Commandment #9 Do not Lie

Exodus 20:16(HCSB)Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.

The Bible is clear that lying is a sin and is displeasing to God. The first sin in this world involved a lie told to Eve.
Genesis 3:4-5(HCSB)4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Proverbs 12:22 (HCSB)Lying lips are detestable to the Lord,but faithful people are His delight.

In the early church, Ananias and Sapphira lied regarding a donation in order to make themselves look more generous than they really were. Peter’s rebuke is stern: Acts 5:3(HCSB) Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds from the field? God’s judgment was sterner: the couple died as a result of their sin of lying.

How does God feel about lying? He says this in

Proverbs 6:16-19(HCSB)The Lord hates six things;in fact, seven are detestable to Him:17 arrogant eyes, a lying tongue,hands that shed innocent blood,18 a heart that plots wicked schemes,feet eager to run to evil,19 a lying witness who gives false testimony,and one who stirs up trouble among brothers. 

How about you? What really angers you? What frustrates you? What upsets you?

God has a list of things like that. There are six things that the Lord hates, very strong language, seven that are an abomination to him. And then it goes on to say that among them is, “A false witness who breathes out lies.”

Here’s why: it’s not just an offense on the person; it’s an offense on the God who made them. Because the Bible says it this way in Titus 1:2: “God cannot lie.” God is only truthful. God is always truthful. God is altogether truthful. There is nothing in God’s character that is untrustworthy or unreliable. There’s no deception. There’s no dishonesty in God at all.

Jesus says regarding Satan in John 8:44(HCSB) You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. Satan is a liar, he’s the father of all lies. So, when you are lying, you are giving birth with Satan to death. And he says that lying is his native language.

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Commandment #10 Don’t Covet

Nothing is essential but God. Nothing material can ever take His place. Covetousness is allowing your heart to desire something as essential—and then expending your best energy getting it.

Covetousness is a sin that is so subtle because, for one thing, nobody sees it.

The way you end up committing adultery is first by coveting. See, you covet in your heart, and then you adulterate with your hands. And if you deal with the coveting problem in your heart, then that will resolve the adulterating problem with your hands.

Many of our sins start with our coveting. In the eighth commandment, it says, “You shouldn’t steal.” Well, where does stealing begin? Stealing begins with coveting. You say, “I really want that so I’m going to go take it.” It begins with coveting, longing for, desiring, someone or something that you’re not supposed to have, but you become obsessed about it to the point where you’ll do almost anything to obtain it. So, it’s cause and effect.

#10 Don’t Covet

Jesus builds the church, Pastors take care of the people

Matthew 16:13-18(HCSB)13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

17 And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

We will focus briefly on this one verse. Jesus says to Peter:

Matthew 16:18(HCSB) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.

Jesus appears to be using a play on words. “You are Peter (petros) and on this rock (petra) I will build my church.” Since Peter’s name means rock, and Jesus is going to build His church on a rock – it appears that Christ is linking the two together. God used Peter greatly in the foundation of the church. It was Peter who first proclaimed the Gospel on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47). Peter was also the first to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:1-48). In a sense, Peter was the rock “foundation” of the church.

But the rock is that Jesus was referring to was not Peter, but to Peter’s confession of faith in verse 16: “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” Jesus had never explicitly taught Peter and the other disciples the fullness of His identity, and He recognized that God had opened Peter’s eyes and revealed to him who Jesus really was. His confession of Jesus as Messiah poured forth from him as a heartfelt declaration of Peter’s personal faith in Jesus. It is this personal faith in Christ which is the mark of the true Christian. Those who have placed their faith in Christ, as Peter did, are the church. Peter expresses this when he addressed the believers who had been dispersed around the ancient world in:
1 Peter 2:4-5(HCSB) 4 Coming to Him, a living stone—rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God— 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

At this point, Jesus declares that God had revealed this truth to Peter. The word for “Peter,” Petros, means a small stone (John 1:42(HCSB)42 and he brought Simon to Jesus.When Jesus saw him, He said, “You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”). Jesus used a play on words here with petra (“on this rock”) which means a foundation boulder, as in Matthew 7:24-25(HCSB)“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.

Peter himself uses the same imagery in his first epistle: the church is built of numerous small petros “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) who, like Peter, confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and those confessions of faith are the bedrock of the church.
Petra – Big Rock,Foundational Stone, Petros – Little Rock,building stones

In addition, the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that Christ is both the foundation and the head.

Acts 4:11(HCSB)This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders,which has become the cornerstone 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.”

1 Corinthians 3:11(HCSB)11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.

and the head of the church, Ephesians 5:23(HCSB)23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. It is a mistake to think that here He is giving either of those roles to Peter. There is a sense in which the apostles played a foundational role in the building of the church Ephesians 2:20(HCSB)built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone., but the role of supremacy is reserved for Jesus Christ alone, not assigned to Peter. So, Jesus’ words here are best interpreted as a simple play on words in that a boulder-like truth came from the mouth of one who was called a small stone. And Christ Himself is called the “chief cornerstone”

1 Peter 2:67(HCSB) For it is contained in Scripture:Look! I lay a stone in Zion,a chosen and honored cornerstone, and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame! 7 So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving, The stone that the builders rejected—this One has become the cornerstone,. The chief cornerstone of any building is the stone which the building was anchored.

Representing the apostles, Peter had spoken the foundational truth of the church: You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And therefore he and all the apostles became, the foundation of the house of God—the church.

According to Ephesians 2:18-20(HCSB)18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone., And on this foundation of apostolic truth Jesus promises, “I will build my church.”

Lets break down these four comments about this spectacular promise: “I,” “will build,” “my,” “church.”

“I”

“I will build my church.” Who is this “I” who made this promise? Take this one scene in Revelation 4 and 5 as the answer: We are in heaven beholding the throne of God. In his hand is a scroll—the unfolding of the end of history and the destiny of the church of Christ. At first, no one is seen worthy to open the scroll. John cries that none is found. Then one the 24 elders says, Revelation 5:5(HCSB)“Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then the Jesus the Lamb, The Lion of Judah takes the scroll. And the elders and creatures around the throne sing,

Revelation 5:9-10(HCSB)You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.

One person is worthy to bring history to its appointed consummation—the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God who has a ransomed people in every ethnic group on the planet. And then two astonishing things happened: millions of angels and talking birds and horses and fish confirmed the greatness of Christ.

Revelation 5:11-14(HCSB)Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, and also of the living creatures and of the elders. Their number was countless thousands, plus thousands of thousands. 12 They said with a loud voice: The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing! 13 I heard every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them say: Blessing and honor and glory and dominion

to the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

This is the one who said, “I will build my church.” It is going to happen.

“Will Build”

“I will build my church.” The church is not a building. It’s a people, with or without a building. But the Bible pictures this people sometimes as tree that grows and sometimes as a building that is built. The point is that this people has a builder, and the builder is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus builds the church.

How? By ripping down the gates that hold the human heart in hell-bent sin.
John Calvin said “Our hearts are idol factories” The beauty of living in the New Covenant is that we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us, empowering us to obey and cleansing us from our idols. Are we still tempted to worship things other than God? Sure. That’s why John tells his readers to keep themselves from idols.

1 John 5:19-21(HCSB) We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One—that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.21 Little children, guard yourselves from idols.

“My”

“I will build my church.” God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). And not only us, but millions more scattered throughout the earth (John 11:52). And he has many people in this city (Acts 18:10)and He bought them by his own blood (Acts 20:28). And he will make them a kingdom and priests to his God. And they shall reign on the earth (Revelation 5:9). They will be his church. They are not their own. They are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). They are his. He will gather them. And build His church.

“Church”

“I will build my church.” How did He build the church in the New Testament? Paul and the Apostles were Jesus’ instruments. Jesus built his church in Philippi, Ephesus, Galatia,Corinth, Asia Minor, Greece,etc. and He will build it in Houma. It is a thrilling thing to me that what we celebrating and supporting today is a church in the making. Not just a ministry. But a church: Revival Life Church being built by the Son of the living God out of hell-bent lives.

Remember this: Jesus does not promise that he will build his country club.He promises with absolute authority: I will build my church.

So when Jesus builds the Church He appoints “Overseers, Apostles and Prophets, Ephesians 2:20(HCSB) built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.

He gives them a command “Feed My Sheep” Jesus Builds the church,He appoints leaders and tells them to Shepherd and feed His sheep.

Acts 20:28(HCSB)Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood

Jesus gave Peter a three-fold command to “feed my sheep” in

John 21:15-1715 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”

“Feed My lambs,” He told him. 16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.

17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.

The three commands, although often translated the same way, are subtly different. The first time Jesus says it, the Greek means literally “feed (tend) the lambs” (v. 15). The Greek word for “feed” is in the present tense, denoting a continual action of tending, feeding and caring for animals. Believers are referred to as sheep throughout Scripture. “For he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:7). Jesus is both our Good Shepherd (John 10:11) and the Door of the sheepfold (John 10:9). By describing His people as lambs, He is emphasizing their nature as immature and vulnerable and in need of tending and care.

The second time, the literal meaning is “Shepherd My sheep” (v. 16). In this conversation, Jesus was emphasizing tending the sheep in a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but ruling over them. This expresses the full scope of pastoral oversight, both in Peter’s future and in all those who would answer the call of pastoral ministry. Peter follows Jesus’ example and repeats this same Greek word poimaino in his first pastoral letter to the elders of the churches of Asia Minor: 1 Peter 5:2-3(NLT)Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly–not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

The third time, the literal translation is “Feed (tend) the sheep” (v. 17). Here Jesus combines the different Greek words to make clear the job of the shepherd of the flock of God. They are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people, from the youngest lambs to the full-grown sheep, in continual action to nourish and care for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity.

What is this food with which shepherds are to feed the flock of God? It is the Word of God. Peter declares that Christians are to desire the pure spiritual milk of the Word so that by it, we can mature in our salvation

1 Peter 2:2(HCSB) Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation,. As early as the book of Deuteronomy, we see the Lord describing His Word as food for His people who live not by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from His mouth Deuteronomy 8:3(HCSB) He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Jesus tells this to Satan in His temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4). The importance of the Word of God as food for our souls cannot be over-emphasized.

In Ephesians 4:11, Paul identifies shepherding “pastors” as one function in the Church along with teaching, missionary work, evangelism, and prophecy. That this role is important is seen by the emphasis that Jesus puts on it in John 21:15–17. How is a pastor/shepherd supposed to feed and tend the flock of God? He does this by being able to teach the flock the word of God (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9) to bring the flock into maturity, and to be resistant to heresy. He is to be on guard for false teachers and warns those who stray that there are consequences to their belief and behavior.

A shepherd leads, feeds, nurtures, comforts, corrects, and protects–responsibilities that belong to every church leader. Jesus is the perfect example of a loving shepherd. He is a perfect example of everything that a spiritual leader should be. Peter called Him the “Chief Shepherd”. He is our great Rescuer, Leader, Guardian, Protector, and Comforter.

Pastors and Church leaders are undershepherds who guard the flock under the Chief Shepherd’s watchful eye (Acts 20:28). Theirs is a full-time responsibility because they minister to people who, like sheep, often are vulnerable, defenseless, undiscerning, and prone to stray.

Shepherding the flock of God is an enormous task, but to faithful pastors it brings the rich reward of the unfading crown of glory, which will be awarded by the Chief Shepherd Himself at His appearing 1 Peter 5:4(HCSB)And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

and finally

Hebrews 13:17(HCSB)17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

Don’t commit Adultery

I will probably offend everyone here in this sermon today.  We are on the Seventh Commandment Exodus 20:14(HCSB)Do not commit adultery. For us to get an idea of what this is and to eliminate any confusion we must look at what Biblical Marriage is.

The way God has made us, if we obey him, we build this very deep, significant, emotional, mental, spiritual, biochemical connection with our spouse; but if we commit adultery or any sexual immorality, we then bond ourselves with, connect ourselves to someone or something else that is not our spouse.

WHAT IS MARRIAGE?

We find ourselves in the Ten Commandments. We’re a Bible-teaching church, and so we like to study the Scriptures. As we read in the Bible, the first wedding between our first parents was immediately followed up with a war. Satan didn’t even show up to Adam and Eve until they were married. Some of you are single, you think, “As soon as I get married, they will relieve some of my temptation.” Actually, Satan didn’t even show up until our first parents were married. The storyline of the Bible is from a wedding to a war, and there’s been a war from the beginning surrounding marriage, especially the marriage of God’s people.

To begin with, I need to do a bit of a teaching, and I need to answer this question: “What is marriage?” We live in a day that is profoundly confused about everything, particularly marriage. Marriage, in the Bible, is a very sacred thing. It is created by God. He officiates the first wedding between the first man and the first woman. He brings them together and he is the one who institutes this, this great gift of marriage.

1. MARRIAGE IS A COVENANT

Well, marriage is two things. It is covenant and consummation, according to God’s Word. So first of all, covenant, you’ll find it in Malachi 2 and elsewhere. “The LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth.” He’s speaking to the men here. “She is your companion and your wife by”—what? “Covenant.”

Now, this is the big debate in our day is, is marriage a civil contract, or is it a biblical covenant? A civil contract is really just between two people. It’s more of a business arrangement; it’s a legal arrangement. It’s like two business partners merging into one business. It’s civil. The Christian understanding, the biblical understanding, is that it is not merely civil but covenantal—meaning, it’s not just two people. It’s two people and God oversees the covenant.

This is why we see marriage differently than our culture does, because we’re Bible-believing Christians.

We want to be very clear: that which is civil is civil and that which is covenantal is covenantal. And our view of marriage is entirely guided by Scriptures. And it doesn’t matter what vote is taken, the Supreme Court or what the politicians or the lawyers determine; ultimately, what we care about is what God has spoken. So it covenantal. This means that it is permanent, that it is exclusive, and it is sacred.

2. MARRIAGE IS CONSUMMATION

Number two, marriage is covenantal and it includes consummation. Two people who are sleeping together are not married because they don’t have the covenantal aspect—all they have is the consummation aspect. Two people who are really good friends and love one another and spend time together, but have not entered into covenant and consummated it, are not married.

1 Corinthians 7:2-5(HCSB)2 But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 3 A husband should fulfill his marital responsibility to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another sexually—except when you agree for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

All sex outside of heterosexual marriage is a sin. Some of you say, “What about that?” Yes, whatever “it” is outside of heterosexual marriage: sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, polygamy, adultery, fornication, pornography, whatever. Sex is a gift, and it’s to be contained and restrained by marriage.

God created sex so the best place to talk about it is in His house, right? He created sex and the passions and pleasures associated with it for marriage. Because the way God has wired the body and hardwired the brain is that whatever path we go down for the pleasure we receive, we become literally bonded to it, connected to that person or thing.

Now, can you see where this would be a magnificent gift for marriage? If you remain pure, and you’re with your spouse, and you love them emotionally, you’re committed to them covenantally, you agree with them theologically, you invest in them verbally, and you enjoy them physically, you are habituating yourself, you are conditioning yourself to be bonded to them, to be into them, to be connected to them, to desire them, to be satisfied with them, to long for them. And in marriage, that’s wonderful.

God has built this great gift to bring a couple together. Dr. Stephen Arterburn says it this way: “Sexual pleasure is one of the most intense human experiences. Physically speaking, when a man and woman are together,” he says that, “a chemical is released into the brain called an opioid.” That means opium-like. He goes on to say, “Apart from a heroin-induced experience, nothing is more physically pleasurable. This is a wonderful thing in a committed marriage relationship, because it helps bond two people together and bring joy to living together and building a relationship.” It brings oneness.

This is why it’s covenant and it’s consummation: it speaks of this in
Genesis 2:24(HCSB)This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. Here is God speaking, Moses’s recording of our first parents: “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife”—there’s the covenant—“and the two shall become one flesh.”

See, so when God tells you to be faithful to your spouse, to practice chastity before marriage, to enjoy fidelity within marriage, what he’s saying is, “I want the best for you. I want you to be one with your spouse. I want you to be connected theologically. I want you to be connected emotionally. I want you to be connected mentally. I want you to be connected financially. I want you to be connected biologically. I want you to increasingly grow to be one.”

A CIVIL MARRIAGE IS NOT A COVENANTAL MARRIAGE

There’s the consummation. It’s between a man and a woman.Marriage is between a man and a woman, because God created us, in the previous chapter of Genesis, male and female. In our culture, we don’t believe that people are made male and female; we believe that God makes androgynous people who then determine their gender identity. So you’re not a man or a woman; you’re a person who gets to decide if you will live as a man or a woman. So a man can dress like a woman, or a woman can dress like a man, or you can undergo some sort of gender reassignment surgery and change your entire biological identity.

God made us male and female. It’s led to the point in our culture, well, why can’t a man marry a man, and why can a man marry a woman? And so what we have today is not a definition of marriage, but the absence of a definition of marriage.But let me tell you this: It’s not a covenantal marriage. It’s not a biblical marriage.

Romans 12:2(NLT) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” the Bible says. 1 Corinthians 1:21(NLT)Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

“That the world in its human wisdom would never know know God,” the Bible says. Romans 8:7-8(HCSB)7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. says the Word of God.

Christians think differently about everything, not just this thing. We believe we’re made male and female in the image and likeness of God, that marriage is not just civil and contractual, it is covenantal, it is for one man and one woman, and it is defined by covenant in the presence of God and consummation between the husband and the wife.

So God created the body, and he created the passions and pleasures of the body for marriage. God was very gracious and very wise to give us such a great gift, so that we might be one. That’s what the Bible says. And when we sin, we do great destruction to our own body, to the hardwiring of our own brain, and to our ability to really enjoy our spouse, and to be faithfully devoted to them.

Sexual immorality is idolatry. Anything you put above God or worship instead of God is idolatry.

Some of you say, “Idolatry? I don’t even understand what he’s talking about.” The Ten Commandments begin with these two commandments. First of all, there’s one God; and, secondly, you’re to worship that God alone, and worship of anyone or anything other than the God of the Bible is idolatry.

Romans 6:16 (NLT) Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

2 Peter 2:19 (NLT) They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

MARRIAGE IS A PORTRAIT OF SOMETHING FAR GREATER

Here’s why this is so incredibly important, because according to the Scriptures, marriage is an illustration—it’s a pattern, a precedent, a foreshadowing of something far more significant and greater.

According to the Bible, marriage is a portrait and a picture of something far greater. The Bible tells us that marriage is a portrait and a symbol and a picture of Jesus’ love for the church. You can read this in Ephesians 5:22-31, where it says that Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to present her to himself as a radiant bride without blemish or spot. The history culminates in Revelation 19 near the end of the Bible with a wedding.

Ultimately, the greatest wedding of all is the wedding between Jesus and his people. Revelation 19 says that history ends with a wedding supper of the Lamb, and that the church is like a bride wearing white. So you men, we’re not individually brides, but collectively we relate to Jesus with respect, following, adoration, covenantal affection, and fidelity.

We don’t worship other gods because that’s whoring. That’s why in the Bible idolatry is adultery. When we’re worshiping other gods, we’re cheating on Jesus. We participate in false religion and spirituality. We’re cheating on Jesus. We teach that the church is to be like a bride and that Jesus is like a groom.

Spiritual adultery is unfaithfulness to God. It is having an undue fondness for the things of the world. Spiritually adultery is analogous to the unfaithfulness of one’s spouse:

Jeremiah 3:20(ESV)’But like a woman faithless to her lover, even so have you been faithless to me, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD”

Isaiah 57:8(NLT)You have put pagan symbols on your doorposts and behind your doors. You have left me and climbed into bed with these detestable gods. You have committed yourselves to them. You love to look at their naked bodies.

Ezekiel 16:30(NLT)”What a sick heart you have, says the Sovereign LORD, to do such things as these, acting like a shameless prostitute.

The Bible tells us that people who choose to be friends with the world are “adulterers” an an “enemy of God” James 4:4(NLT)You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.

The “world” here is the system of evil under Satan’s control.

Ephesians 2:2(NLT)2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.;

1 John 5:19(NLT)We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the control of the evil one

The world system, with its contrived and deceitful scheme of phony values, worthless pursuits, and unnatural affections, is designed to lure us away from a pure relationship with God. Spiritual adultery, then, is the forsaking of God’s love and the embracing of the world’s values and desires
1 John 2:15–16(NLT)15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

The person who commits spiritual adultery is one who professes to be a Christian yet finds his real love and pleasure in the things that Satan offers. For believers, the love of the world and the love of God are direct opposites. Believers committing spiritual adultery may claim to love the Lord, but, in reality, they are captivated by the pleasures of this world, its influence, comforts, financial security, and so-called freedoms.

The concept of spiritual adultery against God is a major theme throughout the Old Testament (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:20; Ezekiel 16:15–19). This theme is illustrated especially well in the book of Hosea. The prophet’s wife, Gomer, symbolizes the infidelity of the children of Israel (Hosea 2:2–5; 3:1–5; 9:1). Hosea’s commitment to Gomer symbolizes God’s faithful, patient love with His erring people.

Spiritual adultery is like trying to straddle the fence with one foot in the world and the other heaven. We cannot have both. As Jesus warned the church in Laodicea, Revelation 3:15–16(ESV)“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth”.

The love of the world is primarily an attitude of one’s heart, and we can cast away worldliness by cultivating a new affection.
Colossians 3:2(NLT) Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

To avoid spiritual adultery, “set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth”

The result is that marriage is far more than just a man and a woman. When it is covenantal, it includes the Lord Jesus, a portrait of the church and the eternal kingdom of God. And it is for those people who are in the New Covenant with Jesus—they’re in saving relationship with Jesus Christ. And the consummation is not sexual, but it is spiritual, where after the resurrection of the dead and all things are made new, just like a bride would go to live with her husband, so God’s people will go to his kingdom, the place that Jesus is preparing for us right now.

What happens is, if you’re confused about marriage, that covenant, you’re ultimately confused about salvation and that covenant. If you’re confused about how God has covenant with us, you’ll be confused about how to have covenant in marriage. Or vice versa, if you’re confused about the covenant of marriage, you’ll be confused about the covenant of salvation.

Some of you people say, “Well, what did Jesus say?” Jesus says this
Matthew 19:4-6(NLT)4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.

He quotes Genesis 2:24(NLT)24 This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.
 And then later on the Apostle Paul quotes it in
Ephesians 5:31(NLT As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

So here’s how it goes: God says it, Moses writes it, Jesus who is God says it again, and Paul restates it. You know why? It doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter what you, I and they vote on. If God, Moses, Jesus, Paul vote, that trumps all other votes, even the Supreme Court vote.

THE PENALTY FOR ADULTERY

So, if marriage is covenantal, what happens when you violate the terms of the covenant? What happens when you commit adultery? That’s the next question. Here is the penalty for adultery. This is why there are penalties for adulteries in the Bible. There’s one in the Old Testament, one in the New Testament, and one for the eternal kingdom of God. In the Old Testament, the penalty for adultery is death. Let that sit for a moment. All right, next time you watch Bridges of Madison County, just remember this: Leviticus 20:10—and it says this numerous places in the Old Testament—“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, “both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to”—what? “Death.”

See, in the Old Covenant, the Old Testament, there wasn’t an opportunity for repeat offenders. You commit adultery, you die, we move on.

If you were born in a different day, some of you would be dead. The only difference between life and death for you is the date of your birth. You’ve committed adultery; you should be dead.God takes this very seriously, doesn’t he? When I hear people say things like, “Hey, everybody makes mistake, nobody’s perfect, who are you to judge?” I think to myself, they should be dead, not arguing or defending. They should have some sense of gratitude that they even have breath in their lungs to state their case.

In the Old Covenant, the penalty was death; in the New Covenant, the penalty was divorce. Matthew 19:9(HCSB) And I tell you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

“Whoever divorces his wife”—who’s saying this? Jesus. “Whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality”—and it’s a big word, but for our purposes, we’re going to say primarily adultery, but it can include other things because people are very perverted and can find ways around rules. “And marries another commits”—what? “Adultery.”

DIVORCE

So What’s the clause, the exception for divorce? You’re supposed to be married; the two become one. If we’re going to take a knife to the one and make them two again, the issue should be for something as strong as adultery.

Now, some Christians are going to come along and they’re going to get really legalistic and say, “No, you should never, never, never get divorced.” Divorce is something that should not be rushed into. For those of you who are hearing this, hear me on this: adultery does not mean you should get a divorce. Adultery means you have that as a possibility—it’s not a requirement. You don’t have to get divorced, but according to Jesus, you have a right to be divorced.

But, but, I would encourage nearly all of you, if I knew your personal case, If you’re going to go do that with someone else, put all that time, energy, effort, and investment in, oftentimes it is good to make that same investment in the relationship you already have.

This is why I would discourage anyone from rushing into divorce in the moment of hurt. And if you are a victim of adultery, your spouse has cheated on God and cheated on you, your proclivity can be out of anger, hurt, or frustration, or out of shock, horror, or embarrassment to just run into divorce. Don’t do it under those kinds of emotionally draining, straining circumstances because, well, it’s like getting married.These are massive decisions that involve many people and they implicate the rest of our entire life.

Some of you say, “Well, I just want to get it over with.” The truth is that when two become one and then they become two again, you’re going to have suffering and scars in your soul for the rest of your days on the earth. You never fully recover and heal from that.

In addition, my encouragement is particularly concerned about children. If you have children, sometimes the hurt, wounded parent thinks, “We’ll get a divorce and move on.” True or false, for those of you who are divorced with children that if you have children, it’s never over? Because you still got the holidays. You still got the birthdays. You still got the school performances. You still got the soccer games. You’ve still got life together. And so the myth in our culture is get divorced and move on, but you’ll carry the scars with you and if you have children, to some degree, you never just move on.

DON’T BE DECEIVED

Whatever you do, don’t go to the Bible looking for a way to get what you want, OK? Go to the Bible looking for what God wants. In the Old Covenant, the penalty was death. In the New Covenant, the penalty was divorce. In the eternal kingdom, the penalty is damnation. You can go to hell for this.

1 Corinthians 6:9–10(HCSB)9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom., “Do you not know that the unrighteousness will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Jesus says every good tree bears good fruit. You’re not saved by your works, but you’re saved to do your works. How you live your life doesn’t make you a Christian, but it demonstrates whether or not you are a Christian.

“Do not be deceived”—wow, there’s a big idea. Apparently in our world, there’s deception.I don’t know if you’re aware of the fact that there’s deception in our world. “No sexually immoral people”—this can include all kinds of sexual sin, fornicators, pornography,—all of it. All right, the word there is _porneia_—it’s where we get our word pornographic. “idolaters”—other religions—“or”—what? “Adulterers. or anyone who practice homosexuality, or thieves, or the greedy, or drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit”—what? “The kingdom of God.”

See, the things that we have parades for, God sends people to hell for. 

Hence that word “deceived” that I made mention of just a moment ago. God is holy. His holiness is mentioned more than any other attribute in the Bible. God is a God of wrath. God’s wrath is spoken of some six hundred times. Do not be deceived. Not everyone is saved. Not everyone knows Jesus. Not everyone is forgiven. Not everyone is going to heaven. And the big idea here is not, have you sinned, but are you changing?

In the next verse, 1 Corinthians 6:11(HCSB)And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.he says, “And some of you used to be like this.” See the people in the Corinthian church, like the people in our church—guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. And he says, but once you meet Jesus, the answer is changing, changing, changing, changing, changing. Christians aren’t perfect, but they’re different than they were, and they’re in the process of becoming less like who they were and more like who Jesus is.

My question to you is, has there been any change in your life? If there’s change after meeting Jesus, you should have a degree of confidence that you’ve, in fact, met Jesus. If you’ve met Jesus and there’s not been any change in your life, I would say to you that you likely have not met Jesus, because you can’t meet Jesus and not change.

Immediately when I say adultery or other sins, some will say, “Oh, but all sin is equal.” All sin is equally damning, but all sin is not equally devastating. Adultery has a different consequence than stealing. All sin is equally damning, but not all sin is equally devastating.

YOU GO TO HELL FOR THIS

It’s come to the point now, we have things like Ashleymadison.com, which is actually a dating site for married people who want to commit adultery without getting caught, and has 31 million users. with over 400 pastors on it that just got caught. So today we mourn the lost of 400 Pastors and Ministers who had to step down because of their Sexual Immorality. Their slogan is a dating website for married people—so their official slogan is, “Life is short, have an affair.”

It doesn’t matter what you or your spouse want to do. It matters what God wants you to do. The highest authority is not you or your spouse or both of you in a unanimous vote. The highest authority is God. The vote that matters is what God has to say. Do not be deceived. In the Old Covenant, it was death. In the New Covenant, it is divorce. In the eternal kingdom, it is damnation. You go to hell for this.

HEART ADULTERY PRECEDES PHYSICAL ADULTERY

How many of you right now—don’t raise your hand—are feeling relieved that you’ve not committed adultery? You have. Here’s what Jesus has to say. What I find curious about Jesus is, people who don’t know the Bible think they know Jesus. They will say, “Well, the God of the Old Testament is really angry and harsh, but Jesus is really nice.” What Jesus does in Matthew 5 is take the laws of the Old Testament and makes them more difficult. He doesn’t lessen the requirements of the law; he increases them. All right, if you read the Bible honestly, you’d say, “The God of the Old Testament is really tough, but he’s nothing like that Jesus. That Jesus takes things to a whole ’nother level.”

Here’s one occasion when Jesus does that. Matthew 5:27–28(HCSB)27 “You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery.28 But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart., “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’” Where do you hear that? Exodus 20:14. Jesus is a Bible teacher, and he’s commenting here on the Ten Commandments, and he’s commenting specifically on the seventh commandment. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with”—what? “Lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

See, when they heard the seventh commandment, people thought adultery is what you do physically. Jesus says that before it involves your physical body, it starts in your heart. Physical adultery and heart adultery both count.

This is just the violation of the first two commandments. The first commandment is there’s one God—you worship him alone. If you start worshiping sex, and all of a sudden, sex becomes god to you, it’s violating the first two commandments, which leads to violating the seventh commandment. And so Jesus deals with the heart issue behind it all.

This could change your whole marriage and renew your mind. Your standard of beauty is your spouse. God does not give us a standard of beauty. He gives us a spouse. God didn’t go to Adam, “Well, what do you like? Tall, short, white, black, Asian, young, old, long hair, short hair, skinny, formerly skinny? What do you like? What do you like?” He came to Adam. He said, “Eve.” Adam said, “Eve looks amazing. That’s amazing right there.” Eve’s standard of beauty was Adam. Adam’s standard of beauty was Eve.

Marketing, pornography, coveting, lust—what Jesus calls “adultery of the heart”—is having a standard of beauty other than your spouse, comparing your spouse to them, becoming dissatisfied, and then ultimately becoming an adulterer; if not just in your heart, also with your hands.

Your standard of beauty is your spouse, so here’s what this means. Whoever you married, that’s what you’re into. Okay? If you marry someone short, you’re into short! You love short! You’re thinking about short! You’re glad for short! Yay, short! Okay? God does not give you a standard of beauty. God gives you a spouse. All right.

Now consider this: the culture in which we live—back to that word “deceived”—, celebrates lust and adultery? true or false? A study was done. It said of all the sexual acts that are on television, ten to one are out of the context of marriage, ten to one. A TV producer was asked why and basically said, “Because they’re more interesting and exciting.”

Sin always is. Think of the popular movies in our day. Think of the popular books in our day. Think of the trashy romance novels.

Every form of entertainment in our culture plays on lust—when’s the last time you heard a great song about a faithfully married couple, who grew old together and loved one another and didn’t cheat on one another? When is the last time you heard a song about fornicating and adulterating? It starts in the heart.

This would include the use of technology for cybersex, for sexting, for flirting. You know what most divorce attorneys will tell you? When their client walks in, the first thing they do is go to the spouse’s Facebook page, look for YouTube videos gets cell phone records,etc. Much of present divorce cases are nothing more than presenting the facts from social media because that’s where people go for heart adultery.

True or false, this includes pornography? Does pornography qualify as heart idolatry, heart adultery? It does. All right, if looking at someone with lustful intent means anything, it certainly includes pornography. Thirty percent of all Internet data is pornographic. That’s more traffic to porn sites than Netflix, Twitter and Amazon combined. It contributes to sexual addiction, sexual slavery, and sexual assault. One in four women are sexually assaulted, one in six men. That’s just reported. We’re in a culture that’s absolutely untethered, out of control, celebrating things that we should be mourning.

Pornography kills real love, offers a hollow counterfeit and ultimately leaves you lonely.

If our sexual fantasies are heavily influenced by porn. It normalizes behaviors that before seemed appalling. It is no coincidence that serial killer Ted Bundy, in the interview preceding his execution, noted, “I’ve lived in prison a long time, and I’ve met a lot of men who are motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography- without question. Without exception. They were deeply influenced and consumed by an addiction to pornography. There’s no question about it. The FBI’s own study on serial homicide shows that the most common interest among serial killers is pornography.” Porn portrays women as nothing more than sex objects that need to be dominated, so it’s not surprising that porn users, male and female, start seeing real women as nothing more than a collection of body parts, free to be used and disposed of.

Those who are addicted to porn idolize porn and have made it their god. They have sell enslaved themselves to it and worship it and you allow it to control and destroy you. The idol always lies. It tells you you can have your pleasure without any consequences.

You don’t just look at porn you worship sex.

And here’s the truth: we’re all worshipers. We are passionately giving ourselves away to someone, to something, to a cause, to a person, to an experience, to a pleasure, to a pursuit, to a passion. We give ourselves away. We give our money, our time, our energy. It’s what we talk about. It’s how our identity is formed. It’s what we commit ourselves to. We’re all worshipers, Christians, atheists, those who are members of other religions, all are worshipers. The only question is who or what are you worshiping?

What you glory in you sacrifice for, what you sacrifice for is what you worship.

And make no mistake: Every time you see an image, lust in your heart, go surfing on the Internet, you’re worshiping. You’re not worshiping the Creator; you’re worshiping the created, and it’s idolatry. And the issue goes deeper than just sexual orientation or preference. It goes down to the root issue of idolatry.

Malachi 2:13-15 (NLT)Here is another thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the LORD accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the LORD witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows. Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. 

MARRIED COUPLES, FIGHT FOR FIDELITY WITH FREEDOM AND FREQUENCY

Number two, married couples fight for fidelity with freedom and frequency. There is never an excuse for adultery. Jesus lived, died, rose a virgin, OK? You don’t have to have sex. See, in the early church, it was virtuous to be chaste and unmarried. In our day, we make comedies about forty-year-old virgins, because that’s a joke that nobody even could conceive of.

Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Once you get married, however, a good defense is frequency and freedom. I’m not going to get into great detail, but you married couples, do you get my point here? DO it often and don’t always do it the same.

DON’T FIRST CHEAT ON GOD

OK, this one’s important: before you cheat on your spouse, you have to cheat on God first. The first commandment, one God. Second commandment, you worship that God alone. Adultery doesn’t come until the seventh commandment, and you won’t even get to the seventh commandment if you don’t violate the first two commandments. Sex is god, and I worship by having sexual sin.

That’s why in Romans 12, he says to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God because this is your spiritual act of worship. Worship is what you do with your body. You can’t say, “Man, I was walking with Jesus. Next thing I know, I committed adultery.” No, you weren’t. Jesus didn’t lead you into adultery.

DON’T LET YOUR EYES RECRUIT YOUR HANDS

Sexual sin starts with your eyes which then recruit your hands. In Job 31:1 he says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look upon a woman lustfully.” Adultery doesn’t start here, it starts here—who you look at, what you look at, what you click through, what you’re enticed by. Your eyes, your eyes, are the beginning of your adultery, and then they recruit your hands. So guard your eyes. Guard what you see.

MEN, CONQUER LUST, NOT LADIES

Men, Your manhood is not best expressed by conquering ladies, but rather, conquering lust. An animal will conquer others. A Spirit-filled man conquers himself—self-discipline, self-control. You’re a worshiper; you’re not an animal.

LADIES, KNOW THEY ARE ONLY HALF THE PROBLEM

Ladies, Men are indeed a problem, but you know they’re only half the problem. Right, ladies? Some you women are flirtatious. Some of you women say, “Well, I never committed adultery.” How about an emotional affair? “Well, what’s an emotional affair?” And some of you say, “Well, you know, he initiated.” Well, OK, but you’re not a passive woman; you’re a godly woman. We can’t just blame this all on the men. Men bear large responsibility, but they don’t bear entire responsibility.

COME CLEAN BEFORE YOU GET CAUGHT

Lastly, you should come clean before you get caught. Some of you are already living under the anxiety of, “I’m guilty; I hope I don’t get caught.” And some of you are living under this myth: “If I tell my spouse, then that will hurt our marriage.” The truth is, it’s already damaged, and the other person doesn’t know why.

The intimacy is severed because what sin does is sin separates. It never reconciles. Sin distances. It never unifies. Seventy-four percent of men have said that they would commit adultery if they could be guaranteed they never get caught. Sixty-eight percent of women have said that they would commit adultery if they were assured they would never be caught.

Let’s just be honest and say that God has already caught you. He knows. And so what I’m going to ask you to do is have the talks, because many of you don’t want to have the talks, but because I love you and I’m your pastor, I need you to have the talks. The first talk is with Jesus. And if there is adultery or adultery of the heart, you need to have the talk with Jesus. You need to confess your sin to him. You need to get some hours away in a quiet, private place. You need to get a journal and a pen. You need to write down all of your sexual sin. Write it all down. It’s going to take some hours to remember things.

Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of sin so that you could see, apart from the grace of God, who you are and what you do. This will destroy you, and it’s exactly what you need. You need to see yourself as God sees you so that you’ll know you need God to help you and to save you from yourself. And you need to pray, you need to cry, you need to call out to Jesus, you need to ask for forgiveness.

(ALTAR CALL)

THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY

John 8, “Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and sat down and he taught them. And the scribes and the Pharisees, the religious folks, brought a woman who had been caught in”—You know the story, “Adultery.” Guilty or innocent, this woman of adultery? Guilty. Caught. “‘Now in the Law of Moses we are commanded to stone such a women,’ they said. So what do you say?”

How many of you today are in the position of this woman? Caught by God in the act of adultery right now you’re before Jesus, guilty? “‘So what do you say?’ they asked. “This is what they said to test him, “that they might have some charges to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground.” We know not what. “And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.’ And he bent down once more and wrote on the ground. And when they heard it, they all went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.”

True or false, Jesus was the only one who had a right to pick up a rock and to kill this woman. True or false? True. He’s the only one who didn’t have hand adultery or heart adultery. He’s the only one who’s sinless and with clean hands. Jesus stood up—can you imagine this moment?

How many of you right now, you feel like Jesus is standing over you? “I’m a guilty adulterer, Jesus is standing over me. He has every right to kill me.” “And he said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? No has one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said”—hear this, adulterer—“‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more.’”

Then Jesus went to the cross, and he died for this woman’s adultery. And Jesus went to the cross and he died for your hand adultery and your heart adultery, and he paid the penalty of death so that we could receive life, and he commands us to go and sin no more.

Adultery and sexual immorality is misdirected intimacy. It’s a perverted take on what God has created. Our goal is to redirect your intimacy back to God.

Kill your sin before it kills you and who and what you love. Paul says here that Jesus Christ died for our sins, so we could put our sin to death; because Jesus died for sin, we could put sin to death.

Put it to death, because Jesus died for it. And I would say fight and keep fighting. And if you struggle or fail or fall, get up and fight again. This is a lifelong battle for some, but it doesn’t have to be a lifelong series of failed battles. And some of you will say, “It’s too late, I did it again, I’m already halfway there. I may as well see it through.” No, repent at any point. Repent at every point. Turn around, go back, start over, come clean, get help, talk to God, talk to Christian leaders. Talk to good friends, be honest, get the help you need. It’s never too late.

Remember that Jesus is the one who had the right to condemn you and instead, he died in your place to save you.

The Sixth Commandments Do Not Murder

In Exodus 20:13(KJV) “Thou shalt not kill,” yet God kills people in floods, famines and has Israel go and kill entire people groups.  Why the contradiction?

First of all, there is no contradiction.  “Thou shalt not kill” is from the old King James Bible.  Modern translations (ESV, NASB, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV) have it as Exodus 20:13(HCSB)”You shall not murder.”  The word in the Hebrew for “kill” here in Exodus 20:13 is תִּרְצָח (ratsach). It is translated into the English many different ways, depending on the context:  “slayer, murderer, kill, murder, slain, manslayer, killing, slayer death.

Simply stated, the sixth of the Ten Commandments forbids the unjustified taking of a human life. However, the commandment itself has a couple of interesting elements that bear mentioning. First and foremost, different Bible translations give the appearance of different meanings, and there is potential for misunderstanding the actual meaning of the verse. Second, man was never created for the act of murdering another, and there needs to be an explanation for such a violent and final act towards another human being. Third, because of the translational challenge, we need to understand the difference between “murder” and “killing.” And last but not least, how does God view murder? To God, murder is not just physical in nature but also the condition of one’s heart towards another.

What this could lead to is all kinds of false thinking: you should never defend yourself; you should hold a position of extreme pacifism; if someone breaks into your home, you should let them harm your family rather than take their life. Those kinds of things are the implications of the misunderstanding of one word of the Bible.

God is not a pacifist. The Bible does not present God as a pacifist. Only a very selective reading of some of what the Scriptures say could lead you to that position. The Bible does not tell us, “Thou shalt not kill”; it says that we should not murder. Not murder.

And so this word is very important. It refers to such things as manslaughter, violent and unauthorized killing, personal vengeance and revenge, and yes, just good old fashioned murder.

So, we’ll use a few examples. You tell me whether or not this constitutes murder: accidental death, self-defense, a soldier in a just war, a police officer returning fire. Yes or no, that qualifies as murder. No.

How about infanticide,abortion, suicide, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, and acts of terrorism? Does that constitute murder, yes or no? Yes.

So there are ways that taking a life is justified. There are ways that taking a life is unjustified, and part of the complexity is we can’t simply say, “You should never kill anyone,” but the truth is, we want to put some restrictions on that so we don’t have mass murder, terrorism, anarchy, unjust war, and the state out of control, slaughtering innocent civilians.

So, we’re going to unpack exactly what God means by this word—that there are occasions when human life is to be taken, but those occasions are rare and they are specified by God himself.

Murder is the unlawful taking of life.  Killing is the lawful taking of life.  God has said, “You shall not murder,” not “You shall not kill.”  After all, God says killing in self-defense is justifiable.  Exodus 22:2(HCSB)If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed.  If mere killing of any kind was the issue, then why would God saying killing in self-defense is permissible?  He wouldn’t.  This is another reason that modern translations say, “You shall not murder.”

Also, consider that the New Testament quotes Exodus 20:13 in Romans 13:9 (HCSB) as “You shall not murder.”  The word in Greek for murder here is φονεύω, (phoneuo).  Matthew 10:28 (HCSB) Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

The word of kill here is apoktinumi.  Let’s compare.

•Romans 13:9, “murder” is φονεύω (phoneuō), commit murder, kill
Matthew 5:21(HCSB)21 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment.

•Matthew 10:28, “kill” is ἀποκτίννυμι (apoktinumi), to kill, slay

As you can see, different words are used for “murder” and “kill.”  The Greek is more specific; and since the Greek New Testament quotes the Hebrew Old Testament, we can see that Exodus 20:13 is best translated as “You shall not murder.”

There are two different Hebrew words (ratsakh, mut) and two Greek words (phoneuo, apokteino) for “murder” and “killing.” One means “to put to death,” and the other means “to murder.” The latter one is the one prohibited by the Ten Commandments, not the former. In fact, ratsakh has a broader definition than the English word “murder.” Ratsakh also covers deaths due to carelessness or neglect but is never used when describing killing during wartime. That is why most modern translations render the sixth commandment “You shall not murder” rather than “You shall not kill.” However, a very large issue can arise depending on which translation one studies. The ever-popular and ever poor translation of the King James Version renders the verse as “Thou shalt not kill,” therefore opening the door to misinterpreting the verse altogether. If the intended meaning of “Thou shalt not kill” was just that—no killing—it would render all of the God-endorsed bloodletting done by the nation of Israel a violation of God’s own commandment (Deuteronomy 20). But God does not break His own commandments, so, clearly, the verse does not call for a complete moratorium on the taking of another human life.

Why does man murder? We know that we were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27(ESV)in the image of God he created him;male and female he created them. So God created man in his own image,and we were made to live in harmony with God and with our fellow man. This harmony became impossible once sin entered into the picture (Genesis 3). With sin came the propensity for acting violently against one another. Anger, jealousy, pride and hatred can fuel man’s evil bent towards life-ending aggression. So, to murder a person is not only to do violence against the person, but to do violence against the God who made them. This is where the Bible does not distinguish between those things that are sinful and those things that are criminal when it comes to the Ten Commandments. To murder is not just a civic, social issue, but it’s a God issue. It’s an offense not just against the person, but it’s an offense against God who made them in his image and likeness. So, when you murder a person, you’re also declaring war on God because you’re attacking the person who bears the image that he bestowed on them.

Well, when it comes to this issue of murder, this is actually a demonic issue—it’s not just a social issue. Jesus says in John 8:44 of a certain group that want to kill, murder him, “You’re like your father. Your father is the devil and he’s been a murderer since the beginning.” Murder is a demonic issue. God makes life, and Satan takes life. Satan loves it when people are put to death wrongly, prematurely, and unjustly. Jesus says, “In the beginning, the Father made us, and in the beginning, Satan was a murderer.”

It harkens all the way back to the first two brothers. What are their names? Cain and Abel. Abel was a godly man. His brother, Cain, murdered him. Murder begins with the first two brothers. Murder has a long history in the world, and Jesus says, “This is demonic; this is what Satan does.” He is trying to get people to kill one another, and he’s been that way since the beginning.The first recorded act of murder was when Cain

killed his brother Abel Genesis 4:8(ESV)Cain spoke to Abel his brother.And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. From that moment on, taking the life of another has been commonplace and, in some circles of society, acceptable. However, to God every life is important, and since God knew that man was sinful and evil and had become “lawless,” He enacted guidelines that would seek to modify man’s behavior 1 John 3:4(ESV) Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 

So, is there a difference between murder and killing? First, it is important to note that not all killing is wrong. For instance, the apostle Paul talks about the right of the state to take the lives of evildoers

Romans 13:1-5(HCSB)Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. 2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have its approval. 4 For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong. 5 Therefore, you must submit, not only because of wrath, but also because of your conscience.

This relates to what is commonly referred to as capital punishment. Most countries have consequences for murder. In some cases this requires the life of the perpetrator and a suitable means of putting one to death is chosen and administered. Another instance of acceptable “killing” is that which is done during times of war and at the command of superiors. There were quite a few instances in Scripture where God endorsed and allowed the taking of other lives (1 Samuel 11; Judges 6–7). And finally, although far from acceptable, manslaughter is yet another form of killing someone. This unintentional act apparently happened so often in biblical times that cities of refuge were designated for the manslayer to seek refuge in

Exodus 21:12-13 (HCSB) “Whoever strikes a person so that he dies must be put to death. 13 But if he didn’t intend any harm, and yet God caused it to happen by his hand, I will appoint a place for you where he may flee.

Yes, God does delegate to the state, based upon Romans 13 and the example of the Old Testament, the right for capital punishment. This is to discourage vice and to promote virtue. This is to say that there is such a significant consequence for certain law-breaking that it should help maintain some civic, social order.

Imagine today if we got rid of all the police officers, all the courts, and all the jails. That would not lead to human flourishing and life. That would lead to anarchy and death. And so that threat of punishment helps to keep some unrepentant sinners restricted in their conduct.

In addition, this also helps to mitigate against person vengeance. If you can’t call the police, and if you can’t get your proverbial day in court, and if there’s not a prison system or capital punishment, what you’re going to do is to try and take justice into your own hands—vengeance, retribution.

The result is a very dangerous culture in which angry people take lives. And if there’s a process for which justice can be pursued, that helps to mitigate that kind of personal vengeance.

So yes, God does sanction capital punishment. He does. And don’t let the universalistic, pacifistic, false Bible teachers tell you, “Jesus was totally nice. All he ever did was turn the cheek.” The Jesus of the New Testament is the God of the Old Testament, and I’ll tell you, it’s one bloody book. The animal rights activists don’t like the sacrifice of animals foreshadowing Jesus. Those who are pacifists do not like the fact that God’s people are given commands. Those commands do include permission to have capital crimes tried and punished with, yes, even capital punishment.

Not only that, God himself in the Old Testament kills a lot of people. He floods the world in the days of Noah. He sends fiery road tar out of the sky for Sodom and Gomorrah, obliterates two perverted, adjoining towns. It’s a bloody book.

Sometimes those people who would say, “I don’t think that God has the right to take life,” it’s because they’re the criminals, and criminals never like justice.

Again, it was never God’s intent to have to use such a drastic measure as taking one’s life to rectify a situation. So, God does make exceptions for the taking of another’s life as long as it lines up with His will. However, premeditated murder of an individual is never God’s will.

“You shall not kill” is actually not a command found in the Ten Commandments. The command from scripture in the original language actually says “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). The Hebrew word for “murder” literally means “the intentional, premeditated killing of another person with malice.”

Interestingly, most of us are familiar with this definition of murder, because it is reflected in the Penal Codes of our country. The Louisiana Penal Code provides this definition of murder:

RS14. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

Malice is a form of evil intent that separates “murder” from “killing”. Even today there are acceptable forms of killing that lack this kind of evil intent, and these forms of killing exist as exceptions in the murder laws of the United States. In Louisiana, for example, a homicide is justified (according to Penal Code sections RS14:20) if one of the following conditions is met:

A person kills someone accidentally
A person is trying to defend him or herself and prevent his or her own murder (self-defense)
A person is trying to prevent someone from entering his or her house to commit some violent felony
A person is trying to prevent the murder of someone else (protecting an innocent)

In all these situations, killing is actually legal and justifiable, and exceptions of this nature exist in the Penal Codes of every state in America. Even those who don’t accept the existence of God or the authority of the Bible recognize the necessity for laws like these; laws that allow for deadly force to be used to accomplish some greater good.

It’s interesting to note, however, these exceptions are not the invention of modern humans; they are simply a reflection of ancient Biblical Law. The Bible is the source for these modern laws and the exceptions come straight from the pages of scripture:

An accidental killing is not murder:

Exodus 21:12-13 (HCSB)“Whoever strikes a person so that he dies must be put to death. 13 But if he didn’t intend any harm, and yet God caused it to happen by his hand, I will appoint a place for you where he may flee.

Numbers 35:22-25(HCSB) 22 “But if anyone suddenly pushes a person without hostility or throws any object at him without malicious intent 23 or without looking drops a stone that could kill a person and he dies, but he was not his enemy and wasn’t trying to harm him, 24 the assembly is to judge between the slayer and the avenger of blood according to these ordinances. 25 The assembly is to protect the one who kills someone from the hand of the avenger of blood. Then the assembly will return him to the city of refuge he fled to, and he must live there until the death of the high priest who was anointed with the holy oil.

A killing performed in self-defense (or in defense of one’s home) is not murder:

Exodus 22:2 (HCSB)If a thief is caught in the act of breaking in, and he is beaten to death, no one is guilty of bloodshed.

A killing performed in an attempt to save the life of an innocent person is not murder:

Exodus 2:11-12(HCSB) Years later, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his own people[b] and observed their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 Looking all around and seeing no one, he struck the Egyptian dead and hid him in the sand. 

(God did not judge Moses as a murderer because he was protecting the life of the slave)

Genesis 14:14-16 (HCSB) When Abram heard that his relative had been taken prisoner, he assembled[a] his 318 trained men, born in his household, and they went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he and his servants deployed against them by night, attacked them, and pursued them as far as Hobah to the north of Damascus. 16 He brought back all the goods and also his relative Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the other people.

(God did not judge Abram as a murderer because he was protecting the life of Lot)

Killing becomes murder when (and only when) it is not properly justified, and the justifications are clear: you can use whatever force necessary to protect your own life from a hostile aggressor, or to save the life of an innocent from such imminent, life-threatening danger. The difference between the legal or illegal use of deadly force is really a matter of motive, intent and justification, and these distinctions come straight from the pages of Scripture.

What is murder in God’s eyes? From the human perspective, murder is the physical act of taking another’s life. However, we also must consider that God defines murder as any thought or feeling of deep-seated hatred or malice against another person. In other words, it is more than just a physical act that constitutes murder to God,

Matthew 5:21-24(HCSB)21 “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, Do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment. 22 But I tell you, everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Fool!’ will be subject to the Sanhedrin. But whoever says, ‘You moron!’ will be subject to hellfire. 23 So if you are offering your gift on the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

1 John 3:15 (ESV)Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. When we harbor hatred in our hearts for another, we have committed the sin of murder in God’s eyes. The disdain towards another person never has to be demonstrated outwardly because God looks upon the heart for the truth (1 Samuel 16:7(ESV)But the Lord said to Samuel, b“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.;

Matthew 15:19(ESV)19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

As Christians and as human beings, we know that unjustified killing is wrong. God’s Word is very clear on this point: “You shall not murder.” And what God says we must obey, or we face the consequences on judgment day.

One final comment: since all people have sinned against God (Rom. 3:23), all people are under the judgment of God.  The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23); so when God executes someone, it is not murder; it is killing because it is a lawful taking of life.  Remember, all people have sinned.  Sin is the breaking of God’s law.  Therefore, God’s execution is lawful.

Proverbs 8:36(ESV)All who hate me love death. The further you get away from the God of the Bible and thinking like the God of the Bible, the more prone you are to move toward murder. The more you read your Bible, the more you have the mind of Christ, the more you will be pro-life.

Here’s the good news: God is the living God. Our sin brings death. God became the man Jesus Christ, and he started as a baby in his mother’s womb, grew up to hang on a cross and to be murdered. And among his final words were, “Father, forgive them.” Jesus died so that murderers could be forgiven and changed. And he rose, conquering death, that God’s final word was not murder but resurrection.

The hope is in the resurrection. We murdered God, and he conquered sin and death, and he brings forgiveness and life.

Do Not Misuse the Name of the Lord

HOW WE SPEAK ABOUT GOD IS HOW WE WORSHIP GOD

So, this leads to the question, “How should we speak about God?” So, Exodus 20:7, Ten Commandments. First one, there’s one God. Second one, we worship him alone. Third commandment, how we speak about God is how we worship God.

So, here’s what he says: “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God”—pay attention to that word, “misuse”—“because the Lord will not leave anyone unpunished who misuses His name.

FOUR PRACTICAL WAYS WE TAKE THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN

1. FALSE PROMISES

Number one, through false promises. Jesus says this in Matthew 5:33–35(ESV)33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.—so we’re going to look at the Lord Jesus, the teacher, the rabbi, and him explaining to us the third commandment.

2. FALSE PROPHECIES

Number two, false prophecies, Jeremiah 14:14(ESV)14 And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.—second way that we violate the third commandment—“And the Lord said to me”—so God’s going to speak here—“The prophets are prophesying lies”—and here’s the big problem—“in my name.” So, they’re invoking the name of the Lord.

3. FALSE PRETENSES

The third way is false pretenses. Jesus says it this way, Matthew 7:21–23(ESV): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord.’” So, hear this. OK, we’re still working off the third commandment, “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” Here, they are invoking the name of the Lord, saying, “Lord, Lord.” They’re invoking the name of the Lord. “Will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day”—the Day of Judgment, the most important day, the last day, the final day—“many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord.’” They’re invoking the name of the Lord. “Did we not prophesy in your name? “We went out and said, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ and ‘The Bible says,’ and ‘God declares.’ And cast out demons.” We had a little bit of supernatural power. We did some pretty amazing things. “In your name”—we invoked your name. “And do many mighty works in your name.”

4. FALSE PLATITUDES

Fourth way we take the Lord’s name in vain, false platitudes. Leviticus 19:12(ESV), “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” So, get the echoes and intonations of the third commandment. “I am the Lord. Watch what you say. Don’t make oaths unless you intend to obey them.”

Sugar Coated Gospel

In New Testament times, the apostle Paul wrote to his young protégé, Timothy, warning him to do the things that will avoid the trend we are now seeing in the modern day church:

2 Timothy 4:1-5(HCSB)Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new. They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The original Greek word translated myths here means “fiction” or “nonsense.” Paul issued the same type of warning to a group of believers in Corinth. False doctrine was slipping into this first-century church, threatening to weaken its spiritual foundation. Can you hear the cry of the apostle as he cautions the new believers against this subtle satanic spirit?

2 Corinthians 11:2-4(HCSB)For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband—to present a pure virgin to Christ. But I fear that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your minds may be seduced from a complete and pure devotion to Christ. For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you had not received, or a different gospel, which you had not accepted, you put up with it splendidly!

The deception Paul warned about is rampant today in America and all over the world, and I am concerned for the family of God. People who need desperately to hear about the shed blood of Jesus and how God loves them and has a plan for their lives must first wade through piles of garbage and mucky polluted rivers before hearing just a morsel of truth. We are reminded of the prophet Amos when he bellowed out these words:Amos 8:12(HCSB)People will stagger from sea to sea and roam from north to east, seeking the word of the Lord,but they will not find it.

Lovers of the Truth

We’ve all heard the saying that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. That may be true. But today, in the spiritual sense, there is no medicine coming behind the ear candy. The doctors of the Word, the preachers, are afraid to prescribe the medicine that was made available from heaven’s pharmacy 2,000 years ago. They see the disease but are afraid to properly treat it for fear of offending. They have become tolerant.

From God’s perspective, the diagnosis and treatment have always been clear: Sin is the disease. The blood of Christ is the cure. Repentance is God’s method for putting the two together.

That’s not a sweet message. For Jesus, it was a bitter cup. It wasn’t sweet when the crown of thorns was pressed upon His head and blood spilled into His eyes. It wasn’t sweet when they took a whip of leather holding pieces of glass and stone and shredded His back like a farmer would plow a field. It wasn’t sweet when they blindfolded Him, slapped His face and mocked His deity.

No, it wasn’t sweet when they placed a beam on His raw, exposed shoulders and forced Him to carry His own cross. It wasn’t sweet when He fell under the load.

It wasn’t sweet when they laid His body on the beams and pierced His hands and feet. It wasn’t sweet when the cross dropped in the hole and ripped even further the flesh that had just been pierced. It wasn’t sweet when He lifted His voice and said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” It wasn’t sweet when He pierced the heavens with these words: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

I’m speaking of the gospel story—the penetrating truth of what Jesus Christ had to endure so that we could be adopted into His family. Now, 2,000 years after His brutal death, we find pastors glossing over and sugarcoating this message in order to avoid offending society’s delicate palates with the bitter truth. They have become tolerant politicians.

Jesus was never motivated by how His message would be received. In fact, He reduced His congregation to just a faithful few after preaching a full-course meal on sacrifice. His command of “Eat My flesh and drink My blood” transformed His cheerleaders into cowards. They walked away.

He didn’t chase after them. He didn’t change His message to cheer them up. When they sought sweet words, He didn’t give them tasty, sugary morsels. They needed truth and thats what He gave them.

The Bible is a gritty book. Very raw. Very real. It was written about and to deal with people just like us, people just as needy and screwed up as we are, encountering a God who would rather die than spend eternity without them.

Yet despite that, it seems like Christians are uncomfortable with how explicit the Bible really is. They feel the need to censor it and God.

For example, look in any modern translation of Isaiah 64:6(NLT), and you’ll find that, to a holy God, even our most righteous acts are like “filthy rags.” The original language doesn’t say “filthy rags”; it says “menstrual rags.” But that sounds a little too crass, so let’s just call them filthy instead.

And let’s not talk so much about Jesus being naked on the cross, and let’s pretend Paul said that he considered his good deeds “a pile of garbage” in Philippians 3:8(NLT)Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  rather than a pile of crap(Skubala), as the Greek would more accurately be translated.

And let’s definitely not mention the six times in the Old Testament that the Jewish writers referred to Gentile men as those who “pisseth against the wall.”

1 Samuel 25:22(KJV)So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.(At least the King James Version got that one right.)

The point?

God’s message was not meant to be run through some arbitrary, politically correct,holier-than-thou politeness filter. He intended the Bible to speak to people where they’re at, caught up in the stark reality of life in a broken world.

Dozens of Psalms are complaints and heart-wrenching cries of despair to God, not holy-sounding, reverently worded sermons. Take Psalm 77:1-3(NLT)“I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help”

And rather than shy away from difficult and painful topics, the Old Testament includes vivid descriptions of murder, cannibalism, witchcraft, dismemberment, torture, rape, idolatry, erotic sex and animal sacrifice. According to Paul, those stories were written as examples and warnings for us 1 Corinthians 10:11(HCSB)11 Now these things happened to them as examples, and they were written as a warning to us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.. So obviously they were meant to be retold without editing out all the things we don’t consider nice or agreeable.

What about Ezekiel 16(which says Whore in almost every verse), God compared Israel’s rebellion using bold, provocative and sexual language that would make our grandmothers blush.

I believe that Scripture includes such graphic material to show how far we, as a race, have fallen and how far God was willing to come to rescue us from ourselves.

God is much more interested in honesty than pietism(sanctimonious, hypocritical, insincere, self-righteous, holier-than-thou,churchy;goody-goody)

And that’s what he gives us throughout Scripture, telling the stories of people who struggled with the same issues, questions and temptations we face today.

Peter struggled with doubt, and we hear all about it.

Elijah dealt with depression; Naomi raged with bitterness against God; Hannah struggled for years under the burden of her unanswered prayers.

David had an affair and then arranged to have his lover’s husband killed. Noah was a drunk, Abraham a liar, Moses a murderer. Job came to a place where he found it necessary to make a covenant with his eyes not to lust after young girls Job 31:1(HCSB)I have made a covenant with my eyes.How then could I look at a young woman?

It’s easy to make “Bible heroes” (as we Protestants might say) or “saints” (as Catholics might refer to them) out to be bigger than life, immune from the temptations that everyone faces.

I find it encouraging that Jesus never came across as pietistic. In fact, he was never accused of being too religious; instead he was with sinners so much that he was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton

Matthew 11:19(HCSB)The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds..

Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of God is like a church service that goes on and on forever and never ends.” He said the kingdom was like a homecoming celebration, a wedding, a party, a feast to which all are invited. But you must take off your garments and put on the wedding outfits.

This idea was too radical for the religious leaders of his day. They were more concerned about etiquette, manners, traditions and religious rituals than about learning from and hanging out with Jesus. And that’s why they missed out.

That’s why we miss out.

Mark 7:1-7(HCSB)The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Him. They observed that some of His disciples were eating their bread with unclean—that is, unwashed—hands. (For the Pharisees, in fact all the Jews, will not eat unless they wash their hands ritually, keeping the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, jugs, copper utensils, and dining couches.) Then the Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why don’t Your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ritually unclean hands?”

He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.7 They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.

They had God in the flesh but could not see Him through their religious eyes, because He didn’t come looking and acting like THEY though He should.

No Repentance Required

If we want to be relevant, if we want to be effective, we must preach the cross, the blood, repentance and sacrifice. We must preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

What ever happened to these words of Paul that echo through the corridors of time? 1 Corinthians 9:16(HCSB)For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason to boast, because an obligation is placed on me. And woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!. And how about, (1 Corinthians 2:2(HCSB) For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

When Paul spoke of lusts, he was referring to anything people set their hearts on outside of Christ. Such people seek teaching that will gratify their carnal desires. They want leaders to deal gently with their evil ways. They want tolerance. They cry, “It’s not really sin. All I did was make a mistake. I just slipped up a little bit. Don’t tell me to repent. Don’t make me come to an altar. Just gimme some sugar, Pastor. Gimme some sugar.” We are called to be the Salt of the earth not the sugar of the earth.

Matthew 5:13(HCSB)13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

Today’s junk-filled jargon, all in the name of Jesus, reminds us of the trouble in Isaiah’s day when the people said, Isaiah 30:9-11(HCSB)They are a rebellious people,deceptive children,children who do not want to obey the Lord’s instruction.10 They say to the seers, “Do not see,”and to the prophets,“Do not prophesy the truth to us.Tell us flattering things.Prophesy illusions.11 

Get out of the way!Leave the pathway.Rid us of the Holy One of Israel.

Paul said, 2 Timothy 4:3(HCSB) For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.

The people are going after these teachers and bringing them together. They’re gathering all the prophets, the teachers and the lukewarm pastors together. They’re reading the same materials and agreeing with one another. Why? Because they want a message that’s not offensive.

What is happening? We’re allowing the people to decide what to eat for their spiritual dinner. Rather than toiling to prepare some fresh bread from heaven and offering them a clean, cool cup of water from God’s fountain, we are letting their desires determine the meals we serve. What parent would allow their children to decide the evening’s menu? Their plates would be full of cookies, cake and candy!

I believe the devil’s favorite time of the week here in America is Sunday morning. I don’t think he minds seeing people go to church. In fact, I think he wants to get as many people to church as possible because he knows they’ll hear a sugar-coated, lukewarm, “relevant” message.

They’ll go to a 50-minute service in which the sermon is barely 20 minutes long. They have a “religious itch,” and the pastor will scratch it by saying, “You’re fine. Everything’s wonderful. Everything’s OK.” Then they’ll walk out feeling good about themselves. All the while, they’re living in sin and thinking nothing of it.

The people are never confronted—never challenged with a heart-to-heart, riveting message spoken in love that can change their lives. Rather, they receive some hollow message on how to cope, when 90 percent of their problems come from their sinful lifestyles.

2 Corinthians 2:17(HCSB)17 For we are not like the many who market God’s message for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.

This verse contains a figure of speech known as a Simile.  Figures of speech are the Holy Spirit’s markings of what is most important in His Word.  This verse says more than most believers realize.  What does it mean to ‘water down’ the Word of God?  In place of ‘water down’, I decided to use the term ‘sugar-coat’.  The intended purpose of both is the same.

The verse tells us clearly that many, not a few, water down the Word of God – they corrupt it.  They add a word, delete a word – whatever they can do to attempt to support their religious beliefs and doctrines.  This is a serious problem because it amounts to people who are guessing at the meaning of God’s Word which God calls “private interpretation”.  If studied enough, a faithful believer will see that the Word of God interprets itself.  God strictly forbids guesswork, but don’t take my word for it.

2 Peter 1:20(HCSB) First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation,

The two words One’s Own deserves some study.  A closer look reveals that this word in its Greek form is the word ‘idios’  and it means ONE’S OWN.  The Scriptures are not open to one’s own interpretation.  We get our English word ‘idiot’ from this Greek word idios.

I would like to use some very simple, clear, and possibly unexpected examples of what it means to water down God’s Word.  By watering down the Word, the adversary, the god of this present world, the devil, often makes an attempt to make himself appear less evil than he is in reality.  My first example is so simple, it may appear harmless and, to some, even a bit humorous.  But that is just what Satan wants you to think.  Then he has you where he wants you and can subtly control your thinking, and in turn, your actions.  Then he will do only what he can do and that is to steal, kill, or destroy.  So let’s get it right because the rightly divided Word of God is the only thing that defeats the enemy and isn’t that what you want – to stop being defeated and to start being more than a conqueror like the Word of God says you should be?  So don’t let the simplicity of any example make you believe the opposite of it’s true purpose.  If you do, you will open your mind to the enemy’s destructive tricks and he is a master at trickery and deception.

Satan waters down and sugar coats the Word of God and we drink and eat it every day – with implications that can be deadly.

How do you not water down the Word of God? The answer to this question is very simple as is everything with the true God.  You must be familiar with it which means you must study it diligently.

2 Timothy 2:15 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. 

It takes study, time and practice to correctly teach the Word of God.

1 John 2: 17(HCSB)17 And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.

Many Christians think that all they need to do is to read the Word of God.  But it must be PRACTICED.  You must work at it and actually it is very exciting.  Think of it as a treasure hunt.  The deeper you dig, the greater the treasure.  The more you renew your mind, the greater power you have in your spiritual walk.

Romans 12:1-2(HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

You must renew your mind to walk with the power of God

There is one main Scripture that stresses a major principle regarding evil and its origin.  And time and time again, you will hear people misinterpret this principle by omitting only one word.  And this is just what the enemy wants you to do – omit, add or change a word of what’s written in the Bible.  Then you no longer have the Word of God, but you have what is referred to as one’s own (IDIOT) interpretation – guesswork.

Although we went over this verse before, it is a fact that we learn by repetition, so let’s read it again.

2 Peter 1:20(HCSB)20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from (IDIOS)one’s own interpretation,

People always talk about money being the root of all evil.  This is not a correct statement according to the Word of God and its accuracy.  This is how the enemy sugar-coats the Word.  Actually, there is nothing wrong with money unless a certain emotion is attached to this subject.  That emotion is love.  Let us go to the Word of God and see what is says about the subject of money.

1 Timothy 6:10(HCSB)For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

It IS NOT money that is the root of all evil, but the LOVE OF MONEY that is the root of all evil.  That’s a big difference from the first erroneous statement.  Satan sugar-coats the Word and makes everyone feel that if they have money, they are subject to evil in some form.  But that is not true.

This is how major misinterpretations occur and then when practiced long enough, they can become doctrine.

So remember, if you are too busy to study God’s Word, it’s not that you are too busy, it is because it is not a priority to you. You need to make it priority. Until something becomes a priority we usually don’t make time for it.  God will reward you greatly for the efforts when you dig for His treasures.  Then you will not corrupt the Word of God and you will eventually see that the Word of God interprets itself – in the verse, in the context or where it was used before.  People sugar-coat fattening foods that have no nutritional value.  Let God strengthen you and keep you strong spiritually with the rightly divided Word of God which will bring you the more than abundant life.

John 10:10(HCSB)10 A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I (Jesus)have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.

The best way to stop sugarcoating the Bible is to actually read it for yourself and discover what you haven’t seen before.

I don’t believe we’ll ever recognize our need for the light until we’ve seen the depth of the darkness. So God wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with us about life, temptation,forgiveness and grace.

Only when the Bible seems relevant to us (which it is), only when the characters seem real to us (which they were), only then will the message of redemption become personal for us (which it was always meant to be).

We don’t need to edit God. We need to let him be the author of our new lives.

When we are born into this world today, we still share this original sin.  That is why it is so important to be born again of God’s Spirit.  We are born as body and soul people.  When we become born again, we become body, soul and spirit.  To acquire eternal life we must confess Jesus Christ as Lord in our life and believe that God raised him from the dead.

Romans 10:9-10(HCSB)If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.