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The Sin of Ingratitude

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned with a loud voice glorifying God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Jesus said, “Were not the ten cleansed? Where are the nine?”

— Luke 17:15-17

This passage shows something of the nature of ingratitude. It is an astonishment to God that His beneficences do not, indeed, call forth expressions of gratitude. Ingratitude is a very serious sin.

This is certainly brought out in the first chapter of Romans, where Paul describes the sinfulness of the heathen world and catalogs a great list of sins. Read the last half of the first chapter of Romans and you will see how the heathen world had sunk deeper and deeper into the vilest forms of depravity. Finally, when you trace it all back, what do you find? “[A]lthough they knew God, they did not glorify Him or give thanks to Him as God … Therefore God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (Romans 1:21, 26).

Ingratitude and thanklessness are wellsprings out of which flowed eventually all of these other sins. The person who commits all these sins mentioned in Romans 1 is a person who is not grateful. You cannot be praising God and thanking God for what He has done for you while engaging in the type of activities described this chapter.

Question to ponder:
Why is ingratitude a gateway sin into what Scripture calls “dishonorable passions”?

The Indestructible Word of God

I will delight in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.

— Psalm 119:16

We are living in a time when Biblical ignorance is widespread. Except for a small proportion of those who faithfully and daily study the Word of God, Americans are a Biblically illiterate people. But the Bible is the greatest of treasures. It is the indestructible Word of God, the unconquerable Word of God. Dr. A. Z. Conrad said this about the indestructible Word of God:

Century follows century—there it stands. Empires rise and fall—there it stands. Dynasty succeeds dynasty—there it stands. Kings are crowned and uncrowned—there it stands. Emperors decree its exterminations—there it stands. Despised and torn to pieces—there it stands. Storms of hate swirl about it—there it stands. Atheists rail against it—there it stands. Agnostics smile cynically—there it stands. Profane, prayerless punsters caricature it—there it stands. Unbelief abandons it—there it stands. Higher critics deny its inspiration—there it stands. Thunderbolts of wrath smite it—there it stands. An anvil that has broken a million hammers—there it stands.

Not only is the Word of God indestructible, but its vital importance extends to every phase of our lives.

Question to ponder:
In your opinion, what is the greatest truth of the Bible?

“To Forgive is Divine”

Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

— Matthew 18:21-22

Not only do we have a great reward in Heaven when we forgive, but we present a great witness right here. Nothing witnesses so powerfully to the glory and truth of the Gospel as when a Christian forgives his enemy.

Some years ago there was a war between Muslim and Christian Turks. One of the Christian officers was captured and became a prisoner of a Turkish official. This Muslim officer treated the Christian with the utmost cruelty and hatred and tortured him.

Then the circumstances of the war changed. The Christian prisoner was released; the torturer was captured and placed before the Christian. The Turkish officer’s face and eyes showed the fear and dread that filled his heart. He knew this man was going to retaliate against him with great vengeance. However, the Christian man said to him, “You do not need to be afraid. I am a Christian and I will not return evil for evil. I forgive you for what you did to me.”

The Muslim was so astonished, he said, “I will not die a Muslim, but I will die a Christian, for there is no religion but that of Christ which teaches forgiveness of injuries.”

What a marvelous testimony it is to do good to them who have done evil to us. Remember my friends, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Question to ponder:
Have you ever prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?”

The Wrath of the Lamb

…do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of temptation in the wilderness.

— Hebrews 3:8

I am sure that in the great day of the Second Coming, there will be millions who will cry, “Oh, God, have mercy upon me; oh, Lord, help me.” But my friends, it will be too late. It will be everlastingly too late for the door of grace will now be irrevocably shut. There will be no time for repentance then. There will be no tomorrow. There will only be the endless ages of eternity without God and without hope.

People will see that the Son of man has come to this earth, not as a lamb to be slain, but the Lamb in His wrath and anger. They will then cry out unto the hills and unto the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16).

If you are a Christian, you can say with joy, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly,” and the very thought of His return brings rapturous joy. But those who are not followers of Christ will be filled with terror and awe.

Either we let the Lamb receive the wrath of God for our sins by trusting in Jesus and His finished work on the Cross, or we will face the wrath of the Lamb of God when He returns.

Question to ponder:
Does it sober you to think that Jesus Christ, who allowed Himself to be man-handled by sinful men, will one day execute the wrath of God against unrepentant sinners?

The Great Day of Judgment

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God. Books were opened.

— Revelation 20:12

At the time of the Second Coming, many will wake up on that day ignoring Christ, as they have ignored Him for years, and then suddenly, without warning, unexpectedly, there shall come a sound that will chill the blood of every unbeliever, but will cause God’s own to leap with joy.

It will be the sound of a trumpet, as the Scripture says. It will be a sound that will be heard around the world. Then suddenly there shall appear in the heavens the sign of the Son of man, for the Lord, Himself, shall descend from heaven with great power and glory. His glory will eclipse the sun, and every eye will be lifted up to behold His great glory as He comes.

Then all around the world, graves will be opened and the dead in Christ shall rise first with their bodies reconstituted and glorified. And then we, which are alive, shall be caught up together with Him and we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. We shall be changed, and all that is corruptible will put on incorruption and all that is mortal will put on immortality. From homes, and kitchens, and cars, and planes, those who have trusted in Jesus will be taken up to be with the Lord in the air, who shall come with His angels and cherubim and seraphim and with ten thousand times ten thousand of His saints. In magnificent splendor and glory, He will come.

Question to ponder:
What difference does it make to you that history is marching toward its great climax, the return of Christ and the final judgment?

Fanatics and the Second Coming

Concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

— 1 Matthew 24:36

It is unfortunately true that there have been some in the lunatic fringe who have dwelt continuously upon the doctrine of the Second Coming and brought it into disrepute. There have been others who have ignored it completely, and still more who have distorted and perverted it. And yet it remains an inescapable and ineluctable fact that Jesus Christ will come again. Over 300 passages in the New Testament alone testify that Christ will come again, this time as a conquering King.

John boldly declares in Revelation: “Look! He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him … And all tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him” (Revelation 1:7). The Bible even concludes with this same promise, “Surely I am coming soon. Amen” (Revelation 22:20). And Christians every week across the globe affirm their belief in this great fact of His return, found in the Apostles’ Creed: “From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”

When will Jesus return? This is the question that has puzzled the minds of innumerable people throughout the centuries. Our Lord said that no man knows the day or the hour of His coming. This is reserved for the Father alone. And yet He does tell us when it will be. He says that He will come in an hour that you think not.

Question to ponder:
Is there anything in your life you would do differently if you knew Jesus were coming tomorrow?

Kept Through All These Years

God is faithful, and by Him you were called to the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

— 1 Corinthians 1:9

When I look back at my life, what amazes me is that, throughout all these long and sometimes difficult years, Christ has been with me, He has never forsaken me; He has kept me in the way everlasting. I am amazed, considering how weak I am, that I have not been totally overwhelmed by temptation and sin. I have seen others who have fallen by the wayside. I thank God that He has kept me through these years. Why? “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:32). Jesus is our great intercessor with the Father.

By His grace, we are saved. By His grace, we are preserved. In this world, in this life, the temptations to stray will continue. We must be careful not to fall for the devil’s attempts to lure us away. Until Satan is restrained, he will continue to try. But know this: God’s ability to keep us is greater than any temptation. His hand is stronger than the tug from our enemy.

God’s faithfulness is greater than our frailty. His arm is strong enough; His counsel is wise enough to lead us all the way home.

Question to ponder:
How have you experienced God’s faithfulness?

A Much Needed Advocate

My little children, I am writing these things to you, so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One.

— 1 John 2:1

Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Even as he appeared before God accusing Job, he accuses us of all manner of sins. All our iniquities and all our transgressions are picked up by this malignant spirit and hurled against us in utter condemnation before God’s Throne.

Who shall plead our case? Where is the advocate for our defense? Not only does Satan accuse us, but all about us are unbelievers who claim we do not live up to the ideals we profess. They say that there are hypocrites in the Church, and that each believer is also a sinner. Our own sinfulness is used to vilify us. Furthermore, at times our own conscience condemns as well.

Who shall plead our case? Thank God, there is One who is at the right hand of God, acting as our advocate. His blood ever intercedes on our behalf. Jesus Christ is our sure defense against all these enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Question to ponder:
What comfort does it give you to know that Jesus is ever pleading your case before the Lord?

Energy for Good or Evil

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.

— 1 John 5:19

The ungodly world is energized, unknowingly in most cases, by Satan. Too often, the world under that energizing force accomplishes more than many Christians do. This has given rise to the belief among many, especially among some young people, that Satan is actually able to do more for them than God. This is a great shame. Christians have not believed enough and have not called upon God for great things nor have they demonstrated the might and power of God in this world. God is glorified by great things accomplished by Christians.

We know that Satan is the great mimic. He mimics God and he would try to destroy people by substitution. Satan substitutes everything that is Divine. On Christmas, we have the great ersatz savior, Santa Claus, the substitute for Christ. On Easter, we have the Easter Bunny and the Easter Egg—all to divert the thoughts of men away from that which is most significant.

We also know that Satan has been defeated by Christ in His death and resurrection. Christ came to destroy the works of the devil.

Question to ponder:
How do we know that good will triumph over evil?

The Monster of the Old Nature

Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but yield yourselves to God, as those who are alive from the dead, and your bodies to God as instruments of righteousness.

— Romans 6:13

There is a little couplet that I like so much, but it contains a good word—forgotten by many today—the word “mien” (pronounced “mean”). It means “countenance” or appearance. Listen to the couplet:

Vice is a monster of such horrible mien, that to be hated it needs but to be seen.

But too oft, grown familiar with its face, first we endure, then we embrace. Familiarity with the face of the monster of vice is the very essence of just about every talk show on television I have seen or know anything about (except the news or Christian-oriented ones). Christians, however, do not seek such familiarity. Instead, we should turn away from our old vices, our old habits, our old sinful nature.

The diminishing of our old nature is called mortification. The growing of our new nature is called vivification. Put the two together (mortification and vivification) and you get sanctification—one of the great glorious doctrines of the Christian faith.

Sanctification is a process that goes on and on throughout this life. It is never ever perfected in this life. It is not until we cross that river that there, in a final act of glorification, the final vestiges of sin are removed and we are declared to be perfect.

Question to ponder:
Is there any vice that you could possibly have grown too familiar with?