Exhortation Against False Pretense

If there is one thing I hate above all else, it is maliciously false pretense. There are people who use the guise of compassion, care, justice, and so on for their own agendas of self-gratification and control over others. The motivations are vast, usually jealousy or the need for praise and power.

It seems like I see pretense everywhere. Is that because I am pretentious? We often see what lies within ourselves. We also learn from experience, and I suppose it is a blessing to have dealt with much pretense from others. There is much to learn from that, and it is a kind of safe-guard against deceit. So, I am thankful.

I don’t mean to boast, because I have struggled with a lot of sin and I know that any good thing in me is of God. Unless I am blind, pretentiousness one thing the Lord has spared me from. If anything, I am too honest, even to the point of lacking tactfulness, proper social boundaries, and patience. Even so, I understand and feel compassion for pretense—to a degree.

We all wear masks in some way, or most of us do. We all have a nice face that we put on, for example. If you’re like me, then you have a multifaceted personality and different people see different parts of you. A few see more, closer to the whole of you. That is not the same as being fake or pretentious. Even so, I do understand. The world is unkind and sometimes it is easier to just pretend. Not all pretense is malicious, but it is not honest either. We should strive to be real with ourselves and others. We don’t have to reveal our whole self. In-fact it is often unwise to. However, we don’t have to put on a false persona either.

I understand the temptation to false persona, and I don’t hate it when a person struggles with this honestly. It’s malicious pretense, without repentance, that blames others, sews conflict, and inflicts damage that is so problematic. Especially when the pretense is exposed. Oh, how they hate that. How murderous they become.

There is something about a person, societal ideal, political agenda, or religious system of pretense that I absolutely despise, and I think God despises this too. He will search it out and deal with it. All things are under His control. Thank the Lord for that.

In this time of wearing masks, let us put down our masks (I speak metaphorically). Be wise in who you share yourself with, but there is no need for pretense. I personally will no longer stand for it. If I find pretense, I will call it out for what it is. I will not look the other way any longer. Lord willing, the pretense will be repented of, forgiven, and healed. If not, then not.

A note of caution: we cannot judge the intentions of others—and that is tricky business when dealing with pretense. We should be careful lest we be false accusers. The Spirit makes things known to us according to the Lord’s will, and I trust in Him. If I accuse falsely, then I deserve chastisement and I expect that. If I judge rightly, then God will handle that too.

Meanwhile, let us all be on guard against our own pretense, however large or small it might be, and seek Jesus so that all truth comes to light. If we love the truth we will not be deceived.

A Series on Sin Part 4: The Gospel

There is only one person who has walked this earth without sin: Jesus, the Son of God. We’ve probably heard this scripture before, but if not, then now is a good time to hear it:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus was not born to condemn the world for its sins, but to save us from them. He does not have to condemn us because we are condemned already. We have sinned and we will face the judgment of God and the just punishment for our sin: death (I encourage reading the entire chapter of John 3).

God has given all judgment to the Son. Jesus walked this earth as a man, and although He was sinless, He understands our nature and He has much compassion for us.

If we put our faith in Jesus, we will pass from judgment to life.

John 5:21-25

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

Jesus will save every person that He intends to save. He died on the cross for our sin. He took our punishment, and that might seem barbaric or foolish to some, but to those who receive His sacrifice it is the best news of all. It is life (1 Corinthians 1).

Jesus will raise us from the dead so that we can live with the Lord forever in His Kingdom. That is the good news—and there is more.

We do not have to wait for death to enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven. If we love Jesus and learn His ways—if we hear His voice—we begin to experience the things of heaven now in this present life. The ways of Jesus bring truth and life to those who live thereby.

However, our nature is very contrary to the ways of Jesus. So, we need to be forgiven. We need to regret our sin, pray for forgiveness, and seek Jesus for strength so that we can find freedom from the sins that we are easily entangled in. If we continue and seek Jesus in faith, He sends us the Holy Spirit (John 14). The Holy Spirit shows us the truth, and by the truth we are made free!

Overtime, the Holy Spirit will change our natures into that of Jesus Christ. There is none good like Him, but He is the mark Christians should aim for. The more we learn about Jesus and the closer we get to Him, the more we hit the mark, and the less we “miss the mark” which is to sin.

As we put on this new nature, we are “taking up our cross” also (Matthew 16). We must die to sin and that often means going through troubling and painful times. However, we are not alone in these times. Jesus is with us. So, we call out to Him. We pray often. We forge a relationship with the Lord so that we are made stronger in our faith and so that we can serve Him better.

When we are saved from death, we enter the service of Jesus. He will provide us with everything we need to perform that service, but we cannot expect to continue living as we once did. It is a process of many ups and downs, but Jesus is faithful and true. We struggle. We fight against sin. We fail and we overcome by His power.

We strive to serve Jesus by living a good Christian life that preaches the gospel to others—not just in word—but in action. Jesus shows us what this looks like. He lived it.

We are not bound to the destruction of this world. We can live for a greater kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus.

The gospel is more than an escape from God’s wrath. It is a gift that provides us with a great freedom that no kingdom of this world can provide.

We can find true love in a world of hate, happiness amidst hardship, peace in fearful times, patience and forgiveness towards those who hate us, self-control and power over sin the destroys us, and so much more.

The riches of the Kingdom of Heaven are innumerable and far more precious than any earthly treasure or the pleasures of sinful living. It is worth seeking, and as Jesus teaches, those who seek will find. “Blessed are those who seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Whether we are considering the gospel for the first time or for the hundredth time, today is the day of our salvation. Seek more of the Kingdom today and each day! Jesus is strong to save and He will.

For more about the Christian faith, check out this article series: Christian Faith (Complete Series).

Does a Christian sin? How should a Christian treat sinners? There is some debate over these questions, so I want to write about that in the next article within this series.

Considering Proverbs 2:9-15

Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.

10 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;

11 Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:

12 To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things;

13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;

14 Who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked;

15 Whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths:

I use the King James because I grew up with it, but I understand that it can be challenging to read at times. I looked up the meaning of some of the Old English words to help with understanding. If you use another version of the Bible, you might get a slightly different take on this.

  • Equity: evenness, uprightness, equity
  • Discretion: purpose, discretion, device
  • Froward: perverse

In any case, I think we can see a general meaning. If we walk in the commandments of Jesus, we will learn what righteousness is and how to order our lives accordingly.

This requires good judgement and a sense of justice. Jesus teaches us that we are judged by the judgments we make, and we are making judgments every day. There is no such thing as “judge not.” However, we can learn to judge more uprightly over time, and we will if we are mindful of our judgments and seek Jesus often to help us.

When the wisdom of the Lord enters our hearts and becomes a part of who we are, we find greater appreciation for knowing the things of God—especially as we know them in an intimate way through the working of the Spirit within us, changing us into the likeness of Jesus overtime.

That is our purpose. We are being transformed into new creatures. We are to “put on the divine nature.” We are being raised up into sons of God (Hebrews 2:10). All things that we go through are working towards this end, and the promises of our salvation will keep us.

If we follow the wisdom that Jesus gives us, we will find our way out of the wicked ways of this world, including wicked speech. Wicked speech does not care for the righteous ways of God. Wicked speech speaks worldly wisdom. Wicked speech brings unnecessary strife and division. Wicked speech is murderous. Wicked speech leads people towards destruction.

It is not so easy to tame the tongue, as James wrote:

James 3:2-6

For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

It can be difficult to learn the ways of the Lord and to depart from evil ways. I am thankful to know that my salvation is hinged on the mercy and grace of Jesus, not my righteousness, which is as “filthy rages.” I am also thankful to know that Jesus can change my nature, and although that often means going through challenges, He will lead the way.

By the grace of God, we do not love the paths of the wicked, although we struggle against them. We might even love certain sins, but we hate them also and the Lord understands our nature. He will help us overcome if we keep seeking Him.

It is a gift of the Lord that we should delight in doing what is right. Many people love doing wickedness, speaking wickedness, and every evil way. It is a blessing to see the wisdom of the Lord that can bring us out of the ways of darkness. We should be thankful and attentive to these things, to the best of our ability, and continue seeking Jesus to help us grow stronger in the Spirit.

Today I will be thinking about righteous judgment, taming my tongue, and thanking Jesus for dealing mercifully and patiently with us. I will be thinking about how I can do a better job of extending mercy and patience towards others.

Considering Proverbs 2:1-8

My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;

If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;

Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.

He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.

He keepeth the paths of judgment, and preserveth the way of his saints.

What are the commandments for a Christian? Here are some scriptures that come to mind:

John 15:12-17

12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

Matthew 22: 36-40

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

John 14:15-20

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

For a Christian, the commandments we follow are few, but they are anything but simple. Jesus instructs us to love God and to love others—and not just when it’s easy. It can be difficult to love God and others as we should, and very often we don’t really know how.

We need to let the wisdom of God sink down into our heart and apply the teachings of Jesus to our lives. Every day we are met with choices and challenges. If we seek the wisdom of the Lord and call out to Him, He will show us the way. We will learn how to navigate difficult situations uprightly, even in a wicked, cruel, and deceptive world. That is a great treasure!

I think about what Jesus said regarding the kingdom of heaven: “the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

The commandments of God that show the way in a dark world are more valuable than any earthly treasure.

That is important to know when dealing with earthly poverty or overabundance. Sometimes the “deceitfulness of riches” clouds our vision, and we forget to walk in the love of Jesus. If we are greedy or envious of the wealth of others, that is not good. If we are unthankful for our prosperity, in whatever measure we are given, that is not good. If we are fearful of poverty to the point that we do not trust in Jesus, that is not good.

Matthew 6:24-34

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

If we put Jesus first and seek to learn His ways, then He will take care of our needs. He will provide us with the necessities of this life—and most importantly—He will continue to work on our hearts so that we can keep the commandments of God.

Jesus also provides us with protection from the enemy. He gives us the most powerful weapon and shield of all: His word. By His word the world was made. By His word man lives and dies. We do not need to be afraid.

Luke 21:12-15

12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.

13 And it shall turn to you for a testimony.

14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:

15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

We should strive to have greater and greater have faith in these things:

Jesus made a way for us when He died on the cross and rose again. Through Him, we have wise judgement and He will preserve us in the ways of His righteousness—the ways of love towards God, Christian brothers and sisters, and even our enemies. Jesus will provide everything we need, so we trust in Him. This includes knowledge for handling difficult situations and strength, basic necessities like food and shelter, and even the best weapon that exists: the word of God!

I have a lot to think about today. How can I love Jesus better? How can I love Christians better? How can I love enemies better with hopes of turning them to Jesus? Do I have faith that Jesus will provide for my needs instead of allowing the “deceitfulness of riches” to cloud the way? Do I have faith that Jesus will give me wise words to speak when needed? If I walked in these things better, I might find that “peace that surpasses all understanding.” How wonderful!

Considering Proverbs 1:28-33

28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me:

29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord:

30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof.

31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.

32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.

33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.

When a person, a people, a society, or a nation departs from the ways of God, destruction follows.

This is especially true for a person, people, society, or nation that was Christian. However, we do not confuse the destruction and wrath of God with chastisement.

Those who are sincere in the faith experience chastisement of the Lord. Although this is not pleasant, this is a good thing. As the scriptures indicate, God chastises those who he loves (Hebrews 12:6). This is not the “calamity of the wicked” or “desolation.”

We might feel as though God has turned His back on us, but He has not. He is setting us right because He loves us, and He wants to save us from our foolishness. So, if we love Jesus, we should not give up when the chastisement of the Lord comes. Maybe we experience individual chastisement or maybe we are caught up in the chastisement of a nation. Either way, we should trust in the Lord and do our best to focus on good things.

If we call on the name of Jesus, He will answer! We face our sin. We decide to do better. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and power to overcome. We do not turn back and turn away from the Lord. Those who turn away from the Lord will perish, and they will not find any help.

Those who are not sincerely following the faith of Jesus or otherwise depart from the faith experience more than mere chastisement. They face the wrath of God.

The foolishness of godless men and women eventually comes to its full. This can happen on a lesser and greater scale, as mentioned in the beginning of this article. We can apply this to an individual, a group of people, a society, a nation, or the entire world.

When the foolishness of their own godless ways comes crashing down on them, they will see the foolishness of it all. Though God is patient and hears the repentant, His patience runs out eventually. We only have one life. When the judgment of God comes for a person, society, or nation, they will look for wisdom, but it will be too late. They will have to deal with the consequences—the fruit—of their worldly ways, which is their destruction.

I think matters are made worse when the foolish prosper and rise to power because there is no place they can go for help when the “fruit of their doings” comes into being. How much more when this happens on a global scale? When this occurs, Jesus will return with great vengeance (Revelation 14:15-20).

In all things, we should consider ourselves first. Sometimes we are our own on greatest enemy. Sometimes we have to deal with the “fruit of our doings” in some measure because Jesus loves us. However, we do not need to be afraid of evil or of the wicked. We do not need to be afraid of God’s wrath—though we should respect His power.

Jesus will keep us and avenge us, and His vengeance is not something we should be overly eager for. We should pray for those who harm us, hoping that Jesus will open their hearts to Him. If we want His wrath to come so badly, we might find His wrath directed towards us instead (I think that is in the proverbs too).

So, we work on ourselves. We face our sins and sometimes we live through troubling consequences. We do not lose faith in Jesus no matter how hard things get. We know that His wrath is not for us. Even if we were to lose our lives at the hands of the wicked or in some cataclysmic event that God brings about, Jesus will raise us from the dead when He returns to overthrow the powers of this world and establish His kingdom.

Side note: As of today, I do not believe that we are end the end times. I write this because I know my writings lately have that feel to them. I do think that our nation is at a critical turning point, and I feel that my own life is at a critical turning point as well. So, for me, I am living in a sort of “end times.” I also want to point out that Jesus does not return until “the abomination that makes desolate” is revealed. The false Christ will come first, so we should not be deceived. This side note is what I will be thinking about today.

For Christians in Despair

Do Christians feel depressed? Shouldn’t we be full of joy, which is a fruit of the Spirit? I am often in awe of my tendency to fall into depression, and I’m certain that I’m not the only one, especially these days. Sometimes it helps to know that other Christians struggle just as we do, so I feel compelled to write a little about this.

I’ve been prone to depression for as long as I can remember. The last severe bout came about 6 years ago. This was when I turned my life to Jesus in a meaningful way. Since then, I have had times when I felt down to lesser and greater degrees, but never like it was before. Forming a relationship with Jesus does help. It helps to focus on Him and His promises. It helps to read the scriptures. It helps to take our focus off the world and ourselves so that we can serve others.

That is one of the reasons why I have been writing so much lately. I have some self-centered motivations, I guess. I know it might seem like too much to write most every day, if not every day, but I feel like I will die if I do not. I know that is not becoming of a Christian to be so melancholy, but it is my nature, and for some reason that nature is doing its best to kill me lately. Jesus will overcome it, I know, but maybe this is part of that.

I am not the strongest, brightest, or most upright person. I do love the things of God though, and I thank the Lord for all He has done. I thank the Lord for blessings in this life. He gives us thankfulness, joy, and peace, even when we feel despair at the same time. So, it’s not like it’s just one or the other—thankfulness, joy, and peace or complete misery and despair. Sometimes we have both, and sometimes we need something extra to get us out of the muck and mire of this world.

So, I am doing the only thing I know to do. I am trying to do some work for the Lord. I am focusing my mind in His word so that maybe I can use my ever-over-thinking mind and the difficulties I have gone through to help other people. I need to do this.

If you’re going through depressing times, maybe serving Jesus is just what you need too. Maybe it means helping someone in your family or community. Maybe it means using a talent that God gave you to glorify Jesus. Maybe it means studying the bible more or praying more so that your mind is occupied on good things instead of the chaos and calamity of this life.

Many people are going through hard times right now, and if you are one of them, you are not alone. Sometimes we feel like God is so far away, but He is near! He hears us and He does not despise us in our affliction. Everything is working in our favor because we have the favor of God on our side! Do what Jesus calls you to do. Find your calling in His Kingdom, keep building your relationship with Jesus, and focus on the promises of His salvation. I will do the same, and I am here for you too.

Drunken with Blood

The topic of violence has been on my mind for a few weeks. I wonder if violence is ever acceptable for Christians. Are there times when Christians should take up arms and fight for a just cause?

It seems that Christians should defend those who are weaker than us or dependent on us. It seems that we should fight for the future of our children. If brave men did not fight against injustice, then we would not have the freedoms that we have (I speak of the United States).

However, do we love violence in any measure? Do we love to destroy people with our words? Do we feel a sense of gratification when we make other people look foolish? Do we love the idea of physical violence towards those who oppress ourselves and others? Are we over-eager for God to swoop down and exact His vengeance? It should not be so for a Christian.

If violent actions of any kind cause us to feel proud or if we feel empowered by our wrath towards others, then we might be in a state of spiritual drunkenness. We are not thinking about the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, bless them that curse us, and repay evil with good. I do believe that we can pray that the Lord turn our enemies away from us or convert them, and I cannot imagine a man of God who would stand by and watch the wicked murder the feeble.

Maybe defending the weak against attack is not violence, but justice. That is a dangerous area though depending on how we define the weak and the attackers. Today we see many who are killing in the name of justice, supposedly.

In Revelation 17 we read about a woman who is “drunken with the blood of saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” This is Mystery Babylon the Great, The Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. This post is not about her, but I notice that she is drunken with blood. She loves violence.

I am also reminded of these scriptures:

1 Thessalonians 5:14-23

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

16 Rejoice evermore.

17 Pray without ceasing.

18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

19 Quench not the Spirit.

20 Despise not prophesyings.

21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1: 4-12

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:

12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What about the two witnesses in Revelation (the two churches who were not removed from their place)? How can their violence be justified? I have wrestled with that question, and I considered a nonviolent interpretation.

I considered that maybe they did not use the power of plagues they were given as a show of restraint in a blood-thirsty world. I considered that maybe the fire that proceeds out of their mouths and devours enemies is the word of God. Simply speaking the truth of God in that time would result in the death of many because they hated the truth and continued killing the people of God.

Maybe this is a large-scale case that resembles Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Ananias and Sapphira were Christians, or so the claimed. I believe that Mystery Babylon is a group that also claims to be Christian, but they have “committed fornication” with the beast and false prophet, thinking that they do God’s service. If this is the case, then I can see how a word of God out of the mouth of His true church would be used to kill.

We are also told that they spoke these words, “if any man would hurt them.” Maybe it is a defensive thing.

In any case, these are just thoughts. I do not speak with authority. I do think we should consider ourselves. Do we love violence in any measure? There is a time for all things, but for now at least, I think we should grow in faith, patience, and waiting on the Lord. Let His word do the fighting for us. I think that is right in this time, as a general rule at least.

Considering Proverbs 1:24-27

24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;

25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:

26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;

27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.

The wisdom of the Lord can be found if we want to find it, and if we listen to the wisdom of the Lord then we will find instruction that keeps us from paths of destruction.

As mentioned in previous verses, fools despise wisdom because they have a wisdom of their own: the wisdom of the world.

When we disregard the wisdom of God—when we disregard Jesus—we are going to die.

A Christian can always grow in wisdom. We can always seek Jesus to provide us with strength to walk in the right paths. Maybe we go astray for a time then we come back with a better appreciation for the wisdom of God and a better zeal for truth. Maybe we have sin and personality struggles that pull us into paths of destruction regularly, but if we truly appreciate the righteous way and are willing to face the truth of our sin so that we can repent and get back on track, Jesus will forgive us and help us. The calamity of the wicked is not for those who love Jesus with a sincere heart.

The calamity of the wicked might vary depending on their disregard for true wisdom and depending on the time we are in. We’ve all experienced the results of sinful living in one way or another.

There will come a time when the Lord and His wisdom are hard to find, if not impossible, and the earth will be in utter desolation. The Lord and His wisdom are taken from the earth because no man regarded the righteousness of God. Instead, they kill and destroy all things that stand for the righteous ways of God and those who uphold the testimony of Jesus.

They will be utterly desolate, or in other words, completely void of life-sustaining knowledge. They will be destroyed in mind and body, and they will face the judgment of God.  

Should a Christian laugh at those who refuse instruction then experience the deadly consequences? We have all sinned. We have all had to face our foolishness and the consequences.

We should try to find understanding of their circumstances so that we can help them see a better way. We should pray that Jesus would open their eyes, because He is the one in control of their blindness in the first place. If it were not for His grace, we would follow foolishness and we would be destroyed too.

So, we should be humble and merciful. We should be compassionate. We should be patient.

This can be hard to do, but God will help us understand the wisdom of this outlook and provide us with the strength to overcome our desire to mock the foolish.

If those who love foolishness refuse to repent and continue destroying those who love the wisdom of God and the testimony of Jesus, then what? Do we become destructive in return? Do we fight? There seems to be a time and place for that, both in human history and in the scriptures. There also seems to be an element of faith, waiting on the Lord’s vengeance, and laying our lives down in peace.

That is a question I will be thinking about today because I have a difficult time understanding the difference between foolish and wise violence.

A Series on Sin Part 3: The Effects of Sin

Image by Joey Kyber

When we go against the will of God—when we sin—we are doing things that destroy ourselves and others. For a person to understand the effects of sin, we must come to terms with the reality of our sinful natures.

It seems that our culture is full of declarations of positive self-image. We tell ourselves that we are good people. We are kind-hearted. We deserve more. We are enough just as we are. And so on.

I understand the temptation to do this, and there could be many causes. Here are a few according to my own limited experience and view of the world:

In part, we have a backlash of positivity after a generation of Christians that shamed people for their sins in a mean-spirited manner (I get that too. It’s easy when our values are targeted by those who hate us. We are called to be better than that though). Many Christians also attempted to push righteousness through law instead of through compassion, understanding, and setting a good example (Jesus teaches us that law is not the way, but a change of heart).

Many Christians did not have faith that Jesus would handle things, so we took vengeance into our own hands. That did not work out so well.

Another reason for the self-affirming culture is shame inducing parenting that was typical of that generation along with high divorce rates and the destruction of healthy homes and traditional family values.

Pair all of this with strong media influences that constantly made people feel inadequate unless they had the best this or that, and you have a generation that was starving for someone to love them.

Since they had no one, they decided to love themselves.

This is understandable, but it is very dangerous.

This is dangerous because we begin to deny our natural sinful state.

Many do not like the word, “sin.” It’s taboo and carries the connotation of religious oppression. That is a sad and very unfortunate thing because when we sin we are doing things that bring death.

In denying sin, we begin to call sinful things good or we compare ourselves to others and think that sin is just a normal part of human nature that should be embraced.

However, if we think someone is sinning against us, then we feel fully justified in hating them.

We are a very blind, self-righteous and hypocritical generation because of this.

The generation before us needs to own up to what they did to cause this mess, and our generation needs to grow up and own up to our mistakes.

If we continue to view ourselves as victims, then we will not get to a place of healing and empowerment. We will not get to a place of self-accountability, and that is something that we so desperately need!

Sins have consequences—deadly consequences—that should not be ignored or considered good or something to be proud of.

When faced with the consequences of sin, it is important that we consider our wrongs and own up to it.

If we don’t, but instead have been blinded by our self-affirming and sin-praising culture, then we are at a great risk. Why?

Because we do not regret our sin and decide to do better for ourselves. Instead, we blame others. We curse others. We curse God. There is little to no hope for us then.

It is important for a person to find some understanding of the destructive nature of sin. It is important for a person to understand their natural tendency towards sin. It is important to know that the punishment for sin is death, and this is right because sin brings death. Death to our minds. Death to our bodies. Death to our relationships. Death to our culture. Death to our nation.

Sin is serious, and sin is killing our generation. We are neck deep in it, all the while praising it. We are dying because of our sin, yet we curse others and God. This is not good. We are inviting Destruction into our world. We are going to die because of our need to hold onto a positive self-image.

Once we begin to understand these things, what should we do next?

The most important thing is to seek Jesus and learn about what He stands for. We can talk to Jesus, even if it feels strange at first. We can begin the scary and saddening task of looking at ourselves honestly. We can try to remedy our behavior to the best of our ability and seek Jesus for the strength to overcome.

We can meet other Christians who are further along in the faith and form relationships. We can ask Jesus to send us the Holy Spirit so that we find better insight into sin and greater power to overcome sin.

The effects of sin ties into the promises we receive through our salvation in Jesus. The next article in this series will focus on sin as it relates to the gospel.

Considering Proverbs 1:20-22

20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:

21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,

22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?

The passages concerning wisdom are loaded with symbolism and meaning, and I think there could be multiple ways to look at this.

First, I want to re-write these passages in a sense. The wording in the King James can be confusing, so I looked up the meaning of some of the words so that I could understand better. I think the first verse is clear to me.

As for the second, we could also say something like: she cries out in the leading places of contention and dispute (chief place of concourse). Or in other words, concerning all the things people are commonly fighting over.

What about the openings of the gates and in the city? When I think of the gates of a city, I think of protection and a place of defense against enemy threats. When I think of the city, I think of that which is precious and requires protecting.

What does it mean to be simple? What does it mean to be scornful?

I think simple is meant to be taken in terms of being naive, which is the perspective a young and inexperienced person might take on the world. That makes sense because the young and inexperienced naturally lack wisdom.

The scornful are those who mock. If we are naïve, yet we do not know it, it makes sense that we would mock that which is informed and wise.

I have another take on the gates and the city.

If we are wise, then we will look at the outer defenses that a person possesses, and we will consider them (the gates). We will see beyond the surface and consider the vulnerable parts of people that those outer layers of protection are trying to preserve in some way (the city).

Consider the many areas of contention today. If we are wise, then we will try to understand the matter from every side, and in so doing we are no longer naïve. We will not mock what is right. We also will not be scornful in the sense of wrath because in learning we find greater compassion.

What about the personification of wisdom?

Many things are personified in the scriptures and in other literary works throughout the ages. This is not something to get carried away with, but I think wisdom is made a woman for a reason.

In later chapters in the Proverbs, we see another woman who is very destructive and foolish, and we will get to that later.

I want to share with you a thought process I just went through, which is the reason why I am up at 2 am writing this.

I woke up at 1 am and my husband was still awake. His legs were bothering him because he works outside all day in the heat. I offered to massage his legs, and this helped him get to sleep.

This made me think. I could just go back to bed and ignore him, or I can get up and do this simple thing and help him sleep so that he can get up and work the next day with better rest.

Then I thought about the importance of women serving men. Talk about a topic of contention and hate these days!

Let’s see what lies at the gates and in the city, from a female perspective.

Women are afraid of strong men because they cannot differentiate strong, healthy masculinity from tyranny. This might be due to social misinformation or it could be due to experience with hurtful men. She develops a naïve idea of men and of relationships as a result (the city). Outwardly, she puts on a kind of strength (the gates). She might even adopt some of those masculine traits that she says she despises, because this is the only strength she knows of.

Here is the result:

When a woman is afraid of strong men, she will be drawn towards weak men. The problem is that weak men often become tyrannical men, and there are many reasons why. For one, weak men often lack proper assertion skills. They do not know how to be assertive without being abusive in some form. Pair that with a woman who behaves dominantly, and you have a problem. The woman ends up in relationships with the same kind of man she is afraid of and the man is miserable.

We perpetuate our own fears. Then what? Our families are in chaos.

It all stems from the home and the importance of women serving men.

Boys need mothers in order to grow into healthy men. Boys need to form healthy attachments to their mothers (of course girls do too). There is a whole branch of psychology related to attachment and the importance on life-long mental health.

Can a mother provide the proper care for her children if she is on her own? Not really.

A mother is vulnerable. A mother needs protection in order to be a good mother. This is not a bad thing. We NEED MEN. So, we serve them so that they can do what men are created to do!

Mothers need fathers who will provide and protect. Mothers need fathers who are strong examples of morality and discipline, not tyranny, so that the children will behave properly.

Mothers need fathers and children need fathers. Fathers need mothers. Women need to stop this masculinity-crushing nonsense and women need to stop shaming women for being women.

It takes a father and a mother to provide children with the best home life and emotional well-being possible. Another hot topic today, but I won’t get into that here. There is much “at the gates and in the city” that we can consider with understanding and compassion. Maybe another time, but I suppose that is very much related to what we discuss here.

It is a good and necessary thing for a woman to be at home raising children. It is a good and necessary thing for men to lead, provide, and protect. We are working together to protect that which is precious and valuable: our children and our future!

Women and men today are extremely naïve. We are fed unrealistic, selfish ideas about relationships and marriage. We belittle and hate natural differences between men and women. We belittle and hate traditional families. We are destroying our country!

We need to cry at the gates of our country! We need to understand the defenses that men and women carry, young and old, concerning this important issue of the family. We need to understand the wounds and the misconceptions that lie within.

I’m not a man, so I will speak to the women and I include myself.

Women need to understand the difference between strong, moral men and weak tyrants. We need to stop getting in the way of the men who are created by God to defend that which is most precious—our homes! We need to support our men. That is what God created us to do, and there is no shame in it!

We need to bring men up, not tear them down. If our men are immature, we help them mature by supporting them yet holding them accountable to perform that which a man should do. There is a delicate balance here, especially when dealing with today’s weak men. I’m not sure what that balance is.

I suspect that one thing we should do is take care of the children and the home, then our men are inspired to step up. That can be scary, especially for a woman with control and fear issues, but it needs to happen. We need to give men something worth maturing for! We need to give them something to defend and fight for! We need to care for the homes and children! We need to be loving and supportive!

Women can work. Wisdom works, as we will find later in Proverbs. However, children come first. The husband comes first. We serve so that our men can perform an even greater service—standing at the gates and being MEN!

Being a man is the greatest form of service, and any woman who has had to be the man or the father should appreciate this. IT IS HARD! Like Jesus, it is laying life down for those who need you most. Why do we want to take that over so badly? We praise being single and independent. Get real! We suffer. Our kids suffer. Men feel useless and they suffer!

Why should a man lay his life down for the sake of a woman who is naïve, scornful, adulterous, and thinks she can do it all on her own (the other women in Proverbs that we will get to later)? Why should a man lay his life down for unruly and disrespectful children?

There is so much to be said about this. And as a woman, I will not shy away from saying it. Christian sisters need to stand up. We need to be wise.

I will be thinking about what this means. I will be thinking more about what lies “at the gates” and “in the city” concerning these matters and others. I will be thinking about how our modern culture has caused me to view men and women in a naïve and scornful light. I will be thinking about what I might do about it.