Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

Welcome to another edition of, “Does the Bible really say THAT?”

Has this ever happened to you? I’ll be sitting in Sunday School or in Church service and the teacher or pastor refers to a passage of scripture to support his or her teaching and I’ll cringe a little. Not out of conviction from the Holy Spirit, but because I know that the passage does not teach the principle stated and that everyone within hearing is missing the truth.

Now any teacher, myself included, is guilty of making this mistake. It is often an innocent mistake motivated by pure intentions, but it can lead others astray nonetheless. It is often caused by careless preparation and mishandling of the text. And the errant teaching is often a regurgitation of popular Christian sayings or traditions. It is the sin of prooftexting.

I’ll give you an example.

You have heard it said, “Don’t go to bed angry.” It is a popular Christian principle to resolve conflict before you go to bed. While this may be a great principle to live by, it is not a principle taught by this passage. This is a prooftext of Ephesians 4:26-27 (NAS)

“BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

What does the text say?

The NAS translation is very true to the original language except it adds “yet”.  The Greek says, “Be angry and do not sin.” Also the translators took liberty with the word translated “opportunity.” The word means “place” as in “foothold”, but the meaning of the phrase is a warning against giving the devil an opportunity to tempt a believer into unrighteous behavior. The phrase “do not let the sun go down on your anger” means “do not let your anger end.”  

What does the text mean?

The context of the passage is Paul’s call for the believers in Ephesus to live holy lives, remain righteous and to not grieve the Holy Spirit. Righteous anger toward sin is not permitted, it is commanded. “Be angry.” Because you and I are sealed with the Holy Spirit, we have a new relationship with sin. The sin we once loved, we now hate.  We are commanded to not relax that relationship, for if we do we will give the enemy a foothold. Paul contrasts righteous behavior with unrighteous behavior throughout this passage and the entirety of the letter. He warns us to no longer walk as we once did, depraved, callous and greedy. He calls this our former life. We have been taught in Christ to put on the likeness of God in holiness and truth. We are commanded to guard our hearts by remaining angry with sin and not let down our guard.

What is the application?

You have heard it said, “Don’t go to bed angry.” But I tell you, “Go to bed angry and do not sin.” Guarding our hearts and minds requires a diligent and tireless commitment to righteousness. Speaking truth is often not the most popular thing to do, but speaking the truth with gentleness and respect is always the right thing to do.

Jesus often taught the Israelites by quoting a popular Pharisaical teaching and correcting that teaching. It was necessary for him to do that because many of his hearers did not know the word of God and so they were ill-prepared to challenge the teaching of their leaders. Paul commended the Bereans because they did not just take his word when he gave them the gospel. They tested his words against the truth they were already given in the Hebrew Scriptures. Unfortunately, in a country where the Bible can be readily accessed with a touch of a button this is the most biblically illiterate generation since the founding of our country. We now gain our theology from popular Christian sound bites rather than engaging scripture for ourselves. When the church is content with being told what to believe without testing the spirits, we not only give Satan a foothold, we give him command of the house.

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This is in reponse to more “God Questions.”  If you are seeking answers, forward your questions. Let’s find the answers together.

Did Judas go to hell because he committed suicide?

Also, do you go to hell if you commit suicide?

 Matthew 27:3–5 (NIV) 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV) 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

First, it is important for us to recognize how it is possible for any of us to escape eternal separation from God (hell) and that is by faith. We did nothing to earn our salvation therefore we can do nothing to lose it. How are we condemned? We all sin because we are sinners, I am not a sinner because I sin. A sinner is who I am and I am condemned on those grounds. I am saved because of who God is, not because of who I am.

So the question might be, was Judas saved by faith?

John 6:64 (NIV) 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

The answer is clearly no. And I think it is worthy to note here that Judas was not a mere pawn in God’s plan. All that he did, he did willingly. Even Judas recognized his own guilt. The word used here for remorse in Mt. 27:3 indicates a change of mind, not a change of heart. It is an intellectual remorse not spiritual repentance.

You and I cannot see Judas’ heart, but we can judge his fruit. Did Judas’ fruit demonstrate a saving faith?

John 12:4–6 (NIV) 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Judas’ character as revealed by the scriptures showed him to be miserly and a thief void of compassion clear up until his betrayal of Christ. So it is that Judas died a condemned man because he did not believe Christ, not because he violated the sixth commandment.

Does a person go to hell because they commit suicide?

Suicide does not damn a man although murder, even committing one’s own murder, is still a sin even if it can be forgiven. We are condemned because that is who we are without Christ.

The next question that might follow is: Can someone be a believer and still commit suicide?

To that I would answer with a question, “Are you as a believer without sin?” People commit acts of sin throughout their entire lives, even believers. And people commit suicide for many reasons, including chemical imbalances in the brain.

1 John 1:8–10 (NIV) 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The Christian faith is unique in that it is not a works based righteousness that saves a man from the condemnation of hell. We are saved apart from our deeds, thereafter our deeds reveal our faith. James 2:24 (NIV) “24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” We are justified before men by our deeds because how we live betrays what we truly believe.

As believers we are secure in our salvation because of the way God saves us.

Ephesians 1:13–14 (NIV) 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Romans 8:37–39 (NIV) 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In conclusion, if one goes to hell it is because they died apart from Christ, not because of their deeds. Suicide can no more cancel the seal of the Holy Spirit or the finished work on the cross than lying, gossiping or sexual immorality. But if we are living like we do not believe God exists or like we do not fear God, then we would be wise to examine our selves to determine if we are in the faith.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) 6 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.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever crawled through a wilderness, chained by the weight of the past?  Have you ever been thirsty for something more than this menial existence has provided?  Do the wounds from your journey throb with each tedious step that you take? 

 

 

Jeremiah 2:13 says,” My people have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” 

 

There is a spring of living water found in Jesus Christ.  In Him you will find all that you’ve ever longed for.  In Him the aching in your heart will be stilled, and you will know the fulfillment of your dreams.  Yet, how often do we turn to dig our own cisterns with the belief that they will quench our thirst, heal our scars, and fill our emptiness. 

Perhaps it’s the cistern of money, offering security and pleasure.  Or maybe you’ve dug a reservoir within yourself, meant to hold knowledge and independence.  Still, there is the constant lure to hewn for sufficiency in the strength of others.  These are all splintered promises and cracked dreams, holding only a façade of joy. 

Nevertheless, we toil without ceasing, trying to keep the walls from crashing in around us.  We lie awake at night, disappointed and broken; wondering what went wrong.  While we strive and struggle, the spring of hope continues its peaceful surge, waiting for us to come and drink. 

So, here before you stands a choice.  Which will you choose:  life or death, fulfillment or emptiness?  A shattered vessel will never fill the longing of your heart, but the sweet taste of the Savior’s love will quench your thirst forever.

 

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians records the gospel as it was preached by the early church. Some estimates have placed this creed to 6 A.D., the year that Christ is thought to have been crucified. This is the same gospel that Christians today profess belief in.

 

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

 

You may still have questions. Could all this be true? Does a theistic God exist? What about the Bible, it’s so old how can it be relevant or even true? I encourage you to post your questions here. What do you have to lose? You just might find what you’re looking for—answers to the meaning of life.