Daily Archives: October 11, 2013

October 11: Radical Islam and Christian Persecution Update

Operation Nehemiah: News Update #114

http://www.barnabasfund.org/US/Act/Campaign/Operation-Nehemiah/Campaign-updates/Operation-Nehemiah-News-Update-114.html

Country/Region: Europe, North America, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Canada, United States

UK: Imams  agree to perform underage marriages

An ITV undercover investigation has revealed 18 mosques that agreed to  perform marriages of girls as young as 14.

Read ITV News article

US: Young men still leaving Minneapolis to join  al-Shabaab

Leaders of the nation’s largest  Somali community in Minneapolis say some of their young men are still being  enticed to join the terror group that has claimed responsibility for the deadly  mall attack in Kenya, despite a concentrated effort to shut off what  authorities call a “deadly pipeline” of men and money.

Read USA Today article

Russia: Muslims in Moscow warned not to sacrifice  animals in the street

The Moscow Department for National and Religious Policy has issued a reminder to Muslims that the sacrifice of animals  on the forthcoming Muslim holiday should be done only at  dedicated sites outside the city limits, after previous reports of sacrifices on some Moscow streets  ignited complaints from the public.

[Warning: Contains graphic image  of animal carcass]

Read Russia Today article

UK: University bans two speakers with radical views

Two prominent speakers reported  to hold extremist views have been banned from speaking at an Islamic conference  at the University of London following warnings from the Metropolitan Police.

Read Trending Central article

Canada: Saskatoon atheist pushes to ban prayer  from public events despite City’s compromise

The City of Saskatoon is fighting calls to ban religious prayer from city  events, asking its solicitor to find a way to maintain the tradition in the  130-year-old city founded by temperance Christians while being as inclusive as  possible of residents in the rapidly growing city.

Read National Post article

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10-year-old ‘bride’ argues marriage not for children

A stunning debate on television in the Middle East featured a 10-year-old Yemeni “bride” who was ordered by her parents into a contract marriage and an Islamic cleric who argued that such arrangements are ordinary.

http://www.wnd.com/2013/10/10-year-old-bride-argues-marriage-not-for-children/

Kuwaiti Islamic scholar: “First of all, as a Muslim, I believe that the Jews are evil”

Conspiracy paranoia regarding those whom the Qur’an designates as the worst enemies of the Muslims (5:82). “Kuwaiti Scholar and TV Host Rely on ‘Mein Kempf ‘ and ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ in Antisemitic Diatribe,” from…

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/10/kuwaiti-islamic-scholar-first-of-all-as-a-muslim-i-believe-that-the-jews-are-evil.html

Syria: Islamic jihadists murder 67 Alawite villagers

Did they use American weapons?

They don’t have to worry about anything. No matter what they do, Barack Obama and the international media will accord them the moral high ground.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/10/syria-islamic-jihadists-murder-67-alawite-villagers.html

Boko Haram Terrorizes Nigeria

ICC Note: This opinion piece from the San Diego U-T is written by a Nigerian living in Southern California. It efficiently relates the history of Boko Haram, and also provides a chilling account of one man’s miraculous deliverance from their savage grip.

http://www.persecution.org/2013/10/11/boko-haram-terrorizes-nigeria/

European Parliament Condemns Christian Persecution in Syria, Pakistan and Iran

ICC Note: The European Parliament passed a resolution on Thursday, October 10th, condemning the violence and persecution against Christians in Syria, Pakistan, and Iran. The past few months have seen a dramatic increase in hostilities against the minority Christian community in these countries as extremist interpretations of Islam that promote violence to create an Islamic state have gained greater influence.

http://www.persecution.org/2013/10/11/european-parliament-condemns-persecution-of-christians-in-syria-pakistan-and-iran/

Iraqi Prime Minister Promises Protection and Justice for Christians

ICC Note: Iraqi church leaders addressed the conditions that led to a mass exodus of Christians out of the country in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

http://www.persecution.org/2013/10/11/iraqi-prime-minister-promised-protection-and-justice-for-christians-chaldean-patriarchate/

Missionary Dead After Machete Attack by Islamist Thugs

ICC Note: Boko Haram is suspected in the machete attack last month that left a 78 year old Italian missionary in a coma. Sadly, Afra Martinelli has succumbed to her wounds, adding yet another tragic death to the mounting toll attributed to religious cleansing in Nigeria.

http://www.persecution.org/2013/10/11/missionary-dead-after-machete-attack-by-islamist-thugs/

Seven Christians Life Sentence Evidence of India’s “Useless” Justice System

Orissa pogroms: India’s justice system is “criminal”, Christian leader says

ICC Note:

The seven Christians who are accused of the murder of Hindu leader Laxamananada were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

http://www.persecution.org/2013/10/11/seven-christians-life-sentence-evidence-of-indias-useless-justice-system/

Judea and Samaria: “Palestinian” Muslims wielding guns, iron bars and axes murder retired Israeli army colonel, injure his wife

Murdering a retired couple running a holiday home won’t lose you the moral high ground in today’s twisted public square. Defending yourself against savages who would murder a retired couple running a holiday home —

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/10/judea-and-samaria-palestinian-muslims-wielding-guns-iron-bars-and-axes-murder-retired-israeli-army-c.html

Seems to be no End to Violence Against Christians in India

Karnataka: no end to violence against Christians

ICC Note:

Karnataka suffers a higher rate of violence against Christians in India than almost any other state. There Hindu radicals continue “brutal and relentless” violence against believers, and there seems to be no end in sight.

http://www.persecution.org/2013/10/11/seems-to-be-no-end-to-violence-against-christians-in-india/

 

Do Not Be Surprised…This ‘n’ That (11 October 2013)

 

  • Tony Miano examines the hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” Make sure you read Part 1 and Part 2.
  • By sharing some beautiful photos, Elizabeth Prata reminds us of the amazing creativity of our God.
  • “Indeed, we have not truly repented until we have recognized ‘and felt the filthiness and odiousness’ of our depraved nature and turned away from it ‘to God with a full purpose of being hereafter more conformed to his image as revealed in the face of Jesus Christ,’ who alone never needed repentance.”
  • I can’t really blame this mother for her crippling fear of Muppets. They are kind of creepy. Don’t tell anybody, but I have a small fear of certain cartoon characters. In some older cartoons, there is a disturbing mad scientist-type character with large eyes and lips that can pretty much send me whimpering into the corner.
  • Tom Chantry with a post on church polity that the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel may want to read.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Al Mohler comments on former president George H.W. Bush and his attendance at a same-sex ‘wedding’.
  • Does Bill Johnson teach that ‘the anointing‘ is a person? If so, it sounds like the Trinity could be getting a little crowded over there at Bethel.
  • Steven Furtick is “suffering” for Jesus.
  • The ‘Worthy Is the Lamb’ conference was held this past weekend at Bethlehem Bible Church. Listen to Pastor Pat Abendroth’s message on the irrationality of unbelief.
  • Looks like there may be some interesting audio here.
  • Jesus is the divine Word:

Source: http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/10/this-n-that_11.html

Two-thirds of Israeli Jews believe President Obama will fail to prevent Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

jerusalempost-logo(Washington, D.C.) — “Two-thirds of Jewish Israelis believe U.S. president Barack Obama will fail to  keep his promise to prevent Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, while only 27 percent believe he will succeed,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “This according to the monthly Peace Index poll taken by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, which was released on Thursday.”

“The survey of 601 respondents  constituting a representative sample of the adult population of Israel was conducted last Monday and Tuesday, the days that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Obama in Washington and delivered his address to the United Nations General Assembly,” noted the Post. “The headlines in the days ahead of the poll were about  the Iranian charm offensive at the UN and the phone conversation between Obama  and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.”

Excerpts:

  • Asked whether the US was projecting  weakness on Iran, affirmative answers were given by 60% of Israelis…

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Landmark survey finds only 40% of American Jews believe Israel was “given to the Jewish people by God.”

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

(New York, New York) — “The first major survey of American Jews in more than 10 years finds a significant rise in those who are not religious, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish — resulting in rapid assimilation that is sweeping through every branch of Judaism except the Orthodox,” reports the New York Times.  

“The intermarriage rate, a bellwether statistic, has reached a high of 58 percent for all Jews, and 71 percent for non-Orthodox Jews — a huge change from before 1970 when only 17 percent of Jews married outside the faith. Two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue, one-fourth do not believe in God and one-third had a Christmas tree in their home last year.”  

“It’s a very grim portrait of the health of the American Jewish population in terms of their Jewish identification,” said Jack Wertheimer, a professor of…

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New Post: Why Doesn’t God Answer All My Prayers?

You don’t have to be a Christian long to recognize you don’t always get what you pray for. Why doesn’t God seem to answer all our prayers? Is it because we aren’t praying properly, or have we simply failed to recognize God’s answer?  – See more at: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2013/why-doesnt-god-answer-all-my-prayers/

New Post: Allah is not Jehovah

There are some who have been trying to synthesize Christianity and Islam. The fact is that these two faiths are mutually contradictory on a number of points. This post by the “Valley Girl Apologist” outlines 21 major differences between Islam and Christianity.

Read More Here: http://valleygirlapologist.blogspot.com/2011/06/allah-is-not-jehovah.html

New Post: Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity

What are young atheists saying? Whatever it is they are telling us about religion is quite instructive, because it allows Christians to shore up their defenses and counter the distortions atheists have about Christianity. Most importantly, it seems that Christians are viewed as insincere and unconcerned with the way their beliefs should inform their lives. Read this post and get some valuable takeaways.

Read More Here: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/listening-to-young-atheists-lessons-for-a-stronger-christianity/276584/

The Historical Argument

hipandthigh

King James Only advocates claim that if a person were to study the history of how the KJV was carried throughout the world after its publication, he will clearly see God’s hand of blessing upon those people and nations who honor the KJV as God’s final authority.

For example, the exclusive use of the King James Bible was instrumental in the Puritan revival, the founding of America, the two Great Awakenings, and the great missionary endeavors during the 17 and 1800s.

King James advocate, William P. Grady, sums of the evidence this way:

Although this may appear as unfounded speculation to some, the undeniable blessings of God which accompanied the preaching of the A.D. 1611 Authorized Version constitute the central, irrefutable argument for the superiority of our King James Bible. Church history confirms that the greatst [sic] period of revivalism and missionary activity prevailed when the Authorized Version reigned supreme…

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New Post: Christians in China

A church worker in Beijing repeated to me the tale of a church that had
worshipped in a cave during the Cultural Revolution. These Christians had
somehow saved a single Bible from destruction, but they lived in terror that it,
too, would be lost. So the believers each memorized a book—as long as they
lived, so did the Word.

Ironically, persecution strengthened Chinese
believers’ faith and determination, and religion eventually proved stronger than
its opposition. Document 19—one of the primary policy statements on religion in
China, derived from the same party gathering that established Deng Xiaoping’s
rule—states that “those who expect to rely on administrative decrees or other
coercive measures to wipe out religious thinking and practices with one blow are
even further from the basic viewpoint Marxism takes toward the religious
question. They are entirely wrong and will do no small harm.”

That’s an
incredible acknowledgement of failure from the government. Since Deng Xiaoping,
Beijing has attempted to manage and control religion through an elaborate
religious bureaucracy, all the while predicting religion will die out
naturally.

But statistics, however fuzzy, suggest precisely the opposite
has happened:
Christianity’s growth in China has been
dramatic. Some believers worship in the state-sanctioned churches, but most
still worship in so-called house or underground churches, which operate outside
the sanctioned system—making them tough to number. But there are rough
estimates. The Chinese government’s lowballed statistics numbered twenty-three
million Protestants and 5.7 million Catholics. The Pew Forum on Religion and
Public Life reported fifty-eight million Protestants and nine million Catholics;
other plausible studies suggest the total number of Christians has surpassed one
hundred million.

Read More Here: http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2013/10/christians-in-china.html

New Post: John Calvin on the Holiness of Life – Jerry Bridges

Holiness consists in conformity to Christ. Calvin writes, “Because the Father has reconciled us to Himself in Christ, therefore He commands us to be conformed to Christ as to our pattern.” Indeed, he continues, “Unless we ardently and prayerfully devote ourselves to Christ’s righteousness we do not only faithlessly revolt from our Creator, but we also abjure Him as our Savior.”

This is strong language. The word ardently conveys the idea of eager zealousness, or as we might say today, “going all out” or “giving 100 percent.” The word abjure means “to renounce strongly,” as in Peter’s third denial of the Lord when “he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, ‘I do not know the man’” (Matt. 26:74).

Calvin leaves no room for a middle ground. Either we ardently pursue the example of Christ or else we strongly renounce Him by our conduct and lifestyle. How different this standard is from the attitude of so many of today’s Christians, who are quite casual or halfhearted in their pursuit of Christlikeness. But from Calvin’s matter-of-fact writing style, it is clear that he regards a zealous pursuit of holiness as the normal Christian life.

Such an ardent pursuit of Christlikeness requires a strong motivation. To find it, Calvin appeals to the blessings of God:

Read More Here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/john-calvin-holiness-life/

The love of God defined

Reformedontheweb's Blog

Chapter I

WHEREIN THE TERMS COMMONLY MADE USE OF IN TREATING OF THIS SUBJECT ARE DEFINED AND EXPLAINED.

HAVING considered the attributes of God as laid down in Scripture, and so far cleared our way to the doctrine of predestination, I shall, before I enter further on the subject, explain the principal terms generally made use of when treating of it, and settle their true meaning. In discoursing on the Divine decrees, mention is frequently made of God’s love and hatred, of election and reprobation, and of the Divine purpose, foreknowledge and predestination, each of which we shall distinctly and briefly consider.

I.-When love is predicated of God, we do not mean that He is possessed of it as a passion or affection. In us it is such, but if, considered in that sense, it should be ascribed to the Deity, it would be utterly subversive of the simplicity, perfection…

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New Post: Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto… Thyself

Now, there can be no mistake that Israel’s demand for a king was a wicked breach of covenant loyalty to Yahweh. And the apprehension of that wickedness should lead to fearful repentance. But once it had—once Israel acknowledged her sin and called out for intercession—Yahweh’s immediate response is: “Do not fear.”

Let that land on you! He doesn’t dismiss an ounce of what they’ve done. He doesn’t sweep any of their faithlessness under the rug. In fact, He reaffirms it. The Hebrew is emphatic there: “You indeed have committed all this evil. Yes. You’re guilty. But: do not fear.” This is astounding! A king just doesn’t treat treasonous subjects this way. Traitors who have been disloyal to the throne don’t hear, “Do not fear.” They get their heads chopped off! How can God be so gripped with righteous anger one minute, and then abound with merciful forbearance the next?  What is the basis of this gracious forgiveness?

Read More Here: http://thecripplegate.com/great-is-thy-faithfulness-lord-unto-thyself-2/

Be a Diligent Student of the Word

Truth in Grace

BibleApproximately two months ago, I took a leave of absence from the internet. I took the month of August and devoted my time to anything BUT the internet. That was a new experience for me. I spend quite a bit of time on social media, especially since I blog and co-host a radio program. So the idea of separating myself from the world wide web was surprising. In fact, several of my friends were quick to assert I wouldn’t last a week. They have no idea how close that came to being true. There were quite a few times I grabbed my smartphone out of sheer habit to see if I had messages or comments, only to realize that I had logged myself out of all my apps. However, the alternate effect was that, for the first time in quite a while, I had a lot more time to do…

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New Post: Obamacare, Freedom of Religion, and the Gospel

OK, this may seem like an odd combination of topics for one article. But there is a reason for it. As you may know, on October 1 aspects of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) went into effect. Although the system has been around for a while, its role in the US debt ceiling crisis has meant it is again being ferociously debated.

When it was first being debated I wrote a few articles warning about what a really bad bit of legislation this in fact was: www.billmuehlenberg.com/2010/03/24/obamacare-and-the-decline-of-a-nation/ www.billmuehlenberg.com/2009/11/30/health-care-myths/

I won’t go into all these issues here, but some very recent articles on Obamacare highlight just how bad it is – even worse than we first thought. Here are six very worthwhile and incisive pieces to begin with:

www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2013/09/05/how-thomas-sowell-long-ago-predicted-obamacares-looming-failure/

www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-08/six-inconvenient-truths-about-obamacare.html

amkon.net/showthread.php?54884-52-REASONS-OBAMACARE-CAN-T-WORK

caffeinatedthoughts.com/2012/06/15-reasons-why-the-obamacare-decision-is-a-mind-blowing-disaster-for-america/

blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2013/10/09/obamacares-biggest-problem-emerges/

www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2013/09/26/on-october-1-obamacares-price-tag-will-surprise-americans/

And an excellent 5-minute video on this is well worth watching. In it Dinesh D’Sousa takes on atheist Michael Shermer and a rather naive Christian who thinks Obamacare somehow equals WWJD: www.ijreview.com/2013/02/35177-dsouza-why-obamacare-wont-work/

As Chuck Baldwin wrote just today: “The decision by Congress to pass Obamacare into law back in 2010 ranks among the most draconian, most egregious, most horrific actions ever taken by the central government in Washington, D.C. This bill rocks the principles of liberty and constitutional government to the core. It changes fundamental foundations; it repudiates historic values. The same flag may fly on our flagpoles, the same monuments may grace our landscape, and the same National Anthem may be sung during our public ceremonies, but it is not the same America. For all intents and purposes, our nation now more resembles the socialist countries of the old communist East Bloc than it does the constitutional republic of the old land of the free.”

And the assault on freedom is what really concerns me here. Religious freedom and freedom of conscience are especially under attack with Obamacare. The threats are well known, but let me offer a nice summary by Rick Phillips:

Read More Here: http://www.billmuehlenberg.com/2013/10/11/obamacare-freedom-of-religion-and-the-gospel/

New Post: The Loving Intolerance of God

Tolerance. The modern, cultural elite praise this virtue in every school setting, media outlet, and job training workshop. There seems to be no truer way to love another person than to fully accept everything about them. Christians have often joined the tidal wave of this mainstream value and often long to be known for their acceptance of others’ opinions and lifestyles. On the surface it seems to be a positive virtue, one that exemplifies the life of the Christian.

tolerance3

But have you ever considered that tolerance is never encouraged in the Bible? The fruit of the Spirit includes love and kindness, but missing from the list is tolerance. In fact, Christians aren’t called to tolerance, because we serve an intolerant God.

Just consider a few stories from the Old Testament:

Read More Here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/10/11/the-loving-intolerance-of-god/

Characters in the Bible: What Should We Learn from the Tribe of Gad?

Israel’s 12 tribes, of which Gad was one, were named for Jacob’s children (or grandchildren, in the cases of Ephraim and Manasseh). “Israel” was God’s name for Jacob (Genesis 32:22–30); therefore, the phrase “children of Israel” is a way of referring to Jacob’s descendants. Jacob’s son Gad was one of three children born in Paddan Aram to Jacob’s first wife’s maidservant, Zilpah (Genesis 35:26). When Jacob blessed his 12 sons, he said, “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels” (Genesis 49:19). Later, Moses blessed the tribe of Gad, saying, “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad’s domain! Gad lives there like a lion, tearing at arm or head. He chose the best land for himself; the leader’s portion was kept for him. When the heads of the people assembled, he carried out the LORD’s righteous will, and his judgments concerning Israel” (Deuteronomy 33:20–21).

Mostly, what we learn from this tribe is that we are rewarded when we obey and honor God (Numbers 32:16–19). During the conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua gave Gad the best of the new land because they obeyed God and punished Israel’s wicked enemies (Deuteronomy 32:20–21). Gad was one of the tribes especially dedicated in the fight to conquer the land as God commanded.

The tribe of Gad was one of three (Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh were the others) to fight for and be awarded lands east of the Jordan River, the gateway to the Promised Land. (Joshua 12:6; 13:8–13). The Gadites fought valiantly for this land but did not stop there. They crossed the Jordan with the other tribes and assisted them in following God’s order to take the inheritance He provided. Gad could have stopped fighting once they had received their own dwelling place, but they did not: “We will not return to our homes until every Israelite has received his inheritance” (Numbers 32:18). The tribe demonstrated how we should not focus simply on our own needs and desires, but commit to the larger picture and promise that is God’s plan for us. Gad was obedient to God: “We your servants will do as our Lord commands” (Numbers 32:25b).

Another lesson for us is that honoring God can present difficulties. After the tribes had settled into their lands, they were shocked to hear that Gad had built an altar in its territory across the Jordan. The other tribes took the altar to be a sign that the Gadites were breaking from the worship of God in Shiloh, and plans were made to attack Gad for its transgression. Prior to battle, however, a delegation went to Gad to learn more about its action and rebuke the tribe for its sin. The emissaries discovered that Gad had constructed the altar to honor God and to prevent the Jordan River, a significant geographical divide between Gad and the majority of the other tribes, from spiritually dividing God’s people (Joshua 22:10–34). “And the Reubenites and Gadites gave the altar this name: A Witness Between Us that the LORD is God” (Joshua 22:34). War was averted, but we are reminded that differences in how we choose to honor God may result in misunderstanding, discord and strife, even among believers.

Gad, along with all the other northern tribes of Israel, was sent into exile in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 15:29–17:41). Gad’s specific circumstances, triggered by the half-tribe of Manasseh’s unfaithfulness to God, are described in 1 Chronicles 5:11–26.

Perhaps the most important lesson we learn from Gad (and all the other tribes) is to recognize the need for complete faith and trust in God. God commanded Moses to remind the Israelites to “carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do” (Deuteronomy 29:9). “Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison” (Deuteronomy 29:18).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Christian Life: How Should a Christian Respond to Persecution?

There’s no doubt that persecution is a stark reality of living the Christian life. The apostle Paul warned us that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Jesus told us to expect persecution from the world because if they persecuted Him, they will persecute His followers also. Jesus has made it very clear to us that those of the world will hate us because they hate Him. If Christians were like the world—vain, earthly, sensual, and given to pleasure, wealth, and ambition—the world would not oppose us. But Christians do not belong to the world which is why they hate and persecute us (John 15:18–19). Christians are, or should be, influenced by different principles from those of the world. We are motivated by the love of God and holiness, while the world is driven by the love of sin. It is our very separation from the world that arouses the world’s animosity toward us. The world would prefer that we were like them; since we are not, they hate us (1 Peter 4:3–4).

As faithful Christians, we must learn to recognize the value of persecution and even to rejoice in it, not in an ostentatious way, but quietly and humbly because persecution has great spiritual value. First, persecution allows us to share in a unique fellowship with our Lord. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul outlined a number of things he surrendered for the cause of Christ. Such losses, however, he viewed as “rubbish” (Philippians 3:8), or “dung” (KJV), that he might share in the “fellowship of [Christ’s] sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). The noble apostle even counted his chains as a grace (favor) which God had bestowed upon him (Philippians 1:7).

Second, in all truth, persecution is good for us. James argues that trials test our faith, work or develop (endurance) in our lives, and help develop maturity (James 1:2–4). For as steel is tempered in the flames of the forge, trials and persecution serve to hone down those rough edges that tarnish our character. Yielding graciously to persecution allows one to demonstrate that he is of a superior quality than his adversaries. It’s easy to be hateful, but an ugly disposition throws a light upon our human weakness. It is much more Christ-like to remain calm and to respond in kindness in the face of evil opposition. Without question this is a tremendous challenge, but we have the power of the Holy Spirit within us and the wonderful example of the Lord to encourage us. Peter says of Jesus, “When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).

Third, persecution enables us to value the support of true friends. Conflict sometimes brings faithful children of God together in an encouraging and supportive way they might not have known otherwise. Hardship can stimulate the Lord’s people toward a greater resolve to love and comfort one another and lift one another to the throne of grace in prayer. There’s nothing like an unpleasant incident to help the more mature rise toward a greater level of brotherly love.

So, when we think about it seriously, we can move ourselves forward, even in the face of antagonism, whether from the world or within the church, and press on. We can thank God for His grace and for His patience with us. We can express gratitude for those whom we love in the Lord and who stand with us in times of distress. And we can pray for those who would accuse, misuse, or abuse us (2 Corinthians 11:24; Romans 10:1).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Sin: What Does It Mean to Be a Slave to Sin?

Everyone is a slave in the spiritual sense. We are either slaves to sin, which is our natural state, or we are slaves to Christ. The writers of the New Testament willingly declared their status as slaves of Christ. Paul opens his letter to the Romans by referring to himself as a “slave of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1) and his letter to Titus by calling himself a “slave of God” (Titus 1:1). James opens his epistle the same way, “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). Most translations say “servant” or “bond-servant” in these passages, but the Greek word doulas means literally, a slave.

In John 8:34 Jesus tells the unbelieving Pharisees, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” He uses the analogy of a slave and his master to make the point that a slave obeys his master because he belongs to him. Slaves have no will of their own. They are literally in bondage to their masters. When sin is our master, we are unable to resist it. But by the power of Christ to overcome the power of sin, “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” Romans 6:18). Once we come to Christ in repentance and receive forgiveness for sin, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit who comes to live within us. It is by His power that we are able to resist sinning and become slaves of righteousness.

Jesus’ disciples belong to Him and want to do the things that please Him. This means that the children of God obey Him and live in freedom from habitual sin. We can do this because Jesus has set us free from the slavery of sin (John 8:36), and thus we are no longer under its penalty of death and separation from God.

Romans 6:1–23 goes even further in this idea of a slave and his master. As Christians we aren’t to continue in habitual sin because we died to sin. Romans 6:4 says that since we have been buried and resurrected with Christ we are now able to walk in that newness of life, unlike the unbeliever who is still a slave to sin. Romans 6:6 goes on to say that since we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that our body of sin might be done away with, we should no longer be slaves to sin. And Romans 6:11 says that we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

We are commanded by God to not let sin reign in our bodies, obeying its lusts, but instead we are to present ourselves to Him as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:12–14). In verses 16–18 we’re told that we are slaves to the one we obey, either of obedience to sin or of obedience to righteousness. We are to be enslaved to God from whom we receive our gifts of sanctification and eternal life. We do this because the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

The apostle Paul, the author of Romans, goes on to say that he knows how difficult it can be to not live in sin because he struggled with that even after he became a follower of Christ. This is important for all Christians to know. While we’re now set free from the penalty of sin, we still live in the presence of sin while we’re alive on this earth. And the only way we can be free from the power of sin is by the power of the Holy Spirit who is given to believers at the moment we come in faith to Christ (Ephesians 1:13–14), and this seals us in Christ as a pledge of our inheritance as God’s child.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in our life means that as we grow in our faith and come to love God ever more each day, we’ll have the strength to resist sin more and more. Through the working of the Holy Spirit we are empowered to resist sin, not give in to its temptation, and live according to God’s Word. Habitual sins will become more abhorrent to us and we’ll find ourselves not wanting to do anything that might hinder our fellowship with God.

Romans 7:17–8:2 is a wonderful encouragement to believers because we’re told that even when we do sin, there is no longer any condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus. And 1 John 1:9 reassures us that when we do sin as Christians, if we confess our daily sins to the Lord, He is faithful and righteous and will cleanse us from it in order that we might continue to live in a right relationship with Him. Throughout the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul encourages and exhorts us to walk as children of light (Ephesians 2:1–10, 3:16–19, 4:1–6, 5:1–10), loving one another as Christ loved us, and to learn what is pleasing to the Lord and to practice it. In Ephesians 6:10–17 Paul shows us how to be strong in the Lord by putting on the full armor of God each day in order to be able to stand up against the schemes of the devil.

When we commit ourselves as followers of Christ to grow and mature in our faith by reading and studying God’s Word each day and spending time in prayer with Him, we will find ourselves more and more able to stand in the power of the Holy Spirit and resist sin. The daily victories over sin that we have in Christ will encourage and strengthen us and demonstrate in a powerful way that we are no longer slaves to sin, but are instead slaves to God.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.