Non-Toxic Masculinity Part 2 (We Should Submit to Our Wives and Children?!)

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If you haven’t yet, check out the first post, as it lays the foundation for why I’m saying what I’m saying.

The next four ‘Real men’ headings tie in so closely together, that I’m dealing with them all at once.

Real Men:  Lead with Courage, Love their Wives, Shepherd their Families, and Work Hard:  You may have noticed that in the title it says, “We should submit to our wives and children?!  You’re probably thinking, “I’m pretty sure the Bible says that wives are to submit to their husbands, and that children are to obey their parents.” Yes, it does, but we need the proper context to understand what these things really mean.

The main passage that deals with how we are to relate to each other is Ephesians 5:21-33.  Many are quite familiar with verses 22-24, which talk about the wife submitting to her husband.  And that is important, but that’s not all there is to it.  The rest of the chapter (verses 25-33, a much bigger portion) deals with how the husband is to treat the wife.  Verse 21 gives us the key to understanding the next several verses, even going into chapter 6.  It says that we are to “submit (or be subject) to one another in the fear (or reverence) of Christ,” then gives us practical ways in which to do that, especially within the family.  Commenting on this section of Scripture, John MacArthur says,

 “Christian marriages and families are to be radically different from those of the world.  The relationships between husbands and wives and parents and children is to be so bathed in humility, love, and mutual submission that the authority of husbands and parents, though exercised when necessary, becomes almost invisible and the submission of wives and children is no more than acting in the spirit of gracious love.”

The biggest problem is that we all want our own way, and “When self insists on its own rights, opinions, and goals, harmony and peace are precluded.” On the other hand,

 “Every obedient, Spirit-filled Christian is a submitting Christian.  The husband who demands his wife’s submission to him but does not recognize his own obligation to submit to her distorts God’s standard for the marriage relationship and cannot rightly function as a godly husband.  Parents who demand obedience from their children but do not recognize their own obligation to submit in loving sacrifice to meet their children’s needs are themselves disobedient to their heavenly Father and cannot rightly function as godly parents.”

I don’t know about you, but this was kind of new to me.  But it really makes sense when you look at Jesus.  He is equal with the Father, yet He perfectly submitted to the Father’s will in coming to Earth, living a perfect life, and dying on the cross.  And the Father gave Jesus everything He needed to do what He had asked Him to do.  So yes, wives are to submit themselves to their husbands, and children are to obey their parents; but husbands are to submit to their wives, to love them and take care of their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs by leading, shepherding and working, and parents are to do the same for their children.

Not only that, but husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves His Church.  This is not just with a phileo love, which will love only as love is given; but it is to be an agape love, which is self-giving, and is the kind of love with which Christ loves the Church, and gave His life for her.  It is a selfless love that loves for the sake of giving, and is not based on what it gets.

“The blessed marriage is the marriage in which the husband loves his wife with unlimited caring.  Something is basically wrong if she is looked at only as a cook, housekeeper, occasional companion, and sex partner.  She is a God-given treasure to be loved, cared for, nourished, and cherished.”

This is definitely hard work, and again, goes completely against human nature, but isn’t that the way it is with God?  And yes, we will be looked down on by the world, but we need to be light for the world and to lovingly submit to one another.

Love their Enemies:  A Christian should never make enemies with any person.  Satan and sin are our true enemies that we share in common with all of humanity.  It’s just that a large portion of humanity does not realize that Satan and sin are their real enemy.  They are enemies of God and everything and everyone that represents Him, but that’s really on them.  If we are to become like Christ, we are to love our enemies.  This again, goes against human nature, and can only be done in the power of the Holy Spirit residing in a person.  Loving our enemies first and foremost concerns letting people know of their spiritual condition and giving them the Gospel.  MacArthur put it this way, “Love that does not openly expose and oppose sin is not biblical love.  Love not only ‘does not act unbecomingly’ itself but it ‘does not rejoice in unrighteousness’ wherever it might be found (1 Cor. 13:5-6).” The best thing we can do for our enemies, is pray for them, and share the Gospel with them, and to return good for evil (be nice when they aren’t).  Who knows?  You may perhaps end up finding a lifelong friend and brother/sister in that person, or in those people.

Share the Gospel:  The Apostles and the early Church gave their lives, and were severely persecuted for sharing the Gospel, and many still are today.  Unfortunately, in much of Western culture, it has become more or less optional; saved for the “more spiritual” Christians.  The problem is, there aren’t “more spiritual” or “less spiritual” Christians.  Either Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord of your life, or he is neither.  If He is, then you have a mandate to share the Gospel with those around you.

Love the Church:  Many professed Christians don’t truly love the Church because they say it’s full of hypocrites.  Of course it is!  You’re one of them!  But the Church is the body of Christ, and you are a part of it, if you truly are a Christian!  Christ loves the Church because it is His body, and those who are part of that body must necessarily love the Church.  It wouldn’t make sense to do otherwise.  Paul had great anxiety because of his love and care for the Church (2 Cor. 11:26).  He went through trials of all kinds on account of the Church and for the spread of the Gospel.  His letters were mostly to churches to correct, strengthen and encourage them.  We should have no less zeal for the Church.

Pursue Purity:  In this final section of the book, Bill Shannon, its author, gives 5 warnings and 5 action steps in dealing with purity.

1.) Beware lest you fall.  Satan is always looking for a way to bring us down.

2.) Lust is a serious sin.  It’s not just a “secret sin” and it most certainly isn’t harmless.  Jesus warned us that, “whoever looks at someone with lust for them has already committed adultery (or sexual sin) with them in their heart” (Matt. 5:28).

3.) The Lord is the Avenger.  God knows our hearts and has called us away from impurity and to godliness.  We will suffer the consequences for sexual sin.

4.) Sexual sin destroys its victims.  Sexual sin is not only against God, it is also against our own bodies and the body of the one with whom we commit sexual sin.  It is never without consequences.

5.) Moral perversion degrades and enslaves.  Once you dabble in sexual sin, even if it seems “harmless,” it is very hard to get away from.  It causes you to look at others with a perverted mind all the time, and it really does enslave you to that mindset and to those actions.

Action steps (these are all self-explanatory):

1.)  Admit your sin and take full responsibility

2.)  Acknowledge that lust is a lie

3.)  Alter your lifestyle to avoid temptation

4.)  Anchor your heart in the Word of God

5.)  Ask others to hold you accountable

We cannot do any of these things outside of the grace of God, and without keeping ourselves grounded in Him through His Word, through prayer, and through the encouragement of other believers.  And even then, we will stumble and fall often.  But let us not become weary in doing what is good (Galatians 6:9), but keep fighting the good fight of faith!

Grace, love and peace!

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Non-Toxic Masculinity: Not Just about Men

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I loosely hold the opinion that there is no such thing as ‘Toxic Masculinity.’ The reason for this, is that I believe that much of what has traditionally been labeled in our society as ‘masculine,’ in particular, the bad things, the root of most of those things being dominance over everyone and in everything (particularly over women, children, and relationships), and getting even with people who have wronged them; have nothing to do with being a man at all.  If you want to know more about what I think those things are, just ask me.

My main purpose here, is to show what true Masculinity, or manhood really is.  And, of course, this kind of thing can only come from the true Source of all Truth, and all good things, God Himself, and what He has revealed to us through Scripture.  Many may want to just stop here, whether because of pre-conceived ideas of what the Bible says about manhood, or because you just don’t care what the Bible has to say about anything.  In either case, I would encourage you to keep reading, because there are likely many things that will surprise you.  I know they did me, though they shouldn’t have, as they’ve been there all along.  I write these words with conviction, as these are the things that God is teaching me right now.

Along with a recent study of Ephesians, I also read a book called Men of the Word, written by several different authors, edited by Nathan Busenitz.  This book gives several keys to becoming a godly man and gives practical ways in which we are to live out each of these things by showing the manifestation of this quality in the life of someone in the Bible.

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Each chapter is a heading that reads: Real men: Walk with God, Live by faith, find satisfaction in God, treasure God’s Word, pray with boldness, love to worship, flee temptation, repent from sin, refuse to compromise, lead with courage, love their wives, shepherd their families, work hard, love their enemies, share the Gospel, love the Church, and pursue purity.

That’s a long list of things, so I won’t cover each specifically in great detail, but just give a basic idea of what it looks like.  I’ll probably cover half in this post, and half in the next.

The only way that anyone, man or woman, can live this way is to be a true Christian.  A person needs to believe that they are completely hopeless and in rebellion against God, but believe that God send Jesus to live the perfect life that no one else could, to die the sacrificial death that no one else could, but that they deserve to die, and that all the sacrificed in the Old Testament combined could not cover for their rebellion against God; and most importantly that Jesus rose from the dead and offers that same resurrection to all who put their faith and hope in Him, and that they are now free to live their lives to God in thankfulness for what He has done.

And how could we do otherwise?  As John MacArthur says in his commentary on Ephesians (from which I will get several quotes): “The only reliable evidence of a person’s being saved is not a past experience of receiving Christ but a present life that reflects Christ. ‘The one who says, “I have come to know Him” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him’ (1 John 2:4).  New creatures act like new creatures.”

Walk with God:  Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”  This really covers and opens up the rest of the headings, because walking with God involves every one of them.  Noah, Enoch, David, and Moses are some primary examples of men who walked with God.

Live by Faith:  Hebrews 11:1 says it best: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Ultimately, to live by faith means to trust God’s promises, and that He will give you what you need because He knows your needs.  It is also to remember the salvation that is yours in Jesus Christ, and to hold tightly to that in every situation in life.  Easier said than done.  Abraham is a great example here.  God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to Him as a test of Abraham’s faith.  God had promised that Isaac would be his descendant through whom He would bless all the nations, so Abraham held to that promise, even as he had the knife poised above his head.  Hebrews tells us that “(Abraham) considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” Hold on to God’s promises!  He has never broken one before, and He never will!

Find Satisfaction in God:  This really ties back in to trusting God’s promises to take care of our needs.  As John Piper always says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” The Biblical example given here is how not to do it.  Solomon was King David’s son and was the wisest and richest king of Israel.  Unfortunately, he did not use that wisdom well for a good portion of his life, and reflected on how vain it was to pursue things like riches, women, fame, and even hard work for recognition, in the book of Ecclesiastes.  It’s not that those things are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but when we pursue them and forget about God in the process, we make these things an idol and we will never be truly happy or satisfied with them, because they cannot fill the need that only God can fill.

Treasure God’s Word:  Scripture truly is a treasure.  God has borne His heart to us through it, and has perfectly preserved it so that we can still know it today.  The Word is how we can know the heart of God and grow to love Him more and more and become more like Him, which is our aim in life.  It is inerrant, infallible, and authoritative to give us everything we need to live a life that is pleasing to Him.

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Pray with Boldness:  The example given here is of Elijah, who prayed for a widow’s son to come back to life; who prayed for there to be no rain in Israel because of how wicked they had become; who prayed for fire from God to consume a sacrifice that he had soaked in water; and who prayed for rain to return to Israel after 3.5 years!  This isn’t out of our league, because right after the challenge to Baal’s prophets, and the rain coming, he ran from a woman who threatened to kill him!  He had a nature just like ours (James 5:17), so he was no superhuman.  He had to be reminded of God’s promises just like we do, even after seeing God’s amazing power on display!

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Love to worship:  Worship is more than just singing.  It is a way of life.  Whatever we do, we should do it with God in mind.  That is worship, plain and simple!

Flee Temptation:  Andrew Gutierrez, the author of this chapter, gives four ways to flee temptation: 1.) Request help from God, 2.) Remember the Gospel, 3.)Run with the Godly (other strong believers), 4.)Resist (Fight) Temptation.  God always gives us a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13, but there are some temptations (especially sexual temptations) from which we must run rather than fight.  But if we try to do it on our own, we will fail.  And when we do, we must:

Repent from Sin:  King David, a man after God’s own heart, fell into temptation by being where he wasn’t supposed to be, and abusing his power.  He committed sexual sin and murder for which he was confronted by a prophet.  Most men in this day and age would get upset at being confronted with sin, but David wrote an entire Psalm (Psalm 51) begging for God’s forgiveness and repenting of the wicked things he had done.  When God’s Word or a faithful friend or family member confronts you with sin, turn away from it and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Refuse to Compromise:  …on the Truths of Scripture.  This shouldn’t be taken to mean refuse to compromise on our own selfish desires.  It means to refuse to compromise the Truth of the Gospel even in the face of danger.  Daniel was threatened with being thrown in a Lion’s Den, the Apostles were threatened with prison, beatings and death, and many Christians today (China, Syria, the middle east) are threatened with imprisonment and death for being Christians.  Even here in the USA we are threatened socially for upholding Biblical standards, being called intolerant, bigoted, and made fun of as outdated.  But in the face of any of these things, we are to hold to the promises of God that He will reward those who persevere to the end, and who do not distort or compromise His Truth that He has given us through His Word.

To be continued…

Grace, love and peace!

 

Was the Old Testament God Really That Angry?

The Old Testament seems to really stump a lot of folks, mostly, I fear, because they don’t know it that well, and don’t understand it, because they don’t really take the time to actually read it. The problem is, you can’t really truly appreciate the New Testament without knowing and understanding the Old. The New Testament fulfills and explains the Old. The biggest way being that all sacrifices were fulfilled in Christ’s ultimate and final sacrifice. But more on that another time.

The Old Testament talks a lot about God’s judgement, wrath, and justice to be sure; but so does the New Testament. But the Old Testament also has just as much to say about God’s love, mercy and grace as the New Testament does, if not even more. Even from the very beginning in Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned for the first time, God graciously covered them with the skin of an animal instead of giving them the death they deserved, and which He had promised to them if they disobeyed.

The remainder of the Old Testament shows a constant struggle between God and His people in which they turn away from Him, shake their fists at Him, commit unspeakable atrocities against Him, and worship anything and everything but Him; and God often times punishing them, but then restoring them. God often speaks kindly to His incredibly wayward people, offering them unlimited grace and forgiveness in spite of their sin. He begs them to return to Him and to seek Him, as He still does for us today.

God’s people are often compared to an incredibly unfaithful wife who sells herself to others as a prostitute. No one would ever take back a wife like that, but God has done this on multiple occasions. Hosea is all about this concept, and Isaiah also has a lot to say about it, as do many other Old Testament books.

The main passages that have inspired this particular post are Isaiah 52-56. This passage is rich in God’s promises of love and mercy and grace. It shows us the lengths God was willing to go to, to redeem people of all nations to Himself. Hundreds of years before it even happened, this passage includes detailed accounts of what would happen to Jesus, God in the flesh, as He came to earth to live a perfect life, yet die a horrific death and a final sacrifice to obliterate the sins of God’s people (52:13-53:12 This is the Gospel according to God)! It shows us God’s amazing plan for His people, for those who do come to Him in repentance; how they will be forgiven and given unlimited peace, how God will have unlimited compassion on them, even though for a while He did turn His face from them and allowed them to go though terrible trials (54:7-8). He invites all people to come and eat and drink from Him without price (55:1-2)! He begs the wicked to forsake their evil ways and thoughts and return to Him (55:3-7)!

Chapter 56 begins by reminding us not to be afraid of God separating those of us who are not Israelites, but who who have come to Him in repentance from His people Israel, but at the same time reminds us not to be arrogant in thinking that we are better than God’s people Israel, since we are now grafted in to the promises of God. Paul covers this in more detail in Romans 11:16-36.

God has never changed. There is no difference between the Old Testament God and the New Testament God. He remains the same, even today. He offers His unlimited kindness and grace to all people now, and asks us to do the same, because there will come a day, when time will run out, and God will have to deal justly with those who refuse to come to Him. He will judge them by the law, as they desire, instead of by His righteousness which He offers through the perfect life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God tells us that we cannot be righteous on our own all throughout the Bible, and offers to give us His righteousness, but many people still think they are good enough on their own; that they can be judged by God based on His law of perfection, and still come out clean. But, as the saying goes, “Nobody’s perfect!” The Bible clearly confirms this fact in places like Psalm 53:1-3 and Romans 3:12.

Therefore, I implore you, along with the amazing and great God whom I serve, who, although He is just, and holy, righteous, and full of wrath against sin, offers unlimited peace and forgiveness of sins through the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; I implore you to return to God; forsake yourself and your own ways, because they aren’t good enough (as definitely neither are mine!), and give yourself completely to God! This is the only way to be saved from His wrath that is to come! This is my prayer for you, as well as all who do not love God and keep His commandments! After all, it’s God’s kindness toward us now, that should lead us to repentance!

May God’s grace and peace be with you!

Jesus was Exclusive

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written anything.  I usually write to process something, share something exciting or write about something that is weighing heavy on my heart.

Right now, what is weighing most heavy on my heart, and what I feel God prompting me to say something about is, in a sense, idolatry.  We can make idols of many things, but one of the most dangerous yet most subtle things we do is make false versions of God.  So many people interpret Scripture based on how they feel.  When we do that, we deny, twist and misinterpret certain aspects of Scripture, and consequently God’s character.  Scripture warns us that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

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What should be happening is we should be allowing Scripture to change the way we feel about ourselves and about God.  Instead of reading into Scripture who we think God should be and our own pre-conceived notions, we should be seeking to know God for who He really is as He has revealed Himself in His Word, and humbly accepting and embracing the Truth and allowing it to change our lives as we stand in awe of who God really is.  The only way to be able to do that is to know and embrace Jesus Christ as the Sovereign God of all creation and the only Savior for the world, and thus of your life.  And this cannot leave you unchanged.

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Unfortunately, the Jesus that many embrace today is a soft-spoken, all inclusive guy who would never tell anyone how to live, who wants to bless everyone who says his name with health and wealth and would certainly never tell anyone that they are going to Hell if they don’t embrace Him as Lord.  It is true that Jesus called all kinds of people to be His disciples, and still does today.  He calls people from all kinds of races, ethnicities and backgrounds.  But He changes people’s lives to be conformed to His image!  He takes them as they are if they come broken before Him, and molds them and makes them into who He wants them to be.  They can’t do it on their own and they have to realize that.  All are invited to “‘Come.’ Let anyone who hears this say, ‘Come.’ Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life” (Revelation 22:17), but not all will accept that invitation.  Jesus was really clear about what will happen to those who don’t accept His invitation.  He clearly explains that at the end of time, they will be gathered and thrown into a fiery furnace (the Lake of Fire) where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:36-42, 47-50).

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Sadly, many even within the Church believe that if you live a good enough life, Jesus will accept you.  But the Jesus of Scripture was actually very selective about the kinds of people who could follow Him.  He said things like “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30), and “…then I will declare to them (those who call Him Lord, but don’t obey Him), ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’”(Matt.7:23).  Elsewhere in Scripture, there are several passages which proclaim the exclusivity of Jesus’ message; among which is Acts 4:12: “And there is Salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we MUST be saved” (emphasis mine).

The Old Testament even refutes the idea that any amount of works can save us with passages like Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” In other words, every “good” thing we do is tainted by some sort of selfish motive.  And, of course, passages that tell us that we aren’t even good at all, like: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12, Psalm 14:3 and 53:3 all carry the same idea).

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The Jesus of Scripture told would be followers that if they loved their families more than Him, they couldn’t be His disciples.  He spoke out against sin, turned over tables in the temple of a false religion (it became false because of the fact that it lost sight of the intent of the Law), claimed to be THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life and that no one could come to the Father except through Him and, most importantly, He claimed to be God!  The Jesus of Scripture spoke a ton about Hell and judgement, and will one day return to judge unrepentant sinners.

I don’t think the Jesus of Scripture would be very well received if He Himself were on earth today preaching the same message He preached then.  He wasn’t well received in His own day.  I think He would be crucified all over again.  He would be called “narrow-minded,” “crazy” and even “Satan” just like He was then.  He told His disciples that they would be called the same names He was called, be treated the way He was treated, and that some of them would even be killed for speaking His Truth, and many still are today.  He said that when you mistreat one of His followers, you are mistreating Him (Matthew 25:41-46, John 15:18-25).

The Gospel of Jesus is exclusive, yet there are an alarming number of professing Christians who are beginning to buy into the lie that all religions lead to God.  Even more alarming is that there are many leaders within the Church that are questioning the Word of God now the way the Serpent did in the Garden.  “Are we really to believe that the only way for people to get into Heaven is by holding to a certain set of beliefs about God, and that people spend eternity in Hell because they didn’t make a right decision with a small amount of time they had on earth?” is the line of thinking.  And to an extent, they are right.  It’s so much more than just holding to a certain set of beliefs.  Belief is essential for salvation, but that belief must be genuine, from the heart; and it must change your life!

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Jesus warns everyone to “Enter by the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” and that “…the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13-14).  But He does tell us what it takes to be His disciple.  One of the best passages for this is the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12.

First, we have to become “Poor in spirit.” This means that we must come to an understanding that we have nothing to offer God and are completely dependent on His Grace to be able to be made right with Him.  This will lead to “mourning” over our sin and the ways in which we have offended God.  That should “humble” us and cause us to “hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

We have to be “merciful” because we have been shown great mercy.  The one who shows no mercy will receive none (James 2:13).  All of these things will help us to become “pure in heart” because, as God works in our lives, our thoughts become more conformed to His and He is able to overcome our deceitful hearts more and more.

Being a “peacemaker” should then characterize our lives.  Paul says in Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” In the end, that comes down to repaying evil with good, and not avenging ourselves.  But at the same time, Jesus warned us that people would persecute us because they did it to Him.  He even went as far as to say: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).  When we speak Christ’s message, it is naturally going to cause people to hate us because they resent the fact that there is only one way to God.  And, as Jesus warned later in that passage, it may even mean that our own family members turn against us.  Our response should be to continue to show them love and, even more importantly, to pray for them to come to Christ!

Beware of Coexist

I hope that as you have read this post, it has been encouraging, and yet convicting.  It certainly has been for me as I’ve written it.  My biggest prayer is that we as believers will take Scripture seriously and as it is.  It takes a lot of discipline on our part, but it also takes the Grace of God to help us to see the Truth for what it is.  That is my prayer for myself, and it is my prayer for you as well!

Grace, love and peace in the Truth!

Sin is Like AIDS (Another way to Explain the Gospel)

I’ve always kind of struggled with the idea that Adam’s one sin ruined us all and made us all sinners.  It doesn’t seem fair does it?  I mean, one person ruled the fate of all mankind just by eating a piece of fruit?

Over the years I’ve come to understand that the sin committed by Adam was much worse than just eating a piece of fruit.  He wanted to be like God, which is why he gave in to the Serpent’s lie when he told them that they would be like God if they ate the fruit.  Adam was also supposed to be the protector of his wife and he just stood by as she was being tricked and then he took of the fruit himself.  Have you ever noticed that their eyes were not opened until after Adam ate of the fruit, even though he ate after Eve did?  Just something to think about.

I believe that God has helped me to see a better way to understand what happened in Eden and what is happening now with an illustration.  When Adam took on the disease of sin by taking of that fruit, he took on a disease that would spread to all of his offspring.

We are facing a disease today that is very similar to the disease of sin.  AIDS is a result of sexual immorality and generally is contracted when sexual immorality takes place.  The disease is often spread to the sexual partner, and in most if not all cases, to the offspring.  Now wait a minute, that baby didn’t have sex outside of marriage did it?  And yet it contracted AIDS because of it’s father’s choice.  That is just like us.  We may not have been there in the garden of Eden to choose to disobey God, but the disease of sin was spread to us because of the nature of what sin is.

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We are all born with the disease called sin, and are hopelessly and terminally ill with it.  For some people, its symptoms are very mild and it does not show itself very often.  For others, the symptoms are very strong.  The point is, the symptoms of sin are different for everyone and the severity of the symptoms is different, but the fact of the matter is, we are ALL, every single person on this earth, born with the terminal disease of sin and without hope of a cure on our own.  And if we are not cured of it, we will die of it.  The only way to be cured of it is by a miracle.

The only person who can do any kind of real miracle, especially of this magnitude is God.  Why would God help us when we have chosen to consistently turn our backs on Him?  Because He is full of grace.  He came down to earth as a man who had no earthly father to pass the disease of sin on to Him because God is His Father.  He was born without the disease of sin, lived His life completely perfectly without the disease of sin, and yet died as a result of the effects of the disease of sin in everyone else even though He didn’t ever show a single symptom of the disease of sin.

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Then He rose from the dead so that He can save those who have died because of the disease of sin.  He holds the only cure for this awful fatal disease and offers this cure for anyone who wants it.  The problem is, most people don’t realize their need for the cure.  Many think they don’t even have a disease that needs curing, or don’t think they have the disease badly enough to need a cure.  Now, we all know that the first step to being cured of a disease is acknowledging that we have a disease that needs to be cured, that we need help.  But most people are too blind to see that.

He is Risen

But for those who do acknowledge that they have a terminal disease that they have no hope of curing themselves and who ask God to cure them of that disease, He answers and gives them the cure.  He sees them as healthy as Jesus, who lived without sin and who died as a result of sin and rose from the dead.  God gives them the hope that they will also rise from the dead one day to live forever without the awful disease of sin.

The sad reality is, the world would rather flaunt their symptoms and try to force everyone to believe that they aren’t sick or that it’s ok to be sick since everyone is sick rather than seeking the cure for their sickness.  And they will die of their disease and be forever separated from the Holy and Righteous God Who has the only cure for the disease of sin by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Without Christ, no one is cured of sin.  Just like with AIDS, no matter how healthily you choose to live or what good choices you make, it cannot be cured but by the miracle that God provided through Jesus Christ.

I realize that this is not a perfect way to explain the Gospel, but I believe that the essential message of the Gospel is included and that this is another way to explain the Gospel to others in a way that can help them understand the seriousness of sin and the amazing Grace of God.  Be encouraged!  There is hope!  Grace, love and peace!

Good Friday: The Gospel is Bad News Before it’s Good News

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written (sorry about that).  I just wanted to share some reflections on this Good Friday 🙂

The first Good Friday didn’t seem so good, especially to Jesus’ disciples.  He had been tried unjustly and condemned to die in the most gruesome way possible, crucifixion.  The only reason we can call it Good Friday now is because we have all the information.  We know that Christ’s death was not the end.  We know that the Resurrection is coming, and that it did come.

But why did Jesus have to die in the first place?  It was because we are so wicked and full of sin, and because God cannot rightly allow sin to be in His presence.  In His justice He has to do something about it.  He desired for those who love Him to be with Him, so He did something about this sin problem:  He sent part of Himself to earth to live a perfect sinless life and perfectly fulfill His Holy expectations, and then to become the wrath-bearing sacrifice for those sins.  Scripture even tells us that “It pleased God to crush Him” (Isaiah 53:10) because He knew that it would bring sinners into a renewed relationship with Him and ultimately bring Him the most glory.

Christ has died From the gruesomeness and hopelessness of the cross…

One of the best ways I’ve heard it put comes from my Gospel Transformation Study Bible, where the commentator, commenting on the passage of 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 says of believers:

“We are connected vitally and legally through our union with Christ because He imputed His perfect, righteous life of obedience into our account.  He imputed not only His innocence but also righteousness, not only pardon but also perfection.  He not only stood condemned in our place as a punishment bearer; He also stood in our place as our law keeper.  Jesus not only died the death that we should have died; He also lived the live that we should have lived.  All has been taken care of.”

This is only true of “those who know they are spiritually helpless and utterly destitute of any human resources that will commend them to God. They rely totally on God’s grace for salvation, and they also rely on His grace for daily living.” (John MacArthur)

You see, the bad things have to come before the good.  Good Friday and Jesus’ horrific death had to come before Easter and the glorious resurrection.  And in our lives, dying to ourselves (changing our hearts and minds about ourselves and our sin, repenting and humbly turning to Christ) has to come before we can be saved.

So, the most loving and caring thing that I can tell you as your neighbor and friend is to get over yourself, and get into Jesus.  It’s only because of Jesus’ death that we can rejoice in the fact that He is Risen!!

He is Risen … To the Hope and Glory of the Resurrection!!

Happy Good Friday and Happy Easter!!

Grace, love and peace!