One of the greatest tragedies I see in this world is an obsession with leaving true reality in favor of seeking to dwell in a virtual reality…
This may seem like an over-exaggerated statement, but “virtual reality” takes a lot more forms than simply the wearing of a special set of goggles connected to one’s phone.
Some people choose to linger in virtual reality merely by diving into the realm of TV programming instead of engaging in thoughtful conversations with their family.
Some people come into virtual reality by means of drugs or other psychedelic or mind-altering substances, unwilling to face the harsh, cold reality of the depression, anger, and emptiness they find themselves in.
Some people are addicted to the virtual reality presented to them on their phones and cannot even come to a restaurant or a gathering of friends without having their gaze diverted every other moment by the notifications their phone presents.
Yet other people linger on past memories or hopeful wishes for the future, hoping that this virtual reality can somehow manifest itself in the real world.
And while there are certainly other ways in which people often desire to escape the confines of true reality in favor of an alternate, virtual reality — a reality that seems more pleasant to them than the true reality all around them — the consequences of all of these various escapes tend to be alike: they take us away from what is right in front of our faces — this world, its Creator, our sinfulness, our need for redemption, and the love we ought to give to our brothers and sisters on this earth.
People, we need wake up.
Our thoughts have oftentimes been morphed and crafted more by the media and our culture than by the Bible or our families or respected elders.
Now, I know not everyone respects what the Bible has to say, but if you are someone like me who believes that God literally speaks /through/ the Bible, we really ought to read it and listen to what He has to say. It’s a tragedy when we choose instead to listen to our “cool” friends, or all the latest “news,” or all the spectacular things we read on the internet…
We’re deceiving ourselves. None of these things amount to even an ounce of what constitutes “true reality.”
As the Word of God tells us, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
It is the Word of God — the Bible — that is the truth which ought to shape our reality — not culture; not escape-ism; not our peers; not media; not drugs; not TV; not the internet…
It is certainly tempting to come to the side of the unorthodox and unusual, the mystical, the dark… I’ve had some voyages there myself, and in the end, I’ve found them terribly lacking.
I had been seeking to create a reality for myself steeped in dark, poetic, unusual, electronic, eccentric ideals, ignoring in many ways the God who was only a simple thought or prayer away.
It was just like the apostle Paul’s concern: “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Simplicity… See, following God is simple. It’s not /easy/, but it is simple. And it requires getting our heads straight — that is, leaving the false, virtual reality often presented to us, and coming to embrace the realness of true reality; coming to find out who we really are, who God really is, and what the eternal fate of our souls will be.
All these things we find in God’s Word.
May we forsake the virtual reality of our culture and come instead to be grounded in the true reality found in God’s inerrant Word.
Oh, the darkness, where all sorts of evil is wrought…
“There are those who rebel against the light,
who do not know its ways or stay in its paths.
“When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up,
kills the poor and needy,
and in the night steals forth like a thief.
“The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;
he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’
and he keeps his face concealed.
“In the dark, thieves break into houses,
but by day they shut themselves in;
they want nothing to do with the light.
“For all of them, midnight is their morning;
they make friends with the terrors of darkness.
“…But God drags away the mighty by his power;
though they may become established, they have no assurance of life.
He may let them rest in a feeling of security,
but his eyes are on their ways.
“For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone;
they are brought low and gathered up like all others;
they are cut off like heads of grain.”
And, I don’t read books like the following very often (since it’s generally considered in Protestant circles to be an /addition/ to the Bible), but nonetheless this quote is very fitting, tying right into the above:
“For he which is Lord over all shall fear no man’s person, neither shall he stand in awe of any man’s greatness: for he hath made the small and great, and careth for all alike.”
Wisdom of Solomon 6:7
God doesn’t care who you are – He doesn’t show favoritism (Romans 2:11); He is going to judge you for what /you’ve/ done (Matt 16:27, Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 2:6), and if you are one who loves the darkness and continues in evil, there will come a day when you will stand before your Maker and will perish (Revelation 20:12-15, Galatians 6:7-8). You will be thrown into unquenchable fire in which you will be tormented forever (Revelation 21:8, Matthew 13:49-50).
Don’t choose to die. Turn from your evil ways and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)
Even if you consider yourself a Christian, examine yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5). What does your life /really/ look like? Are you following Jesus, or have you forsaken Him to go your own way (Luke 9:23-26, Revelation 2:4-5)?
“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
Jesus is the light. Turn away from your sinful ways and come to Him:
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”
I am so thankful for where God has continued to bring me in life. I was just reading over some of my journal entries from years past, and as I think back and remember, I am so glad I’m not where I was. I’m so glad that God let my path be shaped the way it’s been shaped; so glad at the failed relationships, the roads that came to nothing, the dreams that died; so glad at the worthless, sinful crap that’s been pruned right off of my life; so glad that He cared enough to have /His/ way in my life instead of my own.
And I’m glad I listened. I’m glad I listened to His gentle (and sometimes rebuking) voice as He told me I was on the wrong path, headed for destruction.
Man, I did some really dumb things. And I’ve been very selfish… Sensual, controlling, angry, petty… But God gets the glory for redeeming my life from the pit! I thank the Lord for really being my Lord, not just in name but in reality. I thank Him for getting my attention and steering me where I did not want to go, because He knew it would lead me to life – true, satisfying, eternal life.
Can I just say… Living for yourself is not worth it.
It’s not worth it to get upset when others don’t “meet your needs;” it’s not worth it to complain and talk about all the things that are going /wrong/ in life; it’s not worth it to hold bitterness in your heart or let life get you mad.
All those things can be dropped off at Jesus’ feet. As Todd White is fond of saying (paraphrasing), “When I became a Christian, God cancelled my lifetime subscription to Issues.” Or, as the apostle Paul says, in talking to believers who were literally suing each other, “Why not rather be wronged?” In other words, let people do as they will – people will do hurtful things – but you don’t need to /be/ hurt by them, and you certainly don’t need to retaliate.
All this to say, God is good. And we would really do ourselves some good to listen to Him. He really does know best. I am thankful that in spite of my shortcomings over the years, God has used me and helped me to grow, and I pray that we would all become more and more His servants and less and less of our own masters.
By His Spirit we can.
When you become a Christian, “you break up with the devil, you give him back his stuff, and you quit hanging out with him and his friends.” (Dean Odle)
A good, strong picture of the level of repentance we ought to have in forsaking everything to follow Jesus. No longer are we to be tied to this world-system governed by Satan, no longer are we to live to please the flesh (doing all the things /we/ want to do), but instead we are to offer all that we are (spirit, soul, and body) to Jesus in worship and reverent service, trusting /Him/ to meet our every need.
A well-known, but simple and fitting verse that speaks to this end is Romans 12:1-2:
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
As Jesus simply put it, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33)
Speaking to being either a child of the devil or a child of God, John writes:
“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” (1 John 3:7-10)
So, let us /no longer/ walk in the ways of the devil, partnering with those who live lives of darkness and sin; but rather, let’s make sure to “break up with the devil, give him back his stuff, and quit hanging out with him and his friends.” (Dean Odle)
It’s depressing seeing the condition of the church at large today… There’s a lot of deception, a lot of subtlety…
And, in some ways, it’s not all the church’s fault – they’re just helpless sheep following their misguided leaders.
See, all that subtlety and deception – that’s exactly how the Adversary has always worked. He likes taking part of the truth and mixing it with his own lies.
I see churches today who “preach” a lot of love, a lot of grace, and yet they completely miss the gospel. There’s no mention of sin, no mention of repentance, often no mention of Jesus’ cross and His blood’s atonement for our sin. Instead what we hear is how we were “born to live wild” and “free” and that God came to restore us to our created value.
And again, there’s some truth in that. But salvation is more than just an awakening of our true worth and value; it’s more than becoming alive and “jumping in the river.” Salvation is turning away from our old path of sin and selfishness and kneeling at the foot of the cross, where Jesus paid for our pardon with His own blood. It’s embracing the risen Savior who conquered death. And it’s choosing to live a new life by the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit.
It’s a broken man realizing he is broken and headed to destruction and acknowledging that hope can only be found in Jesus Christ.
See, these false, deceived churches speak a lot about love – but love is more than an experience; it’s more than the warm fuzzies you get from being “in Daddy’s presence.” Love isn’t afraid to speak up and tell you the truth, even when it hurts. And the truth is, this world, for the most part, is on the path to destruction, and no amount of positive experiences or spiritual encounters or even singing of worship songs with hands outstretched to heaven is going to save that person.
Only Jesus can save. As it is written, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
And don’t be deceived, not everyone who claims the name of Jesus is His. As Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Later on, the apostle Paul also testified:
“You know that wicked people will not inherit the kingdom of God, don’t you? Stop deceiving yourselves! Sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunks, slanderers, and robbers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“That is what some of you were! But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus the Messiah and by the Spirit of our God.”
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
If you are living in sin, you might be well in the right to be concerned about your eternal fate. After all, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (1 Corinthians 5:17)
If you’re still living in the old way of life, what has really changed? What kind of gospel did you accept?
Friend, be careful:
“If, after escaping the world’s corruptions through a full knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Messiah, they are again entangled and conquered by those corruptions, then their last condition is worse than their former one.
“It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to know it and turn their backs on the holy commandment that was committed to them.
“The proverb is true that describes what has happened to them: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and ‘A pig that is washed goes back to wallow in the mud.'”
(2 Peter 2:20-22)
We simply cannot continue to live in sin as children of God. To do so is to spit in the face of our Savior, to return to our own vomit.
But these big churches don’t tell you anything about sin. Instead, they promise without reservation, as if speaking on God’s behalf, “Who said you were unworthy of My love? It wasn’t Me.” Yet how can you promise what you have not offered in the first place? When you have not even explained the gospel in real truth and clarity, how can you promise peace?
They are just like the false prophets and deceptive priests of old:
“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)
Hear me out, people… We live in evil times. There’s blatant evil all around, that’s for sure, but there’s also plenty of evil operating under the guise of righteousness:
“Such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)
Keep a watchful eye and a vigilant spirit. Stay in the Word. Know it. Turn away from your sins and follow Jesus.
As it is written,
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8)
Let us not become entangled in strange teaching that promises life but delivers only emotional highs. Instead, let us hold true to “the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” (Jude 1:3)
May we do so in Jesus’ name and by His power. Amen.
Sometimes I feel like modern science says everything backwards compared to the Word of God…
For instance, scientists tell us the earth is spinning and orbiting the sun, but God’s Word says:
“He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved.”
– Psalm 104
Scientists tell us the sun is older than the earth, but God’s Word tells us that the sun wasn’t made until the fourth day of creation, after the earth had already been made:
“God made two great lights–the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. … And there was evening, and there was morning–the fourth day.”
– Genesis 1:16,19
Scientists have told us that the “atmosphere becomes thinner and thinner with increasing altitude, with no definite boundary between the atmosphere and outer space” (Wikipedia), but God’s Word tells us there is a hard firmament above our heads, with waters above it:
“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.” – Genesis 1:6-7
“Can you join him [God] in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” – Job 37:18
“Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.” – Psalm 148:4
Scientists tell us the sun, moon, and stars are inconceivably great distances away from us, but God tells us He placed these lights inside the firmament, which functions as a tent-like barrier:
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” – Genesis 1:14
“The LORD wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent” – Psalm 104:2
“In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.” – Psalm 19:4b
Scientists tell us the earth goes around the sun, but God’s Word tells us the sun circuits the earth (continuing from the verse I just quoted):
“It [the sun] is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.”
– Psalm 19:5-6
I could go on, but in sum, it seems like if you take the Bible literally, there’s quite a difference of opinion on these things…
And certainly, you can feel free to believe as you like. I’m more than aware that going against the grain of scientific thought isn’t exactly popular, but personally, I’m trying to be true to what I believe God has said. And I know many people will interpret these verses that I’ve quoted figuratively, saying that they don’t literally mean what they say, but inasmuch as I’m able, I’m trying to take what God says at face value, because I don’t want to fall into the doubt that Satan is so fond of introducing (“Did God really say…?” – Genesis 3:1)
Just some food for thought… Feel free to disagree. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear what you have to say.