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"Two Evils"

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

            In Jeremiah chapter two, God declares that His people had committed “two evils” (v. 13). These evils were: “they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and have hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” In short, this verse tells us why the people were in the shape they were in, spiritually. This explains why they were facing an enemy like Babylon and why Jeremiah, and other prophets, had warned the people of their unrepentant sin and impending doom for years. At the same time, this verse gives us insight into why our country and society are in the shape it is in today! What can we learn from this short passage (Rom. 15:4)?

            Judah’s problem was that they had forsaken the “fountain of living waters.” The phrase “living water” would be stated again in Jeremiah 17:13. This was repeated in the New Testament when Christ referred to the living water He could give to the Samaritan woman and whoever else wished to have it (Jn. 4:14). Revelation 22:17 tells us that “whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely.”

            Notice that forsaking God meant forsaking the “living water.” The Jews had forsaken God through their words and deeds. Have we not done the same? Look around and note the immorality, the utter abandon for anything that reminds us of God. In America, Christians have not “resisted unto blood” yet; but at times, the majority will make Christians feel ashamed for mentioning God, the Bible, truth, morality, godly standards, etc., in public. Our children learn early that it is hard to stand alone in school. I can remember numerous times where I stood alone in the face of friends, teachers, and others and had to say I would do what the Lord said even if others did not like it. Friends, have you had to make such stands? I am sure many of our dear readers have. When we stand like Jeremiah, Amos, and numerous others did in history, people might tell you to keep your religion to yourself or tell you to keep your beliefs “private.” This is because the majority has rejected the “fountain of living waters”! We have laws in our land that allow murder, fornication, drinking, gambling, and many other things. Our country has legalized many things God calls sin. Then, the majority of the people engage in these things because they are legal! Is there any wonder why I am finding a small number of people who are now ready to listen to God and do His will? They have tried what Satan and the world have to offer, and they are dehydrated! They need the true water and will find it nowhere else but with Christ (Jn. 4).

            The last part of Jeremiah 2:13 notes what happens when people reject God. You see, if man rejects God (Jehovah) in his life, then he does not simply forget God. He must then put another “god” in Jehovah’s place! Please notice in this passage that it wasn’t enough that men rejected God, the “fountain of living water.” What happened next? They still needed water, so they went and dug their own cisterns (v. 13)! The problem was that the cisterns they dug could not hold water! Physically, we would think a person foolish who has access to a clear stream, where he might use free water, who then digs a cistern to carry water to his house. Yet, we do this spiritually when we reject God but then invent our own “gods!”

This is what Paul (by inspiration) said that the Gentiles did at one point. He showed that these people were so wicked that they “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Rom. 1:28). What they had done was “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image make like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things” (Rom. 1:23). Notice that these people didn’t reject God and then stop worshipping anything. Instead, they rejected God and found another god (in the case of the Gentiles, they created many)!

We have committed these same two evils today! We have rejected God and then made our own gods to worship! While some may think I overstate a case, I don’t believe I have. When God is taken off of His throne, men will put something or someone in that place. It might be a job, some physical pursuit, or hobby. It may be self, family, etc., but something will go in that spot! Sadly, we have elected officials who have been only too willing through the years to legalize sins so that they could be reelected! Rest assured, whatever we select in place of God will be a poor substitute -- just as poor as rejecting cool, clean water for drinking water we get from a leaky cistern! Rest assured, we will also suffer as those people suffered for rejecting God! “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). That was true in Old Testament days, and it is true today! If we wish to avoid the consequences of our sinful behavior, then let us repent of our sins now (II Pet. 3:9; Acts 17:30)! Let us turn back to God while we still can! We didn’t get this way in a day, and it will take more than a day to make all the corrections necessary. However, if we don’t start today, when will we start (Heb. 3:7-8; II Cor. 6:2)? If we do not act now, when will we act? What is it going to take for us to listen to God? Let’s begin today to aright the ship of this nation and not continue in the same error as Judah!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“Sin Is A Wound.”

Sunday, June 06, 2021

            In Micah 1:9, we read the comparison of the nation’s sin to a wound. This is not unique to Micah, for his contemporary, Isaiah, used a similar description of sin in Isaiah 1:5-6. We also see this in Nahum 3:19 and Jeremiah 15:18. Thus, the term “wound” was common in the Old Testament when speaking of sin.

            The word “wound” is defined as a blow, plague, or defeat. I have found some who say it implies that one would be struck dead! In other words, this is a significant wound under consideration! When speaking about sin, Micah was not talking about a pin-scratch! Sin is a wound that leads to death. We see this same teaching in Isaiah 1 as well!

            When we hear men speak about sin (how often is that?), are we hearing them speak of sin in such terms as “wounds”? It seems we don’t sin anymore in our society. We have diseases, addictions, conditions, afflictions, compulsions, and the like, but it seems there is no sin anymore! What has happened?

            The Bible tells us that “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). James says that sin is a result of our being tempted and yielding to our lusts (desires) when we know we ought not (Jas. 1:14-15). When we sin, it brings harm to us. Sometimes, this harm is felt physically, but it is always felt spiritually! We are wounding ourselves when we sin and then continue in it. After a while, our sin affects others, and we can end up hurting other people with our sin!

            If you are not sure about this, then please consider the harm that comes to a man or woman who is a drunk. Not only do they hurt themselves (Prov. 23:29-35), but they can ruin and wreck a family relationship! Gamblers who say their covetous acts and thievery are all “harmless” fun have gambled away paychecks, houses, cars, and yes, even people at times (Rom. 13:9)! Look at the lives destroyed by those who do drugs. How many will sell their bodies just to have another “hit” (Heb. 13:4)? How many drug users steal from friends and family to get another “high”? Is sin really nothing? Is it really harmless fun?

            Sin in the form of false doctrine is also just as damaging (II Pet. 2:1-3). In Peter’s second letter, he warns of false teaching and talks about the “judgment” and “damnation” that awaits those guilty. Is it any wonder that Old Testament writers like Micah, Isaiah, Nahum, and Jeremiah equate sin with devastating and fatal wounds? Friends, are we paying attention?

Satan wants to convince us that sin is a joke, a fairy tale, or something to scare little kids at night. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Sin is real, and it is fatal! The soul who sins shall die is what we are taught in Ezekiel 18:20. James 1:15 also says that death is the result of sin. It sounds to me like the wounds of sin cause real damage in the lives of those who live in it.  No wonder Jeremiah asks about “balm in Gilead” (Jer. 8:22)! How long are you going to continue to deny how harmful sin really is? How long will you fool yourself into thinking that sin is nothing?

            When God described sin as a wound, you can rest assured, this was an accurate statement! It is a fatal wound if left untreated. Thankfully, there is a treatment. There is “balm.” There is a cure. This cure is the blood of Christ (I Pet. 1:18-19; Matt. 26:28; Rev. 1:5). The blood of Christ can wash away our sins! It can make us pure and whole again. How can we receive the benefit from the blood? This happens when we accept the Lord’s plan of salvation (Acts 2:38; Mk. 16:16)! When we do things the Lord’s way, He, the Great Physician, can forgive our sins and treat the horrible wounds. We can be cured and reconciled to God through Christ (II Cor. 5:17-20). Would you like to have this? Why are you waiting? Why spend one more day with these wounds when Christ can heal you?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“What Will You Give In Exchange?”

Friday, December 18, 2020

            Our Lord Jesus asked His apostles, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37). These questions of Christ get my attention. In an age when we are told that possessing material goods is the purpose of life, we need to go back and listen to the Lord’s words here.

            Please understand that one’s soul is his greatest possession. The eternal soul of man is of such value that Jesus died so that men’s souls might be saved (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9). The eternal soul of man is just that -- eternal. It will last after this world is on fire (II Pet. 3:10)! It is the immortal soul that continues. “Then shall the dust (our bodies) return to the earth as it was,” but the spirit of man will return to God’s care  (Ecc. 12:7). Do we appreciate the true value of the soul?

            I am not sure we always appreciate the value of the soul. As I observe men, I see them exchange their eternal souls for doctrinal error (Gal. 1:6-9, 3:1; Rom. 16:17; II Pet. 2:1-3). I see others exchanging their souls for drinking and drugs (I Pet. 4:3-4; Prov. 20:1; Gal. 5:19-21). Still, others will exchange their souls for ungodly acts like stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and lying (I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8; Eph. 4:25-32). In other words, folks are saying that practicing these things are more important and are of a higher value than their souls’ salvation. Please reread Mark 8:36. What is actually gained when folks spend their lives in such sins?

            We are very short-sighted, aren’t we? We think satisfying the flesh will result in a satisfied soul. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The fact is that if someone were able to acquire all of the gold in the world, the silver, the diamonds, the precious gems, the money, etc., none of this would equal the value of his soul.

Some, though, don’t even need this much to exchange their souls! Some will jeopardize their souls and even deny plain Scriptures to avoid contradicting family members or some respected person (Jn. 1:11; Mk. 7:6, 8-9, 13). Some do it by yielding to others’ ungodly pressure rather than listening to God (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 12:42-43). Yet, others exchange their souls by going back into the world after learning the truth (Lk. 8:14; II Tim. 4:10)! (Notice that I added Scripture references to show that the problems that plague us are the same problems that plagued people in the first century!)

            Is it any wonder the words of Christ, not only in Mark 8 but throughout Scripture, are applicable today? Our needs and concerns are the same now as they were then. Our need to stand firm and hold tightly to our soul’s salvation is just as needed now as it ever was (I Thess. 5:21; II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 10:23)!

            Friend, what will you give in exchange for your soul? Could it be you have already done this? Some folks are exchanging their souls for personal pursuits, personal sins, and pleasing self, and they are being short-changed! Don’t allow this to happen to you!

            We can avoid this happening to us when we deny ourselves and follow the Lord (Mk. 8:34)! We can prevent this by determining to live by faith (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6) and being baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then, we need to live a faithful life to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Let us present our bodies as “a living sacrifice” to God (Rom. 12:1-2). We can make sure that our souls are not exchanged for the wrong things, but these kinds of actions and decisions must be made today! Now (II Cor. 6:2)! Some wait until it is too late. Don’t be like them!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"What Makes Life Fulfilling?"

Saturday, September 05, 2020

                   Solomon, the wisest man to walk the earth (I Kings 4:30-31) offers us advice today. He records that he had tried it all, but the best that the world had to offer was still not enough (Ecc. 2:11). I find it interesting that when we read Ecclesiastes 2:1-12, Solomon fell into the same trap we today are prone to fall.

                   Solomon said he tried laughter (2:2), wine (2:3), buildings (2:5-6), possessions (2:7-10), entertainment (2:8), and sensual pleasure with his concubines (2:8), and it all brought him to one conclusion -- it was worthless (2:11-12)! In reading this section, I find it interesting that Solomon’s choices are the same ones the world today holds up to us as measurements of success. Think about it. If you are to be “successful” by the world’s standards:

  • Live by the motto: “If it feels good, do it.” When it stops feeling good, then stop doing it and do something else.
  • Be sophisticated and drink alcohol.
  • Build things so there is some “monument” or “legacy” when you are gone.
  • Be entertained.
  • Make sure and engage in sensual/sexual pleasure without concern for marriage.
  • Stockpile all of the goods and possessions that you can. Money equals happiness!

                   If the world’s standard means happiness, why was Solomon so sure this was a waste of his time on earth? Why wasn’t Solomon happy? In like manner, why are there so many successful people who are miserable today? Koheleth (the Preacher) calls the future generations together to say that; actually, this is not what brings happiness or joy to life (Ecc. 2:11-12)!

                   Friend, let us learn a lesson from the Preacher and get our priorities straight (Matt. 6:33). Jesus has a better way. He reminds us, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15). Contrast Ecclesiastes 2 with Hebrews 11:32-40. God says that the world was not “worthy” of those prophets and folks who dwelled in deserts, mountains, and caves, not in men’s palaces. What made the difference? Study this and learn that this difference made all the difference!

                   Fulfillment in life does not come with “things,” but with what is intangible (II Cor. 4:18). Preparation for Heaven, stockpiling treasure in Heaven is far greater than the treasure we might amass on earth (Matt. 6:19-21). Where is your treasure, friend? Where is your heart? Solomon lived a life of opulence and found it all empty. His words and life stand as an object lesson for us. Are we willing to listen and learn? Let’s get our priorities straight and have a fulfilled life in Christ. If you’re not a Christian, then become one while you can (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). If you have already done this, then stay faithful (Rev. 2;10). Lay up your true treasure in Heaven.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Cannot Cease From Sin"

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

            “Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin” is a vivid description of false teachers (II Pet. 2:14). It reminds me of the description of the people before the Flood when “every imagination of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). To have one’s eyes “full of adultery” is a poetic way of saying these people see the perverse in everything. Purity and innocence are gone from them. Sin has perverted their minds.

            This statement, “cannot cease from sin,” doesn’t meant they physically couldn’t stop sinning. They could change if they desired (II Pet. 3:9). It means that these folks won’t stop. They have “exercised” their hearts to where they think of only the wicked, the ugly, the sinful, the impure, the dishonest, and the godless. It has become such a habit for them that it is like “second-nature.” It’s like breathing to them. Paul similarly described the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32. Do you know people like this? Have you seen people like this in the mirror? I pray not!

            It is these people that Peter says promise folks “liberty” though “they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption” (II Pet. 2:19)! These people are in bondage to their sin and wickedness, and they want others to go with them down the same road! This is the nature of those in bondage to sin. They don’t want people “judging” them, but joining them! They don’t want people to instruct them in the way that is right and cannot be wrong (Rom. 1:16-17; Jn. 8:31-32). They want consequences ignored as they think about all the “freedom” and all the “fun” they are having in sin!

            As an example, this is the practice of any alcohol ad. The commercials focus on the “fun-times,” or the “sophistication,” or just quiet introspection as one thoughtfully drinks alcohol. At the end, we read the disclaimer to “Think when you drink” or a reminder to have a designated driver, or there is the fine print where a toll-free number for “A.A.” is offered. Why the disclaimers? I thought alcohol brings good times and sophistication! Why a designated driver? Doesn’t alcohol make you smart? Apparently, alcohol promises one thing (liberty) but brings something else (bondage). If you are not sure about this, ask why it is that alcohol commercials never include winos or the people whose marriages were destroyed because of alcohol. Why do we never see ads showing the people having “DT’s” when coming off of a weekend bender? “When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Prov. 23:25). This is the mantra of the addicted person, i.e., the one who is fooled into thinking he is free when he is actually in bondage.

            Other examples of spiritual bondage abound, but the point is that a man can sin so much until it is “second-nature.” He can lie so frequently that he no longer knows what the truth is! Someone who cannot cease from sin is in slavery and needs to get out! The only One who can free us from the bondage of sin is Christ (Jn. 8:31-32, 36). He makes it possible for us to “escape the pollutions of this world (II Pet. 2:20). The question is, will we accept His cure? He sacrificed His life for all (Matt. 20:28), but not everyone accepts it (Matt. 7:13-14, Acts 17:30-34).

            What will you do? Will you continue in bondage, or will you accept freedom in Christ? When we believe on Christ (Jn. 8:32), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3, 5), confess our faith (Rom. 10:10), and are baptized, we can be made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:17-18; Acts 22:16). The sin that was once “second-nature” we can drop and can accept true freedom in Christ! Why are you waiting?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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