NAME CALLING

January 18, 2019

praying mom

  “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).

  Resting in His glory there will manifest His humility in us here.

Our hearts have such a tendency to turn back to legalism, and to think it humility. The only real humbleness and strength and blessing is to forget ourselves in the presence and blessedness of the Father. We may be brought forth by a humbling process but it is not in merely thinking evil of the old man that we are truly humble; we have the privilege of forgetting ourselves in the love of our Father.

It is as knowing the Lord Jesus to be precious to our souls, with our eyes and hearts being occupied with Him, that we will be effectually kept from being taken up with the vanity and sin around. And this too will be our strength against the sin and corruption within. Whatever I see in myself that is not in Him, is sin. It is not in thinking upon my own sins that will humble me, but thinking of the Lord Jesus and dwelling upon the excellencies in Him. (there is a great old book called “Christ Precious” published by Klock and Klock, if you can find it buy it, it is not the new book put out by John Fawcett).

It is well to be done with ourselves and to be taken up with the Lord Jesus. We are entitled to forget ourselves—we are entitled to confess and forget our sins—we are entitled to forget all but the Lord Jesus. It is by looking unto Him that we can give up anything, and can walk as obedient children.

 Many think that talking badly of ourselves is the ideal of humility; whereas the simplest and more real humility is to feel unaffectedly that we are too bad to be worth talking about. Only One is worthy of all our thoughts and words and ways, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

  “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6).

“Humility, you can never claim to have it, it must be seen by others.” GW

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Praise from Caliste Burt she is doing well, continue to pray for 100% recovery.

Remember Bill Warneke, chronic pain and depression. Trying some new meds. Pray for healing.

Pray for Candy S, to walk the straight and narrow.

Pray for Sherrie, our prodigal church daughter

Pray for Paul K, found more cysts on his pancreas, a good Christian man and a good friend.

pray for Steve H, and a pastor for his church

SEXUAL PURITY PART SIX

January 12, 2019

thinking over feeling

Consider what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:

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.

Like Matthew 5:29-30, this passage uses warfare terminology for our battle against sin. In order to be holy and pure, both in heart and body, we must fight. War isn’t easy. Our enemy is relentless in trying to conquer his prey, and lust is one of his most commonly used weapons. In this battle for our mind, Paul says we must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Satan always targets the mind—it is our primary battlefield. He bombards every believer’s mind with sexual images and thoughts. He does this through the world system which he rules and his myriads of demons. He understands that if he can control the mind, he can control the body. So, if we are going to “learn to control our bodies in a way that is pure and honorable,” (1 Thess 4:4) we must fight to control our mind.

Satan’s attack on our mind overlaps with his attacks on our eyes and ears. It is through the eyes and ears that input is given to the mind. Therefore, by guarding the first two, we guard the latter. However, that is not the only way we guard our mind.

How else should we guard our mind?

  1. In order to guard our mind, we must recognize ungodly thoughts and ideas by testing them against God’s Word.

David said this in Psalm 19:7: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”

The Hebrew word for “simple” has the meaning of “open-minded.” “The ancient Jews described it as someone whose mind was like an open door: everything went in and everything went out.” This person is gullible and will believe anything. His mind is open even to thoughts and images that should be rejected. However, David says that by filling the mind with God’s Word, one becomes wise to discern what is not of God (cf. Heb 5:14). Wisdom in Scripture primarily refers to knowledge of God and obedience to him (cf. Prov 9:10). That is why Scripture describes the “fool” as one who says there is no God (Psalm 14:1).

A person who does not know the Word of God will have difficulty testing what is not good and therefore have difficulty protecting himself. His mind will continually be saturated by ungodly thoughts, sexual images, and lusts meant to control and destroy him. He will lack the power and discernment to close the door on sexual thoughts and many times will not only accept them but also cultivate them.

If we are going to protect our mind, we must recognize what is not godly. When watching TV shows, listening to music, or engaging in risqué conversations that cultivate and stir lust, the simple accepts what pollutes his soul, while the wise recognizes what would dishonor God’s temple (1 Cor 6:19).

With all that said, guarding our mind does not stop at recognizing what is ungodly by testing it against God’s Word.

  1. In order to guard our mind, we must reject the ungodly by using God’s Word.

While the simple opens the door, the wise closes the door. Again, this is done first by recognizing what is wrong and then using Truth to combat what is false and sinful. When Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he quoted Scripture to reject Satan and his lies. We should do the same. Arm yourself by memorizing Bible verses related to lust and purity such as:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28 (ESV)

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 (ESV)

Personally, when attacked by lust, I quote relevant Scriptures, confess wrong thoughts, lusts, and images before the Lord, and ask him to take them away. In our war for our mind, we must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

  1. In order to guard our mind, we may at times need to command the devil to leave in Jesus name.

Again, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he initially responded to the temptation with quoting Scripture, but ultimately he commanded the devil to leave. Matthew 4:10-11 describes this:

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Similarly, at times you may need to do this. When battles with lust, pornography, and illicit sex are especially difficult, we can be sure that the enemy has set up camp in these areas, and we may need to pray in authority over these demonic strongholds to be broken in the name of Jesus.

Some struggle with this idea of demonic involvment, arguing that authority over the demonic was exclusively for Christ and his apostles. However, I believe there are many evidences that demonstrate this is for every believer. For instance:

Christ is our perfect model for everything in life, including spiritual warfare (cf. Phil 2:5-11, Heb 12:2-4. 1 Peter 2:21-24).

We should model his life as the perfect example of humanity. His example in defeating the devil in the wilderness is not only descriptive but prescriptive.

Other believers commanded demons to leave throughout the New Testament.

In Acts 16:18, Paul commanded a spirit of divination to leave a slave girl in the name of Jesus. And in Acts 8:6-7, Philip, who was possibly one of the early deacons, also cast out demons. Yes, Paul was an apostle but Philip was not. This was practiced by the early church.

First, don’t be quick to blame in on a demon. We are our own worst enemy.

Second, don’t be lax, and think there can’t be possible demonic involvement. I want to say it takes great spiritual maturity to know when something like that is actually occurring.

Third, it will depend on the church you go to, Pentecostals see demons everywhere and never take personal responsibility. Liberals churches scoff at the idea of demons, or even the devil and everyone is going to heaven. Even some Evangelical churches reject the idea.

Fourth, demonic strongholds if they exist does not imply demonic possession. Christians cannot be possessed of a demon, or cursed, or have a bloodline curse.

This is was covered in our spiritual warfare series. If you have questions about it email me.

Finally, Scripture indicates that Christ has given us his authority based on our union with him.

Ephesians 1:20-22 describes his position of authority at the right hand of the Father seated above powers and principalities (the demonic) in the heavenly realm. And then Ephesians 2:6 describes how believers are seated with him. Again, this seating is not primarily a location but a position of authority which believers have in Christ. In fact, one day we will judge fallen angels with him because of this position (1 Cor 6:3). We have authority over the demonic just as the apostles and the early church, and we are called to conquer them with the spiritual weapons God has given us (cf. Eph 6:10-19).

Unfortunately, many believers neglect this authority not only to their own detriment but also to the detriment of others. When Christ sent believers into the world to proclaim the gospel, he sent them in all the authority given to him (Matt 28:18-20). We need this authority not just to spread the gospel but also for spiritual warfare.

Christ’s authority is important in battling lust because some strongholds and temptations are not just of the flesh, they are demonic. Like Christ in the wilderness, Paul, at times, recognized certain obstacles and temptations were not just of the flesh and of the world, but of the devil. Paul said this in 1 Thessalonians 2:18: “we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us” (ESV). We need to discern this as well and resist the devil.

James says this: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7). As we submit to God through his Word, prayer, and the ministry of other saints, we can resist the devil, and he will flee from us. However, at times, resistance may include commanding the demonic to leave in the name of Jesus as demonstrated by Christ and the early church.

It is not God’s will for us to live bound to lust and sexual immorality, and God has given us all the resources to walk in freedom, including his Word and his authority. Thank you, Lord, for giving us everything needed for life and godliness (cf. 2 Peter 1:3). Thank you, Lord, for your grace. Thank you, Lord, that you are creating a pure and blameless Bride for your pleasure (cf. Eph 5:25-27).

Are you guarding your mind? Are you taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ? Are you filling your mind with God’s Word? Are you resisting the devil’s attacks so that he flees?

Reflection

Why is the mind so important in our battle for purity?

In what ways does the enemy bombard our mind with sexual images and thoughts?

How can a person tell when certain strongholds, especially sexual ones, are also demonic?

How should we resist the devil so he flees? In what ways is God calling you to better guard your mind?

What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?

In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Questions, comments, feel free to email us.

Pray for Caliste Burt, brain surgery next week.

Bill Warneke, chronic pain and depression.

The Perales family, they need salvation and a good church.

Pray for me, the nursing home I work in just downsized because of State regulations and myself and 4 others were let go, bam, just like that. And because it is a nonprofit organization there is no unemployment.

r crumb

 

Have a horrible day today?

Don’t forget that as a Christian every place you set foot on is a battleground.

  “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:4).

  The true servant is finally subdued, but not dulled; prepared but not deprived of individuality. All that is rendered inoperative is the old man—and thank God for that!

When we are finally prepared, our Lord says: ‘When I died, you died. When I went to the Cross I not only took your sins, but I took you. I not only took you as a sinner, but I took you as being all that you are by nature; your good as well as your bad; your abilities as well as your disabilities; yes, every resource of yours. I took you as a worker, a preacher, and organizer. My Cross means that not even for Me can you be or do anything out from yourself; but if there is to be anything at all it must be out from Me, and that means a life of absolute dependence and faith.’

  How little does one know of the antagonism of our nature to the will of the Father, who thinks that service can be undertaken without that self-renunciation which can only be learned by experiential knowledge of the superiority of His ways and counsels! We never surrender what we value until we find a better, and man is so full of himself and his own will that until he finds out the sovereignty of his Father’s will he can be neither an obedient nor a suitable servant.

 And this is usually learned through varied and painful processes. The disciplined servant always finds a way to do his work however difficult it may appear. The greater the difficulties the greater must be the evidence that our resources are of a different order and character from those arrayed against us, and this will be found true in very small matters as well as in great ones.

  “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

To be more Christ like is to be more like Christ, death to self, by faith it already happened. We must confess that Jesus is not only our Savior but is our life. Like practicing the presence of God, we must practice having the resurrected self-responding, all efforts done consciously as an extension of His will and power. This is walking by faith.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Bill Warneke in your prayers, great physical pain and deep depression.

I believe it is on the 15th of January that Caliste Burt has her brain surgery, keep her and her family in prayer.

Pray for those who felt defeated today, not sinful, not acting out, but weary, burdened, betrayed.

GENUINE SAVING FAITH

December 22, 2018

crown of thorns

MANY YEARS AGO I ASKED A CONGREGATION TO CLOSE THEIR EYES AND THEN RAISE THERE HANDS IF THEY THOUGHT THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO CHRIST WAS A FAILURE. I WAS SHOCKED SEE SO MANY HANDS GET RAISED.

HOW COULD THIS BE, I KNEW THE PASTOR AND HE WAS A SOUND, BIBLICAL TEACHING PASTOR. AFTER THE SERVICE I SHARED THE RESULTS OF THIS NON SCIENTIFIC SURVEY. HIS ONLY CLUE WAS THAT HAD “INHERITED” THIS CONGREGATION, THEY CAME WITH THE CHURCH AND AS A NEW PASTOR HE WASN’T SURE WHAT THE REAL SITUATION OF THIS CONGREGATION REALLY WAS.

I WAS BEING INTERVIEWED AT THE TIME BY DR. JAMES KENNEDY TO COME TO CORAL RIDGE CHURCH AND BE ON HIS MINISTRY TEAM; HE ASKED ME IF I EVER READ HIS BOOK; “EVANGELISM EXPLOSION” (ANOTHER GREAT BOOK I RECOMMEND) I TOLD HIM I HAD STUDIED IT BOTH AT BIBLE COLLEGE AND SEMINARY, HE SAID; ASK EVERYBODY SEPARATELY AND PRIVATELY THE ‘DIAGNOSTIC QUESTION’

SO THE PASTOR AND I DECIDED THAT WE WOULD START WITH THOSE WHO RAISED THERE HANDS THAT HELD SOME SORT OF POSITION AT THE CHURCH EVEN IF IT MEANT THEY WERE A JANITOR.

THE RESULTS WERE STAGGERING, HERE IS THE DIAGNOSTIC QUESTION; “IF YOU WERE TO DIE TONIGHT AND STAND IN FRONT OF JESUS CHRIST AND HE ASKED YOU ‘WHY SHOULD I LET YOU IN TO MY HEAVEN’ WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?”

I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU THE CORRECT ANSWER I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU ALL THE WRONG ANSWERS; KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS WAS A FUNDAMENTAL, EVANGELICAL, HOLINESS KIND OF CHURCH.

THE MOST COMMON ANSWER WAS, “I TRY TO DO GOOD, KEEP THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AND BE KIND TO EVERYONE” (WRONG ANSWER) BUT THIS WAS GIVEN BY 75% OF THOSE THAT HAD RAISED THEIR HANDS.

NEXT COMMON ANSWER,(FROM MEN) “I’VE NEVER CHEATED ON MY WIFE, WE GO TO CHURCH, AND I DON’T CHEAT ON MY TAXES, OH, YEAH AND I’VE NEVER HIT MY WIFE EITHER.” (WRONG ANSWER)

MOST COMMON ANSWER FROM MARRIED WOMEN; “I’M FAITHFUL TO MY HUSBAND, I READ MY BIBLE AND I TRY TO BE AND NICE TO EVERYONE, AND I KEEP THE GOLDEN RULE (WRONG ANSWER)

NEXT MOST COMMON, “I READ MY BIBLE, AND PRAY, COME TO CHURCH, TITHE, TAKE COMMUNION AND I ALWAYS TRY TO HELP EVERYONE I MEET” (WRONG ANSWER)

THE NEXT SUNDAY MY SERMON WAS ON “WHY DID YOU MAKE JESUS YOUR LORD, AGAIN A PRIVATE SESSION WITH THOSE THAT ORIGINALLY RAISED THEIR HANDS.

MOST COMMON ANSWER FROM WOMEN; “WELL THE PASTOR GAVE AN ALTAR CALL AND SAID IF I WANTED GOD TO SAVE MY FAMILY, MY CHILDREN FROM HELL I NEEDED TO COME DOWN TO ALTAR AND GET SAVED (WRONG REASON)

MOST COMMON ANSWER FROM MEN; “I STRUGGLE WITH YOU KNOW TEMPTATIONS AND ONE NIGHT THE PASTOR GAVE AN ALTAR CALL AND SAID TO COME DOWN AND ACCEPT JESUS AND CONQUEROR IMPURE THOUGHTS.” (WRONG REASON)

THE MOST COMMON TO EITHER SEX WAS THIS RESPONSE AND I LATER FOUND OUT IN THIS PARTICULAR DENOMINATION THAT THEY FIGURED 77% OF MOST OF THEIR FLOCK CAME DOWN TO THE ALTAR AFTER THIS PARTICULAR KIND OF SERMON, AND THE FOLLOWING ALTAR CALL, “IF YOU WANT TO NOT BE LEFT BEHIND, WHEN THE RAPTURE HAPPENS AND GO THROUGH THE TRIBULATION, TAKE THE MARK OF THE BEAST ETC. COME ON DOWN.” (DEFINITELY THE WRONG REASON)

NO WONDER SO MANY OF THESE PEOPLE FELT LIKE THEY WERE HAVING MORE PROBLEMS THAN OTHERS. THEY WERE NICE, FRIENDLY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE BUT HAD NOT HAD A GENUINE ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS AS THE ONLY WAY TO BE FORGIVEN OF SINS, AND THAT THE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN THEIR LIFE WAS THEY NEVER KNEW THAT SIN SEPARATED THEM FROM GOD, AND JESUS WAS NOT A MARRIAGE COUNSELOR, OR A BANKER, OR LOTTERY TICKET, OR A SUGAR DADDY, OR AN ESCAPE CLAUSE FROM CALAMITY, THEY HAD NEVER BEEN INTRODUCED TO ONE FACT, ALL HAVE SINNED AND MISSED THE MARK AND WERE DESTINED TO HELL, AND FACT #2, JESUS WOULD FORGIVE THEM IF THEY WOULD ADMIT THEY COULDN’T GET INTO HEAVEN WITH OUT ACCEPTING THE FACT THERE WASN’T ONE THING THEY COULD DO TO BE BETTER OR WORTHY AND THAT ONLY CHRIST WAS WORTHY AND ABLE AND WILLING TO FORGIVE ALL THEIR SINS AND THAT HE ALONE WAS THE ONLY REASON THEY COULD GET INTO HEAVEN.

I’M GLAD TO REPORT THAT WE MET WITH EACH PERSON THAT GAVE AN INCORRECT ANSWER AND INTRODUCED THEM TO THE LIVING SON OF GOD AND EACH AND EVERYONE UNDERSTOOD AND STARTED A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST AS LORD, AND SAVIOR AND THAT THEIR SINS WERE FORGIVEN AND THAT THEY COULD NOW ANSWER THAT DIAGNOSTIC QUESTION, WHY SHOULD I LET YOU INTO MY HEAVEN, “BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME LORD AND FORGAVE ME ALL MY SINS AND WASHED ME CLEAN WITH TOTAL FORGIVENESS AND ONLY BY YOUR GRACE AND I’M SAVED.

 

SO ARE YOU REALLY A CHRISTIAN?  

IN THE VERY FIRST DEVOTION I EXPLAINED WHY I WAS NAMING THE CHURCH “SCUM LIKE US” FOR THOSE THAT FELT LIKE THEY WERE WATCHING ALL THE OTHERS BUT NOT BEING A PART OF THE CHURCH, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE WAS HAPPY AND FITTING IN, HAD JOY AND THEY DIDN’T. OTHERS WERE TALKING ABOUT BEING VICTORIOUS AND CONQUERORS AND RUNNING THE RACE AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE AND ALL THIS OTHER STUFF.

AND YOU FELT LIKE A SQUARE PEG IN A ROUND HOLE, MAYBE JUST MAYBE YOU’VE NEVER MET THE REAL JESUS, JUST THE CHURCH.

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE AND THERE IS A POWER TO BE HAD BY MEETING JESUS REAL AND UP CLOSE AND NOT PLAYING CHURCH IF YOU THINK THIS MIGHT BE YOU EMAIL ME AT SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM AND LET ME INTRODUCE YOU TO SOMEONE WONDERFUL.

 HHHMMMMMMMMMMM, MAYBE THE 80/20 RULE ABOUT THE PEOPLE IN CHURCH APPLIES, AH, I’M JUST MESSING WITH YOU. RIGHT?

REMEMBER VICKIE P, CERVICAL CANCER AT AGE 27

PRAY FOR THE PERALES FAMILY, NORMA, VIC AND RICK (SR. AND JR.)

PRAY FOR EMILY, HER HUSBAND IS 40’ISH AND HAS HEART PROBLEMS SINCE BIRTH, PLUS HE HAS SOME OTHER MENTAL ISSUES, SHE HAS SEVERE HEALTH PROBLEMS AND THEY ADOPTED A VERY TROUBLED YOUNG TEEN. WELL THE GIRL STARTED OUT ALL NICE AND SWEET AND NOW SHE’S “CHUCKY’. PRAY FOR THEM ALL.

REMEMBER OLIVIA IN PRAYER, GOING TO FULL TERM WITH HER BABY.

AND CALISTE BURT, BRAIN TUMORS. THEY ARE DOING SURGERY January 4TH.

PRAY FOR CRISTINA AND TODD, NEED SALVATION.

This Ground

December 4, 2018

  “Ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

  When we rely upon and cater to the old man, that ground produces “the works of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19–21). But as we abide in the risen Lord Jesus, that new ground of our position, His life will be manifested in “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22, 23).

 God’s Word declares that we are ‘dead indeed unto sin,’ but nowhere does it say that we are dead in ourselves. We shall look in vain within to find death there. We have died to sin; not in ourselves, but ‘in Christ,’ and our death with Him is as sure as His death, and since we died with Him it is impossible for His death to be certain and ours uncertain.

 We were crucified with Him because we were in Him (Gal. 2:20). We are raised in Him (Eph. 2:6); we are complete in Him (Col. 2:10); we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Him (Eph. 1:3); the entire work regarding us is not done in us but in the Lord Jesus—the Father has done all in His Son. If you stand on the ground of what the Lord Jesus is (abide), you will find in your growth that all that is true of Him is becoming true of you; but if you remain on the ground of what you are in yourself, you will find that all that is true of the old man is true of you in life and walk.

The purpose of Paul, in Romans Six, is to show how completely the believer is identified with the Lord Jesus when ‘He died unto sin.’ To enter fully into the meaning of that death is to see that He has emancipated us from any further dealings with our old master, sin. The believer is privileged thus to take his position in the risen Lord Jesus, who is now ‘alive unto God.’ From that ground he is henceforth to regard sin.

  “Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty with which Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

We have a really long prayer list today

Pray Andrea and Todd, finances

Karey P, salvation

Olivia, lyme’s disease, this can be as bad as any cancer

Richard Perales, SR and Jr. salvation

Stan R, stomach cancer

Sherrie, our prodigal girl

Paul C our prodigal guy

Mel L, Parkinson

Charmaine, alcoholism

Randy H, finances

Terry K, sever arthritis

Larry D, dementia

Sally H, burn out, emotionally, mentally, everyway

Jeff H, newly married and found out he has an STD, wife is denying anything

Virginia Mc. Wants to go home to Jesus.

Matt W, severe upper respiratory infection

Whew. Forgive me if I forgot any one.

Stay my soul on Him

November 30, 2018

Resurrection-Doubting-Thomas

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18). For the last two months, I’ve been really trying to live up to this verse, easy in theory, tougher in reality.

  Relief from pressure may seem merciful, but support in the pressure produces growth and maturity.

There is a greater blessing for us than relief; there is the Father’s support, for it imparts to you an acquaintance with Himself which relief does not. Relief makes one more satisfied with things here. I have known some who could tell you of a long list of mercies, most touching, truly proof of the tenderness of God.

Thank God, we all know something of His tenderness. But then there is a greater blessing, namely, that He does not remove the pressure, but raises you above it, so that, though you are not relieved, you are better off than if you were merely relieved, because you know His heart who supports you in the pressure. You have made a deep acquaintance with your Father, and your heart is more attached to Him.

 It is not getting away from our circumstances, our environment, our associations, that we need, but the need for our Lord Jesus’ likeness where we are. The Father placed us there, permitted the trials for a purpose, and He stands ready to bring us out into a life of liberty, if we will stand with Him in trust and endurance while He works it out.”

Have you asked to be made like your Lord; that it might be ‘not I, but Christ’? Have you longed for the fruit of the Spirit, and have you prayed for patience and love? Then fear not the stormy tempest that is at this moment sweeping through your life. A blessing is in the storm, and there will be a rich blessing in the ‘afterward.’

  “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).

Steady on, stay the course, there are plenty of slogans of that ilk, but they pale to the bible verses God lays in our heart in the darkest hour of the soul.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Richard Perales, dad and son, great changes have come into their lives, pray the see the hand of God.

Pray for Karey P, that she sees the need for salvation and that Jesus is the only way.

Pray for Xonia, recovering from a hernia surgery. She’s doing better than anyone expected.

Pray for Steve L, dealing with his mom’s downward spiral.

Pray for all the families we know that have been touched by dementia.

GETTING SPANKED?!

November 7, 2018

GETTING SPANKED?!

I put a question mark there in case you are trying to figure out what is happening to you and an exclamation point in case you know what’s happening to you.

  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous” (Heb. 12:11a).

  Our Father chastens us “for our own profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). We are not chastened because we deserve it, but because we need it. And there is no wrath in His child-training.

Many have the wrong idea of that word ‘chastening.’ We think, perhaps, that it represents God as having a big stick in His hand and knocking us about all the time. You have only to make a mistake and down comes the big stick! That, of course, is a totally wrong conception of the Father, and is not at all what the word means. The word ‘chastening’ simply means child-training, which has to do with sonship. Sonship in our Father’s mind is to have people who are reliable and responsible, who know in their own hearts what is right and what is wrong, and do not have to be constantly told and admonished.

We should always look at our difficulties in the light of this training. It often seems that the life of a Christian is more difficult than any other life, and more troubles come to us than to anyone else. Whether we recognize it or not, these difficulties and troubles which come to us are to train us for something and to develop in us the spirit of sonship; that is, to develop spiritual intelligence and spiritual ability in us.”

One of the main purposes of all the Father’s dealings with us is to bring us into a greater knowledge of His Son. We never know anything about greatness unless we have a great need to know it. Therefore we are brought into situations where we must know something much greater than we already know. This is why our Father brings His children into difficult circumstances—that they may learn how great their Lord Jesus is.

  “Nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are exercised by it” (Heb. 12:11b).

GOD BLESS FROM SCUMLIKEUSCHURCH@GMAIL.COM

Pray for Ronnie R, his grandson 11 has developed serious heart problems

Pray for Robbey H, 50, and having heart complications, also pray for his salvation.

Pray for Terri I, married twice, she is dipping her toe back into the dating pool

Pray for Sherri, our church bad girl, three steps forward, 5 back. Pray she stops before it’s to late.

Heavenly Places

September 21, 2018

  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2).

  It is sad to have to say that the present-day Church is so earthy that it is of little earthly good. “Sir, we would see Jesus”! (John 12:21). The agony and the ugliness or the old rugged cross is now a golden bejeweled cross. There is no longer in most hymn books songs about the blood or phrases like; “such a worm as I.”

No, we sing praise songs about how great we are.

  The great failure of the Modern Church was in giving up the Apostle Paul. Many pulpits haven’t heard a sermon from the book of Romans in years. Or the second coming of the Lord and how it could be at any moment.

  It is essential that a believer have a clear understanding of his position before the Father—his place in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. This alone will give true peace of mind, joy and comfort of heart, strength for conflict and power for service. We will never be able to properly understand or fill our place for God on earth if we do not realize our God-given standing before Him in heaven.

  And never forget that our place before the Father is His gift, and a gift worthy of the Giver; not a gift according to the measure of our worth but a gift intended to display the exceeding riches of the grace of the Giver. The greatness of the Giver then is the measure of the blessings that are mine in the Lord Jesus Christ, not what I am or what I deserve.

 When you see and stand on your heavenly ground, you come to rest, just as the Father rests. You need not worry—only keep on that ground by your attitude of heart. If you are going to worry—if you must worry—worry lest you get down on earthly ground, for that is the ground of worry. Abide above! Heavenly things are in safe keeping—in the keeping of One who is ‘far above all.’.

  “For ye have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3, ASV.).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember to pray for Gwen and her economic struggles

Continue to pray for Maureen and her shingles.

Dave I, and his battle with prostate cancer.

more than a muscle, part one

September 11, 2018

the bible

I have reported before an excellent book, that alas I no longer own and am still searching for a copy. It was written by the grand daughter of either Keil or Delitzch. She was a psychologist and wrote this little book about the heart, the bible and it being more than just a muscle. I’m still looking for that book, but here are some notes that I have made.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”

(Proverbs 4:23, NIV).

Certainly we live in a consumer-oriented, materialistic, hedonistic society bent on pleasing self. In comparison to some portions of the world, most of us are accustomed to very high levels of luxury by way of our comforts, pleasures, and security. With this has come the prominent idea that happiness comes in accomplishments, in recognition, in material possessions, comfort, and the like. We have come to believe the mistaken (and Satan promoted) notion that if we just acquire certain things, then we can be truly happy and even secure. As a result, people develop their own agendas by which they seek to climb the mountain of success or happiness. Of course, the chosen agendas are very much the product of the mindset of a Wall Street, Madison Avenue controlled society.

As Christians, we may have rejected some or even a lot of these notions. Yet, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and because we are all so easily influenced by the world around us, our hearts need guarding.

Scripture clearly teaches us that the real issues of life are spiritual and are really matters of the heart, the inner man. Maybe it’s for this reason the word “heart” is found so many times in the Bible. Because the word “heart” can be translated a number of ways, depending on the context, the number of times it is found varies in the different translations of the English Bible (863 in the NASB, 963 in the KJV, and 791 in the NIV). As these numbers suggest, the heart is a prominent concept and one of the most commonly used words of the Bible. Most of these occurrences are used metaphorically of the inner man. When used metaphorically (depending on the context) heart refers to either the mind, the emotions, the will, to the sinful nature, inclusively to the total inner man, or simply to the person as a whole and is often translated as such. As a simple illustration of how various translations handle the word heart, compare the translation of the KJV in Exodus 9:14, “I will send all my plagues upon thine heart (referring to Pharaoh), and upon thy servants,” with the NASB’s “I will send my plagues on you (marginal reading has “heart”) and your servants.”

The term heart, then, generally speaks of the inner person and the spiritual life in all its various aspects. This multiple use of “heart” along with the way it is used strongly focuses our attention on the importance of the spiritual life. Like the human heart, it is central and vital to our existence.

Because of vast number of passages using the word “heart,” I have focused primarily, though not exclusively, on the Psalms and Proverbs. It is here we find the greatest concentration of uses in this one section of the Bible.

The Purpose and Goal

Enlightenment: First, one goal of this study is designed to show how we can use a concordance to get God’s perspective on a particular subject. A second goal is to help us see afresh how important our inner world really is in terms of our ideas about God, ourselves, and others, and in terms of our motives, goals, and aspirations.

Exhortation: The design here is an appeal for the personal application that we might each deal with the inner life in the light of God’s Word in practical and personal ways.

Encouragement: Another goal is encouragement. We all need to be encouraged to seek God Himself and His resources as we struggle with the various pulls of our sinful natures in the ups and downs of life.

Importance of the Heart in Scripture

As evidenced by the many recurrences, the term “heart” is a very important word because God is so deeply concerned about the inner man or the condition of the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.

These passages teach us that the Lord looks at and searches the heart, the inner person. Why is the heart so important? Because the issues of life—our actions, works, pursuits, etc.—all proceed from the heart (Pr. 4:23; Matt. 6:21; 12:34; 15:18). What we do in word and deed is first of all a product of what we are on the inside.

In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus spoke strongly against the mere external, performance-oriented hypocrisy of the religious Pharisees. In Matthew 5:17-48, no less than six times He contrasted the mere external approach to the Old Testament Scripture, as it was taught by the Pharisees, with His own teaching which, of course, was accorded with the true design of God’s Word. He did this by the following statements:

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 21-22)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 27-28)

“It was said … but I say to you …” (vss. 31-32)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 33-34)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 38-39)

“You have heard … but I say to you …” (vss. 43-44)

What was the Lord showing the people? He was calling their attention to the moral precepts they had been taught by their religious leaders for years, precepts which had their source in the Old Testament Scriptures. But then, with the words, “but I say to you,” He readdressed those same issues as, first and foremost, matters of the heart. This and only this is authentic Christianity. Biblical Christianity centers in an inward, intimate walk with God by faith. Anything else is nothing more than religious hypocrisy.

For instance, Jesus teaches us that adultery and murder begin in the heart. You may not have literally committed adultery, but if you look at a woman or a man with that in view, you have already committed adultery. Where? In your heart! (Matt. 5:28). Our walk with God is always a matter of the heart.

However, as one of the consequences of the fall, people look on the outward appearance. God, however, is always concerned with the heart, with the reality and condition of what is on the inside. Why? Because if the inside of the cup is clean, so will be the outside.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” (RSV)

One of the goals of the Christian life is the formation of Christlike character, the character of Christ formed in our lives through the various life changing tools that God has chosen to use:

  • The ministry of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-26)

  • The truth of the Word (Ps. 19:7-14; 119:9-11; John 17:17)

  • The trials and testings of life (Jam. 1:2-4; Ps. 119:67, 71)

  • The ministry of others as iron sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17)

For these tools to be truly effective, we need personal diligence in honestly dealing with the heart.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Stay tuned for part two.

sex, sex, sex

September 4, 2018

THIS IS RATHER A LONG POST, YOU MAY WANT TO PRINT IT OUT. AND IT IS SAFE FOR WORK. ( I JUST FIGURED OUT WHAT NSFW MEANS)

SEX, SEX, SEX

If you think about it, you will have to agree that sex is a subject frequently addressed in the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New. Though the Bible handles this subject matter much differently than the secular world, it does have much to say on the subject. I can only think of one reason for matters pertaining to sex to be so frequently discussed in the Bible—sexuality must be very closely related to spirituality.

The beliefs and practices of the Corinthian saints seem to vary greatly when it comes to matters of sexual values and conduct. We have already been introduced to the liberal extreme in chapters 5 and 6. In chapter 5, Paul rebukes the church at Corinth for failing to exercise church discipline on a man living in an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife. In the second half of chapter 6 (verses 12-20), Paul confronts those who feel that having sex with a prostitute is not contrary or detrimental to one’s spiritual life. There are those in Corinth whose sexual values are shocking, even to the pagan Corinthians (see 5:1).

In our text, it seems that for some believers spirituality is a pretext for sexual immorality, while for others spirituality means abstaining from sex altogether. In chapter 7, Paul turns his attention to those who seem to regard all sex as dirty, and who therefore advocated celibacy. For those who are single, it means staying single and, unlike today, celibate as well. For those who are married, it seems to mean that these couples should also refrain from sexual relations.

The Corinthian Error and the Culture of that Day

In the matter of sexual conduct, the Corinthians live in a very troubled world, not unlike the world of our own day. The ancient world of Paul’s day has a very distorted view of women, sex, and marriage. A. W. Verrall, the great classical scholar, once said that one of the chief diseases of which ancient civilization died was a low view of women. The Greeks were not known for sexual purity:

Prostitution was an essential part of Greek life. Demosthenes had laid it down as the common and accepted rule of life: “We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately, and having a faithful guardian for all our household affairs.”

The Roman sexual ethic was no better:

But at the time of Paul, Roman family life was wrecked. Seneca writes that women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married. In Rome the Romans did not commonly date their years by numbers; they called them by the names of their husbands. Martial the Roman poet tells of a woman who had ten husbands; Juvenal tells us of one who had had eight husbands in five years; Jerome declares it to be true that in Rome there was a woman who was married to her twenty-third husband and she herself was his twenty-first wife. We find even a Roman Emperor Augustus demanding that her husband should divorce the lady Livia when she was with child that he might himself marry her. We find even Cicero, in his old age, putting away his wife Terentia that he might marry a young heiress, whose trustee he was, that he might enter into her estate, in order to pay his debts.

One would hope the Jews would be exemplary in matters of sex and marriage, but this simply is not the case.

In Paul’s day Judaism reverenced neither women nor marriage. “It was Josephus who wrote, ‘The woman is worse than the man in everything’ (Josephus, Contra Apionem, 2, 201). No wonder, in the light of such harsh attitudes, that the Synagogue prayer book has the man offer the daily prayer, ‘I thank Thee, O Lord, that Thou hast not made me a Gentile dog nor a woman.’” In the age of the coming of Christianity, even with Judaism the marriage bond was in peril. So great was its peril that the very institution of marriage was threatened. Jewish girls were refusing to marry at all because the position of the wife was so uncertain.

Even in our own time, the ancient ritual of “female circumcision” is practiced. This surgical procedure (if one dares to dignify it by such terms) is of no benefit to the woman, but imposed upon the female so that she may never have the enjoyment of sex. It seems that in the minds of those men who impose this on women, it is the woman’s place to give pleasure to the man, but never the woman’s place to receive pleasure from the man. Sadly, among pagans and Christians alike, there is a similar (if less brutal) belief strongly held by some today. The man expects his wife to give him sexual pleasure at any time, but he feels little or no obligation toward fulfilling his wife sexually.

Paul’s words concerning sex and marriage were desperately needed in his day and no less needed in our own day. Let us listen to the finest sex education available to men—a word from God on sex and marriage, through the Apostle Paul.

An Overview of the Teaching

of the Bible on Sex and Marriage

Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:1-7 are in response to a question asked by some of the Corinthian saints who correspond with him. Paul is required to address a group of Corinthian saints who have adopted an extreme view of sex and marriage. Paul’s words in the first seven verses of chapter 7 should be understood in light of the broader teaching of the Bible concerning sex and marriage. Before devoting our attention to the distorted views of sex and marriage which some of the Corinthians hold, let us remind ourselves of what the Bible as a whole says on the subject.

In Genesis 2:18, we read that God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone: I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Being alone, that is, being single, was not good, and so God created a helper suitable for Adam, a wife to be his companion and counterpart. From the Book of Proverbs, we know that God designed marriage and sex not only as a means for bringing children into this world, but also as God’s appointed means for a man to find pleasure in his wife:

15 Drink water from your own cistern, And fresh water from your own well. 16 Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? 17 Let them be yours alone, And not for strangers with you. 18 Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love (Proverbs 5:15-19).

In the New Testament, we are told that Jesus attended a wedding and then miraculously provided wine when their supplies were exhausted (John 2:1-11). The Apostle Paul assumed that elders and deacons would be married, with children (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). Paul also encouraged younger widows to marry (1 Timothy 5:14). He claimed the right as an apostle to “lead about a wife” (1 Corinthians 9:5). The writer to the Hebrews also held marriage in high esteem, and the proper realm for sexual enjoyment between husband and wife. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

In the Bible, marriage is viewed as the norm, and the single life as the exception. Marriage is viewed as holy, righteous, and good. Those who seek to prohibit marriage as something evil are identified as false teachers by Paul (1 Timothy 4:1-5). When we approach 1 Corinthians 7, we must do so confident that marriage is a good gift from God, a gift many Christians gratefully receive and enjoy.

A Touchy Issue

(7:1)

Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman (NASB).

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry (NIV).

It is generally assumed that the Corinthians wrote a letter to Paul asking his advice on certain matters. Beginning with the statement, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote…” in 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul continues to go back to their questions (not necessarily in the order they raised them) and to give his answer. It seems good to ask our own question, like the little lady in the TV commercial who asks, “Where’s the beef?” Where’s the question? Paul does not say, “Now concerning the things you have asked,” but rather, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote….” There is a considerable difference here.

Some people ask a question which is not meant to be enlightening. Many questions are asked in a way which cleverly “teaches” the one who is asked or others who are listening. Some seek to undermine the teaching or authority of the one asked. This is surely the purpose of the questions the scribes and Pharisees asked our Lord. But here, we should recognize that we are assuming something not specifically stated. Were the Corinthians really asking Paul questions? And, if so, were their questions sincere?

I raise this issue because of what Paul has already told us in his letter to the Corinthians. There are divisions in the Corinthian church. Various little groups have their own leaders and their own doctrines. Each group takes pride in itself, in its leader, and in the “wisdom” it possesses. Those in one group look down on those in another, because they are not so wise nor so persuasive and powerful, nor well esteemed by the pagan world of that day. One thing many Corinthians share is their disdain for the Apostle Paul. They believe they are wise, and Paul is foolish:

8 You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. 9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. 11 To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12 and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now (1 Corinthians 4:8-13).

In the light of Paul’s assessment of his standing in the hearts and minds of the Corinthians given here, it seems we should be very careful about assuming too much when we come to those things the Corinthians have written to Paul. Are they—wise as they are—trying to enlighten Paul? It is indeed possible. Are they writing to Paul as their spiritual father and mentor, wanting to hear and to heed his wisdom? It is not very likely. I am therefore inclined to view their communication with Paul with some suspicion. Paul may very graciously avoid giving us any greater detail than to specify the issues raised by their communication with him, whether rightly motivated or not.

We know from Paul’s words in chapter 5 that when a man is found to be living with his father’s wife, the church does not mournfully exercise church discipline; rather, they become proud (5:2). Some Corinthians are proud as a result of sin and their response to it. When Paul raises the issue of sex and marriage in chapter 7, he is dealing with the opposite extreme in the church … those who have overreacted to fleshly lusts, seeking to overcome them by asceticism. These folks are just as proud of their asceticism as the others named in chapter 5 are of their fleshly indulgence. Perhaps these ascetics have become so smug they assume Paul will applaud them. After all, when it comes to sexual abstinence and remaining single, Paul stands out among the apostles, and among those in the churches (see 1 Corinthians 9:4-5). They may not agree with Paul on many matters, but these ascetics seem to want Paul’s endorsement here. Paul’s words in response to their communication will shock them. They will not get what they expect nor what they want. They will get much more than they asked.

Before attempting to interpret Paul’s words in verse 1, we must pause to point out that the translation of the NIV is inaccurate. The expression, “not to touch a woman,” is a reference to sexual intercourse, not marriage, and thus the NIV is in error when it translates as it does.

The idiom ‘to touch a woman’ occurs nine times in Greek antiquity, ranging across six centuries and a variety of writers, and in every other instance, without ambiguity it refers to having sexual intercourse. There is no evidence of any kind that it can be extended or watered down to mean, ‘It is good for a man not to marry.’

The Corinthian ascetics would not sanction sexual immorality. Indeed, they would not sanction sex. They feel that sex is dirty, whether within marriage or without. This tells us more about the ascetics than it does about biblical morality: “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15). Having concluded that all sex is evil, these folks follow out the implications of their false doctrine. If all sex is evil, then it is evil to enjoy sex in marriage. Husbands and wives should abstain from sex, unless for the bearing of children (if that). And those who are single should avoid the “temptation to have sex” by avoiding and abstaining from marriage. Paul cannot and will not endorse such a view.

What is most impressive in chapter 7 is the gentleness of the Apostle Paul. He is certainly practicing what he preaches. Remember these words Paul wrote to Timothy about dealing with those who are in error:

23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:23-26).

How easy it would have been for Paul to come on strong with these Corinthians. Instead, he gently seeks to show them the error of their thinking and conduct. He clearly distinguishes between his personal convictions, his counsel (advice), and his authoritative apostolic commands (see 7:6-7, 40). His approach is to introduce the issue at hand and then gently correct the errors. In later chapters (e.g. 8-10), Paul’s initial gentleness leads to a very clear and forceful conclusion.

The ascetics of the Corinthian church have over-reacted to the immorality of that day, concluding that all sex is dirty and should be avoided, even within marriage. When Paul says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” I think he is repeating the position held by the Corinthian ascetics. This was their slogan. Paul repeats the statement, not because he agrees with it in its entirety, but because he agrees with it in part. He will shortly set out to clarify the circumstances in which celibacy could serve a beneficial purpose. I am going to advance to verses 6-9 at this point to suggest just how sexual abstinence could be beneficial. I do this because the main thrust of verses 1-7 is to address the role of sex within marriage. Later verses will expand upon the benefits a celibate lifestyle can produce.

The Benefits of Staying Single

(7:6-9)

6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.

The first thing we should observe is that celibacy does have its benefits. When celibacy (abstaining from sex, and thus from marriage) contributes to the cause of Christ, it is depicted positively in the Bible. Our Lord spoke positively of celibacy:

11 But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it” (Matthew 19:11-12).

Paul speaks positively of it as well in 1 Corinthians 9 in reference to his choice and to that of Barnabas also to remain single (1 Corinthians 9:4-6). Finally, in the Book of Revelation we are told that the 144,00 will be celibates:

3 And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. 4 These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb (Revelation 14:3-4).

When Paul speaks of sexual abstinence and celibacy, he does so in a very carefully defined manner. Notice the qualifications Paul sets down regarding sexual abstinence:

(1) Paul does wish that all of the Corinthians could be single (and thus sexually celibate). Paul indicates his “wish” that all men were as he. It is clear that this could not and should not be. Paul simply desires that men might be free from distractions in order to devote themselves to serving God (see also 1 Corinthians 7:34-35).

(2) Paul does not seek to impose this on the Corinthians; he indicates this is his wish, stated by concession and not as a command (oh, that we might be so honest). The ascetics seem to have imposed their view of spirituality upon all. Paul does not represent his preference as a biblical imperative, but as a personal preference which God has allowed him to express as such. Unlike many of us, Paul carefully distinguishes between those commands which are from Christ, and must not be ignored, and the counsel he offers which men can (and perhaps should) disregard. I am reminded of Paul’s advice to Apollos, which Apollos declined to accept and apply:

12 But concerning Apollos our brother, I encouraged him greatly to come to you with the brethren; and it was not at all his desire to come now, but he will come when he has opportunity (1 Corinthians 16:12).

(3) This distinction between concession and command is not an indictment against the inspiration of the Scriptures, but an affirmation of them. Some might question why anything we find in the Scriptures is less than a command, but this is the very nature of convictions. When Paul indicates that a certain view or preference of his is not by divine revelation, and therefore not binding on his readers, he is demonstrating personal integrity by not trying to give the impression that his desires are God’s desires. By doing so, he also underscores the fact that the rest of the Scriptures are inspired and authoritative:

14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

If any of Paul’s statements are less than a “thus saith the Lord,” we can count on Paul to tell us so.

(4) Paul does not speak of celibacy as a spiritually superior state but as a less distracted state, a way of serving our Lord with greater focus and consistency. The Corinthian celibates surely thought of themselves as more spiritual and were proud of their celibacy. They must have looked down on those who were married. But it doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to recognize that many singles today who know Jesus Christ as Savior are not serving God with the intensity and focus of some who are married and have families.

(5) Paul sees this singleness and celibacy as a matter related to one’s gift and calling. Unlike most students of the Scriptures, I am not saying that celibacy is a spiritual gift. I am saying that celibacy is related to one’s gift and calling. If one were to conclude that there were such a thing as “the gift of celibacy,” it would have to be from this passage, and quite frankly, this passage does not compel one to reach this conclusion. Consider the reasons that there does not seem to be such a thing as a gift of celibacy:

Nowhere else in the Bible is celibacy identified as a spiritual gift. There are several texts in Scripture where various spiritual gifts are enumerated. In none of these texts is celibacy listed as a spiritual gift.

In 1 Corinthians 7:7, Paul does not call celibacy a gift. Paul simply says each one has his gift, “one in this manner, and another in that.” The expression, “one in this manner, and another in that” is unusual, if Paul means for us to conclude that celibacy is a spiritual gift. One would have expected him to say, “one has this gift, and another that,” or something to this effect. Paul seems to be speaking about the manner in which different gifts are exercised and not what the particular gift may be.

If celibacy were a spiritual gift, it differs from all the other spiritual gifts. Every other gift is related to a function. Every other gift can be converted to a verb. The gift of helps entails helping. The gift of teaching entails teaching. The gift of exhortation entails exhorting. Just exactly what does the gift of celibacy do? So far as I can tell, it does nothing other than to prevent one from having sex.

If I correctly understand those who believe celibacy is a gift, then the gift of celibacy is the absence of sexual desire. If not the absence of desire, celibacy is an added measure of self-control. Those whom I have heard speak of celibacy as a gift do not define it very carefully. Usually it would seem as though the one who is celibate is the person who does not desire sex or marriage. I have never met such a person, at least as far as the absence of sexual desire is concerned. There are many people who may not wish to marry, but few of them claim to lack sexual desire. How does the absence of sexual desire (if there is such a thing) minister to the body of Christ? If there were a gift of celibacy, I know of a number of people who are widowed or divorced who would welcome such a gift, but I have never seen it.

I understand celibacy to be the conscious choice to control one’s sexual desires and to remain single so that one’s gifts and calling may be more effectively utilized. Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Apostleship, along with other gifts, was bestowed upon Paul at the time of his conversion. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for Paul to carry out his calling if he had been married and the father of a number of children. Can you imagine a family man going from city to city, living in one home and then another, sometimes being self-supporting, and other times living on the gifts of others? Can you see Paul’s wife and family being cast into prison with him, or being left alone without any support? Celibacy was the ideal state for a man like Paul, who had his gifts and calling. I think that is what Paul means when he says, “… each man has his own gift, one in this manner, and another in that.” We might paraphrase Paul’s words in this way: “Each man has his own gifts and calling, which are carried out in one manner or another, some serving God through marriage, and some serving Him through remaining single.” Some ministries are conducted much better in the context of marriage and the family. Paul would have trouble, for example, showing hospitality. Whether one chooses to marry or to remain single should be determined on how that person’s gift and calling can best be fulfilled. For some, this will mean marriage (and all that comes with it, like the pleasures and responsibilities of sex); for some it may mean celibacy (with the freedom and undistracted life that comes with it).

Staying single (and thus sexually inactive) may be the calling of some. If it is your calling, it is for the glory of God and for the promotion of the gospel. But the single life and sexual abstinence is not the rule, as Paul knows. And so in verses 2-5, we find Paul speaking of the role of sex in marriage.

Sex and Spirituality in Marriage

(7:2-4)

2 But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

Notice the three-fold parallel structure in verses 2-4 which stress the mutuality of sexual pleasure and sexual duty:

Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband (verse 2).

Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband (verse 3)

The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (verse 4).

Paul does not stress the submission of the wife to her husband here, as though it is his role to get pleasure from his wife, and her role to give pleasure to her husband. There is mutual submission here, so that both the husband and the wife are to subordinate their interest (pleasure in sex) to the interest of their mate. Consider the guiding principles for what we might call “Spirit-filled marital sex.”

(1) The norm is that Christians will marry and that as a Christian couple, the husband and wife will enjoy regular sexual relations. The ascetics are absolutely wrong in thinking and teaching that sex is unspiritual and thus inappropriate even within the bonds of matrimony. Consistently abstaining from sex in marriage is not only unnatural, it is unholy.

(2) A healthy sex life is a preventative for immorality. A healthy and pleasurable sex life between a husband and wife is a normal and natural release of sexual tension, and thus it is helpful in the prevention of sexual immorality. Good sex in marriage is not a guarantee that there will be marital fidelity. If one mate is unfaithful to the other, it does not necessarily mean that the offended spouse has failed to satisfy the other. David certainly had enough wives to satisfy his sexual appetites, but he committed adultery anyway. The lusting eye is never satisfied. Nevertheless, Paul speaks of sexual relations in marriage as a preventative for sexual immorality outside of marriage: “Because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” The ascetics are wrong. To abstain from marital sex proves to be a temptation; to enjoy marital sex promotes edification.

(3) Both husband and wife should eagerly engage in the sexual act as their duty, both to God and to their mate. It is not just the wife who is commanded to give herself to her husband; the husband is likewise commanded to give himself to his wife. In fact, the husband is first commanded to give himself to his wife, and then the wife to her husband (see verse 3).

(4) Both husband and wife should not only give themselves for sex, but each should seek to produce the ultimate pleasure for their partner. Reaching the ultimate pleasure in the sexual union is what best insures against immorality. Frustratingly unfulfilling sex to one partner or the other will also tempt one to be immoral. The “use me” mindset in sexual intimacy falls far short of the mark which Paul sets for us here. The duty of the husband is to satisfy his wife sexually, just as the duty of the wife is to satisfy her husband. This is the best one can do to stay sexually pure and to encourage one’s mate to do likewise.

(5) Neither the husband nor the wife has the authority to deprive their mate sexually. If I have not said it clearly enough, I will say it bluntly here: it is wrong to deprive one’s mate of the pleasures of sexual intimacy. There is nothing spiritual about avoiding sex. I think I should also say that there is nothing particularly spiritual about demanding sex either.

(6) Those Christians who have been forcibly making a celibate of their mate by withholding sex are commanded to stop sinning in this fashion. Paul’s command to “stop depriving one another” in verse 5 strongly implies that a number of Corinthian Christians are already withholding sex from their mates. Paul tells us that withholding sex from your mate is sin, a sin which must be repented of, and a sin which we must correct by obeying our Lord’s command through Paul. Paul spoke of the benefits of staying single by concession, rather than by command. But the instruction to husbands and wives to sexually fulfill each other is a command, not a wish or a suggestion. To refuse to change in this area is to willfully disobey one of God’s commands.

(7) Sexual abstinence is to be a rare and temporary exception to the norm of regular sexual union. There are obviously times when normal sexual relations are temporarily interrupted. In the Old Testament, a man was not to have sex with his wife during her monthly period (see Leviticus 15:19, 24; 18:19). Here, Paul speaks of the temporary interruption of a couple’s marital sex life to facilitate prayer. The reason should be obvious, especially for parents with children in the home. Bedtime seems to be the only “private” time two parents have. This means that besides sleep, closing the bedroom door affords the opportunity to enjoy sexual intimacy; it also affords the opportunity for prayer. Frankly, it is difficult to have both prayer and sex on the same agenda, especially if the prayer is urgent and extended. For a bachelor, Paul seems to understand married life very well.

Paul sets down some very stringent requirements regarding the cessation of normal sexual relations in marriage. First, the decision to abstain from sex must be mutually reached by the husband and the wife. There must not be a unilateral decision made by one spouse. Second, a cessation of normal sexual relations should only take place for matters of great urgency. I understand Paul’s words in verse 5 to refer to specific, urgent matters of prayer, and not normal prayers. The King James Version may well be the original text, and it includes fasting with prayer.

Third, normal sexual relations should be resumed quickly, so that Satan may not take advantage of their lack of self-control. This statement should have really irritated the Corinthian ascetics, who thought of their sexual abstinence as the epitome of self-control. Not according to Paul! Sexual abstinence did not strengthen these saints in their battle with the flesh and with Satan; it weakened them, and it made them vulnerable.

Unfortunately, I have known of situations in which “prayer” was the excuse of one mate for avoiding sex with the other. Who can be more pious than one who gives up sex for prayer? And who can be so unspiritual as to criticize anyone for neglecting their sex life to enhance their prayer life? It is the ultimate spiritual “lion in the road” (to use an expression from the Book of Proverbs). A “lion in the road” is a compelling reason (excuse) for avoiding what one really doesn’t want to do. If the truth were known, a healthy sexual relationship between a man and his wife may facilitate a richer prayer life. I say this on the basis of Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:7 “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” Surely “living with one’s wife in an understanding way” includes the sexual relationship. A sexually frustrated and irritated mate is not a good prayer partner.

Conclusion

The church at Corinth did not write to Paul about divisions and factions, about false wisdom or pride, about leaders who looked down on Paul and his gospel. They wrote to Paul about sex, and specifically, about abstaining from sex. They do not want advice from Paul on their sex lives; they only want his endorsement. But if they had wanted advice on matters of sex, do you think they would have expected wise counsel from Paul? How can a man who is both a bachelor and a preacher teach these “worldly wise” folks anything about sex? They must believe they know it all. They may have been the Dr. Ruth’s of their day. But, wonder of wonders, God chose to give the finest sex education available, the best counsel on sex in marriage, through Paul. Once again, the wisdom of God is vastly other than the wisdom of men!

I wish I could have seen the looks on the faces of the Corinthian ascetics as they heard Paul’s response to what they have written. These folks must be so puffed up with pride at their self-control and victory over fleshly desires. While they differ with Paul in many matters, surely they think Paul will applaud them for maintaining that sex is dirty and should be avoided, even in marriage. They do not want Paul’s advice or instruction, only his endorsement. What they receive is something entirely different. Paul agrees that abstaining from sex can be beneficial, but only in the most restricted applications. Instead of applauding them for abstaining from sex in marriage, Paul instructs them to engage in sex with their spouses as a duty. This must not be done with gritted teeth, and the goal of each mate should be to satisfy the other.

The Corinthian ascetics think that spirituality is antithetical to the enjoyment of sex within marriage. Paul wants his readers (which includes us) to understand that spirituality encompasses every aspect of one’s life, including sex. If you are married, have you ever thought of whether your sex life is Spirit-filled or not? You should. Paul is teaching husbands and wives that servanthood is the fundamental ingredient to satisfying sexual intimacy in marriage. How many times have you read these words penned by Paul in his Epistle to the Philippians:

1 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:1-8).

How often have you considered Paul’s teaching here as governing your sexual relationship with your spouse? If marriage is a reflection of the union Christ has with His church, then how would we think the physical union of a man and his wife is not of great importance to God? True, this is a “private” matter, between man and wife, but why would we think the angels would not be watching and learning (see 1 Corinthians 11:10)? Sex is not “dirty;” it is a gift of God, which is to be enjoyed in the confines of marriage and to portray the most precious “union” of all, the union of God and His church.

God has uniquely fashioned the man and the woman so that they are very different. I do not mean different in the biological sense, but different in their makeup. Husbands tend to respond very quickly; wives are not as quickly stimulated and not by the same kinds of things. I have heard it said by some that men and women are mismatched, sexually speaking. And so they are, by divine design. Sex cannot be mutually satisfying without real love. In this sense, biblical sex is “making love.” And love is manifested in sacrifice. Only as both the husband and the wife sacrifice their own interests (sexually speaking) is the other satisfied. Sacrificial servanthood is the key to Spirit-filled sex.

I want to be very clear here that we are not just talking about some kind of technique, which, if followed, brings maximum pleasure to the one who employs it. The husband should be sensitively attuned to his wife, seeking to bring her fulfillment. But this is not just because it is the way he will find his own fulfillment. Love-making in marriage seeks to bring pleasure to one’s spouse at one’s own expense. There is a lot of talk about “maximum sex,” but sex should never be approached selfishly as the means to the ultimate goal of self-satisfaction. “Taking up one’s cross” applies in the board room and in the bedroom.

In his Epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul specifically deals with sex as a part of the believer’s sanctification:

3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8).

Sanctification includes the avoidance of sexual immorality (verse 3). It also involves the Christian relating to his or her spouse sexually in a way that is distinctly Christian and not pagan (verses 4-5). It is clear that we may sin in the matter of sex, and that God is the avenger is such cases (verse 7). God has not called us to impurity but to holiness, and this holiness will be evident in the way we sexually relate to our spouse (verse 7). To reject Paul’s “sex education” is to reject the Spirit of God (verse 8).

I am not amazed that the unbelieving world, sex-and self-crazed as it is, finds frustration more than fulfillment in the bedroom. I am deeply distressed that many Christians are living defeated lives in relation to sex. Some are simply not having sex, usually due to the disobedience of one of the two partners, and sometimes due to the apathy of both. Some are engaging in illicit sex, either by means of pornography or illicit sexual unions outside of marriage. Others find sexual stimulation in the workplace by telling off-color stories and by suggestive dress and talk. The latest temptation is “cyber sex,” illicit sex by means of the computer. I don’t think I will tell you all of the ways this can be done. Hopefully, I do not know them. Here is a definite area of danger, and I hope that you can see that it is totally self-serving.

Paul’s teaching in verses 1-7 present us with two apparent problems. First, Paul speaks of marriage and sex as a preventative to immorality: “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (verse 2). These words seem to suggest that Paul views sex and marriage in a less than noble way. Is sex only a preventative and not a pleasure for the Christian? Paul’s second statement raises similar questions: “Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband” (verse 3). Is sex only a duty and not a delight?

I would say first that in our fallen world and culture, sex is viewed primarily in terms of selfish pleasure. Sex, apart from biblical servanthood, is self-centered pleasure seeking. I would like you to consider sex in the light of the “great commandment” of the Bible:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had put the Sadducees to silence, they gathered themselves together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:34-40).

The whole Law can be summed up by two commandments: (1) love God with all of one’s being, and (2) love your neighbor.

How does one love God? Peter tells us how we are to conduct ourselves in relation to God:

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers (1 Peter 1:14-18).

Loving God requires being holy. Being holy means not being conformed to those lusts which once dominated us as unbelievers. Immorality is one of the sins which characterizes the Corinthians (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Thus, the Christian should fervently desire to avoid immorality. And so when Paul speaks of marriage and sex as a preventative for immoralities, why should we think Paul is taking sex lightly? Righteousness is the higher goal, and marriage (and sex) are a means to this goal. Paul does not think little of sex; he thinks more highly of righteousness. Isn’t being godly a higher goal than being sexually fulfilled? The problem is not with Paul; it is with us. We value sex more highly than pleasing God.

The second dimension of the great commandment is that we should love our neighbor as ourself. How does this relate to the subject of sex within marriage? Our wife (or our husband) is our neighbor. We are to love our spouse as we love ourself (see also Ephesians 5:28-32). To do so, we must put the (sexual) interests of our mate above our own. Living by the law of love makes it my duty to sexually fulfill my spouse. Is my duty demeaning, something for which I should apologize? It is my duty to keep the commandments of my Lord. Is this demeaning? Not at all! The goal for which I should strive is to see my duty as my delight. This is the way David and other godly men approached God’s law (see Psalm 40:6-8; see also 119:9-16, 24, 137-144).

I would like to suggest to you that sex is similar to worship. Indeed, in the pagan cultures (such as with the Canaanites in the Old Testament and the Corinthians in the New) sex was a part of worship (see also Exodus 32:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 10:6-8). And no wonder, for making sex a part of worship assured the “worshippers” of instant satisfaction.

I fear that we approach worship in a way that is all too similar to the way many approach sex. Some, who feel like worship does not satisfy or fulfill them, are inclined to avoid it. We evaluate worship more in terms of what we have gained than in what we have given. I would remind you that the operative term when it comes to worship is sacrifice, not fulfillment. I would further say that worship (like sex) is not so much about seeking pleasure for ourselves as it is about giving pleasure to God.

Sexuality and spirituality are very closely related. Paul calls for each of us who knows God through Jesus Christ to elevate our sexuality to the standard God has set, to make sexuality an expression of our spirituality to the glory of God, and ultimately for our good.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com