Nuggets of Fudge – REFLECTIONS ON TEMPTATION (1)


Why do we sin? What is temptation? What is its appeal, its substance, its power? Can we resist it? Defeat it? Escape it? If “Yes,” by what power? If by our power, is God involved? If by God’s power, must we do anything ourselves? As one who has been sinning and coming short of God’s plan for human beings for nearly 69 years, and as one who has been rescued from sin’s power by a power even greater, but who has been helpless against sin apart from that greater power, I wish to devote a few gracEmails to this subject beginning with this one. Today we take a general look at the context of the temptation of Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness of Judea, described in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13.

The Gospel story begins with John baptizing Jesus, and with God visibly and audibly marking Jesus as his well-beloved son. Luke inserts a genealogy that begins with Jesus and moves backward to Adam–“Adam, the son of God.” Luke is telling us that Jesus is a second Adam, the head of a new humankind. Jesus’ bright moment at the Jordan is followed by forty days of spiritual darkness in the desert. It is a barren and rugged land, a badlands crawling with snakes and scorpions, devoid of human residents, a place where wild animals wander in search of prey. It is also a haunt of the devil.

Jesus fasts for forty days and nights and is hungry. The son of God hungry? Can hungry Jesus really be the son of God? No doubt. But doubt is a chief stock in the devil’s trade–overt at times, subtle at others. Doubt expressed with a sneer, or a look of surprise. Expressed by suggestion, question and insinuation. If you are the son of God, taunts the devil, manipulate a miracle and meet your needs! Enjoy the perks! Look the part! Wow the crowds and gain a following! But each time, Jesus refuses. God’s results do not depend on carnal shortcuts or cheap stunts. Didn’t then. Don’t now. Truth is, they never have.

Words of truth and wisdom from my friend and fellow on the journey, Edward Fudge.

From time to time I’ll share “Nuggets of Fudge” with the readers of Grace Digest. They are tasty!

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA

 

 

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From guest blogger Edward Fudge – Sinful Through and Through


A graceEmail subscriber asks what David meant in Psalm 51 when he said that he was conceived in sin, and what Paul intended in Ephesians 2 in saying we once all were children of wrath.

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Some believers conclude that both David and Paul are using hyperbole, deliberately overstating the matter to emphasize the extent to which we all participate in sinful activities. That explanation probably contains some truth, but it stops short of the full reality. Sin is not only a specific wrong deed; it is also a malignant force embedded in our fallen nature (Rom. 5:12ff). David looks at himself and confesses that he is a sinner and that he always has been–since the moment he was conceived. Paul says that even those who are finally saved once were controlled by sin and under God’s judgment.

Perhaps the easiest way to see the truth in David’s and Paul’s spot-on statements (not overstatements at all, as it turns out) is to look at one’s own self. When I honestly inspect my own heart in the light of all that God wishes to do in making me like Jesus Christ, I am a total failure. Every moral command God has given, I have broken–in spirit if not in actual deed. If I ever deny that, I will be lying and further proving the point. If I should ever pretend that it is not so and that I am not guilty before God apart from Jesus Christ, I would be a hypocrite of the worst sort.

But instead of denying my sinfulness, I confess it. Rather than pretending to be something I am not, I constantly admit that my aims are higher than my achievements. My goals exceed my performance. My desires surpass my ability to carry them out. But because God is rich in mercy, I am now a saved one by grace through faith (Eph. 2:3-9). God has declared me righteous–and by declaring it, he made it so. He is now transforming me into the image of Jesus Christ. This is all from God, and it is a free gift. It is all to the praise of the glory of his grace.

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I couldn’t have stated this truth any better. Because what my friend Edward Fudge says is true is the specific reason we need Christ and what his work affords those who trust him.I, like Edward, often find that I fail to live up to my own expectations and my heart is not fully turned toward God. So, it is with thanksgiving that I proclaim that God is a God of grace, giving sinful, ungodly people what they don’t earn or deserve.

If you are not a subscriber to Edward Fudge’s gracEmail you should become one today. You will be blessed by the heart of this good man. Go to EdwardFudge.com and sign up for his weekly treasure of wisdom.

ewfatty

 

God came to me.


I’ve recently been thinking through what I believe about God, about His scheme of redemption, and how in the person of Jesus He brings sinners like me to himself. In two recent posts, here and here, I tried to display a snapshot of man’s sinfulness and his hopeless and helpless condition without God. In this post I want to show what I believe is the clear teaching of Scripture about how a person  is awakened to the grace and mercy of God in Christ.

It is very common to hear someone serve up the idea that salvation is a cooperative effort, “God’s part” and “man’s part“. For many years I have contended that this idea is not true, and cannot be true. Two verses come to mind that are convincing.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
Romans 8:7

A person in his natural state of being is so alienated from God, and the things of God because of sin, that he does not and cannot receive the things of God. Look closely at these verses.

1. A natural man “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God“.

Left to his own devices and his own resources a person without God will not accept the truth of God. This is true every time, in every case. Why? Because the things of God are “foolishness” to him. The story of the passion of Christ makes no sense to him. I have spoken to many people who upon being told of God’s love expressed in the work of Jesus’ death for sinners, and that he now makes sinners pure without their participation, reject it outright. They want no part of it! Man always wants to get credit for his goodness.

2. A natural man “does not submit to God’s law“.

It isn’t that a person without God is neutral, that he just has no interest. Oh no, the truth is he is in rebellion against God. He is “hostile” toward God. He doesn’t “accept” the things of God, and doesn’t “submit” to God’s law because he is against God in his heart.

3. A natural man “is not able to understand” the things of God. And, he “cannot submit” to God’s law.

Here in these two verses is the picture of men and women apart from God who have NO ability on their own to receive the truth about God, to understand, or to submit to Him. You might say to yourself, “If these verses are literally true then how could anyone ever be saved”? It’s a legitimate question and there is an answer, but first one more passage to affirm the utter hopelessness of people without God.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Ephesians 2:1-3

Here the Apostle Paul is speaking to folks who are now God’s very own children. He is reminding them of their past and the awful condition of that ugly past. They were “dead” to the things of God, they lived in “trespasses” and “sins“, they were on a course like the rest of the world, following Satan (“the prince of the power of the air”), they lived only to please themselves, and were “children of wrath” like everyone else.

This is indeed a pretty sad state. Here is a people who are dead in sin, dead to the things of God, following the devil, against God, not willing to accept or submit to God, and in fact cannot possibly do so. How then can a person come to Christ and be saved? Thank God the passage above did not end with verse 3.

But God, being rich in mercy,because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5

Yes, people are helpless and hopeless. Yes, they are dead to God, are his enemy, and can’t do anything about it. They have absolutely NO ability to come to God. But God! 

God came to where we were. Right in the middle of our rebellion, our spiritual death, our selfish, ungodly lives and “made us alive together with Christ“! My salvation and yours was by God’s initiative, not mine or yours.

You see, this is precisely what grace is! God loves sinners and he provided a remedy for their sins and then comes to gather them to himself. Paul continues….

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

But for God’s work in us and for us, shining the light of the truth of the gospel into our dark souls we should all perish in our ungodly condition. But He does come to us! The Holy Spirit stirs the heart to faith and repentance and the light of the gospel dispels the darkness of sin and unbelief and God gives LIFE to the lifeless!

“Nothing in my hand I bring, only to the cross I cling” goes the old song. I can claim no worth, no merit, no work. I can only give glory and praise to a loving God who makes the dead live and love! Oh how wonderful is the story of Jesus and his love for sinners like me. Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord! He alone can save the lost sinner.

May God’s truth grip our hearts and minds so that He alone has the glory he deserves.

Royce Ogle

 

 

A Politically Incorrect view of a person without God.


Recently, in the context of a discussion about American politics one of the participants made this statement, one that I have heard many times, word for word. She said “I believe most people are basically good”. And then more recently I read this statement from a Christian minister. He wrote, “…everyone is looking for God”. This is an example of the misinformed and misguided masses’ appraisal of humankind. Unfortunately for them the Bible paints a far different picture.

(I think the first step in thinking of subject matter of this magnitude is to answer this question. At the end of the endeavor who is going to be right, me or God?

And, this disclaimer: I am right sometimes but God is right all the time. I don’t know everything about the God I serve or his Word the Bible. I might be completely wrong. If you think I am, lets talk about it, I am willing to learn.)

Most of us who live under the banner “Christian” believe human life begins at conception. It seems that belief is true and that sin started there too, in every life.

THE NATURE OF MAN

When we think of the “nature” of a person we think in terms of what that person is, or does, “naturally”. God evidently holds a different view than many of his creatures.

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Psalm 51:5

David was not saying here that the act of conception was sinful but that his life began sinful. (I’ll likely talk about this more in the next post.) Big people and little people are sinners, old and young, ignorant and educated, rich and poor, slender and obese, all of us are sinful and always have been.

Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus reminding them where they came from. What they once lived in every day of their former lives was trespasses and sins.

2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience
Ephesians 2:2

They followed the bent of the world at large, away from God. And, they followed the devil who is the “spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” Here God groups all of humanity into one category, “disobedient”. There are no exceptions given. He then continues to describe the ugly truth about humanity at its worst. There can be no mistaking what Paul wrote and what God is saying.

3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Ephesians 2:3

The indictment is all inclusive. “..we all”. Our intentions were all bad. We lived “in the passions of our flesh”. We lived selfishly to please what our “natural” bodily desires are. Our intellect was corrupted so that when we carried out the desires of our minds we were off course. Our very nature was to go against God and his will. Ever heard anyone give this excuse for some wrong action? “It just seemed so natural”. And, it was natural. Those who remain in this unregenerate condition are targets for the wrath of God. His anger will burn against those who spurn his love and grace. Then he emphasizes once more saying we were like the “rest of mankind”. That means ALL of them.

Paul wrote to the Roman Christians saying things like “all have sinned” (Rom 3:23), “there is none righteous” (Rom 3:10), “we have all gone out of the way..” (Rom 3:12) The first two chapters of Romans leave no doubt that all men everywhere are unrighteous and ungodly and are not seeking after God (Rom 3:11) as some people claim.

God must come to the rescue of those who are hopelessly out of His favor and He has. Jesus came to set men right with God by His living and dying and rising again. He settled the books for every sin filled human. He took your sin and mine upon himself and paid the penalty by dying for us. Now God’s gracious offer is that for those who believe the record he has given about His Son and trust only Him will have Jesus’ righteousness in the place of their unrighteousness. The promise is that ones who are “children of wrath” will “not be appointed to wrath” once they are in Christ and He in them. It’s a deal to good to refuse! There is a reason it’s called “The Good News”.

Royce Ogle

By Royce Posted in Sin Tagged