The Problem of Shame in Marriage

January 30, 2012 at 9:30 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 6 Comments
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Adam and Eve broke the covenant that God had made with them. You and I have done the same thing. When we break covenant with God, we are not trustworthy to be in a covenant with someone else. Not only that, but, as a proven covenant-breaker, I become skeptical that the love of my spouse will cover my sin. Right after Adam and Eve sinned, they were still naked – but now they were ashamed.

Adam’s and Eve’s Response to the Problem of Shame

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:7

The opening of their eyes was more than just a realization that they did not have something covering their bodies. Nor was it a realization that suddenly sin had made them unattractive. They “knew” they were naked – they had a flash of insight about their vulnerability before each other and before God. Their response was, “Cover it up! We don’t understand this new condition, but it’s shameful and we don’t like it!” Suddenly, for the first time, the man and woman were struck with fear that they might no longer be liked or accepted by each other or by God. For the first time, human beings felt the desperation of fearing that their Creator would not be pleased with them.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

Our response when we break covenant is to hide or cover it up from the one person who is mostly likely to know about it – and from the one person we must deal with in order to receive forgiveness. “Scatter and hide” is the first instinct of a covenant breaker. But it is not the first instinct of our Covenant Keeper. He came to Adam and Eve in the cool of the day, and He comes to us in the “arbor” – the safety zone – of our marriage, and He lets us hear His voice. God’s response to the problem of shame, which is vastly different from Adam’s and Eve’s response, is what we will examine next time.

The Breathtaking Wonder of God

January 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Micah, Salvation | 12 Comments
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Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:18-19

Many times, when a person feels he is nearing the end of his life, he will begin to seriously consider his eternal soul. This will often lead to two main concerns, and, really, they are concerns that any reasonable person would have.

1. I understand that I am about to see God, and I have much for which to answer.

We should all be this honest – every day. For we all have a past. And not a one of us can go back in time and change that past. We have offended God with our sin.

In this world, when we offend someone more powerful than us, there is an instinct to run away from that person. This will not work with God. The only safe place to run when we have offended God is to God. Micah 7:18 asks, “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity?” When you run to God for forgiveness, trusting in His Son, Jesus, He does not punish – He pardons. The Verse goes on to say that God passes by “the transgression of the remnant of his heritage.” These are the people that He will make a part of His family.

A sense that we have offended God should lead to a desire to get right with God, and this does not anger God. “He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” Take a moment to let that sink in: God delights in mercy. God is both just and loving. He is compassionate, forgiving, and merciful.

But that only answers one of our concerns:

Q. How will I get right with God when I can’t undo the past?
A. He will erase your sins from His accounting books for the sake of His Son if you believe the Gospel and trust in Christ, being born again.

The second concern is this:

2. How can I know He has done this?

The answer to that one is: You have God’s promise. He has given His Word. Jesus never lies. When He said He was God incarnate, He was telling the absolute complete truth. It wouldn’t make sense for every Word He ever said about Himself to be true – and then to lie to us about ourselves. Jesus was and is God, and God can not lie.

So, we have the assurance of His promise and the assurance of His victory over sin. When you find the power of sin broken in your life – when you find you can choose to love God more than you love sin – you will have additional assurance that you are truly God’s child.

In trusting Jesus Christ, you can claim the promise of Micah 7:19: “He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

I once visited with an elderly gentleman in his home a few days before he died. He was battling an illness – I believe it was called COPD – which caused him to struggle for breath. It is heartbreaking to see a man struggling to breathe – to see such powerlessness over something most of us take for granted all day long. But it is so encouraging to see something more powerful come along and empower the powerless – and give them victory! I believe that I am going to see that man in God’s Holy City one day because of the saving power of Jesus Christ. I want to see him taking deep breaths of the breath of Life. I want to see every person reading this there one day, too. Whether we run for God, sing for God, or climb a mountain for God – we will never get short of breath there!

How Much Is Enough?

January 23, 2012 at 10:13 am | Posted in Luke, Uncategorized | 12 Comments
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The Lord Jesus was well-known during His earthly ministry for spending time with the “wrong crowd:” He was, at times, in the company of prostitutes, publicans, and outcasts. However, in addition to ministering to “open sinners,” there were some occasions when He also fellowshipped with “secret sinners.” One such occasion is recorded in Luke 7, where Jesus had been invited to a meal at the home of Simon the Pharisee.

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.

Luke 7:36

In those days and in that culture, hosts and guests dined together in somewhat of an “open-air” setting, where passers-by could observe and even barge in unannounced.

And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.

Luke 7:37-38

Simon was shocked and offended by this behavior. He was offended that an obviously sinful woman would intrude on his time with the well-known Prophet of Nazareth, and even more shocked that Jesus would not rebuke her. What Simon was willfully ignoring, however, was that this woman was not the only sinner present. Simon – just like the woman, and just like everyone else present except for Jesus, and just like you and me and everyone you ever have known and ever will know – was a sinner, too. Here is how Jesus responded to the woman’s egregious and shameless show of love and worship toward her Savior:

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.

Luke 7:47-48

The key difference between the woman and Simon was not that one was a sinner and one was not. The difference was that one recognized the magnitude of her sin and one did not. Do you realize how great and terrible and inexcusable your sins against your loving and patient and giving God have been? Those who realize how much they have been forgiven will love much. Those who minimize their sin will love the Forgiver of those sins but little. Give yourself a quick test: Going to church is one of the easiest ways to show your love to God for what He has done for you in Christ. How do you feel about doing it? Is going to church something that you do if you don’t have some other obligation, if the weather is nice, and if your back doesn’t hurt too much?

Appreciation for forgiveness = greater love and grateful service.

Minimization of sin, or forgiveness taken for granted = little love and begrudging service.

How much have you been forgiven, and how much did it cost your Forgiver?

Rowing through Romans

January 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Romans | Leave a comment
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The Book of Romans ends up with one of the Apostle Paul’s favorite preaching techniques. I like to use the acrostic O.A.R.S. to identify it.

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets [O.pening], according [A.lleging] to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations [R.easoning] for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:26 (bracketed terms added)

The Apostle Paul had “opened” the Scriptures of the Old Testament and “alleged” that the New Testament revelations of Jesus Christ are a fulfillment of those Scriptures. He had “reasoned” with his readers, as the Holy Ghost inspired him to answer questions concerning both the Jews and the gentiles about God’s fairness and righteousness.

And the purpose of this O.pening, A.lleging, and R.easoning, was the S.haring of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Romans 16:25 (emphasis added)

Here is a review of the previous lessons on Romans:

1. God’s Reason for His Delivery
2. Overcoming Shame
3. From Thanksgiving To Thanksliving
4. Making the Argument of Grace through Faith
5. Six Thoughts which Remind Us that We Cannot Achieve Righteousness on Our Own
6. Dr. Law and Dr. Grace*
7. The Paycheck You Don’t Want To Receive
8. The True Jewish Justification
9. It’s Just Faith
10. Catechism Question 5
11. Catechism Question 9
12. Rehearsing Repetitive Romans Reigns Really Recognizes Right Reckoning
13. Servant Movers (Commitment)
14. Free FROM Sin, Not Free TO Sin
15. The Reckoning
16. Failure to Yield
17. Marriage and War
18. God’s Will and Our Will
19. Destined for Victory
20. Spiritually Disabled (Romans 8)
21. The Assurance of Trouble (Romans 8, 5)
22. Fitted by God
23. Ignoring the Obvious
24. Catechism Question 21
25. Bold Mouths, Beautiful Feet, and Blindfolded Eyes
26. The Work that Won’t Work
27. The Castaways
28. Catechism Question 3
29. Therefore and Wherefore
30. Sacrificially Submitting Surrendered Sanctified Service
31. The Anatomically Correct Church
32. Saved, Sure and Serving? Or Suspicious, Sedentary, and Slothful?
33. Heaping Helpings of Holy Hatred? Or Refusing Revenge for the Right Reasons?
34. The Powers that Be (Romans 13:1)
35. Love Demonstrated by Obedience
36. Light Wakes You Up
37. Doubtful Disputations Deter Doxological Demonstrations Displaying Desired Decorum
38. I Can Tell the Future
39. Real Joy Vs. Fake Joy
40. Preferential Treatment
41. The Certain Hope
42. Going Belly-Up

* most-read post in series

The Difference Between a Brave Face and a Bold Face

January 13, 2012 at 11:17 am | Posted in Ezekiel | 4 Comments
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God took Ezekiel’s wife, and told him not to mourn her openly with tears or in how he dressed or in what he ate.

Also the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shall thy tears run down. Forbear to cry, make no mourning for the dead, bind the tire of thine head upon thee, and put on thy shoes upon thy feet, and cover not thy lips, and eat not the bread of men. So I spake unto the people in the morning: and at even my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded.

Ezekiel 24:15-18

This was how God wanted Ezekiel to tell the people to feel about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then God removed the prohibition against Ezekiel talking.

Chapters 25-28 deal with God’s judgments on the other nations – the gentile (non-Jewish) nations around Israel and Judah. The Ammonites, the Moabites, and the Edomites were all related to the Jews, but they had harbored hatred against God’s chosen people and either attacked them outright, or helped their enemies, and rejoiced at their troubles.

After these prophecies Ezekiel set his face against the enemies of God’s people who did not have that same blood relation to the Jews: the Philistines and the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. Tyre was especially singled out because of its importance as a center of international finance and shipping.

The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Now, thou son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyrus;

Ezekiel 27:1-2

In this lamentation – or funeral dirge – there is an extended metaphor, because the city of Tyre was located on land and on an island. We think of funeral speeches as “eulogies” (words of praise), but this was really a condemnation of Tyre, whose great merchants and businessmen, and the naval warriors that protected them, had the wrong type of faith. They depended on their own might for salvation.

The ancients of Gebal and the wise men thereof were in thee thy calkers: all the ships of the sea with their mariners were in thee to occupy thy merchandise. They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee; they set forth thy comeliness.

Ezekiel 27:9-10 (emphasis added)

There is no wisdom in trusting in physical shields and helmets. God has given us a shield of faith and the helmet of salvation.

The ships of Tarshish did sing of thee in thy market: and thou wast replenished, and made very glorious in the midst of the seas. Thy rowers have brought thee into great waters: the east wind hath broken thee in the midst of the seas.

Ezekiel 27:25-26

They would be “dead in the water.”

And shall cause their voice to be heard against thee, and shall cry bitterly, and shall cast up dust upon their heads, they shall wallow themselves in the ashes: And they shall make themselves utterly bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep for thee with bitterness of heart and bitter wailing. And in their wailing they shall take up a lamentation for thee, and lament over thee, saying, What city is like Tyrus, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?

Ezekiel 27:30-32

Ezekiel even compared the king of Tyre to Satan.

Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

Ezekiel 28:12-13

Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

Ezekiel 28:17

Standing with Daniel

January 11, 2012 at 9:13 am | Posted in Biblical standing, Daniel | 3 Comments
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There is an expression you sometimes hear in old movies for a man who is loyal and trustworthy and can be counted on to do the courageous thing in difficult circumstances: “a stand-up guy.” The prophet Daniel was such a man. From his youth on through the later years of his life Daniel was a man of character and integrity who stood strong for the Lord in adverse situations. He is a great role model for Christians today.

Here is a review of the lessons on the Book of Daniel:

1. Stand Up for Jesus
2. Character and Integrity Part 4 (*)
3. After the Fire
4. Beware the Five Fingers
5. The Handwriting on the Wall
6. Diverting the Flow of the Word
7. The Lamb Cows the Lion
8. Blesschatology
9. Comparisons, Calculations, and Christophany
10. Looking Forward to What Has Already Been Sealed

(*) most-read post in series

Regaining What Was Lost in Marriage

January 9, 2012 at 11:17 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 10 Comments
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Genesis Chapter 2 ends with a very strange cliffhanger:

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:25

In our previous lesson on marriage we saw that there was no shame in Adam and Eve concerning their bodies because they had not yet sinned. This, though, is still begging the question in a sense. If there was no reason for them to be ashamed, why does the Bible make a point of saying that they were not ashamed? The answer is: Because, even if their bodies were “perfect,” being naked is still dangerous unless there is sinlessness. Adam and Eve had the ability to use words. They had the ability to exercise trust. They had desires. We can say these same things about ourselves, but the difference is, for Adam and Eve before the Fall, all of these were based on their relationship to God, and specifically their covenant with God.

The covenant was God saying that He would give them everything good and that He would be with them. They were to enjoy and tend everything that He gave them except for that one tree: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam’s and Eve’s part of the covenant was to leave that tree alone. We know that they did not do that.

For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Genesis 3:5

This was Satan’s lie, but what made it an effective lie was that there was some partial truth in it. Adam and Eve really would “know” good and evil if they ate from the tree. What Satan intentionally left out was that Adam and Eve weren’t supposed to “know” good and evil. They were only supposed to know good. When they ate, they lost their innocence.

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.

Genesis 3:6

The fruit of the forbidden tree did not make them “wise.” It gave them “knowledge.” Knowledge without wisdom is dangerous. In addition to losing their innocence, they lost their protection from temptation.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:7

They also lost their lack of shame and their freedom.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

They lost:

1. Their innocence
2. Their protection from temptation
3. Their lack of shame
4. Their freedom
5. Their minds! (Trying to hide from God?!)

In other words, they lost their covenant.

Nakedness refers to more than just the lack of material covering – the lack of clothes. It refers to the freedom to enjoy your spouse without the danger of what a sinful person can do to you when you trust. Eve now had the ability to use her words to demean. She had proven a desire to be independent from God. She had thought of herself first. When we break covenant with God, we are not trustworthy to be in a covenant with someone else. When we experience a broken covenant we no longer have the assurance that love will cover sin.

This is why agape love in a marriage is the only hope for recovering a semblance of the “naked and unashamed” condition which Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden. That is very important because the “naked and unashamed” condition glorified God.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8 (emphasis added)

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proverbs 10:12 (emphasis added)

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

Proverbs 17:9 (emphasis added)

Love is the remedy for shame-producing sin. I will cover my spouse’s sin with my love if I truly love (agape) her. Additionally, though, I must remember that I myself am a fallen sinner.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

My response to my own sin must be to confess it, forsake it, and ask for mercy.

Post Tenebras Lux

January 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Biblical Light | 8 Comments
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The Latin expression for “after darkness, light” became one of the chief mottoes of the Protestant Reformation. The Magisterial Reformers recognized the contrast and the battle between the ever-encroaching darkness of evil in this world and the bright and shining Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is one of the ironies of history that the so-called Aufklarung (German for “Age of Enlightenment”) substituted human reason for Divine revelation as the great hope of mankind. Such a substitution ultimately brought about more darkness than light.

The Bible patriarch Job grew tired of the explanations and platitudes of his friends, as they tried to tell him that increasing darkness was merely as sign that the sun was about to rise:

They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness. If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.

Job 17:12-13

Thankfully, God has illuminated the darkness of this world with the revelation of Himself in His Word and in His Son, Jesus. He is the Father of lights and there is no “dark side” in Him.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17

Here are the links to a series of posts, high”lighting” what the Bible says about God’s light:

This Big Light of Mine
Light Can Be Offensive (*)
Light Shows the Truth
Light Shows the Way
Light Produces Life
Light Gives Safety
Light Wakes You Up
Light Is Attractive
Light Measures Time
Light Is Stronger than Darkness
Beware the Father of the Furtive
Where the Sun Don’t Shine
The Father of Lights (James 1:17)
Life and Light (John 1)
Doubling Down on the Hypocrites (Luke 11:33-34)
Witnesses to the Light (John 8)
From Dark Death to Living Light (John 12:24-46)

* most-read post in series

The Third on the Third

January 3, 2012 at 11:57 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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To commemorate the third anniversary of this blog I am going to post a link to what has inexplicably become by far the most viewed post on this site. It is called “Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments To Children,” and I say “inexplicable” because it is probably personally my least favorite post. It was the result of me being asked to be sort of a last-minute substitute teacher for a children’s class at church. I came up with the lesson very quickly and I included it on the site just because it was next in a list of lessons I had saved. I don’t find it to be especially insightful, nor likely to be very helpful, but who knows? Maybe it’s been of use to someone. From what I can gather, it gets viewed mostly through search engine results for “teaching the 3rd Commandment” or “children’s lesson on 3rd Commandment.” In any event, you can view it here.

Thanks be to the Lord for letting me continue to blog for three years.

The Danger of Horoscopes

January 2, 2012 at 11:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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As people prepare for a new year, many will seek guidance in their spiritual lives in horoscopes, psychic advisors, and all manner of foolishness. The Bible warns us of being spoiled by the “rudiments of the world” (Colossians 2:8). These rudiments include things which occur sequentially in nature, such as the periodic alignment of the stars, planets, and the moon.

Believers on the Lord Jesus Christ should not meddle with mystical or occult practices. We trust in Christ, and Christ alone, for the salvation of our eternal souls. What idiocy it would be to seek counsel or advice by any means other than Biblically-sanctioned doctrine.

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