Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Who Is On The Lord’s Side?

And when Moses saw that the people were naked
(for Aaron had made them naked to their shame among their enemies)
then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said,
“Who is on the Lord’s side?”
Exodus 32:25-26

When Israel made the golden calf at Mount Sinai, they carried out their worship of the beast with rituals of drunken nakedness. The disgrace brought on the name of the Lord was so great that God demanded immediate death for the participants. Moses, furious, stood at the gate of the camp and cried, “Who is on the Lord’s side!” Men from the tribe of Levi responded to Moses and came with their swords to offer themselves to the Lord. Moses then commanded them to go into the camp and to slay whomever they met, man, woman, boy, or girl, without regarding age or relation. Over three thousand were mercilessly slaughtered before God told Moses to call off his Levite avengers.

Moses’ love for God was demonstrated in his zeal against those who had perverted the faith and turned to idols after experiencing God’s power and revelation. He was indignant. He was as insulted and angry as he would have been if the offense had been against himself instead of against God. That’s how close his heart was intertwined with the heart of God. No one could despise God without Moses feeling despised. And that is how close to God every truly godly person has felt since the beginning of the world.

Jesus said that if our brother sins and then repents, we must forgive, even if he sins and repents 500 times a day. He did not, however, command us to forgive anyone who sins and does not repent. Quite the contrary, Paul commanded us to WITHDRAW OURSELVES from every brother who lives contrary to the will of God and brings a reproach on the name of the Lord Jesus:

2Thessalonians 3
6. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

But Paul did not have to give that commandment to anyone who truly loved God because they were already withdrawn from brothers and sisters in Christ who forsook God’s commandments. No one who truly loves God can bear to keep company with those who have turned away from righteousness because it is too painful to “hang out” with people who have brought disgrace on the Lord and the family of God.

David loved God. And it was his deep love of God that made him cry out, “Do I not hate those who hate you? And am I not grieved with those who rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred! I count them as my enemies” (Ps. 139:21-22).

When Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, became a companion to Israel’s weak-willed king Ahab and his wife Jezebel, God sent him a message by one of His prophets:

2Chronicles 19
2. Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the ungodly and love those who hate the Lord? Therefore, wrath is upon you from before the Lord.”

Jehoshaphat was a good man, but terribly naive. And because of his friendship with fellow Israelites who had forsaken the right ways of God, who were unequally yoked in marriage to foreigners, who were worldly and proud, the little kingdom of Judah suffered horribly as soon as Jehoshaphat died. Because of Jehoshaphat’s friendship with those who had turned back from following after God, the holy line of kings who came from David was almost eradicated from the earth. Because Jehoshaphat embraced wicked, backslidden souls as his friends, those same wicked people seized power in little Judah and murdered all Jehoshaphat’s family, and all of David’s descendants, except for one infant, Joash, who was rescued from the slaughter but his nurse and hidden in the temple by the high priest, Jehoiada.

David hated the company of the wicked because he loved the presence of God. “Depart from me, you evildoers,” he cried out, “for I will keep the commandments of my God (Ps. 119:118). He could not bear the company of the wicked because he was so thankful for the mercy God had shown to him: “Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping” (Ps. 6:8). David did not feel as he did because he was an Old Testament figure, and everything has changed now. He felt that way because he truly loved God. God described David as a man after His own heart (1Sam. 13:14). Has God’s heart changed? I don’t think so. He said, “I am the Lord; I change not!”(Mal. 3:6).

Don’t even try to excuse your friendship with the wicked by calling it love. It won’t hold up in God’s court. To love and to help those who have been loved by Jesus and then brought his name into disgrace is no virtue. Jesus will cast into eternal fire those whom he washes from sin but then who despise him. The word of the Lord to you today is this: If you love God, you will forgive and embrace every fallen brother who repents and turns from his sin, every time. But if you forgive and embrace those who have sinned and not repented, you encourage them in their disgracing of the Savior, and you make yourselves, as their companion, an enemy of Christ.

Just recently, I was shown pictures of saints who think they are acceptable to God. They were publicly feasting with other saints who have fallen from all purity, into open fornication and other wickedness. It was impossible to tell by those pictures who was happier to be there in that celebration, the rebels against God or the ones who are maintaining an appearance of righteousness in the assembly of the saints. The disrespect to Jesus that they all were showing was heart-breaking, some of them were disgracing Christ because it is their normal way of life now to disgrace him, but others by frolicking with those foolish, fallen people.

It made me ashamed to know any of them, and I cried out in my spirit, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Do You Want Jesus To Want You?

“. . . so shall the king greatly desire thy beauty.”
Ps. 45:11

According to the author of Hebrews (1:8-9), the prophet was speaking to the Son in Psalm 45 when he said, “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. You have loved righteousness; you have hated lawlessness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

The Son being the subject of that Psalm, the prophet David is shown to have revealed a precious secret to us in verses 10-11, for he told us what we can do to win favor with the Son of God, our king. And inasmuch as Solomon said, “In the king’s favor is life”, to find favor with the eternal King of kings must mean to find life eternal!

David told us that if we would have the king’s favor, if we would have Christ Jesus desire us and choose us to be “the bride of Christ” at his return, then we need only make a choice. That choice we must make is simply to choose his Father and his family over our own: “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear. Forget your own people, and your father’s house. So shall the king greatly desire your beauty, for he is your Lord; and worship him.”

When Jesus asked the question, “Who is my mother, my brothers, and my sisters?”, people did not know what to say. They all knew Mary, his mother, and they knew his earthly brothers and sisters. Or did they? I don’t think so, for his brothers did not believe in him (Jn. 7:1-5), and Jesus explained that his real mother and brothers and sisters were those who heard and obeyed the will of God, his heavenly Father. So, if we want favor with Christ Jesus, if we want him to choose us for his bride, then we will feel in our hearts the same thing Jesus felt about who our real family is.

If God’s children follow Jesus’s example in nothing but in making this one choice, they will be hated and persecuted by all men. But if they do as Christ did, and choose the Father and the Father’s family over their own, they will win great favor with the king, and he will greatly desire the beauty of holiness that will adorn their lives.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Showing Respect

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust
and does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Psalm 40:4

The world does not know who to trust. It never has known who to trust. And it never has known who to trust because it does not know who to respect. The world respected the mob when it cried out for Jesus’ crucifixion rather than to respect the Son of God, and so, the world took him and crucified the meek king of glory. The world did not know what they were doing; they would have said they were doing the right thing. But respecting the wrong people led the world to commit a crime that was unjust beyond description.

From what I have seen over the years, those who turn from the truth to follow after lies think that they would never do any great evil, but that is only because they do not understand how great an evil they have already done in turning from the truth to embrace a lie. And when the sins that follow apostasy come, as they always do, those sins don’t seem so bad to them, either.

According to the Scripture above from Psalm 40, if we want God’s favor, then we must not respect those who turn away from the truth. Feeling no respect for them pleases God, according to David, and He will bless us for reserving our respect for those who are faithful to Christ.

What all of this presupposes, however, is that we ourselves know the truth so that we can discern who has gone astray and who has not. Without knowing the truth, we will no doubt respect ungodly people as well as the godly because, without knowing the truth, we can be fooled. It has always been the case that the ungodly know how to appear to be righteous.

It is the truth of God, and that alone, which enables us to judge between the godly and the ungodly. And if we will not be afraid to make judgments, Jesus will show us which judgment to make.