Posted in theology

On Every High Hill…

By Elizabeth Prata

‘Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD’.

For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. 24There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. (1 Kings 14:23-24).

Reading through 1 Kings is just killing me. I mourn, cry the sins of Israel & Judah, and then take a look at myself and my own sins and idols and mourn some more. We’re no different than the folks in that book, but when such abominable sins stain from the bottom right up to the top, the kings and rulers, it’s a sure course toward judgment, individually and nationally. And it sure came. Reading the book, remember this really happened. God really judged King Jeroboam and the result surely came to pass.

you also have done more evil than all who were before you, and have gone and made for yourself other gods and molten images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back— 10therefore behold, I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person, both bond and free in Israel, and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam, as one sweeps away dung until it is all gone. 11″Anyone belonging to Jeroboam who dies in the city the dogs will eat. And he who dies in the field the birds of the heavens will eat; for the LORD has spoken it.'” (1 Kings 14:9-11).

I think I exclaimed out loud when I read it. Woe! Any individual failure to follow the commands of God resulted in judgment. Any failure of the nation to follow the commands of God resulted in judgment. Any failure of the Kings God had raised up to follow the commands of God resulted in judgment.

One part of the above verse in the chapters I read this morning really got to me: “on every high hill”. They worshiped their false gods by building altars and pillars and poles on the high places, which they thought brought them closer to heaven.

Do we individually here in America, or as a nation, or think our rulers and judges and governors will escape judgment as they not only turn their backs on God but applaud themselves for doing so? Here in America we have abominations ON EVERY HIGH HILL. Planned Parenthood facilities (baby killing stations), false religions welcomed and spoken of highly, homosexuality flags waving from high places and more and worse.

My friend Pastor Phil wrote this morning:

“In my reading of Romans 1:18-32, I believe we as a nation are not aware of that God’s judgment is upon us. How? First, God has given us over to the “lusts of our hearts.” Second, God has given us over to “dishonorable passions,” specifically homosexuality. Third, God has given us over to a “debased minds.” Moreover, those who give their approval to those who practice these unrighteous actions are just as guilty. The only hope for our nation and those who do not honor the Lord is to repent of these sins and to turn to Jesus Christ for His forgiveness and new life.”

I pray for individuals to be saved by being given the spirit of repentance, and I pray for leaders. But I also pray for the Lord to soon come. It’s hard to see so much sin & evil every day ON EVERY HIGH HILL.

But I am also grateful and joyful. He has given me eternal life. He has given me knowledge of the Savior. He has given me the mind of Christ, a mind that was once as debased as all the others on the high hill. He has given me life, joy, purpose, and illuminating wisdom from scripture.

As Paul ruminated, we are torn. We decry the evil that’s in the world, it feels almost like it must have to Noah, but again, we remain on earth to do His work and His will, which is also good. I’m grateful the world did not end before I myself was saved. Others being saved today and tomorrow and the next will no doubt feel the same. So as Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21-24,

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

I don’t know for whose sake He is keeping me here, lol. The work I do for Jesus is certainly not as significant as Paul’s was, but if the Lord is pleased to keep me here on earth to do His will and work, then I am relieved I have the Spirit to pray to for help in withstanding the woes and griefs and traps of the sin and evil all around.

What a Savior. His ways are transparent but inscrutable. This we know though: The evil on every high hill will not stand in the end. The idols and poles and altars will melt away and righteousness will reign. Jesus is higher than every high hill and His power exceeds the evil that satan can do. Hallelujah.

high hill

Posted in encouragement, theology

“He is coming soon” – Thoughts on sin, the world, and Jesus

By Elizabeth Prata

Word of the week: Sin. Societal, cultural, financial, economic, political. The world as we know it is winding down. (It has been this way since the Garden). Each week we see a precipitous decline, lurching forward in slow to great bursts, bringing the world ever closer to the consciousness that things will not remain as they have been. And still, as much as the world sees that the events we are experiencing for the worse, and perhaps never to be the same again, the world still insists that this has nothing to do with Christ. They say, ‘Oh, the world is changing, and the Zombie/Mayan/Cayce/Nostradamus apocalypse may be near, but it has nothing to do with that guy, Jesus.’

A prophecy from Peter: “They will say, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. (2 Peter 3:4).

They say such things because they believe them. Satan has blinded the lost to the things of Christ. It has always been so. The Israelites taunted Jeremiah with the same:

Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now. (Jeremiah 17:15)

And why do they believe the Zombie/Mayan/Cayce/Nostradamus apocalypse and not the Christian Revelation of the promised Apocalypse? Because the aforementioned are from satan. Now satan, they’ll believe, because the world’s children are satan’s children. (1 John 4:5).

Technically, the world has been ending since Genesis 3, but the feeling of chaotic flying apart has increased dramatically of late. Remember Obergefell v. Hodges? It was a landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, according to Wikipedia’s summary.

That was in 2015. I can’t believe that was four years ago! Yet since then we have endured the Planned Parenthood undercover videos controversy, third-trimester abortion controversy, post-birth abortion controversy, advance of homosexuality and now pedophilia normalization, racial disharmony in the form of social justice and wokeness, and the beginnings of evangelical acceptance of and redefinition of the sin of homosexuality. Wow.

I remember the verse in Romans 1:30, where Paul is explaining God’s wrath upon sin. The passage describes the downward spiral of men as individuals but especially collectively. Paul lists tons of sins, and though the list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, he says

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent new forms of evil…(Romans 1:29-30).

Let that sink in. They invent new forms of evil. The extent of man’s sinfulness really knows no bounds. The only reason we are all not ravening madmen, slobbering over performing the deepest depravity, is due to the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit on the world in the form of God’s general ministry of common grace and the specific Holy Spirit ministry of restraint in His elect.

Barnes’ Notes explains inventors of evil quite well:

This doubtless refers to their seeking to find out new arts or plans to practice evil; new devices to gratify their lusts and passions; new forms of luxury, and vice, etc. So intent were they on practicing evil, so resolved to gratify their passions, that the mind was excited to discover new modes of gratification.

When the Holy Spirit releases his restraint upon the world after the rapture, watch out! Man’s inventiveness will no longer be toward beauty, art, music, science; it will be toward depravity, sin, and evil like the world has never seen before. (Matthew 24:21).

Though it’s disheartening to experience living in the world like this, the Bride is still resplendent, evangelism is still occurring, souls are being redeemed, the Church is still growing…and God is still on His throne.

I’m enjoying the Spirit’s sweet presence every day. Do you? I hope so. I enjoy my walk with Jesus in increasing amounts of awe and joy. I am encouraged by knowledge of the sovereignty of the Father. Seeing these world events and understanding where we are on the timetable of God’s prophetic clock, I’m struck with wonder at the vastness of His intelligence and the scope of human history- and grateful that I am a part of His kingdom.

Yes, the days are difficult, and I mourn for people who are lost in sin and I mourn for my own sins. But though the events we read about here and elsewhere far from saddening me, make me think of Exodus 15:11

Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

In the current phase of Christianity, many have lost that sense of awe. I think it is because many popular teachers and preachers have taught and preached a raised up man. The excessive focus on our prosperity, our self-esteem, our pits, our problems, combined emphasis of His love to us, His friendship with us, His “romance” of us the Bride, downplaying majesty, wrath holiness, and reverence, has resulted in a lowered God. With our eyes on man, we lose focus. Man is not awe-inspiring, man is ‘awe-ful’! Look to Christ.

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:22).

Too often Western Christianity looks to Him as a friend, (which He is) but in looking at Him only as friend, through that one facet, and not so much as Sovereign King, Judge, and Holy God. This looking exclusively at Jesus through one facet has allowed many to devolve His status in their minds from friend to ‘old buddy, pal o’ mine.’

Quite simply, western Christianity by and large does not have a transcendent view of God anymore, and thus a sense of awe is lost. This particularly applies to prophecy.

Only a Sovereign God expressing His will upon the world knows the end from the beginning. Only He at His will and pleasure states what will happen in a thousand years, or six thousand years, and it comes to pass exactly as He said!

Habakkuk finally got it, saying in chapter three:

Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Then he said,

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

No matter how low the world gets, the Lord makes me tread on high places. Let our Holy awe of Him be a mixture of love, reverence, and fear.

He is coming soon. (Revelation 22:20).

coming again verse

 

Posted in theology

What does a seared conscience look like? America

By Elizabeth Prata

Eight years ago, Naomi Wolf wrote an article for CNN asking the question, CNN-is porn driving men crazy?

It is hard to ignore how many highly visible men in recent years (indeed, months) have behaved in sexually self-destructive ways. Some powerful men have long been sexually voracious; unlike today, though, they were far more discreet and generally used much better judgment in order to cover their tracks.Of course, the heightened technological ability nowadays to expose private behavior is part of the reason for this change. But that is precisely the point: so many of the men caught up in sex-tinged scandals of late have exposed themselves – sometimes literally – through their own willing embrace of text messages, Twitter, and other indiscreet media.What is driving this weirdly disinhibited decision-making? Could the widespread availability and consumption of pornography in recent years actually be rewiring the male brain, affecting men’s judgment about sex and causing them to have more difficulty controlling their impulses? … The hypothesis among the experts was that pornography was progressively desensitizing these men sexually.

She asks a good question, especially in light of the fact that the past 8 years has seen a precipitous plunge into depravity at a speed one would not have guessed. Same-sex-marriage, trans-gender, the advent of ‘non-binary’, even many Christian pastors unveiled as plumbing the depths of all kinds of sexual sin.

Wolf offers a different possible answer to it than I would. I say it is the fallen-ness of our sinful world and the fact that satan inhabits it, provoking our own sin-nature He is actually the god of this world and operates within it through the boundaries that God sets. On the other hand, Wolf could be unknowingly exactly right when she speaks of ‘desensitizing’, because Paul spoke of some people who, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;”

The full verse from 1 Timothy 4:1 is: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron“. The Matthew Henry commentary on this verse explains,

 It is done by their hypocrisy, professing honor to Christ, and yet at the same time fighting against all his anointed offices, and corrupting or profaning all his ordinances. This respects also the hypocrisy of those who have their consciences seared with a red-hot iron, who are perfectly lost to the very first principles of virtue and moral honesty.

We get desensitized to sin. The ‘desensitization’ Wolf noticed is the seared conscience of a sin-scarred soul. Once engaging in it, unless we repent and confess immediately, presenting ourselves for a spiritual bath by the Holy Spirit, we remain unclean in that little spot, and we get used to the unclean feeling. We decide that it wasn’t really so bad, and we do it again. And again. Until we’re so strewn with scar tissue from the searing of our consciences, we become inured to the effects of sin and never even feel its pricks any more. And before long we have men exposing themselves publicly in ridiculous ways that they have convinced themselves are fun because they have lost any ability to feel shame.

God told Jeremiah to tell the Israelites:

Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished,says the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:12).

God spoke that to Jeremiah for His people at the end of a long list of sins they were committing, which also included deceit, straying from the ways of God, listening to false prophets who say all is well, being greedy, and rejecting God. He punished them. Will He do less with us here in America? Surely not!

Edward Gibbon wrote the book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He spent twenty years researching it. Through his research Gibbon realized that all great nations, Rome included, have fallen for the same reasons. Those reasons can be boiled down to just five, usually occurring in sequence-

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
4. The building of great armaments when the great enemy was within; the decay of individual responsibility.
5. The decay of religion, fading into a mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.

So is there any good news?

Though there is much to be mournful about, there is also much to be joyful about! Each day we are not raptured is a day closer to when it happens. Each day we are on earth is a day we can obey the Lord, celebrate the Lord, proclaim the Lord, and do the work of the Lord. Each day that passes is another day in which the Holy Spirit regenerates us more into His likeness. Each day that passes is a day we can thank Him for the many, many blessings we receive from Him, beginning with salvation. And each day that passes and our country and the world dies a bit more, we know that it is one day closer to when our new home will be ready to receive us. We celebrate worship, His glowing church, and His sovereignty.

Take heart, as Jesus promised Simon,

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17).

What rock is Jesus talking of? Peter’s confession! He knew, as we do, that Jesus is the Christ, (the Rock), the Son of the living God. And nothing thwarts the Living God’s plans and decrees.

We can work hard in obedience and repentance and prayer, not to spark a seared conscience in ourselves. We can be strong and bright lights for His name. We can anticipate the day of our homecoming, whether by death or rapture.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 13:4).

Keep praying, keep confessing, keep loving, even though it gets hard sometimes. Keep thinking of the lovely things. “”Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)”

And one day when we least expect, we will suddenly be clothed in new flesh, glorified and able to see Him as He is!

unspeakable glory

Posted in theology

About “Aunt Becky”: The fragility of reputation and the devastating consequences of sin

By Elizabeth Prata

aunt becky
Lori Loughlin as character Aunt Becky. Source

 

The iniquities of a wicked man entrap him; the cords of his own sin entangle him. (Proverbs 5:22)

Yesterday I’d written a few thoughts on the massive college admission cheating scandal uncovered in in the US. You can read that essay here.

One of the people indicted in the scandal is actress Lori Loughlin. Loughlin has been an actress for many years, appearing in television shows such as Full House and its reboot, Fuller House, (as ‘Aunt Becky’), Hallmark TV series such as When Calls the Heart and Hallmark movie series Garage Sale Mysteries, Hallmark’s Christmas films, and family movies such as Moondance Alexander.

Lori Loughlin has built her career on ‘wholesomeness’. Some actors always play the ‘tough guy’. Clint Eastwood comes to mind. Others have built a career on playing the goofy sidekick, or the strong silent type. Steve Buscemi is typecast as a smarmy weirdo, Samuel L. Jackson is typecast as hard-core fierce. Others, such as Loughlin, were blessed with the ability to pick and choose, and Loughlin consistently chose roles depicting her as “wholesome” and “heartwarming”.

The Hallmark Channel brings to mind holidays, happy endings and now, incongruously, a college admissions scam that involves one of the channel’s favored actresses. Lori Loughlin’s surprising arrest this week poses a challenge for the family-friendly brand with heartland roots. The allegation that Loughlin paid bribes to gain her daughters’ college admissions is unconnected to Hallmark, but her career and the channel have become intertwined, [as the article explains].

Though Loughlin played wholesome characters for most of her acting life, we know from both the Bible and from experience that an actor’s life is often very different than their carefully crafted camera persona. When “wholesome, family-friendly actress” meets alleged “cheating bribery fraudster” it’s a clash that wounds. The wider the gap between inner and outer man, the worse the fall.

“[Hallmark’s] a feel-good, family values-type channel, and obviously scandal is the opposite of that,” said Atlanta-based market strategist Laura Ries. “Will people get past that to love the character on screen and not the real person?” (source again).

It did not take long for Hallmark to drop Loughlin. I really like Loughlin in Garage Sale Mystery. Last week I was looking at Internet Movie Database for the release dates of the Garage Sale Mystery movies I knew were in development, and if I remember right, there were 4 of them in production or post-production. I’d give you a screen shot, but the IMDb actress page for Loughlin has been quickly changed to reflect Hallmark’s decision to fire Loughlin, and those movies have been deleted from the list.

Loughlin has also been dropped from Hallmark’s Christmas movies and Netflix’s comedy Fuller House. Loughlin reportedly will not appear in the last season of Fuller House, as of this writing. Her appearance as Abigail Stanton in When Calls the Heart has also been pulled.

All this in one week. Hallmark’s statement:

We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin including Garage Sale Mysteries, an independent third party production.

When Calls The Heart statement:

The series will not air this Sunday March 17 while we are evaluating all creative options around the When Calls the Heart series. #Hearties please keep checking back to our social for all updates related to the beloved When Calls The Heart. (Statement here.)

Loughlin’s alleged corruption and involvement in fraud and bribery immediately destroys the fragile bubble she has built. She has squandered all her “reputation capital”. Hallmark, “As the country’s leading destination for quality family entertainment,” stated in their ‘About Us’, trades on wholesomeness, too, & does not want to be tainted by Loughlin’s taint. Hence, Lori is dropped like a hot potato.

Simply put, The Situation Between Lori Loughlin, Netflix & Hallmark Is A Mess.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Lori Loughlin describes herself as a Catholic, which we know means if she believes the dogmas of Rome, she is not saved. Her inner man is not being daily sanctified to reflect the face of Jesus.

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. (Ephesians 4:1).

The unregenerate inner man can only fake it for so long. One’s sin will always find you out.

But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23).

Sin is hard enough to master with the aid of the Holy Spirit, it’s a daily battle. Without the Spirit, one has zero chance of reforming one’s desires for very long.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you refuse to do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:7).

Reputation and trust are fragile things. In Christendom, when someone we look up to like a pastor or leader falls ‘below reproach,’ that trust is broken and he can never lead or shepherd again. Sin happens among Christ’s people, of course. We’ve seen the fall of Art Azurdia, (adultery), RC Sproul Jr, (adultery, and also drinking), Tom Chantry, (child assault) and Mark Driscoll, (financial malfeasance, sexist comments, bullying, more…). However, the forgiving Jesus will forgive the sin but He does not forget that the line was crossed. They forfeit their role forever.

For us Christians, it’s doubly important to daily call upon the Spirit in us to continue mortifying sin. We have to be active and focused on putting off that old man-

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (Ephesians 4:22).

Undealt-with sin will cause a Christian to ‘fall.’ (Though we can never again be lost; John 10:28). Our fall is worse than an actress’s wasted reputation, because it’s the reputation of Jesus that we besmirch. We’re ambassadors of His name and character. We are trophies of His grace.

In the secular world, celebrities and actors whose reputations were shattered overnight include Mel Gibson, Paula Deen, Martha Stewart, Miley Cyrus. Sometimes the brotherhood of sinners will eventually forget and forgive. Sometimes not. Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s acting career never recovered from his 1920s scandal. It does not look like Roseanne will recover from her racist tweet. Matthew McConaghey’s reputation failed, started to come back, failed again.

Time will tell of Loughlin’s reputation. However, one must ask, was it worth it? The half a million she allegedly spent on her daughter’s bribe, plus the $1M she spent on bail, plus the $1M her husband spent on bail… all for naught, as apparently their daughter Olivia Jade “didn’t know how much time she was going to spend in class” because she “doesn’t really care about college, as you guys know.”

I am personally disappointed, because I like Lori Loughlin’s work. I’m sad that her sin not only crouched at the door but entered and eventually opened the door wide for all of us to see the seaminess of her heart and mind. I’m disappointed, but not surprised. Sin is what sinners do. I think of the earnest college kids and their honest parents whose way was perverted by allegedly unscrupulous people like Loughlin and the others who were indicted.

The wicked accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the ways of justice. (Proverbs 17:23).

But it did not stay a secret.

Woe to those who bribe. God said that bribery engenders His wrath. (Proverbs 21:14). My prayer is that though she claims to love God (as a Catholic), this event that’s shattered her reputation and career will cause her to do some introspection and hopefully, repentantly, call upon Jesus as her savior.

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Only Jesus ever satisfies. All else is vanity.

——————————————————

Further Reading

What Does the Bible Say about Bribery?

Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin sued for $500 billion over college admissions bribery scandal

As Hallmark fires Lori Loughlin, here’s why her alleged role in the college bribery scandal hit a nerve

I used to listen to radio personality Howie Carr when I lived in New England.

Howie Carr: Ruh-roh! College scammers ooze entitlement

The original FBI affidavit. 204 pages. It recounts the credibility of the primary investigating officer, lists the methods of investigation, the colleges and universities participating, transcribes phone conversations, and presents other evidence.

AFFIDAVIT IN SUPPORT OF CRIMINAL COMPLAINT

Posted in theology

The devastating consequences of jealousy

By Elizabeth Prata

The Bible is replete with examples of real people living real lives. Since the Bible people are real people, AKA sinners, they sin. The Bible doesn’t shy away from showing that.

In thinking over some of the more famous cases of bad acts, the brotherly jealousy/sibling rivalry issue formed in my mind. It happened a lot.

Cain, jealous over God favoring his brother Abel’s sacrifice more than his own, he slew Abel. (Genesis 4:4, 8).

Happy little Joseph awoke one day and told his brothers an amazing dream he’d had. (Genesis 37:4-5). The brothers hated Joseph because their father favored Joseph. When Joseph told the brothers his dream, one that showed how he’d rule over them one day, the brothers were jealous of him all the more. (Genesis 37:11, Acts 7:9). Then they plotted to kill him. (But God intervened and providentially saved Joseph).

David and his brothers. We read of that whole process where prophet Samuel comes to David’s father asking him to assemble all the sons. (1 Samuel 16). He is going to anoint a new king. The sons must have felt great excitement! One by one, though, they were rejected. Only after little David was brought in from the fields, too young and small to even be considered in the original lineup, were the halted proceedings resumed. In front of the father and brothers, Saul, on behalf of God, anointed David.

After that, the brothers were in the encampment awaiting the day when someone, anyone, would come forward to slay Goliath the Philistine. Errand-boy David arrived with provisions for the brothers, but was angrily mocked and scorned instead. What had David done to merit such treatment? He’d spoken up against Goliath.

And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26)

His brother Eliab heard and became angry. Presumably he was embarrassed. I mean, it had been 40 days of listening to Goliath taunt them and not one Israelite had stood up to fight. Not one. Certainly not Eliab. Then comes little David and he makes a bold statement immediately.

Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” (1 Samuel 17:28).

The jealousy between Jacob and Esau is well documented. Esau was favored by the father, Jacob by the mother. Instead of enjoying this unique relationship, mother and son plotted to get an upper hand. Esau helped by throwing away his birthright for a bowl of soup. Then Jacob tricks father and brother into gaining the blessing. Thus began a decades-long separation due to anger and rivalry.

Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

Being jealous of another is a sin. And please don’t cite “God is jealous so I can be, too”. God’s jealousy is for us, not against us. His perfection makes His jealousy righteous.

God’s jealousy is always a product of his perfect, self-sufficient love (Exodus 3:14; Psalm 50:9–15; Isaiah 40:28), which provides the opportunity for him to feel deeply jealous about the people with which he has freely covenanted. Source

How to overcome this sinful emotion?

Here is an article from Desiring God about jealousy (also quoted above). Hey, Jealousy

Here is a one-minute audio from Grace To You’s ‘Portrait of Grace’ series, Overcoming Jealousy

What Does the Bible Say about Jealousy?

snake
Posted in encouragement, theology

Habakkuk’s pain is our pain

By Elizabeth Prata

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…(2 Timothy 3:1-4)

As you see the people all over the world wantonly killing, sinuously infiltrating societies only to choke them off, and the rest of the ungodly continuing unrighteous ways without ceasing, the righteous cry out, ‘Oh, God, why do the wicked prosper?’

Habakkuk asked the same thing. If you want a picture of a beleaguered prophet asking, and asking, why do things have to be this way, then you have Habakkuk in 620BC.

Habakkuk expresses the attitude that many righteous people have. He is outraged at the violence and injustice in his society. He lists six different problems. His list is repetitious, but it emphasizes just how bad things were. There was sin, wickedness, destruction and violence, no justice in the courts, and the wicked outnumbered the righteous. Sort of like today, eh?

Habakkuk puts his questions to God and in His grace they are answered. Habakkuk listens, is calmed, and ends with a Hymn of faith: Habakkuk 3:17-19,

Though the fig tree may not blossom,     
Nor fruit be on the vines;     
Though the labor of the olive may fail,     
And the fields yield no food;     
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,   
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,   
 I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

God will judge all the wicked. We praise Him for that.

God will always love all His righteous (made righteous through Christ). And we praise Him for that.

He is worthy of praise. This temporary earthly time of pain and sin will end. And then…glory.

May your feet be like deer’s feet wherever you tread this week!

praise verse

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Redux: Day 26, Jesus’ sinlessness

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His attributes & earthly ministry. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer. We looked at His attributes of omniscience, His authority, and now His sinlessness.

thirty daysof jesus 26

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Further Reading:

The Cripplegate/Nate Busenitz: In what way was Jesus ‘made sin’ on the cross?

GotQuestions: Why does Christ’s righteousness need to be imputed to us?

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Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer
Day 24: Jesus as Omniscient
Day 25: Jesus’ authority

Posted in theology

Is Temptation a Sin?

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday at my personal blog I’d posted an essay explaining Why I Will Never Watch ABC’s ‘The Good Doctor’ Again.

In the November 26th episode called “Empathy” a character who had constant thoughts and sexual desires for children was featured. He hated his own desires and sought to rid himself of them, via medicines, mutilations, and therapies. He prided himself on never having acted on his desires, because he knew they were depraved. The build-up in the show, apparently, was to develop empathy for the ‘in thoughts only’ pedophile because of the extreme lengths he went to in order for him to make sure his desires remained unfulfilled.

This is called the “virtuous pedophile.” The title is an actual title, based on a growing internet support group of people who acknowledge their depraved desires but do not act on them. Their restraint is supposed to be virtuous.

Someone commented in reply to my essay that “To be tempted to something is not a sin. I have no desire to normalize or justify pedophilia if that is what the show is doing, but if it deals with an individual tempted but resisting that temptation I’m not sure that would be wrong.”

Let’s explore that a bit here on this blog. I appreciated the nuance and grace in the comment. I thought about it for a while. In the end, I’d replied that temptation itself is not a sin, else Jesus, when he was tempted in the desert, would be sinning just for having experienced a temptation. So, I agree temptation is not a sin. What is a sin is how we respond to it. Responding to temptation is not solely the act, but also the entertainment of those thoughts. In His temptation, Jesus resisted sin by refusing even to entertain the thought and refuted satan by immediately referring to His Father’s word.  More here.

That said, the show I’d reviewed was not about temptation. It was about the normalizing pedophilia by calling those who have the desires but who don’t act on them, virtuous. It was about the manipulative forcing of an empathetic reaction to someone who has admitted many desires for children in the sexual sense. The show made a great deal about how much the man was consumed by lust for children. It, apparently did not make much if his efforts to rid himself of the thoughts, only restraining himself from the action.

John MacArthur puts the issue to a concise point when he says (of homosexuality)

No matter how much you desire to be compassionate to the homosexual, your first sympathies belong to the Lord and to the exaltation of His righteousness.

So how should we respond to various desires we have in the flesh? And remember, not all desires are equal. Heterosexual desire is normal, but when it turns to lust for another woman it’s a sin. Yet, homosexual desire is always depraved, because it is expressly forbidden in scripture. As noted in the GotQuestions essay above and as I’d said in my essay,

Lust, for example, is sin even though it may never be acted upon (Matthew 5:28). Covetousness, pride, greed, and envy are all sins of the heart; even though they may not be apparent to anyone else, they are still sin (Romans 1:29; Mark 7:21-22). When we give in to the temptation to entertain such thoughts, they take root in our hearts and defile us (Matthew 15:18–19). emphasis mine

Romans 1:26 calls homosexual desire a “degrading passion.” Ergo pedophilia too. JMac again-

It is a lust that destroys the physical body, ruins relationships, and brings perpetual suffering to the soul—and its ultimate end is death (Romans 7:5).

The Good Doctor did get one thing right. In the end, the character committed suicide. Degrading passions lead to death. The Gospel is the only way to overcome degrading passions, including pedophilia. Striving to live a righteous life, denying our biblically forbidden passions and lusts, this is what is pleasing to God.

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Further resources

Is Same-Sex Attraction a Sin? Answers in Genesis

The gospel offers more than sin management; it offers present transformation of our desires and eternal joy (Philippians 2:13). God welcomes strugglers who regard His glory over their own lust, and He arms them to fight joyfully against enslaving temptation inherited from Adam.

Posted in theology

Love Thy Neighbor? That’s only half of it

By Elizabeth Prata

We hear the term ‘love they neighbor’ a lot. We hear it so frequently that it’s almost a motto or a mantra, bandied about. But it’s a Bible verse, which means it’s spoken from the mouth of God. ‘Love thy neighbor’ is also not the whole verse. The verse is in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The verse is known as The Greatest Commandment. The first part of the verse is to love God with all your mind, heart, and strength. The second part is to love your neighbor. Here it is in full-

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18). Emphasis added.

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40). Emphasis added.

We are commended to love thy neighbor AS THYSELF. There are two parts to this concept I am addressing in this essay.

1. What does it mean to love someone as myself?

Barnes’ Notes explains

To this he added another – the duty of loving our neighbor, Leviticus 19:18. This Christ declared to be the second great commandment of the law, Matthew 22:39.

This commandment means, evidently:
1. that we should not injure our neighbor in his person, property, or character.
2. that we should not be selfish, but should seek to do him good.
3. that in a case of debt, difference, or debate, we should do what is right, regarding his interest as much as our own.
4. that we should treat his character, property, etc., as we do our own, according to what is right.
5. that, in order to benefit him, we should practice self-denial, or do as we would wish him to do to us, Matthew 7:12.

2. Secondly, what is love? Defined according to Strong’s from the Greek word Agapeo, it is,

preferring to “live through Christ” (1 Jn 4:9, 10), i.e. embracing God’s will (choosing His choices) and obeying them through His power. agapáō (“to love”) means actively doing what the Lord prefers, with Him (by His power and direction).

Sadly, I have seen this verse used as a twisted cover by an increasingly perverse culture to mean that we should love homosexuality. Of course we love the person, they are a neighbor. But the twist the culture puts onto this verse is that we should also love their sin, because, they say, “it is who they are”, as if homosexuality is a biological part of a person’s identity and nothing can be done to alter it. “Loving your neighbor” has become code for accepting all behavior, including, in this culture & time, the sin of homosexuality.

The other verse I often see twisted in this way, as a cover to accept homosexuality, is 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love being kind does not mean we avoid telling people the Gospel, which includes condemnation for sin. Yes, it’s awkward to tell somone they are a sinner (as we all are, and someone had told us). Conversations like that often spark anger, because the pride from which all sin stems rears up in rage. It feels unloving at the time. But this culture insists that if we share the condemnation of God for sins, including (and especially) the sin of homosexuality, we are not being kind and we’re therefore unloving.

Loving our neighbor means sharing the Good News of the Gospel. We are all sinners, and we need a savior. The savior is Jesus. He came down from heaven, lived a perfectly holy life, and sacrificed Himself on the cross so that His blood would cover the sins of the people God had elected to salvation before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). If we repent, Jesus forgives us and he becomes the door through which we enter heaven. His righteousness is given to us and that is how God sees us forevermore, righteous in His Son.

Gill’s Exposition says of the loving one’s neighbor verse,

This law supposes, that men should love themselves, or otherwise they cannot love their neighbour; not in a sinful way by indulging themselves in carnal lusts and pleasures; some are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; but in a natural way, so as to be careful of their bodies, families, and estates; and in a spiritual way, so as to be concerned for their souls, and the everlasting happiness of them: [emphasis added]

and in like manner should men love their neighbours, in things temporal do them all the good they can, and do no injury to their persons or property; and in things spiritual pray for them, instruct them, and advise as they would their own souls, or their nearest and dearest relations. And this is to be extended to every man;

The world calls it hate but it’s love. See how condemnation and compassion are simply two sides of the same coin:

How should you respond to the success of the gay agenda? Should you accept the recent trend toward tolerance? Or should you side with those who exclude homosexuals with hostility and disdain?

In reality, the Bible calls for a balance between what some people think are two opposing reactions—condemnation and compassion. Really, the two together are essential elements of biblical love, and that’s something the homosexual sinner desperately needs.

We are to love our neighbor as ourselves, through Jesus and embracing God’s will. It is not God’s will to accept homosexuality as a loving part of a person. It’s a sin. It is loving to share the news that one can be forgiven of this sin and released from bondage to satan through it. It’s the same with any besetting or occasional sin one commits. We can be forgiven if we repent. Loving a person but leaving them in their sin is only half the story- and it’s not love, it’s hate.

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Further resources

Homosexuality

What does the Bible say about homosexuality?

Thinking biblically about homosexuality