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Showing posts from April, 2008

Definitions of Adultery

“You shall not commit adultery.” Deuteronomy 5:18

Adultery has both a narrow and a broad definition.

In the narrow sense it is sexual intercourse with some person other than your spouse, or if one person is not married who has sexual intercourse with someone who is married. Or if divorced and remarried if the divorce is not biblically authorized.

You may say, “If that is so than half of the country has committed or is committing adultery right now.”

True!

Let’s look at the wider definition of adultery.

Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

He did not say, “If a married man looks lustfully or if a single man looks lustfully at a married woman.”

In this case marriage is not part of the command and the physical act is not part of the command.

Now we have moved the guilty from half of the country to 100% of the country.

“The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increas…

Repentance and Forgiveness

Here are a few scriptures on repentance and forgiveness.

“He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke 24:46, 47

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Him.'” Acts 26:17, 18

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” Acts 3:19


“Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:25, 26

“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he comman…

Unity Series, Ch. 14: Reader Comments, #2

I received this comment:

“Personally, I have never understood how any professing Christian can be a racist. I am sure you have known some as well as I have. The passages referenced in this devotional make it obvious. If the twelve Apostles had been racists, then no Gentile would have ever been saved!”


Not only have I known a few, but we find them in the New Testament as well. Peter was a racist at the beginning of Acts 10 and in Galatians 2:11-13:

“When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.”

Paul was writing to racists in Rome and Ephesus in their respective letters. These churches were international churches with attendant problems. There w…

Unity Series, Ch. 14: Reader Comments, #1

I received this additional comment and insight with regard to the series on “Unity” and am passing it along to you.

Jim, you are probably going to deal with this, but I think the greatest incentive for unity is Christ’s “Highest Priestly Prayer” in John 17; especially verses 22-23.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:22, 23 (NIV)

The unity of the Body is one of the most forceful apologetics for the divinity of Christ. Conversely, disunity is Satan’s most successful tool.

I think I mentioned on our visit that the Greek word from which we get “heresy” has the root meaning of division.


(Taken from Day & Night: Unity Series, 2003)

Unity Series, Ch. 10: One Mind, part 2

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)

This is an appeal of Paul in the Name of the LORD Jesus. He is calling in the highest authority, and then makes it very clear what he is urgently requesting.

When we see texts like this and look at them long enough so that we cannot slide by them, we come to one of several conclusions:

• Let’s be real!
• Paul is overstating the requirements.
• “All” doesn’t mean “all.”
• Let’s make it a process.
• There have to be divisions among us to show which of us is right.

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God'…

Unity Series, Ch.4: Humility

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2, 3 (NIV)

Notice how humility and love keep the unity of the spirit. Complete humility is shown in Jesus Christ in Philippians 2:6-11:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)


We are to have the same humility as Jesus.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5 (NIV)

Hum…

Unity Series, Ch. 1: Purity, part 8

“I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Expel that wicked man from among you.

This looks like a command to break the unity.

No, the unity, fellowship, was broken when the sin occurred. He is to be removed for two reasons.

1. The acceptance of his immorality will infect the whole church.
2. So that he will repent and be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus.

Physically and spiritually, breaking fellowshi…

Unity Series, Ch. 1: Purity, part 7

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.” Philippians 1:27, 28

Standing firm in one spirit.

Contending as one man.

The real subject is the Gospel but notice the words attached to “one.” They are “standing firm” and “contending.” These are warlike words. It is necessary in war for all allies to be one, not enemies of each other.


(Taken from Day & Night: Unity Series, 2003)

Unity Series, Ch. 1: Purity, part 6

“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” 1 Corinthians 12:13

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3


We started out both clean and in one body. It takes continual cleanness to stay completely one with each other.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5


“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9


If we are walking in the light as He is in the light we cannot help having fellowship with one another. Along with that, the blood of Jesu…

Unity Series, Ch. 1: Purity, part 5

Earlier we emphasized righteousness.

I have mentioned that unity and fellowship are based on 1) beginning purity, our justification, our entrance into the body, and 2) continuing purity, our walking in the light and being continually cleansed. Both of these have to do with being forgiven.

There is a better way. It is not getting dirty, not sinning. We see this in a number of places in scripture: It is in being holy.

• My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. 1 John 2:1
• As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. 1 Peter 1:14, 15
• Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will…

Unity Series, Ch. 1: Purity, part 3

Purity is a necessary ingredient for fellowship and unity. There are two causes of purity or, I should say, two biblical expressions of it. They are the words “righteousness” and “holiness.” They are not synonyms, but they have the same character, absolute purity. Righteousness is impurity that has been made clean. Righteousness is imparted to the believer when the believer is forgiven, cleansed from all impurity. Righteousness is the subject in this chapter

This purity is in heaven but is available on earth; in fact it is a requirement to be on earth. It comes from heaven to earth. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).

Zechariah prophesied about the Lord Jesus and his own son John. It is recorded in Luke 1:67-79. In verse 74, Zechariah spoke of the Lord Jesus. “to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holin…

Unity Series, Ch.1: Purity, part 2

When we believed in and received Christ, we were made righteous, made pure; we were justified (Romans 5:1). That was our start. We were made one with all other justified people. We became part of the body of Christ, the church (1 Corinthians 12:13). All of our sins were forgiven (Romans 10:43). We received a new nature (Colossians 3:10). We were born of the Spirit (John 3:5). We had eternal life (John 3:16).

We had fellowship with all other justified people. We had the fruit of the Spirit. All at once, we had purity, unity and fellowship.

Before this happened, we had received the proclamation of the good news.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1:3, 4 (NIV)


Notice the fellowship is with other believers and with the Father and the Son. It was not fun, food and inane conversation. It was deeper; it was fullness of jo…

Unity Series, Ch.1: Fellowship--Purity, part 4

Purity, which is the basis of both fellowship and unity, started at the cross.

This unity is to continue. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:2-6).

The continuing means of staying pure is walking in the light. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all…But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:5, 7, & 9). This provides continual cleansing and continual fellowship …

The Immediate and the Final Judgment

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” Hebrews 9:27

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15


These thre…

Unity: One Mind

“I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

“Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32


The first two texts are appeals, the first in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. An appeal is a very strong request just short of being a command.

1. agree with one another
2. so that there be no divisions among you
3. so that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Aim for perfection and

1. be of one mind
2. live in peace

This third text is an example of being in one heart and one mind.

Apparently, this oneness in heart, mind, and thought is not o…

Unity Series, Ch. 2: Hindrances to Unity, part 5

I received the following question:

Thank you so much for these lessons. But, one question, is it possible, and if so how, to tell if someone else is not a part of the body, as opposed to someone “acting like” they are not a part of the body (as in your last paragraph).

A person who is or at least calls himself a Christian, but is not acting like one, may be assumed by the saints and sinners alike that he is not a Christian because:

1. He does not show love to the brothers.
2. He does not obey God in moral commands.
3. He has the works of the flesh and not the fruit of the Spirit.
4. He may make blasphemous statements about God.

However, he may call himself a Christian. He may even remember when he was converted and you may have remembered years when he had the evidence of a Christian.

I started by assuming he is a Christian even though present evidence is lacking. In that case, Christian friends, and elders should seek to get him to repent and confess every sin that he committed since his con…

Unity Series, Ch. 2: Hindrances to Unity, part 4

In the early church the creeds that were put together by the church (the catholic [universal] church) were formed to separate Christians from non-Christians (the Apostles’ Creed) and to separate Christians from Christian heresies (the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed). Some of these “heretics” in the Councils were probably saved people. Later on, some of the church councils included heresies in their pronouncements. The Second Council of Nicea, the First Vatican Council and the Council of Trent are three examples. After the reformation, the whole church no longer got together to form the creeds. The separate groups no longer met with each other. They met separately and wrote confessions differing from or reacting to the confessions of other groups. These confessions now separated Christians from Christians. Even when there was agreement there were still factions among the churches.

Let me quote from the autobiography of Richard Baxter, who lived in the middle of the 17th century.

“…

Unity Series, Ch. 2: Hindrances to Unity, part 3

There was great disunity in the church in England and Scotland during the first half of the 17th century. There were three main groups—the Church of Scotland, the Church of England, and the dissenters (non-conformist congregational churches).

There were two unifying factors; all three were evangelical and all three were reformed (Calvinist). Why were they divided? State and Church government! The Church of Scotland was a state church with a Presbyterian form of government. The Church of England was a state church with an Episcopalian form of government. The Congregationalists wanted to have nothing to do with the state, Presbyterian, or Episcopalian forms of government. The Church of Scotland wanted to unite with the Church of England in a state church only if they had a Presbyterian form of government. And, of course, they wanted the dissenters to be in that church too. So they went to war!

The Puritans (dissenters from England) who came to Massachusetts during this time did not want t…

Unity Series, Ch. 2: Hindrances to Unity, part 2

On of the major hindrances to unity are teachers. They may be teachers of the truth with no differences with each other, as in 1 Corinthians chapters one and three. Their followers were spiritual infants because they were loyal to a single teacher. Or they may be teachers who are seeking their own following, as predicted in Ephesus.

“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29, 30).


We see other occurrences in Scripture.

They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (Jude 18, 19).

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful s…

Unity Series: False Unity

There is a unity that is not the unity of the Spirit. It is not a real unity. It may be a unity of co-belligerents. They have a common enemy. An example of this is Russia and the U.S. at war with Germany. Or Roman Catholicism, Mormonism and Evangelicalism united against abortion and gay marriages.

Here are a few positive words that pertain to unity:

Purity: The wisdom that comes from Heaven is first pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 (NIV)

Gentle: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1(NIV)

Humility: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)

Peace: Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15 (NIV)


Patience: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, ge…

Unity Series: The Body, Question & Answer #2

Recently, I received this question and would like to include my response as part of the series on Unity.

“We’ve enjoyed your Unity lessons. Thank you. Jim, why is there such emphasis on being a member of a church corporation? There appears to be a lot of weight placed on being a “member” of a local church corporation than on being a member of Christ and obeying his commands. I understand being subject to your leaders but I’m having problems with signing on to a corporation with a constitution and by-laws. I’m not at peace with the whole concept. Could you give some insight for me?”

It is difficult to answer and make the answer sound positive for all the reasons that churches and people have.

First, I will give what I think the Bible teaches.

1.If we are born again, we are members of the body of Christ. It is impossible to be members of the body of Christ without being members of the local body. If we are immoral and unrepentant, we can be disfellowshipped (1 Corinthians 5), but we start o…

Unity Series: The Body, Question & Answer #1

I received this question:

“Thank you so much for these lessons. But, one question, is it possible, and if so how, to tell if someone else is not a part of the body, as opposed to someone ‘acting like’ they are not a part of the body?”

There is no absolute way because they both look alike. It may be more likely that unbelievers pretend to be believers. These are hypocrites. However, the Christians may act like the unbelievers while assuring us they are believers. These are compromisers.

In a loving, gracious way, we should tell the compromisers and the hypocrites we do not think they are saved. They may be offended and tell us not to judge.

“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God”. Galatians 5:19-21 (…