The Blessing of Confrontation

Ezekiel 3:17-21: “At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me (Ezekiel): “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for a their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely... Continue Reading »

What Does It Mean for a Christian to Be Free?

Sometimes we may hear that “freedom in Christ” means we are free from specific ceremonial practices of the Mosaic Law; that is, we don’t have to keep the rituals to be connected to God. However, real Christian freedom is more than just freedom from laws. It is freedom to choose life; freedom from fear, guilt and condemnation when we make a wrong choice; freedom to choose love. By nature, we are not free. We are slaves to the law of sin and death (see Romans 7:14 – 15; 8:1 – 2). As long as we are under the law, we will fail—as much as we try not to and as good as our intentions may be. If we trust Christ as our Savior, we are out from under the law of condemnation. When God looks at us, he sees the righteousness of Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Legally, we are not guilty (see Romans 8:1). Through God’s grace, the consequence of sin for the Christian is never condemnation or punishment from God. Yet many of us have a hard time believing that grace is free and complete and we can’t do anything to add to it in any way (see... Continue Reading »

The Benefits of Repentance and Joy

In 2 Corinthians 7:8 – 10, the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” When we encounter our own failings and sins, it is a painful experience. We see the disconnect between who God meant us to be and who we are in reality, and it is a large gap. Sad, remorseful feelings are part of godly sorrow and are the proper result of knowing our failure (as opposed to crippling guilt or anger at the truth about who we are). The Christians in Corinth were feeling godly sorrow as they listened to Paul’s letter and they realized how far they had fallen. However, there is a second emotional experience in this situation as well,... Continue Reading »

The Case of the Super Christian

Do you find yourself struggling to measure up to the way you think a Christian is supposed to behave? How would you feel if a great Christian leader admitted to a similar struggle? In 1 Timothy 1:12 – 17, the Apostle Paul makes this admission: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might dis­play his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Many of us probably find Paul’s... Continue Reading »

The Purpose of Boundaries

What is the actual purpose of boundaries? We can find an interesting answer in the biblical passage of Mark 7:14 – 23: Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.) He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” Jesus’ explanation reveals how boundaries help us define who we  are and are not. Through them we can take ownership of all of who we are, both... Continue Reading »