God’s Love – Part Eight

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

To review:

1> How John 3:16 came to be

2> That God’s love is extravagant

3> God’s love is extensive

4> God’s Love Is Expensive

5> God’s Love is Expansive

6> God’s love is Exclusive

7> God’s love is Exceptional

Today: God’s love is Eternal.

There is a gravestone for Les Moore in Tombstone, Arizona (an appropriate place to have an epitaph, I would think). Apparently his departure was not overly mourned, for his epitaph reads:

Here Lies Les Moore

No Les, No More

The humour rings true, but the theology falls flat. Somewhere, more or less, Les Moore abides. If Les found the love of God in the gift of Jesus Christ, then Les is more. In God’s eternity He is more alive, more himself, more abounding in every good blessing, and more fully in loving fellowship with his Lord. 

If Les Moore is experiencing the ecstasy of eternity, you can be sure that it began to happen before he was laid in the ground under that tombstone. Eternity is more than a someday promise to be fulfilled on the other side of a funeral. Eternal life is our present position. Eternal life is now. If this seems confusing, think of it this way: When we accept Christ and begin living in His love, heaven’s door opens to us, letting a pure light into our lives that we never had before. We receive the life of God’s Spirit and experience the joy of fellowship with Him (see John 17:3). In a real sense, we begin to live in heaven before we actually get there. This foretaste of heaven sweetens our lives now; and with life in heaven already in our grasp, “now” is suddenly a very good place to be. As Paul put it, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Either way, we win.

Someone told me about a little girl who misquoted John 3:16 as “whoever believes on Him should not perish but have internal life.” This time the theology is as sound as the humour. Indeed, we have new life internally even before we arrive in heaven because of what Christ has done for us. Jesus offers us more than a life insurance policy, more than a stamped ticket to heaven. He came that we might have life, and then we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). That’s how much God loves you. 

John 3:16 tells an amazing love story, doesn’t it? It begins with God who has no beginning, and concludes with life that has no ending. That’s life with no limits, and it can begin now. Think of it, no limits to joy, no limits to kingdom service, and no limits to how much we will come to resemble His Son as we grow more like Him every day. 

God’s Love – Part Six

As we look again at John 3:16 we see that the fifth element of God’s love is that it is exclusive.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

To review:

1> How John 3:16 came to be

2> That God’s love is extravagant

3> God’s love is extensive

4> God’s Love Is Expensive

5> God’s Love is Expansive

6> God’s love is Exclusive

We now come to what is really in a crucial way the key word in John 3:16. I don’t mean it’s the most holy word, which would be God, or the most affecting word, which would be His love, or the most astonishing words, which would be the gift of His Son.  But the word believes is crucial because it is the hinge upon which the door of heaven turns.

To show you just how important this word is, notice that in three consecutive verses (16-18), Jesus uses variations of believes four times. If you were to speak three sentences, and you included one verb four times, I would get the feeling you were stressing a highly critical point. And indeed He was.

John 3:16 begins with God and His love, and it ends in heaven — all stable and unchangeable elements. But the one variable in the equation is this word believes. Will we believe? You might say the verse is shaped like the letter Y. God is at the base, the foundation. His love and sacrifice gets us to the fork where the upper arms begin. At the tops of the two arms are “eternal life” and “perish.” At the fork in the Y is where we find the word believes. And that’s where you and I stand. Whether or not we believe will determine whether we choose to perish or accept the offer of eternal life. 

God’s love is infinitely deep, infinitely wide, and poured out for every single person who ever lived or ever will. And yet all of that is for naught if you or I choose not to believe in Christ. What a tragedy that God could love a person so deeply, only to have that love rejected!

Nicodemus thought God was in the business of condemning. But in the following two verses, Jesus told him that God doesn’t exclude people; they exclude themselves: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18). There’s that word again — three times. John wants us to see the life-or-death urgency of our choice. 

In terms of how we relate to the love of God, there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who believe in Jesus Christ and those who do not. Those who believe will receive the salvation of God and all it brings. Those who don’t believe will miss out. As I have been stressing, God loves everyone, but in order to receive His love, we must believe.

God’s love gave us Christ, who died giving us our only access to heaven. Therefore, salvation is not in question. It is there for the taking. The only thing in question is our response. Will we believe? So, salvation does not turn on the point, ‘Did Christ die for me?’ But on the point, ‘do I believe on Christ.’

God has done everything possible to rescue us. If we refuse to jump into the net, it’s not because of anything He has failed to do; it’s because we didn’t offer the simple and natural response of the heart to the supreme act of love — we failed to believe. 

God’s Love – Part Five

We are looking at John 3:16 which states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And., we have examined some of the meaning behind these famous words. So far we have seen:

1> How John 3:16 came to be

2> That God’s love is extravagant

3> God’s love is extensive

4> God’s Love Is Expensive

Let’s continue today …

5> God’s Love is Expansive

We see this in the words “…that whoever…”

Richard Baxter once wrote that he was glad that God put the word whoever in John 3;16. He would rather have that word in the verse than his own name. “I thank God,” he said, “for the word ‘whosoever.’ If God had said the there was mercy for Richard Baxter, I am so vile a sinner that I would have thought he meant some other Richard Baxter; but when he says ‘whosever’ I know that it includes me, the worst of all Richard Baxters.”

Whoever is what we call a “big tent.” It can hold everyone who wants to find shelter beneath it. It’s a wonderful., loving, inclusive word that reaches out to invite all hearers. Leave your résumé at home; your qualifications don’t matter. If you live and breathe, if you are born into this human race, here’s a place for you.

Mr. Klein, it is said, was a miserable old man. He had lived every which way but good, fought every battle but the good fight, and he knew it. He wasn’t worthy of anyone’s friendship, so he reached out to no one. He didn’t go to church, because the back pew was too far forward for someone like him. He wasn’t proud of his sin, and he was painfully aware of it. 

And then one Sunday evening, he walked by the church. He heard the people singing and rejoicing, and he felt that old familiar pang of loneliness. For just a moment, he paused in his steps and listened. He had heard the melody before, and now he listened to the words of the hymn:

Saved by grace alone

This is all my plea,

Jesus died for Old Man Klein,

And Jesus died for me.

He was astonished! Jesus died for Old Man Klein? How could there be a hymn that identified him specifically? And why would these people be singing it? He couldn’t resist slipping into the church building and sliding secretly onto that back pew. He had a lump in his throat, knowing for the first time that the Gospel was for him. Then he picked up a hymnal and found that what he had really heard was “Jesus died for all mankind.”

Or was it?

It didn’t matter: Old Man Klein knew what his heart had heard, and after all, “all mankind” had to include him.

I try to help people understand that word whoever, one of the most breathtaking, outrageous words in all of Scripture — a word with implications that make the devil tremble. I want people to see that this word allows each person to plug his or her own name into the verse.

For God so loved Ralph Howe…

For God so loved John Jones…

For God so loved Mary Johnson…

…that if Ralph Howe believes in Him…

…that if John Jones believes in Him…

…that if Mary Johnson believes in Him…

Now would be a good time to put your own name in this verse. Go ahead — give it a try. Personalize John 3:16, write it down, speak it aloud, let it soak into you’re mind, and see how your day goes. I challenge you. 

God’s Love – Part Four

As we continue our look at John 3:16 and the love of God, we have seen:

1> How John 3:16 came to be

2> That God’s love is extravagant

3> God’s love is extensive

4> God’s Love Is Expensive

John 3:16 goes on to say that God the Father “gave His only begotten Son…” Only begotten means “unique” — one and only.

James Boice explains what Jesus’ uniqueness means to us: “Jesus is the unique Son of God; there is no one like Him, no one who is His equal. Therefore, because Jesus Christ is the very image of God, and because there is no one like Him, when God gave Jesus, He gave the best gift in the universe.”

Dr. Boice’s observation is another demonstration of the value God places on us. He gave the most valuable and cherished gift in His possession. He sent His one and only Son into the world to show how much we mean to him. He did this because it was the only way to rid us of our fatal addiction to sin so that He could have us with Him through all eternity. 

The apostles John and Paul both attest that the preciousness of God’s gift demonstrates the extreme depth of His love for us: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).

There is an old film (sorry, can’t find it or I would post it) which tells the story of a farmer and his ten-year old son who were deeply devoted to each other. The two of them worked side by side on the farm, laughed and played, and spent almost all their time together.

The father also had the responsibility of switching the train that passed nearby. Each day he walked to the tracks and pulled the switch that redirected the approaching locomotive to another track.

One evening with their farm chores complete, the father and son were fishing in a stream that ran through the farm. When the father heard the distant whistle of the train, he left his son to take care of the track switch. As he walked toward the track, he did not realize that his son had decided to join him. The boy had taken a shortcut through the woods and was now walking along the tracks to meet his father.

The train approached the switching junction moving at a high speed, trusting the farmer to switch it to the track that ran straight ahead. Suddenly the farmer saw his son on that track in a place here he could not possibly get off in time. The father’s first impulse was to leave the train on its present track. But that track curved away, and the train was moving too fast to negotiate the turn. The father knew that if he switched the train, his boy would die. If he didn’t, the train would derail, and many people would die.

In that moment, the father experienced the most terrible agony imaginable. He had to weigh the life of his son against a trainload of passengers he didn’t even know. As you watch sitting on the edge of your seat the film lingers on the father’s hand as it gripped the switch. What would he do?

The question is not answered. The film concludes right there. But the message was clear: You and I were on that train, and God the Father was at the switch. We know the decision He made. He did not spare His only Son, but freely gave Him up that we all might be saved.

God also gave the best He had in another sense. As John tells us, Jesus is with God, He is God, and He is God’s Son (John 1:1-3). Though a son, He is coeternal with the Father. Exactly how all those statements can be true must remain a mystery this side of eternity. But here’s what we can know: Jesus Christ is the very image of God, but that does not mean He is a creature made in the image of God as man is. He is God incarnate. Though a man, He is the eternal God Himself. 

Consequently, when God gave Jesus, He gave Himself. He gave His own life — the most expensive gift in this vast universe.

With Paul, we must stand and shout, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

God’s Love – Part Three

As we continue our look at John 3:16 and the love of God, we have seen:

1> How John 3:16 came to be

2> That God’s love is extravagant

Today, let’s look at the fact that God’s love is extensive. The verse we are looking at is John 3:16 which states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s love is extensive deals with the sixth word of John 3:16 where we discover the object of God’s love: the world. It is doubly amazing for a Jew to write such words. As I noted when speaking of Nicodemus, it was basic to Hebrew culture that a Jew loved fellow Jews, and others not so much or not at all. He looked down with proud distain on every Gentile, knowing that the Jews were God’s chosen people with whom He had a special relationship.

One writer comments: “The Jew was ready enough to think of God as loving Israel, but no passage appears to be cited in which any Jewish writer maintains that God loved the world. It is a distinctively Christian ideal that God’s love is wide enough to embrace all humankind. His love was not confined to any national group or any spiritual elite. It was a love which proceeds from the fact that He is love (1 John 4:8).

Jews like Nicodemus would be aghast: God loves – so loves – the world? Surely not! God so loves the Romans, with their cruel tyranny? God so loves the Assyrians and the Babylonians, who carried the Jews into bondage?

Absolutely. The world was put on notice that God loves the lovable (whoever they may be); He loves the unlovable; He loves Jews and the haters of Jews. He loves all people, and all fall under the love of Christ. No one is too evil or too far away for His love. 

We need to be aware that the term “world” is used in two different ways. John says here that God loved “the world.” But in another place he says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). This seems contradictory; God loves the world, yet He tells us not to love the world if we want to be like God. How do we reconcile these two verses?

There is no contradiction. In 1 John the reference is to the world system that rejects God — the world Satan invaded at man’s fall and blighted with lust and pride and all other evils. Later John will say, “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19). The Greek word for “world,” kosmos, has different meanings in the Scriptures based on the context. In his Gospel, John is telling us that God loves all the people of the world, sinners though they are. In his Epistle, John is telling is that we must be careful not to fall in love with a wicked and godless world system, which would be a form of idolatry. His message is to love the world’s people but not its program. 

Just as the world carries shades of meaning, so does the word love. C.S. Lewis wrote of four different kinds of love: friendship, affection, erotic love, and sacrificial love. And it’s here that many people get confused. We know that God loves us, and we need to understand just what kind of love that is.

I happen to love the country where I live. I’m deeply thankful to have been born here and live here. And I love my country will all my heart.

But I also happen to love my grandchildren and great grandchild. And my love for them is not at all the same kind of love that I have for my nation. As much as I love my country, my love for my grandchildren is far deeper, far more emotional. I love them with all my heart — and then some. That may not make logical or mathematical sense, but I know what I feel and what I mean.

God loves every individual in this world with the same profound devotion with which I love my grandchildren. The whole truth is, God’s love is far deeper and more profound than even my love for my grandchildren simply because His love is perfect and infinite, as no human love is. No one loves you the way He does — not your spouse, not your mothers, nor your child. No on. 

God’s love is extensive!

God’s Love – Part Two

Let’s look at God’s Love Is Extravagant!

“For God so loved…”

It’s difficult for modern people to understand the cultural world before Christ. Even among the Jews in Nicodemus’s time, the idea that “God is love” was counterintuitive. If you had played word association with a citizen of that day, when you said “God,” the response would have been “fear.” Among the Jews, God was a strict observer of man’s follies and quick to disapprove and punish. Outside the Jewish community, God was considered an outright tyrant.

Even today, heathen religions are all about appeasing the wrath of a furious god. Medicine men and witch doctors cycle through desperate incantations, warding off death, disease, famine, and calamities inflicted by their gods. At the root of this fear is the fact that all people recognize in their hearts that they are unworthy sinners. Not knowing the good news of John 3:16, they are left to dodge the lightening from heaven, which they sense they have earned.

And then into that context Jesus drops these words: God so loves.

It turns religion topsy-turvy. It confounds Pharisees like Nicodemus. It forces a rewrite of one’s idea of the Creator. No longer could the ancients think God to be aloof, simmering angrily on His throne, leaving us to figure some way to forestall His wrath. They had to radically shift their concept of Him from fear to love. Many people today also need to make that shift in thinking – even some believers.

But if we think John 3:16 announced a change in God from wrathful to loving, we miss the point. William Barclay wrote: “Sometimes men present the Christian message in such a way that it sounds as if Jesus did something which changed the attitude of God towards people from condemnation to forgiveness. But this text tells us that it all started with God. It was God who sent His Son, and He sent Him because He loved people. At the back of everything is the love of God.” (William Barclay, The Gospel of John, Volume 1, page 128). God was never the wrathful deity of the ancients; He loved us from the beginning.

John 3:16 opens with a bang, starting not only with God, but with God doing something — God loving. Excuse me — God so loving. The most intense word in this verse is the smallest. Bound up in those two letters, s – o, are all the agonies of the Cross; all the suffering of the Son as He walked among men; all the exertion of a God willing to leave Heaven and take on flesh, not because He simply loved, but because He so loved. Hands that hold us are loving. Nail-scarred hands that hold us are so loving. 

In the world famous St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, there is in the annex a huge statue of Jesus Christ, writhing in anguish on the cross. You can see the pain on His face, the blood-sweat of His body. Beneath to statue, a plaque read “This is how God loved the world.” He so loved the world.

So loved  is what we say when loves drives someone to action. It’s what we feel when we see the message of God’s devotion written in flowing red script with a pen dipped into His lifeblood — love at great cost, love clearly understood in every language.

This is extravagant love. God didn’t simple say, “I love you.” He said it in torn flesh, in agony, in bearing unearned, vicious punishment. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

SOMETIMES I FEEL INCREDIBLY LONELY

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-3smms-10254a6

 

When God created the world, He declared that everything was good (Genesis, Chapter 1)

The sun, the earth, the moon, and the stars — all good!

  • He was pleased 
    • Pleased with the animals
    • Pleased with the mountains
    • Pleased with the oceans
    • Pleased with the trees

Above all, God was most proud of His best work: Man (“very good”)

All was good — except one thing… Read more

It Is a Matter of the “Want To!”

If we fail to find all that we want of Christ, it is not because He is unavailable. It has been said that most of the things we really want, we get; that the true prayers of the innermost heart are always answered, but the key is to aware what your innermost heart is really saying. If you want to be married, there are ways. If you want to get into university, there are ways. If you want to make a million dollars, it’s not as impossible as you think. It’s all in the want to. There are incredibly gifted athletes who fail and untalented ones who make it to the highest level.

But God is attainable to every single member of the human race. Again, it’s a matter of the want to.

Consider Paul, who had three visions of Christ in his lifetime. In 2 Corinthians 12 he described how he was caught up into the third heaven and saw things that were beyond human vocabulary. Paul had a remarkable physical life and a remarkable spiritual life. How touching it is that in his final years, when he knew the end was coming, he wrote that he had only one desire, which he hadn’t yet fulfilled. 

Philippians 3:1-14 “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Here was a man exalted by the early church, obviously admired by all his correspondents. And he was telling them that he had one goal and he hadn’t reached it. The older he got, the closer he got, and the more he wanted to lay hold of that for which he’s been laid hold of.

I long to be that kind of man when I stand on the outskirts of this short life. I long to be uncomfortable, not settled into an easy-chair faith in an easy-chair church, surrounded by people who reassure me that we’ve reached the bonus round of the kingdom of God, so we can just put up our feet and watch the world go by. No, I choose to be like Paul and lived thirsty — straining to take hold of the prize, knowing I’ll never quite get my fingertips on it in this life. The straining hurts, but it’s a good kind of hurt – a blessed kind of hurt.

The question is, Do you want to be comfortable or Christlike, relaxed or renewed?

If you want to be Christlike, ask yourself whether you are satisfied. The Puritans used to say, “He has the most need of righteousness who least wants it.” They were right about that. Are you smug, self-satisfied, and feeling pretty food about where you are spiritually? If that’s your feeling, then you aren’t hungry.

Do you have an appetite for the Word of God? Jeremiah the prophet said, “Thy words were found, and I ate them” (Jeremiah 15:16). The Word is our food, and a living, invigorated spirit hungers for more and more food. Sherwood Elliot Wirt, former editor of “Decision” magazine, explained:

“The problem with this whole hunger issue with Christians is that often we think spiritual hunger works the same way physical hunger works. When you are physically hungry, the longer you go without eating, the hungrier you get. When you finally do eat, fill yourself up, the hunger is satisfied. In the spiritual realm, it’s exactly the opposite of that. In the spiritual realm, the longer you go without eating, the more your appetite wanes. If you don’t eat, you can go for long periods of time and you aren’t even hungry.”

It works in reverse too. Physically, the more you eat, the more you’re full; eating satisfies your hunger. But spiritually, the more you’re filled with the Word, the more you want; spiritually appetite only intensifies. No one truly experiences God and says, “That’ll do me for a couple of weeks.” The more you have of Him, the more you want of Him.

Sometimes, of course, we hit the depths. It takes passion to restore passion, and our needle is on empty. We pick up the Bible. And it’s as dry as dust. The sermons don’t come to life. Prayer life is nonexistent. We feel like we have “lost God“ It is in these times that we should use the strategy I call “force-feeding” based on the principle that it’s better to act your way into feeling than to try feeling your way into acting. 

So, sit down, open your Bible. Read. If drowsiness beckons, read aloud. Stay the course. Sooner or later — this comes with my guarantee — God is going to show up again, I assure you, you’ll know when it happens. It will be like rain after a long drought, feasting after days of starvation. It will feel as if the door has opened to your heart, and springtime sunshine is flooding in.

The next day, you’ll show up for Bible reading ten minutes early, and you’ll go overtime. And as passion for God steals back into your life, an amazing thing will happen. All the passions of your heart will begin to fall into place, to seek their proper levels. You’ll realize that it was more than spiritual dryness that was besetting your soul. When you lose Him, you lose everything., And it is only then He is once again rediscovered that you realize the proper place of every other passion and concern. 

I hope you never lost God. But if you do, remember that He doesn’t withhold His blessing from those of us who wander along the road — as long as we are pointed towards heaven, passionately seeking, hungry, thirsty, and wide open for all that He wants for us to become and to do. 

God’s Work, God’s Purpose, God’s Plan

God is at work in your life. More accurately, God is at work in you – inside your heart and soul. 

Philippians 2:12-13 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

And the purpose of God’s work (His plan and His purpose) in you is for you to become more and more like Him. 

Many people ask: “If God is at work in me, then what in the world is He up to?” People are disillusioned because they are trying to measure God’s involvement in their lives by looking at the outside – at their circumstances. But that approach is a trap. The end result of God’s work is not measured by how smooth your life runs or how rich or how physically attractive you become. His goal is to re-create in you the character of Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul said it this way: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (Romans 8:29a). That’s what God has been working to accomplish in you — to make you more like His Son. This doesn’t mean He wants you to start wearing a robe and sandals, grow a beard, and add a “verily, verily” to the beginning of every sentence. His goal isn’t to make you smarter and smarter, or to alter your personality. After all, He is a God of variety. He never made any two things alike.

It means that when you became a Christian, there was placed in you a brand-new potential for character. The life of Christ was planted in you. Your potential for good, for character, for change, went up about 1,000 percent. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be God. I know that comes as a shock. But it does mean that you have been given the life of Christ along with all its potential. And now that you have this potential in you, God wants to fan the flame so that as your character develops, you reflect Jesus’ character.

When you think about it, that verse from Paul is a real mind-blower. The God of this whole universe has determined your destiny. He has plans for you. He has a purpose and destiny for you. And it is not to be His doormat or part of the sole of His shoe. He plan is that you are to be conformed to His image!

For me, at times, that is hard to believe. I look at some of my attitudes and habits and say, “Not only do we have a long way to go, God, but we’re going to run out of time before you ever get me to that point.”

Maybe you heard about the fellow who said, “Everybody has been given a certain amount of things to do in this life. Right now I am so far behind, I’ll never die.” If God’s plan is to totally conform my character to that of Jesus Christ before I die, I may never die, either.

Maybe you find it hard to believe, too. You’re thinking, That sounds good, but you don’t know me …I’ve got this temper, and it’s out of control … Or You don’t know about this habit I’ve got … It practically runs my life. That may be true. But keep in mind, God did not move in simply to fine-tune your behaviour. He moved in to transform your character. 

Sometimes the hardest part of getting in on God’s plan is simply believing that it can happen. All of us have areas that we assume are always going to be a struggle. A lot of the time it’s easier to say, “Well, that part of me will never change. That’s just the way I am! My mother was this way. Her mother was this way. Her mother’s mother was this way. I imagine Eve was this way, too. There is no point in even trying to change.”

Think about that statement for a minute. Have you ever felt challenged about an area of your life and given that as your response? Many people do. But God doesn’t accept that. He doesn’t say, “That’s just the way you are, eh? Well, okay, we’ll just work around that.” No, God seeks a total overhaul. And the question is, Are you going to continue to work against Him by making excuses? Or are you going to say, “God, if You’re an inside guy, then I want to be an inside guy. I want to be a part of what You are doing in me”?

God has the power to change who you are on the inside. Eventually these changes make their way into your behaviour. I’m not talking about imitating Jesus or asking, “What would Jesus do?” No, I’m not talking about a “do” thing at all. I’m talking about a “be” thing. And inside you is the potential to be what and who God wants you to be. Only then will you be able to do what He wants you to do. And it happens only because God is in you working and working and working. 

You Shall Commit Adultery!

The Bible states “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). However, an amazing and true fact is the in the 1631 edition of the King James Version of the Bible, the word not was omitted from the seventh commandment. The omission made the commandment read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” This edition became known as “the wicked Bible.” Let’s hear it for proofreaders!

Today an appalling number of people – including believers – behave as if this rendering were not a mistake. Dependable statistics on how many married people commit adultery are notoriously elusive, but most surveys show a rate of 30 to 60 percent. Adultery, as defined by the Old Testament, is consensual sexual intercourse between a married woman with a man who is not her husband or a married man with a woman who is not his wife. It is therefore a crime against marriage.

Jesus, however, makes a sobering extension to this commandment. In the New Testament he teaches that lust is adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). As with the preceding commandment about murder, where we can ‘murder’ someone in our heart, we are put on notice that the commandment is being redefined by the Lord and includes much more than the physical act. It’s more difficult to avoid guilt than we thought.

The Bible makes a point of distinguishing between sexual desire and lust. The first is no sin at all, but part of God’s plan for humanity; lust, on the other hand, is twisted and misplaced desire. It exists because of human depravity. The seventh commandment recognizes that lust and adultery destroy people, their relationship with one another, and their fellowship with God.

Recreational, impulsive sex is considered the norm in our troubled culture. Defending the seventh commandment against the modern world singles one out as a pious puritan stuck in a lost century. However, when we strip sexuality of the restraints God gave it, we create chaos that tears at the very fabric of society. And we place an obstacle that blocks the fellowship God wants to have with us.

God gives us this commandment from love. He is saying, “My child, sexuality is My gift to you. I want you to know that when it’s rightly used, it can bring you joy and intimacy with the spouse I gave you, and it can create a legacy of children to replenish the earth.

“But when it’s wrongly used, it can create absolute havoc. It will destroy you from the inside out, and it will injure people who love you. I love your children, and I don’t want them to suffer because you marriage has failed. I don’t want you to spend the balance of your life in deep regret over the damage and heartbreak that was your return for the impulse of a moment.

“I love you, and I know what will make you happy. Sexual ‘liberation’ is really one more brand of enslavement. It advertises thrills and delivers grief. A long and faithful marriage to your spouse will bring you peace and delight that are beyond price — and you and I will be drawn closer.”