God Didn’t Save Daniel FROM the Lion’s Den

Don’t you love it when a brother or sister plants a new word in you? Last night I enjoyed a brother’s comment as he shared his thoughts from Daniel. He said,

“I noticed God didn’t save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace, but He saved them in the furnace. And God didn’t save Daniel from the lion’s den; He saved him in the den.”

What an excellent and biblical thought! How often is that true?

  • God saved Noah through the flood.
  • God saved Job through his terrible losses.
  • God saved Samson in his blindness.
  • God saved Israel through the Red Sea and wilderness wandering.
  • God saved Rahab in the slaughter of her city.
  • God saved Joseph through the pit, the slavery, and the imprisonment.
  • God saved Jonah in the belly of the great fish.
  • God saved Elijah in the wilderness, through famine and drought.
  • Jesus saved His apostles in the storm.

And we could continue indefinitely.

God does not always stop the bad from happening to us. He often allows evil to overtake even His most faithful. But He saves His children through and in the difficulties, tragedies, and atrocities we all face.

What an excellent word, my brother! And what a wise God we serve, for we don’t always know why He allows suffering and pain, but we always know He’s there in it to help us through it!

One Word to Answer: Why the Hate?

Why the hate? We can answer in a single word. In fact, it’s the same word I answered a frustrated brother last night when he asked, “Why are family relationships so complicated?”

This one word explains why the political left hates the right and the right hates the left. It explains why your child is bullied at school.

It explains why your spouse sometimes frustrates the living daylights out of you and why your children fight like two cats in a gunny sack.

Why did that 64-year-old accountant attempt to murder hundreds of people in Las Vegas?

Why do people question each others motives, attributing the absolute worst thoughts and intentions to those who do not agree with them?

Why do the Black Panthers, ANTIFA, and KKK exist? Why are white supremacy groups a real thing? Why do so many die each day in our world’s largest cities at the hands of gun- or knife- or club-wielding perpetrators?

You probably already know the one word answer:

S I N

Yes, blood-red, bold, abhorrent sin.

Wickedness exists. Evil exists. And it exists within the heart of man (Mark 7.20-23). No amount of legislation can fix this problem, because it’s not a political issue–it’s entirely moral.

The only way to stop the hate and violence is to change the hearts of the ones committing the violence. That really is the only way. Do not expect the government to fix this, because the government has not the power nor the understanding to deal with this. Only GOD can deal with this!

Folks, this is why we must constantly and consistently preach the gospel! Jesus Christ came to save sinners and to transform hateful people into those who LOVE. Jesus shows us what love looks like in His communication, His compassion, and His cross.

Jesus preached the remedy for sin, which also can be summed up in a single word:

R E P E N T A N C E

As we study through Scripture, we find that God works the wonderful gift of repentance in the hearts of His people, as we come to Him in faith. We give ourselves to God, submit to Him, and He works in us to rebirth us, repair us, remake us into the image of His beloved Son, so that we renounce our own hate and become agents of love who stand in stark contrast against the hate in this world. Jesus told His followers to be lights in a dark world, like a city on a hill which cannot be hidden (Matt. 5.14-16).

What is my responsibility in the face of the hateful, wicked actions all around me? First, I must repent of my own wickedness and hate. Second, I must love my neighbor as myself. Third, I must share the good news of Jesus Christ with others in order to spread His Kingdom, and as His Kingdom grows, so will love in this world.

Sin must die. Love must reign.

Let’s Preach the Pure Gospel

Last night, I listened to a brother recount a recent event. He had visited a nearby church (nearby to him–he lives in a different state than I), and they excitedly showed him their new tracts they were beginning to use in teaching the gospel. Interested, he began reading through it. The first section, he noticed, concerned hermeneutics, or rules and principles on how to interpret the Bible–important, no doubt, but not the gospel. The next section concerned ecclesiology, or the study of how God designed the church to be and to function. Again, he did not find the gospel there. The last, brief section informed the reader how to respond to the gospel.

I fear many Christians today are in the same state as the Galatian brethren to whom Paul wrote, “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you to a different gospel!” (Gal. 1.6). Some had perverted the gospel to where it looked kind of like the real thing, but it lost all its power because it ended up depending on man’s work and not God’s.

The gospel is God’s power unto salvation for all who believe (Rom. 1.16). If it truly is God’s power to save us, we should know it, shouldn’t we?! If we are to preach the gospel to unbelievers, we have to know what to preach! That’s a fairly simple concept.

But many don’t seem to know what to tell their neighbors because other teachings have obscured and even usurped the pure gospel. Must a man know how the local church is supposed to function before he obeys the gospel? Is it necessary he understand all the rules of how to interpret the various genres of Scripture? Folks, we don’t convert people to the church and we don’t convert people to a system of hermeneutics. We convert them to Christ!

“If you would be perfect,” Jesus said the rich young ruler, “go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matt. 19.21). Following Jesus is that action which trumps all others, the one necessary thing, as Jesus chided Martha and praised Mary, “Only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10.42). Mary had chosen to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him, and that was the one necessary thing. HE is the one necessary thing! Paul outlines his only goal in Philippians 3.8: “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.”

We can’t teach the gospel without teaching about our sin, guilt, shame, and hopelessness. We can’t teach the gospel without showing the power of God, the glory of Christ, and His work on the cross! The good news is that Christ has already born the penalty for our sins and God saves us by grace through faith–salvation is HIS work and not ours–it is freely offered to everyone who will believe in Jesus Christ.

If we don’t preach that, we haven’t preached the gospel. All the other stuff is good to know, and, Lord willing, we will come to know it as we continue to walk in relation to our Lord and His word. But let’s not get the cart in front of the horse. Let’s preach the pure gospel!

Does God Really Expect Perfection?

Are you good enough for God? Have you ever wondered if you were?

Just how good do you need to be in order for God to accept you? Surely He has given some indication of His standard of measurement so we can know for sure. In fact, God HAS declared a standard of measurement for those who will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Sometimes people think God was really strict in the Old Testament but in the New Testament He relaxes His standards so we can actually achieve salvation. Isn’t that what grace is all about? Doesn’t God give us an easier time today than He gave the Jews?

I don’t deny that we live in a better time and under a better covenant, but Jesus did not come to relax God’s standards! In fact, He clarified God’s moral standards, raising them in the eyes of a people who had been lowering them and stripping them of their power and righteousness. Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5.19).

At the end of Matthew 5, Jesus states, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” How exactly is our heavenly Father perfect? Is He just kind of  perfect? Maybe “perfect” doesn’t actually mean perfect in the way we normally think of it. As people sometimes ask, “What does the Greek say?” The word (τέλειός) is translated through the New Testament as perfect, complete, mature. Oh good. I can see how I can be “mature” and not be totally “perfect,” so maybe I can relax the standard just a bit. Maybe God isn’t seeking full and total perfection (because, ha ha, who can achieve that standard?); maybe He just wants someone who’s “pretty good” (an admittedly fuzzy definition). But…whatever word we want to plug in there, it says to be perfect/mature/complete AS GOD Himself is perfect/mature/complete. That seems fairly unattainable!

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1.15, “As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct.” Again, Peter compares us to God Himself–we are to be the same kind of holy as He is! How do we adjust this so we can actually meet the standard?

We are not supposed to adjust anything! What God said, God meant, and we have no business trying to wiggle around until we feel comfortable. We ought to understand that God demands nothing short of complete perfection.

But I’m not perfect.

I’m betting you’re not, either.

What are we do do?!

Some theorize that we can become so mature in Christ that we can go for hours, days, perhaps even weeks without sinning. Really? And what do those theoretical pockets of perfection buy for you? Are you hoping Christ returns during one of your perfect hours? That sounds tenuous at best, and most of us haven’t yet come close to that theoretical perfection. I say “theoretical” because what these folks actually do is decided on a level of comfort they call “perfection,” and they lie to themselves thinking they have gone without sinning, when, in fact, God has said, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1.8).

God tells us not to sin; then He says if we say we have no sin we are liars. It’s a no-win situation. We might as well give up, throw in the towel, go home and cry. Not! This is the GOSPEL message! God wants us to understand this–come to the end of ourselves–feel totally powerless and vulnerable, because only then will we give up on ourselves and cling fully and completely to Jesus Christ.

Jesus walked perfectly without sin (Heb. 4.15). He endured the cross for our sake (2 Cor. 5.14-15), and through Him God reconciles us back to Himself (2 Cor. 5.18)! How did He bring us back into relationship with Himself? He made Christ to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21)! He no longer counts our sins against us (2 Cor. 5.19), because He laid all our sins on the back of His Son, Jesus. Jesus swapped places with us–the righteous for the sinner–so God now looks at men and women who are in Christ as being righteous, holy, perfect.

But I’m not perfect. That’s right! Christ is. And God counts the perfect righteousness of Christ to my account and imputes all my sin to Christ’s account. Glory be to God! He didn’t have to do it, but He did, freely. And so I am completely saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Praise God today if you are in Christ because He has taken all your sins and counts you now as holy!

If you’re not in Christ, it’s of utmost importance that you come to Him! I pray He draws you and shows you the path to true reconciliation and freedom. Please let me know if I can help you on your journey.

It’s My Body!

“It’s my body; I can do with it what I want!”

How many times have we heard this justification for the right of a woman to abort her baby?

But it’s not just pregnant women who justify themselves this way.

In the context of sex within marriage, Paul bluntly writes, “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Cor. 7.4). At this level we understand the husband owns his wife and the wife owns her husband. We don’t have a right to do whatever we want with our own bodies.

But even single men and women don’t own their bodies, because we all have an owner. Backing up just a couple of verses to the previous chapter of 1 Corinthians, we read:

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin  a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Cor. 6.18-20)

Brothers and sisters, God owns us–all of us–including our bodies. We do not have a right to do whatever we want with our bodies.

Think about this in context of fornication. Do we have a right to do whatever we want with our bodies?

Think about this in context of masturbation. “But it’s my body!” we insist.

Think about this in context of eating and drinking to excess. God labeled those gluttony and drunkenness, both of which He strongly condemns.

Think about this in context of looking upon a woman to lust after her. “But these are my eyes, and I’m not harming anyone!” Jesus thinks differently, and He commanded, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away…” (Matt. 7.27-30).

If you think about each of these sins (and many others), they hold in common a desire to please ourselves, to indulge our bodies, to cater to our fleshly appetites. Selfishness and sensuality rule. But what if we understand we are not our own–God owns us, and He has the authority to tell us what to do with our bodies because He purchased them with the blood of Jesus? Doesn’t that change our perspective?

Whenever we justify ourselves by claiming, “It’s my body!” we stand in rebellion against our Creator who made our bodies and who explains how we should use them. Instead, as the bride of Christ, we should present ourselves to Him pure and holy, keeping ourselves from defilements of the flesh. The world reminds us of all the things we’re missing, all the fun passing us by. But when we stand back and look at all the world’s broken relationships, STDs, and drug addictions, we realize how lovely God’s ways really are!

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7.1)

What God Wants You To Do Today

So many stumble through life with no sense of purpose. I sometimes look back on my day, week, or month and wonder exactly what have I been doing. What worthwhile thing have I accomplished? Have I made a difference to my family, to my friends, or to my community?

Thinking about purpose, consider the following info-graphic on suicide statistics in the state of Louisiana:

 

According to the same website, in the United States an average of 121 people commit suicide each day. That’s 44,165 per year!

Why so many suicides? Individuals take their own lives when they feel their physical or emotional pain is overwhelming and they cannot see past it. They don’t have a reason to live. Life no longer holds purpose or meaning.

I wonder what the rates of DEPRESSION in the United States might be. We distinguish between clinical depression and emotional depression, because the two are not synonymous. But how many are depressed because of their life situation, because their life holds no significant meaning in their own estimation?

Many of us, failing to understand God’s ordained purpose for our lives, fall into unhealthy and destructive cycles of selfishness in which we cease to care about others and focus almost entirely on our own needs, desires, and comforts. Have you fallen into such a cycle? Think about the following verses which show God’s plan for your life, and compare your actual life with God’s vision:

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6.8)

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1.16-17)

But if a man is just
And does what is lawful and right;
If he has not eaten on the mountains,
Nor lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel,
Nor defiled his neighbor’s wife,
Nor approached a woman during her impurity;
If he has not oppressed anyone,
But has restored to the debtor his pledge;
Has robbed no one by violence,
But has given his bread to the hungry
And covered the naked with clothing;
If he has not exacted usury
Nor taken any increase,
But has withdrawn his hand from iniquity
And executed true judgment between man and man;
If he has walked in My statutes—
And kept My judgments faithfully—
He is just;
He shall surely live!”
Says the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 18.5-9)

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2.3-4)

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’
“And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25.34-40)

Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. (James 1.27)

We could add so many verses, but these suffice to show God’s intent for His people. He wants us taking care of others, treating others as more important than ourselves. The work He gives us to do is so simple! Amazingly, when we submit to God’s vision for our lives and give ourselves for others, we find great purpose. Only a truly wicked and selfish person feels miserable after helping his neighbor! As Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

So what is my purpose for today? I should be helping someone, doing for someone, pouring myself out for someone. If I go day after day only serving myself (what do I want to eat; what do I want to do; when can I get back to my hobby?), life will fade into meaninglessness. But the more I submit myself to others’ needs, desires, and comforts, the less I think of myself, and the greater my own sense of blessedness, joy, and overall enjoyment of life becomes!

If you feel miserable and depressed, listless and aimless, try doing something for another. It’s exactly what God would have you do today. May God bless you as you labor in His kingdom.

Can You Really Control Yourself?

With God, all things are possible.

Can you control yourself? God commanded self-control, and what God commands He also enables His children to accomplish. If you are a Christian, walking with Christ, walking according to the Spirit, God has already given you the power to overcome the flesh!

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Rom. 6.4-7)

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. (Rom. 6.12-14)

We can excuse ourselves: “I just cannot conquer this sin.” We allow it to fester and hang around in our lives without challenge.

Notice God did not say, “Let me control you,” but “Control yourself.” We reign over our own bodies, hearts, and minds. He certainly helps and empowers us in our self-control, as we see from the the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

To Titus Paul wrote that older men should be “temperate,” that older women should not be “enslaved to much wine,” that younger women be “subject to their own husbands,” and that Titus himself should “be an example of good deeds.” All of those traits have self-control in their base. Paul uses another term with the older men, younger women, and younger women: they should be “sensible.” Many translations express this word as “self-controlled.” Thus, God expects self-control at all stages of a Christian’s life from the aged down to the youth.

Remember teenage Joseph, handsome in form and appearance, solidly refused Potiphar’s wife’s advances, saying, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. 39.9). She pressed him hard, one day grabbing him and trying to drag him into her bed, but “he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house” (Gen. 39.12). What a courageous young man, who saw sin so clearly, and who refused to cross a line God had drawn!

With God’s help we can all have this kind of self-control!

I do not say that a worldly-minded, fleshly-thinking person can have this control–for he allows his flesh to control him. But God bestows great grace upon us, His children, that we might flee youthful lusts and get out of the house!

Let us bring our children up in the Lord in such a way that they might know Him and the freedom from sin He grants through Jesus Christ. And let us also take hold of His grace, knowing that God’s grace brings salvation for all people and trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. God’s grace empowers us to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2.11-12).

Walk in the light, dear brothers and sisters!

God Revealed to Me…

I cannot tell  how many times I have heard religious folks say,

  • “The Lord spoke to me…”
  • “God revealed to me…”
  • “I felt led by God to…”
  • “The Holy Spirit guided me…”

And many other such phrases, indicating that God somehow directly communicates with them and does so on a regular basis.

Honestly, my first thought is usually “God has never spoken to me like that–am I not His child, too?”

But then I take it to Scripture, and I want to ask, “Exactly how has God spoken to you, and in what way is He leading you?” If they define what they mean in a biblical way, perhaps we are no so far apart.

For instance, if they mean they searched Scripture diligently and discovered what God wanted them to do, I totally understand walking in God’s wisdom and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit in that way. Or if they mean they sought godly counsel from wise Christians who gave them biblical advice, I understand that, too. But if they mean that God actually spoke words and sentences to them, communicating through a dream or a vision, that is outside my realm of Christian experience. I will not insist they didn’t hear those words or see those visions, but I will remind them that God Himself instructs us:

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4.1)

One major test (perhaps THE major test) is to check what you hear against what God has already revealed in Scripture. In that way, God’s revealed and tested word continues to stand as the basis for every other word or message we receive in life. No external message (from someone claiming to speak for God) or internal message (from a feeling, a heart-tug, or a word coming into our mind) can stand above and supersede God’s already revealed word.

Ezekiel 13 powerfully exposes the rampant false teaching among the Jews just before Nebuchadnezzar leveled the city in 586 BC. God describes those false prophets as those who…

  • “prophecy from their own hearts” (13.2)
  • “follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” (13.2)
  • “have seen false visions and lying divinations” (13.6)
  • “say, ‘Declares the Lord,’ when the Lord has not sent them” (13.6)
  • “have mislead My people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace” (13.10)

Our deceptive hearts can fool even ourselves, and we can think that a certain strong feeling to do something is the word of the Lord. Let us be careful not to blindly trust in our feelings one way or the other. God has certainly planted a conscience within each of us which either condemns us when we do something wrong or commends us when we do something right, but that’s not the same thing as God speaking to us directly.

Examine the Scriptures and find how God spoke to prophets. He did not leave them with feelings; He always spoke clearly, directly, to the point. That’s how God communicates. If you tell me that God told you to do something, please don’t be offended when I ask how you received that word. I’m testing the spirits, and maybe I can help teach you how to test the spirits, as well.

How tragic to lean on our own hearts and our own spirits for guidance! How terrible it will be for those who follow their feelings to stand before Jesus and say, “But it felt so real!” and to have Jesus respond, “But I never said that. That wasn’t Me speaking.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3.5)

The Path to Joy

Perhaps you have memorized Philippians 2.3-7:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

You may remember Paul wrote Philippians from a prison cell in Rome. You may also recall a major theme of the letter is JOY! Rejoice in the Lord always.

Where do we find this joy and that deep peace the world cannot know (Phil. 4.6-7)?

The world looks for joy in all the wrong places, because it believes happiness happens (see the relationship between those words?) as we seek it. Yes, the world pursues happiness. After all, is it not written into the Constitution of the United States? They seek happiness in power, prestige, and possessions (connect with the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–1 John 2.16). The world shouts “Me! I deserve! I want! Give me! You can’t have mine!” If it sounds selfish, it’s because it is.

However, God’s ways are opposite the world’s. When the world shouts “Me,” God says “regard one another as more important than yourselves.” When the world shouts “I want; Give me,” God says, “It’s better to give than to receive.” When the world shouts “I deserve,” God says, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus…who emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant.” If anyone deserves, Christ does. If anyone deserves nothing, it is I.

Brothers and sisters, we can only find true joy and peace when we quit seeking them and rather begin seeking Christ and the the interests of others. Have you ever noticed how good you feel after you pour your energy out for someone else? It may be your child, your spouse, or your friend. It may be your neighbor, your coworker, or your enemy. When we expend ourselves for others, God has built into our consciences–into our very beings–an understanding of the rightness of selfless action.

Jesus, of course, perfectly models this mindset, and we should imitate Him.

How will you seek the interest of others today?

Pushed Out

The events which transpired according to John 9 leave us laughing or crying–usually both. What a silly, backwards, upside-down situation!

Wealthy theology-professors lorded it over the synagogues in first-century Jerusalem. Legend records around 400 synagogues in Jerusalem at the time of it’s destruction in 70 A.D. Talk about the opportunity to join the church of your choice! But the leaders of the synagogues were steeped in the traditions of the elders, which had been handed down and compounded over the generations, and Jesus stood strongly against those man-made traditions.

Under a cloud of controversy, Jesus performed an act of kindness and compassion, healing a man who had been born blind. What was Jesus’ sin? He performed the healing on a Sabbath Day, which (according to the tradition of the elders) broke the Sabbath because He performed “work” on the day of rest. The Jews already hated Jesus and had put out an APB: “If anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he [is] to be put out of the synagogue” (John 9.22). So the Jewish leaders already had their guns trained on Jesus, and this event triggered a battle.

Interrogations ensued. The synagogue officials interviewed witnesses, the blind man’s parents, and the blind man himself, all of whom confirmed he was, indeed, the same blind man who had begged for years around the city. All the officials had probably seen him around–but probably had pretended they didn’t. They certainly weren’t showing him any compassion now that he was healed. They told the poor guy, “You were born in utter sin, and you would teach us?” (John 9.34).

While being questioned, the formerly-blind man enjoyed a rare opportunity to confess Jesus publicly before the authorities of his day, and he took full advantage. The tables turned. The great theologians became the ones who knew nothing, and the poor beggar became the bearer of earth’s greatest truth. Instead of agreeing with obvious truth, the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus, His teaching, and His disciples, basically spitting in the face of a man in whom a wonderful healing had just been worked. Jesus had freed this man!

Not only were the man’s physical eyes opened, but also his spiritual. “He is a prophet,” he confidently asserted to his inquisitors. “Lord, I believe,” he boldly declared to Jesus when he met Him again, and he worshiped Jesus (John 9.35-38).

On the other hand, the grand interpreters of the law, the self-proclaimed defenders of truth called Jesus a man “not from God” (John 9.16), “a sinner” (John 9.24), and a nobody as far as they were concerned (John 9.29). What did they do with the formerly-blind man? Did they embrace him as a newly-healed brother? Did they congratulate him on his fresh life? No, “they cast him out” (John 9.34).

How excellent for this poor beggar–to be cast out by these men. With his new spiritual eyes, I imagine he felt little emotional pain from their mistreatment. I doubt the Jewish leaders had ever cared for him, loved him, or helped him. Now they revealed real animosity and hatred! Jesus, on the other hand, showed pity and deep love, sharing the power of God with him. I imagine this man felt perfectly content to remain a disciple of Jesus and leave the hateful synagogue officials behind.

Who needs the blessing of hateful men? Who needs great theologians if they don’t have the love of Christ? Who needs elders who refuse to open their eyes to such obvious truth?

Have you been there, friend? Have you unsuccessfully attempted to win the favor of men who turned out to be missing the truth? Have you been marginalized or pushed out? Don’t fear! Don’t hate the haters. But love the One who opens your eyes to the real truth.

On the other hand, as Jesus said, we should learn to judge with righteous judgment, and we will find men and women who truly do know Jesus and actually love Him, follow Him, and live for Him. They will love you as Jesus loves you.

If men push you out of their midst, just go–shake the dust off your feet and move on. It’s not important to stay with those who push you away; it’s important to stay with Him who opened your eyes!