Have you proved that the Lord is Gracious
Many are treating the graciousness of the Lord like the nine out of the ten lepers who were cleansed, but it was not found in them to return and give glory to God.
Scriptures are replete with examples showing, that it requires more than simple expression of words to testify of the Lord's graciousness.
For example, Jesus, quoting the prophet Isaiah by saying, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written; "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me" (Mk.7:6).
Jesus is quoted again saying, "But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?" (Lk.6:46)
It is prophesied that many (not the few) will come in the name of Christ, saying, that He (Jesus) is the Christ (how gracious He is), and shall deceive many.
Concerning entry into the kingdom of God, Jesus instructed His disciples saying, "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able."
Why? Because, "when once the master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door; saying, Lord, Lord, open for us, and He will answer and say to you, I do not know you, where are you from," then you will begin to say, "We ate and drank in your presence (we lavished your graciousness), and you taught in our streets." But He will say, "I tell you I do not know you, where are you from. Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity"(Lk.13:24-27).
Christ is quoted again as saying, "Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name? And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you! Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matt.7:21-23).
One should underline the two words, INIQUITY and LAWLESSNESS, and find the true definition of these two words.
It takes more than just lips service to testify that the lord is gracious. For, "He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matt.5:45).
God's graciousness is simply a witness or testimony of Himself.
In bygone generations God allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good gave rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling man's hearts with food and gladness (Acts14:16-17.
Hence, both the good and the evil; the just and the unjust can say with their mouths that the Lord is gracious, because of His goodness. But if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious it will be manifested in you in three ways.
1. By having the fear of God.
The fear of God is to depart from evil, it is to hate evil, pride and arrogance and the evil way (Prov.3:7, 8:13).
The Psalmist David defined the fear of God by saying, "Come you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days that he may seek good! Keep you tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it" (Ps.34:11-14).
The Apostle Peter's understanding of the taste of God's graciousness is by, "Laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking"
The sad and unfortunate thing however, is that, the majority of people do not know what is evil!
They equate evil to the works, or the produce of evil. We often hear comments such as, "I am not a bad person, I do not kill, I do not steal, I am just flirting around a bit," or, "I just like my parties."
The irony of truth is, there is no middle ground between good and evil. One is either good or evil. Jesus said, "Either make a tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad. For a tree is known by its fruit" (Matt.12:33).
Sin, evil, iniquity, lawlessness is man's evil independent nature. It is the desire to walk after the imaginations of one’s own heart.
Sin - evil is forsaking the way of the Lord, and doing what seems right in one's own eye. It is from within the independent evil nature of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornication, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride foolishness etc. (Mk.7:20-23).
According to the Prophet Jeremiah, "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it? (Jer.17:9).
Therefore, who is a good and righteous man? And who is an evil and lawless man?
A good and righteous man is one whose steps are ordered by the Lord.
An evil and lawless man is one who directs his own steps.
There are only two ways of life, the one which is directed by the Lord, and brings blessings and life.
The other is the one which is according to man's own imaginations, and results in curses and death. As it is written, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Prov.14:12, 16:25).
The only thing that stands between good and evil is "REPENTANCE".
Jesus said, "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot, so then because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot; I will spew (spit, vomit) you out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15).
Man is distinguished before God as either being good or evil; righteous or un-righteous, obedient or disobedient. The word of the Lord said, "The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins" (Ezek.18:20-32, 33:12-20).
God's admonition to all humanity is, "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die: O house of Israel? (Ezek.33:11).
All sins with the exception of the unpardonable sin are equally guilty and forgivable before God.
We are therefore admonished saying, "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, reprove the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa.1:16-18).
The unpardonable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. We are instructed saying, "If anyone sees his brother committing a sin, which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He (God) will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.
Sin therefore is categorized in only two categories, (viz.)
Sin leading to death; and sin not leading to death.
Sin not leading to death is forgiven upon repentance. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1Jn.1:9).
When a sin, a violation, or straying away from the way of the Lord is confessed; the old way has to be forsaken; and not to be regretted (Prov.28:13). For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of this world produces death.
Hence, if we indeed have proven that the Lord is gracious, let us fear God, by departing from evil. That is, from directing our own steps: and let us follow the way ordained, and established by God.
There are six motivating factors which should stimulate the proper fear of the Lord.
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