Practical Proverbial, from Titus, 23 July 2019

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.  Titus 1:15-16 (NIV).

Before moving on from these verses, we have to talk (again) about sin.   Remember from last time how I said that a friend called me out for calling out a specific thing as sinful.   And that sin is a destroyer.   And, more important than these, that Jesus annihilated sin by confronting it and leading us from it.

Here is a partial list of my many sins:  being unloving, lying, ungratefulness, adultery, blasphemy, theft, anger, hatred, intolerance, judgmentalism, lust, unkindness, unfaithfulness, coveting, dishonor, unrighteousness, vulgarity, immorality, envy, greed, disobedience, drunkenness, rebelliousness, sloth.

Need I go on?   These are just a few that rattle off the top of my head.   There are more.  I regret them.   I’m sorry I did them.   I’m even more sorry I hurt others in doing them.   If all I focused on was my sins, I couldn’t function.  Indeed, there would be no point in going on if the only thing worth living for was evil, more sin.

The thing about it is, when you’re living in the middle it, those sins are all you want.   They’re a twisted poison that infects your heart and mind.   They’re a heroin rush.  They’re slavery disguised as freedom.  You think they’ll make you happy but you know deep inside that’s really a lie.  You say you believe in God but you never really do.   You refuse to give yourself over to God, so hypocrisy simply becomes yet another sin you’ll just live with.  You don’t like it; you don’t even want it, except you do.   Except they occupy your thoughts and become your focus.

Jesus rewires that thinking.

His focus is purity; His purity.  He longs for you to have it.  He looks into your heart and sees someone better.   He looks at you and says to you, “let me take that from you.”   He sees those sins and asks you to give them over to Him, so that He can carry the guilt and the hurt and the shame and the impurity of them.   He who is only that purity and has no sin takes your sins and takes them off you so that you don’t have to deal with them anymore.   He offers you true freedom.

And even after that happens, we make mistakes.   Even after, we deal with the consequences of our actions in that past ‘life.’  Even then, He is with us, helping us to stand, helping us to keep our focus on Him.   Helping us to apologize when we do wrong.   And helping us to stay free by resisting the temptation to fall back.

For further reading:  Titus 2:1

Pure, saving Jesus, thank You for saving me!

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Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 20 January 2015

He said this because they were saying, “He has an impure spirit.” Mark 3, verse 30.

Mark finishes off this vignette with an explanation.   Jesus reasoned, implored, touched, refuted, rebuked, and forgave: all in the space of 6 verses.   Why did he do it? Because of lies about Him.

Now, let’s be fair: some people who heard Jesus talk may indeed have thought He was demon-possessed.   They saw this rebel, this upstart, who dared to defy the entrenched politico-religious authorities of the day.   The temerity of the man!  Surely he must be crazy (as his family had just said).   Barring that, the only other option was Beelzebub (as those politico-religious authorities said).  It stands to reason some of them thought that was the truth.

Yet when you take away that consideration and simply recall what was going on, you’re left with the knowledge that Jesus was simply responding to a pack of lies.  He wasn’t demon-possessed; Jesus wasn’t even self-possessed.  He had no political or military prowess, nor did He appear to even have an interest in such things.  Whatever made the world tick didn’t interest this ‘nobody’ from the nowhere village of Nazareth.  And while there were stories about miracles involved in His birth, who could really rely on stories, on rumors, to really gain a sense of the man?

So when the speculation as to who and why He was finally washed away, we’re left with the knowledge that, though Son of God, Jesus was also a real man about whom, and for various reasons, many lies had been spread.  He was possessed.   He was selfish.   He was a fraud.   He was a failure.   Nobody.  Somebody.  Savior. Scoundrel:  when folks didn’t seem to know what to say about Jesus, they simply prattled off the lies.   Thanks to the Gospels, the Epistles, and the first-hand accounts of His day, we actually know more about Jesus of Nazareth than we know about any other person from antiquity.  And still the lies persist; and still we spread the lies.   Even when we don’t spread them, we believe them.

Our world is polarized today.  You can’t troll Facebook without seeing shared stories of how up to no good the other side is (no matter who you perceive the other side to be).  I’ve fallen for them myself.  Thanks to my friend John (who originated this quote), I think Facebook is a mile-wide-inch-deep microcosm of who we are in America today.   If that’s true, we’re a pack of lying liars who all too easily believe the lies told about the other guys.  I disagree so strongly with my opponents that I find it believable that they’re a bunch of rotten human beings.   And I know I’m right because, well, I’m right.

Sound familiar?   Now is a good time to remember John’s “mile-wide-inch-deep” quote.

Perhaps it sounds familiar because we aren’t so different from the people of Jesus’ day, many of whom followed Him devoutly, but many of whom also believed the lies that seemingly reputable people told about Him.  Perhaps, too, this is a good time to remember that, while Jesus rebuked the people who meant harm to others, He also dealt with opponents using love, grace, and patience.  Jesus knew the score, and He knew others were lying about Him.   Yet Jesus moved from a posture of righteous love, and He didn’t let these things take His eye off the ball.

Jesus, too often I believe the lies about You. Forgive me and renew me to stand, to be faithful, and to forgive as You forgive.

Read Mark 3, verses 23-30.

Practical Proverbial, the Ten Commandments, 14 May 2014

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.  Exodus chapter 20, verse 16.

I’d be lying if I told you that I never told a lie.  More than one, in fact; sometimes scads of them.  I’m disgusted by the fact that I’ve done this, but the only way to get better and get past it is to fully disclose.   In too many ways, I’ve been a dirty dog liar.  “Damn you to hell,” would be God’s proper response in response to my confession of this sadly true fact.   My lies, your lies, our lies:   they’re why God sent Jesus to save us.

Lying, cheating, deceit, withholding the truth, white lies, bold whoppers, perjury:   they’re all forms of the same thing.   It’s all about not telling the truth.  Unfortunately, we do it so often that it must seem like lies are grafted into our DNA.  Jesus said we get it from Satan, whom He called “the father of lies” who has been lying from the beginning.   If you think about it, that makes sense.   All sin is predicated on the lie that we can be God, and we’re thick with sin.  If you covet and violate that tenth commandment, you’re tacking number nine onto the tab because by placing your desires over God’s, you’re lying to yourself (and to God).  You’re assuming that you know best, not unlike the four-year-old who screams “you’re not the boss of me” when you tell them something they don’t want to hear.

Go back and re-read verse 16.  “False testimony against your neighbor.”   That’s a special kind of lie, don’t you think?  It’s really a special kind of stupid.  Doesn’t it insinuate deliberate deception, pre-meditated thought, and a definitive level of untrustworthiness?   God knew what it meant to break trust, what that would mean to the relationships that He gave us.   He gave us each other and our relationships together as a way to model how He interacts and loves us.   And He knew how dishonesty would cut to the core in those relationships.  Lie to me and I can’t trust you.   I lie to you and I’ve ruined your trust in me.  False testimony:   yep.   That’s a special kind of lie.

Or is it?  Does the politician lying as a matter of course really differ from the spouse who lies to you about adultery or the child who lies about breaking the window accidentally?   Isn’t any violation of honesty an assault on the truth and, thus, and assault on our hearts?   And God’s?  Noodle that thought for awhile.

I can tell you from my heart that none of them I’ve ever told worked out well.  No good ever comes from a lie, even from a white lie told to supposedly preserve someone’s feelings.  Is it any wonder God commanded us to not lie?  There is a better way.

Lord, please forgive my dishonesty and lies.   Help me to make things right.

 

Read Exodus chapter 4, God gets Moses off the dime.