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Friday, October 29, 2010

Does Galatians 3:28 do away with gender roles?

I mentioned on Sunday that those who espouse an egalitarian view of gender roles have a difficult time supporting their position biblically.  That doesn’t stop them from trying, though. (As a reminder, egalitarianism holds that there are no meaningful distinctions between the two genders in terms of role and authority in marriage and the church.

Practically speaking, egalitarians argue that women should not be expected to submit to their husbands and should be afforded the role of pastor/elder in the church.) One of the most common tactics is to cite Galatians 3:28, which reads, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. It is argued by some evangelical feminists that Paul intends for us to understand that because “there is no male or female,” there should be no gender-specific leadership roles in marriage and the church. This interpretation of Galatians 3:28 is incredible for at least two reasons.

First, using Galatians 3:28 to support an egalitarian view of gender roles divorces the verse from its context.  Context is king.  It’s been said that the three most important factors in creating a successful retail business are location, location, location.  Similarly, it could be said that the three most important factors in arriving at an accurate interpretation of any text of Scripture are context, context, context. In the case of Galatians 3:28, even a cursory observation of the verse in its context is devastating to the egalitarian interpretation.

Paul wrote the book of Galatians to combat a false gospel.  This is clear from 1:6-9:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

Chapter 2 reveals that this false gospel sought to require uncircumcised believers to become circumcised, or more generically, to keep the law of Moses (2:3-5, 11-14).  Paul immediately proclaims the truth that “a person is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus” (2:15-16).

In Chapter 3 Paul makes the case that even Abraham was saved by faith alone (3:1-8).  Those who rely on the works of the law to save them are under a curse, but Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law “so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles” (3:10-14). 

The natural question, anticipated by Paul, is found in 3:19a: “Why then the law?”  In other words, what purpose did the law serve?  Paul gives a summary answer in 3:24: “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.”  The law showed us our inability to keep it and therefore our need for a Savior.  The point of the argument up to this point is that all people are saved by faith alone, not by the works of the law.

And now let’s look at v28 within its immediate context:

  25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.

What follows in chapters 4-6 is the practical outworking of this truth.  Galatians does not deal with gender roles.  I assure you, I have not made any convenient omissions in my portrayal of the context, but don’t just take my word for it; please take the time to read the whole book.

If you do, you will find that this book is intended to defend the gospel of salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ.  The point that 3:28 makes in its context is that ALL people – Jews, Greeks, slaves, freemen, males, females – are saved by faith and are one in Christ.  There is no distinction between these groups in terms of how they are saved.  There is no hint of the issue of gender roles at all.  To use 3:28 as a blanket statement that dissolves all gender roles in the family and the church is a blatant abuse of the verse in its context.

Second, using Galatians 3:28 to support the egalitarian view of gender roles fails to take into account those passages that do deal with that issue.  Scripture does not contradict Scripture.  So anytime we arrive at a tentative interpretation of a passage of Scripture, we should then take that interpretation and measure it against other biblical teaching on that issue.  If that interpretation is found to contradict the clear teaching of the Word, we must reject it and go back to the beginning.  If we do that kind of Scriptural comparison with Galatians 3:28, we find that the egalitarian use of this verse is completely inconsistent with other relevant passages.

Consider these New Testament texts:

Eph 5:22-24 – Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-7 – Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.  Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

1 Timothy 2:11-14 – Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Colossians 3:18-19 – Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

1 Corinthians 11:3-9 – But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.  Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.  For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.  For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

Unlike the egalitarian use of Galatians 3:28, if you look at the contexts of each of the passages just quoted, you will find that all of them come from sections of Scripture dealing explicitly with the issue of gender roles.  If it is our conviction that Scripture cannot contradict itself, we must come to the conclusion that either our understanding of the above texts is flawed or the egalitarian understanding of Galatians 3:28 is flawed.  Since our understanding of the passages above is supported by the contexts in which those passages are found, and since the egalitarian understanding of Galatians 3:28 disregards its context, we must conclude that Galatians 3:28 does not teach gender-neutral roles in the family and the church.

But this proper reasoning is lost on the egalitarian community.  At least on this issue, they seem to be content with contradiction.  There seems to be no desire to find an interpretation of Galatians 3:28 that is faithful to the context and harmonizes with the rest of Scripture.  Instead, the egalitarian argument seeks to simply cancel out the passages above, as if the object was to find a way to balance the theological scales, placing their understanding of Galatians 3:28 on one side and the conflicting passages on the other.  It is truly frightening to me how commonplace this form of biblical reasoning has become.  Professing believers who disagree on certain issues allow the conversation on such matters to devolve into a kind of proof-texting food fight, where each side throws their pet verses at the other to see who runs out of ammo first.

God’s Word deserves to be treated with care and precision.  It should inform and shape our hearts rather than our hearts informing and shaping it.  Faithful biblical interpretation seeks to understand a passage in its own context and in relation to the rest of the biblical material related to the subject matter of that text.  The egalitarian interpretation of Galatians 3:28 fails on both accounts.

Posted by Greg Birdwell

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Cutting Room Floor - Embarrassed by Ehud?

Sunday’s text presented us with one of the most colorful stories in the Old Testament.  A left-handed deliverer smuggled a homemade sword into an morbidly obese tyrant’s palace, tricked the king into giving him a private audience, and deposited the sword into the king’s girth, which brought about the emptying of his bowels.  Add to that the spectacle of the king’s attendants assuming from the smell and the locked door that he was relieving himself, which gave the assassin plenty of time to get away, until the climax of the tale when the attendants finally entered the king’s quarters to find him and his dung piled on the floor.  Whoever said the Bible was boring obviously never read Judges 3.

But not everyone is as amused by this episode as my children are.  Some have a hard time with Ehud’s actions, which they view to be unethical or immoral. They say he lied, he was barbaric, he was treacherous, he was cruel.  One such commentator wrote, “By even the most elementary standard of ethics [Ehud’s] deception and murder of Eglon stand condemned.  Passages like this, even when encountered by the untutored reader of the Scriptures, cause consternation and questioning.”(1)  Some think Ehud gives God a black eye, so to speak.  After all, God raised him up to deliver the people. 
So what do we say to this?  Should we be embarrassed by Ehud?  I don’t think so, and there are several reasons.

First, the text gives absolutely no editorial comment on Ehud’s actions.  There isn't even anything implied about it. The story is simply told in a matter-of-fact manner.  That tells us that we are not intended to make any moral or ethical judgments regarding the planning and execution of Ehud’s plan.  It is not germane to the point of the story.

Second, in the next chapter, we’ll read of a woman named Jael, who will kill one of Israel’s oppressors by luring him into her tent, putting him to sleep with a glass of warm milk, and then hammering a tent peg through his skull.  That would seem to be parallel with Ehud’s handiwork in terms of its deception and barbarity.  BUT…the text does make a moral judgment about her actions.  In 5:24-27, she is praised for her deeds and is called “most blessed of women.”  If Jael was praised for her actions, we shouldn’t be troubled by Ehud’s.

Third, the Bible is full of barbarity by our modern standards.  The Ancient Near East was no West Chester, Ohio.  There was no lethal injection or life-in-prison.  There were no elections.  There was no United Nations.  Back then foreign policy entailed raping, pillaging, and murdering all nations smaller and weaker than you.  The world was a much rougher place than it is now.  We shouldn’t read our modern sensibilities back into a text written in a completely different historical context. 

Fourth, this episode should be seen in the context of the Conquest – God’s command to Israel to exterminate every Canaanite in the Promised Land.  Remember, we’ve already reasoned our way through how to understand the Conquest.  (If you haven’t heard the sermon on Joshua 6:21, you might find it helpful.)  The same reasoning applies to this story.  The Canaanites, including Eglon, deserved the wrath of God for their sin.  They were all supposed to die by the sword.  Eglon’s death represented the justice of a holy God.

Fifth, deception in wartime is not the same thing as bearing false witness or lying.  Do you recall the ambush that Joshua and the Israelites sprung on Ai in Joshua 8?  Where they deceived the men of Ai, drew them out of the city, and annihilated them?  That plan was commanded by God.  Again, we need to let Scripture tell us what to think rather than judging God or His Word based on our own sensibilities.
We have a tendency to be embarrassed for God and to try to explain away things His Word says about Him…when He isn’t embarrassed at all.  He wrote what He wrote.  He is just and He is holy and He is good and kind and loving, etc.  He doesn’t need us to rescue Him from His Word.

Now, about Shamgar.  Judges 3:31 reads: After [Ehud] was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel. 

There is so little detail in the text about him that it is hard to know what to do with this verse.  The loose consensus among scholars is that Shamgar was probably not an Israelite.  However, the text does not tell us one way or another.  Clearly, what we do know is that he racked up an impressive pile of Philistines with an instrument used for driving livestock, and that he saved Israel. 

We don’t want to force anything on the text and take it further than that.  Knowing the themes of the book, we can conclude that Shamgar represented another act of God’s grace in saving his people through a human deliverer.

Let’s not forget in all of this, that each of these texts ultimately point us to Christ.  There was no more bloody or barbaric scene than the one in which Yahweh laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  May this week find you increasing in your love and devotion for our great Redeemer.
(1) Phillip P. Elliot, "The Book of Judges: Exposition," IB, 2:708, 711.
Posted by Greg Birdwell

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Cutting Room Floor: The Spirit of the Lord

Last Sunday, we saw in Judges 3:10 that one of the few details given about Othniel was that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him.  We’ll find references to the Spirit’s influence in the lives of several of the judges as we work our way through the book.  Judges 6:34: “But the Spirit of the LORD clothed Gideon…”  Judges 11:29: “Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah…”  Of Sampson, there are four such references – Judges 13:25, 14:6, 14:19, and 15:14.  In each of these cases, the Spirit serves to empower the judges for overcoming some danger or enemy. 

Later in the Old Testament, the Spirit serves to mark out God’s rule through Israel’s kings.  1 Samuel 10:1-11 tells of Samuel anointing Saul king. In v10, we read that the Spirit of God rushed upon him.  However, after Saul breaks God’s law by offering an unauthorized sacrifice in 1 Samuel 13, it is recorded in 16:13-14 that the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David…[and] the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.

So among the numerous functions of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament are these – He empowers God’s chosen leader and He marks out God’s chosen king.  It’s critical to remember that the Old Testament was not written to be a completed volume to be understood on its own.  It is merely the first part of the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

An awareness of such things can make our reading of the New Testament far richer.  In the Gospel of Matthew we see pictures of both of these functions of the Spirit of the Lord  being applied to Jesus Christ.  In 3:16-17 Matthew records the baptism of Christ: And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."  This is parallel to the anointings of Saul and David.  After Christ came out of the water, the Spirit descended upon Him.  John 1:32 adds that “He remained upon Him.”  This marked Christ out as the Messiah, the King.  (After the book of Judges, I will be preaching through Matthew.  We’ll find that one of Matthew’s chief objectives is to show that Christ is the King promised in the Old Testament.)

Following this scene, we see the Spirit fulfilling His second function in the life of Christ, that is, empowering Him for obedience.  Matthew 4:1-11 records the Lord’s temptation in the wilderness, which begins with these words, Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Following this period of temptation, during which He was perfectly victorious, Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee (Luke 4:14).  In Luke 4:17-21, we read of Jesus preaching in the synagogue of His home town, and claiming the Spirit’s anointing to proclaim the gospel and set the captives free:   

And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Acts 10:38 tells us how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  Christ’s ministry and power to obey were attributed to the presence of the Holy Spirit in His life.  This is incredibly encouraging because the testimony of the New Testament is that Christ drew upon the same resources available to us in our pursuit of obedience.  As Acts 10:38 says above, Christ had the Holy Spirit.  So do we (Acts 1:8).  He knew the Word of God, as evidence both by His knowledge of Isaiah in the synagogue scene quoted above and by His use of Scripture in fending off the temptations of the devil in the wilderness.  Romans 15:4 tells us that the Scriptures are intended for our help and encouragement, as well.  And Christ was a man devoted to prayer (Matt 14:23; 26:36-46; Mk 1:35, 6:46; Lk 5:16, 6:12; Jn 17), to which we also are called (Phil 4:6).

The pictures of the Spirit of the Lord empowering Othniel, Gideon, and Sampson in Judges looks forward to the Spirit descending upon Christ, empowering Him for His mission.  They also remind us that we too have benefited from the presence of the Spirit – His presence is in us eternally.

Praise the Lord for the many ways in which the Old Testament Scriptures point us to Christ and the gift of salvation that He brings.

Posted by Greg Birdwell

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Is Christ still a man?

This week in the women’s bible study there was a theological question, which was passed on to me.  I thought I’d take the time to answer it here for everybody.
Is Christ forever both fully God and fully man?  In other words, when He was resurrected or when He ascended, did He continue to be fully man or did He resume His pre-incarnation existence?
This is a great question and one that the Bible does answer for us.  It’s important to start out in the right place, understanding that prior to the incarnation, Christ was the Eternal Son, existing as spirit – that is, He had no physical body.  John 1:1-2 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”  Likewise, Phil 2:6 notes that “…He was in the form of God…”  The indication then is that in eternity past, the Son existed in the same form as the Father.
But within the contexts of both passages cited above, it is noted that the Eternal Son took on human flesh.  John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” Phil 2:8a, “And being found in human form...”  We all know that, but was that permanent?
Well, the Holy Spirit inspired a number of proofs that Christ’s resurrection was a bodily resurrection.  First, John 20:25-27 tells us that Jesus proved His resurrection to Thomas by inviting him to touch the wounds in His hands and side. 
Similarly, Luke 24 recounts that several of the disciples were doubting when they first saw the resurrected Christ: 38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
It is clear then that after the resurrection, the Son was still in the form of a man.  But what about after He ascended into heaven?  Acts 1:11 gives us a definitive answer.  As the disciples stood staring into the sky after Jesus was taken up into heaven, two angels said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."  Christ ascended in bodily form and will return in bodily form, indicating that His state is unchanged. 
Additionally, in Matt 26:29 Jesus said to the disciples, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”  Revelation 19:9 also tells of the great marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven that will take place in the end.  And Colossians 2:9 tells us, For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.  All of these things indicate that Christ continues to exist in human form.
This is great to know, but it is even more important for us to recognize why it is necessary for Christ to be fully human for eternity.  First, Christ’s role as our mediator/priest requires that He remain fully God and fully man.  Because of our estrangement from God, we needed someone to represent God to us and to represent us to God.  1 Timothy 2:5 shows that Christ is the singular figure who is able to do that and that His humanity is an essential part of that role: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 
Likewise, the book of Hebrews reveals Christ as our perfect high priest.  A vital part of His functioning in that role is His ability to identify with our humanity:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Heb 4:15)
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb 2:18)
The book also indicates in numerous places that Christ serves in this priestly role forever (Heb 5:6, 6:20, 7:3, 7:17, 7:24, 13:8).  This would lose all significance and meaning were Christ no longer a man.
This should inspire all the more love and adoration for our Savior and His eternal, selfless service to us. When the Son condescended and took the form of a man, He did so as a permanent, gracious act.  Out of love for us and obedience to the Father, He remains our perfect high priest forever.
Posted by Greg Birdwell

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Cutting Room Floor: Idols as Curses

The last couple Sunday mornings, I have read small snippets from Deuteronomy 28, where God promised the Israelites the blessings He would bring if they obeyed and the curses He would bring if they disobeyed.  Again, I strongly encourage you to read that whole chapter, as it gives a helpful picture of the kind of oppression the Israelites were experiencing in each cycle of sin in the book of Judges.

The Israelites were told to expect a dizzying list of painful and demoralizing consequences for their unfaithfulness.  A sampling:

The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. (v22)

The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. (v27)

You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours, for they shall go into captivity. (v41)

You shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. (v48)

The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns. (vv56-57)

Your life shall hang in doubt before you. Night and day you shall be in dread and have no assurance of your life. (v66)

As I read the chapter again this morning, one clause in v36 caught my attention, and it was particularly striking in light of all the horrible things in the context:

…And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone.

Peculiar.  These other gods of wood and stone were what the people wanted.  In fact, the Israelites wanted these gods so badly that they were willing to suffer the consequences that they knew would come as a result.  And yet, God gives them the idols of their lust as a judgment.  What they desired became a curse upon them.

Romans 1:18-32 show this as a pattern of God’s judgment.  What we see in this passage is three statements of man’s rejection of God, and three statement’s of God giving man over to his sin as a result. 

The first statement of man’s rejection of God is in vv22-23: Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

The Lord’s response in v24: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.  “Gave them up” means “to hand over”.  It is the word used when Judas handed Jesus over to the Jews (Mt 26:48: Jn 18:5).  Essentially, Romans 1:24 speaks of God giving man over captive to his idolatry.

The second statement of man’s rejection of God is in v25: For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

The Lord’s response in vv26-27: For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  Again, this is a picture of God giving man over captive to his own idolatrous lust – they were “consumed” by it.  Clearly, this was an act of judgment, “the due penalty for their error.”

The third statement of man’s rejection of God is in v28a: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God…

The Lord’s response in v28b: …God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  The following two verses show the laundry list of sin that this entailed.

This is more than the ultimate case of “be careful what you wish for.”  These verses demonstrate that the very things we worship in place of God, can easily become the temporal judgment for our idolatry.  What we worship becomes a curse, because what we worship never delivers what we hope it will deliver.  Instead it delivers misery.

Sometimes it is hard to see the practicality of such passages because we don’t equate our own wants and desires with idolatry.  But if we take the time to look at our lives in light of Scripture, we’ll find these principles as work.  Consider this scenario: you have a difficult circumstance in your life that you don’t see in the lives of the people around you.  It could be related to your job, your family, your health – fill in the blank.  So you look at some of these people who seem to have it easier than you do, and you give in to the temptation to covet.  “I wish I didn’t have to worry about money.”  “I’d give anything to have a job I enjoyed.”  “Wish my marriage was easy.”  “Why can’t my kids be healthy?”

It’s most likely a fleeting thought the first time.  But like any temptation that has found success, it will come back.  And you give in again.  And again.  And eventually you find yourself given over to that lust.  You are consumed by it.  Seems like everyone you see you automatically assign to that favored class of people who are not suffering the way you are.  Your thoughts become more and more self-centered by the day, and you develop a habitual pattern of thinking that dominates the way you see your own life and the lives of the people around you.  You are breathing covetousness and because that idolatrous lust is not delivering what you hoped it would deliver, bitterness grows inside you, bitterness toward God and bitterness toward other people. 

And all of this is taking place in your heart.  No one even knows you are thinking these things, longing for these things, overcome by these things.  That is, no one but God.  And He knows that what is taking place there is idolatry – you are desiring something else more than you are desiring to worship and please Him. 

One of the worst consequences of sin is being given over to that sin.   Rather than that sin being your slave – which is what temptation promises – it becomes your master.  It rules you.  And the only way to deal with it is to repent and turn to Christ, kill the sin and grow in worship of the Savior.  Refusing to do this will only result in sin gaining an even greater hold on you, a truly miserable existence.

Every sin involves believing a lie.  This will make me happy.  This will feel good.  But Scripture teaches us that we were created to glorify God, and that is the only endeavor in which we will find true satisfaction. 

We would do well to take Psalm 16 to heart, using it against whatever idolatrous desires we find there.  “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you…in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Posted by Greg Birdwell

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mohler on the Church's (non)Defense of Marriage

Here is a link to an excellent article on Dr. Albert Mohler's blog.  He makes a striking observation - in the church's crusade to take a stand on moral issues in the culture, one issue has been conspicuously absent from it's list of concerns - divorce.  This piece is worth a few minutes of your time.

Posted by Greg Birdwell