FREEDOM … we love it and in Christ we have a great deal of Christian liberty, but we are also called to love and prefer others. So how much freedom are you willing to give up out of love for your spouse or your brother or sister in Christ?
We love freedom. And we should. Christ suffered and died to set us free from the power and penalty of sin. His truth and grace sets us free from both religious legalism and the hopelessness that a life of sin can bring. But freedom, though precious and valuable, should be used carefully. Paul said it this way:
“… beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (v. 9).
And he ends this chapter with these thoughts:
And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble (vss. 12-13 NLT).
What are you willing to give up for your weaker brothers and sisters? What are you willing to forego for the cause of Christ?
Are you willing to give up that glass of wine? Or the latest movie?
Ladies, are you willing to quit wearing that new blouse if it might tempt your brother in Christ with wrong thoughts? Or your sister in Christ to wonder where her husband’s eyes are going?
Men, are you willing to forego going out with the guys and doing something you consider harmless if it causes your spouse distress? Continue reading →
Sin is disfiguring and highly contagious. Paul warned that we can catch it from others and that it’s better to be thrown into the sea with a weight around our necks than to be a carrier spreading it to others.
Have you exposed yourself to some contagious sins? Are you guilty of spreading some sin to others?
Leprosy! What could God possibly have for us in all the discussion of bright skin, white skin, scales and scabs?
Notice that God called this leprosy an uncleanness, not a disease. It was not the same disease we refer to today as leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). It is said that Pharaoh (of Moses fame) was infected with it and may have died from it. So it may have been associated with the plagues that God brought on the Egyptians. Even in the New Testament, when Jesus came in contact with lepers, it says He cleansed them, not that He healed them.
Leprosy in the Bible is a type, or a picture of, sin. When God delivered the nation of Israel from Egypt, he told them:
“If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Ex. 15.26).
God used leprosy as an immediate judgment on sin numerous times in the Bible. When we get to the book of Numbers we will see Moses’ sister Miriam was struck with leprosy when she murmured against her brother. She was cleansed when Moses prayed for her.
We know that the Israelites frequently disobeyed God’s commands by involving themselves with the pagan culture around them, so at times, it may have been a judgment on sin, either in the individual’s life or on the nation, as a whole.
Contagious & Disfiguring
What does this picture for us? As with sin, leprosy didn’t kill outright in most cases, but it greatly disfigured its victims. And like leprosy, sin is extremely contagious! Paul said
“Do not be deceived. ‘Bad company corrupts good morals'” (1 Cor. 15.33).
Not only can we catch sin from those we associate with, but we’re warned not be carriers!
“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Mk. 9.42).
Sins like anger, bitterness and gossip, as well as others, are highly contagious.
Just as leprosy resulted in separation from the rest of the people, sin separates us from others! First and foremost, It separates us from God. In the case of unbelievers, sin separates them from the life of God here and from spending eternity with Him. If we are truly believers we don’t lose our salvation, but it hinders our fellowship with Him when our hearts are clouded by sin.
There are, also, times when we are commanded to put sinners, even our brothers and sisters in Christ, outside the fellowship, or “camp,” where God alone deals with them (1 Cor. 5). Continue reading →
“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” We’ve all heard that saying, but this time it came from a sister in Christ sitting in my counseling office. As we continued to talk about the role of women, this time about submission, she said, “I’m an educated woman! Why should I submit to him?” Since then I’ve heard even worse, but I’ve never forgotten how saddened I was by her statement and the awareness of how much feminism had infiltrated the church of the Living God.
But the truth is, many of us, though we want to live godly lives, chafe against some of the Bible’s teaching on women or passages on modesty or authority. We’re too often tempted to think, “That’s not fair!” or question why God would give us certain commands. So how are we to understand these things?
9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
I once overheard a conversation between two women at church discussing their Sunday school lesson on the role of the wife and submission. One of them said about their teacher, “I think he actually believes that stuff!”
Ladies, even though we might laugh about a conversation like that, we often struggle to understand and accept God’s Word in some of these areas. We’re a little like the king and the princes Jeremiah encountered (see our O.T. reading). Sometimes we don’t want to believe or accept God’s Word as being true or fair. We would rather lock up the prophet (Jer. 32.2) or cut that part of the scroll off and throw it into the fire (Jer. 36.20-26), at least in practice.
So how can we begin to understand, and more importantly embrace, a passage like this? I believe we need to start with some basic truths about God, His Word, and His character.
Jeremiah 29.11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Psalm 119.68 says, speaking of God, “You are good, and do good …”
And Galatians 3.28-29 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
But we must also realize that God is God! He is the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Creator of the Universe and everything in it, including us, and He gets to make the rules!
But if He is good—all the time—and if He loves us and calls us heirs along with men, (so much so that He tells our husbands in 1 Peter 3.7 that their prayers will be hindered if they don’t treat us as such), what does this passage mean?
First, God said to all of us, men and women, to be sure that everything we do points to Him and gives Him glory.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (2 Cor. 10.31).
Modesty, Gold & Braided Hair
So let’s break down our 1 Timothy passage, beginning with “that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation.” The word “adorn” here means to arrange. So, we should arrange ourselves so that our clothing and manner is modest and respectful. That doesn’t mean we must look drab or unattractive.
“… not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” In the time period in which Paul was writing women would weave gold and other jewelry into their hair in order to attract attention to themselves. Others would wear expensive clothing to show off their wealth. It wasn’t the specific hairstyle or the fact that the clothing was expensive, it was the attitude of the heart Paul was addressing.
Today we might say, “… not with tattoos or designer clothing …” Again, not legalistically saying tattoos or designer clothing are sinful, but what is the attitude of the heart? Where is the tattoo and to what is it designed to draw attention? Continue reading →