Category Archives: Morality

These posts deal with moral issues of our day. They attack head on the deceitful doctrines of our era that seek to lead people into unrighteousness through either legalism or liberty.

Doctrinal Treatment of Divorce and Remarriage

This undertaking is the humbling response of my heart to being pierced by the truth of God’s word on the subject matter at hand.

There is no escaping the unpleasantness of this topic; to ignore it is to leave the door open among God’s people by which adultery will be perpetuated and multiplied, and to preach it is to offend a great many in the Church today.

Being aware of this terrible reality, I have elected to preach this message with as much grace as the Holy Spirit gives in Scripture.

The most illuminating truth for me in this study was the reality that the sin of divorce is not divorce itself, but adultery.  Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:31-32 on divorce is the second part of the greater context of His teaching on adultery from Matthew 5:27-32.

Divorce is a mechanism by which adultery is perpetuated and multiplied among God’s people and the whole world.  Divorce perpetuates adultery by the false notion that divorce legitimizes adulterous relationships.  Up to four people can be brought into adultery by one divorce.

If this is true that divorce perpetuates and multiples adultery in this manner, then divorce is far from being innocent; it is a destructive mechanism by which men and women are snared in the sin of adultery and the coming judgment of God.

Therefore, we will devote this doctrinal treatment to the topic of divorce-and-remarriage.

Divorce

I am preparing a doctrinal treatment on the topic of divorce for our Church and I felt compelled to share a small portion from this treatment here (I will post the full treatment online when I am finished):

Biblical doctrine is full of the glory of God; far from being cold and heartless, it vividly expresses God’s heart and illuminates His divine character in ways that call God’s true worshippers upwards to Him in spirit and truth! That is our highest aim here today, to bring the whole of who we are before God in the true worship of spirit and truth!

With this in mind, the reality that beloved brothers and sisters have deep wounds caused by divorce is of great concern. The purpose of doctrine is not to hurt wounded souls! Rather, sound Biblical doctrine calls the flesh and pride of mortal beings to the cross while restoring the soul and rejoicing the heart!

Psalm 19:7, 8 “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul… the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart!”

When we humble ourselves before the Lord and place our trust in Him, we have confidence that hope shall arise upon the hopeless! The following will be difficult words to accept, but those who do will enter the liberty of truth and find hope to carry them home.

SERMON ON THE MOUNT

Jesus places divorce in the greater context of adultery and confronts us with the reality that adultery is being perpetuated among the people of God through the mechanism of divorce.

Matthew 5:27-32 “27 You have heard that it was said by the ancients, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. For it is profitable that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body be thrown into hell.

31 It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.

The Jews were defending themselves by saying that they were not adulterers because they had the written certificates of divorce. But Jesus preaches against their adultery by saying that adultery begins in the heart through lust and is multiplied in the land through divorce.

Jesus exposes the catastrophic sin of adultery among them and it is imperative that we grasp the goodness of Christ in doing this; adultery disqualifies from the kingdom of God (1st Co. 6:9-10), but the Pharisees were deceiving the people by mishandling the Law of God to justify illegitimate divorces that were bringing the people of God into exponential adultery!

The wickedness of adultery is evident to all who have been victims of it. Those who have lived in marital unions that have been compromised by lust readily understand the searing pain of adultery that comes as the heart of their spouse increasingly grows cold towards them; they are all too acquainted with the fights, arguments, and quarrels that arise from the increasing distance between their hearts. Likewise, those who have gone through a divorce know the terrors involved in dividing a family; it is a terrible, wretched, and violent process that leaves deep scars. And Jesus is preaching against this sin and fully exposing it for the wickedness that it is.

The holy union between a husband and wife must not be broken, and when it is broken, the consequences are very painful no matter how you slice it. Jesus merely exposes that divorce does not lessen the consequences and havoc wrecked by adultery, it actually perpetuates it!

But a closer look is warranted:

Matthew 5:31-32 “31 It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

Mark 10:11-12 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Illegitimate divorce perpetuates adultery coming, going, and staying! When someone divorces their spouse and remarries, they commit adultery against their true spouse, they lay a stumbling block before their true spouse to cause them to come into adultery if they remarry, and they cause whoever they remarry to come into adultery! Rightfully God has said that, “He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence. Therefore, take heed to your spirit that you do not deal treacherously!” (Malachi 2:16)

Perhaps the most shocking statement made by Jesus is in the first half of verse 32, where He says “whoever divorces his wife, except for fornication, causes her to commit adultery”. These are not easy words to accept at first, however, upon further examination the purity of Christ’s words become clear.

Firstly, the sacred union between a man and a woman is God’s ordination and it cannot be undone by man, therefore, “whomever God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:9). Jesus is demonstrating the glory of God’s work in holy matrimony that cannot be simply undone by the certificates of human courts. If someone divorces their spouse for any reason other than sexual immorality, their divorce is invalid; this places a stumbling block before the divorced spouse by giving them the false option of remarriage that would bring them into adultery if they were to go ahead and remarry.

While we cannot focus on the syntactical side of the Greek Grammar involved in Matthew 5:32, I will note that the verb for “adultery” is used twice in Matthew 5:32, once in the passive voice and once in the middle voice, which in English the nearest equivalent is the active voice (Gerhold L. Lemke , Dakota-Montana District Fall Pastoral Conference, Nov. 6th, 1973):

μοιχευθῆναι (moicheuthenai – moicheuo) – Aor. P. Inf. – commit adultery, seduce to
μοιχᾶται (moichatai – moichao) – Pres. P. Ind. 3s. (Durative) – commit adultery.

For this reason some translations have wrestled with how to demonstrate the Greek sense of differentiation between these two verb forms in a way that would not acquit the guilt of the “passive adultery” but that could convey its passivity.

Thus the Berean Study Bible’s offers this translation of Matthew 5:32:

“But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, brings adultery upon her. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Secondly, it must be noted that this teaching is not gender dependent.

The last half of Matthew 5:32 is repeated in Mark 10:11 and then directly reversed in Mark 10:12 to acknowledge that what is true of a man is likewise true of a woman. Therefore, “if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:12). This indicates that the first half of Matthew 5:32 can also be read to say “if a woman divorces her husband, except for sexual immorality, she brings adultery upon him”.

Without fail the prophets give us their timely warning:

Malachi 3:5 “And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien – because they do not fear Me.”

God takes adultery very seriously, and divorce perpetuates and multiplies adultery!

The conclusion is that whoever divorces their spouse, except for fornication, and remarries another, enters into adultery and causes both the one they remarry and the one they leave (if he or she also remarries) to commit adultery! Jesus is not permitting them to deceive themselves any longer; He is ripping their lies to shreds in order to set them free by the truth!

Here is my chief aim in bringing this here: adultery is being perpetuated and multiplied among God’s people through divorce, and no one is standing up to lovingly, mercifully, and truthfully call the Church to account on this sin. We act like we are righteous if we just don’t have homosexuality in our midst. We must be fervent and bear fruits in accordance with our repentance!

To the one who is wounded by these words, my heart reaches out to you as one who has been pierced by the word of God myself; and I say “run to Christ”. You have questions that need the answers of the King!  Turn to His word and pay attention to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.

Foundations for Overcoming Pornography

I often preach against the cross-less Christianity that is being preached today precisely because it leaves people in bondage to the sins that control their lives. The cross-less gospel leaves out, or teaches against, “self-denial” and “faithfulness in persevering through trials”.

James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who endures temptation (NASB “trial”); for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

We all must endure many temptations and trials in this life, and through these become approved. The Greek word rendered “temptation” (NKJV) / “Trial” (NASB) is πειρασμός (peirasmos, #3986) and means both (a) “a trying, testing,” (b) “a temptation,” (Vines Expository Dictionary, Vol. 2, P. 495).

ADDICTION NECESSITATES THE CROSS

In our haste to overcome our additions so that we can feel justified, we forget that the cross must accomplish its designs! Addictions signal areas in our life that are not submitted to God; things outside of God to which you look for comfort, pleasure, or help.  These addictions usually offer cheap and easy alternatives to the fruit of God so that things like “pleasure” and “entertainment” are substituted for “joy in the Lord”, which is far more difficult to obtain and cannot be obtained at the whim of our own carnal will.

Jesus requires all His disciples to bring their whole life to the cross.  This is where the initial battle takes place.  We resist the call to deny ourselves and take up the cross by which the will of our flesh is crucified!

Before I continue I must note that many addictions go beyond spiritual and moral parameters and gain physical hold over our bodies; all addictions begin and continue at their core as a spiritual and moral illness, but they usually gain physical hold over our life.  So, while any attempt to address these addictions from purely a physical standpoint will be futile, ignoring their physical hold over us is equally unbiblical.

We must begin where our addictions began: the heart. To overcome our addictions requires that the resolve and testimony of our heart be “for me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain!” (Philippians 1:21). Until Christ is securely seated upon the throne of our heart and is proved by the testimony of our life to be both our “life” and our “gain”, we have not yet been approved through perseverance!

When the set of your heart becomes “to live is Christ, and to die is gain”, then you are prepared to take on the enemy that has hold on your life through your addiction.

This will feel like “death” to you in the beginning because it is death; it is the death of your flesh on the cross as you deny yourself and follow Christ.  This test is whether or not you love Christ or sin.

Until we rid ourselves of the lie that addiction to sin is compatible with fellowship in Christ, we will continue to be enslaved to our sins because we will be deceived into thinking that we do not have choose between sin and Christ.  Only “the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).  You must believe wholeheartedly the judgments of Christ and know that anyone who has fellowship with the darkness does not have fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-6).  Though the presence of an addictive sin in your life does not indicate that you have already fallen away, it must raise your awareness that something is wrong and you do not currently stand approved.  You must depend on the Holy Spirit for the strength to persevere and enter often into His communion!

A cross-less faith is still under the dominion of sin.

OVERCOMING PORNOGRAPHY

This is a far too in-depth question to fully address on such a platform as this, however, there are certain points that form a crucial starting point for the foundation of victory over this addiction.

REBIRTH and RENEWING

Titus 3:3-8We also were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various desires and pleasures, living in evil and envy, filled with hatred and hating each other.  But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward mankind appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of rebirth and the renewal of the Holy Spiritwhom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, being justified by His grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

First: regeneration. It’s necessary to say upfront that if you are not born again then you cannot gain eternal victory over sin.

The first element of our salvation is the washing of rebirth by the Holy Spirit.  Even if you managed to dispense with pornography you would still be dead in your sins. You must receive a supernatural,  fundamental alteration of your heart so that your old heart of stone can be replaced with the new, living, beating heart that God gives to those who follow Him by faith; you must receive the forgiveness of Jesus’ blood by which your sins and guilt can be washed away; and you must receive the Holy Spirit by whom you are sealed for redemption!  This cannot be faked, nor produced by man; it must come from God.  Seek God!

Second: renewing. The second element of salvation is the renewing of the Holy Spirit in which dead things are made alive!

Those who are born again but have wrestled with ongoing pornography addiction have suffered what A. W. Tozer called “a moral and spiritual cauterization” (A. W. Tozer, Experiencing the Presence of God).  Pornography cauterizes our spiritual and moral sensitivity, which is at first painful, but eventually leads to a place of hardness where we are no longer sensitive to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and pain of our consciences!

Such a process is described in passages like Romans 1:21, Ephesians 4:17-19, and 1st Timothy 4:2.  These passages should drop us to our knees, and we should not arise from there until we have cried out to God from the very depths of our heart to give us life where there is now death!

THE WORD OF GOD

The renewing of the Holy Spirit is worked in us as the word of God enters the depths of our soul (Colossians 3:15), penetrates every fiber of our being (Hebrews 4:12), washes us clean (Ephesians 5:26), sanctifies for God’s use (John 17:17), and corrects our paths (Psalm 119:9)!

Consistent Bible study and prayer is an integral part to the process of renewal.

BREAKING THE PHYSICAL BONDS

Matthew 5:28-30But I say to you that whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.  And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away. For it is profitable that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body be thrown into hell.

What most people do not know is that pornography addiction has been demonstrated in labs to be up to 4 times stronger than morphine; research has shown its degenerative effects upon the brain to be as serious as cocaine.

Pornography is a true addiction with physical bonds in the brain!

Jesus uses allegory in His teaching to illustrate the seriousness of this situation.  Sexual sin is not something to mess around with!  As the creator of our bodies He knew that repeated exposure to improper sexual sin creates physical bondage in the structures of the brain itself.
Healing from pornography addiction necessitates a prolonged period of time where you are not engaging in immoral pornography-driven sexual activity while you are being continually washed, sanctified, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit.Research has proven what the Bible already said:

Romans 12:2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Your brain can be renewed.  But you have to listen to the good and perfect will of God.  We need to follow Jesus’ allegorical teaching and cut off that which causes us to stumble.

Here is one way to cut off this offense from your life to allow yourself time for healing and renewal with the Holy Spirit:

1. Physical removal of privately accessible internet connected devices.

2. Internet accountability software that is interconnected to personal accountability with a pastor or spiritually mature mentor.

I really encourage between 6-months to 1-year without any privately accessible internet access.  For a born again believer who has been unsuccessfully wrestling with pornography addiction, I encourage beginning with the first option and staying committed to it for at least 6-months, but recommend between 1 to 2 years.

Studies have proven that the brain can heal, but that it can take up to 3 to 5 years for full healing!

I recommend removing private access to the internet for up to 2 years so that you can gain a strong foothold of victory without any relapses.

When you reintroduce privately accessible internet connectivity into your life it must be under the accountability of internet accountability software on every internet-enabled device.  You should be accountable to either a spouse, mature brother, or pastor in the Lord every time you access the internet.

I really believe internet accountability is critical.  My laptop, tablet, and phone all have x3 Watch installed and reporting to my wife.  There are many free and subscription resources available.

There’s a lot more to say and clarify about this subject, but, for now I hope this begins to highlight a good beginning point.

False Prophet Blasphemy

ISAIAH 66:2 “But to this man I will look, even to him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.”

False prophets abound everywhere; but who is it that trembles at God’s word?

Those who tremble at and revere God’s word with the highest of esteem are usually scoffed at and reviled.  Taking a firm stand against false prophets is seen as divisive, demonic, and carnally minded; the contemporary generation views prophecy as something that is subject to their will and vain imaginations.   We hear things like “you should be so critical of prophetic words” or “this author may have made a few mistakes that could have been worded better, but….”

People don’t seem to understand that when it comes to prophetic words, error is far more than simply a matter of a “few mistakes that could have been worded differently”.   When someone presumes to speak the living and infallible word of God, they must be held to that standard!  A prophetic word is not something crafted by the mind of mortal men.  Despite modern trends, a prophetic word is delivered to the prophet by God in the exact form God wants it to be delivered to people.  If a prophet is “wording” his prophecy, he did not receive it from God, he has derived it from his own empty imagination!

It’s necessary to be clear here: if someone is honest and humble, and says upfront that what they are presenting is their own opinion or interpretation, then mistakes can be understood and addressed constructively and any errors can be easily mitigated by God’s word and by a committed Church body that is intent upon unity in truth and love.

But if someone prophesies and delivers errors in God’s name, then they are a false prophet and will be held under the eternal judgment awaiting false prophets (Jude 3).

Tremble at His word! 

To speak lightly, saying, “the Lord said” (or to indicate in another way direct divine revelation) is no small matter.  Guesswork is not acceptable when speaking the word of the Lord, neither is mystic-divination.  The only thing that can be presented in God’s name is direct and divine revelation received from God. 

I am not a cessationist, but neither will I be swept into this abominable flood of perversion being passed off as Charismatic (i.e. “of the Holy Spirit”)!

If someone speaks a word in God’s name, it must carry the full weight and glory of God’s word.  What is being passed off today in God’s name is nothing more than a flood of “arrogant words of vanity” (2 Peter 2:18 Modern English Version).

A generation of Christians are being instructed in the ways of blasphemy! 

2 Timothy 3:1-2, 5 “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; for men will be… blasphemers… And from such people turn away!”

The word Paul used here for blasphemers, translated in the NASB as “revilers”, is the Greek word βλάσφημος (blasphemos, #989), which means “abusive, speaking evil,” (see Acts 6:11, 13; 1st Tim. 1:13;  2nd Tim. 3:2; and 2nd Pet. 2:11 (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).  HELP’S Word-Studies states that it “reverses spiritual and moral realities”.

The Lexham Bible Dictionary offers this remarkably poignant insight on what constitutes blasphemy:

“Blasphemy can include flagrant actions and disdain for God’s Word, His promises, and His people. Scripture bears consistent witness to the severity of the offense.

When God first appears to Moses in the burning bush, He emphasizes the sacredness of His name (שֵׁם, shem), Yahweh (made up of four Hebrew consonants, יהוה, yhwh), which reveals His person and character as the covenant-keeping, redeeming God (Exod 3:13–16; 6:3). In the exodus story, God performs mighty deeds for the sake of His name (Exod 9:16), a concept reiterated in numerous Old Testament passages (e.g., Psa 25:11; Isa 43:25; 48:11). The “name of Yahweh” (שֵׁם־יְהוָה֙, shem-yehwah) carries profound significance, referring “to His full being and power” (HALOT, 1550). To assail God’s name is to attack Him personally and directly.

Speaking both to Moses and the people of Israel, God strictly prohibits the misuse of His name: “You shall not take the name of the Lord (יהוה, yhwh) your God in vain, for the Lord (יהוה, yhwh) will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exod 20:7 ESV). The Hebrew term “vain” (שָׁוְא, shaw’) refers to what is empty or purposeless; it can also mean something false or deceptive, in such contexts as prophecy (Ezek 13:3–7), worship (Isa 1:13), and speech (Deut 5:20). A breach of the first two commandments naturally leads to a violation of the third (Exod 20:7).”

Citation: Mills, D. W. (2016). Blasphemy. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Blasphemy refers to using God’s name for empty, purposeless, false, or deceptive reasons!

Anyone who presents the constructs of their own imaginations as the divine revelation of God – in other words they present these things in God’s name – has presented that which is empty and false in God’s name!  To do this is to blaspheme the name of God.  According to God’s 3rd commandment in Exodus 20:7, God will not hold the person who does this guiltless!

Thank God for His unfailing mercy, because Jesus said “all kinds of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven.  But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come” (Matthew 12:31-32).  If you have been guilty of blasphemy by speaking empty or false things as if they came from God, then turn away from this sin and repent.  God will abundantly forgive you and provide the grace that you may stop this practice and be counted among those upon whom God looks, who “tremble at His word”!

We must note for the purpose of clarity so that Satan cannot take advantage of this teaching that there are different kinds of blasphemy; the unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is specified in Matthew 12:22-30, Mark 3:20-30, and Luke 11:13-23, 12:10.  It is specifically attributing to Satan the divine work of the Holy Spirit.

The end times will be filled with blasphemers; let us not join in the emptiness of those who would presume to speak vain and false things in God’s name so that they can promote their own way, their own agenda, their own fame, and their own prosperity.  Let us humble ourselves before God and revere His word!

Let us seek the full weight and glory of God’s inerrant word!

Be Viscerally Compassionate

Luke 6:35-36 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be the sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Be therefore merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

Before I can get into the meat of this text I have to look at some definitions real quick:

MERCIFUL: Greek Cognate: #3629 οἰκτίρμων (oiktírmōn – an adjective, “express visceral-compassions”) – compassionate, experiencing deep pity and lamentation as God has for people who look to Him for help in their difficult situations.

VISCERAL: (adjective) coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason

Therefore, we are told to be viscerally compassionate from the heart, just as God is viscerally compassionate from the heart!

Nothing except the call to the cross demands greater faith and necessitates greater love for God than Jesus’ call to this unfailing, unmerited, and merciful love. Certainly no other commandment confronts us with our own human inability more than Jesus’ commandment to supernatural-love.

HOW CAN I express visceral compassions towards even my enemies when I find in my heart only apathy, distrust, ill-will, or even hate? God’s word tells you that you can’t; only the Holy Spirit working in you can take your cold heart and make it burn with compassion for even your enemies (Galatians 5:22)! Whoever tries to produce this kind of love in their heart by the strength and will of their own flesh will meet failure time and time again (Romans 8:4-9; cf. 13:8, 10).

Am I then acquitted from any and all responsibility to be merciful as God is merciful? Let me quote Paul by saying “By no means!”

Because of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you – if you are born of the Spirit – you are doubly responsible!

Let me encourage you not to embrace the lie that says “love is only action and does not include emotions at all”. Love is to be unhypocritical (Romans 12:9) – which means “unfeigned and sincere”. Love must not be only an intellectual exercise that leaves the heart behind, wallowing in bitterness against those you are trying to love!

A believer may ask “what do I do if my heart does not feel love like this towards my enemies?” Do not be content to continue in heartless love! Cry out to God; weep and mourn for your heartless condition! But “love in action” all the while. Yes – if your heart does not “feel” love, then you must lead your heart by the truth of God’s word and repent before God that your heart remains so unregenerate. God will renew your heart by the power of the Holy Spirit and create in you the fruit of love.

CLOSING EXHORTATION

I cannot make my heart express visceral compassions for others when all my heart possesses is selfishness, apathy, and enmity! If you despair of your inability to love due to the coldness of your heart, then you need the renewal of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit! Turn away from the temptation to accomplish this by your own strength and look to Christ to create in you a pure heart!

You must fight the desire to become content with your lovelessness; love your enemies and your brethren in action, and cry out to God to renew your heart so that you can also love in truth!

Once you begin seeking God to renew your heart in love He will begin to send opportunities to love your enemies, neighbors, and brethren to you; I call these “opportunities” because God has shown me that they are truly opportunities, but they may look like trials and tribulations at first. Arm yourself with the mind of Christ (please read Philippians 2:5-10), and prepare to walk by faith through these trials and exercise love in action while you cry out to God to renew your heart so that you can likewise love in truth.

“Speak Smooth Words”

Isaiah 30:9-10 “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who refuse to listen to the law of the LORD; they say to the seers, ‘you must not see visions’, and to the prophets, ‘you must not prophesy to us right things; speak pleasant things, prophesy illusions.'”

The deceptive and rebellious heart demands that God’s servants speak “smooth words” (KJV); I lament that in our day we see such a heart as this!

2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.”

Preaching righteousness incurs wrath from those who cannot tolerate reproof, rebukes, and exhortations; the call to preach God’s word is not a call to popularity, nor is it a call to brutality, it is a call to preach the truth with resolute steadfastness of heart.

Never loose sight of this one compelling reason that makes the cost of preaching righteousness worth it:

John 8:32 “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Never forget that the truth has power to set sin’s captives free through Jesus Christ!

In an age where darkness rules through deceit and rebellion, the Church must not lose the voice of truth!

Finding Mercy

Proverbs 28:13 “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy”

One of the demarcations of the children of God that separates them from the children of the Devil is that God’s children confess and forsake their sins, whereas the children of the devil cover their sins and flee from the light.

Nahum 1:3 “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.”

God gives abundant mercy to whomever confesses and forsakes their sins – but He will not justify the wicked who refuse to acknowledge their ways.

I believe the Lord will walk the extra mile with anyone who is confessing their sins and seeking to turn away from them; the Lord’s mercy is shown in abundance and with great patience to such as this. But there is no mercy to those who cover their sin and try to justify themselves. Though they plot deep into the night, they will not prosper!

QUESTIONS FOR SELF-EXAMINATION:

  • If I am struggling with sin, am I confessing my sin and openly turning from it in the Light?
  • If I am struggling with sin, am I covering my sin and protecting my self-interests?
  • Do I use God’s word to justify myself or to seek God Himself?

 

Stealing

 

Exodus 20:15 “Do not steal”

My eyes have recently been opened to how concealed and widespread this sin is within the Church. So I must exhort with the authority of God because God is going to judge with His authority all who practice theft.

Leviticus 19:11 “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.”

Stealing is not difficult to figure out.

Simply put, the essence of stealing is taking something that does not belong to you. This applies to both material objects, like money, taxes, property and possessions, as well as to immaterial property, like digital music, movies, video games and intellectual works.

I’m sorry for being so elementary, but, it is evidently much needed: taking intellectual work and presenting it as your own; downloading music, movies, or video games without paying for them; cheating on taxes – these are all the works of thieves.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters… nor thieves… will inherit the kingdom of God.”

The warning against deception here is because God knows the human tendency to hide from the Light in dark layers of deception; He knows our tendency to cover ourselves with excuses and cast blame on others for our evil doings. But these excuses do not stand with God: “No unrighteous person will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, ‘do not commit adultery’, ‘do not murder’, ‘do not steal’, ‘do not bear false witness’, ‘do not covet’… are all summed up in saying ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’. Love doe no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

One of the greatest lies Satan has ever sold to the Church is that love justifies sin. What a preposterous notion! Love is the antithesis of sin. Nothing is more contrary to sin than love. Therefore, love is the holiest expression of holiness, and the fulfillment of all righteousness.

TEST YOURSELF:

  • Do you cheat on your taxes?
  • Do you withhold fair wages from your employees?
  • Do you own pirated media like music, movies, or video games?
  • Do you steal intellectual works from other authors without acknowledging the author(s)?
  • Do you steal?

Please consider this last verse carefully and examine your life to make sure that you are not stealing anything:

Revelation 9:21 “And they did not repent of their murders or their sorcerers or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”

How Should We Correct Our Brethren?

With all the current events the church faces today and the deep, deep, divides in our midst, there is one question that needs to be asked: “what is the Biblical means of correcting brothers and sisters who are in error within the Church?”

We must ask ourselves what is our aim in bringing correction, and how do we handle our brothers and sisters when we find ourselves in gridlock and unable to come into agreement with each other?

PASSAGES TO CONSIDER:

2 Timothy 2:24-26 “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”

This passage gives us great wisdom in knowing both “how” and “to what end” we deal with those who have been “taken captive by the devil to do his will”. We need to make sure that those we find ourselves at odds with are, indeed, at odds with God and have truly been taken captive by the devil to do his will; we must not mistake a brother or sister being at odds with our position as the same as being taken captive by the devil to do his will. If our opposition to a brother comes from strife within our own heart, then we must humble ourselves and seek peace with our brothers and sisters before our sin consumes us whole.

James 3:13-18 (esp. v18) “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show his works by his good life in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, do not boast and do not lie against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, and devilish. For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Another passage that speaks volumes. Here we find that “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (v18). The mightiest debater will loose the kingdom of God with each argument that he or she wins, but whoever is faithful to Christ will win the kingdom of God in peace!

1 Peter 3:8-9, 15-16 “Finally, be all of one mind, be loving toward one another, be gracious, and be kind. Do not repay evil for evil, or curse for curse, but on the contrary, bless, knowing that to this you are called, so that you may receive a blessing.
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to every man who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and fear. Have a good conscience so that evildoers who speak evil of you and falsely accuse your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.”

Today we find that those who preach the truth may be falsely accused as much within the “church” as without; but this reality does not change how we minister to the Lord, rather, it forces us to purify how we minister to the Lord. It forces us to sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts, or be given over to bitterness and strife.

Galatians 6:1-2 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I suggest this passage requires us to acknowledge the “humanness” of the person that we are dealing with. By “humanness” I do not have in mind any humanist worldview, nor do I have in mind that we consider their sin and excuse it “because they’re only human” (which is a humanist viewpoint as well). Rather, I have Genesis 1:27 and 1 Peter 1:18-19 in mind; we must have God’s purposes in mind as we approach our brethren. We must never view our brothers and sisters as anything less than those made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. To approach one another with any lower view is to de-humanize our brothers and sisters in Christ and insult the integrity of Christ who gave His blood as a ransom for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

To any brother or sister who thinks he or she is walking in Christ, and yet, who does not bear the burdens of his or her brethren, I ask you to reconsider whether or not you are fulfilling the law of Christ. We cannot fulfill the law of Christ if we do not “restore one another in a spirit of gentleness”.

2 Cor. 6:11 & 10:1 “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open!”
“Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ- who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, exhort you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you were called. With all humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another in love, be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

I believe it is with closed hearts and a spirit weary of unity that often dominates the affairs of the Church today. And for this my heart will never cease to mourn- as I believe Christ’s heart is broken and will not be satisfied by anything less than unity within the body.

1 Peter 3:1-4 (for a word to our beloved sisters in Christ) “Likewise you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that if any do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, as they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Do not let your adorning be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine clothing. But let it be the hidden nature of the heart, that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

Isaiah 32:17 “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.

I believe there is reason here to be forward-looking in our approach with our brethren. We do not minister for people with the present alone in mind, but with eternity in mind. So shall we see the necessity of “peace” when we begin to see eternity.

Hosea 10:12 “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness upon you.”

Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS

Scripture teaches us not to be quarrelsome when correcting one another, but to do so in humility and with hearts wide open. This means that there is potential to be “hurt” when you come to someone with your heart wide open- they can wound you deeply- but our aim in correcting our brethren is not self-preservation, but rather, the edification of the whole body. The manner of our conduct towards the brethren we seek to correct should be in gentleness, patience, and peace.

I strongly urge careful and diligent consideration be given to the above passages.

We can never forget that “it is God who works in us, both to will and to do His good pleasure”; we must offer ourselves to the Lord as instruments of His healing, but never try to supplant Him as “the Great Physician”.

May this strengthen the hands that hang down who are weary from brokenness. And may God give wisdom as we learn to be peacemaker in a bitter and spiteful world so that Christ may be glorified according to His last petition. Amen!

 

The Reality of Hell

The concept of an eternal destination reserved for wicked souls that is filled with the wrath of God and torment is too terrible an idea for many people to tolerate. And I would even submit here that the idea of Hell should be too terrible to tolerate; I do not believe God gave us the revelation of Hell to be tolerated.

We need a revelation of hell that will drop us to our knees!

Unfortunately, the academic tendency of today’s theology is to sterilize Biblical concepts with finely articulated and well rounded presentations. I am not going to offer such an apologetic here. Hell is holy to God because Christ satisfied hell on the cross (Romans 5:8-9).

Hell is the most abhorrent, appalling, disturbing, ghastly, gruesome, terrifying and terrifyingly misunderstood thought one can entertain. It’s a place God created for Satan, the murderer and father of all lies, and his demons (Matthew 25:41) where His wrath will burn with everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46)! I believe that because God created the human soul to be in holy, eternal, fellowship with Him, the thought of everlasting separation from God in burning wrath is fundamentally the most repulsive thought imaginable for our hearts to entertain. The tendency, then, is to veil the reality of hell in layers upon layers of questions, doubts, and theories, thus dulling this terrible thought until it no longer pierces our soul through with anguish. But we must never allow our hearts to become dull towards the reality of Hell. It is holy to God and was central to Christ’s finished work on the cross!

People have not changed so much in 2,000 years that the doctrine of Hell we find so repulsive today was somehow so acceptable to them then. No one relishes the idea that they will be strictly held accountable for every wicked deed they do; and every soul finds the idea of everlasting punishment unbearable! The world was converted to God 2,000 years ago because it witnessed the love and power of God, and in light of God’s great love and power, the reality of hell makes sense. God did not give us the revelation of Hell to win popularity contests and delight our fancies; “hell” only makes sense after someone has witnessed the “power” and “love” of Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection! The reality of Hell can only be rightly understood in light of God’s revelation of sin, love, and justice.

SIN & DEATH

The agony of death is separation from God (Matthew 7:23), and sin is the mechanism by which God’s creation is separated from Him (1 Cor. 15:56). Our Creator-God has told us that we are more than mere flesh, but that we also have a soul and a spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Even our body is more than mere material value (Luke 12:23). This means that death is not simply the end of our mortal body, but instead, that the reality of death is sin-induced separation from our Creator (Genesis 2:17 and 3:24).

I’ve heard it said that “Heaven is for those who humbly bow their knees before God and say ‘not my will but Thine be done’; Hell is for those who hold up their fists to God until He finally says to them ‘not My will but thine be done’.” Hell is not God’s will for His creation; Hell is the will of those who obstinately choose separation from God.

God did not mince words when He said “wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18); wrath is the result of deliberate defiance and rebellion against the truth. When we choose the things that God will have no part of, we choose separation from the One who gives life!

We see the reality of separation from God in death portrayed in the revelation of the judgment: “And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11:-15)

What we understand as death now is the first separation from God, but Hell is the final separation from God where those who persistently denied God and choose separation from Him in this life by their works will receive the reality of their choices.

The more we suppress the truth with our lies about God the tighter grip death gains on the world! Like a chain smoker who tries to ignore the signs of his cancer, or the drug addict who reassures himself that he can keep it together, our lies do not change the reality of our separation from God, they only ensure its finality!

JESUS & WRATH

“Hell” was eternally satisfied with Jesus when God did the unthinkable by putting on flesh and emptying Himself of all privilege; taking the sins and infirmities of the world upon Himself, in the body of Jesus God provided the ultimate sacrifice on the cross and proved His love to the world with power to deliver the human race from their sin and guilt! In the face of Christ we see God’s will for mankind and the love that He demonstrated towards us even while we were still sinners as we peer into the face of Him by whose blood we were saved from wrath (Romans 5:8-9).

The few times in human history when someone of great privilege has sacrificed everything and lowered themselves to the desperate and destitute around them, they have received praise and acclamation from everyone for their noble sacrifice. Yet all of these noble souls were guilty of sin at some point in their life. Only Jesus was wholly innocent of all guilt; for all of mankind’s time on this earth, God was lavishly pouring out His grace on the human race and giving life and joy to all who lived on earth, regardless of whether or not they returned any thanksgiving or worship to Him. As the human race stubbornly pressed on in sin, reaping death for the transgressions that separated them from the author and giver of life, God’s love and mercy was proved upon the earth with every new sunrise. From such a place of perfection did God empty Himself of privilege and took upon Himself flesh- and unimaginable denigration for the Creator of all things- and subjected Himself to mortal weakness because of His perfect love!

To the apostate and the skeptic who cast blame on God, saying “for all the injustices we suffer here, living on earth is hell enough”, what will you say to the love of God who left heaven with the resolve to pay for your sins and surrendered His hands and feet to be nailed to the cross by sinners just like you and I?

JUSTICE AND JUDGMENT

The lies we tell ourselves can sometimes suppress the insatiable human desire for justice when “justice” becomes personal, however, we cannot escape the reality that every human soul craves justice.

Political philosophers (http://www.iep.utm.edu/justwest/) have long agreed that the single most important pillar of stable governance is “justice”. Families stand strong when there is a clear sense of justice, and they crumble when there is oppression and chaos. Businesses thrive with equitable business practices, but unfair business practices can poison entire business cultures. No part of the human experience of life can long survive when justice is robbed! We need justice.

Justice necessitates both “moral law” and “impartial fairness”. One of the lies we tell ourselves today is that there is no moral standard to which we are accountable, yet we loudly protest when we are not treated fairly. We rob ourselves of the justice we crave when we separate ourselves from the moral law of our Creator to pursue our own lusts. This suppression of the virtues of truth in favor of ungodliness eventually leads to the “hell-on-earth” of an utterly unjust society, courteously of our own making! Whether here on earth or in eternity to come, we cannot escape hell when we choose separation from God!

Justice belongs to God. He wrote His moral law on our hearts in our consciences (Romans 2:15), and He will execute an impartial and fair judgment upon all mankind (Romans 2:5-11). The Judge of all mankind has said that “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, according to each one’s deeds” are the inheritance of every soul who does evil (Romans 2:6, 8-9). He is impartial and fair in His judgments; there will be no favoritism towards the Jew, nor prejudice against the Gentile. We will all be judged according to what we have received from God.

There are many questions regarding how God will apportion His wrath on sinners when the Day of Judgment arrives; such questions as “is hell eternal?” “Is hell a conscious torment?” “Will those who never heard or rejected the gospel suffer in hell?” These questions are valid but not necessary in order for God to be a just judge. A prior understanding of the precise proportion of punishment that will be received for a transgression is not necessary in order for justice to exist. I may not know what the penalty is for Grand Theft Auto, but I know that it is wrong and that I will be punished accordingly. Justice only necessitates the existence of a moral law and an impartial and fair application of punishment.

The aforementioned questions are valid subjects for another time- subjects to which many scriptures speak- but it is a foolish and disastrous distraction to worry about how God will apportion His wrath on sinners when the Lamb of God is offering the love of God to the world on God’s holy altar!

HELL IN LIGHT OF CHRIST

I believe there is a reason why God said that He will “judge the secrets of all mankind by Jesus Christ according to the gospel” (Romans 2:16). I believe the reason why we will be judged by Jesus Christ is because when those of us who rejected Christ look at Him, all our lies will evaporate like the dew in the morning heat and we will see in Christ Jesus the perfect and irrefutable logic of God! We are told that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11); I do not believe this confession will be made under duress, but that when the world looks at Jesus Christ on the Judgment Day, we will see the love of God that we rejected, and we will find no shelter from the terrible reality that we have chosen for ourselves!

I said above that we must never let our hearts become dull towards the reality of hell. I believe there is only one thing on earth worse than a Church that denies the existence of hell, and that is a Church, knowing the existence of hell, that says nothing about it to the lost world! The Christian whose knee is bent before God in prayer because of hell will rise with the fire of the Holy Spirit to save souls from hell by the good news of Jesus Christ!