A New Renewed You

A short course in Christian behavior psychology is found in Col. 3: 1 – 15

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth….

Therefore, put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him….”

A reading of the things that should be put to death will leave most people feeling good about their conduct: “fornication, uncleanliness, passion, evil desire, covetousness.”

The second list is more personal: “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language.” Then lying is added as the capstone. Oops! 

Most will conceive of the first list as alpha evils, and rightly so. However, notice the second list which most people are inclined to think of as more acceptable is listed as though equal to those in the first list. That puts them in perspective. 

Both lists note the things to be put off. Now comes the positive things to be “…put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him….”

Then follows the new man’s spiritual wardrobe: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3: 11 – 16)

Don’t leave these truths having given them a nominal reading. Instead pause and do two things. First, read them again and evaluate your lifestyle in light of them. Then pause and make a conscientious commitment to the Lord to live according to them. This will result in a spiritual renewal.

Why God, Why?

When something imperfect happens in what we expect to be our perfect world we want to summon God, put Him on the carpet, and demand to know “Why?”

“God, our generation believes in ‘the public’s right to know.’ Now, I want to know why this happened and why you haven’t corrected it?”

What we fail to realize is God isn’t part of this generation. He doesn’t deal on a “right to know” basis, but on a “need to know basis.” Problems arise when we feel we have a need to know and are entitled to know, but God doesn’t think so.

Why do you ask God “Why?”                       

We sometimes ask “Why” in order to vindicate ourselves.  It implies God has done something wrong. He owes us an explanation. When life’s smooth running joy car runs off the road we want to ask, “Why me, God? Why did a bad thing happen to good little ole me?”

It rarely occurs to a person to ask, “Why NOT me?” After all, you know God doesn’t really owe you. What did you do to make God indebted to you?

Isn’t it strange we seldom, if ever ask such a question about good things. Why is it we never admit how undeserving of a good thing, and why it was our good fortune for it to happen to us.

Job suffered and demanded of God an explanation. He extensively questioned God. Thereby, he implied God was inadequate and didn’t have an answer. Inherent in Job’s demand for an answer was the implication God didn’t have love or wisdom.

God didn’t give Job an answer. Instead He asked Job a question: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?” (Job 38: 4, 5).

What is God saying? He is saying, “Job, turn on the Discovery Channel. I have the wisdom, power, and love to do what is right and I always do.”

There are times God does not give us an answer to our questions. He remains silent and watches to see our response, to demonstrate our faith.

To properly relate to God is not to get the right answers to our questions. It is to learn to ask the right questions.

Such questions as: 
“Does God have the right to govern as He wills?”

“Do I believe that all of God’s actions are born out of love and knowledge and are always right?”

Do we respond like Job who when tested said, “Yea, though He slay me yet will I trust Him.

To Drink or Not to Drink

People who drink intoxicants and those who don’t deserve to know what the Bible teaches on the subject. Is there a Bible based case for abstinence?  

Three Bible events used by some to support use of intoxicants are the Lord’s Supper, the wedding in Cana, and the use as a medicine for stomach problems.

The wedding was a religious service and fermentation was not allowed at weddings. If it is thought the guests had already drunk and become drunk would Jesus have violated Scripture and cause them to get even more drunk?

If Jesus turned the water into an intoxicating drug, He violated Scripture which forbids giving strong drink to a person as recorded in Habakkuk 2:15.

He would have violated the biblical mandates against intoxicating wine in Proverbs 20:1  and 23: 29-35. Persons who insist Jesus turned the water into an intoxicating drug in order to justify their  drinking of fermented wine and other alcoholic beverages are in their insistence saying Jesus violated the Bible teaching as noted in these verses and thus forfeited His sinless nature and relinquished His role as the divine Son of God.

At the Last Supper leaven bread was prohibited because of being fermented. Leavening is a process of fermentation. If fermentation was forbidden in the bread the same would be true of wine. 

Some use the Scripture regarding taking a little wine for the stomach’s sake as license to use intoxicants.

There are secular writings by rabbis from the period regarding the use of strong drink. It was to be diluted with water at a ratio of 20 to 1 to purify the water. This was the formula used at the time of the writing of the passage regarding taking a little wine “for the stomach’s sake.” (I Timothy 5:23). It was medicinal. 

The ratio of water to wine varied. Different ancient writers note different formulas ranging from one part wine to twenty parts of water. Others indicate a ratio of 1-5, 1-4, 2-5. At the wedding of Cana Jesus had the water pots filled with water and when the guests drank they referred to it as “wine” the normal word for the mixture of water and wine.

Unfermented wine was available all season. Ancients had several ways of preserving unfermented wine. One way was to reduce the grape juice to the constituency of a thick syrup or even jelly known in Hebrew as debhash and in Arabic dbs. This preserved form could be used over a long period of time. By adding water the concentrate turned the water to unfermented wine.

Sometimes a cake was made of dried grapes which later was added to water to produce unfermented wine.

In the modern era a conscientious layman responsible for preparing the table at his church for the Lord’s Supper became concerned about using fermented wine. Being a pharmacist he utilized only techniques from the time of the Bible to produce unfermented grape juice for use at the Lords Supper. His name was Mr. Welch of Welch’s Grape Juice fame. Welch’s concern grew out of the fact bread with leavening was forbidden to be used at the Passover. Leavening involved using yeast. As the yeast cells die, the decay produces gasses. This fermentation results in the rising of bread. Purity was desired so unleavened bread was required.  Welch reasoned why would fermentation not be allowed in bread while being allowed in wine?

Test by Schick Laboratory gives reason to abstain. It showed when the human body gets dehydrated the healthy cells of the body send a message to the brain registering thirst. With the use of alcohol the cells start sending a message to the brain to keep sending more alcohol and at that point the person is an alcoholic. Some people drink for years before this happens. For others it is with the first drink. Every drink is a gamble.

Dealing With the Difficult

How do you react when things go wrong, times when it just seems you aren’t getting the breaks? Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from this story involving former President Dwight Eisenhower. He was asked, “Mr. President, you have known every great man of our time. Who was the greatest man you ever met?”

He replied, “It wasn’t a man. It was a woman. It was my mother. She never had much schooling, but she was wise in God’s wisdom. She went to school to the greatest of all books, the Bible. And she acquired real wisdom.” 

He continued, “Once when I was a boy, my brother and I were playing a game of cards with my mother. The game was with cards — not regular playing cards because she was too straight-laced for that — but a hand of cards was dealt and I remember this night mother dealt me an utterly impossible hand. And I began to complain about it.”

She said, “Boys, put your cards down, I want to tell you something, especially you, Dwight. You are playing a game in your home with your mother under loving circumstances. We all love each other here and I have dealt you a bad hand. What are you to do? You are to pray to God. You are to trust God and like a man you are to play out the hand that is dealt you.”

“And,” said Dwight Eisenhower, “that is one of the wisest things I learned in my youth.”

We all get dealt bad hands. Right? Often it seems it is not fair. Fair isn’t the issue, the right response is. Pray about it and play it out using the wisdom and grace you have. Trust the Lord as you do that He will enable you to get the best possible result. The result may not be what you want, but it will be your best, resulting in the best.

There was a time when the Apostle Paul had been dealt a bad hand that put him in a Roman prison. Not a good hand. How is he to play it out? He wrote what is known as the prison epistles, one of which was the book of Philippians.

Even though this letter was written in the midst of hardship, while Paul was a prisoner, it still shouts victory and joy, because the words “joy” and “rejoicing” are used sixteen times in the four short chapters of the book. There is no hint of “poor little old me,” not a sniveling word. He described his response in such a way worthy of our responses. 

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3: 13, 14)

“I press” indicates it was not easy for him, and will not be for us to play out some hands.

Why the Law?

In our feel good society the full gospel isn’t being preached. A health, wealth, and prosperity “gospel” is being preached. Consider the consequences.  Two men were on an airplane. Both were given parachutes. One was told it would make his flight more comfortable, enjoyable and he would feel good. He was told in euphemistic terms he would be more fulfilled and happier if he wore it.

Putting it on he looked different, and to some people funny. Some started whispering about him and laughing at him. This plus it not fulfilling things promised made him want to take it off.

The second man given a parachute was told that he should put it on because in a few minutes all fuel on the plane would be exhausted and he would have to jump from 20,000 feet to save his life. 

The first man took his off feeling embarrassed because he was told something that wasn’t true. He was told it would make his flight more enjoyable and he would be happier with it on. It did not live up to the hype. 

Some people today say Jesus will make you healthier, wealthier, and more prosperous. Along come problems and difficulties and the person becomes disillusioned. He wants to put off Christ.

The second fellow in the flight knows why he needs the parachute. It is to save his live. A flight attendant might come along with a pot of steaming hot coffee and spill it all over the man. What does he do, simply say, “My, that is hot.” Yes, he does though in a more forceful manner. However, he won’t take off his chute. He didn’t put it on for comfort, but to save his life. He knows what is coming and he is ready. You couldn’t tear that chute off him. He knows it is essential for the inevitable jump. Having it on even makes him look forward to the jump.

People don’t want to be saved from danger until they know about it. They don’t want to escape danger until they see it.

It is at the “Sinai School for Successful Living” that we learn how to really live. The curriculum is simple: The Ten Commandments.

That is the purpose of the Ten Commandments. They identify sin for us. The Scripture says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6: 23). That is in the book to exhort persons to put on the chute, Jesus Christ.            

Who needs to do so? Romans 3: 19 says one purpose of the law is that it might be known “all the world may become guilty.” Why? In order that they might know what is a reality whether they know it or not.  

Some aren’t willing to put on Jesus for the inevitable jump into eternity. Once you have, it even makes you look forward to the jump. Once you know why you need to trust Him no one can separate you from Him.

Galatians 3: 24, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” That is, the law teaches us our need for Christ.