Tags: church attendance, church membership, Ephesians 5, holiness, Jesus Christ, sanctification, The Bible
What does holiness mean? It is the condition of being set apart for a special reason, and the condition of being clean from sin. When Jesus saves a person, that person is set apart from unsaved people. He or she is set apart unto God. Then the process of cleaning begins: the process of getting more and more separated from sin.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Ephesians 5:25-26 (emphasis added)
We call this process “sanctification.” Sanctification means becoming more holy, and Jesus uses church to clean us. Specifically, according to Ephesians 5:26, how does He do this? By the washing of water by the Word. In other words, through Bible teaching. One of the “right” reasons we come to church is for organized Bible study with each other.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 7, Christian marriage, intimidation, Irascibility, marriage, marriage counseling, Satan's schemes, Satanic accusation, Satanic attack, sex in marriage
In the continuing study of Satan’s attack on marriage, we have imagined our marriages as an enclosed area, surrounded by a perimeter or wall of fortification. We have established that his attack is going to be most concentrated in the area of sexual relations (I Corinthians 7:2-5). Here are the tactics we have identified so far by which he tries to break through our defenses:
1. Spies: Spies try to sneak through the wall by pretending to be our friends. They tell us that, for some reason, the area of sexual temptation is not going to be a problem in your marriage. We deal with these spies by identifying them and executing them with Scriptural ammunition (I Thessalonians 4:3-4).
2. Tunnelers: These are sent by Satan to burrow under the wall by preying on our concupiscible appetites (Colossians 3:5). We combat these by recognizing that our sensual appetites are gifts from God, but were created by Him to be exercised in the freeing confines of marriage only. Thereby, we whack them back down into their holes and pour Scriptural cement into the tunnel to stop them from coming back.
3. Wall-scalers: These assailants try to climb right up and over the wall. They attack our thought life with lies that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. We combat these assailants by pulling them down – by exposing vain speculations to the Truth of Scripture (II Corinthians 10:4-5).
The fourth area of attack comes in the form or assailants who are not as sneaky, tricky, or subtle as the other three. These are employed by Satan to try to simply batter down the walls. They are the siege engines of spiritual warfare. This is very different from how we normally expect Satan to attack. So far, all of our lessons on protecting your marriage in the area of intimacy have focused on defeating Satan the tempter – Satan the deceiver – for that is his primary tactic. But remember, he is also Satan the intimidator. Satan wants to intimidate you by bombarding you with so many lies that you begin to question God or to doubt His goodness or to be afraid to fight. If you back away from the protective walls of your marriage and hide in the compound, he will batter them down.
However, just like in the area of temptation, God has also equipped us to fight back in the area of intimidation. Satan the tempter tries to prey on our “concupiscible” appetites. Satan the intimidator would like to frighten us into forsaking our “irascible” appetites. (These terms come from my study of Scriptural principles which line up with some of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas.) Sensual appetites are pleasurable. Irascible appetites (or what I might call “reasonable” appetites) direct us toward objective good which we must discern by reason since they are not pleasurable. Satan is battering at the walls. There is a temptation to cower and drop out of the battle. Things like sexual immorality and temptation, as they are depicted and advertised on television, the tabloids, the internet, and other media can be dealt with to some extent by avoidance. But encounters with immodesty, enticement, and emotional predators must be dealt with more directly if, as married Christians, we are still going to participate in hands-on ministry. Married people have a protective wall, but it must not be a stationary wall. If our marriages are forts against sexual infidelity, they must be forts that travel. They must travel to hospitals, to the homes of those with needs, to the mission field, to the marketplace, to the job site, to church. Satan would like to accuse and intimidate you into being so scared of being “worldly” that you don’t venture out into the world at all.
But God says differently. In the next lesson we will take a look at three irascible appetites which God has given us to combat the accusations and intimidations of Satan as he attacks our marriages.
Tags: church attendance, church membership, Colossians 1, Ephesians 5, Hebrews 10, Jesus Christ, teenagers in church, youth groups, youth ministry
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
What are some good reasons to come to church?
1. You are commanded to
2. To worship God
3. To hear the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God
4. To study the Bible
5. To minister to needs
6. Corporate prayer
7. To get involved in organized ministry
Those are some of the reasons you are supposed to come to church, but what are some of the real reasons people come to church? (Some of these are more applicable to teenaged children.)
3. Fellowship – to see your friends
4. To catch up on gossip
5. Parents make me
7. Feel guilty if I don’t
8. Need to show off my clothes or hair or phone or car
9. Extra credit for school
What is going to keep you coming to church when you don’t “have” to – or when none of these other reasons apply any more? As you get older, the enticements you are offered to come to church as a teenaged child are typically phased out. I believe one of the reasons we see so many young adults leave church – at least until they marry and have children of their own – is that there are not as many worldly or reward-based incentives to come to church once you leave a “youth group.” Having grown accustomed to the enticements, young adults don’t feel the need to come anymore when the enticements are gone.
Hopefully, understanding the importance of church will keeping you coming even when worldly or fleshly enticements are gone.
The “C” in “C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “C.hrist.” Christ is the “head” of the Church.
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Ephesians 5:23 (emphasis added)
Jesus Christ is the head of the Church. He is in charge of it, and He’s the reason for it. We are supposed to be like His body. The head is most important, but the body carries out the actions that the brain commands. Jesus could get His will done on earth without our bodies, but He allows us to do it because He loves us.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Church must be about Jesus. He must have the preeminence. Jesus Himself must be the first and the foremost in our church participation – or else it’s not really church.
Tags: diligence, Exodus 20, hard work, Judges 13, Judges 15, Proverbs 13, Romans 12, Samson, slothfulness, sluggard
The Biblical hero Samson was consecrated from his birth, and was blessed by God as he grew to adulthood.
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
God’s calling upon his life was that he deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). However, as Samson reached adulthood, we might wonder how much self-motivation he had when it came to performing this honorable task.
And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.
Judges 13:25 (emphasis added)
The Hebrew word translated “to move” in this verse has a connotation of violent persistence. It is almost as if the Holy Spirit had to beat Samson into action, so that he could begin to accomplish his purpose in life.
We tend to think of Samson as a “man of action,” with all his exploits – single-handedly slaying large numbers of Philistines, rounding up animals and setting them on fire, carrying off the doors of a city’s gate, fighting a lion, carousing with loose women, making up riddles, and generally causing mischief. However, the fact is, Samson was something of a sluggard when it came to getting down to the Lord’s business. For in addition to his battles, he is also seen wandering off the path into a vineyard, lounging about at a feast, dwelling idly atop a mountain, and dozing on Delilah’s lap while God’s enemies plotted his capture just outside. In fact, once, after avenging himself of a personal insult, he decided to simply call it quits.
And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.
Judges 15:7 (emphasis added)
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
The Bible contains numerous warnings against idleness and laziness.
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and [hath] nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
The principle of hard work is highlighted as a Christian ethic in the New Testament as well.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
As Christians we have divine callings upon our lives, every bit as much as Samson did, although certainly not the same one. Staying busy accomplishes a multifaceted purpose: It keeps us from lapsing into sin through inactivity; it brings blessings into our lives; and it glorifies the Lord.
Tags: Biblical stones, divine sovereignty, human responsibility, Jesus, John 11, Lazarus, Martha and Mary, raising Lazarus, stones, stones in the Bible
During Jesus’s earthly ministry He developed very close relationships with a number of His followers. He seems to have been especially fond of a family of three adult siblings: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
The next verse seems a little illogical to our human, finite way of thinking.
When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
If I had a close friend or loved one who was dying, and I had the cure, I like to think I wouldn’t hang around two days before getting on the road. Of course, Jesus’s ways are always superior to our ways, His timing, unlike ours, is always perfect, and His power goes far beyond what we think of as a “cure.” His power goes all the way beyond the grave.
Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Lazarus had been dead for several days by the time Jesus arrived. His body had been buried in a cave, and a stone sealed the entrance. You probably know what happened next. If you don’t, I encourage you to read John Chapter 11 in its entirety. Jesus called Lazarus forth from the grave, and Lazarus’s body came back to life. This was a miracle beyond any human or material agency. It was completely supernatural. No physician played a part, no medication was administered, no sleight of hand or optical illusions were employed.
However, here is one of the many truths which we may take from this true historical account of Jesus’s miraculous power: God needs no man to accomplish His will, but He does deign to work through human agency.
Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days.
John 11:39 (emphasis added)
Why didn’t the Son of God – who could call the dead back to life with a simple shout – also command the stone to roll itself away, or – Samson-style – pick it up and hurl it away Himself? I believe it He did it the way He did so that Martha – whom He loved – could have the joy of getting her own hands involved in the work of the Lord. In fact, Jesus is nothing if not generous when it comes to sharing the joy of His miraculous wonders.
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
John 11:44 (emphasis added)
What is Jesus getting done through your hands-on agency in your life today? I am afraid that sometimes we recognize that only God can deliver a person from the darkness of damnation (or the anguish of addiction; or the perils of poverty; or the ignorance of ingratitude), and we use our theological assurance of God’s omnipotence as an excuse to sit complacently with our hands folded, waiting for God to show up and speak forth the solution. God’s gracious empowering of human mouths, hands, feet, brains, and even hearts is a great kindness. Let us not miss out on the opportunities which God grants us to be a part of what He could easily do on His Own. God is not only sovereign over the ends. He is sovereign over the means. This is motivation for action, not an excuse for complacency.
Tags: Bible study, commentary on Psalms, God's Word, listening to lies, memorizing Scripture, Psalm 119, Sunday School lessons on Psalms, teachability, The Bible, walking in Truth
A good practical method for studying the Bible is to put yourself in the place of the “sinner” in every Bible story. Of course, every person in the Bible was a sinner except for Jesus, but what I mean is, avoid the temptation to compare yourself to Abel, for example. Rather, think about Cain as you study Genesis Chapter 4 and ask yourself, Do I struggle at times with unrighteous anger? Do I have a tendency to worship God the way I like to worship, rather than the way He likes to be worshiped? If two characters in a Bible story are contrasted for obedience and rebellion, see yourself as the rebel and ask God for forgiveness and deliverance. If there are two sinners in a Bible story, picture yourself as both of them (Adam and Eve). If there are a bunch of sinners in a Bible story, picture yourself as all of them (the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness). The Bible helps us to have a teachable spirit.
Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.
Psalm 119:15-16 (emphasis added)
Delight leads to love, which leads to meditation, which leads to delight, which leads back to love, which leads to back to meditation. Study a verse with this attitude, and pretty soon you’ll have it memorized!
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
All Christians must be students of the Word.
Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.
Wandering from the Word takes you into the enemy’s camp.
Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.
Psalm 119:29-30 (emphasis added)
HE. Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
The purpose of Bible study is to know God better. The Word of God shows us the God of the Word. God speaks to us through His Word. Do you love God? He’s written 66 love letters combined into one big book. If you love Him, you will read it. If you are not listening to God’s Word, you are by default listening to the devil.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 6, 2 Timothy 2, Christian marriage, James 4, marriage, marriage counseling, Matthew 5, Proverbs 6, Satan's schemes, sex in marriage
As we seek to guard against the temptation of sexual infidelity, we have imagined our marriages as walled cities under attack by Satan. In the last lesson, I discussed the way he attempts to send “exalted” thoughts and ideas up and over the walls. Remember, these “assailants” are false statements that are esteemed in our culture as being valid. They are statements that boldly exalt themselves against the revealed Word of God.
First assailant: Flirting is not cheating.
Or to put it another way: You can look and not touch (applies more to men, in general). Or to put it yet another way: You can share intimate thoughts and feelings with another person on the internet or the phone and it’s not cheating (applies more to women, in general.)
Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids.
Proverbs 6:25 (emphasis added)
Notice that the prohibition is not against lusting after this beautiful person in your hands, on your lips, or even in your loins! (Although, those would certainly be prohibited, too.) The prohibition is against lusting in the heart (which includes your thought life). There is nothing wrong with admiring beauty. However, when a married man says, “I can admire a beautiful woman if I want,” the only right response is, “Yes, you can, sir, as long as she’s your wife.” From a man’s perspective, women are beautiful and they are exciting to look at. Young boys need to be told that truth. But as they grow into young men, they also need to be told to get a job, to get a home, to get a car, to get it insured, to first become a man – then, to get a wife and look at her all they want.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
There is an elliptical thought between Matthew 5:27 and 28 that implies – even in the time of Jesus’s earthly life – there were those who believed it was wrong to commit adultery, but not to think about committing adultery.
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Why did Jesus equate lusting in the heart with the actual commission of adultery? Certainly the person who looks but doesn’t touch does not break up a family or cause an unwanted pregnancy or crush the feelings of his or her own spouse. Jesus’s point was not that lusting in the heart does as much damage as physically committing adultery. His point was that the God Who made us is so holy that He condemns not only the accomplishment of the sin but anything that tends toward the sin.
Second assailant: Sex is physical and it is not mixed up with spirituality.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
I Corinthians 6:18
The fact that a spouse may commit fornication without having any spiritual “feelings” for the object of his or her lust, thereby making it a “physical sin,” does not excuse the spiritual implications. If you are a Christian, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Will you pretend that you can defile His temple without bringing disgrace to Him? Lying can cause terrible pain and trouble. Violence can inflict terrible pain. But fornication defiles not only the people affected by it outwardly, but, in a sense, it defiles that which is most closely related to God’s presence. In the Old Testament, the worshiping of Baal in the temple of God was considered one of the most egregious of all offenses against God. How much more the commission of fornication where God’s very Spirit resides in the body of a believer? The consideration of such a sin must be brought captive and cast down.
Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
I Corinthians 6:15-16
Satan would exalt the idea that sexual immorality causes the Holy Spirit to temporarily leave a believer long enough for him or her to fornicate with impunity. That wicked lie must be knocked off the top of the wall of your marriage before it gets over.
Third assailant: A mature Christian does not need safeguards.
Satan whispers: “You can handle it. If you can’t take a little flirting, a little proximity to the opposite sex, you must be some immature, baby Christian.” If not trusting my flesh enough to avoid temptation makes me a baby, then pass me a bottle of milk and change my diaper! The truth is, I don’t need to prove whether I can withstand it or not. The Bible (remember, these are “imaginations” of Satanic influence which must be exposed to Scripture) already tells me the score on what I can and can’t handle.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
I Corinthians 6:18 (emphasis added)
Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
II Timothy 2:22 (emphasis added)
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 (emphasis added)
The devil says, “Look, you’re a Christian. God does not want you to be all angry, like some puritanical prude – what do you mean you won’t even ride in a car with a woman you’re not married to..? You’re a ‘legalist.’ Christianity is about love not anger – chill out. And God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear. He even told you to stand up and fight against me – now you’re going to run away from temptation?” When you find yourself thinking this way, beware. That’s a “high thought” exalting itself against the mind of God as revealed in His Word. It needs to be torn down from the top of the wall around your marriage.