Tag Archive | sin

The Prayer Machinery of Heaven #7: The Debt

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm 66:18).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

Prayer straddles our lives both on earth when we pray and in heaven when Jesus hears. All week I’m focusing on prayer. It’s important. I need to do better in my life, and I can’t imagine a Christian who doesn’t think they can do better at prayer either.

Charles Spurgeon said,

Prayer meetings are the throbbing machinery of the church.

Last weekend, I was thinking of one of Spurgeon’s sermons, called God’s Providence. (#3114). Spurgeon likened the cherubim’s acts near the throne and the wheels within wheels as described by Ezekiel as machinery of Providence. He described, hypothetically of course, the wheels going up and down and left and right in tandem as the machinery of Providence carrying out God’s will and decrees. It’s an interesting thought, and Spurgeon is vivid about his descriptions.

This series of ‘prayer machinery of heaven’ is inspired by those two thoughts.

Please enjoy this scripture photo I made of the machinery of prayer. Under that will be some further resources on prayer suggestions.

prayer machinery 7

There are two ‘If’s’ there. If we confess, He is faithful to forgive. If we hold onto our sins and cherish them, He does not listen. Prayer is the vehicle of communion with the Lord, and dealing with sin is the oil that expedites the prayer or it falls to the ground with a thud.

In “The Lord’s Prayer” from Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus said “pray in this way” which includes instructions to pray for forgiveness of sin,

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)

Gill’s Commentary mentions the use of the word debts for sins

And forgive us our debts,…. Nothing is more frequent in the Jewish writings than to call sins “debts”; and the phrase, of forgiving, is used both of God and men.

And sins are debts, aren’t they. Strong’s Concordance explains the Greek word used here

And to Him we owe it all! Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe!!!

He paid the debt, and He set us free. We are mindful of the two ‘Ifs’ however, do not cherish sin, and confess it daily. What a privilege to pray. What a gift that He hears us.

 

Prayer Machinery of Heaven series:

Prayer Machinery #1: Introduction and Praying for Missionaries

Prayer Machinery #2: Praying for pray for our Elders (pastors, deacons, teachers, etc).

Prayer Machinery #3: Praying for each other

Prayer Machinery #4: How to Pray

Prayer Machinery #5: A focus on Jesus in heaven who hears our prayers, and what a comfort that is

Prayer Machinery #6: Persevering in Prayer

Prayer Machinery #7: The Two ‘If’s’ and the Importance of confessing Sin

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Abraham’s lie of omission

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. (Genesis 20:2-8)

Porn: I’m not hurting anybody. It’s my decision. I’m the only one affected.
Adultery: Nobody knows, it’s fine. No one else is hurt by it.
Drunkenness: So what if I drink alone in my house, nobody else is being hurt, are they?

And so on. Sin is sin. Sin affects not only the perpetrator of sin but those around him or her.

Abraham told a half-truth. Sarah was his half-sister. But he left off a critical piece of information, one that Abimelech was seeking in good faith: is Sarah married? Abraham was silent on that score. He committed a sin of omission.

James 4:17 declares, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

Abraham also committed a sin against God by not trusting Him with the circumstance.

Poor Abimelech. There were certain things he had to do as a result of Abraham’s lie, such as returning Sarah, making arrangements to get Abraham back, telling the servants and so on. Abraham caused an upset against another person, a major one that almost cost Abimelech his life.

Think of Achan in Joshua 7. He stole some things in the military victory, though the Israelites were warned not to. Although the account shows that Achan individually was guilty of coveting and taking these war spoils, Joshua 7 opens with a declaration that the whole community of “the children of Israel [had] committed a trespass” (Joshua 7:1). Achan’s sin wasn’t individual, for 36 men lost their lives in the battle of Ai, which was lost because of Achan’s sin. (Joshua 7:11). All of Achan’s family were stoned as a result. (Joshua 7:24).

Whether sins of omission or commission, sin is never individual. It harms the person sinning, it harms the family, church, or even the nation. Most of all, personal sin is against God. Like ripples in a pond, sin extends it tentacles outward.

Finally, as David declared in Psalm 51:4,

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

ripples

EPrata photo

God’s grief over sin

While reading Psalm 14 in yesterday’s Bible Reading Plan, I was reminded of another set of verses. First, here is Psalm 14-

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.

2The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

3They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

4Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the LORD?
(Psalm 14: 1-4).

We’re familiar with Paul’s reference to Psalm 14:3, in Romans 3:10. We are also familiar with the famous verse in Psalm 14, ‘the fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” ‘

But the tone of the Psalmist crying out to God because of peoples’ ungodliness, reminded me of the tragic verses in Genesis 6:5-6,

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

It’s good to be reminded that as much as we grieve over sin, like the Psalmist, God grieves so much more. When your little one throws a tantrum, or steals his brother’s toy, or hits a kid at school, you’re angry and grieved because we know that behavior is not the best for your child. I wonder what God sees when He looks down upon His children on the earth. According to the Genesis verse, He grieves. We also know He is angry. (Romans 1:18).

Oh, how sweet it will be when all are reconciled in holiness to our Holy God, no more blot or stain to arouse His grief and anger. What a day that will be.

 

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: Sins in the heart

In our Bible Reading Plan today we read Matthew 5-7.

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

Here’s a bit of history for you. President Jimmy Carter was the 39th President of the United States. He was elected in November 1976 when I was almost 16. He served one term until I was 20 years old.

He was an active Christian, the first one I’d had any ‘contact’ with. In my personal life growing up, religion didn’t play a role at all. I knew no Christians. Because Carter was a public figure, President, his beliefs were public and often passed before my eyes in TV interviews and newscasts as he was interviewed about them.

During Carter’s campaign he was interviewed by a freelance writer for an article to be published in Playboy Magazine. Carter offered unprompted,

“I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”

Time Magazine’s opinion of the incident was put this way:

The decision to do an interview with Playboy magazine was possibly not the best call of President Carter’s tenure. Yet, it was all going pretty well until he started talking about the Bible and adultery. Now, Carter’s not actually admitting anything shocking. Most men would probably say, “Yep, been there.” But presidents rarely (and for good reason) venture into the land of “too much information”: Ideally, they should exist on a higher plane than the rest of us. It was an uncomfortable moment for America.

I agree with the secular view of offering too much unprompted information. We all want to dwell in a fiction of our leaders being above reproach. But since Carter said it, and I heard it, I was left with the problem of trying to figure out what it meant. Having no knowledge of the Bible, I was strenuously trying to reconcile my own knowledge of sin, which I called immorality. I didn’t understand that sin came from a completely depraved heart. Being unsaved, I thought sin was a private matter, nobody’s business. Adultery I well understood, having two parents who both indulged in it. It seemed wrong to me but I was too young to have any firm basis for saying so. However I believed that thoughts about adultery were one’s own and thus a private matter.

I learned after salvation that God reads the heart and knows the intentions of man. Sin actually springs from the heart and mind. All sins, even the unacted-upon sins, even thoughts only, are just as damaging. But back then, it was perplexing to me that a man should feel ashamed of his ‘normal’ thoughts. As long as he didn’t act on it, I thought he should be termed “a good man.” I thought Carter was silly for saying anything about it.

The Matthew verse today shows me that I was the silly one. Carter might have made a political faux pas, but he was biblically correct. It’s wrong to commit adultery in your thoughts. What a radical thought. It was to me then, and the reactions of the listeners of the sermon on the mount and others later thought so too. (Matthew 7:28-29; John 6:60). Guard your thought life.

sat heart

The power of crafty words

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

We are introduced to satan early and his introduction contained an extremely negative assertion about his character. He’s crafty.

Satan is an angel. He is an unholy angel, as opposed to Gabriel or Michael who are holy angels. If you look at the angels’ activity you see just how powerful and intelligent they are. They administer judgment. (e.g. Revelation 8:6-13). They give the Law. (Acts 7:53, Hebrews 2:2, Galatians 3:19). They give the Gospel to the whole earth at once. (Revelation 14:6). They stand on the sun. (Revelation 19:7). They hold back the wind. (Revelation 7:1).

They’re powerful.

We’ll come back to that in a moment.

I’m enjoying the buzz around a couple of movies just out. Darkest Hour is the story of Winston Churchill’s early days as England’s Prime Minister. He was leading the United Kingdom through tough times as WWII rages on the continent and is about to hit home for Britain. Much of the focus of the movie is on Churchill’s oratory. It’s a movie largely without action and is tightly confined to the bunker tunnels and small rooms below the city. Churchill made several famous speeches which roused the populace, enabled changed minds and hearts to make decisions, and cemented the nation in unity to face the evil force that was soon to come upon them. It’s a movie about speeches.

Another movie just out is called The Post. It depicts the editor Ben Bradlee and owner/publisher Katherine Graham of the Washington Post during the critical years of the decisions about whether to release the Pentagon Papers, and leading up to their coverage of the Watergate Break-in, which eventually led to the downfall and resignation of American President Richard Nixon. It’s a movie about words.

Words, whether written or spoken have power. Where would we be without Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, Kennedy’s ‘to the moon and back’, Reagan’s ‘tear down this wall’? We remember Chief Joseph’s surrender speech, ‘I will fight no more forever.’ Lou Gehrig’s farewell to baseball ‘luckiest man alive’ speech. President Reagan reassuring a shocked nation after the space shuttle Challenger exploded and the astronauts having ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’

Look at the impact of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats:

Fireside chats is the term used to describe a series of 28 evening radio addresses given by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1944. Roosevelt spoke with familiarity to millions of Americans about the promulgation of the Emergency Banking Act in response to the banking crisis, the recession, New Deal initiatives, and the course of World War II. On radio, he was able to quell rumors and explain his policies. His tone and demeanor communicated self-assurance during times of despair and uncertainty. Roosevelt was a great communicator on radio, and the fireside chats kept him in high public regard throughout his presidency. Their introduction was later described as a “revolutionary experiment with a nascent media platform”.

I’m brought back to the early chapters of Genesis. The serpent. What was his mode of attack? Did he hold Eve hostage and force her to eat the fruit? Did he call for his legions of followers to surround them and attack? No. He did it with words. Satan attacks with words.

We should not pay attention to satan.

Of course we don’t pay attention to satan, you say. Of course not, silly! But we do. We come across a false teacher and we listen. We rationalize that we have the power to ‘eat the meat and spit out the bones’. We wail, ‘But he/she helped me so much!’ Of course false teachers are skilled at oratory. They can make fine speeches. They use words well. They’re crafty!

False doctrine is sin because false doctrine doesn’t originate from God. (John 7:16, Titus 1:2). God hates false doctrine. (Revelation 2:15). Several of the letters in the New Testament were written to address errors of false doctrine (Galatians 1:6–9; Colossians 2:20–23; Titus 1:10–11). Take false doctrine seriously. Why? Its words will affect you.

Why do we know that speeches, movies, newspapers, and advertising affect us, but mistakenly think that listening to false doctrine won’t?

The Bible says that those who listen to false teachers are heaping these teachers up so they can ‘suit their own passions.’ (2 Timothy 4:3). Don’t indulge your passions by falling into satan’s crafty trap of words.

Black

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Further reading

Challies: The Five Tests of False Doctrine

Michelle Lesley: Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on your Own

Got Questions: How can I recognize a false teacher / false prophet?

Art of Manliness: Resurrecting the Lost Art of Oratory

Bible Reading Plan thoughts: The LORD hardened their heart and killed them all

For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the Lord commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:20).

The Bible Reading Plan passage for today is Joshua 11-15. I read and re-read this verse from chapter 11. It’s a hard passage. It’s Old Testament passages like these where God gets his stern and tyrant reputation.

The John MacArthur Study Bible helps here:

God turned the Canannites’ hearts to fight in order that Israel might be his judging instrument to destroy them. They were willfully guilty of rejecting the true God with consequent great wickedness, and were as fit to remain in the land as vomit spewed out of the mouth (Leviticus 18:24-25).

Individual and national sin is a serious offense against God. RC Sproul called it cosmic treason. And for all that, God is patient. He waited 400 years for the Amorites’ sin to come to full measure. (Genesis 15:16). He gave the false prophetess Jezebel who was teaching his children sexual immorality and eating food sacrificed to idols time to repent. (Revelation 2:21). Whether it is an individual person or a national sin, He is patient. It is said in 2 Peter 3:9 that God is not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should come to repentance. This is the same God. He is immutable, unchangeable, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

His patience and willingness to give time to repent does not mean that he will forget His promise to deal with sin. Sin is a crime and all crimes have punishments. For the Canaanites, that day eventually came, and they were judged for their cosmic treason.

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3).

tues cracked and hardened.jpg