Thursday in the Twenty-Third Week of Ordinary Time

John 12:36b-43

The Recompense of Unbelief

If we will listen, the Bible explains to us who we are; it tells us all about ourselves and how we came to be this way.  It does this so that we may fear the Lord and obey His word; otherwise, fearful consequences await.  What do I mean?  Let us allow the Bible speak for itself.  In Romans 1:18-32 where Paul is explaining to us what the unbelieving Gentile world looks like, a world without knowledge of God, three times he says those frightful words, “God gave them up” (1:24, 26, 28).  God gave them up to what?  To the lusts of their hearts, to dishonorable passions, to a debased mind.  On what account?  Because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.  So God rightfully gives sinful man over to his lies that he may believe them and spiral further from the knowledge of Himself.  In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, Paul warns us again, this time about the coming of the “lawless one” or antichrist.  He writes that on those who are perishing (those who know not the Lord by saving faith), God sends a “strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false.”  And why does God judge them so?  “In order that they may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”  And in the Apostle’s Letter to the churches in Galatia, he reminds those born of God that they must “not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption” (6:7-8).

In each of these passages, we see that the consequence of sin, the consequence of rejecting the knowledge of God, the consequence of disobedience, is the hardening of one’s heart that he may further follow that path.  In short, the consequence of sin is more sin, more darkness, more hardening.  And how does this happen?  The Bible shows us two causes: one is the man himself who chooses such a path; the other is God who hardens the man who so chooses.  (I suppose the classic case is Pharaoh who, the Bible tells us, both hardened his heart and was hardened by God, Exodus 7:3; 8:15.)  So we now turn to our passage today in John’s Gospel.  We read the frightening words that God “blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”  And then we read how those who would believe in him would not say so out of fear, “for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”  But the good news is that as those who reject the knowledge of God spiral downward, those who receive such knowledge grow in grace and spiral upward (2 Peter 3:18). The blessing of obedience is drawing ever nearer to God.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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