Know When to Say Know

April 7, 2017 at 11:35 am | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

I Corinthians 6:1

This was another problem in the Corinthian church. The Knows were taking their legal disputes before the Know-Nots instead of resolving them within the church. This is one of the ways in which we can tell that the letter from Paul to the Corinthians that we call “I Corinthians” was not an instance of Paul simply giving out general information. He was responding to specific situations in Corinth. His reasons for rebuking them remind us, that as Knows, we must:

I. Know our future

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

I Corinthians 6:2

If we know our future, we will know our privilege. In the regeneration the “saints” (the Knows) will “rule the world.” Having this tremendous privilege, how unworthy it seems of our calling not to be able to handle such relatively petty squabbles.

Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

I Corinthians 6:3

There is some disagreement about the statement that we will “judge angels,” but this is probably referring to ruling over angels, rather than sitting in judgment over the condemnation of the demons. These are eternal responsibilities, but we must demonstrate that we know our responsibility here and now.

If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

I Corinthians 6:4

This may be a somewhat sarcastic statement, because Paul was not saying that those with the least honor ought to be given this responsibility. He was saying that, in light of their boasting over spiritual gifts (highlighted both earlier and later in the letter), even the least of them should be competent to handle earthly matters.

I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

I Corinthians 6:5

childish lawsuits

Paul was trying to make them feel ashamed of hurting their testimony in front of the Know-Nots (the lost world) around them. They were acting as petty as the world acts, when they were supposed to be the ones with the true wisdom. Such behavior was the opposite of glorifying God – it brought shame to His name.

But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?

I Corinthians 6:6-7

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to use the term “utterly” because this was a clear, without-out-a-doubt, extreme fault. It would be better for them to give up their legal rights and to lose worldly possessions and prestige, than to drag their bickering and evidence of their lack of love out before the sight of those who ought to be impressed with Christians because of how different from this world’s system their attitudes are.

Knows, in addition to knowing our future, ought to:

II. Know our past

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

I Corinthians 6:9

The “unrighteous” is a reference to the behavior listed in the preceding verses on lawsuits. The Knows were appealing to an unjust “justice” system and unjust judges by going before the heathen courts. It is also a reference to their own pre-Christian behavior, delineated in the latter part of the verse, which was “unrighteous” in the sense that it is the type of behavior which you would expect to see practiced by the those who are “unjustified,” theologically speaking. These sins prohibit anyone who commits them from inheriting the Kingdom of God unless the guilty sinners are justified by the receipt of a substituted alien righteousness.

As an aside, note that homosexual activity is explicitly condemned in this verse, both the “effeminate” (the person playing the role of the “woman” in a homosexual relationship) and “abusers of themselves with mankind” (the person playing the role of the “man” in a homosexual relationship).

Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

I Corinthians 6:10

“Extortioners” included swindlers and coercers by intimidation or influence, as well as by force.

And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I Corinthians 6:11

The Corinthians believers had been “washed” (regenerated), “sanctified” (set apart for God’s use and identification), and “justified” (forensically declared righteous).

Knows know their past. They know who they were and who they are; they do not kid themselves. They are new creatures with their sins forgiven, no longer condemned by their past deeds, but they are allowed to remember where they were without God, how that was working out for them, and where they were headed before He rescued them. These verses remind true believers of what kind of behavior they should not be doing. In fact, they should hate the sins listed in these verses both when they are tempted to engage in them, and when they stumble and find themselves involved in them again, as they are convicted and chastened by the Holy Spirit. This means that we have legitimate grounds for being suspicious about the sincerity of the professions of those who practice these delineated sinful behaviors without repentance.

III. Know our present

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

This indicates that the doctrine of Christian liberty was also an issue in Corinth, or that, possibly, someone had asked a specific question about it. “All things” is an expression referring to non-sinful things. Paul was free in Christ from trying to work for his righteousness, but there were many things which were not at all helpful, convenient, or profitable for him in his walk with Christ, and it is the same for us – especially those things which prove to be addictive or have a propensity to be addictive.

Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

I Corinthians 6:13

“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats” was probably intended as mockery of one of the Corinthians’ common expressions as they used their “freedom” as an excuse for gluttony or hedonism. So, while it is true that food is given by God to feed the body (meats for the belly), and that He has designed our bodies not only to incorporate and use food, but to enjoy food (the belly for meats), it is likewise true that the human body was never intended by God to be used in the worship of any created thing (such as food). In fact, our bodies have both temporal and eternal purposes, so that, while we have some freedom to experience pleasure with them, they must never be used as tools or instruments of sin. See the distinction between flesh-body (“belly”) and the sanctified body (“body”). The Apostle was criticizing and condemning their faulty logic: “If eating is okay, and if eating feels good to the body, then fornication, which also feels good to the body, is likewise permissible.” He reminded them that:

And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

I Corinthians 6:14

God has both temporal and eternal plans and uses for the body. We will receive glorified bodies, but they will be resurrected bodies, so they will be “our” bodies – the same ones we dragged through the physical trials, and, sadly, sins of this world. The Knows must know the present – the present importance of how we are living and how we are using our bodies. We are joined together as the body of Christ – not only with each other – but with Christ Himself.

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.

I Corinthians 6:15

When we join our bodies with other human beings in sinful sexual unions we are, in a sense, bringing part of Christ Himself into this union. This is a horrendous, defiling, blasphemous, sacrilegious abomination before God. “God forbid” is the strongest rebuke and warning – it is like saying this must never happen.

Continuing in that vein of outrage or at least righteous indignation, Paul says:

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 6:16

Physical intercourse does not make a marriage, although this is sometimes erroneously taught, but it is true that the physical sexual union is only proper within the “one-flesh” joining-together by God in actual marriage.

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

“Flee fornication” describes a desperate flight of avoidance or separation. Sexual sin is a special category of sin in which the sinner sins against God, against one of God’s image-bearers, and even against himself – his own body.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

We have been purchased – by an Owner and for a purpose. We do not “belong to ourselves.” This is a reminder that our bodies must be clean (kept from defilement as typified by the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple), and must be viewed, in a sense, as the place where God lives as Owner and Ruler. My body is where God is to be served – not where I am to be served. I must not connect it to a pagan temple. I must not let pagans enter in and defile it with sin. The consequences are harsh – God does not lightly allow His temple be defiled with unholiness.

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Don’t be an Abusive, Angry, Absent, or Addicted Parent

September 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Don’t be an abusive parent. The goal of parenting is to train up disciples of Christ by trying to utterly convince the children that God has placed into our trust of His absolute supremacy, as we nurture them and teach them His Word. This lofty goal involves corporal discipline, but discipline is not punishment, and it is certainly not abuse. A parent who sinfully – whether physically or mentally – injures a child out of spite or loss of control is attacking God Himself, and this is a dangerous prospect to say the least.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Don’t be an angry parent. As Christian parents, we ourselves are the children of our Heavenly Father. He is angry with the wicked every day, but He is not angry at His Own children.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Our job is to prevent our children from feeling and practicing the sort of sinful wrath that God hates to see in His creatures.

Don’t be an absent parent.

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:26

We have to be present if our children are going to observe our ways. Too many parents spend so much time working that they rarely see their children, leaving them in the care of nurseries, daycare facilities, nannies, babysitters, and school systems. This is not God’s plan for child-rearing. Dads, especially, however, are even prone to being absent-while-present. Tuning in to a ball game on television and ignoring the kids elsewhere in the house (or right there in the room!), going hunting, fishing, golfing, remodeling old cars out in the garage, are all ways in which fathers unwind from the stress of their occupations while forgetting the important principle of being actively present in their children’s lives during crucial formative years.

Don’t be an addicted parent (unless it is an addiction to ministry that includes ministering along with your children!) Addictions to sinful activities – and addictions that are sinful not because of the object of the addiction, but because of the time, energy, money, and affection given to them – are closely akin to idolatry.

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

Our children will not be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of the true God if we worship multiple gods.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:12

In a pagan land like America today, the failure of Christian parents to transfer a belief in the One True God will lead to the destruction of society and to the loss of God’s blessings on His people.

Tim Challies: When You S.W.I.M. Downstream

August 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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… young women today are convinced that their bodies are all their own, that they can hook up with whomever they want whenever they want without emotional scars. What is tragic is that they think this is their own idea, that they are the revolutionaries. What they don’t see is that they are swimming downstream from someone else’s sewage. Like a city that pumps waste into a river and watches it disappear around the bend on its way to the next place, [Helen Gurley] Brown created moral sewage, and a whole generation — several generations — are mucking around in it, bearing all the consequences. And in some way we are all downstream from the revolutionary sinners, the ones who create new categories for sin, who create new and shocking ways to sin, and who so often eventually step back to watch us flounder in their mess.

Tim Challies, “Downstream in the Moral Sewage

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.

Micah 2:1

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

Psalm 36:1-4

The Old Covenant Sanctuary and the New Covenant Sanctuary

February 29, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 3 Comments
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For the Hebrew believers the New Covenant was an extreme departure from everything they had done to attempt to keep a right standing with God. For those of us who have grown up around New Testament Christianity it would be like if we started having church standing on our heads! This is one reason why the Holy Spirit, in the letter to the Hebrews, breaks things down element by element, piece by piece, as if to say,”Look, it’s okay to draw near to God under the New Covenant.” The logical conclusion for 1st Century Jewish Christians would have been, “If we keep drawing closer and closer, we’re going to wind up in the Holy of Holies – that’s as close as you can get – AND WE CAN’T GO IN THERE!

So in Hebrews Chapter 9 the Holy Ghost explains, using contrasts, just how superior the sanctuary in Heaven (the New Covenant sanctuary) is to the sanctuary in the Tabernacle or the Temple. It is also important to remember that, for New Testament believers, our “sanctuary” is not really a “building.” Today, if you are truly a believer, the Spirit lives within you.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

However, keeping that in mind, here are some contrasts between the Old Covenant sanctuary and the Heavenly sanctuary.

1. The Old Covenant sanctuary was man-made.

Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:1

The earthly sanctuary was limited by decay and locale. The eternal sanctuary is permanent – spoken into existence by God.

But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

Hebrews 9:11

2. The Old Covenant sanctuary was a “type” of a greater reality.

For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

Hebrews 9:2-5

The pattern for a dress lets the seamstress see what it’s meant to be, but the actual dress is much more useful and fulfilling for the wearer. The Old Covenant sanctuary, by its very nature, pointed to something greater.

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:12-14

The sacrifice made in the New Covenant sanctuary actually cleans the conscience, instead of just making someone ceremonially clean.

3. The Old Covenant sanctuary acted as a boundary.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

Hebrews 9:7

Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year, but in the New Covenant sanctuary, spiritually, we can have unlimited access to God, through Christ because of His shed blood.

4. The Old Covenant sanctuary was temporary.

The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

Hebrews 9:8

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27:50-51

The New Covenant sanctuary is not only permanent, but is home to a permanent ministry.

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

Hebrews 9:24

Even the Jewish genealogical records have been lost or destroyed, and their religions leaders and historians are not sure who is supposed to be ministering as a priest today.

5. The Old Covenant sanctuary was set up to deal with ceremonial and carnal purity.

Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

Hebrews 9:9-10

The New Covenant sanctuary deals with the heart (the conscience). It changes what is on the inside.

For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:13-14

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

Hebrews 9:27

Have you taken advantage of the true – the better – the superior – the everlasting ministry of the sanctuary in Heaven?

Mercy / Memory

July 11, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 2 Comments
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Mercy

Mercy is an attribute of God. From our point of view – when we are thinking correctly – it is one of His most glorious attributes. We love mercy. Throughout the ages, God’s people – when they were thinking correctly – have loved mercy. It is the withholding of what we deserve when we deserve punishment. It is a concept that is very prevalent in the sections of the Bible that contain poems and Psalms of praise to God. One of my favorite Psalms is built on the theme of God’s mercy: Psalm 136.

However, there is a flip side to mercy that we need to remember.

Memory

As Christians, the memory of who we were before Jesus saved us reminds us why mercy is so comforting.

Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Psalm 136:23

Our estate was that of a sinner – an enemy of God. God justifies sinners who trust Christ, and erases their sins, but we have the comfort of remembering why we needed mercy.

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I Corinthians 6:9-11 (emphasis added)

The memory of what I’ve been forgiven is comforting because it reminds me how much God loves me. He who is forgiven much, loves much.

How Many Sermons about Purity Do Boys Need to Hear?

July 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 3 Comments
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If you’ve been in or around much church “youth group” type ministry, you’ve probably heard these types of sniveling complaints once or twice from junior high or high school age boys:
I’m tired of hearing about ‘purity’ all the time.
I’m tired of being told that I’m a monster that only thinks about sex.
Why don’t they preach to the girls instead? It’s their fault for being immodest.

So, do they have a point? Is there overkill going on when it comes to preaching about purity? Where would we look in the Bible to find out the right emphasis to place on the issue of avoiding sexual immorality for boys? I think Proverbs Chapters 5 – 7 would be a good place to start. Proverbs 5 starts off with a father imparting wisdom to his son. And what is the very first thing he addresses? The temptation and danger of sexual immorality. In Chapter 6 the father admonishes the son about the trap of laziness (vv.6-11), and stresses the importance of remaining focused on God’s Word (vv.20-23). But focused on God’s Word as a remedy against what? Sexual immorality (vv.24-35)! What about this kid’s self-esteem? What about his pride and honor and dignity? Why does his dad have to keep harping on the danger of sexual lust and temptation? Surely that’s enough! Not quite. Chapter 7 is a detailed and provocative account of the jeopardy that lurks for “youths” and “young men” who are “void of understanding.”

Now, that’s three whole chapters of God’s Word specifically aimed at boys, forcefully and repeatedly telling them what the Bible frequently makes clear:

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

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

Now, someone might object and say that the chapters in Proverbs are a father’s instructions to a son, not a youth pastor’s or conference speaker’s sermons to other men’s sons. In response, I would say, if you are a father who Biblically teaches his son in the way outlined in Proverbs, good for you. I’m no huge fan of youth group ministry. Take your boy out of there and take the full responsibility for this type of teaching on yourself. But if you decide you want him in there, he needs to keep his mouth shut when the youth teacher or pastor is instructing the other boys whose fathers aren’t doing such a stellar job.

If you are a youth group aged boy, and you have been taught that immodesty on the part of women and girls is the real source of your sin, you need to go back to the Bible and think again. Nobody in his or right right mind would deny that one of the reasons for modesty among females is to assist men in avoiding temptation, but that is by no means an excuse for your own lust. And if you don’t like being told that – in your flesh, apart from Christ – you are a monster and a sexual deviant at heart, too bad. That’s what the Bible says you are.

I recently saw a post by a boy who complained that he had grown up in church and youth group and had heard untold numbers of sermons about purity. He said there was “one good one” out all those, and that was all he needed. Such a statement highlights the self-centeredness which lurks in the human heart. For how are preachers and Bible teachers, who preach countless messages to countless boys over the years, supposed to discern which one is the “right one” that does the trick? The Bible is where we learn what is to be preached, re-preached, and emphasized. Until you come up with a Bible reason as to why boys should not be told the truth about lust, temptation, and sexual immorality, keep your ears open, your mouth shut, your eyes guarded, and your pants on.

A Closer Walk with Thee

June 5, 2013 at 10:43 am | Posted in Amos, Biblical Walking, Selected Psalms | 14 Comments
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Thank You, Lord, for overcoming so many obstacles in our lives. Help us to hear Your voice clearly as we read and study Your Word. In the Name of the Lord Jesus. Amen.

In the Bible the image of “walking” is a picture of fellowship.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

Amos 3:3

That’s a rhetorical question – a question to which the asker does not really expect a formal answer. It is a question for which the answer immediately comes to mind, and we can just assume that everyone would answer it the same way. So, when the Bible asks, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” the answer is obviously “no.” As we’re “walking” with God, God expects us to be in agreement with Him. We tend to focus on our fellowship with God from a perspective of how well we know Him. But it might be more helpful to acknowledge and remember how well He knows us. That’s one of the key themes in Psalm 139.

O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

Psalm 139:1-6

There’s no point in trying to hoodwink God. Is there anybody in your life with whom you can totally let down your guard? Anybody about whom you can say, “There is absolutely nothing they could find out about me that I wouldn’t want them to know.” Maybe your spouse, maybe even your parents or your child, but, even then, in human relationships intimate knowledge almost always carries a loss of respect, or at least reverence. Not with God, however. You’ll never find any “dirt” on Him. For Christians, our relationship with Him is clear: Loving Father and imperfect child; Creator and created.

There is no point in trying to keep secrets from God, and there is no use in trying to hide from Him.

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

There is no corner dark enough, no dark alley, no barroom, movie theater, closet, or desk drawer that God does not see. Even under the covers in the middle of the night with your windows painted black, you are not invisible to God. Not only is He able to see you, but He is able to come guide you to safety or even deliver you.

In our fallen flesh, we are prone to cringe away from the truth that God sees us all the time – as if He were some malevolent totalitarian Big Brother hoping to catch you in a moment of unguarded freedom. The reality is that God’s omnipresence and omniscience are actually great blessings. Imagine if you could hide from God, what trouble you might get into.

If we’re going to walk with God, the best fellowship – the sweetest fellowship – and the most profitable fellowship – is going to be found walking where He wants to walk. Don’t make the mistake of contemplating the commission of something so shameful that it makes you think that God will depart from you while you do it, and make Himself blissfully ignorant when you’re done.

Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:18-19

The Corinthian church was as carnal as most churches today. They had members openly engaging in fornication. The Holy Spirit wrote to them through the Apostle Paul and told them, “You’re sinning outside of your bodies, you’re sinning inside your bodies, you’re even sinning against your own bodies.” They were joining the temples of the Holy Ghost with harlots. If there was ever a time the Holy Ghost was going to leave them, it would have been then. Instead, He informed them that they were grieving Him by bringing Him into proximity with their fornication. There’s no hiding from God – even in a harlot’s bed.

1. You can’t hoodwink God.
2. You can’t hide from God.
3. You shouldn’t try to hinder God’s plans.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Psalm 139:13-18

Since God formed us – since He fashioned us – since He made our bodies work – since He even knows the number of our days – how can we think we know better than Him how we ought to live our lives? Or what we ought to do with our lives?

One of the great things about walking with God is just seeing what he planned for us today way back before He even created us. We live in a day when the world says “life” is just a random event. We can allow it to happen or hinder it from happening if we want. Children in their mothers’ wombs – from the instant of conception – are human beings bearing the image of God. Abortion is not a “legal choice” or a “right.” It is the brutal unjustified murder of a baby in an attempt to hinder God’s plan for life.

1. We can’t hoodwink God.
2. We can’t hide from God.
3. We shouldn’t hinder the plans of God.
4. We shouldn’t haggle with God.

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. 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 139:19-24

We will be much better off when we learn to love what God loves and hate what God hates, and to stop trying to convince Him that we know better than Him. We need to go ahead and submit ourselves to a thorough examination each day, but we are poor self-examiners. If I “search” me, I’m not going to be objective. I’m going to be very subjective, and I’m going to be ready to quickly cover my obvious and grievous sin-caused lacerations with Band-Aids of rationalization. But the Holy Ghost gives a more thorough examination than any doctor. If I ask God to search me – and pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 – He will do it. It won’t be fun, but it will lead to a closer walk with God. It will lead to a revival in my life every day.

Covering our sin is not prosperous for us. Confession and forsaking sin pleases God. Few parents get a kick out of chastening their children, but the hug afterward is well worth the pain. If you are a Christian, God loves you. He wants to walk with you “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8), but He doesn’t want your sin walking along with you. Unconfessed sin means that we are not in agreement with God, and two can’t walk together unless they be agreed.

Don’t Grieve the Holy Spirit

April 25, 2013 at 11:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Redemption occurs when a person is brought from spiritual death to spiritual life. It may also refer to the physical redemption of the body from the slavery of death which will one day happen to all born-again believers on the Lord Jesus Christ. Redemption is a work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is God. God is three Persons in one – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit is a Person, because He is sometimes incorrectly thought of as a force or a mystical power. If you have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, then you have been indwelled with the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to travel to Florida or Texas or Canada to some “outpouring” event to find Him or to chase Him down.

The guaranteed indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit for true New Testament Christians is different from the way the Spirit was sometimes given to people in the Old Testament.

And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Numbers 11:25 (emphasis added)

And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

Numbers 11:29 (emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit has many functions. He teaches us the Word. The Bible doesn’t make sense to a person who is not truly a Christian in the same way it does to a true Christian. All sorts of signals and programs are being broadcast through the room you are in right now, but you are not perceiving any of them unless you have the right kind of antenna or receiver. This is an illustration of the way the Holy Spirit illumines Scripture for believers.

The Holy Spirit also convicts us of sin. This is for the purpose of bringing the non-Christian to the point where he realizes he needs a Savior, and for the purpose of aiding Christians in their sanctification.

The Holy Spirit also produces spiritual fruit in the lives of believers.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

The Holy Ghost is the Comforter, and He brings inward peace to believers. He does not cause Christians to thrash around and throw a fit, the way you will sometimes see people doing on religious television or in certain Pentecostal or Charismatic churches.

Another function of the Holy Spirit is to enable us to live for God, and to do the work of God.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:38-42 (emphasis added)

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Acts 4:31 (emphasis added)

Ephesians 4:30 tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never leave a person who has trusted Christ unto salvation, but disobedience, fornication, hurting others who we are supposed to be loving and helping, entertaining sinful thoughts and desires – all these and more can and do grieve the Spirit. We would be far better off surrendering to Him and allowing Him to have His way as He leads us to follow Christ and to obey the Bible.

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

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.

Graded by God: Turning Your “F”s into “A”s (Part Three)

July 5, 2012 at 10:05 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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David appeared to be at the top of his game. Having been blessed greatly by God, David was exhibiting several signs of being a good steward of these blessings. But if Satan had been watching David, taking notes and looking for an opportunity to trap him with just the right temptation, then he would most certainly have noticed a major weakness. David had a weakness for lust, and a desire to have more and more wives.

Before the incident with Bathsheba, David had as many as seven wives: Ahinoam; Haggith; Abital; Eglah; Maacha; Abigail; Chileab. This was common practice in those days, but it was still sin against God (Matthew 19:8; Deuteronomy 17:17). So, when the devil planned an attack on David, he must have said, “Aha, he has a weakness for beautiful women.” And the snare was set.

Here are some lessons we can learn about avoiding Satanic traps:

1. When we’re blessed in fighting, we need to remember to ask for God’s protection and preparation. Prayer and spiritual warfare go hand in hand.

Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:

Psalms 144:1

2. When we’re blessed with family, we need to watch out for those with whom they would associate. Your family members can be influenced by others outside of your family.

Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:

Psalms 144:11

3. When we’re blessed with faithful friends, we need to abide in God’s Word (not err from it).

The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from thy precepts.

Psalm 119:110

4. When we’re blessed with fear, we shouldn’t have a fear of aviation.

Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.

Psalms 124:7

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

5. When we have the blessing of God’s favor, we need to remember to be alert.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

I Peter 5:8

6. If we’re blessed with fame, we need to be awake and active.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:11-14

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