Pornography Attacked

Pornography Attacked

It has always been around, and will always be around. As long as there are people, there will be pornography. You might as well hold back the tide as to try and stop it. The production, sales, and dissemination of pornography have increased in recent years due to technical advancement and internet/social media. However, it is all the same. So, don’t be alarmed.

In this essay, I would like to:

  1. Define pornography.
  2. Explain pornography’s weaknesses.
  3. Give an explanation as to its resistance.

This phenomenon that draws men and women, like very few other lusts do, seemingly has taken over the world. The explanation defies the best psychologists. Their articles, which I don’t encourage anyone to read, are valueless, hopeless, and insubstantial. They will elevate such beastial behavior to a level of soft acceptance and will tell you that there is real satisfaction, need, for some level of sexual deviance, depending upon your line of right and wrong. Like I said: hopeless. 

Rather, if you take every psychological journal article written from the beginning of its existence as a discipline and compile them into one volume, the weight of that volume will not even compare to one word in the Bible. The Bible’s diagnoses and remedy for any sin, let alone pornography, is substantial, true, and always right.

What is pornography?

Pornography must be defined. Because, like all sins, the enemy of God knows that if you misdiagnose sin you will also misapply the cure. So, let’s begin by defining “pornography.” Here it is: “Pornography is any, ANY, sexual behavior outside of the recognized marriage between a man and a woman.” You read right. Here is a list:

  • Premarital sex-intimacy with another before marriage.
  • Lust-desiring intimacy with another who is not your spouse.
  • Adultery-the act of intimacy with another who is not your spouse.
  • Self-stimulation-obvious.
  • Images (artwork, music, or advertisement)-depiction of what entices another.
  • Nudity-any level of revealing a person’s body in public.
  • Beastiality
  • Molestation
  • Rape
  • Homosexuality
  • Lesbianism
  • Incest
  • Lastly, the mere thought of any of these things in our hearts with a desire to fulfill them.

Most people don’t realize that pornography is not pornography simply because a man says it is. What I might consider pornography my neighbor might consider normal and acceptable. Pornography is not subject to the “non-moral” category. Its classification is not relative. What defines pornography is objective, fixed, and unwavering.

Let’s look at this a little more closely. The nation of Israel, in the Old Testament, was familiar with pornography. How do I know?

Leviticus 18:3

3‘You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.

Apparently, the items listed in Leviticus 18 were done in Egypt. Further, they were also done in Canaan, the land that Israel would inherit forever. That means that although there were no computers, printed pictures, or other means of disseminating it, pornography was alive and well in most of the known world. Obviously, the other nations not specified of here were not exempt.

Let’s look at this list:

  • Vv. 6-17 teaches Israel to reject any, and every, form of incest.
  • V. 18 teaches them to reject incestual polygamy as an aberration of marriage.
  • V. 19 teaches men in the congregation to refrain from sexual intercourse during his wife’s menstrual cycle.
  • V. 20 teaches Israel to reject adultery (which includes divorce-Deuteronomy 24).
  • V. 21 teaches against idolatry (and given the context one wonders if there is an underlying tone of sexual aberration in this ritual of giving to Molech-Leviticus 20:5).
  • V. 22 teaches against male homosexuality.
  • V. 23 teaches against Beastiality.

As you can see, the levels of pornography in the nations matches our own in our nation. In other words, had America been in the land God promised Israel, we would have been slated for destruction by God along with the Canaanites. What has been practiced there is normal for us in ways we don’t even realize. Repeatedly, God tells Moses in this chapter that these are perversions to the original order of creation and are abominable, defiling, and worthy of judgment. As I said, “Pornography is any, ANY, sexual behavior outside of the recognized marriage between a man and a woman.”

The history of Israel is one of perversion. From pre-Israel days with Lamach having two wives (Genesis 4:19), to Tamar acting like a prostitute and Judah committing immorality and perversion by hiring her (Genesis 38), to David and his son Solomon with untold amounts of wives and concubines (2 Samuel 13:5; 1 Kings 11-it should also be stated that having multiple concubines was also practiced by Abraham and other men of God in the Bible as well), Israel ended up behaving just like those nations! The alteration of the good, very good (Genesis 1:31), original design of one man with one woman for a lifetime, has been the norm for everyone.

All of this is to say, it is normal to engage in pornography. And, that is the problem. According to the long line of examples in the Old Testament, sexual deviation is normal, sexual devotion is not. The normalcy of perversion, however, does not normalize it in the sight of God who created the sexual relationship.

Let it be stated once more:  “Pornography is any, ANY, sexual behavior outside of the recognized marriage between a man and a woman.”

The Weakness of Pornography

The weakness of pornography is that it is incapable of holding itself against the truth of God. That is to say, if Jesus is right, then the truth of God does, in fact, strengthen the believer and weaken sin. Let me show you what I mean:

John 8:31–32

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;

and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Do you remember that I said that pornography is not “non-moral”? What I mean is that it is every bit as much unrighteous as murder, pride, drunkenness, or false religion. It is always included in the lists of unrighteousness in the New Testament. In fact, it often heads those lists (see Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19). Perversions from the norm are what make up those lists and sexual deviation usually leads them all. That means that whenever you lust for a woman, in church or otherwise, when you look at the printed page of pornography, or click onto that favorite pornographic website, or even lust after the women in advertisements, then you are committing condemning sin.

However,

John 8:34–36

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.

“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Therefore, the unrighteousness of pornography is attacked, assaulted, and arrested by the truth which Jesus preached. Either that, or Jesus is an incessant, cruel liar.

Jesus’ Word is the exclusive, exclusive, cure for pornography just as it is the exclusive cure for drunkenness, love of drugs, or any other form of aberration from God. His Word, alone, contains the power to regenerate a person to believe in Him, follow Him, and be freed from these things. And, I might add, Jesus’ words do not need the help of modern, or pre-modern psychologists, psychotherapists, self-help groups, accountability partners, or any other form of embellishment. His Word is “spirit and life” (John 6:63). His Word produces faith (Romans 10:17). His Word regenerates the soul:

1 Peter 1:22–25

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.

For,

“All flesh is like grass,

And all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers,

And the flower falls off,

But the word of the Lord endures forever.”

And this is the word which was preached to you.

The weakness of pornography is this: it is utterly incapable of standing up against the Word of Christ.

Someone will ask, however, “I believe in the Word of Christ but I still commit lewd acts, or desire to. Does God’s Word not work like you say?” Remember, lewd acts are not simply aberrations on perversions. They are ANY perversion from the norm. Here are some things to understand:

  1. You possibly believed a false gospel.
    • It is possible that whatever you believed and considered yourself saved by was false, and thus powerless.
  2. You possibly did not truly believe.
    • This is not a question of sincerity, but of the origin of your faith. If your faith was not given from God (Ephesians 2:8-10), then it is from yourself and that does not regenerate (John 3:1ff.).
  3. You possibly, in your heart, don’t want to quit.
    • Be honest.
  4. You might be in a church that simply is not shepherding you well.
    • If you are not in a church that is ministering properly, teaching properly, being led properly, then you are not being taught HOW TO repent from these things and follow Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). You are very frustrated!

But, above all else, please don’t blame God for the way you are. God did not create the aberrations in you-they are who you are before you came to Christ. In fact, if Romans 6-7 is any indication, those desires are still in the flesh, your physical body, and they constantly work to enslave you all over again.

How To Resist Pornography

How can a person resist the temptation, inside and outside of themselves, for pornography?

First of all, repent of that sin and follow Jesus Christ. It is worthy of the wrath of the Lamb of God, the Lamb of God Who died in order to remove sins from His people so they will stand in righteousness forever. Imagine feeling the impulse to devalue a woman and simultaneously realizing that sin is not as strong as it used to be! Imagine the day when you don’t look on a woman to lust after her, to have her (Matthew 5:27-28), but rather to lead her, make her holy, and genuinely love her for her benefit and not your own. Imagine praising that godly woman and being glad for her beauty without being allured by the same. Imagine looking on with pity at the prostitute you used to know when she advances and instead you confront her concerning her perversion.

How can you get to such a place? Do you even want to? Let’s assume you want to. Let’s assume you want to mature and grow up to spiritual adulthood, that is to look and act like Christ.

Think about this: Jesus had an extensive ministry to women. He spoke alone to an immoral woman at a public well (John 4). He received the touch of a prostitute (Luke 7:36-50). He was admired by women wherever He went (Luke 11:27). He was financially supported by many women (Luke 8:1). And, many women looked upon Him near His cross (Luke 23:49). Never, never, was there ever a hint at perversion, in either direction. Why? “Because Jesus is God.” True, but wasn’t He tempted?

Hebrews 4:14–16

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

He experienced temptation somehow. He, apparently, knows what it is like to be tempted to sin (see Matthew 4:1-11). Being tempted is not the same as sinning. Him being tempted to sin does not mean that He wanted to sin. Rather, it demonstrates His impeccable nature in that He was committed to righteousness no matter the result.

And that is the only key to resisting the sin of pornography: pursue righteousness by faith. When you pursue Jesus Christ, His Word (John 8:30-31), you are pursuing righteousness. I will say it again, this is not simply sincere belief. This is not simply a sincere recollection of data. This is not simply thinking better thoughts. You know your thoughts are defiled. It is submitting yourself, to the death of yourself, to the teaching of Jesus Christ in order to obey it.

Romans 6:16–18

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

This is not simply-“Don’t look at pornography!” Rather, this is practicing obedience to all His commands beginning with the source of all His teaching:

John 13:34

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Submit to God, writes James, Jesus’ brother, and He will draw near to you:

James 4:7–10

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.

Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

You will never conquer unrighteousness by giving it a glance wondering how you are going to defeat it. You will only conquer sin by submitting to righteousness. Do what Jesus said to do. Pursue the obedience of faith. Be in a church that is actually a church with qualified leadership, preaching the Word clearly, minimized theatrics, seriousness placed on holiness, and who is striving to be faithful leading to growing holiness.

Don’t spend time in parachurch therapeutic clinics and seminars. They only serve to heighten the sin in your eyes by drawing continual attention to it. They cannot help you. God has ordained the simple preaching of the Word of Christ to be the power behind your obedience.

At the end of the day, you are not simply dealing with pornography, are you? Don’t you see pride in yourself, anger, love of money, coveting, faithlessness, etc…? Is the lust for others outside of marriage your only fault? Of course not!

Conclusion

In conclusion, all that I can say is follow Christ. His Word works in those who believe very, very effectively (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

How To Use the Cell Phone.

Last Sunday evening at church, we reviewed some considerations for using the cell phone (assuming a cell phone with data and text messaging functionality). Some might say that this is not a spiritual issue and is outside the bounds of pastoral ministry. However, I believe it is a pastoral concern because:

1) Relationships are suffering.

2) The world and its ideologies are pumped in through the cell phone/social media.

3) Digital dialogue is taking over the church’s communication.

4) More and more children have them, thus affecting their ability to hear their parents.

Matthew 18:1-10 indicates that the way that we treat those who follow Christ is the way that we treat Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore, it would be better to drown yourself than to cause a “little one” to stumble into sin. Jesus also instructed us to “love one another” (John 13:34). The NT goes on to instruct as to how to love one another in the world so that we might demonstrate to the world that we are disciples of Christ, both for their conviction and drawing work of God.

The fact that both of these teachings come down to conversations, how we speak, is clear in the NT. Our conversations with one another must be well thought-out, purposefully edifying, and meant to provoke one another to love and obedience (see Ephesians 4:29-32; Colossians 3:16-17; Hebrews 10:25). If Proverbs teaches anything, it certainly instructs us in the wisdom of useful conversation. For example:

Proverbs 16:13
Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And he who speaks right is loved.

 

Proverbs 16:21
The wise in heart will be called understanding,
And sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.

 

Proverbs 16:23–24
The heart of the wise instructs his mouth
And adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Learning how to speak to one another with righteousness, wisdom, and pleasant words will take time, effort, and practice. In fact, so much so, that it takes a lifetime of effort to produce words “fitly spoken” (see James 3).

However, what seems to be the case, is that the product of having all kinds of data, stories, and pictures at instant disposal, has produced in people a failure to communicate face to face. The ability to look someone in the eye and learn what they need to hear at that very moment is precious and valuable in the church (it is at the very heart of ministry!). But, the lack of interest in the concerns of others is evident in the superficial and careless communication that exudes the church. In short, personal, verbal, communication is unclear. And, when communication is unclear, the mind is muddy. And, when the mind is muddy, the glory of God suffers, and we cannot look at one another in the church in love.

Why make that assertion? Consider:

Philippians 2:3–4
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

How much of what we do on our cell phones is for personal interest? News stories (so-called), rumors, trends, shopping, music, latest scores… In fact, there are very few things that can be done on our cell phones (or other personal digital devices) that are for others. Sure, you can send a text message of encouragement, email an important letter, look up something for someone. But, don’t let the little things like that, give permission for the greater problems that are created by the wasted, selfish, time spent. The fact is, it is a phone. Phones were created to communicate with someone else. The new technology that allows deep self-interest is actually working against the commands to love others before yourself.

A mature believer uses things the way they are meant to be used. When he is done, he puts it away until useful again. In that way, the phone becomes a tool, not a worker. It remains a slave and not a master. Many conversations are lost due to untold hours surfing Facebook, “checking” text messages, reading useless weather reports and articles. And that, beloved, is leading the church to superficiality at best, and sinful self-indulgence at worst (compare the wisdom of Paul in Acts 20:24).

Quite simply, put it away. Use the technology to alert you when your spouse, children, or other important people, are trying to get contact you. Limit your business calls to regular work hours, where appropriate. Otherwise, put it down and do the dishes, wash the car, visit someone in the church, read Scripture, pray, etc.. Channel surfing, whether on T.V., or the cell phone (including iPads etc…), is a complete waste of precious time. Time must be redeemed, not wasted:

Ephesians 5:15–17
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Engagement From a Young Man’s Perspective (At Least It Should Be!)

This post is dedicated young men who are considering marriage. There are certain characteristics common to young men that I want to address, and attempt to do so here. They are unspoken, typically. However, in the years of ministry, these have surfaced in many situations and with many young men. In short, this is not a statement about any one young man, but all young men as these things, I believe, are common enough.

 

When Adam fell, the turmoil left behind was unimaginable by him. The pervasive damage to the heart and life of man was irrevocably altered to such a degree as to cause God tremendous grief:

Genesis 6:6

6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

Now, instead of man expressing the glory of God in his work-a-day life on this brand new planet, man now works against the glory of God by his life (Romans 3:23). Adam was created to serve God by means of his work, his worship, through obedience to God’s Word, and with his woman, whom God made (a summary of Genesis 2). This alone is the glory of God in this created world (Genesis 1:28). However, once Adam fell, the glory was lost. Man now works for his own ends, worships the creation and not the Creator, rejects God’s Word in every detail, and uses women for his own purposes and not the purpose of God. Women are not innocent either. Instead of loving their Adam, recognizing his leadership, receiving the Word through him, women now seek to reject a man and his authority, lead over the man, rise up independently, and create her own world by her own standards. I say it again, this turmoil, and its offspring, is truly unimaginable. No wonder God was so deeply grieved that He sent the flood.

When a young man prepares for marriage, all of a sudden he is coming face to face with these realities. For so many years, he has been most concerned with himself. This is not wrong, mind you. However, it simply does not work in marriage. He has eaten when he was hungry. He has slept at night when he was tired. He has exercised when he felt like it. He has had some restraint from his parents, but overall, he has pretty much made his life an expression of his own interests. Again, this is not wrong and is to be expected in the life of a young man.

But, when it comes to the process of engagement and marriage, he must leave all of this behind. He must bring with him all the lessons the Lord has taught him about concern, provision, care, etc.. (in short, leadership) into his marriage. However, the object of his concern, provision, and care is no longer himself. His interests are not first in line any longer. His food intake is not his concern any longer. His hobbies are not a priority any longer. Now, a young lady and her concern, provision, care tops the list of priorities (1 Corinthians 7:32-34). When these wheels begin to move, it is unlike anything he has ever experienced. It is new. He does not even know what is happening. How can he?! It can be enough to call the whole thing off and run the other way!

Yet, God still says,

Proverbs 18:22

22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing

And obtains favor from the Lord.

And, again,

Proverbs 19:14

14 House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers,

But a prudent wife is from the Lord.

This is why, it seems, making the decision to marry, or who to marry, cannot be based upon feelings. Feelings are a bad guide. Married men, can you imagine your marriage running only on feelings? Not a pleasant thought. Neither should engagement be. The decision to marry a young woman must be made from the standpoint of who she is, not what he thinks about her! A young man’s perspective, if the man is honest, is not all that stable.

So, here are some objective criteria for a young man to have in his heart when it comes time to consider marriage:

  • Does she fear the Lord Jesus Christ?

Notice I did not put a woman’s beauty, or lack of it (in your eyes), first on the list. Like a flower, her beauty is only beginning to bud at a young age. But unlike a flower, the deep beauty of a woman who fears the Lord does not fade over time, but only intensifies.

 

Proverbs 31:30

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,

But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

  • Does she attempt a gentle and quiet demeanor?

If so, this is the product of the work of the Holy Spirit in her. If not, this is the work of the flesh in her. That does not mean to call it off. It means she needs you all the more!

1 Peter 3:4

4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

  • Does she enjoy you?

This is more a statement about you than her. What is meant by this is, does she enjoy being with you? Or, to say it another way, “Are you enjoyable to be around?”

Proverbs 3:1–4

The Rewards of Wisdom

1 My son, do not forget my teaching,

But let your heart keep my commandments;

2 For length of days and years of life

And peace they will add to you.

3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you;

Bind them around your neck,

Write them on the tablet of your heart.

4 So you will find favor and good repute

In the sight of God and man.

 

The decision to marry is a (the) greatest decision in this life (1 Peter 3:7 “…the grace of life…”). The decision concerning who to marry is even greater! Why? Because, as a young man, if Ephesians 5:26 is any indication, you are now committing your life to really one thing-her sanctification. Are you ready for this? Are you able let go of your childish infatuations and “act like (a man)?” Can you take this responsibility seriously enough to see with the eyes of Christ? Does this scare you? It should! It had better scare you! But, instead of running from all of this in fear, thus allowing fear to make your decisions, run to it through the fear and fall on Christ in obedience and do your part to make one more young woman holy again. And, if you are looking around at others to see who else is doing it this way, you won’t find them. The love described here is a rarity and demands that you simply stop looking at other human examples and keep your eyes on the divine example of love, Jesus Christ and His church-“the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). Be the example.

What Should You Say To Your Teenager?

There are many things that a parent could say to his/her son/daughter from the ages of 13 to 19. These years, called by most the “teen years” because of the obvious appellation of “teen” in the numbers, are for many the most difficult, strange, and scary years for them. That is, the mind of the one who used to play in yard pretending to be an airplane, cowboy, or dinosaur is now interested in earning a living, physical appearance, and his future. The mind and heart has now shifted to greater realities and the days of pretend are changing to the stuff of reality. What do you say to a teenager in these years? What would a conversation look like from a Christian parent to their “teenager”? Here goes:

 

“God has designed that you, my son/daughter, are maturing past the things that used to hold your attention. You are “growing up” and as such you are learning to shoulder responsibility. You are beginning to learn the priceless, and most difficult aspect of adulthood: self-sacrifice. You are beginning to see that you cannot simply do things you want to do without consequence. In short, it is exactly what Jesus Christ said in relation to following Him. In a world that tells you to fulfill your dreams, Christ says to deny yourself. Let me explain.

Jesus taught that entrance into the kingdom of God only comes at the expense of a complete denial of yourself. This isn’t a self-righteous thing that you do in order to get accepted by God. That is not how God operates. It is that you realize that the sin that is in your heart and mind, and you know it well by now, keeps you from God. You have come to see and understand, as Mom and I have instructed you, that sin really does live in you. You are seeing more and more of your impulses, reactions, and desires are, basically, selfish. You most often think of your future, your interests, and your life. You find it difficult to think past your hopes for the future and the present responsibilities seem to be an intrusion into your plans. You understand little of how the inconveniences of doing the dishes and mowing the grass can further your future plans. However, Mom and I are not nearly as interested in your future plans in life as we are concerned about your life in the future. By that I mean we are most concerned that you follow the Lord Jesus Christ right into His kingdom. And that does not require a résumé, or an itinerary, nor does it require a bank account and a three-piece suit. What is required, quite simply and most impossibly, is the rejection of yourself and a complete submission to the will of Jesus Christ.

It has been said that you cannot serve two masters. You have heard this many times. However, have you ever considered this in light of your life? Ask yourself, “Who am I serving?” If you don’t know, examine whose will you are following. Self-interest, self-promotion, and self-aggrandizement are, well, all about self. The display of your own glory by means of your looks, skills, interests, right down to the car you drive, is not the will of God. However, the display of the glory of God by means of your looks, skills, interests, right down to the car you drive, is the will of God. You know this, I realize that. You have heard it many times before from Mom and I. However, you are prone to forgetting. And, unfortunately, it only gets worse.

Son, daughter, don’t follow your own will. Submit your will, hopes, plans, dreams, all the stuff the world tells you to achieve, to the will of the God of your Father and Mother. We have been following Jesus Christ now longer than you have lived and we can tell you that He is worthy of all our allegiance. He is worthy of our lives.

You might think, “Then what do I do? Do I not plan for the future? Do I not pursue work, family, and things that my heart wants?” No. That is not the point. I am talking about your will, not your works. Don’t miss it. It is as simple as asking yourself, “What do I want?” You can have all that you plan for, as long as it is the result of  the pursuit of obedience to the will of God and His glory. Or, you can have all that you plan for as the result of  the pursuit of your own desires apart from God’s glory. Subject all that you are thinking about your future to the eternal will of the Father as explained in the Bible. In summary, do all that you do for the display of God’s brilliant glory and everything you do will be established in His pleasure. This is a pursuit that is full of light and is glorious, at the expense of your life. However, to pursue your life at the expense of the will of God is extreme poverty of soul and darkness. James said it like this,

James 4:13–17

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”

14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.

17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Son, daughter, Jesus Christ is God, the Son of the Father. He has come in order to take away sins. He has come in order to live and die in the place of those who would ever believe in Him by His doing. He is coming again in holy array and will take His church to Himself. When that day comes, it will not matter if you were a ditch-digger or a neurosurgeon. The only question that matters is: “Did you deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Him?”

The Heart of Grumbling

The New Covenant ministry is full of joy. The joy of seeing the image of Christ formed in God’s people; the joy of learning God’s truth; the joy of your own heart and mind being renewed. However, the New Covenant ministry is also full of deep sadness as well. It was said of the Messiah that He would be “…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Yet, it was for joy that He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2). His grief mingled with joy in the Father is THE pattern for His people in a peculiar way (Hebrews 12:3). It is not God’s plan that His servants lose heart or grow weary in their work (Galatians 6:9; Hebrews 12:3). And yet, that is so often the knee-jerk reaction while in the throws of ministry. The heartache of seeing the ravages of sin in the lives of an unbelieving world. The grief over professing believers who refuse the Lord’s instructions. The depth of frustration over personal sin. The zeal aroused at the dishonor of God’s holy name. All of these things fill the heart and mind of God’s men as they seek to simply be faithful the Word of God.

However, there is a particular sin that often generates grief in ministry and it is as common as the sunlight. It is the sin of complaining. Complaining is that behavior that characterizes a man or woman who 1) loves himself/herself more than others, 2) thinks very little of the Word from God, the Bible, 3) simply wants to complain for the shear thrill of complaining. The fruit of complaining is division, broken hearts, fleshly strife, and devastated relationships. It was complaining that:

  • Caused God to judge Israel numerous times after the Exodus, including being confined in the desert instead of entering the land promised to Abraham:

    Numbers 14:26–29

    26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,

    27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.

    28 “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you;

    29 your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me

Led others into the same sin:

Numbers 11:1–3

1 Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

2 The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire died out.

3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them.

 

Complainers are those who despise the Lord’s purposes for themselves. For Israel, they rejected YHWH’s commands, and since they could not approach God, they grumbled against Him by grumbling against His servant, Moses. These people were not only limited to Israel, however. People are people. Sinners are sinners. Grumblers are grumblers.  The tendency to grumble is the same for all-self-righteousness.

In John 6, Jesus is speaking to the multitudes, but especially the leaders of the multitudes, the Pharisees. These men were the target of the Lord’s ministry in a peculiar way. Because of their leadership, and since leaders will be in greater accountability by the Lord, Jesus initiated that judgment often with them (see Matthew 23, for example. That chapter reads like a judicial sentence). Jesus has been healing, feeding, and teaching the multitudes. The power of Christ and the grace of God was upon all of them. However, what was the response by those who should have rejoiced at the goodness of God? Grumbling. Their grumbling was not directed at the teaching. Their grumbling was directed at the Person of Jesus Christ because of His teaching (John 6:41). It would be one thing to complain about a teaching. However, that simply is never the case. When a person complains, the doctrine is simply the ruse. A complainer is actually assaulting the person doing the teaching, not the instruction itself.

However, it is greater than this, and more serious. Moses said it well:

Exodus 16:8

8 Moses said, “This will happen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning; for the Lord hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him. And what are we? Your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.”

Any complaining, any, is not simply directed at the leader, it is always directed at the Lord behind the leader. This is why complaining is so very serious. It is an assault upon God. And, for that reason, when a complainer is spotted in the church of Jesus Christ, stay away from them. Confront them with the understanding that they are doing the very thing that brings the wrath of God down upon them. These people infect like a disease. They are exploitative, mean, and hypocritical. They are not interested in joy, righteousness, nor the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is too high for them, they cannot attain to it, so they replace it with their own. And, unfortunately, since this behavior is so common, they often gather followers and influence them to do the same.

The complaints of Israel were fueled by the “rabble” who attached themselves to Israel as they left Egypt. They infected the people by bringing out of their hearts what was already there, but they gave it boldness.

Numbers 11:4–6

4 The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat?

5 “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,

6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”

The church of Jesus Christ must refuse grumbling, and grumblers.

 

1 Corinthians 10:9–12

9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.

10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

Philippians 2:14–16

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;

15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,

16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.

1 Peter 4:9

9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

 

And, saints, remember, your grumbling and complaining is a weight that bears upon the hearts of pastors so very heavily that they are prone to growing weary and losing heart. This would be unprofitable for you (Hebrew 13:17). Therefore, obey the Lord’s instructions and stop complaining and start rejoicing!

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