The Apple Of God's Eye

April 3, 2011

Are You Worthy To Take The Passover?

Filed under: God's Holy Days — melchia @ 9:20 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

when-is-now.com

In just two weeks (evening of April 17th, 2011) will come the Passover.

What is the real meaning of the Passover? For the true Christian, it is to be taken every year. But if not careful, even we can take it for granted, without thinking of its deep meaning.

1 Corinthians 11:27 says, “wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread,” (at the time of the Passover), “and drink of the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.”

Now unworthily doesn’t mean that you are worthy to take it. It’s referring to the manner in which you do it, and the condition in which you are when you do it, as to whether you do it worthily or not.

Verse 28, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of this bread and drink of this cup.”

Every one of us have sinned. The trouble is most people don’t stop to really confess and admit that. We seem to take it for granted that we’re just pretty good. We don’t realise how unworthy we really are ourselves.

The blood and the body of Christ

Jesus’ body was broken for us, for our healing. So we read in verses 29 and 30, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily,” that is the manner in which you do it, “eateth and drinketh damnation to himself not discerning the Lord’s body.” Which was broken for us and for our healing. When we’re physically sick. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” Many have had some kind of a sickness or disease and have died, and they sleep, which is Bible language for having died. It represents death as being in a type of sleep.

But Jesus’ blood was shed because of our spiritual sins the transgressions of His Spiritual Law. All sickness and disease is the result of sin, and most don’t realise that.

It doesn’t always mean that you have deliberately had a wrong attitude or wrong intention, and have deliberately sinned and caused it by your own wrong thoughts, motivations, and actions. It could be an accident. It could be a germ in some water you drank, or a contagious disease that disrupted the natural rhythm of the laws of your body.

But the thing is that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (more…)

March 2, 2011

Your Spiritual Criminal Record

Filed under: Baptism,Repentance — melchia @ 3:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

criminalrecords.maxupdates.tv

It’s not easy to live with a criminal record. Many a criminal after he has been released from jail has met frustration after frustration as he tries to become accepted again in society. Often the ex-convict is just on the verge of landing a job when his would-be employer comes across his criminal record and then “coincidentally” decides it best not to hire him.

The ex-convict who wants to change is one man who yearns that society would forgive and forget what he has done. Here’s an individual who would do just about anything to have his record cleared.

The ex-convict may have broken some civil law of the land for which he was imprisoned and for which he has been cut off from society, but every human being on this earth has broken another law — and in doing so has cut himself off from his Creator. And if every human being is involved, you must be included!

But what is it you’ve done that God needs to forgive and forget? In what way have you cut yourself off from your God? Can you think of anything? Anything worthy of eternal death?

God dogmatically states in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And Romans 6:23 just as dogmatically states that “the wages of sin is death.” So God is categorically asserting that everybody is worthy of death. Plain and simple. And everybody includes all of us.

But God does not leave us “hanging.” He has designed a system in which all our sins can be so blotted out that it will be as though they never existed. This is called, in the King James translation, “the remission of sins.” (more…)

February 21, 2011

What Is The Third Tithe?

Filed under: Bible,Tithing — melchia @ 4:22 am
Tags: , , , , ,

tithinginfo.com

In ancient Israel, God instructed His people to set aside a special tithe to assist those in need such as orphans, widows, strangers, and Levites (Deut. 14:28-29; 26:12-15).

God’s Church has always met its Christian duty toward its needy brethren through the third-tithe program. This is an additional tithe, entirely separate from the first tithe which supports God’s Work of preaching the Gospel. Like the first tithe, the third tithe is ten percent of a person’s increase. While the first tithe is paid year by year, the third tithe is paid only on the increase earned during the third and sixth years of a seven-year period.

Usually, a person begins counting the third-tithe year soon after the knowledge of it is gained. Since most would probably learn about this tithe just prior to baptism, they would count their third-tithe year from either the Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles, whichever is closer to the date of their baptism.

In some cases the individual may give his third tithe to a near relative. A widowed mother, sister, or daughter, for example, would qualify under the guidelines set out in Deuteronomy 14 and 26. Orphans in a similar category would also qualify. This tithe supports many needy widows at this time and is God’s way of taking care of those who are in need.

February 1, 2011

Where Did John The Baptist Get The Ceremony Of Baptism?

Filed under: Baptism,Biblical Characters — melchia @ 10:11 pm
Tags: , ,

paramedicgoldengirl.blogspot.com

One of the greatest miracles of the Old Testament was a forerunner and type of what true baptism pictures today. It was the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt.

In I Corinthians 10:11, God reveals that these Old Testament events occurred to be examples to Christians. Now read verses 1-2: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

The word here translated “baptized” means “immersed” or “plunged into.” Let’s understand the full meaning of this event.

Israel had just come out of captivity in Egypt. God said that He was going to bring them up out of that land of oppression — that pagan land of strange customs and evil ways. So God sent Moses to deliver them from their bondage in that land of sin.

Israel was in sin, living the wrong way. And God set His hand to deliver them.

After Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, God brought them to encamp “beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon” (Exodus 14:9). To Israel’s amazement, they found themselves trapped, with the Egyptians closing in on them. The only way of escape was through the Red Sea.

When Israel saw Pharaoh’s army pursuing them, they became filled with fear (verse 10). But Moses assured them, saying: ” ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord….’ Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back… and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:13, 21-22). This type of “immersion” was a veritable grave, and Pharaoh and his men all perished in it. For Pharaoh was still in sin and therefore was doomed (Romans 6:23).

Israel went through the Red Sea, picturing the death of that former way of life — then, coming up out of that grave by God’s grace, they were to enter a new way of life, a promised land.

And so in the New Testament God also requires Christians to crucify the old man, the former way, and to come up out of a watery grave and into a better way of life (Colossians 2:12).

Israel’s baptism was only a type. That baptism was under the Old Covenant, a physical agreement with physical ordinances and material rewards. But notice what God says about the New Covenant: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them” (Hebrews 10:16).

But what about John? Where did he get his authority? How did he know and understand the principle of baptism?

Answer: John had been taught those examples from childhood, for his parents were righteous before God (Luke 1:6). God, through the power of His Spirit, revealed to John the principle of baptism — that a people had to be prepared to hear the message of the soon-coming Messiah.

Repentant sinners needed to prove their repentance by an outward sign, as Israel did under Moses. That’s why John saw in Scripture that the original crossing of the Red Sea by a whole nation was a type of what each individual ought to do — be immersed, or baptized, in water.

Source: The Good News, May 1985

 

March 2, 2010

The Meaning Of God's Tabernacle For Christ's Church Today

possessthevision.wordpress.coThe theme of God's tabernacle runs through the Bible like a continuous stream. The tabernacle, and its expanded form as the Temple, stands in the center of God's plan.

Anciently, God was very detailed in how He should be worshiped by ancient Israel, giving instructions for His tabernacle (Exod. 25-27 and 30). It sat in a courtyard (100 cubits long  x 50 cubits wide) enclosed by curtains (Exod. 27:9), with a gate 20 cubits wide at the front.

The courtyard contained an altar of 5 cubits x 5 cubits (Exod. 27:1-8), a laver (bronze basin where priests washed their hands and feet – Exod. 30:18-19).

It also contained a central tent (30 cubits long), which was divided into two sections by a veil, with the front section being the “holy place”(Exod. 26:33), and the section behind the veil called the most holy place, or the holiest of all (Heb. 9:3).

The most holy place represented God’s throne room in heaven. The ark of the covenant, with the wings of the cherubim spread overhead, was in this section (Exod. 25:10-22, 26:33-34).  Inside the ark were the tables of stone on which God had written the Ten Commandments. The lid of the ark, which was called the mercy seat, was where the Eternal – the One who later became Jesus Christ – manifested Himself.

Around the tabernacle was a section curtained off from the rest of the Israelite camp. No uncircumcised person was allowed to enter. The circumcised Israelites could enter and offer their sacrifices on the altar provided they were not ceremonially or spiritually unclean. (more…)

October 7, 2009

Is The Holy Spirit A Person?

HolySpiritMillions  believe it fervently. Some of the world’s greatest minds have pondered and written about it. So why shouldn’t you also believe and accept the doctrine of the trinity — that the Holy Spirit is a person, just like God the Father and Jesus Christ?

But wait! What did they believe and what have they pondered? Did these “great minds” really prove the doctrine of the trinity to themselves, not to mention to others? Let the record speak for itself:

“We cannot doubt the existence among orthodox Fathers of different opinions on this mysterious subject until its final definition by the Church” (“Trinity,” Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology).

It has always been a mystery, filled with controversy and difficult for everybody to comprehend. All scholarly attempts at understanding have only added misunderstanding! All theological attempts at clarity have only added confusion. See if you can understand this:

“Some said that there was but one substance in the God-head, others, three. Some allowed, some rejected the terms … according as they were guided by the prevailing heresy of the day and their own judgment concerning the mode of meeting it… Some declare that God is numerically three; others numerically one; while to others it might appear more philosophical to exclude the idea of number altogether in the discussion of that mysterious Nature which is beyond comparison, whether viewed as One or Three, and neither falls under nor forms any conceivable species” (The Arians of the Fourth Century, p. 127, ed. 1854).

Such ecclesiastical confusion reigned supreme until the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. It was a hotly divided issue that had to be decided by a special meeting of that church almost 300 years after the crucifixion! Why?

Because all scholars admit that there is no reference to the trinity in the Bible, but it is only, as they say, “implied.” And even though the church had theoretically “decided” the issue in 325 A.D., scholars have still held differing opinions throughout the ages ever since that time!

Again why? Because this doctrine cannot be proven! “A fruitful cause of error in ancient and also modern times is owing to an attempt to explain or illustrate this doctrine, forgetting that it is a mystery to be received on faith, which cannot, from its own nature, be rendered intelligible to man’s intellect” (“Trinity,” Dictionary of Doctrinal and Historical Theology).

Admittedly then, the trinity can be neither explained nor understood. Yet much is still written — and a topical Bible will give as many as sixty-five scriptures — to “imply” that the trinity exists and that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person!

Many Bible dictionaries, on the other hand, do not even mention the subject. The ones that comment on the “trinity” do so historically, not Biblically. Now that’s very interesting. Think about why. Why? Because the trinity is not in the Bible.

Why such confusion? Because of the age-old practice of attempting to interpret clear scriptures by unclear scriptures! Who would think to do it the other way around — to analyze and understand unclear scriptures on the basis of what can be easily understood from clear ones !?!

Let’s examine some of those clear, understandable scriptures to see what God’s Holy Spirit actually Is.

First: it is the power of God!

“Not by might, nor by power [of humans], but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). “I am full of POWER by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of MIGHT . . .” declared the prophet Micah (Micah 3:8).

Second: it has tangible assets:

It is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear (deep reverence and respect — not craven fear) of the Lord (Isa. 11:2).

Third: it is a gift.

After baptism, you are to receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). It Is poured out. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2:17).”… On the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 10:45).

Fourth: to be effective the Holy Spirit must be stirred up.

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God,” Paul reminded the young evangelist, Timothy (II Tim. 1:7).

Fifth: the Spirit of God can be quenched (I Thes. 5:19)

This language is taken from the way of putting out a fire, which may be put out by pouring on water; or by covering it with any incombustible substance; or by neglecting to supply fuel. If it is to be made to burn, it must be nourished with proper care and attention. So, the the Holy Spirit in a true Christian is here compared with fire (or a power) that might be made to burn more intensely, or that might be extinguished.

Sixth: it is the begetting power of God (Matt. 1:18; Rom. 8:9).

Seventh: it is God’s guarantee to us that He will fulfill His promise to us (Eph. 1:14) .

Eighth: it sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

Ninth: it must be renewed (Titus 3:5-6).

And on and on. With not one characteristic even “implying” a “person.” Read these very clear scriptures describing the Holy Spirit again. Does a person do any of these things ? Is a person poured, quenched, renewed? Does a person live IN someone else or live IN people’s hearts? Hardly!

Some are confused by such scriptures as John 14:16-17; 16:7-8, 13. They ask why does the Bible use the pronoun “he” to describe the Holy Spirit if it is not a separate entity? In the above passages the Holy Spirit is referred to as the “Comforter.”

“Comforter” is masculine in the Greek — just like the many other inanimate objects, like stone, which are also masculine. According to Greek rules of grammar you must use a masculine pronoun to refer to a masculine noun. Since “comforter” is masculine in Greek, a masculine pronoun is used. That is why “he” is used in many cases where it refers to the antecedent “comforter.”

In some cases “he” is used in the King James Version where the original Greek uses “it.” The reason is that the translators believed in the Trinity themselves and interpreted rather than translated. John 14:17 is a good example. The pronouns “he” and “him” should have been rendered “it” as they are in the Greek. They refer to the word “spirit,” which is neuter in the Greek. Therefore, the pronouns which refer to them must also be neuter.

Notice Romans 8:16: “The Spirit itself beareth witness….” Here the King James translators have correctly translated the Greek pronoun in the neuter gender.

For further evidence proving that the Holy Spirit is not a person, see Matthew 1:20. Here we read that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Yet Christ calls God His Father, not the Holy Spirit (John 14:16). If the Holy Spirit were a person, it would be Christ’s Father. Proof positive that the Holy Spirit is not a person but the power God the Father uses — much as a man uses electricity.

Consider further! If the Holy Spirit were a person, Jesus Christ prayed to the wrong individual. Throughout the four Gospels, we find Christ speaking to God — not the Holy Spirit — as His Father.

Source: Tomorrow’s World, 1970

April 8, 2009

What Does It Mean To Be Born Of Water – And Of Spirit?

117Here is a verse which really confuses mainstream Christianity which believes in the false notion of going to heaven when one dies. In fact, there is not one verse in the Bible which backs up this assumption. John 3:5 states:

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” 

Jesus here spoke of a literal birth — the entrance into the Family of God as a spirit being, and the process by which one attains that goal. It DOES NOT speak about going to heaven. Hence, both water and God’s Spirit are involved. 

What does the Bible say about being “born of water”? The apostle Peter explained that upon repentance one should be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Baptism pictures the washing away of past sins and the burial of the old self (Rom. 6). In addition, Ephesians 5:26-27 and John 15:3 show that Jesus Christ is sanctifying and cleansing His Church with the “washing of water by the word [the Bible].” Why? So He might present it to Himself as a Church without any spiritual blemishes.  The crowning glory of each person’s life will be his resurrection. Then the saints will be changed from mortal to immortal to become children of God.

I Corinthians 15:51-54 gives an amazingly clear description of this process. Jesus here attempts to describe this spiritual process to a carnal thinking Nicodemus. He explains that “what is born of the spirit is spirit.” This does not merely mean that we are renewed “like the Spirit,” or that we are renewed by the Spirit of God, while still in our physical forms. That would be trivializing what is really said here. Jesus Christ said that we are to literally be born into the family of God – to be Spirit beings in the Father’s family. This is made plain by the emphasis on the fact that none yet reside with God in heaven:

“And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even  the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13)

Further proof is in Acts 2:34:

“For David is not ascended into the heavens…” This despite David being long dead, and surely worthy of being in heaven as he is a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).

Could anything be plainer? We do not go to heaven or hell upon our death. Those doctrines are man made myths. But we do have the choice of eternal life in the family of God. If we understand, repent, are baptized (Acts 2:38) and then walk in the ways (commandments) of God, we will inherit eternal life as a Spirit member of the family of God. THIS is the concept Jesus tried to explain to Nicodemus.

If we do not accept the conditions God imposes on us – in complete love – will not be written in the book of life and will end up in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). This IS NOT HELL. This concept is of God, who destroys the wicked quickly and with the least amount of suffering possible, to lose out on eternal life and joy with God. There is no such thing as suffering eternally with God, as He is a God of love, not hatred. It’s time we banish the foolishness of denominational doctrines meant to enslave man in pagan fears and superstitions. They only destroy the beautiful message of the gospel, which Jesus Christ died for.

April 1, 2009

How Leaven Pictures Sin — An Important Reminder

The apostles were jolted! First, the sound of a violent windstorm filled the house where they were meeting. Then, almost before they had time to think, glowing flames of fire began leaping upon them. God’s Holy Spirit had entered them, and the power of that Spirit was far greater than the forces of nature they had witnessed.

To their amazement, they could now speak words they had not spoken before. Quickly the news spread — here were men who could speak many languages. Thousands speaking different languages eagerly gathered to hear the apostles. What they heard shocked them. Many were deeply convicted by their guilt in the death of their Savior, Jesus Christ.

A mighty urge to do something stirred within them, and they asked the apostles, “What shall we do?” The reply echoed loud and clear: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Those early Christian converts began something that God’s true Church still practices — baptism for the forgiveness of sin. But how, exactly, should a true Christian deal with sin, both before and after baptism? This question brings us to our subject, the Days of Unleavened Bread.

To understand this Festival and its meaning and application to our lives, let’s go back in history. These days are commanded Because of famine, the descendants of the patriarch Israel ended up in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. There they became slaves (Ex. 1:8-11). Through a series of miracles, God finally released the Israelites from bondage. Among the miracles was the death of the Egyptian firstborn. To protect their own firstborn, the Israelites were required to begin keeping the Festival called Passover (Ex. 12:3-14). For Christians today, this Festival pictures our acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.

Just after the Passover, God instituted another festival — the Days of Unleavened Bread (D.U.B.). This seven-day festival pictured the release of Israel from Egypt (verses 15-17). The D.U.B. were held yearly during Abib, which is the first month of the Hebrew calendar. This month corresponds to the time of the Roman calendar months of March and April.

Both the 15th and 21st of Abib, the first and last days of the Feast, are “holy convocations” — days of rest and worship (Lev. 23:6-8). These days are still kept by true Christians today, and will also be kept after Jesus Christ’s Second Coming (Ezek. 43:2, 7, 45:21). This year (2009) they fall on April 9 and 15.

Leaven symbolizes sin During this Festival, all leaven and leavened foods are to be put out of the home and off the property (Ex. 12:15, 13:7). This includes yeast, baking soda, baking powder — all leavening agents, substances that produce fermentation and cause dough to rise.

The products of leaven are bread, cake, some crackers, certain cookies and some prepared cereals and pies. A few candies and other foods also use leavening agents. Of course, there is nothing sinful about these products themselves. Removing them from our homes is merely a symbolic enactment of removing sin from our lives.

Instead of eating these leavened foods, replace them with unleavened products (Ex. 12:15, 19-20, Lev. 23:6). These include matzos, hardtack and a number of flatbreads. But beware: Some foods that are sold as “kosher for Passover” contain leavening agents. If you are in doubt about whether a product is leavened, check the list of ingredients on the wrapper. If you are still unsure, ask someone experienced or don’t eat it. Remember: “Whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). Whenever you eat bread during these days, it should be unleavened.

Far beyond the physical uses of leaven are the significant spiritual meanings. After being jeered at and tempted by the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus said to His own disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). The disciples didn’t know what He meant. Do you? The disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical bread, but He wasn’t. He was talking about the doctrine of the religious authorities, which led people into sin (Matt. 16:11-12, 23:13).

By way of analogy, this leaven of false doctrine has spread through the whole world as a tool of Satan’s deception (Rev. 12:9)! The apostle Paul also used leaven as a symbol for sin. A certain Church member was committing a serious sin and making no progress toward repentance. Paul said this person was like a little leaven that would affect the whole lump — other Church members — with his sinful way of life. The person was put out of the Church. Since Paul wrote to the brethren during the Days of Unleavened Bread, they would have already put out the physical leavening from their homes. Now he encouraged them to put out the leaven of malice and wickedness — sin. He told them to eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth — righteousness (I Cor. 5:1-8).

Sin versus righteousness

When you consider the nature of both leavened and unleavened bread, you can see several spiritual comparisons with sin and righteousness. Let’s notice them:

  • Living in sin is easy; being righteous is hard. Because of its soft texture, leavened bread is easier to eat than unleavened bread. Likewise, going the way of sin is easier than living righteously (Matt. 7:13-14). Obeying God is difficult even for a Christian, because you still have a carnal nature that wants to sin (Rom. 7:14-25). 
  • Sin exalts the self, righteousness builds humility. Leaven puffs bread up. The same is true of sin. It puffs up the sinner — his desire is to exalt himself rather than allow God to rule him (Ps. 10:3). When you choose to live God’s righteous way of life, you abase selfish desires. 
  • Sin’s pleasures are temporary; the benefits of righteousness endure. Leavened bread left out soon becomes hard and moldy. Unleavened bread lasts much longer. Spiritually, the pleasures of sin soon pass away (Job 20:12-16). The end result is eternal death (Rom. 6:23). Righteousness, in contrast, brings both temporal and eternal blessings (Deut. 28:1-13, Ps. 15). 
  • Sin spreads easily; righteousness is built slowly. It doesn’t take long for leaven to spread throughout a loaf of bread. This is the way sin is — it spreads rapidly (Gal. 5:9), whereas building right character takes a lifetime. 
  • Sin is based on deceit; truth is the basis for righteousness. What you see is not what you get with a loaf of leavened bread. Air pockets give the impression that there’s more in the loaf than there really is. Sin also appears to be something it isn’t, deceiving the sinner into thinking he is getting something worthwhile when he is only earning the death penalty (Heb. 3:13). With righteousness there is no deceit, only truth (Ps. 119:151, 172).
  • Sin is more prevalent than righteousness. Most people prefer leavened bread because they find its tastes more desirable. Is it really better? Not necessarily — just more common. People are accustomed to it. Spiritually, the same is true. Most people prefer to live in sin. But you must reject sin, and choose to live a righteous life (Deut. 30:19).
  • Sin builds a false image; righteousness builds true character. As you have seen, leavened bread gives a false impression. So does the sinner. He may appear impressive on the outside, but is he? Read Matthew 23:27. True character is based on much more than outward appearance. It involves righteous living based on obedience to God’s Word (I John 2:5). Grow in righteousness 

What God is showing us through the analogy of leaven and sin, particularly at this time of the Days of Unleavened Bread, is clear: He wants you to escape the clutches of sin and lead a righteous life. But how can you eliminate sin and grow in righteousness? The following “three Rs” — recognize, resist and repent — can help.

  • Recognize sin. Can you recognize sin? Many cannot. Why? Most people overlook God’s simple, clear definition for sin: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (I John 3:4, Authorized Version). 

Discerning sin is a matter of applying God’s law. At the basis of God’s law are the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17, Deut. 5:6-21). Do you know what the Ten Commandments are? If not, how can you possibly expect to overcome and put sin — spiritual leaven — out of your life? God’s laws are real, working forces that guarantee good results when you are in harmony with them. They were given to be lived and acted upon, not ignored or outrightly rejected!

Beyond the basic commandments, God requires obedience to biblical principles referring to one’s conduct. While some things are not written in the form of a direct command, the underlying principle or spirit of the law is nonetheless just as binding (Matt. 5:17-48, Rom. 13:9)!

Under this category fall aspects of God’s civil laws and statements made by His apostles and patriarchs. Examine yourself, as II Corinthians 13:5 commands, and see how God’s laws expose the “leaven” in your character. Are you REALLY putting God first in EVERYTHING? Are you humbly submitting to His authority? Can you admit when you’re wrong?

  • Resist sin. We have already seen through the analogy of leaven that sin spreads quickly and easily. Therefore you must resist temptation before it turns into sin (Jas. 1:13-15). 

Doing this requires self-control — actively resisting wrong thoughts and replacing them with right thoughts (II Cor.10:4-5): In struggling against sin you may reach a point when you grow so battle weary that darts of self-pity and injustice pierce you. At such times it’s easy to think you’ve done all you can. Don’t be fooled. You can do more (Heb.12:4).

Throughout the Bible we see the number 7 used as a symbol of completeness (Gen. 2:2, Josh. 6:16, Rev. 16:17). In relationship to the Days of Unleavened Bread, the number 7 pictures the complete elimination of sin. You should earnestly strive to eliminate sin from your life (II Tim. 2:19).

  • Repent of sin. Even when you recognize sin and resist it, you will still find yourself falling into sin (I John 1:8). When this happens, what should you do? Strive not to sin, but when you do, seek God’s forgiveness. Upon real repentance — abandoning the wrong way and beginning to live the right way — God promises to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9).

Some would say not to try so hard — to just rely on grace. But what does God say? “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:1-2). Will you overcome all sins all at once? Absolutely not! Some sins are so deeply and habitually rooted that they may take years to totally overcome. Don’t use that as an excuse to continue, but don’t dismay either. Ask yourself, Am I sinning as often as I once did? Does this sin have as much control over me as it once did? If the answer is no, you’re growing — making progress.

Today the world is in misery because of sin. Yet humanity rejects the very Festival — the Days of Unleavened Bread — that pictures the process that would lead them out of their sins. What about you? Are you going to keep these special days as God has instructed His people to? Will you be learning the many important lessons that the Days of Unleavened Bread are meant to teach you’? If you do work at ridding your life of sin, you will be greatly blessed, now and in the future as a member of God’s Family: “In the way of righteousness is life, and in its pathway there is no death” (Prov. 12:28).

 

Source:  The Good News, March 1984, By George M. Kackos

March 19, 2009

Are Confessions A Biblical Practice?

Christians are to confess their sins to God — not men. Notice David’s example in Psalm 51. No man can forgive sins. Neither has any man been given the office of mediator between mankind and God. This office is held by Jesus Christ alone. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Wherefore he [Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). The apostle Paul also wrote in I Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man CHRIST JESUS.” Thus, as stated, confession of one’s sins ought to be made to God — not to a fellow human being — such as a priest.

Where did this practice start? A detailed confession to a bishop or priest appeared early in the history of the Catholic church. In the 5th-century discipline, the practice was to hear confessions at the beginning of [pagan] Lent and to reconcile the penitents on Holy Thursday. Gradually, however, the practice of reconciling, or absolving, sinners immediately after confession and before fulfillment of penance was introduced. By the end of the 11th century, only notorious sinners were reconciled on Holy Thursday. Often, those guilty of serious sins put off penance until death approached. To correct this abuse, the fourth Lateran Council (1215) established the rule that every Christian should confess to a priest at least once a year. In modern times the Roman Catholic Church teaches that penance is a sacrament, instituted by Christ, in which a confession of all serious sins committed after Baptism is necessary. The doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox churches concerning confession agrees with that of the Roman Catholic Church (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Article  “Confessions”).

The message of Sacramental Confession is so important to the Catholic church, that Pope Benedict XVI in a pre-Lenten audience with Confessors, urged them to preach the necessity for all Catholics – and to seek the sacrament themselves. He repeated that admonition urging the faithful to “invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today.”

However, it is NOT the Virgin Mary who is our intercessor! The Bible takes a radically different stance than that of this false pagan church. John wrote that when we sin, we have an advocate with God the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous (I John 2:1-2). He is faithful to forgive our sins when we confess to Him (I John 1:7-10). Therefore, we can come boldly to His throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16).

The Scriptures do tell us that we may confess our FAULTS to one another — so we can pray for each other (Jas. 5:16). But there is a difference between seeking a brother’s help in overcoming a fault — human weakness — and confessing sins of the past. The latter should not be done because only God can forgive sin. And humans do not forget, as God willingly does when our sins are removed (Heb. 8:12).

Some try to use John 20:23 to prove that persons in ecclesiastical offices have the power to forgive sins. This verse reads: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (New King James Version). However, it does not mean that mere men can actually forgive sins in a spiritual sense. God alone can forgive sins (Mark 2:7-10; Luke 5:21-24). Christ spoke these words to His future apostles in the context of the Church authority He was giving them (see John 20:21) — the power to disfellowship those who were dissenters or heretics (see I Corinthians 5:2 and I Timothy 1:20) and bring them back into the congregation upon repentance (II Cor. 2:6-10).

Blog at WordPress.com.