Galatians 5:22

Number 12: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

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Before the Throne

VERSE 1
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heav’n He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

VERSE 2
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

VERSE 3
Behold Him there, the risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless Righteousness
The great unchangeable I AM
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself, I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God
With Christ my Savior and my God

I Kissed Legalism Goodbye

I gave dating a chance
I Gave Dating a Chance: A Biblical Perspective to Balance the Extremes

 

Be very careful who you allow to shape your soul. Joshua Harris, author of the widely popular I Kissed Dating Goodbye and other well-known Christian manuals on dating and purity, has not only divorced his wife, he has also renounced his faith.

I’m especially shocked because I, along with other godly Christians I know, read his books and trusted his godly insights.

I thank God that in recent years, though, especially since founding this blog in 2014, I’ve come to question these insights and have grown out of the unbiblical asceticism and moralism Harris taught.

Thank you, B.H.C. and K.O.K. churches, along with multiple individual Christians, for being some of God’s instruments of breaking me from my legalism. Most importantly, thank you, Holy Spirit for showing me that it’s okay to celebrate my physical desires and desire an ANR, along with deep, enjoyable sexual intimacy in marriage.

Our problem is we rely on our own efforts to achieve purity and holiness rather than the Spirit, so this results in tragedies like Joshua Harris or my former roommate who likely avoided the Song of Solomon because it made him stumble.

Be extremely cautious who you allow to shepherd your heart. Resist legalism and moralism. Discard anything that doesn’t align with God’s word, including his mandate that we have great sex in marriage.

Further Reading:

‘Pray…for a Redemptive End’: Josh Harris’ Former Church Responds to Him Falling Away From Faith

Author of Christian relationship guide says he has lost his faith

When Purity Becomes an Idol

I think the problem with the Boomers wasn’t that they embraced postmodernism, so much as that they were simply self-absorbed. And the reason people like Joshua Harris who follow a Puritanical form of Christianity lose their faith, is that the object of that kind of religion ultimately turns to self. If I am trying to be holier than God even asked me to be, my worship gets directed toward myself. Jesus warned Pharisees against replacing God’s commands with human commands. And Paul tells us to run the race, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. I believe Satan deceives us into making a small shift where we shift our focus to ourselves, practicing right living, and what we come out with is a dead religion that will fail to protect us. When faced with conservative Christian beliefs arguing with progressive Christian beliefs, I can’t help but think that both sides are missing thr point. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, it is his love that saves us, and if we love him we learn to love his design. We cannot win hearts with arguments and proofs.”

Source: Joshua Harris made the right decision, here’s why

John Piper – What is Idolatry?

In our circles, Pastor John, we hear a lot about idols. So what is an idol? Why are they dangerous? And what does an idol look like in today’s world?

Maybe the best way to get at this instead of trying to reach out to the whole Bible and pull all the pieces together — which is not a bad thing to do — let’s just go to one verse, one passage of Scripture, because I think in this verse, in Colossians 3:5–6, the answers to all three questions are there. What is an idol? Why is it dangerous? What do they look like today? So here is the verse: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:5–6)
Loving Jealousy

“God is jealous that he be honored by being treasured, and he is jealous that we be satisfied by treasuring him.”

So this is the answer to the question “Why are idols dangerous?” — namely, the wrath of God is coming upon idolatry. Nothing is more dangerous than the wrath of an omnipotent, all-righteous God. And Paul says the wrath of God is coming on idolatry. Now why would that be? Listen to Exodus 20: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness or anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:4–5) The wrath of God comes on the idolater because God is jealous. There is a righteous and holy jealousy and an unrighteous and weak and insecure jealousy. And God’s jealousy is not only righteous — that is, he deserves our deepest and strongest affections and admiration — but it is loving.

It is a loving jealousy, because we were made to find our greatest joy when he is our greatest treasure. He is jealous that he be honored by being treasured, and he is jealous that we be satisfied by treasuring him. So he is jealous in a loving way and he is jealous in a righteous way. And if we find God to be so boring or so negligible that we must put other things in his place that really satisfy us more than he does, then we not only offend him, but we also destroy ourselves. Those two things make God angry. He doesn’t want to be offended and he doesn’t want us to destroy ourselves. Idolatry contradicts both of those things and so his wrath comes upon the idolater. So that is the answer to the first question: Why it is so dangerous?

The other two questions can be taken together, I think, something like this: What is an idol and what does it look like today?
First in the Heart

Paul says, “Covetousness, which is idolatry.” So what idolatry looks like today is the activity of the human heart. This is not a deed of the body. That follows — a fruit on a branch. It starts in the heart: craving, wanting, enjoying, being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God. That is an idol. Paul calls this covetousness — a disordered love or desire, loving more than God what ought to be loved less than God and only for the sake of God. But covetousness is the condition that this disordered heart is in, an act of loving too much what ought to be loved less. And that is why the wrath of God is coming. That is what idolatry looks like today. And it is everywhere in our culture.

“Idolatry starts in the heart: craving, wanting, enjoying, being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God.”

So finally: What is an idol? Well, it is the thing. It is the thing loved or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God, enjoyed more than God. It could be a girlfriend. It could be good grades. It could be the approval of other people. It could be success in business. It could be sexual stimulation. It could be a hobby or a musical group that you are following or a sport or your immaculate yard. I was looking for some yard stuff the other day and I clicked on a video ad for a yard service and three people came on and all of them made the point that this yard service enabled them to brag that they had the best yard in the neighborhood. I thought: What a motivation! I want to be number one in green grass! So that could be an idol. Or your own looks could be an idol. It could be anything.

So Paul puts it like this in Romans 1:25: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature” — anything that is created — “rather than the Creator.” But there is no wrath for the children of God. And why is that? Because Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 1: “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10)

So when we turn to Christ from idols we escape the wrath of God because he is for us. God is for us in Christ on the cross.

Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.

1 Corinthians 10

New International Version (NIV)

Warnings From Israel’s History

10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.”[a] 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ,[b] as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[c] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[d] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[e] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.

18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

The Believer’s Freedom

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.

25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”[f]

27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Footnotes:

1 Corinthians 10:7 Exodus 32:6
1 Corinthians 10:9 Some manuscripts test the Lord
1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
1 Corinthians 10:13 The Greek for temptation and tempted can also mean testing and tested.
1 Corinthians 10:26 Psalm 24:1

Marriage drastically changes God’s disposition towards sex

I was just reflecting on 1 Corinthians and the transition from chapter 6 to 7 struck me. I was confronted with the fact that God absolutely loves frequent marital sex but abominates it when it occurs outside marriage. This is because of the deep spiritual implications of the sexual union. It mirrors His union with us, and since He’s a jealous God who won’t share his glory with another, He burns with anger whenever one unites himself with someone outside the marriage covenant, in the same way He becomes wrathful when His bride prostitutes herself to other gods.

1 Corinthians 6:12-7:9
New International Version (NIV)
Sexual Immorality

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[a] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[b]

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Concerning Married Life

7 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

8 Now to the unmarried[c] and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Footnotes:

1 Corinthians 6:16 Gen. 2:24
1 Corinthians 6:17 Or in the Spirit
1 Corinthians 7:8 Or widowers

Idolatry

An idol is anything we treasure and prioritize more than God, and ends up replacing God. Those who have idols, yet have an outward appearance of seeking God won’t find Him.

If you have any idols and still externally seek God, He won’t be found by you.

 

Jesus plus nothing

Look to Jesus for your complete salvation. Nothing else. Your attitude when you don’t get your desires says a lot about who or what you truly worship. The ability to forgo EVERYTHING for Christ is central to our Christian walk, even if this self-denial literally kills us. May God rid us of our idols.

Meaning of avoiding the appearance of evil

What does it mean not to give the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22)?

Question: “What does it mean not to give the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22)?”

Answer: Many Christians assume that to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22, KJV) is to avoid any behavior anyone might perceive as being evil. Not only do we flee from that which is evil, we flee from that which appears to be evil. For instance, a pastor should not be seen frequenting a bar because someone may think he is getting drunk. However, the actual meaning of this verse is a matter of some debate within Christendom.

Depending on the Bible version you use, 1 Thessalonians 5:22 refers to the “appearance of evil” (KJV), “every kind of evil” (NIV and NLT), or “every form of evil” (NRSV, NKJV, and ESV). Each is a good translation. The Greek word translated “appearance,” “form,” or “kind” can mean any of these things. The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 5:7 and translated as “sight.”

Obviously, the difference in translations can lead to a difference in application. Is it the appearance of evil we should be concerned with, or is it staying away from all forms of evil?

One problem with emphasizing the appearance of evil is that it can make us slaves to the perceptions of others. There will always be someone who thinks that something you are doing is wrong, or that it looks wrong to him. So, rather than spending our time getting to know God and serving Him, we worry about the possibility that someone, somewhere, might misconstrue our actions. In the same letter that he wrote about avoiding evil, Paul wrote, “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Our goal is to live righteously before God, not to comply with others’ arbitrary standards of conduct.

At the same time, we are instructed not to allow our Christian freedom to become a stumbling block to others (1 Corinthians 8:9). We are also instructed to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Christians have been set apart (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Perhaps looking at the broader context of 1 Thessalonians 5:22 will prove instructive. The verses immediately preceding Paul’s exhortation state, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-21). This is a quick rundown of how the Thessalonians should be living, “in a manner worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

So, what is our conclusion? To avoid the appearance of evil, or every form of evil, means to stay far away from evil. We need not become legalistic regarding what others may perceive to be evil. But we do need to remain cognizant of our witness to the world and of our duty to support fellow believers. We should also be aware of our own tendencies toward sin. Rather than flirting with what could lead us into sin, we avoid evil altogether. It is important not to judge others without first judging our own hearts and motives (Matthew 7:1-5). For instance, one pastor may be perfectly capable of drinking alcohol in moderation and therefore have no problem frequenting a bar. Another may be prone to alcoholism or drunkenness and should therefore avoid bars.

Avoiding the appearance of evil, or abstaining from every form of evil, means to live in God’s light by the power of the Holy Spirit. We “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). We worry not about the perceptions of others but about the integrity of our own walk with Christ. When we avoid every kind of evil, we “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14, ESV).

Recommended Resource: Balancing the Christian Life by Charles Ryrie

Source: Got Questions

Earth has nothing I desire besides You

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Psalm 73:25‭-‬28 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/psa.73.25-28.NIV

I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave

The Need for Self-Discipline

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24‭-‬27 NIV

1 Corinthians 6 – Flee sexual immorality

Sexual Immorality

12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”[a] 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.[b]

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Footnotes:

a. 1 Corinthians 6:16 Gen. 2:24
b. 1 Corinthians 6:17 Or in the
Spirit

Think about Jesus more than ANR

The believer’s priority

If this blog makes you stumble or in any way distracts you from Jesus Christ, stop visiting until you re-focus on the only One that deserves your obsession. Please spend more time reading your Bible than this blog.

The point of my site is Christ, not ANR. Please forgive me if I’ve ever caused you to take your eyes off the Cross. My vision is and has always been to make Christ-centered ANR 100% Christocentric.

More from Steven (and two encouraging responses)

“So, an interesting thing happened.

I’ve been praying to God for a wife that would want an ANR with me for the past few days because I had a feeling He wanted me to ask after I heard a pastor talk about Luke 11:11-13 on Moody radios founders week a few days ago. So I asked, and I was specific about preferences (I know he knows what I need before I do, but I still wanted to put them out there.)

Then “seek and you will find” popped into my head later on. Then as I have been looking but feeling doubts about what I was doing, I asked for a sign that I was in His will.

I looked around aimlessly in my favorites list and clicked on a link, and missed what I intended to click and was brought here. I didn’t see that this was the site I clicked until after it loaded. I remembered that I posted here once before. I looked through the comments and saw, low and behold…

It was 1 year ago this very day that I posted here. Feb 11th 2016… I have to think that’s a sign. Do you think so?”

Anonymous says:
Feb 15, 2017

“Dear Steven:

We believe that it is wonderful that you would ask your heavenly Father for guidance in finding a mate. He wants his children to be happy and fulfilled and wants to be brought in to our lives. He, being our creator, knows what is best for us and who would be our best mate.

Best Wishes,

Lady and Socontented” [Authors of second post in Reviews and testimonials, mostly from female ANR enthusiasts]

Dave says:
May 02, 2017

“Steven, a short encouragement for you … give yourself to God … delight in His love and goodness to you. Commit your way to Him, and let your decisions be guided by Him. He will bring the right woman to you … and you won’t have to worry about who or how or when or where. “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom …. “. He will do the rest. I speak from experience… He is true to His word.”
Dave

Steven’s ANR comment

“If God didn’t intend for it to be for married couples also, then I don’t think he would have designed to two systems to be separate.

Remember he designed the male and female bodies and systems as easily as you and I breath. As easily as we tie our shoes. He could have just as easily made it so a woman can only lactate when she has a child. But he designed it so a woman can be induced.

You could say “Well that’s so a woman could adopt.”

Maybe.

But it can take a long long time to induce (6 dedicated Months) and back in the day a baby would more likely starve to death by the time they activate let alone made enough to keep it alive. Or maybe to be old enough to not need it anymore by that time.

As children of God the side of himself that he shows to us is all about love and intimacy and friendship. Not romantic love/intimacy. But Marriage is designed to be a reflection of His relationship with us. And in a romantic marriage between a man and woman the love and intimate bond comes in large part from sex. And sharing in God together.

And from what I’ve seen an ANR takes it well beyond what sex can offer on it’s own. So I can’t imagine God not only condoning it but also encouraging it. He’s enabled it to be possible for us.

Read Song of Songs in the bible. It’s God allegorically expressing his desire to be close with us, and considering the reflection of how marriage is, it’s one of the blue prints in the bible of how a husband and wife should be.

There are no words to describe how badly I yearn for all of it.”

February 11, 2016

The chief end of man

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

— The Westminster Shorter Catechism

John Piper suggests this would be more correct as “To glorify God by enjoying him forever.”[1]

So if God says “nipples of her they shall satiate you in every of season,” then let nipples of her satiate you in every of season. If God gives you a beautiful gift and exhorts you to enjoy it, do so without grumbling.

We Christians tend to focus on the glorification but shy away from the enjoyment, especially when it has sexual implications.

We must jettison our legalistic approach to Christianity and actually enjoy God as he commands. Anything less is sin.

Reference

Piper, John (1996). Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (rev. ed.). Multnomah Books. ISBN 978-1-59052-119-9.

Grateful, nurturing women

“After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”

– Luke 8:1-3

NIV Study Bible note on verse 3: helping to support them. Jesus and his disciples did not provide for themselves by miracles but were supported by the service and means of such grateful people as these women.

My observations:
Courageous women give of themselves to the men they love. It struck me how these women, despite the limited means to which they must have had access as first century women, were willing to sacrifice for their Lord, a man who already owned everything.

Women who are grateful for the men in their lives naturally draw of themselves to nurture their men.