Daily Archives: August 13, 2014

Questions about Sin: What Is Wrong with Viewing Pornography, If I Don’t Lust after the Person?

 

First, it is good to recognize that lust is sin (Matthew 5:28; 1 John 2:16). However, is it also important to be honest with ourselves. Porn and erotica are meant to incite lust in the heart. The only reason pornography exists is that so many people give in to lustful thoughts. It is impossible to view pornography and not struggle with lust—the desire to have something or do something that conflicts with the will of God. Even if one is not lusting after the particular person in the picture or movie, he or she is harboring desires that conflict with God’s holiness. Viewing porn is always sin.

We are responsible to guard our hearts against lust (Proverbs 4:23). This is important because the result of letting down our guard can be fatal: “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14–15).

Trying to narrow the definition oflustor splitting hairs concerning the object of lust is a way to make sin seem more acceptable. We must remember the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13). The flesh says, “I want this,” and God says, “No, it’s not good for you.” That’s when Satan steps in and says, “Maybe we can work out a compromise.”

If we desire something God has forbidden, we are lusting. Jesus said that lust in the heart is just as sinful in God’s eyes as the actual act of adultery (Matthew 5:27–28). God has blessed the sexual union of a husband and wife (Song of Solomon 5:1), and He has issued severe warnings against sex outside of marriage (e.g., Hebrews 13:4). No one has the right to look at the nakedness of another person—or to look lasciviously at a clothed person—unless he or she is married to that person.

It’s difficult to live purely in an impure world, and all of us struggle with this issue. We need the armor of God as we fight this battle (Ephesians 6:10–18). We should follow the example of Joseph, who, when confronted with temptation, ran away (Genesis 39:12; cf. 2 Timothy 2:22). We should commit to purity as Job did: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman” (Job 31:1). “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14).[1]

 

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

Catholic Questions: Did Jesus Mean that We Should Never Refer to Our Earthly Father as ‘Father’ (Matthew 23:9)? Is It Wrong for Catholics to Refer to Their Priests as ‘Father’?

 

It would be confusing for God to give the fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” and then later in the Bible to restrict us from calling our earthly father “father.” Matthew 23:9 states, “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven.” The context of Matthew 23:9 tells us that referring to your biological father as “father” is not what Jesus is speaking about.

In Matthew 23:1–12, Jesus is denouncing the Jewish scribes and Pharisees for rejecting Him as their Messiah, in particular for their hypocrisy in elevating themselves above others with titles such as “teacher” and “master.” The Jewish teachers affected that title because they supposed that a teacher formed the man, or gave him real life, and they sought, therefore, to be called “father,” as if they were the source of truth rather than God. Christ taught them that the source of all life and truth is God, and they ought not to seek or receive a title which properly belongs to Him.

This denunciation is equally relevant for today. In no way should any person look up to, follow, or elevate a human leader in any religious or church organization above Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Head of the Church, His body, and our one and only Master and Teacher. He alone is the author of our salvation, source of comfort in difficulties and strength to live the Christian life, and the only One to whom our prayers should be directed.

Roman Catholics call their priests “father” and the pope is called “the holy father.” This is clearly unbiblical. The priest as “father” is problematic. Catholic priests are doing precisely what Matthew 23:9 condemns by allowing the term “father” in a spiritual sense be applied to them. In no sense is a priest or pastor a “spiritual father” to a Christian. Only God can cause a person to receive “spiritual birth”; therefore, only God is worthy of the title of “Father” in a spiritual sense.

In the case of the “holy father,” there is no doubt this is unbiblical. No man can take on the title of “holy” anything, because only God is holy. This title gives the pope a status that is never intended for any man on earth. Even the apostle Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and cried out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:14). Clearly, Paul made no claim to holiness. Although as Christians we have exchanged our sin for the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), holiness will not be attained until we are in heaven and have left the last vestiges of our sin natures behind. Until then, the pope has no more holiness than the average Christian and is not entitled to be called “holy father.”

But there is no reason not to call our earthly parents “father” and “mother” because in doing so we are not giving them an elevated title or position that belongs to God. Our earthly parents are worthy of honor, not just on one special day of the year (Father’s Day, Mother’s Day), but we are to honor our parents daily in the spirit of Exodus 20:12, Matthew 15:4, and Ephesians 6:1–3.[1]

 

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

Questions about Life Decisions: What Does the Bible Say about Playing the Lottery?

 

The word gamble means “to risk something of value on an outcome which depends on chance.” Because the outcome of a lottery “depends on chance” and playing it involves “risk,” then, by definition, playing the lottery is gambling.

The Bible does not specifically mention gambling, though it does mention the casting of lots for the purpose of decision making (Joshua 18:10; Nehemiah 10:34). And Proverbs 16:33 emphasizes the sovereignty of God: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

However, the main purpose of playing the lottery is to win money, and the Bible tells us what our attitude toward money should be. So often, riches get in the way of a man’s spiritual benefit (Mark 4:19; 10:25). Jesus teaches, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13). First Timothy 6:10 is where we find the famous warning that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Playing the lottery as a get-rich-quick scheme is statistically futile, and, the fact is, God wants people to work hard: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We ought to gain wealth through diligence, as a gift from the Lord: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth” (Proverbs 10:4).

Additionally, not only do gamblers typically covet money, but they also covet the things that money can buy. God forbids covetousness: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Exodus 20:17; see also 1 Timothy 6:10). Money is not the answer to life’s problems.

So, we would do well to be cautious about playing the lottery. There are probably many better uses for the money spent on a ticket, and we must guard against addictions to gaming. Buying a lottery ticket here and there may not be a sin, but greed is. Those playing the lottery must prayerfully examine their motives and, if they continue playing, do so responsibly and only in moderation.[1]

 

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

Sinners’ Gain from Christ’s Reward

airō

ransom

Christ’s reward is not dependent upon man or any supposed freewill decision of man. What do I mean by that? In listening to lyrics I have heard many times before, the question posed in Stuart Townsend’s ‘How Deep the Father’s Love for Us‘ – “why should I gain from His reward?” resonated with me in a new way. The question initiated a reflection on what exactly Christ’s reward is, and in what way do I gain from His receiving His reward?

Jesus Christ’s reward is the reward for His obedience to the Father. It is Jesus’ obedience even unto death that the Father has raised Him up and made Him King and Ruler over all (Philippians 2:8-11).

It is Jesus’ voluntarily giving His life as a perfect ransom to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for God’s wrath in the place of all who would trust Him (Romans 3:25) that…

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America’s Pastors… Ugh. Small Wonder Christianity is So Despised

Zwinglius Redivivus

This is sadder than sad

Most pastors believe that the Bible addresses the current issues of the day, but few speak about them from behind the pulpit, according to a recent study from a prominent research organization.

George Barna was a guest on the American Family Radio program “Today’s Issues” on Thursday, where he explained a research project that he has been working on for the past two years. In his study, Barna’s organization asked pastors across the country about their beliefs regarding the relevancy of Scripture to societal, moral and political issues, and the content of their sermons in light of their beliefs.

“‘What we’re finding is that when we ask them about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, ‘Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues,” he explained. “Then we ask them: ‘Well, are you teaching your…

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Genuine faithfulness versus man-made religion

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:28-29 ESV)

All who are truly in Christ must admit that this walk is fraught with doubt as well as pressure to conform to a form of godliness that has no power, to be faithful at doing church as the primary indicator of our genuineness, as well as to live up to the idea that lost people have of what a Christian must be. As many of you know, I grew up as a Southern Baptist. While I am grateful for the deep Bible knowledge that I gained through being in Church every Sunday, I have…

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