there’s often much to say, but there is rarely something that can be said to everyone
What many have mistaken for divorce is actually the booting of a cheater–for God does not recognize marriages between the married. This he calls adultery (matt5:32). God did not hate Israel’s divorce from Egypt and Babylon–He demanded it and facilitated it. Jezebel is the current home-wrecker, and her time is limited. Even in the natural, if the Lord didn’t ordain the marriage, the counselors labor in vain (but for an ample profit). (psa127:1)
- Covet God’s mercy for others
- Be selfish for God
- Be selfish for people
People live in distress. Christians live in distress. They’ve been promised freedom from the laws of sin and death. But they do not experience this freedom now.
And no one is willing to save them (for fear of being called a legalist).
Walk with me, man.
You struggle with lust for women and dwell on them in ways that are unhealthy. You have trouble looking at a woman without objectifying her or caring little about her personality in relation to her appearance. You want to stop (or so you say), but you can’t seem to shift your thinking.
For you (fictional reader man), your mind is perverted and your thought-life is hijacked. The reason you do not find success over lust and your impure mind is that the television and movies you entertain yourself with are filled with sex appeal in the form of over-sexualized female characters, tight/short cast wardrobes, crude humor, etc.
And who will tell you this? Who will enlighten you? Who will step out and say “If you want freedom from lust, try getting away from the pied piper of television. They play the tune you want to hear, but lead you to the cliff.” Your pastors will not, and your friends will not.
Why? Because they fear you.
They fear you will call them a legalist–that you will accuse them of putting burdens onto your back that are not packaged with a veritable, concise chapter and verse. But this is not legalism. Legalism is attained when one follows rules to earn one’s salvation or love from God whereas changing your life to find success has no bearing on your salvation or God’s love for you.
Of course God’s love is never based on our actions. But your success in life is.
Legalism as I have seen it accused today is fickle. Where in the Bible does it say: “Thou shalt not watch NC-17 movies.” Don’t bother looking–it’s not there :). And yet who will call you a legalist if you told them it was a bad idea to watch an NC-17 movie? No one. They agree with you. However, you may be called a legalist if you told someone it was a bad idea to watch PG-13 movies. Clearly these accusations of legalism are subjective at best and highly ignorant at worst.
I don’t blame the people who continually fail in areas of lust, depression, anger, etc who are in ignorance. For how will they know if no one tells them? Who is willing to look like a legalist for the sake of bringing someone freedom from an impure mind (which they claim to desire).
There are other areas of conduct that plague our Christian culture that few are willing to combat by agreeing with God. You can see it coming. Nathan’s about to talk about booze.
I challenge you to be a teetotaler. Don’t drink alcohol unless it is medicinal. (And I’m not referring to self-medicating)
“But Nathan, that isn’t in the Bible!” Right you are–there isn’t a verse in the Bible stating that here in America in 2010, you [insert name here] shouldn’t drink alcohol socially. But this is not about the law. This is about success here in this life. In this life, I believe it is wise to stay away from alcohol. The rapes, murders, spousal/child abuses, car accidents, ETC should be enough example for you to know there is much possible danger down that path. The pros are zero and the cons are numerous.
When your Christianity has deepened, your decisions stop being about “What am I allowed to do?” and they shift to “What should I do?” They move from “What isn’t that bad?” to “What is good?” You cease to follow the crowd and ascertain what is of the world and what is of the Spirit. This won’t make you popular, but you’ll find success from your struggles. God has already given you freedom if you will simply trust and obey. But He will not make you obey.
Maybe you’re like me. I say I desire to think on what is pure, noble, and decent. But instead I walk about humming a Flight of the Conchords song or the latest SNL Digital Short. Those things are legitimately funny. They’re also legitimately trash (usually). They legitimately give the enemy a foothold in my thought life. If my eye causes me to sin, I should gouge it out. I would rather have freedom from crude thoughts and humor than partake in wasted laughter. Alcohol is the same way. It opens doors and brings you down paths where you shouldn’t be–and later on down the line: you’ll wish you weren’t there.
Is it a sin to kiss someone else’s spouse in a romantic way? No. It’s a sin to commit adultery. And yet we can see that slippery slope, and we’re comfortable calling people out who engage in this sort of behavior. We’re comfortable “judging” them.
But some bondages are not so easy to follow back to their source.
Perhaps you don’t feel far from God. Perhaps you don’t feel your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. Perhaps you do not struggle with depression, lust, anger, wicked thoughts, etc. Perhaps you are living a life of success in the Spirit.
But if you are struggling, and you want to get closer to God: quit messing around. Look around and see what contends for your mind and time. Perceive what in your life speaks louder than God. Don’t go with the flow.
Beyond that, don’t be afraid to agree with God when the culture disagrees. You might be the only one willing to go out on a limb for them and save their life. Many are going to heaven, but they’re living hell.
Amongst the denominations of Christianity there is no small amount of doctrinal elitism. Certain groups will elevate themselves above other Christians based upon their so-called lofty understanding of the Bible. But these are more influenced by tradition than they are by the Bible they claim to follow above all else.
- “I don’t see people getting healed. That’s not for today.”
- “I don’t see apostles. They’re not for today.”
- “I don’t see prophets. They’re not for today.”
- “I don’t hear God. He must not speak anymore.”
- “I know Paul taught there shouldn’t be divisions, but I’m a [insert denomination here]. That must be okay now.”
- “I don’t know anyone who speaks in tongues, and the people that do are crazy. That’s not for today.”
There is no Biblical basis for the assertions made above. They are the product of people who haven’t experienced God thinking they’re doing God a favor by devising pseudo-Biblical explanations for arm-length relationship with their Creator. (In their defense: that is probably the way they were raised.)
Even further–these people will completely ignore passages of the Bible for no legitimate scholarly or spiritual reason (see head coverings).
Don’t reverse engineer your faith based upon what you can see or what someone told you. Read your Bible. And more than reading it–be prepared to believe what God has conveyed in it above what your church or friends have told you.
The Lord extends His hand to save us from the sinful patterns of this world. He offers freedom in this life as well as in the next.
“No,” we say, “I do not want to be saved from sin. I merely want to be saved from Hell. I will taste of the pleasures of life while I am here. I am smart enough to decide what is beneficial for me.”
As we swat away His loving hand and turn to walk the path of the world, let us not be surprised as we share in the same failures of the godless.
The Lord would impart wisdom to us, but we do not want it.
We have erected spiritual walls around our ears that dull the voice of God to a hush. Our leaders will not name these walls but will continue in their talk of the God’s love and forgiveness. (There is more to the picture.)
There are many spiritual walls that we can erect around ourselves that will deafen our ears to the voice of God. Many of these walls stem directly from worldliness–things we do because they are commonplace or acceptable in our culture while giving no thought to what God thinks.
Note these verses about the world:
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
Here is what God would rather have us think on:
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
We are strangers in a foreign land–this world is not our home! In many ways, Christians have mimicked the culture, and it is always to our detriment.
We must be wary of the culture–yes, even “Christian culture.”
Test all things; hold fast what is good.
In regards to issues of correct conduct, fight the temptation to ask “Why not?” or “Is this really that bad?”
This God-ignoring logic has justified alcohol-drinking, terrestrial music, gambling, sexual immorality, tattoos, etc. (Let “everyone else is doing it” NEVER be our commanding internal reasoning.)
Rather–ask “Why?” Better yet–simply ask God. He answers. Do you hear?
I’ve only gone trick-or-treating twice. We went with family friends back in Oklahoma when I was little, and I went a second time 2 years ago for the sake of watching after some little children. One of my experiences during the latter will not soon leave my mind.
As we walked towards the door, there were body parts (most likely dismembered plastic babies) strewn throughout a small garden on our left. On the bench to our right, there was a headless man with the blade from a circular saw protruding from his chest. Beside the door there was a man wearing the Scream outfit holding a plastic jack-o-lantern full of candy. We thought he was a mannequin, but much to our surprise, he extended the candy to us and startled us all.
Halloween is disgusting in my eyes, but it is far more disgusting in my spirit.
As Christians, do we believe that Satan is real? Do we believe he has a personality and goals and that they are distinctly opposite to God’s? Do we recognize that Satan is known for fashioning his evil as attractive and fun?
If you take a hard look at Halloween, there is no other honest conclusion to be had than this: Halloween is a celebration of darkness, death, and fear.
We might call Halloween a trivialization and celebration of Satan’s work on earth. Darkness is his shroud! Death (spiritual/mental/physical) is his desire for us! Fear is his number-one-hit in our lives!
People may choose to celebrate Halloween in many different (and perhaps harmless) ways, but the core of this holiday (in American culture, at least) is indisputable. All for Satan’s glory.
It’s unlikely that I could hate Halloween any more than I do. But the reason I hate it is that it is so obviously Satan’s handiwork. It reeks of him. (I just want to love what He loves and hate what He hates.)
I would contend that it’s disgusting to the Spirit of God.
Christians should not blindly go along with worldliness. We need God’s wisdom.
Do not be deceived–if we go along with the world and ignore the Spirit of God, we will share in the consequences of worldliness. We are not immune to the consequences of foolishness, and we should not be surprised that we feel far from the Lord when we ignore Him.
14 Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.
UPDATE: Read this post by Solomon. He framed the issue perfectly! (hat tip: bones)
If one is celebrating on this day and their celebration does not relate to death, darkness, or fear, there is no issue with that celebration (in my opinion)! Let us separate what is of God from what is of Satan! As we obey Him, listen to Him, and trust Him, He will draw near to us (He promises).