Category Archives: Sexual Purity

Saturday Sampler: January 15–January 21

bible-samplerThe cult of Scientology is back in the news. In her compelling blog post, An Unexplored Mission Field, Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised describes how this organization’s basic teachings contradict Biblical Christianity. But she goes further by reminding us what our response should be. Her article, ladies, helps us understand the real purpose and proper use of discernment.

In Don’t Worry Be Godly – Pt 2, Clint Archer of The Cripplegate concludes his series on anxiety. His practical application of Scripture encourages me. I think those of you who struggle with anxiety will appreciate this teaching.

Leslie A. recently had an unpleasant encounter with facial tissue while trying to survive a nasty cold. Her experience results in Velvet Soft, an interesting essay in Growing 4 Life that examines the need for discernment regarding “Christian” books and entertainment. Don’t necessarily assume they’re really Biblical.

Is Sexy a Sin? Candi Finch answers that question in her essay for Biblical Woman.

Speaking of important questions, Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day asks Do You Consider Yourself A ‘Red Letter’ Christian? She explains what that term means and why it’s unbiblical.

Including a lesson on understanding Scripture verses in context, Rachel at danielthree18 writes Theology Thursday: All Things are Possible with God to prevent us from misapplying this beloved sentiment. And just when I’d planned to jump off the roof of our apartment building to try flying! Man, Rachel, you’re such a killjoy!

The division over President Trump is sad, and even sadder when professing Christians express animosity toward him. Therefore I appreciate Michelle Lesley for outlining 7 Ways to Pray During the Trump Administration, which carefully takes us through God’s Word to give us a Biblical attitude.

Rebekah Womble of Wise In His Eyes writes Let Me Be a Woman to review Elizabeth Eliott’s book of the same title. Even without reading the actual book, I gained great encouragement from Rebekah’s review. I think you’ll also learn some things about being a godly woman by reading it.

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Hey Jude — Ministry To Victims Of False Teachers

Lady Reading BibleSpiritual discernment obviously requires an understanding of the difference between true and false doctrine, as well as knowing the characteristics of false teachers and how the Lord will judge them. As you read Jude’s entire epistle in preparation for today’s study (click this link to get the epistle), be alert to Jude’s focus on the latter two elements of discernment. Then remember how he shifts the conversation, beginning in verse 17, to the nuts and bolts of how believers should contend for the faith against these false teachers.

We’ll be talking about verses 22 and 23 in this installment of our Bible Study, but let’s read these verses in their immediate context:

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.  ~~Jude 17-23 (ESV)

As  we learned last Monday, contending for the faith isn’t as glamorous as taking on false teachers. As much as I used to enjoy trolling Beth Moore’s Twitter account (I repented before she needed to block me), such activity fails to accomplish anything productive.  False teachers have no  interest in repenting of heresy, and they certainly have no intention of considering Biblical challenges to their propaganda.

Jude instead counsels Christians to edify each other through sound doctrine as we pray according to Scriptural guidelines and love God by our obedience to His Word. Moving to verses 22 and 23, we discover that he also assigns us the responsibility of ministering to the victims of false teachers.

Jude presents three types of victims, prescribing various ways to minister to them. He begins with the most vulnerable group, calling them those who doubt.  These people have heard the teachings of the apostates as well as correct teaching, and they feel torn between the two. They need gentle correction. Compassion, please notice, includes helping them understand the difference between truth and error, but it makes these distinctions without a pejorative tone. Indeed helping people understand that they’ve been deceived is ultimately the best way  to express mercy.

Jude’s second group represents those who are on the brink of  accepting the lies of the false teachers. To rescue them, we don’t have time to be gentle. They’re walking into fire, and must be warned of the judgment and condemnation that will burn them  unless they repent and turn back to Biblical truth. We don’t have time for gentleness! Our tactics will seem quite harsh, I agree, but blazing infernos rarely afford anyone the luxury of patient persuasion.

The final group Jude mentions also needs to be treated with compassion, but our compassion must not lead us to condone their sinful beliefs, attitudes or behaviors. People in this group may demand that our mercy toward them include an acceptance of their sin. While maintaining a gentle posture toward them, however, we need to demonstrate an abhorrence for the sin that threatens to damn them. We absolutely cannot have anything to do with even superficial vestiges of that sort of thing.

False teachers leave severely damaged people in their wake. Rather than vindictively chasing after the false teachers, whom God has already designated for condemnation anyway (see Jude 4), we most effectively contend for the faith by encouraging their victims to return to sound doctrine. And that happens as we remain in Scripture and direct them back to Scripture.

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Saturday Sampler: January 1 –January 7

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Using the book of Isaiah to substantiate his point, Ricky Alcanter of The Blazing Center asserts that 2016 Wasn’t the Worst Year Ever (And Next Year Will Be Okay Too). Pastor Alcanter offers godly wisdom at a time when far too many people (even Bible-believing Christians) face the temptation to despair.

I love the way Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes Crouching at sin’s door: Lessons from Lot to illustrate that even the most righteous Christian must diligently guard against living a compromised lifestyle. Her essay will call you to evaluate how your daily life affects your presentation of the Gospel.

The website Doctrine Matters has a nifty page called DISCERNMENT RULES which provides ten basic rules for…well, discernment. You might want to save it as a reference tool.

John and I are physically disabled and technically elderly (ouch, it hurts to make that admission!), so the cold New England winters often force us to miss church. Thankfully, our pastor and board of elders understand our limitations and health concerns. They know we really want to worship with the body. Perhaps the fact that we have to miss church so often makes me bristle when young, able-bodied people casually skip church.  Eric Davis  of The Cripplegate addresses such people in his important blog post, Reasons We Miss Church  (But May Not Need To).

For those of you struggling to study the Bible,  Jen at One Hired Late In The Day has encouragement for you in her essay, Studying the Bible: How do I do it, and Where to Start? She offers basic ideas that anyone can easily implement.

Writing for Biblical Woman, Sydnee Peacock addresses single women in her post, 4 Pinterest Boards You Shouldn’t Have. Reading her thoughts brings back memories of how I had to guard my heart when I was in “no man’s land.” But her cautions in this article should extend to those of us who are married. The Lord calls all of us to purity.

I could comment on Why You Probably Don’t Need a Quiet Time, which Donald Whitney writes for this month’s issue of Table Talk Magazine. But I’d rather let you read it for yourselves.

Leslie A. of Growing 4 Life asks if we are Grateful or Greedy? in our attitudes toward Christ. She raises questions that make even the best of us uncomfortable. And that’s definitely a good thing! As a matter of fact, that’s why I love her blog so much.

Addressing the matter of ministering to women by boosting their self-esteem, Elizabeth Prata of The End Time writes Did God really say “You are precious to me, you are honored, and I love you”? Women’s ministries today. As an extra bonus, she throws in a practical lesson  on sharing “Christian” memes.

 

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Hey Jude — What Do Dreamers Do?

Shadow BibleLast week, we began looking at Jude 8, which established that false teachers rely on dreams, visions and spiritual experiences rather than on God’s Word as revealed in Scripture. I want to show you this verse once again, as usual quoting it in its context to help us determine its meaning.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.  ~~Jude 5-10 (ESV)

If we connect verse 8 with the  verses leading up to it, we readily see that Jude compares false teachers to some pretty unsavory characters. He does so in order to make the point that, like their predecessors, the false teachers reject God’s revealed will for the purpose of pursuing their own lusts for sex, power and ego. Their supposed dreams give them permission to rebel against the Lord in favor of these lusts.

First of all, their dreams lead them to defile the flesh. 2 Peter 2:10 indicates that they indulge in various forms of passions, which may well be the case with some of the false teachers I frequently address on this blog. The reference to Sodom and Gomorrah in  verse 7, however, strongly suggests sexual lust…both heterosexual and homosexual.

Even without sexual immorality as a component, however, false teachers appeal to our lusts. Think of their promises that Jesus wants to increase our wealth, heal our bodies, be our Boyfriend and/or speak to us directly rather than “merely” through the Bible. When they make Christianity about how the Lord can fulfill us, they defile our flesh instead of exhorting us to mortify sin for His glory.

Secondly, these false teachers reject authority. Commentaries have varying opinions on whether the word “authority” refers to human government or to angelic and demonic entities. One commentary suggested that it referred to God’s authority, as well as the authority of the apostles.

This latter possibility, although it only occurred in one commentary, intrigued me because it fits Jude’s context so well. I struggle with my inclination to embrace that interpretation as opposed to the fact that it is a minority opinion. It does seem to me that false teachers uniformly reject the authority of God’s Word, therefore making sense of this characterization. But I will leave you to investigate this possibility for yourselves.

Finally, false teachers speak against “the glorious ones.” Again, commentaries debate whether or not the glorious ones are earthly rulers or angelic and demonic beings. Looking at verse 9, I tend to believe that it means the angels and demons. Since we will look at verse 9 next week, and since I am writing this on the other side of a migraine, perhaps we had better defer discussion on this point until next week.

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Hey Jude –Dreams Lead To Corruption

dreamers-bibleI don’t know about you, but I’m learning a lot as we work through the epistle of Jude. Unlike you, I get to spend two days each week studying the book with commentaries, cross-references and dictionaries, which allows me to appreciate both the depth and scope of Jude’s message. Ladies, I pray that this study will encourage you to do further study for yourselves, since this book is so rich.

We’re going to focus on exclusively Jude  8 today. As a matter of fact , we won’t even get through all of that verse. Although we probably ought to go further, this verse brings up an issue that still plagues  the 21st Century Church so pervasively that we really need to spend time examining it. But first, let’s read verse 8 within its surrounding context to ensure that we properly understand Jude’s meaning.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. ~~Jude 5-10 (ESV)

Verse 8 begins by referring back to the stubborn rejection of God’s authority that ultimately results in heterosexual immorality and homosexuality. As you’ll recall from verse 4, the false teachers Jude warns against in this  epistle perverted God’s grace into license for sensuality, thereby imitating the lurid rebellions of Israel, fallen angels and the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah.  False teachers persist in rebellion, even knowing that  they place themselves under judgment.

They do so, not from ignorance of Scripture, but because they augment the Word of God with their own ideas. The word “dreams” can cover a range of meanings from personal fantasies to spiritual visions. In any case, the dreams deviate from dependence on Scripture as the authority.

The apostle Paul also tells us that false teachers typically rely on spiritual experiences.

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ~~Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV)

Again, notice the departure from Christ through spiritual experiences and because of sensuality. Here, sensuality is broadened from the realm of sexual immorality to include fleshly gratification of any sort. Paul’s point remains on the exaltation of human ideas over and above Christ and His authority.

Like the First Century church, today’s church suffers from  false teachers (some of whom I mention periodically in these blog posts) who base their teachings on extrabiblical experiences that they wrongfully attribute to the Lord. Not all of them (as far as I know) engage in sexual misconduct, but they uniformly appeal to our selfish senses. The false Jesus that they present exists for our pleasure rather than creating us for His glory.

But I also personally know a false teacher whose name is well-known in ex-gay ministry circles. This man rose to prominence as he preached that the Lord could liberate people from homosexuality.  All the while, he hid his own same sex attractions.

I’ve followed this man’s writings over the past five years, watching with grief and horror as he recounts dreams and  experiences that lead him to embrace his homosexuality. Sadly, he has influenced many other men and women to abandon the fight to renounce homosexuality, falsely teaching the the Lord approves of same sex attractions.  He completely denies Christ’s authority by elevating his dreams and sensual desires above the clear teachings of Scripture.

As we continue discussing Jude 8 next week, we’ve see more clearly how the dreams of false teachers lead them to   corrupt themselves and their hearers. For now, however, I want you to think about the danger of relying on anything beyond God’s Word. As we’ll discover later in Jude’s epistle, the penalty for following our dreams can be deadly.

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Hey Jude — Are You A Reformer?

Tulip daisey frameAll morning I’ve struggled with my desire to blog about Reformation Day and my commitment to produce my Monday Bible Study on Jude. Writing about the Reformation would certainly be more enjoyable for me. Furthermore,  it troubles me that very few Christians know the significance of the Protestant Reformation, and even fewer care!

But as I thought about these matters, it occurred to me that Jude’s epistle is very much a model of reforming doctrinal error, setting an example that Luther, Calvin and Zwingli would follow 1500 years later. If you’ll think back over the last two Bible Studies we’ve done together, you’ll recall Jude’s exhortation to “contend for the faith” (verse 3). Therefore, just as Luther bravely confronted the  errors of the Roman Catholic Church, Jude bravely confronted the false teachers of the First Century church.

Jude doesn’t tread softly as he exposes these false teachers. As a matter of fact, he begins his diatribe by informing his readers, quite bluntly actually, that these apostate teachers will incur judgment.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. ~~Jude 5-7 (ESV)

This passage contains three allusions to Old Testament incidents, each of which you might want to investigate more deeply on your own. Let me briefly explain each of them, however, just to help you start thinking about Jude’s point.

Verse 5 refers, of course, to the Israelites who, despite God’s graciousness to lead them out of Egypt, rebelled against Him before they reached the Promised Land. According to Hebrews 3:16-19, God let them die in the wilderness as a judgment on their unbelief.

The interesting part of verse 5 is that these unbelievers had experienced God’s deliverance from bondage, and yet they never truly put their faith in Him. Please remember that Jude compares the First Century false teachers to the unbelieving Israelites. Both groups had experienced something of God and appeared to belong to His assembly, and yet neither exhibited genuine faith.

Having established that those who fell away were never true believers, Jude moves on to the angels who forfeited their place in heaven. Most of the commentaries I read agree that rather than than the angels that fell with Satan, these are the angels who had sexual relationships with human women (see Genesis 6:1-7).

This reference makes the  connection between unbelief and sensuality. Last week we saw that false teachers deny the Lord Jesus Christ and present grace as an excuse to indulge fleshly passions, making this illustration especially pertinent.

Jude continues with a third allusion to the heterosexual and homosexual sin that caused God to destroy the corrupt cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-22). Here he evokes images of smoldering brimstone as a warning of the devastating judgment awaiting the false teachers that pervert God’s grace into license to gratify selfish desires.

Jude, perhaps as a precursor to the great 16th Century Reformers who  condemned the unbiblical teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, boldly confronts the unbelief and man-centered ways of false teachers. He shows no hesitation in warning that those who propagate false teaching should expect terrible judgment.

Luther sought to restore doctrinal purity to the church, just as Jude writes out of his concern for doctrinal purity among his readers. No true Christian delights in  the judgment of anyone. But we proclaim it with the hope of bringing false teachers (and those who  get ensnared by them) back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Reformers from every generation must sorrow over the judgment that threatens false teachers and offer the hope of repentance and faith.

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Saturday Sampler: September 18- September 24

raggedy-ann-samplerWriting for The Federalist, Hans Fiene tells us (tongue in cheek, of course) How To Make The Bible Support Any Sexual Practice In 3 Easy Steps. Dear sisters in Christ, we desperately need to understand Scripture properly exactly because people really do twist verses in the ways Hans describes in order to justify sin.

Along those lines, Rachel of danielthree18 shows us several Consequences of Mishandling Scripture in our conversations, or even on our social media posts. Ladies, we really must be careful to quote God’s Word correctly and with reverence.

In her article, Pastoral Propriety with Church Ladies and 7 Ways Women Can Help, Michelle Lesley offers practical tips for maintaining purity in interactions with your pastors. Most of her points reflect sheer commonsense, which really isn’t as common as it should be.

You might want to read Misconceptions of Grace by Sarah Bubar on the Biblical Woman blog, especially if you view grace as  something that God gives us freely. Sarah takes us back to God’s Word to remind us what Jesus paid in order that we might benefit from His grace. She also encourages us that grace empowers us to respond to the Lord’s generosity.

Glen Chatfield of The Watchman’s Bagpipes shares an interesting quotation from Lloyd-Jones on How to Preach the Gospel that is decidedly more relevant today than it was  when Lloyd-Jones first wrote it. How thankful John and I are to belong to a church that relies on the simple proclamation of God’s Word rather than than pragmatic gimmicks and worldly entertainment!

Superstitions permeate our culture, and even Bible-believing Christians struggle with them. Jessica Pickowicz of Beautiful Thing kicks off a new series on this seldom discussed topic with Portraits of Superstition: The Obnoxious Knocker. I like her gentle way of bringing us back to trusting the Lord.

Kim Shay has a wonderful article in Out of the Ordinary entitled Theological Objections that challenges the aversion to theology that floods evangelical circles today. She reminds us what theology is and why we need it.

I’m strongly recommending that you read Glen Chatfield’s Open Letter to “Worship” Leaders and share it on social media.  Yeah — it’s that important!

I absolutely love Does God speak in unidentified promptings? by Elizabeth Prata of The End Time. She approaches the matter differently than people usually do, which makes her point all the more effective. Please read this exceptional essay and consider its Biblical perspective.

 

 

 

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