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August 30, 2021

Ep.1193: Am I Failing as a Christian?

Defining what success and failure look like for disciples of Jesus

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:31]
Are we expected to change who we are or develop who we are?


[00:29:30]
Is my life supposed to be about everyone else or do I just need to focus on loving Jesus?


[00:46:52]
How often do I have to go to church and study the Bible?


Theme Scripture: Luke 6:27-28

So, what does it mean to be a Christian, and how do I know if I am doing it right? What happens if I am doing it wrong? Is there a clear-cut standard? Will Jesus be disappointed in me if I fall short? Am I expected to change who I am, or develop who I am? Is my life supposed to be about everyone else, or do I just need to really love Jesus? Am I in line to get everything I want, or do I have to give everything up? How often do I have to go to church? Should I pursue a career? Do I have to study the Bible all the time? While defining success or failure as a Christian is not an exact science, it is a vitally important understanding to have. As we address these questions, our objective will be to find the biblical answers that can guide us to living our daily lives in accordance with God’s will and word through Jesus.

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What are we measuring against?

To measure success or failure as a Christian, we need to understand the beginning basis of being a Christian. Jesus himself said in John 6:44 that nobody comes to him unless the Father first draws that person. Jesus also warned those who would follow him of the hardships they would face. He talked bluntly about "carrying your own cross." In those days, this would have been a horrifying image of pain and suffering. He also spoke clearly about counting the cost of a Christian lifestyle. These plain statements by Jesus simply tell us that discipleship begins with God drawing us. It continues with us answering that call with an eyes-wide-open weighing of its cost.

Now we have to live as a disciple

This is hard to do, as it touches on every aspect of our lives. So how do we measure success or failure here? Perhaps the first of many questions we need to ask ourselves is, how serious am I about being Jesus’ disciple? Measuring our seriousness can be done by observing our outward lifestyle and actions. What does who I spend time with and what I do with my time and resources say about me? The Bible gives us several markers along these lines. Our succeeding or failing as a Christian can be revealed by comparing these biblical standards with our lifestyle. Do you like what these comparative results show you?

Many of us will not be happy with what we see. Does this mean we are failing as Christians? Check out our August 30, 2021 podcast, “Am I Failing as a Christian?” for more. We delve deeply into these hard comparisons and several others as well. Most importantly, we open the door to working on where we fall short. Just because we may have lived a substandard Christian life yesterday does not mean we have to settle for it today. Join us and build an understanding of what discipleship really means so we can all clearly focus on “walking the walk” of Jesus and not just “talking the talk.”

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September 25, 2021

Ep.: How can I break bad, sinful habits?

Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-20 says,
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
We all have this struggle of being in our human, sinful bodies and minds and yet wanting to come up higher and be spiritually-minded and pleasing to our heavenly Father.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes us as being a “new creation.”
  • Romans 6:6 says we want to no longer be enslaved to sin.
  • Romans 6:4 says we are to “walk in newness of life.”
  • Ephesians 4:22-24 admonishes us to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
There is a battle going on within our own flesh that we must acknowledge and fight on a daily – and sometimes minute-by-minute – basis.
While God does look at our heart-felt intentions, our growth in these areas is of utmost importance.  We have to constantly be striving to improve and show the fruit of the spirit in all aspects of our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
For the dedicated Christian striving to do God’s will instead of our own, we are promised that Christ is our “advocate,” (1 John 2:1) who is able to cover our sins and allow us to have a relationship with our Father.  However, this does not mean we can keep intentionally sinning.  As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 6:14-15 – just because we are under grace – “God forbid” that we keep sinning.  Please read the entire chapter 6, to see Paul’s whole argument about letting sin not reign in our bodies with us obeying its lusts.  We are now servants of righteousness.
Some practical ideas:
1 Thessalonians 5:22:  Abstain from every form of evil.
Easier said than done, as evil is all around us.  We are so submerged in its subtlety that it can be hard to detect after we have identified all of the obvious problems.  First, go to the Lord through His son Jesus in prayer.  Be clear about what you are struggling with in both the big things and the small.  Ask to be cleansed from your “secret faults” per Psalm 19:12 – even those tiny things you might not be consciously aware of that are not in harmony with God’s will.
Consider then also going to a trusted Christian friend or advisor who knows you well.  Ask what they see as an issue with how you act, talk, spend your time, who you chose to keep around you.  What are their impressions as to how you are leading your Christian life?  They may have some insights for you that you did not even realize. There is an old but wise saying, “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Remember, true Christianity is “come as you are,” but it is NOT “stay as you are.”  We need to be constantly striving to keep ourselves walking in the pathway of light.
Ephesians 5:15–16 (KJV) “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  (also see Colossians 4:5)
The more we spend studying the Bible, finding ways to serve God, worshipping with fellow church members, fellowshipping with those of similar values and faith – the less time we have to think on and act on things that are not good for us.  The more time we spend on matters of the Lord’s business, the less time we have for us and our desires.
Some questions to ask yourself:
How are you spending your spare moments?
What are you searching for on your computer?
What kind of influence are you on others?
Do you understand the gospel message and are you communicating it with others?
Are you living a life of honesty and integrity – even when no one is watching?
How much of an influence are others on you?
Are you making good choices?
Do people know you are a Christian?  Can they see evidence of it?
You’ve heard the expression “garbage in, garbage out.”  We need to “feed” ourselves with truth and the fullness of God’s word in order to constantly be better.  At some point you will find that you no longer want to live that old life, as it is not satisfying – like having a meal full of sugar every day.
The Lord is merciful.  Don’t give up – the path of righteousness is always the better path, even if it seems difficult in the moment.
To learn more about how to create better habits and walk a new life in Christ listen to, “Am I Failing as a Christian?”
“Does Being a Christian Have to be Difficult?”
“Can Good Things Ever Be Bad?”
“How Do I Deal With Enticing Temptations?”
“So, Where Do I Start?”
To learn more about how we can better spend our time listen to the hour long discourse “Redeeming the Time”: https://christianquestions.com/cq-videos/videos-bonus-videos/redeeming-the-time/

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Ep.: Is it ok to sin if we are saved by grace?

Sin is a transgression of the Divine law or God’s law. 

Thousands of years ago God gave Moses and the Jewish nation the Ten Commandments as well as 613 other laws stated in Leviticus.  Since the Jews were God’s special people from whom the Messiah was to come, they needed to be kept pure and separate from the nations around them. Therefore, the Law acted as a schoolmaster in order to bring them to Christ. 

‘‘So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.” (Galatians 3:24-25) 

Once Jesus came and fulfilled the Law by his sacrifice unto death, the Law was no longer binding to the Jew providing he accepted Jesus. The Apostle Paul further explains this thought by commenting, ‘‘that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.’’ (Galatians 2:15)

Even though Christians, be they Jew or Gentile, are not required to follow the 613 laws or to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath or holy days, they are, however, required to follow the Ten Commandments. In fact, as Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, these commandments should be taken to a higher level than had ever been taught and should now be “written on our hearts.”

In the Sermon, Jesus gave his followers the high principles that they and we, as Christians today, are to live by.

 Jesus said, “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy, ‘but I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’” (Matthew 5:43-45) 

In these verses, Jesus is showing his followers the importance of the law of love, a law that is far greater than the Old Law Covenant that he completed upon his death on the cross. Christians are required to “write” the Ten Commandments upon their hearts, thereby, taking these commandments to a much higher level.

If we are “saved by grace” and the Law of Moses is no longer applicable, then is it okay to sin?  

Absolutely not.  The Apostle Paul gives us an obvious list of the acts that make up the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21 [sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, and orgies] and warns us “that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Verse 21) He then tells us to live a life guided by the holy spirit and lists the fruits of such a life. 

“But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:22-24)

The Apostle Peter gives us a similar list in 2 Peter 1:5-7. He then adds, “For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11)

Sin is repugnant to God.  It is never okay to sin.  Continuous deliberate sinning without asking forgiveness and repenting has a demeaning, ungodly influence on your life and will not allow you to be part of God’s heavenly kingdom.  Rather than think sin is okay, you must accept the fact that you are a sinner and evaluate your heart attitude, conscience and conduct as you try to emulate the sinless life of our Master, Jesus Christ. Then, seeing where you have fallen short, ask forgiveness before the throne of heavenly grace. 

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:12-13)

It is important that we continually check our thoughts and actions and ask ourselves if Jesus’ thoughts and actions would be in accord with ours. Each time we discover we have fallen short of the perfect example set before us, we need to ask forgiveness through prayer. Prayer is the Christian’s lifeline. You will find refuge and joy in prayer knowing that God hears the prayers of the righteous and is able and willing to forgive your sins if you acknowledge them and are truly repentant.  

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)  

To learn more about sin listen to, “Are We Sure Sin is Really Sinful?”

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: Who should we confess our sins to?

The concept of confession of sin to a priest is nowhere taught in either the Old or New Testaments. In fact, the New Testament teaches that all true believers are priests. 

1 Peter 2:9-10 describes believers as a “holy priesthood” and a “royal priesthood,” “a people belonging to God.” In the Old Covenant, the Jewish nation could only approach God through its priests who offered sacrifices to God for the forgiveness of sins of the entire nation of Israel. This practice is no longer necessary because of Jesus’ one time all-encompassing sacrifice, which fulfilled the Law, thus granting Christians direct access to God for forgiveness of individual sins through Jesus Christ. 

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

The New Testament teaches that the organization of Christ’s church would have elders, deacons (1 Timothy 3), overseers (Titus 1:6-9), and pastors (Ephesians 4:11). There is never any mention of priests. Believers are told to confess their sins to God (1 John 1:9) and God is faithful and just to forgive sins as they are confessed to him. Although James 5:16 speaks of confessing trespasses to one another, this confession is in no way linked with God’s forgiveness of the trespass. 

The Roman Catholic Church bases its practice of confession to a priest primarily on John 20:23, “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Because Jesus gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins, Catholics claim that that authority was passed on to their successors, i.e., the bishops and priests of the Roman Catholic Church. There are several problems with this interpretation. 

First, John 20:23 nowhere mentions confession of sin. Second, the scripture nowhere promises, or even hints, that the authority to forgive sins would be passed on to the successors of the apostles. Jesus’ promise was specifically directed to the apostles. Lastly, the New Testament nowhere states that the apostles would even have successors to their apostolic authority.

Therefore, should we confess our sins directly to God or do we need to confess them to a priest? We are to confess our sins to God. He has the power to forgive us.

 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

A priest does not have the power or authority to forgive sins. No man living on earth in this day and age has that authority. This fact does not negate the need we have as individuals to confess our sins openly to other believers. That practice is encouraged in James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” 

Although God hears the prayers of the righteous, a righteous individual has no power to eradicate the sin of another. However, and most importantly, we Christians are admonished to always forgive others for transgressions against us. 

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) 

To learn about repentance listen to, “How Do I Live a Life of Repentance?”

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: Why were Moses and Aaron kept out of the Promised Land?

In Numbers 20:8, the Lord told Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” 

Numbers 20:9-11 records Moses’ response: “So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as He commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’ Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.” 

Numbers 20:12 gives us the Lord’s response, “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

What did Moses together with his brother Aaron do that warranted such a severe penalty from the Lord? First, Moses disobeyed a direct command from God. God had commanded Moses to speak to the rock. Instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff. 

Second, Moses took the credit for bringing forth the water. Notice how in verse 10 Moses said, “must we (referring to Moses and Aaron) bring you water out of this rock.” Moses took credit for the miracle himself, instead of attributing it to God. 

Third, Moses did this in front of all the Israelites. Such a public example of direct disobedience could not go unpunished. The punishment of both Moses and Aaron (since they both had been directly instructed by God) was that they would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12). 

To learn more about Moses listen to, “What Does Moses the Deliverer Teach Us About Jesus?”

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: Is plastic surgery a sin?

We can see no reason why you shouldn’t have plastic surgery to remove permanent scars or other conditions. It is only natural to want to feel and look “normal.” However, be careful that vanity is not your reason for the surgery. When vanity motivates a person to undergo surgery, he/she has become his/her own idol. The Bible warns us not to be vain or conceited (Philippians 2:3,4) and not to draw attention to ourselves by the way we look (1 Timothy 2:9). 

The most important thing to do before making the decision to undergo plastic surgery would be to consult God about the issue. The Bible tells us that God cares about every worry and concern we have. Therefore, it is paramount that we take our problems to Him in prayer (1 Peter 5:7). When we ask for His wisdom and guidance, we will have the ability to make decisions that will please and honor Him. 

Is it wrong to have plastic surgery to remove permanent scars from a past surgery? If the scars are disfiguring, we would say that such a surgery is certainly not sinful. A problem may arise when plastic surgery is used to enhance otherwise healthy body parts or as an anti-aging tool. In any case, beauty should always “be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentile and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful.” (1 Peter 3:4-5) 

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: Is it possible to fall from grace and lose your salvation?

Must one become a Christian in order to be saved? If so, what about the countless millions who have never heard of Jesus? What about all the good people who are not Christians? What about those who lived before Jesus’ time? What about the person who believes, but does not make any changes for the better? What is their fate? 

When we look up the word “condemned” used in John 3:13-21, we find that it really means “to distinguish” or “to separate” (see Strong’s Concordance #2919). Therefore, Jesus was separating those willing to follow him now from all others. He fulfilled his mission which was to die so that all would be saved, some now and others later. 

The following scriptures are emphatic that Jesus died for everyone who ever lived (and especially for those who believe). See 1 Tim. 2:3-6; 4:10; John 5:28-29; I Corinthians 15:21-23; Hebrews 2:9; 9:24-28; Romans 5:12-19; 1 John 2:2. 

These scriptures separate the true followers from everyone else and give these followers something different, something special. The letters of the New Testament were written to these special called out ones. But the scriptures do not minimize Jesus’ sacrifice for everyone else. 

There is a dichotomy in the plan of God — the spiritual calling out and the blessing of everyone else. Judgment is an important part of this whole picture. Those who are called out to sacrifice are judged now. These are the spirit begotten ones, the ones who have chosen to live a life of sacrifice to do God’s will now. This class, if faithful, will be part of the heavenly phase of the Kingdom of God. 

Those not called out are not judged now, but will be later in the “day of judgment,” soon to take place on earth. Timing is very important in the plan of God. (Acts 26:23; Luke 14:14) When the class of the called out ones is complete, the judgment of the rest of the world will begin and the end result of that judgment will be the eradication of tears, pain, sorrow, crying and finally death itself. (Revelation 21:1-4) 

Having established that there are indeed two salvations, the first for the true followers of Christ now and the second for the rest of the world later, we can address the question of being “born again” and its implications. 

First, we believe that the term “born again” (Strong’s #1080) is not a correct translation in all the cases in which it appears in scripture. In the context of John 3:1-13, particularly verse 3, “born again” should be translated “begotten,” meaning conception, not birth, since one’s spirit birth (in heaven) will take place when one dies.

So, what does spirit begettal imply? Many Christians feel that once you’ve got the spirit, you’re locked in (guaranteed a seat in heaven). But we believe that we have to do something to make this spirit begettal turn into spirit birth. 

In 2 Corinthians 5:16-18 and Galatians 6:15-16, we learn that anyone in Christ (spirit begotten) is a “new creature” and would be walking a different path than everyone else. This path is anything but easy. Apostle Paul talks about his struggles in Romans 7:15-25. This “new creature,” begotten of the holy spirit, desires to serve God, but our old nature still serves sin. Battling this dual nature is the struggle of each true Christian. And the battle continues until death. Nonetheless, Paul also said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14) 

“Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:26-27)

 If Paul had to struggle, we also have a massive fight in front of us. It is a fight to joyfully do the will of God as we crucify our own wills and desires. But, although we struggle with our sinful natures we have an advocate in Jesus. 

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- -Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2) 

How encouraging is this precious promise! This scripture says that if we sin, there is a way to cancel out that sin — through Jesus Christ our advocate, who is the ransom for us (now) and for the entire world (later). “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) 

So, can we fall from grace after having been called to be sons of God and heirs with Jesus and after having been enlightened by the holy spirit? 

Yes, it is possible if we turn our backs on Jesus’ sacrifice and go back into the world to sin. The Apostle has said, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” (Heb. 6:4- 6) 

But, to fall into this sad condition, one would have to be a deliberately willful sinner, mocking God and his promises. But we are not to dwell on this condition. 

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) 

When we are connected with God through prayer and study of his Word, we maintain his holy spirit. We acquire the spirit of fear when we mentally disconnect, letting go of God and his promises. Feed upon his promises. They are the food of the new creation. 

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature.” (2 Pet. 1:4)

 God is always there for us. He never leaves us. “He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea in seven there shall no evil touch thee.” (Job 5:19) 

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6) 

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10) 

Yes, God has promised to assist us. What, then, is our sacrificial role if we are begotten of the holy spirit? Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 

To be able to be transformed we must now give up our time, our wealth, whatever we have and put it on the altar of sacrifice to be used in the Lord’s service. It comes from within. God’s laws become written in our hearts. We obey because we know it is the right thing to do. That is the meaning of the transformation required of each Christian. 

To get the reward of glory that God has promised to those who love him (1 Corinthians 3:6 16), we have to think like the creatures God intends us to be. The meaning of sanctification (the process of being set apart to be made holy) and its two parts, is illustrated in Philippians 2:12-13. Our part is to work out our salvation by putting our wills on the altar of sacrifice by changing the way we think. God’s part is to work within us orchestrating our development by giving us experiences. We are not just maximizing human potential, but we are in the process of becoming something that humans were not intended to be. We are called to become something special.

 The Bible identifies this call as the high or heavenly call (Philippians 3:14; Hebrews 3:1). As the new creature which is begotten within us grows, the spiritual qualities of love, mercy, and compassion also grow. Each of us needs to ask if we are being transformed into a likeness of Jesus or are we just putting on the guise of Jesus while failing to change our thinking, our hearts, our motivation. 

Christianity is not just about being nice. It’s not just about feeding or giving money to the poor. It is a calling to spirituality beyond human nature. The mind has to change. 

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) 

Our human nature is sacrificed. The bottom line is that God has to call you for that transformation to happen. The transforming process begins when we give our lives to the Lord and it continues until the end of our course. The suffering we endure changes us. God is in charge of our training, and, if we yield ourselves, we will be made into what he wants us to be. That is what it means to be baptized into Christ. 

Those who lead a life of sacrifice now and remain faithful, will become part of the heavenly body of Christ that will have a part in blessing the world of mankind in the future. A picture of this future earthly phase of the Kingdom can be seen in Micah 4:1-5 and Isaiah 35. 

How privileged we are to have been called to bless the world in the future by assisting in bringing each human up the highway of holiness! The Kingdom of God will then be manifested on earth and the spirit of God will be poured out upon all flesh (Joel 2:28) and everyone shall know God from the least to the greatest (Jeremiah 31:34). We can truly say that God has a great plan and everyone, whether in heaven or on earth, has a part in it. 

To learn more about salvation listen to, “Did Jesus Really Die for Everyone?”

“Are Jesus’ Ransom and Our Salvation the Same?”

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September 24, 2021

Ep.: Is homosexuality really a sin?

Although the Bible does not discuss sexual orientation, it does discuss sexual acts. Leviticus 18 tells us with whom it is not appropriate to engage in sexual activity. Leviticus 18: 22 says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” 

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul discusses sexual morality and marriage when he says, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4) 

We can see from these two scriptures alone that homosexuality is definitely a sin whether it is promiscuous or not. God intended sexual relations to take place only within the confines of marriage between a man and a woman. 

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) Marriage, in the eyes of God, is a sacred institution and any sexual activity that takes place outside of it, be it homosexual or heterosexual, can be scripturally classified as fornication. 

Unfortunately, today’s standards of morality have declined so that sexual cohabitation prior to, or instead of marriage is becoming acceptable behavior. But accepted behavior by the world is not necessarily the right behavior according to God. Our personal feelings, desires, or orientations should not be the dictators of our actions. We are born in sin and inherit all kinds of dispositions in which we fall far short of the way God originally intended His creation to be. 

Therefore, having a predisposition toward homosexuality is not the real issue for the Christian. It is just another weakness that needs to be altered in order to conform to the will of God. If we call ourselves Christians, we must abide by the rules of Christianity and sacrificing one’s will is part of that discipline. 

Everyday each one of us is challenged by fleshly desires. Jesus said when a man lusts after a woman, he has already committed adultery in his heart. Even the thought is a sin. (See Matthew 5:28) So, then, what are we saying to those whose sexual thinking is different from the norm? We are saying the same thing that we would say to a heterosexual. All of us need to bring our thoughts, words and deeds in line with the example set forth in the Bible and modeled by our Master, Jesus.

 “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Galatians 5:24) 

The good news is that we have help. In Hebrews 2:18 we find that Jesus suffered when he was tempted, so that he is able to help those who are being tempted. It is important to stay connected to the Lord in prayer, asking Him for guidance while seeking His will. One should ask Him for strength to overcome weaknesses. He has promised to help us in our time of need. 

“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.” (Psalm 18:6) 

“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17) 

“The LORD is nigh unto them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” (Psalm 145:18-19)

 Please remember that on our own, we are weak and can never overcome our flesh, but with the Lord all things are possible. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29) 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) 

For more on what the Bible says about homosexuality listen to, “The Gay Marriage Law- How Do We Respond?”

To learn more about sin listen to, “Are Some Sins Worse Than Others?”

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Ep.: Can you receive forgiveness even if the other person does not forgive you?

“If you forgive anyone his sins they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20:23

This scripture needs to be looked at in context of the two preceding scriptures. After Jesus was resurrected, he appears to his apostles and tells them,

”’As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.’ And with that he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the holy spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.’” John 20:21-23 

Jesus is speaking directly to his apostles who, after Pentecost, would possess a great measure of the holy spirit and have the ability to perform miracles. During the course of their ministry, they would define sin and the terms and conditions on which it would be possible to have sins forgiven (heart-felt repentance, justification and reconciliation). Even though Jesus had the power to forgive sins when he walked the earth because he had authority from his Father to do so (Mark 2:10), he did not give that power to the apostles. 

However, the apostles did have the gift of discernment so that they were able to recognize when a person was lying as well as when one was truthful and repentant. For example, the Apostle Peter was able to discern that Ananias and Sapphira were lying when they said that they had given all the money from the sale of their property to the church (Acts 5:1-11). Because Peter possessed the Holy Spirit he was able to read the hearts of these individuals and knew that they were not contrite and worthy of forgiveness. 

The fact that a person refuses to forgive you for a past offense against him has no bearing on the John 20:23 scripture or on whether God forgives you or not. No human has the authority to absolve another human of past sins.

Human forgiveness of sin is entirely different from God’s forgiveness. We humans are commanded to forgive each other, whether or not the person who offended us is worthy of forgiveness or not. (See Matthew 6:14, Luke 6:38, Mark 11:25.) However, only God has the ultimate authority to absolve the offender of sin. 

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

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Ep.: How do you rebuke sin and forgive at the same time?

If a Christian is supposed to rebuke sin with the word of God, but Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7, how does this work?

We must first distinguish between God’s forgiveness and our forgiveness. God forgives the sinner’s actual sin if that sinner asks God to do so and is repentant. We can only forgive the sinner’s offense toward us even though that sinner continues in the same offense. We have nothing to do with the sinner’s absolution. We will first look at God’s forgiveness as opposed to ours. 

There are many scriptures that indicate that God forgives all manner of sin and shows mercy to the sinner. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’-and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5 

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3-4) “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:7

The above scriptures are clear that God forgives provided the sinner is repentant. Repentance means changing one’s mind and actions for the better. Without a positive change of direction, there is no real repentance and, therefore, no forgiveness by God. However, if there is real repentance and God has forgiven the sinner, there are still consequences for the sin. These consequences are necessary for learning to take place. 

One story of betrayal and forgiveness is found in Matthew 26:69-75 and John 21:15-19. It begins with Peter denying Jesus three times and ends with Jesus reinstating Peter when he asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” Each time he tells Peter to “feed my sheep” thereby canceling out the sin by the action of telling Peter to do now what he was called to do. This is a beautiful story that illustrates the cost of forgiveness and the importance of fixing what we broke.

What about forgiving those who have offended us and continue to offend us? How do we rebuke sin and forgive at the same time? The scriptures tell us that we should and need to forgive, whether the offender is repentant or not. 

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

Although we hate the sin and have an obligation to bring that sin to the attention of the offender, we do not hate the sinner. We rebuke the sin by our example. We Christians are following in the path of our Master. His advice to us is as follows: 

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be children of your Father which is in heaven:” Matthew 5:44-45

How thankful we are that God is the ultimate judge of each of us! 

To learn more about judging others listen to, “Is it Ever Right to Judge Your Brother?”

To learn more about forgiveness listen to, “Did I Really Forgive Them?”

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Ep.: Are tattoos sinful?

In the Old Testament we learn that self-mutilation was a common practice among false religions. 1 Kings 18:24-29 describes a ritual in which those who worshipped the false god Baal slashed themselves with swords and spears. Because of the traditions of pagans, God made a law against this sort of practice. 

Leviticus 19:28 says, “You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.” 

When we look at the context of this scripture (Leviticus 19:26-31) we note that God is speaking to his covenant people Israel telling them to abstain from the religious practices of the surrounding nations, which would lead them away from him and toward false gods. The “tattoo marks” of verse 28 are not referring to body décor but to marking oneself with cultic religious worship. Tattoos were clearly related to false religious practices. 

Today’s tattoos are much different from those described in the Old Testament. In our culture they are a means of self-expression and personal decoration. Although tattoos may have a history in ancient ritual and false religion, in our cultural context they do not denote a connection with evil or false faith. They are basically done for ornamentation. 

A further reason to believe Christians are free to tattoo their bodies is that Christians are not bound by Old Testament laws in order to be in a right relationship with God. We are no longer bound by restrictive dietary laws, hairstyles or wearing clothes from two different fabrics. 

Although some might feel that modifying the body with tattoos somehow defiles God’s creation, if this were true it would not be right to pierce ears or have cosmetic surgery. Getting a tattoo is a deeply personal choice that falls into the category of personal appearance and is connected to the freedom of the believer. 

We, as Christians, are not under the Law for our good standing with God. Our right standing comes from our declaration that we are sinners and our faith that Jesus’ incredible sacrifice paid the debt we owed once for all. 

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are not longer under a tutor.” Galatians 3:24-25 

Are tattoos sinful? No, we believe they are not. The tattoo of today may describe images that merely please the wearer, or they may have deeper meaning. Many Christians utilize tattoos as a way of giving glory to God and witnessing their faith to others. All of the above having been said, we realize that tattoos are not for everyone and may even be offensive to some Christians who have a different viewpoint on this subject.

Because you are a Christian you have a responsibility not only to yourself, but to others as well. Therefore, choose your tattoo pictures wisely. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) 

To learn more about how to make decisions about your life listen to, “Am I Failing as a Christian?”

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September 23, 2021

Ep.: Should I worry about sin?

Do we just need to try our best, love God and respect people?

Thousands of years ago God gave Moses and the Jewish Nation a Law to live by—the Ten Commandments. Although many Jews and Christians alike have tried to keep these commandments perfectly, all have failed, except for our Lord, Jesus, who was a perfect man. 

We have failed because we are imperfect, having been born in sin and shaped in iniquity (Psalm 51:5). No matter how hard we may try not to sin, we sin everyday of our lives, sometimes without even knowing it. Even when our sins are not outwardly manifested, we sin in our minds when we are prideful, think evil of someone or covet someone or something. 

The Apostle Paul tells us, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . . For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. . . . What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15, 19-20, 24-25)

Paul knew that his only solution for the sin in him was to pray to God for forgiveness through our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Do you, therefore, need to “worry” about sin? No, worrying about sin will not eliminate it from your mind, nor will it stop you from outwardly committing a sin. However, you do need to know what sin is and be concerned about its influence in your life. 

By accepting the fact that you are a sinner, you need to daily evaluate your heart attitude, conscience and conduct as you try to emulate the sinless life of our Master, Jesus Christ. Then, seeing where you have fallen short, ask forgiveness before the throne of heavenly grace. 

“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:12-13

The Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament helps us understand how sin is manifested in us by listing seven things God hates: 

“haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:17-19) 

Later, the Apostle Paul gives us an obvious list of the acts that make up the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21 [sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, and orgies] and warns us “that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Verse 21) 

He then tells us to live a life guided by the holy Spirit and lists the fruits of such a life.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:22-24 

The Apostle Peter gives us a similar list in 2 Peter 1:5-7. He then adds, “For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11) 

Do you “just need to try your best, love God and respect people?” You need to do those things and much more. You need to continually check your thoughts and actions and ask yourself if Jesus’ thoughts and actions would be in accord with yours. Each time you discover that you have fallen short of the perfect example set before you, you need to ask forgiveness through prayer.

 Prayer is the Christian’s lifeline. You will find refuge and joy in prayer knowing that God hears the prayers of the righteous and is able and willing to forgive your sins if you acknowledge them and are truly repentant. 

“If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” Psalm 130:3-4 

“Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Isaiah 55:7 

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 

To learn more about overcoming sin in your life listen to, “Am I Failing as a Christian”

“Have We Become Too Desensitized to Sin?”

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September 21, 2021

Ep.: Do we really have free will?

God created man in his “image” (Genesis 1:26-27), which means that man has the ability to reason and to make choices. God could have made man a robot to always do what is right, but then he would not be in God’s “image.” God could have shielded man from Satan’s temptation, but then man would still have been subject to ambitions from within. In God’s wisdom, He foreknew that Adam would sin. However, Adam was master of his own God-given free will and could have chosen to obey God’s command. 

God always allows humankind the option of choosing righteousness or sinfulness, just as He allowed Adam that choice. When God expelled disobedient Adam and Eve from his fellowship they began to “know good and evil” (Genesis 3:22) and to appreciate the difference. During all the centuries thereafter humankind has been learning the same lesson as well. 

Although God has a plan for the entire human race, He has not planned every detail of each person’s life when that detail has no impact on His grand plan. For example, the nation of Israel has always played an important role in God’s plan. After all, it was from this nation that Messiah was to come. 

For example, in the books of Isaiah and Amos, God said He would protect Israel from disasters if they were faithful, but if they forsook Him, He would bring calamities upon them. (See Isaiah 45:7 and Amos 3:6.) Here we see that because of some of Israel’s poor choices, they were chastised with a “calamity” or trouble sent by God. This trouble could have been avoided had the people obeyed God. They had a free will and chose evil rather than righteousness. 

Another example of free choice was displayed by the nation of Nineveh. God commissioned the Prophet Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and preach against it because of its wickedness. Jonah told the Ninevites that in forty days their city would be overturned. The Ninevites declared a fast and put on sackcloth. When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not execute the destruction he had threatened (Jonah 3:10). 

It is important to remember that God does not plan out every detail of our lives. We definitely have free will and are not subject to a preordained destiny. We are on earth to learn lessons in this age that will benefit us in the glorious age of redemption to come. Although Jesus died for every man, woman and child who ever lived in order to give each one an opportunity for everlasting life in the future, each is nevertheless ultimately responsible for his own destiny. 

If a person continues to sin during the Day of Judgment, he will be taken away in the second death. God will never take away a human’s free will. It is the choice of each individual as to whether he or she chooses righteousness or not. 

Isn’t God angry with us? If He planned this, how could he be angry with us? It is important to remember that God does NOT control or plan the actions of humans. As we stated in the previous paragraphs, humans have freedom of choice. Therefore, God’s anger is totally justified when humans deliberately choose to ignore his laws and willfully sin. 

A familiar episode of God’s wrath is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah due to the wickedness practiced by all the inhabitants except Lot and his family. (See Genesis 18:16-33; 19:1-29.) Although God was very angered by the lawlessness of the people and foresaw the destruction of their cities, He never predestined the people to act wickedly. Their actions were of their own choosing. Had they been repentant, God would not have been angered and their cities would not have been destroyed. 

To learn more about God’s plan listen to, “Is it God’s Fault We Have Evil in This World?”

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September 20, 2021

Ep.: If Adam and Eve had repented, would we be free of sin?

We do not know if Adam and Eve repented, since the Bible makes no mention of their repentance. Since Adam lived a long time (930 years – Genesis 5:5), it is quite possible that both he and Eve did repent, especially after the murder of their son Abel by his brother Cain. That act must have been devastating to our first parents and very likely impressed upon them the terrible consequences of their sin. 

However, we do not believe that neither Adam nor Eve lost their love or appreciation for God and His plan for redemption. Evidence of this appreciation is borne out by Eve’s statement after the birth of her third son Seth, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.” (Genesis 4:25) In this statement she was referring to God’s promise that her seed would crush the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). 

If Adam and Eve had repented, would we then have been free of sin? No, we would not be free of sin. Why? Unlike all of us, Adam was created perfect. He was intelligent. His thinking was not flawed. He possessed moral discernment and had free will to choose between right and wrong. God warned Adam in Genesis 2:17 that if he obeyed God’s law, he would live—but if he disobeyed, he would die. 

Because Adam was perfect the sentence of death was already passed on him if he sinned and that sentence was made very clear to Adam. Nonetheless, by his own free will, Adam chose to disobey so that he could die with his wife and not be alone. In order for Adam’s sin (and, in fact, the sins of all of his yet unborn progeny) to be forgiven, God’s justice was required—a perfect life for a perfect life. The scales of justice needed a perfect sinless man (Jesus) to die for the perfect sinful man (Adam). When Jesus died and was resurrected he not only redeemed Adam, but also the entire human race. 

God’s plan was all encompassing. Had Adam and Eve not sinned, each of their children and grandchildren, etc. down through time would have to be tested throughout their lives in order to maintain a perfect everlasting life. The testing would be ongoing. Some might pass the tests. Others would fail. Some would need a redeemer. Others might not. Each perfect sinful human would then need his own perfect sinless redeemer. That certainly would not have been a good plan. 

But, God in his infinite wisdom and foreknowledge knew Adam would sin, so he planned all of humankind’s redemption through one man’s death (Jesus’ death) long before the foundation of the earth (1 Peter 1:18-20).

“For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19 

When Jesus died for Adam’s sin He died for all of Adam’s yet unborn progeny as well. 

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22 

What a wonderful plan! Each of fallen humanity has an opportunity to experience the sinfulness of sin and its consequences and yet each will have an opportunity for everlasting life in the future due to our Redeemer’s one time sacrifice. 

To learn more about Jesus’ ransom for Adam listen to, “Are Jesus’ Ransom and our Salvation the Same?”

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September 19, 2021

Ep.: If the spirit lives in me, then is there no condemnation against me?

“There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” Romans 8:1

The answer is, yes, for the dedicated Christian (“in Christ”) who submits themselves to God’s will, we are able to have a relationship with God through His son.  That person is no longer condemned by the inherited sin of Adam, and is not under the Law Covenant that no man except Jesus was able to keep. The sins caused by the curse of Adam are covered by Christ’s sacrifice, allowing us to come into a relationship with our heavenly Father.  There is no covering for our willful sins, which is why we want to always be in a humble and repentant state.

The Apostles often refer to themselves as having been under the Law Covenant and subsequently freed from its bondage, and to Gentile converts as not having passed through such an experience. – See Galatians 2:17; 3:3,13,14; 5:5,6,8-10; Ephesians. 2:11-19.

Those who willingly cease to “abide in him” will be “cast forth” (John 15:6) as dead branches. Through Jesus, our best efforts to do God’s will are acceptable.  

There is a deeper meaning to the fourth commandment of keeping the seventh day as a Sabbath.  The word Sabbath signifies rest.  To the Christian, this means a rest of faith. The Jew, unable to keep the Mosaic Law and unable, therefore, to get everlasting life under the Law Covenant, was urged to flee to Christ.  By “becoming dead” to the Law Covenant, by utterly renouncing it, he was privileged to come into membership in Christ – share in the covenant of sacrifice. He was promised rest from the Law and its condemnation, because “to them that are in Christ there is no condemnation” –the merit of Christ covers the shortcomings of all those who are striving to walk in his steps. 

 “We which believe do enter into (Sabbath) rest.”–Hebrews 4:3

The ransom was given for ALL mankind, but its benefits are applicable now to believers. We are said to be “covered in the robes of Christ’s righteousness,” giving us a tentative justification.  While our sinful nature deserves condemnation, our identity is now with Jesus. 

Jews who have not come to Christ are still condemned by Moses’ Law Covenant.  The only ones who have escaped this condemnation, so long upon all, are referred to by the Apostle Paul (Rom. 8:1): “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” “If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” – John 8:36. 

Those in Christ, whether they were Jews or Gentiles, are in no sense under the ceremonial attachments relating to typical feasts, sacrifices and services of the Law Covenant. – Hebrews 9:1.  The Ten Commandments were now encapsulated by Jesus as “love God” and “love your neighbor.”  

We have passed out of condemnation to death into justification to life so long as we abide under the blood of the New Covenant. In no other way could any be accepted by God because the law given in Eden (obey and live) was impossible to keep by imperfect man.  The Law given at Sinai had the same issue.  Since we know God could not give an imperfect law (James 3:11), and we could not fully obey a perfect one, we see the necessity for our being freed from all law and accepted in the merit of Christ.

To learn more about sin listen to, “Are We Sure Sin is Really Sinful?”

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