"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
Let’s take a closer look at our passage from yesterday, Jeremiah 6:16:
“Stand in the ways and see.” In a time of turmoil, our minds race ahead to think of all that could happen in the future. We ask ourselves lots of “what if” questions and frequently fall victim to unfounded worry. To “stand” means to turn our mind from its troubling thoughts of the future and to focus on God. It is similar to being at an intersection with signs pointing many different ways. We wait until we know which direction the trail is heading.
“Ask for the old paths, where the good way is.” The road of trouble has been well traveled by the saints of the faith, and their footsteps have made it into a path of glory to God. Meditate on the cries of King David in the Psalms or on the prayers of others in the Bible. Ponder their responses as well as the way they reveal their faith and trust in God even while suffering greatly. Accept the Spirit’s revelation of the ancient path of faith and the good way of trust. Then pray for courage to walk those paths as Jesus did.
“Walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.” With eyes firmly fixed on our Savior, resolve to walk down this road of suffering in a way that is honoring to Him. Draw deeply on the Holy Spirit’s strength for the next step, and seek to be obedient in thought, word, and deed. You will discover that as you follow Him, sweet, soul-satisfying rest will be found.
Lord, I choose the pathway of peace. Help me to stand firm in times of turmoil. Enable me to ask where the good way is, and then to walk in it.
We are beginning a short series of sermons in 1 John, but the messages are of a topical nature. Although these messages will revolve around particular topics, I believe that when we are done, we will have apprehended the larger message of the book via a somewhat different route—different, that is, from a verse-by-verse exposition. So over the next few weeks I would like to ask you to read and reread this short letter, and to do so with the following words in mind. As it happened, they all begin with the letter L, but that was more or less an accident. The words we will be considering are lust, liar, life, light, and love. The first of these is lust.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15–17).
Summary of the Text:
We are sometimes tempted to think that certain verbs are inherently virtuous. But the virtue or vice in any transitive verb is found, in the first place, in the direct object, and secondly in the adverb. Take the verb love, for instance. What do you love, and how are you loving it? If you love evil things as opposed to righteous things, then that is a direct object problem. If you love God and the Bible, but in a spirit of self-righteousness, then that is an adverb problem.
In our text here, we are directly commanded not to love the world. Not only so, but the word is that world-famous Greek verb, agapao. Do not love the world, John says, or the things in the world (v. 15). This kind of prohibited love is exclusionary. If a man has it, then he does not have the love of the Father in him (v. 15). No man can serve two masters—one love will expel the other. John then gives us a list of the things that are in the world, the things that he had in mind with his earlier broad prohibition. First is the lust of the flesh (v. 16), then the lust of the eyes (v. 16), and then third, the pride of life (v. 16). These are not of the Father, but rather of the world (v. 16), which is why the one excludes the other. The world is transient, it passes away. The lusts within the world are also transient, and they too pass away (v. 17). But the one who does the will of God abides forever (v. 17).
The Heart of Worldliness:
So these three things are what characterize the world, in the sense John is using it here, and taken together, they are the very definition of worldliness. So in order to have this thing called “worldliness,” you do not need Times Square bedecked in neon, or downtown Babylon on a Saturday night, or Vanity Fair. All you need is one prohibited tree. Please note the italics.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world”
1 John 2:16
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat”
What This Lust Actually Is:
When we moderns use the word lust, we usually mean desire in the sexual sense, although we still have the older sense in modern English in words like wanderlust. And while John’s usage would include that sexual sense, he is not limiting it that way at all here. The word is epithymia, and simply means craving or intense desire. The word thymia means desire, and eipthymia means heap big desire, intense desire.
The World We Are Not to Love:
Now of course, we know from the most famous verse in the Bible that God loves the world (John 3:16). We see the same thing repeated here in 1 John (1 John 2:2; 4:9). Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. When God loved the world. He was loving sinners in need of salvation. When we are told not to love the world, we are being told not to love the way these sinners have locked themselves into their need to be saved.
So there is a world system, still sunk in sin, and that system of worldliness has certain defined characteristics. First, it passes away (1 John 2:17). The world does not recognize us as the sons of God, and they fail at this recognition because they did not understand the Lord for who He was (1 John 3:1; 4:17). The world hates genuine believers (1 John 3:13). The world is filled up with lying prophets (1 John 4:1). The world has the spirit of antichrist, which denies the Incarnation (1 John 4:3). The world wants to listen to its own (1 John 4:5).
But this world is nevertheless overmastered by believers, who have the great God with them and within them (1 John 4:4). And so the world is overcome or conquered by us, using the instrumentality of faith (1 John 5:4). What is it that conquers the world? Is it not our faith?
The Great Sin of Worldliness:
When it comes to moral theology, it is a commonplace to say that the cardinal sin is the sin of pride. And considered from a certain vantage point, I believe that this is certainly true. Quite right—pride can be found at the center of every motion of every sin. But if we zoom out, and consider our lot as interconnected individuals, I would want to say that the cardinal sin is that of worldliness. We are prideful individuals, certainly, but we are worldly together. Worldliness is our mortal enemy because it pits one rule against another—the rule of God in Christ over against the rule of whatever is in fashion according to all the regnant non-Christs.
So the biblical view here is binary. There are two roads you can walk, and only two. There are two tables you may eat from, and only two. There are two houses where you may live, and only two. They are Christ and the world. You are either in Christ or you are in the world. And if you get to know Christ well, you will recognize that world in an instant, whatever get-up she put on this time. Her makeup changes, her tattoos are all temporary, her outfits change, but it is always the same allure.
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”
But beware. When John writes to us about turning away from lust, he is not talking about a weekend on Bourbon Street in the first instance. He is talking about a lust for respectability—although it is a respectability that always make room for a little sin on the side. Sin is always included in the annual budget. Some of it is out in the open, while some of it is tolerated with a wink and a nod.
Your desires reveal who your father actually is. Lusts are always inherited from your father, and desires are always passed down to sons and daughters.
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do”
The alternative is Christ. Always Christ, and only Christ—Christ crucified, Christ buried, Christ risen, Christ enthroned, and Christ in you. He is the only one who can bring you a new Father. No one comes to the Father, He said, but by me (John 14:6). New Father, new desires. Born into a new life, you find that new life wants new things. All your tangled lusts are taken away, and are replaced with a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. Not a thirst for Pharisaism. Not an eagerness for laws of hammered tin. Not a hunger for religious bread made out of legalistic sawdust. Not an intense desire to become a self-righteous fop. Not all screwed up in the adverbs. Not a faux-holiness.
No. A few Father gives you the desire to be truly holy, which is to say, He gives you a deep desire to be happy. This replaces the old desire, the old lust, which, while it pretends to want happiness, actually wants to be unhappy on its own terms. We would much rather be unhappy on our own terms than to be happy on God’s terms. That, in fact, is the heart of all our problems.
But when He becomes your Father, when you are born anew, you have gladly surrendered the point. And when you have surrendered that point, you have said your farewells to the world system of lust and striving.
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Developers and builders work hard to make sure that structures meet the required building codes. From electrical wiring to masonry and framing, all materials must be of a specified quality and assembled in a safe manner. If they are not, then the security and physical well-being of the future occupants are at risk.
As a believer, you are involved in the long-term building of your spiritual “house.” Christ is the strong foundation, and He guides the ultimate construction of your faith and character. Along the way, as you choose to submit to His carpentry, you select the building materials that go into your spiritual house.
Being obedient, using your tongue for the edification of others, acting as a peacemaker, refusing to give in to selfishness, and doing anything that reflects the fruit of the Spirit—all are solid building blocks of a life being conformed to the image of Christ. One day Jesus will judge the quality of the house of your life: “Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor. 3:12–13 nasb).
Remember, though, that this evaluation has nothing to do with salvation. Jesus will inspect your structure only for the purpose of giving good gifts in the measure of the work you did here.
Dear heavenly Father, I’ve started this journey of commitment and change. Please help me continue. Someday You will review the quality of my spiritual house. I want to pass inspection.
 Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 254). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Jackie Hill Perry is a self-described rapper, writer, teacher, and poet. She is also a married mother of two and an ex-Lesbian converted to Christianity ten years ago at age 19. She expresses her Christianity through spoken word poetry, music, and essays (some at The Gospel Coalition). She has published two CD’s, and is author of the 2018 book Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been. An upcoming Bible study is due to be released this October called, Jude: Contending for the Faith in Today’s Culture. Perry says she feels compelled to share the wondrous truths of Jesus through her God-given gifts as communicator.
Perry is also friends with and partnered to in ministry with some spurious characters, all in the name of ‘not being tribalistic’ according to Perry. She recently photographed herself with Bethel Church’s…
It explains that the the “Religiously Unaffiliated Demographic has tripled in the last two decades, now representing 25 percent of the overall American population and 35 percent of those under the age of 30.”
Further, they “overwhelmingly share the Democratic Party’s values,” with support for same-sex marriage, open borders and more.
And the “nonreligious have often been subjected to unfair bias and exclusion in American society, particularly in the areas of politics and policymaking where assumptions of religiosity have long predominated.”
“WHEREAS, those most loudly claiming that morals, values, and patriotism must be defined by their particular religious views have used those religious views, with misplaced claims of ‘religious liberty,’ to justify public policy that has threatened the civil rights and liberties of many Americans, including but not limited to the LGBT community, women, and ethnic and religious/nonreligious minorities.
“BE IT RESOLVED, that the DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE recognizes: 1. The value, ethical soundness, and importance of the religiously unaffiliated demographic, a group of Americans who contribute in innumerable ways to the arts, sciences, medicine, business, law, the military, their communities, the success of the Party and prosperity of the Nation; and 2. That religiously unaffiliated Americans are a group that, as much as any other, advocates for rational public policy based on sound science and universal humanistic values and should be represented, included, and heard by the Party.”
The Secular Coalition of America embraced the statement.
“Nonreligious Americans want to work with people of all faiths to build an effective government that serves and protects all of our rights equally,” Sarah Levin, the director of governmental affairs for the organization, said in the Examiner report. “At the end of the day, it is critical that all political parties embrace and work with the secular community to ensure that policy is driven by science and evidence, not sectarian beliefs. Religiously unaffiliated Americans strongly identify with secularism, and will fight to protect the separation of church and state.”
WND reported in June the DNC, in apparent acknowledgement that the party has a “God problem,” hired a religious outreach director.
Rev. Derrick Harkins, who held a similar position in 2012, is former senior vice president of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, which recently celebrated “rejoicing in the queerness of God.”
Democrats have alienated themselves from many religious voters by promoting abortion and same-sex marriage. In 2016, Trump won 80 percent of the white evangelical vote.
During the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, delegates booed, jeered and shook their fists when the chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, affirmed the adoption of an amendment to the party’s platform that restored a mention of God.
He had to call for a vote three times before he could make the declaration that, in his opinion, the ayes made up two-thirds of the vote.
After the first vote, which sounded like a dead heat between the yes and no votes, he said, “In the opinion of the … let me do that again.”
The second vote sounded the same, and Villaraigosa looked offstage for help and advice.
A woman came up behind him and said, “Let them do what they’re going to do.”
On the third vote, Villaraigosa was prepared and stated that in his opinion, two-thirds of the voters said “aye,” apparently without considering the volume of the voice vote.
Shaking fists and jeers erupted before he could finish speaking.
The platform of the party drew nationwide astonishment just a day earlier when it removed a reference to God and a declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
This is not a story I would have chosen to write. Ravi Zacharias is not an Anglican, but he has spoken at Anglican events and in Anglican churches across the globe. He spoke recently at the 10th Annual Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America in Plano, Texas. I heard him speak and quoted him in one of my stories. He was impressive and received an ovation at the conclusion of his message to more than 1,100 faithful Anglicans. Some of what I am about to expose has been whispered about for some time, and while I was aware of it, I wrote nothing, thinking that it was just gossip and hearsay; scandal laid needlessly at the foot of a good evangelist and apologist for the Christian Faith. As time wore on the rumors and charges grew, a sudden flurry of recent emails sent to me, forced me to change my mind. VOL reached out to Ravi Zacharias on several occasions seeking comment about the charges but got no reply.
Three main charges have been leveled at evangelist and apologist Ravi Zacharias.
The first is that he claimed to have earned degrees from respectable institutions that he never obtained. Along with that are claims he made that he studied at a number of well-known institutions, claiming to lecture alongside academic men he claimed to have a relationship with.
Secondly, that he engaged in an online sex relationship with a woman who sent him nude photos and he did not tell her to cease and desist. When she threatened to go public, he threatened to commit suicide. An out-of-court settlement was reached and the whole matter disappeared. How much was paid? Did it come out of Ravi Zacharias Ministries? If so, did that violate his non-profit status?
Thirdly, and most sadly, he told a woman who got pregnant by his brother several decades ago, to go and get an abortion. The woman in question did and she tells her story here. She is clear that by doing so she is not suing Zacharias and is not after money, she simply wants the world to know that his views on abortion are hypocritical.
The topic of this year’s Jackson Hole was, in not so many words, the fading power of central banks which for the past decade, had been the only game in town. However, with interest rates back to record lows, and the ECB (and soon Fed) set to restart QE, the outcome will be even worse than last time, sending the world into Albert Edwards’ infamous deflationary ice age.
But one didn’t have to go all the way to Wyoming to observe the waning power of central banks. A quick look at the following chart from Bank of America would have sufficed.
As BofA’s equity derivatives team led by Stefano Pascale and Benjamin Bowler notes, the year 2018 was characterized by the awakening of vol from 2017’s historical lows as investors adjusted to CBs showing less sensitivity for markets.
Meanwhile, Bank of America’s buy-the-dip rule, which worked 9 out 11 times from 2013-2017 when central banks were in their prime, failed 4 times in 2018, and only after the ~20% selloff of Q4 did the Fed flip to a much more dovish rhetoric.
This historical U-turn led to a record start to 2019 for risk assets and one of the sharpest drops in cross-asset vol ever. However, an ominous, if 30,000 ft. view shows that, despite CBs’ best efforts to contain risk this year, the genie can’t be put back in the bottle, and cross-asset vol is unlikely to return to 2017 bubble-lows.
This is shown best through the lens of Bank of America’s GFSI Market Risk indicator, which despite virtually every central bank turning dovish in 2019, is unchanged on average between 2018 and 2019. Indeed, among its cross-asset components and including credit spreads, rates and commodity vol are on average markedly higher in ’19 than in ’18 (less negative numbers indicating higher vol), FX vol has hit new lows this year, and equities and credit are showing similar levels of stress.
Why is this notable? Because as the BofA strategists conclude, “this is important evidence that the market’s trust in central bank support is waning and that the 2017 ultra-low levels of vol are probably behind us.”
The bigger problem, as Jackson Hole demonstrated and as Bill Dudley’s subsequent op-ed confirmed, is that central bankers’ trust in themselves is collapsing, to the point where they are engaging in irrational, panicked actions and unsure what to do when the next recession inevitably hits. Which is why all they can do is delay the inevitable downturn by preventing the S&P from sliding back to its fair value for as long as they can.
After 250 weeks without a purchase of Treasuries (since Oct. 2014), for the second week in a row, the Federal Reserve bought Treasuries.
The $14 billion in purchasing is in stark contrast to zero purchases since Quantitative Easing ended and selling during Quantitative Tightening.
When the Fed sells Treasuries, asset prices struggle, but when the Fed buys Treasuries, asset prices have surged.
Chart below shows the Fed’s total Treasury holdings (red line) versus the weekly change in Treasuries (black columns) since 2014. The QE taper is visible with the first dashed yellow line, the Quantitative Tightening the second dashed yellow line, and then the QT taper highlighted by the third dashed yellow line. Now, the Fed seems to have begun a new period of Treasury purchasing…but for how long and for what purpose, only Mr. Powell knows.
To put things in perspective, the chart below shows the Fed holdings of Treasuries (red line) and weekly change in Treasury buying (black columns) since 2003. Clearly visible is the activist role the Fed has taken since the GFC…QE1, QE2, Operation Twist, QE3, Quantitative Tightening…and now???
And just to highlight the immediate and incredible impact of the Federal Reserve purchasing of Treasuries on equity prices, the chart below is weekly changes in Treasury purchases (yellow columns) versus the Wilshire 5000 (red line), representing all publicly traded US equities.
Data via St. Louis FRED.
Plunge Protection Team saves the world (from a 5% dip) once again.