The Ten: Lesson 8

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the-ten

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Exodus 20:13

“You shall not murder.

Genesis 9:5-6

And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.

“Whoever sheds the blood of man,
    by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.

Exodus 21:14

But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.


Matthew 5:21-22

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.


1 John 3:11-16

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

Romans 13:8-10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 5:6-8

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. While nearly all reliable English translations use the word “murder” in Exodus 20:13, the King James Version (also a reliable translation) uses the word “kill.” Think about the various meanings of the words “murder” and “kill”. Which word fits better with the context and the idea God is trying to get across to us here? Is God prohibiting the slaughtering of animals for food? Stepping on a bug? Capital punishment? Killing during war? What, precisely, does the sixth Commandment prohibit?

2. What do the Genesis and Exodus passages say was the punishment for murder? What does this tell you about whether or not the sixth Commandment prohibits capital punishment? What does the last line of Genesis 9:6 (“for…”) tell us is the reason God commands capital punishment for murder?

3. Returning again to the context of the Ten Commandments passage (God was setting Israel apart as His own special people and establishing them as a nation.), how would the command not to murder, and the penalty for doing so, have helped set the framework for law and order in Israelite society? How would it have honored God for the Israelites to obey this Commandment? How would Israel’s obedience to this Commandment (and punishing those who broke it) have pointed the surrounding pagan nations to the one true God?

4. What is the context of the Genesis passage? Did this event occur before or after God gave the Ten Commandments? Before God gave the Ten Commandments, did people know murder was wrong? How? How does this show us that God’s moral law transcends time, place, and culture?

5. The Exodus and Genesis passages address the external behavior of murder. Jesus takes it a step further in the Matthew passage. What does Jesus say about hatred and abuse as the root of murder? Where does the external sin of murder actually start? Is it OK with God for Christians to harbor hatred, resentment, or bitterness toward someone as long as we don’t actually harm her? Is there someone you know that you’re murdering in your heart?

6. Restate “Thou shalt not murder” as a positive statement (“Thou shalt ______.”) Examine the 1 John and Romans 13 passages. John often teaches by contrasting two opposite ideas. What is the opposite of murder according to his passage and the Romans 13 passage? What does 1 John 3:14-15 say about loving the brethren vs. hating/murdering the brethren as indicators of salvation? Can someone who has hated and murdered Christians ever be saved?

7. Examine 1 John 3:16 and Romans 5:6-8. How did Jesus exemplify love and self-sacrifice- the opposite of murder? What are some ways we can follow in His footsteps and not just refrain from the act of murder, or hating someone in our hearts, but proactively do the opposite of murder?

8. How do the commands to love and not to murder apply to the modern day issues of abortion and euthanasia?


Homework:

Usually the reason we murder someone in our hearts (harbor hatred or bitterness) is because that person has hurt us in some way. 1 Peter 3:9 says:

Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Is there someone in your life who has reviled you or done evil to you? Ask God to forgive you for murdering her in your heart and to help you forgive her. Then, think of a way to bless her. Could you pray for her? Send her a card? Bake some cookies? It’s God’s job to mete out justice, it’s our job to forgive and bless.

 

Testimony Tuesday: Lisa’s Story

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testimony-tuesday

My Testimony to the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ

by Lisa Brown

My prayer is that God would use this as a witness to His Truth and that He will be glorified.

When I was 12, during an invitation, I walked the aisle up to the pastor. The Sunday before, an 11-year-old boy had been saved and I didn’t like that he was only 11 and I was 12 and I hadn’t “done that yet”. I do remember knowing “Jesus died on the cross for me”. I didn’t understand what that meant, but since I had heard this all my life, I believed it. I don’t remember what I said or what the pastor said. I remember being told that I was saved and was baptized a few Sundays later. Nothing about me changed.

For the next 23 years I did whatever I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it without regard to whether or not it was pleasing to God, nor did I care. It didn’t matter to me how I lived my life as long as God forgave me at the end and I didn’t go to Hell. As I was in and out of churches, the false belief that I was saved was reinforced by the sermons I heard. I could name a time and place I had “made a decision for Christ”. I didn’t really understand what salvation was but I didn’t know that at the time. I didn’t see myself as having sinned against a holy God. As far as I was concerned I had prayed the prayer and that was all I needed to do.

lisas-story-edited

When I was 35, God caused me to see how sinful I was (I will spare you the details). For the first time I realized that my prayer as a kid did not save me. For the first time, I hated who I was and how I had been living my life. For the first time, I realized that how I was living my life hadn’t just hurt me, my friends and my family, but I had grieved God. For the first time I understood that salvation was not just about getting out of Hell. I finally understood what “Jesus died on the cross for me” meant. I finally understood how wretched I was and why Jesus had to die for me. It was at this time, that I truly wanted God to forgive me and save me and I knew then that I belonged to Him.

The Holy Spirit has taught me so much in the past 16 years and has grown me steadily at times and by great leaps and bounds at other times. The first 5 years He showed me how I was to live my life as a Christian. I wasn’t very good at it. I had no one to mentor/disciple me. But, as time went by, God taught me more and more through reading Scripture and my desire to obey Him grew. The next 9 years He showed me that because I desire to obey Him I would lose some close relationships and other friendships but that He is never going to leave me. He strengthened the godly friendships and brought strong Christians into my life, including moving me from one church to another so that I would be taught and understand the truth of His Sovereignty. He has also taught me even more to not depend on myself or other people but to completely depend on Him. He has taught me not to be afraid to ask Him to break me.

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About 2 years ago God gave me a greater understanding that my relationship with Him is not about how obedient I am. Much of what I had believed since being saved was that I had to “be good” or God would not be pleased with me and not hear my prayers. I knew I was saved but thought that my day to day relationship with God was based on how good I was. I hadn’t prayed enough. I hadn’t read my Bible enough. I hadn’t shared the Gospel enough. I hadn’t given enough. I continually felt that God was not pleased with me most of the time and I needed to do better so God would hear my prayers. I thought that I was forgiven of my past sin but had to answer to God later for all these sins I was committing now and continually having to repent of.

When I was challenged by a friend to dig deeper into God’s Word I realized that when God forgave me, He not only forgave me of my past sins, but for ALL my sin. God is pleased with me because of Jesus, and not because I am meeting some standard. That correction in my thinking was a great burden lifted. Now, I live my life for God because he saved me and not because I don’t want God to regret that He saved me. What freedom! God’s grace to me is beyond my understanding and I can never be grateful enough for it and I can never love God the way He deserves to be loved, but I can obey His commands out of gratefulness and love and no longer out of fear of disapproval.

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God continues to teach me and draw me closer to Him. He has put a love in my heart for fellow believers. This is a big deal because there were times that I didn’t think I was capable of loving anyone other than my children. He has brought a precious Christian friend into my life that truly cares about my relationship with God. She has mentored and discipled me and continually pushes me toward God with both her words and her example. I have grown more passionate for Scripture and my time alone with God. I am learning every day and falling in love with Jesus more and more.

I want the world to know God as righteous and holy and treat Him with respect and reverence; not in a casual manner as a buddy, or as merely a gift giver. I want everyone to understand that God is not only good when we get the things we desire, but that He is inherently good. I want my friends to be aware of the dangers of false teaching, so I warn them. I want others to understand who God is and the truth of His Word so I share the Gospel. I want others to truly understand how man’s standard for goodness compares to God’s so that they can see their own sin. I want the whole world to hear about God’s salvation, but my heart goes out mostly to those that sit in churches week after week like I did as a false convert.

 

Please pray for Lisa: Prayers would be appreciated. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the 2nd time. The first was 19 years ago. I had surgery last week and am now recovering. Doing this all with a broken foot. God is merciful and worthy of all my praise. I just want Christ to be glorified.


Ladies, God is still at work in the hearts and lives of His people, including yours! Would you like to share a testimony of how God saved you, how He has blessed you, convicted you, taught you something from His word, brought you out from under false doctrine, placed you in a good church or done something otherwise awesome in your life? Private/direct message me on social media, e-mail me (MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com), or comment below. Try to be brief (3-4 paragraphs or less) if possible. I’ll select a few to share on the blog another time. Let’s encourage one another with God’s work in our lives!

The Mailbag: Should Christian Couples Watch Pornography Together?

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mailbag

 

My husband (he says he’s a Christian) wants me to watch pornographic videos with him to improve our sex life. Is this something God would be OK with? The Bible says I’m to submit to my husband. Should I submit to him and watch the videos?

No. Nononononono. Just all the way around- no. Could I be any clearer? NO

But perhaps I should expand on that just a bit. Let’s start with some Scriptures, shall we?

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Hebrews 13:4
“sexually immoral”: πόρνους (pornous)

“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

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. Matthew 15:19
“sexual immorality”: πορνεῖαι (porneiai)

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. Romans 13:13

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 1 Corinthians 5:11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 1 Corinthians 6:9

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Ephesians 5:3

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 4:3-8

Viewing pornography is a sin. Period. There are no circumstances whatsoever under which it could be construed as biblically acceptable, and no Scriptures that even hint that it might be OK. (Notice above that our English word “pornography” comes from the same Greek root that is translated in these verses as “sexual immorality”.) When Scripture addresses sexual relations it always teaches, both explicitly and implicitly, that all sexual activity – what you do, what you think about, what you touch, what you look at, what you listen to – whatever you experience sexually is to be within the confines of the husband-wife relationship. The people you’re watching perform sex acts in pornography are not your spouse, so pornography is outside the Bible’s parameters for sex.

Additionally, when you view pornography, you are not loving the people in that video the way Christ commands us to love others. Christ laid His life down to save us out of our sin, and we are to follow Him in that kind of self-denying, Great Commission love for others that calls them out of sin regardless of the cost to us. Christ would never have watched someone committing sexual sin for the gratification of His own flesh. It’s unthinkable that we who bear His name could do such a thing and see nothing wrong with it.

No, you should absolutely NOT submit to your husband’s sinful request to view pornography. (If you are concerned he may become violent over your refusal, get somewhere safe.) There is a hierarchy of submission, and in that hierarchy, God and His word always come first. We obey Him before anyone else. As Peter and the apostles said, “We must obey God rather than men.” If you’ll notice in the 1 Corinthians 5:11 passage above, Paul instructs the church not to have anything to do with someone who claims to be a Christian, yet is guilty of sexual immorality. If God said the church shouldn’t even break bread with someone like that, how could He want you to join your husband in his sexual immorality? You are not sinning by refusing to submit to your husband in this, he is sinning against you by asking you to submit to this.

The best way to handle this situation is outlined in 1 Peter 3:1-2:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 

and Matthew 5:16:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Walk uprightly before your husband, graciously submitting to him whenever possible, and living in obedience to Christ. Be a godly witness to him in both word and deed. “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?”

In addition to being a godly example to your husband, this is a situation that calls for pastoral counsel if your husband persists in this behavior without repenting. Ideally, the two of you should go in for counseling from your pastor together, but if your husband refuses, you still need to go without him.

Since your husband claims to be a Christian (and I’m assuming if you both claim to be Christians you are active members of a local church), your pastor should also determine whether any formal church discipline should be imposed on your husband, and, if so, what that should entail (resigning leadership positions, meeting weekly with an elder for discipleship and counseling, etc.). This is not a punishment, but a restoration and reconciliation process, because your husband has not merely sinned against you as his wife, but also as his sister in Christ, and, therefore, against the church.

Any husband who pressures his wife to watch pornography with him is not only revealing the sinful lust of his own heart, but is also sinning against his wife by urging her to commit sexual immorality, by dishonoring her, by failing to live with her in an understanding way, by putting her in the excruciating position of having to choose between submitting to and pleasing him and submitting to and pleasing the Lord, by failing to love her sacrificially as Christ loved the church, and by caring more about gratifying his own flesh than encouraging his wife’s holiness.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:25-28

I would caution any husband who can unrepentantly and unremorsefully sin against his wife in these ways to seriously examine his heart against Scripture to discover whether or not he is, in fact, saved. The Bible is quite clear that habitual, unrepentant sexual immorality is an indication that a person is not saved.

For any husbands who have committed the sin of indulging in pornography or even pressuring your wife to watch it with you, I would encourage you to get alone with God and feel the weight of your sin against Him and against your wife. Think about the cross and how Christ suffered God’s wrath for your sin of sexual perversion.

Feel guilty. Because you are guilty.

And let that weight of guilt drive you to your knees in repentance, knowing that there is no sin so great – even this one – that God will not forgive it. Christ loves you. He wants to make you clean and set you free from slavery to pornography.

13559041_1293402180700713_6171936886458828507_o_kindlephoto-12071229My husband and I have been discussing this question, and he wanted to add the following thoughts, man to man, for husbands.

Scott says:

I am appalled that any man who calls himself a Christian could treat his wife in such a way. This is disgusting behavior that has no place in any man’s life, especially one who claims the name of Christ. This man is pressuring his wife to sin! I call on any husband sinning this way to be a real man, repent, and be the godly husband his wife needs.

Men, we are called to lead our wives toward holiness, so we have to strive toward holiness in our own hearts, words, and actions. If we lead our wives toward sin, we are not leading them, or loving them, the way God wants us to.

Think back to Ananias and Sapphira. Although it’s not the main point of their story, we can still learn from their marital example. We don’t know whose idea it was, originally, to hold back part of the money and lie about it, we just know that they were in agreement about it. If it was Ananias’ idea, he was setting a sinful example and leading his wife to sin (like the husband of the reader who wrote in). If it was Sapphira’s idea, Ananias still had the responsibility to love his wife enough and care enough about her holiness to put his foot down and say, “Absolutely not. We are not going to do this.”

And what about Adam and Eve? If Adam had stepped in and biblically led his wife by saying, “No, we’re not eating that fruit,” and chasing that serpent away with his garden hoe, we wouldn’t be in the mess of sin we’re in today.

God places an enormous responsibility on us as husbands to lead our families to be godly. I fail at this all the time, and I know the other Christian husbands reading this do, too. But God promises to give us the strength and the wisdom we need to lovingly lead our wives and children. And when we fail and turn to Him in repentance, He promises to forgive us.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:21-22

Additional Resources:

Is it a sin to watch pornography with my spouse? at Got Questions

Hey, Porn Addict, Stop It by Pastor Gabe Hughes

When We Understand the Text podcast episode 315 Q&A on repenting for pornography (beginning at 23:13) by Pastor Gabe Hughes

God Over Porn

Slaying the Lust Dragon by Todd Friel

Finally Free by Todd Friel


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

You Might Be Apostate

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This week, I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite
articles from recent years. Enjoy!

Originally published June 3, 2016

might be apostate

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy hit the big time several years ago with his “You Might Be a Redneck” one-liners. He frequently introduced the bit by saying, “I’ve found that there are rednecks all over, but sometimes people don’t know they’re rednecks. So, I came up with this little test…” and continued with such gems as:

“If you’ve ever had to carry a bucket of paint to the top of a water tower to defend your sister’s honor, you might be a redneck.”

“If your wife has ever said, ‘Honey, come get this transmission out of the tub so I can take a bath!’ you might be a redneck.”

“If you’ve ever been accused of lying through your tooth, you might be a redneck.”

It was a routine that a lot of us in the South found hilarious because we knew someone who fit nearly every one of Jeff’s jabs.

Like rednecks, there are apostate false teachers all over the place out there, only a lot of them (and their disciples) don’t know they’re false teachers. And the fruit of their lives is far wackier than anything a redneck has ever dreamed up. That fruit doesn’t make them false teachers, but it sure is a sign that we’d better examine the root of doctrine from which the fruit sprang.

So if any of the preachers and teachers you’re following have ever said or done the following things (or something even crazier), watch out, because they Might Be Apostate.

HoNuthaLevelIf you’re a middle aged pastor who makes embarrassing rap videos, who publicly extols the virtues of Spanx for men (even though it gives you gas) and who calls himself a Ferrari you might be apostate.

If you feature a Naked Cowboy impersonater (aka- your youth “pastor”) at your “Christian” women’s conference, you might be apostate.

If you’ve ever purposefully applied the pronoun “herself” to God, you might be apostate.

If you celebrated your 35th birthday by preaching at the “church” of your mentor, T.D. Jakes, and placing a $35,000 check in his offering wheelbarrow, you might be apostate.

If God has ever told you to go up to a stranger in the airport and ask if you can brush his hair, you might be apostate.

If you’ve ever given your congregation a sob story about needing a new $70 million Gulfstream jet, because the old one is worn out, you might be apostate.

If you think of the Holy Spirit as the “sneaky,” “silly,” “funny,” “blue genie from Aladdin,” you might be apostate.

If you’re a woman who thinks God is OK with you preaching to men despite what His word clearly says to the contrary, you might be apostate.

If you’ve ever said, regarding your church’s worship service, “I probably wouldn’t have a stripper on stage…” but leave the door open to the idea because “God told Isaiah to walk around naked for three years,” you might be apostate.

Benny Hinn at Maple Leaf Gardens on Sept. 28, 1992 photos by Tony Bock/Toronto Star and handout photo.

If you think smacking people in the face with your Nehru jacket is a ministry of the Holy Spirit, you might be apostate.

If you’ve ever typed a Facebook status in tongues, you might be apostate.

If you say you’re a trinitarian, but think the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three “manifestations” of God rather than three Persons, you ARE apostate.

If you think Proverbs 21:9 means you should camp out on your roof in a quest for biblical womanhood, you might be apostate.

If your senior pastor father sexually abused boys at your church and paid them off to keep them quiet and you, as the subsequent pastor, knew about it but didn’t speak up, you might be apostate.

If you officiated at your homosexual son’s “wedding,” you might be apostate.

If you’re a pastor who thinks expository preaching is “cheating” because it’s “too easy” and that “it’s not the way you grow people” AND that we shouldn’t say “the Bible says…” AND that parents who take their children to a small church instead of a mega church are “stinkin’ selfish,” AND that we shouldn’t use the Bible to convince the lost of their need for Christ, you might be apostate.

If you’re Oprah’s idea of an awesome pastor, you might be apostate.

downloadIf your preaching, ministry, and theology have ever been publicly rebuked by John Macarthur, Paul Washer and Steve Lawson, you might be apostate.

If you partnered with a Roman Catholic mystic with a degree in spiritual psychology to make a completely unbiblical movie about the Bible featuring ninja angels and Mary Magdalene bossing the disciples around, you might be apostate.

If you and your 80s rock star third husband stand in the pulpit and tell people to watch porn to improve their sex life, you might be apostate.

If a feature of your “worship service” is people laughing uncontrollably or barking like dogs, you might be apostate.

If you’ve ever decided to “p*ss off the religious people” on Easter Sunday by playing AC/DC’s Highway to Hell to open the service, you might be apostate.

If you’ve written a book entitled “I Am” and it’s about positive confession rather than Jehovah, you might be apostate.

If you think you have the power to control the weather by the words you speak, you might be apostate.

Joyce-Meyer-600x450If you think that between the cross and the resurrection Jesus went to Hell and that Satan and the demons jumped up and down on His back, you might be apostate.

If the top three “pastors” you encourage people to follow on Twitter are T.D. Jakes, Rick Warren, and Joel Osteen, you might be apostate.

If a currently practicing homosexual couple wants to serve in leadership at your church and your only problem with it is that one of them isn’t yet divorced from his wife, you might be apostate.

If you’ve ever been accused of having an affair with Benny Hinn, you might be apostate.

If, a hundred years ago, your worship leaders might have been carted off to the funny farm or treated to an exorcism for conducting themselves like this, you might be apostate.

And, if you’re about to write a comment rebuking me for marking false teachers to avoid and exposing unfruitful works of darkness because Jesus would never do such a thing then you don’t know your Bible.

And you just might be apostate.

Evangelical Misogyny and the Spiritual Oppression of Christian Women

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This week, I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite
articles from recent years. Enjoy!

Originally published September 16, 2016woman-1246571_20160915144847652

 

background-1434679_1280Weak women- always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Captives to false teachers. Led astray by their feelings. There is hardly a better way to describe a significant portion – dare I say, the majority – of evangelical women today.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Satan dresses himself up like a Christian and deceives as many as he can. Women (and men, too) give in to the temptation to seek out false teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. Pastors fail to fight off, and in many cases, welcome with open arms, the false doctrine and false teachers creeping into their churches.  And the false teachers themselves are out to make a fast buck on false doctrine.

And the result of it all is a generation of evangelical women held prisoner by Satan in the gilded cage of biblical illiteracy and feel-good “Christianity.” And most of them don’t even know they’re inmates.

It’s bad enough that evangelical women are largely feeding their souls on the anti-biblical poison churned out by the smorgasbord of divangelistas lining the shelves of most “Christian” bookstores- poison that, at worst, will leave them doomed to an eternity in hell, and, at best, will stunt their growth in Christ. But there’s another insidious aspect of this issue: theololgical misogyny against evangelical women.

The Bible knows nothing of women as second class citizens. Throughout recorded history, God, and his obedient children, have been the ones to regard women as precious and valuable people with a crucial role to play in the Kingdom, the family, and society. God elevates women while the world degrades us.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this is in an often overlooked phrase in 1 Timothy 2:11: “Let a woman learn.” The pastors and elders of the first century church – in the midst of a culture that devalued and disregarded women – were to proactively make sure women learned the gospel and sound doctrine. The Holy Spirit goes on in that passage to explain how first century, as well as twenty-first century, women should conduct themselves in a godly way while we’re learning, but there’s no watered down, Barbie doll, “pink is for girls” version of theology that women are to be taught while the real thing – serious Bible study and theology – is reserved for men.

Yet that’s exactly what modern day evangelicalism and Christian retailing are doing. They’re establishing a subtle theological segregation in the name of marketing and meeting felt needs. How? Here’s just one example:

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This post, from a major Christian retailer, appeared in my Facebook feed recently. They’re holding “Bible art journaling” workshops to teach women how to color in their Bibles- something we usually teach three year olds not to do.

When was the last time you heard of a Christian retailer or an average evangelical church holding a worshop – aimed at women – on biblical hermeneutics, Christology, pneumatology, church history, discernment, evangelism, or any other serious biblical topic?

Never mind how to properly handle and study God’s word, ladies, here’s a coloring book*! It’s insulting to the intelligence, capabilities, and quest for spiritual maturity of Christian women. And it’s sexist, too. Don’t believe me? Think about it:

How many Christian men do you see taking Bible art journaling classes or sharing about it on social media?

Have you ever seen a men’s ministry share a picture like this in order to reassure men of how special and wonderful they are?

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Over the summer, the hot fad aimed at women was using henna to tell Bible stories. How many men do you think participated in that?

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Contemporary Christian radio intentionally markets to a specific female demographic, resulting in a playlist that’s overwhelmingly comprised of ooey-gooey, salve my feelings, emasculated songs. That’s their perspective of us. That’s what they think we want and can handle.

And it doesn’t stop there. Walk into your local Christian retailer and compare the fluff and false doctrine in the women’s ghetto department to what’s offered in the general (or men’s) area of the store. Christian retailing has been so successful with their marketing plans that they have fairly brainwashed evangelical women into thinking that:

  • only what’s in the women’s section of the store is for them
  • serious theology isn’t for them (because it’s nowhere to be found in the women’s department)
  • women can’t just pick up the Bible and study it for themselves – they have to buy a “canned” study written by someone else
  • that “someone else” has to be a woman (nearly always a woman who teaches false doctrine)

Take all of that, throw it into your gumbo pot, stir it around a little, and what do you get?

Well…you get weak women who are captivated by false teachers and false doctrine, led astray from the truth of God’s word by their passions and emotions, flitting from study to study and event to event, always “learning” but ever biblically ignorant. And you get a church that not only views Christian women this way, but perpetuates this sexist spiritual oppression.

Christian women, you are better, more valuable, and more capable than that. God has more for you and expects more from you than sitting in a corner coloring in your Bible and playing with a theological Barbie Dream House. Like your first century sisters, He wants you to learn.

Strive for more than evangelicalism expects from you and thinks you’re capable of, ladies. Be a strong, healthy student of God’s word. There are women out there who desperately need you: lost women who need to hear the gospel properly presented so they might know Christ, saved women who need someone to teach them the truth of God’s word, women who need biblical hope, comfort, and answers about the trials they’re going through.

Buck the system. Challenge the assumptions. Cast off the shackles, and refuse to be that weak woman any more. Be the full grown, spiritually mature woman God has always wanted you to be.


*Some women are artistically talented and enjoy Bible art journaling as a hobby in their spare time. If that’s you, and you’re already a serious student of God’s word, knock yourself out. But if the majority of your Bible “study” time is spent painting or coloring in your Bible, then this might be a tight, uncomfortable shoe, but the shoe fits.

Mary and Martha and Jesus and Women’s Ministry

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This week, I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite
articles from recent years. Enjoy!

Originally published March 11, 2016

mary martha jesus womens ministry

You remember the story. Jesus comes to Mary and Martha’s house. Martha’s Pinteresting up the place while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet to listen to Him teach. Martha gripes to Jesus that Mary should help her and Jesus says no because it’s better for her to listen to Him than fold napkins into the shape of swans or whatever. Moral of the story- Martha needs to relax and not let other things distract her from Jesus.

That’s a good, true, and important takeaway from this passage, and one that we would all do well to heed.

But did you ever stop to think that Mary and Martha aren’t the main characters in this story? Jesus is. Jesus is the main character in every Bible story, so our primary focus should always be on Him: what He said and did and was like.

What was Jesus teaching that day at Mary and Martha’s house? The passage doesn’t tell us the topic He was speaking about, but we are privy to a very important lesson He imparted through the scenario with Mary and Martha. A lesson about the way God loves and values women.

Remember how women were generally regarded at that time? They didn’t have much more value than livestock, furniture, or a man’s other possessions. They were considered intellectually inferior, they weren’t formally educated, and their legal and social standing were often tenuous at best. They could not go beyond the Court of the Women at the temple for worship. There was even a traditional prayer Jewish men recited in which they thanked God for not making them a woman, a Gentile, or a slave. Women were low man on the totem pole, so to speak.

And that’s where we find Martha. She wasn’t doing anything wrong that day. In fact, in her culture, she was doing everything right. If anything, Mary would have been the one viewed as being in the wrong because the teaching was for the men, and it was the women’s job to bustle around taking care of all the hospitality duties. Martha knew this. Mary knew this. Jesus knew this. Everyone else present knew this. Martha must have wondered why someone hadn’t yet shooed Mary out of the living room and into the kitchen. So her statement to Jesus in verse 40, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me,” was probably not just, “I need another pair of hands,” but also a bit of, “Mary is forgetting her place. This isn’t what proper women do.”

Oh yes it is.

Whatever else He might have been lecturing about that day, that was one of the lessons Jesus taught Mary, Martha, the rest of their guests, and Christendom at large.

Women aren’t second class citizens in the Kingdom of God. We are precious and valuable to Him. He has important, worthwhile work for us to do – His way – in the body of Christ. And He wants us trained in His word in order to carry out that work.

How did Jesus teach that lesson?

First, He allowed Mary to stay and receive His teaching (39). (We see this echoed in God’s instruction to the church in 1 Timothy 2:11: “LET a woman learn…”) It hadn’t slipped Jesus’ mind that she was sitting there. He could have told her to leave, but He had no intention of doing so. Jesus wanted Mary there. He wanted to teach her and to have her learn God’s word from Him.

Next, when someone tried to take Mary away from hearing and being trained in God’s word, Jesus – God Himself – answered with a resounding NO. This “will not be taken away from her,” Jesus said. Mary, and Martha too (41), could arrange centerpieces or turn a cookie into a work of art any time or never. But this, the teaching of God’s word, was urgent. Vital. Jesus didn’t want either of them to miss it by focusing on the trivial things they thought they should be pursuing.

And He doesn’t want us to miss it either, ladies.

Jesus pulled women out of the craft room and into the study. Is the women’s ministry at your church trying to pull them back?

Is the women’s events page on your church’s web site filled exclusively with painting parties, fashion shows, ladies’ teas, and scrapbook sessions?

Does your women’s ministry do canned “Bible” studies authored by women who offer nothing but personal stories, experiences, and false doctrine?

Are the Marys in your church who want to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word rightly handled and taught being scolded by the Marthas for not staying in their place and embracing the banality the women’s ministry is doling out?

Is this it? Is this all women are good for in the church- fluff and false doctrine?

Jesus didn’t think so.

Let’s have our women’s ministries train women in the full scope of biblical womanhood. Let’s be serious students of God’s word by picking it up and studying it like mature women. Let’s get equipped to teach and disciple other women who are babes in Christ. Let’s share the gospel with the lost. Let’s learn how to train our own children in the Scriptures and be the ones to raise the bar for what the kids at our church are being taught. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty ministering to those who are ill, in prison, lonely, poor, elderly, considering abortion, experiencing crisis; who have wayward children, problems in their marriages, a parent with Alzheimer’s, or have lost a loved one.

Women are worth more and capable of more than the bill of goods they’re being sold by “Christian” retailers suggests. More than cutesy crafts and fairytales masquerading as biblical teaching. Let’s put the “ministry” – ministry of the Word and ministry to others – back in “women’s ministry.”

10 Things I Wish Southern Baptists Knew About Southern Baptists

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This week, I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite
articles from recent years. Enjoy!

Originally published June 26, 2015sbc 10 things

Earlier this week, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission published a nifty little article called “10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Southern Baptists“. Althought I disagree with Dr. Moore on a number of things, I thought the article was pretty good, overall.

But it got me thinking. Yes, there is a lot of ignorance about Southern Baptists out there among those who aren’t part of our denomination. However, there’s also a lot of ignorance inside the SBC about what’s really going on in our denomination, our doctrine, practices, leadership, and so on. These are ten SBC realities I wish the average Southern Baptist church member were more aware of.

1. LifeWay sells lies and heresy, and they don’t want you to know.
Now I’m not saying everything they sell is lies and heresy. I’ve bought lots of good doctrinally sound materials from them over the years. However, the fact remains that they continue to sell books and materials from false teachers like T.D. Jakes, Sarah Young, and Andy Stanley on their shelves. They will order books by false teachers like Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen for you if you just ask at the counter.¹ They continued to sell The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven (a book recounting Alex Malarkey’s supposed trip to Heaven after a car accident) for nearly a year even after Alex, his mother, Beth, and respected SBC pastor, speaker, and author Justin Peters repeatedly told LifeWay leadership that the story was a lie. Emails and phone calls about heretical materials at LifeWay are either ignored or the caller placated (I know this from first hand experience). Questions from the floor at the Southern Baptist Convention about LifeWay carrying false doctrine are quashed.

This entity of your denomination which purports to love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ is selling lies about Him to make a fast buck, and they need to stop.

2. There are plenty of apostate Southern Baptist churches, and we have no mechanism in place for kicking them out of the SBC.
This is a verbatim quote from the FAQ section (5th question from the top) of the SBC’s web site:

“According to our constitution, if a church no longer makes a bona fide contribution to the Convention’s work, or if it acts to ‘affirm, approve, or endorse homosexual behavior,’ it no longer complies with the Constitution of the Southern Baptist Convention and is not permitted to send messengers to the annual meeting. These, however, are the only explicitly stated instances in which the SBC has the prerogative to take action.”

What does that mean? As long as your church doesn’t affirm homosexuality and gives to the Cooperative Program, you’re in. Never mind if your pastor twists God’s word until it’s unrecognizable. Or lets women and false teachers get behind the pulpit like Steven Furtick does. Or plays AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” on Easter Sunday and says he probably wouldn’t have strippers on stage like Perry Noble does. Or any of the other ridiculous and blasphemous shenanigans so many of the seeker sensitive types in our denomination pull. Nope, as long as you give your money and stand on the right side of homosexuality, you’re good to go.

3. Beth Moore is a false teacher.
That’s right, the queen of SBC women’s Bible study, divangelista Beth Moore, does not rightly handle God’s word, partners with false teachers, and violates Scripture by preaching to men, among other things. And Priscilla Shirer is right there with her.

4. Having a small church isn’t a sin and it doesn’t necessarily mean your pastor (or your church) isn’t trying hard enough.
The average church size in America is 186 members, and 94% of church goers attend a church of 500 or fewer people, yet the constant drumbeat of SBC leadership is “bigger is better.” Countless articles harangue exhausted pastors about breaking the 200 or 250 or 300 member attendance “barrier.”

Listen, if your pastor is faithfully preaching and rightly handling God’s word and your church members are serving one another and carrying out the Great Commission in their daily lives, that’s what counts in God’s eyes, not how many butts are in a pew.

5. The Bible doesn’t require you to tithe, and neither should your church.
The tithe is part of the Old Testament law that Christians today are no longer bound by because we are under the covenant of grace, not the Mosaic covenant. Christians are to gladly give the amount we determine in our own hearts to give out of love for our Savior and a desire to serve Him- not under compulsion from someone else.

6. The “sinner’s prayer” won’t save you.
If you think you’re saved because you parroted a prayer someone led you in when you were five but your life shows no love of Christ and no evidence that you belong to Him, then your faith is in the prayer you prayed, not in Christ, and you are not saved. The evidence that you’re a Christian is that you love the Lord, and are growing in holiness, not that you once repeated a prayer (or that you were baptized, attend church regularly, are a “good person,” etc.) Examine yourself to see if you’re really in the faith.

7. Your church probably has a significant number of lost people in it.
Jesus Himself said, there are few who find eternal life and that there are many who call Him “Lord” whom He does not know and will turn away on the Day of Judgment. This is why it is absolutely imperative that pastors, Sunday School teachers, and all other church leaders know the gospel inside out and teach it incessantly, even to people who claim to know Christ.

8. Lots of Southern Baptist churches violate 1 Timothy 2:12ff.
We do fairly well at not permitting women to serve as pastors, but beyond that there are plenty of churches and pastors who sin by allowing women to serve in positions in the church that are restricted to men. Do women in your church teach co-ed Sunday School classes? Do they head up committees or ministries that put them in authority over men? Do they, as worship leaders or in some other capacity, stand before the congregation and instruct or exhort them? Then your church is in sin.

9. Politics won’t save America.
This country is imploding. You don’t have to be a prophet to see that. Voting according to biblical principles, running for office, working through the system to right wrongs, signing petitions, and other political activity is fine, but don’t put your eggs in those baskets. The Titanic has hit the ice berg, and Christians in this country will soon be facing real persecution like we see overseas. We need to rescue the perishing with the gospel. It can’t be done with the White House or the state house. When is the last time you shared the gospel with someone?

10. Jesus wins.
Things are bad and getting worse. In our world, in our country, in our denomination, in our churches. But the good news of Scripture for all people is that, in the end, Jesus is coming back for His bride. He will conquer evil and those of us who truly belong to Him will spend eternity with Him. This world is not all there is. Jesus wins.


¹It is possible LifeWay has changed this policy. I called my local LifeWay last week (Jan. 2017) and asked them to order a Joyce Meyer book and a Joel Osteen book. I was told the store could not order books by either of these authors. I applaud LifeWay for this step in the right direction.

Echo Zoe Radio Podcast Interview

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This week, I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite
articles from recent years. Enjoy!

Originally published May 10, 2016logo

 

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with my friend Andy Olson as his guest on the Echo Zoe Radio podcast.

Click here to listen in

as we talk about women’s ministry, Bible study, discernment, and plenty of other great topics. And don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and follow Echo Zoe on Facebook and Twitter!

Bible Reading Plans for the New Year- 2017

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Happy New Year! Do you make resolutions or set goals you’d like to accomplish during the new year? A lot of people resolve to read the Bible more often or read it through in a year. If that’s you but you’re not quite sure where to start, here are some awesome and unique reading plans that can help.

1. The Chronological Plan

I cannot recommend this plan strongly enough. You’ll read through the entire Bible in a year, following the events as they happened chronologically. I have been through this plan three times (I even took my ladies’ Sunday school class through it in 2014). It is wonderful for helping you see the big picture of the Bible as well as how all the little pieces of the biblical puzzle fit together. ESV.org (of course you can use any translation) has the plan in five different user-friendly formats.

2. How to Change Your Mind (The Gray Method)

This Bible reading plan consists of four simple steps:
1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat step #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all books of the Bible.
I said it was simple. I didn’t say it wouldn’t be time consuming. But it’s a great way to allow God’s word to grab a hold of you.

3. The M’Cheyne Plan

How about reading through the Bible in a year with your spouse or family (you could also do this one individually)? With the M’Cheyne plan you’ll read through the Old Testament once, the New Testament and Psalms, twice. Each day, you’ll read an OT chapter and a NT chapter as a family and another OT chapter and NT chapter on your own. Free Daily Bible study offers suggestions for making this a two or three year plan if one year seems too daunting.

4. The Bible in 90 Days

“Read the Bible cover to cover by investing as little as 30 minutes a day.
In 90 days (two “grace days” are included) you’ll see the big picture of God’s great story unfold before you.” Can’t be done, you say? Think of it as binge-reading the greatest story ever told.

5. The 21-Day Challenge

New to daily Bible reading and don’t want to bite off more than you can chew? Try Back to the Bible’s 21-Day Challenge. Each day, you’ll read one chapter in the book of John, and in three weeks, you’ll be finished. It’s a great way to get your feet wet.

6. The 5x5x5 Bible Reading Plan

This is a great plan for people (like me) who occasionally miss a day or two of a daily Bible reading plan. It’s a slower paced, 5 day per week plan (weekends are for reflection and catch up), taking about 5 minutes a day, with 5 ways to dig deeper and apply what you’re reading. You’ll go through the whole New Testament in a year, reading approximately one chapter per day.

7. The 90 Day Challenge

Another great one for those who struggle with long term commitment. “The 90-day Bible reading plan integrates readings from Genesis, the foundational book of the Old Testament, with the three [synoptic] Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke. On one side you’ll see God’s creative work and earliest interactions with His people; on the other, you’ll get to know Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us, fulfilling the promises made even in Genesis.”

8. Every Word in the Bible

Take time to slowly savor God’s word with this relaxed pace plan. Readings alternate between the Old and New Testament to keep you from getting bogged down in some of the more difficult sections. You’ll read through the whole Bible, one to two chapters per day, in three years.

9. The Bible Eater

This is a pretty nifty little self-directed plan: “Old Testament: Read 2 to 3 chapters per day and take 4 days off per month. Read 1 to 3 designated one-sitting Old Testament books each quarter. New Testament: Read 1 chapter per day and take 4 days off per month. One gospel is assigned to each quarter and Romans and Hebrews are assigned twice across the year.”  Historical redemptive passages are highlighted to call your attention to the “big picture” of the Bible.

10. Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System

Up for a challenge? The Horner system is sort of an osmosis system, the idea being “inundation” rather than “meditation.” With it, you’ll read ten chapters per day from ten different books. Over the course of a year, “you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the Old Testament wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the Old Testament History and Prophetic books about 1 1⁄2 times.” (Tim Challies)

11. Denny Burk’s Bible Reading Plan

Do you find it difficult to follow a plan that includes readings from several different books per day? Denny Burk did, so he developed this reading plan that takes you through one book at a time in canonical order over the course of a year. “Each day’s reading is about 3-4 chapters in length, with the exception of the Psalms (which are covered in 5 chapters per day). The idea is to read longer chapters in groups of three (e.g., Pentateuchal narratives, Gospels) and shorter chapters in groups of four. There are 7 catch-up days scattered throughout the calendar.”

12. The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan

With only 25 days of readings per month, this plan is one of the most flexible. Take Sundays off, use catch-up days as needed, or go back and review passages that need more attention at the end of the month. Read from two NT and two OT books each day and finish up in a year, or easily divide the readings up over a two year period.

13. The Bible Project Reading Plan

The good folks at The Bible Project have taken a fairly typical one year plan (you’ll read Genesis – Revelation once and Psalms 2.5 times {one Psalm per day}) and jazzed it up with some neat features. They’ve grouped the Scriptures into 16 “chapters” based on major biblical events, eras, and categories, with a brief introductory video at the beginning of each “chapter” explaining the theme of that section and what to watch for as you read. There are also free downloadable posters accompanying each video.

Need more suggestions? Check out these collections of Bible reading plans:

  • Ligonier– A wide variety of plans, most available in PDFs.
  • ESV Bible– These plans will work with any translation, not just ESV. Most are available in RSS, iCal, mobile, print (PDF), and e-mail.
  • Bible Gateway– Several great plans, especially if your church uses the Revised Common Lectionary or the Book of Common Prayer and you want to follow along at home. Log in each day and the selected text is displayed on your screen, or subscribe to your plan via e-mail. (Note: I would not recommend the Daily Audio Bible plan. It uses several different “translations,” which is an interesting idea, but while some are accurate, reliable translations (ESV, HCSB), others are faulty paraphrases (The Message, The Voice). However, many translations on Bible Gateway have an audio option, so pick another plan with a good translation and listen away!)

Which plan looks most interesting to you?
Have a plan you love that isn’t listed? Please share!