Tim Challies – The Particular Temptations of Young Men

Young men have it tough. In so many ways, this world seems to have been custom-crafted to take advantage of their weaknesses, their flaws, their immaturities. Solomon lamented this in his day, telling of the seductresses and prostitutes who laid in wait for young men. He told as well of the immaturity and ungodliness of young men that made them especially prone to sadly blunder or joyfully sprint into the traps and snares laid for them. Today he might write about ever-present amusements, the proliferation of porn, the rise of sexting, the sense of meaninglessness that so often pervades the minds and spirits of young men.

I love to spend time with young men, to counsel them, and to assure them that this time in their lives has great significance. As we speak, I find a number of common temptations they face while passing through their teens and twenties.

Purposelessness. Purposelessness may be the foremost struggle for young men, the one that feeds so many other vices. I don’t think we, as older Christians, have done well in communicating the purpose of these years. I don’t think we have helped young men see their importance in laying a solid or shaky foundation for the years to come. In the years of youth it may be difficult for young men to know their purpose, to know how best to fill their time. Enthusiasm often outstrips opportunity and ability. They have not yet proven themselves worthy and capable of accepting significant responsibility, so we give them little to do, we entrust to them only the simplest and least significant tasks. We fail to teach them that even today they are building the house they will have to live in for the rest of their lives. With little sense of purpose, they wile away the years instead of embracing them. They squander the years instead of making the most of them.

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David Murray – Three Approaches to Technology

Articles on the challenges of technology used to start with a long list of statistics proving the seriousness of the moral, spiritual, relational, and cognitive problems resulting from the digital revolution. I hardly need to waste ink or space on such matters now. Everyone knows by personal experience and observation how many and how massive the problems are. And the vast majority of Christians are concerned enough to want to do something about it. But what can we do?

No Technology

There are probably a few people left who are still trying the “no technology” approach. They say: “The dangers are too great; the consequences are too awful. Therefore, we’ll keep separate from the world by rejecting technology. We won’t buy it, and we will ban our children from using it, too.”

This approach is admirable and understandable, but impossible. Digital technology is so pervasive that trying to avoid it is like trying to avoid breathing. And even if we succeed in avoiding contamination, our children certainly won’t. They will find it, or it will find them. They will then be using it without our knowledge and without any training and teaching—probably the worst of all worlds.

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Richard Greenham – Reading and Understanding the Scriptures

Introduction

Those things that God has joined together no man may sever asunder. Therefore, preaching and reading of the Holy Scriptures, being of God joined together in the work of our salvation, may not be severed asunder. In all sciences, arts, and trades, teachers and masters are ordinarily required for the sound learning and profiting of them. We must be persuaded much more that it is necessary to have guides to go before us in the way to salvation.

That preaching is the most principal means to create and beget faith and repentance in God’s people must be granted (Deu 18:18; 33:10; Lev 10:11; Mal 2:6-7; 2Ch 36:15; Isa 50:4-5, 7-8; 53:1; 55:10-11; 57:19; 58:1; 61:1, 62:6-7; Mat 13:3; 28:19-20; Eph 4:11-14; Rom 10:14-15; 1Co 1:21; 1Pe 1:23-25). And where this ordinary means of salvation fails, the people for the most part perish (Pro 29:18; Hos 4:6; 2Ch 15:13; Isa 56:9-10; Mat 15:14; Luk 11:52). But it is likewise proved that the reading of the Scriptures publicly in the church of God and privately by ourselves is a special and ordinary means, if not to beget, yet to increase faith in us (Deu 6:6; 11:18; Neh 8:8-9; Psa 1:2; Joh 5:39; Acts 13:15; 15:21; Rom 15:14; 2Pe 1:19). The manifold fruit that comes of the reading of the Scriptures prove the same.

Reading rather establishes than derogates from preaching; for none can be profitable hearers of preaching that have not been trained up in reading the Scriptures or hearing them read. Many inconveniences come from the neglect of reading, as that the people cannot tell when a sentence is alleged out of the canonical Scriptures, when out of the Apocrypha; when out of the Scriptures, when out of other writers; or that they cannot discern when he speaks his own or a sentence of the Scripture.

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Michael Boling – Rebellion: Brought to You by the Letter I

1 Samuel 15:23 – “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Most are familiar with King Saul, the first king of Israel. He was a man who at first glance would have seemed to be a perfect fit for this position. He came from a wealthy family, was a man of great stature, and apparently good looks. Perhaps he was the Kennedy of his day. Despite all those outward qualities, his life was full of continued rebellion against God’s commands, ultimately resulting in his demise as king and subsequent suicide.

1 Samuel 15:23 strikes right to the heart of what seemed to constantly derail King Saul, namely the sin of rebellion, an attitude we all quite often fall prey to if we were honest. In this post I will explore what rebellion looks like, how it is related to the equally nefarious attitude and practice of divination, with particular attention paid to how we can fight against this perniciously sinful attitude.

First, let’s take a second to define the term of rebellion as used in 1 Samuel 15:23. The word used in 1 Samuel 15:23 that is translated as rebellion is the Hebrew noun mĕriy meaning simply “rebellion.” To grasp what this term means, we can look at the root word from which it is derived, namely the Hebrew verb marah, meaning “to be contentious, be rebellious, be refractory, be disobedient towards, be rebellious against; to show rebelliousness, show disobedience, disobey.” This term marah was used to describe the waters that came forth from the rock at Meribah when Moses responded to the grumbling and contentious attitude of the Israelites by striking the rock. One can quickly see what rebellion is all about, specifically the attitude of grumbling and disobedience to one in authority.

When looking at the life of King Saul, this spirit of rebellion becomes quite apparent. The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for King Saul came when he once again disobeyed God’s clear command. The particular situation noted in 1 Samuel 15 is when King Saul refused to completely eliminate the Amalekites to include their livestock. He took it upon himself to skirt God’s commands by sparing the life of the Amalekite king as well as the choicest of their livestock. He compounded his sin by lying to Samuel, a combination of actions that resulted in God turning His face from Saul. There is no sadder situation that to find yourself rejected by almighty God.

Another interesting element of 1 Samuel 15:23 is the statement that “rebellion is as the sin of divination.” Essentially, Samuel is equating rebellion as being no different than divination, sometimes translated as witchcraft. The word translated as divination or witchcraft is the Hebrew qecem meaning “to practice divination, divine.” What is being “divined” is guidance from an authority other than God or His Word. For King Saul, his rebellion was nothing more than divining guidance based on selfish motives. Apparently he believed that obeying God’s commands was unnecessary if done for the “right reason.” Saul figured he would be able to cover his blatant disobedience by offering the spoils he kept as a sacrifice to God, an action God completely rejected. What God desired was obedience rather than sacrifice. Instead of having a heart after God, Saul was had a rebellious heart, one that yearned to be THE ultimate authority, an attitude that comes from the Enemy who himself is permeated within by the spirit of rebellion against God. Ronald Youngblood aptly notes, “Selfish refusal to submit to the commands of the sovereign Lord results in slavery to malign forces in the demonic realm.”[1]

God was blazingly clear to the people of Israel as to His approach to those who practiced divination. Since rebellion is noted as being like divination, it is important to note what God said about this practice.

The following passages provide a sampling:

“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer” (Deut. 18:10)

“And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.” (2 Kings 17:7)

“And the LORD said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart.” (Jer. 14:14)

It is quite clear from these passages that the practice of divination was an abomination to God.

Rebellion also receives chastisement from God throughout Scripture. One passage in particular that describes the spiritual condition of those who dwell in the spirit of rebellion is Psalm 68:6 which states:

“God sets the solitary in families; He brings out those who are bound into prosperity; But the rebellious dwell in a dry land.”

The Psalmist paints a rather vivid mental picture in this passage noting the life led in rebellion against God is the same as living in a dry land. The concept of a dry land as outlined in this passage specifically refers to a place that has been scorched where no growth or essence of life resides. Such a life is in stark contrast to the life of the righteous noted in Psalm 1:3:

“He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. “

Unlike the one with a rebellious spirit who rejects God’s commands, the righteous man delights in the law of the Lord. It is this delight in the word of God that results in a life that is planted by rivers of water and that bears fruit. What is this river of water one may ask? We can begin to find out what this means by looking at John 7:38 – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” So first off to have rivers of water flowing from your life requires a faith in Christ. The wicked then are those who live in the dry land.

Isaiah 44:3 declares “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Once again we see this contrast between a land that is dry (a rebellious land) and rivers of water poured out on those to whom God has granted His Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 58:11 continues this them by noting “The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Sustenance and life is found only in the Lord who gives us strength. He is the one who provides us with the life giving water through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Some practical ways we can avoid a rebellious spirit are:

1) Seek after God and His will – Since a rebellious spirit comes directly from the enemy, it is evident that to combat rebellion in our lives and to reject any element of the spirit of divination requires the work of the Holy Spirit, molding and shaping our hearts to yearn after God. Rebellion is devoted to self, the emergence of “I” in opposition to yielding self to God’s perfect will. Dealing with rebellion requires “I” be removed from our spiritual alphabet to be replaced by the word “You” with the declaration “It is you Lord I desire to glorify and obey”.

2) Acknowledge God’s sovereignty – “I” desires to be lord in opposition to God’s sovereignty. The child of God must dedicate themselves to what Paul notes in Galatians 5:24:

“those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

The Puritan divine John Owen described this as mortifying the flesh. To belong to Christ means we are in relationship with a holy God. Rebellion, a construct of the flesh with its god hating passions and desires, must be put off and replaced by a heart that seeks after God. This is accomplished through the work of the Holy Spirit writing God’s word on our hearts, again that source of living water. When we acknowledge God’s sovereignty, we see His proper place as Lord of our lives and in turn we recognize that we are the creation, not the Creator. That posture places us in the proper position to be molded and shaped with God deftly removing the sin of rebellion from the clay of our lives. We no longer have a desire to serve other gods because we know the God we serve is THE Lord of all.

3) Put on the Full Armor of God – God provides the believer with armor by which we can resist the wiles and schemes of the enemy. Since the Garden of Eden, the enemy has used the age old yet effective tactic of rebellion against God. When we don at all times the full armor of God, we are able to withstand the temptation to usurp God’s authority with “I”. As believers who are engaged in constant and fierce combat with the forces of evil in this world, we must daily put on the complete armor of God. Our Commander in Chief (God) has provided us with the tools by which we can effectively engage the enemy. As with all manner of weaponry, they are only effective when used properly and in concert with one another.

4) Repent of the Sin of Rebellion and Pray – If you are struggling with a rebellious attitude it is time to repent and flee that youthful lust and passion. Repentance is far more than saying a quick prayer and then continuing to walk in that dreadful sinful habit. Conversely, repentance requires movement from a particular wrongdoing and movements towards righteousness. This movement towards righteousness cannot take place on your own strength. This is where prayer is so vital. We need God every minute of every day. Rebellion is a tough battle to fight for it is at the very root of all sin. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit replacing a rebellious attitude with a love for God and His will to move from that place of darkness (rebellion) to a place of light (obedience). Prayer and the vigilant study of God’s word are vital to this process.

5) Assess Your Surroundings – Often a rebellious attitude stems from what influences us. For instance, if you find yourself associating with those who display a rebellious spirit, it is likely time to evaluate those friendships. If you listen to music or watch programming that promotes a rebellious spirit, it is time to evaluate what you set your eyes and ears upon. It is vital to be around fellow believers who will lift you up in prayer, disciple you, and help you walk in the ways of the Lord. Proverbs 13:20 reminds us “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.” Those who are rebellious against God fall into that category of “fools” so find yourself a man or woman of God who is wise, someone who can mentor you and walk beside you.

Rebellion is like divination – powerful words yet so true. Rebellion is a work of the enemy and engaging in a rebellious attitude against God and His will is the same as saying you embrace the enemy rather than hiding in the shadow of almighty God. May we reject the sin of rebellion and the many ways it reveals its ugly head in our lives. Seek after the things of God, draw near to Him, read His word, pray, put on the full armor of God, and surround yourself with godly men and women. In doing so, you will be equipped to put off the fleshly desire to thumb your nose at God which is the sin of rebellion.

References:
[1] Ronald Youngblood. “Commentary on 1&2 Samuel” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.3: Deuteronomy through 1&2 Samuel. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 677.

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Albert Mohler – The Gathering Storm: Religious Liberty in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution

In the first volume of his history of World War II, Winston Churchill looked back at the storm clouds that gathered in the 1930s portending war and the loss of human freedom. Churchill wisely and presciently warned Britain of the tragedy that would ensue if Hitler were not stopped. His actions were courageous and the world was shaped by his convictional leadership. We are not facing the same gathering storm, but we are now facing a battle that will determine the destiny of priceless freedoms and the very foundation of human rights and human dignity.

Speaking thirty years ago, Attorney General Meese warned that “there are ideas which have gained influence in some parts of our society, particularly in some important and sophisticated areas that are opposed to religious freedom and freedom in general. In some areas there are some people that have espoused a hostility to religion that must be recognized for what it is, and expressly countered.”

Those were prophetic words, prescient in their clarity and foresight. The ideas of which Mr. Meese warned have only gained ground in the last thirty years, and now with astounding velocity. A revolution in morality now seeks not only to subvert marriage, but also to redefine it, and thus to undermine an essential foundation of human dignity, flourishing, and freedom.

Religious liberty is under direct threat. During oral arguments in the Obergefell case, the Solicitor General of the United States served notice before the Supreme Court that the liberties of religious institutions will be an open and unavoidable question. Already, religious liberty is threatened by a new moral regime that exalts erotic liberty and personal autonomy and openly argues that religious liberties must give way to the new morality, its redefinition of marriage, and its demand for coercive moral, cultural, and legal sovereignty.

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John Bunyan – Light for Them that Sit in Darkness

Of this man’s seed hath God, according to His promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus. ACTS 13:23

These words are part of a sermon which Paul preached to the people that lived at Antioch in Pisidia, where also inhabited many of the Jews. The preparation to his discourse he thus begins — ‘Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience’ (v 16); by which having prepared their minds to attend, he proceeds and gives a particular relation of God’s peculiar dealings with his people Israel, from Egypt to the time of David their king, of whom he treateth particularly —

That he was the son of Jesse, that he was a king, that God raised him up in mercy, that God gave testimony of him, that he was a man after God’s own heart, that he should fulfil all his will (v 22).

And this he did of purpose both to engage them the more to attend, and because they well knew that of the fruit of his loins God hath promised the Messiah should come.

Having thus therefore gathered up their minds to hearken, he presenteth them with his errand — to wit, that the Messiah was come, and that the promise was indeed fulfilled that a Saviour should be born to Israel — ‘Of this man’s seed,’ saith he, ‘hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’

In this assertion he concludeth — 1. That the promise had kept its due course in presenting a Saviour to Israel — to wit, in David’s loins — ‘Of this man’s seed.’ 2. That the time of the promise was come, and the Saviour was revealed — ‘God hath raised unto Israel a Saviour.’ 3. That Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph, was he — ‘He hath raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.’

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Horatius Bonar – Divine Compassion

“It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Genesis 6:6

The manner in which God here acknowledges man as his handiwork is specially to be noted. The words are, “It repented the Lord that he had made man upon earth.” It is not said generally, “that man had been made”; but definitely, that “he had made man.” He had spoken of man in his primeval goodness, as coming from his hand; so now he does not fail to remind us that it is this same man, this very race, that has now become so worthless and hateful.

He might have drawn a veil over this point, so as to prevent our being so vividly reminded that man was truly his own workmanship. But he does not. Nay, he brings the sad fact before us, — a fact that seems to reflect upon his own skill and power. He does not disavow creation. He does not disown man. He does not speak or act as one ashamed to be known as the Maker of one so miserably apostate, so incurably depraved. Even when making known man’s extremity of guilt, he openly owns him as his creature. He does not keep silence on the matter, as one desirous that it should be forgotten or unnoticed. He brings it directly forward, as if to call attention to the fact.

When man fails in some great or favourite project,—as when an architect plans and builds a palace, which, by reason of some essential defect, almost immediately tumbles down, — he is anxious that its failure should not be proclaimed, and that the work thus ruined should never be known as his. He cannot bear the reproach which is sure to fall upon him; he shrinks from the responsibility which has been incurred; he cannot afford to lose the reputation he may have gained.

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Michael Boling – Walking in the Light: Dealing with the Sin of Hatred

“Anyone who claims to be in this light while hating his brother is still in the dark.” 1 John 2:9 (CJB)

When we think of sins, most think of the big ones such as murder, adultery, pornography, and drunkenness. Hatred towards our fellow man, in particular towards our brothers and sisters in Christ is a sin we often overlook. That is unfortunate given the Apostle John in 1 John 2:9 equates hatred towards another as akin to walking in darkness. Those who claim to be followers of Christ should not live in hatred towards others. Walking in the light in an attitude of love is incompatible with walking in darkness in an attitude of hate.

Given that one manner in which the world will know we are followers of Christ is by our demonstration of love for one another (John 13:35), to have an attitude of hatred is not in keeping with what God expects of His people. In order to understand what this hatred is all about, let’s spend some time unpacking the short but powerfully important passage of 1 John 2:9.

The first half of this verse notes there are those who make the claim they are in the light. The Greek word translated as light in 1 John 2:9 is phōs. It has a variety of meanings all related to something giving off light. We find in Scripture those who walk in the light are the righteous. This begs the question as to what is the source of this light we are to walk in as God’s people. Psalm 119:105 reminds us “Your word is a lamp for my foot and light on my path.” In order to walk in the light, the follower of Christ must walk according to the precepts and instructions found in God’s Word which is the light that shines on the path of life, determining for us how it is we should live.

We also find that all of God’s commands found in His Word are rooted in loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:30-31). Loving God and loving others are behaviors that encapsulate all of God’s commands to us throughout Scripture. This means to walk in the light is to walk in the truth of God’s Word which commands us to walk in love towards God and others at all times. If we claim to walk in the light and if we claim to have Scripture as the light and foundation for our life, walking in love will be a hallmark of our life.

The Apostle John notes in 1 John 2:9 that walking in love is not always the case for most people. There are many who claim to walk in the light yet continue to hate their brother. John declares that hating your brother is not walking in the light but is rather walking in darkness. The Greek word translated as dark or darkness is scotia, meaning “the darkness due to want of light.” It is often a metaphor used in Scripture to describe those who are ignorant of God’s Word and His commands. This term is often specifically related to the wicked and those in bondage to sin.

Of further note is what is meant by the word hate. John uses the word miseō which means “to hate, pursue with hatred, detest.” We can clearly see that such an attitude is one that is demonstrated by a pursuit of hatred, a continued attitude towards our brother rooted in detesting the very sight of them or even the sound of their name. This means hatred is an active problem and rears its ugly head in a number of ways in our lives each and every day.

As followers of Christ, we have been delivered from bondage through the shed blood of Christ. With that said, we still have to deal with the sin nature. One element of sin that continually entangles us is that of hatred. When we claim to walk in the light yet allow a root of hatred and bitterness to maintain its hold in our lives, we are not allowing the light of God’s Word to penetrate the darkness that still remains and wants to still grab hold of us. In order to deal with the root of bitterness, we have to allow God’s Word to sink into every fiber of our being. God’s Word is “at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). When we walk in the light of God’s Word, it will shine into those dark corners of our hearts, cutting through that root of bitterness and hatred.

Hate can be demonstrated in so many ways. We may think that hate is simply snippy words or a bad attitude or grinding your teeth and rolling your eyes when someone’s name is mentioned. While those are certainly indications of hate, walking in a spirit of sinful hatred towards others is actually quite more. Glenn Barker aptly notes, “Whenever a brother has need and one does not help him, then one has despised and, in fact, hated his brother.”[1] That reality certainly puts us all in the category of walking in a spirit of hate more often than we would like to admit.

Dealing with hate in our lives is a must. Walking in hate towards another, whether they are a brother or sister in the Lord or someone outside the household of faith is akin to walking in darkness. Walking in darkness is equated all throughout Scripture as sinful behavior. Thus hatred is sin and sin in all its insidious forms must be dealt with through the work of the Holy Spirit. When the light of God’s Word permeates our hearts and minds, we can walk in the light which is love towards God and others. Being obedient to God’s commands is the very definition of walking in love. John Calvin comments “the love of God teaches us to love men, and we also in reality prove our love to God by loving men at his command. However this may be, it remains always certain that love is the rule of life. And this ought to be the more carefully noticed, because all choose rather almost anything else than this one commandment of God.”[2]

If you are struggling in this area, spend time in prayer and in passionate study of God’s Word. Pray that the light of God’s Word and His love would shine through in all areas of your life and in your dealings with others. Pray that God through the work of the Holy Spirit would uproot the sin of hatred in your life and that He would replace it with love and compassion.

References:

[1] Glenn Barker. “Commentary on 1, 2, & 3 John” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12: Hebrews through Revelation. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 317.
[2] http://www.ccel.org/study/1_John_2

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Cris Putnam – The Poison Fruit of the Serpent Seed

Often times we gaze upon a seed and have no idea what sort of plant it might become. A children’s poem expresses this idea: “Plant a seed and watch it grow. What it shall one day be, we do not know.” Ideas are like seeds as well. Often we do not see where they might lead. Like the seeds in the poem, sometimes the only way to judge an idea is to see what it grows into. A very small notion can grow into an ideology very quickly. Hitler’s idea of racial supremacy was a small seed that grew into a world war and well over 6 million dead bodies. Marx and Lenin’s atheistic ideas have led to over ten times that. Clearly, ideas are potent. In theology, a very small error can have a collateral effect on nearly every other doctrine. Huge heresies nearly always grow from very small seeds.

One such idea is the Serpent Seed doctrine. This is the teaching that in the Garden of Eden, the serpent had sexual relations with Eve. The result was that she bore Cain. The primary notion is that the original sin was sexual. This has some visceral appeal because the doctrine that fall of man resulted from a poor produce selection seems fanciful. Sexual temptation is something we all can relate to and agree is powerful. The problem is that it is directly opposed to the clear and explicit word of God. It is easily refuted by Genesis 4:1.

Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:1, NAS)

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Robert Murray McCheyne – What Have I to Do with Idols?

“What have I to do any more with idols?” Hosea 14:8

When Christ came into the temple, He found those that sold “oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple” (John 2:14-15). So when the Holy Spirit comes into any heart, He drives out the buyers and sellers. If you have received the Spirit, you will be crying now in your heart, Lord, take these things hence; drive them out of my heart. What have I to do any more with idols? Some of the idols to be cast away are:

1. Self–righteousness. This is the largest idol of the human heart, the idol which man loves most and God hates most. Dearly beloved, you will always be going back to this idol. You are always trying to be something in yourself, to gain God’s favor by thinking little of your sin; or by looking to your repentance, tears, prayers; or by looking to your religious exercises, your feelings; or by looking to your graces—the Spirit’s work in your heart. Beware of false Christs. Study sanctification to the utmost, but make not a Christ of it.

God hates this idol more than all others, because it comes in the place of Christ: it sits on Christ’s throne. Just as the worship of the virgin Mary is the worst of all kinds of idolatry, because it puts her in the place of Christ; so self-righteousness is the idol God hates most, for it sits on the throne of Christ. Dash it down, dear friends. Let it never appear again.

It is like Manasseh’s carved image in the Holiest of all (2 Chr 33:1-15). When Manasseh came home an altered man to Jerusalem, would not his first visit be to the Holiest of all? With eager hand he would draw the veil aside; and when he found the carved image, he would dash it down from the throne of God. Go and do likewise. If you feel God’s love freely by the righteousness without works, then why would you go back to this grim idol? What have I to do any more with idols?

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