Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Destitute of Righteousness

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2. I have found that people often misunderstand what Jesus intended to communicate here. Our modern "therapeutic" culture undoubtedly places a high value on feeling good, self-esteem, and self-actualization. Of course this should not be deemed entirely bad, but this current mindset could give people the wrong idea about what Jesus truly meant in these verses. Words like "poor", "brokenhearted", and "oppressed" makes us think of people who are beset by life's circumstances (i.e. poverty, divorce, addiction, or disease). Indeed, we need to care about and help such people in their afflictions. However, in these verses Jesus is speaking primarily in terms of spiritual poverty and spiritual brokenness, bondage, blindness, and oppression.

In other words, he is offering freedom to those who recognize their sinful state and are broken by the realization that their spiritual poverty and bondage separates them from a just and holy God.

Of course this does not mean that He didn't minister to those who were beset by life's circumstances. Scripture often discusses how we are to treat the poor, brokenhearted and oppressed. But the point is that Jesus' message was not only for those people. The following excerpt will demonstrate clearly that the freedom He offered was not freedom from the hardships of life.

Excerpt from "The Way of the Master":

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus gives a summation of whom the gospel is for:

* The poor
* The brokenhearted
* The captives
* The blind
* The oppressed

When Jesus speaks of "the poor," He is not necessarily referring to those who lack financial resources. Instead, He's referring to the "poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3) - those who are meek, humble, lowly. These are the blessed ones to whom the kingdom of God belongs: those who know that they are destitute of righteousness.

In his commentary on Luke 4:14-30, Matthew Henry writes: " whom He was to preach: to the poor; to those that were poor in the world; whom the Jewish doctors disdained to undertake the teaching of and spoke of with contempt; to those that were poor in spirit, to the meek and humble, and to those that were truly sorrowful for sin" (emphasis in the original).

When Jesus speaks of the brokenhearted, He doesn't mean those unhappy people whose hearts are aching because they have been jilted by a sweetheart, but those who, like Peter and Isaiah, are contrite and sorrowing for their sin. In the words of Matthew Henry, "[Christ] was sent to heal the broken-hearted,...and to give peace to those that were troubled and humbled for sins,...and to bring them to rest who were weary and heavy-laden, under the burden of guilt and corruption."

The captives are those "taken captive by [the devil] to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:26). The blind are those whom "the god of this age has blinded...[to] to light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:4). The oppressed are those who are "oppressed by the devil" (Acts 10:38).

The gospel of grace is for the humble, not the proud. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). The Scriptures tell us, "Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 16:5); "He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly" (Luke 1:52); God looks on the one who "is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at [His] word" (Isaiah 66;2).

Only the sick need a physician, and only those who are convinced of the disease of sin will appreciate and appropriate the cure of the gospel.


Christinewjc said...

Remember how popular the phrase, "What Would Jesus Do" was a few years back? We saw it on bumper stickers, bracelets, book covers, on pendents, name it! However, I think the better question should have been, "What DID Jesus Do"?

When it comes to evangelism, many Christians often forget that Jesus used the Ten Commandments to show sinners the righteous standard of God (Matthew 5:17-37). He also made the issue one of righteousness rather than happiness.

The story of the rich young man shows that Jesus used the Law of God to expose tha man's hidden sin. His money was his god, and the point was made that one cannot serve both God and money.

I know of so many people who claim that Christians are judgmental. I have come to the conclusion that many just don't understand our motives. The question is, however, do we love the sinner enough to make sure his/her conversion is genuine?

Think about Jesus' encounter with the rich man. If he had accepted the man's profession of righteousness his love of money, above all else, would not have been revealed as the man's "hidden sin" and how would that man end up? As a false convert! Jesus used the Moral Law to expose the man's sin but note this: it was LOVE that motivated Jesus to speak to the man in this way!

Those who are unconverted often do not see our evangelistic efforts as an act of love until AFTER their conversion! But without convincing them of their sin by preaching the Law they may wind up as a victim of superficial evangelism. This is what I see happening in the gay-behavior affirming churches, for example. If the congregants are not convicted of their sin by God's Law which shows them that they are condemned by God, then they stay in that state of theological oblivion and thus stay in their true unsaved state of being. The light of God's Law MUST shine upon the sinner's heart and show him his true state before God! Proverbs 6:23 tells us that "the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light."

People, we NEED to use the Law to appeal to the conscience of the unsaved in order to bring them to repentance and salvation!

Susan Smith said...

The Lord delivered me from the physical acts of homosexuality after more than 20 years of lebianism in 1985. I was delivered from the identity in 1988. As the Lord worked in my life during those 3 years, I attended a Southern Baptist Church at 11 a.m. on Sundays and also a homosexual church that met in a gay bar at 1 p.m. on Sundays. Homosexual churches do not preach the truth about homosexuality, but they do preach love and forgiveness. I testify that I have seen more love and forgiveness in gay bars in the capital city of Columbia, South Carolina than I have seen in many churches.

I am thankful today that my beloved mentor (now 86) never told me NOT to attend the homosexual church. What did she say? She told me God might have a mission for me there...

Christinewjc said...

Hi Susan,

I so appreciate your comments here! You have actually gone through the needed conversion based on God's Laws. From the unsaved state of being, despite attendance at a gay-behavior affirming church, the Lord sent the right person into your life with the right message, presented in the way you personally needed in order to rescue you from being a victim of superficial evangelism! Praise God!

Yes! Perhaps it is your calling as part of the Great Commission command, which was given by Jesus himself, to witness to those who currently are attending gay-behavior affirming churches. Through you and your history and experience (and, of course obvious LOVE!) for those caught up in the deception of homosexuality, your message would more likely get through to their hearts and minds and out of the deceptive spirit they are currently involved in!

Your 86-yr. old mentor sure has a lot of godly wisdom to share! Does she blog?

Love to you -

Susan Smith said...

You are beautiful, Christine! I sat here and laughed out loud when I read your last question. It is almost eight at night here (1 p.m. East Coast time) and I am tired. This has been an emotionally draining week in Israel and laughter was good for my soul.

Thank you, my friend. Shabbat Shalom.

Christinewjc said...

I'm glad my comment made you laugh Susan! Laugher is, indeed, good for the soul!

I have been watching the events unfold in the Gaza area and the tears have flowed because my heart has been deeply grieved about it. I pray that it doesn't turn out to be a mistake like Benjamin Netanyahu stated today on the Fox News Channel.

Our comfort is the fact that the Lord ultimately has everything under control...

Christinewjc said...

I was reading a back issue of Whistleblower magazine (from WorldNetDaily) and in it was an article written by David Kupelian entitled, "The Fall and Rise of American Christianity." On the WND site, there is a column that is similar. Please go there and read it. It reiterates what I have been posting about here on this blog the last few days.

The following is a portion of the article that applies to my original post:

Kupelian article:

"Do we dare take an honest look?

One reason for the multitude of attacks on Christianity is that evil always attacks good – because it is good – because good shines a bright and painful light on the works of darkness. Jesus Himself warned His followers to expect to be persecuted, just as He was persecuted. This is the reason, and a profound one, that Christians offer to explain why they, their values and their institutions are always under attack.

However, there is another, and far more decisive, reason for the spectacular decline of Christianity in our modern era: Christianity today is very different from what it once was.

America is full of people who have accepted the idea that Jesus Christ died for their sins, and that this belief guarantees them a place in Heaven.

Some are very sincere. They are truly mortified at their former sins, genuinely contrite before God and those they have offended, and they grieve over their continuing compulsions. They have awakened from their former life of gross sin, and now want nothing more than to do the will of their Creator – whatever that may be, wherever it may lead them, whatever they may suffer. They take seriously the commandments and principles given by their Savior, and make their life revolve around emulating Him, to the best of their ability. They are, quite literally, followers of Christ – that is, Christians.

On the other hand, there are countless "Christians" who believe they have a ticket to Heaven, and nothing else really matters very much to them. Their attitude can only be described as brazen. They live lives of shallowness and selfishness, of petty emotions and jealousies, of distraction and escape, of ego and pride, and sometimes of gross corruption and treachery – remember, Clinton is a churchgoing "Christian." This version of Christianity, more prevalent than you can imagine, literally justifies and excuses dirty rotten scoundrels. Its adherents, while living it up under the smug delusion that they're "saved," drive other people crazy (and away from real Christianity) with their hypocrisy.

And then there are, of course, millions of "lukewarm" Christians in between these two groups. They go to church and sing songs and sometimes read the Bible, and maybe "try to be a good Christian" – but they're basically clueless. Their marriage is on the rocks and their children are wearing tongue studs. They believe in society's atheistic "experts" and they're addicted to Internet porn."


If we are truly honest with ourselves, Mr. Kupelian is right on target with this! Despite what is missing, his article reveals, identifies and gives us the Hope of all Hopes:

Kupelian article:

"What's missing in all of this, of course, is a love of truth.

"This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me," said Jesus. (Matthew 15:8 KJV)

Truth predates the incarnation of Christ, it predates the Bible. It's the substance of our bond with God. If you have a love of truth, you're just not ever really satisfied with anything else, and you want to know the truth about everything – especially about yourself. If you're wrong about something, you want to know it. If you've been living a lie, you're willing to see it – no matter what the cost.

If you don't have a little bit of this quality, you don't have squat – even if you call yourself a Christian.

To a truth-seeking soul, the story of Christ – not as told by a plastic minister, but as told by someone, anyone, who's real – has an internal reverberation of truth in the listener's soul. It has the quality of a wonderful old story you heard long ago, in your childhood, but had forgotten.

At the core of this life-changing religion is the individual believer's love and appreciation and acceptance and embrace of Christ's sacrifice – the ultimate demonstration of God's love for His wayward children."



Jesus Christ is the TRUTH. Christians can take action and revive that love of the TRUTH!!


Susan Smith said...

Some homosexuals are diligently seeking truth, but few Christians are willing or able to minister the love of God to these individuals. Active homosexuals are not welcome in most local churches. Many homosexuals fear rejection, condemnation and even hatred from Christians if they are transparent about their search for truth and their struggle with unwanted same sex attractions.

Many Christians will not associate with a known homosexual. Their self-righteous pride of a “good” reputation stops them from loving others who are unrighteous in their eyes. Self-righteousness is just as deadly as unrighteousness. Self-righteousness is a deception of the enemy. Jesus will say, “I never knew you” to those who live in self-righteous bubbles (see MAT 7:23).

Look at MAT 23. Jesus called the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees “hypocrites” seven times in this single chapter. He said they were like whitewashed tombs. The tombs look fine on the outside, but inside they are full of the bones of dead people. The self-righteous are full of hypocrisy and evil! How did He address the former demon-possessed man in LUK 8:39? He said, “Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.” What words did the Lord choose when He talked to the woman who was caught in the unrighteous act of adultery? He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (see JOH 8:11).

There are countless family members of active homosexuals who love them dearly, yet they have no outlet for their concerns. Untold family members fear rejection from Christians in their very own local churches if they tell the “secret” about the sin of homosexuality in their families. Where is love and mercy? The shame and embarrassment in the Church brings tears to my eyes, because very few recognize homosexuality today for what it really is. It is sin.

Christinewjc said...

This is why ministries like Stephen Bennett's is so very important. Personally, I don't think that many churches and pastors know how to handle this often volatile issue. Stephen has encountered the "clashing of ideologies" MANY times, even when he has been invited to speak at churches to help educate and train congregations in how to witness to homosexuals. The activists show up just to make noise and protest, while those who wish to help minister to hurting homosexuals (including homosexual persons who WANT to hear his message) are ostracized and called bigots and haters.

There are churches who have recovery ministries for anything that ails you: alcoholism, drugs, adultery, sex addiction, porn etc. But I can't recall many that advertise having help for homosexuals. It could possibly be because it's just not "politically correct" to mention homosexual behavior as sin. Obviously, the gay-behavior affirming churches don't think it is. On Stephen's former blog, I asked the question, "How do we reconcile this disagreement between the gay-behavior affirming churches and the ones that follow Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible?"

I agree with you that many Christians can be self-righteous about this issue. Many don't want to deal with it because of the negative political reprecussions they may bring about in their lives if they speak out on this issue. They would rather ignore it or hope that it would just go away.

What is so unfortunate, is that even those Christians who truly have compassion for individuals caught up in the deception of this behavior and who don't want it being imposed upon their families or on society as normal are often viewed as self-righteous, homophobic, bigoted and hateful.

I try to include my own sin when witnessing about this subject. NO ONE is righteous, no not one! Including me! It is ONLY by the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ that I am not going to held accountable in eternity for my own personal sins commited in my life! Jesus is the ONLY ONE who deserves ALL THE GLORY AND PRAISE!

Your last paragraph is, unfortunately, often the truth. People do not know how to handle this situation nor where to go. I pray that Stephen's ministry will get more POSITIVE exposure (especially if he appears with Irene on Rita Cosby's new show) so that people will see that there ARE ministries out there which are equipped to handle and help families in this situation.

God bless you Susan. You are a lamp and a light to others, pointing towards the saving grace, mercy and forgiveness that can ONLY be found through Jesus Christ! I praise God for you, dear sister!

Love in the Lord,

Susan Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Susan Smith said...

You know Christine, I was 35 years old before I ever heard anyone thank God for me. That person was my mentor and I was amazed when this happened. Looking back, I realize how starved I was for true love when that happened.

Your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes. HIS WORD is a lamp to our feet and light to our path (see PSA 119:105). The Word became flesh... Christ in us, the hope of glory. I pray that God will increase your territory, bless you abundantly and count you worthy for the call He has on your life. Yours in Him. (ss)

Saltnlight said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.