Wednesday, February 6, 2013

An Unpopular Message Part 2: National Sin, Personal Sin

Yesterday we talked about the results of both obedience and disobedience. Our nation is on a collision course toward God's judgement. In fact, I think His judgement against us has already begun. But as we learned in the previous post, there is still time to stay the punishing hand of our gracious God, IF we turn from our wickedness and humbly obey Him.

Let's take a look today at the sin that brings God's judgment. But before we begin, I want to state that in God's eyes one sin is as bad as another. Humans tend to place degrees upon sin. We also tend to see others' "specks" as more sinful than our "planks" or "beams" (Matthew 7:3-5). So please...don't think that I'm trying to focus on certain people or groups in this post. I'm sure I won't remember everything, so I'd be happy to hear your comments below.

Let's look to God's Word to see the areas in which our nation (and us personally) have fallen short of what God expects and desires for us, and what the remedy is:

THE SIN: Sin of Pride
In part one of this Unpopular Message series, we used the Bible text found in Leviticus 26 to show the results of obedience and disobedience. One verse we read yesterday said: "I will break down the pride of your power..." (Leviticus 26:19, NASB). All sin ultimately stems from pride, from thinking that we know better than God. It was the sin that led to Lucifer's downfall and ejection from heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:12-18). There are numerous verses in the Bible where God gives His viewpoint of pride (Obadiah 1:3; 2 Chronicles 26:16; Psalm 10:4; Psalm 59:12; Proverbs 16:18; Isaiah 2:11; Isaiah 13:11; Daniel 5:20; Deuteronomy 8:14; 1 Corinthians 13:4), but here is one verse that pretty much sums it up:

Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished. ~Proverbs 16:5 (NASB) 

THE SIN: Sin of Murder
Four thousand babies are aborted each day in the United States. Life is a gift of God, and His Word is very clear about the sanctity of life. He will not hold us guiltless in this matter.

You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. ~Leviticus 18:21 (NASB)

The Israelites were warned against sacrificing their children to the pagan god, Molech. Some would argue that abortion is not child sacrifice. It is, only the current pagan god is named Convenience.

Lest we get caught up in believing that abortion is the only type of murder in our country, let's remember that there are other ways to murder, including gossip and slander.

THE SIN: Sin of Greed
Greed comes from pride and selfishness. It's a wanting more than what we have. It rejects the gift of God's provision as "not enough." It causes us to hoard our resources and overlook those in need.

Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry, and he went on turning away, in the way of his heart. ~Isaiah 57:17 (NASB)

And lest we once more think that is a world problem rather than a problem among believers, consider these verses, written about the church leaders of the day:

“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for gain, and from the prophet even to the priest everyone deals falsely. ~Jeremiah 6:13 (NASB)

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence." ~Matthew 23:25 (NASB)

And another verse about those who claimed to worship God:

They come to You as people come, and sit before You as My people and hear Your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. ~Ezekiel 33:31 (NASB)

We must heed the words of warning Jesus spoke: Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” ~Luke 12:15 (NASB)

THE SIN: Sin of Idolatry 
God makes it clear in His Word that we are to have no other gods before (or beside, or in addition to) Him (Exodus 20:3-6, 1 John 5:21). It's easy to assume that since we don't bow down to golden statues that we're following God's command.

But consider this: Anything in our lives, including ourselves, that takes precedence over God is an idol. Addictions to drugs, television, food, clothing, the internet, sex, pornography, ANYTHING that matters more to us than God...has become an idol in our lives. Have something you can't give up? It's an idol.

Our confidence in military might, our homes, our bank accounts, our spouses, our children, our jobs, our country, ANYTHING besides God...sometimes even our work and service for Him...has become an idol in our lives.

And idolatry is just as rampant in the church as it is everywhere else...

THE SIN: Sin of Falsehood
"It's just a little white lie; it won't matter." How many times have we lied to ourselves and others with this lie. We are quick to blame our politicians for deceit, but all of us are guilty. We lie so much we even begin to believe our own lies. Why do we lie? So people will think we're better than we actually are. Jesus called that kind of behavior hypocrisy.

Lies come straight from the pits of hell. God's Word puts it pretty bluntly: You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. ~John 8:44 (NASB)

THE SIN: Sin of Apathy, Complacency, and Indifference
Tolerance has become one of the popular and politically-correct buzzwords of our society. In some ways it's understandable, because we don't want to be held accountable by anyone, so why not just create an "anything goes" world?

We are God. He created us and the world in which we live. He has standards that He expects us to shoot for.

But when we place ourselves above Him (sins of pride, greed and idolatry), we become "tolerant." Other words are apathetic, complacent, and indifferent.

Think it's just a problem in the world? Think again.

The three destructive attitudes are excessively apparent in our churches today. We say we believe something, but none of us are willing to do anything about it. (Probably because when we take a stand for something, we become targets...)

Our recent study on the seven churches mentioned in Revelation revealed this problem:

‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked...' ~Revelation 3:15-17 (NASB)

THE REMEDY: Humility and Repentance
As a whole, our nation has forgotten our rightful place in God's scheme of things. He is God and we are not. The sense of national pride we once had is being replaced with a sense of dread and shame, and rightfully so. Yet there are many, not only in our government leaders, but throughout the land, who are arrogant and proud. The American mantra of "pull ourselves up by the bootstraps" and "we will rebuild and be better" is NOTHING MORE than PRIDE!!!

We have a choice. We can either humble ourselves or God will do it for us.

For the Lord of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased [humbled]. ~Isaiah 2:12 (NASB)   

Repentance is not just for lost people. It's for all of us, and it's a good thing. It's simply a matter of turning our backs on our sin and turning toward our gracious God. Here are just a few verses on repentance:

Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.” ~Ezekiel 18:31-32 (NASB)

Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance... ~Matthew 3:8 (NASB)

Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord... ~Acts 3:19 (NASB)

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. ~2 Peter 3:9 (NASB)

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ~Revelation 3:19 (NASB)

For thus the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said, "In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” But you were not willing... ~Isaiah 30:15 (NASB)

Oh, Father God, forgive our sin. We confess our pride. Help us to humble ourselves before You step in to do the job for us. Lord, our hearts grieve over the thousands of babies that are murdered in this country on a daily basis. Give us courage to speak out against this national travesty. And set a guard over our lips, because we are guilty of murdering people everyday with our tongues. Our greed is evidenced by the accumulation of stuff and by our boasting about what we have. May we never forget that You are the source of all our blessings. It's not ours; it's Yours, and You will hold us accountable for how we use it. Lord, we may not bow down to idols of gold and silver, but we're all guilty of bowing down to the god of self. Break the strongholds that bind us, so that NOTHING in our lives takes precedence over You. Forgive us for giving in to the sin of lying. Like the psalmist we cry out, 'Keep lies and falsehood far from me!' Give us a check in our spirit every time we're tempted to tell even the smallest of lies. Help us to 'speak the truth with love' no matter how difficult. We confess, Lord, that in our efforts to be kind and tolerant, we've become lazy, lethargic, apathetic, complacent, indifferent, and uncaring. Wake us up! Help us to take a stand for You and Your Word and Your Way! May we do so unashamedly and without reservation and without watering down the message to make it more acceptable and politically correct. Oh God, forgive our iniquity. Help us to repent and turn to You, as individuals and as a nation. Help us to humble ourselves so that we can walk with You, so that Your Presence will not depart from our country. You are our only hope. Amen.

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