Friday, October 13, 2017

64 - I Have Spoken In Proverbs

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
For everyone that asks receives, and he that seeks finds, and to him that knocks, it shall be opened.
Mat. 7:7-8



Unanswered Prayer


Poetry

In the previous post, we learned that there are different kinds of poetry.

The Jewish peers of Christ had a style of poetry in which the meaning of lines which did not necessarily follow each other needed to have a continuity.  It seems as if 7:7 and 7:8 are that kind of a poem. 

Perhaps they should be read like this:

Ask, and it shall be given to you; For everyone that asks receives.
seek, and you shall find; he that seeks finds
knock, and it shall be opened to you; to him that knocks, it shall be opened. 

Proverbs

Someone has said that ... Proverbs should be called ... Probablys.  It is the nature of a proverb to generally be right, but if it isn't, no one should be very surprised.

We think of the many prayers which we have prayed which have not been answered; we recall the times we have searched for an answer and never found it; many are the times we have knocked at heaven's door and the door did not open. Then we recall these words of Christ and start to wonder if the Bible can be trusted.

Admittedly, I did not find even one commentary that follows my line of reasoning.  They all insist that, because Christ spoke these words they must mean what we understand them to mean.   Some say that God answers every prayer but sometimes He says no to our requests.  I say that that belief is just closing our minds to the real facts!

However, let's not close our eyes to facts.  Here is an example.  A wonderful 12-year-old girl is diagnosed with cancer and immediately the parents turn to prayer.  There is nothing casual or superficial about their prayers; how could there be.  Their daughter is all they think about; they ask the church to pray for their daughter's recovery but the precious child dies anyway!  There was nothing wrong with all those prayers - they just were not answered!

The argument is made that the results were best for all concerned and that perhaps the parents will learn to follow Christ more closely because of it.  This may be true but it does not change the fact that the prayers were not answered.

This does not make Christ a liar, it only 
shows that He was quoting some everyday proverbs.  In another situation Christ said, These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs. John 16:25 KJV.   It would take a lot of pressure off of the Bible if we did not worship it as an infallible god.

Narrow Is The Gate


Enter in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate, and broad is the way which leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in through it. 
How narrow the gate, and confined the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it! Mat 7:12-14
Consequently, by their fruits you shall know them. 
Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Mat 7:20-21

There is a "fine line" between working to earn our salvation and accepting the idea that we can be redeemed simply by believing that Christ died for us.  

We can see that regardless of how dedicatedly we work we will still fall short of the requirements that Jehovah demands.  Even Mother Terrassa and others in her category of self-denial did not do enough to wash their souls clean of the natural inborn guilt.  They still needed to accept the fact that it was Christ's death that made their salvation possible.

On the other hand, there are many who insist that all they have to do is believe that Christ died for them and voila, they are set for heaven and they can live any way they want to.  This depressing fact is seen far too often in the lives of those who live for fleshly pleasures and then, when something goes wrong they come running to Christ for help.

Christ and the other New Testament teachers do not allow for that kind of thinking at all.  Paul wrote: work out your own salvation (we must work at our salvation) with fear and trembling. Phil. 2:12.  Christ stated the matter just as clearly: Consequently, by their fruits you shall know them. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Mat 7:20-21. Our lifestyle will show which path we are on.

There are many in the evangelical group who seem to have captured the right balance between works and faith and they are teaching that "fine line".  

To enter the Christian religion one must believe that Christ's death and resurrection are all that one needs to have the inborn sins removed.  According to Christ, there are not a variety of ways of getting to meet His Father.  He said I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 

Unfortunately, being "born again" and having Jehovah's breath invade us still leaves us with a desire to please ourselves. That is why Paul wrote if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25.  These are two separate, but intertwined elements of the Christian life.  Surrendering ourselves to Christ, to live as He would have us live, is an act of the will and of practice.  It does not happen automatically!

If anyone is seriously wondering what the Christian life should look like, there are two lists ready for the reading.  

Ironically those lists do not include things like:
  • Women must wear a doily on their head to pray
  • When we fold our hands to pray, the thumbs must point upward
  • You must pray at certain times of the day
  • You must not eat red meat on Friday
Remember, if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Gal 5:18. However, you are certainly not free to do whatever you might feel like.

Now the works of the flesh (things to avoid) ... are: 
  • adultery
  • fornication, 
  • immorality, 
  • lewdness, 
  • idolatry, 
  • sorcery, 
  • hatred, 
  • contentions, 
  • jealousies, 
  • outbursts of wrath, 
  • selfish ambitions, 
  • dissensions, 
  • factions, 
  • envies, 
  • murders, 
  • drinking bouts, 
  • revelries, 
  • and the like.    
But the fruit of the Spirit is: 
  • love, 
  • joy, 
  • peace, 
  • longsuffering, 
  • kindness, 
  • goodness, 
  • faithfulness, 
  • gentleness, 
  • self-control. 
those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts.  Galatians 5:19-24 


Friday, October 6, 2017

63 - Lumber and Jewels



Judge not, lest you be judged.


For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with what measure you measure, it will be measured back to you.


And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not notice the plank in your own eye? 

Or how will you say to your brother, 'Permit me to remove the speck from your eye'; and look, there is a plank in your own eye? 

Hypocrite! First remove the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye. Mat 7:1-5


A Plank



Judge not, lest you be judged.  This is the Bible verse that seems to be most popular in our present day. But most (of) the people who quote this verse don’t understand what Jesus said. They seem to think Jesus commanded a universal acceptance of any lifestyle or teaching. Guzik   That this is not at all what Christ meant is made obvious by His words, by their fruits you shall know them.  How could we know them if we did not make a judgement of their lifestyle?  It may not be "politically correct" but it is right for us to say that certain ways of living are wrong.  We may condemn, or better still, we should condemn wrong lifestyles but not the person who is living them.


What Christ is saying is do not judge others as to their character.  Doing that is as if we are taking Jehovah's place in judgement.  That is not ours to do.

  
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged.  When we stand at the judgement bar of Jehovah and He sees that we were very harsh in condemning fellow humans He might just take the standard we set for others and use it for measuring how we lived our lives when He passes out judgement on us.


why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not notice the plank (to be classified as a plank it must be at least 1.5 inches thick and 7.5 inches wide) in your own eye?  In making this statement Christ is again using a hyperbole. 



It is a universal trait that we set lower standards for ourselves than we do for others.  A modern example of this might sound like this.  You meet your friend and say, I saw you in the cafe last night and I noticed you drinking a bottle of beer.  What you don't say is that every Saturday evening you go to the bar and get so sloshed that you can't even find your way home.


how will you say to your brother, Permit me to remove the speck from your eye?  How can you, the habitual drinker, suggest to your friend, who had a bottle of beer, that he should seek professional help?

Hypocrite!  This word comes from the Greek "hupokritēs" which means an actor under an assumed character (stage player). Strong G5271.


Christ says, You hypocrite, First, remove the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.  Before you have any right to even notice what your friend is drinking you should spend some time in prayer, join the AAA, and overcome your own problem.


Pearls


Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.  Mat 7:6

Do not give what is holy to the dogs. the holy or sacred thing; i.e. any thing, especially, of the sacrificial kind, which had been consecrated to God. Clarke. Some Bible scholars say that the Jews would have understood Christ to mean, after the meat has been sacrificed as an offering to Jehovah don't give it to the dogs.


Some draw this parallel: The bread and the wine of the communion service are holy and non-Christians have no right to partake of them.  Of course, we do not think of non-Christians as dogs but to the Jews of Christ's time, that Christ was referring to the Gentiles, was perhaps the meaning that they got from His statement.  The Jews were in the habit of referring contemptuously to Gentiles as dogs—unclean animals with whom they would not associate if such association could be avoided. © Mark D. Nanos (www.marknanos.com)


There are different styles of poetry; in some poetry, it is not the last word of the first and second line or the first and third line, that must rhyme.  In some poetry, it might be the meaning (not the sound of the words) of the first and third lines that must be connected.  

These words of Christ are perhaps that kind of a poem.  Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.   

There are some versions of the Bible that do not allow for the following arrangement, but some do.

The members of this sentence should be transposed thus: -

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,
Lest they turn again and rend you:
Neither cast ye your pearls before swine,
Lest they trample them under their feet.
Clarke


Actually, if we stop to think about it, this arrangement makes sense.  Because dogs were thought of as unclean animals people would certainly not tame them or keep them as pets.  

Since they were wild there is a good chance that they would turn on a person and tear you in pieces.  In the East, dogs are wilder and more gregarious, and, feeding on carrion and garbage, are coarser and fiercer than the same animals in the West. Dogs and swine, besides being ceremonially unclean, were peculiarly repulsive to the Jews, and indeed to the ancients generally. Barnes

and turn again and rend youas dogs do. Religion is brought into contempt, and its professors (those who profess Christ) insulted, when it is forced upon those who cannot value it and will not have it. Barnes

The current day application of these words is that Christians should be discriminate about with whom they share the deeper doctrines of the Bible.  There is nothing that some crude people would rather do that smear Christians and the Bible's teachings in the mud in which they themselves feel so at home.  

neither cast ye your pearls before swinethe impure or coarse, who are incapable of appreciating the priceless jewels of Christianity. Barnes

lest they trample them under their feet—as swine do.

About this verse, John Wesly wrote: Yet even then, when the beam (plank) is cast out of thine own eye, ... talk not of the deep things of God to those whom you know to be wallowing in sin. Neither declare the great things God hath done for your soul to the profane, furious, persecuting wretches.


Friday, September 29, 2017

62 - The Most Abused Prayer

But when you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 
Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him.
Therefore pray in this manner: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 
Mat. 6:7-15 EMTV


Introduction



But when you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  An example of this is found in the story of Elijah.  The prophets of Baal got the sacrifice ready and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us.1 Kings 18:26 MKJV. 

Christ warns, do not be like them.  There is no need to inform Jehovah of your needs For your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him. 
Prayer is not designed to inform God, but to give man a sight of his misery; to humble his heart, to excite his desire, to inflame his faith, to animate his hope, to raise his soul from earth to heaven, and to put him in mind that There is his Father, his country, and inheritance. Clarke.

Many churches repeat "The Lord's Prayer" every Sunday and consequently, the prayer becomes absolutely mundane.  Many parishioners repeat the words without paying any attention to what their lips are doing.  This must be an ultimate insult to the One who taught us that prayer. 

Among the many rules that Muslims have is this one which the Christian church would do well to learn.  When you pray be sure That the attention accompany the act, and be not suffered to wander to any other object. Clarke

Therefore pray in this manner: Christ says, Here is an example of how your prayer might sound.  That Christ did not command us to use these exact words in prayer is shown by the fact that "The Lord's Prayer" is never recorded as being prayed by anyone in the New Testament.  As far as records show Christ Himself never prayed that prayer.  This prayer is an example only and the exact words are not expected to be repeated every time we pray.

The Prayer


Heathen do not think of their God as being a Father.  To them "God" is a vengeful Being who must be appeased by sacrifices.  That same idea crept into the minds of some Jews and they also started to offer their children as sacrifices to the gods they had started worshipping.  

Our Father in heaven is a gracious, loving God who demands obedience. 


We address our prayers to Our Father, not to Jesus Christ; we pray to the Father in the Name of Christ. Christ is our "go-between" who is sitting at The Father's right hand to plead our cause.

hallowed be Your name. When we go to prayer the first thing is not to say, "gimme, gimme, gimme". First, we acknowledge the holiness and power of Jehovah. Of course, there are emergency situations when proper protocol may be put aside; but our attitude in prayer must be praise to Jehovah first.


Your kingdom come, Christ did not preach the death and resurrection of Christ; He preached His coming kingdom. According to Christ, and the writers of the New Testament, to qualify to be members of that kingdom one must live a holy lifestyle. So, if in all earnestness, we pray for that kingdom to come, our lifestyle had better match the words we pray.



Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  This is a tough one; we would like it much better if we could advise the Lord how He should answer our prayers. Our problem with that stance is that we cannot see into the future.

Now that we have laid the foundation for our prayer we come to asking for the three blessings which involve our lives.

1.  Give us this day our daily bread.  We ask for those things which we need for our physical well-being.  This is not only food but also perhaps for a job or divine guidance in choosing a new house.  Always remembering, of course, that we have prayed Your will be done or words with that meaning.

2. Then, climbing the ladder of matters which are important, we pray And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  This pertains to our sociological well-being; how do we get along with our neighbours?  If someone has wronged us, are we willing to forgive?  This sociological aspect to our prayers certainly includes the idea that we will not mistreat or cheat those we deal with.

Mark uses the words trespasses in place of debts.  But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses. Mark 11:25-26  

Please excuse a personal incident in this connection.  I was called on to give an afternoon devotional, and, to end the devotional I prayed "The Lord's Prayer" as we have it in the Book of Matthew.  As I was saying the words, forgive us our debts immediately a woman spoke up and said, it is not debts it is trespasses.  Well, I'll give her this, at least she was listening.

3. The highest rung on the ladder: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  This relates to our spiritual well-being.  We can certainly do a lot to keep from being tempted by staying away from those places where we are tempted in our weak areas.  

Jehovah will never tempt us to sin, it is the evil one that will.   Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. James 1:13 


The End


In recording The Lord's Prayer Luke ends with deliver us from the evil one.  Or, in some versions, deliver us from evil.  He does not include the following doxology.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.  The whole of this doxology is rejected by ... the most eminent critics. ... It is variously written in several MSS., and omitted by most of the fathers, both Greek and Latin. Clarke

The one item mentioned here which most of us would rather ignore is this.  If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  Why do so many of us think that we can just ignore those words of Christ, and Jehovah will forgive us our sins anyway?  Christ said it does not work that way.

Friday, September 22, 2017

61 - What to do When ...

... You Give To Charity


"Take care not to be doing your charitable giving before men, so as to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have not a reward from your Father in heaven.

Whenever therefore you do charitable giving, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by men. Assuredly I say to you, they receive their reward in full.

But when you do charitable giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,
so that your charitable giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will Himself reward you openly. Mat. 6:1-4 EMTV



Some commentaries insist that there is a big difference between charitable giving in verse 1 and the charitable giving in verse 2.  Notice: When you do good deeds (verse 1) and When you give to the poor (verse 2). CEV.


The reason this is important is that with this difference emphasized it becomes clear that verse one, When you do good deeds, is the caption for the various righteous things that Christ will be speaking of in this sermon.  

1. When you give to the poor do it for the poor and do not sound a trumpet.  It does not appear that any such practice was literally performed, as blowing a trumpet before them, when they gave their alms. Gill   Sounding the trumpet was Christ's way of emphasizing the feeling that He got when He noticed how ostensibly hypocrites do give.  

They sound a trumpet in the synagogues and in the streets.  Both in church and in business locations.  How often we have all seen this:  

- In churches at the end of the pew, or at the entrance to the church library is a little, sometimes not so little, plaque with words that might say "humbly gifted by John Smith" on it.  I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

- men, women or businesses give huge donations to charity and so often it is done with a lot of fanfare with thousands, or more, people watching. I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

-  A number of years ago there was a fund raising auction sale.  The first thing to be auctioned was an imaginary loaf of bread.  The money raised by that loaf of bread was destined to feed the hungry.  This is a great purpose but the man who bid $500.00 for it made sure we all heard and saw him.  He wanted all of us to think that he was a very benevolent man.  I can assure you that he already has his reward. CEV. 

They, the hypocrites, give so that they may be praised by men.  If you do it so that you're giving to be praised by humans than that praise is all you will get.  The grammar of the ancient Greek here is emphatic. When Jesus says they have their reward, the word have can be understood as “paid in full.” Guzik

However when you do charitable giving, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (this, again, is a hyperbole by Christ) so that your charitable giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will Himself reward you openly.

... You Pray


And whenever you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by men. Assuredly I say to you, that they receive their reward in full.

But you, whenever you pray, enter into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.

But when you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him.
Mat. 6:5-8 EMTV

2. you shall not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing:  Of course, if you're standing you are easier to see.

in the synagogues: this makes you look holy. 

on the street corners: more people will see you at the corner of the street than halfway down the block.  If being thought of as holy is what they want I can assure you that they already have their reward. CEV

Unless praying in public is part of your job description pray to your Father who is in secret.  

When you pray, do not babble like the heathen, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  I suppose that almost all of us who attend church have heard someone "pray" and we were convinced that they prayed so long just because they loved to hear themselves talk.

... You Fast


Moreover, when you fast, do not become gloomy, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting.  If you are fasting so that others will know that you are fasting Assuredly I say to you, you have received your reward in full.  

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face (look normal) so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. Mat. 6:16-18 

3. The Mosaic law ... never enjoins fasting. Fausset.  Surely there are times when it is right, even necessary, to put aside the necessities of life so that we can focus on repentance and/or prayer.  These times might come many times, or maybe only a few times.  When they do come we must make sure that we do not push them aside!  However, let's not relegate those times to certain days or events; if we do, the whole effort tends to become ritualistic and meaningless. 

Rather than going without food or sleep or other pleasures for no apparent reasons we might choose to follow Jehovah's guidelines.  He says:

Nay, in the days of your fasts ye find your pleasures, and all them that are under your power ye wound.

I have not chosen such a fast, saith the Lord;
- but do thou loose every burden of iniquity,
this is believed, by some, to mean (do your best to overturn any unjust court case).

- do thou untie the knots of hard bargains, If you forced someone into a business deal because you had him "over the barrel"; undo it.

- set the bruised free, Jewish law stated that if a slave owner purposely damaged a slave in certain ways that slave was to be set free.  Some slave owners did not do that.

- and cancel every unjust account.  How could you even think of "seeking God's face" if you are guilty of swindling anyone?

- Break thy bread to the hungry, share your food with the hungry.

- and lead the unsheltered poor to thy house: share the comforts of your home with the needy.

- if thou seest one naked, clothe him, buy the needy some clothing.

- and thou shalt not disregard the relations of thine own seed. Don't turn your back on your own kin even if they are hard to get along with.

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily spring forth: and thy righteousness shall go before thee, and the glory of God shall compass thee. 
Isaiah 58:3+6-8 Brenton Version

Or, as Christ said, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.

Friday, September 15, 2017

60 - Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' 

But I say to you, that whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is better for you that one of your members be lost, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.'

But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.
 Mat. 5:27-32 


Adultery


You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'.  For centuries already the law has been repeated and you know it well.  But your interpretation of this law does not affect the heart.

Many and severe are the prohibitions of the Jews, concerning looking upon a woman, which they aggravate as a very great sin: they say: 
- it is not lawful to look upon a beautiful woman, though unmarried;  
- nor upon a woman's coloured garments: 
- they forbid looking on a woman's little finger, 
- and say that he that tells (counts) money to a woman, out of his hand into her's, that he may look upon her (this sounds like prostitution) ... shall not escape the damnation of hell: 
- they affirm that he that looks upon a woman's heel, his children shall not be virtuous; 
- and that a man may not go after (walk behind) a woman in the way, no, not after (behind) his wife, he must take her to the side of him, (the idea seems to be that he might see her heel, or worse yet, he might notice her waistline; so he must walk beside her so that he cannot see her) 
- they forbid a man looking on the beauty of his own wife.  

Now these things were said by them ... because they would be thought to be very chaste; when they were, as Christ calls them, an "adulterous generation" in a literal sense: they usually did what our Lord observes, "strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel". Gill.  This means that they were extremely picky about the minutest details and at the same time miss the whole point.

So the men in such a society insist that the women wear overbearingly hot clothing all summer long just so that everyone will think of those same men, that make those rules, are above ever thinking of committing adultery.

Christ continues, So I am saying to you whoever looks at a woman in order to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

On the other side of the globe, in North America, many women walk the city streets wearing almost nothing.  Don't they realize that a woman in a pretty dress is much more beautiful than an under dressed woman is?  But, enough of that.

Men walking the same streets will, of course, see the women, but that does not mean that they are even considering committing adultery.   The sin is not in seeing, it is in lusting; it is a matter of the heart.  Some Bible teachers explain it like this: if you would do it if you thought you could get away with it than you are already guilty of doing it.

Speaking in hyperboles, to emphasize the truth, Christ said, if you cannot look at a woman without having impure thoughts about her, gouge out your offending eye.


We, Christians, are so prone to think glibly of Jehovah's attitude towards sin.  If you do not always treat a woman in a gentlemanly manner cut off your offending hand.  If you do not do that, you might do something which will incur Jehovah's damnation.

Divorce


Christ continues, Not only that but it has been said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a divorce certificate.  Under Jewish law, a man can divorce a woman for any reason or no reason. The Talmud specifically says that a man can divorce a woman because she spoiled his dinner or simply because he finds another woman more attractive, and the woman's consent to the divorce is not required. Judaism 101.

The Pharisees asked Christ Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?  If Christ would have said "yes" there would have been a lot less friction between Him and the Pharisees.  

Instead of agreeing He said, a man ... shall be joined to his wife ... So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. This was Jehovah's original plan. But because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives. Mat. 19:5-6.

Christ's standards are higher than those of the Pharisees.  He said, whoever divorces his wife, except for a matter of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery;  Unless your wife is already guilty of sexual immorality if you divorce her you are the one that is guilty of causing her to commit adultery.

The idea seems to be that a woman should not be expected to live unmarried the rest of her life just because her husband discarded her.  The problem is that she becomes the wife of another man while her first husband is still alive.  Her first husband is responsible for her situation because he divorced her without just cause.

whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  Not only is the wife, who was forced to get divorced, guilty of adultery but the man who marries her is also guilty of adultery because, in Jehovah's eyes, that woman is still part of her first husband ever since the two became one.

What seems so absurd is that many people in various Christian denominations love to claim "all" the words of Christ as infallible; all, that is, except this statement by Christ whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.  

This statement is so completely disregarded by many denominations.  Is it because the preacher does not want to lose any church members?  Is it because churches always tend to go with the flow of society, ignoring what the Bible actually teaches?  Christian churches are to be the moral leaders in any society, not the followers.

Here we are not even considering the idea of living together without being married.  If divorce and remarriage were not so easy in our society, and especially in the Christian churches, perhaps couples would try harder to be easier to get along with.    After all, living alone is not much fun.

Even though this post is written with males in mind, if the necessary changes are made, it also applies to females.  They also cannot do whatever they may feel like doing and still remain pure!

Friday, September 8, 2017

59 - Thou Shalt Not Murder

"You have heard that it was said to the ancients, 'You shall not kill,' and whoever kills will be liable to the judgment. 

But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother without cause will be liable to the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council. But whoever says, ' fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell. 

Therefore if you offer your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you,  

leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  

Make friends with your adversary quickly, while you are on the road with him, lest your adversary hand you over to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be cast into prison. 

Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny. 
Mat 5:21-26 EMTV


That is No Little Sin


We noticed in the last post that Jesus Christ did not agree with the Roman Catholic church that there are mortal and venial sins.  James wrote, For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he has become guilty of all. James 2:10.  All sin is sin! 

Let us not flatter ourselves into thinking that those things we call "little sins" will be overlooked by The Just Judge.  They must be accounted for and Paul wrote, the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 6:23. 

Life after sin is possible but it cannot be achieved by hours of penance, self-torture, or paying indulgences.  It is available to us only because Christ Jesus died and rose again and we must be willing to accept that as the only payment for our sins.

Christ continues with the topic of "big sins" versus "little sins".  You have heard whoever kills (commits premeditated murder) will be liable to the judgment. (such an one must be put to death ... "by the house of judgment", the country's highest court system.) Gill.

Note that this word kill does not include a soldier's actions in a war.  I have more about this in: https://wwwthinkagai.blogspot.com/2012/07/is-pacifism-biblical.html


Anger



Christ continues, But I say to you that whoever gets angry with his brother (fellow human) without cause will be liable to the judgment.  Certainly, Christians are allowed to be angry when there is a reason for it, but not without cause.

Road rage is a good example of this.  Someone pulls in front of us, into the space which we rightfully thought was ours, and immediately we seeth.  This is anger without cause.  It might have been the other driver's innocent mistake, but even if it wasn't, so what if he is ahead of us rather than behind us.  No big deal!  Keep your cool.

It seems strange that Christ said that we will be brought to court for being angry about something.  The idea could be that we won't be taken to court for being angry but because of how we act in our anger and, in the example above, attack the other driver with a tire iron, or worse, and so we end up in court on a murder charge. 


Slander


It sounds as if Christ is speaking of slander because He says whoever says to his brother, 'Empty-head!' will be liable to the council (in Christ's day this meant the Jewish Sanhedrim. Strong G4892.)   The Supreme Council of the land. 

Instead of Empty-head the KJV uses the word Raca and some Bible commentators say that this word represents the worst that any person could call another person.

Judgement


But whoever says, 'fool!' will be liable to the fiery hell.  The word fool, in this case, designates a person as morally worthless and an apostate.  If a person takes it upon himself to judge another's character that way, he, himself, should receive a punishment fit for a rebel against God, that is, everlasting destruction. NW Com.  We may judge another person's actions but we may never judge another person's character!

Therefore,  (because, if the previous statement is true), if you offer your gift on the altar, (or your tithe in the offering plate) and there you remember that your brother has something against you, (this is important because your eternal welfare depends on this) leave your gift there before the altar, and go, first be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Mat. 5:23-24. 

All of a sudden, during the church service, you remember that a fellow human being is upset with you so don't put off making things right with him/her.  If necessary leave the church service right then, as soon as you think of the problem, and be reconciled with your brother.  Later you come back and worship the Lord, with a clean slate.

I am sure that almost every one of us knows someone who refuses to seek reconciliation with some one else.  To them, Saint John writes Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 1 John 3:15 NW.


Going to Court


If someone is threatening to take you to court do your level best to placate him.  Make friends with your adversary quickly; if you don't, the judge may find you guilty and you end up in jail and there you will stay until the whole debt has been paid.  You are much further ahead to just swallow your pride, try to avoid a court case, and not spend your income earning years in prison.

As far as a Christian taking a fellow Christian to a non-Christian court, St. Paul made it very clear that such a thing is not allowed.  Does any of you, having a matter against another, dare go to court before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 

So is there not among you a wise man, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brother and another?  Rather than taking a Christian to a civil court, find a wise man, in your church and accept his decision.  But brother goes to court against brother, and this before unbelievers (to a civil court)

First of all, it is actually a defeat for you that you have lawsuits against one another (a Christian against a Christian).
Secondly, Why not rather accept wrong? Why not rather accept being defrauded? 
Thirdly, you wrong and defraud, and these things to your brothers! 1 Cor. 6:1-8.  It completely destroys a church's testimony when non-Christians hear about Christians cheating Christians and then taking the poor defrauded brother to court.