Tag Archives: obedience

Unequally Yoked (Genesis 4-6)

I was talking to my sister the other day about these very verses. Who were the “sons of God,” and the “daughters of men,” anyway? So today I did some digging.

There seems to be two schools of thought on this. One is that the sons of God were angels (some think demons, although not sure why anyone would think a demon would be called a son of God) who had sex with humans. The other is that the sons of God referred to the line of Adam’s son Seth, those who followed God. The daughters of men were from the line of Cain, who did not follow God.

Matthew Henry (Commentary on the Whole Bible in One Volume; 1961; Zondervan Publishing House; page 16) takes the second viewpoint without giving a thought to the angel idea. R.C. Sproul, Jr. (ligonier.org; Who Are the Sons of God and Daughters of Men in Genesis 6:1-5?) addresses both views but ends up agreeing with Henry’s interpretation. With good reason, I think.

First, Sproul points out angels are spirits without flesh and blood bodies. They can’t morph themselves into human form.

Now, there are times in the Bible where we see God sending angels looking like humans to perform some task, but never to have sex with a human. And looking like a human doesn’t make an angel human nor does it suggest their bodily functions would be human-like. The idea of an angel having sex with a woman has no foundation.

Second, Sproul reminds us these verses in chapter 6 come after the account of two groups of people alive at the time; those who followed God, and those who did not.

In chapter 4 we read about the line of Cain, who killed his brother Abel, and whose claim to fame was building a big city he named after one of his sons. His line also is recorded to have yet another murderer in its midst. This group of people seem to be more concerned with “number one” than with obeying God. In fact, there is no indication that following God was on any of their minds at the time.

Then in chapter 5 we read about the line of Seth, the son born to Adam and Eve after their son Abel was murdered. In this account we read about Enoch who walked with God, and Lamech who said that son Noah would save the people from the Lord’s curse. Seth’s line contains people who followed God.

Even though we see chapter 6 as a division point, remember the Bible wasn’t written in chapters and verses. The account of the sons of God and daughters of men immediately follow the genealogies of Cain and Seth. We see believers, sons of God through Seth, marrying daughters of men, daughters through Cain, simply because they were pretty. 

Unequally yoked with unbelievers.

That is a recipe for disaster. In fact, by chapter 6 in Genesis, sin is so rampant God is going to destroy the world.

I believe this account in God’s Word isn’t here to suggest some super-human race existed because of the sin of angels and women. I believe this account is here to remind us the consequences of sin, the seriousness of being linked to non-believers.

I think that is what God would have me hear today. We are to go into all the world, be all things to all men in order to win some. But we must never, NEVER, compromise on sin. We must never deviate from the holiness God demands of us. And we must never marry, or go into business with, or attach ourselves to non-believers in any way.

Matthew Henry says this: “The bad will sooner debauch the good than the good reform the bad.” I believe that’s the lesson here today.

 

 

November 27; It’s Not Right

I Corinthians 8:1-11:1

Our society is obsessed with “rights,” aren’t we? The right to an abortion. The right to marry who I want to marry. The right not to look at a Confederate flag or a caricature of a smiling Indian on a baseball cap. We are so determined to exercise our “rights” we don’t care who we have to step on to get them.

Paul says if anyone has “rights” it’s a Christian. In 10:23 he tells us that for those of us redeemed by the blood of Jesus, “everything is permissible – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

The apostle tells us he willingly gives up his “rights” for the good of others. He gives example after example of this in the chapters we read today. He goes as far as to say, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (22b)

Not long ago I heard a preacher use that verse to promote contemporary worship. That is a twisting of this Scripture that makes me so angry. Paul is NOT talking about worship at all. What Paul is talking about is much harder than rocking to a few repetitive phrases in order to “experience worship,” or even to entice people into attending the service on Sunday.

Paul is talking about what you are going to do today to reach someone for Jesus’ sake. Paul is talking about investing yourself in the life of a non-believer, spending time talking about and doing the things that person enjoys. Paul is talking about giving up some of your rights in order to put that eternal soul ahead of your own comfort or desires

I don’t know where we got the idea that Jesus wants us to invite unsaved people to church. He never said that. In fact if you read the Bible you’ll see that the church needs to be restricted to believers for a very good reason.

What Jesus told us, and what Paul is demonstrating, is to get off the couch, let go of what you think you deserve, and BE the person that will make that non-believer want what you have in Jesus. Go, Jesus said. Make disciples. Think of others more important than yourself.

I know that takes effort and energy. It takes time and it’s not always convenient. But it’s not right for a Christian NOT to.

November 23; Be Sanctified

I Thessalonians 2:17-5:28; II Thessalonians 1

What does it mean to live a holy life? Paul tells us it is God’s will that we be sanctified in order to please God. Then Paul tells us what that looks like:

that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. (I Thessalonians 4:3b-6a)

So is holy living, or sanctification, restricted to sexual behavior? Remember, Jesus told us that we commit adultery when we lust. It doesn’t have to involve bodily contact. Sin comes in all shapes and sizes.

Trying in our own strength to do what Paul is telling us to do only leads to failure. We can’t muster up courage, or find strength inside us to defeat the power of sin. It’s impossible. A sinner can’t sanctify a sinner, so I can’t sanctify me.

But the Holy Spirit can! When we humble ourselves and accept the gift of God’s grace, the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus, when we place our faith in God, the Holy Spirit is given to us. Then we can avoid sexual immorality because the Holy Spirit gives us His strength and His desires. We can control ourselves in holy and honorable ways because the Spirit in us is holy and honorable.

Paul tells us it is the work of the Holy Spirit to grow believers, or to sanctify believers. But he also says it is possible to “put out the Spirit’s fire.” Then he tells us to “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (5:19-20)

Then Paul prays: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (5:23-24)

Does that thrill your heart? Yes we have responsibility in our walk with the Lord. But the good news is that the Spirit within us gives us wisdom, and the ability to hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. The Spirit within us gives us exactly what we need to be sanctified.

He is faithful. And He will do it!

 

November 20; In Step

Galatians 4:8-6:18

Have you ever been awed by the precision of a marching band at half-time? You need to check out the Ohio State University marching band on You-Tube sometime.

In a military style marching band, each person takes an exact 30″ step, or 8 steps in five yards. No matter how big or small an individual is, their steps are exactly the same length. Knees are all lifted at exactly the same angle, no matter how short or tall the marcher is.

With all that precision, one person out of step sticks out like a sore thumb. One person marching right, left while everyone else is marching left, right ruins the whole effect of a precision marching band.

Paul is talking to the Galatians about precision marching. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (5:25) In verse 22 he tells us what that looks like:

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right.

So what happens if one of our number falls out of step? Paul tells us what to do in chapter 6. “Restore him gently.” Paul doesn’t say ignore it, or kick him out, or even to just pray for the one out of step. When a brother or sister is out of step, we who are in step need to address it with them.

Paul calls it carrying each other’s burdens.

I asked if you’ve ever been awed by the precision of a marching band at half-time. I wonder, have you ever been awed but the precision of a church fellowship in step with the Spirit?

I pray that each of us will be a part of an awe-inspiring fellowship of believers, walking in step with the Spirit, and making an eternal difference in the hearts of people in our communities. In a world where we are encouraged to “do our own thing,” let’s do the Spirit’s thing as we walk with Him in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Awesome!

 

 

November 14; To Change or Not To Change, That Is The Question

Acts 7:54-9:31

Simon believed he was someone great. He wasn’t the only one. It sounds like he had quite a following. His sorcery must have been amazing, because people even thought he was divine.

That is, until they heard Philip preach the “good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus.” Many believed in Jesus, and were baptized – including Simon. Simon ended up following Philip around after that. Being a sorcerer, he was amazed at the miracles he saw Philip do.

Then when Simon witnessed Peter and John placing their hands on believers who then received the Holy Spirit, he wanted in on the action. He was willing to buy that ability. Peter recognized Simon for who he really was, and addressed Simon’s sin in no uncertain terms. “You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right with God.”

Simon had believed in Jesus. But Simon was still the same old Simon. His heart had not changed.

Saul, on the other hand, was not only NOT a believer, he had dedicated his life to destroying the church by getting rid of anyone who did believe in Jesus. But his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus changed him.

Completely.

Saul became Paul who then dedicated his life to sharing Jesus with everyone, in hopes that everyone would believe. Paul’s belief in Jesus didn’t stop with the knowledge that Jesus is the Savior. Paul’s belief in Jesus changed his heart.

Do you believe? Scripture tells us even the demons believe, and shudder. (James 2:19). Belief is the first step, but it isn’t the only step.

If accepting Jesus as your Savior hasn’t changed you, let me suggest you check your heart. Is your belief head-knowledge, or a heart-changing, person-transforming, sin-defeating relationship with God Himself?

Change, or no change? That’s the question. And the answer is the difference between being a child of God, and being someone who has no part in His ministry, His kingdom.

Let your belief in Jesus change you.

November 1; Everything

Matthew 25:31-26:16; John 12:20-50, 1-11; Mark 14:1-11; Luke 22:1-6

What would you do if the bodily form of Jesus walked into your home and took a seat on your couch? Would you rush to the kitchen to fix Him something to eat, or get Him a drink? Would you pull out your phone and begin to call your friends to come and join you? Maybe you’d sit next to Him and ask those questions on your mind having to do with life and eternity.

Mary took what some to believe was her dowry, the downpayment for her future, her hopes to be a wife and mother, her dreams of having a home for the rest of her life, and she used it to wash Jesus’ feet. She held nothing back. She broke the jar, spilling its contents out on her Savior, lavishing Him with everything she had.

Jesus in bodily form is not likely to come to your house today for tea But if you are His child through His precious blood, His Presence is every bit as real.

What will you give Him today/?

October 31; Pure Motives

Mark 13:24-37; Matthew 24:29-25:30; Luke 21:25-38, 19:11-27

They didn’t do anything really wrong, right? I mean they were where they were supposed to be for so long, lamps in hand. Was it their fault the bridegroom was so long in coming?

The servant given one talent of money didn’t really do anything wrong. It wasn’t like the master actually told him he was supposed to use it to make more money. Didn’t the servant have a right to do with the money what he wanted to? After all, he’d protected it. Give him some credit.  It’s not like he lost it or spent it foolishly.

Maybe the bridesmaids’ and the servant’s motives were pure. Maybe they thought they were doing it right. But the Bible is pretty clear that there was something amiss. Neither the bridesmaids nor the servant had much of a respect for the man in charge. Maybe they thought, “good enough is good enough.” And if they did think that, they were wrong.

I hope you read these verses today. The rest of these stories don’t contain a happy ending. God is the final judge. There is no getting around it.

But what I don’t want to miss is the end of the story for the bridesmaids who had been prepared, and the other servants who put to good use that which the Master had given them. Talk about a happy ending! Friend, the choices we make in this life, the honor we show God, our obedience to His Word will make all the difference.

Is Jesus your Master? I hope that is the case. Then let’s all be faithful to use what He has given us, for His glory. Let’s watch for His return, ready, eager, excited to see Him. But let’s do it His way, according to what He tells us in His Word. Because pure motives are meaningless if they are not followed by obedience.