Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 (ESV) We take another little break from the ATBOB series to think about something I feel is important for us to discuss. The other evening, I caught an episode of…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2018/05/24/one-way/
I heard someone talking about John 3:16 the other day, and wanted to share a few brief points from it. These are not theological in nature, but just some interesting quirks specifically to the English NIV translation… it’s more interesting than I’ve just made it sound!
John 3:16 is arguably one of the most well known verses in the Bible, and the New International Version renders it as follows:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV #Bible #Jesus #Gospel #Christianity
Did you know this is the Gospel in one verse? It sets out the fact that God was not content to let the world be destroyed as a consequence of sin, but instead gave His Only Son to save it.
If you write the verse out acrostically, you can read it as:
God so loved the world, that He gave His
One and only
Son, that whoever believes in Him will not
Perish, but have
It’s a bit clunky perhaps, but a nice little nugget none the less!
You can also break this verse into three parts.
For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only
That whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life
Section 1 is all about God and section 3 is all about us. What bridges the gap between us and God is section 2 – namely, Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Sin has separated us from God. We were born as sinners, and our thoughts, words and actions confirmed this. Our sin cannot co-exist with God’s holiness. God is on one side of the divide and we are on the other. We cannot hope to cross the gap as will never be able to meet His perfect standards. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ however, who gave us the precious gift of His very own Son to live and die for us. He paid the penalty for our sin once and for all, and by accepting this gift, we can go free and have complete access to God. We are made holiness because of Christ’s holiness.
If you know the Lord Jesus, then praise God this weekend for that fact. If you do not, and you yearn for your sin to be washed away, then waste no time and ask God to forgive you and accept His Son into your life. For more information about how to do that, do get in touch with me and I’d be glad to help you.
On a recent blog post, a dear reader commented and use the phrase “sinfulness of sin “.￼
That reminded me of this post I wrote a few years ago. So I thought I would share it with you today! it considers a verse from Psalm 32, and there is a link to an audio message I gave on that same psalm which you can listen to.￼￼
Hope you enjoy, and I welcome your comments as ever! Thank you for reading.￼
I acknowledged my sin to thee, and my iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.Psalm 32:5 (WEB) The sinfulness of my sin… captivating title right? And I know what you are thinking – two blog posts in two…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/03/18/the-sinfulness-of-my-sin/
At long last, we move on to Acts 5. This chapter opens with a rather disturbing set of events, and I want to try to shed some light on what is happening here. This particular passage is a difficult one, and I admit to having struggled with it for many years. I will explain why,…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/06/16/a-protective-father/
Bringing glory to God is, in essence, why we are here on this Earth. I suppose there are many ways in which we can glorify the Lord. In fact, I would be keen to hear your thoughts on that, so do comments below. What does it mean to you to “glorify the Lord?” How do you do it day by day?
We are on the earth to glorify God. How do you do that? #Bible #Jesus #Christianity
Looking to the Scripture, I turn to a specific example from Joshua to help us see one way to do this. It may not, as I have found, be immediately intuitive as to how this account fits in with “glorifying the Lord,” but let’s see what we can learn.
The actual words I want to look at appear in Joshua 7, but before I share them, we need to remind ourselves of what happened in Joshua 6. This is the account of how the Israelites, under Joshua’s lead, took the city of Jericho. God instructs the people not to just attack, but instead offers them a rather unorthodox battle plan. For seven days, they are to march around the city walls. Imagine trying to sell that to your generals! On the seventh day, they are to march around not once, but seven times and once complete they are to shout. As they do this, the wall of the city will fall and they can rush in upon the enemy.
Strange as it may sound, this is precisely what happens. They march, they blow trumpets, and then they shout. The walls fall and the enemy is destroyed.
God gave specific instructions through Joshua about the spoils of the attack. They were not to take anything that was devoted to destruction.
On the seventh day, they rose early at the dawning of the day, and marched around the city in the same way seven times. On this day only they marched around the city seven times. 16 At the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for Yahweh has given you the city! 17 The city shall be devoted, even it and all that is in it, to Yahweh. Only Rahab the prostitute shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 But as for you, only keep yourselves from what is devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted it, you take of the devoted thing; so you would make the camp of Israel accursed and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron are holy to Yahweh. They shall come into Yahweh’s treasury.”
Joshua 6:15-19 WEB
This is not unclear. There is no room for misunderstanding or negotiation. Take nothing for yourselves. If you do, you will bring a curse and trouble upon the camp of Israel.
Did they all obey this instruction? You can probably guess, but if not, Joshua 7 begins:
But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the devoted things; for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. Therefore Yahweh’s anger burned against the children of Israel.
Joshua 7:1 WEB
So we see that a man named Achan took some of the spoil for himself, and thus broke God’s command. I recently heard John MacArthur say that you can remember this because Achan was “aching” to take something!
What happens next is that the Israelites go up to spy on the people of Ai, and the spies say (in my own words) “Don’t worry about it, just send up a few thousand men as we won’t need the full army to take the few people of Ai!”
They lose. Around 36 Israelites are slain, and the people of Ai chase the army. The result is tremendous fear among the men of Israel, so much so that the Bible describes their hearts melting and turning like water (see Joshua 7:5). So shocked are they at this loss, that they cry out to God in confusion, unable to fathom how God’s people were defeated. God reveals that there is sin among them and that they must root out the cause.
Joshua assembles the people, and then begins to whittle down the group by tribe, family and household. Achan and his family are brought forwards.
Joshua said to Achan, “My son, please give glory to Yahweh, the God of Israel, and make confession to him. Tell me now what you have done! Don’t hide it from me!”
Joshua 7:19 WEB
Achan is caught. Notice Joshua’s words here “Glorify the Lord.” What does he mean, and why would Achan confessing his sin bring glory to God?
I think that there are two main reasons why this confession would bring God glory.
Firstly, God is holy, and we are not. This is a critical lesson we need to review frequently I believe. Confessing sin admits that God is greater than we are, and so brings Him glory. We are sinful, and He is not, and that makes Him superior. More than this though, He is also the One with the power to forgive and cleanse us. Confessing sin not only recognises our inferiority to God, but also glorifies Him by seeking His favour in forgiveness.
#God is #holy and we are not. Confessing our sin brings Him #glory #Bible #Jesus #Christianity
Forgiveness is only available through the cleansing blood of God’s Son – Jesus Christ. To seek forgiveness from God is to acknowledge the sacrifice of His Son. While Achan perhaps had little idea of Jesus’ work at the cross that would one day come, we certainly do. Achan, though, did know that he had fallen far short of obedience before God.
Secondly, God’s reputation is at stake here before all the people. He has brought out the clans, tribes and families and selected Achan. Were Achan to deny it, it would essentially be calling God a liar in front of everyone. “You are quite wrong God! It wasn’t me! I did no such things!” Imagine that! Imagine bearing false witness against the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Even disobedient Achan did not go that far, and neither should we.
Do you put God’s reputation above your own? It is better to admit when we are wrong than God’s Name be maligned #Bible #Christianity
So, Achan brings God glory by confessing his sin. He admits to taking the items dedicated to destruction, and Joshua sends men to go and find them. There, beneath his tent, the stolen goods are found and brought to Joshua. What happens next may seen harsh to our ears. Achan and his entire family are taken and stoned, and all the people and goods are burned I the valley. This indicates to us how seriously God hates sin, and that we ought not to trifle with it. It is also clear that Achan could not have done this without his family knowing, as it is rather hard to bury the goods in the middle of the tent without those living I the tent noticing. None of them came forward to tell Joshua what had been done, and neither did they give back the goods. They had hoped, like Achan, to get away with it.
So returning to the question we began with, how do we bring glory to God? Was confessing your sin on your list? It probably would not have been on my top ten! There may be many ways to glorify the Lord, and admitting our faults and rejoicing in His forgiveness is certainly one way to do it.
Will you bring Him glory today? Will you stand before Him and be open about your failures? Thank God that He has made a way for us to be forgiven and set free! Thank God that we need not face the same penalty as Achan, but instead can tell the world how great our God is!
Turning once again to Proverbs 6 (what a rich chapter this is!), we are now given a list of things that God hates. Let us not underestimate the strength of these words. Verse 16 begins by saying these are things that God “hates”; things that are an “abomination” to Him! I do not know about you, but that makes me sit up and pay attention. I do not want any of these things to be found in me!
So, what are they?
There are six things which Yahweh hates;
yes, seven which are an abomination to him:
17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are swift in running to mischief,
19 a false witness who utters lies,
and he who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 6:16-19 WEB
The first item on the list is “arrogant eyes.” Arrogance stems from pride, and an overinflated sense of oneself. To have arrogant eyes is to look down on other people, and to believe that we are better, superior and more important than they. Not so! Each of us is made in the image of God, and are equally valuable in His eyes. Looking down on other people and favouring some over others breaks the command to love one another. The arrogant eye sees others’ faults, but not their own. Instead, we must look on ourselves with sober judgement and recognise that we are no more important than anyone else we meet; irrespective of class or position. That is not to say we look down on ourselves either, but merely to be honest and treat others fairly.
God hates a lying tongue. Lying is the devil’s language, and we ought to have no part in it. When talking to Christians, it is rare to find examples of blatant or outright lies. More often, in my experience at least, it is far more subtle. Take the arrogant eye as above, it is far more likely that we might “bend the truth” to make others think better of us or to hide certain truths to please people. Honesty is not the same as rudeness of course, and so we can find ways of being truthful without being blunt or harsh. Our words should be clear and honest, not shrouded in deceit. It sounds simple, yet I wonder how often our words in a typical day are completely truthful? When someone asks how we are, how honest is our response? If someone wants us to sign up to some rota, do we add our names honestly intending to fulfil it? If we have people-pleasing tendencies, do we feel pressure to say what we think they want to hear instead of genuine truth? Something to think about.
#God hates #lies. #SpeakTruth Christians should be #honest. People must be able to #trust our #words #Bible #Christianity
The third item on the list needs little explanation. God hates the hand that sheds innocent blood. To murder is to destroy those who are made in God’s image. From the very first murderer – Cain, who slew his own brother – to the countless murderers we hear of today, the killing of innocent people is abominable to God. To kill another is one of the most serious crimes in most places in the world, and this comes from the fact that life is valuable. You may not be guilty of shedding blood yourself, but do not forget Jesus’ words when He was speaking of the Commandment not to murder.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’[c] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [d]‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [e]hell fire.
Matthew 5:21-22 NKJV
Many of us may not be guilty of committing murder, yet how many of us have felt anger toward someone without cause? Both are equally sinful before God.
#Murder is a #sin, yet #Jesus reminds us that #anger toward others is equally bad #Bible
Verse 18 gives us the fourth and fifth items in this list of things God hates. Firstly, we see that a heart that plans wicked schemes is something to avoid. I would hope that, for most of us, when we do cause harm to others, it is done in ignorance or without thinking. It is quite another thing to plan to do harm in one’s heart. If you find yourself lying in bed at night, devising ways of getting back at someone (for example) then you need to carefully consider your ways. Likewise, the second point in this verse, warns against being swift to do evil. Do not be misled by the crowd, jumping into trouble without thinking first. Just because others are doing it, does not mean you have to! Do not be quick to get into mischief, instead learn this lesson and keep well out of it!
Verse 19 seems to repeat something we touched on earlier, namely a lying tongue. Yet there is a slight distinction here. A false witness can indeed lie, but a false witness can also paint a distorted picture of the truth without actually saying something dishonest. For example, when giving a witness statement to the police, you do not have to totally fabricate what you saw to be a “false witness.” You might simply omit certain parts of the account. God hates lies of course, but He equally hates deception and falsity which leads people down the wrong path. “I didn’t actually lie…” is no real defence. Certain politicians I could name have clearly been rather economical with the truth. They cannot be accused of outright lying, but have certainly not been totally open about what really happened. Let us not be like that!
Our final item is a very important one in my opinion. God cannot abide those who would sow discord among the brothers; by this, it means troublemakers who seek to cause mischief and damage relationships. There are those who would infiltrate a group or church, for the sole purpose of disrupting unity. I have sadly seen this in churches in the past, and if left untackled, can lead to entire congregations splitting or breaking apart. Focussing on the church, we are stronger when we stand united, and that is why the enemy may seek to disrupt the fellowship we hold. Guard against this as best you can! And do not forget that even seemingly small things like criticism, gossip or complaining can lead to discord. Watch your words and seek to bring people together, not divide them apart.
This is quite a list, and I am struck at how many of the points correlate with the Ten Commandments. We, Christians, may look at the list and dismiss it thinking, “That doesn’t apply to me…” and hopefully so! But do be sure. It is all too easy to fall into lies or false witness, or to grumble about the leadership team leading to discord, or to waste time thinking about how to get someone back for hurting you. These are all things that the Lord hates, so steer well clear of them!
Thanks for reading and do share your thoughts below.
The next short section of Proverbs 6 describe a worthless person. This sounds a little harsh, but once you read the description, I hope you will understand.
A number of other translations do use the word “worthless” here, but others also use words such as “troublemaker” or “villain.”
The following words are given to us for two reasons, I believe. Firstly, so that we might be on our guard against such people. Should we see someone of this nature heading our way, we would do well to avoid them. Secondly, these words are given that we might not be like this person. If we see traits of our own character in these words, it should give us pause for thought and send us to our knees in prayer asking for God to help us change.
A worthless person, a man of iniquity,
is he who walks with a perverse mouth,
13 who winks with his eyes, who signals with his feet,
who motions with his fingers,
14 in whose heart is perverseness,
who devises evil continually,
who always sows discord.
15 Therefore his calamity will come suddenly.
He will be broken suddenly, and that without remedy.
Proverbs 6:12-15 WEB
This “worthless” person is also described as a man or person of iniquity. This paints a picture of wickedness and evil, and so we must take heed of these warnings.
I am intrigued by the fact that the very first description of such a person, relates to their mouth. Verse 12 tells us that they walk with a perverse mouth. This is not to say that they have something physically amiss with their mouth, but clearly refers to the words they say. Time and time again in Proverbs, we are cautioned to take words extremely seriously. We must take great care with the words we say, but also the words we hear from others.
#Proverbs warns us time and again to take the #words of the mouth extremely seriously #Bible #Christianity
The first way to identify a person of iniquity is to listen carefully to their words. Their words may be blatantly disgraceful, or they may be deceptively flattering. They may promise one thing, and yet deliver another. They may build you up to your face, but tear you down when your back is turned. Beware and listen carefully!
Let your words, in comparison, be positive and uplifting. May our speech be as the Apostle Paul describes:
Do not let any unwholesome #talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Eph4:29 NIV #Bible
Verse 13 elaborates on the kind of person this is. Not content with speaking out wickedness, they signal the same things with the wink of an eye, or hand gesture. I am not certain how one signals with the feet – perhaps this is a reference to the way they walk or more likely, the direction they walk in i.e. toward evil. Verse 13 may simply be suggesting that everything about them; their words, their gestures, their eyes, all depict their iniquity.
The winking of the eye is probably the most familiar to us. When someone says something, and then winks, it suggests that they are not being entirely honest. I recall a clip from a reality TV show where one of the characters was apologising to another. As they went in for a hug of apology, they winked at the onlookers implying that their apology was nothing but false.
Verse 14 talks of perverseness of the heart, continual devising of evil and one always sowing discord. Note these are not one time things, and in fact, I think that because the heart is “perverse” then the actions are “continually” and “always” of an evil nature. As Jesus taught us, we are to inspect the fruit of our lives and that of those around us. If the tree is bad, it will produce bad fruit. In the same way here, a perverse heart is continually producing evil and always sowing discord.
Jeremiah was right when he said that the heart was deceitful above all things (see Jeremiah 17:9). If the heart is deceitful, full of iniquity, and perverse (to use the words from above) then it is hardly surprising to see this wicked person constantly devising evil schemes.
We cannot become good people by trying. We may be able to manage our behaviour for a short time, but if our hearts are inclined to evil, then sooner or later it will show itself. Hearts cannot be fixed or modified, they can only be changed.
I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh; 20 that they may walk in my statutes, and keep my ordinances, and do them. They will be my people, and I will be their God
Ezekiel 11:19-20 WEB
When we come to Jesus, He saves us by making us new. We become new creatures in Christ, and our hearts are changed forever. Our flesh may still lead us to do sinful things at times, but that does not change our hearts. To change the person, you must change the heart.
To change the person, you must change the #heart #Bible #Jesus #Christianity
To change our hearts, we must surrender them to Christ. We repent of our sins, asking Him to save us, forgive us and renew us. The prayer asking Him to do this is simple, yet it requires a lifelong commitment to following Him.
To conclude, verse 15 paints a clear picture of what happens if we continue on the path of evil. Sudden calamity! Put simply, not good news!
Verse 15 repeats the word “suddenly” to emphasise that the destruction of the wicked will come out of the blue and completely unexpectedly. The end of the verse points out that such calamity is without remedy. Such is the fate of those who pursue evil and refuse to repent of their sin before God. God is wonderfully loving and full of kindness, yet He will not tolerate wickedness forever. A time will come when He will put an end to iniquity and once His judgement falls, it cannot be undone.
I do not want to end of this rather grim note! God’s judgement is not to be trifled with, and serves as a warning to us to turn to Jesus. God has made a way for us; He has opened up a way for us to be saved. Such is His great love, that He chooses not to leave us in our peril, but instead sacrifices His own Son that we might go free.
Do not be like the “worthless person!” Do not delay, turn to Christ and receive His forgiveness. That is wisdom!
My family and I are experiencing a challenging time at the moment. this means I am blogging on the go, and so please excuse any formatting or lack thereof!
Over the past few days, I do not think I have stood still for one moment! My time with God has been seriously restricted, as has my time in his word.
Can you relate? Have you had similar seasons in life?
I rejoice that I have had opportunities to store God’s word in my heart in the past, and can draw on those resources now.
I strongly encourage you to hide God’s word in your heart during the sunny seasons in life. Life will always throw times of trouble at us, but we can prepare ahead of time.
This verse tells us that by hiding God’s word in our hearts, we will reduce the risk of sin. The more Bible we have within us, the stronger we will be to face temptation when it comes. And temptation is harder to resist during times of trouble, when we are tired or stressed.
Are you putting something off that you know you ought to be doing?
For instance, have you been putting off your regular dental checks? you may not have toothache right now, and perhaps you just don’t have the time to visit the dentist or want to face the expense at the moment.
Perhaps your car has been making an unusual sound, the occasional whiff of smoke, or even the check engine light has come on. Yet, you have not found the time to visit the Mechanic.
Maybe you knew about a hole in your roof, yet the summer has stretched out before you without a drop of rain in sight.I will fix the roof later, you think, but later never comes. While later may not have come, if you live in the UK, the rain certainly will!
Turning to spiritual matters, perhaps there is a sin or bad habit in your life that you know you need to be rid of.
Maybe you have felt the Lord leading you to pick up your bible more often, or to kneel down in prayer more frequently. later, you think…
My advice to you today is to fix the roof while the Sun is shining! Because you never know when a raincloud may form.
Don’t put things off that you know you need to do now. Do not wait until it is too late!
When the toothache comes or the car breaks down in the middle of the road, you will wish you had taken the necessary steps in advance.
Likewise, when the storms of life hit you, and they will, you will regret not having a firm grasp on your Bible or not having spent more time with the Lord in prayer.
The ultimate example is to put off making a commitment to Jesus Christ as your saviour and Lord.do not put this off dear reader! Get on your knees today and commit your life to Jesus! Do it now, while you can, for later may not come.
Take my advice today, fix the roof while the Sun is shining! And have a great day
What a dark title! Hope it did not put you off reading any further!
Psalm 36 is very much a psalm of two halves. The first four verses remind us of the wickedness of humanity, and the latter eight verses contrast the wonderous righteousness of our God. Today we focus on the first few verses, and consider the sinfulness of rebellious man – but hold on to hope for the goodness of God which follows another day.
For the Chief Musician. By David, the servant of Yahweh.
A revelation is within my heart about the disobedience of the wicked:
“There is no fear of God before his eyes.”
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
too much to detect and hate his sin.
3 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit.
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
4 He plots iniquity on his bed.
He sets himself in a way that is not good.
He doesn’t abhor evil.
Psalm 36:1-4 WEB
King David, the author of this psalm and many others, launches straight in with the core purpose of this section – namely, that he has had a revelation of the wickedness of mankind. He will elaborate in the coming verses, but this opening shows us that in his meditations on the Scripture and in his time with God, he has come to receive an understanding of the sinfulness of humanity.
This may not be the kind of revelation any of us want! Yet, I think it is rather crucial to grasping the Christian faith. I recall a time when I was sharing the Gospel with someone, and they simply could not accept what I was saying. On reflection, I realised that we were on totally different wavelengths. I had understood that humanity was wicked at heart, and without hope. They were starting from a point where people were basically good at heart, despite a few bad apples and common mistakes. This latter view is not the Christian perspective.
The heart is deceitful above all things
and it is exceedingly corrupt.
Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9 WEB
23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;
Romans 3:23 WEB
Having stated that he has received this revelation, David then goes on to summarise what this really means. “There is no fear of God before his eyes.” This is at the heart of the matter for me; a lack of reverential fear of God. While God does not want us to be afraid of him, in a scared sort of way, He does want us to revere and respect Him. I do not fear electricity, but have a deep respect for it and know not to play around with it or misuse it. Likewise, we are not afraid of God, but we respect and understand that He is in charge and to be obeyed.
Verse two points out that wicked men flatter themselves so much so that they cannot see their own sin. We ought not to flatter ourselves, but instead be humble and look on ourselves with sober judgement.
Paul says in his letter to the Romans:
3 For I say through the grace that was given me, to every man who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think reasonably, as God has apportioned to each person a measure of faith.
Romans 12:3 WEB
The NIV translation renders this verse at to look at yourself with “sober judgement.” This is not to beat ourselves up, nor to think we are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Rather, it is to be honest about our shortcomings and the true inclination of our heart without Christ.
When we do not do this, we deceive ourselves, and become blind to our own sin. We are broken creatures (without Christ) and we have a flesh (sinful nature) which craves to please itself and not the things of God. We cannot be complacent, nor can we compare ourselves to others. Our only comparison is to Jesus Himself, and we fall woefully short. Let us have open eyes when it comes to our true hearts, and be not ignorant of our sinfulness. The more we understand the depths of our sin, the more we realise our need for a Saviour – Jesus Christ.
The more we understand the depths of our #sin, the more we realise our need for a Saviour – #Jesus #Christ. #Bible
Verse three turns to our words. I like the directness of this translation; it doesn’t say the words are full of iniquity or deceit, but are iniquity and deceit! As Jesus taught us, a good tree cannot produce bad fruit, and also that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Sinful words come from sinful hearts. Words of deceit flow forth from a heart that is deceived. If we think we are without sin, then we do indeed deceive ourselves as the Apostle John teaches us from his first letter.
Words are indeed powerful, both for good and for ill. My post entitled – Words Can Be Atom Bombs – is relevant here. Words can start wars, words can tear down, and words can inflict deep harm. The wicked care little for the effect of their words, and to them, talk is cheap. We know that God created all things in the power of His words, and so we must use our words for creation and not destruction.
The latter half of verse three and verse four also sets out what this “wicked man” will do. Let each of us examine these sayings in turn, and be sure they do not apply to us who believe.
The wicked and rebellious have ceased to be wise, and therefore stop doing good. It is indeed foolish to abandon good ways and seek to fulfil the lust of our flesh. To do so is to shun God and His ways, and such a path leads only to death. That is truly unwise!
The rebellious plot sin on their beds. As they lay there, staring up at the ceiling, they think of things they might do and say. We Christians are not so immune to this as we may think. For instance, have you ever rehearsed an argument you were going to have with someone while laying awake at night? “If they start, I’m going to tell them what for! And if they say this, then I’m going to say that… And if they then say this, I’m really going to say that!” Sounds daft, yet perhaps a little familiar if we are honest. Let us not plot to do evil, nor rehearse it in our minds.
The wicked set themselves in a way that is not good. What does this mean? Perhaps another translation will help us here.
They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots.
Their actions are never good.
They make no attempt to turn from evil.
Psalm 36:4 NLT
Put very straightforwardly here, their actions are never good. I think this means they put themselves in a posture to do wrong, i.e. they play with fire and are frequently burned. To set yourself up to do something, good or bad, you must get yourself into a position where you can do it. For example, recovering alcoholics do not venture into bars because they know that the temptation is too great. They have set themselves against drinking by staying away. Those who set themselves to do evil may go looking for a fight, or deliberately stay late at the office to be alone with their assistant. You cannot do anything with your body unless your mind has gone there first.
Finally, verse four says that the wicked do not abhor evil. The NLT is rather weaker in its words, saying they merely do not turn from evil. However, to abhor evil is rather stronger. Plotting evil on your bed is often rather direct, whereas not hating evil is somehow more passive. Yet, it is something the wicked do. If someone were to attack my wife or children, and I just stood there shaking my head and muttering, “How awful!” You would think me a terrible coward! You may also question my love for my family, and no doubt (and rightly so) brand me a wicked man. It is not enough for us to stand idly by and passively watch the sin of the world. We must abhor it. We do not hate the sinner, of course, but sin and wickedness is not something we should tolerate as believers.
All in all, I know this is something of a bleak post – focussing entirely on the wicked and rebellious! Yet, I hope there are lessons for all of us here. It can be all too easy to think of ourselves – followers of Christ – as being far removed from sin and iniquity. However, I think the difference between us and the world is not always as stark as it should be. If, like me, you read some of David’s descriptions above and some of them ring vaguely true in your life, may I humbly suggest it is time for a heart inspection.
We must not be wicked, but instead fear God for His justice and recognising Who He is. We cannot flatter ourselves, and end up being blind to our own failings. Our words should be pure, building others up and singing the praises of our God. Let us be wise, and do good. Let us not plot to do wrong, nor set ourselves towards sin. We must hate and abhor what is evil, and cling to what is good.
May you join me in meditating on these verses, and bear them in mind as we approach the rest of this psalm, and the stunning contrast between evil man and awesome God.
Over the weekend, I have been sharing this short series on the rich man and Lazarus. Here is the final instalment, and I hope you find it challenging and encouraging.
I hope to return tomorrow with some new material so watch out for that!￼￼￼
“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/09/07/the-rich-man-and-lazarus-pt-3/
I used to go fishing with my dad as a boy, but it has been many years since I last tried my hand at catching the aquatic kind! Hopefully not so long since I tried to be a fisher of men.
I enjoyed this post from last week, so I thought I would share it with you this morning.
When fishing, we cast our lines into the water. We may try different techniques and experience can help us improve our catching rate. but we have little control about which fish actually take the bait.
Likewise, in evangelism, some techniques are more effective than others, and yet it is not us who brings the person to salvation. Only the guidance and conviction of the holy spirit can bring a person to saving faith.
I hope you enjoy the post, and it gives you pause for thought. God bless
Earlier this week, my husband and I went fishing. As we were enjoying our time on the lake, and catching a few fish, I was reminded of the old song I…