Digging in Deeper: Romans 12:19

Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, ‘Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What do you do when you can’t decide between two options? If possible, you choose both. This past week I finished watching a miniseries and finally watched a movie that first came out a couple of months ago. I had always planned to write a review of both once I finished watching them. I hadn’t planned on finishing both in the same week. And yet, as I have gone back and forth on which one to write about first, it became clearer and clearer that they both covered a whole lot of the same theological ground, although from different directions. Trying to treat them separately just didn’t make sense. Today, then, we are going to span two totally different media universes and talk about the recently completed Marvel series, Moon Knight, as well as the fairly recent latest offering from DC Comics, The Batman, and see how two different visions of the world reveal the Gospel is still the greatest vision of reality there is.

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Digging in Deeper: Romans 6:10-12

“For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I’m going to ask you a question about which I want you to be totally honest with me. In fact, I don’t want you to answer immediately. I want you to think about it for a second. Then, I want you to raise your hand in the air if the answer is yes. No, really, raise your hand. Commit to your answer. If you’re by yourself, no one will see it; and if you’re in public, it’ll just look like you’re stretching. (If you’re reading this in class, you might want to raise two hands to disguise it a little better…and also stop reading this in class and pay attention to your teacher.) Are you ready now? Here goes: Do you struggle with sin?

Okay, survey time: How many of you raised your hand? I suspect it wasn’t just a few. But, in doing that, some of you are lying to me. In fact, I might even go so far as to say many of you are. You can’t fairly characterize your interaction with sin as a struggle because there really isn’t any struggle. When sin comes calling, you go right along with it. Maybe there’s a brief flash of resistance, but that doesn’t last long. What I want to talk about this morning with you is how to actually struggle with sin and why it will eventually become no struggle at all.

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Digging in Deeper: Proverbs 11:4-6

“Wealth is not profitable on a day of wrath, but righteousness rescues from death. The righteousness of the blameless clears his path, but the wicked person will fall because of his wickedness. The righteousness of the upright rescues them, but the treacherous are trapped by their own desires.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What benefit is there in being right with God? If you’re a follower of Jesus, before you jump all over yourself offering a litany of answers to that question, pause for just a minute and think on it. What benefit is there in being right with God? Let me ask that another way. What benefit is there in righteousness? It’s amazing how changing just a couple of words there puts a whole different spin on that question. Righteousness is a theological word. Being right with God and being righteous are generally two different concepts in our minds. Let me add one more element to this: What benefit is there in being right with people? Now, that’s a totally different question. Except it isn’t. I have been journeying through the book of Proverbs with my deacons for the past few weeks. This morning I want to reflect with you for just a minute on something that caught my attention in our passage for this week. Let’s talk about the benefits godly living.

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Morning Musing: Ephesians 6:14-18

“Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit–which is the word of God. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Last Thursday we started a short conversation about the armor of God. The two conclusions we came to then were that in the great battle we face as followers of Jesus, people are not our enemy, and our primary function as warriors in God’s army is to stand firm and resist the enemy’s attacks. Our place is not to go on the offensive to advance God’s kingdom. That’s God’s job. We follow Him, and we actively share our faith, but we must always make sure He is out front. We come in with love and the gentle spirit of Jesus. No one will be forced into the kingdom. That whole conversation, though, was a preface to talking about the armor itself. This morning, let’s continue our conversation by looking at the armor God has provided us.

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Morning Musing: Mark 14:61-64

“But he kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest questioned him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus, ‘and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What is your decision?’ They all condemned him as deserving death.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In the world of courtroom dramas, the money moment is when the prosecutor finally gets the defendant to somehow admit his guilt under oath while on the witness stand. These moments are a dime a dozen on television, but perhaps the best such scene ever put on film is the climax of the movie, A Few Good Men, where Jack Nicholson screams at Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth.” Just for your viewing pleasure, here’s a link to the scene (with a language morning). If that one critical moment doesn’t make you want to stand up and cheer for Cruise’s Lt. Kaffee’s incredible victory for justice you may want to check and see if you have a pulse. There’s just something satisfying about seeing someone guilty own that guilt and face the consequences of it. What we see unfolding here in Mark’s Gospel is a scene kind of like that except the charge to which Jesus finally confessed wasn’t a crime at all. It was simply the truth. Let’s talk about the moment Jesus finally admitted to the “crime” that led Him to the cross.

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