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Tag Archives: Roman Catholic

The Purpose of the Law

One of my first impressions of God as a child was a disciplinarian. If I made a mistake, did something bad or really screwed up, God would punish me like disobedient Israelites in the Old Testament. Perhaps, the Roman Catholic priests that I grew accustom of listening to each Sunday at mass ingrained this concept into my head. Everything seemed so absolute with right and wrong clearly defined in the Bible. Yet, from a logical perspective, I didn’t know the purpose of God’s laws.

What then do we conclude? Is the Law identical with sin? Certainly not! Nevertheless, if it had not been for the Law, I should not have recognized sin or have known its meaning. [For instance] I would not have known about covetousness [would have had no consciousness of sin or sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, You shall not covet and have an evil desire [for one thing and another]. But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing], Romans 7:7-8.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to clearing up this matter for anyone who still may be confused or uncertain. According to the passage above, the purpose of the law is to recognize sin. When anyone goes outside the defined boundaries set in the Bible, you are proceeding into troubled waters. You may not feel any different at first. In fact, you may be amoral, not knowing right from wrong. Yet, the more you read the Bible, these words are like a lamp for our feet to guide your steps, Psalm 119:105.

For sin, seizing the opportunity and getting a hold on me [by taking its incentive] from the commandment, beguiled and entrapped and cheated me, and using it [as a weapon], killed me. 12 The Law therefore is holy, and [each] commandment is holy and just and good. 13 Did that which is good then prove fatal [bringing death] to me? Certainly not! It was sin, working death in me by using this good thing [as a weapon], in order that through the commandment sin might be shown up clearly to be sin, that the extreme malignity and immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear, Romans 7:11-13.

However, the Sermon on the Mount may reveal another purpose of the law. Jesus urges listeners of this famous speech to strive for perfection, Matthew 5:48. Unfortunately, anyone who seeks perfection will be consumed by disappointment and failure. This is what the apostle Paul realized as a former Pharisee. Despite possessing a zeal that surpassed most religious leaders of his day, Paul’s sinful tendencies was laid bare by God’s law. The true purpose of the law is to help human beings see their sinful nature so that confession compels trespassers to cry out to the Savior of the world, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Extinguish Eternal Fire

During a visit to a prison in 1868, poet William J. Reynolds was inspired to write a hymn. Using the image of a camp fire, Reynolds opening stanza starts with the following words. “It only takes a spark to keep a fire going. And soon all those around will warm up to it’s glowing. That’s how it is with God’s love; once you’ve experienced it. You spread His love to everyone; you want to pass it on.” When the Holy Spirit fills newly devoted followers of Christ, faith becomes contagious like the classic song Pass It On.

And we earnestly beseech you, brethren, admonish (warn and seriously advise) those who are out of line [the loafers, the disorderly, and the unruly]; encourage the timid and fainthearted, help and give your support to the weak souls, [and] be very patient with everybody [always keeping your temper]. 15 See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody, 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15.

Unfortunately, rumors of apathy and complacency began to plague the Church at Thessalonica. Instead of passing on God’s love, first century Christians started pouring cold water on the spiritually optimistic. As a former Roman Catholic who was forced to attend mass every Sunday, I know what’s like not to want to be in church. While in college, I first encountered charismatic Christians, eager and passionate about worshiping God every week. Looking back, I was lukewarm, prematurely judging these on fire believers.

Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); 17 Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19.

Based upon the passage above, apparently some Thessalonians were suppressing the joy of other first century Christians. Perhaps, envy played a part in this behavior. When someone has a passion that is missing from your own life, defense mechanisms often trigger crude and unusual reactions. If you finding yourself lashing due to jealousy, you should consider Paul’s advice. Faith shouldn’t be regulated by your emotions. Rather, worship should consume your soul daily, thirsty for God’s Word which serves as fuel for eternal fire.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Going on Beneath the Surface in America?

It doesn’t take Captain Obvious to reveal that 2020 will go down as one of the worst years of this century. Just like 1918 was marred by the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Coronavirus is changing the way that people live today. Depending upon what the future spread of this virus, hand shakes, hugs and other personal displays of affection may be a thing of the past. This is just one of the under lying currents going on beneath the surface.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days, for the vision is for [many] days yet to come, Daniel 10:13-14.

Prior to the Soviet Union’s occupation of Lithuania in 1940, the citizens of this country were religious. My father was born and raised in the Roman Catholic as the forces of communism began to attack institutions of faith. During the Soviet’s occupation of Lithuania, religious symbols began to disappear. Traces of absolute truth began to vanish from Lithuania in an attempt to fundamentally change my father’s country. The more I study history and talk to my father, I fear the same forces are at work in America.

For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do, Galatians 5:17.

According to an Old Testament leader, demonic strongholds exist throughout the earth. These powers of darkness often control major cities, filling the minds of citizens with ungodly beliefs. Daniel encounters a demonic force that he calls the Prince of Persia. Held captive for nearly a month, Daniel needed the arch angel Michael to come to his aid. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul refers to the internal battle within human souls as a war between the flesh and God’s Spirit. These a just a few of the factors going on beneath the surface that are attempting to radically change the United States of America. May the prayers of the saints reverse this trend.

by Jay Mankus

Brain Washed, Deceived or Set Free?

When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds.  Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college.  Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

This climate leads to one of three responses.  Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free.  This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths.  On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church.  In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation.  Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful.  Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue.  Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe.  Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect.  This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Life Perspective of Matthew 6:33

Looking back at the core principles my parents taught me, I learned 3 things lived out by my father: discipline, hard work and honoring the Sabbath.  As a son of an immigrant, my dad persevered as he learned English, eventually becoming a Ivy League student before entering the military.  His service to this country in the Army reinforced these attributes while his Roman Catholic background instilled in him a wholehearted effort to attend church wherever he was and whatever else he was doing.

Although the jealous may give circumstance or luck the credit, its clear that his successful career in sales, nice house at the beach and extended health is directly related to Matthew 6:33.  When an individual begins to seek God first by worshiping the Lord Sunday, starting each day in prayer or studying the Bible, these acts get God’s attention.  If these selfless acts continue with the right motives, the promise of daily bread and other blessings follow.  Sure, maybe my dad didn’t earn as much as he desired or reached the position of his dreams, but I see the fruits of his labor today.

While far from being perfect, I am trying to pass the baton to my own children so that they too may live a life of discipline, hard work and keeping God’s day holy.  Though the hypocrite in me may steer my kids off course from time to time, I can’t help but cling to Jesus promise within Matthew 6:33.  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteous and all these things (life, food, drink, clothes and health) will be given to you as well.”  Before 2014 speeds up too fast that you can’t catch up, take some time to slow down, Psalm 46:10, so that the hope of Matthew 6:33 may find you and your family.

by Jay Mankus

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