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Monthly Archives: December 2015

What Did Jesus Say About Sexual Sin?

There seems to be a line of thought in the church that says sex outside of marriage is a small thing, just a peccadillo. It’s almost as if people think, “Yeah, it’s wrong, but God’s not that concerned about it – He’s got bigger fish to fry.” I’m not sure where this idea comes from. Perhaps people think that this was the stance that Jesus took in the gospels with prostitutes and other struggling sinners, in other words, that He didn’t really care about their sin. Actually, however, He cared a lot about their sin, and it was His love for the people themselves that drove this care and concern. Jesus was gentle and caring toward those involved in sexual sin, and yet we can’t forget the message He gave the woman caught in adultery: “Go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11 ESV)

In reality, we need to think differently about the issue depending on who is engaging in it. There is a stance we take toward people inside the church who are caught up in this sin, and there is a stance we take with those outside the church. The Apostle Paul clarifies this…

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality… 1 Corinthians 5:9 -11 (ESV)

Paul is expressing a version of an important truth: Never expect Christian behavior from non-Christians. But…what should we expect from those who claim the name of Christ? In short, we should expect from Christians a striving toward holiness – to be sure, a faltering striving toward holiness but a striving in that direction nonetheless. Where there is no striving toward purity and holiness, we must firmly and lovingly call the sinner to repentance. If they will not repent, we are to help them see that they are likely not Christians at all.

To more fully understand Jesus’ view of sexual sin, we need to look in another place besides the gospels: the Apostle John recorded the Lord Jesus’ words on the wickedness of sexual immorality in Revelation chapter 2…

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. Revelation 2:20 – 23 (ESV)

I think we can safely say that sexual sin is not a small matter at all to Jesus. In fact, there really are no “small sins”. Like other sin, sexual immorality separates people from God, and even more than that, Paul tells us that it carries a penalty that other sin apparently doesn’t…

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18 (ESV)

In the end, we do well to remember that though Jesus speaks harshly about sexual immorality and those who partake in it, committing sexual sin of any type is not a bridge too far in terms of His forgiveness. For He is also the One Who died so that sexual sinners might know His love.

And as James Montgomery Boice once said, “When sin hit the high water mark, grace flooded the world.”

 

For Friday, December 5th: Revelation 3

 
 

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What Did Jesus Really Look Like?

We’ve all seen paintings of Jesus leading us to wonder how he really looked. Though not offering us much, Isaiah prophesied what the Lord’s appearance was going to be with a snippet of information…

He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2 (ESV)

Some have read Isaiah’s description to indicate that Jesus was homely or unattractive, but I think that the prophet is really saying that he would look pretty much like…the rest of us – very normal, I suppose, that is, for the prophesied Servant of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13). In other words, you wouldn’t be able to see Jesus in a crowd of people and say, “Oh, that One must be the Son of God.”

But John got a different picture. When Jesus appeared before his beloved Apostle on the Island of Patmos, He didn’t look like a regular guy. He looked like the second person of the Trinity

 …on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Revelation 1:12-17 (ESV)

What a glorious picture. It’s worth reading two or three times just to get an idea. Now, theologians surely have many ideas of what all this means, but overall, I think the Scriptural picture is there for us to see that Jesus is glorious, that Jesus is God.

And one day we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)

For Thursday, December 3: Revelation 2

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Least Famous Verse in the Bible

I don’t know if the above headline is absolutely true, but the following verse has got to be in contention for one of the least famous in the Scriptures…

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. Jude 1:5 (ESV)

You and I may not remember seeing this verse before, but the fault is with us, because there is a lot here to see. For instance…

  1. Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it….Isn’t that a fascinating way to put it? But I think we understand because after all, we are a forgetful people. There are things in life that we now know, but we will need to be reminded of later. And there are things that we used to know, but we don’t know them anymore. God knows our forgetfulness, so He gives us ways to help us remember what He deems important. The most obvious of these is the Bible itself. What a blessing that God has chosen to write down His words. It’s not something we think about much, but how else could we read and meditate on these glorious truths over and over again? And more than this, to aid remembrance, He gave the people of Israel festivals and feasts, and today, He has given us celebrations like the Lord’s Supper. Communion is given so that we can remember the cross. God knew that we might forget even the most wonderful event in the history of the world. So the Lord said, “This do in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)
  2. Jesus…saved a people out of the land of EgyptWe’re tempted to say, “Wait, what was Jesus doing there at the Exodus?” And then we remember, “Oh, that’s right – He is eternal.” And the cross was not His first saving act.
  3. Jesus…afterward destroyed those who did not believeThis wonderful, merciful Savior is also the Judge. And as He destroyed those who did not believe in that day, so there is coming a day when He will “judge the living and the dead.” (1 Peter 4:5).

For Wednesday, December 2: Revelation 1

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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