Chapter 30 contains one of the most descriptive pictures of the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel, followed by God’s amazing promise. It’s also a picture of our spiritual condition apart from Christ and the redemption He purchased for us at the cross. Think about each phrase as you reread it: Continue reading →
Jesus called Satan the father of lies and He warned the religious leaders of His day that they were listening to the wrong voice. In the garden Satan sold Eve a bill of goods and in Jeremiah’s day, he spoke through false prophets who told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad. False teachers and false prophets are saying much the same thing today. Others may propagate lies because they are misinformed and listening to the wrong voice.
In the garden the serpent told Eve, “You will not surely die!” In other words, your disobedience won’t result in painful consequences.
As if to make His point that the devil is a liar, God recorded pages and pages of genealogy and after each name it says, “… and he died and was buried with his fathers.”
In Jeremiah’s day, false prophets told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad, but it too, was a lie.
Today, the false prophets may not look as obvious, but they’re out there. They’re preachers and teachers. They’re counselors, psychologists and therapists. They’re teachers and university professors. They’re politicians and judges and activists and Planned Parenthood employees.
They Prophesy Falsely …
They prophesy falsely when they say, “The Bible isn’t all true. It’s just a book of myths.”
But God says:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1.20-21).
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3.16).
Or, when they say “Jesus was a good man, but not God.”
But Jesus said “I and My Father are one (Jn. 10.30).”
He can’t be both a good man and a liar.
Or, “Jesus loves everyone just the way you are. There’s no need to change.”
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk. 1.15).
They prophesy falsely every time they say to an unrepentant sinner, “You don’t need to feel guilty. You need to do what’s right for you.”
Guilt is not always a bad thing. Apart from Christ we’re all guilty, so guilty that the only remedy was for Jesus to die in our place! Often the guilt and consequences are the very things God uses to draw people to Himself.
2 Corinthians 7.9-10 says:
9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
They prophesy falsely every time they say to a young woman, “You won’t suffer any problems as a result of this abortion.”
But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good (Rom. 2.8-10).
Or “Just accept who you are. You were born that way.”
We were all born sinners though we’re inclined to sin in different ways, but that’s precisely why we need a Savior.
And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Cor. 5.15).
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5.17).
Or when they question God by asking, “What kind of a God let’s all these bad things happen?” As if God is obligated to bless a people who have denied His right to rule them!
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2.10).
Or, even, when they say, “Just ask Jesus into your heart” without talking about the need to repent and turn away from sin.
Joel 2.12 says, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
And Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Lk. 26.20).
And Acts 26.20 says, “… and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”
It’s not that it’s wrong to pray a prayer of salvation, but it isn’t a “magic formula.” Each person needs to first understand and accept the gospel: that Jesus died for guilty sinners, that He rose from the dead so that we can have new life, and that He is Lord not just Savior (Rom. 10.9-10).
The acceptance of that truth may be expressed in a prayer. It may happen in a church pew, at an altar, in a home, an alley, or a hospital bed. It may happen as the Word is preached, as the gospel is shared one on one, or as the Spirit of God brings gospel truth to remembrance. It may look very different from one life to the next, but in some way an understanding of our inability to redeem ourselves (Rom. 3.10-12, 23, 6.23), that Christ died the death we deserved (Rom. 5.8), and that He offers us salvation as a free gift (Rom. 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9) must come alive.
If you’re reading this and that truth is coming alive in your heart, talk to God. No fancy words are required. Admit you’re a sinner and ask Him to forgive you, accept what He did for you and ask for His help to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. It’s that simple.
Here in chapter 2 Paul begins talking about some of the events that will take place leading up to the “Day of the Lord.” He speaks of a “falling away,” “the man of sin,” and “the son of perdition.”
About this man of sin he says:
He “… opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (v. 4).
And, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (vv. 9-10).
Once the church has been raptured, a man will come to power. He will look to many to be a savior. He’ll appear to be a man of peace, but he will be an impostor. He is sometimes called the anti-Christ. He is not the devil himself, but he will be controlled by the devil.
The rapture will be followed by a seven-year period called “the Tribulation.” During the first 3 ½ years anti-Christ will keep up much of his charade as he consolidates his power, but mid-way through the Tribulation, he will go into the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem and set himself up to be worshiped, as Paul said “he sits as God in the temple of God.”
Daniel called this the “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11-12) and Jesus used the same phrase in talking about the events of the last days (Matt. 24.15; Mk. 13.14). This will set in motion the events leading up to the 2nd Coming of Christ—the “Day of the Lord.”
While it’s clear that no one knows the day or the time, it’s probably much closer than many want to believe! In the meantime, we need to be praying and interceding for our nation just as Daniel did for his. Pray for the repentance of our people and godly wisdom for our leaders.
And be part of His faithful remnant. Seek to be on God’s side concerning the issues that matter to Him. One way is to stand up for the lives of the thousands and thousands of babies who are being murdered legally in this country and around the world. Otherwise, their blood is on our hands.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
Even if we are not directly involved in the abortion industry (and it is an industry, producing a great deal of wealth for those participating), we cannot look the other way. We are our brothers’ keepers. Will we stand with God when their blood is crying out to Him?
A note to anyone who has had an abortion or is contemplating one:
Are there some sins so unforgivable that there is no hope? What does the Bible say? What if I can’t forgive myself? What if I was a Christian when I had an abortion?
First, if you’re reading this and are contemplating an abortion. Please go to a godly friend, a pastor or Christian Pregnancy Help Center. No matter what your situation, there is help. God loves you and your baby and He doesn’t want you to do something you’ll regret for the rest of your life. If you don’t know where to go or who to talk to, leave me your name and number or email in the comments section. I WILL NOT publish your comment, but I will contact you and help you find the support you need.
But, if you have had an abortion in the past don’t run from God, turn to Him. No where in the Bible does it say we must forgive ourselves. Instead, we must be willing to humble ourselves, confess our sin to God, and accept His gracious gift of forgiveness.
Every one of us has committed sins against God and all sin is deserving of death (Rom. 3.23, 6.23), but the good news of the gospel is that Jesus died for guilty sinners LIKE ME and YOU! Go and read John 3.16. Then open your bible to the book of Romans.
There is forgiveness for an abortion! But you must go to God and admit your sin. Admit that you know you deserve to die (Rom. 6.23). Read Romans 3.23, 6.23, 5.8, 10.9-10, 13). Tell Him that you believe what Jesus did for you. He lived a sinless life and then willingly died in your place. Then call out to Him! Ask for His forgiveness. Surrender your life completely to Him and ask Him to help you live for Him (2 Cor. 5.15).
What if you were already a Christian when you had an abortion? Is there forgiveness available to you? Being a Christian isn’t a license to sin and we can’t sin with our fingers crossed behind our backs and then use His grace like a “get-out-of-jail-card,” but if you are sincerely repentant for what you did, He will forgive you (1 Jn. 1.9)!
“A continual dripping … and a contentious woman are alike …”
Ladies, we need to understand what God is saying here about the power of our words and attitudes.
None of us lives in a perfect world. We have spouses and children, bosses and co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors who are imperfect. But we can choose how we’ll respond.
Will we be the women Peter encouraged us to be?
¹ In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over2 by observing your pure and reverent lives. 3 Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.4 You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. (1 Pet. 3.1-4 NLT).
Will we choose to live the kind of lives that win others even without words (v. 1)? And when we do speak, will they be impacted by the purity and reverence of our lives (v. 2) or will they see a harsh, prideful heart?
Proverbs has a lot to say about the power of our words:
A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. (Prov. 15.1-2 NLT).
Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything (Prov. 13.3 NLT).
Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing (12.18 NLT).
He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit (Prov. 17.27 NKJV).
Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (Prov. 16.24 NLT).
The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences (Prov. 18.21 NLT).
And what about our attitudes? As Peter reminded us in the passage we just read (v. 1), we communicate even when we’re not speaking.
Mockers are proud and haughty; they act with boundless arrogance (Prov. 21.24 NLT).
Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16.18).
Ladies, how do we want our husbands and others to think of us? We have a choice. But if we want to reflect a godly attitude, if we want kind words to fill our mouths, we’ve got to start with our hearts. Jesus said:
“It is what comes from inside that defiles you.For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder,adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mk. 7.20-22).
What are you putting into your heart? God’s truth or worldly ideas?
On what do you meditate? On slights and hurts, things you wish you had, on all your husbands faults? Or do you cultivate gratitude, contentment, forgiveness, and grace?
As I read chapter 23, verses 5 & 6, I was reminded of Genesis 3 where right in the middle of pronouncing the curse that would come on Adam and Eve as a result of their sin, God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3.15). Right there in the garden, God gave them, and us, a glimpse of His plan to restore His creation to right standing with Him.
And here in Jeremiah 23, as He is pronouncing the consequences of Judah’s repeated disobedience, He promises to bring them back:
5 “ Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,
“ That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
6 In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Another reminder of the coming of the promised Messiah—what a good and awesome God we serve! “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8) and that was the Father’s plan from the beginning.
Do you believe Jesus is coming back soon? Does your life reflect that belief? How should you live in light of that truth?
The alternative is to live like the people in Jeremiah’s time who needed God’s rod of judgment, as we will see in our Old Testament reading. As we dig deeper into Psalm 119, we will see how knowing and contemplating God’s Word can help us steer clear of sin and grow in our understanding of God and His will.
2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
Jesus is coming back both for His church and to judge the whole earth. He is coming “like a thief in the night,” but as believers, who know His Word, we shouldn’t be caught off guard. Instead, we should live every day like we believe Jesus is coming back soon:
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
The remainder of the chapter spells out some ways we are to do that:
1. By respecting our pastors and elders and submitting to their authority (v. 12).
Hebrews 13.17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
Incidentally, October is “Pastor’s Appreciation Month.” Is there some way you could show appreciation to your Pastor? A meal? A card? A word of encouragement?
2. By being faithful in our relationships to our brothers and sisters in Christ (v.14).
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
Sometimes we need to encourage one another. Other times we need to gently rebuke one another.
3. By not returning evil for evil, but by giving a blessing instead (v. 15). Romans 12:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VengeanceisMine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
4. By rejoicing in the blessings of God and being thankful (vvs. 16, 18).
Some time has passed and the Jews have failed to heed God’s warnings through Jeremiah, but now the invaders are approaching. Skirmishes are already being fought outside the city, and the people will soon be driven back into the city itself.
Now that things are desperate, the King sends a messenger to Jeremiah asking him to intercede for them. God answers by telling them that they are not just fighting the Babylonians, but they have made themselves enemies of God Himself!
Many of us go through times in our lives, too, where we reject God’s truth, then when we get into trouble we cry out, “Oh God, help me! If You get me out of this mess, I’ll never do it again!” Continue reading →
Imagine your family sitting around the dinner table one night and there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi,” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? And imagine what it will it be like a few seconds after the Rapture of the Church? What do those two scenarios have to do with each other?
Verses 15-18 speak of what is called the Rapture of the Church.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive andremain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The word “rapture” means to be “caught up.” Paul said those who have died in Christ will rise first. So when Christ returns for His church, the bodies of believers who died previously, whose spirits are already in heaven, will be resurrected and changed. And those of us who are alive will be caught up and our bodies will be changed, as well.
There was a foretaste of this event right after Christ’s death in Matthew 27:
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
So even though these resurrected believers would die again, it was a preview of what is to come in the future.
Can you just imagine what it must have been like—the family is sitting around having dinner and there’s a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi or Cousin Benjamin” who had died a few years before!
Now imagine what it will be like when the Rapture happens. The graves of the dead believers will be opened, but this time they’ll be gone, along with believers who were alive at the time of the Rapture!
I would imagine there will be more than a few family members who had rejected what their husbands and wives and mommas and brothers were telling them, who fall to their knees and cry out to God. It won’t be too late for them to be saved, but it will be too late for them to escape the Tribulation, seven years of famine, disease, earthquakes, disasters, and persecution the likes of which the world has never seen. We’ll talk more about this when we get to the book of Revelation.
Let’s pray and stand up for the truth now while there is still time for those who may listen.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it contains a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B is for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.
While it’s long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2: Continue reading →
Last week we talked about angry children. But we can’t talk about angry children without asking ourselves if there are things we might be doing, intentionally or unintentionally, that provoke our children to anger.
Ephesians 6.4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
And Colossians 3.21 says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”
While each of us, including our children, is responsible for his or her behavior, we can’t read those two verses without admitting we can make it easier for our children to become angry or exasperated.
Last week, we talked about the seed of hurt that can grow into anger, bitterness and, even, full-blown rebellion in our children. While the hurt can come as a result of wrong perceptions, assumptions or misunderstandings, it can also come as a result of sin on the part of one or more parents or step-parents.
Lou Priolo in his book, The Heart of Anger, lists 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger. Most of these apply to blended families, biological families, single parent families, even grandparents or others who are raising children. Here’s Lou’s list:
By a lack of marital harmony
Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home
Modeling sinful anger
Habitually disciplining while angry
Being inconsistent with discipline
Having double standards
Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness
Constantly finding fault
Parents reversing God-given roles
Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her “side of the story” seriously
Comparing them to others
Not making time just to talk
Not praising or encouraging your child
Failing to keep your promises
Chastening in front of others
Not allowing enough freedom
Allowing too much freedom
Mocking your child
Abusing them physically
Ridiculing or name calling
Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s Word
While these can and do apply to children and parents in all kinds of families, what might they look like in a blended family? Let’s expand on a few: Continue reading →
Have you ever heard someone say, “I might as well live it up, I’m going to hell anyway?” Or maybe that’s you. No matter what you’ve done, God is willing and able to forgive you, but you must come to Him. Don’t let another day pass. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow.
Even in the midst of God’s judgment, verses 7 & 8 are true:
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
It’s important to remember that there were faithful believers among those who would soon be conquered and exiled, including Daniel and the other young men we read about in the book of Daniel. Even though their nation and their way of life suffered, God blessed and watched over His faithful remnant. Daniel would find favor in spite of plots against him and political and military upsets. He would, eventually, serve under eight pagan kings.
Our Deceitful Hearts
Verses 9 & 10 are two verses which we frequently share in counseling:
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.
It’s so easy for us to believe that we know what’s going on in another person’s heart—what they’re thinking, what their motives are, what they’re going to do in a given situation. But the truth is we can’t even fully know our own hearts and we certainly cannot know someone else’s. Our own hearts can deceive us, causing us to believe we’re somehow “OK”—justified in our actions, even when we’re focused on ourselves and not the glory of our God.
We must constantly stay connected to God, asking Him to search our hearts and show us the sin and deceit that resides there.
11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD. “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”’”
12 And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”
We’ve all met people like that. They know what God’s Word says about the way they’re living, but they aren’t willing to do what God requires, so they just say, “I might as well live anyway I want, because I’m going to hell anyway!” Continue reading →
Magic, mediums, spiritists, witchcraft & Halloween: What does the the Bible have to say about these things? What about Christians and our participation in Halloween? How is any of this a conscience issue? How does your family handle this holiday and why?
Today’s reading in Jeremiah is pretty shocking in some ways. God declared judgment on His people. He said some would die “gruesome deaths,” that some would be “consumed by the sword” and others would be “meat for the birds of heaven and for the beasts of the earth” (16.4). He said this would happen because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jerusalem” (15.4) and “… you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me” (16.12).
“Each one,” so while Manasseh was singled out because of his leadership in doing evil, they weren’t being judged just because of something he had done, but because they had done the same things and even worse. If you go back to 2 Kings 21 you can read just what the sins of Manasseh were. It says:
3 For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4 He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” 5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6 Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger.
11 “Because Manasseh king of Judah has done these abominations (he has acted more wickedly than all the Amorites who were before him, and has also made Judah sin with his idols),
16 Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides his sin by which he made Judah sin, in doing evil in the sight of the LORD.
It was bad enough that the people had returned again and again to their idolatry, but Manasseh brought the worship of false gods right into the house of the true and living God! This would be like a husband bringing his lover right into his wife’s bed and then setting up a permanent place in their house for him to go and commit adultery with her.
He “also made his son pass through the fire.” He sacrificed his own son as a burnt offering to one of these demonic gods.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, he “practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums.”
We read something like that and think, “Wow, those people were really horrible!” But does a passage like this have any application to us?
Ephesians 5 says:
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
We’re to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. Look at that list again in 2 Kings 21.6 above: soothsaying, witchcraft, spiritists and mediums.
Soothsaying is the use of supernatural spirits to affect this world or predict the future. Witchcraft is the practice of magic, the use of spells, or the invocation of spirits. Spiritism is the belief that the dead communicate with us in some way. A medium is someone used to communicate in some of these ways.
That would include palm reading, horoscopes, so-called white magic, crystals, new age religion, or spiritism of any kind.
In our part of the country, I have heard things like this numerous times, “Well, my mother says it’s OK to go to this lady who removes curses. She says she believes in Jesus.” She may believe in Jesus, but James said, “… even the demons believe …” (Jas. 2.19). We’re to have no fellowship with those things.
Maybe like me, you’ve heard people say, “I read my horoscope for fun, but I don’t really believe it.” Again we should have no fellowship, no involvement with, those things!
Why would we want to play around with anything that would be displeasing to God? Genesis 3 says that the serpent was more subtle than all the beasts of the field. His question to Eve was “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3.1). In other words, “Did God really say …?” He’s still asking the same question in various ways today.
Christians & Halloween
At this time of year, Christians sometimes wonder whether or not it’s OK to dress up or participate in Halloween activities. I think there’s some gray area here and needs to be considered prayerfully.
Some churches provide alternative events where children dress up, play games and get candy and treats. Some families participate in Halloween, but are careful about the costumes they wear. Other believers refuse to participate at all.
I believe costumes that are focused on the things of darkness (witches, goblins, death, etc.) would fall under “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.” But there is nothing inherently sinful about dressing up in another kind of costume.
When our children were young we took them to church events rather than participate in activities that were questionable.
In recent years, my husband and I have decided to buy candy and pass it out along with gospel material as our outreach to our neighbors, though if I had children at home, I probably wouldn’t. It’s not a matter of approving Halloween, but of being a light in the darkness.
I recently heard a man speak who has been involved in preaching the gospel and helping people grow in Christ for over 40 years. He told us about attending a protest between Christians and gay-rights activists. While many of the Christians were screaming and warning people they were going to hell, he was walking among the gay crowd, introducing himself, talking to them, asking them questions, and sharing the gospel. His Christianity was winsome and he had numerous opportunities for real dialog. I believe that seeds were planted that may bear fruit in God’s timing.
If you’ve read my blog for any time at all, you know I’m not afraid to take a stand on these issues and others, but I would hope that what ever we do, the love of Christ would shine through, whether toward the world or toward other believers.
The world says, “follow your heart.” But the Bible has something entirely different to say about the heart. Also read about God’s discipline of His children, godly friendship, and how Paul handled the need to offer constructive criticism.
In chapter 13 God used an object lesson to illustrate the filthy spiritual condition of the people. He had the prophet bury a dirty sash (probably an undergarment) in a hole instead of washing it. He was instructed to leave it there until it began to rot. Then in verse 10 God said:
“This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing.”
Their sin and rebellion had rendered them useless to God!
These people thought since they were God’s people, that they could live any way they wanted. They could “follow the dictates of their own hearts.”
Today, one message the world sends is “follow your heart,” but another passage in Jeremiah says:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jer. 17.9 NLT).
So our wicked hearts tell us we are OK with God because we had some experience, prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, got baptized, or became the member of a certain church. Our ticket to heaven has been punched. So we …
… act selfishly at home with our spouses and children.
… make work or friends or children or a hundred other things a higher priority than our personal relationship with God.
… drink to excess, feel justified in our anger, refuse to forgive, or dozens of other things that God says are sin.
When we do, we, too, become just like Jeremiah’s sash—“profitable for nothing”! We negate our testimonies, especially in the eyes of the people closest to us. “Following the dictates of our own heart” is our own undoing!
As I read back through this passage and thought about this post, I remembered a comment that Michele Morin made last year about Elisabeth Elliot. I tried to find the quote, but I didn’t succeed. Maybe Michele will remember and share it with us. 🙂 It had to do with being able to trust our own hearts more as we matured in Christ.
I believe that lines up with Psalm 37.4 which says God will give us the desires of our hearts. This verse is often misunderstood to mean God gives us whatever we want. But let’s look at it in context: Continue reading →