The Naked Woman in the Room

ready_resist_restoreWe’ve all heard the expression “the elephant in the room.” It describes an obvious yet widely ignored truth. Unfortunately, the worldwide use of pornography provides a classic example.

A little while back, an article suggested that the explosion of Internet porn is to blame for young people abandoning Christianity. Of course, it’s doubtful you’ll hear a sermon about it on Sunday. It’s not a comfortable topic, but comfort level has nothing to do with something’s importance. Does pornography keep people from a relationship with God?

Well, looking at porn is definitely a sin. No, there isn’t a “Thou shalt not look at porn” commandment, but Jesus did say “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). So, since gazing at porn is a sin, how do we approach it?

First things first: you have to get ready. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan is all about trying to destroy you. His future destruction has been decreed (Revelation 20:10), and he wants to take everyone down with the ship. Pornography is just one of the many temptations he uses to destroy people unsuspectingly. After all, when it comes to porn, most people wink and take a “whatever you do in the privacy of your own home” attitude. The bad news? Porn objectifies women, creates unrealistic expectations in relationships and, above all, it keeps people distant from God. Jesus said “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). You cannot serve two masters. You can’t serve God and lust at the same time.

Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to resist. 1 Peter 5:9 says “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” If there’s any consolation about temptation, it’s that we’ve all been there. The best way to avoid sin, is to avoid temptation. Like Jesus said, “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you” (Matthew 5:30). Getting rid of any porn, making it difficult to access and finding an accountability partner are all practical steps to take if you’re struggling with addiction. That said, the most important step is being rooted in the Word of God. When Satan tempted Jesus, the Lord responded to every one of Satan’s temptations with Scripture. If it is good for Jesus, it’s good for us. Pray for God to give you the strength to resist, and get in His Word. He will carry you, but if you stumble, God can restore.

1 Peter 5:10 says “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” If through unwatchfulness or temptation we give in to sin, God has given us this delightful promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). If we admit our wrongs to God, He will forgive us and cleanse us so that we may “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

Narrow Be The Way

the_narrow_wayThe Bible says “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Yes, there is nothing new under the sun, and a recent study illustrates why.

Indeed, the “State of the Bible survey, conducted by the Barna Group and the American Bible Society, shows that 19 percent of American adults are “skeptical” about the Bible.” Frankly, that number seems far too low in my experience. Regardless, the study indicated that skeptics of the Bible have grown “by 10 percentage points since 2011.” In fact, “The survey showed that 79 percent of Americans believe the Bible is sacred, down from 86 percent in 2011.” What could explain the precipitous rise in skepticism? The study suggests “The shift is attributed in large part to the growing doubts of the millennial generation and Generation X.” Shocking, right?

Generation Y, as my generation is so often called, needs to read my new book Generation Why? Shameless self-promotion aside, people have always questioned the Bible’s claim to be the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). It’s nothing new. Yet, the evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible is extraordinary. I devoted a section to it in Generation Why? and I’ve written a short article on it also in which I maintain “the Bible is one consistent, unfolding record of God’s dealings with the human race, without a single contradiction.” It requires far less faith to believe that than to believe the opposite. The Bible may have been written by a group of men, but it has only one Author: God.

That said, even when the Bible was widely respected, the main message of the Bible was still rejected by many. Sure, people may have intellectually believed Jesus and His claims, but they still didn’t trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins. They had God on their lips, but not in their hearts. This is hardly a surprise. After all, Jesus Himself said “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Being a true Christian has never been the popular thing to do, but then, popularity has never been a gauge of what’s true. We can believe whatever we want, but our beliefs don’t make something true. The Bible says there are eternal consequences for believing the wrong thing, and eternity is a long time to be wrong. In light of that, the truth is worth a look I’d say.

Truth is Compassionate

truth_doesnt_hurtUnfortunately, just about all of us have experienced rejection in our lives. It never feels good. Yet, it’s always good to know where you stand. Apparently, Rachael Held Evans disagrees.

Ms. Evans, who claims to be a Christian, recently said “Rather than wearing out my voice in calling for an end to evangelicalism’s culture wars, I think it’s time to focus on finding and creating church among its many refugees – women called to ministry, our LGBTQ brother and sisters, science-lovers, doubters, dreamers, misfits, abuse survivors, those who refuse to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith or their compassion and their religion.” She made this statement after World Vision reversed their decision to let people in same-sex “marriages” work at their organization. Obviously, Ms. Evans maintains she is being compassionate, but she’s actually being horribly uncompassionate.

Here’s the deal. If you’re a practicing homosexual, you’re engaging in active rebellion against God. The Bible says “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). That’s pretty straightforward. If you’re engaging in homosexual behavior, you’re not headed to Heaven.

So, why are Christians so opposed to promoting homosexual lifestyles? That’s easy. No, we’re not big meanies or “bigots” as some like to say. On the contrary, we don’t support homosexual lifestyles because God doesn’t support them. It’s as simple as that.

God hates sin. He rejects sinful lifestyles, because He loves us and wants the best for us. Sin is horrible and destructive, and He wants to protect us from it. Usually, people don’t want their sin tolerated. They want it legitimized. Well, God offers neither, but He does offer forgiveness. More often than not, the idea of needing forgiveness for a lifestyle choice sets people off. As a result, some people want to appear loving and compassionate by endorsing their friends’ lifestyle choices. Of course, if the lifestyle choice is condemned by God, they aren’t being loving at all. Naturally, if someone rejects God for their lifestyle choice, that person is telling Him they don’t need Him in their life. So, God gives that person exactly what they want: eternity without Him.

Some people like to say “the truth hurts.” I disagree. Not telling someone the truth is the least compassionate thing you can do, because the Bible says “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36). Would you rather know where you stand, or would you rather be lied to? Given that eternity is on the line, I’ll take the Truth every time (John 14:6).

The Spirit of Antichrist is in the Air

antichrist_spiritIt’s that time of year again. The birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining. Spring is in the air, but unfortunately, so is something else.

In a recent interview, CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Franklin Graham said that some Obama administration officials “are hostile to Christ.” He added, “They are anti-Christ in what they say and in what they do.” In other words, anything to do with the Christian faith is being removed from public view, but don’t just take his word for it. Cardinal Raymond Burke, head of the highest court at the Vatican, recently said “It is true that the policies of the president of the United States of America have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.” Ouch.

So, what’s the spirit of antichrist? Well, it’s been around awhile. The Bible says that “every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (1 John 4:3). Yes, the spirit of antichrist is in the air, and the Obama administration is hardly the only example.

After all, the Hollywood blockbuster “Noah” is in theatres, and it’s not exactly what you would call a biblical movie. Answers in Genesis reviewed the film, saying the director and screenwriter “were willing to rearrange the account of Noah and the Flood in ways that made good evil and evil good.” Speaking of reviews, Creation Ministries International has been busy reviewing the “Cosmos” television series. In their cheeky introduction titled Nothing New Under the Cosmos,” they stated that the “series is just one more materialistic push by the secular media.” I’m sure Franklin Graham would agree.

Indeed, the spirit of antichrist is already in the world, but there is a future world ruler known as the Antichrist yet to come. He will oppose and exalt himself “above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). Simply put, this guy is going to have an epic God complex. Until then, his satanic characteristics are visible in the world. The Bible says “as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Although the “man of lawlessness” hasn’t been revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Judging from the way things are going, the world seems primed and ready for him to show up.

Christian Disobedience

obey_God_not_manTolerance is a funny word. It means different things to different people. This wasn’t always the case. Tolerance used to mean putting up with something you disagree with. It was about respectfully agreeing to disagree. Yet, today, tolerance means “agree or else.”

As a result, people are shocked when Christians refuse to compromise. For instance, a few weeks ago, a councilman from Ohio refused to stop praying in Jesus’ name. Although he has come under fire for the prayers, Councilman Terry Mader said “If I, as a Christian, am embarrassed to share his name, then He is going to be embarrassed in recognizing me in my relationship with him.” If this sounds familiar, it might be because Jesus said “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). Councilman Mader is on point, and he’s not alone.

Indeed, several Air Force cadets have “revolted” after the removal of a Bible verse from the white board outside a fellow cadet’s door. They’ve begun scribbling Bible verses on their whiteboards in solidarity. In an unusual twist, Muslim and secular cadets have joined in. Mikey Weinstein, the leader of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, called it a “revolt.” Clearly a little hot under the collar, Weinstein explained “Had it been in his room—not a problem. It’s not about the belief. It’s about the time, the place and the manner.” No, it’s about the belief. If the cadet wrote a quote from Richard Dawkins on his white board, would Weinstein be freaking out? I highly doubt it.

Regardless, Weinstein demanded the offending cadets receive “non-judicial punishment at the very least.” Now, call me crazy, but isn’t refusing to put up with a minor expression of the Christian faith an act of intolerance? Apparently, these days, tolerance means accepting all beliefs and lifestyles as equally valid. Obviously, Christians don’t fall in line, so many people want to put us in the penalty box. We’re just too intolerant! Of course, by rejecting Christianity, individuals like Weinstein are being intolerant by their own definition.

Amusing ironies aside, Christians aren’t going to keep quiet. Like Peter and the Apostles said “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). We’re not going to keep our faith to ourselves, because we have marching orders which indicate otherwise. Jesus commanded us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). What about threats of punishment if we refuse to stop? Well, Jesus also said “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). In other words, I fear God more than man, because man has no real power. Put differently, it’s better to be biblically correct than politically correct.