Women’s roles in the Church

Introduction

“The Christian faith brought freedom and hope to women, children, and slaves. It taught that all people, regardless of race or sex, were equal before their Creator, and that all believers were one in Jesus Christ. The local church was perhaps the only community in the Roman Empire that welcomed all people, regardless of nationality, social status, sex, or economic position.” 1

There is a debate raging in many corners of the modern Church over the role of women in ministry. Every so often we hear a story about a denominational convention’s resolutions to alter the status quo. A firestorm erupts, and people become polarized into different camps. Not agreeing with the denominational leaders, a faction often rises in opposition to the new policies and the denomination splits. At times the debate is harsh; other times it is more reserved. But inevitably the rhetoric of each side degenerates into far more heat than light.

What follows is an attempt to look at Biblical passages relevant to the issue. We will seek to discover what God’s plan is for women in ministry and in the life of the Church.

Before we begin, let us say that many of the verses we will be looking at are debated in their interpretation and used by both sides. Instead of getting lost in the finer points of explaining these passages, we will seek to discover the over-all biblical
principles revealed and then apply them to the modern scene.

What follows is not meant to be understood as the definitive answer to the current debate. This is not a theological treatise. It is merely an attempt to glean some guidelines for understanding the issue from a Biblical perspective.

Defining the Current Positions

When dealing with issues that divide the Church, there is often a tendency to err by adopting an extreme position. Regarding the role of women in ministry, there are two extremes that tend to frame the debate; those who are egalitarian and those who are
exclusivist.

Egalitarianism

The egalitarian holds to a philosophy of absolute equality in all things. Distinctions due to sex, talent, innate natural ability or characteristics are overlooked for the sake of equanimity. They propose that since men and women are equal before God, they are equal candidates for all levels and positions of ministry in
the home and church. 2
They believe there is no role or office a woman may not fill.

Egalitarians draw their ideas from the modern world then support their position with a questionable method of interpretation of the Scriptures. It is never wise to view Scripture through the filter of the contemporary world-spirit because the world is at enmity with God and hostile to His truth. 3

Passages that place clear limits on the role of women are interpreted by egalitarians as being applicable only to the first century church. They believe social evolution demands a new
understanding of these passages.

The proof-text for the egalitarian position regarding the role of women is Galatians 3:28; “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Rather than balancing this passage with others which speak to the issue of the role of women in ministry, egalitarians make this passage the rule, and the rest pliable to fit their unique interpretation of this passage.

The egalitarian interprets the Apostle to mean the absolute and total equality of men and women. But is that the proper understanding of this verse, in light of the context? It is clear from the context that Paul is referring to salvation; all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, social status or sex, come to God the same way, through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul is not speaking to the issue of ministry or roles in the church or home in Galatians 3. In the passages that do speak to roles and offices, he is crystal clear: God ordains distinctions between men
and women.

The egalitarian position is an accommodation to the world-spirit rather than a faithful adherence to Scriptural norms.

Exclusivism

The Exclusivist holds a position on male-dominance in the home and church that is a polar opposite from the egalitarian. He or she may hold to his or her position out of a noble desire to apply the Scriptures to life, but they fall in to the trap of a slavish and uncritical application of the “letter of the law” rather than a mature understanding of the principles that undergird it.

The exclusivist reads certain phrases about the role of women and moves to apply them immediately without any consideration of the cultural setting in which they were delivered. If the egalitarian is guilty of allowing culture to discolor the interpretation of scripture, the exclusivist disregards the influence of culture altogether and fails to apply the proper historical-grammatical means of understanding the text. If the Bible says a woman is to be silent in the church, then women aren’t allowed to talk,­ period! If 1 Corinthians 11 calls for women to wear head coverings, then a woman better have a shawl, hat, or shower cap in place!

If the exclusivist is to be consistent, then he or she cannot limit this kind of slavish obedience to the role of women. They must greet one another with a holy kiss, drink a little wine, and never wear clothing with mixed fabrics. 4

The exclusivist may be more noble in motive than the egalitarian, but they are no more correct in their understanding or application of the Word of God.

Tough Passages

The sticking point in the whole debate is some clearly worded passages from the New Testament.

1 Timothy 2:11-14
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and
keep the traditions just as I delivered them
to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with
her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

Some modern commentators dispense with Paul’s instructions here by saying he was merely reflecting the male chauvinism of the times and that these things are not normative for today. But this reflects a low view of the inspiration of Scripture and does not deal fairly with the text. Note carefully that in both passages,
Paul identifies spiritual principles that determine what he writes as practical expressions of a woman’s role.

Let’s consider each of these passages and gain an understanding of what the Spirit is saying to the Church of every age.

1 Timothy 2
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.

The context of this passage is on the place of women in the local church. The Apostle’s words here have that end in sight.

The word “submission” means “to rank under” and gives us an important insight into what the Bible means when it speaks of
submission and authority. Rank refers to role, not value or even ability.

The Armed Forces are a prime picture of “ranking.” A major out ranks a sergeant, but that doesn’t mean he’s a better person. It’s the major’s duty to be the authority in that relationship while it’s the sergeant’s duty to submit. The major realizes that while he out ranks the sergeant, he is under the authority of a general. In fact, the sergeant may be more able and have a personal financial worth that far exceeds all those above him. This does not affect his ranking.

In 1 Corinthians 14, the Apostle Paul writes, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”

He was speaking in reference to the order of the Church. A
look into the heavens at night or the microscope during the day moves one to realize that God is a God of order. Systems work in harmony. Disharmony in the creation we call disease and dysfunction. In the same way, God desires order in His Family, the Church. So He has established the authority structure of the Church and home.

We probably would not want to live in a society where the levels of authority and submission were ill-defined. Imagine a military with no rankings. Imagine a nation where no one submitted to the government and the laws it passed. Imagine what the traffic would be like if submission was dispensed with. Many homes today are in turmoil and pain because parents have not exercised proper authority over their children, and those children have not submitted to their parents. 5

The Bible is clear that children should submit to their parents, that a wife should submit to her husband, and that the husband should submit to Christ.6 Everyone is to submit to the governing authorities. 7

Biblical submission is not subservience, it is simply recognizing God’s established order in the home and the church, and joyfully obeying it.

As Warren Wiersbe says, submission is the key to spiritual growth. It was a failure in submission that resulted in the Fall. Being redeemed means returning to the place of submission, first to God, then demonstrating that submission in a living and practical way in the relationships of life; at home, in society, and in the Church.

When Paul tells women in v. 11 to “learn in silence with all submission” he is not relegating women to the “back of the bus” in church life. He is dealing with the issue of order in church services. Unfortunately, the word “silence” leaves the impression that Paul is saying women were never to open their mouths in church. But as we apply the principle of the analogy of scripture
(comparing scripture with scripture) we realize Paul cannot be making a blanket rule prohibiting women from talking in church.

How do we then account for the four daughters of Philip in Acts 21 who prophesied? Where would they have exercised their spiritual gift if not in the context of the church?

In Acts 5 we have Peter questioning Sapphira about her and her husband’s conspiracy to defraud. He expected her verbal response; how so if women were not permitted to speak?

In Corinthians 12 Paul says that the manifestations of the Spirit are given to all, for all. The context of the use of the gifts is body-life. But if women cannot speak, how can they use the gifts?

In 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul says, “Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head . . . ” The context here is clear; Paul is speaking about ministry IN the congregation.

Clearly Paul does not mean women are to not speak in church. What does he mean then when he says they are to remain silent?

The word translated, “silent” is rendered as “peaceable” in verse 2 of the same chapter and that is the way we ought to understand it here. Some of the women in the church were abusing their newfound freedom in Christ and were creating a disturbance when the church gathered. Because women were excluded from the early education men enjoyed, they would often turn to their husband or someone else and ask what something meant during the services of
the church.

Notice what Paul said to the Corinthians on this subject . . .
Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

The integrity of the church’s witness and effectiveness to minister meaningfully was being harmed by the interruptions of a few. Paul simply sought to restore order. He did so by reminding them of the authority-submission issue God has established for the home and church. “And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Verse 12-14

First, let it be said that women are permitted to teach. In Titus 2 we read, “Older women should teach the younger women.”
But in their teaching ministry, they must not “have authority over a man.” We must be careful here to extract from the Scriptures what is and isn’t being said.

In Acts 18:24-28 we read that Aquila and Priscilla met Apollos and after hearing him preach called him aside to instruct him more fully in the way of the Lord. It’s clear that both of them had a part in instructing him. Priscilla’s ministry of teaching Apollos was entirely correct because she was functioning
under her husband’s authority. This provides a good balance and guideline for a woman’s exercise of her gifts. She ought to operate in the realm of recognition of her role and under the authority of her God-ordained male leadership.

Let me use an example. A woman who is gifted to teach can indeed speak at a church service in which men are present. She can read Scripture, share a testimony; she can even teach or prophesy but only if she does so under visible submission to the authority of male leadership and in a manner that does not introduce confusion and disorder. If a woman does minister in this capacity, it’s part of the duty of the leadership to ensure what is going to be shared is proper and that the congregation is aware of their endorsement of what follows.

The congregation then realizes the authority is not with the woman who is speaking, but with those entrusted with leadership.

But let’s not lose sight of something important here. When Paul says that a woman is not to teach or have authority over a man, he is defining a criteria for church leadership that is critical.

Women cannot be elders! If we dispense with the chapter division one verse later we realize the context is church leadership and the elders. The one ministry women seem to be excluded from is
eldership.

The office of Elder isn’t a gift, it’s a role. Nowhere do we find the Spirit giving the “gift of elder.” Elders are picked through a rational and prayerful process of evaluation based on the criteria found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. They are called and appointed. Character and experience are considered. It seems from scripture a woman can do just about anything except be an elder or a husband.

Since a pastor is also an elder, that certainly would exclude a woman from being a pastor.

Paul bases his argument, not on social conventions but spiritual principles. His first argument is from Creation: Adam was formed first, and then Eve. This must have been a deeply theological issue for Paul because he repeats the same thing in 1 Corinthians 11. Order of creation generates levels of authority man first, then woman, after that, children.

The second argument has to do with The Fall. While Eve was deceived and ate of the forbidden fruit, Adam sinned with his eyes wide open. Paul’s point seems to be that even though the order of Creation reveals the authority of the man, Adam violated that by heeding his wife’s lead. The result is­ disorder and ruin. Satan’s tempting of Eve rather than Adam may be reflective of his own
rebellion against God.

The bottom line of 1 Timothy 2 is that there is a God-ordained authority structure in the church. In this passage, the Apostle identifies specifically how the women are to recognize and honor that structure. There is one ministry in the church to which they may not aspire,­ Elder/Pastor.

1 Corinthians 11

The Church at Corinth was a hothouse of trouble. This was the church to which Paul wrote that all things must be done decently and in order. He wrote that because it was not the case in Corinth!

The New Covenant results in a new humanity. This newness tears down the old distinctions that used to exist between Jews and Gentiles, and all other social divides. Paul elaborates on this in Ephesians 2:14-21. In Christ, there is a new freedom that liberates the soul. But it was to be expected that there would be some who would carry this newfound freedom to excess.

A new movement always suffers more from its disciples than from its enemies, and this was true in Corinth. Some of the women flaunted their “freedom” in the public meetings by refusing to cover their heads when they participated. While head coverings were a specific cultural idiom, the principles of authority and submission revealed in this passage transcend culture.

Eastern society at that time was jealous over its women. A chaste woman wore long hair and, in public, wore a shawl over her head symbolizing her submission. The head covering was symbolic of being “under the covering” of her husband or father, who functioned as her spiritual covering until she was married. For a Christian woman to appear in public or at church without the
covering was both daring and blasphemous. Some women were doing this in Corinth, in the same kind of defiant spirit exhibited in some church circles today.

Paul sought to restore order by reminding the Corinthians that God had made a difference between men and women, that each had a proper place in God’s economy. There were also appropriate
customs that symbolized these relationships and reminded both men and women of their correct places in the divine scheme. Paul did not say, or even hint, that this difference meant inequality or
inferiority. If there is to be peace in the church then there must be some kind of order; and order, of necessity, involves rank. 8

In Corinth, head coverings marked the distinction between the sexes; women wore them, men did not. Paul gives clear direction that this sex-distinction is not to be blurred. Head coverings are not culturally relevant idioms of distinction between the sexes today. But others things are, such as clothing fashions and hair styles. While the world may find certain styles of clothing and hair fashionable, these fashions, reflecting the world spirit, often purposely blur the line between male and female.

Being a follower of Jesus means setting our tastes and practice by the truths of the Kingdom, not the world. We can dress both modestly and without appearing to be a throw back to some past era
while at the same time avoiding blurring the differences between male and female.

Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians 11 is that both women and men must
honor the Lord by respecting the symbols of sexual distinction and yielding to the differing roles entrusted to them.

Notice in 1 Corinthians 11 that Paul takes it for granted that women will pray and prophesy in the church! His point is that when they do so they must do it in a manner proper for their role as women. He says that whenever a woman prays or prophesies in the assembly, she must have long hair and must wear a covering. Men should have short hair and not wear any covering. Again, each person has his or her proper role and place and the differences are not to be blurred.

Now, stop and think about that for a moment. As a Jewish man, Paul would have worn a cap when he prayed – if he was in Jerusalem! In the Greek world, things were different and the different cultural idioms had to change to reflect faithfulness to the larger spiritual principles.

In Jerusalem, a Christian man honored Christ by being covered, while in Corinth he was uncovered and wore short hair. The Greek woman honors her spiritual covering by being covered with a shawl. She shows her submission to God by submitting to her husband
or father.

Conclusion

Taken together, these two passages reveal that while gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit are given to all for the benefit of all, God differentiates between men and women in the ministry of the local church. Women cannot be elders or pastors because that would be a violation of the principle of submission and
authority, which refers to roles, not gifting. S

Since eldership is the authority in the church and a woman is not to be in authority over a man, women cannot be elders. And since pastors are elders, a woman cannot be a pastor.

Women can, however, fill just about any other ministry role in the church, as long as they demonstrate their submission to the God-ordained male leadership in their lives and congregation.

End Notes

1.  Wiersbe, Warren
2. Galatians 3:28
3. 1 John 2:15, John 15:18-19, 1 John 4:1-6
4. Romans 16:16, 1 Timothy 5:23, Leviticus 19:19
5. 2 Timothy 3:2
6. Ephesians 5 & 6 1 Corinthians 11 Colossians 3
7. Romans 13 1 Peter 2
8. Wiersbe

Article Credit: Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard

101 Last Days Prophecies

The Bible predicts many specific signs that will culminate in the last days. Notice that none of these prophecies are vague. Also consider that Jesus indicated these signs would arise concurrently (pretty much at the same time), gaining momentum like birth pains, as His return draws near (Matthew 24:33-34, Matthew 24:8).

Though many of these prophecies won’t climax until the Tribulation period, our generation is the first to see every trend in place. As the final seconds of this age tick away, these events will come into even clearer focus.

Keep in mind as you read this list that these prophecies were penned 1900 to 3500 years ago!

1. False Bible teachers would be money hungry. They would be smooth talkers, have many followers, and slur the Christian faith (2 Peter 2:1-3).

2. Mankind would be capable of destroying all life (Matthew 24:21-22). Consider that when Jesus made this prediction the armaments of His day were swords and spears. But today, with nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, it is possible to wipe out all flesh on planet earth.

3. The use of nuclear weapons anticipated (Zechariah 14:12).
The neutron bomb melts (dissolves) its victims –
just as Zechariah predicted 2500 years ago.

4. There would be a global cry for peace (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

5. The Antichrist would use (false) peace to destroy many (Daniel 8:23-25). With all the problems facing mankind, multitudes are looking for a “savior” to usher in peace and prosperity without moral accountability. The Antichrist will promise the world such a peace if they follow him – but his intentions will be sinister.

6. Damascus would be destroyed (Isaiah 17:1, 14; Jeremiah 49:23-27; Amos 1:3-5). Damascus, Syria is increasingly in the news and is extremely anti-Semitic. Many terrorist organizations have their bases in Damascus. God declares that they will become a ruinous heap because they have violently taken what was not theirs.

7. Chaotic weather would be prevalent (Luke 21:25-26). Jesus foresaw “the seas and the waves roaring” in the last days. He also likened these signs to birth pangs (Matthew 24:8). The Greek word odin, often translated as sorrows in Matthew 24:8, literally means birth pangs.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul reminded us that the creation itself will be delivered from the curse at the end of the age (Romans 8:21). And that the “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs” (Romans 8:22).

As delivery draws near, birth pangs always increase in both intensity and frequency. Therefore, the creation itself would travail as the time of delivery draws near. Of course chaotic weather has always existed, but there are indications that we are witnessing an increase in strange weather.

8. Global communications foreseen (Revelation 11:9-10; 17:8).
The Bible predicts that the entire world will “see” certain events unfold.

The invention of the television and the deployment of global satellite networks during the 20th century allow news to travel the world at the speed of light for the first time ever. Remember that in the apostle John’s day, news traveled at the speed of horseback.

9. The Christian gospel would be preached as a warning to all nations (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10). Today, portions or all of the Bible have been translated into over 2,300 languages and dialects covering over 90% of the world’s population.

10. There would be a move toward a global government (Daniel 2:40-44; 7:23; Revelation 13:7-8). The former Roman Empire – which encompassed present-day Europe – would revive and eventually dominate the world.

The European Union has steadily moved forward in its attempt to unite Europe politically and economically. It has succeeded in creating a European parliament, a court, and a common currency.

11. Literal Babylon (formerly called Babel) would reemerge in the land of Shinar – known today as Iraq (Zechariah 5:11; Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:1-9; Isaiah 13). Saddam Hussein spent over 20 years and many hundreds of millions of dollars rebuilding the city of Babylon.

12. The possesion of Jerusalem would be at the center of international turmoil (Zechariah 12:3). Almost daily the world news reports on the conflict over Jerusalem.

13. The fact that God once flooded the earth (the Noahic Flood) would be denied (2 Peter 3:5-6). There is a mass of fossil evidence to prove this fact, yet it is flatly ignored by the scientific world because of its uncanny implication.

14. Increased interest in vegetarianism anticipated (1 Timothy 4:3-4). The New Age Movement has swept the globe during the past 40 years popularizing this.

15. Many wars would erupt (Mark 13:7-8). According to Project Ploughshares, there are about 40 armed conflicts in the world today.

16. The earth would be filled with violence (Luke 17:26; Genesis 6:11-13). In the United States alone, violent crime has increased nearly 500% since 1960.

Fifty years ago abortion (the violent murder of an unborn child) was illegal in most countries. Today abortion is legal in most countries and 50 million children are aborted each year.

Jesus also predicted that there would be fearful sights (Luke 21:11). The Greek word translated fearful is phobetron, which can also be translated terror. According to the U.S. State Department, between 1981 and 2000, there were 9,179 international terrorist attacks.

17. Knowledge would increase (Daniel 12:4; Isaiah 11:9). Specifically, this is referring to an understanding of Bible prophecy, but also an increase in scientific knowledge is implied.

18. Despite an increase in scientific knowledge, deadly diseases (which the Bible calls “pestilences”) would be prevalent (Matthew 24:7).

Emerging diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, Hanta virus, Dengue, West Nile, SARS, etc., underscore this fact. Ironically, just a few decades ago, some scientists were forecasting that advances in medicine might soon eradicate deadly diseases.

19. There would be technology capable of tracking the world’s population and commerce (Revelation 13:16-17).

20. Despite technological advancements, famines would be common (Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:5-8).

21. The ancient city of Petra (Sela – the rock city) in Jordan would exist and become the refuge for the fleeing Jews during the Tribulation (Isaiah 16:1-4; Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6, 14).

In 1994, Jordan and Israel signed a peace treaty making Petra a potential refuge for fleeing Jews.

22. Russia (Magog) would rise as a military power and lead a surprise attack on Israel just prior to the final seven years of this age (Ezekiel 38). Today, most of the southern states of the former Soviet Union are both military powerhouses and Muslim.

23. Turkey (Meshech) would also turn on Israel in the same surprise attack (Ezekiel 38). In November of 2002, Turkey elected a pro-Islamic party to govern the country.

24. Iran (Persia), Sudan (Cush), and Libya (Put) would also partake in the surprise attack on Israel (Ezekiel 38).

Anti-Semitism in the Arab world is rampant. According to the Koran and Hadith, all Muslims are commanded to kill Jews, Christians, and non-believers in Jihad (holy war) unless they convert to Islam (Surahs 9:5 and 47:4; Volume 1, book 2, numbers 24 and 35).

25. Ironically, Egypt and Jordan would not participate in this surprise attack (Ezekiel 38). Astoundingly, they are the only two Arab nations that have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

26. Birds of prey would eat the dead flesh of the enemy armies that fall in battle against Israel (Ezekiel 39:4, 17; Revelation 19:17-21).

It is a little known fact that Israel is the bird migration capital of the world. In fact, 500 million to 1.5 billion birds fly over Israel each spring. During the fall migration an estimated 1 to 4 billion birds traverse Israel. Many of these migratory birds are raptors – carrion (dead flesh) eating birds of prey. In fact, 34 species of raptors migrate over Israel.

27. Great signs from heaven predicted (Luke 21:11). Both natural and supernatural phenomena in the earth and sky appear to be increasing.

28. The sun would scorch the inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 16:8-9). Though this prophecy is clearly a divine judgment on unrepentant mankind, it is interesting that a compromise in the earth’s atmosphere due to nuclear war or other ecological disaster could facilitate this judgment.

29. The nation Israel would be born in one day (Isaiah 66:8).
On May 14, 1948 Israel became a nation.

30. The Jews would begin to regather in Israel (Jeremiah 31:7-10; Ezekiel 37:21-22; 38:8). 5.4 million and counting!

31. The Jews would regain control of biblical Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:6; Luke 21:24).
This happened in 1967!

32. The Eastern Gate would remain closed until the Messiah returns. At Christ’s Second Coming, He will enter Jerusalem through the now sealed Eastern Gate (Ezekiel 44:1-3). Today, as predicted, the Eastern Gate remains sealed.

33. The nation of Israel, which had been divided into two kingdoms since the time of Solomon (950 B.C.) – Israel in the north and Judah in the south – would be one united nation in the last days (Ezekiel 37:15-17, Ezekiel 37:22). At present, as predicted, Israel is one nation.

34. The returning Jews would have no king in the last days (Hosea 3:4-5). Amazingly, not only is Israel no longer a theocracy, but today the Jewish state is governed by a democracy comprised of some 30 political parties.

35. During the diaspora (the dispersion of the Jews to the four corners of the globe), Israel would become a wasteland (Deuteronomy 29:23-28; Ezekiel 36:8-11; Ezekiel 36:33-36). During the past 1900 years Israel became a nearly uninhabited, desolate wasteland.

36. Israel, once a desolate desert, would blossom in the last days and export produce to the world (Isaiah 27:6; 35:1-2; Ezekiel 36:34-36). Israel’s increased rainfall and world-renowned irrigation technology have caused the land to blossom.

Incredibly, as predicted, they currently export 800 million dollars worth of fresh produce each year.

37. Israel would once again plant vineyards on the mountains of Israel (Joel 3:17-18; Amos 9:13). Today, sweet wine flows from the Golan Heights and many other vineyards on the mountains of Israel.

38. The last days Jews would plant forests of trees. The Bible even specifies the variety of trees – cedar, acacia, myrtle, oil, cypress, pine, and box (Isaiah 41:18-20). This has happened in our day.

39. Though Israel would be the focus of many fulfilled prophecies, most Jews would remain blind to the fact that Jesus is their Messiah until the very end (Luke 19:41-42; Luke 13:34-35; Romans 11:25-26).

40. The Euphrates River would be dried up (Revelation 16:12). Today, the massive Ataturk Dam in Turkey, completed in 1990, can hold back the Euphrates to a trickle.

41. Asia (the kings from the east) would be capable of deploying a 200-million-man army during earth’s final days (Revelation 9:14-16; 16:12). Bear in mind, in Jesus’ day there were only an estimated 170 to 400 million people on the entire planet.

42. Population explosion predicted (Revelation 7:9, 14). The apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, was told the number of an army in the last days – two hundred million (Revelation 9:16). This was the approximate population of the world at that time.

That John also beholds “a great multitude which no one could number” coming out of the Great Tribulation at the end of the age (Revelation 7:9, 14). indicates an enormous number of people on planet earth in the last days.

43. The nations would bud (Luke 21:29-33). In Scripture, the tree is often used figuratively of a nation (Ezekiel 31:3-6; Daniel 4:20-22). During the past century we have seen the end of the colonial era and the rapid growth in the number of newly formed independent nations.

44. Egypt, one of the world’s greatest ancient civilizations, would exist in the last days – but only as a lowly third world nation (Ezekiel 29:14-16). Today, as predicted, Egypt remains an impoverished nation. To show how amazing this prophecy is, compare modern Egypt with the tiny nation of Austria. Egypt has ten times more land area, and a population eight times greater then Austria. Yet, Epypt’s Gross Domestic Product is only one-fifth of Austria’s GDP.

45. Earthquakes occurring in diverse places predicted.
(Matthew 24:7).

46. Marriage would be forbidden by many (1 Timothy 4:3). The Bible states that marriage is honorable among all (Hebrews 13:4). Despite this, the Catholic Church forbids their 400,000 priests 800,000 nuns, and numerous bishops, cardinals, nuns, and monks from marrying. The Orthodox Church, as well as Hindus, Buddhists, and other religious groups also impose mandatory celibacy for certain orders.

47. Deceptive signs and wonders would abound
(Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:9).

48. Youth would become increasingly rebellious
(2 Timothy 3:2-3; Mark 13:12).

49. There would be many involved in travel (Daniel 12:4). Prior to the industrial revolution, few individuals traveled beyond their community. Until recently, horse, foot, and boat were the only modes of transportation. Yet, in our day millions travel to and fro great distances every year.

50. The rise of anti-Semitism worldwide anticipated (Joel 3:2; Zechariah 12:2-3). In the 1940s, Hitler tried to exterminate every Jew. And in the final 3 � years of the Tribulation, Antichrist will turn on the Jews and attempt the same.

51. Jesus said Christians would be hated for His name’s sake (Luke 21:17; Revelation 6:9-11; 20:4). The banning of the Bible, prayer, the Ten Commandments, nativity scenes, Christmas songs, etc., reflects this trend. Also consider that more Christians were martyed during the past century than during any other period in history.

52. Humanity would become increasingly materialistic and lovers of pleasure (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

53. Homosexuality would be flaunted at the end of the age (Luke 17:28-30; Genesis 19).
Ask your grandparents if there were such things as Gay Pride parades in their day.

54. The Hebrew language would be restored (Zephaniah 3:9). Remarkable, but today Hebrew is once again the official language of Israel.

Ultimately, when Christ returns to set up His kingdom, all people will share one speech. Not only will one language be restored, as it was before Babel (Genesis 11:1), but all people will call on the Lord with one accord.

55. The Ethiopian Jews would return to Israel (Zephaniah 3:10).
At least 60,000 Ethiopian Jews have returned during the past 20 years.

56. Substantial wealth and luxuries foreseen (James 5:1-3; Revelation 3:17; Revelation 18). It is interesting that 40 years ago some authorities forecasted that the growing mass of humanity was so quickly depleting the world’s resources, that many resources would be exhausted in a few decades. Yet today, vast material wealth and luxuries are in abundant supply – just as the Bible indicated 2000 years ago.

57. Despite increases in wealth, disparity between the wealthy and poor would continue to increase (Revelation 6:6). In Scripture, oil and wine often denote luxurious abundance (Proverbs 21:17; Joel 2:24; Revelation 18:13). Therefore this prophecy indicates that the wealthy will continue to flourish while the poor can scarcely afford bread.

Thirty years ago, the world’s richest 20% had 30 times the income of the poorest quintile. Today the ratio is 60 to 1. That means that the top 20% account for 85% of the world income, while the bottom billion’s share is only 1.4%.

58. Stress would increase because of selfishness (2 Timothy 3:1-2). In verse 1 of 2 Timothy 3, the Greek word chalepos can be translated perilous or difficult or grievous or stressful. The main reason for this stress is because “men will be lovers of themselves.”

59. Religious cults would mushroom (Matthew 24:5, 11; 2 Peter 2:1).
Numerous cults have emerged in these last days.

60. The returning Jews would once again use the ancient shekel for commerce (Ezekiel 45:12; Amos 8:5). Amazingly, the shekel is now Israel’s official currency.

61. A large asteroid or meteorite predicted to hit the earth during the Tribulation (Revelation 8:10-11). In 2002, an asteroid the size of a football field passed extremely close to Earth, remaining undetected until days later.

62. Nuclear energy foreseen (Revelation 8:10-11). While this prophecy is clearly a divine judgment, it is interesting that an asteroid or comet strike could easily breach nuclear power plants which are commonly located near large bodies of water. This would contaminate (make bitter) vast waterways.

63. Plans to rebuild the temple in Israel anticipated (Revelation 11:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4; Matthew 24:15). Preparations by the Temple Institute are nearly complete.

64. A red heifer without blemish must be born and sacrificed to purify the temple in Israel (Numbers 19:2, 3, 5, 9). A kosher red heifer was born in 2002 and remains without blemish!

65. The temple sacrifices would be reinstitued in Israel in the last days (Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:11). Daniel foresaw the Antichrist ending the daily sacrifices. Therefore, the Jewish sacrificial system must have first been restored in the last days.

Currently, the Temple Institute has created all the temple furniture and vessels. There are also several hundred young Jewish men in training for the Levitical priesthood.

66. In the last days, Israel would be surrounded by enemy Nations. (Psalm 83:4-8).

67. Israel would remain invincible except during the Great Tribulation (Zechariah 12:6-9). Even during those last 3 � years, when it looks like Israel will be destroyed, the Lord shall deliver Israel from the hands of her enemies. (Jeremiah 30:3-7; Zechariah 14; Mark 13:14-20).

Since 1948, Israel has been attacked in three major wars and six lesser wars, yet despite being vastly outnumbered, they have destroyed all attacking foes.

68. In the last days, fallen angels would mingle with mankind (Luke 17:26; Genesis 6:1-4). This may account for the explosion of ET/Alien abduction reports during the last 50 years.

69. The majority of those in the last days church would be lukewarm, wealthy, complacent and would be vomited into tribulation (Revelation 3:14-16). Polls reveal that a high percentage of professing Christians deny that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Many even deny that Jesus is God.

70. There would be a move towards a one-world religion.
(Revelation 13:8,12; Revelation 17).

71. Many would say that Christ is in the “secret chambers” or “inner rooms” in the last days. (Matthew 24:26). According to the Catholic Church, Christ is in the inner rooms of hundreds of thousands of Catholic churches – either in Eucharistic tabernacles or in Eucharistic monstrances. Jesus also warned that this deception would be acompanied by great signs and wonders (Matthew 24:23-27). Currently, Eucharistic miracles are reported around the globe.

72.
A woman, who is an impostor, would call herself “queen” and head the global counterfeit church in the last days (Revelation 17; 18:7).

Tens of millions follow the apparition of Mary, who claims that she is the Mother of the Church, the Lady of All Nations, the Co-Redemptrix, and the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

73. The woman would also embody a great city set on seven hills (Revelation 17:9, 18). The Queen of Heaven is considered the Mother of the Roman Catholic Church which has its headquarters (the Vatican) situated on seven hills. As the Catholic Encyclopedia states, “It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined.”

74. In the last days, this wicked woman would go out over the face of the whole earth. She would be associated with a global curse. Her final destination would be Babylon – in the land of Shinar (Zechariah 5).

Interestingly, the apparition of Mary claims that she will soon travel through the entire world saving those who look to her.

75. This female impostor would come in Christ’s name seducing His followers to commit idolatry (Revelation 2:20-22; 17:4,5).

The apparition of Mary encourages millions to bow down to her statues and visit her shrines. Worldwide, she also stresses the importance of worshiping the Eucharist.

76. The Lady of Kingdoms would deceive God’s people.
Ultimately, the Lord would expose her true identity (Isaiah 47).

It is provocative that an apparition of Mary entitled “The Lady of Nations” has initiated Catholics to petition the pope to declare her Co-Redemptrix. Nearly 7 million petitions have been sent to the pope urging him to declare her Co-Redemptrix.

77. Epidemic drug use predicted (Revelation 9:21). The Greek word translated sorceries is pharmakeia which refers to drug use, both illegal drugs and mind-altering drugs.

78. Sorceries – referring to witchcraft, magic, or occult practices used to enchant and deceive – are also anticipated in the last days (Revelation 9:21; Revelation 18:23; Isaiah 47:9-15; Micah 5:10-15)

79. Israel would be partitioned by other nations (Joel 3:2; Daniel 11:39). This has been a top priority for the United Nations since Israel’s statehood. Currently, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and Gaza, have been divided up into Jewish and Palestinian settlements.

80. A global arms race would occur (Joel 3:9-14; Revelation 16:14).
Never in history have so many nations stockpiled armaments.

81. Atomic fission anticipated (2 Peter 3:10-12). The Greek word translated elements is stoicheion which refers to the Greek letters: alpha, beta, gamma, etc. These are fundamental particles and rays of the atomic nuclei which are emitted from a molecule during radioactive decay. Peter predicted these elements would “melt with fervent heat” when the earth and the heavens are “dissolved” by fire. Today we understand that if the elements of the atom are loosed, there would be an enormous release of heat and energy (radiation).

82. Financial systems would depend on numbers not cash (Revelation 13:17-18).

83. Environmental devastation of the planet foreseen (Revelation 11:18). Our generation has done more to ravage the environment than any previous generation.

84. A global economic system would exist ( Revelation 13:17; 18:3, 11 , 19 , 23 ). Today, globalists in every level of government are seeking to unite the world. Connecting the world monetarily is crucial to their goal.

85. There would be “signs in the sun” (Luke 21:25).
This could refer to the increase in sunspots and solar flares.

86. Many would call themselves the Christ (Matthew 24:5). Jesus was an itinerate preacher who never traveled outside the tiny nation of Israel and He had the audacity to say that many would come in His name, claiming to be the Christ. And yet today, multitudes within the New Age Movement, Eastern religions, and the cults call themselves the Christ.

87. God predicted that His name would be great among the nations (Malachi 1:11; Philippians 2:9-11). As we begin the 3rd millennium, nearly 2 billion people profess to be Christians.

Ironically, over one billion Muslims regard Jesus as the Christ and the only sinless prophet, though they deny His claims that He rose from the dead and that He is divine.

Most of the remaining population regard Jesus as the greatest prophet and teacher ever. As foretold, no other name compares to the fame ascribed to Jesus Christ.

88. Jesus predicted that even after heaven and earth pass away, His words would never be forgotten (Luke 21:33). As we near the end of the age, we see that Christ’s words remain as accurate, renowned, and relevant as they were 2000 years ago. Today, Bible societies distribute approximately 600 million Scripture portions or entire Bibles every single year.

89. Despite the Bible’s numerous warnings and last days prophecies, most people would be taken off guard when these events culminate (Luke 21:35-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:2).

90. All true followers of Christ would suddenly vanish – raptured (caught up) by God to heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52).

A false explanation will deceive the unsuspecting masses (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

Today many apparitions, angels, ETs, cults, and New Agers are offering a counterfeit explanation for this soon to take place event.

91. After the Rapture (during the Tribulation), innumerable multitudes from every nation would wake up and turn to the true Jesus of the Bible and be saved (Revelation 7:9-17).

In addition, the Bible indicates that after a chastening period (the Tribulation) multitudes from Egypt to Assyria (Iraq and surrounding nations) would call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Isaiah 19:16-25).

Today, the seeds of the gospel are being spread in every nation – including the Middle East!

92. In the last days Israel would have a peace treaty in place that the Antichrist will confirm and eventually break (Daniel 9:27).

Currently the world’s governments are striving for an Israeli peace treaty.

93. The final generation would be open to receiving a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads (Revelation 13:16). Consider how the up and coming generation is tattooed, pierced and marked with all kinds of insignia.

94. Some professing Christians would give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). This generation has witnessed the explosion of apparitions and other “heavenly visitors” that are embraced by professing Christians even though their doctrines contradict the Word of God.

95. People would reject the sound doctrine of the Word of God and follow the doctrines of men that appeal to their own lusts ( 2 Timothy 4:3-4; Acts 20:29-30).

Jesus also predicted that there would be many hypocrites within the church (Matthew 24:48-51; Matthew 7:22-23).

96. Many would forsake the Ten Commandments as a moral code:
blaspheming, committing adultery, disobeying parents, stealing, lying, coveting, etc.
(Matthew 24:12; Revelation 9:21).

97. Idolatry would be pervasive (Revelation 9:20). An idol is anything that competes with the attention due only to our Creator. Money, position, pleasure, a person, possessions, and any created thing can all become idols (Romans 1:18-25; 2 Timothy 3:1-4).

98. Blasphemy would be common (2 Timothy 3:2; Revelation 16:9, 11, 21).

Consider how often people use their Creator’s name (God or Jesus Christ) as a curse word. What they have done is liken the One who is the source of every blessing (eyesight, sunsets, food, family, friends, etc.) to a four-letter curse word.

Fifty years ago, Hollywood seldom used God’s name in vain.
Today, nearly every movie includes blasphemy.

99. Sexual immorality would be rampant (Jude 18; Revelation 9:21).

Keep in mind, Jesus said whoever looks to lust has already committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:28). Therefore, God equates Internet porn, lustful movies, TV shows, and magazines to fornication.

100. Men would sear their conscience so they could continue in sin (1 Timothy 4:2).

The conscience is where God reveals right and wrong.
Con means with and science means knowledge.

Therefore we sin “with knowledge” when we ignore God’s moral law and violate our own conscience.

101. Men would mock the warning signs of the end of the age saying,
“These signs have always been around” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
The Bible even reveals their motivation, they love lust.

There are many more last days prophecies (several too detailed for this brief list), however these 101 demonstrate that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is true that some of these signs have been around for millennia. But only our generation has witnessed the coming together of every one of these events. Contrast the Bible’s 100% track record with other self-proclaimed prophetic sources and there is no comparison. The false prophets typically repackage and plagiarize the Bible’s prophecies for the unsuspecting masses, or they make so many vague prophecies that one is bound to be fulfilled. Nostradamus did both.

Jesus also predicted that when these signs begin to happen that some men would be paralyzed with fear (Luke 21:26), while others would look up with hopeful expectation (Luke 21:28). Which camp do you fall into? If you’re fearful, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that God will judge every man who breaks even one of His laws. Have you ever blasphemed your Creator’s name? Lied (white lies and fibs count)? Stolen (cheating on a test or taxes is stealing)? Looked with lust? If you have answered “Yes” to these questions, then by your own admission, you are a blaspheming, lying, thieving, adulterer at heart. And we have only looked at four of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).

That’s how God sees you. Keep in mind, God sees every secret sin of your past as if it just occurred. Nothing is hidden from His holy eyes. Also remember that Jesus rebuked the pious religious leaders of His day because, though they appeared good on the outside, inside they were prideful hypocrites. They were trusting in their own “goodness,” but the Lord saw their heart. No matter how upright we may appear on the surface, all of us have broken God’s holy commandments and need the Savior. Please listen to your conscience. You know you are guilty, and therefore will end up in hell. That’s not God’s will. In fact, God “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

The good news is that God has made a way to freely forgive us so that we may spend eternity with Him in heaven. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God desires a loving, eternal relationship with each person – free from sin, fear, and pain. Therefore, He sent His Son to die as our substitute on the cross. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus never sinned, yet He bore all our sins on the cross. All who turn from their sins and call on His name will be saved. That is awesome news!

If these signs alarm you, thank God, because the Lord wants to wake you from your spiritual slumber and give you eternal life. To repent of your sins and place your trust in Jesus Christ, make Psalm 51 your prayer. Then read your Bible daily, obeying what you read. God will never let you down.

Courtesy of an article on http://livingwaters.com

What Foundation are You Building On?

1 Corinthians 3:5-17

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.

Vs 5-8:

The bickering and fighting among the Corinthians in the Paul/Apollos camps had become so bitter, they had lost their witness in the city.

Paul had played his part in serving God by planting the church in Corinth. Apollos had played his part as well by coming along after Paul left and teaching them how to go on in Christ. But they were both just servants, all they could do was fulfill their calling as ministers. It was up to God to bring about fruit in the lives of the people.

We cannot make people come to faith in Christ. We cannot make people grow in Christ. Only the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God can effect conversion and growth. Only God can bring forth fruit.

Really, our call is to serve, and let God bring forth the fruit. When we stand before Him, He will not ask how many people we saved nor how many we discipled. The only question we will have to answer will be, were we faithful? The results of our faithfulness are in God’s hands.

vs. 9

Again, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he and Apollos were not envious and fighting. They were fellow-workers, co-laborers in God’s field; by which Paul means, the Corinthian church.

Paul uses a remarkable phrase here: He says that he and Apollos were not just fellow-workers, they were God’s fellow-workers. The partnership was not just with each other; it was with God Himself.

But wait a minute: Isn’t the work of God done? Didn’t Jesus say, “It is finished”? Indeed, the work of PROVIDING salvation is finished. But the task of PROCLAIMING it is far from over.

It was this work that Paul was engaged in, along with Apollos and the other Apostles and Evangelists. But there is a wider application to this than just the Apostles: All Christians are God’s fellow workers. We labor alongside each other in the work of the kingdom of God and as we do, God Himself joins the work.

Cannot God do all the work Himself? He could – but He has chose not to. Instead, He has ordained to use us. The preaching of the gospel has not been committed to angels – though they could certainly do a better job. It has not even been given to just a select group of qualified men and women who have polished skills of oratory prowess or who have earned degrees from a seminary. Rather God has chosen the weak and foolish of the world to be the bearers of the message of eternal life!

I have often wondered why Jesus rode in to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a donkey. Why not a brilliant, fiery white stallion? Here’s why: the King of glory rode on a humble beast so that no one would be distracted by the vehicle that carried Him.

Even so, God delights today in using the humble and meek, the apparently disqualified by the world’s standards to be His witnesses, to carry Him to the world so that when people are won, the praise can only go to God.

Christ died – He rose – and He’s coming again; and in the in between time, you and I have the one message that makes the difference between eternal life and death, between hope and despair.

What an incredible honor this is – to be God’s fellow workers! Jesus says to us – “Come and work with Me. Lend me your hands and feet and mouth. I will use you, send you, speak through you!”

God works with us, and because God works with us, our success in doing His work is sure.

vs. 10-11

Paul often spoke of the church as the temple of God.

Ephesians 2:19-22 You are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

The only foundation the Church can rest on is Jesus Christ, for it came into being by Him and exists for Him.

Paul was the one who had laid that foundation in Corinth, but Paul gives a warning: He tells them to be careful how they built. In other words, the foundation was solid and secure, but Paul tells them to be careful what kind of a structure they erect on that foundation.

Picture a well built, solid, and mighty foundation, concrete pillars driven deep into the ground all connected by a reinforced concrete pad several feet thick, but then on top of this solid foundation is erected a cardboard hovel with a plastic tarp for a roof. The visible building does not fit the excellence of the unseen foundation.

That is what Paul is warning against here; he then goes on to tell us how we can build in a worthy way.

Vs. 12-15:

Granted, Paul is speaking primarily about the work of people in building the Church, but the principle applies to all of our lives because we ARE the Church. We have a choice in what we will use to build our lives: gold, silver, precious stones or wood, hay, straw.

Notice Paul says that one day what we have built with will be revealed. The Day he speaks of is the Day of Judgment. While the Christian has escaped the judgment of sin and condemnation, he/she will face a judgment of works and rewards. That is what Paul is speaking about here.

All our works will pass through the fires of judgment: some will last – gold, silver, precious stones. Others will burn up – wood, hay, straw.

What are these things? The things of God versus the things of this world

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

Over and over in Scripture, the Word of God is described as precious treasure – better than gold or silver or precious stones. Jesus said that heaven and earth would pass away, but that His word would last.

CONCLUSION

We are each building our lives and as we do, we are also building the Church, because we ARE the Church. We have a choice to make in what we will build our lives with: the wisdom of God as revealed in His word, or the faulty, fleeting, and futile wisdom of this world.

The foundation has been laid – And it is mighty! Each decision we make, no matter how small and seemingly inconsequential, is another act of construction in the building of our lives.

What foundation are you building on?

Jesus told the story about two men: One built his house on a rock and when the storms came, it stood the test because it had a firm foundation. Jesus said that rock was Him. The other guy built his house on the sand: beach front property, great view, party time! But then the storms came and the man lost everything!

Life may be fine for you now; this may be the summer time of you living in your beach front property. Trust me – the winter is coming! The storms are going to come, and if you are not on the rock of Christ, you will lose everything!

Build on the foundation of God’s Word…not on the foundation of this perishing world.

What Kind of Christian Are You?

1 Corinthians 3:1-4
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,”
and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

INTRO

We expect babies to be immature, but it’s tragic when adults act like children. It’s cute when say a 1 year old tries to walk but continues falling down, eats baby food and spills it all over the place, drinks out of a bottle still….but really, it would be tragic if the same baby acted that way at 10 years old.

In this passage, Paul is addressing the immaturity of the Corinthian believers. The Corinthians had been believers for some time, but they were still acting as spiritual babies. Paul in essence is telling them, “It’s time to grow up!”

v. 1:

What does Paul mean by the word “carnal”? We know the natural man is not saved, but the spiritual man in Christ is! What about the carnal man? Is he saved? (carnal here meaning someone who’s accepted Christ, but still acts like the “natural man”…the unsaved sinner…one who embraces the things of the world).

Notice how Paul addresses the Corinthians, “Brethren”, “babes in Christ”. The carnal person is saved, but something is wrong in his/her walk. The problem is this: Though saved, he/she is not walking in the Spirit, they are walking in the flesh.

That is why Paul calls them “carnal.” “Carnal” means “of” or “dominated by the flesh.” He also calls them “babes in Christ.” They shouldn’t have been babes at this point.

Paul was their spiritual father, so to speak. He had planted the church there, had spent 18 months instructing them and nurturing them in the faith. They had had a great start and should have gone on to maturity, but they were still acting as infants act.

What were the Corinthian believers doing that made Paul realize they were so far off base? What marks of carnality and spiritual immaturity marked them as babes?

vs. 2-3a:

The first mark of spiritual immaturity is the believer’s diet. Think of a child: when they are a baby, they drink milk from a bottle; they are unable to digest solid food; but as they mature, they move to more mature food. This more mature food, like meat, takes a bit more work to digest, but it also provides more nutrition for growth. Children also go from being fed, to feeding themselves as they mature.

The problem in Corinth is that long after the time they should have gone on to solid food, they were still sucking on the milk bottle. But what does Paul mean when he speaks of milk and solid food?

The answer to that is found in Hebrews 5; in that passage, the writer is dealing with the same problem of spiritual immaturity

Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Then in the next two verses, the Hebrews writer goes on to explain what he means by milk as opposed to solid food.

Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

So, in other words, spiritual milk is the very most basic things of the gospel; it’s a looking back to what Christ has already done, while solid food is more about what Christ is now doing, in and through us.

Another way to look at this is to say that milk is evangelism while solid food is edification. The baby wants to be entertained while the mature wants to be effective for the Lord.

So the first mark of their spiritual immaturity was their spiritual diet.

vs. 3b-4:

The second mark of their spiritual immaturity was their disunity. Part of the process of growing up is learning that life isn’t about always being entertained – it’s about being responsible.

The Corinthians Christians were broken and divided among themselves because of their allegiance to their favorite teachers. Like little children on the playground they were saying, “My dad’s better than your dad.” Of course, what they meant was their spiritual leaders – Paul, Apollos, Peter, and others. The real core of all this disharmony was that they were being selfish, and that is the biggest of all the marks of immaturity.

What’s amazing in all this is that, as we shall see, the church at Corinth was what you might call an extremely Charismatic church. They had all the gifts of the Spirit in operation: tongues, interpretation, knowledge, wisdom, healing, miracles, prophecy.

But Paul calls them carnal, immature. There are some who think that what it really means to be spiritual is to flow in the gifts of the Spirit. True spiritual maturity is not determined by the volume of worship or ministry in the gifts of the Spirit – it is determined by the amount of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.

The spiritually mature realize the gifts are given for building with; the immature think they are for playing with and boasting about – which is exactly what they were doing in Corinth.

An important truth is revealed in these things for us. That truth is this: Our relationship with God is revealed in our relationship with others. We cannot say we are spiritual, and then live in disharmony with others. The truly spiritual Christian is in committed fellowship with other believers.

Let me challenge you to answer a few questions.

What kind of Christian am I / are you? Spiritual? Enjoying the deep things of God, feasting on spiritual tri-tip, enjoying close fellowship with other members of the body of Christ, seeing the fruit of the Holy Spirit born in my life?

Or am I/you carnal? Wanting to be entertained, waiting for someone to feed me, unaware and disinterested in the deeper things of God, constantly finding fault with others and being critical of who they are and what they do?

If this challenge makes you uneasy and defensive, chances are, you are indeed carnal. You see, the spiritual person will hear this and because their heart is tender to God, will take it and ask the Holy Spirit to apply it to them.

But the carnal person will immediately react to it and grow defensive because they see it as an attack. So, if this challenge makes you uneasy and defensive, it would be best for you to spend some time thinking deeply on these things and ask God to turn the searchlight of the Holy Spirit on your heart.

If you aren’t doing these things, you may be thinking, “Christians can be pretty messed up. Wow! So what makes them better than me?” Nothing, they aren’t “better” than you or anyone else.

But they are different; different in the most important thing of all. They have been forgiven of their sins and have the promise of eternal life.

Salvation is not an issue of who’s been good and who’s been bad. It’s a question of who has received the gift of God’s grace.

Dealing With Amalek in Our Lives

-Deuteronomy is Moses’ last instructions to the Israelite people. So he begins, “Remember!” What was it they were to commit to memory?

Deuteronomy 25:17-18 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.

-Amalek was a nationless conglomeration of nomads who lived in a loose-knit society in the Sinai peninsula. And they were a parasite! Theirs was a culture of laziness that shunned honest work in favor of raiding and plundering.

-They lived off the fruit of other people’s labor, stealing from those who’d managed by much sweat to seek a living out of the hard earth. They were robbers and brigands who raided the numerous caravans that traveled the roads from Asia to Egypt and attacked the border towns of the nations around them, then ran away before any real opposition could be raised against them.

-The closest thing we have today to the Amalekites that we can relate to is to think of them as a urban gang.

-They lived in the Sinai peninsula, or what is known as the Negev. This was the area Israel had to pass through in their journey from Egypt to Mt. Sinai.

-The Amalekites saw this as an unbelievable opportunity! A bunch of slaves who have no idea how to defend themselves, they’re loaded down with the wealth of Egypt; remember that the Egyptians had heaped silver and gold on them on Passover night.

-So the Amalekites began to attack Israel; not in a frontal assault; they attacked the stragglers and weary who’d fallen behind when the people were moving.

-The battle was fierce, but Israel eventually won, her victory secured by the prayers of Moses who was assisted by Aaron and Hur. But Amalek was not destroyed. They simply retreated to their hiding places in the wilderness where they nursed their wounds and renewed their numbers – waiting for another opportunity to once again harass Israel.

– Moses knew the Amalekites would be a perennial thorn in Israel’s side and that if something was not done to end it, she could well prove to be Israel’s undoing.

-So he said to them . . .

Deuteronomy 25:19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord our God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.

-The nation has an assignment. Once they’ve settled in the Promised Land, enjoying the Lord’s blessing, they were to finish what they’d begun at Rephidim; they were to stage a campaign of erasing the outlaw Amalekites.

-This was necessary because it was Amalek’s unalterable nature to harass Israel. As long as even one Amalekite lived, Israel’s entire safety would be in jeopardy.

-I realize that sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s literally true. In the book of Esther we read of a man named Haman who persuaded the King of Persia to pass an edict allowing for the people of the empire to attack and kill any and all Jews.

-Haman, it turns out, was an Amalekite! One man came that close to being the cause of the death of every Jew in the Persian Empire.

-Moses understood the danger the Amalekites posed and urged Israel to not forget their need to move against them in a determined action to end their threat.

-So, what happened?

-During the time of the Judges, Amalek recovered enough strength to once again begin nibbling at the edges of Israel. They became bolder and bolder until Samuel, the last Judge, handed the first king of Israel, Saul, the task of carrying out Moses’ assignment to wipe out Amalek.

-But Saul didn’t follow orders. Samuel had made it clear they were to destroy everything even down to the last toothpick; but Saul decided to allow his army to keep what spoils they wanted and as a trophy of his victory, he kept Agag, the King of the Amalekites alive.

-Samuel was furious at Saul’s blatant disobedience, Israel was still in danger and only time would tell how the Amalekites would once again return to imperil the nation.

– Saul learned the hard way how far-reaching the consequences of his disobedience would reach; because of his rebellion against God in this thing with the Amalekites, God rejected him as king and gave the throne to David.

– Saul, now bereft of the anointing and protection of God suffered a humiliating defeat in battle with the Philistines.

-In his last minutes on Mt. Gilboa, wounded by arrows, his beloved son Jonathan lying dead at his feet, Saul wanted to commit suicide lest he fall into the enemy’s hands and suffer the humiliation of capture. He figured it would be better to die in battle than be taken prisoner.

-When his armor bearer wouldn’t oblige, he found another willing hand . . .

In 2 Samuel 1 we read,

2 . . . it happened that a man came from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. So it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself. 3 And David said to him, “Where have you come from?” So he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 Then David said to him, “How did the matter go? Please tell me.” And he answered, “The people have fled from the battle, many of the people are fallen and dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.” 5 So David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan his son are dead?” 6 Then the young man who told him said, “As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. 7 Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 He said to me again, ‘Please stand over me and kill me, for anguish has come upon me, but my life still remains in me.’ 10 So I stood over him and killed him,

-Because Saul did not make an end of the Amalekites, an Amalekite made an end of Saul.

-Because Israel did not obey God and make an end of Amalek, in Esther’s day, Amalek came a hair’s breadth from being the end of Israel.

-These stories are not only recountings of actual historical events, they’re also clear examples for us of our spiritual walk. As 1 Corinthians 10 makes clear, the experiences of Israel from the Exodus to the Promised Land paint a picture of our spiritual journey.

-So what does Amalek represent? What parallel is there between the Amalekites and our experience?

-Amalek speaks of those little sins that nibble round the edge of our lives. They aren’t the big sins that we gain quick victory over when we first come to Christ, they’re the lesser things, the smaller temptations that don’t seem all that bad in comparison to the major sins God delivers us from.

-For the guy who’s been delivered from drugs and alcohol, lust doesn’t seem like such a big deal; after all, he rationalizes, he’s a guy, and guys are wired that way, everybody does it. Maybe one day, he’ll take more concerted action against lust, but for now, it seems like no big deal.

-For the woman who’s been delivered from immorality, envy seems so petty; and besides, it’s so easily hidden. She thinks, “So I find myself envying others ever now and then. So what? At least I’m not promiscuous anymore. I’m not perfect and no one can expect me to be. I know I shouldn’t be jealous but I’ll worry about dealing with that later.”

-These temptations are like a persistent gnat that buzzes round your head and won’t leave you alone. At first you hardly pay it any mind. Then you half-heartedly bat at it. Eventually, it pesters you enough that you stop & make a determined effort to swat it and you think, “Good, Got it! Gone.”

-That’s what Joshua and Israel thought they’d done to Amalek at Rephidim in the Exodus; but Amalek wasn’t destroyed, just defeated.

-Listen to me, there’s something you need to know about your spiritual adversary, satan: He doesn’t give up! Just because he’s experienced a defeat, he doesn’t throw in the towel.

-No, he’s clever; subtle. He retreats just as Amalek did, because Amalek is a picture of this strategy of the devil – that’s the whole point here folks.

-Amalek retreated, forfeiting the battle at Rephidim, but not yielding the war with Israel. Israel made the mistake of thinking one battle was the war, and confident in their victory, they weren’t prepared when Amalek regrouped and renewed their assault.

-In the same way, the enemy of your soul will back off for a time, using peace as a tool to seduce you to inattention; and when you’re unprepared, he’ll renew his assault.

-Suddenly you’ll find that gnat back again, only this time it’s bigger and more persistent.

-What a potent picture of our adversary and this strategy he uses, not to assault us with a full-frontal spiritual attack, but with seemingly little temptations that just nibble round the edges of our moral lives.

-We don’t really pay them all that much attention because to be frank, they don’t seem that, well, big of a deal. So what if we shade the truth every once in a while; everyone does it. So what if we cheat here and there, who doesn’t?

-Sure pride, envy, lust, coveting, being critical or fearful, aren’t right; but at least they’re not hurting anyone, right?

-Christians, we need to realize if we don’t move with direct intent to end these things, these little things, they will end up being the very things that destroy us. They are spiritual mosquitoes that carry death.

-Eventually the Holy Spirit convicts us about our need to deal with these little sins and we repent and take action to end them. But the appeal comes to compromise, to end the obvious ways the sin manifests itself, but to allow it to live on in one corner of our inner life; drawing occasional comfort from it.

-The woman whose sin of envy manifested itself in gossip stops spreading stories about others, but she carries on an inner conversation of character assassination within her own heart.

-The man whose lust was manifested in using pornography stops his use of such material but retreats to an inner fantasy that continues to pollute his mind.

-All who do such need to learn the lesson Saul teaches – be sure your sin will find you out. The sin you think is so well hidden and that you can coddle and draw comfort from, even now the devil is working to expose in a very public way.

-Like Saul wanted to use the Amalekite king as a trophy of his victory, Satan wants to turn you into a trophy of his!

-Do what Samuel did with Agag that day – end it, here, now! Put the Sword of the Spirit to that thing that’s been nibbling at the edge of your soul, that thing that’s been plundering your joy and peace in the Lord.

-Moses gave Israel a simple & clear assignment. Wipe out Amalek. Israel faltered in carrying to completion what Moses said, and as a result, because Israel didn’t end the Amalekites, the Amalekites nearly ended Israel.

-Saul, who compromised with the Amalekites and let some escape paid the ultimate price and died at the hands of one.

-It’s the nature of sin to grow and gain power, Amalek teaches us that truth.

-That sin that seems like little more than a tiny pest today, if not ended now will turn into a full-grown warrior with a sword in hand and a point in your very soul.

If I only (fill in blank) God would approve of me more, right?

There’s one concern that ought to outweigh all others – and that is this: To be able to answer the question, “How can I be right with God?”

How can a person know that they stand in God’s favor and not under His judgment?

How can they be confident that when this life is over, they’re accepted and not condemned before the Heavenly Judge?

What is righteousness? It simply means to BE in the right; being in the place where God approves us.

Under the Mosaic Covenant, righteousness was conditioned on obedience to the Law. For ancient Israel, being right with God was about what a person did or didn’t do. It was based in their works, how well they performed in light of the commands and statutes of God. The blood of the sacrifice provided a covering to hide their guilt from God. As soon as they sinned, they were no longer right until they brought another sacrifice and once more covered over their guilt.

The only time they could be confident they were okay with God was when the smoke of their sacrifice ascended to heaven. But how long would it be before they sinned once more & another sacrifice would be needed?

While Israel’s righteousness was based on their performance of and obedience to the law, ours is based, not in our performance, but in Christ’s.

The only way a person can be right with God is to obey Him. For Israel, that obedience was to the Law; our obedience is to believe in Christ – who lived a life of perfect righteousness before God.

Being right with God is all about works – the only issue is whose works we stand in – ours or Christ’s! Either we come to God in ourselves, bringing our own merit and effort, or we come to God in Christ, standing in His merit.

The prophet Isaiah tells us what a righteousness based on our works is like. In Isaiah 64:6 we read, “We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”

The Apostle Paul was someone who went through a radical transformation when he realized that being right with God was not about what he did but by believing in what Christ had done.

Philippians 3:4-9
4bIf anyone thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Paul was a standout among his peers when it came to morality and keeping the rules of his religion as a Jew. When Jesus met him on the Road to Damascus, Paul came to realize that the righteousness he needed wasn’t based in his works, his performance, but came through faith in Christ who had already performed FOR him.

He goes on to say in Philippians 3:8-9 “8Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.

There it is right there…we can attempt to gain acceptance and righteousness with God through our own works, or we can be right with Him through the One He’s already accepted.

Which do you choose?

Psalm 27:4 “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

David knew the only way to enjoy fellowship with God was to be right with Him, and the only time he felt truly right with God was at the tabernacle, offering sacrifice to Him.

The same is true for us – our confidence in fellowship with God comes through sacrifice, but not the offering of a goat or bull; our sacrifice is Jesus Christ, and what He offered on the cross was enough for all time.

His is a perfect sacrifice that forever cleanses those who come to Him. Our righteousness, and so our fellowship with God, is not the see-saw experience of the Israelite under the law, it’s a confident expectation that because Jesus is eternally right with God and we are in Him, then we too are right with God & can enjoy the most intimate communion with Him every moment of every day, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

Now we have the answer to that most important of all questions – “How can a person be right with God.” Through faith in Jesus Christ; that what He did in living a sinless and perfect life, then dying for us and rising again from the dead, provides the ground upon which we can stand accepted by God for all eternity.

Christian, God already accepts you completely in Christ! You cannot make God accept or love you more!

Your fellowship with God is not based on your performance, on whether or not you’ve been a good boy or girl. your fellowship with God is based on your new relationship with God through faith in Jesus and what HE’S done.

In other words, the Father looks at you in the same way He looks at the Son, with full and unreserved acceptance and love. YOU now are His son, His daughter, and as such,your standing before God is based on relationship, not performance.

Many of us base our approach to God like a service based on our efforts instead of realizing we are His sons and daughters. We think that it’s all up to us, that we have to perform and that our closeness to God is based on how well we’re doing. We think God’s acceptance and blessing is based on what we do.

What God would have us know today is that because of what Christ HAS DONE, we cannot make ourselves more acceptable to Him! The great secret of intimacy with God is to let go of self-effort in earning our way to His favor, and instead, taking by faith what is already ours.

Some think, “Oh if I only read the Bible more often…or prayed more often…or evangelized more…that God would love me more and His favor would shine upon me more”. No! Christian, because of Christ, God loves you and accepts you just as much now as if you did all those things…those things are good, but those things will not incur more favor with God. Since God has fully accepted Christ, since you are IN Christ, God has fully accepted you! By saying these things to yourself, you are creating your own works based righteousness, not God based. Essentially telling yourself that if you do these things under your own effort, that God would accept you more.

There are those who say that a message like this is dangerous because it sounds like it doesn’t matter what we do – that because God accepts us in Christ, obedience doesn’t matter.

Can the Christian live a morally careless life and still be right with God? Can a believer live IN sin and be righteous In Christ at the same time? Of course not!

The evidence we are truly God’s sons and daughters is a growing family resemblance – we will look ever more like our Father. The fruit of genuine faith is not perfection but growth toward it.

As you stand before God, do you come in yourself, or Christ? If you come in Christ, then know this, God fully accepts and loves you without reserve. God yearns for you to just bask in that love and acceptance and that you would forever be free from fear and worry.

As Christopher quoted a few days ago, 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

If you come in yourself, and think that you can be right before God in your own works, you are tragically mistaken. You see, you’re basing your ideas on what God accepts by comparing yourself to other people instead of God’s standard. God doesn’t measure you against other people, grade on the bell curve – His standard is perfection.

Since no one but Jesus meets the criteria, no one gets in any other way but through Him.

When Zimri Strolls….

When Zimri Strolls – Numbers 25:1-15

1Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.

2They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.

3So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel.

-In order to understand what’s going on in Numbers 25, I must backtrack a bit and show the events leading up to this passage.

-This event takes place after the 40 years Israel spent going in circles in the wilderness of the Sinai peninsula. They are now ready to enter the Promised Land; the entire generation of adults who had left Egypt has died off and a new generation has risen who had been born free from slavery.

-They were camped on the eastern side of the Jordan River, on the northern border of the region of Moab. This is where the story gets interesting. The King of Moab, a guy named Balak, knew about Israel and was scared to death! He’d heard how 40 years before, the God of Israel had brought low the mighty Egyptians in the plagues and at the Red Sea. As he sees Israel now camped on his northern border, he concludes Moab must be the next region they intend on attacking.

-So Balak sent for a well-known prophet named Balaam to put a hex, a curse on Israel. Now, we see in Numbers chapters 22-24 that God used Baalam in the role of a prophet in which Balaam was only able to pronounce blessings on Israel when he was trying to curse them.

– Balaam was a greedy man who lusted after the hefty reward Balak was offering him if he would just do the job he’d been hired for – to bring a curse on Israel. It’s in the NT that we find some additional information about Balaam.

– In 2 Peter 2:15 Peter reveals the motivation of false teachers and prophets when he says, “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.

-Balaam knew Israel’s blessing by God was dependent on her obedience to Him. To be blessed, she needed to abide in the place of blessing; if Israel strayed into disobedience, then God’s judgment would fall. So while essentially no one could curse the people of God directly, the Israelites would curse themselves through disobedience.

-So Balaam counseled King Balak on how to encourage Israel’s slide into rebellion. What he counseled is spelled out in Revelation 2:14 where Jesus says to the church at Pergamos, “I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine [teaching] of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

-Balaam told Balak to gather the prettiest women of Moab along with their allies the Midianites and have them enter the camp of Israel to seduce the men. Once the men were hooked, the women would then suggest they join them in the worship of Baal, a ritual which was both sensual and immoral. Balaam knew when the people of Israel began to practice idolatry, God’s judgment would be swift.

– The plan worked as we see in verse 3. God’s anger was stirred against the people, manifest as a plague.

-With this judgment, God gave to Moses a means by which it could be stayed . . .

4Then the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and hang the offenders before the Lord, out in the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.”

5So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Every one of you kill his men who were joined to Baal of Peor.”

– God told Moses to instruct the leaders of the nation to immediately execute everyone who had committed idolatry.

6And indeed, one of the children of Israel came and presented to his brethren a Midianite woman in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

-There was a group of people who were crushed with grief over what was happening. They knew the plague that was killing hundreds was the judgment of God and they were broken over the sin the idolaters were committing and how their sin was harming others. So they gathered at the tabernacle to repent and pray, seeking God for forgiveness.

-But right in the middle of their time of corporate repentance, a guy came strolling by holding the hand of one of the Midianite hussies.

-Look on down to verse 14 –

14Now the name of the Israelite who was killed, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father’s house among the Simeonites.

15And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a father’s house in Midian.

–The man, Zimri, was a leader of the tribe of Simeon and Cozbi, the woman, was well- known among her own people. So right there, as Moses and the rest were earnestly seeking the Lord, along comes these two, making it clear that they intend to engage in immorality.

-This is a bold and defiant act of rebellion, not just against Moses’ authority but against God’s command. As a leader, Zimri ought to have been resisting such sin; instead he’s publicly promoting it.

-There was one there who did more than just shake his head in disbelief at Zimri’s bold defiance; one who said, “Okay, we can’t let this go! God’s told us what to do, and if no one else will do it, I will.”

7Now when Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose from among the congregation and took a javelin in his hand;

8and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her body. So the plague was stopped among the children of Israel.

9And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.

-Phinehas, the son of the Eleazar the high priest, grabbed a spear and followed Zimri to his tent. Entering in, he found the two already locked in a lovers tangle and stuck it to them. This brought an immediate end to the plague. God then commended Phinehas for his drastic action . . .

10Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

11”Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal.

12Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace;

13and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.’”

-God rewarded Phinehas with the promise of carrying on the line of the high priest of Israel.

-This story teaches us an crucial lesson; it teaches us about our journey of faith in Christ. So what is it we’re to learn? Should we take this as a cue that we ought to line up errant Christians and shoot them? No, of course not! Jesus taught us how to deal with those who call themselves Christians but who refuse to walk in obedience to Christ in Matthew 18, and execution was not the way.

-What this story gives us, is not a paradigm for dealing with sin in others, but in ourselves!

-The Christian life is one of continual growth. Perfection is not something we arrive at after 10 or 20 years of walking with the Lord, it is, rather, a goal we ought always to move closer toward but won’t attain until the day we step from this world into heaven. As long as we are in these Colemans, these tents, these bodies of mortal flesh, we will struggle with sin.

– Now, the majority of sins we deal with as believers are things which the simple process of spiritual growth overcomes. As we walk with the Lord, the Spirit convicts us of something, we repent, and in a relatively short time, the thing falls away.

-We’re at church and listening to the Word of God being taught, or it’s during our devotions, or at a home group, maybe listening to the radio, and some passage of scripture will reveal something we had no idea was a sin. We then feel that gentle conviction of the Spirit about the need to change (i.e. a behavior we need to put down, an attitude that’s unrighteous, some habit we discover that displeases the Lord).

-The fact is, this is the way it is with most sins; they’re just dealt with in the process of normal spiritual growth and maturity. But then there are those sins that are stubborn, persistent, and perennial; they don’t go away. No, they hang around and trouble us, not for weeks or months, but for years!

-For generations, Christians have referred to these as “besetting sins.” They’re actions and attitudes that have set themselves to defiantly oppose our progress in Christ.

Classically, Christians have struggled with things like –

* Pride
* Greed
* Lust
* Sensuality
* Bitterness & Unforgiveness

-These are the root sins, but they manifest themselves in countless way –

* Drunkenness
* Sexual Immorality
* Over-indulgence
* Theft
* Chronic dishonesty
* Gossip
* Laziness
* Gambling

-Most Christians fail at overcoming besetting sin because they only attack the symptom. The gossip will never overcome his/her sin until he/she repents of unforgiveness. The one who struggles with pornography will never overcome until he/she repents of lust & sensuality.

-Here’s what happens with besetting sin . . .when it begins, we sense the Lord’s conviction about some behavior or attitude we need to change. At first, it seems just like other sins that we see fall away in the process of normal spiritual growth, but it doesn’t fall off – it resurfaces and we go through the process of conviction and repentance all over again. And again, and again.

-Confusion sets in; why doesn’t this thing go away like the other things the Lord has given me victory over? And how can it be that it’s still here and I’m still struggling with it because I hate it! And though I hate it, I still do it!

-Maybe I don’t hate it – maybe I love it! Yeah, that’s it, I love it and that’s why I keep doing it. Then why do I want to stop it if I love it? I AM SO CONFUSED!

-With the Apostle Paul we cry out – “The good I want to do, I don’t do, and that which I don’t want to do, I end up doing. Please! Who will deliver me?”

-Besetting sin becomes like Zimri in Israel. It strolls in front of us while we’re weeping tears of repentance at the altar of God, sincere in our longing to be free, and it defies us and our desire to move forward in holiness. “Here I am,” it says! “Remember me – that sin you keep so well hidden from everyone because you’re ashamed of me? I’m never going away! I defy you and your attempts to defeat me. You’ve tried to stop me dozens of times, and I’m still here. Even now I’m going to overwhelm you and drag you into sin once again.”

-Zimri represents our old nature, what the NT calls the old man. Before we were born again and became new creatures in Christ, we were lost sinners, but in Christ, we are new men and women.

-The problem is this, the old dies reluctantly, and sometimes, it needs help. It needs to be PUT TO DEATH! Most of the sins we deal with are like the elders who died of old age; the simple process of spiritual growth with see them drop off. But some sins are like Zimri – they have to be dealt with more directly, more certainly, with greater zeal.

-With these besetting sins, like Phinehas, we will need to get up from weeping tears of repentance and go after them. We will need to take the battle to them instead of sitting back passively and wishing they’d go away.

-Just as Phinehas ran both Zimri and Cozbi through with the spear, so we need to deal radically with those things that need to be put away.

-Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30 about dealing with besetting sin –

If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

-Jesus is not calling for literal amputation here. He’s using exaggeration, a well-known idiom of that day to make a point -and that point was this – sin, left unchecked, will damn you! So do WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO to defeat it! Root it out!

-I’ve known people who struggled with lust who made a commitment to never attend a R-rated movie. What was sad was to see other Christians who chided them for being prudish. I’ve known good solid brothers and sisters who struggled with sensuality who unplugged their TV set who were accused by other Christians as being legalistic. I’ve heard of men who have their wives cut the full page lingerie ads out of the newspaper before they read it – who’ve been labeled as religious fanatics.

-Why all this criticism? Friends, when Jesus says we ought to pluck out our eyes and cut off our hands, He’s not saying we ought to negotiate with sin – He’s saying we need to gut it, kill it, be radical in the way we deal with it.

-There can be no compromise with sin!

-The Apostle Paul frequently called Christians to adopt a Phinehas mindset regarding sin.

-In Ephesians 4, he says . . .

22Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,

23and be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

24and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

-In Col. 3 he says much the same thing . . .

8You are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

9Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,

10and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.

-In both of these passages, the verb tense for putting off and putting on speaks of a definitive action – something we do in a moment, that settles the issue once and for all – just as when Phinehas grabbed the javelin and followed Zimri & Cozbi into the tent and ran them through. That was a moment of righteous action that brought an end to the plague and secured God’s favor and blessing for Phinehas.

-Christian – you’ve made a decision to follow Jesus and have placed your faith in Him. You believe He died for your sins and rose for your justification, but have you arrived at the place of dying to what you were, your old man, your identity as a lost sinner in Adam.

-Are you more like Zimri or Phinehas today? Are you still hanging on to the world, is Cozbi holding your hand? Or is there a spear in your hand – a settled decision that you are a new person in Christ and will kill anything that represents the old.

-There is one more passage I want to finish with.

Romans 6:11-13

11Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin,

-We see Zimri here.

but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-That’s Phinehas. The key word here is “reckon.” It means to think seriously about and add to one’s outlook.

12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.

13And do not present your members [body parts] as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members [bodies] as instruments of righteousness to God.

-That’s Cozbi. Once we’ve reckoned ourselves no longer sinners but saints, then we offer our bodies as living sacrifices to work that which is holy, good and pure, not that which is sin.

-Every one of us here has had, does have, or will struggle with besetting sin. When Zimri strolls defiantly by – let repentance manifest itself like Phinehas – grab the spear of decision and go after him! Do whatever you have to do to end sin’s tyranny.

-Your friends may accuse you of taking your religion too far. Your relatives may resist you for becoming too fanatical. Even other Christian may criticize you for being legalistic.

-But if, like Phinehas, what you’re doing is battling your own besetting sin, not judging others for how they deal with theirs, then God’s favor and delight rests on you as it did on Phinehas.

Adapted from a sermon by Pastor Lance Ralston

The Holy Spirit

There are many people who walk around with the label “Christian” on them; but how do we know they’re the real thing? It’s the presence of the Holy Spirit, indwelling the believer that makes him or her a Christian.

THE PERSONALITY AND DEITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

One of the identifying marks of a cult is their rejection of the Trinity. Where the cults often go wrong is that they feel compelled to explain everything and clear up what the Bible leaves as a mystery.

For instance, the Bible is crystal clear that there is only one God! Deutoronomy 6:4 is the motto and foundational truth for Judaism, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.”

The Bible is clear on this – there is only one God; but it is equally clear that there are three Persons who comprise this one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For that reason, orthodox believers for 2000 years have believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, which states, God is one in essence but three in person. This fact provokes cults who set about to dismantle it. They usually do so by affirming the deity of the Father, but then lessening the status of the Son and the Spirit by turning Jesus into nothing more than a mere mortal, or maybe an angel, and they twist the Holy Spirit into merely an impersonal force; they make the Holy Spirit out to be God’s influence, but not God Himself.

The Holy Spirit is both a Person and God.

There’s a story in Acts 5 that speaks powerfully to both the Personhood and Deity of the Holy Spirit. It’s a story about a man named Ananias and his wife Sapphira. To set the scene, this incident takes place in the earliest days of the church in Jerusalem. Thousands have been won to faith in Christ and the Church is growing dramatically, not just in numbers but in the quality of the lives these new believers are living. So intense was the ministry of the Holy Spirit among them that a deep and profound love for one another was revolutionizing their community.

At the end of chapter 4, people were turning their savings over to the Apostles and asking that the funds be used to make sure the poor and needy were being taken care of (people who had extra homes and property were selling them and doing the same thing). As people would offer their savings and proceeds from the sale of lands, praise went up to God from the entire church, and those who gave were recognized as being generous and touched by the power of God.

Along came Ananias and Sapphira – they had some land too – but, whereas the others had been motivated to give out of a pure motive of love, these two saw the recognition the others got and lusted for it.

Acts 5:1-2 “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

Ananias and Sapphira decided to secretly keep part of the money for themselves; and that was fine because it was their money and they could do whatever they wanted to with it; the problem was when they brought the rest as an offering, they said it was the whole amount!

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?”

Peter said that Ananias had lied, to who? The Holy Spirit. Can you lie to an impersonal force? No, because a force is mindless and amoral. You can only lie to a person; someone with intellect and will. Notice what Peter goes on to say…

Acts 5:4 “While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”

In v. 3, Peter said that Ananias had lied to who? The Holy Spirit. Now in v. 4, who does he say he’s lied to? God. This short passage boldly asserts both the Personality and the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

In scripture, the Holy Spirit is never referred to as an it, but rather He. This is unusual because in the Greek language, the word for spirit is neuter, thus, any pronoun associated with it has to be neuter as well – IT! But over and over we find the Holy Spirit being called He.

John 16:13-15 ” When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

Ten 10 times in 3 verses Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit as He.

Consider Acts 13:2 “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Does an impersonal force answer a request made of God? Does an impersonal force refer to itself as “Me?” Does an impersonal force commission the servants of God to their life’s calling? No!

THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 16:7 “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

Prior to His death and resurrection, Jesus could only be “with” the disciples. But after His resurrection, He would send the Helper to come to dwell, not with, but in them.

John 14:16-18 “I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

How will Jesus come to stay with them if He is also going away? Through the presence of the Helper, the one who will come and abide with them forever. Notice how Jesus describes this Helper – He says He is another Helper. This word “another” means another of the same kind, not someone fundamentally different, but of the same kind, just like Jesus Himself.

The Holy Spirit was with them in the Person of Jesus, but once Jesus rose from the dead, the Spirit was sent to them so that instead of merely being alongside them in the Person of Christ, He indwelt them.

The word we see translated as Helper, is the Greek word “Paraclete.” It’s a title given to someone who takes your side and offers whatever assistance is need. Different English translations for it could be “comforter” or “advocate”.

Jesus goes on in John 16 to describe the ministry of the Holy Spirit, ” And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

After Jesus’ mission was finished, it became the duty of the Holy Spirit to apply that mission to the hearts and lives of men and women. He does this through the work of conviction. He convicts the world of their sin and shows them they do not measure up to the standard of God’s righteousness, and that if they don’t repent and come to faith in Christ they will be judged. It is only by the Spirit’s work of revealing our sin and it’s deplorable consequences that a man, woman or child can be saved. Then, the moment we by faith alone trust in Jesus, He sweeps into us with all His fullness and effects a radical change. In John 3, Jesus calls this being born again.

The entrance of the Spirit into the human spirit imparts spiritual life where there was none before, and THAT is THE difference between the genuine believer and all the rest of humanity, whether they wear the label of Christian or not. The true Christian is one who has been born again by the entrance of the Holy Spirit, he or she is indwelt by the Spirit of God.

The Spirit does even more, as we read on…John 16:12-13 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

Jesus promised that when the Spirit came, He would continue the teaching ministry of Jesus. As the Spirit of Truth, He would progressively share that truth as they needed it; and indeed, this is exactly what we see in the Book of Acts as the Church had to deal with different problems.

But it’s in v. 14 and 15 that we find the real heart, the real core of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”

The basic goal of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ! When the Father wanted to reveal Himself to mankind, what did He do? He sent the Son. When the Son wants to reveal Himself to His followers today, what does He do? He sends the Spirit! When the Spirit comes, who does He glorify and promote? Jesus! When Jesus comes, who does He glorify and promote? The Father! All Persons of the Godhead reveal to believers the ministry of each Person.

There is so much attention given to the Holy Spirit in some church circles today with the moving of the Spirit. These groups are so focused on looking for the evidence of the Spirit that they seem to have forgotten what the Spirit’s goal is – to Glorify Christ! He does not move or work to draw attention to Himself, His whole work is aimed at drawing people to Jesus and exalting Him. Consequently, He is grieved when the attention is placed on Him to the exclusion of the glory of Christ.

Let’s now look at John 15:26,”When the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”

Jesus said the Helper, the Holy Spirit, would testify, or bear witness to Christ. This then becomes a good test for what people claim is the moving of the Spirit of God. We ought to be able to look at something and know if the Spirit is genuinely in it by whether or not attention is being given to Jesus. We should ask ourselves, “Does this draw people to Christ?” Or is Christ being ignored in my involvement with the Holy Spirit.

Once the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us, He then embarks on a mission of conforming us to the Image of Christ. This is another way that He brings glory to Jesus; He progressively matures us in spiritual things so that we become more and more like the Lord in our moral character. We see this in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

The Apostle Paul is saying here that now that we are born again and indwelt by the Spirit of Truth, the veil that blinded us to God has been taken away. As we live this life, seeing something of the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed by the Spirit of God into that same image – progressively taking on more and more of the actual moral character of Christ.

While our position before God is Perfectly Righteous, practically we are growing in righteousness as we grow in Christ. The agent of this change is who? The Holy Spirit!

THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

John 20:19-22 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In this passage, Jesus is literally imparting the Holy Spirit to them at this moment. This is the point at which they are born again and the Spirit of God comes to indwell them. The evidence that this is the point at which they are born again is found in Luke 24:44-45 “Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul tells us that apart from the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand the things of God. This is why so many people who try reading the Bible give up so quickly; it seems like nothing more than confusing religious words; but the minute they are born again, the Bible, which was so difficult before suddenly becomes a treasure trove of truth and spiritual riches.

We see in that passage of Luke that Jesus “opened their understanding” and they finally understood everything the Scriptures had to say about Christ and His mission. How did He open their understanding? He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell them – they are now born again.

Look at Luke 24:49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”

Luke repeats this in Acts 1 where we read, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Note carefully the prepositions Jesus has used to speak of the ministry of the Holy Spirit: John 14:18 – He is with you and shall be in you – but now in Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:8 – the Holy Spirit will be what? – upon you.

Remember, when Jesus spoke these words to the disciples, the Holy Spirit was already IN them, but here He speaks of the Holy Spirit coming UPON them and their receiving power to be His witnesses. Jesus said this would take place in a few days when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. It’s as if the Spirit coming UPON them will cause them to overflow with the power of the Spirit.

All we need to do is ask, and God will fill us and baptize us in the Holy Spirit. Like every gift of God, it’s something that we appropriate by faith.

Lets read what Jesus said about this in Luke 11:9-13 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

So you see, all we need to do is ask and recieve by faith. No ritual or ceremony is necessary to receive the HOly Spirit. All that is required of us is to ask God sincerely from our hearts and He will graciously give it to us.

The gifts of the Spirit are indeed available today because Jesus is still building His Church. But tongues is NOT the only evidence of the recieving of the Spirit. Jesus is clear in Acts 1:8 that the evidence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is power to be a vital witness of Jesus Christ where ever we are (NOT the outward display of the gifts of the Spirit).

Also, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit isn’t a one-time thing. As Paul says in Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” We are to constantly be filled with the HOly Spirit so that we can be effective witnesses to unbelievers and that CHRIST will be glorified (and NOT the spiritual gifts God has blessed us with).

Bearing God’s Name

Exodus 20:7 You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

-Picture the scene – the entire nation of some 3 million have been summoned to gather around the base of Mt. Sinai. They’re standing together in families, husbands and wives side by side, mothers holding their little ones, and dads with their hands on the shoulders of their older children. The summit of the mount is obscured by a bright swirling cloud from which comes bolts of lightening and booms of thunder, and then, deeper and more resonant and piercing than the thunder which has just terrified them, comes the sound of the voice of God as He booms forth the words of the 10 Commandments.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
“You shall make no graven image to worship & serve.”
“You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain.”

-What goes through your mind in that moment – when you hear the words of the 3rd commandment? If it were me, I’d be thinking – “Take Your name in vain?!?! How could I ever do that? I mean, listen to that voice! I thought the thunder was scary! But now that I’ve heard Your voice, the thunder will never frighten me again! And Your glory swirling above my head is so awesome, so incredible, I know I’ll be telling my grandchildren about it, trying to describe Your grandeur and glory. But no words I could ever muster could come close to describing it! Take Your name in vain? No worries on that score. In light of what I’m experiencing right now – that should never prove a problem.”

-And yet, within a month, the people had nearly forgotten all Ten of the Commandments. Even with the glory of God still manifest on the Mount, they turned away and began to dream up their own ideas about God and how to worship Him. This reminds us that no matter how far we’ve grown in our relationship with the Lord, no matter how spiritually mature we may be or how intense our experiences of God, there is always the danger of turning from Him.

-Because we live in a fallen world, in unredeemed bodies, we face a constant battle – it’s a battle that wants to alter our knowledge of the nature of God, to pervert our understanding of the His character, and to defame His name.

-The main thrust of the Third Commandment applies to the taking of oaths. In the ancient world, because they didn’t possess writing materials in the abundance we enjoy today, they depended much more on verbal agreements. When two people entered into a legal agreement, they would go to the elders of the city who sat in the gate, and would exchange their vows, pledging to the terms of the contract – all in verbal form. As a way to seal the solemnity of the agreement, they would invoke the name of a deity, of one of the gods they worshipped. This deity was then supposed to hold the parties of the agreement to their vow.

-When God gives the Third Commandment, He means when the people make their vows, because He has just told them they are to have no other gods, they will invoke His name as the witness to their promise – therefore they must be certain to keep their promise, because unlike the false gods of the pagans, He’s real and He will not hold guiltless the one who takes a vow and then breaks it!

-Now, I know that this is not the way this Commandment has been interpreted today. Most people think this is a prohibition of profanity, and specifically of taking the Lord’s name in vain. While this does apply by extension – we need to understand the main meaning of this Commandment first.

-Now what I’m about to say may shock some, but it is true. In the Old Testament, oaths taken in God’s name were encouraged!

Deut. 10:20 You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.

-God even instructed the prophet Jeremiah to tell the people to swear by God’s name as a sign of spiritual fidelity to Him.

Jer. 12:16 And it shall be, if they will learn carefully the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people.

-In the OT, oaths taken in God’s name were understood as a part of the committed life. But once they were made, such oaths were not to be broken under any circumstance.

-Moses repeatedly warned the people about breaking oaths made to God or in His name.

Numbers 30:2 If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

Deut. 23:21 When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you.

-The purpose behind the 3rd Commandment was to enforce the idea that God’s people, like their God, must be truthful and full of integrity, that they would mean what they say, say what they mean, and do what they promise; that His covenant -people would be covenant-KEEPERS.

-But once the rabbis were done with their interpretations and additions to the Third Commandment, instead of it being a guarantee of integrity, it had become a clever means of deception. They said that an oath was not binding unless it contained the name of God. The Mishnah, which is a collection of Jewish writings making commentary on the Law, has an entire section on oaths defining which are binding and which aren’t.

-We see how this debate had grown at the time of Christ when He dealt with it in the Sermon on the Mount.

Matthew 5:33-36 “Again you have heard that  it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

-Jesus identifies these particular oaths because they were in use at that time- the rabbis said that an oath taken with heaven, earth, or Jerusalem as a witness weren’t binding because they didn’t invoke God’s name.

-A person who wanted to sound sincere but who in fact was only trying to trick someone into entering an agreement, could swear by one of these without fear of divine wrath when they broke their end of the agreement, or so the rabbis said. These were empty, vain oaths; and while they appeared to be marks of integrity, they were in fact masks behind which deception grew.

-But the rabbis said they did not hold a person bound to the promise because they did not invoke God’s name. Jesus showed the error of such thinking. There’s nothing anyone could ever swear by that isn’t ultimately an invocation of God’s name because as the Creator of all things – It all belongs to Him.

-And that’s why Jesus concludes by saying in v. 37 “Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

-Jesus gets back to the original intent of the Third Commandment which was to communicate the idea that the people of God must be like Him- trustworthy, truthful, a people of integrity who keep their promises.

-God’s people don’t even really need to invoke His name in their oaths, or when they make a promise because as His people, His name is already on them! If you’re a Christian – The Name of Christ is ON you! Therefore, there is no other course, no option for us than to be a truthful, promise-keeping people.

-Does God keep His promises? If we are His people, will we? Does God keep His covenant? If we are His people, will we?

-If I make a promise to you, and feel like a have add oaths to it, what does that say about me? It says I’ve given you reason to doubt my integrity, so I have to add solemn words to make you believe I really mean what I’m saying.

-Christian – Let’s heed the Third Commandment because it goes right to the heart of what it means to be the people of God in this world. We took the Lord’s Name the moment we were born again. We cannot bear that name lightly – it’s a glorious Name; a Name that speaks of truthfulness and trustworthiness. It is a covenant-keeping name. We must be men and women who are trustworthy, true, and faithful.

-You and I are called to respect and honor the Lord, not that we would feel the need to change our clothes every time we read His name (as the Jews did), but that the Lord would hold such a holy place in our thinking that it would never, ever cross our minds to do anything that would defame or discredit Him in the minds of others.

-Listen to the words of the Third Command again –

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

-You shall not TAKE it! Do we? – do we take it in vain? – not do we USE it in vain – do we take it?

-When God’s name is being defiled and defamed by those around us, do we take it? Even worse, are we entertained by it?

-Many minority groups today are exerting their collective muscle to resist what they see as historic abuse and prejudice. They say they aren’t going to take it anymore. Decades and sometimes even generations of abuse aren’t going to be tolerated any longer – they’re going to stand up for themselves and not just sit back and take it.

-I think it’s time we adopted that mentality as far as the abuse of God’s name in the popular media. One of the most common profanities you hear today is the abuse of God’s name.

-When “Gone with the Wind” came out in the 30’s, it created a firestorm of debate all because of the use of one profanity at the end of the movie – when Clark Gable uttered the word “damn. Newspapers printed editorials about the debasing of culture, sermons were preached all across the country.

-Today – “damn” is not even one of the words censors care about! It’s used by nearly everyone in the popular media, even many moral conservatives, and as a result, it’s lost its meaning!

-Damn comes from damnation, which refers to the assigning of someone to hell. It’s a curse! The wishing and pronouncement of doom. When someone “damns” something or someone, what they’re saying is they want that person or thing consigned to hell. Now think about it – isn’t this the very opposite of the desire and will of God?

-Didn’t Jesus come to save us from hell? Didn’t He endure the cross all so that we might be saved from such a fate? Friends, the devil has concocted an effective strategy for making light of the work of Christ by gutting the word damn of its real meaning and then spreading it so liberally through modern speech.

-“Gone With the Wind” had 1 profanity and created a massive debate; many new, lauded movies contain hundreds of profanities!

-And you know what? Everyone seems to praise those movies for “good acting” or “realism” or “good action.” Nobody even cares anymore about how offensive the language is.

-One of the most common verbal abuses is the use of God’s name in a profane way. The overall effect is to make God so common that He becomes trivial. The repeated use of His name desensitizes people to His reality and holiness.

-Think about it – Men, how would you like people using your wife’s name as a profanity? Or your mother’s name? Ladies, how would you like your husband’s name, or you son or daughter’s name bantered about by millions of people in an empty, yet mocking fashion?

-We’d be outraged – and every time we heard it, it would grate on our ears like fingers on a chalkboard! Like a dentist’s drill bearing down on our tooth.

-And yet, we will sit in a theater, and listen to one abuse of God’s name after another and hardly even notice. It’s time we stopped taking it – stopped taking His name being used in vain, as a profanity.

-Jesus died for my sins, and I am not going to sit here and listen to you throw His name around like some kind of despised thing!

-One day, at the mention of His Name, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!

-We ought not be offensive or mean-spirited in our opposition to the misuse of the Lord’s name. As in all things, we must be gentle and polite.

-If we’re going to stand up for His name then we’d better represent it as something lovely and winsome, not prudish, angry or hostile.

-There is no greater honor we can show the name of God than through worship, not just in the songs we sing, but in the lives we live. Worship is more than singing – that’s just one form of worship.

-The truest worship is a life lived before the Face of God – being conscious of the Lord’s presence 24/7/365. Let’s carry the Name of Our God, Jesus Christ, in this world high.

-Do you defame the Lord’s name not verbally, but in how you live? Are you getting drunk, looking at pornography, using bad language, making sexual jokes or laughing at someone’s coarse joking, or lying or deception? Do you know that as a Christian bearing the Lord’s name, that when you do these things, that you are in essence taking the Lord’s name in vain?

-In doing these things, you are not being a representative of the Lord…His nature, His goodness, His honesty. When you do these things, you are bearing bad witness for His name to others…so even by how you live you can defame His name and thus violate the 3rd commandment.

-Christians, we must all be wary of not taking the Lord’s name in vain, not just in our speech, but in our very lifestyles. We must live lives that give honor to the Lord’s name and in our very lifestyles and the way we live and the things we say and do, we must represent the Name that is on our very being as Christians in an uplifted, holy, righteous manner because He is holy and righteous. Let us always represent Him in right manner not by just our speech, but our very lives.

Adapted from a study by Pastor Lance Ralston of Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

An Inductive Study Through Genesis 3

-How long did Adam and Eve they the goodness of Eden before the Fall took place? What did their day consist of? Just how intimate was their communion with God? These things aren’t spelled out for us though our curiosity runs high.

-The lack of narrative about these things reminds us that the Bible doesn’t purport to be an exhaustive historical record. Its theme is to reveal God’s plan of redemption and so it centers it’s story around this theme. It tells us only what we need to know so that we might find the answers we need to live as God desires.

-This isn’t myth, or some legend that was concocted to explain evil. Adam and Eve were real historical figures. Eden was a real place and the Fall was an historical event.

-We have to understand the story this way because of a couple of crucial factors:
1) Jesus referred to Adam and Eve as real people and based his teaching on marriage on the account of their union recorded in Genesis 2. [Matthew 19, Mark 10] Now, either Jesus was mistaken, or He was telling the truth. His resurrection from the dead proves Him to be THE reliable source of all truth so we ought to take His reference to Adam and Eve as factual.
2) The Apostle Paul refers to Adam as a literal person and makes him one of two representatives of all humanity.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22 – But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:45 – And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.”
The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Romans 5:12-15 – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . Nevertheless death reigned from Adam . . . who is a type of Him who was to come. . . . For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.

-All people are descendants of the first Adam in a physical sense, and so are under the curse and ban of sin. Think of it this way – the dominion of Earth had been given to Adam. When Adam and Eve fell, they surrendered that dominion to the devil. They became slaves of sin, and all children born to a slave are also slaves. Slaves have no legal rights so no one was qualified to enter the contest to secure man’s freedom and restore his lost dominion. Only free men can free slaves. Slaves cannot free slaves.

-All that was – until Christ. Because he was born of a virgin, the stain and curse of Adam’s sin was not passed on to Him. He was a free man and so able to enter the contest to rescue man and deliver him from bondage to sin and death.

-The great difference between Adam and Christ is that whereas all people are automatically linked to Adam by physical birth, they must chose to link to Christ by spiritual birth – which comes through placing your trust in Him. The sons and daughters of Adam must come to Christ and ask Him to put the key of salvation to their chains of sin.

-In these verses, Paul is saying we are either in Adam or in Christ; one or the other. Adam must be a real historical figure and the Fall a real event, or the Person and Work of Christ lose their power to save us.

With that as background and foundation, let’s dive into Genesis 3

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

-Though Satan isn’t mentioned in this chapter, it’s clear that he’s the one who’s behind this. In John 8:44, Jesus refers to him as the murderer from the beginning and the father of lies. In Rev. 12:9 and 20:2 refer to the devil as “the great dragon . . . that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world.” In Ezekiel 28:13-19, we’re told that Satan was in Eden. Other passages link Satan with a serpent. [Job 26:13; Isaiah 51:9]

-Because of the judgment God lays on the serpent, it’s reasonable to conclude that it originally stood upright and was a creature of beauty. We conclude this because it’s the devil’s standard tactic to present himself as an angel of light, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 11:14. So he comes to Eve in a form that would commend itself to her attention. But his union with the serpent has produced something that was far more intelligent and crafty than any of the beasts God had created.

-The question arises at this point – where did Satan come from? In Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 we find the main passage which speak about the origin of the devil. He began as a heavenly creature named Lucifer who was the highest of all God’s creations. He was one of the cherubim who had great beauty and wisdom implanted in his being. Musical instruments were a part of his equipment and it appears he was charged with the task of leading the heavenly host in the worship of God.

-But something happened inside Lucifer that proved his undoing; pride moved him to seek to become the object of worship instead of contenting himself to lead worship. Scripture does not give us the reason behind this change but there is a legend from the Jews which may give us some insight.

-It is said that when Lucifer found out about God’s plan to make man, a creature of the dust into whom He would put His Spirit, and then would eventually raise man to the place of being God’s eternal companion, and that Lucifer would be serving UNDER that dirt-born creature, he balked. Lucifer decided that such a plan was absurd and that if this was God’s plan then heaven needed a new ruler. He convinced a third of the angels to join him in rebellion and assaulted God’s throne.

-But of course he was defeated – and instead of surrendering, his pride drove him to become God’s adversary – which is what the name Satan means. Since man was the focal point of the controversy between God and Satan, the war between them centers on the fate of man; humanity becomes the battleground and prize. Satan wants to rob God of His companion, and of course, God wants to redeem man and bring Him home.

-Satan begins by asking Eve about God’s command. . . “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’ Notice how cunning & crafty he is! He doesn’t want Eve to consider God’s goodness or all the freedom and blessing she enjoyed. No – he wanted her to focus her attention on the one prohibition God had given.

-Isn’t this just what Satan does to us today? He’s always planting thoughts in our minds about what we DON’T have and what we CAN’T do, but never what we DO have, what God HAS blessed us with, and the freedoms we DO have in Christ. No, Satan’s always attempting to make us focus on the negative in life, even if it’s not intended to BE a negative, Satan has a way of twisting something good so that it looks to be negative (i.e. the fact that we shouldn’t get drunk and be sexually immoral, the fact that some of us our poor materially [which in itself could truly be a blessing from God because our poorness may keep us rich in the Spirit]). He makes us focus on what we cannot do and what we do not have rather than what we can do, and do have.

-So Satan asks a question that seems to cast her understanding of God’s word into some doubt…”Did God really say you can’t eat of every tree?” See how crafty the devil is? He’s already twisting the Word of God into something other than what it means.

-In Ch. 2 God was quite clear – they were free to eat of all the trees save one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So the devil comes with a simple bit of twisted logic and says – “Well that means you can’t eat of all the trees!” Now, until the devil said this – it was all quite clear to Eve – she could eat of all the trees except that one! Listening to the serpent she begins to get a little confused because just what does all and every mean now? Instead of considering all she’s free to do, her attention is drawn to what’s forbidden.

-In 2 Cor. 11:3, Paul says that Eve was deceived by the craftiness of Satan. We would do well to remember this when it comes to temptation. The devil is a master at twisting things around and getting us to focus on that which we ought not entertain.

-We will never outsmart him, we need to trust in Christ and run to Him to protect us when tempted. The spiritually mature know the very most effective way to resist temptation is to pray, praise, and to bring temptation into the light of Christ’s presence.

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, . . .

-Let’s stop right there – Eve doesn’t seem surprised that the serpent talked to her. This may mean that prior to the Fall some of the animals had the power of speech – or it may mean that besides communing with God, Adam and Eve also communed with some of the angels who took shape and form in some way. In any case, Eve doesn’t seem put off by the serpent’s communication.

Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

-Eve rehearses the command of God – and she gets it right, right up to the end, but then she adds something. God had told them not to eat; He never said anything about touching it.

-It seems that in their zeal to keep God’s command not to eat of the forbidden tree they had also set up a personal fence around it that said they wouldn’t even touch it. But the mistake Eve made was in equating her convictions about how to obey God with the Word of God itself.

-You see, the danger of this is when I elevate my personal convictions about what God would have me do to the place of the Word of God, then they aren’t just for me anymore, they apply to you too. For example, if I find television offensive and am stumbled by it, so I unplug it and put it in the garage, that’s great! But if I equate that conviction with Paul’s command to not be conformed to this world, then I am going to start expecting YOU to unplug your TV too. And if I visit your home and see a TV, well, then I’m going to think your relationship with the Lord is deficient.

-Elevating personal convictions about how to obey God to the place of scripture is called legalism. There is nothing wrong with having personal convictions about how to obey the commands of God – in fact, having such convictions is good! What’s wrong is when we demand others live by our convictions.

-We must discern the difference between the Word of God and our personal decisions on how to respond to it.

Genesis 3:4-5 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

-The fact of the matter is, the bottom line of their eating of the fruit was death – immediate spiritual death and eventual physical death. And besides that, they would plunge the earth under the curse where death becomes the inevitable end of all living things.

In his cunning, the devil insinuated that the reason why God prohibited them eating of the forbidden tree was because it would grant them something God wanted to keep for Himself – knowledge! Yeah – he told Eve that by disobeying God, she would gain a benefit. Sin, he said, would lead to wisdom and experience and the knowledge of good and evil.

-Now, the fact is, she already knew good; she just had no knowledge or experience of evil. There are lots of things God never intended man to know, because knowing them would mean thwarting the knowledge and experience He wanted mankind to have.

-Another lie the devil told Eve is that if she ate she would be like God. It’s interesting that in Isaiah 14:14, this was one of the aspirations that motivated Lucifer’s rebellion against God. He decided to try this appeal on Eve too.

-You know it’s interesting that what the devil said to Eve here is the same thing he says to us in temptation.
1) “You will not die.” Don’t worry about the consequences of sin! You can duck them; you’ll evade the fallout. Don’t think about the consequences, just think about the sweetness of the fruit!
2) “Your eyes will be opened.” Sin will enhance your life! God has drawn tight boundaries around you but life has so much more to offer!
3) “You will be like God.”

-The bottom line for Eve was the idea that she didn’t have to answer to God any longer. She could be independent and be on the same level as He. Instead of existing FOR HIM, she could exist for herself; living by her own rules and reality.

-It’s interesting that this is precisely the lie we see fostered in all of the occult and most clearly in the New Age Movement. According to a 1992 survey, 12 million Americans are active participants in the New Age movement. Another 30 million are avidly interested. If all these people were brought together in a church-like organization, it would be the 3rd largest religious denomination in America.

-Almost all of the cults teach that man is or can become a god by advancing in the secret knowledge the cult possesses and passes out to those who are proven worthy. This is the promise of Mormonism, The Way, Scientology, EST, Hinduism, and a host of other groups.

-But it’s an empty promise because there are two indisputable truths in the universe;
1) There is a God.
2) You are not He! And you never will be!

Genesis 3:6-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

-Eve touched the fruit – nothing happened. So she became emboldened and took a bite.Then she gave some to Adam and He ate. And immediately – just as was promised, their eyes were opened and they realized their choice had been the wrong one.

In 1 John 2:15-16 John identifies the 3 basic avenues temptation falls in to.

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world –the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.

-John mentions . . .
1) “The lust of the flesh” = “the woman saw that the tree was good for food” There is the constant desire of the body for carnal satisfaction. How much of the world is aimed at promising some new sensation, some new pleasure that will make living more fun?
2) “The lust of the eyes” = “the woman saw that the tree . . . was pleasant to the eyes” The appeal here was to her soul for the eyes are the window to the soul. They provide light for the mind and stimulate the emotions.
3) “The pride of life” = “the woman saw that the tree was . . . desirable to make one wise” This was an appeal to her spirit – to gain spiritual insight and arrive at the place of independence from God. Again, the whole world system is designed to create in us a false sense of security and independence.

-What’s disturbing is why Adam followed Eve.

-Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:14 – “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.”

-Eve fell because she was deceived; Adam’s fall was based on something other than the deception that drove Eve. Though the root of Adam’s choice isn’t identified here, many have suggested it was born out of a desire to be with Eve, even if being with her meant joining her in sin. Eve was tricked into sinning; Adam knew exactly what he was doing.

Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

-They’d been naked before, remember? That’s what 2:25 told us; but they weren’t bothered by their nakedness then. For some reason, now they’re ashamed and feel the need to hide themselves. The difference is the feeling of guilt. They’ve done something wrong and feel the loss of God’s approval and acceptance.

-Before the fall, as man and woman bore the untarnished image and likeness of God, it’s likely they too were clothed with light. But the moment they ate of the forbidden fruit, the image of God was shattered and the light went out. Aware of their nakedness, they set about to cover themselves and grabbed some fig leaves.

-Fig leaves have tiny hairs on them that would make these garments extremely uncomfortable and itchy! But this serves up a perfect picture of man’s own attempts to cover over his sin and guilt. They serve as a fitting picture of man-invented religion. At best, all human-originated religion can do is remind man of his failure as it provides an inadequate covering for his sense of guilt.

-When you think about those cults and religions that make works the basis of salvation you realize that is exactly what happens. When your relationship with God is based on performance, on how many works you’ve managed to rack up, you can never be sure you’ve accumulated enough points to earn God’s acceptance. The entire time you’re trying to earn brownie points, you’re also adding on some demerits. You can never rest in the confidence you’ve done enough.

-Those fig-leaves of Adam and Eve speak of a works-based religion. But they don’t cut it, as the story goes on to prove.

– What body part do you suppose Adam and Eve covered up? Study of many different cultures of the world show that above all other body parts, the genitals are the ones that are more likely to be covered. You see, the result of their failure would now be passed on to all of their descendants, and their descendants would of course come through the agency of their union in this way. Man and woman’s modesty in regards to covering this part of their body is the spiritual echo of Adam and Eve’s sense of shame in realizing what they had bequeathed to all of their descendants for all of time.

-What does this mean then when a culture allows people to expose this area, when people lose their sense of shame of being naked? It means that culture has become some immersed in sin, and so defiant toward God that it has lost its sense of shame. That culture stands poised on the edge of destruction. It cannot stand because it has embraced death.

-It is said that man is the only animal with the capacity to blush. When he no longer blushes, he has become just one of the animals!

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

-The Bible is clear that no one has seen God the Father, but Jesus did make several appearances on earth before His incarnation in Bethlehem. So it seems it the regular habit of God to come and commune with Adam and Eve.

-Why did they hide? If they were confident in the sufficiency of their new fig-leaf garments, why did they hide? As soon as they heard God, they realized their efforts were useless.

-How many people today think that the way to God is through good works? Most do! Ask anyone why they think they’re going to heaven and they’ll say that it’s because they are a good person. They’re in for a rude shock when they enter the throne room of heaven and face the Heavenly Judge.

-It’s not about good works or being a good person! The best man or woman is still a sinner and falls short of the glory of God. Only God can provide the help we need.

-The evidence that Adam and Eve have lost something central and crucial to their lives is the foolish idea that they could hide from God. Here’s the primary evidence that they have already suffered a mortal spiritual blow.

Genesis 3:9-10 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 So he [Adam] said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

-Look at the fruit of eating the forbidden fruit – fear, self-consciousness, guilt, stupidity!!!!!!

Genesis 3:11-13 And He [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
12Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
13And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

-How typical – Adam blames his wife! Eve was a quick study and learned from her husband; when confronted with sin – blame someone else.

Genesis 3:14-15 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

-God didn’t ask Satan any questions as He had of Adam and Eve because there was nothing to teach him. The curse on the serpent has two parts. The first is directed at the animal Satan possessed, the second is directed at Satan himself.

-First – if the serpent had been a beautiful, upright and intelligent creature before, from now on it is condemned to slide on its belly through the dirt. The early sense of open approach that the serpent had had toward the woman will now cease as well. God says that enmity, ill-will, will be the normal state of affairs between women and snakes. This is pretty generally the rule!

-Second, God switches the direction of the curse and aims it at Satan There is no doubt that verse 15 is a prophecy of Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan.

-In the Bible and in the Jewish way of thinking, it’s the man who provides the seed. The reference here to the seed of the woman is a clear reference to the virgin birth.

-This is known as the protoevangelium, the first gospel. God is giving here the promise of One who will come through the woman, not by agency of the man. It’s clear by the use of the pronouns, “He” and “His” that God is speaking of a specific person. This One who is to come, will bruise, or crush, satan’s head. But in that act, His own heel will be bruised.

-What a perfect picture of the Cross – the place where God, in the person of Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, defeated the devil and destroyed his long work of sin and rebellion, but in the process, was Himself bruised by the crucifixion.

-The devil’s wound was mortal, inflicted on his head, his authority, his power and dominion. Jesus’s wound was only incidental – in His heel.

-It’s crucial we realize that what God says here in the cursing of the Serpent and Satan is not some add on and emergency measure He had to improvise because of man’s failure. God knew from the beginning that Adam & Eve would Fall. So He took up their failure and used it as the means of doing something even greater.

-God’s plan wasn’t ‘set back’ when Adam and Eve sinned, because God’s plan was to bring forth something greater than innocent man; God wanted to bring forth redeemed man. A redeemed man is greater than an innocent man.

-Here’s the great lesson we can learn from this – God does not will evil! But because God is infinite in His wisdom, goodness, and power, He can take evil and weave it into an even greater manifestation of His glory! No matter what Satan or evil men and women do, God will take it up and redeem it! He will make of it something awesome!

-A story’s been told of a weaver who was making a beautiful tapestry of bright colors; red, yellow, blue, gold, and green. The design was gorgeous. But the people who stopped to watch him were amazed that the weaver so often used the black yarn. It seemed that in between each line of brightly colored thread was a line of black. From the backside, the tapestry seemed all dark, but when they came around to the front they saw the colors and beauty of the scene the weaver wrought. He explained, “The black thread is the background upon which the colors sit. Without the black, the colors would all blend and become a confusion.”

-And so it is with sin, it’s the black thread God weaves into His great plan. He takes sin, guts it of its evil, transforms it into a lesson learned about His truth, His mercy, His forgiveness, and then weaves it into the tapestry of our lives and of history. When we stand back and look at His work of redemption all we can say is – “All things do indeed work together for good!”

Genesis 3:16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”

-It’s interesting to note that while most animals that give live birth do so with a measure of pain, none seems to bear the torment of a human woman.

-God adds an additional curse to the woman and it has to do with her relationship with her husband. It was always part of God’s order for marriage that the man would be the head of the relationship – we see that in ch. 2, but there was an amiable equality that existed between Adam and Eve before the Fall that is now lost.

-There’s the introduction of the idea here that there will be tension between men and women and especially in the marital relationship. The word “desire” here used is also used in Genesis 4:7 of the desire of sin to master Cain. It presents the idea of wanting to dominate and take over.

-God is saying that Eve will find herself in competition with Adam, but in the end, he shall have the place of dominion over her.

Genesis 3:17-19 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

-Because of Adam’s sin, there is a curse upon all creation. Before the curse on man, the ground only produced good. After the curse, it will still produce good, but thorns and thistles will come faster and easier than the good fruit. We see this at work today in our gardens, when it seems like only the weeds and the unwanted plants seem to grow better and faster than the plants we WANT growing.

-Adam worked before the curse, but it was all joy. Now his work had a cursed element to it; pain, weariness, and frustration would dog his steps.

-The final curse was that after laboring a lifetime of toil and sweat in the dirt, he would return to it in death.

-What the First Adam brought in to the world through the Fall, Jesus, the Last Adam has born away on the Cross.
Did sin bring pain in childbirth? No one knew more pain than Jesus did when He, through His suffering, brought many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
Did sin bring conflict between man and woman? Jesus endured greater conflict to bring our salvation (Hebrews 12:3).
Did thorns come with sin? Jesus endured a crown of thorns to bring our salvation. (John 19:2).
Did sin bring sweat? Jesus sweat, as it were, great drops of blood to win our salvation (Luke 22:44).
Did sin bring sorrow? Jesus became The Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief, to save us (Isaiah 53:3).
Did sin bring death? Jesus tasted death for everyone that we might be saved (Hebrews 2:9).

Genesis 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

-We’re so used to referring to the woman as Eve we may not notice that this is the first time that name is actually used. The name “Eve” means “living” and reflects Adam’s faith in the promise of God that He would provide for their redemption through the see of the woman. His naming her also demonstrates his embracing his role as her head.

Genesis 3:21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

-Hebrews 9:22 makes it clear that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. The fig-leaf coverings Adam and Eve had wangled together didn’t suffice so God, in His grace made new coverings for them. But it took the life of some animals to do so – showing them the hideousness of sin and just what it costs.

-It must have been an inordinately sad day for the first man and woman as they experienced the fall, then witnessed the death of a couple of the animals, creatures they had had close and familiar contact with, just so they could be covered.

-The effects of sin are multiplying before their eyes. One bite of the fruit and look at all the devastation, loss, sorrow, pain and grief! There is no such thing as a little sin!

Genesis 3:22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”

-Here is God taking counsel within the persons of the Trinity. When He says, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil,” don’t read this as a fulfillment of what the devil said to Eve. Satan had promised something good – the real result was evil.

-The other tree that mentioned in the Garden is the Tree of Life. Of this tree Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten – but if they did so now, they would be perpetually locked in a state of sin and separation from God. So God takes action to make sure they didn’t eat of that tree as well.

Genesis 3:23-24 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

-Note that-the way was guarded TO the Tree. The reason why is because God wants man to have access to the Tree of Life but only under the right set of circumstances – when he’s been redeemed from sin.

-We find the Tree of life in the Book of Revelation; it’s growing in the new Heavens and New earth and provides healing for the nations.

-One last thing to see here – God stationed cherubim at the edge of the Garden. The cherubim are those mighty and august creatures we see surrounding God’s throne. They are like God’s heavenly bodyguards. At least 2 of them were dispatched to guard the way to the Tree of Life.

-This seems like overkill if all they were tasked to do was keep man out. After all, one average run of the mill angel was enough to exact the judgment on the firstborn of Egypt and to slay the 185,000 in the army of Assyria in one night. [2 Kings 19:35]

-If one angel has that kind of power, one would have been sufficient to protect the tree of Life if the threat was only from man. It wasn’t – and that’s why God stations cherubim there – because the threat was from another cherub – the one who’d fallen and started this whole mess in the first place.

-It was probably satan’s next step to get Adam and Eve to eat of the Tree of Life and forever seal their fate and his dominion over them. God was not about to let that happen.