Adiaphora and Analyzing Ambiguous Activities

July 24, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 1 Comment
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Adiaphora is a word used in Christian theology to describe activities about which it would be questionable for Christians to participate, even if such activities are not explicitly condemned or forbidden in Scripture. The word had a connotation in its original Greek and Latin contexts of things about which it “makes no difference.” It should be noted that, when it comes to a Christian’s conscience, and the the principles and precepts about which the Bible speaks, Scripture is not as silent on as many behaviors as most people think. And while there are certainly things which are what we would call “morally neutral,” especially things having to do with purely personal preferences and tastes (such as whether a church building should have chairs or pews, and whether a man’s hair should be parted on the side, in the middle, or at all), there are other matters (whether a Christian should get a tattoo or buy a raffle ticket) about which we should think (and pray!) carefully, and do an exhaustive study on what the Bible might or might not have to say about them, before making a decision. One danger when dealing with adiaphora is that we fall into the trap of legalism, condemning things which are permissible under our Christian liberty, but another danger is that we seek to justify behavior that we happen to like in our flesh on the basis that it is not spelled out word-for-word as sinful in the Bible.

We looked last time at some important considerations in this regard in I Corinthians Chapter 10. Now we will continue with some specific steps that can be utilized in analyzing whether we, as Christians, should participate in ambiguous activities.

1. Will this activity capture my heart or mind, or create a physical addiction?

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I Corinthians 6:12

2. Will my participation in this activity cause someone else to stumble, or will it build someone else up?

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

I Corinthians 8:13

3. Will it make ME stumble, or will it build up MY testimony or fellowship with God?

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

I Corinthians 10:23

4. Will this activity bring glory to God, no matter how much I enjoy it?

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthian 10:31

5. Will this activity help or hinder my evangelistic efforts?

Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

I Corinthians 10:33

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Know Your Limits

July 10, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 3 Comments
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Having used the example of foregoing the right to be paid for ministry in I Corinthians Chapter 9, the Apostle Paul then returned to the question concerning eating meat offered to idols and attending feasts or services in idolatrous temples.

There is an emphasis on the word “all” in I Corinthians 10.

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

I Corinthians 10:1

The statement, “I would not that ye should be ignorant” is similar to the the expression, “Know ye not..?” that is so common throughout I Corinthians, and here it expresses the same idea. The Holy Spirit through Paul was referencing the narrative account of Exodus, where God’s people had passed through the parted Red Sea, and were guided by the cloud-by-day/pillar-of-fire-by-night. These were very obvious reminders of the presence of God with them.

And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

I Corinthians 10:2

They not only had immediate reminders of God’s presence, but they had his mediated reminder in the person of the mediator Moses.

And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

I Corinthians 10:3

For the Israelites in the wilderness, their “spiritual meat” was manna. It was spiritual in the sense that it came supernaturally, but also in that it was a spiritual reminder of God and His Spirit.

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

I Corinthians 10:4

There is much confusion among the commentators about this verse, with some thinking that an actual rock followed the Israelites around, but I think the better view is that the verse is teaching that the pre-incarnate Christ was with them spiritually, and that He was their provider of living water as well as physical water.

But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

I Corinthians 10:5

This verse deviates from the pattern by saying “many” instead of “all,” but we know that all but two (Joshua and Caleb) of that generation that left Egypt were overthrown in the wilderness. Being a “Know” is really about being a believer, but belief is something that is unsafe to take for granted. We need to demonstrate our knowledge and belief with action.

The Old Testament stories are true historical events, but they were also designed by God as types and learning tools. There are a number of things that we need to learn from the wilderness wandering of our spiritual forbears:

1. Be careful about lusting.

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

I Corinthians 10:6

We were made by God to have strong desires, but our tendency is to forget that God gave us those desires to yearn for Him and to glorify Him. Instead, we usurp them and aim them at that which is evil.

2. Remember that you must not become involved again with idolatry.

Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

I Corinthians 10:7

This is a reference to Exodus 32. All the Know-Nots are idolators in some sense, and our own hearts, apart from Christ, are idol factories.

Nor does idolatry tend to remain dormant in hearts. Just as true worship of God expresses itself in outward actions, so false worship of anything other than God tends to express itself in manifestations of sinful behavior.

3. Do not fornicate.

Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

I Corinthians 10:8

This is a reference to Numbers 25. The people joined themselves to Baal, the worship of which involved the prostitution of virgins. The temple of Venus in Corinth was also a place where fornication was deemed a method of worship.

4. Do not tempt Christ.

Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

I Corinthians 10:9

This is a reference to Numbers 21. The idea of tempting Christ, in the context, only makes sense if He is truly God (which He is), and it is something that we are prone to do when we hear His Word but fail to obey it. I hope that you find reading the Bible and listening to sound Biblical preaching and teaching enjoyable, but you also need to know that it is dangerous.

5. Do not get involved in murmuring (grumbling and complaining).

Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

I Corinthians 10:10

This is a reference to the rebellion of Korah in Numbers 14. Murmuring is a danger for overconfident Knows. We must not be overconfident in our “Know-Ness.”

Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

I Corinthians 10:11-12

These things weren’t just recorded for our knowledge. They were recorded to keep us from being overconfident. Temptation will always be present, but there is always a way to escape.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

Fellowship with the Lord is safe and it keeps us safe.

The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

I Corinthians 10:16-17

The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is an important time of memorializing our fellowship with Him. If you are married, you still have fellowship with your spouse when you are doing other things, and even when you are physically apart from each other, but the relationship will suffer if you do not spend concentrated periods of time and attentiveness together.

What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

I Corinthians 10:19

Meat sold in the market was okay for the Corinthian Christians to purchase and eat, even knowing the possibility that it had originally been used in some type of pagan ceremony. Likewise, they were not required to give their pagan hosts the third degree about where the food had come from if they were invited over for a meal.

However, it was still very important that they flee from any actual idolatry, because the worship of some idols is demonic.

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.

I Corinthians 10:20-21

Idolatry is still idolatry, even when it is more particularly classified as syncretism, as was illustrated by the case of the golden calf.

Paul had taken great care to answer the Corinthians’ question about how they should deal with their dietary choices as they related to their consciences. He came to the conclusion that they were under no obligation to inquire too closely concerning the questionable source of hospitality offered by others, but when the thing offered is important to others, it must become important to us. So, if the host considers the meal idolatrous worship, then the Christians must not partake, or, if others perceive that you are participating in idolatry, it would be better not to participate.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, this is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof:

I Corinthians 10:23-28

A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy

December 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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As Christian parents we should want the children that God has entrusted into our care to be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of God. And, although it may be hard for us to accept, the lesson that God is absolutely supreme may have to be learned in times of trial, struggle, darkness, and even affliction. Remember, we are raising these kids for Him, and, having entrusted them to us, He wants US to trust Him with them.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Psalm 119:71

We must bring the Scriptures to bear in our parenting, and we must confront our children with the Scriptures in times of suffering and despair. Learning God’s “statutes” (principles and precepts) will assist us in teaching them to find comfort in Him. They are just as important as a rod of correction in discipline, and more so in times of affliction that already involve pain, because we do not wish to inflict additional pain where pain has already been inflicted from above or allowed by God through circumstances.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:7-10

Let us not, as parents, exhaust all our prayers on deliverance. Let us reserve some for the recognition – and acceptance – of humbling thorns in the flesh. And let us teach our children to pray through them, and recognize God’s strength supplanting their own perceived strength.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

We should think of this well-known verse as a reminder to try to utterly convince our children of the absolute supremacy of God, but, in its context, it is not so much a verse of victory as it is a statement of defiance by the Apostle in the midst of persecution. People were speaking evil of him and his teaching, and, rather than worrying about safeguarding or defending his reputation, he was concerned with God’s glory. For our children, the “whatsoever ye do” would include getting picked on and made fun of, as much as it would include a scraped knee, a lost purse, or the disappointment of not being invited to a best friend’s birthday party. There is no conviction of God’s absolute supremacy when we see Him only as supremely in charge of granting our favorite blessings.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

Psalm 73:25

This is a general and true statement. No created being will make a good “God.” But it is also a desperate realization. Our children must learn to think Biblically. They must not see God as all they need (although He is), or even as all they want (although that would be great). They must see Him as all that they have. In a world of vanity, deceit, hypocrisy, anarchy, uncertainty, and unpredictability, God is the God of Heaven (eternity, the sweet by and by), but He is also of God of all the Earth (the nasty now and now). He’s the God of our church, our home, our car, our refrigerator, our little league team, our vacation, and our toy box. I’m no longer talking about just looking for illustrations or spiritual lessons; I’m talking about seeing God as supreme – both better than anything AND above anything AND truly our All-in-All.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

God is so holy that no man can see Him and live. However, if we are doing our job as parents, our children should have a burning desire to see God – to “behold His beauty” – to “enquire” of Him and ask Him otherwise unanswerable questions. In teaching and preaching the Gospel to your children, tell them that God DOES want them to see Him – and look what great lengths He has gone to, to make it happen!

A Diet of Distinction (Part Two)

July 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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In Part One we saw that the Old Testament dietary laws are no longer binding on New Testament Christians (Acts 10:9-16). They were perfectly kept, and, in a sense, fulfilled in Christ (Colossians 2:16- 22). Only the Old Testament moral laws, reiterated as the Law of Christ, are considered binding under the New Covenant.

One of the purposes of the Old Covenant dietary laws was that God wanted His people to be “holy.” The Hebrew word translated as “holy” in the Bible has a connotation of “cutting” (setting apart from other people) and “culling” (setting apart unto a dedicated purpose). God’s people are supposed to be “cut off” from sin, and “cut out of” this world’s system. God has always wanted His people to be distinct and different.

For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Leviticus 11:44

The Jewish people were commanded to be unmingled with the world – not trapped in the sins associated with unbelievers. They were to be associated with the Lord’s name, not in name only, but in behavior and in every area of life. This was important partly in order to prevent His people from being influenced into moral sin, and partly to maintain the purity of the bloodline of the coming Messiah. The promised redeemer would have to be a descendant of Abraham in order to fulfill God’s promises.

New Testament Christians know that the Messiah has already come, but the principle concerning the danger of sinful influences still applies:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

An Old Testament Israelite could not eat with or stay in the home of a Canaanite because of the unclean foods and other unclean practices, so it would be very difficult to form relationships that would lead to intermarriages and procreation.

It would affect the witness and testimony of God’s people if they became intertwined in the lifestyle of pagan people groups.

A. God’s people should be distinct in their calling and conduct.

Our calling is to glorify God. Therefore our conduct – the way we behave – must bring glory to Him.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

God’s Old Testament people were supposed to conduct themselves in a way that let people know they truly believed that their God was real. We must do the same, but we can’t do that without being different from unbelievers, and without speaking His name and being identified openly with Him.

B. God’s people should be distinct in their conscience.

We need to have an awareness of God watching us in the smallest details of our lives.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:7-12

We must also have an awareness of God loving us and being willing and able to help us please in Him in every detail of our lives.

C. God’s people should be distinct their creeds.

We need to be able to articulate what we believe, and why we believe it. We need to be ready to cite Scripture to back it up.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

D. God’s people should be distinct in their communication.

We should not use unclean language.

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Colossians 3:8

We should not jest about sin.

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

Proverbs 14:9

We should not use God’s name in vain, and we should not use imprecise language which undermines sound theology, such as saying we are “proud” or “lucky.”

Next time, in Part Three, we will see how God’s dietary laws teach us to have a clean consistency.

The Anatomically Correct Church

August 8, 2011 at 11:41 am | Posted in Romans | 15 Comments
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In a local church assembly, each Christian is a “member” of the body of Christ. Members of the body of Christ must be surrendered to the mind of Christ. Think of your physical body as an analogy. Can you imagine if certain “members” of your body had the ability to rebel against your mind? What if my arms decided they wanted to do the walking and my legs decided they would be in charge of handshakes and hugs? What if your stomach decided it wanted to pump blood and your heart decided it wanted to digest food? Those body parts don’t have the ability to function properly in those capacities. In a local church assembly all things should be done “in order.” The body of Christ is a living organism, but it must also be an organized organism. A disorganized organism will either die or malfunction severely.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:3-8

While it is wrong for us to think of ourselves too highly, it is also wrong not to use the gifts God has given us. A rebellious body part could throw a body into chaos, but dead limbs weigh the body down, slow things down, and cause the body not to work as efficiently as it should.

Children who are tested for school are sometimes designated as “gifted,” but being gifted is not really something that should make anyone proud. In fact, it would be better not to be gifted than to waste the gift. Some Christians are failing to use their gifts, and some are failing to share their gifts. Do you have a knack for managing your household budget? That gift needs to be shared with others. Do you have a special talent for dealing with difficult people? That gift needs to be put to work in your local church.

A body is made up of different members, and love is the overriding connector to these various body parts. Love is to a spiritual body what blood is to a physical body. The nerves warn the body of danger, but the blood nourishes the body, strengthens the body, and brings growth and life to the body.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Christians should not be slothful in doing the business the Lord has called us to do. In fact, we should do it as unto the Lord. To be “fervent” means to have a feeling of excitement about something you love. Fervent love is a participatory love – it is love in action.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Romans 12:14

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17

You will always find it easier to love those who love you, but you are commanded to love those who do not love you.

Discipleship Lesson 7: Sin

March 11, 2011 at 10:11 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 20 Comments
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If you are a Christian, when you were born again (regenerated by the Holy Spirit), you became a new “man,” (or new woman if you are female). But the old man did not disappear. The old man – in the image of Adam – has a sinful nature. The new man – in Christ Jesus – has God’s nature. These two men are at war with each other. It is an intense struggle.

I. What is sin?

A. Sin is breaking God’s law.

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

I John 3:4

B. Sin is any unrighteousness.

All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

I John 5:17

C. Sin is anything done apart from faith.

And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

II. What causes sin?

A. My inherited sinful nature causes me to sin.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

I Corinthians 15:45-49

B. My old nature draws me into sin.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 1:14-15

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:14-25

C. We are tempted in three major areas: we like to feel good; we like to look at that which is pleasing to the eyes; we like to feel important in the eyes of others.

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.

I John 2:16

III. How does God deal with sin in the life of a Christian?

A. God judged at our sin at Calvary.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:21

B. God chastens His children when they continue in sin.

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Hebrews 12:6

C. God allows us to reap what we have sown.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galatians 6:7-8

IV. How can a Christian get the victory over sin?

A. By accepting responsibility for his own sin.

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

Proverbs 28:13

B. By refusing to allow sinful thoughts to control his mind.

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

C. By not giving the flesh an opportunity to achieve its desires.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

D. By remembering that he is dead to sin in Jesus Christ.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

Colossians 3:1-10

D. By agreeing with God about his sin (judging it).

But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another.

I Corinthians 11:31-32

E. By confessing his sins to God.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

F. By recognizing that God has made a way to escape from every temptation.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

G. By remembering God’s Word.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

H. By trusting God’s promises and praying.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

II Corinthians 7:1

I. By walking in the Holy Spirit.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

J. By being led by, and following after, the Holy Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:1

K. By submitting himself to regular examinations by the Holy Ghost.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

V. Memory Verses

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Psalm 119:11

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

The Blessings of an Unhappy Marriage Part 2

March 4, 2011 at 11:04 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage, I Corinthians | 19 Comments
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Last time we looked at the first two of four Bible principles to help us understand what God wants to do in our marriages. Think about some of the things that you have been told to do in order to make your marriage “happier.” Chances are, the things that are coming into your mind are things that focus ultimately on changing your spouse instead of changing you. How different are God’s ways from our ways!

Principle Number 1: Satisfaction in Marriage

Is being unhappy in your marriage a sign that your marriage is not “working?” No! Not when we use God’s definition of “working.” If your marriage is “unhappy,” but God is using it to conform you to the image of His dear Son, then you can find satisfaction in your marriage.

Principle Number 2: Separation in Marriage.

If you are married to someone right now, make a list of people with whom it’s okay for you to be physically intimate in a romantic or sexual way… That list should be very short. It should have one name only on it, and that name should be the name of your current spouse. That is “separation” from the affections of others.

Obviously, the principle of “separation” applies when it comes to sexual intimacy, but also, when it comes to where our devotion and affections lie, our spouse must hold a place of separation that is higher than our parents, our friends, even our children.

Then, there is the “separation” from worldly wisdom about your marriage. Let’s be honest: Who knows more about marriage?
God or Dr. Phil?
God or a psychiatrist?
God or that sweet little elderly couple that’s been married for 60 years?
God or a marriage counselor?

God invented marriage and He commanded its rules and consequences. We would have to agree that God wins out every time in a test of Who knows more about what your marriage is supposed to be!

Now I want to move on to the third and fourth principles:

Principle Number 3: Sanctification in Marriage

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

Not only is your spouse ordained to be your spouse by God, but your spouse was specifically chosen for your sanctification. That does not mean that your spouse was chosen by God for your immediate, temporal happiness! Your spouse was chosen for your “ultimate” (the “ultimate” may be far off) joy, and for God’s glory. This concept of how God works has become almost alien to us in our modern society. Maybe this illustration that I’ve borrowed from a Puritan preacher named Chadwick will help to make it more clear.

One Saturday afternoon Mr. Chadwick was in his study, trying to decide what to preach in church the next morning. He could not seem to find any inspiration, so after much prayer and study he went for a walk. As he walked down a country lane, he saw a little shop, and out front were two men. One man was an awful looking oaf. He was huge, with big muscles and an evil scowl. He was pounding a giant hammer down onto a piece of metal which was lying on top of an anvil, and sparks flew with every grunting blow. Beside the monstrous oaf was a fastidious little man in fancy clothes. He wore spectacles, he had not broken a sweat, and he was simply pointing imperiously at the anvil as the larger man did all the work. This scene did not sit well with Preacher Chadwick, who, being a Puritan, prized the ethic of hard work and despised laziness. Mr. Chadwick went up to them, and said with disdain to the smaller man, “Well sir, I’m not even sure why you’re here! He’s doing all the work, and you don’t seem to be doing anything!” The fastidious little man smiled, and calmly explained, “No, sir, you don’t understand. I’m the blacksmith here, and this man is just a mean-spirited oaf. He thinks he’s destroying something. I am simply pointing out to him where to strike. Without me, he would make a mess of the job, but with my control and direction, the end product is going to be something beautiful.” Mr. Chadwick immediately knew what he would preach about the next morning!

This story is a picture of God and the devil. The devil may be pounding away at your marriage even as you read this. No doubt, he thinks he is destroying you, and your spouse, and your children, and your whole family. What he does not realize is that he is being used by God to make you into exactly what God wants you to be. One day, when you stand before God justified and sanctified and looking much more like Jesus Christ than you ever thought you could, with your children gleaming like jewels in the crown of Christ our King, I think the devil will be furious at how often he thought he was performing pure evil, when, in reality, God was allowing him to work out God’s perfect will all along!

The things about your spouse that seem like his or her faults – the very things about him or her that drive you absolutely crazy – are the very things designed by God to teach you to grow in Christ-likeness. And if your spouse has certain strengths, then these strengths are the very things which God knows must be present if you are not to be tempted beyond that which you are able to bear.

Remember that your marriage isn’t just for you – and it isn’t just for your spouse – it’s for God to use in making you more holy, which is the definition of sanctification.

Principle Number 4: Sacrifice in Marriage

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ephesians 5:24-25

Spouses are supposed to love each other the way that Christ loved the Church. In other words, the way that He loved all the people who would one day trust Him for eternal salvation. I can not think of a single thing that Jesus should have done for the people that would one day go to Heaven, but that He failed to do. Many spouses are willing to envision a scenario in which they would dramatically die for their spouse. But few are willing to go through the mundane, day-to-day, detail-oriented task of living for their spouse. Christ did both. He lived and died for His bride, the Church. Christ gave Himself for the Church.

In giving yourself for your spouse, the primary emphasis is not on dying literally, but on sacrificial giving. Be a “living sacrifice,” says Romans 12:2. Think of some of the most serious issues that cause problems in a marriage.

Adultery? Adultery is terrible and hurtful. The pain and destruction that it causes must not be minimized. However, we have all committed spiritual adultery (unfaithfulness) against Christ, and yet He loved us anyway.

Cruelty? Mental cruelty toward your spouse is a grievous sin! It can be a form of torture. However, no one has ever been as cruel toward anyone as the people that Jesus came to save were toward Him. Yet He loved us anyway.

Physical violence? I think a man who physically abuses His wife should be whipped and then shot and then put under the jail. But no spouse has ever endured a beating like the beating that Jesus willingly took from the people that He came to save. And yet He loved us anyway.

Lack of affection? I wonder if there is anyone in the world as lonely or heartbroken as the spouse who can not get affection from his or her spouse. But Jesus was forsaken by His family, His friends, His relatives, His disciples – by everyone He cared about – and yet He loved us anyway.

Finances? How many people have I counseled with who have had their credit completely ruined by their spouse? Their savings gambled away, their children’s education spent on beer or toys or drugs or pornography. But how much of the resources that God has entrusted to us have been spent on vain and frivolous and even sinful things rather than invested in His Kingdom? And yet Jesus loved us anyway.

Christ never ever has and never ever will divorce His bride, the Church – no matter what! Has your spouse done worse to you than you’ve done to Christ? The Cross of Calvary says no – not even close.

Some people tell me, “You just don’t know what my spouse is like! I can’t love him or her, because he or she is just unlovable!” That describes Jesus’s ministry to a tee. He came to love the unlovable. I want everyone to have a happy marriage, but I’m simple and sentimental. God wants everyone to have a marriage that makes them more like Jesus. Jesus loved the unlovable. If God has chosen your marriage and your spouse to be the vehicle to teach you how to love the unlovable, then I’m sorry. I genuinely am. But, on another level, I’m also excited and glorifying God for your sake! He works in the lives of those He loves and He will one day repay every hurt with joy unspeakable!

Shove at First Sight

June 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Genesis | 3 Comments
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And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.

Genesis 28:18

Jacob’s pillow became a pillar. When you find yourself unable to sleep at night, when your pillow feels like a rock… then get up and kneel on it instead of lying on it – trade your bed for an altar. Trade your rock for The Rock.

In Genesis 29 Jacob continues on his journey.

And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well’s mouth.

Genesis 29:2

This may have been the same well where Abraham’s servant met Rebekah while searching out a bride for Isaac.

And he said unto them, Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh with the sheep.

Genesis 29:6

In a dramatic reading of this portion of Scripture this is probably the place where you would hear the romantic music strike up. Jacob would appear to forget his own name for a few moments – and then snap out of it.

And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattle should be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them.

Genesis 29:7

Jacob is obviously anxious to have a chance to interact with Rachel. “Whoo, boy! You fellas are burnin’ daylight out here! You had better get these sheep watered and rounded up!”

And they said, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stone from the well’s mouth; then we water the sheep.

Genesis 29:8

The stone would have been huge and heavy.

And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep: for she kept them. And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well’s mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother.

Genesis 29:9-10

Jacob: “Here, let me get this huge stone off the well. I’ll help you out here…” It’s fun to imagine Jacob heaving and shoving with all his might to improve his chances at impressing Rachel.

Then we meet Rachel’s father. To get an idea of Rachel’s father, here is typical Laban:

And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month. And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?

Genesis 29:13-15

Tune in next time to see what happens when Jacob the trickster meets his match in Laban the trickster.

Abraham and Isaac Receiving Christ in a Figure

April 16, 2010 at 8:56 am | Posted in Genesis, Hebrews | 6 Comments
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The events in the Book of Genesis are not fables, fairy tales, allegories, or exaggerations. They are true historical events, which actually took place, just as they are recorded in the Bible. Thankfully, though, they also serve as object lessons and types which point to prophetic fulfillments in the New Testament. Therefore, when Genesis Chapter 22 records that God told Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, for a burnt offering, and that Abraham and Isaac fully intended to obey God despite this nearly impossible test of faith, we can rest assured that the account is accurate.

Moreover, we can be just as sure that Abraham and Isaac received a greater spiritual truth, and that the Lord wants us to receive this truth as well.

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Hebrews 11:17-19

Note the following types or figures which point to the truth of the Crucifixion of Christ in the truth of the account of Abraham and Isaac.

The father and son went up to perform the offering on a mountain in Moriah. (Genesis 22:2) This is probably the same area where Golgotha was. Christ Jesus was crucified on Golgotha.

Abraham the father was willing to sacrifice his son. (Genesis 22:3) God the Father was willing to sacrifice Christ the Son.

For three days Abraham believed that Isaac was to die, as they traveled to Moriah, but Isaac actually lived. (Genesis 22:4; 12) Christ Jesus died on the Cross, and it was not until the third day that He arose from the grave.

Abraham laid the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders to carry. (Genesis 22:6) Christ Jesus carried a wooden Cross on His shoulders as He went to die. Also, God the Father placed upon Christ the Son the iniquities and sins of us all, which He bore in His body upon the Cross.

With Abraham and Isaac, God provided Himself a lamb for the burnt offering. (Genesis 22:8) Christ Jesus was and is God. He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrificial offering to save His people from their sins.

Quarterback Commandment No. 4

April 15, 2009 at 11:43 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Quarterback Commandments | 5 Comments
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The Quarterback Commandments given by Bill Parcells to Tony Romo have Biblical corollaries.

Commandment No. 1 had to do with ignoring worthless opinions.

Commandment No. 2 addressed being serious.

Commandment No. 3 was about conditioning.

Today, we look at preparation.

Quarterback Commandment No. 4: Know your job cold. This is not a game without errors: Keep yours to a minimum. Study.

Spiritual Application: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Thessalonians 2:15

A quarterback studies his gameplan. He studies his opponents. He studies his own past tendencies. He studies the field conditions, and the game clock. A successful quarterback knows that mistakes will inevitably happen. They can not be completely avoided – but they can be minimized.

A Christian studies his Bible (what my wife likes to call “your copy of God’s Word”). He does not study for the purpose of idle amusement, nor for the purpose of showing off intellectual knowledge.

Just as a quarterback studies to win games, the Christian studies to win the approval of his Lord. He studies so that he won’t bring shame to the name of God. He studies because the Bible is both understandable and complex, and it must be “rightly divided.”

Just as mistakes will inevitably occur during the heat of battle on the gridiron, so a Christian will, more often than he likes, fall into sin. (I John 1:10) Realizing this fact should not make a Christian complacent about the inevitability of sin. It should make him more determined than ever to know his job cold – to know where temptation lies, and to know the escape routes that God has made to avoid it.

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:11-13

Let us who aspire to be successful Christian “quarterbacks” study our gameplan, study our opponent, study the playing field, study our own tendencies and weaknesses, and remember that the game clock is ever running. Let us also remember that our victory is already promised.


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