During my years as a Christian I have been through many phases. The cross-wearing phase, the nothing-but-Christian music phase, the WWJD-bracelet-wearing phase and so on. One phase in particular was listening-to-pastors-on-the-radio. I remember clearly when a well known radio pastor was talking about a man he went to see who was on his death bed. He comforted the man and prayed with him. They talked about confession of sin. The dying man confessed to the pastor that he was still struggling with pornography even to that day. The pastor went on to finish his time with the man, announcing his forgiveness and saying goodbye and never seeing him alive after that. The pastor didn’t let on during their conversation that he was stunned that a dying man might still be looking at pornography at this late stage in his life. He said his heart sank as he said he knew this man was doomed to hell. The pastor said he didn’t bother to tell the man what he thought because why upset him during his final days? Which is also why he announced the man’s forgiveness. The dying man would have caught on so, again, why upset him? The point of the pastor’s radio address was ‘Straighten up and fly right for the Lord; give up your sin and be holy‘.
So what he was saying was the onus was on the dying man to satisfy the holiness God demands by taming his own sins.
What do you do with that?
The Bible is NOT a rule book. It is not meant to be an acronym for Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth as some believe. The Bible teaches us about God’s love and why, through His love, He sent Jesus to Earth to save the world from its sins. It is because we cannot rid ourselves of our own sins. The dying man in the story above, according to the pastor, was doomed because he was not capable of stopping his own sinning. In my opinion, the pastor was wrong to tell his radio audience the man was beyond help because he was still staring at girly magazines. If the man was a believer in Jesus as his Christ, his life in Heaven was secured. Be warned, it was unbeneficial for him to continue sinning as he did. God asks us to fight the devil and his ways and says He will help all who call upon The Lord for strength against the agents of darkness. If the dying man was responsible for absolute obedience he would cerainly fail.
As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”
There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Pastor Sattler’s sermon was titled, “Our Spiritual Tug of War“. You probably equate a spiritual tug-of-war as a battle between an angel with a halo over his head on one of your shoulders and a devil with a spiked tail on the other, each stating their cases as to why you ought to do the right thing or be a jerk. There is, indeed, a spiritual tug-of-war happening but it is within yourself, two ends of rope being pulled by the same person, you.
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it
Paul is talking about the spiritual fight going on inside you, not whether you perform good works on Earth the proper way. There is the joy of Christ in you, an elation that makes you want to fly high above the worries of the world. This joyous feeling is in constant conflict with the power of ugly sin living in your physical body. Despite your weightless feeling, no amount of arm flapping, leaping in the air, or stepping off ledges will keep you aloft because your physical body is bound by the rules of nature, in this case the law of gravity. If you have a physical body, you are still on Earth. If you are still on Earth, you have a body inhabited by sin. There is a Latin term for this: simul justus et peccator (“at the same time, saint and sinner”).
While this might sound like a crummy deal, rest assured this is the way it is supposed to be. This should give you hope because it means it is normal for you to have your conflicting thoughts and emotions. You often feel like a sinner because you are a sinner. You sometimes feel like a saint because you are a saint. You aren’t letting God down when you act like a doofus. He understands you can’t get it right all the time, if ever. It’s why you ask Him for help through prayer. You will feel both ways until you leave your earthly body (die) and enter into your spiritual body (resurrect).
OK, that was long. How else was service? We sang, sang, sang, and sang these hymns:
Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty (opening)
Come Unto Me Ye Weary (sermon)
When Peace, Like a River (offering)
Amazing Grace (communion)
This Holy Place (closing)
Oh, and we prayed for you (yes, you!) because you certainly fall under one of the many categories of people we prayed for on Saturday. You might be the president, a city councilman, a firefighter, a teacher, a person with a sickness, a military man or woman, a missionary, or an unsaved person in dire need of love, or a church member who wants to show you Jesus’s love.
Hippie Chick read these scriptures: Zechariah 9:9-12; and Romans 7:14-25a. Pastor read the Good Word, Matthew 11:25-30.
And we recited The Nicene Creed. Why do we recite The Nicene Creed on days we have Communion? Because it explains the 1) divinity and 2) humanity of Jesus.
1. … And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only‐begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made;
2. …who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried.
The two lit candles on the altar during Communion service represent Jesus, one as wholly divine, the other as wholly human.
We had a minor attack of the wingdings again this week but the problem was quickly isolated and dealt with decisively and severely!