Eight Ways to Fight for Purity

Posted by on Oct 20, 2014 in Featured, Marriage/Parenting/Singleness

Eight Ways to Fight for Purity

Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

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Fighting for Purity

We live in a culture where the constant refrain in our movies, television shows, and music seems to be pursue sex outside of marriage because there are ‘no consequences’. Our public schools and government (particularly via Planned Parenthood) openly encourage young people to pursue sex outside of marriage, divorced from responsibility by handing out condemns and providing “sex education training” designed to entice young teens to engage in sex outside of marriage. The Bible, however, presents a different picture—namely sex inside of marriage only. Sex inside of marriage may be the most counter-cultural action a Christian married couple can participate in.

We as men are forced into a battle every day against our foe, the devil, who seeks to do us harm. The fight for sexual purity is spiritual battle between a vanquished foe named Satan, and a victorious, triumphant, and exalted Savior in Jesus Christ. Even the day I wrote this article, I faced this challenge head-on at the Subway restaurant near my house. An inappropriately-dressed woman came into my line of sight, and I was faced with the question, “How should I respond?” Knowing what God’s Word teaches, I not only looked the other way, but I also began praying, resisting the urge to glance again as I held fast to the gospel. Not more than a half an hour later, as I sat at a coffee shop, I was once again challenged as a young woman walked past me in an extremely short skirt. Once again I prayed, resisted, and stood fast.

Men, fighting for your purity of mind and heart is serious spiritual warfare. All around each of us, the world is seeking to destroy you and me. Not only is the world and the satanic host armed to take you down, but your flesh cries out to be appeased. You are in a war and this war is very real. This is why fighting for your purity is spiritually imperative.

So, how can we expect to win this fight for purity? First, understand that God sees your heart. You cannot go beyond the sovereign gaze of an all-knowing God. He knows whether you stand fast or if you give in. My encouragement to you today is to hold fast and stand courageously. As Ephesians 6:14 states, Gird yourself for battle you are in with the Belt of Truth. One day the battle will end and your struggle against the world, the flesh and the devil will finally be over. Go to battle for the sake of your marriage! Will you go to battle for the sake of your soul? A solider dresses for battle and stands armed to the hilt against the enemy. As Christians we have been signed, and sealed in the Lord Jesus. Your eternity has been secured by the Risen Christ, so fight the fight knowing that your victory in Him is sure!

From what I’ve personally witnessed, many men give into temptation, allowing the lust of their eyes to damage their own souls. They are enticed and seduced by the seductresses flaunting around in overly tight clothes and short skirts. Men, resist and turn your eyes from these women by the grace of God. These are not the types of women you want to be your wife. These women are only after one thing—they want your attention (and flattery). They are nothing more than seductresses aiming to destroy you (whether or not they realize it) and take you out of the battle…maybe for good.

I realize that these are strong words, but we cannot sugar-coat the situation. We must recognize that our very lives are at stake and the damage done with one lustful glance can scar our souls forever. Soldiers arm themselves for battle; they prepare for war or many months. You have easy access to pornography and inappropriate images through smart phones, laptops, and other media devices. Temptation is everywhere—even in the line at the grocery store. So, how do you stand firm? Let me give you eight tips to help you navigate this spiritual minefield.

Eight Ways to Fight for Purity

First, Christian soldiers prepare for battle by taking up the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11). We are to put all of it on, not just pick up a sword and shield.

Second, Christian soldiers prepare for battle by taking up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. You can claim victory over evil only by knowing the TRUTH found in the Word of God. If you don’t understand your identity in Christ, as one who is victorious, you will be unable to stand against the claims of Satan (the father of all lies).

Third, Christian soldiers prepare for battle by submitting to godly leadership in the local church. We know that God has ordained those in leadership to be our shepherds. Their teaching and leadership should be respected and followed, so long as they maintain a biblical perspective and godly teaching.

Fourth, Christian soldiers seek out accountability. What war has ever been won alone? Jesus has given us comrades, fellow Christian men to help us through the struggle. No one should try to shoulder the weight of this fight alone.

Fifth, Christian soldiers pray with their wives. As our helpmates, our wives can be the strongest pillar in our fight against the flesh. They will (hopefully) be knowledgeable of the struggles that men face in the flesh, and be willing to help in the fight for purity. A godly woman understands that the sexual temptation of her husband can be the downfall of their marriage. Her righteous prayers can move mountains, so do not be afraid to conscript her in this war. She’s there to help, as God intended.

Sixth, Christian soldiers love their wives. While at times it can be difficult to be both transparent and loving to your wife, there is a place of balance. Your wife may be hurt if you confess the struggles you have with purity, but a strong relationship is one of love and trust. If your wife cannot trust you, she may struggle also to love you. So I say again, love your wife, be honest with your wife, and engender trust and faith with your wife. Always remember that Jesus commands us to love our wives as He has loved the Church (and so died for Her). If you show this type of love to your wife, she will see Christ in you.

And seventh, Christian soldiers lead their wives and wash them in the water of the Word. Be the leader in the home that you are called to be. Do not forsake your duties as a husband and shepherd of Christ in the home. Use your knowledge of Scripture to lead by example in a godly way. If you provide an example of what it means to be a man of God to your family, God will use it to bless those in your care—not only your wife, but also your children (if you have any).

Finally, Christian soldiers use accountability software to help them fight against temptation, but seek first and foremost to submit to the teaching of the Word of God. The software available for purity accountability is truly helpful in so many ways. Without submitting to the teaching of the Word of God, however, software can only go so far. It is up to you to allow the Holy Spirit to renew your mind through the Word on a daily basis. If you refuse to allow His Word to instruct you in the way you should go, you have lost the battle already.

Today, you may be struggling with looking at illicit images or watching similarly themed videos. This is a battle I’ve known well. As one who’s overcome a pornography addiction, I know well the battle that wages through the world, the flesh, and the devil. Yet, there is hope and healing in the Cross of Christ. You can stand and resist, but you can’t do it in your own strength. You can fight for your purity and overcome temptation only by the grace of God. He alone is your victory; He alone is your hope. Lean on Him and trust Him when he says He is “for you”. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. Jesus is the reason you can fight for purity and stand firm in the grace of God. This is why I call you today to put your sin to death. Don’t coddle it and don’t play games with it. A little sin will harm you a great deal. Don’t just look away when that seductress tempts you in person or on the computer, instead you must pray, resist, and put it to death by the grace of God. Jesus died in your place and for your sin! He is the reason you can put your sin to death; He is the reason you can slay it. So, men of God, slay the dragon of impurity and fight for your purity by the grace of God. As a final thought, remember the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:1-4 and 2 Timothy 2:21-26):

2 Timothy 2:1-4, “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

2 Timothy 2:21-26, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

Jesus Christ is stronger than Satan could ever be—and He has given you VICTORY through Himself. Trust that His Word is true and you will remain victorious.

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Why God Does What He Does

Posted by on Oct 17, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Why God Does What He Does

“He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
(Psalms 23:3)

God cares why we do what we do. He doesn’t desire rote singing, Bible reading, and prayer from us. He wants our hearts too. This is no surprise. God cares about our motivations. He even cares about when we drink sweet tea, drive down the interstate—the everything and whatevers of life (1 Cor. 10:31).

But have you ever thought about God’s motivation?
Why does God do what God does?

We know he sent his Son because he loves us. “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). God’s love for sinners motivates him.
And God’s glory is the motivation behind God’s love to redeem dead sinners like you and me.

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12)

Why were our sins forgiven? Because we had faith? Yes (Eph. 2:8–9). Because he chose us before the foundation of the world? Yes (Eph. 1:3; Romans 8:29–30). But, ultimately, dig it all up, what is the root cause for our sins being washed white as snow?

His name’s sake.

Jesus died for God’s fame. Blood puddled on the ground at Golgotha for the glory of God, for his praise. God’s glory is God’s chief end—not us. God is the center of God’s universe.

God’s love for sinners like us, and God’s love for his fame are not at odds—they are in concert.

“All my hope and confidence is, that God will work for his name’s sake.” John Owen

And in Psalm 23, David realizes that our Lord leads us toward godliness, in paths of righteousness, for God’s majestic glory—so that God would be made much of, so that God will be seen as glorious. And this is for our good (Rom. 8:28LibronixLink dark Why God Does What He Does). The exaltation of God is the best thing for us.

God does what God does for God’s glory.

“Leading and guiding in the way of safety and happiness, restoring the soul, the forgiveness of sin; and that help, deliverance, and salvation, that is consequent therein, is for God’s name.” Jonathan Edwards

God’s glory and our good, sinners benefitting sovereign pursuits, are in perfect harmony.

  • “For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.” (1 Samuel 12:22)
  • “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me” (Psalms 31:3)
  • “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!” (Psalms 79:9)
  • “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power.” (Psalms 106:8)
  • For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:9, 11)

God is centered on his glory. Anything less for God to be centered on would be idolatry. God will not be an idolater. But God’s God-centeredness doesn’t mean he’s uninterested in you or me. Far from it. God’s God-centeredness, pursuing his name’s sake, means that God invites us, frees us, and redeems us, not only for his name’s sake, but also so we can be for his name and not our names. Jesus, not us, has been given a name that will initiate the bow-down-sequence (Philippians 2:9–11).

We exist to exalt him. And Jesus works in our lives, brining about spiritual fruit, not for our back-patting, but for praise—to make much of God.

“The most loving thing God can do for us is not to make much of us, but to work by his sovereign grace so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. So, if he would love us, he must exalt his sovereign grace and keep us in our humble, happy place.” John Piper

The Lord is our shepherd. He’s leading us in paths of righteousness—for his glory and our good. Our godliness is bigger than our godliness—it’s for glory.

We exist to make much of Jesus.

“Let every plan we frame and every choice we make have this aim: to make much of Jesus Christ. To show that he is the greatest person and the greatest treasure in the world.” – John Piper

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Psalms 115:1)

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Faithfully Serve the Lord

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Faithfully Serve the Lord

One of the greatest obstacles many Christians have is simply serving the Lord. For some people, time crowds out their ability to serve the Lord. Others struggle to serve the Lord because of illness, a serious disease, or a litany or other reasons. It’s easy to understand the feeling that life is coming at us a million miles an hour and that it’s hard to find the time to pause and reflect on God’s work in our lives. Yet, that is exactly what we must do as Christians. As believers, we are called to faithfully serve the Lord out of our relationship with Him.

I’ve been a Christian since I was a child. I’ve gone through many peaks and valleys in my life, as I’m sure you have. While the mountain top experiences in our walk with God help encourage us and allow us to understand that God is with and for us, we often forget this fact when we are in the valley. Hebrews 13:5 makes this clear—that Jesus is with us and for us. He goes before us, alongside us, and ahead of us. He is everywhere, in every situation, and He is always faithful. I don’t know about you, but that is extremely encouraging to me.

Today, my aim is to help you see that faithfully serving God comes from knowing God. Often, as Christians, we can get in mindset that every seemingly good opportunity is meant for us take. It is okay to take opportunities that come our way; they are opportunities to celebrate and praise God. Yet, we should be careful with regard to how much we take on, because we have only a finite amount of time and we are called to be good stewards of our time and our lives.

Over the years I’ve battled with all the excuses in the book and know how easy it is to make them and then succumb to them. At the end of the day, however, every excuse is only a justification to fail to serve the Lord. Jesus served His Father faithfully all the days of His life. Many men and women throughout the history of the Church have given of their lives in service to the Church. The Apostle Paul is a man known for giving of his life for the glory of God. He poured out his life as an offering to the Lord and for the joy of the nations. Faithfully serving the Lord doesn’t mean doing everything, it means doing what we are called to do with excellence for the glory of the Lord.

When I was in my early twenties, I viewed every opportunity as something I should “go for”. It took me some time and eventually burning out to realize that I needed to adopt a different approach to opportunities to serve the Lord. As I did this, I quickly realized that what I needed was to spend time in prayer and get godly counsel from friends about various opportunities. After I later got married, I made it a practice to always ask my wife what her thoughts were on getting involved in or taking on another ministry responsibility. This has helped me a great deal to be able to handle these opportunities in a God-honoring way.

One of the key things I’ve learned in dealing with these opportunities, is to thank and praise God for it when it is presented. Sometimes I simply feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do every day. When this happens I turn my attention back to the gospel. We don’t find our identity for our service in our work, but in Jesus Christ. We can only serve the Lord faithfully if we are living from our identity in Him, and not from our performance. Understanding this point is crucial, not only to growing in Christ, but also to faithfully serving the Lord. The gospel provides the fuel for our growth and for our service. Going back to the gospel is something we need to do every moment of every day. When we cry out, “Lord help me”, that is a prayer He will always answer. He is faithful to His promises. He goes before us, alongside of us, and ahead of us to advance His Kingdom in the lives of the people He will set before us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to make much of Jesus. This is why we can be faithful, because we have a faithful God, and we can be faithful in our knowing and serving Him.

This is why we can be spent for the gospel. This is why when life seems to be throwing us curveballs we can press in rather than run away. God is faithful; rest in that truth. Grow in your knowledge of this fact by trusting Him. Don’t just say, “I know that”, but let the truth of God’s faithfulness wash over you afresh. Be reminded that the God of the universe is your God and His promises are true. Now stop making excuses, and faithfully serve your trustworthy (and faithful) Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Know that He bled, died, rose, and ascended for you. He is your High Priest, Mediator, and Intercessor. In everything Jesus does, He is faithful and He has now empowered you through the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses for His glory. Serve Him faithfully and declare the majesty of His name among the nations.

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I Will Set No Evil Thing Before My Eyes

Posted by on Oct 15, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

I Will Set No Evil Thing Before My Eyes

Psalm 101:3, “I will not allow before my eyes any shameful thing. I hate those who act crookedly; what they do does not attract me.”

Let’s face it. We live in a world where all manner of entertainment is literally at our very fingertips. Movies, music, television shows, video clips – all can be accessed on a phone, tablet, or the good old fashioned television set. I will readily admit the enjoyment of laying on the couch or in bed and watching something of what I hope to have some level of entertainment value all in the name of taking my mind off a busy day.

As I was doing this very thing the other night before bed in the name of relaxing, I decided to watch via my Amazon Prime service an episode of Frasier. For those not familiar with that program, it was on television from 1993-2004 and continues to be shown as re-runs so check your local listings if you are interested. Frasier starred Kelsey Grammar from Cheers fame as a Seattle based radio psychiatrist named Frasier Crane who lives with his father Martin Crane, his father’s caretaker Daphne Moon with Frasier regularly interacting with his brother Niles who we will discuss in a moment. As far as sitcoms go, this one is relatively tame or so I thought. Something I watched the other night made me realize the subtlety of perversion that creeps its way into entertainment wrapped up in a nice little blanket of humor.

So let me describe the episode I was watching. Niles Crane, a self proclaimed happily married man, seems to take a liking to Daphne, the attractive British caretaker of his father Martin. During a party to celebrate Frasier’s purchase of a local artists painting, Niles and Daphne find themselves in the kitchen. Now Daphne was legitimately in the kitchen preparing some food; however, Niles took the opportunity to find time to be around Daphne even going so far as to take a quick sniff of her hair. When questioned by Daphne as to whether he had just sniffed her hair, Niles quickly stated he had not since after all he is a happily married man. Overall, this was a relatively short scene over the course of a 23 minute episode.

What is the big deal you might ask? This is just a bit of societal humor and after all Niles did not act upon his impulses. Both responses can be affirmed as true; however, what society deems as appropriate is not necessarily what Scripture deems as appropriate. Psalm 101:3 declares we are to set no shameful thing before our eyes. How do we know the actions of Niles Crane are included in the category of a shameful thing? The answer lies in Scripture which clearly notes “that a man who even looks at a woman with the purpose of lusting after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) One can clearly state that Niles Crane was certainly lusting after Daphne unless for some reason he was truly interested in what type of shampoo and conditioner she was using. Of course we know that to not be true simply by observing the manner in which Niles acted to include his outright lie of doing the very thing Daphne questioned him about.

What are we to do as believers given the sheer volume of such garbage within the entertainment industry today? Are we to give a little chuckle and move on thinking such a small snippet of a program will have no impact on our lives? Are we to completely remove ourselves from watching any form of entertainment given the pervasive manner in which this type of shameful act resides throughout our programming options? Should we be more discerning in what we watch knowing the impact the repetitive or even singular act of watching such things has on our lives? For me and my family, options two and three are becoming increasingly the approach I am taking. To simply give a little chuckle or to try and turn a quick blind eye or to even endure that which is shameful goes against the clear command in Scripture to set no shameful thing before our eyes. Now this is serious business and may for some involve a massive paradigm shift in what we watch and even what we listen to. But I ask those who might balk at this suggestion what is more important? A little bit of so-called humor thinking it has no impact or the pursuit of holiness in order to bring glory to God?

Are we willing to place every part of our lives under the Lordship of Christ to include our eyes and our minds or are we insistent on keeping that little part for ourselves? Sinful behavior within our lives often starts with just a tiny little seed that is planted, often as a result of something we have watched or listened to. We see society champion lustful behavior portraying it as nothing more than a passing whim. Unfortunately, that passing whim turns into impure thoughts which turn into lust which turns into adultery which turns into broken marriages and broken homes.

Now I am not declaring that simply because you watched Niles Crane sniff Daphne Moon’s hair that you will suddenly have the urge to go out and involve yourself in an adulterous affair. That would mean that I am now planning an adulterous affair since I watched that bit of shameful programming. What I am saying is be diligent to screen and to be aware of what you are watching. We are fast becoming numb and flippant to the sinful behavior society is promoting. In the end, what is better? To turn the television, phone, or tablet off and spend quality time with your family reading God’s word, taking a walk, playing a game or something of a positive nature or to sit and “relax”, soaking in the incessant and deleterious nonsense we are told by God to flee from? The proper choice seems rather clear and admittedly the right choice is often difficult. It takes the movement of a couple of fingers to turn off that device and to turn on that which is “true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Phil. 4:8). For those who want to be a loving bride for their Bridegroom King Jesus, doing that which glorifies Him is a must!

Think about it!

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Five Helpful Tips to Better Writing (And Blogging)

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in The Gospel and the Christian Life

Often times, I’m asked the question, “How do you write so much?” This question comes up so much that I thought now was the time to write a post on it. In this post I want to offer advice to new bloggers and also to seasoned bloggers.

I began my writing journey in 1998, while I was living with one of my brothers. I started writing, not because I was a good writer (I wasn’t at all at that time!), but rather because I read so much and I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the subjects I was reading. Thankfully my friends from church were gracious enough to read my weekly email blasts, and even emailed me in return to tell me that the articles were helpful. Well, that email list continued to grow and grow, especially as I started writing to more of my friends across the country. Eventually I started Servants of Grace on August 2nd, 2000, to make my work accessible from anywhere in the world.

As you begin your blogging journey, or continue blogging, take in the view of the adventure before you and be consistent in your writing. The people who need to find you will find your work, but also be proactive and share it on your social media outlets. This is important for several reasons; first, it takes time and practice to get good at writing. Notice I said that it takes time to get good at writing, not time to get good at blogging. There is a difference between writing and blogging, and until you can see the difference, your blogging will suffer. If you consistently write well people will not only find your work, but search it out. When writing, I consider the following questions (in this order): Is it is biblical? Is it practical? And is it personal? I begin with a topic and consider everything about it, perhaps studying it in depth if needed. Then I pray about it and if I feel that I need to seek counsel about whether I should speak to this issue or not, I consult with those I feel I can trust to give me sound feedback. Often times either my wife or close friends will advise me to speak or write about the subject at hand. At times they have said that I shouldn’t engage in the discussion on such things. This is crucial—you should always have an accountability team around you. Remember that you will be accountable for not only what you say, but also what you write. God will hold us accountable for every word we use, whether spoken aloud or on a blog.

Second, be real with your readers. Just as people can spot a fake or phony in person, they can also spot a fake online. The goal is to be genuine, specifically regarding what you do and don’t know. Write about topics you are passionate about, even while you learn about them (but if you’re not an expert on the subject, don’t pretend to be). Some people think they need to be an expert on a subject to speak about it, but that’s simply untrue. Yes, you may not be as learned about a variety of topics as scholars are, but that is okay. Scholars spend their whole lives researching things within their field of study. We can, and should, learn from their insights and perspectives. With that said, as Christians we ought to open up our Bibles, read them, study them, obey them, and then share from them. As a writer, I cannot help but write because I’m compelled to do so from within.

Third, find a good editor to review your work for you (especially if you tend to be grammatically challenged at times). Over time, and with a lot of practice, prayer, and trusting in God’s sovereign grace, your writing will improve and you will find your writing voice. I know I still have a lot to learn about writing, even though I’ve been through graduateschool. I’m reminded every time my wife edits one of my articles just how much I can improve. This is truly a blessing and not something to get defensive about, despite how we may feel initially.

Fourth, as someone who now edits other people’s work, let me tell you that it is okay to ask your editor (whoever that may be) for clarification! Editors want writers to ask questions when the reasons for certain changes may seem unclear. Even if you think you don’t need someone to proof-read your work, there is nothing wrong with asking someone else to take a second glance (and your readers will appreciate it too). No one is perfect, and neither is our writing. We need to be shown the best way to phrase things, and areas where we need to improve.

This brings me to my final point: be humble in your writing endeavors. So, you’ve finally written your post and had it edited, and now you are getting ready to post it. Did you pray for those who might read it? Now that you’ve prayed over your post and clicked “Publish”, it’s time to share it. Create a post on your social media page with a title such as, “New Article”, “New blog post”, or “Writing today about such and such issue”. Include a short quote from the article that captures a key point (having a teaser for the article can help draw people in). And finally—include an image for your blog post (if you can). Many readers are drawn to blogs solely based on the visually stimulating image included in a social media post.

Now it’s your turn to write! After reading my advice to you on writing, blogging and social media, I encourage you to share any thoughts you have about this topic in the comments…and if you’re brave enough (which I believe you are), write your own blog post! I look forward to learning from your insight and perspectives!

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Though He Slay Me, Yet I Will Praise Him

Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Featured, The Gospel and the Christian Life

Though He Slay Me, Yet I Will Praise Him
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“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”. (Job 13:15a)

While driving to work a few weeks ago, this passage in Job came to mind as I was pondering things I have read, a habit I have found myself getting into on the way to work since there really is nothing worth listening to on the morning airwaves these days. As I contemplated the message behind this verse, it became readily apparent that much of what I read in books or the blogosphere these days concerns matters of God lifting someone up out of the muck and the mire, someone finding a job after being unemployed for months, or if we go to the self-help section of the local Christian bookstore, we might find Mr. Smiley himself, Joel Osteen, pontificating on how everyday is a Friday. Now mind you I have nothing wrong with rejoicing with those whom God has blessed or with those who have suffered but have now found relief from the trials of life, at least for a moment. That does not bother me in the least. What perhaps bothers me is the overemphasis on the idea that our love for God is rooted in Him blessing us in this life. It is that element which I will focus on in this post, specifically the need to praise God and to trust Him regardless of what is transpiring in our lives at the moment, whether that be comfort or sickness.

The background of this statement by Job comes after Job has had everything taken away from him while at the same time being stricken with massive boils all over his body. Let’s just say times were a bit rough for Job at this point in his life. Job had just endured some “advice” from his friends Bildad and Zophar. Instead of continuing to discuss his plight with them, Job took his case to God, recognizing that whatever had transpired was in the hands of almighty God. Now mind you Job still had no clue as to why all these horrible things had transpired and he certainly did not have a developed theodicy as to why evil was happening to him. All Job knew was that God had something in mind and he wanted to know what it was and why he deserved all of this agony.

In this introductory portion of the book of Job, we find Job at least noting a very important truth, namely that even though death may come to him despite his pleading to God or relief, Job would still place his full faith and trust in God’s plans for him. The construct of this particular verse presents Job making the statement that even if God brings death to Job, there was an assuredness on the part of Job that when his ways were tried, they would be found true and righteous. Furthermore, Job is declaring that “Even if slain he would not wait (yahal, NIV, “hope”) but would defend his ways before God.[1] Of course anyone who read the beginning portion of Job would know that fact to be true as Job was not being punished for sins committed, but rather to demonstrate something larger that God had in mind.

This of course presents us with a couple of important points for our own lives the first being our own commitment to holiness and second, will our faith in God stand firm when trials in life come or when it seems that God is silent despite our requests for relief. There was a time when the world holiness and the seeking therein of holiness was not considered an evil term in the church. The great preachers and authors of old such as J. C. Ryle, Thomas Manton, and John Owen often wrote of the need to pursue God in all holiness, striving for good works. This striving for holiness was never taught as a method to obtain salvation by works. Conversely, it was always something that should come naturally to a believer who truly understood what the grace of God is all about. In fact, the Apostle Paul in Titus 2:4 declares it was Jesus “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Thomas Manton once wrote “God, that is a living God, must have lively service; but men worship Him as a dead idol…What you do, it must be done with all the heart and all the might. Consider, religion is not a fancy. You do not worship the vanities of the Gentiles; therefore, be not dead, cold, and careless. You worship the living God, and He will be served with life, zeal, and strength of affection.”[2]

Job understood the need for holiness. In fact, in Job 1:1 he is described as being “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” Job was of course not perfect meaning he never sinned. What the word perfect actually means is Job was mature and a man of integrity before God. The word translated as perfect in Job 1:1 comes from the Hebrew word tam which comes from the same root word as the Hebrew word tamiym which also means mature. In fact, being tamiym is a requirement of the bride of Christ. Psalm 19:7 describes the Word of God as that which transforms the man or woman of God from a place of immaturity to maturity (tamiym). Job was tam because he trusted God. He was tam because he understood the need to live a holy life before a holy God. Job was a man of faith and his faith in God was demonstrated in a zeal for good works. That foundation in trusting God and His Word was what provided Job the means to make his case before God. Additionally, it was that same foundation which led him to make the declaration that even if God should take his very life, he will still place his hope in God.

So the first question we must ask ourselves is whether we are committed to loving God and in demonstrating our love for God with a desire for holiness. If someone investigated our lives, what would they discover? A life dedicated to the things of God in all areas of our life? Job was willing to undergo that level of investigation, not because he believed he was perfect, but rather because he knew that his faith in God would not be found wanting. I will readily admit that if the curtain was pulled back on my life, it would be a bit embarrassing. There are far too many areas I have yet to give full control to God. What that demonstrates is what it shows in all our lives if we were truly honest and that is a lack of maturity in the faith. One who is mature and who has come to that needed place of tamiym understands what holiness is all about. Their lives are dedicated to serving God no matter what is transpiring in this life. They serve Him when good things happen and they continue to serve Him when trials come.

This leads us to the second important element of Job 13:15, that of answering the question of whether our faith in God will stand firm when trials in life come or when it seems that God is silent despite our requests for relief. Despite what Joel Osteen says, everyday is not a Friday. No matter how much we try to think positively about a situation, there will be times when life is not a bowl of cherries. We live in a world gone made, full of sin and decay. The undeniable fact of life is jobs will come and go, money will come and go, health will come and go and we will all face death and the grave unless the Lord tarries. This seems like a rather bleak outlook compared to the everyday is a Friday approach. However, everyday is a Friday is not reality. Scripture never claims that life will be easy. We know this from examining what God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. This world is under the curse of sin and quite frankly, life will stink more than it will be a bed of roses. It is what we do in response to the likelihood of life throwing us a curveball that will demonstrate our level of tamiym.

Despite not fully understanding why he was enduring such a horrific amount of suffering, Job at least recognized a vital point and that is God is in control. Job understood that his every breath comes from God and that even if God chose to take his life he would still place his full faith and hope in God. I truly wonder in this day of self-help style Christianity, if people really understand how to face trials and tribulations. It seems as if the pursuit of most Christians is deliverance rather than perseverance. Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33 something Job understood and something we need to take heed of:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Two absolute facts are presented in that passage. The first is in this world we will have trouble. There is no way around it and no circumventing that reality. Even if we never experience physical hunger for instance, in the end, physical death will find us all. Sobering thought but as believers we must take note of where our hope lies. Jesus follows the aforementioned reality check with “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” What exactly did Jesus overcome? If we skip the back of the Bible, we find in Revelation 21:4 that when Christ returns to fix this mess, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

You see Joel Osteen has it a bit backwards. Our future hope is not Friday. Loverboy had it wrong as everybody, at least believers, are not working for the weekend and a little romance. The hope of the believer rests upon the fact that Christ will return for His bride. We know that this life will bring trial and tribulation. The tamiym believer stands firm on the promise that one day we will enjoy that Sabbath rest with God as we live in the presence of our God and King forevermore. The tamiym believer has confidence they will hear the words “well done, my good and faithful servant.” The tamiym believer has confidence in these things because they have lived a life not focused on the trials of the moment, but always looking to the blessed hope set before us. Such an approach to life lifts our eyes off the present and focuses the believer on living a life with eternity constantly in mind.

Stephen Witmer writes in his book Eternity Changes Everything, “Life is a fight. Life is a grueling race. How does Paul finish it? How do we? By focusing on the future crown of righteousness; by longing for our future with Jesus. Loving God’s future helps us last in the present.”[3] As believers this side of the cross, we can understand that reality. Job understood that in part and made the declaration that even though life could come to an end, his hope would remain rooted in God.

Do you have an eternal focus? Do you grasp that even when life throws you a curveball day after day after day, the reality is one day all things will be made right again? Or are you leaning towards the everyday is a Friday approach that is so popular these days? You cannot do both. Remember that the tamiym believer is not looking for Friday to come. Conversely, the tamiym believer endures until the end because their hope and focus is set on eternity.

We live in a day and age when the things of God are increasingly coming under attack. We see gay marriage endorsed at every turn, sexual perversion runs rampant, people are looking for the latest fad, and everyone is truly doing what is right in their own eyes. While advances in technology may address matters of a physical nature, spiritual persecution will be on the rise. When that happens, where will your faith and trust be placed in? Will you be suckered into the everyday is a Friday approach or will you have come to that place of tamiym knowing that even if death comes for standing up for the things of God or troubles come for remaining faithful to our God and King, that you will yet praise Him?

Think about it!

References:
[1] Elmer Smick. “Commentary on Job” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.4: I &2 Kings through Job. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 923.
[2] http://www.monergism.com/zealous-good-works-thomas-manton
[3] Stephen Witmer, Eternity Changes Everything (Purcellville: The Good Book Company, 2014), 95.

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