This Man Deserves It


For all his fornications, he is guilty.  For his selfish manipulations and lusts, every teenage violation of his future wife, he is unquestionably guilty. 

For all of his anger, his petty hatreds and grudges (which he so often carries deep under his skin, where he thinks no one can see), he is guilty.  The thoughts he sometimes has about people, the nastiness he wages against his fellow humans right there inside his skull, is appalling.  

For the thousands and thousands of lies he has told, too.  Big ones as a child and a young man, lies so ridiculous they’d be laughable if lying weren’t a sin against the God who always tells the truth.  And, as he’s gotten older, subtler ones.  Exaggerations, and little expressions on the face which were calculated to get a response but made to look like genuine emotion.    

And, oh, the pride.  Deep, poisonous, nearly constant pride.  Always believing he is more worthy of his needs being met than another.  Always making allowances for himself that he would never make for someone else.  The quiet belief he nurses in his heart that the reason the fallen brother or sister has tumbled is that he or she wasn’t quite enough like him.  The self-centered, self-focused, self-righteous clamoring for his own reputation, his own pleasure, his own validation without half as much, a tenth as much regard for the well-being of others.  Oh, believe me, this one is proud.  

For the cowardice, the meanness, the vengefulness, this man is irrefutably guilty. No one, not even God Himself can deny that, on his own standing, this Wade Thomas Jr, born at Good Samaritan Hospital in the Year of Our Lord 1985 (and having sinned every year since) is guilty as (and of) sin. 

There is no excuse.  No justification.  He had no valid reason for lust and brazen manipulation and gossip and deceit, he has no just cause for his anger and bitterness and idolatry of heart.  His head is in his hands because he knows this.  There is no defense he can mount.  There is no mitigating factor that will justify his willful, ignorant, faithless, rebellious wickedness.  

None.  He is guilty. 

Ahem.  

And now let this one speak.  

For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.  For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:13-21

Death is the sentence.  The serpent knew it in the Garden, though of course he lied (he always does).  Sin brings death, the only thing it can bring.  And so death is the sentence for Wade.  Shameful, inglorious, painful and God-forsaken death.  God gave life, sin brings death.  So Wade is owed it.  He merits it.  In at least one sense, he has asked for it.  

The executioner is ready.  The crowd is assembled.  

But the guilty man is not the one to die.  

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14


Every guilt the serpent lays on this man is valid.  He sinned.  He did.  He did rage at his brethren and sin sexually and deceive people and play out his proud hypocrisy in the most sinister of ways.  If he isn’t the chief of sinners, he is certainly a lieutenant.  But here is where the serpent plays into his own undoing:  Since he is the father of lies, he rarely expects the full, undiluted, 80-proof truth.  When God says He loved this man, He really meant it.  And when He pledged from love, right there in that sin-stained Garden, that a son of man would crush this ancient liar’s head, He wasn’t just talking to talk.  

This love from God didn’t hinge on Wade’s faithfulness.  It preceded his faithfulness.  Beyond that, it superceded his unfaithfulness.  This God slew the dragon by being slain, and He gave pardon by taking on punishment.  He undid the sin and death Wade wrought by becoming sin and then dying. 

This God made Wade, gave Him a Law, watched him break it, and then bore the punishment Himself.  He is exactly who He has always claimed to be:  Good, holy, loving, and just.  And the truth will always undo a liar.  And, as the saying goes, it is also quite likely to set free.  

And so while Wade is, in at least one sense, guilty, the charge will not stand.  You cannot punish two men for his crimes.  The debt is real, but it is no longer his.  

The criminal’s cross has already been stained with man’s blood.  And the tomb has already had the body laid in it.  Sin brings death, and death it has brought.  Wade deserves to die, but in this great exchange called the Gospel, he gets to live.  By the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, he has been given unshakeable, eternal life.  

And the guarantee of that gift is that his Jesus Himself did not stay dead.  Look over there, on that hill.  

Like the charges against this guilty man, both cross and tomb are by now quite empty.  

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30 Seconds On How To Be a Real Human


The Gospel is the most humanizing thing available to a man, because nothing is as humanizing or as freeing as being a desperate man in need of forgiveness and getting it.  

We need to be made new, we need a fresh start with our Maker, and the Gospel is that Jesus died and rose to give us that.  

I don’t need more self-esteem or self-affirmation or self-realization in order to reach my full potential as a human being.  I need my evils deeds forgiven, my evil heart changed, and the power to live the loving and humble way that humans were designed to live.  And the Gospel is that Jesus can give all that by the power of God.  

There is nothing more humanizing than being changed by that message.   There is no fuller humanity than Gospel humanity.  

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 

Ephesians 4:18-24

15 Seconds For the Bitter

  

Often, the chain that binds your heart to bitterness is self-righteousness.  It’s the controlling, constant belief that you did not deserve what was done to you.  And so you can’t forgive.  You can’t stop re-living it.  You can’t stop hating.  

If that’s you, let go of the illusion that you are intrinsically righteous, and you will find your heart freer to forgive.
In Christ, we can know that our sins against God are far more offensive than any sins committed against us.  And we are offered forgiveness by grace through faith in Him.  

Preaching this great Gospel to one’s self helps to foster forgiveness and kill bitterness.  Because no man is ready to forgive from the heart more than the one who knows how wicked he was before Christ.  

Where self-righteousness locks you to bitterness, the Gospel frees you to forgiveness.  

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

Matthew 6:14-15

Why I Will Not Vote for Donald Trump in 3 Sentences

  
I do not want to put a burden on anyone else, here.  This is simply a statement about what I won’t do and a quick explanation of why.  If you are a believer and want to vote for Donald Trump, pray about it and then leave it to conscience.  I think there’s Christian freedom to disagree, here.  I will say that since the Democratic Party in the United States supports, as a part of its platform, legalized infanticide (which has resulted in approximately 60 million deaths since Roe v. Wade), I do not think a Christian should support a Democratic candidate unless that candidate expressly opposes abortion.  But whether you want to join me in writing in or otherwise selecting a candidate not named Donald Trump is a matter of personal conscience. 

So, I’ll be succinct.  I will not vote for Donald Trump in November, and I can tell you why in 3 sentences:

  1. I believe that Mr. Trump only picked up the pro-life cause out of convenience, and that he would drop it for the same reason. 
  2. Character matters to me when I am asked to invest someone with the authority of leadership, and he has repeatedly and publicly reflected a lack of personal character. 
  3. I do not want to lend my support to a leader whose primary conviction appears to be “Don’t cross me.”

That’s pretty much it.  I haven’t decided who I’ll write in or select, and probably won’t for some time.  But a vote is a lending of one’s approval and, in our constitutional system, an endowment of authority.  And I have decided I will not lend my approval or give my citizen-held authority to Donald Trump.  

I don’t wish Mr. Trump any will, and if he becomes my president I’ll pray for his wisdom and his soul.  But he has requested to lead the constitutional republic God has placed me into, and in November my citizenly answer to that request will be “No.”

30 Seconds of Gratitude 

  
It’s bursted in my heart over the last twelve hours or so.  I read Psalm 102 in the midst of a problem and some sinful anxiety and doubt, and God gave me miraculous comfort from this deep song in His Scriptures.  

Psalm 102 says that the God of Jesus Christ loves to bring dead people to life.  He loves to set people who are in bondage to their sins free forever.  

We worship an impossibly good Jesus. 

From Psalm 102:

“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: that He looked down from His holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem His praise.”

God looked down from Heaven just to hear the groans of the prisoners.  

Jesus Christ is the Son of God who hears, who cares, who frees.  

This is a God of incomparable compassion and unsearchable mercies.  

Come and adore Him.  Come and be free.  

The Only Freedom

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The bad news and the good news for the depressed, the fearful, the sinful, and the hopeless:

We can’t be good, we can’t have hope, we can’t be made right with God on our own. There’s nothing good down the do-it-yourself road.

Paul wrote this to a church buying into the lie of self-actualization, of “you’re a good person, so just believe in yourself”:

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.” Galatians 5:1-5

Implication: You will be made good, all of you genuine Jesus-lovers. But you will be made good by Him. Not acknowledged as good apart from Him.

Jesus said this to some religious men who thought they were good enough for God, and questioned Jesus about His having dinner with the newly Jesus-loving Levi (a formerly traitorous tax collector):

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

He says something similar in His letters to the churches in Revelation 2-3: Repent and He’ll have you. Anyone. But if you don’t repent He’ll condemn you. Anyone.

Jesus, in the New Testament, saved thieves and prostitutes and a Christian-persecutor and a man being justly executed. He saved an African eunuch and a Roman soldier and a Jewish Pharisee.

Jesus set free and made new and brought into His fold anyone who repented of his sins and believed in Him.

The bad news of the Gospel is we’re worse than we think. The Good News of the Gospel is that He’s better than we think.

Only Jesus Christ can bring you to the Father. Only Jesus Christ can prepare a place for you in eternity. Only Jesus Christ is a perfect shepherd who can protect you from being lost due to your own sin.

Education and money and family and pleasure cannot save you. But the one who can is offering it.

That Jesus forsook His place in Heaven and took on the form of a human, a slave, so that He could, by taking the punishment of His believers, become our sin.

We get hope and goodness and freedom, we get the chains of fear and judgement broken, because of His goodness and because of His sacrifice.

He offers what only He is able to: Perfect forgiveness and perfect peace with God the Father.

He gives real freedom. Only He can.