Questions About the Bible

To address questions about the Bible, we first need to affirm the authority of Scripture. See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Question: When God spoke at the beginning why did everything appear?

What we can discern from Genesis 1 is that God created all things out of nothing by His creative, powerful spoken word. The words “God said” mark off the stages of creation, showing that God created by the word. God’s words were not empty, for the Spirit, who was present over the waters, empowered God’s words, bringing into being what God had spoken. See Psalm 33:6, 9; John 1:3; Romans 4:17. If things existed before God created them, what was the cause of their creation? In God’s creative power, He creates something from nothing. Hard for us to understand because all of our creation involves created things. That is why Hebrews 11:3 calls us to respond to this by faith.

Question: Did Adam have a 1st wife named Lilith before Eve?

Simple answer according to scripture is “No.” The legends vary significantly, but they all essentially agree that Lilith left Adam because she did not want to submit to him. According to the legends, Lilith was an evil, wicked woman who committed adultery with Satan and produced a race of evil creatures. None of this is true. There is no biblical basis whatsoever for these concepts. There is no one in the Bible named Lilith.

Question: Where in the Bible does it say to give your brother a help up not a help out?

There isn’t a verse in Scripture that is stated in this manner. There are Scriptural principles of helping others. See Philippians 2:3-4; 1 John 3:17-18; Proverbs 3:27. It would seem the essence of this question deals with truly helping a brother for his own good, not just allowing him to stay in his own trouble. In other words, we should be helping people in ways that truly help them — not in ways that condone laziness or an unwillingness to change. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 speaks to this concept.

Question: Can you address Mark 4:10-12; 4:33 where Jesus agrees to disclose the meaning of his parables to his disciples but hide them from everyone else? It seems inconsistent with John 3:17 and other passages of salvation. 

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. A parable, then, is a teaching method which serves specific goals of Jesus, the Master Teacher. First, it is a familiar story which finds people where they live and gets their attention. Second, a parable has enough mystery to attract earnest seekers after Truth.

Here in Mark the mystery is the disclosure that the kingdom of God has drawn near in the person of Jesus Christ. The secret has been given to the disciples because they have responded in faith. “Those on the outside” alludes to Mark 3 and the rejection of Jesus by the teachers of the law and by his own family. For those with hard hearts, all things come “in parables.” To really get to the meaning of what Jesus is saying, let’s take a look at the context of the Isaiah passage that is quoted (see Isaiah 6:9-10). 

The main point is not salvation. But rather to examine what sort of heart a person brings to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus therefore teaches in parables both to reveal the truth to those who are receptive and to conceal it from those whose hearts are hardened. Read John 3:17-21.

The key to understanding this Luke parable passage is that Christ has a specific mission he was trying to accomplish. He needed to instruct his authentic disciples so that they could continue to build upon the basis of the gospel after His ascension into heaven. However, those whose hearts were hardened against Christ’s message also served His earthly mission for they were the very ones who would demand his crucifixion which became the means of our salvation.

The truth is that we need a Holy Spirit birthed revelation when we hear or read the good news of the gospel. The work of the Holy Spirit accompanies the message of the Gospel. Read Luke 10:21-22; 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. To be certain, God doesn’t want any to perish but all to come to repentance. However, their heart has to be open to the truth to actually receive it.

Question: In the song “God gives and takes away” my question is if he gives you something why would he take it away?

See Job 1:20–22. All of these events were allowed by the Lord to prove Job’s integrity, character and devotion to the Lord. It takes real faith to say in the midst of sorrow and suffering, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In this passage we see a couple of great principles: First, he renounces any claim on all that had been his (Naked I came … naked I will depart). Second, Job affirms the freedom of God to give and take as he chooses (The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away). So in this context, the Lord gives and takes away to prove the love and gratitude of one who trusts in him. See 1 Thessalonians 5:18. 

At other times, it is possible that the Lord may take away when we begin to form an unhealthy attachment to something and allow it to become more important to us than Him. It will also certainly remind us that all things come and go in our lives through the hands of God our provider. 

Question: Revelation 3:15-16

In the Christian life, there are three “spiritual temperatures”: a burning heart, on fire for God (Luke 24:32), a cold heart (Matt. 24:12), and a lukewarm heart (Rev. 3:16). The lukewarm Christian is comfortable, complacent, and does not realize his need. The point is to never allow compromise to settle in. We must be people who continually grow in our love, commitment, and obedience to Christ as we follow Him. This requires attention and intention — just like maintaining hot water or cool water. The normal process is toward lukewarmness.


Read more...

Sexual Sin & Gender Issues, Continued

Question: Because adultery, divorce are condemned in Bible, why is homosexuality so much more out there to Christians? There are some wonderful homosexuals out there. I am having trouble with this as a Christian.

According to the Bible, homosexuality is not so much more out there. Sexual sin is sin. We need to stop categorizing or measuring sin and see it as God does. 

I agree that there are wonderful gay/lesbian people — just as there are wonderful adulterers, porn addicts, liars, and so on.

So how should Christians treat those of the LGBTQ lifestyle? In the same manner in which Jesus treated those he met who were living with sexual sin and brokenness.

Examples: Woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11); Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-30); Woman anoints Jesus feet (Luke 7:36-50).

  1. He didn’t lead with condemnation but built common ground.
  2. He engaged them in conversation about their lifestyle.
  3. He didn’t compromise the truth but treated them with grace and dignity.
  4. He saw past their current condition and spoke toward a better way of life — redemption and salvation.
  5. He saw them all as worthy and able to enter a saving relationship with Him.

 

Unlike the Pharisee, who can only dwell on the sinner’s past record, Jesus prefers to see the potential that love and forgiveness possess for changing a person’s heart.

Question: How do you deal with a child who is living a transgender lifestyle when you are a Christian?

Addressed in previous question. Plus add a lot of prayer for yourself and your child.

Questions: Does the church, at least the Church in America, address the LGBTQ tsunami that has developed since the US Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in 2015? A spiritual pandoras box has been opened, it seems.

Unfortunately various denominations have had divided views on this issue. I believe I communicated my view today. 

Question: What if Oregon passes a law similar to the one in Canada that can fine someone for using gender pronouns that are contrary to the persons chosen gender, not birth gender? Would we comply?

http://www.canadalandshow.com/no-wont-jailed-using-wrong-pronoun/

I believe we need to begin this question by addressing: What is the motivation? This is a complex thing. Do I enter that person’s reality to build common ground? Or does that affirm their deception?

Question: What if Oregon passes a law similar to California’s AB2943 making it unlawful for a person or entity to counsel a homosexual that they can go back to being heterosexual, “conversion therapy” and possibly will lead to a ban on the sale of books that promote this teaching, including the Bible? 
 

We honor government, as Scripture declare, except then honoring government would require us to dishonor God. In that case, we obey the higher authority.

It’s time for the church to focus more on evangelizing and less on politicizing.

I know that we tend to politicize everything and that will create division everytime. That’s why the church isn’t called to politicize but rather evangelize. We have good news for all who are living subject to sin. This good news has the power to cross all political, social, and sexual boundaries. 


Read more...

Sexual Sin and Gender Issues

Question: “Gay people say they are Christians and think they are saved but the Bible says differently. If all sin is sin, what makes being gay different than being a sinner?”

Let’s first address a basic question related to this topic. “Is it a sin to be a practicing gay?” To properly address this question, we first need to revisit what God established as the appropriate context in which two individuals experience sexual activity. See Genesis 1:27; Genesis 2:18; Genesis 2:20-24.

God created marriage to be a covenant relationship between one person created male and one person created female. Sex is only to be experienced within the context of this Biblical covenant relationship of marriage between one male and one female. 

This definition of marriage and sexuality is affirmed by Jesus during his earthly ministry. See Matthew 19:4-6. Paul also affirms God’s design for marriage between one man and one woman in his letter to the Ephesians. In the immediate context, he is addressing the marriage relationship. See Ephesians 5:31-33. 

In Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth, he addresses the proper context for sexual relations. See 1 Corinthians 7:1-2. The writer of Hebrews also addresses the context of sexual expression. See Hebrews 13:4.

So when you run any example of sexual expression through this Biblical filter, you can discern if this is within God’s design and will. So with that filter in place, how should we view sex between two members of the same sex? According to this filter it is regarded as sin.

God specifically addresses the sinfulness of homosexuality. Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:24-28; 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Notice in this passage that homosexuality isn’t an isolated sin? It is listed among a variety of other sins — ranging from lying to murder and all points in between. Alongside homosexuality is the sexually immoral. This would be other sexual activity that is not within the context of God’s design (one man, one woman in marriage).

So the follow up question to this is: “Can a gay person be a Christian?”

How does any sinner become a Christian? Through believing in Christ as God’s Son and solution for our sin problem. Which means we need to own our sin and see that it is indeed sinful and confess it to the Lord asking for forgiveness. Which leads to repentance. A willful cooperation with the Holy Spirit that we will stop living according to our sinful desires and instead live in obedience to Christ and His revealed will for us as outlined in scripture and confirmed by the Holy Spirit. So using this process, Yes, I believe that a gay/lesbian person can be a Christian. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

It’s time for the church to focus on more on evangelizing and less on politicizing.


Read more...

End of Life Questions

Question: Do we go to heaven right away when we die? If not, where does our spirit go?

A person who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior goes immediately to “heaven” to be in the presence of the Lord. Though their body is in the grave and decomposes or has been cremated their soul and spirit (the immaterial part, the real person) goes immediately into the presence of Christ. See Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

Question: Are there different rewards for people in heaven for their life on earth?

First, we need to establish that heaven is a place prepared for those who have placed their trust in Christ Jesus as Savior. See John 3:16; John 14:6; Titus 3:4-7. As Christians, we believe we are saved solely by the grace of God. God saves us based not on anything we could do (or have done), but based instead on the free gift of salvation offered by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Our works play no role in our salvation. We cannot earn our way into Heaven, this is a gift of God. See Ephesians 2:8-9.

As authentic Christ followers, we will not be judged according to our sin — because our sin has been forgiven. We are justified in Christ — there is no condemnation. See Romans 8:1-2.

While we, as Christians, don’t believe our works have anything to do with our entry to heaven, we do understand our works have everything to do with our reward once we get there. The Bible supports the view that rewards are distributed to believers in accordance with the nature of their lives on earth. See Matthew 16:27; 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10.

Question: What does the Bible say about being cremated instead of being buried? Will I still go to heaven if I’m cremated?

The Bible doesn’t directly address the issue of cremation. The origin of this question probably arises from the idea that burning in fire is a sign of God’s judgement. See Leviticus 20:14; Numbers 11:1-3. But what about believers who die in a fire, or were burned at the stake for their Christian faith? Would they not be allowed in heaven?

Some get hung up on the idea of cremation because of their view of a bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15). So let’s understand something about our physical bodies after death. See Genesis 3:19. The human body decomposes at varying rates — depending on many factors. But those only delay the inevitable, a returning to dust. Cremation simply speeds that process up.

Some of the concern about cremation has to do with God reconstituting our bodies. Nothing of our previous bodies are used to create the new resurrected body. The imperishable is sown into the ground and is raised imperishable.

Question: If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior and love God with all your heart but live a worldly life, would you still go to heaven?

The challenge with this question is that it assumes you can love God with all your heart AND love the world, living according to its standards. See 1 John 2:3-6, 15-17. This is a question of eternal security and there is no easy, short answer to the issue of eternal security. But I think a better question is: “why would I want to intentionally live a life that is contrary to God’s will?” Jesus calls us to an “all-in” sort of spiritual life. See Matthew 16:23-26.

My interpretation of Scripture is that following Christ is an exercise of the freewill God has given us. He desires that we use that freewill to follow Him with all our heart but we also have the option to use that freewill to live in absolute rebellion to his will and ways and suffer the temporal and eternal consequences of that lifestyle. See Matthew 7:16-23.

Question: For those who are in a second marriage, what will God say to us regarding this situation? Who will we be one with in the kingdom?

For a basic understanding of how God views divorce, see Malachi 2:16 and Matt. 5:31-32. Jesus addresses the topic of marriage in heaven. See Mark 12:18-25.

Question: I had a friend that had taken her own life. Does God forgive suicide? How could she ask for forgiveness before she did the deed?

One of the 10 commandments states “do not murder.” Self-murder, suicide, is never God’s plan for human life. The Bible doesn’t clearly communicate what becomes of those who choose to commit suicide. But we can glean some principles from the truth of Scripture.

Is suicide the unpardonable sin?I believe suicide is a sin but I don’t believe it is the unpardonable sin. The Bible only records one sin as the unpardonable sin — blaspheming the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:30-32). Make no doubt, suicide is sin. If a person who has never accepted Christ as Lord commits suicide, they will spend eternity separated from the Lord they have denied in a very literal hell.

Will a Christian, who commits suicide in a moment of hopelessness, go to hell? Let me ask you a question before we go further into this question. How does God view the variety of sins we commit? Are some sins more sinful than others? Or is a sin as sin?

Will my last act on earth define the quality of my whole existence as a Christian? Will my last sin committed before I die nullify my salvation? Salvation for any person rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, not in abstaining from sinful acts. I believe that committing suicide in and of itself does not condemn us to eternal punishment any more than does any other sin for which we have not asked forgiveness at the time of death. Please hear me. This isn’t permission. Suicide isn’t your the only option. BUT…here’s a bigger point. Why would I want to gamble with my eternity? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.


Read more...

Holy Spirit Power

Jesus stresses the believer’s need of the power of the Spirit when He tells His disciples to not leave Jerusalem without it. Why didn’t he want them to leave without the power of the Holy Spirit? Because to live as Christ intends us to live, we need the be equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit. See Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5; Acts 1:8.
 
To experience the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit. See Ephesians 5:18. Paul’s point is that the Holy Spirit is the controlling influence motivating and directing the lives of believers.
 
Paul emphasizes that Christians are to be continually filled with God’s Spirit. We have choice in the matter, for the Spirit’s transforming work in us is not done apart from human involvement. See Galatians 5:16.
 
The Holy Spirit is not given to those who have it all together spiritually; He is given to enable them to get it together spiritually!
Christians often ignore any thought of walking by the Spirit, because they think they are not good enough. Their life is too filled with fleshly struggles. But the Spirit is given to enable us to break sin’s power; we don’t have to do that on our own before we receive the Spirit’s power.
 
The coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives is not just a window dressing. He indwells us so that we might allow Him to control us and have power for life. See Ephesians 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 1:7.
 
To live undefeated lives we need to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
 
Read: Romans 7:14–8:14
 
This passage shows us that we are dominated by one of two powers — the power of sin or the power of the life-giving Spirit. Our lifestyle and daily choices demonstrates which power we are dominated by. The lifestyle of the flesh flows from a mind oriented to the flesh, whereas the lifestyle of the Spirit comes from a mind oriented to the Spirit.
 
Cultivating a Spirit-led, Spirit-filled mentality of heart and mind is necessary if we are to live in a way that pleases God. If we are serious about progressing in the Christian life, we must seek every day to feed our minds with spiritual food.
 
Paul puts the responsibility squarely on our shoulders: You need to put sin to death. But at the same time, he makes it clear that we can only do it through the power of the Spirit. The power is there but the power is only released when you’re under the Holy Spirit’s control. The power for victory resides in the believer and can be released to its full capacity.
 
Paul makes it clear to us that we have no obligation to do what the sinful nature urges us to do. However, as believers in Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, we do have a new obligation — to put to death the deeds of your sinful nature. The Spirit lives within us and is the power for that spiritual victory.
 
Being full of the Holy Spirit is equal to being full of power. The Spirit is the source of spiritual power which enables us to live in victory over sin. What do you need to do to cultivate and exercise this power in your life?

Read more...

Armor Up

Throughout Scripture, we see that Christians are engaged in a spiritual battle. We are often warned against underestimating our enemy, Satan. See 1 Peter 5:8-9. Christians do not give much thought to the reality of our spiritual enemy and the resources God has for us to help us stand in the midst of an attack. There is a real spiritual war being waged against God, and every believer finds themselves in this spiritual battle.

Sooner or later every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and that he faces an enemy who is much stronger than he is — apart from the Lord. But here’s the truth: The victory has already been won by God in Christ. See Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:57.

As believers, we do not fight for victory, we fight from victory! Even though the battle rages on, the victory is secure. While the victory is secure, Paul warns us that we must know where our strength comes from and how to stand upon and within that strength. See Ephesians 6:10-18.

The command to “be strong in the Lord” presumes that God is eager and willing to provide strength and that any lack of strength results from our neglecting Him. It assumes also that empowering is not automatic, but comes as we seek a closer relation with Christ.

The task of the believer is not to win but to stand (vs. 11-13). To stand means to trust in the victory already achieved. It is to act upon what has already been established.

Each of the seven pieces mentioned by Paul is simply a way to apply the gospel to your whole life. The gospel should cover every part of your body, your life, because where the gospel has strengthened you, Satan cannot subdue you.

The Belt of Truth (vs. 14). Your belt goes around your core. It holds all your weapons and the rest of your armor in place. What does Paul mean by “belt of truth?” Two things: Make your identity in Christ the center of your life and let the truth of God’s Word shape your thinking.

The Breastplate of Righteousness (vs. 14). For Paul, being covered with righteousness first means embracing our identity in Christ. Not only are we covered in Christ’s righteousness, we bring our lives into conformity with it. Whatever part of your life is not brought into obedience to God’s word will be Satan’s focal point of attack in your life. What do you think that would be for you?

Feet Fitted with Gospel of Peace Readiness (vs. 15). Paul says we overcome Satan by going on the offense with the gospel. This overcomes Satan’s work in both other people’s lives as well as our own.

The Shield of Faith (vs. 16). Satan’s main weapons are the lies he throws — like fiery darts — into our hearts. You are supposed to hide from them behind your shield, which means coming against them in your mind with what God has told you is true in the gospel.

The Helmet of Salvation (vs. 17)  Paul is telling us to let the truth about our salvation and God’s grace in our lives permeate our minds.

The Sword of the Spirit (vs. 17). The Word of God is our offensive weapon and it slices the deception and schemes of the devil. 

The way to fight Satan is not to focus on Satan, but to cover your life with the gospel! Living undefeated means covering your life with the armor of God.
 

Application Questions

 
  1. What is (or has been) your view or understanding about the devil? See 1 Peter 5:8-9; Ephesians 6:11-12.
  2. Why is it important to be alert to and realize the scheme’s of the devil?
  3. See Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15:57. Kelly said, “As believers, we do not fight for victory, we fight from victory.” What is the difference and why is this important for us to grasp?
  4. Read Ephesians 6:10-13. What is the repeated command in this passage? What do you think it means to “stand”?
  5. Read Ephesians 6:14-18. Of all the list of armor, why do you suppose Paul would talk about putting on “truth” first? How does this help us to stand against the devil’s schemes?
  6. Paul then instructs us to have the breastplate of righteousness in place. How does righteousness protect us? What role does Christ play in this? What role do we play?
  7. Review the remaining items (shoes, shield, helmet, sword). How does each part serve to protect us? How can we apply this to our daily life?
  8. We have to put on “the full armor of God.” Which one do you need to intentionally focus on developing more in your life with God’s help?

Read more...

Mind Your Mind

What do you find yourself thinking about on a regular basis? If someone were to inventory your thought life, what would be the most common theme? In case you didn’t know, someone is taking an inventory on your thought life. See Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 7:9; Psalm 139:2. Your thoughts become you. Your attitudes define you. Your mental habits shape you. What’s going on in your head governs what you do, how you live. As you think, so you are.

See Colossians 1:21. Paul says this alienation has a context. It is being conducted within a certain landscape: your mind. Rebellion against God is first and foremost a “mind game.”

See 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. The challenge for all of us is that we have years and years of thought patterns and pathways, habits and strongholds that we have developed overtime. We have a default approach to everything in life. The flesh has such a strong pull, so the Spirit is always inviting us over to Jesus’ way of thinking. I want to give you four things you can do to help you mind your mind.

Repent — Change your mind. Stop thinking in ways that you know are unproductive and out of line with the kingdom of God. You know from Scripture the things that God wants for you, and you know the things you are thinking and doing that are not producing fruit in you, but you keep doing them. Repent. See Ephesians 4:22-24. Put on the new self is an intentional decision each and every day because it is harder to unlearn bad thought patterns and learn new, positive ones.

Take your thoughts captive. See 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. Paul uses this image to speak of the established, entrenched ways of thinking, acting, and reacting that are in opposition to the ways of God.

Replace your unwanted thoughts with pure thoughts. See Luke 11:24-26. Why did this man fail in his quest for freedom? He didn’t understand the principle of replacement. None of us can overcome evil or stop unwanted thoughts by simply renouncing it. Instead, we can only do so by substituting good in its place. Freedom comes by filling your mind with God’s thoughts (Rom. 12:1–2; Phil. 4:8).

Begin each day with a renewed mind set. See Colossians 3:1-3. Your mind set reveals where you heart is set. Your heart set determines where your mind is set. These work in tandem. Paul speaks to this further in Romans 8:5–9. As born again believers we live in a different realm — the realm of the Spirit. Not the earthly realm. This means we need to begin each day centering ourself on the realm of the Spirit. Mind sets are also determined by what we feed our minds (GIGO).

The key verse to help you mind your mind is Philippians 4:8. Living undefeated requires winning in the battlefield of your mind. It’s time to mind our minds.
 

Life Application Questions

  1. So far in this series, we’ve explored that we are more than conquerors, why God allows temptation, how to overcome temptation, and minding your mind. What has been the most helpful from this series for you at this time in your faith journey? Why?
  2. Read Jeremiah 17:10; Psalm 7:9; Psalm 139:3. Why do you suppose God is so concerned with your thoughts and your mind? Why is God’s “mind reading” abilities important for you to realize?
  3. Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) tells us states that as a man “thinks in his heart, so is he.” How does this practically work? How can this principle help you as we consider your thoughts?
  4. Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. What does Paul mean when he says, “We have the mind of Christ”?
  5. Read Ephesians 4:22-24. One of the keys to minding your mind is to repent — change your mind. How does this passage reveal the process of repentance as it concerns your mind?
  6. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. According to this verse, what is another key way to mind your minds? What might this key concept look like in everyday life?
  7. Read Luke 11:24-26. Kelly talked about the principle of replacement. How does this apply to your thought life?
  8. Another key to minding the mind is to begin each day with a renewed mind set. Read Colossians 3:1-3; Romans 8:5-9. What do these passages reveal about your mind set? What are some ways that you can begin each day with a renewed mind set?
  9. What is one of these keys to minding your mind that you need to focus on this week?

Read more...

Why Temptation?

We are super-conquerors in Christ, but we don’t always live up to it. Why? To sum it up in one word: temptation. If God wants us to live undefeated lives as Christians, why doesn’t He just take away temptation?

Temptation is universal (1 Cor. 10:13). Everyone has been tempted. You were tempted yesterday, you will be today, and are guaranteed to be tempted tomorrow. 

Temptation isn’t a sign of spiritual weakness. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4; Hebrews 4:15)

Temptation doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you. In Matthew 4, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted right after he was  commended by His Father and assured of His father’s love.

Temptation is not a sin. We don’t need to be ashamed of temptation because temptation is not a sin. Sin takes place when we yield to that temptation and make a choice contrary to what God would have you do.

Temptation doesn’t come from God. While it can be used by God for our good, temptation doesn’t originate with God. We are tempted by evil desires and God can have nothing to do with that which is evil (James 1:13-14).

So can there actually be valid reasons temptations? Let’s consider these possible reasons.

1) Temptation is a test of allegiance. We cannot say we love someone or trust someone without having to make some hard choices on that person’s behalf. God wants us to develop passion for Him that is greater than our passion to sin.

God allows us the privilege of difficult choices so that we can prove our love for Him. Our response to temptation is an accurate indicator of our love for God. See 1 John 2:15.

Biblical Example: Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife. See Genesis 39:9–10.

Each temptation leaves us better or worse; neutrality is impossible. We prove our love for God when we say yes to Him, even when the odds appear to be stacked against us. What it boils down to is this: Do we value the pleasures of the world or those that come from God?

2) Temptation can produce transformed passions. God does not make our choices easier because temptation is His process for character development. These temptations, struggles, and (yes) even our failures are used by God to help us grow in spiritual maturity. God wants to do something more beautiful in our lives than simply give us victory over a sin. He wants to replace it with something better — with the positive character of a fruitful life. 

See Deuteronomy 8:2-5. The Israelites didn’t realize how rebellious they were until they got thirsty, hungry, and faced hardship. Temptation brings the impurities to the surface. This allows God to begin the refining process in our lives.

3) Temptation can bring strength to our weakness. God uses our sins to show us His grace and power on our behalf. See Romans 5:20-21; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. If you are tormented by an especially stubborn sin, you may be on the verge of seeing God’s grace displayed in your life. 

Temptation isn’t terminal, it can be the gateway to living undefeated.
 

 Life Application Questions

 
  1. What have been your thoughts or feelings about temptation? Why do we often tend to view temptation negatively?
  2. One of the reasons for temptation is that it is a test of our allegiance to God. In what ways does temptation reveal our loyalty to God?
  3. Read Genesis 39. What was the key to Joseph overcoming temptation?
  4. Kelly said, “Temptation leaves us better or worse; neutrality is impossible.” Why can’t our response to temptation be neutral?
  5. Read Deuteronomy 8:2-5. Another reason for temptation is that it can produce transformed passions. What might this practically look like in our daily life? How does temptation have the potential for transforming our passions?
  6. Temptation can also bring strength to our weaknesses. Read Romans 5:20-21; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. What do these verses reveal about strength in our weakness?
  7. Can you think of any other positive reasons for temptation to add to this list?
  8. What is one thing you can do differently this week as you face temptation?

Read more...

Super-Conqueror

It’s time to start living out our God-given, Christ-enabled, Spirit-empowered victorious life!
 
He has saved us and offered us a life undefeated, a victorious life. Read: Romans 8:31-39
 
You are a super-conqueror because God is for you (vs. 31). The Father is for us and proved it by giving His Son (Rom. 8:32). The Son is for us (Rom. 8:34) and so is the Spirit (Rom. 8:26). God is making all things work together for you (Rom. 8:28). Contrary to what you may feel right now, God delights in you. See Zephaniah 3:17.
 
You are a super-conqueror because Christ died for you (vs. 32). The fact that God is for us is demonstrated in the giving of His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin — and this “while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8). Does the benefit of Christ’s death end once we are saved? No way. It is still the way we live an undefeated life. See 1 Corinthians 1:18. If when we were sinners, God gave us His best, now that we are God’s children would that change? Will He not give us all that we need to be a super-conqueror?
 
You are a super-conqueror because you are justified by God (vs. 33). This means that He has declared us righteous (blameless, in good standing) in Christ. This isn’t because of anything you have done. See Titus 3:4-7. Our Christian experience changes from day to day, but justification never changes. We may accuse ourselves, and men may accuse us; but God will never take us to court and accuse us. Jesus has already paid the penalty and we are secure in Him — justified before God.
 
You are a super-conqueror because Christ intercedes for you (vs. 34). See Romans 8:1–2 ; Hebrews 7:25. Intercession means that Jesus Christ represents us before the throne of God and we do not have to represent ourselves.
 
You are a super-conqueror because nothing can separate you from God’s love (vs. 35-39). God does not shelter us from the difficulties of life because we need them for our spiritual growth. See Romans 5:3-5. God permits trials to come that we might use them for our good and His glory. God gives us the power to conquer (Rom. 8:37). Victory takes place through temptation and trials, not apart from it and these events can serve God’s purpose when they are surrendered to him.
 
It is not our hold on Christ which sees us through to victory, but his hold on us. The victory is God’s love “that will not let me go.” Nothing in all of life, with its allurements and dangers and trials, can separate the believer from that love.
 
Life Application Questions
  1. Read 1 John 5:1-5. According to this passage, what is the key to being undefeated — to living a victorious life?
  2. If that is true, then why do so many Christians regularly live with the agony of defeat?
  3. Read Romans 8:26-34. Kelly said that we can be super-conquerors because the Trinity is for you. What evidence do we find in this passage that backs up that statement?
  4. How does Christ’s death on the cross bring you victory still today — even after you are saved? See Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 1:18.
  5. Read Romans 8:33; Titus 3:4-7. Why is being justified before God so critical for living an undefeated life? If you are a child of God, why wouldn’t God condemn you?
  6. Read Romans 8:34; Romans 8:1-2; Hebrews 7:25. What do you find in these passages that should inspire and empower you to live victorious lives?
  7. Read Romans 8:35-39; Romans 5:3-5. According to these verses, what good can come from your trials and temptations?
  8. As much as you don’t like to face trials and temptations, why are they critical to living an undefeated Christian life?
  9. What is one thing you need to do this week to apply this message to your life?

Read more...

Redeem Your Regrets

God wants to take your story of regret and turn it into a story of redemption.
 
Redemption is allowing God to take everything from our past, even our worst regrets, and use them for his great good. Your worst moments are where God can do his greatest redeeming work. See Romans 8:28. God wants to take even your worst mistakes and use them for great good! Your worst moments are where God can do his best work.
 
As David recognized and released his regret to God; God began to redeem his regrets by giving him a son. See 2 Samuel 12:24-25; 1 Kings 1:29-30. Solomon would go on to do great things as Israel’s king: the temple, economic success, peace, lineage of Christ. God redeemed David’s regrets through the birth of Solomon. It’s how God worked all things for the good in David’s life, even his greatest regrets.
 

Three Truths About Redemption

 
Truth #1: Redemption is Something God Wants To Do. Without God, redemption seldom happens. God is the one who can redeem any and every regret! And the good news is…God wants to do it! But this doesn’t mean we don’t have a part in redemption. Our part is to trust that God can redeem our regrets. Although you can’t engineer your own redemption, you can partner with God in it.
 
Truth #2: Redemption Takes Many Forms. Each time God redeems someone’s difficult past for a preferred future, it is perfectly adapted for that person.
  • Redemption can look like Finding Your Way Back to God.
  • Redemption can look like Spiritual Growth.
  • Redemption can look like Rescheduling.
  • Redemption can look like Redirection.
  • Redemption can look like A Chance to Bless Others.
Truth #3: Redemption Requires Us to Take the Long View. God always sees things from the perspective of eternity and not merely right now. How you perceive your regret right now isn’t how you will see it in the future.God’s redemption doesn’t erase whatever it was that happened to cause us regret. But his redemption does set it in a larger context of goodness, transforming the darkness of the past into the brightness of a new future.
 
God can’t redeem the regrets you don’t release. God wants to take your story of regret and turn it into a story of redemption.

Read more...