The Importance of Context

I was on Facebook today. A friend of mine posted a short video talk by Pastor Jim Cymbala, of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Pastor Cymbala posted it on his Facebook page three days ago, so that should be on February 17, 2022, since today is February 20, 2022. The talk is addressed to Christians. If you have access to Facebook, or even if you don’t, you might be able to listen to his talk here, but I will also provide a transcript in case you are not able to access the video:

Pastor Cymbala: “Wouldn’t it be terrible to live in condemnation when Jesus paid it all. He is the atoning sacrifice. Hear it one more time. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We are accepted by God. Our sins are covered. As far as the east is from the west, that is how far our sins have been separated from us. The enemy doesn’t want us to think about that.

“Satan is the accuser of the brothers and the sisters, the mamas and the papas, people of all ages, he comes pointing out our sins, and is it not real? Did we not do it, say it? Think it? And he will try to get our eyes off the one on the cross, off the Lamb, and into me, and why did I do that? I repeated it. What did I do that for? We overcome him by the blood of the Lamb.

“Satan, you’re right. Did that, everything and more, but guess what? I’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. I’ve been redeemed. You have no accusation against me because Jesus took away my sins. And he said on the cross, “It’s finished.” And the Father accepted it by raising him from the dead and bringing him to heaven where he sits at the right hand. I have a Savior and an advocate named Jesus. So, I am free from condemnation. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Rejoice in Jesus today. Amen.”

Pastor Cymbala took many liberties with the Scriptures in his talk, teaching them out of context, and making them say what they are not meant to say. So, the Lord Jesus is leading me here to examine (test) some of the things he stated in his talk by looking at the Scriptures to which he referred, but in their context. So, the first ones we will look at have to do with Jesus paying it all so that we can be no longer under condemnation:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:18-21 ESV

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Rom 8:2-4 ESV

These next ones have to do with Jesus being our advocate and the atoning sacrifice for our sins and what makes us accepted by God:

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 Jn 2:1-6 NIV

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:4-10 ESV

This next one has to do with the subject of Jesus removing our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west, and to whom that applies:

“The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”
Psalms 103:6-13 ESV (compare to 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13).

[Matt 10:28; Heb 5:7; Acts 9:31; Lu 1:50; Acts 10:34-35; Php 2:12-13; Rev 11:18; Rev 14:7; Rev 15:4; 2 Co 5:6-11; Heb 12:28-29; 2 Co 7:1]

And this last one has to do with Satan being the accuser of the brethren (followers of Jesus) and us overcoming him by the blood of the Lamb:

“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!’”

“Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.” Revelation 12:9-12,17 ESV

Summary

The condemned are those who are walking (in conduct, in practice) in sin, who are knowingly and willfully repeating the same sins over again. They are those who are still walking according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. They are not walking in obedience to the Lord. Righteousness is not what they are practicing. They are not walking in the fear of God. But some of them profess Christ as Savior, and they call themselves Christians.

They are not accepted by God. They are not declared righteous by God. Their sins are not separated from them as far as the east is from the west, because they have no fear of God, for they are still walking in darkness in habitual and willful sin. They are not redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. And they are not those who have overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb. So they are not those being accused by Satan. God is the one telling them that they must stop sinning or face judgment.

Those who are accepted by God, whose sins are forgiven, who are no longer under condemnation, who are declared righteous by God, who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, who are being accused of Satan, and who are overcoming Satan by the blood of the Lamb are those whose works are being carried out in God.

They are those who are coming into the light, who are walking no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, who are obeying our Lord’s commands, who are not practicing sin, but who are practicing righteousness, who are walking in the fear of God, honoring him with their lives, who are overcoming Satan also by the word of their testimony, being willing to die for the sake of the gospel. They are the ones Satan is at war against.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15]

The Prayer

Written by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager,
Alberto Testa and Tony Renis

I pray you’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know

Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

I pray we’ll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When the stars go out each night
Remind us where you are.

Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe.

Caution: This link may contain ads
P.S. This is not an endorsement of the singers other than as musicians

6 thoughts on “The Importance of Context

  1. Hi Sue, the contexts you highlighted are true, I don’t think anyone who seriously studies God’s word can deny the contexts. There is always a danger in whitewashing God’s truth, where we take a truth and over simplify it so that it projects an incorrect perception. On the other side of the coin, there is always a danger of imposing a perception that leaves out an aspect that is also true.

    There is a difference between making a habitual practise of sin and stumbling. We all stumble at times. And I believe the habitual sins that we do commit are progressively revealed to us, because there are usually more than one, and one by one, as we are convicted, they do have to fall to the wayside and if we are earnest in following God’s will, they do, but most times, this happens over time, as we are convicted and we respond. The bottom line, from my experience, is that as an habitual sin is revealed to us, there comes a time when we do have to let it go, walk away from it, because we simply cannot continue to live habitually in this particular sin.

    I believe that is Christ being formed in us, progressively, over time. The thing is, this progressive revealing never stops, at least while we are here in these bodies, because God in His grace is continually forming more of Christ in us daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. But God’s word is true, there comes a time when we simply cannot continue in that particular sin and we simply cannot sin in it anymore.

    Whitewashing is when we apply a truth and ignore the reality of our sinful nature. That sinful nature does have to be dealt with. And when we impose a truth without taking into consideration the progressive nature of God cleansing us from all unrighteousness, we ignore the reality of our need for the daily washing. Sometimes these two truths are hard to pin down, and both can be misrepresented.

    I think ultimately it is a matter of the heart, where God’s grace and love for us, and our response to God’s revealed grace and love, continually changes us. as we grow in Him. There are paradoxical truths that need to be understood, we are sinless and yet we sin, sanctified yet being sanctified and we are redeemed but are yet in the process of being redeemed. It’s not all black and it’s not all white and there is a progressive perspective in between that needs to be acknowledged for what it is, Christ being formed in us. For what it is worth, these are my two cents worth. Blessings Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce, my hesitancy is responding immediately had nothing to do with anything you said. I have not felt well all day and I have been sleeping on and off pretty much all day when I wasn’t writing devotions or spending time with Rick. My brain was in a fog pretty much all day and it was only cleared long enough to write the devotions for the day. So, if I do not respond immediately, that may be a factor from time to time, but always check if you do not hear back in a few days, for like that one time, your comment went to spam and I didn’t know.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bruce,

      First off, Pastor Cymbala was quoting Scriptures out of context and he was interpreting them in a manner in which he was teaching a false gospel message. For he was giving his listeners the notion that all people calling themselves Christians are accepted by God, their sins are all forgiven, and so if they do sin, even repeatedly, and they are feeling condemned for their sin, they are to assume that is Satan condemning them and they are to ignore that voice which is speaking to them about their repeated (his words) sins.

      So, the whole idea he was presenting is that, even though these people who call themselves Christians are sinning repeatedly, that they are, in essence, to just claim who they are in Christ, i.e. to claim that they are forgiven, washed, cleansed, accepted by God, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and free from condemnation, which is assuming that they are, when they might not be.

      And the purpose of this is to alleviate any guilt they might be feeling about their sin, but it also ignores any promptings and rebukes of the Holy Spirit who may be talking with them about their sin and of their need to repent and to walk in obedience to the Lord. So, this circumvents the working of God’s Spirit in their lives. It shuts out the Holy Spirit’s voice, and it does not make the way for the process of sanctification to take place, because they are just ignoring the reality of their present sin.

      Also, he is suggesting that we should not examine our own hearts to discover why we do the things that we do, but that we should just claim who we are in Christ and then move on until the next time. And this is one of the big reasons that many people continue in habitual sin because they are not looking into their hearts from which sin comes to find out why they do what they do. And so whatever is stored up in their hearts, which keeps spilling out in their sinful behaviors, never gets dealt with at the cross.

      The point of 1 Jn 2:1-2 is not to teach what he taught, for it teaches that we should not sin, but if we do, then Jesus is our atoning sacrifice, provided we are in genuine relationship with him via genuine God-given faith that proves itself by what we do. But then it goes on and says that if we say we know God but we don’t obey him, that we don’t know him. So, the point of the passage is that we, as believers in Jesus, might sin from time to time, but that we should not be engaged in deliberate and habitual sin, for if we walk in sin, we do not have the hope of eternal life with God.

      When the Scriptures address the believers who are sinning, they do not tell them to just claim that they are accepted, forgiven, redeemed, etc. The Scriptures warn the Christians against being deceived into thinking that their sins no longer matter to God and that their sins will not separate them from God. And they call them to repentance, and to put off their sins and to put on righteousness, and that if they don’t, that they will not inherit the kingdom of God and that many will hear our Lord say, “I never knew you. Depart from me.”

      So, we need to tell it like the Scriptures tell it. And we need to lead people to repentance, obedience, and walks of holiness and righteousness and away from repeated sins. So, when they feel that guilt feeling because they sinned against the Lord, they need to pray about it, and seek God’s face, and they need to examine their hearts before the Lord, and turn away from those repeated sins and follow Jesus in obedience.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Sue, there isn’t one word here that I disagree with and I acknowledge that at times, the written words that we (including myself) sometimes use in exchanges, aren’t always the best form of communication. If anything, it was just an “aspect of” this same concern that I mentioned and there was no criticism intended. Perhaps more like an after thought. Hoping and praying that you feel better soon. God’s continued blessings to you and yours Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

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