Are You a Good Person?

Monday, September 24, 2007

You Will Not Commit Adultery

Those words are from Exodus 20:14. Jesus quotes from this in the Sermon on the Mount, saying, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:27,28) He equates sexual lust with the act of adultery itself. As I've been trying to point out, the keeping of the Law is something that must be kept in the heart.

To understand how relevant these words are today, think of all those, men and women, who are caught up in pornography. They may never go out and actually have sexual intercourse with someone, but according to Jesus, they are guilty, just as if they had. A lot of guys will say something to the affect of, "It's just natural to lust after a naked woman." Really? Is it really natural to go out and find places where you can look at a naked woman? Because in order to lust after her, you'd have to look at her. Unfortunately, the Internet has become the place to find pornography of every possible description and perversion. Women get caught up in this on two fronts; there are those who enjoy looking at pictures of naked men, and there are those who like to pose naked for men. Think of all those "Cam" sites where you can call a woman on the Internet and she will do all kinds of things so you can see her on your computer.

And it's not just limit to pornography either. Today's fashions are ridiculously obscene. Men are getting to see a whole lot more than I could have imagined when I was a kid. Some women are blissfully unaware of how tempting they look. It almost seems as if current fashion trends were set by hookers downtown.

Is Jesus really serious about this command then, seeing we are practically bathed in naked and near naked people? Consider the words following two verses, "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (Matthew 5:29,30) Now I don't see anyone gouging their eyes out because it "offends" them, or cutting off their right hand, for that matter. That doesn't mean Jesus wasn't being extremely literal in what He was saying. If pornography has become such an addiction that the only way to free yourself from it is to gouge out your eyes, Jesus is saying, "Do it! Better that then have your whole body thrown into hell."

Being practical about this, however, we would have to admit that we are all guilty of committing adultery in some manner or another. Gouging out our eyes would only leave everyone blind. Jesus provides another solution. In the book of Romans we read, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1,2) In otherwords, instead of gouging out your eyes, take your whole body and offer it up to God as a living sacrifice. Let Him take care of it, transforming you into the image of His Son. You do this by the constant renewing of your mind. Again, as Paul writes by the power of the Holy Spirit, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 2:5)

Okay. Makes sense, at least more sense than cutting my eyes out, but how do I do this? By doing three things; First you must establish a relationship with God through His Son, then you are counted as family. The Father in Heaven no longer sees your sins, but His Son's righteousness. Second, you spend time with Him in prayer, for it is in prayer that you get to know God. You get to know His mind, that the way He thinks may become the way you think. Third, you spend time in the prayerful study of His Word. Many Christians fail at one or both of these last points. When this happens, it is like going into battle naked. You are without protection against the enemy, but worse, you have cut off communication from headquarters.

Therefore, let Jesus become your Commander in Chief, the Captain of the Hosts of Heaven, not just some vague "savior" figure. Spend time with Him, so as a soldier in His army He can train you, teach you and cloth you in His armor. Then open up that precious Bible and let the living waters of God wash over you, as it is written, "That he might sanctify and cleanse it (your mind) with the washing of water by the word." (Ephesians 5:26 emphasis mine)

We have committed grievous crimes against the God of Heaven, yet in a mercy and a love that cannot be measured, He extends forgiveness of all these sins. He took them upon His own body, that is upon Jesus, and nailed them to the cross. Let us leave them there and follow Him. Let us rejoice that the Father no longer sees us in our fallen state, but in the purity and perfection of Christ. Our best form of worship to Him then is to obey the Law, no longer because God commands us, but because we know that doing so will please Him. Let our love grow that this might be accomplished by the working of His Holy Spirit in us. - David Brollier

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Meet Stephen Todd Jones

As part of a "Blessing Tour" Disturbing Reviews has asked many of us to make posts for Stephen Todd Jones. There are many like him, so I am hoping that this will not be confined to just Stephen, but any Christians out there who are facing hardships will find encouragement in these posts. - David Brollier

Stephen Todd Jones is a writer and poet from Virginia Beach, Virginia.

While a sophomore at Liberty University, he sustained injuries in a car crash that left him in a wheelchair, and this perspective forms the basis for much of his writing. Through his poetry, he gives us a window into his world and his faith.

Why Not Internally?
By Stephen Todd Jones

Why do you not peer inside yourself,
Revealing what you see in review
As relates to the simple, yet complex
Matter that indeed is you;
Why do you not evaluate your own self
In light of that true indeed here
In order to best prognosticate what
Lies in an eventual year?
You may not like what you see inside,
Turning your gaze that way.
Oh, is that the reason behind avoidance
Of looking inside? Okay...
I see your reasoning though avoiding
That makes no less sure
The demons and devils, residing within,
As more than conjecture.

This unique poem points to a problem that a lot of us have. We can find the faults in others easily, but within ourselves, well that's something we aren't ready to deal with. The problem is what faults we find in others are usually those we have in ourselves, so we don't help matters, but make them worse. Plus, we avoid dealing with the problems (demons and devils as he puts it) in our own lives. Let's start to look inside, at our own hearts before we go about judging others.

In keeping with this poem I'd like each of us to wrestle with our own salvation, in fear and trembling, so that God may hear our broken heart and bring healing to our spirit, soul and body. I offer the following for Stephen, and all the other “Stephens” out there:

One step at a time,
I keep on walking.
One step at a time,
the road is long,
but I'll keep on walking,
one step at a time,
and it won't be long,
'til I find my way home.

This chorus to a song I wrote encourages us to walk in a victory we neither see nor feel, but one which we must struggle to maintain. I could give all these Bible verses about how we are healed by the blood of Jesus, but chances are you already know that. What is commonly left out is that we have to wage our own war through these trials to see these things come to pass in our lives. In the meantime, I want him and all those also struggling to know that there are many people praying with and for you. For they are going through the same things. Yet, all who have chosen Him as our Fortress, shall one day find ourselves standing before Him in His perfection, made holy by His precious blood. Until then, we press on towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus.

David Brollier

Saturday, September 8, 2007

You Will Not Kill

People have argued and debated the meaning of the word "kill" here for a long time. I remember, growing up as a boy, I would hear people say, "It refers to pre-meditated murder." I guess that's a point. I grew up believing that way, and that serving in the military would be an honor. (One that was snatched from me due to health reasons). Yet there is more to this.

When we read these words in Exodus 20:13 we tend to get tunnel vision. Jesus tears away the blinders causing this tunnel vision in His Sermon on the Mount. Notice what He says in Matthew 5:21,22, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

This isn't a popular teaching today. In fact it wasn't very popular back then either. How soon we have forgotten the Words of our Lord. Let us examine what Jesus is saying. First He states the obvious, that the way they had been taught was so strictly literal here that it only applied to murder. Sound familiar? Notice that the way it was being taught was not that those people would be in danger of going to Hell. The teachers of the law tried to soften the meaning of the law by saying those who did kill would be in danger of the judgment. Okay, that includes Hell, but the absence of naming it made it more palatable to the people. Jesus wasn't concerned about whether it hurt our feelings or not, but stuck with the issue. Jesus said that whoever is simply angry with his brother is in danger of judgment. He says that whoever calls his brother Raca, which means "worthless" would be in danger of the council. Yet whoever says, "Thou fool" will be in danger of Hell.

How often have you thought or said, "That person's a fool"? Have you ever called someone an idiot? Have you been so angry with someone that you screamed obscenities at them? What Jesus is saying here is that if you have you have broken this commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." That's an awesome statement. Calling someone a fool, an idiot or stupid has been part of my past...and I'm afraid I may stumble and make mistakes like that again. The law says I am guilty of murder. I am without excuse.

So what about serving in the military? Let me answer a question with a question. Can you go to war against someone without hating them? If you can, then I suppose you could serve in the military. If you can't (which is most of us), then even your honorable duty in protecting our country will be counted as murder. Please understand I am in no way putting down the military or asking people to force a withdrawel of our troops in Iraq. I am not saying we should be so self-righteous here that we leave our borders and our people unprotected. I'm just stating the obvious, where there is hate it is seen by God as murder. No war has been fought because they loved each other. It's fought because countries hate each other. This is murder.

Now God is a just God, a righteous God, and we seem to forget that to Him, sin is sin. The person who yells at his neighbor, "Hey, stupid! You want to get your kids out of my yard," is just as much a murderer as those serial killers we read about. When you assassinate someone's character it is the same to God as if you had physically killed them. With God there is no "wiggle" room. There is no bargaining.

What are we to do? All of us have at least called someone names from a hatred that was in our heart. All of us have said things that we regret. The Law of God condemns us. We are lost. We look to God and say, "God, I can't keep your law, not even these simple things that I thought I could keep. What am I to do? I don't want to go to Hell. I don't want to die. God, help me. Is there something that can save me, something I can do to balance the scales out." God answers, "There is nothing you can do to balance the scales because even your good works are filthy in my eyes. I cannot stand to look upon them. However, I have sent My Only Son to take upon Himself the punishment for all of your crimes. If you will receive this, My outstretched hand of mercy, all your sins shall be forgiven. I will not even remember what they were, so great is my mercy towards you. The work you could not do, the sacrifice you could not offer, My Son has done for you. All you need to do is to believe on Him, receive the life He gives to you and let His words live in you. Then you will escape punishment. Then my wrath shall not touch you. For your debt has been paid."

What about it friend? Have you ever called someone an idiot, a fool, "stupid"? Have you harbored hatred in your heart for someone? Do you see that the Law condemns you? Look then to the cross and see that His love has paid your penalty. You need not be in danger of Hell, but know you are a child of God, a citizen of Heaven. Would you accept this offer from him today? Write me if you have questions. I will be happy to answer them as best as I can. - David Brollier

Friday, September 7, 2007

Honor Your Parents

Until this commandment all others have address our vertical relationship with us and God. To complete this, however God shows us that there are horizontal commands that need to be addressed as well. "Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother," is the first of these. It is first because your parents are the first circle of human relationship that you understand. But it goes much deeper than that.

You see God has set Himself up as our Heavenly Father, so the first 3 commandments deal directly with Him. The 4th is how we are to respect and honor Him. So He has set the stage for us to honor our parents. These are thos special people God has given to us that we might understand Him. Tragically both sides of this equation has been so broken that God has to use others to teach us of Himself. There are parents who are abusive or negligent and apathetic towards their children. Then, there are those children who are intentionally rebellious and abusive to their parents. Clearly God's commandment means nothing to them. While grace is freely given to all, God still requires us to get this right. Why? Because the most precious thing you have been given is your children. And the most precious thing they have is you, their parents. If you truly loved your children wouldn't you do all that you could to secure their salvation? If that is so, love them as God loves you. Then as they honor you, they honor and come to know God as their Heavenly Father.

I remember a girl weeping when someone was talking to her about God being the Heavenly Father. She was abused as a child and couldn't make the connection between a loving God and the abusive father image she had. If was as if someone had just told her that if she would accept Jesus then God would abuse her, because that is how she understood what the word "father" meant. This command teaches children to become righteous parents to their children so the concept of God as father is comforting, not threatening.

David Brollier

Monday, September 3, 2007

Remember the Sabbath

The next law is going to cause a stir. God says "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Exodus 20:8-11)

First let me say I am not trying to cause division, nor am I trying to be legalistic. I am simply trying to state and teach what God says, even if that means saying some things that are a little uncomfortable to me.

I was basically born and raised in a Christian church, a Christian family, went to a Christian college and began a Christian family of my own. In all that time I have heard people defend Sunday worship in favor of Sabbath worship quote from Romans 14:5, "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." If they would go on they would see that those esteeming one day above the others were the Jews who persisted in lifting up Sabbath worship, and that those who did not accept this law of Sabbath worship did so only because everyday was as a Sabbath. There is no mention of worship on Sunday replacing worship on the Sabbath.

Some historical/Biblical references to Sabbath worship show us that Jesus worshiped on the Sabbath, as did His disciples. Paul also worshiped on the Sabbath. Look through the Book of Acts and you will see that "the day of worship" was the Sabbath. We get confused because we have been taught confusion. God is not the author of confusion. Did the first church meet throughout the week? Yes they did. In fact we are told in Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."

The Sabbath is mentioned not only in the Law of God, but in the prophets, and the New Testament writers as something that will be observed in the end times. Jesus also spoke of the holiness of the Sabbath, saying, "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:" (Matthew 24:20) He also defended the Sabbath when others accused Him of breaking it.

What is the Sabbath? Many Christians will say it is Sunday. They will usually be quick to say that the Jewish Sabbath is Saturday, but the Christian Sabbath is Sunday, the "Day of the Lord", celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Now I'm all FOR celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Without it there could be no real salvation, no true gospel message. Yet, GOD defines the Sabbath this way, "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:" and the reason God gives us for doing so is this, "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."

The Sabbath worship is intended to help refocus our minds on the Lord, to remember that He alone is Creator. Jesus says that He is Lord of the Sabbath. God says that He set aside the sabbath and "hallowed it", that is God made it holy. When we do not keep the Sabbath we are not following the example given to us by Jesus, we are not allowing God's blessings to fall upon us because we have created our own sabbath, which is at odds with the one God, through Jesus, created and made holy. If you wish to use the argument that all days are holy, do you work on these other days? We are not to work on the Sabbath for it is holy.

I will openly admit to weekly breaking this commandment. Even if I went not to work on the Sabbath, I find that I do not know how to keep it holy. Nor do I know how to keep any day holy. Perhaps that is the whole point. Keeping the Sabbath keeps us on track with God. He makes holy those who receive His holiness.