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January 10, (Day #10) - A Living Christ, or a Dead Religion?

In Genesis 19, we see the two angels arriving in Sodom and visiting Lot in his home. We see the evil and the iniquity of this city – such horrible perversion and spiritual blindness that could only be forestalled by physical blindness to hold Sodom’s wicked men at bay and keep them from finding their prey. At first, we wonder how Lot could go outside his door – thinking he could reason with such irrational people – but then we wonder even more how he could offer his own, apparently virgin daughters to “do what they like with them” (verse 8). Who does that? This graphically illustrates the compounding nature of sin which renders such sinners into an accelerating, downward spiral of ever greater, abysmal sin – unaware of the depth of their condition or the overwhelming grip it has on them. As the chapter progresses, we see the destruction of these evil cities caused by the rain of burning sulfur. Archeology confirms that the entire region was desolated so completely that, even today, the area is still covered in powdery, sulfurous stone that easily self-ignites when exposed to the air. Chapter 19 closes with the shameful incident of Lot and his two daughters living “in a cave” (verse 30), and at his daughters’ foolish insistence, engaging in incestuous relationships – to “preserve the family line” (verses 32 and 34). Is “God’s arm so short” (cf., Isaiah 59:1) that He could not preserve their family line? From this, we see the influences of living in Sodom on the family of Lot, and we glean the dangers of not walking in step with the Lord and trusting Him for the future outcomes of our lives.

From these events we learn two important applications. First, that God uses us despite our sin because He is merciful and … in Jesus, He has taken all our judgment upon Himself. This whole concept sets Christianity completely apart from and above all other belief systems in the world whereby the Sovereign Creator of the universe - out of sheer love for His creation - mercifully and graciously sacrifices Himself for the benefit of His creatures. Again, who does that? What other belief system sustains that level of lovingkindness for one’s enemy? Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that, apart from God’s faithfulness toward us and His mercies - which are “new every morning” - we would be “consumed” (i.e., “destroyed”). In other words, we must come to grips with (i.e., understand) the actual depth of God’s love, mercy, grace, and blessings toward us by recognizing His Majesty and serving Him accordingly and properly. Second, we must understand and accept the nature of His authority. God – not man – has the final say. Wherever man attempts to intervene in God’s affairs, man always shipwrecks the outcome.

In Psalm 7:6-9, David calls – in imprecatory fashion - upon the “righteous God to rise up in His anger against the rage of his enemies.” God “searches minds and hearts,” and He alone can “bring an end to the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure” (verse 9). We would do well to recognize that, for us - as children of God – our enemies are His enemies. We have a responsibility to love our enemies (cf., Matthew 5:43-44), but we also have a Father in heaven who deals with His enemies – especially when we “leave room for God’s wrath … it is His [not ours] to avenge and repay” (cf., Romans 12:13-21).

In Matthew 7:24-29, Jesus completes His Sermon on the Mount, here addressing the issue that wisdom builds her house on the rock (i.e., the truth). The authority by which Jesus taught was unmistakably divine. In chapter 8:1-22, we observe evidence of the Lord’s authority in the healings that he performs – the man with leprosy; the centurion’s servant; Peter’s mother-in-law; and many who were demon-possessed. Jesus closes out this section by pointing out that a cost is involved in following Him. In verse 22, Jesus says, “Follow me … let the dead bury their own dead.” In this life, we have a choice to make: we can follow the living Word of God, or we can identify with dead religion.

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