Tuesday, February 28, 2006

#131: Evidence of Faith at the Final Judgment

This post is to prepare a few of us for the day when we will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ; (the final judge), who will examine our lives to determine if we will be condemned to eternal separation from God or enjoy everlasting bliss with our Creator. At the last day, as it is called, all who have died will be resurrected, the evil with the holy; also, all who are still alive will also be judged at that time. This is the big event when we will have to give an account of our lives and be given an opportunity to present our defense–although the outcome has already been determined.

This, most likely, will be the first question we will be asked (Jesus speaking): “What evidence can you present that makes you believe you are qualified to be acquitted, by my grace, of the many sins/crimes you have committed against my Father and me?”

This, most likely, will be the response of many religious people: “I accepted You (was saved) as my Lord and Savior when I was . . . years old; I went to church faithfully every Sunday; as an adult, I gave 10% to my church regularly; I obeyed whatever my pastor taught from behind the pulpit; I did not steal from anyone; I gave to charities; I prayed every day that you would keep my family safe; I did not break any civil laws; I did not steal or cheat anyone; I (male/female) worked most of my adult life to help support my family; I was faithful to my wife/husband all my life; I read my Bible occasionally; I loved God and my neighbor; all in all, I lived a fairly holy life. And when I did slip, I asked you for forgiveness and prayed I wouldn’t do that again. Are there any more questions?”

Jesus speaking: “You said you loved my God. Did you really? Did you make EVERY EFFORT to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? You said you loved your neighbor. I don’t think so. How could you have more than enough of everything, yet not think of those living on the other side of the tracks with no food for the day and lacking other necessities, and still say you loved your neighbor as yourself? The extra money you had put away should have been used to help the poor, which could have led them to believe in my Father and me, and in the importance of all that I taught in the Bible. Did you go so far as to sell some of your possessions so that you could give to the poor? Helping those with their physical needs was mainly a way to show them what real life is all about. Remember, all that is commanded in My Book hangs/is derived from love for My God and love for neighbor. So far, it doesn’t look very optimistic for you.

“Let me examine your life a little further. Did you confirm your Salvation by obedience to all I commanded? Did you live with fear and trembling to think you would one day face Me? Was your attitude in life the same as mine when I walked the earth? Did you know that what is highly valued in life is detestable in my God’s sight? Since you said you read the Bible, did you see the verse that taught how you must love me more than your own family or you could not be my disciple? Well, you didn’t. Your family was the paramount concern in your life. Did you ever read the verse that said, ‘Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord’? Did you believe the verse that taught how no one born of God will continue to sin? Did you walk as I did? Were you aware that I never said one good word about wealth (having more than necessary)? Isn’t that what you lived for most of your life? The problem with wealthy people is that they consume more than they actually need. And when one has all that the heart desires plus some, that contentment naturally downplays the existence of Me and My Father as a dominating figure in life, and ultimately replaces the need for my God other than as an outward symbol of holiness and goodness.

“Let’s see if there is anything else you neglected. Did you occasionally examine and compare your life with what My New Testament taught and not only believe your church leaders? Did you ever consider others better than yourself? Without that attitude, you could never truly love your neighbor as yourself–your neighbor is anyone in dire need. Did you enjoy yourself with all forms of worldly entertainment, sports, vacations, an easy life, new and bigger homes, new motor vehicles every year or so? Were you proud of your worldly achievements? Did you indulge in a comfortable and secure lifestyle? Did you eat, drink and be merry? Did you make every effort to promote my cause, which is to show others (by your words and life) the importance of belief and obedience to my commands?” “Hey, Jesus; my pastor never told me any of that stuff—blame him/her; don’t blame me.” Jesus speaking: “He/she will get his/hers, and then some.”

“As I see it, even though you said you read the Bible, you really didn’t know what I taught in the New Testament. You believed what was preached by the clergy. They left out many of the important commands or watered them down as if they were not necessary. The reason they did this was because these commands are not easy to obey, and if they did preach them, they would lose many members because people in general don’t want to hear that disagreeable, hard-edged stuff. Therefore, it is not your devotion to your church and family or what a good life you lived, but the things you omitted that will condemn you.”

(Author: There are many more verses concerning the attitudes and actions required by the New Testament which have been omitted by many who claim to live for Jesus Christ. Scroll down to blog #127 to view an extended list.)

“Because of your naïveté toward Biblical matters, you were deceived. For that reason, I am sorry to say, you have been rejected and do not qualify for my grace, which is a free pass to enter into eternal bliss.”

We must all remember that there are many interpretations to critical New Testament verses. And the only way to know which one is truth or the closest to the truth depends on the interpreter’s holiness and purity, which brings her/him closer to God. When interpreters have ulterior motives in their analyses, one can almost be certain that what they teach is off-base. Many teach with human logic, which does not coincide with Biblical truth. This is one reason why Christianity in general has perverted many doctrines; their goals are success in numbers, financial gains and other worldly desires. No church or person, with all their great theological learning, can even start to get close to God when one’s Holy Grail is success. And isn’t it worldly success most of us are striving for?

Of course, many, if not most, Christians (and others) believe that when a person dies, he/she goes straight to heaven or hell, which would make this post completely false. Sorry to say, that belief is not Biblical. There are many New Testament verses that teach how when a person dies, he/she sleeps in death waiting for the resurrection of the dead to be judged on the last day. This may be a shock for many; therefore, let me give you just a few of the many verses that confirm that the resurrection of the dead and the judgment will take place on the last day. At the same time, there is not one verse, verbatim, which says that at death a person will go straight to heaven or hell.

There is, however, one small portion in the New Testament that talks about a rich man who dressed in purple and lived in luxury every day. He was sent to hell and a beggar named Lazarus went to heaven (Luke 16:19-26). This story follows along what Jesus said just a few verses before in Luke 16:14-15: “The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. . . . What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” This was a novel teaching to the Jews. They believed wealth was a blessing from God. Jesus dispels that belief with this parable, showing that rich people are doomed to hell, and that the poor have a better chance of getting to heaven. Read this section for yourself starting in Luke 16:14-31. There is not another verse in the entire New Testament to collaborate what is being believed by many church people about this section of Luke. And if this section did depict what the organized church believes, that would invalidate dozens of verses that say the contrary, of which I now quote just a few.

* Matthew 12:36. “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” How did Lazarus and the beggar get to heaven and hell without appearing before judgment day?

* Romans 14:12. “So then, each one of us will have to give an account of himself to God.”

* 1st Peter 4:5. “But they will have to give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.”

* John 11:24. “Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’”

* John 11:11-13. “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going to wake him up. His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.”

* 1st Corinthians 11:30. “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.”

* 1st Corinthians 15:20. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

* 1st Thessalonians 4:14. “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

* John 6:40. “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

* 1st Corinthians 15:42. “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.”

* 2nd Timothy 2:18. “They say the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.”

Monday, February 20, 2006

# 130: The Knack of Making Sin Acceptable

This is the second time I am publishing this seninal/hopefully influential post to reveal the truth behind an extremely small section of Scripture in the Book of Romans, that many millions of people who call themselves Christians have been relying on as a reason to believe it is just normal for them to sin. The false understanding of this section has done more damage to the Christian faith than any other heresy in the entire New Testament. I have heard this minute section used as an excuse for sin, more times than I can count and from many individuals of different denominations. In fact, I think it may be a universal excuse for sin, in all of organized Christianity. It is that serious.

If one is not familiar with the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, much of this post will sound like Greek. Not to confuse anyone, it might be best for some to skip this extremely long post, until better and more complete knowledge of what the Bible is about, has been acquired. I have put many, many painstaking hours in the writing of this comprehensive post, to make absolutely certain the information in this series is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the absolute truth. How do I know that? Because this section contradicts all other New Testament verses that unequivocally tell us what we must believe and how we must live concerning sin. Although this series may be difficult for some to understand, it is a truth that all genuine Christians may have to read over and over again to get to the depth and damage it has done. Please take time to double check all the Bible references I mentioned, to make sure I did not take any out of context. Again, please take this section seriously. It could be a matter of one’s spiritual life or death.

The Apostle Paul Speaking in Romans 7:14-20. “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I can not carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

This portion of Scripture is totally contrary in comparison to other Bible teachings; for that reason it has been universally misunderstood since the first century. The result has been a general consensus of “Christians” thinking lightly of sin, thus secretly condoning what they know is wrong, and moreover, they believe that giving into the desires of the flesh (lower nature) is acceptable in the Christian life. Although this is said taciturnly, some go so far as to believe that it was about time the Apostle Paul, author of Romans, confessed to what a weak-willed person he really was while still professing to be a great apostle of Jesus Christ. At this I am appalled.

It is not uncommon for some Bible writers to use the singular, personal pronoun (I, me, you, etc.) to, most often, denote the nation of Israel. There are several such verses in the New Testament and many text in the Old Testament. Here are a few: In Revelation 3:17, the church of Laodicia [using the word I] is the only church that argued with the angel, telling him/her how wealthy I am. "You say,’ [I] am rich: I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." In Romans 9:25-26, Paul quotes Hosea 2:23. "and I will call her (the nation of Israel) ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one; . . .‘You who are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’"

The Old Testament is rich with writings which use the singular pronoun to denote a group of people, usually the nation of Israel. “Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I (Israel) will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink. [The Lord answers]. Therefore I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; She will look for them but not find them. Then she will say ‘ I will go back to my husband as at first.’” Hosea 2:5-8. ‘“Now then listen, you wanton creatures, lounging in your security--sounds like America--and saying to yourself, ‘I am,(Israel) and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood.’” Isaiah 47:8-9.

Lamentations Chapter One is the best example of a Bible writer who spoke of himself in the singular pronoun--Biblical muscle to the truth--to tell of the wretched condition that had befallen the nation of Israel. Jeremiah used the identical singular, personal pronouns as Paul did in Romans 7th chapter. Lamentations 1:11. ". . .Look, O Lord, and consider, for I am despised.” And continuing in verse 14. “My sins have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together. . . . He has handed me over to those I cannot withstand.” (1:15). . . .“He has summoned an army against me to crush my young men.--That last statement is conclusive proof that Jeremiah is not writing about himself. In his winepress the Lord has trampled the Virgin Daughter of Judah.” (1:16). “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears.” (1:18): “The Lord is righteous, yet I rebel against His command.” (1:19). “I called to my allies but they betrayed me.” I am sure we all know what a saintly and Godly man Jeremiah was in God’s sight. Without question he was not writing about himself, although if someone did not know God nor the Scripture, it could be taken that way.

I believe God inspired Paul to write Romans (7:14-20), in the way he did so that those who do not truly believe and yet call themselves Christians will have more then enough rope with which to hang themselves, so to speak. Why? Even though the New Testament is filled from cover to cover with evidence that Christ came to destroy sin in our lives, many people don’t believe that simple truth. Here are just a few verses that tell of the great work that Jesus did to destroy the power of sin. (Romans 6:1). "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:6. ". . .that we should no longer be slaves to sin. . ." Romans 6:10-11. "The death he died, He died to sin once for all; but the life he lives he lives to God. In the same way, COUNT YOURSELVES DEAD TO SIN but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Then there is Romans 6:23. "For the wages of sin is death." One more! 1 John 3:9. “No one born of God will continue to sin, . . .” Shall we disregard these and many more New Testament verses?

When one studies Romans, one will quickly see who Paul is writing to, especially in this chapter. Romans 7:1. “Do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to men who know the law.” It was Jews he was speaking to who knew what it was to live under Jewish law. Starting with Romans 1:19, Paul is pointing out that Jews as well as Gentiles are all living under sin, apart from Christ, and begins to tell of the wicked condition in which the nation of Israel was in, according to the Old Testament. Verse (1:19) ". . . since what may be known about God is plain to them [Jews], because God has made it plain to them." (Romans 1:21). "For although they [Jews] knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, . . .” Romans 1:22. Although they [Jews] claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God--only Israelites knew the glory of God--for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." (Romans 1:32). "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death. . ." Romans 2:1. "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, . . ." Romans 2:17. "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law;. . ." Romans 2:23-24. "You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ’God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you."

Isn’t this still true today? Atheists and skeptics everywhere blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ and rightly so, because of the ungodly lives of counterfeit Christians. This fact alone pains me more than anything else, and gave me the incentive to do this writing. Romans 3:9. "What shall we conclude then? Are we [Jews] any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin." This last verse is very important in seeing what point Paul is trying to get across to his readers: the fact that in his reference to Jews he means those who were familiar with the law.

Starting with Romans 7:5, the Apostle Paul is desperately trying to explain how it is impossible to be obedient to the old Jewish law while under control of the sinful nature. (Romans 7:5). "For when we [all Jews] were [notice this is past tense] controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death." In Romans 7:7, Paul uses the word 'we' in reference to the Jews for the last time: “What shall we say, then?” As he continues, he starts to describe what a wretched condition they (Jews) were in, under the law and without Christ as their Savior.

In subsequent references he uses the word “I” allegorically instead of “we” to denote the nation of Israel. Conclusive proof of this is displayed in the next several verses, but only to those who don't justify their life of sin by this portion of Scripture and those who have an active desire to live a sinless life by God's grace. "Once I was alive apart from law." Romans 7:9. Now I ask you this question: When was Paul ever alive apart from the law? Answer: Never. But the nation of Israel was alive apart from the law before God gave them the law of Moses. Sin could not condemn to death without the law. Romans 5:13 ". . . for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law." “The law came so that sin might be recognized as utterly sinful.” (Romans 7:13), paraphrased. The desire of the flesh [sinful nature, ego] continually won the inward battle against their desire to do good. This is the reason the nation of Israel as a whole could not please God, and the very reason for the coming of Christ.

I believe that the subject of sin is important enough to repeat what I have written earlier, using a few different words. The point I am trying to put across is this: before the law of Moses was given, the sins of the nation of Israel were not taken into account. (Romans 5:13). paraphrased. Although at the judgment Israel will have to account for her action. Even though they did not have a law, they were a law unto themselves. But when the Law was given by Moses, sin was truly exposed for what it was, and the knowledge that was good brought death to the Jews. That Law, as good as it was, did not give Israel the power to overcome its sinful nature. Because all have sinned, all are condemned by this Law that is Holy and good. Although they wanted to do good, they could not because of the power of sin living in Israel. Before the Law, Israel was alive apart from the Law. But when the commandment (the Law) came, sin sprang to life and Israel ( I ) died. Israel found that the Law that was intended to bring life actually brought death. Romans 7:8: "For apart from law, sin is dead." The Law was spiritual but Israel was unspiritual. In this unspiritual condition, Israel could not do what God wanted her to do. But the things she did not want to do, she did. Since Israel did what it did not want to do, she agreed that the Law was good. In this unredeemed state, nothing good lived inside Israel; that is in her sinful nature. Though she had the desire to do what is good, she (Israel ) couldn't carry it out. The evil she did not want to do, she kept on doing. What a wretched condition Israel was in. Who would rescue Her from this sinful nature which lives in all Israel? Jesus Christ would. He arranged things so that all Israel, and the world, could be rescued from the power of sin.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross without sin, He defeated the power of sin; consequently, when He rose from the dead, sin had no power over Him. Christ destroyed the power of the flesh (sinful nature). This is the essence of the concept of being born again. We too died with Christ and rose again never to sin again. Romans 6:11, “. . .count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Jesus Christ.” Now since we died with Christ through faith--that means we really believe that fact--we will live according to His Spirit. This does not happen automatically. It happens only when we believe we actually died with Christ. We inherit His death and victory over sin simply because we believe Him. However when this belief does not spill over from our intellect into our lives, our belief is not valid and in God's sight does not exist.

Now, read carefully Romans 8:9-14. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Is it even remotely possible that the same person did not write Romans Chapter Seven verses Fourteen through Twenty-five (using the word "I" to mean oneself instead of Israel), and Romans Chapter Eight, verses Nine through Fourteen? Impossible! There will be those who will say, "Don't confuse me with the facts, I have had my mind made up for years, as to what Paul was saying in Chapter seven." If Paul meant self as that bad guy who could not do what was right but did the evil that he knew was wrong, he would be totally out of character with regard to all of his other writings as a redeemed man of God.

As we know, Jesus was perfect in the true sense, and Paul fashioned his life after this perfect Jesus. Paul was a perfectionist before his conversion and continued to be a perfectionist in his redeemed condition. This is evident as Paul writes to the Philippians, telling of his life before conversion. "A Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." Philippians 3:5. After his conversion, Paul's life was in every sense as pleasing to His Lord as any New Testament character ever could be.

Here is scriptural evidence of that fact. Paul says; "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1st Corinthians11:1. "Therefore I urge you to imitate me." 1st Corinthians 4:16. "For you yourself know how you ought to follow our example." 2nd Thessalonians 3:7. "We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow." 2nd Thessalonians 3:9. "Aim for perfection. . ." 2nd Corinthians 13:11. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (1st Thessalonians 2:7. "I wish all men were as I am.” 1st Corinthians 7:7. "But we have the mind of Christ." 1(st Corinthians 2:16). "Join with others in following my example, brothers. . . ." Philippians 3:17. "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice." Philippians 4:9.

Some, however, will use Paul’s reference to himself as "the chief of sinners" to substantiate Romans Seventh Chapter and Paul’s inner struggle with sin. Some might say, "If Paul was a wretched sinner, as a redeemed man, should I be expected to live any better?” This conclusion indicates a total misunderstanding of the passage. To keep it in context, let's look at what Paul said before and after that verse. (1st Timothy 1:8) Paraphrased: "The law was made for bad guys. But no matter how bad a person is, he is not so bad that Christ can't show him mercy." Then, in Verse 13, he tells how bad he was, and how God had mercy on him anyway.

That is the reason why Christ came into the world: To save sinners--even bad sinners. What better way to illustrate the power of Christ? Surely it is easier to redeem the pure of spirit than one who is enthusiastically mired in one’s own sin. In Verse 16, he says, ". . . of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was--past tense--shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."

One fact to remember is this: We are the sum total of everything we have ever said, done, thought, and seen. In other words, we are all we have experienced in life. There is no way anyone can remove the past from one’s life. Some bad thing we did in the past may have been forgiven, but it is still a very real part of us. What we once did but do not do anymore will always be a part of us, even if we forget it. This is what Paul was vividly aware of when he said he was the chief of sinners. As far as Paul knew, no one persecuted the early Christian Church more than he, having put Stephen and many more to death for their belief in Jesus Christ. He was completely forgiven by God and I am sure, even by those he persecuted, but nevertheless, it was still part of him. Quite often we say "I was," after a change of behavior. Even though one does not live the way one used to, that past action is still a very real part of that person. That is why Paul, in his Godly humility referring to his past life, called himself "the chief of sinners."

In his redeemed state, Paul was no doubt the greatest, purest, holiest, and most Godly man that the New Testament reveals to us, apart from Christ. For early Christians, he was the prime example of someone who overcame a sinful life. His example still speaks to us. To be absolutely certain that Paul was talking about his past and not his present condition, let’s look at 1st Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst [Chief].” Now watch how Paul switches from the present to the past tense. 1:16: "But for that very reason I WAS shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.” Now, if Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners in his present redeemed condition, what right did he have to preach to all the churches about good moral conduct and to live pure and holy lives? It's impossible. Even an unregenerate moron should be able to see this simple truth when it is put in context with Romans 7th chapter.

What kind of a hypocrite would Paul have been if he expected the followers of Christ to do and be what he could not do or be? Was he giving the “OK” sign for everyone to desire to do good, yet continue to do the evil they knew was wrong? Remember (1st John 4:4), paraphrased: “The Holy Spirit who is in us, is greater and more powerful than our sinful nature.” When people have the Holy Spirit of God living in them, they will not do the evil they hate. As a person is controlled by the Spirit, he/she will be empowered to do the good he/she wants to do, and the desire to do good itself comes from God’s Holy Spirit that dwells within us.

By grace we have Jesus Christ to forgive our sins–-grace is no excuse for abuse, or grace will cease. Grace gives us the ability to love and live to please God, not in the flesh but in the Spirit. Living in God's grace and living in the flesh are not compatible. Belief that gives us the power to overcome sin will not work so long as we refuse to believe that we can live without giving into sin (our sinful nature). Faith gives us the victory and in every case will costs us our old desire to do as we please. Bible verses taken from New International Version Bible.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

# 129: Truth or a Lie?

Most, if not all, people don’t like being lied to. Even if it hurts, most often, the truth is better than a lie. And still, we are being lied to in all walks of life. There are many reasons for lies, but mainly to deceive. We all have done our share of lying. Many of us have learned how/why to lie from our parents, though they may have not been aware of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was truthful? Well, it will never happen, at least in this age. Of course, some are habitual lairs, while others occasionally lie. Some lies are harmless, while others cause much harm. I believe most humans want to be told the truth.

The greatest sources of truth in the physical world, are derived from the laws of physics. These truths are absolutes. There aren’t many other absolute truths in this physical world. Here are a few areas that are abounding with lies, where we would prefer to find truth. Used car dealer are notorious for their lies; and still there may be a few honest ones. Next are lawyers. They are paid to be dishonest, though there are a few honest ones. I have a Christian friend that was a lawyer, but isn’t any more. Guess why? The media, especially TV, along with its advertising, is a gigantic and extremely profitable industry based on the exact science of finding-out/knowing what the masses desire to watch, hear, and read. They present their wares, most often, in a subtly exaggerated, dramatized and sensationalized manner. Often, even the news, is far from the truth. Possibly, PBS is one media that is not as guilty. In other words, the majority of our media is far from the truth.

Politicians are another breed of lairs. By their actions, (you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours) they are in essence lying, and the general public feels the pain. This present administration is full of lies. I hate these type of lies because there are many who call themselves “Evangelical Christians” who believe the president’s lies, along with that, not many politically and religiously influential people have the intestinal fortitude to call President Bush on them. The most damaging lies are those the clergy is guilty of, by their eloquent silence (sins of omission); they mislead millions on difficult-to-believe-and-apply verses, which are clearly displayed in post # 127. These lies cause mortal damage to many who are naive about the Christian truth. The hierarchy’s sin is extremely egregious since that is where Christians would except to find truth, and the last place, most would think of finding dishonesty and deceit. Those religious scoundrels act and talk like the gracefully beautiful and wealthy woman who was engaged to a godly man; she claimed to be a virgin, but she turned-out to be a slut and a whore.

In the realm of spirituality and religion, everyone claims to know the truth. Does that mean there are many spiritual truths? It seems that way. There are thousands of Christian religions, all claiming to possess the truth. Then the eastern religions are truth to its adherents. The Qur'an preaches to DESTROY those who challenge their belief. That puts Bush and Mohammed on the same playing field: disqualified as having any truth! The Jewish religion claims to know the truth (Eye for an eye) and rejects the gospel of love presented by Jesus Christ through the New Testament. With so many truths out there, how can anyone find the absolute truth, if there is one? Then of course the agnostics, claim there is no such thing as an absolute spiritual truth, since they don’t believe there is a God. Therefore, it seems like a mind boggling subject for anyone who is serious about finding what spiritual truth is. Should a person just throw up their hands, and choose whichever truth makes them feel comfortable in their particular lifestyle?

There may be a way to discern what is the criteria for truth. And if/when we do find out, then every belief or lifestyle that contradicts that criteria, can rightfully be deleted from the list of many truths. The Christian Bible displays an excellent criteria throughout the New Testament Scripture. I will mention only three New Testament verses that are the framework for that truth, though there are many more verses, concerning that criteria.

Here is the criterion by which, I believe, genuine truth can be known; therefore, any religion person or thing that contradicts this standard should be disqualified as truth. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all you strength. And the second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30. The love of neighbor is described more clearly by this verse: “. . .but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3. Along with that, there is a peculiar command in which one can easily distinguish genuine Christianity from many other forms of false Christianity, along with most Eastern religions. This principle is mentioned throughout the New Testament; I will quote just one verse. Matthew 5:43, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Some might say, “The first two parts of truth seem simple enough. [sure] But the loving of one’s enemy is a different story.” That verse alone, not to mention the remainder verses, are undeniable evidence that our warmongering president and those who voted for him, are wallowing in realm of non-Biblical “christianity”–if there is such a thing. To abide with that standard of love is much more demanding than meets the eye. Many claim to live within those perimeters. But, that may be a pathological lie. The best way to be certain a religious system or individual is in accordance with love, is to scrutinize the lives and beliefs of the group/s or individual/s.

Let me inject this thought: truth must be experienced in order to be known. For example, most of us know what it is for a woman to be pregnant. But only a women who has experienced a full term pregnancy, is qualified to describe in detail what it is like to be pregnant. The fact remains, only mothers are the ones who experience pregnancy. In the same way, for absolute truth to qualify as truth, it must be experienced. Listen to what Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the TRUTH and the life.” [Emphasis added]. Jesus is truth because He is experiencing it. Also, in John 8:31-32, “Jesus said, if you hold on to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Words can set no one free. The only way those words can become truth is for them to be converted into a life. Then one will be set free to experience Jesus’ holy teaching, which is God’s truth. Repeating, that holy truth can be mouthed, but that is not truth. That sounds like a conundrum. What I mean, it is like a preteen virgin teaching an adult class on the pitfalls and consequences of illicit sex. To reiterate, all I am attempting to say is this truth that gives life must not only be believed but experienced to be of any life saving value. No experience, no truth, no life. If any christian religion or any others do not coincide with this all important love foundation, it will all be in vain.

Simply put, Jesus Christ is the embodiment of absolute truth. And if we are genuine, Bible believing, born-again Christians–not with our mouths, but with our lives--what He is, we are becoming, what He loves, we desire to love, what He hates, we hate, what He teaches, we obey and teach. For us, the truth is never stagnant; we are living in a realm of perfection, which is governed by God’s truth. In that justified and sanctified state, we are growing closer to that ultimate truth as every day passes. If anyone is not growing, the likely reason is they are dead. Anything in life that does not grow is dead or dormant. Lets hope, at least, a few church people are dormant, and this post will help them spring to life.

This is a hard sell I am attempting to make. I hope this illustration will help. Can a young child actually understand the emotions produced in the life of an adult when he/she falls in love with the person of his/her dreams? Can they understand the thrill that is produced when making love? Absolutely not. They will have to wait until they can experience it themselves. Therefore, holy words, regardless their grandeur, is not Christianity. Christianity is to experience the life of Jesus Christ, if even to a small degree.

Anyone can say they love God with their all, but the proof is in the pudding. “This is love for God: TO OBEY HIS COMMANDS. And his commands are not burdensome.” 1st John 5:3. Then some may ask, “What are his commands?” The New Testament is the only authority that exemplifies hundreds of verses. I made a partial list of 60 + commands in post #127. These are the hard edged verses, that disagree with our human nature. For that reason, they are not mentioned in most churches.

If and when anyone finds a group or an individual that is actually making every effort to life up to that criteria of love for God, neighbor and enemy, you have almost found genuine truth. Now, to believe it and live it by making every effort in one’s life, as described by Jesus Christ; then, you have actually found absolute and undeniable truth.

This journey will not be for most, because obedience to those commands is contrary to our human nature--most of us like the way we now live. The price is steep, but the result will be glorious when Jesus Christ in the flesh is walking on earth again, in this day and age, in your body and mine. Therefore, believing and living in truth is the duty of every genuine Christian.

This Godly walk is not for Salvation but the affirmation of belief in Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Savior. I am sure most will say, “Forget it, I am staying where I am.” And I can understand; Christianity is not for everyone who goes to a christian church. Talking about the difficultly of living the Christian life, listen to what the Apostle Peter said in 1st Peter 4:17-18, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, if it is HARD for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?” [emphasis added].

The very first step for anyone who wants to take the plunge into the arms of Christ, is to familiarize one’s self with what is required by God through the New Testament–don’t listen to your church leaders. Also post #127 can be a shortcut and will help anyone not familiar with the New Testament. These verses I posted are the most severe; the remaining verses are mostly a tough downhill challenge (easy to slip and fall). Simply put, living the Christian truth is not a cake-walk, but a tough uphill climb to the pearly gates of eternity.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

# 128: What is Life?

This subject may be difficult to write about; nevertheless, I will attempt to somehow excavate deeply into the fabric of humanity (what life is all about), so as to possibly find a palatable or reasonable answer. Many down through the ages have attempted to put on paper what life consists of. Have they failed? Without a doubt, human life is a combination of the physical, mental (mind), emotional, and spiritual, etc. The spiritual consists of soul, spirit, and heart (the inner being).

Because of our five senses, which we could not live without, we may place too much emphasis on satisfying our physical needs. And I understand why. The problem which can spring from giving this much attention to the physical is that the remainder of what we consist of may get neglected, leaving a void. Just look at the world around us and we can vividly see the focus on the physical body and the dissatisfied results.

If a person desires to reach his/her potential, there must be a delicate balance to satisfy the whole person, leaving no parts unattended. In order to do that, we must prioritize them as to their importance: attempt to figure out which one should come first and which one can tolerate ending up with the least amount of attention.

Then the question comes up, “What is humanity’s universal genetic potential?” In my mind, there is only one answer: If we were to take a survey of a thousand people, asking the above question, we would get a thousand different answers. I wouldn’t attempt to even guess what some of the answers would be, except most would have something to do with our physical makeup. Here is my answer: Make our inner being the most important entity, but as the same time, do not neglect or abuse the remainder of the whole person so as to become detrimental to the inner person (the real you and me).

This is the reasoning behind my assessment: The inner being, which is located in the head (mind, brain), most likely is the manager of all that goes on elsewhere in the body. If the manager gives the right commands, all is well. If the manager/controller gives the wrong orders, the result will be disorder. We must make sure that “the all-important part of us” is the one who truly resides there and is not shanghaied by an imposter.

I believe the Spirit of God is the rightful resident of everyone’s spiritual cavity. To have Him dominate our lives will allow anyone/everyone to reach their genetic potential, which is God in the flesh. Some might say, “That is an audacious dream.” And they may be correct. But that assessment doesn’t make it impossible. To get almighty God to dominate one’s life means anyone who is presently at the controls must be kicked out if it/he/she is malevolent, or if it is benevolent, put in its rightful place. Easier said than done. We all are creatures of habit. And to drive out or change those habits is a monumental task. We will not be able to hear God’s orders with so many distractions from other habitual entities.

Therefore, the Christian life, as described in the New Testament, with a little help from this post, is the way to allow an all-benevolent God (the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ) to occupy the inner being of all who truly desire to live life to it greatest genetic potential. Repeating, easier said than done. The reason is because in order to allow holiness to occupy anyone, all of life’s value will have to be turned upside down. That is an extremely difficult feat to accomplish, to say the least. The reason being, most of what we have been taught since birth does not accomplish or accommodate the path to true life.

For those who scoff at God and ask, “How can anyone be absolutely certain that a god even exists?” That is a legitimate question. And I will give an unambiguous answer to validate God’s existence with imperial evidence that science does not have/cannot do. The laws of physics, as far as we understand them at this time, say that physical matter, energy, or any other unknown force cannot create itself out of nothing. That is a basic uncontested law. With that fact established, I ask this question: “Where did our physical universe come from?” It could not have made itself. There had to be a creator of some sort that was beyond the physical. That leaves me with the FACT that a creator—which goes by the title Almighty God—could actually exist. Has science been able to create matter out of nothing to prove the big bang theory? No.

More evidence that an intelligent force beyond the physical could/must exist is this: How can animate life create itself out of simple or even complex chemicals, arranging and rearranging themselves, or organize sophisticated amino acids into a functional order, without a genetic code to dictate exactly how that life should form and reproduce? Or even more conclusive evidence for the existence of God is this: How could a/the genetic code (the DNA molecule which is the most densely packed information system in the known universe) design itself without a designer? If that were possible, by now we would have been able to reproduce the birth of the first organism in a test tube. Their failure is not so much to create life but their inability to present the mechanism of how it is done/how it happened. Only one big problem: Geneticists and physicists don’t have even a clue about how to start designing the DNA strand. Without that molecule, there could be no forms of life, plant or human. That is another winning point for the existence of some kind of metaphysical force, intelligence, or supernatural creator.

As the above information demonstrates, the scientific community holds deceptive theories concerning the formation of the universe and the creation of the first living organism; they also have no empirical evidence to back them up. They are just man-made theories in an attempt to disqualify the existence of any supreme being. Therefore, with all the UNEMPIRICAL evidence in place, how can any group of scientists/atheists dogmatically attempt to put a belief in place which says there is no God, or God is just a myth, or He exists only through people’s faith? Though God is not a myth, it does take faith to believe in the logical facts, just presented, that there has to be a God. Remember this vital point: There are no empirical facts that make God nonexistent. At the same time, apart from faith, there is strong logic that some sort of superhuman, supreme entity must exist.

With that said, let the truth be known that humanity's greatest genetic potential is to become a close facsimile to the best and most powerful being in the universe. Any less and we would be compromising. Consequently, to any deep-thinking student of the Bible, LIFE IS ALL ABOUT becoming—or better yet, being made into—one of the absolute best individuals in the universe. Repeating, finally, we know humanity’s greatest genetic potential. And that is the only reason why God created the universe: to eventually have offspring that can actually identify with Him, which He Himself will bring to fruition (perfection). This is not a “pie-in-the-sky” dream; it is logical reality at its highest level, to say the least. Remember, a person can never rise higher than his/her aspiration. With God, the sky (Christ) is the limit.

At this time, some might be thinking I must be some type of fruitcake. And if I am, what harm am I doing? I just aspire for the greatness that was meant for us. Does it not say in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness. . . ”? Therefore, to those who see me as a fruitcake, I will accept that degradation as a complement: a Biblical fruitcake.

Let’s tap into the pearls of wisdom with this thought. Before Jesus Christ came into the world, who would have ever thought/guessed in their wildest dream that Almighty God could come to earth in the flesh as a perfect human being? If God could do that, is there anything that is impossible for Him? God is waiting for us to realize our potential; then He can start to work on us, but only to the degree we believe He is able. That is where holiness comes to play: to separate ourselves from the status quo of traditional religion and the world.

By the way, this complete blog does a pretty good job of describing in detail exactly how anyone aware of a need must realize there is more to life than what is seen around them; they can do this without getting entangled in organized religion. The topic of creation, evolution, and intelligent design is described in greater detail in post #122; click on the Table of Contents.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

#127: Silently Forbidden New Testament Verses

Jesus Christ is going to take off His gloves, roll up His sleeves, and spare no punches as He exposes the irreparable and deadly damage organized religion, per se, has done to Him and His cause. This is audaciously said because He himself will make His case by using only verses from His New Testament. Even though most of what is written is a repeat of what already has been said elsewhere in “Religion’s Crime Against God,” it contains much more bold and descriptive language.

The Christian clergy are the main culprits; they forbid these upcoming verses by remaining silent on their behalf. But that does not excuse the laity who naively believe what is preached or not preached from their pulpit. The laymen/women believe they have fulfilled their weekly duty as Christians simply by their obedience to the command in Hebrews 10:25: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. . . .” I am certain if a majority of those church-going hypocrites were to become sincere about their devotion to God, they would spend time learning what the New Testament actually teaches/commands and not take the word of the money- and number-hungry “professionals.” They can’t teach what is written in Scripture with or without any kind of passionate intensity; if they did, many who go to church only for the joyride would quickly leave. Christ will vividly display over 60 verses that require everyone who claims to be a Christian to make every effort to obey these commands without leaning on modern-day alibis.

First of all, we must always remember that Christianity consists of two distinct parts. The first all-important part, God’s doing, is passive in that Christians simply must believe (with child-like faith) what was accomplished for them by God through Jesus Christ. If that passive belief, which gives salvation, is GENUINE, it will lead to the second major part: man’s/woman’s duty, which is an active obedience to what the New Testament commands, including ALL of the seemingly secluded, hard-edged verses. Again, our part of Christianity is not an option but an obligation. Repeating, obedience to these verses gives no one salvation. This obedience must be a RESULT, which authenticates genuine salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. When this section is read, it will unequivocally demonstrate those who are and those who are not real Christians. Of course, many can/will easily deny the charges the New Testament makes, and just go on living as they have been taught since who-knows-when by you-know-who.

Caution: The following section may be extremely disturbing to those who feel they are Bible-believing Christians, but at the same time may not be familiar with what the New Testament teaches. The reason being, many of the upcoming hard-edged verses, never before seen by some, are the ones church leaders don’t want anyone to know about. It will be difficult for some to believe they really come from the New Testament. Therefore, since these verses are forbidden (hidden by silence), readers’ discretion is advised. All verses are taken from the New International Version of the New Testament.

1st Corinthians 15:58. “. . . Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord. . . .”

Luke 13:24. “Make EVERY EFFORT to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” [emphasis added].

2nd Peter 3:14. “. . . make every effort to be found SPOTLESS, blameless and at peace with him.” [emphasis added].

Romans 14:19. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.”

1st John 3:9. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin.”

Philippians 2:5. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”

1st John 2:6. “Whoever claims to live in him MUST walk as Jesus did.” [emphasis added].

Luke 16:15. “What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

Luke 1:53. “He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

John 16:33. “In this world you will have trouble.”

James 2:5. “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him?”

1st John 3:6. “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”

Luke 10:27. “He answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.’” [emphasis added]. Prerequisite—We must love God with our all in order to have eternal life. How does one know if he/she truly loves God? The answer is below.

1st John 5:3. “This is love for God; to obey his commands.”

1st Corinthians 16:22. “If anyone does not love the Lord [displayed by obedience to all He commands] a curse be on him.” [emphasis added].

2nd Corinthians 13:5. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith: test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless of course, you fail the test?” No cheating.

Matthew 19:16. “Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ . . . 21: Jesus answered, ‘If you want to be perfect, go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. THEN COME, FOLLOW ME.’” [emphasis added]–There is a prerequisite before anyone can follow Christ .

Luke 12:33. “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Luke 17:6. “He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.’”

Philippians 2:3. “Consider others better than yourselves.”

John 3:36. "Whoever rejects the son [as displayed by disobedience and the way one lives] will not see life, for God’s WRATH remains on him,” [emphasis added]. As we can see, God has good reasons to get angry. This is a sobering verse, which means: All who don't believe or do believe in God, but reject Jesus Christ, have a price over their heads: God's wrath.

Matthew 10:34. “I did not come to bring peace but a sword . . .” 36: “. . . a man’s enemies will be members of his own household.”

Ephesians 5:1. “Be imitators of God. . . .”

Galatians 5:14. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Luke 14:33. “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Is this a farcical command?

1st Corinthians 10:24. “Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

1st John 2:6. “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

1st Corinthians 11:1 (the apostle Paul is speaking). “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” There are several more verses that in essence say the exact same thing.

Matthew 5:24. “Be perfect.”

Matthew 19:23. “. . . I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”

1st Corinthians 15:2. “By this gospel you are saved, IF you HOLD FIRMLY to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” [emphasis added]. Where is eternal security (once saved, always saved)?

Luke 6:20. “Blessed are you who are poor. . . .” 24: “But woe to you who are rich.” Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition. The meaning of rich: 1) having more than enough of material possessions. There are many other verses in the New Testament where Christ NEVER has a good word to say about the rich, but always bad-mouths them. If you don’t believe that Christ never has a good word for the rich or wealthy, prove me wrong with the New Testament. I welcome your challenge.

2 Corinthians 13:11. “Aim for perfection.”

Luke 9:23. “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself.”

Colossians 3:2. “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

1st Thessalonians 5:17. “. . . pray continually . . .” Is this possible?

James 4:4. “. . . Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

1st Peter 1:4. “Be holy, because I am Holy.”

Luke 11:23. “He who is not with me is against me . . .”

Luke 14:26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.”

Matthew 10:37. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me . . .”

1st Peter 2:21. “. . . Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps,”

Mark 13:13. “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

2nd Timothy 3:12. “In fact, EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” [emphasis added]. Does that mean even in America, where we have freedom of religion?

1st Corinthians 15:19. “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” What should Christians be doing that would make people pity them? Definitely not what they are doing in this modern culture. Do you personally know any Christians that you pity?

Luke 6:26. “Woe when all men speak well of you.”

Matthew 17:20. “. . . if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Luke 19:27. (Christ speaking) “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me.” Well, excuse me. I thought you loved everyone—Am I being factitious?

Luke 12:49-51. “I have come to bring fire on earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! . . . Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

2nd Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” [a superhuman spiritual being].

Luke 18:8. “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

The answer is clear; since we don't see any mountains being moved or other such thing being done by so-called Christians, the answer is no. Most likely, Christ will not find much, if any, faith on earth. Oh, but you may say, “I am saved, born again, and filled with the Spirit.” You think so? Does this blog prove your holiness?

Luke 12:19. “And I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. . . .’”

Matthew 7:19. “Every tree (“Christian”) that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” [emphasis added).

Matthew 5:11. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you.”

Matthew 10:23. “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” Is that the reason the USA is the most powerful “Christian” nation in the world? Either we are wrong or the Bible is wrong.

Mark 4:19. “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

Obedience: The remaining verses will be for those who downplay the importance of obedience.

2nd John 1:6. “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.”

Acts 5:32. “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God will give to those who obey him.”

Romans 15:18. “. . . leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done–. . .”

Romans 16:26. “. . . by the commands of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him.”

Hebrews 5:9. “. . . he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

1st Peter 4:17. “. . . what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

1st John2:3. “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.”

1st John 3:24. “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them.”

Revelation 14:12. “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”

The New Testament tells a sobering story of what real Christianity was meant to be. How could what is now called “Christianity” get so far from what the Bible teaches? Answer: unholy men who desire prestige, power and financial gain.

Only those who are or desire to be genuine Bible-believing Christians will make EVERY EFFORT to adhere to these Scriptures. If the New Testament doesn’t tell what Christianity consists of, what does? Remember, all humans are flawed; therefore, what we teach is flawed, including this author. Stick with the Holy Scripture and you will never go wrong.

This is not a complete list, and there are many more similar verses. I could go on and on, but any more would only exasperate us.

Friday, February 03, 2006

# 126: Caught in a Trap, Can't Get Out

The title of a song Elvis sang about 30 years ago has more profound meaning than just describing a romantic entanglement. The biggest trap we are in is this: Like it or not, we were put on this earth without our permission, with no easy way out. The second trap: We are captives of our physical bodies that genetics gave us. We may love that trap or feel we have been cheated. There isn’t much we can do about it, other than give our bodies the best care possible. By the way, this post ended up becoming quite serious and lengthy. Therefore, just sit back and relax, if you can.

Above and beyond the above-mentioned traps, the world is full of hundreds, if not thousands, of unimaginable traps. Some are not too bad, some are bad, some are deadly, and of course, some are benevolent. Most of these traps spring from our desires, needs, wants, genetics, cravings, laziness, bad luck, the cruelties of life, our stupidity, etc. One difficult trap to escape from is when one is born in ignorance and unequaled poverty. I was born in that type of environment, except my ignorance was not genetic but ignorance of what the world was all about. My poverty was extreme, although not from laziness, but because of communication and the physical shortcomings of my parents. It took most of my life to escape from that trap, even though I am still hindered by the environmental repercussions. The worst part was that I never knew it was a trap, but just took it as part of life. Many people in that type of trap never get a chance to escape, but are there for life.

Most, if not all, humans are born lazy, some more than others. To somehow become aware of the damage laziness can do to anyone is hidden from most until it may be too late. If laziness is not genetic in some individual, it most likely is instilled in their youth, by parents or peers. If some learned how to be lazy from parents, they either mimic their laziness, or because some parents did not allow their children to do things for themselves and gave them whatever instead of making them earn their keep, as it were. My father was a cripple; therefore, since I was a young boy, I had to do the things my father couldn’t do. That type of attitude stuck with me all my life. That unfair responsibility and lifestyle as a youth was actually a blessing as an adult. There isn’t much good that can be said about laziness. This trap will hinder the lives of most who won’t admit they are lazy or can’t/don’t desire to escape.

Greed without challenge is the most denied trap of all. Did you ever hear anyone admit, “I am greedy. I want all that I can get my hands on.”? I don’t think so. Well, instead of calling it “greed,” we gave it a respectable name: “the good life,” “prosperity,” “wealth,” “energetic,” “go-getter,” etc. Those who became wealthy as a result of their greed can purchase anything their selfish hearts desire. That must be why the New Testament is always bad-mouthing the rich and doesn’t have one good word to say about them. The negative aspect of greed is that it can never be satisfied; it promotes waste and laziness; it makes the possessors proud, arrogant, boastful, and not considerate of the less fortunate. One does not have to be rich to be greedy. There are many poor and stingy who are greedy. Most people don’t consider greed an undesirable attitude, and therefore, it doesn’t seem like a trap. Regardless of what one calls it (always wanting more) or how it is regarded, it is a trap which leads to wanton and unfulfilled lifestyles.

The most prevalent traps spring from our desires. The things we desire, good or bad, are the things that ensnare us. I believe desire makes poverty. True wealth is when a person is content with little and has only a few modest needs. Desires display need, and need displays inward poverty. If, by some chance, a person could eliminate all his/her desires, that person would be the wealthiest person in the world. Desire is men’s/women's downfall. Since we are all caught and can’t get out of this trap, we can at least be aware of what our desires are telling us about ourselves. Notwithstanding, the fewer desires we have, the wealthier we are. (No desire equals no needs; no needs equals true wealth; and true wealth equals contentment.)

Sex is a natural desire, but when it becomes inordinate, in whatever way, it will keep a person discontent and never satisfied. Now that pornography is easily available on the internet, it is making that desire unrealistic and has become a cause for divorce, adultery, premarital sex and heartbreak. Can a person get out of the porn trap? I am certain one can, but there must be an all-consuming effort. When a person gets involved with extramarital or unnatural sexual activity (outside of marriage), there is something in one’s life that is missing. In a later paragraph I will give you my vantage point of what I believe it is.

For certain, the most destructive and deadly self-imposed traps are those of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and dependency on other harmful substances. They are traps/habits that are not easily broken. When the body is addicted to anything it becomes dependent upon (a stupid necessity), in many, if not most, cases, it will be a lifetime trap which will take them to the grave. It is hard for me to believe intelligent humans can be that way. Most of us love our bodies and desire to care for them to the best of our ability, except for this group; they continually inflict chaos on the ones they love. I have a question for the readers of this post: What motivated these people to start and then continue such a regimen? I have an idea; what is yours?

Here is an extremely sad trap: having to live with children that are a constant problem, or a partner that is unfaithful, unkind or unloving, etc. They may be forced to live together for the good of their children, for financial benefits, out of fear of being alone again in an unfriendly world, or out of other emotional fears. This trap can lead many to a life of sadness and despair. The old Bible adage holds true, “Happiness is the best medicine.”

A trap that has been around for years is having to live with terminal sickness, disease, or deformity. Others dealing with traps are the mentally impaired, seriously injured and the elderly shut-ins. They have only one option: make the best of it by the “grin and bear it” slogan. This trap can be the most heart-wrenching of most traps.

Without a doubt, television is the most widespread trap in the USA. Even though there may be some informative and educational material on public television, the majority that is seen on commercial TV is mostly junk/trash. This junk has been molding the lives of Americans for over 50 years. Repeating what I wrote in a post a week or so ago, “We become like those we gaze at” if we want to or not, like it or not. Some will say to themselves, “Oh, we would never do that or act that away.” The producers “in the know” would say, “You think so?” TV is purposely made to addict watchers into wanting to see more and more. In fact, it is fair to say that without a doubt, TV is the most loved and needed trap in all America. What is wrong with watching TV? Plenty. If anyone is old enough to remember what life was like before the TV era, they would remember how the family was a unit. They all shared in activities that consisted of real living. The majority of what is on the boob tube is make-believe. And we become part of that make-believe world. For anyone who claims he/she is not trapped by watching TV, just tell yourselves you won’t watch it for only one week. After one week, if you didn’t miss it one bit, you made me into a liar.

I was once asked, “How many mouths do you feed?” The person was referring to how many debts I have. The interest that is paid on our debts is feeding/filling the pockets of how many? America is a debtor nation. We have more debts than any other nation. In fact, I heard on the news the other day that for the first time in our history, the average American savings account is minus 5%. That is scary. Meanwhile, our credit-card debt is climbing every year. Could it be said that people with debt/s are in a trap? If it is a house, motor vehicle, credit card, etc., one won’t be released from that trap until one pays up, if ever. Of course, one can always file for bankruptcy–more on this subject in the next paragraph. The trouble with this trap is that rich people are getting richer on our hard work. We work and they get our money. Sounds stupid. The Japanese are a saving nation and ridicule Americans for the stupidity of their uncontrollable debt. I predict that something dreadful will happen if we don’t stop charging. Things can only be stretched so far before they snap. And we are at the snapping point.

The credit-card trap infuriates me to such a great degree that it makes me want to scream and wring necks. They are the modern-day mafia. In the olden days, the mafia broke legs; this modern mafia breaks the whole person. Let me explain. With new laws passed putting no limits on how much interest they can charge on credit-cards, along with new bankruptcy laws that favor credit-card companies, people who don’t pay their balance at the end of every month are/can be at their mercy, and they are cruel. Here is what they do: First, they check one’s complete credit record, going back many years to find some sort of violation/s in their record: things as small as an unpaid parking ticket, unpaid library fine, late payment on a utility bill, a one-day- late payment on an old credit card, a late payment on the home mortgage or rent, etc. In other words, when they know there are violations on your record, they will send you an unreal offer of no interest for the first year, and after that only something like 8%. Then they wait a while until you have charged a fairly large amount. Now they send you a notice of a past violation. Your interest is now up to 20% or more. After that, they wait a few more months and they send you another notice of another interest-rate hike for another past minor violation. Now they say you are high-risk and raise your rate up to 35%. They also raise your minimum payment amount. They don’t raise it too much, but just enough so you will only be paying interest. That way, even if you don’t charge anymore, your balance will remain the same or more. Now they have got you, hook, line and sinker. So the only thing you can do is to file for bankruptcy. They got you again. Now the new law is such that if you are single or your spouse or you (if you are married) are working, you will have to pay back a large amount of your credit-card debt. They collect that money by garnishing your wages. Most employers don’t like to go through the hassle and paperwork of garnishing wages and may let you go. That is enough to drive an honest person to rob banks or kill, and I can understand. This credit-card trap is one of the cruelest situations a person/s can inadvertently get into. Repeating, my advice to anyone who receives a credit-card offer that sounds too good to be true: It is a legal scam. The fine print (3-font) that comes with every credit offer is mostly double-talk. It is written with ambiguous and deceptive words, deliberately making confusing and unintelligible statements that even a good lawyer may have a difficult time making heads or tails of what is being said. Corporate lawyers are taught to write that way in college. That way the credit-card company will screw you legally by you agreeing, with your signature, to all their terms. Even if your record is clean, they may still solicit you. And if you fall for their ploy, what they do is occasionally make the due date on a Sunday; and if you pay on Monday, they get you for a late payment and also raise your interest rate. This makes me believe that this great country has an unfair government that is made up of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy. Remember, in order for these unfair laws to exist, it is the crookedness of Congress and the President that enact them. Therefore, a democracy is only as good and honest as those who run it.

Let me get to a trap that is not so frightening; or is it? Nutrition. Many Americans are hooked on a trap of either eating too much, eating fast food, or both. Fast food is mostly unhealthy and expensive compared to homemade meals. Some will say, “We don’t have the time or desire to cook three meals a day.” There was a time when going to a restaurant was reserved for special occasions. Now it is an everyday occurrence.

The problem started when moms were forced to go to work in order to help pay the families’ debts. But some that are not included in that 9-to-5 trap get stuck in the “mama trap.” I am by no means belittling the female gender as being only a wife and babysitter. I know for a fact that it is an extremely trying job with great responsibility—24 hours a day, 7days a week—to be a mother, wife, dietician, babysitter, housekeeper, banker, chauffeur, and teacher. And most often, her only compensation is “blood, sweat, and tears.” When most men come home from work, they can rest from their work. The wife/mom does not have that privilege.

Eating is a trap we will necessarily remain in for life. Most of our addictions are optional, but not eating. Then comes the question of nutrition, although I know many are becoming more health-conscious, thank goodness. We still tend to eat foods that taste pleasing to the palate while putting healthy, bland-tasting foods on the back burner. Also, our overeating is a national disgrace. That is one reason 65% of Americans are either obese of overweight. Could we get out of this trap and go back to the eating habits of the good old-fashioned days when an overweight person was the exception? I don’t think so.

Another thing Americans are in love with is the lack of enough physical exercise. And I can understand. To exert oneself to get the stimulation the body needs in our sedentary culture is not easy and will never become popular, regardless of how often we watch “The Biggest Loser.” This trend is extremely dangerous, not only for the extra cost of our health care industry, but for the pain and distress that accompany the development of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and many more diseases unheard of 100 years ago. This is a horrible trap to be in, with no easy way out. It is not easy to work out every day or so, to get one’s heart beat going a bit faster for a while, especially when everywhere we turn, we hear or see the words, “Take life easy: eat, drink, and be merry.” This trap will lead many to a lifetime of sickness and disease. To get out of this trap, we must get moderate exercise (a healthy trap). Without getting into serious sports, we could walk, ride a bike, swim, jog (for the younger folks), do light weightlifting, walk stairs (if one is lucky enough to live in a high-rise), etc. Actually, anything that speeds up the pulse: Do this three of four times a week—I am not talking about looking at the pictures in “Playboy” magazine. Make sure not to overdo it, or free-radical production will increase.

Stress is an insidious trap that is not mentioned as much as it should be; it is a health buster. I believe it is as bad as overeating, lack of exercise and other unhealthy habits. How does a person get out of this trap? In some cases, a complete lifestyle change is necessary. In fact, I believe long-term stress can be worse than all other negative things we are engaged in. The problem is that when we are stressed day-in and day-out, we think of it as normal and don’t recognize it as stress. It could easily be called the super wrinkle-maker.

The trap of being hateful and sinful is enjoyed by many, and most don’t have any desire to change. Most won’t admit they are hateful, but one can see it on their faces. Hate and sin form certain lines on the face that can be identified a mile away. Certainly, this is not true of the young; it will take at least 40 years before their mean disposition is visibly evident. President Lincoln, an extremely perceptive person, was looking for a person he could appoint to a certain vacant cabinet position; one of his advisors recommended a certain well-qualified person. After Lincoln met him, he told his advisor, “I don’t like his face.” The advisor said, "He can’t help what his face looks like.” Lincoln retorted, “Every man over 40 is responsible for his face.” These ungodly people thrive on their hateful and sinful life, and no one is going to take away their enjoyable trap.

Have you ever wondered how and why some of the things we do become habits/traps? Here is a clue: Do something once, a habit is started; do it twice, a trap is set. Or, avoid doing something beneficial once, a habit is started; avoid it twice and the trap is ready to spring. I think this post is telling, more than anything else, how cruel and unfair life could be.

How do God and His Son Jesus Christ fit into this world that is full of traps? The majority of these traps are a result of violating either one or more of some spiritual or physical laws. And there is a remedy for some of them. Start/attempt to live life in a way that corresponds with the universal laws that were created by God. This seems like a simplistic answer, and it is. Though it is simple, it will be extremely difficult for anyone to escape whatever trap they are in. The end result to those who succeed will be the encasement into a tender trap of God’s making. This Godly trap may sound like a piece of cake, or a walk in the park, but a person will have to make every effort and use whatever intestinal fortitude he/she can muster up to not only remain in this benevolent trap, but to believe and live in a way that is pleasing to God: the most challenging life in existence. To put it another way, fill oneself with as much Godly substance as possible; that will, slowly but surely, force the unwanted trap/s out of one’s life.

I am certain that I did not mention all the traps we humans are ensnared in that exist in this unfair world. If anyone knows of any more, send me a comment or email me, and I will add them to this blog.