Brighter and Brighter

But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, 

which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

Proverbs 4:18

The Bible is uncomplimentary of those who are outside of Christ. The non-Christian is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), under the enslaving powers of sin (John 8:34; Romans 6:20), without hope and without God in the world (Ephesians 2:11-12), and hostile to God (Romans 8:7; Colossians 1:21). Their way of life is like deep darkness (Proverbs 4:19). They stumble and fall as they live wickedly on this cursed earth (Proverbs 4:19; Ephesians 5:11). Indeed, it is shameful to even speak about the things ungodly people do with their built-up enmity towards God (Ephesians 5:12).

The Light Shines in our Dark World

While it is plain that the Scriptures are unflattering in their portrayal of non-Christians, it is also unmistakably clear that the God who inspired the Scriptures is incomprehensibly merciful and gracious to unbelievers. While the world dwelled in darkness, God sent Jesus Christ, the true light, to be born of virgin (John 1:9). Christ’s purpose was to shine into the darkness and to bring life to those who were dead in sin (John 1:4-5). This God given mission could only be accomplished by destroying the works of the Devil, the prince of darkness (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 1:8). Through His obedient life, substitutionary death, resurrection from the dead, and ascension into heaven, Christ crushed the head of the Evil One.

The Light Shines in Our Dark Hearts

After Christ’s earthly ministry, He filled His church with the Spirit and sent them to take the gospel message to this dark and evil world. As they preached the gospel, the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” penetrated deep into “our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). Now that God has mercifully given us a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we have been delivered from Satan’s domain of darkness and transferred into the bright and radiant kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13). Instead of being darkness, now we “light in the Lord” (Ephesians 5:8). Rather than being dead in sin, now we are alive in Christ Jesus. By the grace of God we now belong to those who, through faith in Christ, are righteous (Romans 1:17).

The Light Grows Brighter and Brighter

Because of God’s sovereign grace, we are now new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). This new spiritual life we have brings about incredible results. As Archibald Alexander says, “The implantation of spiritual life in a soul dead in sin, is an event, the consequences of which will never end.” In light of this God wrought spiritual life that He has given us through the indwelling Spirit, we no longer walk in darkness. As the proverb above says, the Christian life is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18).

Like the sun at the break of dawn, we as Christians begin to radiate with holiness and good works. This does not happen all at once. Much like the sun at the break of dawn, it is rather faint at the beginning of our Christian journey. We die to some sins. We eagerly obey God in certain areas of our lives. As time goes on, though, we get brighter and brighter. 

Through the ministry of the Spirit, we begin to be further conformed into the image of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2; Romans 8:29). Just as the sun progressively makes its way to noon day, the Christian, by the grace of God, progressively makes his way to complete conformity into the image of Christ. Nevertheless, though many of our graces will be strengthened a great deal by the end of our lives, we will never reach complete conformity into the image of Christ on this side of heaven.

The Light is Brightest at Full Day

God has ordained that our complete conformity into the image of Christ will happen at the second coming of Jesus. We are promised that “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2-3). It at the second coming of Christ that we will shine like the sun at full day. Even our Lord Jesus promised this when he told his disciples that on the New Earth “the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43). This is the great hope that we have as Christians. Until the second coming of Christ, though, let us cast off the works of darkness and pursue righteousness that we may shine brighter and brighter in this dark world (Romans 13:12-14).

Global Pandemic & Porn Pandemic

COVID-19 & Social Distancing

COVID-19 has confined many of us to our homes as we practice social distancing. Our objective in social distancing is to limit the amount of contact we have with people in order to stop the transmission of this virus to others. This means that many junior high, high school, and college students are not busy with school and extracurriculars. Rather, they are at home with limited social interactions and limited things to do. This presents us with grave spiritual vulnerability.

Spiritual Vulnerability

One reason this places many of us in a vulnerable situation is because, ever since the fall of man in Genesis 3, many of our God given longings are inclined towards heinous sins due to the sin nature we inherited from Adam. For example, we have a God given longing for seeking praise, but we are often tempted to seek praise from men and women rather than praise from God.

And, for our purposes in this blog, three God given longings that we have are:

      1. social interactions with the opposite sex,
      2. sexual attraction to the opposite sex,
      3. and sexual interactions with the opposite sex.

These are all God given desires that are to lead us to pursue a member of the opposite sex in a God honoring way so that we can pursue them in marriage in order to have an unique and special companionship and intimacy that God specifically and exclusively reserved for the marital union. This is how God created us, and it is beautiful.

However, because of our sin natures, we use these God given desires in corrupt and immoral ways. One such way is through the use of pornography. We take to the web to find “intimacy” that doesn’t really involve true intimacy. We go to our browsers to have an orgasm without companionship. This is the way so many individuals use these God given desires in heinous and deplorable ways. And sadly, the ruling power over the porn industry, Satan, is aware of this.

Satan Capitalizes On Our Spiritual Vulnerability

Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on our sinful inclinations to use our God given desires in terribly immoral ways, porn outlets are giving away free subscriptions during our time of social distancing. Porn outlets are opening up the dark chambers of their nearly limitless illicit videos and letting folks in to find “relief.” They are aware that we, as people, desire intimacy and companionship, so they are going to deceptively offer it through hours upon hours of fake intimacy.

And just to show you how successful Satan has been in his endeavor to draw the sin nature in man to commit sexually heinous sins via the internet, take a look at this chart:

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The chart above shows the percent change in traffic day to day. Just think about this; Pornhub traffic was up .1% on February 25, 2020. You can see how this traffic began to significantly increase day after day as more and more people were forced inside. Traffic peaked, according to the chart, at 11.6% on March 17, 2020, after free subscriptions were offered. This is a significant increase in the use of pornography. The COVID-19 global pandemic that brings physical death is leading to a porn pandemic that brings spiritual death. This is a tragedy that we must be aware of.

A Warning to Christians

Christians, though our sin nature no longer reigns, it does remain. In union with Christ, our sin nature has been crucified. However, that crucified sin nature rears its head everyday seeking to wreak havoc in our lives. It seeks to keep us from doing what we know we ought to do as believers in Christ.

With this in mind, you must remain awake and alert during this time of social distancing (1 Peter 5:8). Do what needs to be done in order to crucify the flesh with its hideous sexual passions (Galatians 5:14). Take great measures that will keep you from gratifying the flesh with its immoral desires (Matthew 5:27-31; Galatians 5:16). And, by doing whatever it takes, flee this type of sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:18).

Also, get educated on how pornography greatly affects the brain by reading helpful articles. Think through all the different ways you actually sin against God when you view pornography. In one helpful article, a Christian blogger named Challies mentioned these eight ways we sin against God when we view pornography:

    1. We commit the sin of idolatry
      1. Idolatry is seeking satisfaction and joy in something other than God. As you view pornography, you are seeking satisfaction and joy in it rather than the one true God.
    2. We commit the sin of adultery
      1. Jesus said that looking at a woman with lustful intent is adultery. The sheer purpose of pornography is to illicit lust in those who are consuming it. Thus, if you are consuming pornography, you are committing the sin of adultery.
    3. We commit the sin of deceit
      1. When we sin we feel shame. When we feel shame we hide sin. This has been happening since the garden of Eden. And, if you are viewing pornography, you will inevitably feel shame. And once you feel shame, you will hide your sin. You’ll erase your browsing history, and you’ll refuse to confess it to friends and family that can help. This is deceitful.
    4. We commit the sin of theft
      1. “60 percent of all illegal downloads are of pornographic content” (Challies). This means that, as you download more and more pornography, are likely downloading material that has been stolen.
    5. We commit the sin of greed
      1. Greedy people seek to take advantage of other people for their own gain. When we view pornography, we are taking advantage of a woman or man that is made in the image of God for our own sinful gain. We are using that individual in a very shameful way for the express purpose of reaching sexual climax.
    6. We commit the sin of sloth
      1. Paul tells us that we are to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:15-16). We are to use the limited time we have here for God honoring purposes. When we view pornography, we are using our limited time in a wasteful and God dishonoring way. This is the worst kind of sloth.
    7. We commit the sin of sexual assault
      1. “A person who drives a getaway car for a band of bank robbers will rightly be charged with murder for anyone who is killed in committing the crime. The person who voluntarily watches sexual assault for the purposes of titillation is rightly guilty of that sexual assault. And a nauseating quantity of pornography is violent in nature” (Challies).
    8. We commit the sin of ignoring the Spirit
      1. When Paul writes about the importance of fleeing sexual sin and impurity he says, “For God has not called you for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:6). To ignore the warnings the Holy Spirit gives before you view pornography, and even while you are viewing pornography, is a sin against God.

As a child of God, it should grieve us if we sin against our Heavenly Father in these ways! So resolve, by the power of the Spirit, to refuse to sin in these ways by staying as far away from pornography as possible.

Also, think through reasons you should exit out of your browser and never look at porn again. Challies helps us here as well:

    1. The cost to your soul
    2. The cost to your neighbor
    3. The cost to your church
    4. The cost to your family
    5. The cost to your mission
    6. The cost to your witness
    7. The cost to your savior

As you can see, pornography costs a great deal. Most people vastly underestimate this truth! Meditate on the costs of committing such a sin and be renewed in your zeal to fight it.

And lastly, think through the warnings of Scripture. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament have significant warnings against sexual sin. Proverbs tells us that sexual sin leads to death (Proverbs 5:5-6). The New Testament shouts that those who are sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 5:3-5; Galatians 5:19-21). With these warnings in mind, wage war against the sin of viewing pornography like it is seeking to strip you of the salvation that is offered in Christ; for that is exactly what it is seeking to do!

A Warning to Parents

Parents are entrusted with the spiritual well-being of their children. In light of this, parents need to be diligent in protecting their children from the soul ravaging nature of pornography. So here are some things you need to know as a parent (these stats are from a Barna survey conducted from 2014-2016, and the use of pornography has only increased since then):

    • The following percentages of men say they view pornography at least once a month: 79% of 18-30 year olds; 67% of 31-49 year olds; 49% of 50-68 year olds.
    • The following percentages of men say they view pornography at least several times a week: 63% of 18-30 year olds; 38% of 31-49 year olds; 25% of 50-68 year olds.
    • ––The following percentages of women say they view pornography at least once a month: 76% of 18-30 year olds; 16% of 31-49 year olds; 4% of 50-68 year olds.
    • ––The following percentages of women say they view pornography at least several times a week: 21% of 18-30 year olds; 5% of 31-49 year olds; 0% of 50-68 year olds.
    • 55% of married men say they watch porn at least once a month, compared to 70% of unmarried men.
    • ––25% of married women say they watch porn at least once a month, compared to 16% of unmarried women.

These stats say a lot of things, but the one thing I want you to think through is the use of pornography amongst both men and women. Pornography is no longer a “male” thing to do. An increasing number of women are viewing pornography as well. In light of this, you need to be protecting ALL of your children from pornography. It would be wise to talk to your children about these things. Chances are, if they are over the age of 11-12, they have been exposed to pornography. In regard to this, Challies said:

At age 11, the average child has already been exposed to explicit pornographic content through the internet. 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to internet-based pornography during their adolescent years and 22% of the vast quantities of porn consumed by people aged under 18 is consumed by those aged less than 10. Significance: Parents are nothing short of negligent if they take no steps to protect their children from being exposed to pornography.

Parents must be the front lines of defense when it comes to guarding their children’s souls against pornography. This is especially the case right now during this global pandemic.

A Final Word

Blogs like this are never pleasant to read. They turn the stomach and overwhelm us with sorrow. Yet, it is necessary to discuss these things because this is reality. So, just to offer some comfort, I want to give some words of encouragement.

First, though our sins are like scarlet, in Christ, they have been washed white as snow. Though we will have to give an account of our lives (every click on pornography) on judgment day, we ultimately will not be condemned if we are in Christ. This is the good news of the gospel. Christ bore our sin in his body on the cross. Praise God!

Second, a Spirit dwelt believer can put any sin to death. This is the beauty of the indwelling Spirit. He enables us to die to sin and to live to the glory of God. He gives us the power to say no to pornography and yes to righteousness.

Third, the throne of grace is called the throne of grace for a reason. We, as children of God, can approach our Heavenly Father to receive grace and mercy in a time of need. If you fall into the sin of viewing pornography, do not recoil away from the Lord. Flee to his throne to receive grace and mercy.

Fourth, if you are a parent, you will be held accountable for how you shepherd your children. Ultimately though, your children will be responsible for their own sins. Do what you can to protect them spiritually (there are a lot of helpful resources our there to protect your children by the way) and then entrust them to God.

This blog is entirely too long so this is where I am going to end. I do hope and pray that this will be helpful in many people putting the sin of viewing pornography to death!

 

Our First Priority

A Remarkable and Important Verse!

One of my favorite verses in all the Bible is Matthew 6:33. Within the section of Scripture that this particular verse is found, Jesus is teaching his disciples how they are not to be anxious about food, water, or clothing. Their lives should not be consumed with an overwhelming preoccupation for seeking the necessities of life. They are made for so much more than this. I mean, unbelievers are the ones that are to be preoccupied with the necessities of life because that is all they have. This is not so with the Christian. We know there is a God that is in enthroned in the heavens. Therefore, that is what we ought to be procuppied with seeking. This is why Jesus says these famous words in Matthew 6:33:

Verse 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

 This verse is by far the most important verse in this section of Scripture. This is the whole reason we, as Christians, are not to be anxious and preoccupied with running after food, drink, and clothing. It is because we are to be seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

What This Means

Well, the term “Seek” here literally means to “eagerly seek” or to “run after.” Then he says “First” which is in reference to a level of priority. So, in essence, Christ is telling us, in context, to stop placing food, water, and clothing as our top priority and to begin placing the kingdom of God and His righteousness as our top priority.

So, this is what we, as Christians, are to be earnestly seeking and running after. But what in the world does this look like? We like this verse as a screensaver on our phones but what does it mean for our lives? To understand this, let’s begin with what the kingdom of God is.

The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is a reference to the rule and reign of God. It is the Kingdom that is not ruled by man, but the one ruled by Almighty God. It is the kingdom that Jesus Christ inaugurated in his first coming, and it is the kingdom that will be consummated in Christ’s second coming. And to seek this kingdom is three-fold.

First, we need to seek this Kingdom personally. Recall when Nicodemus approached Jesus at night saying, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do the signs that you do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Then Jesus responded to Nicodemus directly, getting at the heart of the matter, saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

This is what I mean when I say that one, first and foremost, needs to earnestly seek the Kingdom of God in a personal way. They need to be born again by the Spirit of God. They desperately need God to impart new spiritual life to their dead spiritual corpses through the ministry of the Spirit. They need to repent of their sins, look at Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected as the only Savior of the world, and then place their faith in Him. It is at this moment that an individual passes from Satan’s evil kingdom to God’s glorious kingdom. It is at this moment that one goes from being in the domain of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. So, first, one needs to seek the kingdom of God in this way!

Secondly, we need to earnestly seek the Kingdom of God corporately. By that, I mean that we need to be consistently seeking the reign of God in the church. We need to seek each other’s submission to Christ as a local assembly of brothers and sisters in Christ. What might this look like?

Well, we need to encourage one another, we need to speak the Scriptures into each other’s lives. We need to correct and rebuke one another. We need to pray for one another. We need to disciple one another. We ought to be earnest and zealous for everybody in the church, including ourselves, to be more and more obedient to the Lord. This is what it looks like to seek the Kingdom of God corporately!

Thirdly, we need to earnestly seek the Kingdom of God globally. We need to seek to advance the Kingdom of Christ throughout all the world. Our desire and ambition ought to be to take this Gospel of the Kingdom of God to family, neighbors, co-workers, and ultimately to the ends of the earth. We need to pray to this end, raise our kids to this end, give money to this end, and send out missionaries to this end. In doing this, we are seeking the advancement of God’s Kingdom all across the globe!

This is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God. And, according to Christ, it is to be our first order of business! It is to be our top priority. It is to be our main ambition. It is more important that food, drink, and clothing. That is incredible!

His Righteousness

Now, let’s reflect on what it means to seek “His righteousness.” Within the Bible, we learn about two types of righteousness. The first is an alien righteousness we receive by faith. The second is a practical righteousness that comes from being filled with the Spirit of God. So first, let’s talk about the alien righteousness.

In Philippians 3:7-9, Paul says, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”

Did you notice how Paul said that this is not a righteousness of his own? This is not a righteousness that he mustered up. No! It is an alien righteousness. By that, I simply mean it comes from outside of himself. It is a righteousness that comes from God that he received through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the righteousness that brings salvation. This is all by God’s grace!

At this point, it is important to understand that this is not the righteousness that Jesus is telling us to be seeking in our passage. We do not have to seek it. The Lord gives us it as a gift through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the good news of the Gospel. So, if you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, then God has graciously given you Christ’s righteousness as a free gift. That is why you are saved.

With that said, this means that the righteousness that Jesus wants us to seek in our passage is that second type of righteousness. It is that practical righteousness that comes from being filled with the Spirit of God. It is that righteousness that we are to live out after we become children of God. The righteousness that comes as we submit to God in the whole of life. The righteousness that makes us a light to the world and a city on a hill.

So, this is the righteousness we are to be seeking as our top priority. But what does this look like practically? And to begin with, let’s talk about what seeking this righteousness does not look like.

First, seeking this righteousness does not look like merely attending church on a Sunday morning. Many people think that this is what is required of them. They think that, as a Christian, you go to church on a Sunday morning and that is it.

Secondly, seeking this righteousness does not look like merely being baptized. You talk to many people and that is what they think. They think that to be baptized is what it is all about!

Thirdly, seeking this righteousness does not look like mechanically praying the same rote prayer every evening and before every meal. That is not it!

Lastly, though we could keep going, seeking God’s righteousness does not look like voting straight republican or democrat during the elections. That is not it either! This is too small a view of the Christian religion.

You see, Christianity is huge! It encompasses everything. It consumes the entirety of one’s life. To seek God’s righteousness infiltrates every part of our minutes, days, weeks, months, and years.

It is waking up every day, peering into the Word of God, and saying, “I am not my own, I have been bought by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, Christ is my Lord and I am his slave. My aim today will not be to live for myself, but to live for my Savior. I will aim to love, serve, and obey Him and only Him.”

Seeking God’s righteousness sounds like Paul when he says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians. 3:12-14).

It looks like Jesus when he says, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work” (John 4:34). And like Jesus when he was fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and Satan comes and says, “If you are the Son of God, turn this stone into bread.” To which Jesus responded saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:3-4). This is what seeking “His righteousness” looks like!

Conclusion

So, this is what Jesus expects us to seek first and foremost. Our main ambition is to be seeking the kingdom of God and his righteousness. We are to be running after this. This is what we were made for. This is what we were saved for. This will glorify and honor our Lord a great deal. Therefore, let us strive to, by the power of the Spirit and through faith in Jesus, seek to be obedient to this remarkable verse!

Sexual Sin-Proverbs 5, 6, & 7

Introduction

This blog post is specifically going to deal with sexual sin by looking at Proverbs 5, 6, and 7. I will be jumping around these chapters to get a holistic view of sexual sin. Also, I originally taught some of this content to the college students at the church I serve, but have increasingly had a desire to condense and revise it in order to put it on this blog so that it would benefit others. With that said, much more could be said than what is in this post! Let’s get started.

Main Crux

Within Proverbs 5, 6, and 7 we will see a father address his son with loving wisdom regarding the dangers of the adulterous woman and adultery in general.

For men, these chapters are informing us of two things. First, we need to guard our hearts against lusting after women because it will ultimately lead to our destruction. Secondly, we do not need to entice a woman.

For women, these chapters are also informing you of two things. First, you need to guard your hearts against a predatory man. . .one seeking to woo you, win you, and speak sweetly to you, but who will ultimately destroy you. Secondly, do not seek to allure a man sexually with how you act and dress.

Solomon-Speaking from Experience

Now, the father that is giving this advice to his son learned the dangers of sexual immorality the hard way. I say that because King Solomon is the father in this discourse. And, from the biblical witness, Solomon was a man that was given to sexual immorality.

In 1 Kings 11 we read, “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women.” The Scripture goes on to say, “Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 hundred wives and 300 concubines,” as well as, “They turned away his heart and he began to follow other gods.” As is evident, Solomon knew the devastating effects of sexual immorality experientially. With this in mind, he is seeking to give wisdom to his son throughout these three chapters in Proverbs so that his son might not fall into the same trap that he did.

The Desperate Need for Wisdom in this Area

My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge. For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it. (Proverbs 5:1-6)

As we look at this, we see two appeals from Solomon!

  1. “Be attentive to my wisdom”
  2. “Incline your ear to my understanding.”

Every time Solomon is about to address the son about the adulterous woman and adultery in general, there is always an appeal for the son to listen to the father’s instructions so that he can gain wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 5:7; 6:20; 7:1-2).

Moreover, in chapter 7 we are given an example of what Solomon saw one day as he was looking down from his castle. And it was this, a simple boy amongst a bunch of youths that lacked sense. It was this boy that fell into the sin of sexual immorality and thus destroyed himself. Therefore, it is evident that the simple, the ones that lack knowledge and understanding of the appeal of sexual sin, the embrace of sexual sin, the true nature of sexual sin, and the consequences of sexual sin, are the ones that succumb to sexual sin.

So, let’s incline our ears to the Word of God and listen to what our Lord has to say about sexual sin. This will lead, as the text says, to “discretion and guarding knowledge!” That phrase just means that we will be able to make the proper decisions in any given circumstance. . . even when the adulterous woman comes out to entice us and when sexual immorality is bidding us to partake in it. With that said, let’s begin gaining wisdom by looking at the initial appeal of sexual Immorality.

The Initial Appeal of Sexual Sin

The text quoted about said, “Her lips drip honey and her speech is smoother than oil.” The adulteress is revealing the very nature of sexual sin isn’t she? Sexual sin initially appears delightful, sweet, easy to partake in, and enjoyable. It is simply not like other sins in its appeal.

I mean, murder does not look sweet and delicious to the eyes. Theft does not come with a strong appeal of deep satisfaction. Dishonoring parents doesn’t look like honey to a hungry soul! This, however, is exactly what the adulterous woman looks like.

Sexual immorality initially seems to promise our soul many good things. It seems to present something that ought to be partaken in and delighted in. It looks like something to be enjoyed and gratified by. That is the nature of both the adulterous woman and sexual sin. In their initial appeal, they are very deceptive.

And sexual sin’s deception does not stop here. Solomon gives more insight throughout these chapters of the strong appeal that the adulterous woman has. In Proverbs 6:24-25, Solomon says that the adulterous woman has a smooth tongue, that she is beautiful, and that she has eyelashes that capture men. So, the adulterous has a smooth tongue. She has a way with words that strokes the male ego. She uses her voice in subtle ways to allure and persuade men. This is seen in Proverbs 7:21 as well when we read, “With much seductive speech she persuades him, with her smooth talk she compels him.”

She also has physical beauty that she uses to her own advantage as she seeks to draw men in. Chapter 7 says that, “She is dressed like a prostitute, wily of heart.” So, she dresses in a manner that reveals her desire for sexual intimacy. When men see her, they cannot help but think that she is interested in promiscuity.

And she has eyelashes that are captivating. So she shows men interest. She looks at them, shows interest in them, and goes out of her way to gain the their attention.

This is the initial appeal of the adulteress. This is what one sees from afar. This is what allures and tempts. And it is overwhelmingly appealing isn’t it? But, keep in mind, this is only its initial appeal. It is not what she truly is. Rather, she is incredibly crafty. That is why the Scripture says, “She is wily of heart.” She is cunning. She is a hunter dressed in camouflage waiting to kill her prey. This is why these chapters are so important for us. We must get wisdom in regards to sexual immorality’s initial appeal.

However, to know the initial appeal is not enough in and of itself. We also need wisdom in understanding sexual immorality’s initial embrace.

The Initial Embrace of Sexual Sin

For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold the woman meets him. (Proverbs 7:6-10)

This young man is simple. He is naïve. And, as if that weren’t bad enough, he also isn’t  around a bunch of men with wisdom. Rather, he’s among a bunch of youths that lack wisdom. So, he is ignorant and lacking sense and around others that are ignorant and lacking sense!

And look, he is headed to the adulteress’s street. He is taking the road to her house. And it is at night time when sexual immorality happens to be rampant. So, he is tempting the devil to tempt him. And, with this being the case, the adulterous woman comes out to meet him in order to tempt him sexually.

And think about the strength of this temptation. The naïve young man runs into the adulteress in the evening. Her lips are dripping honey and her speech is smoother than oil. She is beautiful and dressed in a way that shows her desire for sexual intimacy. She is looking at him in an alluring way showing him that she is interested in him. As you can tell, this is not good. This is just the initial appeal though. The initial embrace is even worse.

Proverbs 7:13-15 says, “She seizes him and kisses him, and with bold face she says to him, ‘I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows; so now I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.”

The lips that drip honey embrace the young man’s lips. This is a bold sexual encounter! And look, she begins to present herself, not as devoutly promiscuous woman that lives a life of unrestrained sexual immorality, but as a religious woman. She says, “I had to offer sacrifices, and today I have paid my vows.” So, she has been to the temple to “offer up” sacrifices and vows to God.

But, let’s be honest, her heart is not set truly on God. Rather, she uses religion to her own advantage. She uses it to ease her conscience and also to woo her prey. So, she plays the hypocrite with God all the while she seduces man.

Still Seen Today (Excursus)

This mode of attack is still common today. There are many people out there that use Christianity to assuage their consciences. They live immorally, go to church to fill better about themselves, and then step back into a life of immorality.

And, both men and women, still masquerade as Christians all the while using it to their own advantage. They seek to woo a member of the opposite sex by their religiosity in order to get to their own end. They use religion to get the other person to let their guard down so that they can get them to fall into sexual sin with them. Do not be deceived by this!

Initial Embrace Continued

And then look, she tells the young man, “I have come out to meet you, to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.” Look at how crafty and manipulative she is. She is seeking to make him feel important. She wants him to feel special. She wants him to feel like he is the only one she intended to be with. But, as is apparent in the text, she has not really been seeking him at all. Proverbs 7:11-12 says, “She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait.”

So, in reality, she is always out and about just waiting for her next prey. This man is not special to her. She cannot reveal this truth though. She cannot embrace him as though he is merely prey. That would not be nearly as successful a strategy for her. Therefore, she embraces him like he is special. She embraces him like he is all she has ever desired.

And is this not the case even today. Whether it be in high school, college, or in your career, at the gym, church, or job, the people that are sexually promiscuous are good with their words. They know how to make a person feel incredibly important. They make people feel like they are the ones that they have been waiting for. They are sweet talkers and know exactly what to say.

But they are not doing this out of sincerity. They are doing this for their own end. . . and that end is immorality. So, look beyond the mere words of an individual. Look at the way of life. Look at holiness, godliness, and knowledge of the Bible. Don’t be easily led astray by mere words!

So, as you can see, the initial embrace of sexual immorality is daunting. It gets even worse though. Look at Proverbs 7:16-20 where she says:

I have spread my couch with coverings, colored linens from Egyptian linen; I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love till morning, let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he took a bag of money with him; at full moon he will come home.

The adulteress has been preparing for this moment. The bait has been set. The couch is covered, nice linens are spread out, the perfume has been poured on, the husband is not home, and no one will find out!

And notice how she says, “Come, let us take our fill of love till morning, let us delight ourselves in love.” She is tempting him to sexual immorality by presenting it as love! She is using the longing of the human heart, a desire to be loved, to manipulate her prey. This is a tactic that is both deceptive and successful. And then in verse 21 Solomon says, “With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him.”

So, this is the initial embrace of sexual sin! And it is very apparent, as we have seen, that the initial appeal and the initial embrace of sexual immorality are overwhelmingly powerful. It seems like sexual sin, for some reason, tends to carry a unique amount of both power and deception. With this being the case, we most certainly need to know the true nature of sexual sin. Thankfully Solomon gives us much detail regarding this.

The True Nature of Sexual Sin

But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. (Proverbs 5:4)

This is sexual sins end. The adulterous’ initial appeal distracts us from the end that she will bring. She promises sweet pleasure but, in the end, she is bitter as wormwood. She promises gratification and satisfaction but, in the end, she cuts like a two-edged sword.

I am telling you, before people partake in sexual sin, they are not thinking “What is this going to do to my soul, my spouse, my children, my reputation?” Rather, they are thinking, “Honey!” “Oil on the Lips!” “Satisfaction!” This is all they are thinking about. And, because of this, they are blinded to what will follow!

Also, look at Proverbs 5:5 where Solomon says,“Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol; she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.”

This shows us how sexual sin has impacted the adulterous herself. I mean, she is walking in darkness. She is headed straight for death. Just look at how unrestrained sexual sin has destroyed her. She does not even think about living a holy or righteous life. She wanders, or is unstable, in her ways as she heads to judgment without even knowing it. It is as though her unrestrained sexual immorality has taken away any thought of God.

And this is the nature of sexual sin isn’t it? The longer one partakes in it, the harder their heart becomes. The longer sexual sin is indulged in, the less we think about the things of God. This is honestly why it is so foolish to say, “I will enjoy this sin for a season and then I will repent of it.” That is not how this works.

That view has the presupposition that we have mastered sin and that we can partake and repent of it any time that we desire. This is not true. It is a lie for the enemy of our souls. You see, biblically speaking, sin has mastered us and we are enslaved to it. The only hope that we can be released from its mastery is repentance (which is a gift of God) and faith in Jesus (who obliterated the dominating power of sin on the cross). And, from the Scripture, the longer you put off repentance, the less likely God will gift you with it. So, before you become like the adulterous woman, not even pondering the things of God and following the path leading to destruction, repent and turn to Jesus in faith.

Alright, Let’s continue looking at the true nature of sexual sin. Proverbs 5:7-14 says:

And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciful, less strangers take their fill of your strength, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner, and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teacher or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.

Let’s focus on, “Lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless.” You see, through this act of sexual immorality your honor will be taken away. Just think about David. Wasn’t this true of him? He was a man after God’s own heart who served the Lord many years of his life, yet, bring up David’s name in mixed company and it is his adultery that is mentioned first. This is also the case with Samson and Solomon. These men are remembered more for their adultery than they are for their obedience. It’s clear, sexual sin of this sort will take away honor!

Moreover, Solomon says, “And your years will be given to the merciless.” You must know that people are a harsh. They are not merciful, forgiving, or gracious. When people hear that somebody has had an affair or committed sexual immorality of some sort, they will mock and slander your name. Just look at the newspaper headlines or gossip magazine covers. Affairs make the front page. People simply delight in being merciless.

Then he says, “Lest strangers take their fill of your strength and your labors go to the house of a foreigner.” So, oftentimes sexual sin of this sort (adultery) leads to poverty. Everything you have is taken away and given to a stranger. This is not always the case, but it is generally true. A season of financial hardship often comes on those who have affairs.

And then he says, “And at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed, and you say, ‘how I hated discipline and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors. I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.’” Sexual sin has the tendency to destroy your conscience. As you see the devastating effects of such sin, you want to go back and take heed to the counsel you heard when you were younger, but it is too late. The flesh has been gratified, a life has been wasted, and death is right around the corner.

And lastly, look at how Solomon put the true nature of the adultery and sexual sin. Proverbs 7:23 says, “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast, till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.” This is horrific. I mean, this sin is bitter as wormwood and sharper than a two-edged sword. It takes away honor, leads people to be merciless towards you, it destroys your conscience, and it often times enraptures its victim so much so that it leads to eternal death. It will cost you your life!

And even though this sin is this destructive, because of its initial appeal and initial embrace, it destroys many people! Solomon says in Proverbs 7:25-27, “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way of Sheol, going to down to the chambers of death.”

This sin has brought down Samson, David, and Solomon. Sexual sin brings down pastors, theologians, seminary professors, seminarians, CEO’s, doctors, politicians, teachers, etc. It brings down both the wealthy and the poor, the wise and the ignorant, Christians and non-christians, men and women, young and old. It is bringing down people left and right in our day. Sexual sin’s victims are a mighty throng. It continues to slay thousands upon thousands!

And since this is the true nature of sexual sin, we need to know how to die to this most deadly vice!

How to Die to Sexual Sin

First, stay away from it! Proverbs 6:8 says, “Keep your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” This shows the strong nature of sexual sin doesn’t it? It is something that we must avoid all together. We must not even get close to it, for in getting close to it, we will find ourselves in its trap.

It is remarkable how, all to often, this simple warning is not heeded. People trifle with sexual sin as though it isn’t that dangerous! They fool themselves by saying:

  • “I can get close to it but not completely succumb to it.”
  • “I can do this or that and it will not affect me.”
  • “I can view this website without going to that website.”
  • “I can go to this party without doing this particular thing.”
  • “I can date this particular guy without giving in like his last girlfriend.”
  • “I can develop a really close friendship with a co-worker of the opposite sex without getting involved emotionally or sexually.”
  • “I can watch this particular movie without succumbing to lust.”

All the while, Solomon is pleading with his son to stay FAR away from the adulterous. . . . do not even go NEAR her house!

With that said, it really is sad that this disposition of the heart towards sexual sin is not seen in our day. We simply play around with it not thinking that we will succumb to it. All the while our fragile self-control falls apart and we end up on the path to destruction. . . like a city with broken down walls.

Secondly, rid yourselves of lust. Proverbs 6:25 says, “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes.” This is sexual sin in its beginning. It is desiring her beauty in your heart. Therefore, repent of lust and seek to purify your mind by saturating yourself with the things of God and thoughts about Christ.

Thirdly, gain wisdom. These three passages are filled with exhortations to gain wisdom, knowledge, and understanding so that we can have discretion. Therefore, study up on sin. Read books about sin and how we are to kill it.

Fourthly, understand one of God’s providential means to keep you from sexual sin. Proverbs 6:15-20 says:

Drink water from you own cistern, flowing water from you own well. Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?

Pertaining to this passage, Ray Ortlund says:

And God is saying, “Satisfy your thirst through lovemaking with your wife.” Look what the Lord is not saying. He is not saying, “There’s temptation out there? Then what you need is a will of iron. You need steely determination. So here is your future—endless frustration bottled up inside.” Obviously we all need self-control if we are going to have emotional structures above a five-year-old level. Verse 23 warns against a ‘lack of discipline.’ But God’s remedy for your thirst for sex is sex, overflowing sexual joy with your wife. That is what he means in verse 15 by ‘your own cistern’ and ‘your own well.’ Your wife is your own personal and private, divinely approved wellspring of endless sexual satisfaction.

So, understand that God is not some kill joy that is forbidding you to enjoy your natural God-given desire for sex. Rather, He is a gracious God that has given you the institution of marriage for the regular satifaction of those desires with your spouse!

Lastly, a greater view of the worth of Christ. Thomas Chalmers said this in a sermon titled The Expulsive Power of a New Affection: 

In a word, if the way to disengage the heart from the positive love of one great and ascendant object, is to fasten it in positive love to another, then it is not by exposing the worthlessness of the former, but by addressing to the mental eye the worth and excellence of the latter, that all old things are to be done away and all things are to become new.

Chalmers is saying that our hearts are often engaged in a positive love for a great and ascendant object that has our affections. In our case, it would be sexual immorality. And the way to disengage our hearts from this object, sexual immorality, is to expose our hearts and affections to something far more worthy and excellent. Thus, we need our affections set on something that is far superior, satisfying, and glorious than sexual sin. Thus, we need to set our eyes on the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we want to rid ourselves of sexual immorality, we must set our hearts and affections on Christ. We must always seek to be getting an education in his infinite worth and value. We need to understand that He is a fountain of living water that satisfies the weary soul. We need to see him as the eternal Son of God reigning in glory with His Father. We need to see him as the meek and sacrificial lamb that takes away the sins of the world. We need to see him weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. We need to see Him on the cross, bleeding, and dying as a substitute for sinners. We need to see him resurrecting in glory, restoring Peter, teaching the multitudes, and then ascending into heavens. We need to see him in heaven right now, interceding for us and being a faithful high priest on our behalf. And, when we see Christ, an object of more worth than a billion worlds, our hearts will be drawn from sexual sin and enraptured in Him. This is the key to killing this deadly sin.

The Destructive Power of Sinful Anger

Our hearts are deceitful, sin is deceptive, and the ancient serpent that wages war against our souls is crafty. This is a recipe for disaster. That is why it is so helpful to look after one another, study sin, and be aware of the ways of the evil one.

With that said, the specific sin that I want to look at today is anger. I just want us to briefly think through the destructive power of sinful anger. My hope is that this will help us to, by the power of the Spirit, put this sin to death.

Why Sinful Anger is so Destructive

First, the sin of anger is so destructive because it tends to quickly manifest itself outwardly for all to see.

Proverbs 14:29 “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”

I like how the NIV interprets “exalts” here as “displays.” I think this is exactly what is being revealed here. Somebody with a hasty temper displays to the public that they are foolish (lacking wisdom). With that in mind, Proverb 14:17 says, “A man of quick temper acts foolishly, and a man of evil devices is hated” (Proverbs 14:17).

So, Proverbs is revealing that sinful anger tends to manifest itself outwardly rather quickly. Now, all sin is like this to an extent. All sin, the longer is partaken in, usually becomes more and more manifest to the public’s eye. For example, lust usually begins with the mind. An individual begins to think inappropriately. Before long it begins to be a sin committed with the eyes. So, a person begins to have eyes full of lust and is looking inappropriately at women or men. Then, after a while, lust begins to manifest itself physically. The individual has less and less sexual restraint. Lastly, the sin of lust begins to manifests itself in ways that you never would have imagined. . . . sexual immorality, enslavement to pornography, an affair on your spouse, etc.

This is simply how sin is. And though this is generally true of all sin, it really does seem like sinful anger is a sin that is prone to manifest itself to the public a bit quicker than other sins. There is something about the intense emotions that come with anger that leads it to quickly escalate.

And, even as I say that, you know exactly what I am talking about. Think about the times that you have been angry and then said or did something that you immediately regretted. For example, when I played baseball, I would literally see guys goofing off before an at bat. Then, during the at bat, they would strike out. They would get angry because their pride was shot. They would then come into the dugout, throw their helmet down, throw their bat down, and punch the bench. They would literally break their hand punching the bench (I am not kidding)! And, just remember, they were goofing off three minutes prior to breaking their hand.

Or just think about how quickly people get upset at another driver on the road and then say something verbally or do something physically that is completely out of character for them.

These are just examples from everyday life. The Bible gives us numerous evidences of this truth as well. Cain was filled with anger and killed his brother. Haman was filled with anger and sought to kill Mordecai. King Saul was filled with anger and sought to kill David. The meek and gentle Moses was filled with bitterness and anger at Israel’s complaining and then struck the rock twice when God had only commanded him to speak to it. Jonah was filled with anger and said that it would be better for him to die.

It is just apparent that anger tends to manifest itself in outward ways rather quickly. This, in turn, brings reproach to Christ and misrepresents the God whom we serve. For the God whom we serve is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!

Secondly, since the sin of anger tends to manifest itself publicly rather quickly, it always brings about harm to our neighbor.

Now, it is important to note that this is generally true of all sin as well. The more public a sin is, the more it harms your neighbor. For example, if I covet, or earnestly desire my neighbor’s things, then I have sinned. However, since I coveted them, but did not steal them, my neighbor is not necessarily affected by my sin. Now, if I were to covet my neighbor’s possessions and then begin to steal them, then my neighbor would be directly affected by my sin.

For another example, just think about King David. When he should have been off at war, he was roaming around on the roof of his palace. Upon roaming around, he noticed Bathsheba bathing. If he would have noticed her and then lusted after her in his heart, he would have most certainly been in sin, but she, nor her husband, would have been impacted by his sin.

However, we see that David did not just see and lust after Bathsheba. Rather, he lusted and then sent his servant to bring Bathsheba to him. In doing this, David’s sin caused greater and greater damage to his neighbors. It hurt David himself, Bathsheba, Uriah (her husband), and honestly the entire kingdom of Israel. So, the more public a sin is, the more harm it usually does to our neighbors.

And I think that anger, since it quickly manifests itself to the public, tends to harm our neighbors a great deal. And practically, we know that this is true. You get angry at your parents, so you say something to them that is hateful causing them much anguish. You get upset with your boyfriend or girlfriend and say something to them that you would not have said in a thousand years had you been in your right mind. You are driving down the road and a car cuts you off making you fume with anger. As you fume with anger, you make a hand gesture that you haven’t made in three years. The list can go on and on. Sinful anger simply destroys our neighbors.

This is why you have Proverbs that say things like:

Proverbs 15:18 “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”

Proverbs 29:22 “A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.”

So, this is the second reason sinful anger is so destructive. It always brings about harm to your neighbor!

Thirdly, the sin of anger has a tendency to rub off on the people closest to you. So, if you are an angry person then you’ll usually begin seeing the people around you be angry people.

Listen to what this Proverb says:

Proverbs 22:24-25 “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

Anger is repulsive. It is a heinous sin. It is absolutely dreadful to be caught in the thicket of, and to see it from afar shows the sheer ugliness of it. Yet, somehow, if we are around it enough, we grow a bit angrier as well. It is as though the sin of anger is a contagion and if we are around it long enough, we too will get it. Listen to what Charles Bridges says about all this:

Common intercourse with a furious man is like living in a house that is on fire. His unreasonable conduct stirs our own tempers. One fire kindles another. Occasional bursts of passion soon form the habit. The habit becomes the nature. Thus we learn his ways, and get a snare to our soul.

So, he is saying, to befriend a person that is given to anger will lead us to have our anger stirred up as well. Then, if this happens frequently, we will make anger a habit. That’s a dreadful thought.

With this in mind, Bridges ends saying, “We learn anger easier than meekness. We convey disease, not health. Hence it is the rule of self-preservation, no less than the rule of God—Make no friendship with an angry man.”

Bridges is saying, for the sake of preserving your own soul, do not befriend somebody that is constantly given to anger. So, this is the third reason the sin of anger is so destructive. It tends to lead those around you to be angry as well.

Lastly, sinful anger tends to stay with us for a long time.

You see, there is something about the sin of anger that tends to stick with us for a while. I mean, let’s be honest, we rarely ever get angry and then quickly get over it. Rather, anger  stays with us a while, increases in its severity, and causes us to do or say things that we should not do or say.

With that in mind, think about this instruction from Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.”

So, a wise person may get angry, but they do not let anger reside within them letting it build up. They do not allow it to consistently grow and fester within them. The fool, however, does! He allows anger to lodge in his heart letting it impact all that he does and says. This is one of the reasons that the Apostle Paul commands the church in Ephesus saying, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26).

So, that is the fourth and last reason the sin of anger is so destructive. Sinful anger tends to stay with us for a while.

Conclusion

So, may we, as Christians, be slow to anger (James 1:19). May we realize that one of the very reasons we are saved is because we serve a gracious God who was and is incredibly patient and slow to anger with us. Seriously, many of us rebelled against God for decades. Let that sink in. We opposed Him for years. We affronted His glory time after time. However, He was slow to anger with us. He was patiently enduring our hard heartedness until we came to repentance and faith in Christ. That is remarkable.

And, as Christians, we ought to imitate that. We ought to be slow to anger as well. For, as is evident from the points mentioned above, sinful anger is destructive. It does not represent the God whom we serve, it does not do any good to our neighbors, nor does it do any spiritual good to us personally. So, by the power of the Spirit, let’s put sinful anger to death to the glory of God.

 

The Implications of a Judgment According to Works for the Christian

Getting Justification Right 

A sinner is saved by the grace of God alone through faith alone in Christ alone. This is the clear teaching of Scripture. There will not be one individual that will be declared righteous through his obedience. Rather, individuals will only be declared righteous through faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. So, those who are in Christ through faith are justified, and those who are apart from Christ are condemned.

That is why there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you are a Christian, you will never hear the just judge of all the earth declare you to be guilty of sin and deserving of eternal punishment. That will not happen. Rather, you hear a silent declaration of “Justified!” from the judge of the earth now, and you will one day hear a public declaration of “Justified!” on judgment day. This is our hope and it is incredibly comforting! We are righteous in Christ Jesus. Praise God for this! We are rescued from the wrath of God in Christ Jesus. Glory be to God alone! We are adopted into the family of God in Christ Jesus. Honor be to the name of Jesus!

Justification Does Not Eradicate Evaluation

With that said, there also must be an understanding that those who have been justified (judicially declared righteous) through faith in Christ will be judged according to their works. This is thoroughly biblical. Just because we will not face condemnation on judgment day does not mean that we will escape evaluation. We will most certainly be evaluated. All of our actions, motives, thoughts, and words will be evaluated on judgment day. So, our works will be judged. And, according to Scripture, this doctrine is incredibly important for how we live life now. So, let’s look at some applications that arise from a judgment according to works.

Application of This Doctrine

A judgment according to works can be applied in many ways. Therefore, it will be helpful to see how this understanding of the role of works in the judgment of the righteous can be applied personally and within Christian ministry.

Personal Holiness

The first application that arises from a knowledge of a judgment according to works is personal holiness. All throughout the New Testament, the biblical writers refer to the day of judgment and then issue appeals for lives of holiness. For example, Peter, in speaking about the importance of being holy because God the Father is holy, says, “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Pet. 1:17). Paul, in a similar line of thought, said that all Christians will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, “so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10). It is for this reason that Paul says that Christians are to make it their aim to please the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9).

So, one day, we as individuals, will stand before Christ’s great tribunal and receive what is our due for both the good and the evil that we have done in our earthly bodies. There will be no partiality in Christ’s judgment. Christ will look into the inner recesses of our hearts and expose every motive, secret, intention, careless word, and action in accordance with his infinite wisdom. For the evil that we have done, Christ will withhold his commendation. For the good that we have done, Christ will give his commendation (1 Cor. 4:5). For the evil that we have done, we will not receive a reward. For the good that we have done, we will receive rewards.

This is, without a doubt, a major incentive to live a life of holiness for the Lord. Regarding this Phanton says, “No wise disciple can afford to neglect so great a mass of Scripture, or throw away so mighty an incentive to holiness. Our discovery of this truth at the Judgment Seat will be too late.” Phanton is right in his assertion. We, if we want to live lives of holiness for the Lord, will find all the incentive we need in a thorough contemplation of standing before the judgment seat of Christ on that Great Day.

This also must be applied in the ministry context that God has entrusted with us. Right now I do college ministry on college campuses throughout the triangle area. I am able to interact with numerous students throughout the week. Each of them will have to stand before Christ’s tribunal to give an account of their lives. I ought to labor with relentless zeal in order to do everything that I can so that they will stand holy and blameless before the Lord on that Great Day. It should be my aim to prepare them for judgment day. Thus, I should do everything I can to help them pursue personal holiness.

Labor For The Lord

Secondly, a judgment according to works should lead us to increasingly labor for the Lord. When we do something in faith, to the glory of God, and out of love for neighbor, it is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). Rather than being in vain, it will lead to commendation and reward from my blessed Savior. This is a major incentive to gospel labor. It most certainly was for Paul, this truth led him to tell Christians in Corinth, “to be abounding in the works of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

And this idea of rewards should not make us feel uneasy. The Scriptures clearly use this truth to compel Christians to labor. Jesus, in Matthew 6, uses both rewards and loss of rewards, to compel his disciples to give to the needy, pray, and fast in a way that is honoring to the Lord (Mt. 6:1-18). He then goes on to tell his disciples to intentionally lay-up treasure in heaven with how they use their money (Mt. 6:19-24). Also, the parable of the talents teaches that those who are faithful in how they steward their God given gifts will receive rewards when Christ Jesus returns (Mt. 24:14-30).

So, the idea of heavenly rewards compelling us to holy zeal and fervor in going about the work of the Lord is seen in the Scripture. This leads Wayne Grudem to say, “It would be morally and spiritually beneficial for us to have a greater consciousness of this clear New Testament teaching on degrees of heavenly reward.” Grudem is right. We would do well to contemplate eternal rewards often. This will lead us to zealously labor for Christ’s sake. We should be willing to spend and be spent for Christ’s kingdom knowing that nothing we do is in vain.

Also, this idea of rewards should impact the ministry we have been given. It should impact me personally as I labor on college campuses. Each of these students that I am shepherding has the opportunity to labor for the Lord, thus, storing up treasures in heaven. I ought to do everything in my power to keep them from wasting their lives by compelling them to lay up treasures in heaven by doing bold acts of service for Christ’s sake. So, I should be helping them and encouraging them to store up heavenly rewards from a most benevolent God who is eager to bestow them.

Increasing Humility

Thirdly, a judgment according to works should also lead us to have ever increasing humility. Often times, we have haughty views of ourselves. We simply seem to regard ourselves, as well as our ministry, with greater significance than we ought to. The reality of judgment day should keep us from this.

I say this because this was Paul’s mentality. Paul knew that he was gifted by God to be a steward of the mysteries of the gospel for the sake of the church. However, when it came to examining his faithfulness as a steward, he was not concerned with the judgment of men. He says, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by any human court” (1 Cor. 4:3). Paul then goes even further saying that he does not even trust his own judgment of his ministry, even though, as far as he could tell, he had not been unfaithful (1 Cor. 4:3-4).

The reason for this is because he knew judgment day was coming. Therefore, rather than leaning on his own judgment or the judgment of men, he says, “Therefore, I do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each will receive his commendation from God.” (1 Cor. 4:5).

Thus, judgment day led Paul to refrain from judging his own faithfulness. Rather, he humbly labored for the Lord waiting for judgment day to shed light on his ministry. The same truth mentioned above also led George Whitefield, after laboring for the Lord in an incomprehensibly glorious way, to leave his tomb stone with the words, “Here lies G.W. What sort of man he was the great day will discover.” So, the understanding of judgment day should keep us personally humble in our gospel labor as we patiently wait for that great day to reveal the genuineness of our work.

No Sinful Judging

Fourthly, a judgment according to works should keep us from sinfully casting judgment on weaker Christians. It should also keep us from causing a weaker brother in Christ to sin in how we use our Christian freedom (Rom. 14:5-23). Each Christian is going to have to give an account of their lives to Christ. Therefore, the last thing we should want is to have to give an account to Christ for how we caused a weaker Christian, for whom He died, to sin against him by how we used our Christian freedom (Rom. 14:15).

This Should Permeate Our Teachings

Lastly, a judgment according to work should be within our teachings, our discipleship relationships, and in how we raise our kids. We should not just teach justification, and we should not just teach a judgment according to works. Rather, they should both be taught. Justification by faith alone in Christ alone and a judgment according to works are both clearly in the Bible. Therefore, both of them ought to be taught. To emphasize justification by faith alone in Christ alone to the detriment of judgment according to works produces lawlessness. People will simply live however they want to live all the while claiming Christ as Savior. We see this all throughout the Bible Belt! Also, to emphasize judgment according to works to the detriment of justification by faith alone in Christ alone produces legalism. This also is seen all throughout the Bible Belt! So, we must emphasize both. To emphasize both will produce an affectionate reverence to Christ whereby we yield ourselves in obedience to the will of God. Therefore, this teaching ought to permeate our thoughts, teachings, sermons, discipleship relationships, child rearing, etc.

 

Don’t Neglect the Church as the Spring Semester Gets Hectic!

I have not been in college ministry a very long time (almost 3 years), but I have been in it long enough to know that church attendance begins to dissipate as students begin to inch closer and closer towards the end of the spring semester. (Just as a side note….I do not think this is a problem just for college students. We, by nature, start strong and finish poorly).

My desire in this blog post is to convince you of five reasons why you should maintain faithfully attending church as you see summer on the horizon.

To Behold the Glory of Christ

Christ says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14). Now, it is apparent that Christ is speaking about his crucifixion within this verse. However, what is important to understand is that he is not merely talking about the actual event of his crucifixion. Not many people were looking at Christ’s actual crucifixion and receiving eternal life. Thus, Christ’s statement must go beyond that! It must go beyond the event of his actual crucifixion to something that is happening even today, for today, people are still looking to Christ crucified and receiving eternal life.  

And I would argue that Christ is speaking about the ministry of the word of God. It is the preaching and teaching ministry of the word that is revealing Christ crucified. Paul tells the Galatians, who did not see the actual crucifixion of Christ, “Oh foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? It was before your very eyes that Jesus was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Galatians 3:1). Also, he tells Titus that the eternal life that is in Christ Jesus was manifested through the preaching of the word (Titus 1:2-3).

There is a revealing of Christ crucified through the faithful teaching and preaching of the word. This is one reason why faithfully and consistently sitting under the word of God is so important. Week in and week out, you are beholding Christ. This serves to strengthen your faith. And, if you want to prove this through a litmus test, simply go ask somebody that has neglected attending church for a while how their faith is holding up. And if they say it is good, then stay around them long enough to see the falsity of their statement be manifested.

To Hear the Word of the Lord

Preaching, if it is done faithfully and in accordance with the biblical text, carries great authority. As the preacher draws out the meaning of the text, he is drawing out the very word of God (1 Thess. 2:13). Thus, to sit under faithful preaching is to sit under the word of the Lord. This is something that every Christian needs to consistently hear. This is the Christian’s food and drink. This is what is going to nourish and strengthen them in their walk with Christ. So, to consistently attend church presents you with the opportunity to consistently hear what the God of heaven and earth has said and is saying through His written Word. However, to neglect church is to willingly separate yourself from hearing the word of the Lord. 

To Bear Other’s Burdens

Much of the Christian life is lived out glorifying God by sacrificially bearing the burdens of others. We do this out of love for God and love for neighbor. This is how we actually fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). We are to be a people that see other brothers and sisters in Christ bearing burdens that are so heavy that they cannot bear themselves-such as financial burdens, health burdens, burdens brought about by other’s sins, burdens brought about by our own sin-and then gladly die to ourselves, and place some of their burdens upon our own shoulders for the glory of God and the sake of Christ. This type of burden bearing is nearly impossible when you forsake the local church.

Satan’s Assault is Continuous

Satan is a thief that comes to steal, kill, deceive, accuse, and destroy. He is relentless in his opposition to both God and man. As soon as Adam and Eve were in the garden, Satan is on the scene with his wicked weapons in hand. As soon as Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain, he rears his ugly head. As soon as Israel began to multiply in Egypt, he was present in the wicked Pharaoh. As soon as Christ Jesus was born of a virgin, he was there as a dragon ready to devour Him! He is driven by pride, greed, envy, jealousy, selfish ambition, and hatred. His desire is to utterly destroy you. He wants your physical life and your spiritual life, and he will not rest until he has them!

Church is like an embassy in a foreign land for a citizen of the kingdom of God. When we are faithfully engaging in the life of the church, we are safe from the ancient enemy of our souls! To put it in a little perspective, when Paul tells the Corinthians to exercise church discipline on a brother who has lapsed into heinous sin, he tells them to expel the brother from the church, and to hand him over to Satan! So, to be separated from the local church is to be handed over to Satan. Thus, when you willfully neglect church, you are, in a since, allowing yourself to roam in Satan’s evil lair. Why in the world would anybody want to do that?

You Reap What You Sow

The Bible consistently teaches that you will reap what you sow. So, in an agricultural since, if you sow wheat then you will reap wheat. But the Scripture takes this beyond the simple agricultural meaning to a spiritual meaning. Paul says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8). Proverbs says, “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity” (Proverbs 22:8). This is a general principle that rears its head constantly throughout the Bible and we can be certain that it rears its head today as well. 

To sow to the Spirit will lead to eternal life, but to sow to the flesh will lead to eternal death. To sow to the Spirit will lead to a harvest of righteousness, but to sow to the flesh will lead to a harvest of unrighteousness. When you willfully forsake assembling with other Christians due to idleness, sluggishness, laziness, unrepentant sin, etc., then you are sowing to the flesh. And before long, if the general principle proves true, you will reap unrighteousness and ungodliness. 

To Conclude

So those are five brief reasons why you should persevere in attending church as your spring semester begins to get hectic, you see summer on the horizon, and you are absolutely worn out. With that said, persevere!