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Do we have to sin?Sunday, January 11, 2015
Do we have to sin?
There is no way anyone in this world is ever going to take sin seriously if they accept the false notion that man must sin. A lot of this stems from the doctrine of depravity. This teaching promotes the idea that we sin because of Adam and Eve and that we inherit their original sin, meaning we are born in sin. This could not be any farther from the truth. Let’s take a closer BIBLICAL look.
We begin by looking at Adam and Eve. They both were given laws to obey (Gen. 2:16-17). We read in the next chapter how they both broke God’s law and were punished. Why did they sin? The Bible does not mention being born in depravity. Rather, the inspired word, brings up the concept of temptation. James states that sin comes about when we give in to temptation (Jas. 1:13-15). This is no different than what happens to every other person.
Some might conclude that Adam and Eve sinned because temptation is irresistible. Fortunately for us as God’s children, this idea is also not found in the Bible! Nowhere in the scriptures are we told we have to yield to temptation. Actually, we are told there is no temptation that cannot be resisted if one turns to God for help (I Cor. 10:13; Jas. 4:7). I am not denying the fact that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Even Christians were told if they say they have no sin, they are a liar (I John 1:8). However, knowing that we will sin is not the same as saying we have to sin.
That difference is what we need to focus on if we are going to gain a proper understanding. That fact that we are commanded not to sin (I John 2:1) implies that we do not have to. To even suggest that everyone must sin implies that we have an unjust God. A just and loving God will not command us to do something impossible for us. Let us also not forget the punishment for sin. Every sin has consequences (Rom. 6:23), meaning that men are held accountable for their actions. Again, why punish someone who could not help it?
It is wrong for us to think that God’s grace and mercy means He overlooks sin because we are forced to transgress. This idea is not found in the Bible. God’s mercy and grace has been offered to mankind so he/she can obtain forgiveness for their SINS! There is no forgiveness without repentance (Luke 13:3). To repent means to turn about. How could we truly repent if we knew that sin was irresistible and would thus happen again? If we live our lives committing the same sins over and over, we are addicted to them. This person is not walking in the light but rather in darkness (I John 1:3-7).
How many employers would accept the same lame excuse over and over for not arriving at work on time? How many spouses would accept the same lame excuse regarding adultery? As God’s people, we know there are sins we committed in the past and then successfully never did again. We succeeded because we made up our minds to turn away (repent) and not go down that pathway again.
My point is that we can choose to make the right choice, but we do not always do this. We sometimes falter because we fail to walk in faith. When we do not walk by faith, we succumb to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye or the pride of life (I John 2:16). When we love the world, the love of the Father is not in us (verse 15). When a person puts off the old man of sin (Rom. 6:3-6), the Lord and other Christians expect that they have left their former life of sin behind. If they do sin, the Lord and other Christians are right to be disappointed because we have no excuse for sinning.
God’s people get stronger by resisting sin (James 1:2-4). Are they sinlessly perfect? No. But they are certainly sinning less and less.
How not to sinSunday, January 11, 2015
How not to sin
In our first article, we pointed out that we sometimes sin but are never forced to. Some may struggle with this idea and wonder how sin can effectively be resisted. While this is easier said than done, our Lord has left us with ways to escape temptations (I Cor. 10:13).
We must start by hating every false way (Psa. 119:104). It is impossible to resist temptation if we are comfortable with it and actually enjoy the evils that surround us. It becomes easier to transgress when we think some sins are not as bad as others.
There is power in prayer. Jesus, early in His earthly ministry, taught His followers to pray. “Father, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” (Matt. 6:13). Also, during the night of our Lord’s betrayal He told Peter, James and John to pray to avoid entering into temptation (Matt. 26:41). These sorts of prayers are a good preventative measure and help us stay focused on spiritual things rather than the enticing nature of the temptation.
However, prayer is not going help a person who does not turn away. Paul mentioned that we ought to “Flee youthful lusts” (II Tim. 2:22). People who play with fire get burned. We need to realize that when a situation is obviously leading toward sin, we need to get out of that situation. Remaining in the situation and just trying to resist means we may eventually wear down and succumb. Consider how the Corinthians were told that evil companions corrupt good morals (I Cor. 15:33). We must know when to walk, or run, away.
Another great tool that can help us resist sin is to confess faults to one another (James 5:16). If brethren are aware of what tempts us, they can help hold us accountable. God obviously does, but our Lord also knows the value brethren can offer each other by bearing one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
Taking sin seriously is the only way we can have victory over it. Remember, sin is so bad that Jesus Christ had to sacrifice His own life because of it! Let it not be in vain.
Tights are not pants!Sunday, January 04, 2015
Tights are not pants!
As a parent, I am well aware of current fashion trends. Society’s standards for clothing are still a concern to me now that my daughters and son have children of their own. It is clear that modest apparel is not on the minds of today’s designers. Sometimes it feels like clothing becomes more acceptable as it gets tighter, shorter and more revealing!
Godly women (and men) are aware that lewdness is sinful (Gal. 5:19). Younger and younger children, particularly girls, are being pressured to dress in ways that even adult women found inappropriate within my lifetime. This is no more apparent than the wearing of tights. Also called leotards in my childhood, they are now often known as leggings. My younger sisters would wear them under pants for warmth. At the time, wearing just a leotard to school would have been embarrassing and immodest.
It is becoming increasingly common for women and girls to wear just tights in public. Often, they throw on a slightly long shirt or sweater with their leggings. Is this acceptable? If you would not wear just the shirt/sweater without tights, you need something looser to cover your legs.
Perhaps you wonder why I bring this up. John spoke broadly about the sin of lust of the flesh, (I John 2:16). This style of dress fits that category. The simple truth is that today’s women (and men) need to cover up. Skintight clothing leaves nothing to the imagination, which causes the imaginations of people to go awry. It is wrong for people to look with lust, but it is also wrong to tempt others with our clothing.
Husbands, dads and granddads know this to be true and need to be frank. Although it wasn’t a “dress” issue, Eli had problems with his children because he “did not restrain them” (I Sam. 3:13). Male family members also need to tactfully speak up. As much as we want our wives and children to dress fashionably, they do not need to parade their bodies around and incite lust in others. As I often have stated when dealing with this subject, remember that the one who dressed like a harlot was not totally unclothed (Prov. 7:10).
When concern turns into worrySunday, January 04, 2015
When concern turns into worry
The Lord made it clear that His followers should not worry (Matt. 6:25). They are told this demonstrates a lack of faith. As Jesus put it, “Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (verse 30).
That being said, we can read many times in the word of God about people who have things weighing on their minds. For example, was it not worry when the apostle Paul said that he had a deep, daily concern for the church (II Cor. 11:28)? Was Martha just concerned that her sister was not helping prepare food for Jesus, when she asked the Lord to Mary to help her (Luke 10:41)? How do we know if these are just a minor concerns or the sort of worries Jesus spoke about? To answer this we must dig a deeper.
A certain Greek word comes up repeatedly when warnings are given about worry, anxiety, etc. This Greek word is used Matthew 6:25 (where Jesus said not to worry) and also in Luke 10 to tell Martha she was “careful” and troubled about many things. This same Greek word is also used to instruct the brethren to not to be “anxious” for anything in Philippians 4:6.
More than we like to admit, we easily fall victim to worry and stop walking by faith. As previously discussed, Paul warned Christians to not be anxious. He then told the brethren to pray with supplication and thanksgiving as a way to avoid anxiety.
But what about Paul being concerned for the churches on a daily basis – how is that any different? We must first recognize that Paul’s daily concern is depicted via a different Greek word. When read contextually, we see that the apostle was stating that he regularly had a care for the brethren on his mind. The definition of the Greek word we translate as “care” here includes the idea of distraction. The point is that Paul was distracted with care for the brethren but not debilitated by it. Martha, for example, was also distracted in Luke 10. However, she was anxious, and this is what Jesus found issue with.
Being concerned about something does not mean we have stopped working for the Lord. Allowing concern to turn into a bad attitude or to stop caring for the Lord, however, is wrong. People who allow things to eat them up inside are not turning to God for help and comfort. Consider the following situations:
Two people will soon undergo serious surgeries. One person is very concerned. She goes to God in prayer and leaves her concerns with the Lord. She understands it is out of her hands. She is mindful of her example with others and exhibits strong faith. She does not seek their pity and tries to stay positive.
The other person soon undergoing surgery is a Christian but becomes very preoccupied with the situation. He does not think of God and fails to pray. His worry causes him to focus on negative possibilities. He expects others to try and encourage him but always ends conversations with a pessimistic outlook.
So what solution can we offer to someone who is a “worrier”? The answer is simple – do what you can and walk by faith (II Cor. 5:7). When a problem comes up, do what you can to fix it. When it is out of your hands, accept the situation and trust in the Lord. If I am concerned someone is upset with me, I will go to them and clear it up. If I am worried someone is upset with me, I may avoid them and stop letting my light shine. Let’s make sure we know the difference between concern and worry.