Lies and Deception

Temptation and Fall

Reading the Word

Genesis 3:1–7 (ESV)

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Satan is crafty, as he has always been. In the garden, he deceived the woman by planting doubt in her mind about God’s goodness. He questioned God’s limitation for Adam and Eve and told the woman that God was holding her back from reaching her potential. “You will be like God, knowing good and evil,” the serpent told Eve. He convinced her that if she ate of the forbidden fruit she would be able to rule herself and have no need for God to tell her what to do. So the woman ate and the man ate. They quickly realized that what they had done was wrong and sought to hide themselves and their shame.

Sin is like that. It promises us a better life. It promises more fun, more fame, more money, more of everything that obedience to God keeps us from. But sin never delivers on its promises. It destroys lives, shatters relationships, and leads to death. We sin because we believe the same lie that the first man and woman believed. We believe that God is holding us back and that our disobedience will give us a better life. We believe that we can run our own lives and that we do not need God telling us how to live.

Do not be deceived. Sin takes us down the road that leads to death. Trusting in God leads us to eternal life in Jesus Christ.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Confidence before God

Hebrews 1022 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 10:19–25 (ESV)

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Scripture tells us that we are all sinners and separated from God by our sin. Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden and the presence of God as a consequence of their sin. This is the same consequence for all of mankind. In the Old Testament, God established a way for the people to once again draw near to him. It was through sacrifices and offerings and the priesthood. However, with Christ, God has made a better way. Christ offered himself for our sins and cleansed us once and for all. This now makes it possible for us to enter into the presence of our holy God because we are clean.

Believers can go before God is confidence, knowing that our sin is no longer a barrier to our relationship with him. Our sin has been completely dealt with through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We have full access to the throne of the Almighty. We have this access now as we go to him in prayer. In the future, we will have it in even greater measure as we stand in his presence in glory. Let us not neglect such a wonderful gift from God. We can enter into his presence with confidence knowing that God loves us and that we have been forgiven.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook

Jesus Changes Us

red and green tree leaves on a sunny day

Photo by le vy on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

1 John 3:5–8 (ESV)

5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus came to take away sin. He came to save us and make us righteous. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who belong to Jesus should show evidence that they have been saved. They should not go on living in sin, but should live according to God’s righteous word.

Scripture teaches us that we are all sinful by nature. We can do nothing to save ourselves and we are not able to live righteously. Our hearts are fixed on sinning and we love to go our own way rather than follow God’s way. Jesus came into the word to rescue us from our dilemma. He died to pay the penalty for our sin and he gives new life through the Holy Spirit to those who trust in him. It is by new birth through the Spirit that we are changed. We want to live according to God’s will. We want to remove sin from our lives. Our loves and desires are reoriented. It is a miraculous change and it should be evident in every believer. Praise God for saving us and changing us!

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Why God Became Man

Hebrews 217 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Hebrews 2:14–18 (ESV)

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Understanding and Applying the Word

St. Anselm wrote a book many years ago titled Cur Deus Homo, which means “Why God Became Man”. Our passage today reveals to us the answer to Anselm’s question. Hebrews says that Christ came as a man to share in the same things that mankind shares in. Verse 17 tells us that Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect…to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Jesus came as a man because that was the only way that we could be saved. He had to be a man to die for the sins of mankind.

Have you ever spent time wondering over the incarnation? How and why did God come as a man into the world that he created? It is an amazing thing to think about! When we think of Christmas, let us contemplate the truth that our God has come into our world, that he came as a baby, that he lived as a man, and that he died on a cross to pay for our sins. What a great salvation! What a great God!

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

 

The World Will Hate You

photo of woman and inverted buildings

Photo by Inzmam Khan on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

John 15:18–25 (ESV)

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepared to leave this world, he said many things to his disciples who would be left behind as his witnesses. One of the things that he told them was that they should not be surprised when they faced opposition. The world would hate them and they would be persecuted for following Jesus. After all, the world hated Jesus and persecuted him. The world hated him so much that they hung Jesus on a cross and murdered him. Why should his followers expect any different?

Living as the followers of Christ in this world is not easy. Christians throughout history have faced all kinds of resistance and persecution. Some have been tortured. Others have been imprisoned. And many have lost their lives. The world hates us because we remind them of Jesus and all he represents. Jesus taught that mankind is alienated from God by sin. Our sin deserves eternal condemnation and punishment. And the only solution to our sin is to repent and turn to Jesus, the one who paid for our sin by dying in our place. However, this is not a message the world wants to hear. The world wants to believe that there are no consequences for sin. The world denies that there is sin. “Just do whatever makes you happy,” they say. But Christians and Christ are a constant reminder that there are consequences and there will be a judgement. Do not be surprised when the world hates you for following Jesus.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

The God Who Washes Feet

John 135 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 13:1–11 (ESV)

1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Before the meal, Jesus did something unexpected. He washed his disciples’ feet. This turned contemporary expectations upside down! Jesus was the teacher. He was the master of this group. It was the job of the students to wash Jesus’ feet or do the work of servants. At least, this is what the culture of the day said. However, Jesus tied a towel around his waist and washed feet.

Peter realized that this was not right. This is why he asked, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus’ reply pointed forward to a greater service that Jesus would do for his followers. Jesus was getting ready to go to the cross to die for his people. Philippians 2:6-8 reflects on Jesus as servant as he willingly died for mankind:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus had to become a servant for his people or we could not be saved. We had to be “washed” by Jesus through his sacrificial death or our sins could not be cleansed. The Creator came into the world to be our servant. He put aside his glory and died as a criminal on a cross. Jesus paid the price that we never could and unless we are washed by him, we remain unclean. As the great hymn says, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Repent or Perish

The Tower of Siloam

The Tower of Siloam (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 13:1–5 (ESV)

1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, Jesus addressed the mindset that some had, and some continue to have, that when bad things happen it is the direct result of something the victim did. Evidently, there were some who thought the Galileans who were victims of Herod’s attacks were proven to be great sinners because of the evil that fell on them. Likewise, when a tower fell and killed eighteen people, some believed it was because those who died were greater sinners than others. Do we think like this today? Have you ever heard someone ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” How often do people today say “what goes around comes around” or “karma will get you?” These are not biblical truths.

The Bible teaches that we all live in a fallen world that is greatly impacted by sin. As a result, tragedy, disease, sickness, and death fall on us all. We cannot assume that someone who suffers great harm is any worse of a sinner than a person who lives a long, prosperous, and healthy life. The truth is, we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and we all stand condemned by our sin (Romans 6:23). There is no place for thinking that we are good and others are bad. We are all in the same boat and it is sinking!

When we understand that we stand condemned by our sin, we are in a place where we can do something about it. We can repent (i.e. turn away from it) and call out on Jesus to forgive us as we trust in his sacrificial death as the payment for our sins. When we do that, our sins are forgiven and, instead of condemnation, we receive eternal life. Will you repent and turn to Christ today?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Settle Your Debt Today

silhouette of a man in window

Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 12:57–59 (ESV)

57 “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58 As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59 I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Getting entangled in a legal battle can be a costly affair. This is why it is best to settle matters before they go to court. It is of great benefit to work things out between the parties rather than allow a judge to make the decision, who may even sentence an offender to prison.

In the same way, it is better to settle matters with God before standing before him as Judge. Jesus’ message was that sinners can be reconciled to God through repentance and faith in Jesus and his teachings. Those who repent and believe are pardoned of their sins. Those who do not believe will stand before God and be judged. The Bible tells us that we are all sinners and that the punishment for sin is eternal separation from God in a place called hell.

So, we are given two options: We can settle our sin problem now by trusting in Christ. Or, we can stand before God later and be judged for our sin. It is much better to repent and turn to Christ now.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

A Divisive Message

Luke 1251 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 12:49–53 (ESV)

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many have the mistaken idea that Jesus and his message were so kind and gentle that there was no way to have any other response than to love him. However, that is simply not true! Jesus rubbed many people the wrong way. That is exactly why they crucified him on a cross!

In our passage for today, Jesus told his disciples that his message would be divisive. It would even divide families. Jesus came proclaiming that all people are sinners and must repent of their sins. All people must believe and trust in Jesus for salvation. There is no other way. So, you are either with Jesus or you are against him. There is no middle ground.

As Jesus’ disciples in the world today, we are called to proclaim the same gospel message that he preached. We must call people to repent and turn to Christ for salvation and warn them that there is no other way to be reconciled to God. Just as in Jesus’ day, many are offended by such a message and wish to silence it. The gospel, while offering forgiveness and life for all who believe, is also a message that causes division. If you desire to live for Christ and proclaim the message of salvation, it will not be long before you face opposition. Do not be surprised and do not be discouraged. The same thing happened to Jesus.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Religious Hypocrisy

Luke 122 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 12:1–3 (ESV)

1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verses, Jesus warned the Pharisees about their religious hypocrisy. In today’s passage, he warns his disciples of the same thing. Sin will be brought to light. One may act a certain way in the light (i.e. the presence of others) while revealing sinful thoughts and attitudes in the dark (i.e. in secret and out of public view). Such things do not fool God and will be uncovered.

Religious hypocrisy is a serious offense to God. Do you put on your Sunday best and speak wonderful things in the presence of your church family and pastor and then go home and tell your spouse why you do not like “this person” or “that person” or “this decision” or “that decision”? Do you not know that all of those secret whispers will be made known? Such actions are harmful to the body of Christ, unloving, and sinful. May we repent of our hypocrisy and ask the Lord to change our hearts.

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!