Holiness in Church

March 27, 2013 at 9:07 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 5 Comments
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C.hrist
H.oliness
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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.

An Irascible Marriage

March 25, 2013 at 9:02 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 7 Comments
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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.

Christ in Church

March 22, 2013 at 9:02 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 7 Comments
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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.

Hebrews 10:25

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.)

1. Food
2. Fun
3. Fellowship – to see your friends
4. To catch up on gossip
5. Parents make me
6. Prizes
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.

Colossians 1:18

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.

C.hrist
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U.
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H.

The Trap of Lapsing into Laziness

March 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
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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.

Judges 13:24

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)

You may have head the old expression, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” God made man to work and be productive. Even the plain revelation of His Law highlighted this fact:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

Exodus 20:9

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.

Proverbs 13:4

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;

Romans 12:11

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.

The Stones of Complacency

March 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Posted in The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 3 Comments
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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.

John 11:5

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.

John 11:6

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.

John 11:32

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.

Spending Time with the “Right” Kind of People

March 15, 2013 at 10:29 am | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 6 Comments
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I suppose I can understand the temptation. You are scrolling down your Facebook feed, checking up on all your friends and relatives, oohing and aahing over the latest baby pictures and commiserating with the complaints about the weather… and suddenly you see it. Someone has shared what looks like an ad from an old-timey magazine with a drawing of a lady in a sunhat sipping an iced tea above a paragraph of prose so catchy and inspiring you feel like you just can’t help yourself from clicking “share!” Before you even realize you are doing it, you have posted something like this:

Free yourself from negative people. Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and like-minded. Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be. Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. When you free yourself from negative people, you free yourself to be YOU – and being YOU is the only way to truly live.

I don’t know how to transliterate the sound of one of those buzzers that go off when someone guesses incorrectly on a television game show, but just imagine it here. Unless you are not a Christian, that is. If you’re not a Christian, these kinds of mushy self-help slogans and pop psychology tripe are perfectly understandable. If you’ve never trusted Christ as your Savior, you can stop reading now – or better yet click here for something that will help you tremendously.

Now, for those of you Christians who are still reading, I know it’s asking a lot, but let’s try to think before we “share.” The Bible says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, not the removing of your mind.

Should you “free yourself from negative people?” Not according to the Bible.

Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:11-16

Should you “spend time with nice people who are smart, driven, and like-minded?” Not if you want to be like Jesus.

The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!

Luke 7:34

Is life really “too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you?” If you are selfish, and your goal in life is to make yourself “happy” with a false circumstances-dependent happiness, then it sure is! However, if your goal is to be conformed to the image of Christ, and to love and serve difficult, suffering, and miserable people, then those are precisely the type of people you want in your life.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Philippians 2:5-7

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

Is “being YOU the only way to truly live?” Silly me, I thought the way to truly live was to die to self and have Christ the Lord live through us.

And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Luke 9:23-25

For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain.

Philippians 1:21

There is no easy “like” button to click when it comes to sanctification.

The Word for Sinners

March 13, 2013 at 8:41 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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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.

Psalm 119:12

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.

Psalm 119:18

All Christians must be students of the Word.

Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments.

Psalm 119:21

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)

If we don’t walk in God’s Truth, we are walking in the enemy’s deception.

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.

Psalm 119:33-34

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.

Accurate Timing

March 11, 2013 at 9:48 am | Posted in Ecclesiastes | 3 Comments
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Be not hasty to go out of his sight: stand not in an evil thing; for he doeth whatsoever pleaseth him.

Ecclesiastes 8:3 (emphasis added)

There are going to be times when we find ourselves under the authority of someone whose orders do not seem like the best ideas to us in the circumstances. When this happens, do not be in too big a hurry to try to get out from under that authority.

Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.

Ecclesiastes 8:5 (emphasis added)

Wisdom is more than just knowing what to do. It’s also knowing when to do – or not to do – it.

Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him.

Ecclesiastes 8:6 (emphasis added)

It’s not easy to have good timing. What helps is remembering that God has a purpose in what is happening.

For he knoweth not that which shall be: for who can tell him when it shall be?

Ecclesiastes 8:7 (emphasis added)

Even things that are fairly certain to come to pass are often unknowable as to when they will come to pass.

There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.

Ecclesiastes 8:8 (emphasis added)

Often we are forced to realize that it’s not up to us whether something will happen, nor is it as much up to us as we sometimes think to determine when it will happen.

All this have I seen, and applied my heart unto every work that is done under the sun: there is a time wherein one man ruleth over another to his own hurt.

Ecclesiastes 8:9 (emphasis added)

It’s not a question of whether you are going to be under authority – or even whether the one in authority over you is going to abuse that authority. The question is the timing of it

And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done: this is also vanity.

Ecclesiastes 8:10 (emphasis added)

Forgetfulness is sometimes simply the byproduct of the passage of time. Time can heal wounds or it can cause us to repeat our mistakes.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 (emphasis added)

When a famous celebrity commits a crime, and then, due to the skill of his or her legal team, or a technicality in the law, he or she seems to “get away with it,” we must remember that, in God’s economy, no one really gets away with anything. If a condemned person’s sentence is not executed “speedily” enough for our liking, it would still be evil for us to execute it ourselves.

Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:

Ecclesiastes 8:12 (emphasis added)

God may “prolong” the days of “sinners” to give them a chance to repent, but we do not have a guarantee on how long the prolonging is going to be. Every second after a sin is a prolonged second, so it is safer to live in fear before God.

But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

Ecclesiastes 8:13

The prolonged days of the wicked will not seem prolonged from their point of view.

Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 (emphasis added)

Mirth means enjoyment. It can mean eating, drinking, having fun, even working – if we do it in the fear of the Lord. Trust God’s timing. He’s never late and He’s never early.

Guarding the Top of the Wall in Marriage

March 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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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:

Matthew 5:27

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.

Matthew 5:28

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.

I’m Just Sayin’ 10

March 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Posted in I'm Just Sayin' | 4 Comments
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I guess I’m as big a fan of a good Christian cliché as the next fellow, but I’m just sayin’, the theology of some of these trite bumper sticker/coffee mug/Facebook share catchphrases is just awful, and they’re starting to be preached from the pulpit as though they were actually Biblical. “Before you can forgive others, you must first learn to forgive yourself.” Ugh. Puh-leeze. I would expect to see some New Age touchy-feeling Stuart Smalley-type spouting this nonsense, but a professing Christian? You do know you that God alone has the power to forgive sins, right? I’m just sayin’, even the scribes and the Pharisees knew that! You and I have neither the authority nor the ability to “forgive ourselves,” but that’s just one example. I suppose we could overlook some of these dumb expressions (“Let go and let God;” “Christians aren’t perfect, they’re just forgiven”), but it really starts to get old after a while, and the heretical hits just keep on comin’. Here’s the latest that I’ve heard spewed forth from the pulpit as if it were some newly found nugget of wisdom: “Don’t tell God how big your problems are. Tell your problems how big your God is.” Catchy, huh? Someone should embroider a shirt for the family pooch!

https://i1.wp.com/rlv.zcache.com/dont_tell_god_how_big_your_problem_is_dog_shirt-ree55fcdbc5bc4cbfb78e72c0ab0ece5a_v9io0_8byvr_512.jpg

Where to begin..? I guess we all have our moments of confusion, but, I’m just sayin’, your “problems” are not sentient beings, and if you find yourself talking to them, someone might question your sanity. You can tell your “problems” all sorts of things about God ’til you’re blue in the face, but despite what you might have seen on TBN, or heard from Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, or Joel and Victoria Osteen, “words of faith” are not magical messages that force God to eradicate the specific problems to which you are “speaking.”

Furthermore, when did it become a bad idea to tell God all about your problems? Isn’t that what many of the Psalms are about?

[A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.] Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.

Psalm 102:1

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

Psalm 102:7

[Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.] I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.

Psalm 142:1-2

[To the chief Musician on Neginoth, Maschil, [A Psalm] of David.] Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me: I mourn in my complaint, and make a noise; Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me.

Psalm 55:1-3

Poor King David. I guess he just wasn’t spiritual enough to shoot a “word of faith” bullet at his problems and make them disappear. He actually cried out his complaints to the Lord. How passé. No wonder he didn’t have any Twitter followers!

I’m just sayin’, are we not commanded to cast our cares upon the Lord, Who cares for us (Psalm 55:22; I Peter 5:7)? Are we not commanded to pray about everything (I Thessalonians 5:17; Philippians 4:6)? One of the worst things you could do would be to get into a pointless conversation with your “problems” when Jesus has poured out His life’s blood to purchase access for you and me directly into the throne room of God. Maybe instead of repeating the chorus to “Lord Prepare Me to be a Sanctuary” 16 times in row until the whole congregation feels light-headed, woozy, and susceptible to silly little Christianized self-help bon mots, we could belt out a hearty verse or two of something a little more didactic… say, I don’t know… “What a Friend We Have in Jesus:”

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Joseph M. Scriven

I don’t how Mr. Scriven felt when his fiance’ died right before his wedding (twice!), but I’m sure glad he was willing to tell God all about his problems rather than telling anything to his problems themselves! I’m just sayin’.

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