Category Archives: Pride

Perspectives In Titus: Remember How Ugly We Used To Be?

Titus 3 3

Last Monday, dear sisters in Christ, we concluded our Bible Study with the apostle Paul’s exhortation to show perfect courtesy to everyone. Today we’ll talk about the primary motivation for treating people with such courtesy. But before we get into our discussion of Titus 3:3, we should read it in it’s immediate context.

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ~~Titus 3:1-7 (ESV)

To refresh your memory, Paul’s letter to Titus has the purpose of instructing Titus on ordering the churches in Crete. Chapter 3 continues the apostle’s specific directions to this young pastor.

In verses 1 and 2, Paul wanted the Cretan Christians to submit to civic authorities and to treat all people with respect. As we approach verse 3, we learn why the Lord calls us to this attitude. Essentially, each of us used to  be as wretched as the non-Christians God commands us to respect.

Remembering who we were and how we behaved prior to receiving God’s grace helps us approach non-Christians with the attitudes Paul prescribes in verses 1 and 2. This list speaks in generalities, of course, but it sums up a lifestyle apart from the Lord. Certainly, the Christians in First Century Crete had been this vile, reflecting the debauchery of that culture.

Paul begins by assuring them that their debauchery was in their past, and he will explain why it’s in their past in verses 4-6. Yet as Christians recall their lives before Christ, we constantly need the comfort of knowing that Jesus has cleansed us (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and Colossians 2:13-15 as examples).

In describing our pre-conversion condition, Paul first of all says we were foolish. Matthew Henry defines this foolishness as “without true spiritual understanding and knowledge, ignorant of heavenly things.” Psalm 14:1 tells us, that a fool says in his (or her) heart “There is no God.” Foolishness lives without regard to the Lord’s authority.

Disobedience naturally follows foolishness. As Barnes points out, rebellion against authority is natural. Anyone who has been around small children has seen how readily they disobey. Adam Clarke indicates that the Greek word means “unpersuaded, unbelieving, obstinate, and disobedient.”

In addition to our past foolishness and disobedience, we were led astray by both our inherent inclination towards sin and by false teaching. As we’ve seen throughout this study of Titus, the Cretans definitely allowed their lusts to deceive them, and the Judaizers were deceived by their false gospel. 2 Corinthians 4:4 plainly states the Satan blinds the eyes of unbelievers, thus keeping them in deception

Deception, in turn, makes unbelievers slaves to their passions and pleasures. And weren’t we all there? John Gill describes non-Christians (and therefore us before conversion) as “servants of sin, vassals and slaves to their own corruptions.”

Finally, says Paul, we lived in malice and envy, causing others to hate us and us to hate them. Vincent’s Word Study Commentary quotes Calvin’s definition of malice as ” viciousness of mind opposed to humanity and fairness.” Unbelievers can’t love each other with the love that 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes; even their supposed love for each other is selfish compared to godly love.

Come to think of it, might we not say that godly love on our part compels us to remember that we used to be just like the non-Christians God calls us to respect?  And doesn’t remembering who we once were (and indeed, who we still would be without the grace of Jesus Christ) give us greater compassion for those who don’t know Him?

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Holding The Lord Accountable For The Massacre In Las Vegas

Who Are WeA couple days ago, in response to a Tweet I wrote saying that the mass shooting in Las Vegas shows the urgency of preaching repentance, a non-Christian retorted (using unnecessary language that I won’t repeat) that those who died that night probably demanded that God account for His apparent absence and negligence. As shocked as I was that someone who knows me personally would post a vulgar word on my timeline, I was primarily troubled by the sheer arrogance of requiring the Lord to give an account to people He created.

I shouldn’t have been shocked. When John had cancer five years ago, I did a little fist shaking at the Lord myself. My arrogance horrified me even then, and I earnestly pray that I’ll never speak to Him defiantly again.

If I did such a blasphemous thing as a Christian, why should I be shocked that someone who doesn’t know the Lord would say something similar?

At the same time, I tremble for that man. Unless the Holy Spirit mercifully brings him to repentance and faith, he will spend eternity experiencing God’s wrath. He may think now that God owes us explanations for all the terrible things that happen in the world. He may even think God owes him explanations for the truly unjust things that he has endured throughout life. But sadly, he doesn’t understand that God owes us nothing, and that He will ultimately judge us rather than submitting to our judgment of Him. Scripture, in fact, warns us against presuming to question the Lord.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” ~~Romans 9:19-20 (ESV)

Rightly, Americans should feel outrage over Sunday night’s massacre. That gunman, in blatant rebellion against the Lord and His commandments, also shook a defiant fist at his Creator. His arrogant disregard for people created in God’s image ought to fill us with righteous indignation.

But let’s not presume that the Lord deserves our wrath. Let’s remember that we all, like that gunman, have sinned against a holy God Who will one day demand us to give an account for our rebellion against Him. If you haven’t repented and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ Who bore the wrath of God for all who trust in Him, please do so now. Please don’t be arrogant toward Him. As 59 people in Las Vegas learned Sunday night, you never know when He’ll call you to face Him.

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Saturday Sampler: September 24 — September 30

Cheesecake SamplerAddressing Christians in our digital age, Scott Stayton of One Degree to Another suggests strategies for Cultivating a Deep Walk with the Lord. His ideas could help us resist the distractions that our devices bring.

Jennifer saves me the trouble of commenting on the feud between President Trump and the NFL. Her marvelous essay, This is the Era of being offended, appears in her One Hired Late In The Day blog and makes the very same point that I would have made. Her perspective clearly echoes Biblical wisdom.

Here’s an interesting musing by Dan DeWitt at TheoLatte. Is Belief in the Bible Circular Reasoning? shows us how to turn a popular objection to Scripture’s authority into a way to make atheists think.

You won’t believe what Lisa Morris wrote on Conforming to the Truth until you read Learning but Never coming to the Knowledge of the Truth. If you’re signing up for lots of online Bible Studies this fall, you might take a step back to consider Lisa’s surprising perspective.

In The End Time, Elizabeth Prata defends The exclusively of Jesus as she reasons from the Scriptures. We face anger from non-Christians all the time by adhering to this doctrine, I know. And it hurts! But Elizabeth’s essay provides much needed encouragement to stay strong in this Biblical position.

Those of us who follow current events may be tempted toward anxiety. Melanie Lenow, in Watching the News Without Losing Your Mind (Or Your Faith!) for Biblical Woman, shows us how (and why) Christian women must respond differently than the world.

Check out The Death Penalty as our Only Hope by Doug Wilson on Blog & Mablog for a fascinating take on God’s mercy to people caught in the sin of homosexuality. I’ve never considered this angle of the question until reading this blog post, but I like the balance it presents.

Can I say it? Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate writes the best article on the National Anthem bruhaha that I’ve read so far. To stand or not to stand? That is not the question: asks us to think Biblically about this controversy from a couple sides, always applying Scripture as the bottom line. I encourage each of you to think carefully about Johnson’s argument  before determining how you’ll respond to this matter.

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Saturday Sampler: September 17 — September 23

Tulip Sampler 02I like reading Nick Batzig, even when he puts his finger on my sin. Servants Of Grace republishes his article, Nothing to Complain About, which certainly makes me think about my selfish attitudes. See what you think.

And in case Batzig’s blog post doesn’t humble you, Michelle Lesley writes You’re Not Awesome…and You Know It in response to those airbrushed memes all over social media that tell us how wonderful we are. Michelle has an inconvenient habit of holding things like this up to the Word of God, and then believing that God has the final say.

Julie Ganschow of Biblical Counseling for Women warns us about The Dangers of Drifting From the Spiritual Disciplines. We all need reminders like this from time time.

Do you think you’ve done pretty well at overcoming sin? Read Elizabeth Prata’s 17 minutes of continual sin in The End Time.

In his essay on the Ligonier blog, Derek Thomas explains the balance between God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility by showing us how Scripture synthesizes the two realities. People commonly criticize Reformed Theology for (as they see it) teaching that we’re mere robots, but this criticism ignores the fact that people in the Reformed camp believe all Scripture is God’s Word.

What lesson can we learn from the episode of Leslie A. forgetting to wear makeup to church  one Sunday? Beautifully and Naturally Changed, her article in Growing 4 Life, answers this question by challenging us to examine our motives.

Biblical Woman runs a thought-provoking piece by Candi Finch entitled How We Hear Mixed Messages From Christians and Feminists that encourages us to think consistently. A rather unexpected piece, this article reminds us to speak about others respectfully and in ways that honor God.

With astonishing candor, Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day shares her reflections on Song of Solomon: my least favorite book. She explains her distaste for this book, but also helps us understand the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in putting it in His Word.

Writing for The Cripplegate, Mike Riccardi demonstrates How to Kill Your Neighbor with gossip and slander. Can you claim that you’ve never murdered anyone? Neither can I. But Mike’s article uses Scripture to guide us to repentance and help us honor God with our words. Please take time to read this one.

In her article for The Gospel Coalition Blog, Jen Oshman counsels American moms to Shatter Your Kid-Centered Kingdom. Her advice makes sense to me, but maybe it does because I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s when life revolved around more than kids’ activities.

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Teachers Need To Tremble

Negative GirlAs Bible-believing Christians, we certainly have a responsibility to confront sin in our Christian brothers and sisters, as well as in our culture at large. In no way do I want my readers to infer by today’s essay that I’ve done a 180 regarding this matter. Biblical discernment often requires taking a visible stand against ideas and people that contradict sound doctrine.

Furthermore, discernment necessitates making judgments based on the Word of God. So yes, there’s an appropriate time and place for judging sin within the Body of Christ (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13). In our exercise of discernment, however, that same Word of God commends us to confront sin in an attitude of humility and reverent fear.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. ~~Galatians 6:1-3 (ESV)

This passage encourages us to address sin in fellow believers. But I want you to particularly notice the emphasis on then admitting our own vulnerabilities to the very sins we call out in others.

Sometimes, we can think we’re pretty hot stuff. We see the ways that other professing Christians dishonor the Lord, and we know all the Scriptures to use in urging them to repent. But we forget that we also cave into temptation — many times the same temptation that we just corrected in that other person. When that happens, the person we corrected has every right to judge our hypocrisy.

Of course I’m not saying that we have to be perfect in order to confront sin in others. Actually, I’m saying something almost opposite. In correcting someone, we must be aware of our own propensity to sin. Therefore we must approach the issue knowing that we also need God’s grace as we aspire to live in obedience and holiness. The same Lord Who demands holiness in others also demands holiness in us.

This responsibility particularly weighs on those who teach. The Lord’s half-brother James points this principle out in his epistle:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. ~~James 3:1 (ESV)

As a blogger (and perhaps even a discernment blogger), I tremble a bit at passages like Galatians 6:1-3 and James 3:1. Bloggers, in essence, serve as role-models to our readers, even if we blog simply for the purpose of thinking out loud. The act of blogging automatically transforms us into teachers. So when I write posts instructing my readers towards holy living and obedience to God’s Word, the Lord holds me responsible to live consistently with my writing.

Please understand, therefore, that I write with a profound sense of responsibility to align my thoughts, attitudes and behaviors with the Biblical principles that I set before you each time I blog. If I address a sin in others or advocate personal holiness in a specific area, rest assured that my husband and the leadership of my church watch me carefully. More importantly, the Lord watches. I write with the understanding that I can be tempted.

May all of us cultivate that type of understanding and keep watch on ourselves.

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It Goes Beyond Calling Out Beth Moore

Floating BalloonSince I’ve been blogging about the various problems with many discernment ministries and discernment bloggers over the past couple years (and especially in recent weeks), some of you may have the impression that I look down my nose at discernment in general. If so, you’ve misunderstood me. I actually value discernment quite highly as something every Christian absolutely must exercise. The Word of God says that Christians should grow in discernment.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

Do you notice that Paul would have discernment, as well as knowledge, connected with abounding love? Did you also notice that he would have Christians abound in love, knowledge and all discernment for the purpose of glorifying God with purity, blamelessness and righteousness? God indeed calls us to discernment, but the discernment He means is a great deal different from the thing that many self-proclaimed discernment bloggers exhibit.

Discernment certainly includes naming names to identity false teachers. Please don’t misunderstand me as saying that we shouldn’t call out Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren or any of the other evangelical celebrities who have damaged the Body of Christ in recent years. The Bible Study I led you through on Jude just last year made it clear that discernment requires us to recognize those who distort God’s Word. So yes, doing so remains an indispensable function of discernment ministry.

But, dear sisters in Christ, it’s only one of several aspects of discernment. Biblical discernment, at its heart, distinguishes between good and evil, and then makes further distinctions between good, better and best. It rightly interprets Scripture using proper hermeneutics to judge teachings and behaviors to ensure our conformity to the Lord’s will.

Discernment ministry should never exalt our supposed discernment skills. Personally, I find it off-putting when someone tells me she has the gift of discernment. I’ve seen too many women who believe they have that gift who are really gullible. (One friend of mine who prides herself on being discerning sought physical healing at a Benny Hinn crusade.) When we set ourselves up as purveyors of discernment, we display a type of pride that can seriously undermine our credibility.

I pray for discernment, but the Lord repeatedly humbles me by allowing me to see how often I still lack it. Thankfully, His Word offers me a way to develop discernment as I go through life. As I submit to His revealed will in Scripture, He enables me to discern His will in any given situation. He also helps me determine whether or not something conforms to His Word.

I’ll keep blogging about discernment, not because I fancy myself as being discerning, but because I want to grow right along with you in being a godly woman. I want discernment for the sake of honoring the Lord, not for the purpose of building my own blogging empire. If so-called discernment doesn’t direct hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, is it really discernment?


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Discernment Ministries That Lose True Discernment (Avoiding Their Mistakes)

Discern YourselfTwo days ago I wrote about the necessity of using wisdom in discernment ministry. Sadly, I got more caught up in the attacks Brannon Howse is making on Justin Peters than I’d planned, and consequently had little time left to write about my real concern. I hope I can rectify that omission today.

As I said Wednesday, there’s definitely a time and place for naming false teachers in discernment ministry. I’ve done so many times in this blog, and I’m planning an article for next Wednesday on another evangelical trend that needs to be exposed. But I fear that, in our zeal to warn people of dangerous teachers and trends, we may have distorted the concept of discernment, forgetting that its real purpose lies in our Christian maturity.

Consider the argument that the writer of Hebrews makes as he pleads with Jewish Christians to lay aside their efforts to earn salvation in favor of resting in Christ’s finished work on the cross:

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. ~~Hebrews 5:11-14 (ESV)

Here, discernment has precious little to do with generating conspiracy theories or calling out false teachers, and everything to do with helping these believers live in fidelity to the Gospel. Discernment isn’t sanctified gossip used to ruin reputations; it is the means of learning how to conform to God’s will.

Oddly, some bloggers and podcast hosts seem to have lost sight of this true purpose of discernment. They ironically fail to discern when they cross the line into fault finding for the sake of parading their supposed discernment skills. In so doing, they forget basic principles of Scripture, such as respectfully expressing disagreement while recognizing someone as a brother or sister in Christ unless they teach outright false doctrine.

Biblical discernment calls us, first and foremost, to distinguish good from evil in our own lives. How obedient are we to the Lord? Are we understanding His Word properly? Do we apply it correctly to our own lives before we hold others to its standards? Sisters, these questions make me uncomfortable, and they draw me to repentance. They confront me with my need to exercise discernment in my own life well before I call out anyone else.

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