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This world is full of religion. You can find a religion that will fit your needs and make you feel good. But what exactly are they offering you? Do they teach the Word of God? Is a change of heart a requirement for the promise of salvation? Is every level of hierarchy with in those religions built on honesty and truth?

From what I have seen of religion today offers nothing but a false hope, a half truth and hypocrisy. This practice in man made religion has been going on for years. In fact, Jesus preached about it. At that time it was the Scribes and Pharisees that were doing a disservice to those that wanted to seek God. In Matthew 23 Christ brings judgment to those that require acts from the people and not themselves. To those that are more concerned with the “law” than a heart change. To those that are busy about works that make them appear to be righteous but are not sincere in their hearts. He concludes this message with verse 23; “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” The scribes and Pharisees in Bible times were more concerned with acting like a follower of Christ than being one from the heart, as many religious leaders are today. God requires us to pay more attention to the “weightier matters of the law” those that are most important, judgment, mercy and faith.

In my observation of religion I have seen that many have two of the three. Some have mercy and faith. They preach that God is love and will forgive anything as long as you believe. That you can’t live with out sin, but God is merciful just say “I Believe”. Others are full of judgment, have strict creeds that, and are stingy with mercy. There is any combination that can be made. But if you don’t have all three, you don’t have the complete truth that God has for you. The three principles, judgment, mercy and faith all work together and the result is beautiful.

In order to receive mercy through faith, one has to experience judgment. How can you ask for forgiveness if you have done nothing wrong? Romans 3:23 reads “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Each and every one of us has committed sin. What is sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, something that we know is wrong but do it anyways (1 John 3:4) or something that we know we need to do, but we don’t do it. (James 4:17) The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that God is not pleased with this. Romans 6:1 asks “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” the answer in verse 2 is “God forbid.” His plan for us is that we live in communion with him. We cannot do this if sin remains in our life. So judgment comes through the acknowledgement of sin and the need to seek forgiveness or mercy for them. If we fail to do this and continue living in sin, we have a reward, and that is hell. (Psalms 9:16-17) But let’s not forget God’s perfect plan. He does offer mercy to those that seek his forgiveness for their sins. God sent his son, the ultimate sacrifice so that we could live with out sin. In Matthew 1:21 the Bible states that Jesus came to save his people FROM their sins, not to save them while they continue IN their sins. All we have to do to receive this mercy is to confess our sins. (1 John 1:9) It is hard to say that we are wrong and to say sorry, but God loves a humble heart and will draw them close. Once we have been forgiven it is up to us to choose to live sin free every day. Sin is a choice as we discussed earlier and it is with God’s mercy and grace that we are able to choose to follow him in righteousness. We have a responsibility to keep a tight hold on our salvation, 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” We are born into God’s family when we have sought forgiveness and received it; we then need to keep ourselves so that the enemy of our souls will have no power over us. Now where is faith in all of this? Ephesians 2:8-9 reads “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We do need to have faith to believe that God can and will save us. That he will keep his promises. Through the power of salvation in us and his presence through the Holy Spirit, we can live each day in a manner pleasing to him. We will not make it to heaven just by doing good things, we cannot save ourselves. We need to accept the blood of Jesus as a payment for our sins and though God’s mercy continue our life with out sin. Our salvation is a work that only God can perform in our lives. It is only when we have acknowledged the judgment of sin and sought mercy through faith that we are able to live as God would have us to, holy, sin free, and in communion with him.

Through all of this we can see that we must have all three, judgment, mercy and faith to live according to God’s plan for his people. Be honest with your self and with God. Don’t be content with just a religious belief, search for a true relationship with God. Seek the truth where ever you go and God will be faithful to bring you to it. It is his desire that you find the truth.

In continuing with our discussion on sin last Wednesday, we explored 2 more of the 10 commandments listed in Exodus 20.

1. Thou shalt not kill, Exodus 20:13. There is a difference between killing and murder. In this statement, the Hebrew word for kill specifically means to murder. In Exodus 21:12-15, the people of God are instructed to handle premeditated murder differently than an accidental killing. We are commanded not to take someone’s life or testimony through hate. If we hate our brother, we are just as accountable as a murderer. 1 John 3:15

2. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14. In Matthew 5:27-28 defines the concern of adultery in the New Testament, it isn’t just the act of a relationship of a married person and someone other than their spouse, but it is the act of lusting after another person. Lust is adultery in the heart. God is not just concerned with adultery among people, but also between his church, the Bride, and Christ. God commands us to refrain from lusting after another god.

Wednesday’s Bible Discussion finished up the Armor of God and began the new topic of sin. This week we will continue discussing how the Bible defines sin.

1. In order to be effective soldiers, we have to prove our armor and take the weapons that we know to be useful, the power of God on our side and his word. We can’t defeat the enemy with armor and weapons that we don’t know how to use. I Samuel 17:33-40.

2. In the battle, not only are we protected by God’s strength and power, but by the tenderness of God’s spirit. Psalms 91:1-4

3. What is Sin? Sin is a transgression against God’s law, 1 John 3:4. It is all that is unrighteousness, 1 John 5:17. God’s desire is for us to live with out sin. If God has saved us, we have to make the choice daily to live with out sin.

4. The beginning of God’s law can be found in the 10 commandments. Exodus 20. The first is in verse 3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” God wants to be first in our lives. We can’t allow anything to come before him, ourselves, money, love, friends, beliefs, possessions. God is a jealous God over his children.

5. Exodus 20:7 – “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain;”. God’s name should only be used with proper respect and not spoken with profanity. All things pertaining to God are holy, he doesn’t want his name defiled.

6. Exodus 20:8 – “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” We know that the sabbath is no longer reserved for one specific day of the week as it once was, but that Christ is our sabbath. We need to remember him every day of the week and live holy.

When this question came up this week at Bible study, it caused me to think. What really makes me different from everyone else? Am I different? Or am I like all those around me? What do I have to offer that many others do not have?

As Christians we profess to be different from those around us. We can say that it is because we love Jesus or we know God that makes us different. But alot of people say that. You can ask anyone on the street and most times they will agree that they love Jesus or know God. So that doesn’t set us apart. Many people even though they profess to love God, they don’t live in a manner pleasing to God. And often it is these actions that keep us from being different.

In the Bible, God’s people are called a peculiar people, a people set apart. (I Peter 2:9) It also says that we are in the world but not of the world. (John 17:14-16) If the followers of God are to be set apart from the world, than there has to be something that differentiates them from the world. This thing that makes us different is Holiness. God calls us first to be holy and then to follow his commandments. In Leviticus 19:2 God tells Moses to “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy.” And it isn’t until verse 11 when Moses tells the people how God expects them to act. Holiness is the most important part of our service to God, if we are holy than following the commandments will be possible. Many religions bring the “Thou shalts and shalt nots” first, making it seam impossible to be holy. And it is difficult to follow those rules with out being holy. But don’t fret, God has made it possible for us to be holy and follow his direction.

In the New Testament, John explains how those that are pure and holy are set apart from those that are still with sin.

I John 3:3-10

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

 

We can be sure that if we are pure and with out sin, we are the children of God and that if we still have sin in our live, we follow the devil. The difference is shown in our actions, for one can say that he is a child of God and yet doesn’t live to please God. And as the old saying goes, ACTIONS SPEAK LOADER THAN WORDS.

 

Let us examine ourselves so we can be sure that we are living to all God has shown us, being an example and light to those around us. We won’t be able to just get by and blend in with the crowd for God knows the hearts of all.

Be confident in this difference, it is what gives us true life and happiness!

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