The cleansing from sin and its guilt is an important part of Christianity. Without the cleansing power of the blood none of us would be able to stand before God. Christians should constantly praise God for such grace.
But there is another important cleansing that is to take place in the life of a Christian. We might call it a do-it-yourself cleansing. It is our responsibility to clean up our own lives. Paul wrote, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1) James put it this way, “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:7) The prophet Isaiah called on his contemporaries, saying, “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil.” (Isaiah 1:16) It is our duty to eradicate sin form our lives.
Of course, we are not in this alone. God is on our side. Paul tells us, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) And in another place he wrote, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
Have you read the Book of Ezekiel lately? The first chapter should certainly grab your interest – four living creatures each having four faces: one like the face of a man, one like the face of a lion, one like the face of an ox, and one like the face of an eagle. Then there is the wheel within a wheel which moved with the living creatures. And again there was the firmament above the heads of the living creatures and above this firmament was the likeness of a throne. And do not forget the awe inspiring brightness and noise of the whole scene. And that’s just a sample of what you read in Chapter One.
So what’s it all about? After we read the whole chapter with all its fascinating details what are we to get from it? One person’s guess would be as good as another but fortunately we do not have to guess. The last verse of the chapter tells. “This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” So there we have it. The whole scene was to impress Ezekiel and us with the glory of the Lord. And since the following chapters detail the punishment which God will bring upon Israel for their sins, it’s the glory of the Lord as he comes in judgment.
If you decide to reread the Book of Ezekiel you might want to notice these major divisions of the book:
- Judgment upon Israel – chapter 1-24
- Judgment upon the nations – chapters 25-32
- Promises to Israel – chapters 33-48
A question often heard in religious circles is: “Do you know the Lord?” It’s a good question. It’s a question to which every man owes it to himself to give an answer. The question is usually asked looking for a personal testimony of some kind of religious experience. Furthermore the person asking the question is often eager to give their own testimony.
But what does the Bible say? “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that sayeth, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4) That’s clear enough. It’s all a matter of whether or not we keep the Lord’s commandments. If we do, we know him. If we do not, we do not know him. It’s as simple as that.
The next time you hear someone ask, “Do you know the Lord?” you might reply, “How is it that one can know that he really knows the Lord? If they answer: “The Sinners Prayer” or “a religious experience” or “an inner feeling” or “a dream” or “a vision” etc, all these answers are wrong. The right answer is: “Hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)
On Monday July 13, 2015 there appeared in the Winston-Salem Journal an article entitled: “Defrauding the Nation’s Poor.” As I read the article I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised to hear mentioned, among other things, the exploitation of the poor through state lotteries. The article pointed out these statistics, “Studies in a number of states have shown that lottery ticket sales are concentrated in poor communities, that the poor spend a larger portion of their income on tickets, and that the poor are more likely to view the lottery as an investment.”It, of course, is not an investment but rather a pipe dream.
What is the moral objection to the lottery as well as other forms of gambling? It comes under the umbrella of covetousness. Or to use Paul’s statement: “The love of money is the root of all evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) Why do people play the lottery? It’s for money, more money than they could ever think to earn. And if they win what do they get? Someone else’s hard earned money. Gambling is always an effort to get someone else’s money without earning it; and that’s pure, unvarnished covetousness.
Who is the main culprit in this arrangement? The State, of course — The State sets it up and then gets its portion of the loot as the poor are being defrauded. But the State is not the only culprit. What about the businesses that are involved in this racket. They too are guilty. They are unequally yoked together with the State in this scheme.