In my last post, I talked about ways not to study the Bible. This post has suggestions on how to establish a devoted time to properly study the Bible.
Once you establish good practices of studying the Bible, these are things to help you understand God’s Word as you study.
These are good ideas for how to approach the study of scripture. But where do you start? Thankfully, we are blessed in this nation to have access to so many tools to help you study God's Word.
Study Bibles are a great start. They give explanations, introductions, outlines of the text, cross-references, and notes. The marginal notes will help you with dates, places, and expanded definitions of words. They’ll also have maps and a topical index.
Concordances can also help look up any word found in the Bible. You could even get a topical Bible that organizes Scripture based on a special area of interest, like prayer, marriage, or salvation.
Bible dictionaries, timelines, maps, and atlases can help too.
There are also commentaries for every book in the Bible. Those are entire books dedicated to expounding on the text found within one book in the Bible. It’s a good idea to have more than one commentary – not all theologians agree on certain passages. The commentary can put the book in context and give a deeper appreciation for God’s Word.
From my personal experience, for many years I tried the 5-minute devotional for my quiet time. It always left me with this shallow feeling, like I wasn’t really learning anything new. It seemed just fluff and “feel good-isms” to help you just start the day in a good mood.
And I think I felt that way for good reason. Those five-minute devotionals are shallow. It was a fluffy feel-good story that you could apply to anything you wanted, with no depth and no context.
No wonder I left my quiet times feeling so unfulfilled! We can’t be fulfilled with God’s word in only 5 minutes with just some fluff application of a random few verses. How can you really even effectively apply those random few verses if you have no greater context? When you have no appreciation for the author or the setting?
The quote “et tu, Brute?” only has impact because we understand the characters, the context, and what was at stake. The impact of Scripture comes when we understand the characters, the context, and what is at stake.
We can’t live out the Scriptures and stand firm on God's Word in the face of persecution, scoffing, and criticism if we don’t understand the characters, the context, and what is at stake.
How can we defend God’s word to the world if we don’t truly know what it says? How can we answer criticisms about God’s character from certain passages if we don’t understand it in context; if we’ve only read a random selection of verses scattered across the Bible?
So think seriously about how you approach reading God’s word. The more you are in it, the more you will want to be. If you only dabble in enough Bible reading to fill a few minutes each week, then you’ll never feed your soul or move from the milk of babies to the steak of the mature walk.
We all stand in awe of the strength of faith of men like Paul, and David, and Abraham. But they had that strong faith because they were daily committed to knowing God. We can’t just sit back and wish we had that walk yet do nothing differently in our daily life to have that. If you never spend time with God, then how could you ever live a life like Daniel?
Why do we study the Bible? To know God; to enjoy and love God; to understand His commands; to learn direction in life; to find comfort and hope; to let God expose our innermost thoughts and desires; to become pure and holy; to obey the Great Commandment: to love God with all of our being.
John wrote in his gospel in chapter 17 verses 1-3, “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
Jesus said that eternal life is knowing God. Therefore, our purpose, our number one effort in life, should be in pursuit of knowing God. But how do we do know God?
We must first start by studying God’s Word, by reading the very words He breathed out for us. After all, this was how God chose to communicate to us. Imagine if someone whom you loved very dearly wrote you a whole series of letters that describe the things they have done for you, the ways that they love you, their desires for your life, and describe the essence of who they are – but you never bothered to read them.
That is what God has done for us through His Word, so if we claim to love God, we should love reading those letters He left for us.
I think most believers would agree that we should be studying the Bible, but how well are we doing it?
The Five-Minute Devotional?
One common way people “study” the Bible is using daily devotional books. Those are intended to be read in 5-10 minutes, typically have one or two verses, a short personal story of how those verses were used in someone’s situation, and a two sentence prayer.
Now, there is nothing wrong with this approach in itself, but if this is the only thing you are doing, how well are you really learning the word of God?
I understand we all like the idea of only taking 5-10 minutes to do our devotion, however, consider what that says about our priorities. We’ll spend hours each day scrolling through social media, playing video games, watching TV, or surfing the internet, but we want to only give at most 5 minutes to the God and Creator of the universe who died for you?
Spending only five minutes a day in the Bible (especially when most of that time is reading some else’s interpretation of it) does not really implant the Scriptures in our hearts.
We see this concept for anything else in our lives. If you only spent 5 minutes a day exercising, can it really change your body type? If you spent 5 minutes a day practicing your instrument, could you ever advance in your skill? So to really have God’s Words stored in our hearts and transforming our minds, we must spend more than 5 minutes a day studying the Bible.
Furthermore, those one or two verses given are not being read in context. Each day’s verses are pulled from an entirely different part of the Bible and have no relationship to each other.
This is how false doctrine begins. We read a verse without any understanding of who said, when they said it, to whom they said it, and why they said it and from that we create a completely false understanding of what the scripture means. The five-minute devotional can not give us a depth of really understanding God and what God is doing through His people.
So the five-minute devotional needs to be used as a supplement to your actual scripture study. But this should not – and cannot – be the only way you are reading scripture. God’s words are to be written on our heart. We must understand them – and understand them in context - for it to really start changing our daily lives.
Read the Bible in a Year?
Another common method is the “read through the Bible in a year” study. The idea behind this comes from a great place. If you were to pick up any book, you wouldn’t start with chapter 14 and then read chapter 8 and then read chapter 1. You would start at the beginning and read straight through to the end.
So it is good to want to read the Bible in its entirety from the Genesis to Revelation. However, the Bible is a very unique book that makes this approach a little more cumbersome. Although it’s bound in one cover, the Bible is 66 individual books – and they are not all assembled in order chronologically.
Starting from the beginning and reading straight through can be confusing. It makes it difficult to understand what is happening without the proper context in time and history as well.
Typically these plans are designed to read a few chapters in one book then a few random verses from Psalms or Proverbs. How much context and digestion do you really get that way? Do you know why that Psalm was written? Do you understand the historical context of that passage from 1 Kings?
In addition, it too is still geared for just a 5-10 minute study each day so again think about how much you’re studying the Bible with this. The Bible is a huge book. Tackling it in one year is a large task, especially if you’re going to truly understand it. Reading through the Bible is a wonderful idea, but to do it thoroughly, it will take longer than one year.
Read only the New Testament?
Some people disregard the “read through the Bible” plans because you must start with the Old Testament. The Old Testament can seem dry and dull, and many think not applicable since we are living in the “New Testament” days. But this is a flawed approach to biblical study.
When Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16 “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” the New Testament did not even exist yet in its collected and codified form. When he said “scriptures” he was referring to the Old Testament – all of it.
So we could read that as the “laws in Leviticus, the history in Genesis, the poetry of the Psalms, the cycles of the judges, the prophecies of the prophets” are God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.
Jesus also thought highly of teaching from the Old Testament. In Luke 24, the resurrected Jesus was walking with two disciples on the road to Emmaus as they were pondering aloud the recent events in Jerusalem. In verses 25-27, it says, “Jesus said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”
When Jesus wanted these men to understand who He was and what all had just transpired about Him, Jesus started with the Old Testament. He started with Moses – not the story of Moses but the writings of Moses. Since Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible, that means Jesus went back to Genesis, to the very beginning.
The One who brought the New Testament valued teaching from the Old Testament. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law...” (Matthew 5:17-18).
Jesus is reinforcing the accuracy of the Scriptures down to the smallest detail and the slightest punctuation all the way back to the Old Testament.
In addition, we understand the New Testament a whole lot better if we understand the Old Testament. Want to understand Hebrews? Go back and study Leviticus. Hebrews was written to Jews following Levitical law. Understanding the Law will help you understand the One who fulfilled the Law. So we cannot neglect the study of the Old Testament.
So what is the best way to do this? Stay tuned for Part 2...
At this time of year, we are continually reminded the Christmas season is about peace on earth. You see the word "peace" on Christmas cards, on Christmas decor, and even on Christmas wrapping paper. As we look at the beautiful lights, decorations, snow-covered yards (in places other than the South), we like to think that we have embraced the concept of peace. We envision curling up in fuzzy socks under cozy blankets with a warm mug of our favorite drink seated in front of a crackling fireplace while snow gently falls outside. And we think to ourselves, "This is what peace feels like."
But then we snap back to the real world to find our children whining again about what they did or didn't get for Christmas and fighting with each other simply because they are bored. We know there are family members who refuse to speak to one another over some grievance from years past. We turn on the news to see ruthless and hateful political arguments, protests, wars, global poverty, and abortion still taking the lives of innocent babies. Where is that peace now?
After all, the notion of peace isn't just some nicety we write on Christmas cards. It was the very message from the angels on that first Christmas described in Luke 2:13-14: "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'” How is the world still in so much turmoil? Were the angels mistaken? How does this make sense?
1. We must understand what "peace" the angels were talking about
When the angels announced there would be "peace on earth" they were not talking about peace between men on earth, they were announcing that with the birth of Jesus there could be peace between man and God. Sin entered into this world through Adam, and now we are all born as sinners -- and therefore are enemies of God. As Paul says in Romans 8:7, our natural state of sin is "enmity against God," which means we are "being actively opposed or hostile to" God.
Now if you're not sure if you are a sinner, ask yourself if you have always been kind to those around you; if you have ever been jealous; if you have ever lied; if you have ever desired someone other than your spouse; if you have ever hated someone.
As children we show our sin nature as we are disobedient to our parents and even turn the concept of sharing into something selfish. From birth we must be taught how to be kind, considerate, and selfless, which means those things are contrary to our natural selves.
With those sins within us, we are unable to be in the presence of God on our own. There is not peace between us and God - there is open hostility and opposition to God. Many people may not think they are openly hostile to God, for many people are just apathetic to God. They think if they aren't worshiping Satan then they're not opposing God. Or maybe they acknowledge there is some Higher Power and think that is not being in opposition to God.
But Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, "He who is not with Me is against Me." That means if you are not standing with Jesus declaring Him as Lord and Messiah, then you are against God. You are an enemy of God - hostile towards God - and unable to be in the presence of God. God's perfect holiness cannot tolerate the presence of sin, and sin cannot tolerate the presence of God's perfect holiness. It would be utterly destroyed.
Notice how even when God spoke with people in the Old Testament there was a separation because of their sin. Moses had to remove his sandals to stand before the burning bush because it was holy ground. When Moses asked to see God's glory, God said to him, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” (Exodus 33:18-23) Moses had to be tucked away in the rock and only see the back of God's glory.
When Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on the throne, he said, "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips!" (Isaiah 6:5) An angel had to touch his lips with a coal from the altar to purge his sin. If men like Moses and Isaiah were unable to withstand God's glory and presence because of their sin, do you think you will be able to?
This was the terrible predicament mankind was in; sin separates us from God and we can't fix that in our own strength. There was not peace between man and God -- until God came down in the flesh to live among us, to walk beside us, and to die for us. Only then could there be peace between man and God.
Although the angels announced peace on earth at the birth of Jesus, they were looking forward to when that peace would be realized at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The peace they announced was a peace between sinful man and holy God that can only be gained through the work done by Jesus on the cross.
This is why we celebrate His coming to earth. It is not just the miraculous birth, or the incredible fact that God took on flesh, it is because we now can be at peace with God.
2. There will not be peace on earth among men until Christ returns
Peace on earth among men is certainly something good to strive for, but we must be honest with ourselves. It is not attainable until Jesus returns -- and He promised us that. In Luke 12:51-53 Jesus says, "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
Most people ignore this portion of Scripture. Jesus is warning that He did NOT bring peace on earth among men; rather, there will be division among people over who He is. Yet a few verses later He tells the people to strive for peace among each other. And in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers!"
He said the greatest commandment is to love God and love others. He said that His disciples would be known by their love. Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. How can He command that yet it not bring peace?
Jesus loves all people and desires for us to love all people. But He also knew His name would divide people. Believers from all walks of life - different nations, languages, ethnicity, socio-economic background - will be united under the name of Jesus as one in the body of Christ. However, the name of Jesus will divide those who believe from those who do not believe.
Like Jesus said in Matthew 12:30, "He who is not with Me is against Me," and thus against those who are also with Jesus. Jesus warned His disciples as such, the servants will not be treated better than the Master. And Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." (John 15:18) Why? Because His followers are not of this world. So there will not be peace between those who claim the truth about Jesus for their own salvation and those who reject Jesus.
The name of Jesus is divisive among people and it always will be until the day spoken of by Paul in Philippians 2:9-11, "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Until then, let us sing, "Glory, hallelujah! Jesus has been born to bring peace on earth between man and God, an everlasting peace that will never fail."
Will you take part in the true, lasting peace between man and God brought by the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus?
The more I see headlines about drag queen story hours at public libraries, the more baffled I become with our society. It is especially unnerving when you see several stories like this, where the drag queens are also convicted pedophiles. For most of the nation, the reaction is that this is just some new crazy trend in California or New York, but I’ve now seen an ad for a drag queen story hour in my neighboring city in north Alabama – what used to be considered the Bible belt. The ad stated there would be cookies and milk “for the children” complete with a photo of a drag queen holding a young child, who quite honestly looks terrified. I wanted to offer a few things to consider as we watch our nation somehow embrace this awful idea of a drag queen story time.
1. Does anyone remember the purpose of the public library?
I love the public library. Granted I am old enough to remember the library being a necessity for completing high school and college. There was no online encyclopedia, Google, or Wikipedia so we had to physically go to where the books were kept. I spent many Saturdays at the library finishing research papers, scribbling down sources on notecards.
Now, I love the library because I’m able to check out books for my kids without having to buy every book they read, the added bonus being if it’s not a good book, you simply return it without having wasted money on it.
Guys, THAT is the purpose of the library. I know we have the world of books at our fingertips on the internet, but the purpose of the library ultimately is to provide books. The purpose of the library is not to promote someone’s political, religious, or social worldview, especially since public libraries are on the public’s dime. I do not pay my taxes for the library to promote an agenda – regardless of whose agenda it may be and whether I agree with the agenda or not. My tax dollars go to the library for them to provide books.
And this “story time” is not about promoting books. This has nothing to do with reading; it has nothing to do with promoting good children’s literature. It has everything to do with subjecting children to one faction’s particular ideology of sex. I highly doubt that a child is suddenly excited about checking out books because a man dressed as a woman finally read them a bedtime story.
And I get that libraries serve as community centers. It can be a great meeting place for any group in the area who wants to gather with like-minded people, and yet have those meetings open to the public for anyone to join. But this isn’t a support group for drag queens, or even an informational meeting about how to be a better drag queen. This is pitched as a children’s reading event while neglecting both of those things – the reading AND the children.
2. Regardless of your stance on the LGBTQ+ issue, you should find this appalling.
When you see articles like this  where a drag queen has allowed children to climb all over him, it should horrify everyone, regardless of your thoughts on drag queens or anything to do with the LGBTQ+ movement. I would be equally appalled if they brought in a heterosexual female prostitute and allowed children to lay on top of her. I would be equally horrified if a grown man, dressed as a man in a three piece suit, allowed children to crawl on top of him. In fact, if we heard of that happening, we would immediately call the police and have him arrested as a sex offender.
I would be horrified for any adult of any gender or sexual persuasion to encourage random children to lay on top of him or her. That is simply inappropriate, regardless of anyone’s sexual orientation. What is so disappointing is that those claiming the LGBTQ+ movement care so little about children and their mental health that they would promote this kind of event. This is honestly abuse for these children – and it has nothing to do with the sexual confusion or orientation of the drag queen. It has to do with inappropriate exposure of children to adult things. Which leads to my next point…
3. Stop sexualizing children.
These programs are just one of many ways our society has decided to sexualize children. California sex-ed programs  are “educating” elementary school children by having them put condoms on fruits and vegetables, including a "race" where 10- and 11-year-old girls are required to put condoms on these items in front of male classmates. Another school program  is teaching 6-year-olds how to masturbate. A Texas mom is trying to chemically change her elementary-aged son into a daughter. A first-grade classroom in the UK  has asked its students to write love letters to an imaginary same-sex partner. Those children don’t even know what a love letter to a heterosexual partner would be, why in the world are we asking them to do this for a homosexual partner?
What happened to this world to think this is acceptable to do to children? Children should be left to be children without having to process through an adult’s gender identification and sexuality issues. Drag queen story hour is no exception. I don’t want my children to see men or women dressed in this way. So again, it quite frankly doesn’t matter to me what the story time reader’s sexuality is, please don’t dress provocatively in front of my children and introduce them to sexual concepts. This should be seen as child abuse, not education.
Besides, a child is just as prone to claim they want to grow up to be a cat and then pretend all day they are an invisible snake as they are to understand what sexual orientation they are. But instead of using age-appropriate events for these children, our society is forcing children to wade through sexual orientation issues at the same age they are trying to figure out how to eat green beans without gagging at the table and how to use a tissue to wipe their own noses.
Drag queen story hour, sex education, and gender reassignment are not age-appropriate things to force on our children. In every other area we recognize that children and adolescents are not capable of making sound decisions on their own. A person is not mature in their decision-making faculties to rent a car until they are 25, to drink until they are 21, to vote or carry a pistol until they are 18. Yet we are forcing 6-year olds to change their gender; we are telling pre-teens their sexual orientation. How about we let our children be children? Why are we intent on stealing their innocence?
What purpose are libraries serving by forcing these issues on young, susceptible children – because we all know it’s not about books and reading. It is about normalizing this behavior to children. One drag queen openly admits , “This is going to be the grooming of the next generation. We are trying to groom the next generation.” That is what this is about. It isn’t about the children, it is about the LGBTQ+ movement stealing the minds of the next generation by grooming them to think this is normal, acceptable behavior – for adult and child alike. This is not education, it is abuse.
It is actually dangerous for our children to have them link play-time, dress-up, and pretend with sexual orientation. In one city, the public library has promoted  its drag queen story hour as something to “capture the imagination and play of the gender fluidity of childhood.” They mention giving them queer role models who provide makeup tutorials and a safe space for them to express whatever gender they like.
But sexuality and sexual experience should never be mixed with a child’s playtime and imagination. It sets the stage for adult predatory behavior. This article  explains that “sex play for kids opens the door to predatory behavior by adults and much confusion for kids. Sexuality is not glitter and rainbows, it’s not about unicorns, puppets, and makeup tutorials. It is serious, and children are too young to understand how serious.” It states that this is far worse than just sexualizing children. This actually grooms children to be sexual objects. Children are drawn to unicorns and glitter, but they have no way of grasping the dangers that lurk around the corner with an all-too-willing adult to “help” them in this game of sexual experience. But this is not a game. This a child’s life – that can be scarred and damaged.
4. Who are these parents taking their children to these things?
Granted, the government, schools, and special interest groups will always be foisting some kind of agenda on us. However, attendance to a drag queen story hour at your local library (or your local brewery as is the case in north Alabama) is voluntary. This is why it leaves me scratching my head that people are attending these things.
If a place wants to host something like this, they are free to do so (as long as they aren’t using my tax dollars to do so), but it doesn’t mean people have to or should attend such a thing. What should happen is a place decides to do a drag queen story hour; people see the promotions and say, “What a horrible idea! I’m not taking my child to that!”; no one shows up; venue decides to not try that again. So I really want to know – who in the world is taking their children to these things? And I ask because of all the things I pointed out above.
Whether you are a lesbian couple with an adopted child, or a single homosexual dad, or a married heterosexual couple with children, why are you taking your children to such a thing as this? The only reason why is so you can “embrace” the LGBTQ+ movement, but instead you are harming your child by unnecessarily exposing them to sexual perversions under the guise of “reading” and “acceptance.” If you want to support and embrace dragu queens, go for it, but leave you children to be children. If you want your child to read a book, just go check out a book for them. They don’t have to watch a grown man dressed in drag in order to appreciate reading.
As parents, our job is not to use our children as a political statement. Our job is to protect our children as well and as long as we can. The world is messy and disturbing enough for an 18-year-old when they walk into it. Why are rushing our elementary age children into it? This is a dangerous and harmful thing for our children and it needs to stop. We may not be able to talk sense into the libraries and private institutions to not host something as atrocious, but we certainly don’t have to attend.
If you have confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, what would your response be if your pastor announced that he was having an extramarital affair? Would you stand up and applaud him for his bravery in announcing that? And then reaffirm his decision, encourage him to continue his work as a pastor while he has a mistress alongside his wife and family? Would you tell him to just do whatever makes him happy? Or what if the children’s minister at your church announced that she is an alcoholic? Would you drink a toast to her for having the courage to come forward with that? Would you cheer her on and say, “You go girl!”? What if your Bible teacher, being single, told you he brought home a different girl every weekend? Would you tell him those desires were just how God made him so he should keep it up? When he posted on social media about his exploits, would you give it a thumbs up and tell him you had never seen him so happy? Or would you say he needs to find a church that approves of what he’s doing so he can still “serve the Lord”?
Would you encourage these individuals in these areas of their lives?
I want you to really think about what your response to each of those scenarios would be, especially where each scenario involves a Christian engaged in a lifestyle of sin. My guess is you would not affirm their decisions to live like that. I bet that you would say it was wrong to do those things, and maybe, just maybe, you would say they needed to stop those activities. But why? Is it just because there is a social norm that says having an affair, being a drunk, or being a womanizer is not good? No, it’s because we know that is not the behavior a professing Christian ought to have. The reason for that is because someone who is committed to following Christ is supposed to “deny themselves, pick up their cross” and follow Jesus. That means we are to deny our desire to have an affair, to drink too much alcohol, and to be sexually immoral. That is not so that we trade in all the “good” stuff here on earth so we can have “better” stuff in heaven. It is because Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep my commands.” And this is how He commanded us to live – because He knows what is best for us. Therefore, to demonstrate your love for Jesus, you are to keep His commands. You are to abide in His word. You are to hear and follow His voice.
Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t mess it up. We do have pastors announcing affairs and ministers living with addictions, just as much as we have Christians in the congregation struggling with those things. The difference should be in how we respond to it. Do we cheer it on? Do we support their sin? Or do we grieve alongside of them for their failings, give them Biblical, Godly counsel, and lead them in a different direction? Maybe we should even carry out that church discipline that Jesus talked about in Matthew 18:15-19. Jesus instructs us how to deal with sin among believers (not outside of the church). He says to go to that person individually to address his or her fault. If he listens then you have won him over, but if not, then take others within the body of believers to address it with the him. If the person still doesn’t listen, then take the person before the church. If he or she still refuses to repent or change, then put the person outside the fellowship of other believers. Jesus says, “Treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Can you imagine if a church actually followed Jesus’ commands like this? What would that even look like? The idea is so foreign to us because instead of calling on one another to walk in obedience, we support one another in our sins. We pat each other on the back and say, “It’s ok. We all fail. I do that too.” What is worse is we even encourage sin with each other! I’ve seen people cheering other people on in their sin. They get “likes” on social media and approval to continue on in what they’re doing. It is true that we all fail and we all sin, but we aren’t supposed to be proud of that! We aren’t supposed to rejoice in wrongdoing. True love as described in 1 Corinthians 13 is that we rejoice in the truth instead of evil and wrongdoing. We are supposed to strive to put away our sinful selves and make ourselves look more like Christ, and encourage others to do the same. And when we do fail, we are to confess, repent, and try again the next day through the power of the Holy Spirit to not continue in that sin. Instead, in our warped culture we brag about our sins on Facebook – and get likes for it! We define ourselves with our sin, laugh about it, and thus make a mockery of the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus took that seriously. That is why He gave instructions for how to deal with sin among the body of believers.
If the concept of church discipline is too foreign for us to understand, we can always look at how Paul exercised church discipline with the church at Corinth. There was a member of the church who was sleeping with his father’s wife, a sin so egregious that Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5 even the pagans would not put up with such things. Rather than addressing this man’s sin, the church at Corinth was not only tolerating it in their midst, but they were boasting about their tolerance! The Corinthian church was not only allowing this man to persist in his sin while remaining in the church, but they were proud of it. Can’t you see their sign outside? “We accept ALL forms of love.” What did Paul tell them to do? He said, “Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” Yeast in the Bible is a symbol for sin. Paul is saying this sin they are letting persist in their midst without addressing will eventually permeate and affect the entire congregation. So Paul told the church of Corinth that instead of boasting about accepting this man’s sin, they were to be grieved over it. They were to approach him and tell him that his behavior is not bringing glory or honor to God and it needed to change. If he refused to repent, they were to set him outside of the fellowship so that maybe the broken relationship with the church would draw his heart to repent over what he was doing, and through that his soul could be restored. After all, they have accepted the sacrifice of Christ, and Jesus did not die on the cross so that they could continue in their sins.
This describes the appropriate response to sin among the body of believers. We aren’t to go around judging superficially, but we are to judge rightly, and Biblically. And we are to hold one another to the standard that Jesus Himself called us to, not so we can earn our salvation but because this is how we demonstrate our love for Him – obedience. It’s the same way that we can’t say we love our parents and disobey them. Our love for them is what drives us to obey, and our obedience is what establishes our love. Likewise, it is our love for God that calls us to follow His words, heed His commands, and strive for Godly behavior. And it is our obedience to God that proves our love for Him. However, just like with our earthly parents, we will still disobey, but we shouldn’t celebrate our disobedience. We should acknowledge that we all struggle, but then call one another back to repentance and obedience. Yes, it is “ok” that we fail because God loves us still, but we should not be proud of it, celebrate it, or encourage it.
In light of that, what would you do if a fellow believer announced that she is a homosexual and is now officially professing her love for her girlfriend? Or a member of your Bible study has asked you to meet his boyfriend? Is that any different from the scenarios described above? Is it not equally sinful? Then why do we see fellow believers applauding the “courage” of professing Christians in announcing their homosexuality? Why do I see Christians on social media saying, “You look so happy!” to a believer posting pictures with their same-sex partner? Why are other church members giving likes and thumbs up and “you go girl”-comments to a fellow believer announcing they are embracing and acting on their same-sex attraction? Why are Christians encouraging other Christians to embrace their sin choices? We should be grieved by these sins. We should be speaking to them individually about their choices that are leading them far from the commandments of God. We should be counseling them about how to deny their fleshly desires and take up their cross in obedience unto cross – as we all must do. We may not all have to deny the fleshly desire of same-sex attraction, but we all have to deny our fleshly desires. For one, it may be denying the desire to have heterosexual intimacy with someone who is not their spouse. For another it may be to deny their fleshly reaction of outbursts of anger and wrath. For yet another, it may be to deny their fleshly desire to indulge in too much alcohol or to use words that are not kind or loving. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. We should never celebrate another believer’s choice to embrace sin – no matter the sin.