Child Sacrifice Then and Now

In the Old Testament, Israel was warned about participating in a peculiar practice of god worship. This act of worship was one that aroused the true God, YHWH, most vehemently to such a degree as to cast judgment upon the individual and the people who participate OR ignored the practice within the fold of Israel. The passage is Leviticus 20:1-5. It reads:

1  Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2  “You shall also say to the sons of Israel: ‘Any man from the sons of Israel or from the aliens sojourning in Israel who gives any of his offspring to Molech, shall surely be put to death; the people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3  ‘I will also set My face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given some of his offspring to Molech, so as to defile My sanctuary and to profane My holy name. 4  ‘If the people of the land, however, should ever disregard that man when he gives any of his offspring to Molech, so as not to put him to death, 5  then I Myself will set My face against that man and against his family, and I will cut off from among their people both him and all those who play the harlot after him, by playing the harlot after Molech.

Notice a few things. First of all, notice that the act of worship itself is the act of “[giving his] offspring to Molech.” The god of Molech is the deity imagined by the “sons of Ammon” (1 Kings 11:7). He is also the god that Solomon, in his later days, also permitted sacrifices to and built altars for worship as well (1 Kings 11:5-8; King Josiah destroyed these places of “worship” in his reforms many decades later-2 Kings 23:13-14). Molech is the name of that god for whom children were put into a fire….alive. The children were put there because of the delusion that the god, Molech, would see their “sacrifice” and be appeased. As the emotional fervor was raised, the child was picked up in ritual fashion and thrown into the pit that was called “high [place] of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Himmon.” (Jeremiah 7:31). It was in this valley that the shrine for burning children was built. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states: “The place itself was probably a deep, wide pit containing a bonfire of blazing wood (Isa 30:33) into which the hapless children were thrown.“ (p.979). These children became “offered” to the god because of a desire to see the god appeased and to avoid particular calamities if they did not offer to this god. YHWH says that this action of killing the children on behalf of the people was an action that “I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.” (Jeremiah 7:31). 

Now, think about this. Israel would be led to this behavior because of the influence of nations around, and within, the land of Palestine. The entire construct of putting young children into a raging fire to be consumed by the fire was the result of a perverted and disgusting perspective on the true God. Because, since the true God said that this kind of treatment of children and this act of worship never entered His mind, then this behavior certainly did not come from Him. That darkened understanding of God lead to the creation of a new god, one called Molech, himself a result of a group of people born out of an incestious relationship from some people who were escaping the destruction of a group of cities being destroyed for Sodomy (Genesis 19:30-32; . 

Do you see any, any, similarities here? Could it be that the god of this world has been appeased by the slaughter of children? It is not the fire this time, but forceps. It is not a ritual, but a regulation. It is not to appease the god Molech, but the god/goddess “self.” To make this kind of behavior legal (even celebrated) is atrocious beyond description. 

The Christian, however, must not get distracted. Murder is what comes out of the heart (Mark 7:21). Do you expect the corrupt heart to produce a righteousness that is not there? We do expect common sense, residual image of God, what is good for humanity, but the reality is, when darkness pervades, why are we shocked? The god Molech is wearing a suit or dress and is being worshiped nonetheless. He is the god “self.” (See

This kind of atrocity is exactly why Paul exhorted Timothy to brace himself so that he does not waver from fulfilling his duties within the church. He wrote:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2  For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3  unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4  treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5  holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

This is a description of what will happen in the church. But, since, inevitably, the church follows the world, and this love of self is in the world, it will be in the church. Don’t be surprised. Know that the Canaanites have been ruling the land all along and we, the redeemed people of Jesus Christ, must not give up our position because of part of the war against God is going on that God Himself, alone, will rectify (1 Corinthians 5:12). Keep your minds, and emotions, reserved for Jesus Christ alone (Matthew 22:37). Don’t give Satan room to distract you from unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3) and tempt you with anger against what is absolutely and completely demonic:

18  Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? 19  What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20  No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22  Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?

1 Corinthians 10:17-22

The god of this world rules the whole world (1 John 5:19). It has been handed to him, for a time (Luke 4:5-7). 

God’s Eternal Plan in Real Time

I have written about this many times before. However, getting an eternal view is always helpful and necessary so that we do not lose heart and think that God is simply passive in life and earthly events. Knowing that God, the God of the Bible, is in control, sovereign, and almighty, makes the very difficult realities of life not only bearable but very interesting when viewed from His eternal plan.


To say that life is self-sustaining, like a top that has been spun and let go in order to spin on its own, is to reveal an unbelieving heart. This is not active faith but passive acquiescence. I mean, even the world believes that in one form or another and the world does not believe in God, does it? Why, then, do we believe that this perspective is any more acceptable in the church?


Rather, God actively “holds all things together.” Paul wrote:


Colossians 1:15–17

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.


Does this sound passive to you? Absolutely not! By Jesus Christ, Paul wrote, “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible…” And, by Jesus Christ, all things “hold together.” That word is used in 2 Peter 3:5 in reference to creation. It means all things “stand together,” or are “held together.” The indication is that of a bond and order and sustenance that is only dissoluble when God, more specifically, Jesus Christ, releases it. By His sustaining power, which is constant and infinite, Jesus Christ is able to make the universe predictable. Even the so-called “natural laws” of the universe are only constant because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, He maintains every molecular bond, and every stellar relationship in the cosmos, in constancy and predictability.


But, why is this the case? I mean, why does Jesus Christ hold all things together? Was there a reason for creation? Does the Bible tell us why life even exists and where it is going? Of course it does! In fact, it gives explicit teaching so that we might have hope and encouragement in the Scriptures, and thus in God, and not hope in our circumstances:


Romans 15:4–6

4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,

6 so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.


The reason goes all the way back before creation. The Bible teaches that the world was created in six days of active creation and a seventh day in which God stopped creating and enjoyed what He made. This was a week, the first week of creation. At the beginning of the week, we are told, the angels “sang together” at the laying of the foundations of the earth:


Job 38:5–7

5 Who set its measurements? Since you know.

Or who stretched the line on it?

6 “On what were its bases sunk?

Or who laid its cornerstone,

7 When the morning stars sang together

And all the sons of God shouted for joy?


We know that this was day one since the earth was summarily created, but not populated, at the beginning of day one:


Genesis 1:1–2

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.


It was at this moment that the angels of God sang together at the display of God’s great power in His design and implementation of the foundational elements of creation. From here, Jesus would go on to create light, darkness, vegetation, animals, man and finally woman. And, since the angels sang together at the creation of these things, that would mean that the angels were created before Genesis 1:1. Therefore, all the angelic realm, with all of its incredible structure, hierarchy, and brilliance, was designed by Jesus Christ and created, with the aide of the Holy Spirit. All of this was from the decree of God to His Son for a specific reason.


What was that reason? Why would the Father give the decree to the Son to create the cosmos and populate it with so much variety and beauty? There are scores of passages that either hint at the reason or outright tell us. However, like creation, I am interested in the foundational elements at this point. From here we can build the building and see the glory of the house.


The best place to start as to motive and reason for this creation is found in the Apostle Paul’s writing to the Romans. He wrote:


Romans 8:28–30

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.


Just like the sustaining work and power of Jesus Christ to order and preserve the predictable universe, God also sustains the lives of those who love Him, and (don’t miss this!) are called “according to His purpose.” What is the purpose? His purpose goes all the way back to the heart of God wherein He “predestined” something. What did He predestine? He predestined that created people would become an “icon” of His Son. The Greek word, “icon,” means a living picture or visible resemblance to something. In this case, God predestined that He would make men and women resemble His beloved Son, Jesus Christ! Incredible! This is it! The mystery is solved. The motive for all of creation is that God had a plan that was “hidden in God” and “carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:9-11). When you read the gospels, you are reading the active eternal plan of God being carried out, or accomplished, by God in impervious fashion. That is, nothing could, or can, withstand God’s purpose. Satan cannot outsmart Him. Men cannot but do His will. The whole created order is subject to this eternal plan without fail.


As Peter wrote, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…” (1 Peter 2:21).

Exposing the Hypocrite: The Necessary Ministry

In Luke 11, Jesus Christ is invited to a lunch. The host: a Pharisee. This man had just witnessed Jesus casting out a demon (11:14). And the Pharisees in general had summized that Jesus had done that work by the devil himself. How ludicrous! Why would Satan send his own messengers to the Abyss? No matter. These men were not interested in rationale. They made this accusation because, as it says in v.29 and v. 12:1, “The crowds were increasing…(by) so many thousands…” They needed to silence Jesus and the way to do that, they thought, was to make senseless accusations in the public arena to turn people away from Him and keep them in their control. They further wanted/demanded a sign from Him thinking that this would “test” Him. These men needed to discredit Jesus. Why? Why would they want to discredit a Man who is casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, etc…? Let’s find out.


This Pharisee invites Jesus to lunch. No doubt, this was a set-up. However, Jesus was well aware of it and did not act any differently than He would have otherwise. In other words, He was no hypocrite. When Jesus sat down to the table, He initiates the fight by not observing the ceremonial washing of the hands before a meal (See Mark 7:3-4). Jesus knew that His freedom to sit down and eat without washing His hands in ritualistic fashion would upset the Pharisees. That is why He did it! He needed to upset their self-righteous rituals.


The Lord, then, makes the first statements. In essence, Jesus tells the Pharisee, the host, that he is clean outside but filthy inside (v. 39). He tells him that he is legalistic, self-righteous, and void of the love of God (v.42). He tells him that he is full of sinful self-importance and lusts after respectful greetings in public (v.43). He tells him that he is like a concealed tomb-people walk over it but don’t realize what is actually inside of it (v.44).


At this point, a lawyer answers back to Christ and says, “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too” (v.45). Jesus has some words for them as well. They too are self-indulgent while demanding insane rigidity from the people they are leading (v.46). They were like their prophet-murdering fathers (v. 48). They are those who will kill the messengers of Jesus Christ (v.50) and yet will be held liable for their bloodthirsty behavior (v.51). They keep the truth from people, never entering into truth themselves (v. 52).


Now, at this point, Jesus has hit about every button He can in one sitting. After Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees, Luke tells us, “…began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say” (vv.53-54). It is at this point that Luke wants us to understand that Jesus purposely said what He said about their sins. Their wicked hearts could not respond in any other manner. They wanted to entrap Him and then, if they could do it publicly, use their diabolical accusations against Him and discredit Him before the people.


The problem is, however, there were so many people attracted to Him that they were stepping all over each other to hear Him (v.12:1). It was “under these circumstances” that Jesus turns to His twelve disciples and says a most crucial lesson to these men that they could ever hear. Jesus said,


Luke 12:1b

“Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.


Jesus had just outlined actual cases of hypocrisy in the lives of the Pharisee and the lawyers. He had identified them as outwardly appearing acceptable before men while pretending to represent God to them, but all the while be deeply dark and corrupt in their hearts.


Therefore, these men needed to always, always, be aware of the effect of hypocrisy. It is a leaven. It spreads. It permeates. It affects deeply in the heart of men and women who are already prone to pretending to be something they are not. In this case, the disciples must guard against not only the Pharisees themselves since a hypocrite cannot be believed or trusted-ever. But they must also resist any form of hypocrisy by simply revealing it, just like Jesus Himself had just exampled to them. They must expose hypocrisy, not simply coexist and hope that they don’t cross paths.


However, hypocrisy won’t win. Hypocrites will be found out (v.2). What they are hiding will be revealed at some point. Therefore, the apostles must not speak privately what they can’t say publicly and thus play the hypocrite themselves. What will be the result? Rage. Rage by the hypocrite towards the apostles. They will impose fear on these men (v.4). Nevertheless, God should be feared more (v.5). They can only kill the body. God can throw a soul into hell! But, in their impotent threats, God will protect and care for these men (vv. 6-7).


What are they to do? What is their proper response? I will tell you the proper response-preach. That is the proper response. Jesus said,


Luke 12:8–9

8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;

9 but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.


They will be threatened to stop preaching the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:17-20). They will be warned and they will be opposed. However, they are under orders by the One who can cast the souls of the cowardly apostles into hell if they will no longer confess Christ before men. And, in fact, when they would bring these men before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, there should not even be a thought or worry about what will be said in their own defense. These men, like us, must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to bring to mind what to say.


Beloved, the church is full of hypocrites. These are men and women who hate the truth, hate the Father, hate the Christ, hate the Spirit, and despise the light. They are those who, if they could, they would create a thousand more hypocrites like themselves out of God’s people. They are, as Jude wrote,


Jude 16

16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.


And they are:


Jude 19

19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.


The Pharisees, in prototypical fashion, exhibit for us whom to beware of. And, Jesus, in prototypical fashion, exhibits for us how to expose their hypocrisy and remain faithful to the truth in light of the threats of the hypocrite. After all, obedience to God will cause antagonism from the hypocrite. But, obedience to the hypocrite will cause antagonism from God. Which will you choose?

The Pastor and His Accountability

  To whom is the pastor accountable?

This is a question that gets raised in a variety of ways. It has been raised in our church as well and my position, as pastor, is that my responsibilities as a pastor are solely answerable to the Lord Himself. The reason is that He is the One who can, and will, properly evaluate my work. As a Christian brother, I am mutually submissive to one another (Ephesians 5:20) and the joy of that is immense. Those men and women whom the Lord has redeemed and who come to me and exhort, and encourage, and befriend me are without equal. However, the direction of my work in the Lord and the evaluation of that work as to its quality (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) can only be rightly evaluated by the Lord Himself in that day of evaluation (2 Corinthians 5:10). This is a fearful thing (2 Corinthians 5:11) and does, at least in my case, remind me of such high accountability as to guard me from knowingly sinning against anyone or, especially, practicing private sin.


The answer to this question really boils down to what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:1-5

1 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 

2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 

3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 

4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. 

5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. 


Herein lies the reality of accountability. In the minds of many, “accountability” would mean that a man or woman is liable to give an account to another for the sake of scrutiny. The examination can take on many forms. In the church, for the elders of a church, examination is ultimately left only to One-Jesus Christ.


Let me explain. There are human courts in the world. These courts serve a purpose and are helpful for a myriad of civil issues where a verdict is needed. Further, there are even courts in the church wherein a verdict is needed, as in the case of the “legal” issues between brethren (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). Paul’s bases in that chapter is that the quality of a human court and the quality of the church court are two different things. They are, because one is based upon the Law of the Kingdom of God and the other is not, mutually exclusive. Further, the quality of the court and the law(s) that determine that quality, lead to protocol, and protocol leads to precedence, and precedence determines verdicts. Paul writes to the Corinthians that the differences between both kinds of courts is all the way down to the law upon which each court is built. In other words, the human court is not concerned with breaking the law of love from Christ (John 13:34), but the church court has that as its only standard. And, a human court is required wherein serious civil crimes might be committed by a professing Christian.


However, when it comes to those who serve as elders, pastors, teachers, there is an even higher court than these, and this court makes rigorous demand upon the preacher which, then, requires of him the highest level of adherence to the standards of that court (James 3:1). That is to say, to survive my “day in court” with Jesus Christ as my Examiner, my life among the world and especially the brethren must be entirely above reproach. The church is not always in the best spiritual condition to evaluate a preacher and his life. Although, when a man transgresses the Law of Christ, the church will see it. There are repercussions, like church discipline (1 Timothy 5:19-20). However, ultimately, the church is not the court. The future presence of God is (2 Timothy 4:1).


Although an elder may not know anything against himself, that does not mean that he will survive in that court. It means that, like Paul, whenever there is an accusation against a pastor’s reputation, we try to “conciliate” (1 Corinthians 4:13). And as often as failures arise, and they do, so also does the work of conciliation arise. When peace is restored between relationships, as much as possible (Romans 12:18), then that case is closed and unity is maintained. When peace is not restored, even after being sought after, it makes for a difficult hardship on the parties involved and there is no peace.


To address what so many Christians are concerned with, however, this does not mean that a pastor or elder is above the scrutiny of the people to whom he is ministering. It does not mean that a pastor can sin and be untouchable. It is sad that people are led to that conclusion. But, based upon the history of church leaders who have hidden behind such thinking, I can very much understand why. These hypocrites are very detrimental to the efforts of godly men who are working hard to be above reproach. A pastor who sins and transgresses against God is accountable to God. That accountability is felt and implemented, as determined by Scripture, usually by other godly men. They would have the spiritual maturity to interpret the facts properly so as to render a mature verdict and help the man to reconcile/repent. To minister to that pastor for his building up requires tremendous maturity and wisdom. That is why going to a man caught in a trespass, especially a pastor, is the duty of mature believers (Galatians 6:1). Ideally other godly, qualified, leaders. This behavior fulfills the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).


It is true, and unfortunate, that men do disqualify themselves. Scandal of hidden lives of church leaders constantly emerge, it seems, and is wearisome to hear about. But, what is even more unfortunate, is the spiritual condition of many more churches who, themselves, are guilty of disobeying the Law of Christ in their daily behavior. It is true that an elder is under even more scrutiny for his work in the church. But it is just as true that the congregation has an obligation to obedience to Jesus Christ to the degree that pastors do. Once under the leadership of such a godly man/men, the church is obligated, for her benefit in time and eternity, to follow his example and faith and serve the Lord alongside him/them (Romans 16:1-24, for example). For many “Christians,” their rebellious self-styled behavior, which if publicly exposed shames the name of Christ, would disqualify them from Christianity.


Hebrews 13:17 

17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Romans 14-The Law of Love In Action

The Law of Love In The Local Congregation


As we move along in this present age of the world, particularly as I move along in my own age, I have observed increasing laxity as it regards what might be called “standards” in the life of local churches. It is no secret that the world is attacking everything moral, godly, righteous, and clean. In fact, the world does not even care what sex you identify with, regardless of the anatomy of your own birth. We would expect this from the world. We would expect this from those who couldn’t care less for Jesus Christ and His Words. But, should we tolerate it in the church which is supposed to carry on the truth about Jesus Christ and His Words?

In the local church I pastor, Berean Bible Church of Kalispell, MT., we had a discussion concerning differing doctrinal “views.” In essence, the discussion came as a perspective particularly in regards to eschatology, or the study of what the Bible says about end-times events. Inevitably, we ended up in Romans 14, a chapter championed by some to allow for just about any viewpoint or behavior in the church as long as you have “full conviction” about it.

It was, I hope, a precious time of learning and clarification. My desire was to represent this powerful chapter in Romans the way that Paul intended it to be taught and to mean exactly what he intended it to mean. From there we can go on to obeying it. Although the truths written in Romans 14 are not unique to that chapter, the chapter is without equal in condensing how a church can maintain unity, as commanded in Ephesians 4:3, and yet maintain doctrinal accuracy.

My goal is to summarize Paul’s writing in this essay and exhort the church to obedience to it so that true unity can be maintained and the church can mature.

Main Point: Accept one another

 This command bookends the section that Paul uses to address the issues related to relationships in the Roman church. A church filled with Jews and Gentiles, formerly avowed enemies, is bound to have schisms and factions, as evidenced in churches like the churches at Corinth and Galatia. In fact, the issue regarding Jews and Gentiles was so prominent, Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem in order to conclude the matter by the appointed Jerusalem elders and Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 15). Given that Paul addressed the Jews, who were already causing a tremendous stir in the Roman church, in chapters 2-5 respectively, we can see why he now revisits what he wrote back there.

Romans 2:1 

       1        Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.


The very first verse addresses the very thing that Paul addresses again in chapters 14 and 15-unrighteous condemnation of the Gentiles by the Jews in the church! The Jews of the church were passing condemning judgment upon the Gentiles for whatever reason. Most likely, it was conformity to the Law of Moses, or the lack of it, that they were being upset about. However, as Paul points out, the Jews themselves were also void of conformity to that very Law by which they were judging the Gentiles. He wrote:

Romans 2:17–24

       17      But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God,

       18      and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law,

       19      and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,

       20      a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth,

       21      you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal?

       22      You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?

       23      You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?

       24      For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.


Notice, please, he is writing this to the church. He is speaking directly to the Jews who were attending the church in Rome. These are harsh words! However, the reason they were harsh is because they were true! The fact is, God’s riches in kindness, tolerance, and patience towards the weaknesses of His children should be a pattern for us to follow towards one another.

Romans 2:3–4

       3        But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

       4        Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?


The Jews were no more obedient to the Law than the uncircumcised were. Yet, Paul writes, the uncircumcised, even without the Law, did, in fact, keep the Law because of the Holy Spirit (2:26-29).

With this in mind, we can see why Paul addresses all that he does in this epistle. From here he writes that the whole world, Jews and Gentiles, are under wrath (Chapters 2-3). Then, he informs the Jews that even those who are Gentiles and yet of the faith of Abraham are heirs of the promise to Abraham, vis-a-vis, the world (chapters 4-5). Then, he exhorts the entire church to holiness and a refusal to submit to anything unrighteous because of that kingdom which is imminently coming (chapters 6-8). Then, he teaches concerning the future of the Jews’s repentance in spite of their very clear apostasy from the covenant they promised to keep (chapters 9-11). From there, he teaches the church as a whole their responsibilities to the body (chapter 12) and to the world (chapter 13). As we get to chapter 14 and a portion of chapter 15, we see Paul further addressing how the Jews and Gentiles are to conduct their relationships in the  body. With all of the past that is real and nearly impossible to surmount, Paul teaches, in these chapters, how to do that. This is crucial for us as well so that the unity of the Spirit, which was granted at the moment of regeneration regardless of Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:28-29), can be maintained.

Again, the conclusion is: “accept one another”

What Does This Mean?

The verb “accept” is a verb that means, in most contexts, “receive” or “take.”[1] It is a command that is addressed primarily to the strong (v.1). He writes,

Romans 14:1

       1       Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.


He is not writing this to the weak because the command is to accept the weak. He is writing this to the strong in order that he might “accept” the weak. Thus, this chapter is meant as a concession for the weak and not for the strong. He writes again in chapter 15 verse 1:

Romans 15:1

       1        Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.


 The whole section places the responsibility of “accepting” upon the strong in relation to the weak. Now, imagine what this would have sounded like as it was read by the elder in Rome. People would have looked around and wondered who was weak and who was strong. The proud Jews may have seen themselves as strong or the proud Greek may have seen themselves as strong. However, Paul gives an example in order to evaluate who is strong and who is weak.

Romans 14:2

       2        One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.


Here, Paul identifies the “weak” as the one who “eats vegetables only.” This is a statement that indicates who the weak believer is. He is the one who is simply not convinced that the teachings of Jesus Christ allow for participation in eating meat, meat offered to idols in idol temples (as most meat was processed in that day). “The faith” refers to the content of the faith that is encapsulized in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Not understanding something like Mark 7 wherein Jesus declared all foods clean (acceptable to God) means that that person, not understanding this and consequently being convinced, is not established in his faith and he cannot eat meat but sticks to his vegetables.

This person is considered “weak.” He is not one who in wanton, purposeful, sin. He is not one who has redefined righteousness (Romans 14:17). He is one whose conscience, bound by his weak understanding of the Word of Christ, does not allow him to eat meat in Rome. He is weak.[2]

Paul writes that eating meat is okay on the basis of Christ’s teaching (Romans 14:14, 20). All foods are indeed clean. Jesus said so (Mark 7:14-19). Paul, a stronger brother, says that he is convinced that all foods are clean. But, for the sake of the weaker brother, which is seen as a hardship on the church and not a virtue (see 2 Corinthians 11:29), he says to not criticize that brother towards condemnation, but to get closer to him; pull him closer to yourself.

If that weaker brother, who has not matured to the point of fully embodying the teaching of Jesus Christ, is serving Jesus Christ, don’t stand in his way (Romans 14:13-21). If you both serve Christ in this manner, the manner of keeping stumbling blocks out of the way of a brother ( e.g. see Leviticus 19:14), his service to Jesus Christ is acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.


 So, as he continues to write in chapter 15, the Law of Love (Romans 14:15) instructs the strong to put up with, in love, the habits, strictures, and concerns of the weak. This is a way to promote godliness in the church and further the ministry of the church.


However, this needs to be said as well. This discussion does not indicate, at all, that false teaching is tolerated. That is, if a Jew came into the church in Rome and said that a Gentile must follow the Law in order to be reconciled to God, that cannot be tolerated (see Acts 15:1-2).[3] Paul always confronted those who, even slightly, redefined what God has established in the true reonciling gospel. Paul is not indicating that doctrine is relative or fluid. He said that he knows and is convinced that the Lord declared all foods clean. We cannot take this passage and redefine it by saying any view of doctrine is viable as long as you are serving Christ. Even in prison, Paul recognized that some preached Christ from selfish motives (Philippians 1:16; 2:21). However, when they were preaching Christ, he was pleased and patient. But, those who distort the gospel of the kingdom of Jesus Christ are condemned and are to be rejected by the church (Philippians 3:2).

[1] προσλαμβάνω   προσλαμβάνω    2aor. προσέλαβον, mid. προσελαβόμην; (1) take aside, take hold of and lead aside (MT 16.22); (2) take along with oneself (AC 17.5); (3) receive hospitably, accept, welcome (PM 17); (4) take, partake of food (AC 27.33) Timothy Friberg, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, Baker’s Greek New Testament Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 335.

 Here is a good summary: “In the NT the word is found only in the mid. (as in the LXX): “to take to oneself” (men, Ac. 17:5; 18:26; nourishment, Ac. 27:33, 36 [v. 36 part. gen.]) or “with oneself” (Mk. 8:32 and par.), “to receive hospitably” (Phlm. 17; Ac. 28:2). R. 14:1, 3; 15:7: As God (or Christ) has taken every member of the Church into fellowship with Himself, so incorporate each other into your Christian circle with no inner reservations (such as might spring from differences in religious custom).” Ὑπολαμβάνω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 15.

[2] First Corinthians 8 also deals with this very thing.

[3] I believe, too, that even other doctrines which are not accurate require intolerance in the church body as well (1 Timothy 6:3-5; Romans 16:17-18). For example, 2 Timothy 2:17-18 indicates one such teaching that the Second-Coming resurrection had already happened. That teaching had begun to infiltrate the church in Ephesus and create panic. Paul’s response was to remove those men from leadership and to put them out of the church. He wrote that they were “ who have gone stray from the truth…” So, know that there is only one truth and the church is supposed to be the support and pillar of truth (2 Timothy 3:15).

The Use of the Incarnation

Because of the influence of self-righteousness….

…many see the birth of Jesus Christ as something to be admired, celebrated, and adored. If we learn anything from Israel, we learn that external behavior towards God does not replace His work in people for holiness. To bring to worship a heart of rebellion and selfishness is to create a horrible noise in the ears of God. This reality brings us to one of the “uses” of the incarnation. Because of the refusal of man to worship God as God, God became a man in order to lead His elect to Himself by means of atonement and propitiation; erasure of sins and satisfaction of righteousness. His birth is our example, not to be fulfilled self-righteously, but to condemn us in our inability to conform. Further, it is meant to call out to God for help.


In Philippians, Paul has to remind these dear saints of this very thing. They are commendable in many ways. However, they are on the verge of sliding down the slope that many of the NT churches were sliding. Paul’s teaching that would curb, halt, that slide is dependent upon the fact that Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Godhead, became a man and wore a man’s outer shell. That sacrifice is the only way that we can keep ourselves from falling into the useless position of so many Christians throughout the years-the position of selfishness.

V.1 “Therefore, if (there is) any encouragement in Christ; if (there is) any hope of love; if (there is) any fellowship of spirit; if (there is) any compassion and mercy…”

This verse/section begins with an inferential conjunction that says, “Based upon what is written before, this…”

Philippians 1:27–30 

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with

one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Paul has been admonishing them to unity and service to Jesus Christ.

Here, he does so by exhorting them to continued faithful unity in service to Jesus Christ by means of the faith of the gospel.

Those opponents to the faith are indicating their destruction and the Philippians’ reward and validation of their regeneration, as they suffer for the faith of the gospel; the content of the faith.

In fact, they are suffering the same way that Paul is suffering.

He is in jail in this letter.

He is writing from a Roman rented room, albeit under chains.

Each of these easily fits into the Roman hypothesis except the travel records. The strongest objection to a Roman hypothesis is the distance between Philippi and Rome. Objectors to the Roman hypothesis point out that the evidence calls for a minimum of four trips between Philippi and Rome, and perhaps as many as six would be necessary. The trips would have been: (1) news of Paul’s imprisonment was sent to Philippi; (2) Epaphroditus was sent from Philippi to Rome with a gift and an offer of help (2:25); (3) news of Epaphroditus’s sickness (after some time?) reached Philippi (2:26); (4) word reached Paul and Epaphroditus that the Philippians were concerned about Epaphroditus (2:26); (5) Paul hoped to send Timothy before he came himself (2:23–24); and (6) Paul possibly expected that Timothy would return and journey with him to Philippi.

The trip to Rome from Philippi was approximately 800 miles. From Rome, the traveler would follow the Appian Way to Brundisium (360 miles), take a ship across the Adriatic to Dyrrachium (2 days with favorable weather), and follow the Ignatian Way to Philippi (370 miles).45 Sir William Ramsay estimated that a foot-traveler covered 15–20 miles per day on the Roman roads.46 That equals 52 days by the slower rate and 39 by the faster. Imperial couriers traveled at a rate of 50 miles per day, perhaps with the help of carriages or horses.47 That makes the travel time only 15 land travel days, 2 sea travel days, and whatever intervals were needed for rest or inclement weather. Some estimate that the travel requirements of 5 months traveling round trip, and thus 10 months total for 4 one-way trips, easily fit into 1 year of time48 It is difficult to see how earlier commentators, such as A. Deissmann, claimed that the travel was impossible in less than 2 years.49 (Melick, Richard R. Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Vol. 32. The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), pp.34-35.

Paul writes to this church in order to express appreciation for their financial support in light of his imprisonment.

This is his first imprisonment as outlined in Acts 21:27-28:31.

During this timeframe of Acts 21-28 he spent about 2 years in custody in Cesarea in Herod’s summer palace called the Praetorium (See Acts 24:27; cf. Acts 23:34-35) after being arrested for his own protection as he was a Roman citizen (Acts 25-28).

During this arrest, Paul appealed to Ceasar, seeing that he was the center of ugly politics (Acts 25:11).

On to Rome he went, via a turbulent ship voyage on the Mediterranean Sea.

While in prison there, the Philippian church sent financial support to Paul for his needs, as they had done a couple times in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15-16).

In doing this, they “participated” in his ministry AND his suffering (Philippians 1:7).

However, even in a church committed to Paul and the furtherance of the gospel of the kingdom (Acts 28:30-31), there will be problems-troubles between saints and a disunited condition can result.

This is what Paul addresses here.

As mentioned, Paul urges, after hearing from Epaphroditus about their condition (Philippians 4:18), the church there to strive for unity while Paul is absent from them.

Although they financially supported him, he still holds them accountable to the standards of the Christ he preaches.

If anything, they must see him as a pattern to follow, along with Epaphroditus and others:

Philippians 3:17

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.

Ultimately, Paul is a follower of the Pattern of Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 11:1

Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

v.2 “make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

So, Paul’s words here are simple:

If there is any level of (all in Christ; I.e. In the pursuit of Christ’s kingdom):


Consolation of love

Fellowship of spirit




Strengthen my joy by…

Being of the same mind

Maintaining the same love

United in spirit

Intent on one purpose


Therefore, for the Philippians to be unified as a whole church, all of them to give joy to their apostle, have the same mind, same love, unity of spirit and purpose, they must meet one objective.


V.3 “no longer according to selfish ambition; no longer according to empty (self) glory; but rather, in the lowliness of mind/thinking, be considering one another having above of yourselves.”

This command is given to them from the apostle because Epaphroditus had returned to Paul identifying the particular ways that the church had become a bit splintered.

For example, two women were fighting each other, the very women who had shared with Paul in the purpose of Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:1-3).

They were anxious about life (4:6).

They had sent money to Paul for his needs twice (4:16).

They had participated in Paul’s imprisonment and were willing to identify with him to their detriment (1:3-11).

They were even suffering some influence from “dogs” of the circumcision, which may have been the very source of their strife among themselves (3:1ff.).

Therefore, Paul gives them a set of prohibitions in order to protect themselves from their influence and distraction from the gospel.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition, empty (self) glory…your own personal matters…”


“…In humility of mind consider one another as more important than yourselves…(have regard for) the things of others…”

Paul’s teaching here is to let go of the affairs of this world, and protecting your life, and strive for the concerns of other believers.

In fact, the depths of the heart of each believer, in love, must be filled with more of a concern for the affairs of others than for your own affairs.

In other words:

Luke 9:57–62

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”

And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”

But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”

But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The priority of the kingdom in all things demands a preoccupation with the welfare of other believers over and above a preoccupation with your own.

James 2:14–17

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,

and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

The admonition of the apostle is the same as that of another apostle, John.

He wrote the same thing as Paul and as James because it is a consistent tendency:

1 John 3:16–17

We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

The perfect law of Christ, love, requires a refusal to be rich in the world and poor towards God.

The perfect law of Christ exhorts us to care for the needs of the saints tangibly and even above our own.

This might not fit into many people’s line items on their budgets, or their day-planner, or their schedule for the day, but you will always know who loves you when they are willing to sacrifice their time, money, health, and needs for yours:

Think of this:

Philippians 2:17-30

1 Thessalonians 2:8–12

Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.

For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;

just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children,

so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.


2 Corinthians 12:14–15

Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?


2 Timothy 2:8–10

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,

for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned.

For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

Again, I agree with Paul, follow men and women who are willing to sacrifice their very souls for you…for you!

In our contemporary smug American evangelicalism, a mild form of health, wealth, and propsperity, we hold onto our lives…protect them.


2 Corinthians 8:8–9

I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

How about you?

Do you practice becoming poor so that the saints around might be made rich?

Do you sacrifice for their interests (not hobbies, or pastimes).

Do you need to be sacrificed for so that you might excel in the provisions of Christ?

How can this be?

How can a church be united, intent on one purpose, and restore the fellowship of the eternal purpose and preaching of the kingdom of Christ?


V.5 “Think this among yourselves, even that (which was/is) in Christ Jesus.”

This is the command from the imprisoned apostle to the free disciples: think like Jesus.

The whole church must follow Jesus’ teaching AND example.

To follow His teaching and not do as He did is to ignore His teaching.

To follow His example apart from his teaching is to redefine His example.

Have this mind in yourselves.

It is the same mind which was in Jesus Christ during His earthly stay/ministry.

What kind of mind was it?

What kind of thinking did He have?

What was His purpose, intention, and practice?

Whatever it was, think, intend, purpose the same thing.

1 Peter 2:21–25

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,

22who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;

23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

24and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

25For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.


V. 6 “who, while existing in the form of God, did not consider (that) a thing to be grasped, that to be equal with/to God.”

Jesus Christ left the riches of eternal heaven and proximity to the Father in order to enter His fallen kingdom.

He did not enter it as God, in the outward form of God.

Rather, He entered it in the “form” of a man.

“Form of God…” = μορφή outward form; appearance; shape; expression. 

In this case, even though it might say “form of God,” it is impossible to resemble God and not be God.

There are no true imposters of God.

His actual outward appearance is the very expression of His nature:

Hebrews 1:3–4

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

So, this cannot merely be saying that Jesus was an outward form of God but was not divine in nature.

Further, since he did have the very outward appearance of God, the exact representation of the Father and the Spirit, that is what Paul is focusing upon here.

He is focusing upon Jesus’ “appearance.”

He., apparently, did not consider that appearance a “thing to be seized.”

“Seized” = snatch, seize, grasp.

He did not hold tightly to His outward form as God.


“…That to be equal to God…”

Equal in what sense?

Did Jesus release His equality to God in his nature?

No, since Hebrews says that even while on this earth He was the exact representation of His nature and Paul said that He was even then, the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Jesus Christ did not set aside His eternal nature.

Paul called Him God here.

Peter recognized that He is divine in human flesh:

Matthew 16:13–16

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

15He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Even the demons called Him:

Mark 1:23–24

Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,

saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”

If you believe that somehow Jesus set aside His very nature as God and became a mere man, without divine nature, you are not a Christian, the truth is not in you, you have defiled the faith and denied that He is Messiah.

The Christ must be God

1 John 1:1–3

1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—

2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.


1 John 4:1–3

1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;

3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

What does it mean then?

Well, what was the exchange?

If John, Peter, and even the demons recognize the divine nature of Jesus Christ, then He did not set aside His divine nature, ok?

But, what did he set aside?

What did He do?

“He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped….”

His equal standing with God was not seized and held on to.


Vv. 7-8 “But rather, he emptied Himself while taking a form of a slave, while becoming in likeness of men; and while being found in the appearance (function) as a man. He lowered himself while becoming obedient until death, yet, the death of a cross.”

Matthew 20:25–28

25But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.

26“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,

27and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave;

28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Spiritual Abuse-A New Catch-Phrase

“Spiritual Abuse”

It is a phrase that I heard about 5 years ago from a man who left our church. The accusation came to me in this fashion and was a term I had never heard before.

Also, in recent days, the phrase has come up again, and this time not to myself but to others. Again, I stop and think about that term: “spiritual abuse.”

And, as I think about it, I go back to the Bible and wonder what it has to say about it if anything.

Here is what I found:

Ezekiel 34:1–4

1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying,

2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?

3 “You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.

4 “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.

There are further scathing statements scattered throughout the OT, too many to number, but listen to the extent of the “abuse” of the rulers of Israel in the days of Micah the prophet:

Micah 3:1–3

1 And I said,

“Hear now, heads of Jacob

And rulers of the house of Israel.

Is it not for you to know justice?

2 “You who hate good and love evil,

Who tear off their skin from them

And their flesh from their bones,

3 Who eat the flesh of my people,

Strip off their skin from them,

Break their bones

And chop them up as for the pot

And as meat in a kettle.”

(see also Jer 23:1; Ezek 22:25; 34:8–10)

Then, go to the NT and see Matthew 23 and John 10 for indications of what an abusive leader looks like.

Overall, what I see is that a spiritual abuser:

  1. Teaches error.
  2. Destroys true believers
  3. Imposes religion with drastic consequences.
  4. Enjoys the spoils of his abuse at the expense of the harm of the followers of God.


…what I hear as “spiritual abuse” from others does not reflect this in fact, but in opinion. It seems to come often from people who are already filled with incurable independence and self-authenticating authority. Doctrinally, they are aberrant at best and often have a pet doctrine that allows for a relaxed discipleship-one without commitments. That is, although the accusation is hurled, the facts are very different. This is called a lie. In the OT, there were serious consequences for bearing false witness:

Deuteronomy 19:15–21

15 “A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed.

16 “If a malicious witness rises up against a man to accuse him of wrongdoing,

17 then both the men who have the dispute shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office in those days.

18 “The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely,

19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

20 “The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you.

21 “Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

In general, pastoral leadership comes with the ongoing potential for accusations. Anyone who understands the Word of God will admit that pastors and elders bear authority in the church (1 Thessalonians 5:12). They have charge over the saints of God and they lead by hard work. They have the right to command the commands of Christ (1 Timothy 4:11). They have an obligation to expect obedience to Christ’s commands from God’s people (Hebrews 13:17).

Given the difficulty that people have with authority in general, it is no surprise that there is a real suspicion towards leaders in the church. In order to alleviate and dispel those suspicions, the lives of leaders:

  1. Must meet high standards: 1 Timothy 3:1ff
  2. Must be examined by others: Hebrews 13:7

The openness of the lives of leaders must allow for scrutiny and examination. Otherwise, suspicion will ensue. Men are mere men. But we do not preach a mere Word. The power of what is accomplished in those who believe in Christ is from the Word itself so that God is displayed and glorified by that process (2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). That process must be evident in the leaders primarily (1 Timothy 4:15).

Why? So that as leaders command and exhort God’s people, the accusation of ulterior motives can be dismissed when people see their work and their godliness, unless the accusers themselves have hidden agendas. Once an accuser is given a platform, it is very hard to return to normalcy. The destruction that comes from false charges is lasting, and sometimes can bring down and entire ministry.

In conclusion, “spiritual abuse” does not equate with commanding God’s people to obedience to the Words of Christ. If it did, Jesus was the supreme example of a “spiritual abuser” who ever lived: He physically attacked people (John 2:14-16). He expected people to hate their parents and families if they were going to be allowed to follow Him (Luke 14:25-27). He repeated disdain and accusations towards the rulers of the people (Matthew 23). He questioned the salvation of people (Matthew 15:12-14). And, He promised to condemn people who did not follow Him to eternal hell (Matthew 25:41). It is no surprise, then, that His disciples, those who merely repeat what He said, are called the same.

What Kind of People Leave A Church?

The world is a face-paced place. Because of social media, technology, and transportation improvements, we can go anywhere in a matter of minutes or hours, where once it would take days and months. People can travel by car, plane, or boat into places that we used to only read about in books and magazines. We can get updates from events simultaneous to their occurrence. Job changes can move us, relationship changes can move us, national changes can move us from one place to another. Mobility is the expectation of today’s man or woman, even an entitlement. Because of being able to move on a whim we assume that it is a right in every area of life.


However, there is one area of life, if you are a Christian, where mobility is not a right. There is one point in life, and there are conditions where, a Christian moving from place to place, or rather, church to church, is actually a sin. However, because we are accustomed to moving so much in our daily lives we don’t see it as such. A true Christian, though, is very concerned about how God sees things more than how we see things. Allow me to explain.


The New Testament is an extended exposition on the words of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that the person who hears and acts upon His Words is a wise man (Matthew 7:24ff.). He also said that His Words are spirit and life (John 6:63, 68). His Words are the foundation of the church (Romans 10:17). Moses’ words meet none of these criteria. Therefore, when a pastor preaches, He preaches the words of Christ primarily (2 Timothy 4:1-2). You cannot hear the words of Christ from any other place than the local church. Now, I am very aware of internet preachers, ministries, and other venues of teaching outside of the local church. However, I am not speaking of what we have in existence in the evangelical world today. I am speaking of what the New Testament instructs and commands. Only the local assembly is the “pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). There are ministries outside of the local assembly, but, biblically-speaking, they should be an extension of a local church and not an independent “ministry” built upon a man who does not tether it to the leadership of that church. Maverick ministries are non-existent in the New Testament.


But, with the advent of denominations and an infatuation with church splitting, there are about as many flavors of ministries in existence as there are colors in the spectrum. If you want a church of any kind, you can probably find it somewhere and attend it. What has developed, then, is a type of consumerism in church attendance. The idea that the church is created from the demand of the people (2 Timothy 4:3-4) is a popular concept, judging from the behavior of the reasons people leave churches, but not a biblical one.


What I would like to do in this blog is identify what kind of people leave a church outside of positive circumstances (job change, valid relocations, military, etc…). It is important that it be clear that leaving a local assembly is unbiblical, unloving and selfish, outside of the positive circumstances that occur in life. There is a regular sinful pathology that is identifiable in people who are about to leave a church and the Word of God identifies them already.



The number one reason a person leaves a biblical church is that they are unregenerate.


John 10:14

14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,

Jesus taught a parable wherein He identified four soils which all heard the same Word from the same sower. However, only the final soil produced fruit (Matthew 13:18-23). The first heard the Word and were confused by what they heard. The devil, then, comes and snatches away what they heard and the soil produces no fruit. The second soil, which is the heart of the hearer, hears the Word, rejoices in it, and then, when deep things happen in their lives, they reject what they had heard-they fall away. The next soil hears the Word, but his heart is in love with the cares of this world. The eternal is secondary to the temporal, and the word cannot take root and produce fruit. Wealth, money, temporal concerns “choke” the Word. The fourth soil is the soil which hears the same Word, understands it, and then does it, thereby producing fruit. This man or woman who hears, understands, and obeys, is elsewhere identified as “regenerate”:


1 John 2:3–6

3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 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; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.


Jesus’ teaching here leaves no room for any other conclusion. This does not mean that they will never be saved, or that they are to be hated by those who are. It just means when you see this kind of behavior in professing believers, evaluate them based upon Jesus’ Words and not the assertions of the people. One family left our church a few years ago and we ran into them recently. When asked why they left, they said, “Well, we can find truth in other places.” I am not at all saying that only one place preaches truth. I would wish that every church that uses the name of Jesus Christ preached the truth. However, when you are already in a place that does, to leave that for another is filled with ulterior motives.

Let’s identify these people a little more closely.

Soil #1 – roadside soil

Matthew 13:19

19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road.

Jesus said that there is a type of person who hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it. Relative to the church-attender, the Word is taught, he hears it, but it causes great confusion. The assertions of the Scripture are just so foreign to him. It is like a big puzzle to him. But, instead of being drawn to the Word of God (John 6:68-69), he is repelled by it because it is non-intelligible. I can tell these people pretty easily. They enter the church, sit down, and wait for the show to start. When the teaching starts they look so puzzled. They might even look upset, uncomfortable. I have seen people slink down into their chairs, stair out the window, and even seemingly memorize the church bulletin during the teaching. They are bored and really can’t wait until service is over. Spiritually speaking, God is not working in them for understanding. If that is the case, then it is clear that at that point this person is unregenerate. The evil one is allowed to penetrate their heart and take away the Word they heard, usually on the way out from church.

Soil #2 – rocky soil

Matthew 13:20–21

20 The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.

There are those who leave a church after seemingly dominating the church with joy over finding the Word of God. They are outgoing, exuberant, and excited. There is an outward expression of elation at finding the Word, God, Jesus, and a church. The assertions of Scripture are understood….superficially. But, like plastic, their joy is cheap, superficial, and easily burns away under the fire of persecution. When they have to uphold their rationale for believing the Word they are so excited about, they, over time, fall away from their testimony to that Word. They aren’t so happy anymore. At the first hint of persecution, or affliction in general, they apostatize from Christ and leave His church. One avenue that this follows is that when a local church develops a reputation among other churches, the unbelieving world, or otherwise, a person begins to have to decisions to make. The church that works hard at preaching the truth, upholding the truth, and obeying the truth will receive stigma from lesser-committed churches and mocking unbelievers. In fact, it may be that a biblical church is one in a hundred and so the odds are stacked against it. This person, who is shallow and veneer-like in their commitments to Christ, take all of this in and conclude “The Word is not worth all this pressure.” They leave. This lack of commitment in the face of pressure is an indication that they are unregenerate.

Soil #3 – thorny soil

Matthew 13:22

22 And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

There are church-attenders who leave a Bible-teaching church after they are overcome with worry over their finances. Why Jesus put this in here is very interesting. I mean, this is so common, so hard-hitting. Who doesn’t worry about their finances? Who doesn’t have a care in this world about meeting their needs each month? Isn’t this a little unreasonable for Jesus to even introduce this concept? However, Jesus is right. I have known people who simply cannot let go of being dominated in their hearts over their money, their wealth, and the cares of meeting their needs. They call it “stewardship.” Jesus calls it idolatry (Colossians 3:5). A preoccupation with money and earthly instruments of life will ALWAYS choke the Word. No one is immune to it. It becomes a master and, due to our nature, it rules over us. Here, the Lord said that when a person like this hears the Word, worry immediately comes in and the mindset that wealth produces comes in and takes the Word having been heard and begins to suffocate it. The voice of God in the written Word preached gets smaller and smaller. Disinterest grows and grows. This is especially true if his love for money is challenged by that same Word. This is exactly why it is easier to shove a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom. This kind of person is unregenerate. They sometimes end up content in other churches where the Word is not preached so clearly and they are then able to serve two masters. The Word simply cannot produce fruit in the heart of this person. That is what Jesus said.

Soil #4 – good soil.

Matthew 13:23

23 And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

In this soil, the same phenomena happened-the Word was preached and heard, with one exception. It was understood. Now, think about this-how is it that he could understand it and the others could not? The soil condition was different. It was good. It was pure. It was prepared. How? The other soils were off the path, rocky, and thorny. They were not prepared. Only soil that is on the right path, good and clear of thorns can understand the preached Word. If you see a man or woman who 1) hears the Bible taught accurately, 2) understands its content 3) and proceeds to bear the fruit of conformity to the Scripture (even meagerly), then you have a regenerate person. They will bear fruit. The other three soils could never bear fruit because the seed could never take root. For one reason or another, the condition of the soil was not conducive to growing fruit. In essence, the soil was bad.

Further, think about this: who prepares the soil? Can we prepare our own soil?  Matthew 13:19 indicates that the metaphor of “soil” is referring to the heart. It is a condition of the heart. Can a man or woman improve their heart? No. You and I are completely incapable of changing our hearts. Our hearts are unprepared soil predisposed to filth, lying, and deception (Jeremiah 17:9). Who, then, changes the heart? God alone (Acts 15:9; cf. Titus 3:5-7).

God says,

Jeremiah 13:23

23 “Can the Ethiopian change his skin,

Or the leopard his spots?

Then you also can do good

Who are accustomed to doing evil.

The reality is that when you see a person who hears the Word of God, does not understand it and then abandons it by leaving the church that is preaching it (even for an alternate form of Christianity, that is not proven to be biblical), then you see a man or woman in whom God has not worked for regeneration. That does not mean that you write them off forever. It simply means that you understand the reality that you are dealing with and minister accordingly.

Church Discipline

Biblically-speaking (as opposed to humanly speaking), the only other time people are seen leaving a church in the NT is that they are cast out of the church by the church and its’ leadership.

Matthew 18:17

17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

1 Corinthians 5:13

13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

Romans 16:17–18

17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

2 Thessalonians 3:6

6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

2 Thessalonians 3:14–15

14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Titus 3:10–11

10 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

2 John 10–11

10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

All of these are forms of distancing from a professing believer who refuses to obey righteousness. Remaining in a biblical church is righteous. Unrepentant sin is enough, in the minds of the NT writers, for faithful believers to begin alienating from those who participate in sin. Further, the very evidence of leaving a church that preaches the truth, upholds holy living, strives for obedience, and is filled with regenerate people who are, themselves, also striving, demonstrates the potential for unrepentant sin, if they have not arrived at it already. However, they have left too early to have it exposed.

The sin that occurs when a person leaves a local church is that the church in which Jesus Christ is abiding (John 15:10) is under one command, the very command that the person who abandoned the church in an unqualified way, has disobeyed:

John 13:34

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.

It is not possible to love one another when you have left the church. It isn’t. You might feel nice feelings, have emotions, and/or good memories of some events that you participated in. However, this command from Jesus Christ is comprehensive. It is disobeyed when the people you abandoned are the very people you are to love “to the end” (John 13:1). In short, if you, the reader, have left a biblical church (and that itself is a broad category, I understand that. But, you know what I mean) without being sent out in good faith by the people and leaders of that local assembly of the redeemed, you have left in an unqualified way, abandoned the ones whom Christ loves, and have established yourself in a perpetual state of sin since you are now not able to obey the command Jesus gave to His disciples, the one command that separates true disciples from the world – “love one another.”

The only conclusion that can be drawn is a disdain for God’s children, His Word, and even God Himself. And, friend, that has consequences:

Mark 8:38

38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

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.


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.


“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!


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.


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