Set a Watch

When we speak, we have a reason for doing so, a goal, a motive. We’ll be judged by what we say, and for why we say it, so we should be careful whenever our mouth is open, and set up a kind of gate keeper, a watch, a guard, to check every syllable coming out. (Ps 141:3) What should we be checking for?

First, is what we’re saying true? Is it aligned with reality, as best we know? If it isn’t, we shouldn’t say it; only speak truth. (Pr 8:7) Lying isn’t an option. (Ps 119:163)

Yet even if something’s true, that doesn’t mean we should say it. (Jn 16:12) We need to be thinking about our audience, and considering how our words will impact them. Speaking truth is insufficient in itself; we must speak the truth in love. (Ep 4:15)

We should speak to heal and build up (Ro 14:19), and this requires discernment. (Pr 15:28) Pushing truth on those who aren’t willing to obey deepens their condemnation (2Pe 2:21), and there are deeper truths that only the mature can digest. (1Co 3:2)

How often am I trying to impress someone, showing off? or just thinking out loud, sorting through my own confusion, and simply filling the air with my words? or trying to manipulate someone into doing what I want, focused inward, on myself? Am I ever actually trying to harm someone? (Pr 12:18)

Do I listen to others, trying to understand where they’re coming from? How can I edify you if I don’t know you, without any sense of what you’re struggling with, where you’ve been wounded, how you’ve been lied to?

We’re doctors in a pandemic, amid the sick and dying. We have a cure, a balm, a surgical knife, but most folk don’t want to be well, only to be at ease in their diseases. (Jn 3:19) We can only help those who sense their need and want to be whole (Mk 2:17), and even these we cannot rightly help unless we understand their need. We must ask and listen, observe and ponder, diagnosing our patient first. (Php 2:4) What does the Great Physician in us see? What do we we see Him doing?

Pray before speaking (Ja 1:19); let God Himself be the watchman of our lips. (Ps 19:14)

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No Difference

Black Lives Matter is on the march again, insisting we defund our police, claiming police brutality and racism as their righteous cause.

It sounds good; black lives do matter, but what are the numbers? Three unarmed (non-attacking) blacks killed by police so far in 2020 (by 5/26); ten in 2019; 14 in 2018, in some 375 million police interactions annually, as scores of police are killed yearly by blacks. Unjust police killing is microscopic in light of the real issues, and de-funding police will definitely make things much worse; BLM must be up to something else.

Don’t look at what they’re saying – look at what they’re doing: leveraging resentment to destroy american businesses and destabilize our society, while further endangering inner-city, black communities and increasing poverty, division and suffering, all in the midst of another election cycle. This is then their goal: undermine free-enterprise and an incumbent presidential candidate who doesn’t support their marxist agenda.

So few are aware of the facts, or even interested; leftist leaders cower to appease the mob, conceding the racism narrative, while inner city business districts are thrashed and even more blacks are killed in riots; whites are kneeling in public self-abasement, apologizing for white privilege, and anti-unconscious bias training is suddenly being imposed at my work.

It’s difficult to engage in honest dialogue about the real problems, at least between opposing sides. Speaking out against the insanity and violence, or even being related to someone who dares to, is suddenly cause to be fired. It’s craziness on an epic scale, and it’s evidently not up for debate – that might expose the real issues and lead to real solutions. But this isn’t the intent of those who are rioting, or of those supporting them.

So, do black lives matter? Of course they do, as much as any lives. (Ro 10:12) But no one of interest is saying otherwise, so why are we rioting about it?

This isn’t the right question, because racism isn’t the real issue. What are the right questions?

Is it wrong to resist police? Yes, it’s immoral to fight civic authority – always. (Ro 13:2) This concept is fundamental to our way of life, dear to Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. Without this we cannot live in peace, yet open contempt for police is being excused in the name of justice, making it even more difficult to police our streets and endangering us all. Simply teaching our children to respect authority solves a lot of problems, all by itself.

And what about responsibility? What part do life choices play in our success? (Pr 13:23)

In 1965, with civil rights in place, one in four (25%) black children were born out of wedlock. By 2015, half a century later, (77%) it was 3 out of 4!

Fatherlessness is now rampant in the US, and this isn’t due to racism or police brutality; it’s massive social pathology – no culture can defy basic moral reality on such a scale and survive. (Ma 4:6) Some ethnic groups do much worse than others, but it’s unrelated to skin color; it lies in our mindset, our world view. Imagining we’re powerless victims promotes irresponsibility, resentment and hatred, in a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. (Pr 22:13)

Taking personal responsibility for our own welfare is how we escape poverty, and it’s independent of race: apply yourself in school, prepare for the work force, and get a job before starting a family. (Pr 24:27) When low income children follow this path, the odds they’ll end up back in poverty are only 6%.* It’s the American way – how our society works. So, how do we empower more of the poor to get on board?

Our primary obstacle isn’t actually the poor – corrupt politicians subvert all that would be helpful: wholesome values, charter schools, safe streets, job-rich economies. Pretending to align with the poor by promising handouts, they’re empowered by dependency, division and fear. When they do obtain power they don’t actually fix anything. Why would they? Once the poor find their own way, who needs socialist politicians?

All this hullabaloo isn’t about racism, or the poor; it’s about power.

We must be so much more careful who we put in office. We can no longer afford to vote sentimentally, based on on how we feel; scrutinize candidates for a track record of solving complex, real-world problems. Seldom will any politician actually be good; the right choice will be the lesser of two evils.

And what about white privilege? The term itself is racist: attributing characteristics to an individual because of their race. There’s no other reasonable way to define racism, and we must have no part of it.

Should anyone apologize for some perceived advantage? being white, or male, or healthy, or beautiful, or American, or having parents who didn’t divorce or abuse them? No – it’s irrational to feel guilty for what we don’t control, something we didn’t personally do. This does no one any good. We should be thankful for every privilege, and diligently make the best of every honest opportunity; this is good for everyone.

We don’t love by bowing to unreasonable demands, but by speaking truth to those who are seeking it, and by helping those in need who are doing what they can to help themselves. (Ga 2:10)

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Speak Truth

Being able to take someone at their word is the foundation of every healthy relationship; believing we’re each speaking the truth enables us to understand and trust each other. Without this, no working relationship is even possible. Lying thus strikes at the very heart of friendship, and even of civilization itself.

Jordan Peterson challenges us to try to stop lying for 30 days, just to see what happens. Perhaps it’s striking … that we’re so accustomed to lying we need to be dared to stop; but it shouldn’t be a surprise – this is the default human condition. (Jn 3:19) But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try; God can help us choose truthful speech as a pattern of life. (Ps 119:29)

Lying doesn’t just harm friendships and society, it rewires our own brains, distorting our very own nervous systems such that we can no longer properly orient ourselves in the world and recognize reality as it is. (Pr 1:28)

Deception is aligning our very own behavior contrary to the way we ourselves perceive reality, which signals our brains and bodies that reality isn’t what our senses are telling us; this actually corrupts and fractures our own ability to accurately perceive reality. (Pr 5:22) We deceive ourselves when we don’t act out the truth we already know (Ja 1:22), and self-imposed deception is the most dreadful kind of deception. (Mt 6:23)

Yet just because something’s true doesn’t necessarily mean we should volunteer it in conversation with others (Ep 4:15); there are dimensions of truth that others are not ready to hear. (Jn 16:12) Spewing truth with the wrong motive can be very destructive (Pr 12:18a); we must carefully consider whether our speech will tend to the general health and well-being of both ourselves and others (18b), and only speak in love. (Ep 4:15)

The real challenge comes when we feel pressed to speak truth that’s harmful or destructive. We might think we have no choice but to lie or let the truth do its harm, yet violating the law of Love isn’t an option (Ep 5:2); if our words won’t edify and help the overall situation, they’re forbidden. (Ep 4:29) Rather than letting others dictate our choices, we’re obligated in such cases to wisely re-focus the conversation on what’s truly edifying.

Consider the example of Christ, when those He’d miraculously fed were trying to forcibly make Him king. (Jn 6:15) After He evaded them by walking across a lake at night (18-19), they sought after Him and caught up with Him (24), asking how He’d managed to slip away. (25) Rather than telling them about the miracle, or offering them a little white lie in its place, Christ turned the attention on their true need. (26-27)

We’re made in the image of God as co-creators in eternity, and it’s primarily through our speech that we create. Whenever we open our mouths to speak, we fashion metaphysical reality from the void before us, bringing an eternal work into being which shall ultimately be on display before the entire universe for inspection and evaluation (Lk 12:3): we’ll give an account to God for every idle word we utter. (Mt 12:36) Let all the reality we create be true and right and good, for it’s by our words that we’ll either be justified or condemned. (37)

Speak truth to everyone, all the time (Ep 4:25), yet only speak prayerfully, as Christ Himself would speak (Col 3:17), seeking God for the ability to glorify Him and edify others. (Col 4:6) It’s wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep quiet (Ec 3:7), and as a rule, less is better. (Pr 10:19) As we speak, let’s remember the power of words (Pr 18:21), and speak appropriately. (Pr 15:23) While some truth cannot be spoken in love (1Co 3:2), there’s never a good time to lie. (Ps 119:163)

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Nothing Shall Offend Them

To be offended is to be resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult, injustice or impropriety. It often happens when we’re in denial about our own sin or unworthiness and someone exposes us. At it’s core, it’s an inability to reconcile ourselves with a moral demand, an unwillingness to accept it, an insistence that a moral standard be different than it is.

For example, when Christ came to His hometown of Nazareth and taught in the synagogue, revealing Himself to be the Messiah and providing evidence through His wisdom and miracles, His neighbors were astonished (Mt 13:54) and upset, as if it were somehow inappropriate for one they knew so well to be the Messiah.

When Christ explained how such a mentality had kept people from being healed and blessed in the days of the prophets (Lk 4:24-27), rather than admitting their error, they became so enraged they tried to murder Him. (28-29) They were offended in Him (Mt 13:57), as if they couldn’t bear the thought of having been so clueless that they’d missed their own Messiah while He grew up among them.

In a similar instance, as Christ explained to those He’d just miraculously fed that they were seeking the wrong kind of nourishment (Jn 6:26-27), and that He had come down from Heaven as their spiritual food (51), but that they couldn’t be fed because they didn’t believe in Him (36), the Jews complained (42) that His claim was absurd. (52) Even many of Christ’s own disciples found this so unreasonable they didn’t see how anyone could accept it. (60) Christ noted they were allowing themselves to become offended and He challenged them (61); they wouldn’t believe even if they saw Him ascend into Heaven (62) – only those God enables can follow Him. (65) As Christ exposed this hardness and unbelief, rather than repenting, many of His disciples abandoned Him. (66)

Similarly, when we try to live for God and do the right thing, and it doesn’t go our way, when trouble and persecution come instead of blessing and comfort, if we’re seeking God’s blessings instead of God Himself we’ll be offended, as if He’s not properly honoring our service, and turn back from following Him. (Mt 13:21) It’s a refusal to acknowledge the goodness of God when He doesn’t personally bless us in the moment.

When we aren’t being treated as we think we ought to be, we’re either right about it or we aren’t. If we’re right, and a broken person is treating us wrongly, we can only be offended if we contend with them as if they’re treating us rightly, rather than dismissing their behavior as deluded and pitying them, knowing it has nothing to do with us and that God’s our Shield and Defender.

And if we actually are being treating rightly, then we should acknowledge this, repent, and not be offended. So, offences don’t come because of circumstances themselves, but due to our failure to properly interpret them, to align with reality as it actually is.

So, an offense is a kind of stumbling block that turns us away from the truth because we’re unwilling to receive the truth as we perceive it to be. It should come as no surprise then that God attributes the root cause of offenses to a lack of love for His Law: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Ps 119:165) When we love God’s Law and choose to align with it we can’t be misaligned with moral reality, because His Law defines this reality; we choose to love this expression reality, regardless what it looks like at first.

When we feel an offense coming on, if we properly understand Torah and are submitting ourselves to it, we can check ourselves and realign with reality, and let the offense go rather than being overcome by it. In such a state, nothing offends us, and we can enjoy the amazing peace of God regardless of our circumstances. (Php 4:7)

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According to Our Works

In one sense, there are only two eternal destinations: Heaven and Hell, no third option. (Mt 25:46) So the chosen strive to enter Heaven (Lk 13:24), seeking the Lord for eternal salvation until they have it. (He 11:6) We can’t afford to get this wrong. (Mt 16:26)

But this dual nature of eternity can be misleading; in only two possible general outcomes, we might fail to see the many possibilities within each one: there’s surely joy in every heavenly place (Jud 24), and sorrow throughout Hell, but some heavenly states are much more desirable than others (Mt 5:19), and some hellish places far worse than others. (Mt 11:24)

Scripture is clear that we’ll all be recompensed based on our behavior; those who’ve done good will be resurrected to life, and those who’ve done evil will be raised unto damnation. (Jn 5:28-29) It isn’t that we can earn salvation by being good, but those who know God love Him (1Pe 2:7), and do their best to please Him. All the saints will receive a reward (2Ti 4:8), yet some of us serve God better than others, and will get a better reward for our labor; it makes a difference how we live.

Christ will repay each and every one of us according to our works (Mt 16:27); so, as there are degrees of good and evil, there will also be degrees of rewards (Mt 5:19) and punishments. (Lk 12:47-48a)

To the degree that our works are deficient, corrupt, tainted with wrong motives, even as believers in Heaven we suffer loss. (1Co 3:13-15) And if we’re actually despising the truth, headed for Hell (Ro 2:8), we’d be much better off if we’d never known the truth at all. (2Pe 2:21)

The boundaries of both Heaven and Hell lie in the infinitude of God Himself. His fury can address the deepest depravity, of Satan himself, and His delight the purest heart, that of Christ Himself. He is capable of giving the saints more than the very best of us can possibly fathom or enjoy (1Co 2:9), and is able to crush His enemies (Lk 20:18) with a fierceness and indignation that even the most rebellious heart cannot endure. (Na 1:6)

Though we aren’t saved by works (Ep 2:8-9), how we live each day does make an eternal difference (Mt 10:42); whatever we sow we reap (Ga 6:7); the more we sow the more we reap, whether for good or evil. Every single choice is thus an eternal one.

Run for a reward in God (1Co 9:26); He calls us to run that we may obtain (1Co 9:24), so run with all your might — for this reward is God Himself. (Ge 15:1, Php 3:8)

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What He Seeth the Father Do

Abiding in Jesus Christ is living our lives as He would live them, doing what He’s doing as He lives in us. (Col 1:27)

And Christ is doing today what He’s always done, looking to see what His Father’s doing. (Jn 5:19) So we should follow His steps, doing the same, what we see the Father doing, and not doing what the Father isn’t doing.

Is the Father fearful of Man? No? Then we shouldn’t be (Mt 10:28); that’s not what the Father’s doing.

Is the Father envious, covetous, or discontent? No? Then we shouldn’t be (He 13:5); that’s not what the Father’s doing.

Is the Father troubled, or worried about the future? No? Then we shouldn’t be (Jn 14:27); that’s not what the Father’s doing.

When we’re not doing what the Father’s doing, we’re living like the world, alienated from the life of God through our ignorance. (Ep 4:17-18) This is a life of dead works, from which we turn away (He 6:1), cleansed of them by the blood of Christ to serve the living God. (He 9:14)

So, what is the Father doing? He’s always up to something. (Jn 5:17) We should seek His face (Ps 27:8) so we can see what He’s up to, and be about His business. (Lk 2:49)

God reveals His Way within us in and though our own will as we yield to Him. (Php 2:13) Every glance of our hearts, every whisper, every subtle move, submitted for inspection and correction to the Word of God hidden in our heart (Ps 119:11), cleansing our way all day, every day. (vs 9) Where we stray from His Word we ask Him to make us go in the path of His commands as we delight in them (Ps 119:35); God is able to do this (2Co 9:8), and so He does. (1Co 1:9)

The Father is always rejoicing in the Son (2Pe 1:17); so should we.

The Father is Light (1Jn 1:5); when we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with Him (1Jn 1:7) and become a light proving what’s acceptable to God. (Ep 5:8-10)

Known unto God are all His works from the foundation of the world. (Ac 15:18) As we obey the Father in faith and wisdom, and are faithful in the little things, He gives us more to do. (Lk 12:42)

This is our privilege and our glory, through the Son to see with the Father’s eyes, to feel with the Father’s heart, to be His members in the here and now (Ep 5:30), to hear from Him in the last Day, “Well done!” (Mt 25:21)

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By Thy Words

God cares about what we say; He’s paying attention to and recording every idle word. (Re 20:12) The LORD will require every one of us to give an explanation to Him before the universe for each and every word we’ve ever spoken, all of them, why we said what we said, what our motivation was. (Mt 12:36) We’ll be judged, justified or condemned, based on what we’ve uttered. (vs 37)

This is because our speech reveals our inmost nature, what we’re thinking and feeling is eventually expressed with our tongues. (vss 34-35) Most mere behavior is not necessarily good or bad, in and of itself: what gives an action its moral nature is why it’s done. What we say reveals our intent.

And our tongue, the enabler of speech, is a fire, a veritable world of iniquity, because it’s inextricably linked to our hearts, which are set on fire of Hell itself. (Ja 3:6) As we think in our hearts, so we are (Pr 23:7), and so we speak.

In light of this, we should be very careful with our hearts, continually examining ourselves for selfish, prideful motivations, constantly seeking God for a clean heart (Ps 51:10), that He would help us think, feel and speak rightly. (Ps 19:14)

We should measure our words and be precise in our speech, purifying our promises, only speaking what we fully intend to do. (Nu 30:2) We guard our mouths as with a bridle (Ps 39:1b) and think carefully before we speak. (Ja 1:19) We should always say what we mean and mean what we say, needing no oath to mark our sincerity. (Ja 5:12)

Our words are so powerful that God provides a remedy to correct commitments we happen make thoughtlessly, under duress, when we’re pressured in the heat of the moment to vow without proper time to examine our motives and consider the implications of what we’re saying. (Le 5:4)

In such cases, when we come to ourselves and realize what we’ve done, that we’ve committed ourselves in a manner that’s contrary to Love (Le 19:18), we promptly confess our sin, repent, and reconcile with God. (vs 5) God mercifully allows us to bring a sacrifice to Him to atone for our ways: it costs a life, one offered up in our stead (vs 6); it’s no light thing.

We can thus give account for careless words, spoken hastily and thoughtlessly, in advance, and address them now so we won’t be held accountable on Judgement Day. But words spoken under normal circumstances, with our wits about us, are etched into eternity for all to ponder. (Lk 12:3)

To think we can say whatever we like to get our way, to claim our lips are our own, that no one’s Lord over us (Ps 12:4), is to reveal a true enmity against Heaven. God’s people do not live like this. (Ps 39:1a)

As God did in Creation, it is through the spoken word that we who are made in His image bring forth metaphysical reality into existence from the chaos of the void before us; with our speech we create the present from the future to be eternally preserved in the past. We wound, we heal, we encourage and exhort, engaging in spiritual conflict for good or for evil. (Pr 12:18) Let us create soberly, fearfully, wisely.

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Turning the Grace

Grace may be the most important word in the Christian Faith. We’re saved by grace (Ep 2:8), and we stand in grace. (Ro 5:2) If we get this foundational concept wrong, we may call our theology Christian, but it will be foreign to God, and leave us with false hope.

God exhorts us to earnestly contend for the authentic, apostolic faith (Jud 3) because false teachers promote a counterfeit Christianity by changing the definition of grace, turning it into permission to indulge, essentially denying God’s nature. (vs 4)

Grace is commonly defined to be the unmerited favor of God, the idea that we may freely enjoy the blessings of God without deserving them. Since those who receive Christ are forgiven and loved by God unconditionally, the claim is that we’re free to sin against God on purpose, that even if we sin deliberately, God will never be angry or disappointed in us: He’s taken care of our sin in Christ. In other words, defining grace this way means we can receive all the benefits of salvation merely by receiving Christ as Savior, and that receiving Him as Lord is optional.

This teaching on grace effectively turns it into a type of open-ended leniency, permission to pursue our own interests, passions, and lusts. This is what Jude calls turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, exposing those who promote this as ungodly, denying the Lordship of Christ. (Jud 4)

Routinely overlooking the willful, wrongful behavior of those we love is unhealthy at best. Claiming God is this way, and that we should be too, is foolish. God simply isn’t like this; He cares very deeply how we act, being grieved and angered by all intentional sin (He 10:26-27) This is clear in the Word, proof of His love. (Re 3:19)

The problem with the common definition of grace is that it fails to account for the miracle of the new birth, and the transforming dynamic inherent in grace. Grace isn’t freedom to sin, it’s freedom from sin (Ro 6:14); grace is God providing us a new nature (2Co 5:17) that’s inclined to obey Him. (1Pe 1:2)

Let no one deceive us (1Jn 3:7): those in Christ have received Him as He truly is, as both Savior and Lord. (Jn 1:12) Those who carelessly and willfully disobey Him as a manner of life don’t yet know Him. (1Jn 3:9)

The relentless assaults of false teachers require us to earnestly contend for the basics of godly faith as we engage each other to fight the good fight and lay hold on eternal life. (1Ti 6:12) God’s Word is unmistakably clear: those who don’t love Jesus Christ don’t belong to Him (1Co 16:22), and all who aren’t trying their best to honor and obey Him don’t love Him. (Jn 14:23)

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Be Perfect

Christ commands us to be perfect (Mt_5:48); the Greek is teleios: complete, mature, flawless, morally perfect. This is an impossible standard, clearly, but it’s not surprising: God doesn’t tolerate imperfection, and He shouldn’t. (De 18:13) He requires perfection of us because it’s right for Him to do so (Re 3:2); our lack of ability is irrelevant. (Pr 20:9)

So, how should we respond to this demand for moral perfection? There are dangers here we do well to avoid.

Firstly, we shouldn’t complain about God being unfair: fair is giving us all what we deserve – eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. We’re all desperately wicked (Je 17:9), unbelievably sinful, even on our best day. (Is 64:6) There’s no requirement for God to lower the righteous standard simply because we’ve chosen to sin and corrupt our will. Borrowing more than we can ever repay, and gambling it all away, doesn’t mean we owe any less. We’re guilty as charged: we need mercy. (Lk 18:13)

Secondly, we shouldn’t try to lower the standard for ourselves (Mt 18:26); aiming for anything less than perfection is willful sin (He 10:26); choosing this as a life pattern is insolent, arrogant, disrespectful to God – inexcusable. (vs 27) Every willful sin is a personal affront to God; He hates all who break His laws on purpose. (Ps 5:5) We must try our best, our very best, to be as perfect as possible (2Pe 1:5-7), as poor as that might be. (Php 3:12)

Thirdly, we must ground ourselves in the unconditional love of God (Ep 3:19): God loves each of us because He made each of us uniquely in His image, with His own hands. (Ps 119:73) Real love isn’t conditioned on behavior (Mt 5:44-45): God loves the righteous and the sinner equivalently, because that’s His holy nature.

We must be grounded in the love of God to retain our sanity before Him while we’re stained in our sin. (He 11:6) Our sin is repulsive to Him; it makes Him indignant (Mi 7:9), and every single one of our sins must be dealt with firmly and justly. Yet even in His anger God Is Good – there isn’t a malicious bone in God’s body, and we must count on this in order to function as we consider the second death. While there’s any doubt about our standing before Him, we remain in dreadful peril.

The only sane response to God’s demand for perfection is to find refuge in Christ through the gospel. The terror of God moves us to seek Him (2Co 5:11), to pursue salvation from our sin until we know we’re safe in Christ, absolutely sure. (1Jn 5:13) We can not afford to stand before God all on our own, and be judged according to our own works.

We should examine ourselves very carefully to ensure that we’re in the faith; we should be able to prove this. (2Co 13:5) There are things that accompany salvation (He 6:9); without these manifest in our lives we’re deceiving ourselves. (Ja 1:22) Until we’re perfectly sure of our eternal destiny, we strive to enter the kingdom (Lk 13:24), and labor to enter into His rest (He 4:11); diligently making our election sure. (2Pe 1:10)

We work this out, our own salvation from both the penalty and power of sin in our lives, with fear and trembling. (Php 2:12) We don’t rest until we know that Christ Himself is our own personal advocate, dying in our place for us, giving us His perfect righteousness (1Jn 2:1) and working His righteousness in us (Ep 2:10), making us as eternally safe from the wrath of God as He is.

It is only from the safety of eternal rest that we pursue perfection with joy, not to be saved, but because this is right, aligned with our new nature to love and obey God. (Ps 119:4) We don’t presume the liberty to sin because He has redeemed us.

And as we pursue God, we don’t let others define good and evil for us, telling us what perfection looks like – we go back to Torah (Is 8:20) and check every requirement against it (Ac 17:11), searching out truth for ourselves. (Ps 119:99) One of Satan’s tactics is to both add to the Word and take away from it (De 4:2), imposing such unhealthy, burdensome regulations that we either rebel, or we or become hateful, proud and judgmental in keeping them. (Mt 23:4)

Finally, and this is key, we don’t focus overly much on ourselves, on our own behavior and how we’re failing; we stop trying in our own strength to be perfect. We grow in holiness through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit as we behold Jesus Christ. (2Co 3:18) Behold Him and rejoice in Him (Php 4:4); He’s the one who gives us faith (He 12:2), our access to grace, the power to live for God. (Ro 5:2) Christ Himself is our life (Col 3:4), and our sanctification. (1Co 1:30)

We behold Christ primarily through Torah, (Ps 119:18), which shows us where we need cleansing (Ps 119:9), then we ask for help to obey (vs 10), hiding His Word in your heart and meditating on it (Ps 119:97) so we won’t sin against Him. (vs 11)

As we receive with meekness the engrafted Word, beholding the living Christ within it, the lies we believe, which keep us in bondage, are exposed and corrected through God’s gift of repentance. (2Ti 2:25-26) This is how Christ transforms us and delivers us from sin. (Ja 1:21) He Himself is the Word, giving us His life (Ps 119:50) through the scriptures (Jn 6:63), enabling us to live uprightly.

We don’t dwell on our own sin, focusing on it constantly; there’s a specific season for this, in which we’re to afflict ourselves. (Ja 4:9) As a general pattern we meditate on Christ through His word (Php 4:8); He points out things that are amiss, where we’re off the mark, imperfect (He 4:12), as He is pleased to work in us.

As He does reveal our sin to us, our imperfections, flaws and weaknesses, we immediately confess and agree with Him, asking Him to quicken and enable us to obey Him (Ps 119:35), and to reveal specific scriptures to us which shed light on our darkness and lies. (Ps 119:130) We meditate on these texts until they become part of us, prayerfully quoting them whenever we feel tempted. (Mt 4:4) This is how we take the sword, the sword of the Spirit, and fight the good fight of faith (1Ti 6:12), abiding in Him, so we won’t be ashamed before Him when He comes. (1Jn 2:28)

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Women Keep Silence

Scriptures offending the progressive mindset challenge us profoundly; in receiving them we’re scorned — to align with the world we must corrupt the word and explain them away. Yet God is good, so His ways are eternally good (Ro 7:12); as we depart from them we grieve Him, harming ourselves and others.

One such command is that women keep silence in church. (1Co 14:34a, 35) We can dismiss this as cultural, for a distant time and place, yet within the command itself God affirms this as His timeless law, grounding it in Torah. (vs 34b)

God reinforces this in a separate context: women aren’t to teach men, or to be in authoritative roles over them; rather, they’re to learn in silence with all subjection. (1Ti 2:11-12) God grounds these principles in Creation itself, and also in the Fall (vs 13-14); it’s about transcendent reality, not local cultural trends.

In assigning different roles and responsibilities to each gender, God isn’t valuing one over the other: God values all human beings infinitely, and therefore equally; there are no gender-based value differences. (Ga 3:28) However, God has indeed designed the sexes differently, for different purposes in His kingdom, and assigned distinct responsibilities accordingly. (Ep 5:33)

God designed Woman as a perfect counterpart for Man (Ge 2:18) … physically  weaker and more vulnerable (1Pe 3:7), yet more intuitive, more subjective, and more emotionally aware. Female minds and souls process differently, giving them unique and precious perspective, but also rendering them more impulsive and emotional, so God provides for their protection through male authority. (Nu 30:13)

This design works as God intended when a man and woman are in a mutually interdependent relationship, husband and wife acting as one flesh rather than two (Mk 10:8), deferring to one another in love in matters of preference, yet where the male bears ultimate accountability for leadership (1Co 11:3), and the woman respects and honors this. (Ep 5:22-24) The man reasons through things, and the woman appeals when she’s concerned he might be overlooking something. Working together they have a powerful, resilient synergy. This is balance, and it is beautiful.

This isn’t to say women shouldn’t testify of their understanding of God’s revelation (Mt 28:5-7), or that they shouldn’t publicly exercise supernatural gifts (Ac 21:9), yet when it comes to public debate and problem solving, as men assemble for the purpose of deliberation (as in the Greek ecclesia), women should let the brothers hammer it out. Sisters should offer insights, concerns and questions privately and discretely with a husband or father, letting the men filter, frame and refine the public flow of ideas as they labor together to find unity. (1Co 1:10) This pattern isn’t new; it’s rooted in timeless precepts. (De 16:16)

As we pursue holiness, brothers and sisters meditating on these kinds of passages, it isn’t our place to correct those who’d rather not hear (Pr 23:9), imposing and enforcing our views on others. We must each obey our Lord as best we can: it’s before our own master we stand or fall. (Ro 14:4) Let’s each so run our own race, finishing our course, longing to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Mt 25:21)

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