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Showing posts from 2020

Knowing the Will of God: A Review

This is a topic I have posted on before, but it is good to talk about it again. "It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you" (Philippians 3:1).

The important thing in any major decision is to seek to know the will of God. Here are a few principles from the Bible which you can use as a start to help you determine God’s will:

1. Want to know the will of God.

"If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own" (John 7:17). If I want to be in the will of God, and God wants to be in His will, there is no way I will miss it.

2. The desires of your heart.

"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). Your desires are not necessarily wrong. If you delight in the Lord, He will give you your desires.

3. The witness and leading of the Spirit.

"Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are s…

The Will of God: What Is It?

What is the meaning of God’s will? What do we have to do in order to do God’s will? How can we know God’s will?

There are two expressions of God’s ultimate will in the Scriptures. The first is our salvation: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

The second is our sanctification: "It is God’s will that you should be sanctified" (1 Thessalonians 4:3a).

Both of these were accomplished by Jesus Christ: "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30).

The will of God for us is our salvation, which includes our justification (conversion), holiness (sanctification), and the redemption of our bodies at the Second Coming. Since we have already experienced justification, our concern now is our holiness (sanctification). Remember, it is already provided for:

Everyday Holiness: Following God's Plans

“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord, “who carry out a plan, but not mine, who make a league, but not of my Spirit that they may add sin to sin who set out to go down to Egypt without asking for my counsel.” (Isaiah 30:1-2)

This text applies to nations, the world, and individuals. They make plans and implement them. They draw up treaties, agreements, and contracts. The plans are not God’s. They do not ask the Lord for advice. Many Christians also follow this pattern. God says, “Woe to the rebellious children.”

In the early stages of the conquest of Canaan, the Gibeonites deceived Joshua into making a treaty with them under oath: "The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the LORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath" (Joshua 9:14-15).

There is a way to follow God’s plans that is not good, but is still better than following your own way: "Be not like a horse…

God Says No

The Bible has several clear texts that describe the way the world does things with an attached command that says “No” to that kind of conduct:

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Ephesians 4:17-19).

"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Colossians 3:9-10).

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you…

No Need for Questions

Jesus had just finished saying to the twelve that after His resurrection they should no longer ask Him anything. They should ask the Father in Jesus name, because the Father Himself loved them. “Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God” (John 16:30).

I hope I can write this for our (yours and mine) building up.

Normally we would come to two conclusions concerning John 16:30. Either a person who knew all things would not need to ask anyone any questions, or a person who knew all things would want others to ask him questions in order to display his knowledge.

Because Jesus spoke clearly and without figures of speech, the twelve could see, first, that He knew all things, and, second, that He did not need to have anyone ask Him questions. These two conclusions made them believe that he came from God.

“Knowing all things” would make any person believe that Jesus came from God. Howev…

It’s Not Sweetness and Light

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:18-21).

The world is not sweetness and light; it is darkness against light. It is hatred against light. This is because of Jesus Christ coming into the world. “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9). “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be expo…

Reading the Bible Every Day

Many Christians read the Scriptures sporadically in both time and place. In other words, they read them “now and then” and “here and there.” They gravitate to their favorite chapters. Some of them have never even read the whole New Testament through. The body of Christ is appallingly ignorant of God’s Word, and there is a corresponding lack of obedience.

There is no substitute for reading the Word of God. Listening to the best Bible teachers in the world will not make up for personal ignorance of Scripture or replace the benefits of spending time with the Lord in His Word.

Here are some helps for you to consider when reading the Word. First, the genealogies in the New Testament take up less than two chapters. If they are a problem to you, skip them for now go back over them separately; it will only take five minutes. They would not be there if they were not important. However, they are not intended to stop you from reading the rest of the New Testament.

Second, do not stop for hard…

The Errancy of Man

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving" (Ephesians 5:3-4).

About forty years ago I copied these verses on a poster and hung it on the wall of the stairwell leading to the school mailboxes at a Christian college. The entire student body came down those steps at least once a day.

The effect on some of the students surprised me. Until that time, they had thought that using the Lord’s name in vain was the only form of profanity. They carefully avoided it while participating in other kinds of dirty talk. This told me that they did not read the Bible completely, carefully, or often, nor did they read it with the anticipation of finding some undiscovered truth to obey. If this text catches you like it caught them, perhaps you need some help in your Scriptu…

What Is Your View of God the Father?

"In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God." (John 16:26-27)

In recent years, I have found that “Christians” have views of the Father that are foreign to Scripture. These views are so awful that the same people ignore the Father and put all of their focus on the Son. This focus is not so that they can come to the Father, but so that they can come to the Son only. These are not "Jesus Only" people. They are evangelical, trinitarian Christians. However, their views of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are so different in character that it would be impossible to have these three be one deity.

Here is a suggested exercise. Please go through the Gospel of John and mark every reference to the Father. I think it will be surprising to you, both in how many references there are and in what they say.

This post coordinates wit…

Forgiveness and Consequences

"Then David said to Nathan, 'I have sinned against the Lord.' Nathan replied, 'The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die'” (2 Samuel 12:13-14).

You can read the complete story of David’s awful sins in 2 Samuel 11-12. David violated these commands: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,” “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder.” To hide his adultery, David called Uriah home from battle so Bathsheba’s pregnancy would be attributed to him. The lie did not work—Uriah was too honorable. He returned to Jerusalem, but refused to go home while his men remained on the battlefield. The next day David gave a dinner for Uriah and made him drunk. He still did not go home, so David had him killed and took his wife for himself.

David did not confess these sins. He was still hiding them (or thought he was) when he was confronted b…

A Different Personality Test: What Type of Sinner Are You?

Have mercy on me, O God,
According to your unfailing love;
According to your great compassion
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
And done what is evil in your sight,
So that you are proved right when you speak
And justified when you judge.
(Psalm 51:1-4)

The Bible speaks of several types of sinners. The types are not based on what people have done, but on their attitudes towards God and towards their sin. Here are four examples:

"Jerusalem staggers, Judah is falling; their words and deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves" (Isaiah 3:8-9).

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter f…

What Has Straw in Common with Wheat?

There are many authoritarian religions in the modern world. Whether they are large movements or local ones, they are each still under the domination of one man. It is not long before such movements are off concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ; and then they become immoral. Let me share a word from the prophet Jeremiah concerning this:

“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams which they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat?” says the Lord. “Is not my word like fire,” says the Lord, “and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am aga…

Why Study the Bible?

This article made a great impression on me when I first read it years ago. It assumes that you are already reading your Bible regularly. If you are not, let me encourage you to get into the habit of daily Bible reading. You can join a good Bible reading plan here. – Jim Wilson

The Study of the Bible

I take it for granted that we all believe the Bible to be the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. I take it for granted that we all read the Bible with regularity. What I am going to plead for, however, is concentrated, sustained, devoted study of the Bible, the kind of study that is not fulfilled by the perfunctory reading of some passages each day. The set periods of family worship are not, of course, by any means to be disparaged. This is a highly necessary and most fruitful exercise. The influence for good exerted by honouring God’s Word in this way is incalculable for all concerned. Indeed, the minimal use of the Bible in this way has often left an indelible im…

An Invitation: To the Word!

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 3:16-4:2).

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13).

There was a time when there were very few Bibles, even in cultured lands. There were no printing presses, and most of the people were illiterate. If people received the Word, it was through the public reading of Scripture by people who could read and had the Scriptures. Even then, it was read in Latin, not in a language people could understand. In the church today in this country, we can r…

Aspects of Obedience, Part 3: Positive Obedience

Positive Obedience

Once we have learned to refrain from disobedience and to walk in the light, we are ready for active, positive obedience.

Start out by learning to recognize the positive commands in Scripture. They are almost always expressed in superlatives. For example:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).

Because the positive commands are so all-encompassing, it is easy for us to think of them as ideals rather than realistic requirements. So the next thing to do is accept them as they are. The Bible does not qualify them, and we do not have the freedom to qualify them either.

God provides several wonderful means of obeying these commands. The first is the death of Christ. We all know that Jesus died so we could be forgiven. Few of us realize that He died so we could be obedient. See Romans 6 for an explanation of the efficacy of the Cross in accomplishing obedience.

The second means of obedience is the fruit of the Spirit which…

Aspects of Obedience, Part 2: Walking in the Light

Walking in the Light

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)

This verse presents such wonderful truth that I have set it in poetic form. It is based on the truth of 1 John 1:5:

"God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5b).

Although I am seated in a well-lit room, there is darkness in it. How do I know? Because if I look outside I can see the brightness of the sunshine on the lawn, and this room is not that bright. However, there is also darkness outside where the trees, houses, and cars cast shadows. There is always a place of more light, except in the presence of God. “In Him there is no darkness at all.” God is the very essence of light, the source of all other lights.

What does this mean for us? “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light...” The kind of light we are to walk in is pure and absolute. It is not the light of a can…

Aspects of Obedience, Part 1

Christian obedience has three primary aspects. The first is refraining from disobedience; the second is walking in the light; and the third is an active, positive obedience.

Refraining from Disobedience

Disobedience is doing, thinking, or saying what we are told not to do or think or say. It is also not doing, not thinking, or not saying what we are commanded to do and think and say.

"Jesus replied: ‘"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment'” (Matthew 22:37-38).

It is easier to measure disobedience by what we do than by what we do not do. However, this does not mean that our neglect is not sin. Not loving the Lord in this way is a violation of the first and greatest commandment.

The first way to refrain from disobedience is to know the commandments. Ignorance is no excuse. God gave us instructions in the Bible, and it is our responsibility to be familiar with them. Here is …

"Partial Obedience” ... or Rebellion & Idolatry

"But Samuel replied: 'Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king'” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

Open your Bible right now and read 1 Samuel 15.

Have you read it? Notice why Saul spared the animals (vv. 21, 24). Instead of repenting when confronted with his sin, Saul backtracked and tried to claim that he had obeyed the Lord while all around him was the evidence of his disobedience: bleating sheep and lowing cattle.

Saul called his “partial obedience” obedience. God had another name for it: disobedience. He called that disobedience rebellion, and rebellion He likened to witchcraft. God also compared Saul’s arrogance to idolatry.

Unless we have God’s view of our actions, we will stumb…

A Purpose of Heart: How to Keep from Compromising

"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself" (Daniel 1:8).

"When he [Barnabas] came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord" (Acts 11:23).

Daniel’s decision and Barnabas’ exhortation had one thing in common: a purpose of heart. Daniel made a single decision that affected every day of his next three years. He did this on principle. The principle was that “he would not defile himself.” He did not wait until breakfast to make the decision not to eat when there was food in front of him and he was hungry. Why? He would have compromised. Daniel “purposed in his heart” once to obey God for a long time. He did not know how he was going to carry out his purpose. He trusted that if he acted on principle, …

Do You Want to Please God?

Do you want to please God?

"Without faith it is impossible to please God…" (Hebrews 11:6).

"This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 5:4-5).

How crowded our lives get! How unnecessary are the things that clutter them up in comparison to having this kind of faith! Salvation from sin is ours by faith. Day-by-day protection from sin is ours by faith.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

God diligently rewards those who seek Him.

Accusations, Exposing Sin, & That Serpent of Old

"The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down'” (Revelation 12:9-10).

The name of the ancient serpent is the Accuser. I am aware of churches whose elders are accusing or being accused. Some of the accusation is within a church, and some of it is between churches. The saints in these churches may have believed a lie that a fellow believer is the enemy. The fellow believer may have believed a lie and passed it on as truth. That puts him in the wrong camp. It makes him an accuser and a gossiper, but he is never the enemy, even if he is in great sin.

There seems to be a misreading or misapplication of Ephesians …

Being Self-Controlled & Alert: How to Avoid the Roaring Lion

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

Of all the reasons Christians sin, this one is the most disheartening. It happens to very strong Christians who are not alert.

When I was midshipman over sixty years ago, there was a framed picture in the Department of Seamanship and Navigation at the Naval Academy. It was a photograph of seven destroyers grounded on the beach in the Santa Barbara Channel in California. There are eight destroyers in a squadron. The captain of the eighth destroyer decided not to follow the leader. Underneath the picture was this caption: “The price of good navigation is constant vigilance.”

Be Holy: A Command to Obey by Grace

"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy'" (1 Peter 1:15-16).

"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

These are commands, not suggestions. They are also “be” commands, not “do” commands—they relate to what you are, not just what you do. Since we live by God’s grace, it is safe to assume that He will not command us to be something that He does not provide the means for us to be. Therefore, we should not think that these commands are impossible to obey. If we do, we are not believing God. We are following the suggestions of the Enemy.

Thank God that He has made holiness possible for you. Start obeying by believing that it is possible and by wanting to be holy.

Immoderate Commands & Immoderate Promises

"Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you" (2 Thessalonians 3:16).

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Please look at every phrase in these benedictions, for I will not comment on all of them. Notice that God gives us peace “at all times and in every way” and equips us with “everything good for doing His will.” The God of peace does a thorough work in us.

If you are familiar with the Bible, you may have noticed that it has very few moderate commands. You may also have noticed how many Christians moderate the commands. We think it is alright to bring them down to our size because they are so extreme. This is nei…

Suffering for the Gospel

"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:8-10).

Paul says that he is suffering for two reasons: 1) for the Gospel and 2) for the sake of the elect. In the middle of this, we find that “Gods word is not chained.” Isn’t that a glorious statement?

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!
Written November 1985.

On the Front Lines

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

We who are in Christian ministry are truly on the front lines in close combat with forces of evil over the souls of men. We ask your participation with us in prayer.

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!

Why Is Obedience So Hard?

• Obedience is an infringement on our freedom. Since we are free in Christ, we conclude that obedience must not be good. Yet we know it is good. Thus, we become confused.
• Obedience means works. We have been justified by grace through faith and are opposed to works, so we are also opposed to obedience.
• We have tried to obey and failed—frequently. Therefore, the only solution must be to disobey and confess.
• We confuse obedience to men with obedience to God.

Each of these statements is a misconception. Here are the corrections:

• Obedience is freedom, not an infringement of it. It is a voluntary act, which means it can only take place if the will is free. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32).

• Obedience is not related to works. It is related to faith. "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness tha…

Studying 2 Corinthians

Have you noticed the series of listed troubles that are in 2 Corinthians? They are in chapters 1, 4, 6, 8, and 12.

Have you also seen the comfort, thanksgiving, glory, rejoicing, grace, and strength in the same chapters? Please take a look and notice the connection.

“I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints—but let them not return to folly” (Psalm 85:8).

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we'd love to have you reading with us!
Written September 1992.

Active Listening

“Know this my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

When we think of being quick, we think of doing something that takes action. Here we are told to “be quick” to do something that takes no action, at least outwardly. Hearing takes no movement. In fact, you might think that hearing is completely passive. This just is not so. A silent person may be passive. That does not mean that he is listening! Being “quick to hear” means having an energetic interest, an eagerness that mentally reaches out, stretching for information. It is an openness to another person. This does not mean that what we hear will be good, true information. Even so, we are still told to be quick to hear. Being quick to hear has to do with our own sanctification, not the correctness of the information.

This post coordinates with the #SamePageSummer Bible Reading Challenge. Join the challenge here - we…

Repentance Is for Sinners Only (a.k.a., You've Got to Be Bad to Go to Heaven)

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32)

Jesus is not teaching the merits of delayed obedience in this passage. He is teaching repentance for both the person who initially refused and for the one who promised to obey and did not.

The Pharisees were like the second son who said he would work and did not. The Phar…

A Way of Life You May Not Have

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins" (Ephesians 2:1).

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

When it comes to sin, we are all dead. We are either dead in sin or dead to it. When we were dead in sins, we lived in them. Once we are dead to sin, living in it is neither normal nor possible. A Christian may sin, but he cannot make it his way of life:

"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him… No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God" (1 John 3:6, 9).

Since You Died with Christ...

"Since you died with Christ…" (Colossians 2:20).

"Since then you have been raised with Christ…" (Colossians 3:1).

"For you died…" (Colossians 3:3).

Although these things were written to the church at Colossae, I believe that if they are true, they apply to all Christians. Each of the verses ends in an instruction or a command based on the truths:

"Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 'Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!'? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings" (Colossians 2:20-22).

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then yo…

The Insufficiency of a Clear Conscience

A pure, clear conscience is a wonderful thing. A guilty conscience is an awful thing. We desire the one and do not want the other. However, there are guilty consciences that are filled with false guilt instead of true guilt. There are also seemingly clear consciences that are clear only because the conscience does not record; it has become seared.

Even when a conscience is working well and is clear, that does not mean it is working perfectly according to God’s standards of right and wrong.

The Apostle Paul said it this way: “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God” (1 Corinthians 4:4-5).

A person may say that his conscience does not hurt, as if that were proof that he was innocent. It does not hold. The conscience i…

Believing the Bible vs. Applying the Bible: Excuses or Obedience?

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…" (2 Timothy 3:16).

Evangelicals stand on the full inspiration of the Word of God. Sadly, we are not as firm when it comes to applying the Word. We believe the Bible from cover to cover in debate, but when we look inside the covers on our own, we have problems. The texts can be history, prophecy, promises, commands, or statements of fact. Our problems are not problems of understanding; they are problems of unbelief. Our solutions are:

• Stay ignorant.
• Run lightly over the text.
• Do much explaining of what the text “really” means.

A few examples of statement-of-fact passages are Colossians 3:9, Romans 1:6, Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:9. The chapters these verses are in make the truths much clearer.

Here are some clear commands Christians are hesitant to obey:

1. Church discipline: 1 Corinthians 5, especially verses 9-13.

"I wrote to you in my letter not to asso…

Relaxing the Law of God

"Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-20).

Jesus taught that there are three eternal destinies:

• Least in the kingdom
• Great in the kingdom
• Never in the kingdom

In the rest of Matthew 5 Jesus taught how He fulfilled the law by going back to the motives of the heart - hatred, lust, and love. This has to do with the spirit of the law, not just the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is never less than the lette…