“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant. (Psalm 111:5)
Those who fear God need not fear want. Through all these long years the Lord has always found meat for His own children, whether they have been in the wilderness, or by the brook Cherith, or in captivity, or in the midst of famine. Hitherto the Lord has given us day by day our daily bread, and we doubt not that He will continue to feed us till we want no more.
As to the higher and greater blessings of the covenant of grace, He will never cease to supply them as our case demands. He is mindful that He made the covenant and never acts as if He regretted it. He is mindful of it when we provoke Him to destroy us. He is mindful to love us, keep us, and comfort us, even as He engaged to do. He is mindful of every jot and tittle of His engagements, never suffering one of His words to fall to the ground.
We are sadly unmindful of our God, but He is graciously mindful of us. He cannot forget His Son who is the surety of the covenant, nor His Holy Spirit who actively carries out the covenant, nor His own honor, which is bound up with the covenant. Hence the foundation of God standeth sure, and no believer shall lose his divine inheritance, which is his by a covenant of salt.
Religion Is a Divine Life 1 Corinthians 15:47; Galatians 2:20; 4:19; 2 Peter 1:4
True religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul; or in the apostle’s phrase, it is Christ formed within us. Briefly, I do not know how the nature of religion can be more fully expressed, than by calling it a divine life.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
In Christ We Find God and Our Misery Jeremiah 9:24; John 8:31–32; Hebrews 10:1–10
The knowledge of God without that of man’s misery causes pride. The knowledge of man’s misery without that of God causes despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ constitutes the middle course, because in Him we find both God and our misery.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
The teaching we seek from our pastors reveals a lot about us. Do we only want them to preach what we want to hear? Or are we longing to know what God has to say? Find out why it matters when you listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.
…you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. – Isaiah 51:17b
Scripture reading: Nahum 3:11; Luke 22:39-46
There are two very apt illustrations used in this verse. Perhaps you have heard the expression “punch drunk”? That is when a boxer has been hit in the head, not hard enough to knock him out, but hard enough to disorient him. There is another level of meaning as well. It may be that the people of Nineveh, if they do not repent, will drink the full cup of God’s wrath and they will be drunken and finally destroyed by it.
Secondly, the illustration in this verse is that people will go into hiding. There is some ambiguity in the meaning of the original language. Perhaps it means soldiers will go off and hide themselves in fear. It might also mean that this mighty empire will be hidden by the sands of time. Only archaeologists will ever uncover the existence of this once mighty nation. They are an object of scorn and derision for all who pass by.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, Jesus prayed that the cup would pass and that He would not have to drink it. This cup is what is referred to in Isaiah 51:17, the cup of God’s wrath, the cup of staggering. Jesus Himself will take the blows we deserved. He was punished, though He was completely innocent. Jesus was scorned—so terrible was the mocking that any others who faced it would have gone into hiding. Glorious is Jesus, our Redeemer-King; great is the salvation He brings to all who believe.
Suggestions for prayer
Thank God for the LORD Jesus Christ; thank Him for the clarity of our new life and blessing of living by the power of the Spirit.
Rev. Richard T. Vander Vaart serves as a visiting prison chaplain in Moncton, New Brunswick for Redemption Prison Ministry. A few years ago he and his wife Carolyn became members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They both enjoy hosting friends for dinner and games nights. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.
7:31present form of this world Refers to the world’s system rather than the physical appearance of the world. This system, just like people’s wisdom, is temporal and limited; thus, the Corinthian believers must not order their lives based on either one.
7:31 use … make full use. This refers to the normal commercial materialism and pleasures that govern in the world. Believers are not to be swept up in earthly enterprises so that heavenly matters become secondary. form. This refers to a manner of life, a fashion, or way of doing things.
7:31 In living our lives on earth, it is inevitable that we have a certain amount of contact with mundane things. There is a legitimate use of these things in the life of the believer. However, Paul warns that while we may use them, we should not misuse them. For instance, the Christian should not live for food, clothes, and pleasure. He may use food and clothes as essentials but they should not become the god of his life. Marriage, property, commerce, or political, scientific, musical, and artistic activity have their place in the world, but all may prove a distraction to spiritual life if allowed to do so.
The expression the form of this world is passing away is borrowed from the theater and refers to the changing of scenes. It speaks of the transience of all that we see about us today. Its short-lived character is well expressed in Shakespeare’s famous lines: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
7:31 “for the form of this world is passing away” The OT prophets (esp. Isa. 56–66) reveal a new heaven and a new earth. The new age will be like the old, but purified and redeemed (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10–13). Personally I believe heaven will be a transformed garden of Eden—God, mankind, and the animals—with perfect fellowship and order restored. Genesis 1–2 parallels Rev. 21–22.
Every generation of believers experiences the passing of this world’s order (schēma) as they mature into Christlikeness. As we see Christ in clearer and clearer ways, the things of this life become duller and duller. We are in the world, but not of the world. We use the things of this world for evangelistic purposes, not personal purposes.
Ver. 31. And they that use this world, as not abusing it.—Using this world (Election sermon):—1. It is the duty of a Christian, so long as he is a citizen of this world, to take a part in its concerns. “I pray not that Thou shouldst take them out of the world,” &c. (chap. 5:10). How can salt season, or yeast leaven, if it do not come in contact with that which it is to season or to raise? 2. Christ was removed above all the conventionalities and systems of this world; and yet He conformed to them all. He touched on the political questions; He had teachings about Church and State, and gave His authority to the great principle of taxation. And yet how heavenly the tone of every word and act!
I. The believer “uses” the world, which conveys the ideas of—1. Elevation. What I “use,” I am above. It is the implement I employ, and not the power I obey. That is just what the world is to a Christian. 2. Intention. What I “use” is never final. It is to work up to an end. Say it is an amusement—I use it, it is to fit me for something I have yet to do. Say it is money, it is that I may have greater power to do good. Say it is influence, it is that I may the better extend truth. Say it is public life, it is that I may throw weight into the side of good. Or say it is the whole world, it is with an eye to eternity, to make myself or others ready, for a higher state that is coming.
II. What, then, is it to “abuse”? 1. If the world rule you, and you do not rule it—if you do not keep it within fixed bounds which your own conscience lays down—if you have not a further end in every natural thing beyond the immediate gratification—if that end is not worthy—then you are abusing the world. 2. If it separate you from Him to whom this whole world belongs, or if you use any part of it for any other end but the glory of the great Proprietor, you abuse the world. Conclusion: Now for present duty. In this representative country every man both legislates and governs. Therefore, it is no simple thing to exercise the franchise. 1. You will “abuse” and not “use” the power which the law has given you if you do not accept it as a solemn trust which has been committed to you by God, to be exercised for Him. Great things are at stake, and in your degree God has made you the arbiter of them. Therefore—(1) Discharge the duty calmly, according to your real conviction, bringing the best reflection you can to bear upon it, as before God. (2) Pray for a right judgment in this matter. (3) This done, it will help your decision, as to what line of policy will best promote the great ends that all have in view. Assuredly, the religious aspect of every subject ought to be the first considered. Therefore, regard should certainly be had to the religious character of the man whom you would entrust with power. He who would put first the glory of God, cannot rest in devolving high trust to one who has no such aim. 2. Let all be done with charity of judgment. Let no personal feeling embitter a great work. And then, whatever be the result, accept it as the will of God to you. And though the course of events may run counter with your wishes, still honour God by taking loving views of man, and trusting views of the future. And be they what they may, be loyal to the powers that be. (J. Vaughan, M.A.) The use of the world—
I. Is lawful. Its enjoyments, associations, business, &c., must be made subservient to the purposes of life and salvation.
II. May become sinful—1. By excess. 2. By abuse. 3. By making it the end of existence.
III. Is enforced by the consideration of its vanity.—1. Its fashion changes. 2. Its joys wither. 3. Its glory must ultimately perish. (J. Lyth, D.D.)
The use and abuse of the world:—
I. The reason why we should not abuse this world: the fashion of it passes away; literally, the scene changes. 1. The world itself is a stable thing. Its face changes, but its matter and laws are fixed. The same mountain-tops point toward the sky to-day that seemed to touch it when we were children. The same plain stretches out from the Pyramids that the Pharaohs saw from their summits. The inhabitant is often changed; the habitation remains the same. 2. But it does not remain the same to me. The green grass looks not so lightsome when those whom I loved are laid beneath it. This is not the world on which I trod so lightly when I was a child. It was a brighter world then. That fashion went out, and the one that came in after it, was hard and busy. Faster and faster it moved, and I moved with it, until I became giddy with the whirl. At the next change of fashion the breathless runner is left behind. 3. But, besides those which time inexorably brings to all, there are other changes peculiar to each. (1) The owner of a beautiful estate was conducting a visitor through his park. At a bend in the path a lofty beech-tree suddenly hove in sight, wanting one hemisphere of its once symmetrical and stately head. In the last winter’s blast one of these twin boughs had been rent off, and the survivor, bare on the side where his marrow grew, seemed a stricken, widowed thing. “See,” said the visitor, “the emblem of a husband standing alone in the world, after death has torn away the wife of his youth!” Then a stifled sigh revealed to the speaker that he had unconsciously hurt, by touching, a wound still green in his companion’s side. (2) How many living victims are kept in continual torture! Clinging to wealth, when wealth is taking wings; to the trappings of beauty, when the beauty has gone; to the gaiety of youth, when age, unwelcome, unconfessed, is stealing quietly, quickly on. If you allow your heart-strings to twine around the fashion of the world, you are torn and tortured every day you live; for the fashion of the world is moving past you. The only possible method of living either pleasantly or safely on a shifting scene is to sit loosely on its surface.
II. The abuse of this world which the text forbids. When the gifts are turned aside from their wise and kind intent, the Giver takes it ill (Ezek. 16:19). The abuses of the world cannot be all named; let two or three suffice. 1. Day and night are precious constituents of “this world.” To shuffle them out of their places is to abuse them. An assembly of dancing men and women in a heated hall, a merchant leaning over his ledger in the counting-house, a student before his lamp in the silent chamber, are all guilty of abusing the world, if they occupy the long dark night, and sleep on the morrow while the sun is running his race rejoicing. 2. The fruitful earth is systematically and to a great extent compelled to minister to the vice of men. Nothing in nature is lovelier than the poppy-fields of India. The best land, in the most sheltered situation, is appropriated to the cultivation of the plant, and its product—opium—is a most precious medicine. But when we presume to use it as an indulgence to an unhealthy craving, and force it upon an unwilling people on whom its effects can be only baneful, then we abuse it. At home, too, in a similar way, we abuse the world, by converting a large portion of the grain which it brings forth for the food of man, into a stimulant which is chiefly employed in ministering to his vices. 3. Civilised nations have long abused in the gross a whole continent of the world. Instead of buying from the Africans the products of the soil, so stimulating arts and industry, we bought the people—the weak from the strong—so stimulating war and rapine.
III. The use of this world which the text permits and enjoins. Observe how God uses this world, that we may fall in with His purpose. He has made it the dwelling-place of creatures formed after His own image, and capable of communion with Himself; but the grandest use of the habitation was made after the inhabitant fell by sin. Leaving behind all the shining worlds, the Son of God lived here; here the sons and daughters of the Lord obtained their birthright, and are prepared for their inheritance. Such are the purposes for which the Father employs this world; and for these chiefly the dear child values it. This earth shines only in the sunlight: if it were dark it would be also barren. So, morally for man, the world in which we live owes its beauty and its worth to the light which reaches it from heaven. Christians—1. May use the world. Practical religion does not consist in denying ourselves the use of temporal good, or in tasting it with terror. Every creature of God is good. A Christian, with a clear mind and a good conscience, tastes more sweetness in this world than he who has no other portion. The relations of the family, e.g., are touched in the context. He who has entered the family of God, has not thereby forfeited his place or his rights in the families of men. Make one thing sure, that it is the use of the world, not the abuse of it; and then use it with a will. 2. Must use it. Don’t permit the riches, e.g., to lie so long still that they shall rust. Whatever God may have given you of personal qualification, or social position, or material means, take the use of it yourself, and let your neighbours participate in the benefit. Conclusion: In vain do you tell a man that the fashion of this world passeth away, if you have nothing more to tell. A drowning man will grasp straws; and you cannot put an end to the useless effort by standing on the river’s brink and proving that straws will not avail to make his body buoyant. How shall we persuade him to let them go? Heave him a life-buoy, and no persuasion will be necessary. When he feels the contact of the better preserver, he will throw away the worse. So no demonstration of the world’s changefulness will keep a human soul from cleaving to its dust. Nothing but faith’s possession of the better portion can wean our hearts from the worse. (W. Arnot, D.D.)
The use and abuse of the world:—To “use” anything is to turn it to account in the direction of those ends for which it is really needed. To “abuse” is simply to turn a thing away from its true and proper use. This “world” has its “uses.” According to the original purpose of God, it is a servant to minister to our wants, not a tyrant to oppress or degrade us. It may become a dangerous foe; but only when we stand in false relations to it. This world is designed to aid—
I. In revealing God to us. “The heavens declare His glory, &c.” What an “abuse,” then, of the world it is, when men employ it to conceal God! An astronomer once said that what he found in the study of the starry sky was the “glory” of Newton, &c., and not the “glory of God.” And it would seem as if some men deliberately try to forget God, by busying themselves about the things which God has made. They plunge into business and into politics, as if they would forget that the Most High has anything to do either with the growth of cotton or the growth of nations. Even the faces of their little children cease to speak to them of “The Father”; the selfish, worldly love they have for them becomes a pretext for ignoring the claims and commands of God.
II. In the formation and development of spiritual character. The material exists for the sake of the spiritual. This earth has been furnished as a school for man’s education. The monastic life is just a kind of “playing truant.” The true “use” of a school cannot be to run away from it. On the other hand, there are those who turn the schoolroom into a playground—who seek to convert the means of education and training into the instruments of mere selfish gratification. Some men are like little children burning their lesson-books for the momentary pleasure of the blaze! Others are like children trying to carve out their names on forms and desks of the school, when they ought to be learning lessons. Others are like children, with heads bent over their books, making a show of diligence, in order to conceal an indolent frivolity. And others, alas! are like children who, through self-willed folly, break their limbs in the very gymnasium which was intended and adapted to strengthen them! Oh what an “abuse” is here! A whole world made for men—and, all the while, men living as if they had been made for the world!
III. In serving God. He appoints us duties to discharge, and burdens to bear. His holy and loving commandment meets us everywhere—at home and in the market, &c.; and not a day passes in which He does not give us opportunities of expressing our loyalty to His law. Only see, again, how men “abuse” the world! They convert it into a sphere of disobedience. Suppose that, in order to secure a higher kind of service from an employee you were to promote him to a confidential position—giving him full access to your books, and an insight into the secrets of your business; and suppose that he were forthwith to employ the knowledge thus obtained in order to injure your business or embezzle your property! And yet this is but a faint emblem of your own conduct towards the Heavenly Master! You take the bread which He places on your table; you come out into His sunshine; you breathe His air; and then, with the health and strength you thus obtain, you pollute His air with words that ought never to be spoken, or commit actions too foul to bear the light of His sun. God reveals to you some of those wondrous secrets which He has lodged in the bosom of Nature, and then you go, perhaps, and employ this very knowledge for the retarding of His spiritual kingdom. You take the subtle electricity, and with it you flash your lying, fraudulent message along the wire—breaking God’s own law of truth and justice with God’s own mysterious forces! He gives you wife and children and friends; and lo! you make them do the devil’s work. Here is one man whom God’s Providence places in a position of power. How that man might use his power in the cause of truth and justice and liberty! But, instead of this, he becomes tyrannical. Here is another man who has been placed in a position of wealth. How that man might multiply manifestations of loyalty to God! But, instead of this, he practically worships his gold, and employs it to corrupt and degrade others, and to supply fuel for his own lusts. Conclusion: “The fashion of this world passeth away.” Let us, then, not live as if the visible were the eternal. And let us remember that we do not necessarily escape worldliness, by belonging to what is called “the religious world.” Men may seem to be engaged in the service of God, and yet all the while be only serving themselves. A selfish ambition does not cease to be worldly merely because it is ecclesiastical. Slander and spite do not cease to be worldly merely because they appear in a “religious newspaper.” “The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” do not cease to be worldly, even in a household that is daily summoned to family prayers. (T. C. Finlayson.) The use and abuse of the world.—
I. Paul’s present observation about this world. That its “fashion” “passeth away.” It passes away—1. Before our eyes. 2. To our hearts.
II. The use which paul makes of this fact. That they that use this world should use it as not abusing it. 1. The world is abused when we suffer it—(1) To supplant in our hearts its Creator; (2) To banish other worlds from the sphere of our attraction; (3) To overcome us; (4) To make us carry the lawful use of it to excess. 2. The world should be used with—(1) A pilgrim’s; (2) A godly; (3) A free and independent; (4) A generous and holy spirit. (S. Martin.)
On the use and abuse of the world:—The world is always represented in Scripture as the great scene of trial to a Christian. The part which is proper for him to act may be comprised in these two expressive words of the text; “using the world, and not abusing it”; the significancy and extent of which I propose now to explain. The subject is of the higher importance, as in the world we must live; and according as we use or abuse it, it will prove either our friend or our greatest foe. It is natural to begin with observing that the Christian is here supposed to “use the world”; by which we must certainly understand the apostle to mean maintaining intercourse and connection with the world; living in it as one of the members of human society, assuming that rank which belongs to his station. No one can be said to use the world who lives not thus. Hence it follows that sequestration from the world is no part of Christian duty. Instead of employing their influence to regulate and temper the pleasures of the world by a moderate participation of those that are innocent, they deliver up all the entertainments of society into the hands of the loose and giddy. It may be assumed, therefore, as a principle justified by the text, and by the whole strain of Scripture, that to use, and in a certain degree to enjoy, the world, is altogether consistent with religion. We shall have a clearer view of the proper use of the world when we contrast it with that abuse of the world which we too often observe. Those abuses manifest themselves in various forms; but in general may be classed under three great heads. I. They are abusers of the world who intemperately give themselves up to its pleasures, and lead a life of licentiousness, riot, and dissipation. Amidst the wealth and luxury of the present age, it will be admitted that persons of this description are not unfrequent, who, being opulent in fortune, and perhaps high in rank, think themselves entitled to pass their days in a careless manner, without any other object in view than the gratification of their senses and passions. By the train of life which they lead they defeat every purpose for which Providence bestowed on them the blessings of prosperity. They sink every talent which they possess into useless insignificancy. They corrupt the public manners by their example, and diffuse among others the spirit of extravagance and folly. They behave in a manner altogether unsuitable to the condition of the world in which we live. With indignant eyes the sober and thinking part of mankind view the luxury and riot of those abusers of the world. To them are owing the discontents of the poor, their disaffection to their superiors, their proneness to disturb the peace of the world. The conduct of such abusers of the world is not only pernicious to the welfare of society and to the interests of virtue, it is equally ruinous to themselves. At the bottom of the hearts of all men there lies a secret sense of propriety, virtue, and honour. This sense may be so far blunted as to lose its influence in guiding men to what is right, while yet it retains its power of making them feel that they are acting wrong. Hence remorse often gnaws the heart which affects to appear light and gay before the world. Retreat, then, from your dishonourable courses, ye who by licentiousness, extravagance, and vice, are abusers of the world! You are degrading, you are ruining yourselves. You are grossly misemploying the gifts of God, and the Giver will not fail to punish. II. The world is abused, not only by an intemperate pursuit of its pleasures, but by a sordid attachment to its gains. This respects a set of men of a very different description from the former, more decent in their carriage, and less flagrant in their vices, but corrupted by the world in no less a degree. For the world is often abused by the men of business as much as by the men of pleasure. The world, with its advantages, is a lawful object of pursuit to a Christian. He may seek, by fair industry, to render his circumstance affluent. His care is, not merely to amass and possess, but to use his possessions well, as one who is accountable to God. He is not a slave, either to the hopes or the fears of the world. He would rather forfeit any present advantage than obtain it at the expense of violating the Divine law or neglecting his duty. This is using the world like a good man. This is living in it as a subject of God and a member of the great community of mankind. Very opposite to this is the character of the worldly-minded. To them the mere attainment of earthly possessions is an ultimate aim. They cannot be said to use the world; for to possess, not to use or enjoy, is their object. He is an abuser of the world who cannot occasionally retreat from it to consider what character he bears in the sight of God, and to what issue his conduct will bring him at last. In a word, the world is then properly used when it is generously and beneficially enjoyed; neither hoarded up by avarice, nor squandered by ostentation. III. The world is abused by those who employ its advantages to the injury or oppression of their brethren. Under this class are included the worst and most criminal abusers of the world, who turn against their fellow-creatures those advantages with which it has pleased Heaven to distinguish them. The licentious, the avaricious, and the insolent, form the three great classes of abusers of the world. Let not those who are in wealthy and flourishing circumstances complain of the restraints which religious doctrine attempts to impose on their enjoyments. For to what do these restraints amount? To no more than this, that, by their pleasures, they would neither injure themselves nor injure others. (H. Blair. D.D.)
The use and abuse of the world:—
I. A good man may make use of the world. 1. The persons of the world. 2. The things of the world, for they are his own: “All things are yours.” It is an incivility and unthankfulness not to make use of a gift, and the things of this world are God’s gift. We are all travellers to another country, so far therefore as things are necessary for our journey, we may make use thereof.
II. But we must use the world as though we used it not. As wicked men do use the things of God, and of the other world, so a good man should use the things of this world. A wicked man prays as if he prayed not, and hears as if he heard not, because his mind is upon other things. “Set your affections on things that are above.” As good men are where they yet are not, namely in heaven, so they are not where they now are, namely on earth, for your conversation is in heaven. The things of this world are but to serve a purpose, and are not to be enjoyed for themselves. Clothes are but to cover nakedness; meat and drink but to serve hunger and thirst; only God is to be enjoyed; therefore why should we not use the world as ii we used it not? And then the world uses us as if it used us not, and cares for us as if it cared not for us.
III. What are those particular concernments wherein we are to use the world as if we used it not? 1. Our relations (ver. 29). Be as zealous for the truth and as ready to suffer for the cause of Christ as if you had none. 2. Grief (ver. 20). It is lawful to grieve, but we must not weep too much, or otherwise it will argue that we have too much love to the world. If we are to “rejoice in the Lord evermore,” then surely we are to weep as if we wept not. 3. Joy. Why should I joy much in that which I cannot enjoy? God only is to be enjoyed. There is a crack in the finest crystal. 4. Our possessions (ver. 30). How can a man be patient in the loss of things if he be not weaned from them while he hath them. And if good men have greater possessions to mind, and they cannot intensively mind both, then surely they must so possess, as if they possessed not.
IV. What is there in these reasons of the apostle that may enforce the exhortation? 1. The time is short. We have a great business to do, and but little time to do it in. If a citizen go into the country about some business that concerns his life, will he run up and down to catch butterflies, when all his time is but little enough for to do his business in? 2. The fashion of this world, it is but a piece of pageantry, a stage—one goes off and another comes on. As that is a fashion to-day which was not yesterday, that is a fashion to-day which is none to-morrow; so the fashion of the world passeth away. Will you instance a natural, civil, sinful, religious, or comfortable fashion of the world that does not pass away?
V. When may a man be said so to use the world as if he used it not? When a man so uses the world as to walk with God in the use thereof: when one man walks with another he turns as he turns; so when a man walks with God in the world, he turns as God turns. When God calls to joy, he joys; when God calls to grief, he grieves, &c.
VI. Suppose I do not use the world as if I used it not, what then? 1. You do want this character of a good man. 2. You are not dead to the world, and if not dead to the world, then not dead with Christ. 3. You are defiled by the world. 4. Your hearts will reproach you when you come to die. 5. You cannot more prejudice the thing you love, nor wrong yourselves more, than by loving it too much. A man leans upon a slender stick, and both breaks the stick and runs it into his hand.
VII. What shall we do that we may get our hearts into this gracious and holy frame? Note—1. What that man does that uses the world as if he used it not. (1) He will be sure to use grace in the use of the world. (2) He will be ready to give up that part of the world unto God wherein his affections are most engaged. (3) He will stand at a distance from the world, in the getting as well as in the keeping. (4) He will not place his religion in a morning and in an evening duty, but in his walking with God in his place. 2. The means. (1) Labour to possess your hearts much with God’s all-sufficiency (Psa. 62:10, 11). (2) Look upon the world with the prospective of the Scripture, not with the world’s multiplying glass. (3) Never fall in love with any condition for itself, but for the good of the condition. (4) Take all God’s alarums of death, and mingle those with the consideration of the death of Christ, and then you will die to the world. (5) Afford the world and the things thereof, so much of your love, as better things do leave. (6) Let the name of the Lord be very precious in your hearts and in your eyes. (7) Go to the Lord and beg of the Lord to fulfil His promises. (8) Consider what a good thing it is to use this world as if we used it not. Thereby—(a) You shall be able to want and to part with the world with ease: “I know how to want,” saith Paul, and “I know how to abound.” (b) You shall have more of the world, and have it in a better edition, in a better impression, for it will be sanctified unto you. (c) you shall have that which is better than all, the mind of Christ. (W. Bridge, M.A.) For the fashion of this world passeth away.—
The fashion of the world:—The words contain—
I. A metaphorical allusion to a public exhibition or a dramatic representation. 1. The state and constitution of things as they now exist pass away; not so much the world itself, as to its material substance, as its fashion with respect to us. Do we now behold a beautiful appearance of nature or art? To us they will soon be as the reminiscence of a giddy dream. 2. Our employments and pursuits here. In these we are as the actors of a drama. Some assume fictitious characters; our possessions and enjoyments change; our feelings change, not only as to their nature, but their keenness. 3. Our present ties and connections. These pass away to assume another fashion. In the world to come “we shall know no man after the flesh.”
II. Doctrinal truth. 1. The present world bears evident marks of imperfection; but “God is a rock, His work is perfect.” 2. The present world does not exhibit that discrimination which exists between the righteous and the wicked. 3. The grand end of all revelation is to prepare men for another life. Why have human beings an intelligent existence? Why did Jehovah style Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Why select a people and inspire prophets to instruct them? Why send His Son to live, &c.? Why alarm the fears or excite the hopes? Verily there is an after state, &c.
III. A practical application. 1. All are equally concerned in it. Young persons of robust constitution must die as well as the greyheaded and infirm. The knowing or witty must all pass away. 2. This alone is our state of probation. Fleeting as this state is, when once gone it returns no more; “time is short,” not so eternity. “Behold, now is the accepted time,” &c. 3. The change of worlds, with respect to the righteous, will be highly advantageous. 4. The change of worlds to the unconverted distressing and terrible. What will become of the proud? (Mal. 4:1.) Of the worldly person? (James 5:1–3.) Of the carnally minded? (Rom. 8:6.) Of the vain and giddy? (Luke 6:25.) In a word—“If the righteous scarcely are saved,” &c. Conclusion: Does the fashion of the world pass away? Then let us improve every occurrence which may tend to loosen our attachment to this world, and every means to prepare us for a better. (Homilist.)
The passing nature of this world:—
I. By this world we are to understand the visible, in opposition to the invisible state of existence. For into these two the whole world, or entire system of the creation, is resolved: the world that is unseen, and is in its nature eternal; and the world that is seen, and is in its constitution temporal. And by the attention that every man pays to the one or the other, his character is determined and his lot is fixed. He is either carnally or spiritually minded, and his recompense accordingly, death or life (Rom. 8:6). Here things look quite otherwise than they are. Mourning and poverty bear the face of misery; mirth and riches appear to be happiness; fame and preferment are styled honour; slander and oppression are accounted disgrace; hypocrisy has the face of devotion; pride the mask of humility; vanity the air of greatness. In short, truth is currently counterfeited and concealed under false colours; and, as the Psalmist sings, man spends his life in a vain show. Yet, in truth, they may be blessed that mourn—they may be happy that are poor—they may be truly honourable that are in disgrace in this world—they may be great and good who look mean. And, on the contrary, they may be worthless, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked, who are accounted rich, and great, and famous among men. Here things have no solid bottom. All moves in a perpetual tendency to another state, where false appearances shall for ever vanish away, and everything appear as it really is. The whole frame of things here is continually hastening to a dissolution—continually shifting place and time.
II. This world is in its nature a fluctuating and transitory state of things. 1. Time is the element in which all creatures below are calculated to exist; in which they begin, go on, and end: and an element continually changing; always in motion, never resting, never returning. 2. The numberless creatures that exist in time, and compose this world, are continually changing with time, and passing away.
III. The use we should make of this important and extensive truth. 1. To avoid all anxious care and immoderate concern about the things of this life. 2. To be moderate in the use of worldly enjoyments. 3. To be contented with our lot in the world. 4. Here we have read a lesson that redeems poverty from contempt, and reduces riches to little. 5. Hence we may observe the sin and folly of those who trust to their riches for supporting their life, credit, and comfort in this world. 6. From this subject we should learn patience under afflictions. They cannot last in a world continually changing and passing away. A little time longer will either end or amend them. 7. We should study to wean our affections from the things of time; to leave the world as fast as it leaves us; to be more and more indifferent about the pains or pleasures of it, the longer we live in it. 8. What we have heard serves to abate the love of life and the terrors of death, which naturally keep the mind of man under bondage. 9. Here Christians may read consolation under the loss of Christian friends, relations, or acquaintances. 10. Let us bless God with thankful hearts that we have another and a better world to look for, a state that can never know either time or change (Wm. Beat.)
On the fashion of the world passing away:—I. The fashion of the world passeth away, as the opinions, ideas, and manners of men are always changing. We look in vain for a standard to ascertain and fix any of these; in vain expect that what has been approved and established for a while, is always to endure. Principles which were of high authority among our ancestors are now exploded. When we read an account of the manners and occupations, of the studies and opinions, even of our own countrymen, in some remote age, we seem to be reading the history of a different world from what we now inhabit. Coming downwards, through some generations, a new face of things appears. As one wave effaces the ridge which the former had made on the sand by the sea-shore, so every succeeding age obliterates the opinions and modes of the age which had gone before it. Let us only think of the changes which our own ideas and opinions undergo in the progress of life. One man differs not more from another, than the same man varies from himself in different periods of his age, and in different situations of fortune. In youth and in opulence everything appears smiling and gay. But let some more years have passed over our heads, or let disappointments in the world have depressed our spirits; and what a change takes place! The world itself remains the same. But its form, its appearance, is changed to our view; its fashion, as to us, hath passed away. II. While our opinions and ideas are thus changing within, the condition of all external things is, at the same time, ever changing without us and around us. Wherever we cast our eyes over the face of nature, or the monuments of art, we discern the marks of alteration and vicissitude. We cannot travel far upon the earth without being presented with many a striking memorial of the changes made by time. What was once a flourishing city is now a neglected village. When from the public scene we turn our eye to our own private connections, the changes which have taken place in the fashion of the world must touch every reflecting mind with a more tender sensibility. For where are now many of the companions of our early years? III. Not only our connections with all things around us change, but our own life, through all its stages and conditions, is ever passing away. As the life of man, considered in its duration, thus fleets and passes away, so, during the time it lasts, its condition is perpetually changing. It affords us nothing on which we can set up our rest; no enjoyment or possession which we can properly call our own. IV. That the world itself in which we dwell, the basis of all our present enjoyments, is itself contrived for change, and designed to pass away. There are three fixed and permanent objects to which I must now call your attention, as the great supports of human constancy amidst this fugitive state. 1. Virtue and goodness never change. Let opinions and manners, conditions and situations, in public and in private life, alter as they will, virtue is ever the same. It rests on the immovable basis of eternal truth. Every terrestrial glory sparkles only for a little, with transient brightness. But virtue shines with eternal and unalterable splendour. It derives its origin from heaven; and partakes both of the lustre and the stability of celestial objects. 2. God never changes. Amidst the unceasing vicissitude of earthly things, there remains at the head of the universe an Eternal Protector of virtue, whose throne is established for ever. With Him there is no variableness, neither any shadow of turning; no inconstancy of purpose, and no decay of wisdom or of power. How much soever worldly things may change in themselves, they are all united in His plan; they constitute one great system or whole of which He is the author; and which, at its final completion, shall appear to be perfect. His dominion holds together, in a continued chain, the successive variety of human events; gives stability to things that in themselves are fluctuating; gives constancy even to the fashion of the world while it is passing away. 3. Heaven and immortality pass not away. The fleeting scenes of this life are to be considered as no more than an introduction to a nobler and more permanent order of things, when man shall have attained the maturity of his being. (H. Blair, D.D.)
The changing nature of worldly things:—
I. All things around us are changing. The visible heavens daily vary their appearance, the seasons walk their rounds, and in each we experience a great variety in the temperature. Nature is continually diversifying her dress. Time makes observable changes in the surface of our globe. Every age introduces great alterations in the bounds of empires, in the politics and commerce of nations. Families, as well as nations, are changing. New ones are forming as elder ones pass away. The lands which have been acquired, and the property which has been accumulated, by the industry of the proprietor, are often alienated by the misfortune or folly of the descendants. The condition of every person is in continual mutation. As we advance in life, our views and apprehensions of men and things, and our taste and inclination for the objects around us, greatly alter. The inhabitants of the world are changing. There is a mighty change which awaits us all.
II. Let us improve the sentiment. The mutable condition of the world may lead us—1. To contemplate the immutability of the Creator (Heb. 1:10–12). 2. To see much of the wisdom and goodness of God. (1) The mutability of things is on the whole a source of enjoyment. We are formed to love variety. The traveller passing over a level plain where, all along, a train of similar objects meets his eyes, soon finds the scene tedious. Let a man choose his own condition, and place himself in the most agreeable circumstances; will he enjoy it? No, not for a single week. There must be something new, or every pleasure becomes insipid. (2) As our pleasures are heightened, so our pains are mitigated, by variety. On the roughest roads there is some smooth way where we can walk with ease. Many are the troubles of the world, but they are intermixed with pleasures. And our troubles are not always the same; one passes away as another comes. We find some relief by shifting it from shoulder to shoulder. 3. To direct our thoughts to a future state of existence. One change leads to another. Each season is preparatory to the next. Youth is preparatory to manhood, and this to old age. We may naturally then conclude that death is introductory to a new state of existence. Pain, in this state, usually precedes high enjoyment; the humiliating circumstances of death are preludes to glory and immortality. 4. To rejoice as if we rejoiced not, and weep as if we wept not. 5. To remember our great change. When we see the fashion of the world passing away, it becomes us to realise that we are passing away also, and have here no continuing city. The seaman, in a feeble bark, tossed on the tumultuous ocean, surely will not imagine himself on firm ground, nor forget his danger of being swallowed up in the deep. 6. To direct our thoughts to heaven, where none of the painful vicissitudes of the present stage will attend us. Changes there will be in heaven, but they will be only changes for the better, from glory to glory, from perfection to perfection. (J. Lathrop, D.D.)
The world changes:—Ah, this beautiful world! I know not what to think of it. Sometimes it is all sunshine and gladness, and heaven itself lies not far off; and then it suddenly changes, and is dark and sorrowful, and the clouds shut out the day. In the lives of the saddest of us there are bright days like this, when we feel as if we could take the great world in our arms. Then come gloomy hours, when the fire will not burn on our hearths, and all without and within is dismal, cold, and dark. Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows, which the world knows not; and ofttimes we call a man cold when he is only sad. (H. W. Longfellow.)
The fashion of the world passeth away:—The crust of the globe is constantly changing in some form or other in all places. It is true in a material sense that the fashion of the world passeth away. (Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)
Eternal things and fleeting:—Afar off one can hardly tell which is mountain and which is cloud. The clouds rise with peaks and summits, all apparently as solid, and certainly as glistening, as the snow-clad Alps, so that the clearest eye might readily be deceived. Yet the mountain is unsubstantial as the cloud, and the cloud is never permanent as the mountain. So do the things of time appear to be all-important, far-reaching and enduring, and eternal things are not always of equal weight to the soul with those nearer at hand. Yet, despite all our instinctive judgments may suggest to the contrary, nothing earthly can ever be lasting, nothing in time can be worth considering compared with eternity. The cloudy philosophies of men may assume the shape of eternal truth, but the wind shall scatter them, while the great mountains of the Divine Word shall stand fast for ever and ever. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
31. We have a play on words in the Greek in verse 31, and the csb tries to replicate it: ‘those who use [chrōmenoi] the world as though they did not make full use [katachrōmenoi] of it’. On the other hand, the niv nicely catches the sense: those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. Again, Paul is not world-denying, as if using the things of this world is frowned upon. What concerns Paul is if the things of this world cause one to forget the world to come, for every present reality is a shadow compared with the substance to come. This short paragraph is framed, then, by eschatology. Just as Paul begins the paragraph by saying that the time is short, so he concludes it by reminding readers that the world as it is now is passing away (paragei). The idea is remarkably close to the words found in 1 John 2:15–17, where readers are warned not to love the world and the things in it. John closes the discussion with the same verb Paul uses, asserting that the world … is passing away (paragetai). In speaking of the present form (schēma) of this world, the reference is not necessarily to the physical structure of the world but to ‘the way of life’ and its ‘culture’ (L&N 58.7).
The eschatological cast of Paul’s theology shines forth in this paragraph; thus as readers we must beware of reading it as if experiences and things in this world are utterly repudiated. Seeing God’s good gifts in the present world order accords with Paul’s theology, whether the subject is marriage, possessions or the joys that belong to this life. What Paul emphasizes, however, is the ephemeral nature of life in this world; thus it would be unwise to locate one’s ultimate joy or significance in that which is temporary.
31. The whole is summed up in the expression those who use the things of the world. The construction is unusual (chraomai with the accusative, only here in the New Testament), but the meaning is clear. Paul speaks of those who make any use of the things of time and sense. Engrossed translates the compound verb, katachraomai, of which the uncompounded form has just been used. The prefix kata sometimes gives the simple verb a sinister twist (‘use wrongly’, av ‘abuse’). But it often simply intensifies the meaning (‘use to the full’), though the intensification is sometimes not marked (i.e. the simple and compounded verbs may differ little). In this context niv seems to have the sense of it. Those who make use of the things of this world should not be engrossed in them, overlooking the transitoriness of earthly things and the importance of what is eternal. Schēma (present form) denotes the outward shape, especially when there is some idea that this is changeable. It is adapted to the thought of fickleness, the changing fashion. There is nothing solid and lasting in this world system; it is its nature to pass away. It is folly for believers to act as though its values were permanent.
31. And they that use this world. In the first clause there is the participle χρώμενοι (using,) in the second, there is a compound of it—καταχρώμενοι (abusing.) Now the preposition κατα in a compound state is generally taken in a bad sense, or at least denotes intensity. Paul, therefore, directs us to a sober and frugal use of things, such as may not impede or retard our course, but may allow of our always hastening forward toward the goal.
For the fashion of this world passeth away. By the term here used, the Apostle has elegantly expressed the vanity of the world. “There is nothing,” says he, “that is firm or solid; for it is a mere show or outward appearance, as they speak.” He seems, however, to have had an allusion to theatrical representations, in which, on the curtain being drawn up in a single moment, a new appearance is presented, and those things that held the eyes of the spectators in astonishment, are immediately withdrawn from their view. I do not see why it is that Erasmus has preferred the term habitus (form.) He certainly, in my opinion, obscures Paul’s doctrine; for the term fashion is tacitly opposed to substance.
Ver. 31.—As not abusing it; rather, as not using it to the full—not draining dry the cup of earthly advantages (comp. ch. 9:18). Like Gideon’s true heroes, we must not fling ourselves down to drink greedily of the river of earthly gifts, but drink them sparingly, and as it were with the palm of the hand. The fashion of this world passeth away. So St. John says, “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (1 John 2:17). It is but as the shifting scene of a theatre, or as a melting vapour (Jas. 4:14).
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Co 7:31). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 ESV
My cell phone sounded the emergency signal: “Hurricane approaching! Seek shelter now!”
As the hurricane loomed, news stations cautioned viewers to prepare for a very dangerous storm. Examples were given of those who ignored or procrastinated in past storms and met devastating consequences.
But we were prepared – house boarded, necessary food and water purchased and storm kit replenished. Still, the wind pounding against the house was frightening, especially since the storm shutters prevent you from seeing what’s happening outside. Eventually, it was night and the power went out, so we were blind to what was going on anyway.
All we could do was pray and trust.
Jesus cautioned, “…in the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33 ESV). Tribulation is from the Greek word thlipsis, meaning pressure; confined and without options; a no-way-of-escape kind of pressure. Sounds like a hurricane, but also life’s storms.
Jesus prefaced His warning with, “I have said these things that in me you may have peace.” How do we have peace amidst life’s binding circumstances?
It certainly wasn’t peaceful that night. But the word peace, eiréné, is an inner peace, like peace of mind. Moreover, it indicates wholeness, as in all essential parts joined together. Like “abiding.”
Many leaves and branches blew down when the storm winds ravaged, but I noticed the ones closer to the trunk stayed intact. Are you abiding in Him, so closely joined that nothing can shake you lose?
In John 15:4, Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself...”
Fruit? What is one of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23?
Every day without a storm is preparation time. If we have our spiritual storm survival kit equipped, abiding in His Word and prayer, then we will be strengthened and have His inner peace whenever life’s storms surge.
Lord, thank you that as I abide in you, no storm in life can shake me loose.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty”. Psalm 91:1
At the end of summer’s scorching heat, where did you find your shadow of protection and refreshment? When we place our lives in the care of God Most High, we find that his shadow of protection and refreshment covers us. Even in times of difficulty, we know that he has protected us from the worst of Satan’s withering attack and that his presence offers us strength that we may not often see but always can trust.
Give me eyes to see, O LORD, and a heart to believe that you are there when I cannot see any evidence of your presence. Please be my protection in times of attack and my refreshment in times that bring soul-withering despair. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“God Never Does Really Forsake Us” Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34
There are seasons when the brightness of our Father’s smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness. But let us remember that God never does really forsake us. It is only a seeming forsaking with us, but in Christ’s case it was a real forsaking. God only knows how much we grieve, sometimes, at a little withdrawal of our Father’s love; but the real turning away of God’s face from his Son—who shall calculate how deep the agony which it caused him when he cried, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
God’s Relation to Time Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 40:28; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:9
Things reduced to act in time, as known by us successively in time, but by God (are known) in eternity, which is above time. Whence to us they cannot be certain, forasmuch as we know future contingent things as such; but (they are certain) to God alone, whose understanding is in eternity above time.
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Doug Casey On The Next “Crisis” The Global Elite Have ‘Planned’ The Davos crowd has become the most visible element of the ruling class. Although, they overlap with lots of other groups who are pushing the same agenda—Bilderberg, CFR, and Bohemian Grove among them. These people are all part of what you might call the “World Deep State.” They all know each other. They go to the same conferences, and more often than not, they’ve attended the same universities, belong to the same social clubs, and have kids in the same schools. But most importantly, they share the same worldview.They have contempt for the little people, whom they treat as either useful idiots or useless mouths. They’re interested in power more than anything else.
Our Crisis Of Faith On Constitution Day We’re supposed to be celebrating the day the Constitution was signed and presented to the states for ratification. But, as Jonathan Turley details below, it’s pretty hard to celebrate when the Constitution is under such unprecedented attack…
The Old Peace Treaties vs. the Abraham Accords From a transactional perspective, in terms of a common need for security and economic prosperity, the Middle East is ready for relations with Israel. However, from a transformational standpoint, most of the region is not yet ready for full normalization. Few, if any, countries in the region embrace a UAE-style approach to coexistence and pluralism, and extremist ideologies are still widespread in most societies.
France recalls envoys in US and Australia over submarine deal France plunged into an unprecedented diplomatic crisis with the United States and Australia on Friday after it recalled its ambassadors from both countries over a trilateral security deal which sank a $40 billion French-designed submarine contract.
Bennett says he won’t sit down with Mahmoud Abbas, rules out Palestinian state You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. Exodus 23:32 Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that for now, he has ruled out a meeting with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and the creation of a Palestinian state. I oppose a Palestinian state, and I think it would be a grave mistake to import the failed Gaza model of Hamas, which shoots rockets at us and turn the entire West Bank into that,” he told Ynet in an interview.
Nolte: Bidensanity – Unvaccinated Illegals Shipped to Dozens of States His Fraudulency Joe Biden is flooding the country with unvaccinated illegal aliens, many of them infected with the same coronavirus that has already killed some 650,000 Americans, and he does not require them to be vaccinated — even as he forces fascist vaccine mandates on legal citizens. Why?
Fauci botched the AIDS epidemic so big pharma could profit. He’s doing it again with COVID ..“There were a lot of mistakes made along the way. A lot of lessons that could have been learned, but after looking into the history of the AIDS epidemic, it’s curious if we’ve actually learned any. Here we are today, with a pandemic that is causing mass hysteria. Like the days of people demonizing gay men as the culprits behind the epidemic, we have the media demonizing the unvaccinated as the root cause for why this virus just won’t go away.”
CDC continues dishonest vaccine, COVID data reporting to hide danger of COVID jabs According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you’re not counted as fully vaccinated until a full 14 days have passed since your second injection in the case of Pfizer or Moderna, or 14 days after your first dose of Janssen, despite the fact that over 80% of deaths after the vaccines occur in this window. How convenient
COVID Jab Will Have Devastating Long-Term Effects In what critics call an egregious display of tyrannical power, the United States president has officially called for a massive jab mandate for millions of Americans, and admitted that the debate over whether to get a COVID shot is “not about freedom or personal choice.”
Deep State, Deep Trouble The unmitigated corruption in the leadership of the armed forces is a sign of deep cultural rot…
Friday on FNC’s “Special Report” panel, former Rep. Trey Gowdy commented on the Defense Department admitting that the drone strike launched in response to the bombing at Kabul airport killed a pro-American Afghan family instead of a terrorist.
TREY GOWDY: “Over the horizon” apparently is a euphemism for infanticide. I want to know the layers of review before this country, the world’s greatest country, decides to kill seven children. Who gets to approve it? Who reviews it, what’s the quantum of evidence. And it’s not lost on me, Bret, that Joe Biden was slow to pull the trigger on Osama bin Laden but quick to pull the trigger on this drone strike, while he was having really bad press, that resulted in the death of seven children. So, Trump gets criticized for killing the right people. Let’s see what happens to Biden for killing seven children.
A surprising amount of my day yesterday was taken up with people asking me questions around vaccine mandates. It is certainly the latest covid hot topic, and another area where it is easy to see division and polarisation. France has suspended 3,000 of its healthcare workers because they have not been vaxxed, while Italy has decreed that all workers, in all sectors, must be vaxxed or face suspension. Closer to home, there are people in my church who have been told they must now return to the office, but must be vaxxed in order to do so – unless they take a PCR test, at their own expense, every three days. A pastor from Switzerland described to me the division he is seeing in his church as vaccine passports must now be shown to enter a service. How should Christians respond to all this?
My friend Bryan Hart, from One Harbor Church, Morehead City, North Carolina, has written a terrific paper for members of his congregation asking questions about possible religious exemptions to vaccine mandates. The post that follows is a lightly edited version of that paper. (NB Where “I” is used, it is me speaking, rather than Bryan.)
The Ethics of the Vaccine and Mandates Vaccine mandates have created a number of ethical questions, which can be categorized into three areas. First, there are the pragmatic questions: do mandates effectively increase the number of people who get vaccinated and do the vaccines themselves work? Second, there is the civil question: are mandates constitutional? Thirdly, there is the religious question: do mandates conflict with Christian doctrine, belief and obedience?
Christians and non-Christians alike will answer these questions differently. It is not our aim to take a position on the first two areas in this post (whether the mandate makes practical sense and whether it is constitutional). What we want to do is explore the religious question.
There are two significant areas of concern. The first is over the religious ethics of vaccines in general, and the second is in regard to the use of abortive cell lines in the development, testing and production of the COVID vaccine.
1. Religious objections to vaccines in general. Here, we also need to distinguish between two kinds of objections.
First, there may be some who have a religious conviction that all vaccines are wrongful and opposed to Christian teaching. We do not support or share this conviction: I am very grateful that I and my children have suffered far fewer illnesses than we most likely would have without vaccines. Vaccines are one of the great blessings of our era. However, for the person who sincerely believes vaccines are morally wrong, we can consider them the weaker brother of Romans 14-15, and thus we should “bear with the failings of the weak” (Romans 15:1). Though I would disagree with their conviction, it is possible that their opposition to the COVID-19 mandate is made in good faith and according to their conscience, and so we wouldn’t object to their religious objection to the mandate. It is worth saying that people in this category are very few in number.
Second, there are those who have historically received all kinds of vaccines, but are particularly opposed to either the COVID vaccine, vaccine mandates, or both. The problem here is the lack of a consistently-applied religious principle. Though a Christian may have a firm belief that this particular vaccine is bad, if belief is not tied to a scriptural or theological principle, then it does not qualify for a religious exemption.
It is not the responsibility of pastors to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do regarding the vaccine (although my personal position is that adults should get vaxxed). However, we discourage people from inconsistently applying religious principles, and so turn Christianity and the gospel into a tool for personal ends. Religion is not the only basis on which to mount an objection to a law or mandate, either. Christians have the right to protest and engage their government as any citizen does. But they must not selectively apply Christian principles.
2. Religious objection to the use of abortive tissue in the development, testing and production of the COVID-19 vaccines. Before wading into the ethical questions themselves, the situation can be summarized as follows, which is largely taken from the “Statement from Pro-Life Catholic Scholars on the Moral Acceptability of Receiving COVID-19 Vaccines” published by The Ethics & Public Policy Center on March 5, 2021. (It has to be said that Roman Catholic theologians have often had a far more consistent approach to ethical issues than do we Protestants.)
● The four major vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca) have used, in varying degrees, “immortalized” human cell lines, meaning they have used cells that have been developed from a single source. HEK293 and PER.C6 are the two lines that have been used in COVID-19 vaccine research. The former source was derived from the remains of an unborn child in 1973, and the latter from an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985. ● The 1973 case is a bit of a mystery, and many people think the child likely died in miscarriage. On the Gospel Coalition website Joe Carter has stated that, “HEK293T is a widely used immortalized cell line that was made from fetal tissue acquired in the Netherlands in the 1970s. The records pertaining to the origins of HEK293T were lost, so it is not known where the fetal tissue originated. However there are strong reasons to believe the tissue came from a miscarriage, and no compelling reason to believe it came from an elective abortion.” ● Even if the 1973 case was an abortion, neither abortion was performed for the purposes of scientific research, and the scientists involved in developing the cell lines were not directly involved in the abortion. ● “Fetal Tissue Cells” and “cells derived from a fetal tissue line” are not the same. HEK293 cells are no longer fetal tissue cells. ● All HEK293 cells were derived from the same source, and there is no ongoing use of aborted tissue to create more cells. ● HEK293 cells are used in a wide range of applications, to include processed foods (prepared by companies such as Kraft, Nestle, Cadbury and others), cosmetics and medicines. “Thus it seems fair to say that in addition to the use of HEK293 cells by the scientific community, nearly every person in the modern world has consumed food products, taken medications or used cosmetics/personal care products that were developed through the use of HEK293 cells in the food, biomedical and cosmetic industries.”
As for the vaccines themselves, another Catholic source describes the extent to which each has made use of fetal cell lines: 1. Pfizer: Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus/COVID vaccine known as “BNT162b2” was developed using genetic sequencing on computers without using fetal cells. The HEK293 abortion-related cell line was used in research related to this vaccine, but not the testing of the vaccine . . . No cell line, fetal or otherwise, is required for the ongoing production of this vaccine. This vaccine is currently in use and requires two doses. 2. Moderna: Moderna’s “mRNA-1273” vaccine does not require aborted fetal cell lines for production, but aborted fetal cell lines were used in both the development and testing of this vaccine. This vaccine is currently in use and is easier to distribute than Pfizer due to cooling requirements. It also requires two doses. 3. Johnson & Johnson: The J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, “JNJ-78436735” does use the abortion-related PER.c6 cell line for ongoing production. This cell line was also used in the development and testing of the vaccine. PER.c6 is a proprietary cell line owned by Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, developed from retinal cells from an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985. This vaccine is currently in use. This is a single-dose vaccine, unlike other COVID vaccines which require 2 doses. 4. AstraZeneca: The AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine “AZD1222” does use the HEK-293 cell line for production. This cell line was also used in both development and testing of the vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine is not approved in the United States. 5. Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline: The Sanofi/GSK vaccine is not associated with aborted fetal cell lines for production. GSK produces this vaccine using a modified virus cultivated on insect cells. The HEK-293 cell line was used in the confirmatory testing of the vaccine…The Sanofi company is also developing a different COVID vaccine that did use the HEK-293 abortion-related cell line in the research phase.
So is using COVID vaccines immoral, considering their fetal connection? We can consider what type of cooperation exists in this scenario: formal cooperation (when one person cooperates with another person’s immoral action and shares their evil intention) or material cooperation (when one person cooperates with the immoral action of another person without sharing their evil intention). Formal cooperation is always evil, but material cooperation depends on other matters. For instance, using organs from the victim of a murder would not likely be objectionable to most Christians, nor would they object to a Christian owning a car showroom and selling cars despite their knowledge that a tiny fraction of those who buy them may use them for transporting illegal drugs, or even as a weapon. These are both examples of material cooperation.
The use of the vaccine falls into the category of material cooperation. Given the information already stated above, namely that fetal tissue itself is no longer being used, there are two primary questions. First is whether or not using cells from HEK293 or PER.C6 promotes abortion in any way. Many Christian ethicists have argued it does not, since it is both unnecessary and “medically inexpedient” to create new cell lines. It is worth noting that, if biomedical research created a demand for abortions, it would change the moral calculus of using not only COVID-19 vaccines, but all products that depend on HEK293 cell lines. As it stands, however, this is not the case.
For these reasons, we would argue that Christians are not guilty of sin for using COVID-19 vaccines. (Given that the HEK293 line was likely not from an abortion, as stated above, Christians who are still concerned with a connection to an abortion should consider Moderna or Pfizer as preferable.) However, some Christians may still have a conscientious objection to any of the vaccines. Similar to the above, we would make two distinctions.
1. There may be some who are so committed to avoiding contact with cell lines derived from fetal tissue that they avoid them at all costs in all areas of life. Again, we can say that their opposition to the COVID-19 mandate is made in good faith and according to their conscience, and thus we do not object to their religious objection to vaccine mandates. 2. There are others who do not have a robust objection or concern to the use of fetal cell lines except in the case of the COVID-19 vaccines. If the concern for the use of fetal cell lines is restricted to the COVID-19 vaccine, then we again find a problem with the lack of a consistently-applied religious principle.
Practically, where does this leave us?
Firstly, from all we have argued here, it should be clear that we would want Christians who object to the vaccine to be very clear about their reasons for this objection: is it genuinely on religious grounds, or for some other reason?
Secondly, if the objection to vaccine mandates springs from a concern about civil liberties (a concern with which I would have significant sympathy) then Christians should feel free to protest and engage their governments as citizens.
Finally, our hope would be that in our churches there is the space and generosity for people with different opinions on these matters to continue to love and worship together. The pandemic has created so many divisions: as children of God we need to demonstrate the reality of His ability to bring us together in unity.
“…human lives will be ruled by one of two fundamental forces: either truth or power. …our first parents exchanged the external rule of God and the objective truth of his world ‘out there’ for the internal rule of their own desires ‘in here’”
“The idea here is to make habits as easy as possible to start, with the hope that once we’ve started doing the right thing, it will be easier to continue doing it. Examples of creating a two-minute rule are:
“Read before bed each night” becomes “Read one page.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a virtual meeting titled Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee on Friday, September 17th.
As they described it on their YouTube channel, “Join us for a Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meeting to discuss Pfizer-BioNTech’s supplemental Biologics License Application for administration of a third dose, or “booster” dose, of the COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, in individuals 16 years of age and older.”
It was an eight-hour virtual meeting (Full video at the bottom of this article), but we found a few bombshell clips that destroyed the official narrative.
Here’s the first clip from Steve Kirsch, Executive Director of the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund:
Hi, I’m Steve Kirsch. I’m the Executive Director of the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund. I have no conflicts. Advanced to slide number four with the elephants. I’m going to focus my remarks today on the elephant in the room that nobody likes to talk about, that the vaccines kill more people than they save. Today we focus almost exclusively on COVID death saves and vaccine efficacy because we were led to believe that vaccines are perfectly safe. But this is simply not true. For example, there are four times as many heart attacks in the treatment group in the Pfizer six-month trial report. That wasn’t bad luck. There is shows heart attacks happen 71 times more often following these vaccines compared to any other vaccine. In all 20 people died, who got the drug, 14 died who got the placebo. Few people notice that if the net all-cause mortality from the vaccines is negative. Vaccines, boosters, and mandates are all nonsensical. This is the case today. Death rates. Let’s slide number seven advanced to the number seven in the lower part. This shows that the all-cause death light rate and in three cases, only the VAERS numbers are statistically significant, but the other numbers are troubling. Even if the vaccines had 100% protection, it still means we killed two people to save one life. Four experts did analyses using completely different Non-U.S. data sources, and all of them came up with approximately the same number of excess vaccine-related deaths, about 411 deaths per million doses. That translates into 150,000 people have died. The next slide would be slide number 11—the nursing home. Now the real numbers confirm that we kill more than we saved. And I would love everyone to look at the Israel Ministry of health data on the 90 plus-year-olds where we went from a 94.4% vaccinated group to 82.9% vaccinated in the last four months. In the most optimistic scenario, it means that 50% of the vaccinated people died, and 0% of unvaccinated people died. Unless you can explain that to the American public. You cannot approve the boosters” – Steve Kirsch, Executive Director of COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund
Why aren’t the Big Media outlets blasting this information out all over the place?
That wasn’t the only bombshell clip from the meeting.
“My name is Dr. Jessica Rose, and I’m a viral immunologist and computational biologist. This is a bar plot that shows the past ten years of VAERS data plotted against the total number of adverse event reports for all vaccines for the year 2011 through 2020. And for COVID-associated products only for 2021. The left box represents all adverse event reports. And the right-hand column represents all deaths adverse event reports. There’s an over 1,000% increase in the total number of adverse events for 2021, and we are not done with 2021. This is highly anomalous on both fronts. These increased reporting rates are not due to increased rates in injections and not due to simulated reporting. This has been shown using a comparative analysis of influenza data. The onus is on the public health officials, the FDA, the CDC, and policymakers to answer to these anomalies and acknowledge the clear risk signals emerging from VAERS data, and to confront the issue of COVID injectable products huge risks that, in my opinion, outweigh any potential benefits associated with these products, especially for children. This is a time series plot that shows the total cumulative number of cardiovascular, immunological, and neurological adverse events for 2021 associated with COVID products. For the cumulative absolute counts are normalized for the total number of fully injected individuals in the U.S., We can see that one and 660 individuals are succumbing to and REPORTING immunological adverse events associated with the COVID product. The underreporting factor is NOT considered here. This is a phylogenetic tree showing the emergence of the Alpha against Delta variants of COVID-19 over time. The emergence of both of these variants and their subsequent clustering arose in very close temporal proximity to the rollout of the COVID product in Israel. Israel is one of the most injected countries, and it appears from this data that this represents a clear failure of these products to provide protective immunity against emergent variants and to prevent transmission, regardless of how many additional shots administered. And this begs the question as to whether these injection rollouts are driving the emergence of the new variants. There’s a clear and present danger of the emergence of variants of concern if we continue with these alleged booster shots. Thank you.” – Dr. Jessica Rose
That’s just two clips from the eight-hour meeting, but you can check out the entire discussion here: