbidden to human judges?

Differences Between the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

The two actors in the parable both went up to the temple to pray. But there the similarities end and the dissimilarities begin.

First, they had an entirely different opinion of themselves. Five times the Pharisee used the personal pronoun “I.” But the tax collector used it only once and in the accusative, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner.” This is the language of true penitence.

Further, their different opinion of themselves was reflected in their posture. Both stood (in customary Jewish fashion). But the Pharisee stood erect, proud, and ostentatious, preoccupied with himself, whereas the tax collector stood “some distance away,” eyes downcast and beating his breast.

Next, they had a different object of confidence for acceptance with God. The Pharisee trusted in himself that he was righteous, while the tax collector trusted in God’s mercy alone.

There is where we belong, alongside the tax collector, not weighing our merits but begging the pardon of our offences through Jesus Christ – trusting not in our own righteousness but in His manifold great mercy.

 – John Stott, Through the Bible, Through the Year

 

 

 

 

Blessed Sunday Morning

Who are these that gather together on Sunday mornings? Old and young, women and men, girls and boys – who are they?

And why do they come week after week, month after month and year after year? God knows. At different times they come with different moods, from different motivations and for different reasons. To see friends, because parents require it, because it’s expected of them, because their children and their friends need them to be present, maybe even because there’s a certain boy or girl there, because…

I suppose we’ve all shared in the poor, bad or doubtful reasons for congregating, but there are times when, by God’s grace, we get it right and we gather for very good reasons – the best reasons.

We’re never so visibly one as when we make an appointment at a given place and a given time for a given purpose – and keep it!

Sometimes we gather simply to thank God!

And millions of us have so much to be thankful for! (I have nothing to say at this point about those sorrowful people whose lives are so tragically hard that they feel they have nothing to be thankful for. And I get that!) I’m speaking now about us who have food, clothes, clean water, parks, rivers, friends, loving children or parents, jobs, health to work, financial security – enough to see us through, tiny grandchildren who must have our spectacles to eat or husbands/wives to make lovely days even lovelier. Sometimes we just want to thank someone for rain and warm sunshine, for friends to love and be loved by, and so we gather to sing our gratitude.

Sometimes we come to apologize for our wrongs.

We don’t come to grovel and crawl before God, pleading for forgiveness as though He were tightfisted and miserly and had to be begged into a good mood. The cross of Christ! Imagine Him speaking from the cross – this Savior of ours – “Do I look like you have to grovel and crawl to find forgiveness? Has the Holy Father who sent Me here to this place and for this reason strike you as one you must crawl before, like some petty and heartless tyrant?” Were we to crawl and grovel would it not be an insult – would it not?

The cross shows He views our sin with profound seriousness but it shows that the last word with Him is, “I delight – yes, delight in forgiving your sins” (Micah 7.18-19 with John 3.16-17). And it’s centrally because He in generous righteousness forgives us freely and fully that we can’t help apologizing that we sadden Him. “Yes,” He would say, “it’s all right to apologize but don’t grovel. Get up and move on toward a better heart and a better day and I will help you.”

Sometimes we come for challenge and kind rebuke.

We don’t want your smugness and self-righteousness whitewashed, we don’t want to be forever babied or spoken to in that “there, there, it’s all right” tone as if we were little children who were a little naughty. God’s Holy Son didn’t come nor did His Holy Father send Him to make it easier for us to sin or to blind us to the destructive power of the evil that feeds like a slimy parasite on the entire human family and vulnerable Christians. We want to be awakened out of our christianly sleep and lolling to engage in war with the “world” (organized cosmic corruption) for the human family as our Master has done and is doing.

We wish to be made bold in our praying; we want to be transformed so that we pray less for trivia and more for strength to engage in kingdom living – the kind of living that’s described in Revelation as war against red Dragons, seven-headed sea monsters and all the earth’s allies of brutality and human enslavement. We want to hear preaching and teaching that will stun us with the truth of who our God is and what it is He is up to and having stunned us it will then galvanize us to join with Him in His cosmic rescue!

These and more are reasons we gather on Sunday morning!

 – Jim McGuiggan

 

Sermons to focus on cultural, moral, and social issues

Sermons in May and June at the Westside and Holyoke churches will focus on cultural, moral, and social issues.

“The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel. Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the church militant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering. And how is this? It is in the very order of things that so it must be. Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.”

– Charles Spurgeon, “The Vanguard and Rereward* of the Church,”
a sermon delivered at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens, London
on Sunday morning December 26, 1858.
[*rereward – the rear-guard of an army]

“The very word ‘sin,’ which seems to have disappeared, was a proud word. It was once a strong word, an ominous and serious word. It described a central point in every civilized human being’s life plan and life style. But the word went away. It has almost disappeared – the word, along with the notion. Why? Doesn’t anyone sin anymore? Doesn’t anyone believe in sin?

– Dr. Karl Menninger, M.D., Whatever Became of Sin, p.14

“There is a ‘thinkable’ and an ‘unthinkable’ in every era. One era is quite certain intellectually and emotionally about what is acceptable. Yet another era decides that these ‘certainties’ are unacceptable and puts another set of values into practice. On a humanistic base, people drift along from generation to generation, the morally unthinkable becomes the thinkable as the years move on.”

– Francis Schaeffer, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, p. 2

These sermons have been (and are) difficult to prepare – they will be difficult to preach, but the times demand that they be preached and you need to hear them.

–Bill

 

In but not of the World

Can that really be said of 21st century Christianity?

Sin. A recent national survey from Ellison Research shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans (87%) believe in the notion of “sin” as “something that is almost always considered wrong, particularly from a religious or moral perspective.”

The survey, which included over one thousand adults, also compared 30 of the most objectionable behaviors and whether respondents qualified them as “sinful.” Adultery tops the list – 81 percent of Americans consider it a “sinful” activity. There was also a majority of individuals who believe racism (74%), drug use (65%), abortion (56%), and homosexual sex (52%) are also sins.

Interestingly enough, more people believe that it’s sinful to gossip (47%) or swear (46%) than engage in premarital sex (45%). The major disparities in the survey were mostly political – not religious – in nature. Among liberals, only 77 percent believe in the concept of sin, compared to 94 percent of conservatives. A most interesting observation, to say the least!

Spiritual Beings. A nationwide Barna survey of 1,871 American adults explored their views on the Bible and their beliefs about “spiritual beings.”

God. All 1,871 self-described Christians were asked about their perception of God. In total, three-quarters (78%) said he is the “all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today.” The remaining one-quarter chose other descriptions of God – depictions that are not consistent with biblical teaching (e.g., everyone is god, god refers to the realization of human potential, etc.).

Satan. Six out of ten Christians (59%) believe that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” A minority of Christians (26%) expressed belief that Satan is indeed a “living real being.” Approximately 8% of professing Christians were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.

Jesus Christ. Although the center of Christianity is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. Four out of ten Christians (40%) believe that Jesus sinned while He lived on earth. Less than one out of ten Christians (9%) believe He went to the cross without sin!

The Holy Spirit. Much like their perceptions of Satan, most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 58% stated that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians (34%) disagreed with that view of the Holy Spirit.

A majority of Christians believe that a person can be under the influence of spiritual forces, such as demons or evil spirits. Two out of three Christians agreed that such influence is real (64%), while just three out of ten rejected the influence of supernatural forces (28%).

The Bible. A surprisingly high majority of Christians (73%) believe the Bible is accurate in all of the principles it teaches. However, there is no similar clarity among Christians regarding how the Bible compares with other “holy books.” When faced with the statement that “the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths,” the group was evenly split between those who accepted the idea (41%) and those who rejected it (40%). One out of five (20%) said they just didn’t know.

In surveying these surveys, the alarming fact is that this is what Christians are purporting to believe! Two very chilling and haunting Old Testament prophecies come immediately to mind:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land — not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8.11)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4.6)

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says…”

–Bill

 

Framing the Argument

There is a saying in politics that goes like this: “He who frames the issue, wins the debate.” In our culture today, I might say it like this: “He who frames the emotionally convincing argument, wins the debate.”

Correspondingly, it is often true that the one who frames the argument first, loudest, and most forcefully will win the cultural debate at stake.

Satan is a master at framing cultural debates today in an emotionally convincing way so that the world swallows his lies (John 8.44, Revelation. 12.15-17). For example, notice how these issues are framed with an emotionally convincing message.

Abortion is framed as a woman’s choice. It is her body and her right to choose.

Homosexuality is framed as an alternative lifestyle between loving individuals.

Gay marriage is framed as a civil rights and civil liberties issue similar to the rights of women and minorities.

Fornication is framed as an act of love, passion, and pleasure.

Christians are framed as intolerant, archaic, insensitive, and legalistic.

Do you see what Satan and the world do? They frame an argument in an emotionally convincing and persuasive way that is appealing.

What should Christians do?

1. We must frame our arguments clearly, convincingly, and emotionally.

We must not get lost in all the details, but frame the argument clearly on these issues. For example, abortion is not about a woman’s right to choose; it is about the taking of a human being’s life.

Sadly, it seems to me that the age of people desiring truth as they did in past decades has gone by. People want to know the relevance and meaning behind a truth. Christians should not just present truth and condemn the above sins in a matter-of-fact matter. We must offer an emotionally convincing argument as well. We have one! The story of the cross is the greatest emotionally charged story in the world. It is the drawing power of Christianity (John 12.32). The story of God’s holiness and His hurt and pain experienced because of sin is powerful; and this story is shared throughout the whole Bible. When we teach and preach about the above issues, we need to make our arguments emotional and passionate. The truth should be taught with love (Ephesians 4.15).

2. We must unveil the falsehood of Satan’s arguments.

Satan is not going to win (Revelation 19-20). But it seems that his lies are winning the hearts of Americans and many Christians. These emotionally charged arguments based on love, kindness, and deeply American values appeal to the masses, especially our young people. Just look at how the opinion on gay marriage has changed so drastically in the last 10 years.  Parents, preachers, youth ministers, and Christians must offer rebuttals to these common arguments heard incessantly in our culture by presenting the truth of God’s Word and calling people to holiness. I am often shocked at how these arguments are believed and not seen for what they are: the lies of Satan. This is the continuing battle between truth and error (1 John 4.1-6, John 8.31-33). We must constantly teach the truth on moral issues, so that it is a bedrock foundation against the world’s convincing lies that constantly assail our brethren.

The arguments are being framed to promote sin. Our culture is buying what Satan is selling. Let’s present the truth about sin and its disastrous consequences (Romans 3.23, 6:23). It might sound like a good argument in our 2013 America, but it will destroy the souls of men (Matthew 16.24-28, 2 Thessalonians 1.7-10).

– Josh Ketchum, Seven Oaks Church of Christ, Mayfield, Kentucky

 

Sinners Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous was begun to help people overcome the specific and very serious sin of drunkenness. We support and appreciate their worthwhile work. The fact is, they’ve adopted the methods of another organization designed to treat not just one sin, but every sin afflicting people. God’s book refers to that organization as the church of Christ. Though never so designated, the church in reality is an assembly of sinners anonymous.

Sin and Repentance

The only way we can be added to God’s church is by facing the problem of sin, then personalizing it, admitting our personal sins have separated us from God.

Repentance is both the sorrow we experience because of our sins and the determination to change; to do whatever is necessary to break free from the power of sin.

Confession allows us to admit to God and others that we are sinners and we realize we can’t save ourselves, we can’t handle the problem of sin alone, and so in obedience we plead for God’s grace to save us through Jesus Christ.

And finally, as we are lowered beneath the surface in the “watery grave” of baptism, the sinful self is shed, buried, and somehow God in His omnipotence applies the blood of Jesus to our sin-stained souls so that as we are brought up from the water, we rise free from the taint and condemnation of sin!

We understand too there is nothing in what we’ve done to earn our freedom. We were sinners, disobedient, transgressors of God’s law, deserving punishment, not pardon. Therefore, when we assemble, we need to remember who we are and what we were. As we have fellowship together, blending our voices and thoughts in songs and prayers, it is with the realization that except for the grace of God, we are all lost and without hope, for there is none righteous, no not one!

The Value of Fellowship

The fellowship we enjoy with each other in Christ is our support group. Without God we have no hope. Without each other, the daily struggle against sin would be almost unbearable. Sinners Anonymous we are, but God designed His church so that His people would have a way to encourage and strengthen and help each other. God wants us to know we’re not alone – there is strength in numbers – and together we’ll help each other through the day.

 – I’m Bill…and I’m a sinner.

 

Culture Watch

Pixelate That

pix·el·ate [pik-suh-leyt] verb, pix·el·at·ed, pix·el·at·ing: to blur (parts of a digital image) by creating unclear, pixel like patches, for purposes of censorship or to maintain the anonymity of the subject: Police have asked the media to pixelate the faces of the men who were taken into custody.

In the opening of the animated series Family Guy, a couple at the piano complains in song about “violence in movies and sex on TV.” It turns out there’s more than ever to complain about.

The incidents of nudity on prime-time broadcast TV quadrupled in one year. The count of “pixilated nudity” increased from 15 scenes in 14 shows during the 2010-2011 TV season to 76 scenes in 37 shows during the TV season just ending. That’s a 407% increase in a single season.

ABC had the most pixilated scenes with 14, NBC had 12, and CBS trailed with seven. The CW and Fox each had only two scenes where full nudity was blocked by blurring part of the image. The Parents Television Council noted that many incidents occurred as early as 7 p.m. when children might be watching, and only five were on programs labeled “S” for sexual content.

Leadership Journal, Fall 2012

Changing Attitudes

“Do you think it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry?”
46% – “Yes”; 44% – “No”; 10% – “I don’t know.”

– CBS/New York Times poll, August 2012

“Do you believe homosexual behavior is a sin?” “Yes,” said 44% of US adults; 82% of evangelicals; 29% of non-evangelicals.

“Would a church’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin affect your involvement with that church?” “Yes, I’d be less likely to visit or join,” said 72% of unchurched; 21% of weekly attendees.

– LifeWay Research of 2,000 US adults

 

 

Two Archaic Words: Sin and the Devil

The most popular contemporary “spiritual leaders” pretty much ignore sin and the devil. The prevailing assumption seems to be that men and women are basically innocent and good, and all that is needed is training and encouragement to “become our best selves,” and “blossom where we are planted.” “Selfism” is fobbed off as spirituality. Sappy aphorisms from Khalil Gibran are substituted for the tempered steel imperatives of Jesus.

As Christians, we are warned not to be fooled by superficial appearances of holiness, especially at those times when we think we catch glances of them in the mirror! We need rigorous and detailed schooling in the nuances of temptation, the ways of the devil, and our seemingly endless capacity of both deceiving ourselves and being deceived.

“Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith.”

1 Peter 5.8-9

Eugene Peterson, Living the Message