Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)

Australia Ministry Trip (Sept 26-November 10, 2017)
From September 26 to November 10, 2017, my husband, daughter and I will be on a ministry trip in Australia and New Zealand. The places we will be visiting are shown on the map above - along with the dates in which we'll be in these places (and what we'll be doing while there). Please keep this ministry trip and all of us in your prayers! Blogs will appear daily throughout this time, as I have written them and scheduled them in advance. I welcome your comments - and enjoy them! Just know I will not have Internet access for much of this time. So, I will look forward to reading your responses upon my return. Thank you for your understanding! And please keep reading to complete the "Reading the Bible in a Year" challenge and blessing! I am very grateful to Claire for her faithful blog comments (please everyone - join her in sharing each day as a discussion blesses everyone so much more!) And I am thankful that Claire has graciously agreed to add a bit more into her daily comments during my time of absence. Please direct special comments or questions which require immediate responses to her (on this blog). Blessings as you continue your journey through God's Word this year!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - February 8, 2017

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 4:1-6:12

Genesis 49:1-50:26

Psalm 39

Listen to the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Many times in our ministry, my husband and I have answered the phone to find a teary or terrified caller on the other end of the line who fears that he/she may have committed the "Unpardonable Sin". Have you ever experienced this fear? 

This sobering subject comes up in Hebrews, from today's reading portion.
Hebrews 6:4-6 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the Heavenly Gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the World to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
The concept of the Unpardonable Sin is mentioned later on in Hebrews, as well:
Hebrews 10:26  "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins."  
Christ also mentioned the Unpardonable Sin in Matthew 12:31-32:
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the World to come."  
I remember one caller in particular, who called us believing he had committed the Unpardonable Sin. 

"I've gone too far. I can't come back (to God)," the fear in his voice was palpable. "I think I've committed the Unpardonable Sin."

"I don't believe you have," I quickly replied.

"Oh, but you don't know what I've done...  It's bad," his voice broke with anguish.

"Yes. I don't doubt that it is. But I am certain that you haven't yet committed the Unpardonable Sin. Although, if you remain on your current path, you are danger of committing it."

"How can you be so sure that I haven't?" just a flicker of hope was noticeable in his voice. 

How could I be sure? Well, to answer that, consider the following study, before I finish this story:

Is There Really a Sin that Cannot be Forgiven?

Yes. But before we get into a study of it, let's first establish some basic Scriptural parametersa spiritual framework of Truthfrom which to begin. First, every sin can be forgiven. Whew—you can breathe a sigh of relief. 

Messiah Himself said in Matthew 12:31, “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.” God can forgive every kind of sin we may commit. But, the defining moment when a sin becomes The Unpardonable Sin is found in how we respond to the Spirit of God. The Unpardonable Sin is "blasphemy against the Spirit".

Blasphemy against the Spirit happens over time. It is when we shut our ears to the Voice of God, ignoring His promptings to repentance. Blasphemy against the Spirit is a continual hardening of the heart, tuning out the Spirit's convictions until the day comes when we no longer hear them (1 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:15).
Acts 7:51 "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.” 
The more we ignore the Voice of God, the more hardened and deafened we become. Our hearts become changed from convictable and malleable to "stiff-necked" and reprobate. 

Having a fully reprobate mind means that we have no more desire for God at all. We have tuned His Voice out for so long that He has become silent. We have, in this state, committed the Unpardonable Sin.

How did I know that the man on the other end of that phone line hadn't yet committed the Unpardonable Sin? He was convicted that he had done wrong. And he desired to come back to God! Neither of those things are present when we are fully reprobate. In fact, we can't even desire to come to God, unless His Spirit is wooing us to do so!

But, each time we resist God's promptings, each time we rebel against His Authority in our lives, we do take a step down that path which ultimately leads to reprobation - the Unpardonable Sin. So, let's take a moment to see how the state of reprobation develops. Prayerfully, if you find yourself anywhere on this pathway, it is my prayer that you will take the time quickly to repent and flee that deadly pathway!

Let's begin by explaining what true Spiritual Freedom looks like. Spiritual Freedom is God's Design and Will for each of us. To be spiritually free, all parts of our lives must be related around the spiritual. 

Our mental, emotional, and physical functions are to be integrated around the spiritual. Our spiritual connection with God is to be our strongest and most powerful motivating force. In such a state, we keep our minds, emotions, and bodies disciplined by God's Spiritual Standards, as given in His Word. This is true BALANCE and FREEDOM.

Our physical drives become dominant when our three basic drives are out of balance. Our three basic drives are spirit (spiritual), soul (mind, will, and emotions) and body.


1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Our spiritual driving force should be dominant, with our soul and body in harmony and under subjection to God’s leading in our spirit.

· SPIRIT DRIVING FORCE—should be the dominant driving force, possessed with the Holy Spirit.

Ezekiel 37:14 “And shall put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live…”

Proverbs 20:27 “The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD (Yahweh), searching all the inward parts of the belly.” 

· SOUL DRIVING FORCE—in harmony with God
The Bible defines SOUL as mind, will, and emotions:

- SOUL IS THE MIND (What we KNOW) - Psalm 139:14“...my soul knoweth right well.”

- SOUL IS THE WILL (What we DESIRE) - Revelation 18:14“And the fruits that thy soul lusted after…”

- SOUL IS THE EMOTION (What we FEEL) - Psalm 42:5“Why art thou cast down, O my soul?...”

· PHYSICAL DRIVING FORCE—Kept under subjection

1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

When our spiritual drives are dominant, the soul is in harmony, and the physical driving forces are kept under subjection; we are whole, healthy, and in balance. When we take steps down the path of reprobation, we become more and more physically driven and less and less spiritually motivated.





When our minds are fully reprobate, we can no longer comprehend spiritual things, nor discern Truth at all (see Romans 1:28). 


Titus 1:15-16 “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”


Jeremiah 6:30Reprobate silver shall men call them, because God hath rejected them.” 


What does the Bible mean when it uses the word “reprobate?”

· In the Greek (New Testament Source), the word “reprobate” is Strong’s Concordance number 96:


ἀδόκιμος  (ad-ok'-ee-mos) - “unapproved, that is, rejected; by implication worthless 
 (literally or morally): - castaway, rejected, reprobate.”


· In the Hebrew (Old Testament Source), the word “reprobate” is Strong’s Concordance number 3988:


—  מאס  (maw-as') - to spurn… abhor, cast away (off), contemn, despise, disdain, (become) 
 loathe (-some)... reject, reprobate,  utterly vile person.”


Thus, a reprobate person is unprincipled, depraved, and unable to discern evil. They are cast-off from God, rejected by Him and are not (in this condition) saved. Clearly, this is not a condition any of us should desire to be in!

How Do We Become Reprobate?


ANSWER: As is shown in the diagram above, full reprobation does not come upon us in single moment, there are steps we take to develop this terrible condition over time.  Identifying and understanding these steps can protect us from taking them, and can also serve to help us prayerfully discern whether we are already somewhere on this terrible path.



REPROBATION STEP 1: Abuse of Natural Curiosity

We are born with curiosity. It is a very good thing, when kept under the control of the Holy Spirit. Curiosity allows us to learn more in Scripture, come to understand our Creator through His science, and much more.  But, our curiosity is to be limited.  Like Eve, in Eden, who could eat of any tree but one, we are to be curious about everything EXCEPT that which is evil. God wants us to know good, not evil (Romans 16:19). When we indulge curiosity about evil, we abuse this natural gift.





REPROBATION STEP 2: Awakening of Conscience

God speaks to us through our conscience to convict of moral wrong.  Like an alarm system, the conscience is awakened whenever we approach evil or evil approaches us. You can recognize that your conscience has been awakened by a  question  which  comes  to  mind: ”Is this the right thing for me to do?”

 

The Bible tells about the Pharisees who brought a woman taken in adultery before Jesus to stone her? The Saviour simply wrote their secret sins in the temple dust. This aroused the conscience of the prideful Pharisees.


John 8:9 “...being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one…”


There comes a point when curiosity will lead to the awakening of conscience. What we do next is critical. For if we listen to the Holy Spirit and turn away from the evil, we are delivered. But, if we look about us to see if we’ll get caught, or work to think of reasons why the activity is okay after all, we take the second step towards reprobation. There is no sin that you cannot rationalize away. 

REPROBATION STEP 3: Developing a Sensual Focus
When we rationalize away conviction against evil, we are working to gratify our flesh in some way.  This develops a sensual focus (focused on gratifying our physical desires). Eve did this (James 1:13-14)  when  she  saw  that the forbidden tree  was “good  for  food” (would  satisfy her physical desires), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (in knowing evil—which is the pride of life). If we allow ourselves to look at what God has forbidden, or to imagine the potential enjoyment we’d have by partaking in it, we will fall prey to the temptation.


REPROBATION STEP 4: Questioning God’s Word

Satan was able to tempt Eve to sin by getting her to question God’s Word. We begin to doubt whether or not God really has our best interest at heart.


Genesis 3:1-5 “…(The serpent) said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent... God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it… lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die....”


REPROBATION STEP 5: Violation of Conscience

As we continue to focus on sensual gratification, our lust brings forth an act of disobedience to God’s Law (which is the definition of sin, as it says in 1 John 3:4).  


James 1:14-15 “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” 
 
As we listen to the tempter and partake of his wares, we are much like the foolish insect partaking of the nectar of the carnivorous pitcher plant. Perhaps he notices the partially dissolved insects floating in the digestive liquid far below. But, the fly thinks he is smart enough and strong enough to enjoy the nectar without paying the  price.  So   he  samples  the   attractive nectar greedily until he is full and ready to leave.
Suddenly he becomes aware that he cannot fly away. Try as he might to escape, his attempts only bring him ever closer to the digestive juices awaiting him in the bell of the insidious pitcher plant. He is trapped!

Similarly, as we sample the devil’s tempting wares, we become enslaved. We unwittingly become the servants of sin, shackled by the enemy. Such is the price for dallying with the devil.

Romans 6:16  “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” 

REPROBATION STEP 6: Awakening of Guilt
When Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit, the Bible says that their “eyes were opened” and they “knew that they were naked.” Thus they were ashamed and hid themselves from God (Genesis 3:7-8).

Physical pain serves to let us know that damage is being done to us, bodily. God uses guilt to let us know when we are damaging ourselves, spiritually. When under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, if we truly repent, as David did in Psalm 51, we will be cleansed of our sins and reclaimed from the path of reprobation. But if we choose to justify our sins or blame someone else (like Adam and Eve—Gen. 3:12-13), we become increasingly unable to discern our need.   

Like a leper, no longer able to feel pain, justified sin increasingly deadens our perception of guilt.

REPROBATION STEPS 7-13: Continued & Deepening Reprobation
As we persist on the path of evil, we will attempt to ease our guilt by: 
· Compensating for it with apparent religious fervor, acts of ministry, and impressive servitude.
· Deadening it by re-evaluating the Scriptures and twisting them to mean whatever we want them to mean, just so we make the Bible justify our ungodly choices.
· Becoming argumentative with others who we perceive to hold a “legalistic” or “narrow-minded” viewpoint of Scriptures.

What are Lasciviousness & Concupiscence?
When we stir up ungodly physical desires the Bible calls it lasciviousness (see 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19) Lasciviousness becomes concupiscence, a condition about midway through in the development of reprobation. Concupiscence is a strong, ungodly desire, a burning lust.  

1 Thessalonians 4:4-5 “That every one of youshould know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.”


Many Christians wrongly assume that if they just indulge in a little bit of lust, it will satisfy the ungodly desire. But, actually the opposite happens. The more a lust is fed, the hotter it burns, like a fire being fed with gasoline.  The more it is indulged, the deeper the depravity and the further the development of reprobation.

Romans 1:27-28 “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.”

How can the Fire of Lust be Quenched?
One cannot put out the fires of lust by indulging them. They can only be quenched through Heaven’s Living Waters:

· Baptism by water and the Spirit —John 3:5
· Daily washing our souls with the Water of the Word —Ephesians 5:26

What are Consequences of Concupiscence?
ANSWER: The Bible warns of several damaging fruits which result from continued concupiscence. Consider the fruits of pornography, ungodly movies, and alcohol.

CONSEQUENCES OF BEHOLDING PORNOGRAPHY
· Your marriage is damaged by committing adultery—Matthew 5:28
· You promote prostitution by engaging in lasciviousness for hire—2 Peter 2:14
· You sow seeds of destruction to your own flesh—Galatians 6:7
· You bring a curse of increased violent crime in the land—Leviticus 19:29
· You dull your spiritual perceptions, grieving the Holy Spirit—Galatians 5:17


CONSEQUENCES OF WATCHING UNGODLY MOVIES OR TV
· You establish the practice of tolerating evil in order to enjoy something good—Proverbs 8:13, 1 Corinthians 5:6
· You lower your resistance to evil—Proverbs 4:23
· You give the world’s philosophy and concepts access to your soul—Colossians 2:8
· You deaden your conscience and lessen your love for GodMatthew 24:12
· You become a companion of fools and evil people who should not be in, nor have influence in, your home—Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 14:7
· You make yourself an enemy with GodJames 4:4


CONSEQUENCES OF CONSUMING ALCOHOL
· You bring destruction upon yourself—Proverbs 23:31-32
· You lower your ability to resist evil in other areas—Proverbs 23:33
· You are endangered of becoming addicted—Habakkuk 2:15
· You cause others to stumble—Romans 14:21


Finally, when you allow small amounts of evil into your home, your children will be weakened.  What parents allow in moderation, their children excuse in excess. Thus, God calls parents to first be spiritually circumcised (cut away the old fleshly nature), and then the children can also be delivered.

Isaiah 49:25 “But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him (Satan) that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” See also Deuteronomy 30:6.

Committing the Unpardonable Sin is not a single act, of some high magnitude, rather it is a process of grieving away the Holy Spirit. This happens gradually, as we knowingly or unknowingly descend through the steps of reprobation. Having viewed the list of steps one takes to sink all the way into full reprobation, ask yourself, "Am I, or is someone I love, on the path of reprobation?" 


If you find yourself on this path, it is not to late. Pray and confess it. Ask God to reclaim you from this dangerous path.  By God's Grace (and through Repentance), may you never sink into the dreadful condition of which Hebrews warns:
Hebrews 6:4-6 "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the Heavenly Gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the World to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." 

Be sure to add a COMMENT on this blog, sharing with us anything you found meaningful in your reading of today's Scripture passages. We will all love to hear from you (please keep the Comment relevant to today's reading - Thx!)