The World’s Trouble: Chapter 3

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: - Hebrews 9:27

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
– Hebrews 9:27

Chapter 3

There is no human consensus on sin. Throughout history different civilizations have viewed right and wrong differently. Today we hold very loosely to the collective idea of defining right and wrong. We’ve evolved beyond a majority decision to a much more individual decision. What’s right and wrong for you may not be right and wrong for me. Such philosophy has disastrous effects for society, but my purpose in this book is not confined to life on earth. I am concerned about that future judgment, which will not be based on any human definitions of sin, but will be measured against the holy righteousness of God.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
– Romans 3:23

We looked at some biblical definitions of sin. Theft, adultery, and murder are straightforward violations of God’s law. But we also noticed that something more is going on. Proverbs 21:4 states that the pride and plowing of the wicked is sin and Proverbs 24:9 states the thought of foolishness is sin. There doesn’t seem to be a straight line between those things and a particular law—Thou shalt not. This is where we need to look beyond a strict, technical definition for sin and look at the bigger picture.

When we think of sin, we think of the “bad stuff” that “bad people” do. Romans 14:23 presents a different picture, stating: “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Faith refers to saving trust in Jesus Christ and therefore everything unbelievers do is sin. Everything a person who does not believe and trust in Jesus Christ does is sin. This means not only the bad things like murder are sin, but everything like plowing their field is sin.

That’s a sweeping statement. Can it be true? Not only does the Bible define sin, it also defines good. God’s survey of every human being in their natural-born condition is that none are good nor do good.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:
Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways:
And the way of peace have they not known:
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
– Romans 3:10-18

There is nothing an unbeliever does that comes from faith, and therefore they do no good. Romans 14:23 said, “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” An unbeliever is a person who does not have biblical faith in Jesus Christ. Not having faith constrains them in different ways according to the Bible.

• Without faith it is impossible to do anything good or acceptable to God. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for the that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

• All the works of an unbeliever are judged as sin. “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me” (John 16:8-9).

• All sins of the unbeliever will stand against them in the judgment because they have not believed in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

This all seems a bit thick. How could everything a person does be considered or counted as sin? You might accuse me of only focusing on bad things and ignoring the good things that people do, such as helping the poor, loving their family, or being honest in business. It is good to help the poor and suffering. It is good to love your family and to be honest in business. Those things are good and so are a thousand other things we could suggest.

You probably do those things and many more. I am not suggesting that you’re insincere in doing them. I’m comparing against God’s standard in the Bible and see that even the best works an unbeliever does fall short of that standard. But how do they fall short? It is easy to see that if you steal from your neighbor it is sin, but how is it also sin if you give to your neighbor out of kindness? Remember that God’s righteousness is the standard of measure and let me give you three ways the good works of an unbeliever, person without faith, falls short.

1. A person without faith in God does not have an eye to God’s glory in everything they do. Sometimes we talk about a person’s conscience or internal moral compass. They have an intuitive sense of good and bad and most generally follow it. That conscience is the remnant of the stamp of God’s image from creation (Romans 2:13-15) but it is defiled and falls short. We are commanded, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Without faith we do good as prompted by our inner sense of good, but we never do good to glorify God, and therefore fall short.

2. A person without faith does not love God and does not act out of love for God. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment of the law is, He responded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). When a person does a good deed, they may be acting selflessly but their actions are not motivated by love for God. So in everything an unbeliever does, they break the first and greatest commandment of the law and are sinning.

3. A person without faith does not believe on Jesus Christ, and regardless of what they do or don’t do, they are already under condemnation. “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). There is no good deed that we can do to get out from under that condemnation (Romans 3:20; John 3:36), and therefore everything an unbeliever does is sin because it is not of faith (Romans 14:23).

What happens next? If everything an unbeliever does is counted as sin against them, what is the consequence?

This is a portion of a book that I have been writing. I have decided to post it here in serial form. It is intended to be evangelistic. If the book has merit, I may seek to publish it in some form. Please feel free to share it and I welcome any feedback.

The World’s Trouble: Chapter 1

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: - Hebrews 9:27

And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
– Hebrews 9:27

Chapter 1

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing Monday morning, May 2, 2011? Probably not right off. Unless you were quite young, you do remember where you were and what you were doing Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001.

Those two dates are connected. September 11, 2001 was the day of the devastating terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D. C. May 2, 2011 was the morning we received news that Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, had been killed by the U. S. Navy Seal Team Six as a result of an infiltration of Bin Laden’s compound outside Islamabad in Pakistan.

Bin Laden was Public Enemy No. 1, and many rejoiced at the news of his execution. This news and the reaction to it was the topic of public discussion in print, online, on the radio, and on television news. It fascinated me that the Bible was being read and its meaning openly debated on the public airways of this country, even if only for a short time.

Inevitably, the discussion raised the question of whether Osama Bin Laden was evil and deserved to be killed. Generally speaking, the atheists, agnostics, humanists, and secularists did not have a hard time saying Bin Laden was evil. People who do not believe in God or the Bible can hear of a man kicking open the door of an Amish schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and shooting ten schoolgirls and call that evil.

People generally have no problem denouncing the Bin Ladens, Hitlers, and Stalins of the world as evil. Their transgressions are grand-scale and obvious. Non-Christians and Christians alike denounce them as evil and deserving of punishment. It is reasonable to assert they are guilty before God and will be judged by Him.

The evil we tend not to see is in our own heart and life. It is hard for us to think that the whole world is guilty before God when so few, relatively speaking, have sinned on the order of Bin Laden or Hitler. Could it be true? Is the whole world guilty before God, or are only the truly bad ones destined for judgment? To answer these questions, we have to find out what the Bible actually teaches about sin and how the Bible identifies evil.

This is a portion of a book that I have been writing. I have decided to post it here in serial form. It is intended to be evangelistic. If the book has merit, I may seek to publish it in some form. Please feel free to share it and I welcome any feedback.

Are You A Christian Single?

I have occasionally been asked for recommendations for helpful books for Christian singles to read. I wish I could give such a recommendation based on my own experience while single. I did not find these books until after I was married, but they have enriched me and have particular value for Christians who are unmarried.

Find your purpose in life in the purpose of God in the world.

Find your purpose in life in the purpose of God in the world.

Through Gates of Splendor
By Elisabeth Elliot

I could give many reasons to read this book, whether you are single or not. This is the biographical account of five young missionaries—Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Pete Fleming—who were killed by the native tribe they were trying to evangelize in Ecuador on January 8, 1956. These were young men who were not satisfied with the status quo for young people and lived and died for a higher purpose. They did not count their lives dear nor waste them pursuing comfort, convenience, pleasure, and safety.

As a college student in 1949, Jim wrote the words in his journal that have lived on after him: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Elisabeth was married to Jim at the time he was slain and she wrote this book and went on to write many others. They met while in college but were not married until after Jim had gone to the mission field. This book is a love story as well as Jim and Elisabeth were seeking God’s will in their lives. It serves as a good introduction to their story that will be filled in more by the next books.

Finding the purpose of patience and the power of waiting on God.

Find the purpose of patience and the power of waiting on God.

The Journals of Jim Elliot
By Elisabeth Elliot

This book is a collection of journal entries Jim began in college and continued until his death. They give insight into his mind and heart on a number of issues. One of those issues was his relationship to Elisabeth. The waiting involved had to be difficult and his journals show he was not stoical. He struggled and wrestled with the delay, but he ultimately believed it to be God’s will and drew power from Him to be sustained.

Young Christians today live in a world both saturated and obsessed with instant gratification. There is no value in patient waiting and the world’s power is pushing you to jump. Everything is at your fingertips. Why wait?

If you pay close attention, you will learn some ways to wait in these books. If you are looking to nothing beyond what are you waiting for, you will not wait. Many young Christian adults who are unmarried find themselves in some estranged place between childhood and adulthood. They have finished school but aren’t married and don’t know what to do with themselves. Too many view it as a time to be free, goof off, and play the field. It is a transitional time, but not one to be wasted. It is a time of preparation, but that is not all. It is a time of freedom, freedom to serve (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).

Don’t be obsessed with getting married so that you neglect service now. Be immersed in the Word and will of God and redeem the time to honor Him with your life. Know that marriage in the Lord is great happiness and worth the wait.

Jim Elliot was also an example of biblical manliness. Such examples are increasingly hard to find today. He was athletic, smart, articulate, and a natural leader. He could have used his gifts and charm to achieve uncommon levels of success in the world. He chose rather to go to the Ecuadorian jungle in obscurity. He was disciplined and when he participated in sports, he did not do so to win trophies and honors. He did so as a way to train his body for the rigors of missionary life. You can read more about this in his biography: The Shadow of the Almighty.

Find the Lordship of Christ in matters of the heart.

Find the Lordship of Christ in matters of the heart.

Passion & Purity
By Elisabeth Elliot

This book gives Elisabeth’s perspective on her relationship with Jim. Biblical principle is the guiding theme of this book and she illustrates with many examples from her own experience. If we search this book for the one thing she has to say about relationships and pursuing marriage, it would distill to one word—obedience.

The subtitle is: Learning to bring your love life under Christ’s control. That is the issue. Hollywood and Disney tell you, “Just follow your heart,” and “The heart wants what the heart wants,” and “You can’t help who you love.” Are you going to submit to the Lord of Heaven and Earth who designed marriage and designed you for it? Or, are you going to follow a multitude in pursuit of the Greco-Roman ideals of romance. The two worldviews do not walk together because they are not agreed. Which way are you going to go?

This book will help you think about some of these issues from Scripture.

Find another way to see relationships that is not self-centered and indulgent.

Find another way to see relationships that is not self-centered and indulgent.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye
By Joshua Harris

Harris used to be that son of the homeschool guy, but this book really got him known. And for good reason. His book is countercultural and controversial in many places. Still today I find people have strong reactions to it. Many have never read it and dismiss it immediately with disgust. If you have heard some hype that colored your opinion negative, I say forget about that and read the book yourself. As you do so, don’t sift it through the filter of peer opinion. Think about it carefully and filter it through Scripture.

This book will challenge you on many points. I was smitten when I read it over my own failures and selfishness in my youth. Harris shows the selfishness and self-centeredness inherent in the recreational dating and relationships that are so prevalent today. One of the challenges here is to think and act deliberately in this area rather than living in the moment and constantly seeking casual fun.

The world views it all as harmless and just having fun and just being young, etc. Harris cuts through that to the truth of the emotional toll paid by this whole system. Adults that have come through it, seen their children come through it, and young people who are going through it know this is true. There is a high debt to be paid for going down this road.

I hope this helps in some way. My only intention is to help and be a blessing to you. I got a lot of things wrong at that time in my own life. I suffered pain because of it. Even worse, I inflicted a lot of pain on others through my pride and selfishness. There is a better way. I want better things for you and for my own children. But the only way to have it is to walk in God’s way.

    All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. ~ Psalm 25:10
    The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. ~ Psalm 37:23

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