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Posts tagged ‘God’s Word’

How Will I Ever Overcome My Failures?

SOURCE:  Taken from the work of  J. G. Kruis 

Overcoming Sin

     1.  The truth sets us free.

John 8:32. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

  1. By nature we are all slaves to sin, but Jesus sets us free.
    John 8:34–36. Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
  2. A believer can overcome sin because he is a new creature.
    2 Cor. 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
  3. God has given us all we need for life and godliness.

2 Peter 1:3. As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.

  1. God requires you to work out your salvation in every area of life.
    Phil. 2:12. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
  2. God enables you to do so; you need not go it on your own.
    Phil. 2:13. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
  3. God is able to make all grace abound to you, to enable you to overcome any specific sin.
    2 Cor. 9:8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
  4. We are being transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
    2 Cor. 3:18. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
  5. You must keep working at breaking sinful habits and developing new and godly ways.
    Eph. 4:22–24. That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
    Col. 3:9–10. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
  6. Like a runner in a race, keep pressing on until you have gained the victory.
    Phil. 3:12–14.
  7. Don’t keep dwelling on past failures; nor should you get discouraged and give up after you have failed. Hang in there!
    Phil. 3:13–14. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  8. Get rid of everything which might hinder you. Persevere!
    Heb. 12:1. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
  9. One who is saved by grace must no longer serve sin. Keep working at overcoming it, using your body to serve only the Lord.
    Rom. 6:11–22. (Romans 6 contains much good instruction concerning how a Christian must and can overcome sin through the grace and power of God.)
  10. Don’t be mastered by any sin.
    1 Cor. 6:12. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
  11. Christ, dwelling in us, enables us to overcome sin.
    Gal. 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
  12. Drunkards, homosexuals, idolaters, and others caught up in wickedness can overcome sin by God’s power and grace.
    1 Cor. 6:11. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
  13. Paul, Titus, and others were set free from the power of sin. God gave them victory through the Holy Spirit.
    Titus 3:3–7.
    Titus 3:5–6. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
  14. Use the infallible Word of God.
    2 Tim. 3:16–17. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
  15. A true Christian will not live in sin.
    1 John 3:6. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
    1 John 3:9. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
  16. Jude mentions three things that are necessary to remain faithful to God.
    Jude 20–21. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

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Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

 

Evil, Suffering, Death

SOURCE:  Billy Graham

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION TO THESE THREE HUMAN PROBLEMS?

In the Psalms, David speaks to three problems that are still with us. They are moral and spiritual problems, and only moral and spiritual answers can solve those problems.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, NIV.

The technological revolutions of today stagger our imaginations. We try to peer into the future, and if we could actually see what the world will be like 10 or 20 years from now, I’m sure that we would be overwhelmed.

This is not the first time, however, that the human race has undergone a technological revolution.

Three thousand years ago when a young man by the name of David became king of Israel, Israel was divided and backward, and was oppressed by its neighbors. Israel was little more than a cluster of primitive tribes living in tents, and people were barely scratching a living from the land.

But 40 years later when King David died, all that had changed. In only one generation Israel had become one of the strongest, most prosperous nations in the Near East. In fact, in those few decades, Israel experienced one of the greatest periods of social and economic progress in its history.

What happened?

Certainly David was a man with exceptional leadership ability, and he had the favor of God.

But there was another reason: King David introduced into Israel a new technology.

About two centuries earlier the Hittites had discovered the secret of smelting and processing iron. Slowly the skill spread, but for many decades Israel’s enemies deliberately kept the knowledge away from Israel.

But David changed all that, and he introduced the Iron Age to Israel. Now, instead of using crude tools made of sticks and stones, Israel had plows, sickles, hoes, axes and other implements made of iron. And in the course of that one generation, Israel was completely changed.

The introduction of iron, in some ways, had an impact on David’s day much as the microchip is having today.

King David reflected on what was happening. David not only was a great ruler, he also was a great poet and a philosopher and a musician.

A technological revolution had changed the lives of his people. But as David looked at life, he realized that there were several problems that technology had not solved.

In the Psalms, David speaks to a number of these problems. And these problems are still with us, for they are moral and spiritual problems, and only moral and spiritual answers can solve those problems.

I want to address three of these problems.

HUMAN EVIL

The first problem that King David knew he could not solve is the problem of human evil. Something is wrong. We can’t get along with other people, even in our own families. We find ourselves in the paralyzing grip of self-destructive habits that we can’t break. Racism, injustice and violence sweep our world, bringing a tragic harvest of heartache and death. Even the most sophisticated among us seems powerless to break the cycle.

The Bible says that the problem is within us—within our hearts and our souls.(1) We are separated from God, and we need to have our souls restored—something that only God can do.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”(2)

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell was not a religious man, but on one point he agreed with Jesus when he said, “It is in our hearts that the evil lies, and it is from our hearts that it must be plucked out.”(3)

Albert Einstein once pessimistically declared, “It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.”(4)

Many people have puzzled over this. People take beneficial technological advances and twist them into something corrupting. Brilliant people devise computer viruses that bring down entire information systems. But the problem is not the technology; the problem is the person using the technology.

King David himself knew the depths of evil in his own soul. He couldn’t free himself from personal sins, which included adultery and murder.(5) Yet King David, seeking God’s forgiveness, said, “You restore my soul.”(6)

The Bible teaches that we do not simply have bodies and minds, we also have souls. Our souls are that part of us that yearns for meaning in life and that seeks something beyond this life. Our souls are that part of us that yearns for God. Even people who have no religious beliefs wonder at times if there is something more.

Thomas Edison said, “When you see everything that happens in the world of science and in the working of the universe, you cannot deny that there is a ‘Captain on the bridge.'”(7)

(2.) HUMAN SUFFERING

The second problem that King David realized he could not solve is the problem of human suffering. The Bible says, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”(8)

Yes, to be sure, science has done much to push back certain types of human suffering, but think of the suffering that we still face in the world today: Inner-city children trapped in cycles of despair. Children of divorce described increasingly by researchers as carrying deep and lasting wounds. Orphans and desperate children, around the world, torn apart by war.

And among those of us who are the most protected against poverty and violence, families self-destruct, friends betray us, psychological pressures bear down on us.

Why do we suffer? That is an age-old question that none of us can fully answer.

King David too suffered heartbreak. His own deceit caused the death of his infant son. His children were involved with rape, revenge and murder. His son Absalom led a revolt against him.

Yet David, again and again, in the most agonizing circumstances, could turn to God and say, “The Lord is my shepherd.”(9)

(3.) DEATH

The third problem that King David knew he could not solve is the problem of death.(10) Some people find it difficult even to comprehend death, and most people live as if they were never going to die. But death is inevitable.

The writer of Ecclesiastes declared, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die.”(11)

Several years ago a university student asked me what was the greatest surprise of my life, and I replied, “Its brevity.”

This, then, is humanity’s threefold dilemma: evil, suffering and death. Technology cannot solve these problems. They ultimately are spiritual problems, and they demand spiritual solutions.

And today in our world we need a moral dimension more than ever. Without it, the 21st century could become the bloodiest century in the history of the human race. It could be the last century. But it does not need to be this way.

Wernher von Braun said, “It has frequently been stated that scientific enlightenment and religious belief are incompatible. [But] technology and ethics are sisters.”(12)

Blaise Pascal has been called one of the architects of modern civilization. He was a brilliant scientist at the frontiers of mathematics, even when he was a teenager. He is viewed by many as the founder of the probability theory and as the creator of the first digital calculator.

Pascal explored in depth our dilemmas of human evil, human suffering and death. People can achieve extraordinary heights in science, the arts and human enterprise. Yet people also are full of anger, hypocrisy and self-hatred. Pascal saw this as a remarkable mixture of genius and self-delusion.

On November 23, 1654, Pascal had a profound religious experience. He wrote these words: “May I never be separated from Him. … Total and sweet renunciation. Total submission to Jesus Christ. Eternally in joy.”(13)

Pascal came to believe that only the love and the grace of God could bring us back into harmony with God. Pascal experienced it in a way that went beyond scientific observation and reason. It was he who wrote the words that are now well-known: “The heart has its reasons, of which reason knows nothing.”(14)

For Pascal, scientific knowledge paled beside knowledge of God. When Pascal died at age 39, he was ready to face God.

King David lived to be 70 years old; yet he too had to face death: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”(15) This was David’s answer to the three dilemmas of human evil, human suffering and death.

It can be your answer as well as you seek the living God and allow Him to fill your life and give you hope for the future.

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(1) Jeremiah 17:9. (2) Matthew 15:19, NIV. (3) Quoted in “The Rest of Success: What the World Didn’t Tell You About Having It All,” by Denis Haack, ©1989 Denis Haack, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. (4) From “Has Man a Future?” by Bertrand Russell, ©1961 the Estate of Bertrand Russell, Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England. (5) 2 Samuel 11:27. (6) Cf. Psalm 23:3. (7) From “Uncommon Friends: Life With Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh,” by James D. Newton, ©1987 James D. Newton, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers, New York, New York. (8) Job 5:7, NIV. (9) Psalm 23:1, NIV. (10) Psalm 55:4-5. (11) Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, NIV. (12) From Commencement Address, June 3, 1958, St. Louis University, Von Braun Papers, Box 46. (13) From “Personal Notes,” in “Pensées,” by Blaise Pascal, translated by John Warrington, ©1960 J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, England. (14) From #224, in “Pensées,” by Blaise Pascal, translated by John Warrington, ©1960 J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, England. (15) Psalm 23:4, NIV. Bible verses marked NIV are taken by permission from The Holy Bible, New International Version, copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Letting Go of Lust

Why willpower alone is not enough

Source:  Discipleship Journal

The young man looks at the pile of work on his desk and takes a deep breath. With dread, he thinks about the deadline that looms on Friday. The pressing tyranny of so many things to do day after day has begun to wear on him.

As he heads to the kitchenette for another cup of coffee, a coworker steps out of her cubicle in front of him. He notices her clothes, or more specifically, how they fit her. In an instant, his thoughts race into forbidden territory as his glance sweeps over Marcia’s body.

“Morning, Sam,” Marcia says with a friendly smile.

“Morning, Marcia,” Sam replies according to script, unable to look her in the eyes.

Sam and Marcia discuss the morning’s non-news, the mundane stuff of casual conversations between coworkers. Almost unconsciously he watches her as she turns to leave the kitchenette.

As soon as she disappears around the corner, Sam realizes he’s fallen again.

Despite his pleas to God and his vows to try harder, to do better, still his eyes wander. Like Peter after the cock crowed, Sam is filled with remorse. Back at his desk, he quietly pleads, “Forgive me, Lord.” But he neither feels forgiven nor has much time to think about it as he picks up the next invoice to record in the ledger.

Anatomy of Lust

Many sincere followers of Christ struggle with lust. What, exactly, is lust?

Webster’s defines it as an “unusually intense or unbridled sexual desire.” In Ephesians, Paul says that lust characterizes those without Christ:

They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

—Eph. 4:18–19

Paul also wrote, “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Eph. 2:3).

These passages paint a dark picture of the person trapped in lust.

Though Paul was talking about unbelievers, when believers give in to lust regularly, our souls are similarly darkened. We grow insensitive to sin and increasingly pursue fleshly gratification. Lust promises satisfaction but never delivers. Instead, we’re left with a driving hunger for more.

People who struggle with lust may be tempted to wonder, Is obedience in this area of my life really possible? This has been a pressing question for me. I’ve had seasons of consistent obedience as well as failure. I wish I could say that I have “arrived” when it comes to defeating this demon. But I have not discovered the silver bullet that will permanently vanquish lust from my heart, mind, and eyes.

However, I have begun to see that dealing with lust demands a deeper examination of the core beliefs from which our sinful choices spring. We can make important behavioral changes—such as memorizing Scripture and seeking accountability—but still fail to look carefully at what’s really going on in our hearts. To experience lasting change, we must recognize that sexual sin springs from wrong beliefs about God, about others, and about what will ultimately satisfy our longing.

Unmasking Unbelief

What drives us to choose something that so consistently fails to satisfy, something that heaps debilitating shame upon our lives?

God has created us with a natural desire to experience intimacy. Lust is a debased form of this desire to connect with others. We want other people to understand what’s going on inside us. Lust, however, mistakenly elevates the sexual component of intimacy. It twists and warps our hearts into the tragic belief that sexuality—and fantasy—is the chief means to that end.

Lust also reveals a stunted belief in God’s goodness and His ability to meet our needs.

Throughout the Bible, God has promised to fill, satisfy, and sustain us.

Isaiah 51:12 says, “I, even I, am he who comforts you.”

Zephaniah 3:17 describes God’s passion for us in poetic terms: “He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

David spoke of God’s love for him: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you . . . My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:3, 5).

In Ps. 16:11, David also said, “You will fill me with joy in your presence.”

Finally, Isaiah wrote about how God has designed our relationship with Him to quench our deepest thirsts. “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Is. 12:3).

The New Testament echoes the Old in the ways it describes God’s promise to satisfy us. Jesus said, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn. 4:14). Paul wrote, “And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19, NRSV). Paul repeatedly described believers as heirs to the inexhaustible riches of a Father God who loves us passionately. We are children of the King!

And yet we sometimes choose to live as paupers, rooting around desperately in the trash instead of dining on the rich fare He offers His children at His table. If we capitulate to the siren song of the flesh, distortions and lies creep into our thinking in subtle ways. Enticing but life-sapping alternatives to His goodness always crouch in the shadows of the soul, seeking to seduce our heart’s attention. Whether we realize it or not, we begin to rationalize our sin.

We may think, I’ve sought to serve Him with all my heart for many years, but still He hasn’t brought me a life partner. It doesn’t matter if I indulge this lustful thought a bit. God knows I’m a sexual being. I deserve a bit of comfort.

Instead of recognizing our sin for what it is, we come to see it as a right. We squint at God, viewing Him as a stingy miser who has established unreasonable laws to keep us from what we think will satisfy us. Lust is born the moment we choose to meet our needs our way instead of trusting God to be true to what He’s promised.

Maybe we don’t vocalize those thoughts. But when we choose lust, our actions uncover what we believe. We have essentially said to God, “I really don’t believe You can satisfy my deepest needs, and I’m tired of waiting. I am going to have what I want, on my terms, right now, and I’m not willing to wait for You to fulfill my desires in Your time.” Lust, then, is the wicked child of unbelief.

That’s why willpower alone can never be the ultimate solution to the battles we wage against the lusts of our flesh.

I may vow, “I’m never going to do that again.” But that momentary intention does not get at the root of the problem: my unbelief in God’s goodness.

Instead, I must recognize that one key to resisting lust’s lies is learning to go to the Father and praying in faith, “Lord, You have said that You delight in me, that You love me, that You want to comfort and fill me with Yourself. You have said that You alone are life and that Your love is better than anything we might experience in this life, including sex and my fantasies about it. Father, help me to trust You in this moment of temptation. I believe in Your ability to fill and satisfy me.”

Peter said that if we take God at His word, we will experience freedom from the shackles of sin and we will know Him intimately. “He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Pet. 1:4).

Seeing Better

In Shakespeare’s play King Lear, a once proud and noble king slowly goes insane, slipping into deep paranoia about those close to him. One of Lear’s friends admonishes him, “See better, Lear.” Like the senile Lear, we, too, need to see better. Not only does lust reveal unbelief, but it also demonstrates that I see others only as objects of gratification, not as individuals whom God has lovingly created in His image.

How can we begin to see people as God sees them?

By allowing Scripture to saturate our hearts. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, God’s Word will transform our perspective. As we read and meditate upon it, we see what He values and discover how He wants us to relate to others. He uses His Word to rewire our perspective on reality, giving us new eyes to “see better.”

All of Scripture pours forth God’s love for each individual. A couple of passages, however, stand out regarding the way we see people. One important thing to reflect upon is that every person has been made in God’s image (see Gen. 1:27). David describes God’s craftsmanship in Ps. 139:13–16:

You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful . . . My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.

Every person has tremendous dignity and worth simply by virtue of being created lovingly by God. We can begin to combat lust by asking God to help us remember and believe, deep in our hearts, that each individual is a unique and wondrous creation who bears His image. When I lust after a woman, I do violence to her dignity by failing to see her as a whole person and respect her as an image bearer of our God. Over the last couple of years, this truth has significantly changed the way I see people.

Another passage is one of the most familiar commands in the Bible: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Mt. 7:12). As a man, I’ve rarely been on the receiving end of lustful glances. However, one experience showed me how ugly, how selfish, how disgusting my lust is.

On a weekend trip to Santa Fe with one of my best friends and his wife, we discovered a club that featured a different kind of music every night. We enjoyed a delightful evening of jazz and returned the next night to see what else was on tap.

When we walked in, I noticed that everyone sitting at the bar was male. My friend whispered to me, “This feels weird.” He was right. Several male couples openly expressed their affection for one another on the dance floor. Recognition dawned: It was gay night.

By the time my friend and I turned to leave, three men at the bar were openly sizing us up. No veil of shame or embarrassment cloaked their hungry eyes. I remember how disgusting it felt to be seen as a steak on a platter. Almost immediately, however, a familiar voice said, “Adam, how often do you do the same thing?”

I try to remember that sense of violation. I try to remember because it’s not the way I want to be treated, nor is it the way I want to regard any woman. By God’s help and power, I am learning to see better.

Intimacy and Community

Earlier I commented that lust is a misguided attempt to meet our legitimate needs for intimacy. We may think the key to escaping lust’s tenacious grip is paying more attention to private spiritual disciplines. While this is important, I believe another crucial component is often overlooked. Those who struggle with lust must experience wholesome intimacy within the context of a loving community. We need to be with others who love us deeply, yet not sexually. We need to receive their affirmation, their affection, their love, and their touch.

Genuine community is built upon a willingness to take off our masks in front of others. Though we need to be careful to do this in appropriate settings, such as in a small group or even with one other person, it’s critically important that someone knows who we really are.

Moving toward that kind of honesty is never easy, even if someone else has taken the risk first. But often, we will have to be the one who steps forward, takes the risk, and talks openly about our sin.

Proverbs 28:13 describes the healing process that takes place when we confess our struggles to an accepting community of believing friends: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” I’ve sometimes failed to live up to the standards of purity God commands of us. Each time, I experience a tortuous descent into self-loathing, a crippling burden to bear alone.

Even after I’ve confessed my sin to God, I can only find complete freedom from my shame by confessing the whole truth about my choices to several men I trust. In doing so, I’ve never failed to experience the mercy about which the writer of Proverbs speaks.

The freedom and healing in confession come from knowing that others have glimpsed the dark places in our hearts yet accept and love us anyway. God graciously uses other believers as vessels of His mercy and grace, reminding us through them that forgiveness is real, that it is our birthright as His sons and daughters.

Hope for the Battle

When we find ourselves giving in again to lust, we need to look beyond the behavior itself to what’s going on in our hearts. Lust is a clue that something about the way we’re approaching life is not right.

If you’re wrestling with this sin, consider how you’re seeing God and others. Do you believe God is capable of meeting your needs? Are you carving out time to know Him in increasing intimacy through His Word and prayer? How are you looking at other people? Are you seeing them as image bearers of God or treating them as objects? Are you sharing your heart with others, letting them see your struggle, and receiving the gift of their prayers and willingness to listen? Or are you in hiding?

Paul’s promises about God’s work in my life give me hope for this ongoing battle. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). By His grace, I recognize His tremendous Father-love for me more each day. As I do so, His eyes become mine, and I see other people from His redemptive, life-giving perspective, instead of viewing them through the warped lenses of lust.

10 Lies Men Believe

SOURCE:  Ron Edmondson

I sat with a man recently. He’s lost his job, can’t find another and it’s having an impact on his marriage. I quickly diagnosed his real problem. Not that I’m an expert in diagnosing problems, but I’ve seen this one many times and his language made it clear.

He said things like, “I used to be able to…” and “I don’t think I’ll ever…”. It seemed clear to me, so I took a chance and told him my theory.

He was believing a lie.

If you’re a man, at some point, you’ve probably believed one of these lies:

I will fail if I try

I don’t measure up

I am not as good as he is

I don’t have what it takes

I can’t win

I can do this and no one will know

I can’t be honest about that

I’m the only one who has ever struggled with this

I can’t recover from that

I can’t be the spiritual leader of my home

If you’ve been hit with a setback, if you are licking your wounds from a failure, if you simply can’t find your way right now, you may be allowing the enemy, the world or your own mind to feed you some lies.

One way out of the “funk” may be to insert some truth into your life. (Look up these verses as a start: Philippians 4:13, Joshua 1:9, 1 John 4:4, Psalm 121:1.)

Which of the above lies are you currently believing?

Q & A: My friend is depressed. What can I do?

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Question: My friend has struggled with depression for a few years. She is a wonderful woman of God, but she does not see anything decent in her or of any value. She takes every good thought and turns it completely on its head. One night we will be talking and having a great time, and the next night she will be exhausted on every level and will be at the point of tears and will say nothing. She even tells me that she just wants to die at times.

She says she will not do anything, and she tells me not to worry, but it is hard not to. She seems to expect to crash, and she feels like she will never get out of the ups and downs that she fights against. She is on medication, but she says it only helps her cope with the depression and does not help with the thoughts. She believes it is a combination of both psychological and physiological factors.

She has tried counseling, but she never thought that helped, and she is also reluctant to read books on the topic. She does have good days, but lately they are always followed by a string of very dark days where she just wants to sleep and do nothing. I listen to her, pray with her, read scriptures, talk to her, sit with her, or anything that will help her. She is not mad at God for these feelings, but she sees absolutely no hope in anything when she comes back down from an emotional high.

Many of my pastor friends have recommended your book, Defeating Depression, but as I said before, she’s hard to convince. We’re both college students as well. No one (even pastors) seems to understand the gravity of the situation other than a few close friends and her immediate family. It is really hard to find anyone at all who doesn’t assume that it’s sin, or just feeling down. It goes so much deeper than that.

I’m looking for Biblical advice in anyway and prayer for her. Thank you. I could write a lot more, and I have so many questions, but I do not know where to start. I just want to see that darkness lifted from her.

Answer: Depression, as Ed Welch writes, is a stubborn darkness, and you’re experiencing that with your friend. Women are twice as likely to suffer from major depression as men, and studies say one in five women will experience major depression in her lifetime. Your friend is facing an affliction that is common, but quite debilitating.

You write that she will not “do” anything yet she feels like she will never get out of the ups and downs she “fights against”. Fighting against something oppressive is doing something, even if it doesn’t look like it from the outside. It might take every bit of strength she has at times to get up in the morning, go to classes, talk to people, comb her hair, or sometimes even not to kill herself.

It’s difficult for someone who has never suffered from depression to understand how captured someone feels by it. I commend you for sticking by your friend and being a support to her through reading scripture, prayer, encouraging words, and just your non-judgmental presence and attitude. Sadly, friends often scatter when people are depressed because they don’t know what to do, and it becomes draining to keep trying to help. Make sure you take care of yourself in this process of ministering to her.

Christians sometimes take a rather simplistic approach to understanding depression and say hurtful things like, “depression is sin” or “if only you had more faith you’d feel better.” Scripture shows us plenty of examples of godly people who suffered deep depressions such as David, Jeremiah, Elijah, and the apostle Paul. Other examples from history of those who suffered from depression are Martin Luther and Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Everyone sins and fails to trust God at times, yet depression isn’t always the result. Depression is more complex than these simple answers.

Other people look at depression as purely a biological problem. They say things like they have stinky genetics, bad hormones, or not enough brain chemicals. All that may be true and contributing to your friend’s chronic mood disorder, but even when someone has a physical problem such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or depression, there are certain things they must do if they want to help their condition to be less debilitating.

For example, she must learn to handle stress, deal with interpersonal distress (which can be very depressing), as well as the basics of eating the right foods, physically exercising to strengthen her body and making sure she sleeps enough.

Depression definitely has some physical component, so if someone can’t eat (or isn’t eating right foods), doesn’t sleep enough, or isn’t in the habit of regular exercise, I start encouraging her to work on those things. Studies show that simple changes in the way one takes care of their body can yield big dividends in overall mood and well being.

The scripture also tells us to “Guard our heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). Our heart contains not only our emotions, but also our mind, our desires, and our will. You said that your friend said counseling hasn’t helped her thinking. She must learn to fight against her negative thoughts if she wants to get healthier. For example she tells herself she’s no good, she’s hopeless, and she’ll never get better and can’t be helped.” Those are pretty negative thoughts, and anyone who thinks that way WOULD feel depressed. (My book talks about those things specifically in chapter 5.)

When she is in that state of mind, the question that she must challenge herself with is, are my thoughts true? They feel true, yet the apostle Paul tells us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:5). All of us have thoughts and feelings that are not based on truth (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 1:25). Part of our spiritual growth comes from identifying which thoughts are lies and learning to put them off, as Paul counsels us in Ephesians 4. In addition, we must learn to put on or renew our mind with God’s truth (Romans 12:2).

Those practices take time, energy, and effort. When you feel like you don’t have any of your own, it can be friends like you who help “remind” us of what’s true, good and right (Philippians 4:9).

Teach her to switch mental channels when her thoughts are negative and destructive. The bible teaches us that our thoughts affect our emotions (Psalm 55:2). If we meditate on depressing, hopeless, thoughts, we can’t help but feel those matching feelings. Instead of tackling her feelings directly, help her switch channels much the way you would if you were watching a scary movie and didn’t want to feel scared any more. You’d change channels, not just tell yourself to stop feeling scared.

You can help her stop thinking about what’s wrong, hopeless, or terrible with her or her life and instead focus on what she can thank or praise God for right now, however small.

You said she doesn’t want to read anything, but perhaps she’d be willing to listen to an interview on depression that Ed Welch, author of the book Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, and I did on Dennis Rainey’s Family Life Today radio program. To listen, just go to http://www.leslievernick.com/media.php  and select the Family Life Today links under the heading “Listen to Leslie’s media interviews”.

How can I keep going when overwhelmed by the pressures of daily life?

SOURCE:  Marlene Bagnull/Discipleship Journal

Strength for the Battle

“I DON’T KNOW what’s wrong with me,” I admitted to a close friend. “I’m exhausted all the time, and I’m so irritable with the children. I flip out over the smallest things, then I feel guilty. Instead of praising God for all the good things He’s done for me, I’m almost always depressed. I feel like a failure as a Christian.”

My friend listened. She didn’t judge me as I was judging myself or break in with pat answers. Through the gift of her willingness to listen I discovered the root of the problem.

“I think I’m experiencing burnout,” I said. “I just have too many things to do, too much stress. I know my life is out of balance, but I don’t know what to do about it. I feel trapped. I try to pray. I try to read the Bible, but it only makes me feel worse. I feel as if God is angry with me for not applying the things I know and even teach to others.”

“Condemnation never comes from God,” my friend said. “You’re listening to the wrong voice.”

The tears I’d managed to hold back began to flow after I hung up the phone. “Oh, God,” I sobbed, “please help me to understand what’s happening to me. Please help me to find Your answers.”

My friend’s comment led me to turn to Paul’s letter to the Romans and read, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro. 8:1). The burden of feeling God was angry and disappointed with me began to lift as I remembered the context in which the Apostle Paul had written those words. He, too, didn’t understand why he did some of the things he did, and why he failed to do the good he wanted to do (Ro. 7:15). But Paul wasn’t chained to feelings of guilt and self-accusation. He experienced the “law of the Spirit of life” setting him free from “the law of sin and death” (Ro. 8:2).

Freeing him from exhaustion and discouragement, too? I wondered as I thought of all that Paul had to endure. Beatings, imprisonments and riots, hard work, sleepless nights and hunger—Paul certainly endured many hardships that could have caused him to quit. Wherever he went he encountered hostility. He was thrown out of cities and told never to come back. Even his brothers in Christ did not always support him.

“God,” I prayed, “please show me what held Paul steady, what prevented him from giving up.”

The answers did not come immediately, but in the days that followed I began to see some principles I had never before applied to my problem.

Recognize that you’re being tested.

“We want to prove ourselves genuine ministers of God whatever we have to go through” (2 Cor. 6.4, Phillips ). Paul recognized the fact that he was being tested, and he determined, by an act of his will, to meet that test head-on. Rather than succumbing to self-pity or giving up when circumstances could easily have led to defeat, Paul chose to view trials as opportunities to prove to everyone watching that he was striving to live by the principles he taught.

Paul had encouraged the Galatians to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9). In a lengthy letter to the Corinthians he encouraged them to “stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). In his first letter to the Thessalonians he told them to “be joyful always” (1 Thess. 5:16).

We do get tested on the things we profess to believe, but through the testings we have the opportunity to strengthen our own faith and the faith of others. How? Paul went on to say, “We have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding of the Gospel and by our patience. We have been kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit” (2 Cor. 6:6, Living Bible ).

But I was too tired to know whether or not I still understood the gospel or was filled with the Holy Spirit. My capacity to be patient and kind was exhausted. I knew it would take more than an act of my will to be any of these things.

Rely on God’s power.

The next verse provided a solution: “We have been truthful, with God’s power helping us in all we do” (2 Cor. 6:7, Living Bible ). I again saw how God wasn’t expecting me to do or be any of these things in my own strength. It was essential to honestly face my inadequacies. It is only as I admit my weaknesses that I come, as Paul did, to rely upon God’s power at work within me.

“Is my tendency to become overwhelmed by my ‘thorn in the flesh’?” I asked the Lord, thinking of Paul’s battle and all the times I had prayed for a stronger personality. I felt God speak to me the same words He had spoken to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Those words freed me, dispelling the fears that had been haunting me. I knew I no longer needed to be afraid of reaching the end of my resources because God’s power takes over when my strength is exhausted.

Go Into the battle equipped.

Finally the Lord reminded me that I am in a battle. To go into it without the “full armor of God” (Eph. 6:11) is as foolish as walking onto the front lines dressed for a game of tennis. I need to pick up and use the defensive weapons God provides for my protection. So every morning, for the past ten months, I’ve been “praying the armor on.” It’s become as much a part of my morning routine as getting dressed and brushing my teeth.

The belt of truth. “Lord,” I pray, “help me to gird myself with Your belt of truth” (Eph. 6:14). “Give me discernment that I might immediately recognize the enemy’s lies and half-truths. Help me to refuse to receive or believe them.”

The breastplate of righteousness. Next I mentally pick up the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14). It protects my most vulnerable area—my heart, the home of my feelings and emotions. It is so easy for me to be wounded by others, to allow myself to be influenced by fear of what they might say or think. “Lord,” I pray, “help me today to consistently choose to do what is right in Your eyes. Thank You for protecting me from the judgment and criticism I may receive.”

The shoes of the gospel. Just as I would not walk out of the house in the dead of winter barefooted, I take the time to have my “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).

John MacArthur, in his study notes for The Believer’s Armor, describes a common military practice of the Roman soldiers: “planting sticks in the ground which had been sharpened to a razor-point, and concealing them so that they were almost invisible. This was a very effective tactic because, if the soldier’s foot was pierced, he wouldn’t be able to walk—and if he couldn’t walk, he was totally debilitated.”1

To protect their feet, Roman soldiers wore boots with heavy soles. Pieces of metal protruded from the bottom of the boots, acting like today’s football cleats, to give the soldiers firm footing.

The shoes God provides for me give me a solid foundation upon which to stand. He readies me for His work by instructing and teaching me in the way I should go (Ps. 32:8). When I choose to follow His plan instead of asking Him to bless my plans, I find my feet do not become bruised and weary from going places He never intended for me to go. I also find that when I say “yes” to what He wants me to do rather than to what others tell me I should do, I am filled with peace instead of tension.

The shield of faith. Next I prayerfully pick up the shield of faith to stop the “flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). I ask God to make me mighty in spirit—to help me to walk by faith, not by sight. I also ask Him to help me not to lower my shield by nurturing doubts. A soldier can be fatally wounded if he lowers his shield for only a moment.

The helmet of salvation. This piece of the armor (Eph. 6:17) protects my mind. As I ask God to fit it snugly over my head, I am protected from indulgence in the negative thinking that tears me down. Each morning I thank God that I do not have to be bound by old habits and thinking patterns. I ask Him to continue His work of transforming me by renewing my mind (Ro. 12:2).

The sword of the Spirit. Finally, remembering that God has not provided any armor to protect my back, I ask Him to help me stand and face the enemy in His strength. I know that God does not intend for me to turn and run. Rather, He wants me to take the offensive by picking up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

Just as Jesus defeated Satan by quoting Scripture, I can speak God’s promises and see the enemy flee. When I’m exhausted and the pressure is on, I can claim Phil. 4:19—God will meet all my needs. Or 1 Cor. 1:7–8—I do not lack any spiritual gift; He will keep me strong to the end. There is a promise for every lie Satan would use to try to intimidate me. I may still feel overwhelmed, but when I go into battle praising and thanking God, I am victorious.

There are still days when I feel completely drained—when I fear I have nothing to give. If I fail to recognize I’m being tested, if I do not rely on God’s power, and if I go into the battle unequipped, I suffer and my family suffers. But praise God, it doesn’t have to be that way. I can know the joy Paul wrote about. I can “delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10). Feelings of exhaustion and defeat will flee as I choose to draw closer to the Source of my strength.

 

Note
1. John MacArthur, The Believer’s Armor (Panorama City, CA: Word of Grace Communications, 1982), p. 41.

The Compassion of Truth: Homosexuality in Biblical Perspective

SOURCE:   Albert Mohler

Homosexuality is perhaps the most controversial issue of debate in American culture. Once described as “the love that dares not speak its name,” homosexuality is now discussed and debated throughout American society.

Behind this discussion is an agenda, pushed and promoted by activists, who seek legitimization and social sanction for homosexual acts, relationships, and lifestyles. The push is on for homosexual “marriage,” the removal of all structures and laws considered oppressive to homosexuals, and the recognition of homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, and others as “erotic minorities,” deserving of special legal protection.

The larger culture is now bombarded with messages and images designed to portray homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. Homoerotic images are so common in the mainstream media that many citizens have virtually lost the capacity to be shocked.

Those who oppose homosexuality are depicted as narrow-minded bigots and described as “homophobic.” Anyone who suggests that heterosexual marriage is the only acceptable and legitimate arena of sexual activity is lambasted as out-dated, oppressive, and outrageously out of step with modern culture.

The church has not been an outsider to these debates. As the issue of homosexual legitimization has gained public prominence and moved forward, some churches and denominations have joined the movement–even becoming advocates of homosexuality–while others stand steadfastly opposed to compromise on the issue. In the middle are churches and denominations unable or unwilling to declare a clear conviction on homosexuality. Issues of homosexual ordination and marriage are regularly discussed in the assemblies of several denominations–and many congregations.

This debate is itself nothing less than a revolutionary development. Any fair-minded observer of American culture and the American churches must note the incredible speed with which this issue has been driven into the cultural mainstream. The challenge for the believing church now comes down to this: Do we have a distinctive message in the midst of this moral confusion?

Our answer must be Yes. The Christian church must have a distinctive message to speak to the issue of homosexuality, because faithfulness to Holy Scripture demands that we do so.

The affirmation of biblical authority is thus central to the church’s consideration of this issue–or any issue. The Bible is the Word of God in written form, inerrant and infallible, inspired by the Holy Spirit and “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” [2 Timothy 3:16]. This is the critical watershed: Those churches which reject the authority of Scripture will eventually succumb to cultural pressure and accommodate their understanding of homosexuality to the spirit of the age. Those churches that affirm, confess, and acknowledge the full authority of the Bible have no choice in this matter–we must speak a word of compassionate truth. And that compassionate truth is this: Homosexual acts are expressly and unconditionally forbidden by God through His Word, and such acts are an abomination to the Lord by His own declaration.

Professor Elizabeth Achtemeier of Richmond’s Union Theological Seminary states the case clearly: “The clearest teaching of Scripture is that God intended sexual intercourse to be limited to the marriage relationship of one man and one woman.”(1) That this is so should be apparent to all who look to the Bible for guidance on this issue. This assessment of the biblical record would have been completely uncontroversial throughout the last nineteen centuries of the Christian church. Only in recent years have some biblical scholars come forward to claim that the Bible presents a mixed message–or a very different message–on homosexuality.

The homosexual agenda is pushed by activists who are totally committed to the cause of making homosexuality a sanctioned and recognized form of sexual activity–and the basis for legitimate family relationships. Every obstacle which stands in the way of progress toward this agenda must be removed, and Scripture stands as the most formidable obstacle to that agenda.

We should not be surprised therefore that apologists for the homosexual agenda have arisen even within the world of biblical scholarship. Biblical scholars are themselves a very mixed group, with some defending the authority of Scripture and others bent on deconstructing the biblical text. The battle lines on this issue are immediately apparent. Many who deny the truthfulness, inspiration, and authority of the Bible have come to argue that Scripture sanctions homosexuality–or at least to argue that the biblical passages forbidding homosexual acts are confused, misinterpreted, or irrelevant.

To accomplish this requires feats of exotic biblical interpretation worthy of the most agile circus contortionist. Several decades ago, the late J. Gresham Machen remarked that “The Bible, with a complete abandonment of all scientific historical method, and of all common sense, is made to say the exact opposite of what it means; no Gnostic, no medieval monk with his fourfold sense of Scripture, ever produced more absurd Biblical interpretation than can be heard every Sunday in the pulpits of New York.”(2) Dr. Machen was referring to the misuse and misapplication of Scripture which he saw as a mark of the infusion of a pagan spirit within the church. Even greater absurdity than that observed by Machen is now evident among those determined to make the Bible sanction homosexuality.

Different approaches are taken toward this end. For some, an outright rejection of biblical authority is explicit. With astounding candor, William M. Kent, a member of the committee assigned by United Methodists to study homosexuality declared that “the scriptural texts in the Old and New Testaments condemning homosexual practice are neither inspired by God nor otherwise of enduring Christian value. Considered in the light of the best biblical, theological, scientific, and social knowledge, the biblical condemnation of homosexual practice is better understood as representing time and place bound cultural prejudice.”(3) This approach is the most honest taken among the revisionists. These persons do not deny that the Bible expressly forbids homosexual practices–they acknowledge that the Bible does just that. Their answer is straightforward; we must abandon the Bible in light of modern “knowledge.”

The next step taken by those who follow this approach is to suggest that it is not sufficient for the authority of the Bible to be denied–the Bible must be opposed. Gary David Comstock, Protestant chaplain at Wesleyan University charges: “Not to recognize, critique, and condemn Paul’s equation of godlessness with homosexuality is dangerous. To remain within our respective Christian traditions and not challenge those passages that degrade and destroy us is to contribute to our own oppression.”(4) Further, Comstock argues that “These passages will be brought up and used against us again and again until Christians demand their removal from the biblical canon, or, at the very least, formally discredit their authority to prescribe behavior.”(5)

A second approach taken by the revisionists is to suggest that the human authors of Scripture were merely limited by the scientific immaturity of their age. If they knew what we now know, these revisionists claim, the human authors of Scripture would never have been so closed-minded. Victor Paul Furnish argues: “Not only the terms, but the concepts ‘homosexual’ and ‘homosexuality’ were unknown in Paul’s day. These terms like ‘heterosexual,’ ‘heterosexuality,’ ‘bisexual,’ and ‘bisexuali
ty’ presuppose an understanding of human sexuality that was possible only with the advent of modern psychology and sociological analysis. The ancient writers were operating without the vaguest idea of what we have learned to call ’sexual orientation’.”(6)

Indeed, Paul and the other apostles seem completely ignorant of modern secular understandings of sexual identity and orientation–and this truth is fundamentally irrelevant. Modern notions of sexual orientation must be brought to answer to Scripture. Scripture must not be subjected to defend itself in light of modern notions. Paul will not apologize to Sigmund Freud or the American Psychological Association, and the faithful church must call this approach what it is; a blatant effort to subvert the authority of Scripture and replace biblical authority with the false authority of modern secular ideologies.

A third approach taken by the revisionists is to deny that biblical passages actually refer to homosexuality at all, or to argue that the passages refer to specific and “oppressive” homosexual acts. For instance, some argue that Paul’s references to homosexuality are actually references to pederasty [the sexual abuse of young boys], to homosexual rape, or to “non-committed” homosexual relationships. The same is argued concerning passages such as Genesis 19 and Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Yet, in order to make this case, the revisionists must deny the obvious–and argue the ridiculous.

Likewise, some argue that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but inhospitality. John J. McNeill makes this case, arguing that the church oppressively shifted the understanding of the sin of Sodom from inhospitality to homosexuality.(7) The text, however, cannot be made to play this game. The context indicates that the sin of Sodom is clearly homosexuality–and without this meaning, the passage makes no sense. The language and the structure of the text are clear. Beyond this, Jude, verse 7, self-evidently links the sin of Sodom with sexual perversion and immorality, stating that “Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

This verse is sufficient to indicate the severity of the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 speaks of male homosexuality as an “abomination”–the strongest word used of God’s judgment against an act.

The most extensive argument against homosexuality is not found in the Old Testament, however, but in Romans 1:22-27, a passage which is found within Paul’s lengthy introduction to his Roman letter.

“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason, God gave them over to degrading passions; for the women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

As Romans 1 makes absolutely clear, homosexuality is fundamentally an act of unbelief. As Paul writes, the wrath of God is revealed against all those “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”(8) God the Creator has implanted in all humanity a knowledge of Himself, and all are without excuse. This is the context of Paul’s explicit statements on homosexuality.

Homosexual acts and homosexual desire, states Paul, are a rebellion against God’s sovereign intention in creation and a gross perversion of God’s good and perfect plan for His created order. Paul makes clear that homosexuality–among both males and females–is a dramatic sign of rebellion against God and His intention in creation. Those about whom Paul writes have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator. Thus, men and women have forfeited the natural complementarity of God’s intention for heterosexual marriage and have turned to members of their own sex, burning with an illicit desire which is in itself both degrading and dishonorable.

This is a very strong and clear message. The logical progression in Romans 1 is undeniable. Paul shifts immediately from his description of rebellion against God as Creator to an identification of homosexuality–among both men and women–as the first and most evident sign of a society upon which God has turned His judgment. Essential to understanding this reality in theological perspective is a recognition of homosexuality as an assault upon the integrity of creation and God’s intention in creating human beings in two distinct and complementary genders.

Here the confessing and believing Church runs counter to the cultural tidal wave. Even to raise the issue of gender is to offend those who wish to eradicate any gender distinctions, arguing that these are merely “socially constructed realities” and vestiges of an ancient past.

Scripture will not allow this attempt to deny the structures of creation. Romans 1 must be read in light of Genesis 1 and 2. As Genesis 1:27 makes apparent, God intended from the beginning to create human beings in two genders or sexes–”male and female He created them.” Both man and woman were created in the image of God. They were and are distinct, and yet inseparably linked by God’s design. The genders are different, and the distinction goes far beyond mere physical differences, but the man recognized in the woman “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”(9)

The bond between man and woman is marriage, which is not an historical accident or the result of socialization over time. To the contrary, marriage and the establishment of the heterosexual covenant union is central to God’s intention–before and after the Fall. Immediately following the creation of man and woman come the instructive words: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”(10)

Evangelicals have often failed to present this biblical truth straightforwardly, and thus many of our churches and members are unarmed for the ideological, political, and cultural conflicts which mark the modern landscape. The fundamental axiom upon which evangelical Christians must base any response to homosexuality it this: God alone is sovereign, and He has created the universe and all within by His own design and to His own good pleasure. Furthermore, He has revealed to us His creative intention through Holy Scripture–and that intention was clearly to create and establish two distinct but complementary genders or sexes. The Genesis narratives demonstrate that this distinction of genders is neither accidental nor inconsequential to the divine design. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make for him a helper suitable for him,” determined God.(11) And God created woman.

God’s creative intention is further revealed in the cleaving of man to the woman (”his wife”) and their new identity as “one flesh.”(12) This biblical assertion, which no contorted interpretation can escape, clearly places marriage and sexual relations within God’s creative act and design.

The sexual union of a man and a woman united in covenant marriage
is thus not only allowed, but is commanded as God’s intention and decree. Sexual expression is limited to this heterosexual covenant, which in its clearest biblical expression is one man and one woman united for as long as they both shall live.

Therefore, any sexual expression outside of that heterosexual marriage relationship is illicit, immoral, and outlawed by God’s command and law. That fundamental truth runs counter, not only to the homosexual agenda, but to the rampant sexual immorality of the age. Indeed, the Bible has much more to say about illicit heterosexual activity than about homosexual acts. Adultery, rape, bestiality, pornography, and fornication are expressly forbidden.

As E. Michael Jones argues, most modern ideologies are, at base, efforts to rationalize sexual behavior. In fact, he identifies modernity itself as “rationalized lust.” We should expect the secular world, which is at war with God’s truth, to be eager in its efforts to rationalize lust, and to seek legitimacy and social sanction for its sexual sins. We should be shocked, however, that many within the Church now seek to accomplish the same purpose, and to join in common cause with those openly at war with God’s truth.

Paul’s classic statement in Romans 1 sets the issues squarely before us. Homosexuality is linked directly to idolatry, for it is on the basis of their idolatry that God gave them up to their own lusts [epithymia]. Their hearts were committed to impurity [akatharsia], and they were degrading [atimazo] their own bodies by their illicit lusts.

Their idolatry–exchanging the truth of God for a lie, and worshipping the creature rather than the Creator–led God to give them over to their degrading passions [pathos atimia]. From here, those given over to their degraded passions exchanged the natural use of sexual intercourse for that which God declared to be unnatural [para physin]. At this point Paul explicitly deals with female homosexuality or lesbianism. This is one of the very few references in all ancient literature to female homosexuality, and Paul’s message is clear.

But the women involved in lesbianism were not and are not alone. Men, too, have given up natural intercourse with women and have been consumed with passion [orexis] for other men. The acts they commit, they commit without shame [aschemosyne]. As a result, they have received within their own bodies the penalty of their error.

Beyond this, God has given them up to their own depraved minds, and they do those things which are not proper [kathekonta]. The message could not be more candid and clear, but there are those who seek to deny the obvious. Some have claimed that Paul is here dealing only with those heterosexual persons who commithomosexual acts. The imaginative folly of this approach is undone by Scripture, which allows no understanding that any human beings are born anything other than heterosexual. The modern–and highly political–notion of homosexual “orientation” cannot be squared with the Bible. The only orientation indicated by Scripture is the universal human orientation to sin.(13)

In other letters, Paul indicates that homosexuals–along with those who persist in other sins–will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10 is arsenokoites, a word with a graphic etymology. Some modern revisionists have attempted to suggest that this refers only to homosexual rapists or child abusers. This argument will not stand even the slightest scholarly consideration. The word does not appear in any Greek literature of the period. As New Testament scholar David Wright has demonstrated, the word was taken by Paul directly from Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, and its meaning is homosexuality itself.(14)

The biblical witness is clear: Homosexuality is a grievous sin against God and is a direct rejection of God’s intention and command in creation. All sin is a matter of eternal consequence, and the only hope for any sinner is the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ, who on the cross paid the price for our sin, serving as the substitute for the redeemed.

Our response to persons involved in homosexuality must be marked by genuine compassion. But a central task of genuine compassion is telling the truth, and the Bible reveals a true message we must convey. Those seeking to contort and subvert the Bible’s message are not responding to homosexuals with compassion. To lie is never compassionate–and their lie leads unto death.

Endnotes:

  1. Elizabeth Achtemeier, quoted in “Gays and the Bible,” by Mark O’Keefe, The Virginian Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia (February 14, 1993), p. C-1.
  2. J. Gresham Machen, “The Separateness of the Church,” in God Transcendent, edited by Ned Bernard Stonehouse (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1982 [1949]), p.113.
  3. From the statement by William M. Kent published in Report of the Committee to Study Homosexuality to the General Council on Ministries of the United Methodist Church, August 24, 1991.
  4. Gary David Comstock, Gay Theology Without Apology (Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 1993), p. 43.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Victor Paul Furnish, The Moral Teachings of Paul: Selected Issues (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985), p. 85.
  7. John J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, 3rd edition (Boston: Beacon Press, 1988).
  8. Romans 1:18. All biblical references are taken from the New American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
  9. Genesis 2:23.
  10. Genesis 2:24-25.
  11. Genesis 2:18.
  12. Genesis 2:24.
  13. Romans 3:9-20.
  14. D. F. Wright, “Homosexuals or Prostitutes? The Meaning of Arsenokoitai.”Vigiliae Christianae 38 (1984): 125-53.

Forgiving Your Spouse After Adultery

SOURCE:  Cindy Beall

Four lessons from my journey of regaining trust in my husband.

Editor’s Note: In 2002, Cindy Beall was a happily married wife to Chris, her husband of nine years. Chris had been on staff with a church in Oklahoma City for only six weeks when he made a confession that would change their lives forever: He had been unfaithful with multiple women over the course of two and a half years, and he was pretty sure one of those women was now pregnant with his child. He also admitted an addiction to pornography. 

His complete inability to control his addiction had left Chris utterly broken, humbled, and repentant. Over the course of several weeks and much prayer, Cindy sensed God calling her to stay in her marriage. The following is an excerpt from her book, Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken, which tells the story of how God redeemed their marriage, making it “better than new.”

Every week I receive e-mails from women who ask many questions about getting through infidelity in their marriage.  Of all the questions I am asked, one of the most common is, “How did you learn to trust him again?”

And every time I give the same answer: “I am still learning.”

I would love to be able to come up with the perfect algebraic formula that shows exactly how to restore trust. But that isn’t going to happen—not because I barely squeezed out of algebra with a 71 percent, but because trust and forgiveness don’t exist in the land of numbers. They are born of God’s grace, mercy, and healing.

You don’t have to have endured infidelity in your marriage to lose trust. Trust can be broken in many different ways. I am still on my journey of having my trust restored in my husband, but I have learned a few things that I hope you will find helpful.

1. Trust means taking a risk.

My husband works hard to regain my trust, but I still struggle. I wish I could say otherwise, but I’d be lying.

Isn’t that the way it is with all of us? I’ve come to realize that we are all capable of doing things we never imagined we’d do. So trusting a person is a risk. We must learn to trust people, but we must also realize that people will fail us. It’s part of life. But if we place our utmost trust in our heavenly Father, we will never be let down.

There is a mental battle going on inside me as I strive to trust my husband more every day. I engage in this battle on a regular basis, and it can be exhausting. But the more I do it and believe what God has shown me, the easier it becomes.

I stand on the one thing that is trustworthy and never fails. I stand on the Word of God. Praise Him that His words are sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). There is power in them, and when we claim them, believe in them, stand on them, and trust in them, we will be lifted up. We will find peace.

2. Replace anger with forgiveness.

We’ve all been wounded. I am no stranger to the pain I see in the eyes of so many people. We can try to cover it up and “get over it,” but if we don’t truly forgive, we will be stunted individuals going about our lives and becoming more and more embittered. Forgiveness is essential. It’s also possible.

The Bible doesn’t mince words when it comes to forgiveness. We don’t have to wonder what our heavenly Father thinks about the idea. He’s the author of forgiveness, and we’d do well to follow His commands. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.”

Ouch. That stings a bit, doesn’t it? Especially when you’ve been wounded by someone you’ve loved as unconditionally as possible. It sounds like a cruel joke to expect us to just let it go, doesn’t it?

Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you know that you have a sinful nature. If we don’t recognize that nature, we won’t recognize our need for a Savior. We also need to understand and remember the true meaning of God’s love. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If we truly understand God’s forgiveness, can we really withhold our forgiveness from those who have hurt us?

3. Stop nursing your wounds.

It can become second nature to tend to our wounds with such care that we begin to identify only with the wound and not with a life of healing or restoration. When something reminds us of our pain, we nurse the hurt and then just can’t get past it. It’s almost as if we forget that we, too, need a Savior. We’re so busy saying, “Look at my hurt!” that we forget to give it over to God.

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sure, I haven’t been unfaithful to my husband physically, but I have committed sins, too. And when we sin, we are not just sinning against one person; we are also sinning against our heavenly Father.

I know how hard this is. I am profoundly aware of how badly my flesh wants to throw my husband’s sin back in his face when he gets mad at me for something small. I know how easily I could remind him of his failures and make sure he knows just how picture-perfect my marital resume is. But reacting like that will never bring about forgiveness.

4. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving.

One of the harder parts of forgiveness is that we don’t always feel like forgiving. The problem is that feelings are often misleading and erratic. I learned a long time ago that you rarely feel your way into positive actions, but you can act your way into better feelings. You may not really want to wake up at five for that morning run, but you do it anyway. Afterward, you are so glad you made the extra effort because you feel good and have more energy. There is great satisfaction in making a choice to do something that your flesh was yelling at you not to do! You acted your way into a feeling.

How to know you’re healing

The results of forgiveness look different for everyone. Some relationships will be mended in spite of betrayal, and some will end because of it. The key, though, is to make sure you are healing from this wound. You don’t want to get a knot in your stomach every time you think about this person, especially if he or she is your spouse.

Here’s one way you can know you have healed from a wound caused by someone else: You cease to feel resentment against your offender. My mentor says, “You know you’ve healed from the hurt that someone else’s actions have caused when you can look back on the situation and it’s just a fact.”

We all make mistakes. We all have done things we regret. We all need forgiveness. And we all need to extend that same forgiveness to others—not just today, but every day.

It’s time to forgive.

——————————————————————————————–

Taken from: Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken. Copyright © 2011 by Cindy Beall.  Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR.  Used by permission.

Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker, and mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, share openly about their journey of redemption through Chris’s infidelity and pornography addiction.

What you put in — Your Mind — comes out…

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors

Mind Games

To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. -Charles Stanley

If your mind is filled with the Word of God, then it can’t be filled with impure thoughts. -David Jeremiah

Crazy thoughts… we all have them from time to time.

Consuming thoughts… those are the ones that won’t be denied.

Unrelenting thoughts… that won’t let you sleep.

Private thoughts… that stubbornly fuel emotions of lust, anger, fear, sorrow, and even hopelessness.

Infected thoughts… that are often destructive in relationships with those closest to us, even our relationship with God.

“Anxious thoughts (that) multiply within me…” (Psalm 94:19 NAS)

The scary part? When we start believing them. “For as a man thinks within himself, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 NAS)

The antidote? “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

However, we must not miss vs. 8 which begins with the word “Finally”— a word which could be translated “From this time forward”“Finally, (from this time forward) brothers, (and sisters) whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)

That’s a bunch of “whatevers” to think about.

What you fill your mind with will largely determine what type of thoughts you have. What you put in — comes out…

And there is a challenge; the “evil one”, known as the “father of lies”, constantly and consistently bombards our minds. And his mind games become a battlefield.

Paul said we should take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”(2 Corinthians 10:5 NAS) Knowing it and doing it are two different things.

Speaking of war, when Paul delineates and lists the “full armor of God” used to “stand firm against the schemes of the devil” in Ephesians 6, he only records one offensive weapon — “And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (v. 17 NAS)

The spiritual weapon given to us by the Lord, to battle the formation of these debilitating and controlling thoughts, is God’s word.

Flip back a page to Ephesians 5. Paul says that Christ sanctifies and cleanses the body of Christ “by the washing of water by the word” (v. 26 ESV)

Our thought life can, and will be washed clean by soaking and meditating in His written word.

Spend time reading the Bible. Study it. Memorize it. Saturate your thoughts with it. Immerse your soul in it. Drink deeply of its truth. Let the word of God dwell in you richly.

As you do this, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV)

It will turn your thought life around.

The Stages of Life-Controlling Problems (2)

SOURCE:  Taken from Living Free Ministry

God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world.” 1 Corinthians 7:23 NLT

Life-controlling problems usually progress in four stages: (1) experimentation, (2) social use or practice, (3) daily preoccupation, and (4) practicing just to feel normal.

Daily preoccupation: Without warning, our behavior or substance abuse becomes a problem. We violate our value system and begin to feel the pain of addiction. Life deteriorates. We start to lose control and break our rules. The behavior or substance becomes the center of our lives. We begin to suffer negative consequences from our involvement, but instead of slowing down, we involve ourselves more deeply.

Using or practicing just to feel normal: In the fourth stage, the only times we feel normal are when we are using the substance or engaging in the behavior. We are out of control and the pain is constant.

Consider this … 
God paid a great price for your freedom from sin: Jesus shed his blood and died on the cross for you. Only by receiving him as your savior and making him Lord of your life can you experience that freedom.

You have a choice. You can continue being a slave to a pattern that is destroying your life—or you can choose to serve Jesus. He loves you unconditionally. When you come to him sincerely, he will forgive and he will help you find freedom from your life-controlling problem. He may help you through a loved one or friend. He may help you through your pastor or a counselor. He knows just what you need and is ready to provide.

Are you ready to receive?

Prayer

God, my life is out of control. I do believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me, and help me turn from my sin and trust in Jesus. I cannot do this alone. I need you. In Jesus’ name . . .


These thoughts were drawn from …

Living Free by Jimmy Ray Lee, D. Min. and Dan Strickland, M. Div.

God’s Assurance

He Himself has said . . . . So we may boldly say . . . —Hebrews 13:5-6

SOURCE:  Oswald Chambers

My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me.

God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will remember God’s words of assurance. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. The faith of many people begins to falter when apprehensions enter their thinking, and they forget the meaning of God’s assurance— they forget to take a deep spiritual breath. The only way to remove the fear from our lives is to listen to God’s assurance to us.

What are you fearing?

Whatever it may be, you are not a coward about it— you are determined to face it, yet you still have a feeling of fear. When it seems that there is nothing and no one to help you, say to yourself, “But ’The Lord is my helper’ this very moment, even in my present circumstance.” Are you learning to listen to God before you speak, or are you saying things and then trying to make God’s Word fit what you have said? Take hold of the Father’s assurance, and then say with strong courage, “I will not fear.” It does not matter what evil or wrong may be in our way, because “He Himself has said, ’I will never leave you . . . .’ “

Human frailty is another thing that gets between God’s words of assurance and our own words and thoughts. When we realize how feeble we are in facing difficulties, the difficulties become like giants, we become like grasshoppers, and God seems to be nonexistent. But remember God’s assurance to us— “I will never. . . forsake you.” Have we learned to sing after hearing God’s keynote?

Are we continually filled with enough courage to say, “The Lord is my helper,” or are we yielding to fear?

God’s Word: The Best Prop in Hard Times

SOURCE: Taken from an article by Joseph Stowell

WORD POWER

“I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word.” Psalm 119:107

It was a beautiful day except for the fact that after a sizzling front nine, my golf game had tanked big time. I felt embarrassed in front of the two other guys I was playing with and really disappointed in myself. Why I tortured myself with golf and call it a game I’ll never know! But like a sports masochist, I keep going back for more pain.

As I was stuffing my clubs into the back of my car, trying to put on a good face, I was struck with the fact that I had just spent the afternoon with two guys who have problems that make my lame golf game look like a cakewalk.

Both of them have trouble on the home front, the kind of trouble that hurts the worst. Robert’s wife has been running him through the wringer of an excruciating divorce. It is something that he does not want and has tried for two agonizing years to turn around. She wants nothing to do with him or reconciliation.

My other golf buddy (the one who beat me mercilessly on the back nine) has been living for years with a situation at home that none of us would ever dream of enduring. His wife struggles with severe emotional imbalance and, though at one time was a follower of Christ, now wants nothing to do with Jesus or her husband. She still lives with her husband, so you can imagine what it means to walk into the house after a tough day at work to face a whole new set of challenges at home. He goes to church alone. He sleeps alone.

As I closed the back of my Tahoe, I noticed that my golf buddies were talking to each other in upbeat tones. What caught my attention is that they were talking about passages of Scripture that they had shared with each other the week before.

As they quoted portions of the passages to each other, the power of the content was compelling: “I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure” (Psalm 16:8-9). “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71).

It was clear to see that they were lifting each other up with the power of God’s Word. Their enthusiasm for the support and joy they were experiencing in God and His Word proved that in times of trouble the Word of God is a source of comfort that infuses unusual strength into situations that put Word-less people into the dumpster.

I have to admit that I have never thought of using God’s Word to prop me up when my golf game goes south. But I was reminded afresh that there is unusual power in the Word of God to give us an edge during times of trouble.

So, when life hits the wall—go to the Word. And don’t isolate yourself!

God loves us and gave us His Word to take us all the way through!

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Flip through the book of Psalms until you find a passage that speaks to your heart. Memorize the key lines and meditate on them throughout your day.
  • Pray the passage back to God in personal terms.
  • Keep looking. The Psalms are a therapeutic gold mine!

The Secret To Dealing With Fear and Anxiety

SOURCE:  Dr. Ed Welch/CCEF

“Humble yourselves.” That’s the secret. It has been there all along, but we rarely use it.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Fear and anxiety sufferers like myself have tried on a number of Scripture passages over the years. We might start with Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life . . .” (Matthew 6:26). When we need something easier to memorize we move on to Philippians 4:6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

These passages work very well as counters to low-level anxiety. But, in the face of an anxiety assault—they aren’t enough. At those times, they can sound like mantras that are devoid of power, which is actually a good thing. Anxious and fearful people can easily slip into taking Scripture as a pill. Take one passage twice a day for two weeks and your symptoms will be gone. When the pill doesn’t work we have two choices. We search for another treatment, or we confess that we are using Scripture as a self-help book for symptom relief, in which case it is time to get back to basics. If you choose to get back to biblical basics, Peter’s exhortation to humble ourselves is a great place to start.

I had an anxiety assault recently. I was facing perhaps the worst fear I could imagine, and there was nothing I could do about it. What a mercy that I was confronted with the call to be humbled before the Lord. It resulted in a simple prayer.

“Lord, you are God and King. I am your servant. I know you owe me nothing. For some reason you have given me everything in Jesus. I trust you. And please give me grace to trust you.”

A few minutes later, my prayer moved even closer to Scripture.

“Father, forgive me for always wanting things my way. By your mighty hand you have created all things. And by your mighty hand you have rescued your people. I want to live under your mighty hand. Please have mercy.”

It sounds very simple—and it is—but it changes everything. This is the secret to dealing with fears and anxiety. The words of God, and the comfort of the Spirit, become much more obvious when we are repentant and humble before him. No deals—“if you spare me from this suffering then I will . . .” Just simple trust. We trust him because he is God, not because he is going to immediately remove our anxieties or our fear-provoking situation.

This passage has been a secret because we have typically entered it at verse 7, “cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” But to understand its meaning, you need to start with the preceding verse, “Humble yourselves.”

“Humble yourselves” is the only exhortation in the passage. This is what Peter wants us to hear (and obey). If we jump in at the middle—it makes no sense. We can’t cast our cares on him until we have recognized that he is God and we are his servants who have also been elevated to become his children. A paraphrase could read like this (and I highly recommend putting Scripture into your own words.)

Humble yourself before the Lord. This shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, he is God and King, Lord of all. He is the Creator. You belong to him. The creature is the possession of the Creator. Humble yourself before your King. And here is one way to express this new-found posture of humility: cast your cares on him. Did you catch that? When you come humbly before the King he reveals his unlimited love. Who would have thought? He actually wants you to cast your burden on him. You were never intended to carry those burdens alone. He is the mighty God who never leaves. You can trust him. And this casting is no mere act of your will. It comes as you know that he is God and you are not. Oh, and you can be sure that he will lift you up from your kneeling position and give you more than you ever expected.

A little wordy, in contrast to Peter’s more succinct version, but rambling and embellishment give us more time to meditate on the logic of the passage.

The secret is to
…pause before you head into your favorite passage on fear,
…consider the greatness of God,
…add some of your own confession and repentance as a way to drive the message of humility home, and then
…remember some of those sweet words of God to fearful people.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a neuro-psychology specialty from the University of Utah as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary. If you want to read more on fear, Ed has written two books on the subject: Running Scared andWhen I Am Afraid.

Reparative Therapy, Homosexuality, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

SOURCE:  Article by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr

Each U.S. presidential election cycle brings its own set of unexpected issues, and the 2012 race already offers one topic of controversy that truly sets it apart — a debate over forms of therapy that attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation.

Known as reparative therapy or sexual orientation conversion therapy, these approaches seek to assist individuals in changing their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The cultural and political debate over reparative therapy emerged when a clinic run by Marcus Bachmann, husband of Republican candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, was accused of offering treatment and counseling intended to change sexual orientation.

Virtually all of the secular professions that deal with sexual orientation are stalwartly opposed to reparative therapy, or to any attempt to change one’s pattern of sexual attraction. Indeed, these groups hold to an inflexible ideology that insists that there is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality. These groups include, for example, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers, among many others.

In 2008, a number of these groups released a statement on sexual orientation and youth that began with the stated premise that “both heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality.” Thus, the groups argue that any attempt to change an individual’s sexual orientation is likely to be harmful. The “Just the Facts Coalition” also included groups such as the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. A statement adopted in 2000 by the American Psychiatric Association declares that the APA “opposes any psychiatric treatment, such as reparative or conversion therapy which is based upon the assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation.”
 

This controversy will inevitably demonstrate the basic worldview divide that separates the secular therapeutic community and evangelical Christians. The politicians, the mental health industry, and the media will have their own debate on the matter, but Christians now face the urgent challenge of thinking about these issues in a way that is fully biblical and theological — and thus faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

First, we face the fact that the Bible clearly, repeatedly, consistently, and comprehensively reveals the sinfulness of all homosexual behaviors. This truth is set within the larger context of the Bible’s revelation concerning the Creator’s plan and purpose for human sexuality — a context that is centered in the marital union of a man and a woman as the exclusive arena for human sexual activity. This flies in the face of the contemporary demand for the full normalization of homosexuality. As the joint statement of the “Just the Facts Coalition” declares, “both heterosexuality and homosexuality are normal expressions of human sexuality.”

The normalization of homosexuality simply cannot be accepted by anyone committed to biblical Christianity. The new secular orthodoxy demands that Christians abandon the clear teachings of Scripture, and Christians must understand that the sinfulness of all homosexual behaviors is not only a matter of biblical authority, but also of the Gospel. To deny that sin is sin is to deny our need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians cannot accept any teaching that minimizes sin, for it is the knowledge of our sin that points us to our need for atonement, salvation, and the forgiveness of that sin through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Second, we must recognize that every human being is a sinner and that every sinner’s pattern of sexual attraction falls short of the glory of God. There is no sinner of physical maturity who will be able to say that he or she has never had a sinful thought related to sex or sexuality. Taking the Bible’s teachings about sin and sexuality with full force, we understand that every sinful human being is in need of redemption, and that includes the redemption of our sexual selves.

Actually, the Bible speaks rather directly to the sinfulness of the homosexual orientation — defined as a pattern of sexual attraction to a person of the same sex. In Romans 1:24-27, Paul writes of “the lusts of their hearts to impurity,” of “dishonorable passions,” of women who “exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” and of men who “gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another.” A close look at this passage reveals that Paul identifies the sinful sexual passion as a major concern — not just the behavior.

At this point, the chasm between the biblical and secular worldview looms ever larger. The modern secular consensus is that an individual’s pattern of sexual attraction, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is just a given and is to be considered normal. More than that, the secular view demands that this pattern of sexual orientation be accepted as integral to an individual’s identity. According to the secular consensus, any effort to change an individual’s sexual orientation is essentially wrong and harmful. The contemporary therapeutic worldview is virtually unanimous in this verdict, but nothing could be more directly at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The New Testament reveals that a homosexual sexual orientation, whatever its shape or causation, is essentially wrong, contrary to the Creator’s purpose, and deeply sinful. Everyone, whatever his or her sexual orientation, is a sinner in need of redemption. Every sinner who comes by faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved knows the need for the redemption of our bodies — including our sexual selves. But those whose sexual orientation is homosexual face the fact that they also need a fundamental reordering of their sexual attractions. About this, the Bible is clear. At this point, once again, the essential contradiction between the Christian worldview and the modern secular worldview is clear.

Third, Christians understand that sinners are simultaneously completely responsible for their sin and completely unable to redeem themselves from their sin. Sinners may improve themselves morally, but they cannot mitigate to any degree their need for redemption. Indeed, moralism is a false gospel that suggests that we can please God by moral improvement. As Isaiah warns, the only righteousness of which we are capable amounts to “filthy rags.” [Isaiah 64:6] The law reveals what is good for us and what is sinful, but the law is powerless to save us. [Romans 8:3]

The law of God reveals our sin, and our sin reveals our need for a Savior. Paul’s own testimony about the law, his knowledge of his own sin, and the redemption that was his in Christ is clear when he writes to the Romans: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” [Romans 7:24-25] This is every Christian’s testimony.

Thus, we recognize that, without redemption, there is no eternal hope for the sinner. Even in terms of moral improvement in this earthly life, the non-Christian lacks union with Christ, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the means of grace that alone can conform the believer to the image of Christ. Thus, for the non-Christian, the most that can be hoped for is a responsible determination to cease practicing an immoral behavior. The Bible holds no hope for the sinner’s ability to change his or her heart.

In other words, a biblical Christian will have no fundamental confidence in any secular therapy’s ability to change a sinner’s fundamental disposition and heart, and this includes every aspect of the sinner’s life, including sexuality.

This is where the Gospel-centeredness of the Christian worldview points us to the cross of Christ and to the sinner’s fundamental need for redemption, not mere moral improvement. The Bible offers no hope for any human ability to change our sinful desires. As the modern secular worldview generally acknowledges, the alcoholic who stops drinking remains an alcoholic. The secular world affirms that this is so. The Bible explains why it is so.

Fourth, the Christian cannot accept any argument that denies what the Bible reveals about the sanctification of believers — including the sanctification of our sexuality. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ receives the forgiveness of sins, the gift of eternal life, and the righteousness of Christ imputed by faith. But the redeemed Christian is also united with Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and given means of grace through, for example, the preaching of the Word of God. The Bible reveals that God conforms believers to the image of Christ, doing that work within the human heart that the sinful human himself or herself cannot perform. The Bible reveals that believers are to grow into Christlikeness, knowing that this is a progressive process that will be completed only with our eventual glorification at the end of the age. In this life, we know a process of growing more holy, more sanctified, and more obedient to Christ. In the life to come, we will know perfection as Christ glorifies his Church.

This means that Christians cannot accept any argument that suggests that a fundamental reorientation of the believer’s desires in a way that increasingly pleases God and is increasingly obedient to Christ is impossible. To the contrary, we must argue that this process is exactly what the Christian life is to demonstrate. As Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” [2 Corinthians 5:17]

The Bible is also honest about the struggle to overcome sin and sinful desires. Paul writes about this in Romans 7, but the exhortations of the entire New Testament also make this clear. Christians with same-sex sexual desires must know that these desires are sinful. Thus, faithful Christians who struggle with these desires must know that God both desires and commands that they desire what He wills for them to desire. All Christians struggle with their own pattern of sinful desires, sexual and otherwise. Our responsibility as Christians is to be obedient to Christ, knowing that only He can save us from ourselves.

Christians cannot avoid the debate over reparative therapy, nor can we enter the debate on secular terms. We must bring to this conversation everything we know from God’s Word about our sin and God’s provision for sinners in Christ. We will hold no hope for any sinner’s ability to change his or her own heart, and we will hold little hope for any secular therapy to offer more than marginal improvement in a sinner’s life.

At the same time, we gladly point all sinners to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. [Romans 10:13] We hold full confidence in the power of the Gospel and of the reign of Christ within the life of the believer. We know that something as deeply entrenched as a pattern of sexual attraction is not easily changed, but we know that with Christ all things are possible.

And, even as Christians know that believers among us struggle to bring their sexual desires into obedience to Christ, this is not something true only of those whose desires have been homosexual. It is true of all Christians. We will know that those believers who are struggling to overcome homosexual desires have a special struggle — one that requires the full conviction and support of the body of Christ. We will see the glory of God in the growing obedience of Christ’s redeemed people. And, along with the Apostle Paul and all the redeemed, we will await the glory that is yet to be revealed to us.

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Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.,serves as president of  The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

COMFORT: Biblical passages to meditate on

SOURCE:  Dr. Robert Kellemen

Psalm 34:18

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 46:1-2

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

Psalm 73:26

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

Isaiah 40:10-11

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Isaiah 40:28-31

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

John 14:1

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

John 14:16-18

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7     

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.

Hebrews 4:14-16

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

God’s Positive Answers

For all the negative things we have to say to ourselves, God has a positive answer for it :
 

You say:  “It’s impossible”
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)

You say:  “I’m too tired”
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 1:28-30)

You say: “Nobody really loves me”
God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 13:34)

You say: “I can’t go on”
God says: My grace is sufficient
(II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalm 91:15)

You say: “I can’t figure things out”
God says: I will direct your steps
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

You say: “I can’t do it”
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)

You say: “I’m not able”
God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)

You say:  “It’s not worth it”
God says: It will be worth it. (Roman 8:28)

You say:  “I can’t forgive myself”
God says:  I FORGIVE YOU (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)

You say:  “I can’t manage”
God says: I will supply all your needs
(Philippians 4:19)

You say:  “I’m afraid”
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear
(II Timothy 1:7)

You say: “I’m always worried and frustrated”
God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)

You say: “I don’t have enough faith”
God says: I’ve given everyone a measure of faith
(Romans 12:3)

You say:  “I’m not smart enough”
God says:  I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)

You say:  “I feel all alone”
God says:  I will never leave you or forsake you
(Hebrews 13:5)

SOURCE:  Author Unknown


 


 

Warfare Praying: Various Prayer Perspectives

SOURCE:  Adapted from The Adversary & Overcoming the Adversary by Mark Bubeck

The following are various applications and perspectives of warfare praying.  Allow the Holy Spirit, who helps us know how and for what to pray (Rom. 8:26), to incorporate ways to truthfully express yourself in prayer.  Read the books from which these were taken to become more familiar with additional facets of how we can “pray in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).

Taking An Invincible Stance

Gracious Heavenly Father, I choose to see myself as You see me in the Person of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  I choose to see myself as one invincibly strong and able to do all that is in Your will for me to do.  I reject Satan’s accusations that I am hopelessly weak and defeated.  I accept my present great need as a call to renewed vision of the victory of my Lord.  Help me to focus my attention upon the awesome majesty, power, and sovereign greatness of my heavenly Father, who can do anything but fail.  Help me to see that in my union with Christ I am more than a conqueror.  Let the burden of my trials become an expression of the burden of the Lord.  Let that burden be expressed in tears of concern, times of fasting and prayer.  I choose not to shrink back from the burden You wish me to carry.

I recognize, Lord, that it is chiefly my own sin and failure that has brought me to this severe trial.  I am deeply sorry for my sins.  (MENTION THEM BY NAME.) Cleanse me in my Savior’s blood.  I take back from Satan all ground I have given him by my sins and transgressions. On the authority of the cross I reclaim all of that ground for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Precious Lord Jesus Christ, You have promised never to leave me nor forsake me.  I know that is true, and I boldly say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear.”  I resist the devil and his kingdom, steadfast in the faith.  I command Satan and his demons to leave me and to go where the Lord Jesus Christ sends them.

Heavenly Father, I accept and choose to enjoy everything inscribed upon the scroll of Your will for me.  Thank You that I can do all things through Christ who is my strength.  I will do Your will by accepting my responsibility to be strong.  I will do through Your strength the things I know to be Your will.  (TELL HIM WHAT THEY ARE.)

Thank You, loving heavenly Father, that through my Lord Jesus Christ You have heard my prayer – and You will make me to walk as one so strong in the Lord that even Satan’s most powerful strategies are already defeated.  In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and for Your glory I pray.  Amen.

Prayer Of Victory

Loving Heavenly Father, I praise You that Satan is a defeated foe.  I rejoice that his defeat was accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ in His sinless life, His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into glory.  I look forward to that day when the Lord Jesus Christ rules, while Satan is bound in the bottomless pit.  I know that Satan will ultimately be forever consigned to the lake of fire prepared for him and his angels.  I rejoice that You have given to me, in my union with the Lord Jesus Christ, complete victory over Satan today.

I enter into my victory aggressively and claim my place as more than a conqueror through Him that loved me.  I refuse to admit continuing defeat by Satan in any area of my life.  He cannot and will not rule over me.  I am dead with Christ to his rule.  I affirm that the grace and mercy of God rule in all areas of my life through my union with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Grant to me the grace to affirm Your victory even when experiences of life seem to say otherwise.

I thank You for these battles and all that You are seeking to accomplish in Your wisdom and design for my life.   I accept the battle and rejoice in Your purpose.  I willingly accept and desire to profit from all of Your purpose in letting Satan’s kingdom get at me.  I reject all of Satan’s purpose.  Through the victory of my Lord and Savior, I stand resolute and strong upon the certainty of my victory.  In confidence I look to You, Lord Jesus Christ.  When Your purpose for this trial is fulfilled, I know that it shall fade into the dimness of forgotten battles and a defeated enemy.  Through the precious name of the Lord Jesus Christ, it shall be so.  Amen.

Claiming Our Union

Loving Heavenly Father, I praise Your name.  I’ve come to see that it is Your will that I be invincibly strong in my spiritual warfare.  I praise You, Lord, that You have placed me “in Christ.”  By faith I express my desire to abide in the protection and blessing of the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I pray the omnipotent power of His name over my family and the ministry to which You have called me.  I pray the name of the Lord Jesus Christ against Satan and all that his kingdom would do to hinder God’s plan for my life.

I focus my prayer on my union with Christ in His incarnation.  I joyfully confess that Jesus Christ has come in human flesh to win my victory for me.  I pray all of the triumphs the Lord Jesus achieved in His humanity against all of Satan’s subtle wiles and crafty deceits.  I pray the victories of the incarnation over all areas of my life and ministry.

I praise You for the cross and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, desiring all the benefits of His death to focus upon my life, my family, and my ministry.  I affirm that my death with Christ can defeat the control and rule of sin, of death, and of Satan.  I desire the shed blood of Christ to be against all that Satan is doing to hinder me.

I hunger to learn more deeply what it means to experience the power of His resurrection.  Just as I desire to be dead to the reign of sin, so I long to live in accord with the fact that I am alive unto God through the power of the resurrection.  In the mighty power that raised up the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, enable me to walk in the newness of life available to me.

Heavenly Father, it will always remain a marvel to me that You have seated me with Christ in the heavenly realm, far above all principalities and powers.  Humbly I use the authority of my ascended union with Christ to pull down all of Satan’s plans formed against me personally, all of his plans formed against my family, and all of his plans formed against God’s appointed plan for my life.

Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that in Your glorified position at the Father’s right hand, You are leading Your church and shepherding Your sheep.  I deliberately submit to Your lordship of my life and ministry.  I acknowledge that everything that is good about my life, home, and ministry is because of Your lordship and gracious blessing.

By faith I claim my invincible right to be strong and victorious in Your complete salvation.  I refuse to be discouraged.  I reject all emotions that make me feel defeated.  I choose to live as one who is more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ my Lord.  In the name of my Lord Jesus Christ, I pray with thanksgiving.  Amen.

A Prayer For The Spirit’s Filling

Loving Heavenly Father, I approach You again through the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I desire to obey Your will by being invincibly strong through Your Holy Spirit’s enabling power.  I praise You for Your goodness in providing the Holy Spirit for my benefit and strengthening.  Thank You for that day when the Holy Spirit convicted me of my need of Your salvation.  I praise You that He enabled me to open my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and Your saving grace.  I welcome the Holy Sprit’s indwelling presence.  It is with expectancy that I receive His peace, His comfort, and His illumination of my mind enabling me to understand Your Word.  I greatly rejoice in the security of His sealing work.  I delight that by His baptizing work the Spirit has put me into the Body of Christ and united me inseparably with Him.  I praise Your name that the Holy Spirit has brought me to spiritual life and that He will yet quicken my body at the resurrection day.

As I pray, I am increasingly conscious of my need of the Spirit’s intercessions in me, through me, and for me.  I pray that You will grant me the privilege of praying in the Spirit.  May my thoughts and words be directed of Him.  May He bring my petitions into Your presence with His perfect understanding of Your will.

I acknowledge Your plan and desire to fill me with Your Holy Spirit.  Forgive me for grieving the Holy Spirit by my sinning.  Enable me to appropriate more perfectly the victory You have provided for me to walk above sin and failure.  Grant to me always the awareness of my sins that I might quickly confess them to You.  I do not want to quench the Holy spirit by any reluctance to submit fully to Your will and plan for my life.

Help me to see moment by moment those things You are teaching me about Yourself and Your will for my life.  It is my constant desire to walk in the Spirit.  I ask You to fill me with His power that You might be glorified through the invincible strength You provide me to do Your will.  All of this I ask in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for Your glory.  Amen.

DOCTRINAL PRAYER

Dear Lord and Heavenly Father:

Humbly I approach the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of promise, hope, love, and grace.  I come before You in the merit, the holiness, and the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I appropriate by faith the blessed ministry of the Holy spirit to intercede for me and in me during this time of prayer.  I desire to pray only in the Spirit.

I praise You that I am united with the Lord Jesus Christ in all of His life and work.  By faith I desire to enter into the victory of the incarnation of my Lord today.  I appropriate by faith the victory He achieved for me in living His sinlessly perfect life as a human being.  I claim all of His perfection and holy living.  I invite Him to live His victory in me today.  Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, that You experienced all temptations I experienced and yet never sinned.  Thank You for defeating in Your incarnation all temptations and attacks that Satan and his kingdom were able to address against you. I claim Your victory over Satan as my victory today.

I enter by faith into the mighty work of the crucifixion of my Lord.  Thank You that through the blood of Jesus Christ there is not only cleansing from the penalty and guilt of sin but moment-by-moment cleansing, permitting me to fellowship with You.  Thank You that the work of the cross brings Satan’s work to nothing.  Deliberately and by faith, I bring all of the work of my Lord on Calvary directly against Satan’s workings in my life.  I will accept in my life only what comes by way of the cross of Christ.  I choose to die to the old man.  I count him to be dead with Christ on the cross.  Grant to me the discernment and wisdom to see when the old man attempts to resurrect his activity in my life.

I enter by faith into the full power and authority of my Lord’s resurrection.  I desire to walk in the newness of life that is mine through my Lord’s resurrection.  Lead me ever more into a deep understanding of the power of the resurrection.  I bring the might truth of my Lord’s victory over the grave against all of Satan’s working against Your will and plan for my life.  The enemy is defeated in my life because I am united with the Lord Jesus Christ in the victory of His resurrection.

By faith I appropriate and enter today into my union with the Lord Jesus Christ in His ascension.  I rejoice that my Lord displayed openly His victory over all principalities and powers as He ascended into glory through the very realm of the prince of the power of the air. I rejoice that He is seated in victory far above all principalities and powers and that I am seated there with Him.  Because of my union with my Savior, I affirm my full authority and position of victory over Satan and his entire kingdom of darkness.

By faith I enter into the benefit and blessedness of my union with Christ in His glorification.  It is my joy to choose to obey Him who is my Shepherd.  I ask for you to lead me in Your path today.  As my great High Priest, I appropriate your high priestly work into my life today.  Thank You, Lord Jesus Christ, for interceding for me and being my advocate with the heavenly Father. Thank You for watching over me and leading me, that Satan may gain no advantage over me.  Grant me the wisdom to discern all of the devil’s deceivings and temptations.

By faith I invite the Person of the Holy Spirit to bring the fullness of all of His person and my Lord’s work into all areas of my being.  I ask the Holy Spirit to fill my mind, my will, and my emotions with His control.  I choose for Him to bring all parts of my being into wholeness and submission to the Lordship of Christ.  I give my body in all of its parts and appetites to the Holy Spirit’s control and transformation.  I desire that He enable my spirit to be in fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit throughout this day.  I offer up this prayer to the heavenly Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ with thanksgiving.  Amen.

VICTORY OVER THE FLESH

Heavenly Father, I enter by faith today into death with the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  I appropriate all of the benefit of the crucifixion, which is mine because of my union with Christ.  I count myself dead to my old fleshly nature and all of its workings through my union with Christ at the cross.  I recognize that my old nature always wants to resurrect itself against You and Your will for my life, but I will to let it remain dead in death with my Lord on the cross.  I am thankful that this absolute truth can be my subjective experience.  I recognize that appropriating the death of my flesh is an essential step to victory over these fleshly temptations that buffet me.  Amen.

WALKING IN THE SPIRIT

Blessed Heavenly Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I desire to walk in the Spirit today.  I recognize that only as He lives the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in me will I be able to escape the works of my flesh.  I desire the Holy Spirit to bring all of the work of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ into my life today.  I pray that the Holy Spirit may produce His fruit within my whole being and shed abroad in my heart great love for the heavenly Father, for the Lord Jesus Christ, and for others about me.  Forgive me, dear Holy Spirit, for all times I have grieved or quenched You. Enable me to respond to Your grace and to be sensitive to Your voice.  Grant to me the desire and enablement to be obedient to Your precious Word.  Grant me discernment to avoid being deceived by false spirits.  I desire that the Holy Spirit fill all of my being with His Presence and control me by faith.  I trust my victory over the flesh today completely into the hands of the Holy Spirit as I let Him take control of me.   In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I receive all the fullness of the Holy Spirit into all areas of my being today.  Amen.

CLAIMING VICTORY OVER THE WORLD SYSTEM

Loving Heavenly Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I approach You again in prayer.  I glorify You that all of my victory and ability to walk pleasing before You has been provided by Your grace.  I desire to claim my victory that You have provided over my enemy, the world system.  I recognize its powerful appeal to my fallen fleshly nature.  I see that Satan’s deception and power in the world is strong against me.  I know I cannot overcome the world through my own efforts.  I enter into Your provided Victory.  Thank You that in His humanity, the Lord Jesus Christ overcame the world for me. Thank You that He met all of its temptations for me and defeated them.  Thank You that Jesus Christ died and shed His blood that He might accomplish His full victory over the world and its ruler.  Thank You that the blood of the Savior cleanses me of the times I have failed to overcome the world.  I enter into my Lord’s victory and bring it strong against the appeal of the world to me.

I also open my heart to the full victory of the Holy Spirit over the world.  I trust Him to put desires within my being which are above the world.  I trust Him to cause the world’s appeal to me to be blotted out.  May He keep me from being double-minded.  I don’t want to love the things of God with one part of me and the things of the world with another part of me.  May the Holy Spirit unite my heart to fear Your Name.  May He bring me all together in wholeness to love and serve You with all of my will, my mind, my emotions, my body, and my spirit.  Thanks You for providing all of my victory.  I appropriate it now in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

RENUNCIATION AND AFFIRMATION

As a child of God purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, I here and now renounce and repudiate all the sins of my ancestors.  As one who has been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, I cancel out all demonic working that has been passed on to me from my ancestors.  As one who has been crucified with Jesus Christ and raised to walk in newness of life, I cancel every curse that may have been put upon me.  I announce to Satan and all his forces that Christ became a curse for me when He hung on the cross.  As one who has been crucified and raised with Christ and now sits with Him in heavenly places, I renounce any and every way in which Satan may claim ownership of me.  I declare myself to be eternally and completely signed over and committed to the Lord Jesus Christ.  All this I do in the Name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(Based on Rom 6:4; Gal 2:20; 3:13; Eph 1:7; 2:5-6; Col 1:13)

RECLAIMING WHAT WAS GIVEN UP THROUGH SIN

Blessed Heavenly Father, I ask Your forgiveness for offending You by committing this sin of [NAME THE OFFENSE].  I claim the cleansing that is mine through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I address myself against Satan and all of his kingdom.  I take away from you and all your powers of darkness any ground you are claiming against me when I sinned by [NAME THE OFFENSE].  I claim that ground back in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I cover it with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and give all areas of my life over to the full control of the Holy Spirit.

NOTE:  It is good to keep one’s heart constantly open to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to bring to mind any offense that gave the enemy a foothold against you.  No matter what you are doing or where you are, should the Holy Spirit bring something to mind, you can immediately claim back all ground in prayer of the type just mentioned.

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