Saturday, November 24, 2007
In 25 years of ministry I have seen demonic activity in a variety of ways. The most chilling account I will share happened when I was leading a team of street evangelist in Song Tan, Korea. We went down an alley called “Aragon Alley”, it was dark and there where night clubs on either side of the alley. As we witnessed and handed out tracts to the GI’s and Koreans on the street, I noticed a man staring at us in a doorway, every where we walked he glared at us. I started towards him and my pastor (who normally didn’t go with us) grabbed my arm and said wait! In my zeal I didn’t notice the man was growling like an animal. In a low guttural voice he said “You cannot stop me!” and he kept growling. We just ignored him and kept walking and witnessing to people. Later I asked my pastor why didn’t we approach him, and that is when I learned that it wasn’t always smart to engage the enemy publicly and also he helped me realize it was just a diversion from our mission…winning souls! That was a rare occasion when the enemy presented himself openly. As scary as that was it is IN THE CHURCH where the enemy really distracts and distorts the truth and deceives many.
Demons are evil spirits that are opposed to God and God's people. They appear to be fallen angels: 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6 and are primarily referenced in the New Testament.
• Matt. 4:24, "And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them."
• Matt. 8:28, "And when He had come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs; they were so exceedingly violent that no one could pass by that road."
• Mark 3:22, "And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, 'He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.'”
• Luke 4:35, "And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him without doing him any harm."
• John 8:48-49, "The Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me"
Demons seem to be able to cause illness, paralysis, blindness, and violence combined with great strength in the one possessed. Demons apparently strongly desire to reside within people (Matt. 8:28) and even animals (Matt. 8:32).
In the future there will be a judgment of the demonic forces: Matt. 8:29, "And behold, they cried out, saying, “What do we have to do with You, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
At least some of the angels that sinned long ago have been bound and put away:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; (2 Pet 2:4)
And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home -- these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. (Jude 1:6)
It said to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, "Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." (Rev 9:14)
Pagan religions "sacrifice to demons":
They sacrificed to demons, which are not God -- gods they had not known, gods that recently appeared, gods your fathers did not fear. (Deut. 32:17)
They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons. (Psa. 106:37)
Thousands of demons grouped together inside one person begged Jesus:
The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs." (Mat 8:31)
A Christian has spiritual authority to drive out demons:
He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Mat 10:1)
Some people know this as "exorcism." Note: a wooden cross and/or holy water is NEVER used, in the Bible, to drive a demon out of a person.
Some spirits (demons) are more wicked than other ones:
Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation. (Mat 12:45)
Jesus cast out demons or evil spirits:
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching -- and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." (Mark 1:27)
For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. (Luke 8:29)
Jesus drove out demons by the Spirit of God:
But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Mat 12:28)
Demons know Jesus is the Son of God, unlike some people:
Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." (Mark 3:11)
Evil spirits can speak through a person! In our dark day, some might call this by the New Age term "channeling" and the person with the [evil] spirit a "channeler." Devotees of "spirit guides" need to ponder what Scripture says about a spirit being speaking through a person.
A fortune teller might be possessed by a demon spirit:
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved." She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, "In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!" At that moment the spirit left her. When the owners of the slave girl realized that their hope of making money was gone ... (Acts 16:16-19)
When the demon spirit was cast our of that girl, her special powers to predict the future were totally gone. This was also apparent to the owners of that slave.
Unlike some people, demons believe there is a God and "shudder":
You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -- and shudder. (James 2:19)
Mary Magdalene had seven demons in her before she became a Christian:
When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. (Mark 16:9)
And also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out (Luke 8:2)
Evil spirits can torment people:
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. (Acts 5:16)
Worshiping demons will be a characteristic of the end of this age:
The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons , and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood -- idols that cannot see or hear or walk. (Rev 9:20)
Evil spirits in John's vision looked like frogs: Frogs are creatures of the night and they lurk in darkness, often you can hear frogs and never know where they are.
Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. (Rev 16:13)
This does not mean that a frog is a demon!
Demons can perform miracles:
They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty. (Rev 16:14)
NOTE: Demons can produce miracles! Not all spirits are from God. Some spirits are deceitful and are trying to mislead us:
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. (1 Tim 4:1)
There are many ways in which demons can deceive people, but the more common ones are through occult involvement, Ouija boards and séances. Dear reader, don't ever dabble with such, even out of curiosity or amusement. If you have already, ask God to forgive you and renounce all such behavior.
WHICH BIBLE TRANSLATION IS BEST?
I am continually asked which Bible Version is the best? My answer is: There is no best. There are good and better, but how does one know just which one is the best? I use many, and I find them all helpful at times.
Many people believe that understanding the Scriptures has to do with having a "perfect translation" of the Scriptures. I try to tell them that there is no such thing as a "perfect" translation. And even if you read Hebrew and Greek fluently, it is still no guarantee that you will understand what you are reading.
Truth be known, millions who believe that the King James, for example, is a perfect inerrant translation have not a clue as to what is involved in translating from one language to another. It may be possible to translate a few specific words almost perfectly from one language to another. But once we get into whole sentences, paragraphs, pages, and whole books (written by different people over a period of many centuries, in ancient languages), the task is almost daunting. When considering the enormity of the task, I believe most translators of most Versions have done a satisfactory job.
That is not to say there aren't problems with all Versions. But thank God there are many copies of the Greek, and some copies of the Hebrew manuscripts which makes it possible to come pretty close to the mind of God in most areas of the Scriptures.
There are four stern warnings in the Scriptures with regards to adding to or taking away from the Word of God:
"For I testify unto every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall ADD unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.
And if any man shall take away from the WORDS of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18-19).
"You shall not ADD unto the word which I command you, neither shall you DIMINISH ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you" (Deut. 4:2).
"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not ADD thereto, nor DIMINISH from it" (Deut. 12:32).
"Every word of God is PURE: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him. ADD YOU NOT unto His words, lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar" (Prov. 30:5-6).
Surely God did not sternly warn against adding to or taking away from His Word, while knowing it would never happen. Of course it has happened. But the immature absolutely refuse to believe it. They argue God is able to preserve His Word without error. And surely He is able, but that does not detract from the fact that men have indeed tampered with the interpretation of and translation of the very words of Scripture. God KNEW that men would add to and take from His Word—hence the warning.
Admittedly, by the translators themselves, a perfect translation is not possible. Surely the teachers are more honest regarding their errors and imperfect knowledge than their students who swear by every word of their imperfections.
Notice these nine remarkable statements from the Translators of The King James Version immediately following the Preface, entitled: THE TRANSLATORS To The Readers (1611 Edition—I will copy it as is, in the archaic English spelling):
"No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be currant, notwithstanding that some IMPERFECTIONS and BLEMISHES may be noted in the setting forth of it"
"For to whom euer was it imputed for a fault (by such as were wise) to goe ouer that which hee had done, as to AMEND IT where saw cause?"
"But the difference that appeareth betweene our Translations, and OUR OFTEN CORRECTING OF THEM, is the thing that wee are specially charged with; let vs see therefore whether they themselves bee without fault this way, (if it be to be counted a fault, TO CORRECT) and whether they bee fit men to throw stones at vs…they that are less sound themselues, ought not to object infirmities to others."
"Some peraduenture would haue no varietie of sences to be set in the margine [as the King James has done from the start; albeit they have in recent times been all removed in many editions] lest the authoritie of the Scriptures for deciding of controuersies by that SHEW OF VNCERTAINTIE [not knowing for sure the proper or best way to translate this or that], should somewhat be shaken."
"Now in such a case, doth not a margine do well to admonish the Reader to seeke further, and NOT TO CONCLUDE OR DOGMATIZE VPON THIS OR THAT PEREMPTORIALY? For as it is a fault of incredulitie, to doubt of these things that are euident: so to determine of such things as the Spirit God hath left (euen in the iudgment of the iudicious) QUESTIONALBLE, can be no lesse then PRESUMPTION."
"Therefore as S.Augustine saith, that VARIETIE [different] of Translations is profitable for the find out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversitie of signification and sense in the margine, where THE TEXT IS NOT SO CLEAR, must needes doe good, yea, is NECESSARY, as we are perswaded."
"An other thing we thinke good to admonish thee of (gentle Reader) that wee haue not tyed our selues to an VNIFORMITIE OF PHRASING [that is just another way of saying they would not be tied to being CONSISTANT in their translating even though, consistency would be more accurate], or to an identitie of words, as some peraduenture would wish that we had done [I FOR ONE], because they obserue, that some learned men some where, haue beene as exact as they could that way [as though being "as EXACT as they could" is not a virtue]."
"Thus to minse the matter, wee thought to sauour more of CURIOSITIE THEN WISEDOME, and that rather it would breed scorne in the Athiest, then bring profit to the godly Reader." (All CAPS are mine).
I can certainly agree and sympathize with almost everything said by these truthful and candid Translators of the Authorized Version, with one exception. Although they believe that "Variety is the spice of life," I would rather suggest that "Honesty is always the best policy." I certainly prefer a translation that is consistent and meticulously accurate over one that has great variety, and reads smoothly with a poetic and melodious rhythm.
With that said, my personal teaching, preaching, and study Bible is nonetheless, the King James Version. But the primary reason for this is that more people are more familiar with King James than any other Version. Sadly, for many unlearned students of God’s Word, to quote from any Version other than the King James, is to not be quoting Scripture at all. Not to worry, one can learn the Truths of God from ANY translation once God opens one’s mind to the things of the spirit.
ADDING TO GOD’S WORD:
Just as surely as God warned against "adding to or taking from" His word, it has happened. There is overwhelming evidence and historical proof that the following portion of I John 5:7-8 iss not part of the original Greek manuscripts.
"…in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth…"
Also there is a mountain of historical evidence that this portion of the so-called "Great Commission" found in Matt. 28:19 is also not in any Scripture found in the first few centuries of both manuscripts or translations.
"…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost"
In fact, it is an obvious and blatant contradiction of how the Apostles actually did baptize. They NEVER baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but always in the Name of Jesus ONLY. The Scriptures do not contradict; but some Bibles do.
But these two "additions" to God’s Word pale into little or no significance compared to the ONE GIANT INEXCUSABLE, "adding to" God’s word wherein the Translators turn Greek "aions" (periods of time as short as a few years) into English "eternities." This one gross error has turned into the most devastating botch of translating in the history of the world. Which consequently brought about the most damnable heresy in the history of the world—"Eternal Punishment."
Early translations of the Greek Scriptures into English did not use the words "everlasting," "evermore," "for ever and ever" or "eternal" in their versions. Maybe the very oldest English related tongue was the Ancient Gothic Version by Wulfila, which was a language spoken about 350 AD, closely akin to the Old German and Old English spoken at that time. This version translated from the Greek, as well as later Old English versions between 680 and 995 translated from the Latin, did not use any words that meant "everlasting" or "eternal."
Wiclif’ finished his translation in 1382. A hundred and fifty years later came Tyndale, then Coverdale (1535), Cranmer’s (1539), the Genevan (1557), Rheims (1582), and finally The King James Authorized (1611). It was in these well-known English translations that the words "forever and ever" "everlasting" and "eternal" come before us.
However, not all English Versions perverted and corrupted the words having reference to time into words that now stand for eternity, but have nothing to do with time at all. Here are a few. I use the first three quite regularly, but, I am not recommending you buy any of them.
Rotherham Emphasized Bible, 1959
Concordant Literal New Testament, 1983
The Emphatic Diaglott, 1912 edition (Greek/English Interlinear)
The Holy Bible in Modern English (Fenton), 1903)
The New Covenant, 1884
The New Testament in Modern Speech, 1910
The Restoration of Original Sacred Name Bible, 1976
The New Testament of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Anointed, 1958
The New Testament a Translation, 1938
The Companion Bible, 1990 A King James Reference Bible
See my paper "Is EVERLASTING Scriptural," found on our home page.
TAKING FROM GOD’S WORD:
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God…" (Rom. 8:28).
Oh really? Is this verse from the King James Version even true? How many billions of times has this verse been quoted, and it isn’t even true! Things do NOT "work together for good." That is absurd. "THINGS" can’t do anything by themselves. Just what is it that the King James has left out of this verse which has turned a grand and marvelous Spiritual Truth into a carnal-minded heresy? Why, just "GOD," that’s all. They left GOD out of this verse. And here is how God inspired this verse:
"And we know that GOD works together all things for Good to the (ones) loving God…" (Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, By J P. Green, Sr).
‘Now we are aware that GOD is working all together for the good of those who are loving God…" (Concordant Literal New Testament).
"We know, further, that unto them who love God, GOD causes all things to work together for good…" (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible).
Putting "God" back into this verse, puts the Truth back into this verse.
One more example: Just what is the "the book of life?" The King James (and others) makes it sound like the "book of life" is a literal book that is in the possession of the Lamb (Jesus Christ). Hence people believe that Jesus carries a literal book that has literal pages in it, on which are written literal names of the saved saints. Here is how the book of life is presented in the King James Bible:
"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb…" (Rev. 13:8).
Why is this book called "the book of life?" Most would answer: because of the names that are WRITTEN inside who are promised LIFE. Maybe then it should have been called "the book of NAMES." Whether we emphasize "the book of life," or "the book of life," both are wrong. Something is missing? What? The same thing that was missing in Rom. 8:28, only this time it is CHRIST Who is missing. Put back the missing word, and we have a WHOLE NEW SCRIPTURAL TRUTH:
From King James Version:
"…whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb…"
From the Concordant Greek Text (Page 713):
"OF-WHOM NOT HAS-been-WRITTEN THE NAME OF-him IN THE SCROLLet OF-THE LIFE OF-THE LAMBkin"
From the Emphatic Diaglott Interlinear (Page 8843):
"…of which not has been written the name in the scroll of THE life of the Lamb…"
This book is a whole lot more than the "book of life." Rather this book is: "the book of THE LIFE OF THE LAMB!" WOW!
What a Truth we loose when we "take away" the definite article "the" from this verse of God’s Book. Why oh why would God have to write our names "IN A BOOK?" How absurd! Do we think that God has a POOR MEMORY and FORGETS things if He doesn’t WRITE THEM DOWN?
No, our names must be written in "THE LIFE OF THE LAMB" or our lives are not worth anything. Here is how Jesus Christ is our "Book of Life:"
"For the law of the Spirit of LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8:2).
Our lives must be written in "The BOOK of the LIFE of the LAMB." It is "The Book of THE LIFE of THE Lamb." The book is the LAMB’S LIFE. The Lamb IS THE BOOK—JESUS CHRIST IS THE BOOK! When we "take away" from God’s "Book" we take away FROM JESUS CHRIST. We diminish "THE LIFE of the Lamb" down to a mere physical "book"—a book of paper when translators, "take away from the words of the BOOK of this prophecy" (Rev. 22:19).
The solution to better understanding the Scriptures and the will of God is not solely a matter of a better translation or a perfect translation. The early church had NO translations—they had the original Greek signatures, and copies of these signatures in the Greek language, which was universally understood throughout much of the Roman Empire—even Egyptians spoke Greek. And yet, the first century was a time of MASS APOSTASY in the church. Here is Scriptural proof:
"For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30).
"HOLD FAST THE FORM OF SOUND WORDS, which you have heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing, which was committed unto you keep by the Holy Spirit which dwells in us. This you know, that ALL THEY WHICH ARE IN ASIA BE TURNED AWAY FROM ME…" (II Tim. 1:13-15).
So, even a perfect translation would not keep carnal men from turning from the Truth.
I have a number of translations. Not because they are all necessary to know the Truths of God, but because now I am a teacher and they are helpful in teaching.
Spend more time "praying and obeying" than looking for that perfect translation and you will make faster progress in your Spiritual walk with God.
Friday, November 23, 2007
If you are a Christian and you are suffering with an illness (Mental or Physical) of some kind be encouraged. God has not forsaken you. I know it may feel like it but He hasn’t. I have received great comfort from Psalm 13, a Psalm of David. This Psalm has taught me that one of the major problems with suffering is dealing with anger and bitter feelings towards God Himself. We have been taught the new wave message of “positive confession”, but what God really desires from us is an honest confession. Out of all the books in the Bible, the one that has delivered me the most is the Psalms. To many believers Psalms is just a collection of praise song. Many theologians look at Psalms, Proverbs, and especially Ecclesiastes as books without much doctrinal weight or value. How wrong they are! Through all of my trials and tribulations, I have been able to find a point of contact and understanding by reading Psalms. My favorite Psalm is Psalm 13.
After you read it you may wonder, “How can this depressing psalm be someone’s favorite?” This is the most honest prayer in the scriptures. David asked God a question, “How long will you forget me Lord?” This honesty in prayer helped me realize that God wants to hear everything we have to say, the good and the bad. David felt abandoned by God. I can identify with this feeling. For the last three years I have been battling sickness. I have been poked, prodded, and examined. I have had Scarlet Fever. I have been misdiagnosed with Osteomylitis (bone infection). I was on an IV for 8 weeks; my lungs were scanned and X-rayed to find growths. I have granulomas (lesions) in different parts of my body that causes severe pain in my joints and my eyes, and the cause of all of this is an incurable illness called Sarcoidosis. I began to recite Psalm 13 as though I wrote it. The good news is found in the 5th and 6th verses. David obviously recalled how the Lord had been merciful and kind to him in the past. David’s was to continue to trust in the mercy of God and hope in the loving-kindness of the Lord. I feel that many of our prayers go unanswered because we are not honest with God. However David felt, that what he expressed to the Master. This is one of the keys to being a man after God’s own heart.”
13:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? (David felt like the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had forsaken him. At times if we are honest, we feel the same way.)
2 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? (David was going through extreme emotional distress. Chronic illness can cause this kind of emotional trauma in ones life.)
3 Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; (David is not afraid to let the Lord know how distraught he is, and at the same time he makes his supplications known to God. I believe God honors an honest confession more than a positive one.)
4 Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.
5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. (David was able to trust in the Lord’s mercy because he had a relationship with Him. David although discouraged was able to rebound because of his love for the Lord)
2 I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. (One of the keys to getting through a stressful season is to give God praise through it all)
This Psalm has helped me get through my most painful moments because it reminds me that God has and will continue to deliver me. We must trust in God’s sovereignty as well as His power. Trusting in His ability to know what is best for us takes more faith than running around “naming and claiming” everything. I was at a revival and someone asked me, “Have I claimed my healing yet?” I was really disturbed at this question; I realized that this person really did not know the Lord or me very well. If they knew me they would know I love the Lord with all my heart and whether I am healed or not I still love Him. If they really knew me they would know that I believe in the healing power of God but I also trust in His timetable and sovereignty. Don’t be discouraged saints of God; the Lord is on your case. The grace of God can keep us through all of our trials and tribulations no matter how severe they might be. One of the beautiful things about the Bible is that the characters were just like us. Men and women in the Bible suffered sickness, loss of life, and abuses. I believe God allowed every story in the Bible to be graphic and uncut because we need to see the hand of God in every situation, both good and bad. I love the rawness of the Old Testament, people were not all good and everyone wasn’t blessed all the time. People that were good suffered and people that were bad received mercy. God is sovereign and in control even when it looks like He isn’t.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (II Cor.12)
About five years I visited a woman from my church in the hospital, she suffered from Lupus and Cancer. Just one of these diseases is enough to destroy someone’s life. I asked her how she was feeling and the usual small talk. Before I left she looked at me and said something that made me well up with tears. She said, “The thing that hurts to most is that the saints of God think I did something wrong because of my condition.” This is what I call the “Spirit of Job’s Friends”; it is wrecking havoc in the Body of Christ. It is causing those that need love, a hug, and understanding to be shunned by the ones that should minister to them. The only time Job’s friends did any good was when they silently sat with him while he suffered. As soon as they opened their mouth, they hurt him. Telling someone that is sick things like, “You need faith!”, “Repent”, or “Stop claiming the sickness” is cold and insensitive. There are times when God renders His judgment on sinful ways, but in many cases the illness has nothing to do with sin. Let’s examine the Word.
15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?
12 And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. (Luke 18)
This woman was identified as a daughter of Abraham, meaning she was a believer! Jesus did not mention any of her sins. Was she sinless? Is anyone? Of course not, Jesus healed this woman for two reasons, 1. She was a daughter of Abraham 2. That He might be glorified. What does this mean? If you are a child of God suffering, Jesus sees your pain and will do something about it. Jesus understands pain because he felt it too!
2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
3 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9)
The disciples were just as dense as we are today! They ask the question, “Who sinned?” Well if he was born blind, what sin did he commit? Did he kick his mother in the womb? Truthfully all of us are born sinners! (Psalm 51). Why would God punish him for his parent’s sin? I’m glad Jesus answered their question. Jesus said “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents.” I am a firm believer that many today are not healed because those that minister forget that the glory belongs to the Lord of Host. If you watch the so-called great men and women of God today, they act like they are the healers and not Christ alone. God was very angry with Job’s friends! Why? Because they falsely accused Job and misrepresented God, They were also self-righteous as they bombarded Job with innuendo and accusation. The best thing you can do for someone that suffering is pray for them and keep you mouth shut. A hug goes a lot further in most cases than a lecture.
15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. (Romans 12)
These two verses say it all! But focus on verse 16, “condescend to men of low estate.” This means stay meek and humble in your character, because the same calamity could happen to you.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
22 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (Heb.10)
6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
“Even Jesus got depressed!”
IS HOMOSEXUALITY A SIN FOR NEW TESTAMENT BELIEVERS?
[Does Jesus condemn or condone homosexuality?]
It may seem strange and even foolish that I should even ask such questions. Aren't the Scriptures clear on this subject? Apparently not, if you listen to the many voices now embracing this life style. There are scholars and theologians who adamantly try to defend their homosexual life style based on the Scriptures.
While some do not believe that homosexual sex is even mentioned or described in Scripture, others freely admit that it is mentioned and was a capital crime under Moses, and strongly condemned by the Apostle Paul as being worthy of death. But among the latter it is argued that neither of these condemnations in the Old or the New Testaments applies to homosexual Believers in Christ. That is a twist we will examine carefully, as most have probably never heard of such a defense.
The purpose of this paper is not to single out or come down upon homosexuals. I have never written a paper entitled: "Is Stealing a Sin for New Testament Believers?" or, "Is Bearing False Witness a Sin?" or, "Is Murder a Sin?" So why "homosexuality? Because more and more, the media, entertainment, the government, the Church, the general population of America and much of the world, no longer believes it is a sin to be discriminated against, whereas even the basest of nations have laws against stealing, false witness, and murder.
So, my purpose here is not to judge, but to specifically establish whether homosexuality is a sin or not a sin for Believers in Christ under the New Covenant.
If it is not a sin, and these practices are normal and virtuous, then we should not be speaking or discriminating against them. But if it is a sin, then we should certainly speak out against it just as we should against adultery, idolatry, lying, stealing, etc. Let's try and look at the Scriptural facts with unbiased, open minds. If we are interested in obedience to Jesus Christ then we should be eager to know the truth one way or the other.
Most homosexuals do not argue with Lev. 20:13:
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."
They concede that this verse is speaking of homosexuality-sex between members of the same gender. Their argument is that it no longer applies to them as Believers in Christ under the New Covenant, stating that they are no longer under the law of Moses.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to go into what is meant by no longer being "under the law." But I will give just a few comments concerning whether Lev. 20:13 is still binding on Christian Believers.
A SILLY ARGUMENT
Over the years I have received some bizarre reasons from the gay community regarding why they don't think homosexuality is a sin. Here is an example I received this week from a self-professed lesbian:
"Also, don't you find it interesting that when Jesus walked the earth, he never once brought up the subject? If it was such a sin, it would be one of the Ten Commandments, don't you think?"
No, I don't think so at all. Lev. 20:13 does not need to be one of the Ten Commandments before it has any jurisdiction over Christian Believers.
Jesus did not address child-molestation either; neither is it one of the Ten Commandments. Neither did Jesus address drug abuse, nor pornography, smoking, spousal abuse, or torture. Does this fact therefore condone such sins and atrocities? Are we to assume therefore that none of these are wrong or sinful? I hope we are not foolish enough to believe that if something is not mentioned in the Bible, then it shouldn't be considered a sin.
Listen: One of the Ten Commandments was against "stealing." But stealing did not carry the death sentence. Yet witchcraft (not one of the Ten Commandments) did carry the death sentence (Lev. 20:27). Having sexual intercourse with an animal carried the death sentence for both men and women (Lev. 20:15-16).
Who among us would deign to suggest to their children that having sex with farm yard animals is now okay since it is not condemned in the New Testament by Jesus, neither is one of the Ten Commandments? When all else fails, try a little common sense and basic morality.
WHAT IS HOMOSEXUALITY?
The actual words "homosexual" and "lesbian" are not found in the Scriptures. The word "homosexual" is reported to be a German invention to euphemize and take the place of the distasteful word "sodomite." Although the word "sodomy" as used today may not even have a direct connection with the sexual sins of historical Sodom.
While the Scriptures do not speak to us in crude street language, describing the actual mechanics of homosexual acts, nonetheless, the practice of same sex lust assuredly is mentioned and condemned in Scripture as a sin that needs to be repented of just as idolatry, adultery, stealing, murder, and all sins.
The word homosexual is applied to both men and women whose sexual preference is with one of the same gender. Male homosexuals are generally called "gay" or "gay men," while female homosexuals are generally called "gay women" or "lesbians."
Most gay men will acknowledge that male homosexuality is mentioned in Scripture. What may be alarming to many of my readers is that while they concede that it is mentioned and talked about, they deny that it is categorically a sin. On the other hand, many argue that gay women or lesbianism are not mentioned in Scripture at all. I will briefly comment on the one main Old Testament Scripture forbidding homosexuality. Below is an excerpt from the gaychurch.org web site regarding Lev. 18:22 & 20:13.
Professor Soards tells us:
"Old Testament experts view the regulations of Leviticus as standards of holiness, directives for the formation of community life, aimed at establishing and maintaining a people's identity in relation to God." This is because God was so determined that His people who were being formed into a new nation would not adopt the practices of the Baal worshipers in Canaan, and same-gender sex was part of Baal worship...
Even if we consider that morality was a factor in this rule, it is part of the Code, and when the Code became obsolete, as it is under Christ, that rule, as part of the Code, became obsolete. These verses in Leviticus have nothing to say to us today beyond the eternal principle of the need for purity in the worship of God. If the immorality expressed in them happens to be a principle for all time, then it will be found elsewhere in the Bible. (For heterosexuals it is found in Roman 1 which clearly condemns same-gender sex by heterosexuals. There is nothing in the Bible to support any finding about homosexuals.)" By Bruce Lowe Appendix B: Bible Passages on Same-Gender Sex (Underline emphasis is mine)
Just a couple of comments: Clearly it is admitted that same gender sex was condemned under Moses (being punishable by death), and that it was a practice of "Baal worship." And so it suggested that homosexuality was not inherently wrong, but rather it was wrong because it was practiced in the worship of Baal.
Apparently, had not the pagans used homosexuality in their worship of Baal, God would have allowed it. I think not.
It is then suggested that since homosexuality was a part of the things forbidden under the law of Moses (which they call "the Code"), but Christian Believers are not under the Code, but under Christ, therefore, "the Code became obsolete."
Well I have already commented on the absurdity of this with regarding things like bestiality, which I seriously doubt they would condone under this same "became obsolete" argument.
So what is the argument for not following the admonition of Paul regarding same gender sex in Rom. 1:26-27? Well you just read it:
(For heterosexuals it is found in Romans 1 which clearly condemns same-gender sex by heterosexuals. There is nothing in the Bible to support any finding about homosexuals.)"
Now I must admit that statement overwhelms me. Since it cannot be denied that Paul is speaking of same gender sex in Rom. 1:26-27, what are they to do? Well, they dogmatically state that Paul is not condemning homosexuality sex between homosexuals, but rather they state that Paul is CONDEMNING HOMOSEXUAL SEX BETWEEN HETEROSEXUALS! Is that not akin to suggesting that it is not wrong for alcoholics to get drunk, but rather it is wrong for NON-ALCOHOLICS to get drunk?
We will now see whether the Scriptures substantiate the above assertion that:
"There is nothing in the Bible to support any finding about homosexuals."
We will first look at three sexual perversions closely allied with homosexuality.
THREE CATEGORIES OF PERVERTED SEX
"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators [Gk: paramours], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate [Gk: catamites], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [Gk: sodomites] nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 6:9-10).
What are paramours, catamites, and sodomites?
paramours (King James, 'fornicators')-Strong's #4205 pornos "to sell, a male prostitute (as venal), a debauchee (libertine): fornicator, whoremonger."
prostitute: "one who solicits and accepts payment for sex" (American Heritage College Dictionary).
venal: "capable of betraying honor, duty, or scruples for a price, corruptible" (AHCD).
debauchee/debauchery: "to corrupt morally, to lead away from excellence or virtue, indulge in dissipation [lacking moral restraint, indulgence in sensual pleasure], orgies [unrestrained sexual activities],"
libertine: "one without moral restraint" (AHCD)
catamites (King James, 'effeminate')-Strong's #3120 malakos "soft, fine clothing, a catamite, effeminate."
catamite: "a boy who has a sexual relationship with a man" (AHCD).
effeminate: "having characteristics more often associated with women than a man" (AHCD).
sodomites (King James, 'abusers of themselves with mankind'-Strong's #733 arsenokoites "a sodomite, defile self with mankind."
The elements of the Greek word arsenokoites are "male-lier"-A male who lies with a male. "Male bed partners"--Wycliffe Bible Dictionary.
THESE PERVERSIONS ARE CONDEMNED IN SCRIPTURE
"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to keep company with fornicators [Gk: 'pornos'-paramour/male prostitutes] ...with such an one not to eat" (I Cor. 5:9-11).
"For this you know, that no whoremonger [Gk: pornos-paramour/male prostitute] ...has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God" (Eph. 5:5).
"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for ...whoremongers [Gk: pornos-paramour/male prostitute] ...and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (I Tim. 1:9-10).
"Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers [Gk: pornos-paramour/male prostitute] and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4).
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers [Gk: pornos-paramour/male prostitute], and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone which is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).
"Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs and sorcerers, and whoremongers [Gk: parnos-paramour/male prostitute], and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loves and makes [practices] a lie" (Rev. 22:14-15).
"Be not deceived, neither ...effeminate [Gk: malakos-catamite/boy with man sex] shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 6:9-10).
"Be not deceived, neither ...abusers of themselves with mankind [Gk: arsenokoites-sodomites/male bed partners/male-liers] shall inherit the kingdom of God" (I Cor. 6:9-10).
Paul states that none who continue to commit the sins listed above "shall inherit the kingdom of God." These sins need to be repented of and put in the past. And that is what the chosen Few in these Gentiles churches were doing.
Notice Paul's consolation to those who repented of these sinful deeds of the flesh:
"And such [unrighteous, fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortioners] WERE [past tense, but not now] some of you but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11).
Next we will see whether the Scriptures actually and specifically speak of both male and female homosexuality. Here are a couple more statements from http://gaychurch.org:
"Clearly the passage [Rom. 1:26-27] is talking about people for whom sex with the opposite gender is "natural." We call them "heterosexual." There is nothing in this passage that relates to homosexual people."
Conservative theologian Richard Hays says:
"No direct appeal to Romans 1 as a source of rules about sexual conduct is possible."
We shall see.
MEN WITH MEN AND WOMEN WITH WOMEN
"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even  their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also  the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense [penalty] of their error which was meet [due]" (Rom. 1:26-27).
There is a lot more contained in this verse than perceived in the eye of English.
First of all, all that is to follow in this dissertation by Paul comes under the general category of "vile affections." The word vile in this verse is Strong's #819 atimia, which means, "infamy, indignity, disgrace, dishonor, reproach, shame, vile." And so the things of which Paul is going to speak, are things that are: infamous, indignant, disgraceful, dishonorable, reproachable, shameful, and vile. Not a pretty picture; not a dissertation on godly virtue and morality.
WHAT WAS "AGAINST NATURE?"
First Paul mentions:
"...their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature..."
Some foolishly bury their heads in the sand and suggest that nothing immoral is actually mentioned here. Does it sound to you that leaving the natural use of something and using it in a way that is against nature burning in their lust, is a good thing? No, I think not. Okay, but can we determine exactly what it is that was being misused and against nature? Yes, we certainly can.
We just saw that it has to do with affections that women have that are against nature. That is, against the nature of the proper use of something ('did change the natural USE'). But what? Just what is that certain something that women change from the natural use of into something that is vile, disgraceful, and shameful? What is it that they are using disgracefully because of unnatural vile affections? I'll now show you maybe more precisely than you really want to know, what it was that "...their women did change the natural use [of] into that which is against nature..."
Do we think Paul is referring to the improper use of their ears? Did they change the natural use of their eyes? Maybe it was their hands? Did these men and women in question here start using their feet in an unnatural way?
Whatever it was that the women were doing against nature, the men were likewise also doing the very same thing:
"And likewise also the men leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men..." (Verse 27).
What does Paul mean by "likewise also?" Simple, the Greek for "likewise" is homoios, and it means "similar," "likewise." The Greek for "also" is kai and it means "and, also, even, too, both indeed, likewise."
Interestingly, we have another verse of Scripture which also uses these same two Greek words and translates them the same:
"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also [Gk: kai] to them likewise [Gk: homoios]" (Luke 6:31).
We are to treat others in a similar way, as we would want others to treat us. That is how these two words are used in Luke 6:31, and that is how they are used in Rom. 1:27. What the women were doing against nature, the men "likewise also" were doing "against nature." Now then, what was it that they were doing?
The men who were doing likewise also as the women "burned in their lust one [man] toward another [man], MEN WITH MEN..." Okay, lest someone suggest that this is merely human companionship and doesn't involve SEX, let's continue and see just what parts of the human anatomy is being referenced here.
WHAT DID PAUL MEAN BY "UNSEEMLY?"
"...likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly..."
It is so easy when reading Scripture to not pay close attention to all the words. These five words "working that which is unseemly" are translated from only one Greek word, aschemosune, and this word is used only one other time in Scripture, which I will now show you so as to remove all doubt as to its meaning:
"Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked, and they SEE his shame [aschemosune]" (Rev. 16:15).
Here Jesus is using figurative language. In the same way someone is shamed by taking off all their clothing in public (so will those who do not spiritually watch for Jesus be spiritually shamed).
So what is it that people see when someone is naked? Why, for example, are there many topless beaches around the world where total nudity is not allowed? What shame [aschemosune] is made visible in Rev. 15:16 by walking naked? And what is it that is "working that which is unseemly [aschemosune]" in Rom. 1:27? Some of you are already way ahead of me.
The King James translators have often chosen words of modesty, so as to not offend the sensitive reader.
Strong's Greek Dictionary: "unseemly/shame" #808, aschemosune, "an indecency; by implication the pudenda: shame, which is unseemly."
And just what is the "pudenda?"
The American Heritage College Dictionary: pudendum/ pl. pudenda n. "The human external genital organs, especially of a woman" (p. 1127). There it is.
It was the genital organs of the female that:
"...women did change the natural use into that which is against nature [women with women]: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman [and her genital organs], burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working [with each other's genital organs] that which is unseemly" (Rom. 1:26-27).
I will not get anymore graphic than that.
Romans 1:26-27 is a very strong condemnation of the list of vile affections starting with sex between women with women, and men with men. And professing faith in the love and Sacrifice of Jesus Christ does not turn this perversion into a virtue.
When Isaiah tells us to:
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isa. 58:1).
Should I just keep my mouth shut on this subject?
Few Christians believe that those who practice adultery, stealing, and lying will enter God's Kingdom without repenting. But this is not the case with practicing homosexuals.
Speaking against homosexuality may soon become a hate crime law in which offenders will be prosecuted as criminals. Let's take a closer Scriptural look at this subject while the law still allows it.
The Righteous DO suffer
Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.
2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
3 His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
4 And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
5 And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.
Job was not your average believer; He had qualities we all should possess. The qualities Job possessed had a great deal to do with the things that transpired in his life. The word perfect in verse one doesn’t mean he was without sin (we aren’t either), it means he was spiritually mature. Upright speaks of his personal integrity and honor. It also said he hated evil. The fact that he was blessed had a great deal to do with his integrity. (Proverbs 12:27 and Psalm 1:3) Job was a blessed man. I read a famous faith preacher’s book some years ago, and he said Job suffered because of his fear for his son’s sins. This is not likely for a few reasons. First we should only be so blessed to have a father like Job. I don’t think people realize that Job was written before the law was written. Job was quite possibly the oldest book in the Bible. Job’s dedication to offer sacrifice came from the knowledge of God’s need for atoning blood to cover man’s sin. Job had no Law to guide him, yet he was in touch enough with his creator to know there was a need for a blood sacrifice. Job might have heard the story of Abel and Cain, but regardless he knew he needed atonement for himself and his family. I dare say the father is to be a spiritual covering for his home. Job was a classic example of this. Now if you keep reading you will find that Job had his faults, but you will also find that God did allow his calamity no matter how you slice it.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.
These are probably the most disturbing seven verses in the Bible. Why? Because the devil and The Lord are playing cosmic chess, with a piece called Job. The positive note is often overlooked. God is omniscient and the devil is not. God knew that the integrity of Job could withstand the enemy’s onslaught.
Now Job has no idea there is a devil trying to destroy him. And he assumes it is the Lord, Job is partially right. Why? Because the Lord allowed the devil to attack him! Look at verse eight: “Hast thou considered MY servant Job…” He called Job SERVANT! He said there was NONE like him in the entire earth! He was hand picked for Satan’s onslaught. Job was not out of fellowship with Yahweh! Many of today’s faith teachers tear into Job looking for a flaw in his character, THERE WAS NONE! He commends Job to the enemy by calling him a God fearing man that hates evil. Truthfully only a man like this could withstand the enemy’s attack. (Please read Isaiah 54: 16, 17) When people tell you bad happens to you because you sinned (in some cases it is sin) you are hurting them and insulting God.
In God’s wisdom he allowed Abel to die, Leah to be hurt, Joseph to be enslaved, Israel to suffer 400 years in Egypt, David to be pursued by Saul, Josiah to be killed in battle. (Josiah was Israel’s most sanctified king), and Jeremiah to be abused. All of these people had one thing in common, they all suffered and they were not evil people, in fact most were very righteous. The “Hall of Faith” in the Book of Hebrews list people that were believers that served God yet suffered greatly. Many say a good God won’t allow the righteous to suffer; they obviously never read Habakkuk. The prophet sought God’s face about this very subject. God’s reply was this: “The just shall live by their faith.”
20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,
21 and said, naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.
Many faith movement teachers say Job was in error when he said the Lord “hath taken away” because they teach God is not a taker but a giver. If this were true then Job DID charge God foolishly, and the Word clearly states that he did not. Job was right! Ultimately EVERYTHING is in God’s control. God did not directly cause Job’s suffering, but he allowed it. God is STILL a good God because in His infinite wisdom He knows the outcome of every event and what we ultimately need. Job needed something and we will later address what it was.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: (Isaiah 55:9,10)
Part of our problem is we think “goodness” means never losing anything at all. Think in terms of a natural parent. When I was a teen-ager my mother made me avoid certain friends. I thought she was cold and mean…until those friends ended up in jail or dead. My mother had insight and wisdom where I was lacking. Even though we are spirit-filled, Bible reading, and sometimes theologically trained saints, we STILL are not as smart as God almighty and we will never be. Sometimes we are like Job’s friends. We presume to know God better than anyone else. Theology isn’t an exact science (preachers!). We can study and meditate on the things of God 24/7 and still unless God chooses to enlighten us on a particular matter; we are in the dark. False prophecies are not helping this cause either. We are sometimes so starved for spiritual insight we will believe anything. You want a personal Word from the Lord? Then get personal with Him! Get to know Him in prayer, study, and meditation.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father, which is in heaven. (Matt. 16:17)
The spirit can only understand spiritual things. We must seek God’s direction in every area of our lives. (Proverbs 3: 1-6) We often assume God is saying something. I am always wary of people that say, “God told me something to tell you.” This same person often can’t remember the last time they were in prayer about their own lives. Now this may shock you, but God doesn’t tell us everything. Sometimes God withholds information for our good. Job and his “friends” didn’t know why God allowed Job to suffer. (They thought they did)
Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, M.Min
NJ Inststituet of Theological Studies
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Some Prosperity teachers equate wealth with godliness and faith. The Bible says otherwise.
"This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth." (Psalm 73:12)
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." (Matt. 6:24)
"He said to them, 'You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight." (Luke 16:15)
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matt.19:23-24) Note: It is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
"Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days." (James 5:1-3)
"But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape." (Mal. 3:15)
"They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be an unclean thing. Their silver and gold will not be able to save them in the day of the LORD's wrath. They will not satisfy their hunger or fill their stomachs with it, for it has made them stumble into sin." (Ezk. 7:19)
"But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business." (James 1:10-11)
"You say, `I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (Rev. 3:17)
Most Prosperity teachers boast about their wealth saying that God has blessed them. Their wealth usually comes from donations.
"For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2:16)
"As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (James 4:16-17)
Prosperity teachers will tell you that you can expect a BIG return on your "donation". They create greed and discontent by saying that God wants you to be wealthy and that you will become wealthy if you give to them and have faith. The Bible teaches the opposite.
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." (Col. 3:2)
"Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things." (Phil. 3:19)
"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs." (1 Tim. 6:6-10)
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)
"A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him." (Prov. 28:22)
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matt. 6:19-20)
"Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, 'Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay." (Luke 3:14)
"Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread." (Prov. 30:8)
Giving to Get is Unbiblical and can result in the opposite happening.
"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:3)
"So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be." (1 Kings 3:11-12)
The Prosperity doctrine teaches that God wants you to be wealthy and have big houses, cars, etc. They teach that if you lead a godly life, you will get these things. Again, the Bible teaches different.
"If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain." (1 Tim. 6:3-5)
Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money." 1 Tim. 3:2-3)
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers, not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve..." (1 Peter 5:2)
"You are always righteous, O LORD, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts." (Jer. 12:1-2)
"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful." (Mark 4:18-19)
NOTE: Read the parable of the Sower. (Mark 4:3-20)
Many Prosperity teachers will tell you that prosperity is a part of salvation.
Lazarus the beggar went to heaven. (Luke 16:22)
"Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" (James 2:5)
"Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)
"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers..." (1 Peter 1:18)
"Looking at his disciples, he said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." (Luke 6:20-21)
Prosperity teachers often wear expensive clothes, gold, and jewelry. Here's what the Bible says about this.
"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:3-4)
"I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God." (1 Tim. 2:9-10)
"Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long...Woe to you..." (Matt. 23:5, 13)
The Prosperity Doctrine teaches that you will be rewarded now while you are living for your giving. It teaches that you will get a "100 fold" return on your donations. The Bible differs.
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done." (Matt. 16:27)
But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:13-14)
"Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven..." (Luke 6:23) (See also: Luke 12:33 Matt. 5:12 Matt. 6:20 Matt. 19:21 )
"Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." (Matt. 6:1)
"Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." (Matt. 19:28-29)
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Rev. 22:12)
Here's some verses that Prosperity teachers use:
"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)
"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (2 Cor. 9:11)
This verse is self-explanatory. The key words are: "so that you can be generous on every occasion". God gives so we can give. If we give because we think our own pocketbook will grow, that’s being greedy. As we found out (James 4:3), selfish motives will get you nowhere. Also the use of the word "rich" is only referring to needs, not wants. (See verses 8 and 12)
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." (2 Cor. 8:9)
This verse is only referring to a spiritual or heavenly "rich" not an earthly rich. Jesus had a spiritual "rich" in heaven and became earthly poor so that we can become spiritually "rich" in heaven. You can find a good example of this spiritual "rich" in 2 Cor. 6:10. "...sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything." Notice also that the disciples didn't hoard, they gave everything away. (See 2 Cor. 8:3)
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matt. 6:33)
The key words here are "these things". Prosperity teachers never tell you what "these things" are. Basic needs only, food, drink, clothing. Not wealth and riches. (See verse 31)
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Laying Hands vs. Casting Out Devils
Have you ever been to a deliverance service and seen a preacher lay hands on someone to expel a demon? If you have then paper will more than likely interest you. This is by no means a deep study or a special revelation from the Lord... But it is the result of a little research done with my Bible and a concordance. I have come to a conclusion that I am comfortable with in my spirit concerning whether or not we should lay hands on someone during deliverance. I pray this can be used as a step in the direction of a detailed study done by someone concerning this matter, but for right now I am fully satisfied as to the results I've reached. Fell free to send any and all comments to me and believe it or not, I receive correction very well when it is given from the Word of God. If I'm wrong let the Bible say so! God bless and happy reading...
The Laying on of Hands is used for:
Healing the sick
Mark 5:23 - And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.
Mark 16:18 - They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Acts 28:8 - And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him.
Imparting the Holy Ghost
Acts 8:18 - And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
Acts 9:17 ? And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way that thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Imparting Spiritual Gifts
1 Timothy 4:14 - Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
2 Timothy 1:6 - Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the laying on of my hands.
Devils were cast out:
In Jesus’ Name
Matthew 7:22 - Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mark 9:38 - And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
Luke 9:49 - And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.
Luke 10:17 - And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
By Jesus’ Word or Command
Matthew 8:16 - When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick.
Matthew 8:31-32 - So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
Mark 5:13 - And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.
Mark 1:27 - And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
Luke 4:36 - And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.
By the Spirit or Finger (Authority) of God
Matthew 12:28 - But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
Luke 11:20 - But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.
We see a definite distinction between laying hands on the sick and casting out devils:
Mark 6:13 - And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
Matthew 10:1 - And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Nowhere have I found where we are instructed to lay hands when casting out devils. All the Scriptures listed refer to using Jesus name, his Word, or the power of the Spirit. Besides Jesus laying hands on the daughter of Abraham to cast out the spirit of infirmity in Luke 13:11-16 I have not seen an instance of laying hands for deliverance from evil spirits. Don't get me wrong, I understand having to restrain someone if the spirit is strong and is causing them to convulse or become violent; but if I can cast out devils by speaking the Word and using the Name above all names, then that’s what I’ll do. Better safe than sorry.
As far as anointing the sick with oil and laying hands on them, I have no problem with that because that is clearly stated as a practice for healing in scripture. I just want to be obedient to what the Word of God says. I’m not saying that laying hands when casting out demons is wrong I’m simply stating that the Word doesn’t command it, to my knowledge. I am convinced in my own spirit as to the truthfulness of this conclusion, but I would certainly never dogmatically teach it. If you lay hands to get the job done then by all means lay hands... If I’m wrong may the Lord use you to correct me and may God bless you richly!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Astrology and False Prophecy
I have a co-worker who keeps telling people that the three wise men were astrologers because "they read the signs in the heavens and followed the North Star." I cringe every time I hear her say that, and I have, on several occasions, corrected her. Why she insists on perpetuating this lie is anybody's guess, but apparently she heard it in some Bible study, and therefore it must be true. Unfortunately, she's not the only one who's doing it. There are many people are out there spreading misinterpreted gospel, and the bottom line is, it's dangerous. I believe one of the biggest problems with Bible interpretation attempts is that many people don't really know Jesus, and don't have the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide them - yet they're ready to either espouse their uninformed opinions whenever possible, or swallow whatever nonsense they hear from others who are equally ignorant about the Bible. They might know ABOUT Jesus, but they don't have a personal relationship with Him and are, consequently, still "walking in the way of the world," using their human mindsets to try to interpret God's word. They are what a pastor friend of mine calls "fence straddlers." With one leg in the spiritual realm and one leg in the "carnal" world, they refuse to budge from either one. Granted, they might run to church every Sunday, or be involved in all kinds of church activities, but they wouldn't know Jesus if they fell on Him because they never try to dig deeper. They're just a bunch of people sitting at the edge of God's swimming pool so to speak, getting their big toes wet, rather than just jumping in and immersing themselves with the whole Truth. The other problem in our modern day world is that there is a garden variety of kooks with their own websites clogging up the Information Superhighway, sharing whatever muck is in their twisted minds. To wit, one astrological website I recently accessed boldly proclaims that "When the Bible talks about 'the stars', it is talking about Astrology." Is that so? Let's examine what the Bible REALLY says. The following verse from Isaiah shows God addressing Babylon about the sins they are committing, including the seeking of guidance from astrologers.... Isaiah 47:13-14: All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you. Surely they are like stubble; the fire will burn them up. They cannot even save themselves from the power of the flame. Here are no coals to warm anyone; here is no fire to sit by. There are many other scriptures about astrology/witchcraft, and interpreters of omens. How anyone (even those who don't know the Bible very well) can misinterpret God's word on this issue is beyond me: Deuteronomy 4:19: "Be careful that you don't worship the sun, moon, and stars." Deuteronomy 17:2-5 in the Old Testament says that those who worshipped the sun, moon, or stars were to be stoned. Leviticus 20:6 says God will separate himself from those who go after mediums and familiar spirits. Deuteronomy 18:10-12 says that practicing witchcraft, sorcery, soothsaying, interpreting omens, making spells, and being a medium or spiritist, are all terrible sins to God. Daniel 2:27-28 talks of how God kept King Nebuchadnezzar's dream and its interpretation secret from the astrologers, magicians or dream interpreters, and soothsayers. However, he revealed it to his prophet Daniel. Acts 16:16-18: talks of a girl who was possessed by an evil spirit that enabled her to be a fortune teller. Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out of her in the name or authority of Jesus, and the spirit left her:Deuteronomy 18:9-11: "Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft..." 2 Chronicles 33:5-7: "He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger." Throughout the entire Bible God allows only His prophets to accurately interpret any kind of "signs". It is important to realize that, when the Bible talks about signs in the stars, heavens, or whatever, they're usually literal signs: Luke 21:24-26 says, "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Yes, there will be many "signs" in the heavens in the end-times: asteroids crashing to earth and causing certain upheaval, weird weather patterns, stars "blotted out" probably as a result of nuclear bombs, etc. But, make no mistake, these signs have nothing whatsoever to do with astrology. God does not mince His words as to how He feels when it comes to man-made hoodoo-voodoo and hocus pocus, so how can anyone possibly misinterpret what He said? With so many people insisting on using their human mindsets to interpret God's word, is it any wonder we have so many "religions" and weird beliefs and false prophets today? Someone once told me they don't like the fact that Jesus referred to people as "lambs" or "sheep" in need of a shepherd. Well, we ARE like sheep. We all follow something or somebody. Those who are desperate to know their future follow astrology or tarot card readers or whatever (never mind the fact that God is in charge, whether they realize it or not!); the Germans followed Hitler, even after they became aware that he was off his rocker; history repeated itself with Milosevic in Kosovo when his followers went along with his efforts at ethnic cleansing in that region; the Hollywood jet set are following the false teaching of Scientology because it caters to their need to deify themselves; many Americans of the Clinton era gladly followed their illustrious prez down a path of immorality, dissecting the meaning of the word "is" along the way; hundreds died for Jim Jones and David Koresh, and the leader of that weird asteroid cult who dressed in purple and laid down to die while waiting for the mother ship to beam them up; American school children copy and mimic the dress, hairstyles and actions of their favorite movie stars and rock bands; Shirley MacLaine follows her belief in being born again, and again, and again.... Instead of listening to God and what He wants, most people simply turn their backs and do their "own thing" because it's easier to be "in and of the world". Back in the Old Testament, when the Jews did their own thing, God simply killed them. Thanks to Jesus' sacrifice for us, today we don't get killed when we stray from God's Word. We can stray to our heart's content. We all have the choice to believe whatever we want and however we want - but we'd also better be prepared to explain "why" on Judgment Day, because God isn't going to let us off the hook:
WHAT SIN DOES TO A CHRISTIAN
When we were saved by trusting in Christ, we became a member of the Body of Christ, the Church. Before our salvation, we served our own desires and Satan's wishes. But now, as a child of God, we have a new relationship with God. We must not take this lightly, because God doesn't take it lightly. The Bible says in I Corinthians 6:19-20:
"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit 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."
Since we are no longer our own, we cannot do as we please. This sounds like we are losing something, doesn't it? It sounds like becoming a Christian means giving up pleasure and joy. Now we have to be as a slave, losing our freedom of choice and being under a bondage to satisfy another. The fact is this, apart from God, we will continue to sin. We will be in the bondage to sin and its destructive influence in our lives. Never forget that SIN is the greatest destructive force that will ever come into your life. Look at what sin will cost you:
Jesus said, ". . . Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (John 8:34)
The Bible explains that the believer has a new force directing him:
"Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." (Romans 6:18) In other words, the Lord sets the believer free from the destructive results of sin, and then guides the believer's life toward righteousness. Righteousness means simply doing that which is right and is the opposite of doing that which is wrong.
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF SIN IN A BELIEVERS LIFE?
l. SIN SEPARATES US FROM THE FELLOWSHIP OF GOD
Isaiah 59:2 "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."
The first thing sin does in a Christian's life is to separate us from the fellowship of God. God is holy and will not look upon sin. Our sin causes God to turn His face away. When fellowship is broken we can pray, BUT there is no answer. We can read the Bible, BUT it has no meaning and freshness. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me"
2.SIN WILL DESTROY THE JOY OF OUR SALVATION
David was a man after God's own heart; he enjoyed the presence of the Lord and God blessed him until sin destroyed that joy. David wept with grief, desiring that joy again. David wrote this in Psalm 51:12, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit."
The second phase of sin in a Christian's life is the lost of joy in their salvation. The joy of going to church, the lose of joy in testifying to others for God, the joy of seeing souls saved. When this happens, we normally start finding fault with everything and everyone.
3. SIN WILL BRING THE CHASTENING HAND OF GOD
Hebrews 12:6 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth."
Just as a good parent corrects and chastens his disobedient child, so is God forced to chasten us because of our disobedience and unwillingness to confess our sin. This chastening may come in different ways. It may be in sickness; disappointments; financial lose; it may be trouble upon trouble, but God our Father, must chasten us for sin. Don't ever forget that He does it because He loves us!!
4. SIN CAN BRING PREMATURE DEATH
The most serious state of sin is when God's patience is exhausted and He turns you over to the devil for the destruction of the flesh (not the soul). This can occur when a believer refuses to turn from his sin and God after much chastening and conviction takes their life to stop them from sinning.
1 Corinthians 5:5 "To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
1 John 5:16 "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."
5. SIN CAUSES GOD TO TAKE AWAY SOME PRECIOUS THINGS
Because of David's sin God took away the most precious thing he had, the child that was born.
2 Samuel 12:14 "Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die."
A saved person who turns away from the Lord into sin and refuses to confess and make things right is headed for great sorrow. If necessary, God will take that which is most precious from us in order to bring us back to Him.
6. SIN TAKES AWAY ONES TESTIMONY AND OPPORTUNITY TO GLORIFY THE LORD.
I can truthfully say, I have never seen a believer who was struggling with sin win another soul to the Lord. I have never seen a husband or wife who led their spouse toward receiving Christ who did not live a consistent Christian live themselves. I have never seen a neighbor, relative, friend come to Christ under the influence of a professing Christian who was not actively fighting sin in their own lives and living for the Lord.
Jesus said, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. . . .Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." (John 15:2,8)
The reason churches have such trouble in finding Sunday School and Bible Study teachers is because a believer would not live for the Lord. They remained in sin and the next effect of sin occurred the believer did not mature in Christ.
Read 1 Corinthians 3:1-9.
7. SIN STOPS A CHRISTIAN FROM MATURING
Over the my years as a pastor I have learned that it is the obedient believer who matures in the Lord. The believer who is obeying the Bible and trying to live by God's Word has trouble just like everyone else. However, the difference is that the maturing believer is able to go through difficult times and never lose their inter-ward joy and peace.
They believer who follows the Word of God is being prepared in advance for the trials that come our way.
The surest way I know to live a miserable life full of doubts and confusion is to live your live doing everything wrong. If a believer is not doing what God instructs in the Bible....he is doing everything wrong!!
For example: Ones personal self esteem will be devastated by not following the Lord. Why? Because no matter what we do it will not be rewarding or satisfying and we will have little confidence in our own abilities. If there is something you know is wrong in your life and you know you should overcome it and yet you do not, you have a low opinion of yourself! The best thing to do would be to pray, ask God to give the strength to overcome the problem....and then stop doing it! After you conquer the difficulty you are free of the thing and you will feel better about yourself. Further, you will be made stronger and will be better able to cope with more difficult problems.
One real hindrance to our overcoming difficulty is to ignore the problem. Many times we know it is destructive, yet we try to justify it in any number of ways. The most common excuse we use is to plead, "I'm too weak." The fact is you really are, however that excuse doesn't hold water when we read, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13) Our pretext to make us feel better is dissolved in the face of Paul's exclamation, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:10) A believer has the God's power and in Christ we can overcome ANYTHING!
Another pretext we use is to say, "I am not really so bad, I don't do really terrible things", or as one person told me some years ago, " I have other things to deal with now and can't be bothered with this problem". Another time I was told, "I have come a long way from what I was, in time maybe I will overcome this thing also". The real problem these folks had was that they do not except that - ALL- sin, (in our eyes -little or big) is sin and is destructive. God does not give us the latitude to commit any sin. Why? All sin is destructive. In failing to deal with one sin your in fact are destined to fail at many others. The effects of sin is accumulative. A sin that is allowed to remain effect our conscience. The longer it is allowed to remain the more deaden is our conscience and will to resist.
Think for a moment about why God commands us to turn immediately from all sin. What would you think of a parent who let their child drink alcohol, but would not let them have hard drug? A foolish parent indeed is one whose thinking is so warped. God wants NO sin in our lives! His standard is perfect. He wants us never to have to experience the harmful effects of any sin. What kind of God would he be if he overlooked our pet sins?
Two verses of Scripture puts everything into proper perspective. Carefully read the following verses.
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29)
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)