So, If Lust Is Sin, What About Same Sex Attraction?

Cordened churchIf you missed my blog posts Monday and yesterday,  you might want to go back and read them before continuing on with today’s article. Although I wrote both articles with the question of same sex attraction in mind, I wanted to lay some groundwork by examining temptation in general. I firmly believe that temporarily removing homosexuality from the conversation helps us think more Biblically about this matter.

Monday I differentiated between external temptations and temptations that originate from our own lusts. I tried to show that internal temptations merely Continue reading

Any Temptation And God’s Grace

Untitled-1Yesterday I made the distinction between external temptations and temptations that originate from our own sin nature (you can find the blog post here). In future parts, I’ll explain specifically why I wanted to draw this distinction, but at this point I’d prefer to confine my remarks to generalities.

As I demonstrated yesterday, temptations often come about as a result of our innate depravity. This fact cannot be overstated. Yes, it’s an uncomfortable truth that flies in the face of self-esteem, and our post 20th Century sensibilities cry out against it with a vengeance. Recognizing ourselves as wretched sinners except for God’s grace repulses even the most doctrinally sound Christian.

But let me take you back to Continue reading

It Depends On The Temptation

Cinderella's  ClosetHebrews 4:15 tells us that Christ, our  high priest, sympathizes with our weaknesses because He was tempted in all things, yet was without sin. What a comforting verse! This world indeed tempts Christians to seek personal comfort, exercise authority and put God to the test — the same temptations Satan used in his failed efforts to dissuade Christ from going to the cross (Luke 4:1-13, Mark 8:31-33, Luke 22:39-46).

But have you ever noticed that all of His temptations came from outside of Him? In His nature, Jesus never envied or boasted or lusted. His thoughts remained pure. We know they were pure because Continue reading

In My Place Condemned He Stood

Who among us fully comprehends their sinful conditions? At times we do something so blatantly wretched that we catch small glimpses of our depravity, but those glimpses fade rather quickly. Most of the time, we have difficulty really believing that we deserve eternity in hell.

At least I do.

But in such horrible moments, the Lord calls His people to look towards the Gospel. Jesus took our sin, bearing it on the cross as if it belonged to Him! As innocent as He is, He accepted the condemnation that rightfully belongs to you and me.

When we grasp the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice for us, how  can we fail to adore Him? How can we keep from worshiping Him as the incredibly wonderful Savior He is? Perhaps our vileness, in all its stench and squalor, allows the splendor of His love and grace to shine more brilliantly. Hallelujah! What a Savior!

 

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Saturday Sampler: March 30 — April 6

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Reacting to the growing sentiment among evangelicals that same sex attraction, unless one physically acts on it, is morally neutral, R. Scott Clark writes It Was Not So From The Beginning: Nature And Grace Teach Us That SSA Is Sin in the Abounding Grace Radio blog. As our culture pressures us to compromise with its redefinition of sexual morality, articles like this one keep us grounded in Biblical truth.

Leonardo De Chirico, in his monthly article for The Vatican Files, presents a fascinating and vitally important discussion. 160. Is the Nicene Faith the Basis for Ecumenism? clarifies the importance of doctrine as we determine whether or not to pursue unity with someone.

Don’t miss How to Repent of Slander in a Digital Age by Dr. Jay Sklar of Covenant Theological Seminary. If you use any form of social media, this post is for you!

As our culture tries to redefine marriage, Christians must remember that Marriage Isn’t About Children, Because Marriage Isn’t About Us. John Ellis explains this truth in his post for adayinhiscourt.

Core Christianity features Cameron Cole’s concerning article, Four Things Youth Workers Would Tell Parents About Teenagers, Social Media, and Technology. It’s not the easiest piece to read, but those of you who have kids really need to understand what your sons and daughters do with their smart phones.

If you haven’t seen the movie Unplanned yet, take a moment to consider Pastor Gabriel Hughes’ thoughts in A Pastor’s Review of Unplanned: Uncertain of its Own Message, which he posts in The Midwestern Baptist. His review underscores the necessity of using discernment before jumping on the latest evangelical bandwagon.

Julie Ganschow of Biblical Counseling for Women finds that not all those billing themselves as Biblical counselors actually counsel Biblically. Wolves Among Sheep equips us to make distinctions between man-centered counseling and God-centered counseling. Ladies,  please don’t ignore these distinctions!

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Flashback Friday: He Did It For Himself

I originally posted this article on April 30, 2016.

Cross of GloryAs Christians, of course we take great joy in the fact that Jesus shed His precious blood to pay the price for our sins. Indeed, the knowledge that He made that sacrifice fills us with awe, as we wonder why He would do such a outrageously generous thing.

Back in the 1980s, some evangelical churches taught that He redeemed us because He saw something in us worth saving. That explanation certainly boosted people’s self-esteem, but nothing in Scripture substantiated it. On the contrary, Ephesians 2:1-10 plainly tells us that nothing in us in any way merits the grace He has shown by taking our sin on Himself.

So if Christ had nothing to gain from us, why did He die for us? Obviously He loves us, although I don’t understand why He does. But Ephesians 2:7 offers an even fuller understanding of what motivated Him to such an incredible demonstration of love.

So let’s spend a little time looking at verse 7. Even though I’ll do my best to comment on this verse, I  hope you’ll take the time to look at the cross-references I’ll provide, as they offer deeper insight into the text. Scripture best interprets itself, so these cross-references will help you grasp the teaching in this verse.

But first let’s go back to the passage itself, shall we?

 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ~~Ephesians 2:1-7 (ESV)

Paul begins verse 7 with the assuring statement that  God will, in the ages to come, give a fuller revelation

  • of the immeasuarable riches
  • of His grace
    • in kindness toward us
    • in Christ Jesus

Commentators differ on whether the “ages to come” denote succeeding generations of Christians who would understand the Ephesians’ conversions as a demonstration of God’s rich mercy or to the ages that will begin when Christ returns. The former interpretation finds support in 1Timothy 1:16, where Paul claims His own conversion as  an example of God’s mercy. Compare Titus 3:4-7, which states that the believers in the church Titus pastored experienced the same mercy as did the Ephesians. Yet 1 Peter 1:3-13 implies that God will display His mercy and grace at the time that Christ reveals Himself universally. I tend to favor the  latter understanding because Christ’s return is part of the Gospel.

God’s purpose in showering believers with grace and mercy benefits us, but ultimately it refers back to His character. Vincent’s Word Studies says that the grammar of the Greek phrase translated here as “He might show” implies that God does all this for His glory first, and then for our benefit. The primary emphasis on His glory,  over and above our blessing, must not be ignored!

The Lord showed similar mercy to Israel, not because they deserved it (they certainly didn’t!), but for the sake of His reputation (Ezekiel 36:21-23, Deuteronomy 7:7-8, Psalm  106:8, Psalm 115:1-2, Ezekiel 20:41). God bestows His mercy on us, just as He did on Israel, out of concern for His reputation among unbelieving nations. For this reason, as well as because of the way verse 7 flows from preceding verses, I tend toward the opinion that these “immeasurable riches” will coincide with Christ’s return when all will see Him (Matthew 24:30).

At the Lord’s return, He will at last become the focal point of all creation. While we will enjoy the privilege of spending eternity in His glorious presence, all the attention will center  exclusively on Him. Our only worth will come from His inexplicable love for us. And even that love, precisely because it refers back to His kindness, manifests  His glory. Truly, when He died for us, He did it for Himself.

Continue reading

The Best Method For Vetting Discernment Bloggers

IMG_1892Imagine believers testing the teachings of the apostle Paul! To Bible-believing Christians, the very thought of scrutinizing him seems preposterous! We now understand that several of his letters rightfully belong in the Canon of Scripture. In the early days of his ministry, however, his apostolic authority hadn’t yet been recognized, so Jewish believers had to find a way of authenticating his doctrine.

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men. ~~Acts 17:10-12 (ESV)

Discernment bloggers love quoting verse 11. They want us to use the Word of God as a standard for determining whether or not someone is a false teacher. Obviously, I wholeheartedly agree with measuring someone’s ministry against Scripture’s teachings the way those noble Bereans did — that’s one of the main reasons I constantly encourage you to read your Bibles and use sound methods of interpretation.

Being good Bereans also requires that we Continue reading