Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The dangers of pride

The sin of pride is one we all struggle with regardless of your personality or position in life. It affects both the king and the pauper, the rich and the poor, the quiet and the out spoken. And we all have areas where it is prominent and areas where it is subtle. So I would like to share several thoughts from saints who have gone before us, on the dangers of pride.

A proud man is bound to fall
Pride thrust . . .
Adam out of paradise, Saul out of his kingdom, Nebuchadnezzar out of men's society, Haman out of court, and  Lucifer out of Heaven!
(Thomas Adams he Wicket Gate Magazine Edition number 119. Gleanings in the Psalms – Psalm 73 – http://www.wicketgate.co.uk)

A proud man thinks he is better than others
A humble soul thinks better of others than of himself: `let each esteem other better than themselves’ (Phil. 2:3). A humble man values others at a higher rate than himself, and the reason is because he can see his own heart better than he can another’s. He sees his own corruption and thinks surely it is not so with others; their graces are not so weak as his; their corruptions are not so strong. `Surely’, he thinks, `they have better hearts than I.’ A humble Christian studies his own infirmities and another’s excellences and that makes him put a higher value upon others than himself. `Surely I am more brutish than any man’ (Prov. 30:2). And Paul, though he was the chief of the apostles, still calls himself `less than the least of all saints’ (Eph. 3:8). (Thomas Watson. The Godly Man’s Picture pg 59)

A proud man does not acknowledge his sinfulness and inability
Why does God permit such an inability in man to keep the law? He does it: To humble us. Man is a self-exalting creature; and if he has but anything of worth, he is ready to be puffed up; but when he comes to see his deficiencies and failings, and how far short he comes of the holiness and perfection which God’s law requires, it pulls down the plumes of his pride, and lays them in the dust; he weeps over his inability; he blushes over his leprous spots; he says with Job, ‘I abhor myself in dust and ashes.’   (Thomas Watson. The Ten Commandments pg 3)

Though the saints have their golden graces, yet they have their leprous spots; seeing sin has made us vile, let it make us humble; seeing it has taken away our beauty, let it take away our pride; if God (saith Austin [Augustine]) did not spare the proud angels, will He spare you, who are but dust and rottenness? O look upon your boils and ulcers, and be humble! Christians are never more lovely in God’s eyes, than when they are loathsome in their own; those sins which humble, shall never damn.
(Thomas Watson Harmless as Doves pg. 129)

Our hearts must go along with our confessions. The hypocrite confesses sin but loves it, like a thief who confesses to stolen goods, yet loves stealing. How many confess pride and covetousness with their lips but roll them as honey under their tongue.
(Thomas Watson “Doctrine of Repentance” pg. 29)

A proud man is too preoccupied with his reputation
Oh that I was lowly in heart! Honor and dishonor, good report and evil report would then be alike, and prove a furtherance to me in my Christian cause.
(George Whitefield ©2002-2016 SermonIndex.net. Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.)

"Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are far worse than he thinks you to be." (Charles H. Spurgeon.www.albatrus.org)

A proud man refuses to honor God
A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God's power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God's wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.

(Jonathan Edwards Christian love and its fruit page 65)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Fifty shades of grey, the christian and the real issues

We live in an entertainment culture. We are hooked to something be it sports, movies, music and now the rise of some rather good, addictive and time wasting series. The highest paid people in our time are by at large the entertainers, sports people or movie stars. They are the heroes of the day and they sadly have a lot of influence on our society. Entertainment has its place in our lives even though we overestimate its value in many ways, but there is great pleasure from watching a brilliant movie or series and there is nothing that beats a thrilling 90 minutes of football (or any other sport, I have an obvious bias) with Peter Drury doing the commentary. However entertainment can easily become an idol in our lives because we become more committed and dedicated to it than we are to God, His word and His church. Entertainment is also the source of temptation and plunges many in horrific sins that they struggle to recover from, especially the movie industry.
Hollywood clearly has an anti-God campaign and has for years been promoting wickedness and numbing people to its horror. That has become more prevalent in the recent years from the movies they have been producing, which are designed to attack what the bible teaches about God, marriage, family, gender roles, sexuality, parenting, church and morality. It has become common practice to have homosexual couples presented as normal or even celebrated, children are often presented to be cleverer and right than their not so sharp parents, its literally parents obey your children. Divorce is portrayed as freedom from captivity and the reversal of gender roles as the civilized thing. The release of fifty shades of grey two years ago and the fact that they have already released a sequel this year and from the attention it is getting on social media suggests it has found a ready and willing audience and Christians are not exempt from indulging in movies that corrupt your mind with sex scenes, profanity and unbiblical overtones. A few thoughts to remember as you ponder exposing yourself to movies like fifty shades of grey.
Your heart is exceedingly wicked and deceitful. The corruption lies in our hearts and not just outside. So just because you do not watch movies with obscene sex sins does not mean you will have a clean mind and your thoughts will be pure. Even if you and I were dumped on an island all by ourselves filthy thoughts would still flow through our corrupt minds. What the movies do is simply pour fuel to an already burning fire. So heed the exhortation of scripture in James
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. (James 4:4-8)
Develop clear guidelines to guard your heart. Proverbs urges us to guard our hearts with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life. This at least means that we must be intentional and deliberate in guarding what we see and hear so that we protect our hearts. Practically that means as a Christian you should clearly know and state the principals you will apply when it comes to the choice of movies before you even come to the watching. Do not believe the lie that you will decide when you find bad scenes. For those who are leaders of the home that means clearly communicating what the principals will be in your home and abiding by them yourself. A good biblical principle to apply is Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Dear Christian exposing yourself to morally corrupt movies will cause decay in your heart and in turn your thoughts and speech will be filthy and rotten. Furthermore it will cause you to have a wrong view of the opposite sex and of sex. The opposite sex become objects to be used for your own pleasure as and when you desire and not people to relate with. And rather alarmingly such movies have a way of robbing you of your spiritual vitality. As you are daily exposed to wickedness you become numb to sin and distant from God and his word. Watch wisely:)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dear “Christian” you might not be saved

Statistics tell us that 86.7 to 98 % (depending who you are reading) of the population in Zambia are professing Christians and the country itself was declared a Christian nation in 1991. And generally speaking a lot of people in Zambia are very religious and most people find their way to church every Sunday morning and consider themselves “Christians”. Is it possible however, that 90% of the population claim to have been radically transformed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ and yet the truth of God is still suppressed in ungodliness and righteousness? Is it possible that 90% of the people who once were dead in their trespasses and have miraculously been made alive in Christ Jesus but their lives remain unchanged? Is it possible that God can begin a work to change a people who are lost in sin and that people remain totally unchanged? Does salvation bring change? Can God transform a person and they remain the same? Does the gospel have power to transform a person? These are the questions that nag my mind whenever I reflect on our “Christianity”

When the bible talks about Disciples of Christ it talks in terms of a reckless abandonment to him and His cause. It teaches that Christians are slaves to Christ. Been a Christian is more than just making a decision to follow Jesus. While a one-time decision has to be made, it is followed by everyday decisions to follow and obey him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously claimed “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” (The cost of Discipleship pg 99). He in essence simply echoing the words of scripture.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me (Matthew 16:34)

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:15-18)

Biblical Christianity begins when people are convicted of their wretched sinfulness, which makes them enemies of God and they realize that they are totally unable to please God or be reconciled with Him. And in their misery and hopelessness trust in Jesus Christ’s perfect payment for their sins and totally turn away from their sins by pleading for forgiveness from God. When this happens such people daily fight sin in their lives so that there is a reducing pattern of sin in their lives, they daily put on Christ like virtues such that they become more like Jesus. It affects their attitude and ethics towards work. It affects all their relationships with spouses, children, parents, employees, employers and the opposite sex. It affects their commitment and involvement to Christ’s church and how they relate with non-believers. They also live knowing they are strangers on earth and this is not their home. They look forward to a home whose builder and maker is God. That dear reader is what it means to be a Christian.

So while many may claim the title “Christian”? One has to seriously ask “I’m I really a Christian?” Do all of us to who consider ourselves followers of Christ truly his followers? Has God actually done a work in us that the transformation is evident? Or are we still slaves of our sins doing it bidding and suppressing the truth of God’s word thus indulging in our fleshly desires? A Christianity that is not uprooting self from your heart is one devoid of salvation. Dear “Christian” I fear you might not be saved.

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer