Liberty from Sin

When I was a teenager a member of my immediate family attended a party at a known drug house. Our uncle was captain of the drug detail, and his team was staked out in preparation for a raid that night.

It had taken a lot of time and planning to coordinate the different agencies, obtain a warrant, and be ready to act on short notice; but when my uncle saw his niece walking into the house he aborted the mission.

Our family was devastated. My parents were so ashamed that my mother decided the family had to move.

I share this story in the context of Christian liberty. How many Christians have brought shame to the body of Christ because of their indiscretions?

How many Christians believe they can continue in sin because they are covered by the blood of Jesus? I knew a young Catholic woman who boasted that she slept with a different man every weekend. Nothing changed in her life except for the belief that her sins were now forgiven. Another Christian acquaintance was a heroin addict who unashamedly pursued the world’s temptations. That’s what faith means to some believers — get your hand stamped by Jesus, and go on sinning without a guilty conscience. “Oh,” they say, “King David committed murder and adultery, but God forgave him.”

Grace is not a green light to sin.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (Romans 6:1)

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are profitable; “All things are lawful,” but not all edify (1 Corinthians 6:12, 10:23).

I hear people say, “All things are lawful,” but they don’t complete Paul’s admonition. So they drink, have premarital sex, smoke dope, and shamelessly fulfill their desires.

Taking a glass of wine with dinner is a lawful thing to do. However, drinking until you’re tipsy is not. If a brother who is struggling with alcohol sees you purchasing liquor, and it causes him to stumble, then you are guilty of sin.

Remember, as a youngster, when you pleaded with your parents to let you do a particular thing because … why?

“All the other kids are doing it!”

Well, no, they probably weren’t. What you were really saying is that a few of your inner circle may be doing such a thing, but certainly not all kids. I know this for a fact because I was one of the kids who abstained from following the herd.

Paul taught that Christians were no longer under law, but grace (Romans 6:14). Imagine a child being told there were no longer any house rules. The Romans did not distinguish between ceremonial and moral laws nor did they understand that grace was not a license for unbridled Christian liberty.

This is what Paul was saying:

“All things are lawful to me, which can be lawful at all.”

— or —

“All things that are lawful I may do with exception.”

Even the most innocent thing can be a sin if it causes a brother to stumble. In that sense not all things are lawful, or as Augustine wrote:

“He alone does not fall into unlawful things who sometimes abstains by way of caution even from lawful ones.”

Billy Graham said the reason he didn’t go to the movies was because he didn’t want to cause a brother to stumble. That may seem extreme, but it should give us pause.

How do you celebrate the holiday season? One of Israel’s greatest sins was that it adopted the customs and traditions of its pagan neighbors. Solomon fell from grace because he adopted the customs and traditions of his pagan wives.

In my home there are no carved pumpkins, Christmas trees, or Easter eggs. Granted, I am unmarried and childless. If I had a wife and children it might be more difficult to live as I do; but these customs and traditions, though they have been adopted by Christians, are inarguably pagan in origin. No matter that they have been sanitized for the sake of conscience they still represent pagan deities and idolatry.

If I unknowingly ate meat offered to idols there is no sin. However, if I knew the meat was used in a pagan ceremony it would be unlawful to eat. If you know the pagan origin (of these holiday traditions) is not abstention a Christian’s lawful duty?

Halloween, for example, is a Celtic sacrifice to the Druidic gods. The only way to escape the god of death was to wear a costume or disguise.

Odin, chief of the Nordic pagan gods, would mount his flying horse at the Winter Solstice. Accompanied by ghosts (and lesser gods) he would soar over Norwegian villages terrifying adults while delivering toys and candy to the children. In the Christmas tradition Odin and the lesser gods became Santa Claus and his elves.

The Ishtar egg was a Babylonian fable in which a giant egg fell into the river Euphrates, and from this egg the fertility goddess Astarte (Easter) was hatched. The rabbit was associated with the Mother Goddess of fertility; and Eastre was worshiped as the Teutonic goddess of Spring.

[Israel was taken away captive because it followed the traditions of its neighbors. Even the altar in Damascus was recreated in Jerusalem so that Israel could sacrifice to the pagan gods. Nor did Judah walk after the LORD, but followed the customs which Israel had introduced so that all the people of God were led away into captivity for they whored after other gods (Judges 2:11-15).]

The Catholic Church noted that 80% of its young parishioners leave the faith by the age of twenty-three. The world is enticing, glamorous, and seductive. It tempts the senses of young people. Technology, movies, music, and social media renders tasteless years of Catholic training and catechism. Sex, drugs, and alcohol are served up as icing on the devil’s food cake.

Younger Christians are especially challenged to follow Christ, or hang with their friends. I recall one young man who attended a weekly Bible study on Saturday night much to the chagrin of his girlfriend who stammered, “Who reads the Bible on Saturday night?” My suggestion to him would be find a new girlfriend.

Paul warned the Corinthians:

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons (1 Corinthians 10:21).

At least the 80% who walk away do not pretend.

But this is what, dare I say, many Christians do. They serve the gods of this world, and are more devoted to their friends than to the LORD. They partake of the Lord’s cup, but with a bit of hangover, you know,  from that tipsy indulgence shared with their buds the night before. “Oh, it’s only social drinking,” they say defensively.

Within the context of Christian liberty, by all means, enjoy a Saturday evening meal (and glass of wine) with your closest friends. Drinking for the buzz, however, is a whole other matter. What’s that you say? Jesus is a buzz kill?

Consider this, only in Christ is our joy made full (John 15:11).

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ


Do Your Prayers Put God to Sleep?

This article was inspired by my friend and brother in Christ who posts articles at For Freedom – Galatians 5:1.

In a recent post, he offered some insights on prayer. I left the following comment:

One of my pet peeves are those repetitious corporate prayers that are recited in many evangelical churches. For example:

“Lord, we just want to thank you for (long pause), Lord, this opportunity, Lord, to worship you, Lord. And, Lord, (very long pause) we thank you, God, for blessing us, Lord, with every good blessing.”

After a minute or so your mind starts to wander, and you’re thinking about lunch. Imagine if people spoke like this in normal conversation:

“Michael, I really enjoyed this article. You made really good points, Michael. I think, Michael, you’re a great writer.”

People don’t talk like this! Most corporate prayer I hear is so awkward. I think this is what Jesus meant by vain repetition — speaking just to be heard, but with nothing to say.

[End comment]

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words (Matthew 6:7).

Ellicott suggested that modern prayer has become mechanical — lacking emotion. Compare the standard church service prayer with Yeshua’s prayer on the Mount of Olives:

And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44 ).

I hear so many prayers that are devoid of any thought or feeling. They’re nothing more than a robotic recitation as if the speaker has given no thought as to what they might say. Then there are the speakers who have something to pray, but they repeat it a dozen different ways. After the second reprise I start to get droopy.

A good source of study on prayer is a book by Benjamin Reynolds, The Ten Greatest Prayers of the Bible. It’s available in Kindle format, or you can read it online here.

The greatest prayer ever spoken was the petition offered by Jesus Christ atop the Mount of Olives, but who among us has ever prayed with such emotion that we sweated blood?

Reynolds begins his book with Hannah’s prayer. If you’ll recall, Hannah was barren and this caused her extreme grief and distress. She prayed for years that the LORD might bless her with children. I said, she prayed for years. How many of us pray once and when nothing happens we conclude one of the following?

God doesn’t hear my prayer.
God doesn’t answer prayer.
God said no to my prayer.

The Lord doesn’t work according to our timetable. Abraham and Sarah were promised a son, but it was 25 years before Isaac was born. We have to understand that God is not constrained, but sees the bigger picture. Why didn’t Messiah enter our world after the Fall? Why were God’s people enslaved in Egypt for 440 years? Why has the Lord delayed his second coming?

Hannah’s long story short was that she finally reached an emotional break point, and poured out her heart to the LORD. Eli, the high priest, thought she was drunk, but Hannah answered:

No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation (1 Samuel 1:15-16 ).

Within a year, Hannah gave birth to Samuel — one of the greatest figures in the Bible. As evidence that the LORD always provides more than we may ask, Hannah delivered five more children.

We cannot worship the LORD nor offer prayers in vanity, unbelief or with an unclean heart and expect that God will receive them.

There is so much more to say about this, but I wanted to share with you the story of Benjamin Reynolds. He was afflicted with ulcerative colitis. One day his wife found him unconscious on the bathroom floor. He was held lifeless in her arms as she prayed to God to save her husband.

His was an out-of-body experience so dramatic and detailed that it is difficult to dismiss. Yet, we believe Ezekiel’s testimony of being carried up into the inner court of heaven (Ezekiel 8:3, Ezekiel 11:24, Ezekiel 43:5), or Paul’s testimony of being caught up in the third heaven after he was stoned and left for dead (2 Corinthians 12:2), or even John in his vision of the Apocalypse (Revelation 4:2).

I strongly recommend that you read Benjamin’s testimony. Due to Fair Use copyright laws I am not permitted to post his story here, but he recounts it in the preface of the book which can be viewed in preview format on Amazon. (Simply click on Look Inside on the product image.) I sincerely hope that you take a few minutes and read this brother’s compelling story of how prayer healed his body and saved his life. It’s truly amazing. I know you will be blessed.

Book Review: The Ten Greatest Prayers in the Bible by Benjamin Reynolds.

The book received outstanding reviews on Amazon (93% 4-stars or above). There were only a few 3-stars, and none lower.  One of the 3-star reviews noted the poor editing, but they recommended the book as a “tremendous tool”. If you view the author’s bio you’ll see that he is rather accomplished and well-educated.

The book was poorly edited as if it had not even been proofread. However, I agree with the reviews that it is a useful tool if for no other reason than it encourages discussion, promotes Bible study and highlights the importance of prayer. For me, the Table of Contents is valuable as the starting point for further group study. The ten prayers are useful examples of how we should pray individually and as a body.

I posted the link to the free online version of the book. You don’t have to sign-up, and may close the box that asks you to log in. As a group study tool the book may inspire a deeper appreciation for the necessity of prayer.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

The Christian Twogger (Twog #2)

Subject: Acts 17:26

(Translated from the Aramaic) And from one blood he made the whole world of humanity to be dwelling on the whole surface of The Earth.

Ken Ham posted this on my news feed:

Quick Quiz

(Correct answers are green — incorrect red.)

To whom did Paul affirm that all the nations of the earth were made from one man? (Choose one)
The men of Athens
The Jerusalem Council
The Judaizers in Galatia
The chief priest at Corinth

Answer Key

Acts 17:22-27

Visit Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ