Posted in theology

Run Away From Temptation Island

by Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

Purposeful Temptation

Just the title of this new reality show is enough to tell you all the Christian needs to know: “Temptation Island”.

The TV show blurb states: “Temptation Island is an American reality dating show, in which several couples agree to live with a group of singles of the opposite sex, in order to test the strength of their relationships.”

Four unmarried but long term dating couples are separated and the 4 women live on one side of a tropical island with 12 men, and the 4 men live on the other side of the island with 12 women. The odds are stacked against them from the start.

The UK Guardian described it like this, lol: “Temptation Island, which launched on Fox TV last night, centres on four couples who test their fidelity on a steamy tropical island overrun with scantily clad singles. It is the latest example of what observers are dubbing ‘reality TV’.

The producers say the show isn’t about sex, it’s about ‘exploring the dynamics of relationships’. Apparently relationship dynamics comes with speedos and bikinis.

The show itself engendered controversy from conservatives and religious groups when it initially aired in 2001. It lasted 2 seasons and was canceled. But then it was brought back a few years later. Apparently all a TV producer needs to do is wait a few years for the society’s moral deterioration to deepen, and then re-start your morally corrupt program, and it will fit right in.

The product it is selling is lust, pride, and voyeurism. Lust for obvious reasons, pride for anyone who thinks they can withstand temptation in their own strength, and voyeurism of those watching and by extension, participating in the same sins.

The Bible tells us to FLEE sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18). It also warns not to test the Lord. Yet what does the world do? Creates circumstances purposely for men and women to run *toward* sexual immorality. Then voyeuristically entices more people to participate in it by watching.

Better title for it would be ‘Dances with devils’.

but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28).

“Don’t tempt me!”

Temptation is common to man because every person born on this planet except Jesus has a sin-nature. Sin is part of us. We have no free will to escape it. We only have a choice on which sin we will perform and to what degree. Sure, you might not be a murderer, but are you a thief? A liar? A coveter? Do you engage in what Jerry Bridges calls ‘respectable sins? Gossip at lunch? Jealousy over a friend’s vacation trip? Anger? They’re all sins. Pick your flavor.

We all have a nature that is drenched in sin, saturated through and through (the Doctrine of Depravity). Our natural moral condition is one of total inability to do anything righteous for God, and instead, we only sin. We only ever think about sinning. We only ever sin, continuously. (Genesis 6:5).

Paul explains this in Romans. Romans is relentless in showing us humans how awful we really are. Oh, we try to convince our selves that “I’m not really that bad.” Or we rationalize, “I’m not as bad as THAT guy over there.” But those rationalizations fail because we compare ourselves to other sinners. Sure, not everyone sins as bad as they could, and some sin more than others, but that’s not the point. To make the comparison we have to compare ourselves to God, who is Holy. He is the one who is sinless. He is the one who sets the standard.

In Romans 3:12 we learn that no one is good, and that no one seeks after God.

Worse, any thought not in accordance with God’s standards is sin. That is why even looking at a woman or man in lust is adultery, because sinful thoughts are still an affront to Holy God, even if you never went through with the physical act.

One Sin Feels Lonely

The Bible says to flee from sexual immorality. (1 Corinthians 6:18). Joseph fled, He turned his back on Mrs. Potiphar and ran out of the room. His reaction should have startled her conscience into repentance. But see, temptation just means one sin feels lonely. Without the object of her desire to satisfy her sin, she turned to another sin, lying.

We must not engage in anything impure, not greed or debauchery or anything unrighteous. (Ephesians 5:3). Sin is an almost alive thing, crouching at the door waiting to have you. Unsaved people are at the mercy of the tsunami of sin engulfing them, but as Christians we have a door to shut it out: the Holy Spirit indwelling us.

Here’s where it gets good

We can evacuate Temptation Island. We do not have to succumb to the charcuterie board of sins satan is serving up! 

Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones preached,The fourth thing we go on to is something that we should consider with adoration, praise and worship, and it is this: the three Persons of the blessed Trinity took part in this plan and purpose of redemption. There can be no question at all but that the Scriptures teach that before the foundation of the world a council with respect to man took place between the three Persons of the Trinity—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And there in that eternal council they seem very clearly to have divided up the work of redemption, so that we can describe the Father as the originator, the Son as the executor and the Holy Spirit as the One who applies what the Son has achieved.

The lifeboat has arrived to take God’s children off the island of temptations and to give us armor to battle it with! Praise God and bless Him! He rescues us from our swim in the putrid waters of sin!

God’s rescue is a perfect example of how Christianity is countercultural: it’s the opposite of the world. What a gift. He gave us to not only know what evil IS, but to give us the Spirit to help us kill the sin that remains in us and to help us resist the temptations that we DO NOT seek but do come our way.

Think about the monumental gift He has given us. He regenerates sinful hearts, gave us His word to follow, gave us His Spirit to help us in killing sin. He gave us everything! We don’t HAVE TO sin. We don’t have to participate in the increasing moral deterioration of society! We can come to our Father, repentance in hand, and lay it at His feet. We are dressed in righteous robes, and given powerful aids to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Someday we will be freed totally from even the presence of sin. What a day that will be!

Lars Justinen, “Robe of Righteousness”

Posted in theology

For What It’s Worth

By Elizabeth Prata

Buffalo Springfield. 1966. For What It’s Worth. An anthem that captured a moment, a movement, a revolution. And it wasn’t about the Viet Nam war.

For What It’s Worth (Stop, Hey What’s That Sound) (often referred to as simply “For What It’s Worth”) is a song written by Stephen Stills. Performed by Buffalo Springfield, it was recorded on December 5, 1966, released as a single on Atco Records on December 23, 1966. … The song is a staple of period piece films about 1960s America and the Vietnam War, such as Forrest Gump, and often used as a common shorthand to quickly establish the atmosphere of 1960s counterculture movement and protests.” (Wikipedia)

Continue reading “For What It’s Worth”
Posted in theology

Why the Jennifer Buck issue is a watershed moment for the SBC

By Elizabeth Prata

We are looking at a watershed moment. We are seeing it happen in real time. We see who, and we know why. It’s not often we understand that THE turning point is happening when it is happening, but we do today.

A watershed moment is defined:

an event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend

a turning point, the exact moment that changes the direction of an activity or situation

A scandal erupted recently involving some executive higher ups in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and Tom Buck and his wife Jennifer Buck. I won’t go into all the details because others have and they have explained more fully what happened. My indignation is deeply grieved over the details, but is also more universal than that.

Brief recap

In 2018 Pastor Tom Buck’s wife Jennifer wrote up a testimony of what Jesus had done in their marriage 25 years ago when they were newly married. This testimony had been verbally delivered many times to members of their church in counseling sessions and other places. Locals knew of the great work Jesus had done in uniting a drifting couple from years ago, dampening building resentments, and handling anger issues between them. Mighty is He to save…marriages!

The Bucks often lauded Jesus all these years for His intervention and in creating a beautiful picture over time of the Gospel and its power. So in 2018 Jennifer and Tom thought others might be encouraged by their testimony, and Jennifer wrote it up.

Not being a writer per se, Jennifer contacted someone in the literary world known for her writing and editing skills, and that person was asked to review the testimony and share constructive criticism with Jennifer so she could make a final draft. This person was the sole possessor of the draft and the person was told it should remain that way until it was finalized.

The chosen editor was in a bad car accident and dropped out of public life for a while to recover. Jennifer’s writing project stalled and stayed on the back burner, almost forgotten … until this month.

“Somehow” the draft resurfaced, was passed around to executives and higher ups in the SBC, gossiped about, and maliciously used as a weapon to try and discredit Tom (an outspoken critic of the leftward drift of the SBC). It had been published without her permission, the early draft that contained information that in the end, Jennifer did not want made public…but “somehow”, it was.

Questions to ponder

Whether the draft was consciously and knowingly held for 4 years because opponents recognized its value as a weapon, (?) or whether it was rediscovered recently and consciously and knowingly used as a weapon, (?) the fact remains, it was used as a weapon. It was circulated without permission, it was used to discredit a brother and a pastor in the faith, and it was used to embarrass a married couple in the faith.

Here is the watershed moment that upsets me so greatly:

EPrata photo


Someone or Someones held that draft in their hand. They looked at it, with the author’s emotions laid on the page, her raw feelings poured out and her heart opened bare. All for the cause of Christ and to extol Him who saves souls and restores marriages. The Someone or Someones had a CHOICE.

They could choose to use the draft for the glory of Jesus’ name, its original intent, or they could use it in a gross political game to push forward a fleshly agenda and in the process deliberately hurt or even destroy a brother and sister. They could have called up Jennifer and helped her finalize the draft and happily publish it to the edification of many in their own denomination, or they could darkly connive to use it in a way that did the most damage to someone they disliked. They could glorify God, or they could exalt themselves.

You know what they chose.

Now, these are people who lead a denomination. They are people who help others lead the denomination. The denomination was founded for the name of Christ and all its doings are supposed to be for the glory of Christ. Yet, they chose sin, not Christ.

They chose sin. Publicly, unquestionably, shamelessly. Are these the sort of people you want leading you, representing you?


That brings us to the fifth way God is glorified, which is not in parts, but in the whole of our lives. Just as God’s own glory is the fullness of His being, so must our response of glorifying Him be found not in limited actions but in the whole fabric of our lives. “We may think that God wants actions of a certain kind, but God wants people of a certain sort,” C.S. Lewis wrote. In other words, we glorify God by consecrating the whole of our lives—every hour, every relationship, every conversation, every possession, every endeavor, with faith and repentance, starting and stumbling and beginning ever anew—to Him. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31, emphasis added). ~Source TableTalk Magazine


What ‘sort of people’ are these, anyway? Dead. Too harsh? We’ll see.

He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, and yet you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)

The SBC had a reputation for a long time of being ‘people of the Book.’ Of being stalwart in their pursuit of God, of being conservative, of aligning with the Bible in all its precepts. At times there was even a whiff of smug satisfaction that those other denominations were drifting, becoming liberal, but the SBC remains the lone city on a hill shining its beacon abroad. Hm.

Yet at some point, the loose conglomeration of people in this organization, and I won’t even call it a denomination anymore (for I fear it has nothing to do with Christ, at its highest, decision-making levels), became infected with rot. Trees suffer from something arborists call heart-rot, and it’s apt. The reputation went on in front of the SBC, its deeds became known so they seemed to be alive, BUT ARE DEAD.

Too harsh? Well the church at Sardis was told otherwise in Revelation 3. It IS possible for a church to seem to be thriving, active, and performing many deeds, but inside the heart-rot was killing it all along. It happened to Sardis. In my opinion it happened to the SBC.

McLaren’s Expositions of Revelation 3:1

One characteristic of their death is that they have forgotten what they were in better and happier times, and therefore need the exhortation, ‘Remember how thou hast received and didst hear.’ They have fallen so far that the height on which they once stood is out of their sight, and they are content to lie on the muddy flat at its base. No stings from conscious decline disturb them. They are too far gone for that. The same round of formal Christian service which marked their decline from their brethren hid it from themselves. ~Source McLaren’s Expositions of Revelation 3:1

Someone or Someones held a document in their hand. It could exalt the name of Christ, or it could be used to try and destroy brethren. You know what they chose. Now they are lying in a muddy pigpen at the base of a mountain whose apex they can no longer see. And worst of all, they seem happy there.

For nothing is concealed that will not become evident, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17

Posted in encouragement, grace, repentance, salvation, sin

The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do: In which I testify to God’s grace in saving me

In the past, Tim Challies posted an article titled The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do. It’s a terrifying article. It crushed me reading it and apparently it did for many others as well. I saw this article referred to and re-posted numerous times.

The most terrifying thing God can do is to turn an unsaved person over to his sin. Having just gone through Romans 1 in my Sunday School class, I was starkly reminded again of God giving them over to their sin. It’s stated three times at the end of the chapter. This again clutched my heart with terror and grief. Sin is such a powerful drug, a terrifying trap.

Continue reading “The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do: In which I testify to God’s grace in saving me”
Posted in theology

A Devastating Exchange

By Elizabeth Prata

If some of you plume yourselves with the notion that you are righteous, I pray God to pluck those fine feathers off you and make you see yourselves, for if you never see your own nothingness, you will never understand Christ’s all-sufficiency. Unless you are pulled down, Christ will never lift you up.

~Charles Spurgeon, Sermon 3392, “Justification by Faith”

There is something called The Great Exchange. Sinclair Ferguson explains the positive side of it here as he goes through Romans 1:

Exchange number three is the gracious, unmerited (in fact, demerited) exchange that God provided in Christ. Without compromise of His righteousness revealed in wrath, God righteously justifies sinners through the redemption He provided in Christ’s blood-propitiation for our sins. This Paul states in the rich and tightly-packed words of Romans 3:21–26.

It is only later in the letter that he gives us a different, and in some ways more fundamental, way of looking at this: the Son of God took our nature and came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3) in order to exchange places with Adam, so that His obedience and righteousness might for our sakes be exchanged for Adam’s (and our) disobedience and sin (Rom. 5:12–21).

Exchange number four is that which is offered to sinners in the gospel: righteousness and justification instead of unrighteousness and condemnation. Moreover, this Christ-shaped righteousness was constituted by His entire life of obedience and His wrath-embracing sacrifice on the cross, where He was made a sin offering (He came, says Paul in Rom. 8:3, “on account of sin,” or “to be a sin offering”; NIV).

In short, on the cross, Jesus exchanged His righteousness for our sins, so that when God looks at us He sees Christ’s righteousness, and when He looked at Jesus on the cross, He saw our sins that must be punished. Praise Him who knew no sin for taking upon Himself our sins, so that we may be justified before a Holy God!

There is a negative exchange too.

The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied; I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips. Psalm 16:4.

Woe! They have bartered away their life and soul for an evil vapor that will only send them to their position in the Lake of Fire! Gill’s Exposition says of the verse in Psalm 16,

that hasten after another god”; a false god, an idol, to serve and worship it; for, generally speaking, idolaters are more forward, eager, and hasty to attend a false worship, than the worshippers of the true God are to attend his service: now their sorrows are many, even in their worship, by cutting their bodies with knives and lancets, as the worshippers of Baal did; and by sacrificing their own children, which, notwithstanding their rash and precipitate zeal, could not fail of giving them pain and uneasiness; and, besides temporal punishments inflicted on them for their idolatry by God, and stings of conscience, which must sometimes attend them, the wrath of God lies upon them, and they will have their portion in the lake of fire, and the smoke of their torment will ascend for ever and ever. 

Back to Romans, this verse also makes mention of the negative exchange the pagan makes:

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible mankind, of birds, four-footed animals, and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:23).

Faithlife Study Bible explains Romans 1:22, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools A fool is not merely someone who is ignorant or lacks intelligence. The term has moral connotations that include a rejection of God (Psa 14:1; Jer 10:14). By refusing to acknowledge God, people reveal their foolishness.”

Matthew Henry put it concisely:

They ascribed a deity to the most contemptible creatures, and by them represented God. It was the greatest honour God did to man that he made man in the image of God; but it is the greatest dishonour man has done to God that he has made God in the image of man. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2195). Hendrickson.

We should be eternally and powerfully grateful for our salvation. The Great Exchange is initiated by God at His timing and choosing. We have no merit in ourselves that sparks his attention, or in any way influences Him. Gratitude and eternal worship of our Holy God is the proper – and only – response.

EPrata photo
Posted in theology

If we had X-Ray vision, what would sin look like?

By Elizabeth Prata

Back in 2014, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at airports used a machine you had to pass through which could see through your clothing, all the way to the skin. It was called Rapiscan and the x-ray machine was used to detect whether a passenger was smuggling bombing material, weapons, or chemicals for nefarious purposes. Unfortunately, the machine could see the naked body, which made many passengers uncomfortable. In addition, it soon came out that TSA personnel were unprofessionally gawking at good bodies and making fun of bad bodies.

Rapiscan machines were pulled in 2014. What started as maybe a good idea was turned into sin by twisted individuals seeing what they shouldn’t.

Back in 2001-2006, I was an investigative reporter. I uncovered financial malfeasance, voting irregularities, sexual immorality, and general mayhem that government leaders preferred to keep a lid on. Instead, the disinfectant of good journalism opened a can of worms, and it was my job to peek inside. Though the job was necessary and helpful, seeing the sins of others was depressing – because there was so much of it.

Seeing what we shouldn’t see is an unpleasant thing. Sin has come to life is all around us yet most of the time the layman are protected. We can avoid looking at it most of the time (and we are really good at avoiding looking at our own sin!)

But Lawyers, Police, Prison Officers, Parole Officers, Journalists, and others on a daily basis must directly confront the sins of others. It’s awful.

When satan was created, He was the most beautiful angel. Ezekiel 28:12 says

Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”

Inside or out, satan was not only beautiful, but he was the very seal of perfection. But it didn’t last. Though he was created perfect, one day, unrighteousness was found in him.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. (Ezekiel 28:15)

Sin is all around us because we live in a fallen world, and every human had a sin nature that makes it impossible for him or ner NOT to sin.

Sin is initially beautiful. It Looks good to us, as the fruit did to Eve. (Genesis 3:6). But the more a person becomes trapped in it, the less beautiful it is and the more they are eternally destroyed. Sin is, in fact, the ugliest item in the universe.

The woman may be beautiful, and the sin so enticing, Proverbs 5:3 says
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil.

But the end of it all is is hell.

in the end she’s as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol. (Proverbs 5:4-5)

But sin at first looks great, else no one would engage in it. Remember Superman’s X-Ray vision? Wikipedia defines X-ray vision as

Although called X-ray vision, this power has little to do with the actual effect of X-rays. Instead, it is usually presented as the ability to selectively see through certain objects as though they are invisible, translucent or not present, in order to see objects or surfaces beyond or deep to the affected object or material.”

THIS is what sin looks like. Here is the Old Man. Once so beautiful and shining, it is a picture of what satan’s soul probably looks like. Eve thought the fruit looked good and a delight to the eyes, (Genesis 3:6) but shortly after tasting it, all it had brought was pain and bondage (Genesis 3:16). If we had X-ray vision and could see beyond the enticing surface, is this what we would see?

“Sin”, collage on handmade paste paper, by EPrata

O, would that sin looked like this to our eyes, then we would not be so attracted to it! And sadly, horrifically, it is what us inside us. This ugliness is what Jesus sees when He looks at a non-believer. We cannot fathom how ugly sin is to Jesus when He looks at those who have not repented! Yet!, He still died for us.

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Being that sin is so gross and deadly, it makes the triumph of Jesus all the more glorious.  Where satan is all-darkness that fools us into thinking it is light, where our own sin-nature convinces us that we are beautiful, Jesus never had one blot, one lie, one corrupt thought. Not once, not ever. He IS the Light!

God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

If we had X-ray vision looking at Jesus, our eyes would see only glory upon glory, shining like the sun. He is a prism of Light, reflecting throughout all the universe and into the eternity we will share with Him! When He looks upon a believer He sees that same righteousness-

For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Don’t be fooled by the initially enticing beauty of sin. It is gross, destructive, horrible. Put on your X-ray vision to see beyond its surface lie. The Bible is that X-ray vision. Use it to hone your worldview. Run from it toward Jesus who set us free from its bondage, and gave us the Spirit’s vision to see through its enticing spoils. Satan’s offerings are nothing. Jesus is our all in all.

photo by EPrata
Posted in theology

Sin on the railroad tracks

By Elizabeth Prata

I read a thread on Twitter by CBS Los Angeles photojournalist John Schreiber about the issue of package pilfering on the railroad tracks. A picture sure is worth a thousand words. Here is the thread and Schreiber’s photos first, then I’ll discuss-

Thread by John Schreiber, photojournalist for CBS Los Angeles. @johnschreiber

Keep hearing of train burglaries in LA on the scanner so went to #LincolnHeights to see it all. And… there’s looted packages as far as the eye can see. Amazon packages, @UPS,  boxes, unused Covid tests, fishing lures, epi pens. Cargo containers left busted open on trains.

Continue reading “Sin on the railroad tracks”
Posted in theology

He listened to his wife

By Elizabeth Prata

Remember video stores? Before streaming was invented you had to physically go to a video store and rent a movie, checking it out from the store. You drive home and pop it in to the video cassette recorder machine hulking on top of your console tv to view whatever movie you’d rented. Then reverse the process to return it the next day. Back in the 1990s at the video store on a busy Friday night, I was looking for a movie adapted from an Oscar Wilde play called An Ideal Husband. I couldn’t find it, so I went to the gal at the checkout so she could peek at her catalog to see if it was lent out.

I’d asked, “Do you have An Ideal Husband?”

Without missing a beat, she said, “No, but if I did I wouldn’t lend him out!”

Continue reading “He listened to his wife”
Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Advent- Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 26, Jesus’ sinlessness

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His attributes & earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer. We looked at His attributes of omniscience, His authority, and now His sinlessness.

He came from glory where righteousness reigns. He descended to an earth that’s cursed where every single human is depraved, thoroughly drenched with a sin nature. He lived among us, sinlessly and perfectly fulfilling the Father’s commands for righteous living. He did this at every moment in every way. Not one blot, not one thought, not one act of anything less than perfection.

For this, He was reviled, mocked, hated, and killed.

He did it for us.

thirty daysof jesus 26


Further Reading:

The Cripplegate/Nate Busenitz: In what way was Jesus ‘made sin’ on the cross?

GotQuestions: Why does Christ’s righteousness need to be imputed to us?


Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer
Day 24: Jesus as Omniscient
Day 25: Jesus’ authority

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

What are we all good at?

By Elizabeth Prata

(Podcast link below)

Sinning. Every human on the planet, no matter his or her age, is good at sinning. Hands down. Me included.

EPrata photo

Look at this example from scripture.

Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (Matthew 23:16-21).

What this section of scripture is about is Jesus pronouncing woes upon the Pharisees. The Pharisees were one of the two ruling classes in Israel, the Sadducees being the other. The Pharisees had twisted the faith into something unrecognizable, laying incredible burdens down on the people, (like over 600 laws!) failing to minister to sinners, making sons of hell twice as worse as they were, and being total hypocrites. When Jesus pronounced His many woes upon them, this particular set of woes involved swearing by the LORD and lying.

The Pharisees had cunningly devised a way to appear to swear by the Lord but be able to get out of it later. As Romans 1:18 says, we all know the truth but we suppress it in unrighteousness. They knew what they were doing but they were devising evil in rationalizing what they THOUGHT were clever ways to wriggle out of it.

They THOUGHT that if they swore an oath by the temple and not by the gold of the temple, they could break their oath later with no repercussions. Or swear by the altar and not the gift on the altar, or by heaven and not by the throne in heaven. As President Bill Clinton famously said when he was trying to avoid an answer, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.”

Photo cc.

Look how finely they were splitting hairs! They were dead wrong, as we read Jesus’ excoriation of their sly practices. All the hairs matter.

But you see how we as humans excel at sinning and rationalizing our sin. We’re really, really good at it. “It wasn’t that bad.” “It wasn’t a real promise.” “No one keeps promises anymore.” “I’m not gossiping, I’m sharing a prayer request.” “It wasn’t as bad as that other guy’s sin over there.” “No one saw.”

All rationalizations are simply self-justifications. And there is only One who justifies, Jesus. Our pitiful attempts to justify ourselves when we sin are just evil blasphemies and vain delusions. When we transgress God’s laws, we injure ourselves and dig ourselves deeper into the pit we will eventually fall into. (Matthew 15:14)

As I go through the day I ask Jesus to show me where I am sinning but I’m rationalizing it away. Where I am too ignorant or blind to see my own sin. I ask Him to help me sin less against Him tomorrow than I did today, by the Spirit’s conviction and strength. I am not only the Chief of Sinners, I am Queen of Rationalizations! Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I pray mine and your walk grows purer with each day and each step. Paul was so wise to pray this for his people:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, (Ephesians 1:18).

Lord open the eyes of my heart so I may see and repent of the sins that lurk there.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. (Proverbs 16:2).

Your eyes are too pure to look upon sin but my eyes are too depraved to see holiness. I need Your eyes, Lord.

Lois and Eunice, Euodia and Syntyche  The End Time Blog Podcast

Today I'm looking at two pairs of women: Lois & Eunice who were good examples to the children, and Euodia and Syntyche, who were not good examples to the children. What are the children in your home seeing modeled? This episode is also available as a log post:
  1. Lois and Eunice, Euodia and Syntyche 
  2. What is ‘The Millo'?
  3. Michal: The Wrong Foundation for Marriage
  4. The NIK Test Reveals All
  5. Reactions to Roe