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Don’t Miss God’s Best

Don’t Miss God’s Best

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we now come to one of the more popular sections. It’s when Jesus teaches the parable of the sower and the seed. The parable itself is contained in Luke 8:4-15. You may want to look it up and read it before going on with this post.

There are a lot of important truths in this section. So I’m going to spend a number of posts on it. Apparently the disciples didn’t understand the meaning of the parable. Later, when they were alone with Jesus, they asked Him about it.

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’”

Luke 8:9-10

To understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to know His role in the lives of the disciples. Christ was to the disciples then, who the Holy Spirit is to the church right now. He was the One leading, training, guiding and teaching them. So how the Lord worked with the disciples is how the Holy Spirit works with us.

The goal of Jesus with His disciples was to bring them into an understanding of the kingdom of God. His words are spirit and life. Jesus tells us that by not accepting His Word, there are three consequences. Unfortunately, I see these very things at work in much of the church today.

Seeing but not seeing. The word used for seeing is the generic word, to look at. I believe the Lord is talking about those who see what’s happening, but never apply it to their own lives. He’s talking about those who learn what God has done for them, but never experience it.

There are many Christians who spend lots of time confessing their position in Christ. But they never do what it takes to cross over into the manifestation of it. It only comes about by hearing and obeying the Lord’s voice.

Hearing but not understanding. Hearing simply means to listen with your ears. That’s the easy part. Plenty of people do that every week in church services.

Understanding is on a higher level. The word literally means to put together. That’s where we usually miss out. I need to know how to apply what I’ve heard to the area of my life that needs it.

Again, that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. If I’m not listening for His instruction, then I’ll never see the changes take place that will move me forward in my Christian walk.

Mark’s Gospel records Jesus as ending this talk with an important summation.

…otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”

Mark 4:12b

This is obviously the most important part. But it’s totally dependent upon seeing and understanding. What exactly does this mean?

The word, turn, means to turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. That’s good, but it’s the forgiven part that most of us miss the depth of. Our understanding of forgiveness is very shallow compared to the Scriptural concept.

When we think of being forgiven, it means that we did something wrong and now it’s okay. This is not what the Greek word indicates.

The word, forgive, in the Greek, means to pick up, remove, and throw away. This brings a whole new view of what’s happening in this verse.

When we see, understand, and obey a word from God, it causes us to turn around. Then, at that point, things start dropping off and being removed from our lives. Things like habitual sins, sicknesses, lack, and depression.

Hopefully, as we continue looking at this parable, we’ll learn to walk in this truth and experience God’s best for us. If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now so that you won’t miss an installment.

Question: What is your current level of experiencing God’s best in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2022 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Two Debts – Part 2

The Two Debts – Part 2

In my last post, I started talking about the Pharisee who had a dinner in honor of Jesus. I talked about the background of that event. This Pharisee was healed of leprosy by Jesus, earlier in His ministry. That’s an important point as we look at what happens at the dinner.

As I already said, during the dinner, a “sinful” woman came in, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and anointed them with an expensive perfume. The Pharisee became judgmental.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.”

Luke 7:39

This Pharisee is assuming some things. The first is that Jesus thinks the same way he does about people. This is a trap many fall into.

We think that God is like us. We spend so much time trying to get God to agree with us. We want to get God on our side.

This approach never works. Our focus should be to get into agreement with God and to join with Him on His side.

The fact is that Jesus had no problem with this woman worshiping Him. He spent a lot of His time ministering to those that the Pharisees rejected as unworthy people.

I like the way Jesus turned things around. He asked this Pharisee a very leading question.

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Luke 7:41-42

He gives this Pharisee a parable of two people in a hopeless, helpless situation. Knowing the whole story, we understand that this religious leader was healed of an incurable disease. He owed a great debt to the Lord that he could never repay.

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Luke 7:43

Unfortunately, he still doesn’t get the point. The Lord has to tell him plainly what He’s talking about.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47

Here’s the bottom line. Jesus explains the real foundation for walking in love. This woman could show love in a real way, because she understood the depth of her condition. She received a forgiveness she could have never earned on her own.

The Pharisee saw himself as a good person. He didn’t need much from God. That’s the pitfall of self-righteousness.

If I see myself as better that anyone else, I don’t show much love. It’s only when I come to realize that no matter how good I am, I could never repay the forgiveness I needed from the Lord. The “filthy rags” of my own righteous works could never bring God’s blessing.

Forgiven much or forgiven a little is all a matter of perspective. No matter how good we think we are, we’re helpless and hopeless without the Lord’s grace. Understanding this allows us to love others the way Christ does.

Question: What is God’s forgiveness worth to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2022 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Two Debts – Part 1

The Two Debts – Part 1

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we now come to an event that many have preached about. However, few people know the whole story, because it requires a lot of digging to get to.

This is found in Luke 7:36-50. I encourage you to take the time and read through this section of Scripture to see the truth of what I’m describing.

A Pharisee had invited Jesus over to his home for a dinner in the Lord’s honor. When Jesus arrived at the house, the Pharisee neglected a few simple courtesies that were a way of life in that region of the world. He didn’t offer Jesus a kiss, water for His feet, or oil for His hair. This was a slight against the Lord.

During Jesus’ visit, a woman came in and did something unique. She knelt before Him and wept, allowing her tears to fall on His feet. Then she wiped them with her hair. Once His feet were cleaned, she opened an alabaster bottle of expensive perfume and began to anoint His feet.

As this was going on, the Pharisee was thinking that if Jesus were really a prophet, He would know how sinful this woman was. According to the Pharisee’s thinking, Jesus shouldn’t let her touch Him.

Jesus, knowing his thoughts, turned to the Pharisee and told him a parable about two men who had their debts forgiven. One had a large debt, and the other a small one.

Here’s the rest of the story that never gets told. This party was also recorded in Mark 14:1-10 and Matthew 26:6-13.

Luke calls the host of the party, a Pharisee named Simon. Mark, however, calls him Simon the Leper. That’s important because in the entire book of Mark, he only records one leper being healed by the Lord. That’s in Mark 1:40-44. Listen to what Jesus said to the man after he was healed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Mark 1:43-44

I believe this is the same Pharisee who gave Jesus the party in Luke’s Gospel. There are two important reasons. First, Jesus assumes that this man knows what sacrifices were required for the cleansing of leprosy. The normal outcast would probably not know this.

The second is the most obvious to me. The Lord told this man to go to the priests to be a testimony to them. A Pharisee who was diagnosed with leprosy would be well known to them. He would be going to the very priests who banned him from the temple worship.

His healing would definitely testify as to the power of the Lord. Some unknown leper would never have the influence to be a credible testimony to the company of priests in Jerusalem.

You may remember from reading this blog, that Luke also records the healing of this leper in Luke 5:12-14. Look at what happened just a few days later.

One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.

Luke 5:17-18

I believe that there’s only one reason Pharisees from all over Judea and Jerusalem would come all the way to Galilee, to hear Jesus. That was because one of their own number was miraculously healed of leprosy. That man’s testimony drew quite a crowd of religious leaders.

This gives us new insight. In the account of the Pharisee and the “sinful” woman, both of them owed Jesus a debt of gratitude. This is what the Lord was calling attention to in His parable.

Because of the power of the Messiah, the Pharisee had his leprosy removed while the woman had her sins removed. Now the only question is; who would thank the Lord for what He had done for them?

In my next post, we’ll see the lesson that Jesus tries to get across to the Pharisee.

Question: How do you show your thankfulness to Christ for what He’s done for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2022 in Healing, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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It All Comes Back Around

It All Comes Back Around

I’m continuing, now, with my study of the Gospel of Luke. We’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord now gives us four things that return to us as we give them out.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6:37-38

The first is judgment. That speaks of a decision between right and wrong. It seems that we’re always so quick to judge the words and actions of others.

Of course, we don’t like it when others give us their verdict. Judging is something that hurts when it’s used improperly.

It always amazes me how our judgment differs depending on the object. From my perspective, when you do something I think is wrong, you have no excuse. When I do something wrong, however, I have a good reason why I did it!

We need to learn to stop being so judgmental. Or, at least we need to keep our judgments to ourselves. In this way we’ll not be judged as much.

The next thing the Lord talks about is condemnation. This is the actual punishment for what we think is a self-evident wrong.

This punishment can take on many forms. Sometimes it’s avoiding someone we think has wronged us. Other times it may take the form of gossip and slander. We want others to know the damage that was caused to us.

This type of behavior has no place in the body of Christ. If you’re quick to pass out condemnation, then it will come back upon you. Others will scrutinize your life more closely. This is a position I wouldn’t want to find myself in.

These are two negatives that we need to avoid. Now the Lord gets to the positive things to give out.

The first is forgiveness. This is a very important concept in the Scripture. It literally means to release and free fully.

It’s the opposite of judgment and condemnation. When we judge and condemn someone, it’s as if we’ve locked them away in our mind. We attach them to what they’ve done and constantly remember it.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, releases them from this internal prison cell. We no longer associate them with what they may have done.

Forgiveness is more than simply saying the words, “I forgive you.” It’s a choice to forget, or act like you forget, what they’ve done in the past. It’s giving someone a fresh start. After all, isn’t that what Christ has done for us?

Then, Jesus uses the generic word, give. This applies to all of our giving. It doesn’t matter if it’s money, resources, encouragement, or any other thing. When we give, it opens the door for us to receive.

The thing we have to realize is that the blessing comes in many forms. Just because I give someone money, doesn’t mean I’m going to get money in return. There are many times that God blessed me with things that are worth much more than simply cash.

The important thing is that we understand, the return is always more than the initial giving. That’s true in all of these areas. When we give judgment, condemnation, forgiveness, and resources, the return is “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

We must make sure that we’re careful in what we give out. All of us want good things flowing into our lives. If that’s the case, then we should strive to be a conduit of God’s blessings flowing out to those around us.

Question: How have you seen this principle at work in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2022 in Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Preparing the Way

Preparing the Way

As we continue going through the Gospel of Luke, I’ll go on talking about us as being the “John the Baptist Generation”. We should be calling God’s people to wake up and prepare for the second coming of the Messiah – Jesus Christ.

He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Luke 3:3

The first thing we have to realize is that our message is a little bit different than his was. We have to remember that John the Baptist preached before the cross of Christ.

Therefore, in order to be forgiven, there had to be true repentance. That word means a total reversal of direction. I had to stop doing wrong before I could be forgiven. My forgiveness was based upon my ability to obey God.

Praise the Lord! We live after the cross. It’s no longer “turn around and be forgiven”. But now, by grace, it’s confess your sin to God and be forgiven.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

God knows that I have no ability to change my life. I cry out to Him in my weakness. I confess how I’ve missed the mark of His perfection. Then, I allow the Holy Spirit to do the purifying work in me.

I think that we miss this sometimes. Too many believers are living in the Old Covenant. They think that they have to change themselves in order to please God. That will never work.

When I come to God, He is faithful to forgive – remove – my sin. Then, it’s only by His power that I can truly change my lifestyle to conform to His image.

But, there’s another part of John’s message that we need to lay hold of. Remember, John was calling Israel, God’s people, to prepare for Messiah’s coming. That same message is needed today in the church.

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him…’”

Luke 3:4

I hate the fact that I have to be the one who says this. But, compared to the early church, we live in a spiritual wilderness. We’re no longer excited about who God is. (I’m speaking overall, not about the few who are awake)

What seems to really get our attention is what God can do for us. We ignore what God wants to do through us. We no longer think in terms of bringing people to the knowledge of salvation. We want to fit into society.

We concern ourselves with so many side issues that it crowds out our devotion to Christ. Our fear of the social problems around us keeps us from worshiping together.

So many churches are places where we come together to hear great inspirational singing. We listen to a motivational talk. But, we leave unchanged and continue on our way oblivious to God’s plan for us.

It’s truly time for us to seek God’s presence. We must want Him to show up at our services. That’s what making straight paths for Him is all about.

The problem is that many churches don’t want the Holy Spirit to show up at their services. It would mess things up. He would really throw off their schedules. And He’d make them late for dinner.

In this generation, we truly need a manifestation of the presence of God in our meetings.

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

1 Corinthians 14:24-25

This is what we should be preparing ourselves for. This will bring in a harvest of souls. It’s what the world needs to see.

Question: What will it take for us to start truly seeking the presence of God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2021 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, The Gospel

 

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The Place of Repentance

As we continue in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we begin to see the back story of the situation.  In Paul’s first letter to this church, he was very strong in dealing with the sins of some of the members.

Later on, he sent Timothy as his representative, to see how things were progressing.  Now we’ll see the results of all of this.

For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn — conflicts on the outside, fears within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him.  He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
2 Corinthians 7:5-7

It turns out that Timothy’s report to Paul was better than expected.  The apostle was greatly encouraged by the response of the Corinthian church.

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it.  Though I did regret it — I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while — yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.  For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.
2 Corinthians 7:8-9

Paul’s joy was made complete because the Corinthian believers were brought to the place of repentance.  This had to be done in order for them to receive forgiveness.

Of course, we don’t like this word. It has a bad connotation for us. In Greek, it’s the word metanoia which means to change your mind. It also means to turn around.

“I was wrong. I want to change.”

Repentance is usually preceded by distress, sorrow, or sadness. We don’t like these feelings. In our relationships with other people, we would much rather use a word like apologize.

“If you apologize, I’ll forgive you.”

The fact is you don’t really want an apology. The Greek definition of the word apology is to give the reason. In that case, you might hear something like, “The reason I did that was that I hate you and I want you to be miserable.”

What you want from the other person is repentance.  It’s the same in our relationship with God.  He already knows why you did it.  He simply wants you to see that you were wrong and now you have a desire to change.

“I’m sorry over what I did.” (Godly sorrow) “If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t do it.” “I will never do that again.”

But we have to remember that with God, His forgiveness is given before repentance. It then takes repentance in order to position yourself to receive His forgiveness.

True repentance isn’t easy.  In my next post, we’ll see how Paul describes the road to repentance.

Question: How quick are you to go to God in repentance when needed?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Quick Repentance

I’ve been posting about the events surrounding the arrest of Jesus.  The focus now turns to Peter, who has been watching from a safe distance.  You may want to read Mark 14:66-72 before continuing in this article.

We find Peter in the courtyard, watching the Jews question the Lord.  Then, one of the servant girls notices him.

When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.  “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it.  “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
Mark 14:67-68

What a response!  This is the same man who vehemently said that he would die before denying Christ.  Why would he do this?

I believe that Peter is no different than any of us.  As he sat there watching the proceedings, he began to go over all of the possible outcomes in his mind.  He saw that it was the Pharisees’ intention to put the Lord to death.

His whole focus now became; how to save himself.  That was what his mind was dwelling on.  What makes me say this?

If you look at Peter’s answer to the girl, you see what I’m talking about.  What he gave as a response was actually a legal phrase.  It was what a witness would say in a trial if they hadn’t seen what they were being asked about.  He gave a well-thought-out answer.

Later on, the servant girl asked Peter a second and a third time if he was one of the disciples of Jesus.

He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Mark 14:71

Peter actually goes to the point of calling down a curse upon himself if he were lying.  Notice that he never mentions Jesus by name, but calls Him “this man”.  He had definitely been rehearsing what he was going to say.

Then, suddenly, the truth of what he had done hits him.

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.  Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.”  And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:72

I don’t know why this happens.  When it comes to sin, we don’t realize the weight of it until after we’ve fallen.  Then we feel upset and guilty about it.  That’s the time to take care of it.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

Don’t wallow in guilt and regret.  As soon as you realize your sin, repent and be free of it.  God doesn’t need time to “cool off”.  The Holy Spirit is with you to bring forgiveness and restoration.  The quicker you repent, the quicker you can get back on your spiritual feet again.

Question: What has the Lord taught you about quick repentance?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2018 in Encouragement, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Faith, Prayer, and Forgiveness

In my last post, we saw that true faith is based upon a Word from God, with God as the object of that faith.  As the Lord was explaining this to His disciples, He makes a very interesting statement.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:25

This statement confuses a lot of people.  They don’t know what this has to do with believing and receiving from God.  It also causes some people to ask, “If I don’t forgive someone, does that mean that I’ll not be saved?”

There’s a big reason for all this confusion.  It stems from our modern concept of the word, forgive.  Our generation has no idea what the scriptural word means.

When we say that you need to forgive someone, it’s a watered down version.  We mean that you need to tell the person that you’re not mad at them anymore.  Everything’s okay now and our relationship can move on from whatever caused the problem.

The biblical word for forgive has nothing to do with the above.  It literally means to pick up and throw away.  It’s like what you do with your trash.  You throw it out to the curb.  Then it’s removed, never to be seen again…ever.

With that understanding, now we can look at what Jesus is saying to His disciples.  Remember, the Lord is talking about standing in prayer.  This is about believing God for the desires that He’s placed in our hearts.

When you’re in that place of prayer, you’re having an intimate time with the Lord.  At this time, the Holy Spirit brings to your attention that you’ve placed a roadblock between you and another person.  It could be for any reason, but usually, it’s for a perceived hurt against us.

At that point, the Lord simply wants us to remove that wall that we’ve erected.  I realize that this is not an easy thing to do.

“Lord, I remove the issue that I have been holding against him or her right now.  From here on out, with your power, I’ll treat them like it never happened.”

This goes against our human nature.  That’s especially true because it has nothing to do with the other party’s desire (or lack of desire) for forgiveness.  It’s all on my part.

But understand, there’s a blessing that comes from this.  It paves the way for God to remove anything blocking His blessing from getting to me.

The word translated as sin, in the above verse, is the word side-step.  You’re on the right path following Christ.  But you made a misstep.  You haven’t lost your salvation.  You don’t have to “get saved” all over again.

However, there is something that could be keeping you from receiving all that God has for you.  In Christ, God dealt with all of your sin before you were ever born.  Now He’s asking you to do the same thing for a fellow human being.

If you’ll remove the thing that’s blocking you from blessing them, then He will remove the thing blocking your blessing.  I think that it’s well worth the trade.  Of course, in our flesh, we might not agree with that.

This is why we need the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.  It’s also why the Lord said that it needed to be done while we were standing in the place of prayer.

So, if there’s anything the Lord’s dealing with you about, take care of it quickly, and let the blessings flow freely again!

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Denying the Holy Spirit

In my last post, we saw that Jesus’ family was concerned that He was overworking Himself, while the Pharisees were accusing Him of being demon-possessed.  Being led by the Holy Spirit doesn’t always follow the logical path.  How did the Lord respond?

So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.”
Mark 3:23-26

The first thing that Jesus does is to point out how utterly illogical the Pharisee’s accusation is.  What possible reason would Satan have to drive out his own kingdom?

This is especially true since it was Jesus who would be getting the credit for it.  Their argument made no sense; it just exposed how jealous they were of Christ’s ministry.

The Lord goes on to explain exactly what He was doing through these miracles.

In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.
Mark 3:27

The fact is that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work.  Israel had been downtrodden, conquered, and oppressed for so many years that most of the Jews had lost hope.  Through His miracles, the Lord was showing them that God still loved them.

Christ was single-handedly pushing back the darkness of the enemy.  He was taking back what rightfully belonged to the kingdom of God.  He was proof that the enemy can never stop the Spirit of God.

But the next statement the Lord makes has caused quite a bit of confusion.

“I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”
Mark 3:28-30

One problem is that we lose sight of His first statement.  It is clearly spoken.  All the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven.  By the way, the word blasphemy simply means a hurtful statement made against someone.

According to Jesus, there’s nothing that can’t be forgiven.  However, His second statement reveals some very dangerous ground.  The literal Greek reads that the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit does not hold forgiveness, but is ensnared in perpetual sin.

The first thing I see is that to speak hurtfully against the Holy Spirit, you must already know that it’s the Holy Spirit you’re speaking against.  The Pharisees were not just making a mistake about what was happening.

They knew that the Spirit of God was at work.  They knew that it was the Holy Spirit who was setting free those who were being oppressed by the devil.  They were trying to exalt themselves by discrediting Jesus by means of theology.

Jesus is telling them that the trap of this behavior is that you’re denying the only One through whom you can receive forgiveness.  It’s not that they couldn’t be forgiven, as much as it was that they didn’t want forgiveness.

By denying the Holy Spirit’s work, they’re speaking against the very One who could save them.  That’s a condition that can entrap you into an everlasting sin.

Question: How grateful are you for the Lord’s forgiveness?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Legalism, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Attitudes of Pharisees

In my last post, we saw that Jesus proved, in a very powerful way, that He could remove sin in all of its forms.  As we continue in the Gospel of Mark, this ministry of Christ becomes clearer.

Once again Jesus went out beside the lake.  A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them.  As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth.  “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.
Mark 2:13-14

In this passage, we see the Lord calling a new disciple – Levi.  I believe that this was his given name.  Later on, he’s called Matthew.  That’s probably the name Jesus gave to him.  It means the gift of God.

Remember, Jesus did this with a few of His disciples.  The Lord called Simon, Peter.  James and John became the sons of thunder.

But there’s an interesting point to this.  Both the name Levi and Matthew were strongly Levitical names.  That probably means that Levi was from the tribe of Levi.  He should have been training for the priesthood.  Instead, he was collecting taxes for the Roman conquerors.

Jesus had been teaching in the area.  Undoubtedly, Levi listened to Him and it spoke to his heart.  There’s no other reason why he would leave his lucrative position immediately when the Lord called.

Levi threw a dinner party to introduce Jesus to his friends and co-workers.  The Pharisees who were watching weren’t too happy about it.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him.  When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”
Mark 2:15-16

You have to understand the thinking of that day.  Levi was seen as a Jew, taking money from his own people, and giving it to Caesar.  They viewed him much the same way as we would view a drug dealer today.

Not only that, but he has the same type of friends that a drug dealer would have.  Prostitutes, loan sharks, and the like.  All the people that the upstanding Pharisees would look down on as the dregs of their society.

Why would Jesus, a prophet who obviously operated in the power of God, ever associate with such rabble?

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:17

Jesus has just proven Himself to be a remover of sin.  If your ministry is to remove sin, then your place is in the middle of great sin.  Jesus knew that He was sent to save these people.  The Pharisees may have written them off, but Jesus saw them as loved by God.

I always find it offensive when I hear a Christian remark that someone deserves hell.

“When they die, they’re gonna get what they have coming.”

That must break the Lord’s heart.  He died for everyone.  Not just the people we like.

We need to watch our attitudes about those without Christ.  The fact is that we all deserve hell – but I don’t want anyone to go there.

Even the most perverted, murderous, evil person on earth should be given the chance to hear about the life-changing work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  We should be representing Christ and His attitudes in our generation.

Question: Why is it so easy to pick up the same attitudes as the Pharisees?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2017 in Legalism, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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