Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Men Love Their Jesus Idol, But Hate the Lord Christ

3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:3,4)

There seem to be two great follies that man is guilty of during his life, and a third folly that has the exact opposite result as man would intend. And each of these follies gives birth to a type of vanity when they are played out in each of their own circumstances.

It is folly for men to pass judgment on the transgressions of others and yet believe that the things that they do in secret will avoid any prosecution. For if, with our own skewed vision and sense of justice, we can see the transgressions of men and bring them to account, how much more would the creator of all things, Jesus Christ the Son of God, be able to see, expose, prosecute, and convict you of your secret transgressions. It is this inner knowledge and understanding of the character of God that causes men to hate Christ and His church.

Oh, yes, men like an idea of Jesus or of the church that doesn’t compromise their own life-style or vices. They rally around this man called Jesus, and they sing praises of the great religious and pious man, or of the social revolutionary, or of the man whom they shape into filling any one of their own pet social or political causes. The true Jesus who is revealed in the pages of the Bible was a religious and pious man whose teachings did lead to social change, but this is only a fragment of the picture of the Biblical Jesus. One other portion of His divine portrait is His illuminating light on the sins of men. And it is this that causes men to love their Jesus idol but hate the Lord Christ. For men hate Him and loved the darkness of their own sins because their deeds are evil (see John 3:19).

Men who want to focus on social justice, to the extent that they ignore the teachings of sin and salvation or simply water down what the Scriptures say about His eternal righteousness, run to the beatitudes and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for their purely social manifesto. However, it is in this same book leading up to this same sermon that John the Baptist, who Jesus hailed as the greatest of the prophets, made this declaration concerning the two ways in which God will deal with humanity,
“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:7)

And when men find themselves under the judgment of God, they recoil and feel wrongfully assailed. This is the pride of vanity to believe that, even though the weight of evidence is utterly against them, they still perceive that they are being wrongfully singled out or that their good intentions are not being accurately weighed in the balance. But if this judgment begins to fall upon this man during his life, he is blessed! Because it is this judgment that can bring a man to understand his sin and see his need for the Savior. It is a measure of God’s grace that He brings sins to light and yet graces the man with time with which he could repent of those sins and fall prostrate before the Savior.

It is folly to for men to experience the blessings of God in life and breath, and even more so, but not exclusively, in prosperity and peace, but yet not acknowledge that they are the recipients of God’s blessings. When men find themselves in any state of temporal blessing, they hail themselves as being wise enough or shrewd enough to have attained such affluence, or they praise the gods of luck or fortune for their luxury. Either way, it is vain pride that sees a privileged position in life and gives praise or thanks to self or the randomness of life. If men find themselves in prosperity, they should see and know that the blessings that we receive in this life are expressions of the kindness of God that should lead us to repentance.
7 Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, 9 That I not be full and deny {You} and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9)

It is folly for men to believe that their heart and their good intentions will be a witness in their defense when they stand before the Lord. Whether men are blessed with affluence and the blessings from God that demonstrate His exceeding kindness or whether they are blessed with suffering to show God’s judgment and righteous accounting, man will always believe that his heart and intentions are good. Most men will not assert their perfection, but will excuse the varying degrees of fault as being normal or human. But this perception will be shown as folly by God because the conscience of man will testify against the man in the courtroom of God. The heart of man will show the consistent transgression of God’s eternal and holy standard.

Whether you have prosperity or poverty, freedom or bonds, health or sickness, God is giving you a measure of His grace; both in the fact that you are drawing another breath and that He is kindly revealing truth about Himself in a very applicational way. To be sure, men cannot be saved in their circumstances alone. For how would they know to call on Christ? God in Christ must be proclaimed through the Scriptures, whether read or heard through a preacher, and only then will man have the knowledge of how one is saved. Without the Scriptures, men only know enough and are given enough revelation to justly condemn them before the God of the Bible.

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