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This true righteousness that we seek from God through Jesus, do we obtain this in life here? It seems the more I read the Bible and seek the Lord, the more unrighteous I feel. This righteousness is from God, but shouldn't that give us an assurance in our hearts?

The righteousness God gives is received now, in the world, by faith. The thing that is causing you difficulty is that you, like all saved people, are really two people, not one. That is, there are two "I's" (or natures) housed in your body. One is called "the old man," the other "the new man" (Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10). One is called "the flesh," the other "the mind" (Rom 7:25). These two natures are locked in combat, and will be as long as we remain in the body. Galatians 5:17 says it this way, "For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." The seventh chapter of Romans goes into great detail about this internal struggle (Rom 7:14-25). In this struggle, Paul (as well as you and me) experienced the influences of both natures -- one pulling downward, the other pulling upward. The struggle primarily occurs in our thoughts, which Paul identified as covetousness, or wrong desires (7:7). That is, "the flesh," or the "old man," continues to desire what is wrong, trying to lure us into actually committing sin. Paul affirmed these impulses and thoughts were not really him, but were intrusions into what he really desired. Here is how he said it. "If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is NO LONGER I who do it, but sin that dwells in me" (verses 16-17). He states the same thing again in verse 20: "Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me."

Your "new man," or the part of you that has been regenerated or born again, is altogether righteous. That is the part of you that has received the righteousness of God. The part of you that causes you to feel unrighteous is the flesh, or the "old man," which will be with you ONLY as long as you are in this present body. God has actually separated that old nature from you, so that, in a sense, it lives with you, but is really not part of you. When you die, or Jesus comes, you will be free from the body, and that part of you will no longer be with you.

After detailing the fierce struggle between the flesh and the spirit, or the old man and the new man, Paul shouts out the conclusion of the whole matter. "There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom 8:1). That is the assurance you are looking for, and it is surely for you. God does not receive your flesh, and neither should you treat it as though it was really you. God receives the part of you that has been created anew in Christ Jesus. He considers you righteous because of your faith, not your achievement.

After telling us how God credited righteousness to Abraham because he believed, or had faith, the Spirit said this: "Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, WE HAVE PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 4:23-5:1).

Knowing that His children still struggle with their old nature, and that they long to be free from such struggle, the Lord affirms there is coming a time when we will, in fact, never again have to assess ourselves, see our weaknesses, and lament because we have thoughts that we have to cast down. Here is what is written, "For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Gal 5:5). That is, God has promised, and we believe it, that we will someday be fully conformed to the image of His Son, as He has determined (Rom 8:29). Until then, the Spirit is changing us from one stage of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18) -- knocking off the rough edges, and assisting us in refusing to allow the "old man" to dominate us (Rom 8:13).

So you must look at the evidences of the new man, not the expressions of the old man. Some of those evidences are (1) Your love for the Lord, (2) Your thankfulness for His grace and forgiveness, (3) Your hunger for the Word, (4) Your longing to be perfect, (5) Your discontent with imperfection, (6) Your desire for full assurance, (7) Your desire to be well pleasing in His sight, (8) The fact that you continue to seek the Lord, (9) Your love for the people of God, (10) Your desire to obey the Lord, (11) Your hunger and thirst for righteousness, (12) Your hatred of sin, (13) Your determination to resist the devil, (14) Your desire to serve the Lord . . . . . to name a few.

These are all evidences of the new creation. They are your proof that you have really received the righteousness of God, for that is how His righteousness reacts. However, there is another part of you that will only reside with you temporarily -- as long as you are in the body. That part is like the unrepentant thief on the cross. It cries out for attention, and wants due consideration. But it is not really you, any more than that thief was a part of the believing thief that asked Jesus to remember him.

Now, you go on your way rejoicing that God counts you righteous because you have believed. Rejoice that His righteousness is real, which has enabled you to want the right things, and hate what is wrong.

 I hope you don't think this is just semantics because I have always viewed "faith" as a noun is something we receive when we truly "believe," which is a verb.

Faith is a gift from God, and comes to us with love through His grace (Eph 6:23). While this is philosophical language, you might say that faith is the ability, or capacity, to perceive otherwise incomprehensible things -- like God who is "invisible" (Col 1:15; Heb 11:27). Believing takes place when we employ that gift of faith, without which it is impossible to please God. The same principle is seen in love. It also is given to us by God through His grace (Eph 6:23), and is the result of the Spirit's own work (Gal 5:22) -- yet we ourselves are required to use it by engaging in loving God, Christ, the truth, the brethren, etc.

I do not know that we can distinguish, so far as time is concerned, between faith and believing. At least this approach is not expounded in Scripture. You are correct in saying the truth of the Word, particularly the Gospel of Christ, is given to us to believe or reject. However, faith "comes" to us by means of that message. That is, the message itself is accompanied by faith which enables us to take hold of it without doubting, and in all confidence of God receiving us. Those who do that have "believed the record God has given of His Son" (1 John 5:10-11). They have believed because they "obtained like precious faith." Thus it is said that men "believe through grace" (Acts 18:27).

Technically, initial faith does not come because we believe, but we believe because of faith. However, believing does cause faith to increase, as the Lord gives us larger measures of this marvelous capacity. That increase of faith is pictured in the phrase "from faith to faith" (Rom 1:17). It is in this sense that you are right in saying "faith in Christ would come as a result."

There is an emphasis on deliverance in some churches. I believe in deliverance but they are in some cases saying that generational curses need to be cast out of Christians.   I find no scripture to support that and many to dispute the contention. Do you know of anything in church history of the last 1900+ years that would support a contention? If not I do not see how it could be valid. I am only talking about generational curses supposedly being brought into the New Testament. We are delivered from the curse of the law.

First, much of the talk today about deliverance "from the curse of the Law" is completely erroneous. I refer particularly to the dogma that says poverty, illness, and the likes, are the "curse of the Law." This is not true. The "curse of the Law" is spelled out by the Holy Spirit just prior to speaking of Jesus delivering us from it. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal 3:10). That is, those who do not perfectly keep the Law are cursed by it -- not to be sick or poor, but to separation from God and spiritual death. This is why Jesus was "made a curse for us," suffering the judgment of God (Gal 3:13). In His effective death, He freed us from the condemnation of the Law -- a curse iterated in Deuteronomy 27:26; "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them" (Deu 27:26). In other words, men cannot be saved by works, and those who insist on trying to be saved in that manner will be condemned.

Having said that, the Scriptures never did speak of "generational curses" in the sense many do today. Believers are being told curses linger upon them because of their predecessors -- and that they should find the sin that brought the curse, confess it, and be freed from it. This teaching is from Satan, not God.

Concerning the visitation of transgressions upon succeeding generations, God said, " . . . the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me" (Exo 20:5). There are two particular things to note here. First, the visitation was limited to the "third and fourth generation." Second, it was ONLY toward the generations, God declared, "of them that hate Me." God has never said He visits the transgressions of sinful generations upon their godly progeny. Such a thought is a reproach to God and a hindrance to His people.

God has further spoken to this subject in relation to the New Covenant, which is presently being mediated by Jesus, and in which we have been made accepted (Heb 8:8-13). That covenant, in the precise words of Hebrews 8:8-13, was prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34). Speaking of those days of unparalleled blessing, in which we now live, God promised: "In those days they shall say NO MORE, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge" (Jer 31:29-30). Ezekiel referred to this same New Covenant benefit. "What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel" (Ezek 18:3).

Even under the Old Covenant, God corrected the people for saying He punished people who were just, or righteous, because of something their progenitors did. Ezekiel refers to this in Ezekiel 18:4-9).

As to such teachings being found in the last 1900 years -- yes. They have been found in the church -- along with other heresies like the resurrection already being past, or that Jesus is not who said He was, or that the Bible has errors in it. Those who have taught such things in the past were just as wrong as those that do so today. They were deceivers, just like those who spew such heresies upon believers today.

Those who say generational curses have to be "cast out of Christians" have lied. They have either done so because they are operating in their own wisdom, because they are spouting what men have said, or because they have been deceived by Satan. All of those conditions are inexcusable. God has spoken too much on this matter for such foolish teachings to be taught among the saints.

There are numerous Bible verses of Jesus words and how we are called, as believers, to maintain peace and turn the other cheek. At the same time, I feel strongly that we are also supposed to stand up for truth and what is right, even if that means war, against evil.

As you have found, there are a lot of people who wear the name of Christ who are wholly lacking in spiritual perception. It is true that Jesus taught those who followed him to resist not evil, turn the other cheek, love your enemies, bless those who curse, and do good to those who despitefully use them (Matt 5:39,44). However, this was on a personal level -- person to person. He was not speaking of the general treatment of evil doers.

When it comes to government and those who do harm to others, God has also spoken. Thus Paul affirms that government has been established for the subduing and punishment of evil doers (thank God this ministry has not been given to the church). God's word on this matter is very precise, and is found in the thirteenth chapter of Romans. There government officials are referred to as "higher powers" -- that is powers that have been placed over the people. These powers, or authorities, are said to be "from God," being "ordained" by Him (13:1). Furthermore, those who resist, or defy, that power -- whether a USA criminal, terrorist, or despotic government -- "resists the ordinance of God." Further, such people "bring judgment upon themselves" (13:2).

It is then stated that "rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil" -- that is, that is why God ordained them (13:3). Their purpose is to put down violence and other social evils -- to see to it that they are not thrust upon the people. Believers are told they are not to cringe before this ordained power, for it is intended by God to be directed toward evil people, not good people (13:3).

In the capacity of punishing evil doers -- even to the taking of their lives -- the Spirit says, "For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear THE SWORD in vain; for he is God's minister, an AVENGER to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (13:4). God has said that vengeance belongs to Him (Heb 10:30). In Romans 13, He informs us He has dispensed authority to the "rulers" to execute that vengeance on evil doers.

As you can see, that ends the discussion of the matter. The Lord has spoken, and ministers who speak contrary to Him simply do not know what they are talking about. It is in order to take their words and throw them in the theological garbage can. What is more, if they are so wrong on this rather elementary matter, I do not know that they ought to be trusted in other more critical issues.

Does baptism today represent what circumcision did under the old law? If  so Romans 4:9-10 says that faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness before he was circumcised so is our faith credited to us before we are baptized? If so are we saved before baptism?

The Scriptures affirm that "the circumcision of Christ" occurs IN baptism, not that baptism replaces circumcision. "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Col 2:11-12).

"The circumcision of Christ" and "being saved" are not synonymous. Salvation is larger than "the circumcision of Christ," as well as our baptism. But salvation does not exclude either Christ's circumcision or baptism. In fact, both are ONLY associated with both Jesus and salvation.

I do not know that asking if we are saved before or after baptism is even a proper question. The Scripture contain no doctrinal treatise on baptism that approaches it in this manner. Jesus did say, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). No mortal should stumble over those words. Further, there is no teaching of Scripture that teaches us to identify a particular point in time with being "saved." There are references to when we "believed" (Eph 1:13), when we "were baptized into Christ" (Rom 6:3-4), when we were "illuminated" (Heb 10:32), etc. But the Spirit never uses language like "when you were saved."

In my judgment, men should cease their haggling about baptism. Rather, they should be sure they have been baptized, for eventually they will stand before Christ, who Himself was baptized. I think it will be exceedingly difficult to explain to the Judge why we were not baptized when we had a record of Him being baptized.

I see no reason for men to even discuss the validity of baptism unless an attempt is being made to justify ignoring it, or not submitting to it. Since baptism came from God, and not from men, let all who profess the name of Christ submit to it. As to the sequence of Divine activities, and the timing of the experience of His promises, times and seasons are in His hand, not ours (Acts 1:7).

As to the reference to Abraham being justified when he believed God, the whole point of the text is that we are justified on the precisely same basis. "And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Rom 4:22-24). Abraham would be the first to tell us it would be foolish to even discuss whether he should have been circumcised or not. The fact that he believed is precisely why he was circumcised. Further, his circumcision was "a token of the covenant" between God and him. Wherever that "token" was not found in his progeny, they were excluded from the covenant. "And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant" (Gen 17:14). The people of God should take baptism as seriously as Abraham took circumcision.

Does it do any good to pray for anyone who is dead that never confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? Or became a Christian?

It does no good to pray for anyone who is dead, whether they were a Christian or not. When people die, the next scheduled event for them is the judgment. As it is written, "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Heb 9:27).

The time to pray for people is when they are alive in the earth. There is nor record in the Scripture of anyone ever praying for someone who had died.

We do, however, have an example of someone who died, and made a request for someone who remained alive. Jesus mentioned it in the sixteenth chapter of Luke. The prayer was not directed to God, but to Abraham, who himself had died and was in another place. A rich man who had failed to trust God, had died and gone to hell. He feared for his five brothers who had not yet died, and made this request. "Then he said, 'I beg you therefore, father [Abraham], that you would send him [Lazarus] to my father's house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment" (Luke 16:28). His request was denied by Abraham: "Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them" (Luke 16:29).

There are no examples of the living praying for the dead. There are no instructions from Moses, the Prophets, John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, or the Apostles to pray for the dead. There are no suggestions that such prayers are in order or effective. The time to pray for men is while they are alive. That is the time they can believe, repent, and receive the good promises of God.

How do we know that the kingdom of heaven is the same thing as the Christian church? I am doing a study on Acts, and a person in the class does not think that the kingdom of heaven/God is the same thing as the church.

The kingdom of heaven and "the Christian church" are not the same thing. That would have God without a kingdom for the first 4,000 years of earth's history. Who would presume to defend such an absurdity? The church is PART of the kingdom, but is not itself the kingdom. When Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God," He did not mean we were to seek the church first (Matt 6:33). When He said "the Kingdom of God IS come to you," He did not mean the church is come to men, for it did not begin until later, on the day of Pentecost (Matt 12:26). When Paul said the unrighteous would not "inherit the kingdom of God," he was not saying ungodly men would not inherit the church (1 Cor 6:9). When believers are told they are suffering for "the kingdom of God," it does not mean they are suffering for the church (2 Thess 1:5).

The kingdom of God is everlasting (Psa 145:13; Dan 4:13; 7:27; 2 Pet 1:11). There has never been a time when it was not in place, nor will there ever be a time when it will never be. Jesus said the angels would come and gather the wicked and all offending things "out of His kingdom" (Matt 13:41). He did not mean such things were in His church, which is His body (Col 1:24), and to which men are "added" (Acts 2:47).

God's kingdom "rules over all" (Psa 103:19), but this is not presently true of the church. God designs that the majesty of His kingdom be made known to the sons of men, but the church is never said to be majestic -- not at this time (Psa 143:12).

Angels are in God's prevailing Kingdom, but they are not part of the church (Rev 12:7). No, my good brother, the kingdom of God and the church are not the same thing. Those in the church have been transferred into the Kingdom (Col 1:13), but they themselves are not the kingdom.

Of the kingdom of God, Jesus is the king; therefore the time at which he became a king is the time at which the “kingdom of Christ and of God” began. (The phrase “kingdom of Christ and of God comes from Ephesians 5:5.)

The Kingdom did not begin with Christ's exaltation, but was revealed at that time -- and there is a vast difference. Jesus likened Himself to one who went into a far country to RECEIVE a kingdom (Luke 19:12). Isaiah prophesied that the government would be placed upon Christ's shoulders, equating that government with His "kingdom" (Isa 9:6-7). That government or kingdom did not begin when it was put on Christ's shoulders, and nothing in God's Word suggests it did.

God revealed the kingdom of Christ to Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel interpreted the dream. He spoke of God "setting up a kingdom" (Dan 2:44). It was not set up in heaven (and it IS called "the kingdom of heaven" as well as "the kingdom of God"), but in the earth. The kingdom did begin on earth -- but it "came." Jesus told His generation "the kingdom of God is COME unto you" (Matt 12:28).

No, you cannot be in Christ and not be in the kingdom of God. I do not know what led you to believe I suggested such a thing. Simply put, you have confused the EXISTENCE of the Kingdom with the REVELATION of it. The revelation had a beginning, the kingdom did not. Neither "the kingdom of God," or the kingdom of Christ and of God," (which are the same kingdom), are ever said to have a "beginning." Scripture speaks of "the beginning of the kingdom of Babel" (Gen 10:10), but NEVER of the beginning of God's kingdom.

Further, Jesus received the kingdom from God, and will deliver it back to Him. As it is written, "Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For "He has put all things under His feet." But when He says "all things are put under Him," it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted" (1 Cor 15:24-27). I hope you will not suggest that means Christ's kingdom will end.

If you insist on reasoning that the Kingdom of God had a beginning when Jesus was exalted, you might as well reason that the Person of Christ began when He was born. Just as surely as Christ's Person existed before He was revealed as a man, so the Kingdom existed before it was revealed through Christ on the day of Pentecost. You should not have difficulty seeing this. The Lord has simply said too much about His Kingdom for their to be confusion on the matter.

When a person first TRULY believes, he is sealed, not until he believeth not, but until the day of redemption. Even if he stops believing, God can not deny Himself (the Spirit is sealed inside of him when he FIRST believes).

Your statement is a very foolish one, for God has revealed how He reacts to both unbelief and unbelievers -- regardless of what occurred in them previously. Israel came across the Red Sea by faith (Heb 11:29), yet could not enter the promised land "because of unbelief" (Heb 3:19). They too were identified with God in a unique way. They too "first believed." That is why they were brought safely out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea on dry ground. Yet at least 600,000 thousand of them would contest your remark.

Part of God NOT denying Himself is fulfilling what He has revealed He will do to those who fail to trust Him -- particularly after He has delivered them. God has NEVER pledged He will save those who renounce Him, depart from the faith, make shipwreck of the faith, or are entangled again by sin and overcome. You do well not to ascribe such commitments to Him, for He WILL be justified in all of His sayings. You do not want that to be at your expense.

Adam and Eve would argue with you. They would tell you that the same God who gave them dominion over the works of His hands took it away, expelling them from the garden. I suggest you adjust your theology so you will not be embarrassed when you confront them in the day of the Lord.

The words "evangelize" and "evangelism" are not in the Scriptures, only the word "evangelist". Just what is involved in evangelism anyway?  This word is used so loosely.

Why can't we find the word "evangelism" in Scripture, around which so much teaching has been formulated, and upon which so much emphasis has been placed? And who is it that said the most important work was bringing people to the Lord. Where precisely is that stated in God's Word? What Apostle ever said this? What church in Scripture was ever taught this? The Word of God informs us that spiritual gifts (including "evangelists") are "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12). It is inconceivable that a body of edified believers will not do exactly what the early church did when they were scattered: "they went everywhere preaching the Word" (Acts 8:4).

Why is there not a single word addressed to any church on the subject of "evangelism" -- or any other word or phrase you want to ascribe to that activity? Why was no church commended for doing it, or no church rebuked for not doing it?

It seems to me that we must come to grips with the condition of a church that must have so much said to it on this subject. I further suggest that a moratorium should be called on all evangelism and missions where there is not a dominating love for God, Christ, and the truth. Those who do not have these traits have other things they need to be doing.


Your husband's sister is not right on this matter. I do understand she is basing her remarks on our Lord's statements in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. It does, indeed, appear as though Christ's words justify her conclusion -- and it is a conclusion, not a word from God. "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery."

Jesus is citing the ordinary rule for marriage, and even then gives an exception to the rule -- "fornication." You will note that He speaks of the husband putting away his wife, and not vice versa. This was given against the backdrop of men divorcing their wives for foolish reasons, putting the wife at a great handicap. Jesus said it because of the "hardness" of such husbands "heart" (Matt 19:8). However, this is not the circumstance in which your husband found himself.

Secondly, his situation is more closely related to the one described in First Corinthians 7:10-15. There Paul says the wife is not to depart from her husband for unjustifiable reasons -- that is, for other than fornication. If she does leave her husband, she is to remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband (v 11). At this point Paul gives his personal advice about a marriage where one is a believer and one is not. Of this advice he says, "But to the rest speak I, not the Lord" (v 12). That is, he is not telling them something Jesus commanded him to say. This does not mean, however, that what he says is a mere opinion, for Paul would not do such a thing. Rather, he is saying that Jesus did not spell out every detail of marriage and divorce. He will, therefore, reason upon the basis of what Jesus did say, and draw some conclusions. We take these conclusions as inspired from God, even though Jesus had not previously said them. This circumstance is true of a number of things the Apostle said. Elsewhere Paul refers to this kind of communication as speaking "by permission, and not commandment" (1 Cor 7:6). Again he said in the 25th verse, "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord; yet I give my judgment . . . " In these cases, Paul is saying Jesus had not ordered him to speak this way. However, because he had the "mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16), he was able to correctly apply what Jesus had commanded. Elsewhere this is called "handling the Word of God aright," or correctly (2 Tim 2:15).

I have given this brief explanation because of the varying opinions that exist on this passage. Having said that, your faith will confirm to you that it is wiser to take the inspired applications of Paul than the uninspired opinions of others, including the sister of your husband.

Here is what Paul said of a believer and an unbeliever separating -- and I am assuming your husband's first wife was, in fact, an unbeliever, else she would not have conducted herself in direct contradiction of the Word of the Lord (1 Cor 7:3-5). "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is NOT UNDER BONDAGE in such cases: but God hath called us to peace" (1 Cor 7:15). The "bondage" is the marriage bond itself. This is, admittedly, a special circumstance -- but the Spirit has been gracious enough to give it to us, and it is not to be neglected.

Jesus Himself dealt with a woman who had multiple husbands, and was living with a man who was not her husband (John 4:16-18). He did not tell her she was "living in adultery," although I do not doubt your husband's sister would have said that was the case. Instead, He offered the woman "living water" (4:14). I understand that the woman did have to address her situation, for it was not an acceptable one. However, that was something between her and the Lord.

So it is with your own case. God has not condemned you, and neither can anyone else. He has declared there are unusual circumstances where the married are released from their bond. Divorce is not an unpardonable sin, even though it is to be avoided wherever possible. After all, even God Himself has been divorced (Isaiah 50:1; Jeremiah 3:8; Hosea 2:2-4). Who is the person who would say God's acceptance of the Gentiles has caused Him to be living in adultery? Yet, if what your sister-in-law has said is true, that is precisely what He is doing.

You have no need to be confused on the matter. Your marriage is honorable, and your husband has not done wrong in remarrying. Go on your way rejoicing, knowing the Lord has received both you and your husband just as surely as He did that woman at the well. This is another case where "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13).

I would like to know more about what it means to be set free. It's a question that's been in my mind for years and I never asked.

Every person who is born again starts out free -- every single one. They are liberated from any obligation to the flesh, or sinful nature (Rom 8:12). They are free from the tyranny of the devil, who will flee from them if only they resist him, or say "NO!" (James 4:7). They have been freed from the guilt of sin, or "justified from all things" (Acts 13:39), so that their conscience need not condemn them. They are free to come to the Lord whenever they want, stay as long as they want, and get as much as they want (Rom 5:2; Eph 2:18; 3:12). They are free to be taught by the grace of God (Tit 2:11-12) and to possess "all things," which have been given to them (1 Cor 3:21-23; 2 Pet 1:3).

This freedom, while it is experienced by us, was wrought outside of ourselves -- that is, we were "made free" (Rom 6:18,22; 8:2; Gal 5:1). That is why Jesus preached, or announced, "deliverance" and "liberty" (Luke 4:18). The passage from which Jesus quoted said "the opening of the prison to them that are bound" (Isa 61:1). The meaning is simply that Jesus removed the doors from the prison. For those who believe, there are no moral or spiritual jail cells with doors on them.

Having been made free, that freedom must be maintained. Thus we are admonished, "It was FOR FREEDOM that Christ SET US FREE; therefore KEEP STANDING FIRM and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1, NASB).

Where seeming bondage exists in a believer, a certain deception has set in -- a view that sees the doors back on the prison. But Jesus has removed the doors that formerly confined us, just as surely as Samson carried off the doors of the gate of Gaza, bars and all (Judges 16:3). When bondage appears to come again, precisely the same message that first announced our liberty must again be embraced in faith. It liberated us the first time, and it will liberate us again.

It is important to note that we have not been liberated from struggle (Gal 5:17), but from the obligation to yield to the flesh. Thus we live our lives "as free," and not as in bondage (1 Pet 2:18).

God has also graciously informed us that "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (2 Cor 3:18) -- liberty from sin, the dominion of the flesh, and the tyranny of the devil. Liberty to draw near to God, appropriate the grace of God, walk in the light, enjoy the promises of God, and countless other benefits. Freedom, in a nutshell, is the undoing of all that sin caused, including what it brought in as well as what it sent out.

Eventually that freedom will include liberation from these mortal bodies, praise the Lord. Until then, our bodies constitute a sort of bondage. Thus Paul lamented, "who shall deliver me from the body of this death" (Rom 7:24). Until that time, we are free to keep our bodies in subjection, not allowing them to dominate us (1 Cor 9:27).

How can I say the word "Love" to a holy God? Perhaps I feel like Peter did in a sense. I long to be closer to God and I hate this sin that plagues me. I wish so much to be open and free to pray to God and praise Him like I did when I first became a Christian. I do love God, but it is another matter to tell Him.

You are experiencing the inward warfare that every believer experiences. There are two men in your body, not one -- the "old man" and the "new man." One is to be "put on," or given the dominance, and the other is to be "put off," or crucified (Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9-10; Rom 6:6). The discontent you are experiencing is not the discontent of unbelief, but one that comes from a struggle with the law, or principle, of sin that remains in your body.

This struggle is depicted in a number of ways in Scripture. Galatians 5:17 states it this way. "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want" (Gal 5:17, NIV).

The classic text dealing with this warfare is Romans 7:15-25. This passage is dealing with a struggle in the mind, not with lapses into immorality. The statements were provoked by the rise of unwanted "lusts" that were not invited or desired, yet erupted in the mind.

1. These unwanted thoughts are the things Paul did not want to occur, yet they did (7:15-16).
2. They were not the expressions of the real Paul, but were temptations -- fiery darts from the wicked one, working through the remnants of the "old man" (7:17; Eph 6:16).
3. Nothing good can be found in "the flesh," or the part of us that is not born again (7:18).
4. The absence of good in that "natural" part of is confirmed by the eruption of unwanted desires (7:19).
5. The fact that they are not wanted confirms that are not the expressions of our real, or redeemed, person (7:20).
6. There is a principle at work in the believer. When good is intended, evil raises its head. This is the old nature striving to compete against the new man (7:21).
7. The real you delights in the Law of God, as you yourself have said (7:22).
8. However, another contrary, unwanted, and alien principle is at work in us, thrusting itself into our thoughts, even though unwanted and detested (7:23).
9. This struggle is disconcerting, yet will continue as long as we are in the body. Deliverance from the body, which will take place at our death or the coming of the Lord, will free us from it (7:24).
10. In the meantime, there is a part of us that serves the law of sin, and a part that delights in and serves the Law of God. Our solemn commission is to crucify the former, keeping it upon the cross, and give expression to the latter (7:25).

The good new about this whole matter is found in the conclusion cited in the first verse of the eighth chapter. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:1). The "Therefore" refers to the struggle so vividly described in the precious chapter. Rather than that struggle casting suspicion on our salvation, it becomes the proof that we are saved -- for no unbeliever has such struggles.

That is freedom! Freedom from condemnation, and from an obligation to give in to the "flesh," or sinful nature.

I might add that, when I have tried to share a treasure God has given me, it is not always well received or received at all, because someone may not have their eyes or ears open to the things of the Lord, even if they say they are believers.

Welcome to fellowship in Christ's sufferings (Phil 3:10). I can remember when I first became aware of the sharp conflict between the thoughts of God and the way many of my former friends thought. The truth of God was exhilarating to my spirit, and I was sure everyone would be as glad to hear it as I was. But, alas, that did not prove to be true, and it was most disappointing to me. However, over the years, I have found that everyone is not that way, praise the Lord. You yourself are confirmation of that. Keep speaking of your hope to others. Even if they do not hear it now, they will have to wrestle with what you say. Maybe it will become hard for them to "kick against the goads," as it was with Saul of Tarsus (Acts 7:5).

Paul, on rare written occasion, shared his personal preferences and opinions
with a congregation {1Cor 7:1,7,12}.

What Paul said in the above texts was not a mere personal preference or opinion. Rather, he spoke in view of his grasp of the mind of the Lord, and with Divine permission, as opposed to receiving a commandment to bind such things upon men. Of such words he said, "I have no commandment from the Lord; yet I give judgment as one whom the Lord in His mercy has made trustworthy.  (1 Cor 7:25). Receiving mercy to be trustworthy is a far cry from sharing "his personal preferences and opinions." God put Paul into service because he was "counted faithful" (1 Tim 1:12). That faithfulness was revealed in his perspectives, which made his counsel wise, though not compulsory.

He knew that God had not called all to that life style and said so.  He believed it wise and preferable given the state of things, but it was not a teaching from the Lord, as he himself pointed out, "I, not the Lord..."

That is quite true, but Paul was not the only one called to that state. It is one of those gifts from God Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:7. Others, also called to that condition were surely not encouraged to view Paul's remarks as a private opinion or preference.

There are matters God imposes upon all men. There are others which He does not. Concerning such things, Jesus said, "He who is able to accept it, let him accept it" (Matt 19:12).

The matters which Paul said were from him, "not the Lord" included a considerable amount of instruction (1 Cor 7:12-40). I find it most difficult to say those words are Paul's "opinion." The following phrases do not sound like the expression of mere opinion. "Let her not leave him . . . the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband . . . A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases . . . so ordain I in all the churches . . . Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called . . . if you can be made free, use it rather . . . be not the servants of men . . . therein abide with God . . . seek not to be loosed . . . he hath not sinned . . . I speak for your profit . . . He does not sin; let them marry . . . The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives . . . I think also that I have the Spirit of God."

It is not the instructions themselves that did not come from the Lord, but the imposition of them upon all men. Those for whom they were adapted did well to take them to heart. I trust you are not suggesting Paul did NOT have the Spirit when He spoke these words.

The distinction is where the readers stood, and what gifts had been apportioned to them.

"Does cancer come from God?"

What are the possible answers? From God? From Satan? From nature? From men? From food? From environment? From neglect? From foolishness? Or do they have no cause at all? Are they random? Do they occur by mere happenstance? Are they in some human gene? Well, there is little satisfaction in such speculations. They are a display of vanity.

As ordinarily perceived, everything from God is not a "gift." Further, everything that comes from God is not "good," as ordinarily perceived. The Lord "sent fiery serpents" among the Israelites (Num 21:6). God sent "an evil spirit" to Saul (1 Sam 16:14), and "an evil spirit between Abimilech and the men of Shechem" (Judges 9:23). These, and other such circumstances, are related to this discussion, because those involved were a covenanted people.

Paul said his "thorn" was GIVEN to him (2 Cor 12:7). Its intent, he confessed, was to keep him from being "exalted above measure." That situation was created by the "abundance of the revelations" that he received -- a circumstance few today could justly claim.

When Job was grievously afflicted with boils, he reasoned, "Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). At that time, he did not know everything about his situation that we know. Yet, it is said of his remark, "In all THIS Job did not sin with his lips."

The point of Scripture is not whether or not diseases come from God, but whether or not they can come without being filtered through Him. And, if the latter is true, there is a certain Divine consideration related with them, as well as grace to endure them. They fall into the category of God not allowing us to be tempted above our ability (1 Cor 10:13). In addition, the God who allows them can easily dismiss them if He pleases.

God told Israel He had brought diseases upon Egypt, would NOT put them upon Israel if they did what was right in His sight, and was the God who heals them (Exodus 15:26). He also told them He would bring diseases upon them if they refused to keep His laws (Deut 28:60). Through Paul, He also informed the Corinthians some of them were "sick" because of their conduct around the Lord's table (1 Cor 11:30). Additionally, the Lord brought disease upon Gehazi (2 Kings 5:27), Uzziah (2 Chron 26:17-20), and Jehoram (2 Chron 21:18). I must confess I sometimes wish such people could respond to inquiries like the one we are considering. What do you imagine THEY would say?

When Jesus heard that Lazarus was "sick," He affirmed the condition was not "unto death." That is, death would not be the final result of it. He said the sickness was "for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified through it" (John 11:4). It certainly would not have been good for Martha and Mary to speculate why Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, got sick in the first place.

When Christ's disciples saw a certain man blind from birth, they assumed the condition was caused by sin, and asked is the sin of the man himself had brought the condition, or the sin of his parents. Jesus rejected both possibilities, affirming the circumstance was in order "that the works of God should be revealed in Him" (John 9:2-4).

Thus disease, or infirmity, is represented as:
1. A protecting gift to Paul.
2. A means of confirming the faith and stability of Job.
3. A judgment from God.
4. An occasion through which the Son of God can be glorified.
5. An occasion through which the works of God can be made known.

All of this confirms the analysis of sickness is not simplistic. There are no candid answers that quickly explain why people are sick. It may be a thorn to humble them. It may be a test to show heavenly intelligences the power of God's grace. It may be a circumstance through which God will show others how a person can be sustained by faith. It may be a judgment from God. It may be a circumstance through which God will gain special glory, and Jesus as well.

A person who is sick (and I do not speak as a dry-land sailor), must address his situation BEGINNING with God -- like Job did. Asa died of a disease in his feet because he "did not seek the Lord, but physicians" (2 Chron 16:12). Those who are sick must conclude their sickness did not occur independently of some kind of Divine involvement or permission. They should use the occasion to search their own hearts. They should lay their cause before the Lord first, and then proceed with whatever measures they conceive to be necessary.

But they are not in order to philosophize about WHY disease occurs. That is a door that will lead to no good. Unless they receive some special revelation from God, they simply cannot produce a satisfactory explanation for sickness or disease. Whatever the cause, sickness cannot alienate a person from God. It cannot push the person beyond the reach of His grace. It does not close the door into His presence. They can make known their request concerning that very illness to God -- in fact, God invites them to do so (Phil 4:6-7).

Then, if there is no such thing as a carnal Christians, what shall we call those who have confessed Jesus as Lord and have claimed to have been born again, but still are yielding to their fleshly lusts and desires? There are those in our churches who are that way. Are they then not Christians, but are wolves in sheep's clothing?

First, the term "carnal Christian" is purely of human origin. It is nowhere used or suggested in Scripture. If God had used the expression, there would be no question about its validity, but He did not.

Second, when dealing with those within the body of Christ who were gravitating to the flesh, the Spirit spoke plainly. "For YOU ARE STILL CARNAL. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," ARE YOU NOT CARNAL?" (1 Cor 3:3-4). When confronted unfaithful people within the church, He addressed them in this manner. "ADULTERERS AND ADULTERESSES! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself AN ENEMY OF GOD" (James 4:4). To the church in Rome, the Spirit spoke expressly about those who chose to walk after the flesh, yet keep the name of Jesus. "So then, those who are in the flesh CANNOT PLEASE GOD" (Rom 8:8). And again, "For if ye live after the flesh, YE SHALL DIE: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Rom 8:13).

As you can see, there is no ambiguity about how we are to refer to such people.

Third, it is not our place to pass eternal judgment on people. Those within the church who are "carnal" can "recover themselves from the snare of the devil" (2 Tim2:24-26). But until they do, they are "carnal," and there is no way they can please God in that state. Men may choose to speculate about their condition, but it is all a waste of time. God has spoken to this subject, and has done so strongly in order to induce repentance. He is "not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance." That is why He is longsuffering toward such deluded souls (2 Pet 3:9). But until they do repent, they are "carnal," NOT "spiritual" (which is the appropriate comparison with "carnal").

Fourth, the expression "wolves in sheep's clothing" refers to teachers, or "false prophets" (Matt 7:15). Any and all preachers and teachers who are unable to bridle their lusts are the "wolves" to which Jesus referred. All such leaders destroy God's people rather than building them up.

Our role is simply to refer to people and things in precisely the way God did. If that causes trouble for some people, they must come to grips with why the Word of God is not in harmony with their own way of thinking. If there is a soul in all of the world who says God promises eternal life to a carnal person, or is pleased with a carnal person, or is committed to save a carnal person, let them produce a word from God -- any word -- that says such a thing. That will forever end all controversy on the matter.

It is good to hear from you again. I have often thanked the Lord for your faith and tenderness of heart. By the way, how is the family, your last child, etc.? I will be answering your question concerning tongues shortly. I have been on answering my Internet correspondence.

If someone smokes marijuana but talks about God more when they are high, is this acceptable behavior for a Christian? . . . Is there a verse's) that says that smoking weed is a Sin?

The word of God admonishes us to refrain from seeking "highs" by artificial means. It speaks of the "high" of being "drunk," which also refers to all other forms of artificial stimulus or intoxication. Here is what the Word of God says. "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but BE FILLED with the Spirit" (Eph 5:18). In this case, marijuana is a substitute for the Holy Spirit, with which we are to be "filled." Judge for yourself if such conduct is acceptable to God.

It is inconceivable that liquor, "smoking weed," or any other drug usage could move one to "talk about God" more, or more accurately, than being filled with His Holy Spirit. God simply has not made allowance for proper assessments of Himself or His will by such means.

Further, the issue is not whether a person talks about God, but whether that talk is God-honoring. Is it correct? Does it reflect personal submission to Him? Does it exalt the Son of God, declare war on sin, and promote godliness, or holiness? Is God Himself pleased with such talk? Does it assist others to understand Him more? Does draw people to the God of heaven?

The use of drugs in any form is related to what the Bible calls "drunkenness." It is the opposite of being "sober." We are commanded to "be sober," or under strict self-control (1 Peter 1:13; 5:8). Our thinking is always to be clear and without artificial stimuli or depressants.

The Bible does not mention the word "marijuana" or "smoking weed." It does, however speak about states of mind such as the ones marijuana induces. "Smoking weed" is not acceptable behavior for a Christian because it is something that does not result from faith in God and dependency upon Him. If such a person "talks about God," as you suggest, he does so under the influence of the "weed," not the Holy Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit will never lead a person to act foolishly -- "weed" will. The Holy Spirit will never lead a person to do what is wrong -- "weed" will. The Holy Spirit will bring a greater understanding of God and Christ to the individual -- "weed" will not. God urges us to be filled with His Holy Spirit -- not the effects of "weed."

If you are smoking "weed," I urge you to stop. You are not the better for doing it, nor is anyone else. It is nothing but a miserable substitute for God Himself.

There was a time when religious conservatives now known as evangelicals virtually hated the RSV. Is the RSV as bad as some have said? Also, I like the way the NRSV reads, but it uses gender-inclusive language. Is it more accurate than the RSV? Does the gender inclusive language present a scriptural problem? Does adelphoi actually mean brothers and sisters? Is the RSV or the NRSV more accurate in today's world?

The objective of the more modern translations is not accuracy, or precision, but plainness or clarity -- and there is a big difference. In some cases, the NRSV is perceived as improving on the expressions -- but that improvement is in view of modern speech and idioms.

In my judgment, however, there has been a decided deterioration in language itself, so that it tends to be more parochial and reflective of societies of people who are not noted for thought, precision of expression. This is particularly true of the Western world. If this assessment is true, reducing Scripture to the common language can be a most dangerous thing. If the speech of the people of the street, so to speak. it rooted firmly in soil of earthiness, reflecting carnal appetites and values, it is highly unlikely that such a vocabulary can even contain Divine concepts. I personally prefer etymological expressions that reflect an age of thought. The words tend to be more precise and pregnant with meaning, even though some may choose to refer to them as "old English," archaic, or the likes.

As to the meaning of the word "adelphoi," or "adelphos." it is not to be determined by a lexicon, but by Divine usage. The Spirit uses this term to refer to "brothers" in the ordinary sense of males: "Judah and his brothers" (Matt 1:12), "Peter and his brother Andrew" (Matt 4:18), "Your mother and Your brothers" (Matt 12:47), etc. But that is not the only way it is used.

This word is also used to denote all those who are in Christ Jesus -- and in Him "there is neither male nor female" (Gal 3:28). Some examples of such usage are, "Salute the brothers" (Col 4:15), "the brothers who are in Macedonia" (1 Thess 4:10), "He is not ashamed to call them brothers" (Heb 2:11), "we love the brothers" (1 John 3:14), and "unfeigned love of the brothers" (1 Pet 3:22). It is obvious these texts do not refer to only males.

I remember well the opposition to the RSV when it first came out. One of the chief objections centered on Isaiah 7:14, where the Hebrew word "almah" was translated "young woman," instead of "virgin." The irony of the case is that the RSV itself translated Matthew's quotation of that very verse as "virgin" (Matt 1:23). Of course, in Scripture, it was assumed that a "maiden," or "young woman," was single and a virgin.

The RSV, or any other version, that leans primarily toward lexical definitions of words will invariably employ some expressions that will not reflect the mind of the Spirit. That does not mean these versions are totally deficient. It does mean they must be read with a discerning mind.

In Scripture, keys words are consistently explained or expounded doctrinally, not lexically. That is, the Holy Spirit would precisely define what was intended by such words. Thus the church, or "ekklesia," is said to be "the body of Christ," even though there is nothing in the word itself that suggests such a thing (Eph 1:22-23). That circumstance, of course, requires spiritual understanding on the part of the translators, as well as academic expertise.

What is "the power of his resurrection"? "To know" means to experience. How does one experience the resurrection of Christ?"

This is the power that is devoted to all who are in Christ Jesus. Paul prayed the church would have the eyes of their understanding opened to know, or realize, "what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe." In delineating that power, he described it was "according to the working of His mighty power, which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:19--20).

In a nutshell, this is coming back, or recovering power. It is experienced initially when we are raised from death in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-4). On an ongoing basis, it is experienced when we are renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:18). It is realized when we are "struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor 4:9), or fall, yet rise again (Prov 24:16). It will ultimately be realized when we ourselves rise from, and death is swallowed up in victory. Resurrection power is having the heel bruised, yet crushing the head of the serpent anyway. It is going down in seeming defeat, yet coming back triumphantly.






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