Considering Proverbs 3:7-8

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.

It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

There are many ways we might become wise in our own eyes.

We become wise in our own eyes when we listen to the notable men and women of this world and consult with their wisdom instead of consulting with the wisdom of God. We become wise in our own eyes when we consult with politics and develop strict allegiances instead of consulting with the wisdom of God. We become wise in our own eyes when we consult with the wisdom of society and social movements instead of consulting with the wisdom of God.

We become wise in our own eyes in matters large and small when we are ruled by emotions of fear, resentment, envy, and pride.

We might find ourselves supporting a cause, thinking that we are doing right, when we are actually supporting wickedness. We might think that we are “zealously affected in a good thing” when we are full of self-righteous indignation. If we feel satisfied in the destruction of other people, even verbally, then there is something prideful and murderous to our intentions, however small. If the causes we support fuel these emotions in us, then we might need to rethink our priorities.

Maybe our cause is just, but if our heart is not in the right place then we will not bring any good resolution to the matter. If we place love of others over love of self, then we will care more about reaching people in an effective way than simply proving how right we are. If we truly act out of love then we are then less likely to harden hearts and fuel evil, but instead open hearts to what is true so that the evil can be repented of.

Most importantly, we keep the reputation of our Lord from becoming damaged. If they cannot hear, it is God’s will. Some cannot hear no matter how we approach them. Simply speaking right and true things or mentioning Jesus turns many ears off. Even so, we do not want to be the cause for hard hearts in an unrighteous manner.

If we trust in Jesus, then we will learn true wisdom. We will learn a healthy fear of the Lord that is in awe of the majesty and power of our God—a God that loves righteousness and hates inequity. We will learn that it is not just the iniquity of one group of people that God hates, but all iniquity, including the sins we have presently or in the past—one of which being a holier-than-thou attitude which is a “smoke in His nose.” We will also learn that God is merciful, slow to anger, and kind. We will learn to grow in these attributes as well.

If we learn these things, we will learn to separate ourselves from common issues ranging from large-scale matters to daily disagreements and interactions with others. We will learn to see things more objectively, seek the Lord for understanding, and find the right path to take according to His wisdom. This path is often moderate, merciful, selfless, and stands on the rock of Jesus and His teachings.

We can learn humility and adjust our perspective according to new information if necessary, because we are not proud and loyal to an idea, but loyal to God and Truth. However, we never waiver on what is right according to the ways of Christ. We can be “simple concerning evil and wise in well doing.”

What does verse 8 mean? That is a strange saying.

This makes me think of a promise of revitalization or refreshing. If we depart from the wisdom of this world, learn humility and fear of the Lord, seek Jesus for real wisdom and live according to His will, then we are refreshed. We will have peace in knowing that we stand for what is true and right, even if we are hated for it. We will thrive in Spirit which provides us with soundness of mind and heart even when the entire world is falling apart.

The more the world goes after the wisdom of man, wickedness, and forsakes the true ways of Jesus Christ, the more miserable the world becomes. It will starve, it will grow dark, it will die. We will be refreshed and renewed in Jesus—even resurrected from the dead.

A Series on Sin (Complete Series)

Image by Joey Kyber

Part 1: Introduction

For most of my teenage and adult life, the term “sin” made me think about pulpit pounding preachers and snooty church ladies wearing fancy clothes.

Other than this vague connotation that I carried around in the back of my mind somewhere, I did not think about sin that much.

I was not always that way.

As a child, I loved the Lord. I talked to Him all the time. I tried to read the bible and understand. I especially loved the Sermon on the Mount, and I wanted my life to reflect those teachings. I wanted to be like the Jesus I saw on those old 70’s movies at my grandma’s house. I did not know the Lord that well, but the idea of Him was very dear to me and I wanted to serve Him.

By the time teenage years were in full swing, the Jesus I loved was placed on a shelf somewhere in the recesses of my heart and mind, only to be taken out on occasion.

I believed that I was saved, that everyone sinned, and that I was forgiven no matter what I did. I always had a nagging feeling. Some part of me knew that I was not living for the Lord, but I pushed that aside until the nagging feeling went away. Then came the darkest years of my life.

In my late 20’s, I found myself in a hopeless situation. The sins I had thoughtlessly allowed to run and ruin my live were so detrimental to my mental health that I wanted to die. I had tried everything to stop the emotional torment, but nothing helped. I tried drinking, drugs, medication, and various “spiritual” and “religious” practices that were not Christian. I still considered myself a Christian, but I was on the brink of giving up the faith.

I prayed to Jesus and a series of events caused my life to change. I began to see my sin clearly and I took it very seriously. So seriously, that I fell into another sort of depression. I had been recently taught that receiving the Holy Spirit would help me overcome sin. I spent about a year and a half asking for the Holy Spirit, and in late January of 2016 my prayer was answered.

I did find that some sins were taken away and I received things that I did not expect. The change was so drastic, that at first, I thought that I might be sinless. I soon found out that I was not, but I believed that I could and should be. I believed that unless I found my way out of all sin I would not be saved. I became hard on myself, and at times, hard on others.

I became much like those pulpit pounding preachers and snooty church ladies I once hated. How did that happen?

Jesus continued to work on my heart, and I believe to have a more balanced perspective on sin and Christian life in general. I’m still learning.  

In this series, I want to take some time to think and write about sin. What is sin? How does sin affect our lives? How does the gospel relate to our sin? Can a Christian live a sinless life in this present world? How should Christians treat sinners?

Part 2: What is Sin?

What is sin? I think most of us have some idea of what sin means. We know that sin is something considered to be wicked or against the will of God.

I was taught that the word sin means to “miss the mark.” If we miss this mark, then we are behaving in a manner that is not pleasing to God. There is a response to every situation that is perfectly pleasing to God, and we can miss the mark in lesser and greater ways.

Every situation we encounter provides choices that we must make. We are constantly making judgments about how we should handle our lives, our personal relationships, and our relationship with God. If we are conscientious and want to do what is right, then we are constantly throwing darts at a proverbial dart board, hoping to aim as close to the bullseye as possible.

For example, when someone angers us, we have a variety of unrighteous choices we might make such as replying with an insult or ending their life through physical violence. Jesus teaches that name calling or simply hating someone in our heart is in the same sin category as murder. We might go astray a little or a lot, but in any case, we are still missing the mark of perfect righteousness.

What is perfect righteousness?

The perfectly right response will vary depending on the unique circumstances. For example, if someone angers us, it might be best to walk away and pray for them. It might be best to offer a kind word that is sympathetic. It might be best to let the person know that they are behaving badly. We must consider the circumstances carefully and lean on our God-given understanding and the teachings of Jesus to help us make the best choice possible.

Jesus Christ is the embodiment of perfect righteousness. Jesus is called the Light of the World. He is Life. If we were able to follow Jesus perfectly, then our actions would be those that bring life and not death. So, we could also say that sin is an action that brings death.

When we sin, we are destroying people. We are harming them emotionally, physically, and mentally. When we sin, we are destroying ourselves. We are killing our bodies, our minds, and our relationships. When we sin, we are destroying truth. We are attempting to manipulate the reality that God has ordained so that we might fulfill a self-centered or delusional agenda.

When we sin, we are damaging the relationship between man and God—the Creator and bringer of Life.

It is no wonder that the punishment for sin is death. This is a fitting punishment, and one that none of us can escape without Jesus Christ.

There is no reason why anyone, least of all a Christian, should take sin lightly. Yet, many times we do. We are not fully aware of the destruction we cause, even with the smallest of sins. We are not always mindful of the presence of God who can see everything we do, think, and plot. We are not always mindful of the blood of Jesus that paid for our sins and all the suffering He endured on our behalf.

If we have taken sin lightly as no big deal or considered the righteous ways of God as outdated or inconvenient, then we should stop and think about our mindset. The ways of God are goodness and life. To go astray is no small thing, but there is hope found in Jesus Christ.

Part 3: The Effects of Sin

When we go against the will of God—when we sin—we are doing things that destroy ourselves and others. For a person to understand the effects of sin, we must come to terms with the reality of our sinful natures.

It seems that our culture is full of declarations of positive self-image. We tell ourselves that we are good people. We are kind-hearted. We deserve more. We are enough just as we are. And so on.

I understand the temptation to do this, and there could be many causes. Here are a few according to my own limited experience and view of the world:

In part, we have a backlash of positivity after a generation of Christians that shamed people for their sins in a mean-spirited manner (I get that too. It’s easy when our values are targeted by those who hate us. We are called to be better than that though). Many Christians also attempted to push righteousness through law instead of through compassion, understanding, and setting a good example (Jesus teaches us that law is not the way, but a change of heart).

Many Christians did not have faith that Jesus would handle things, so we took vengeance into our own hands. That did not work out so well.

Another reason for the self-affirming culture is shame inducing parenting that was typical of that generation along with high divorce rates and the destruction of healthy homes and traditional family values.

Pair all of this with strong media influences that constantly made people feel inadequate unless they had the best this or that, and you have a generation that was starving for someone to love them.

Since they had no one, they decided to love themselves.

This is understandable, but it is very dangerous.

This is dangerous because we begin to deny our natural sinful state.

Many do not like the word, “sin.” It’s taboo and carries the connotation of religious oppression. That is a sad and very unfortunate thing because when we sin we are doing things that bring death.

In denying sin, we begin to call sinful things good or we compare ourselves to others and think that sin is just a normal part of human nature that should be embraced.

However, if we think someone is sinning against us, then we feel fully justified in hating them.

We are a very blind, self-righteous and hypocritical generation because of this.

The generation before us needs to own up to what they did to cause this mess, and our generation needs to grow up and own up to our mistakes.

If we continue to view ourselves as victims, then we will not get to a place of healing and empowerment. We will not get to a place of self-accountability, and that is something that we so desperately need!

Sins have consequences—deadly consequences—that should not be ignored or considered good or something to be proud of.

When faced with the consequences of sin, it is important that we consider our wrongs and own up to it.

If we don’t, but instead have been blinded by our self-affirming and sin-praising culture, then we are at a great risk. Why?

Because we do not regret our sin and decide to do better for ourselves. Instead, we blame others. We curse others. We curse God. There is little to no hope for us then.

It is important for a person to find some understanding of the destructive nature of sin. It is important for a person to understand their natural tendency towards sin. It is important to know that the punishment for sin is death, and this is right because sin brings death. Death to our minds. Death to our bodies. Death to our relationships. Death to our culture. Death to our nation.

Sin is serious, and sin is killing our generation. We are neck deep in it, all the while praising it. We are dying because of our sin, yet we curse others and God. This is not good. We are inviting Destruction into our world. We are going to die because of our need to hold onto a positive self-image.

Once we begin to understand these things, what should we do next?

The most important thing is to seek Jesus and learn about what He stands for. We can talk to Jesus, even if it feels strange at first. We can begin the scary and saddening task of looking at ourselves honestly. We can try to remedy our behavior to the best of our ability and seek Jesus for the strength to overcome.

We can meet other Christians who are further along in the faith and form relationships. We can ask Jesus to send us the Holy Spirit so that we find better insight into sin and greater power to overcome sin.

Part 4: The Gospel

There is only one person who has walked this earth without sin: Jesus, the Son of God. We’ve probably heard this scripture before, but if not, then now is a good time to hear it:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Jesus was not born to condemn the world for its sins, but to save us from them. He does not have to condemn us because we are condemned already. We have sinned and we will face the judgment of God and the just punishment for our sin: death (I encourage reading the entire chapter of John 3).

God has given all judgment to the Son. Jesus walked this earth as a man, and although He was sinless, He understands our nature and He has much compassion for us.

If we put our faith in Jesus, we will pass from judgment to life.

John 5:21-25

21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

Jesus will save every person that He intends to save. He died on the cross for our sin. He took our punishment, and that might seem barbaric or foolish to some, but to those who receive His sacrifice it is the best news of all. It is life (1 Corinthians 1).

Jesus will raise us from the dead so that we can live with the Lord forever in His Kingdom. That is the good news—and there is more.

We do not have to wait for death to enjoy the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven. If we love Jesus and learn His ways—if we hear His voice—we begin to experience the things of heaven now in this present life. The ways of Jesus bring truth and life to those who live thereby.

However, our nature is very contrary to the ways of Jesus. So, we need to be forgiven. We need to regret our sin, pray for forgiveness, and seek Jesus for strength so that we can find freedom from the sins that we are easily entangled in. If we continue and seek Jesus in faith, He sends us the Holy Spirit (John 14). The Holy Spirit shows us the truth, and by the truth we are made free!

Overtime, the Holy Spirit will change our natures into that of Jesus Christ. There is none good like Him, but He is the mark Christians should aim for. The more we learn about Jesus and the closer we get to Him, the more we hit the mark, and the less we “miss the mark” which is to sin.

As we put on this new nature, we are “taking up our cross” also (Matthew 16). We must die to sin and that often means going through troubling and painful times. However, we are not alone in these times. Jesus is with us. So, we call out to Him. We pray often. We forge a relationship with the Lord so that we are made stronger in our faith and so that we can serve Him better.

When we are saved from death, we enter the service of Jesus. He will provide us with everything we need to perform that service, but we cannot expect to continue living as we once did. It is a process of many ups and downs, but Jesus is faithful and true. We struggle. We fight against sin. We fail and we overcome by His power.

We strive to serve Jesus by living a good Christian life that preaches the gospel to others—not just in word—but in action. Jesus shows us what this looks like. He lived it.

We are not bound to the destruction of this world. We can live for a greater kingdom through faith in Christ Jesus.

The gospel is more than an escape from God’s wrath. It is a gift that provides us with a great freedom that no kingdom of this world can provide.

We can find true love in a world of hate, happiness amidst hardship, peace in fearful times, patience and forgiveness towards those who hate us, self-control and power over sin the destroys us, and so much more.

The riches of the Kingdom of Heaven are innumerable and far more precious than any earthly treasure or the pleasures of sinful living. It is worth seeking, and as Jesus teaches, those who seek will find. “Blessed are those who seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

Whether we are considering the gospel for the first time or for the hundredth time, today is the day of our salvation. Seek more of the Kingdom today and each day! Jesus is strong to save and He will.

For more about the Christian faith, check out this article series: Christian Faith (Complete Series).

Part 5: Do Christians Sin?

There are different beliefs about a Christian’s capacity for sin. From what I have seen, there is a spectrum that ranges from helplessness to holiness.

What I mean is on one end we find those who feel as if they are hopelessly sinful apart from the grace of God through the blood of Jesus. They believe that we are forgiven once we put our faith in Jesus, and we are saved no matter what we do from that point on. A sinless life is not attainable in the flesh.

The temptation then is to give up and accept sinfulness, or to focus on certain outward sins while we neglect hidden and more difficult matters of the heart. This leads to hypocrisy and an attitude of superiority over others.

Those who adopt this view are prone to legalistic ideas about salvation including baptism and recital of certain prayers—which can be works of faith—but can also be works of the flesh when performed in insincerity or if the faith is later abandoned. Yet, we assure salvation. This is potentially dangerous.

On the other end we find those who believe that a Christian who is born again of the Spirit will no longer sin. If a Christian does not cease from all sin in this life, then they will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They will not be saved.

The temptation is to consider ourselves sinless when we are not, while we accuse other Christians as being false. Those who adopt this view are also prone to legalistic attempts at sinlessness regarding dress, praise preferences, and other matters of conscience. This leads to hypocrisy and an attitude of superiority over others.

Another issue is this: with what judgment you judge, you will be judged. If we say that a person cannot be saved if they continue to sin—yet we are blind to our own sin because of legalism or pride—then we are at risk.

Each view is understandable when we look at the scriptures, but both are problematic.

Many scriptures emphasize grace, the forgiveness of God, and the sinful nature that clings to us. Many scriptures emphasize righteous living, holiness, and places great weight on the severity of sin and those who use God’s grace and the blood of Jesus to excuse sinful living.

We don’t have to draw a dividing line down the middle and choose one side or the other.

One thing I have observed about mankind is our tendency to choose sides, then once we have chosen a side, we can become loyal to a fault. Our loyalty—or sometimes pride—blinds us to what the other side is saying.

Another thing I have observed, in Christian circles and elsewhere, is that the truth is often found when we consider all sides and find a balance between them. Of course, that does not always work. In this case, I think a balanced view is just what we need.

In general terms, I think it is dangerous to have a pessimistic view about sin that makes a person feel as if freedom from sin is impossible. I also think it is dangerous to claim to be sinless. Both views can lead to stagnancy and accusation of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Both views also lead to hypocrisy, and hypocrisy keeps us from experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus came to testify to the truth, so we should hold truthfulness in high regard. If we are truthful with ourselves, then we will see our sinfulness. We can be blinded to sin, but if we want to see ourselves honestly then the Lord will help us according to His will and timing. When we see our sinfulness while considering the sacrifice of Jesus, repentance should be the natural result.

Yet, we are complicated creatures. As Jesus said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We can hate sin and love it at the same time. If we continue to fight against sin and seek Jesus, He will make a way for us to escape. However, there is always room to grow.

Another thing to think about is the purpose of creation. Christians are being raised up as adopted sons of God. If we are still alive, then that means that we are still being formed. We are not yet perfect. Jesus was without sin, but the author of Hebrews wrote that Jesus was not perfected until He suffered the cross. How much more is this true for us? The continuation of our existence in this earth is evidence enough of our need to further mature in the faith.

I also think part of the problem is our need to put things in neat packages, including our faith and the faith of others. We want to know what it means to be a real Christian. We want to know that our salvation is assured, or we want to be able to assure the salvation of others.

What really matters is the grace and election of God.

I know the concept of election is touchy, and as with most things we are dealing with a perspective issue. In any case, we can agree that God is in control of all things and He knows all things. We can agree that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. We can agree that no one can pluck us out of His mighty hand, and nothing can separate us from His love. If we truly belong to Him, then He will not allow us to fail.

We need the blood of Jesus so that we can stand before God in perfection. If we are truly receiving the grace of God, then we will not count the blood of the Son as some simple thing or an excuse for sinful living. We will draw nearer to Jesus and we will want to know what He stands for. We will regret our sin sorrowfully, and if we seek the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus, we will find power to overcome.

This is the lifelong pursuit of a Christian. We are pursuing a kingdom in which righteousness dwells. As the Spirit of Truth writes the laws of the Kingdom in our hearts, we participate in that kingdom even now in spirit. When the Kingdom of Heaven comes, we will know Jesus and we will be as He is. Until that day, we strive to enter in by the blood of Christ, the promise of His resurrection, and the power thereof through the Holy Spirit. So, let’s keep striving in faith, knowing that our salvation is in the hands of Jesus.

Let’s not focus on a to-the-letter interpretation of Christianity that leads to accusation, stagnant growth, and hypocrisy. Let’s use the scriptures to guide us towards a stronger relationship with Jesus, and in so doing we will learn to love as He loves. We will build each other up, and all that needs to fall will fall by default. Those who do not really love Jesus are taken by the deceit of this world. Let’s walk in the Truth—which makes us free. All that remains Jesus will take care of. He knows what is best, after-all.

It is hard to be patient. It is hard to have faith and trust the Lord to convict us so that each person can live according to his or her conscience in Christ. It is also hard to accept that if we separated ourselves from our loyalties and pride, much that we are used to and put our trust in would fail, including our Christian leaders that we hold in such high regard. These things will end one day. For now, the name of Jesus is preached, and that is good.

Part 6: Treatment of Sinners

How should a Christian behave towards someone who is found in sin? Jesus says that we should treat others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7). That sounds straight-forward enough, but things can become complicated by circumstance.

I know what approach works for me. I appreciate a direct approach. I do not like having to read between the lines or attempting to guess what someone is really trying to say. I appreciate honesty. I also appreciate gentleness. It does not feel good to face fault. It can feel shameful and embarrassing.

I do not like condescension and insults. I do not like being yelled at. I do not like accusation or false assumptions about my motives. I do not like when a person scolds me for doing something that they do, especially when I am being accused falsely and the person is projecting their own faults onto me. I do not like passive-aggressive attacks. I do not like silent treatments. I do not like when a person has a problem with me, but instead of coming to me they talk to others and then that other person approaches me. I do not like when fault is assumed without hearing my side of things. I do not like when I do not receive compassion or understanding for the circumstances that led to my sinful behavior.

When a person treats me in these ways, I become angry. This is pride. How dare they treat me this way?  I do not want to hear what they are trying to say, and instead I want to hurt them because they hurt me. This is not good, and it can be hard to respond in a righteous manner when you are feeling attacked. I should never place that burden on another person. If that burden is placed on me, then I should seek Jesus for the proper response that will help the situation, not make matters worse.

When we are dealing with sin among the brethren, we are told that it is love to rebuke them. However, we are to treat each other with respect. We treat elders as fathers and mothers and the younger as sisters and brothers (1 Timothy 5). Sometimes we are too close to a situation to see ourselves clearly. Sometimes we become hardened to sin and we need a reality check. Sometimes we just need to hear from someone who has been through the same struggle so that we can find encouragement and the boost we need to overcome.

We are told to rebuke one another in the spirit of meekness (Galatians 6). We are told to go to a person directly. If they do not hear us, then we take one or two more with us. If they do not hear us and the witnesses we bring, then we take it to the church. If they still do not hear us, then we consider them to be unbelievers (Matthew 18). We should not label the liberties of our brethren in Christ as sinful, but we also should not use our liberties as an excuse for sin (Galatians 5).

There is a time to remove ourselves from people. There is even a time to deliver a person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so they might be saved in spirit (1 Corinthians 5). However, we also know that with what judgement we judge, we will be judged.

When dealing with unbelievers, we should be a good example first and foremost. Let them see how Christians love one another and the hope of our salvation that lies in us (1 Peter 3). We can stand up for what is true, but we cannot forget mercy. We should learn where a person is coming from and use our experiences with sin to provide us with perspective that reaches to the heart of their struggle. It is not a good idea to poke around in things we know nothing about. This leads to a holier-than-thou attitude and can make matters worse in many ways.

Jesus also teaches us not to cast our pearls before swine lest they turn again and rend us. Rebuking a person who does not want to hear or cannot hear often leads to conflict. Let the blind lead the blind so that they may all fall into the ditch. We can pray for them and hold hope for them. We should do good to them if they are in need. Then, there are times when we should rebuke even though we know they will not hear us. There are times to say what is right even if it means losing our lives.

There is no one way or easy answer when dealing with the sins of others, but some things I know.

I know how I want to be treated and how I do not want to be treated. I know that Jesus provides the answer for every situation if I am listening to Him. I also know that focusing on the sins of others can be damaging in many ways. I know that it is better to focus on my own sin and seek Jesus for healing, and I should show mercy because I have received mercy. I know that the sins I have struggled with are the sins I am best equipped to help others come out of. I know that I should have faith in the wisdom of God including His patience and perfect timing. I know that I should trust in His mercy and sense of justice. I know that vengeance is His alone.

I know these things, but do I live it? It is hard. Dealing with the sins of others righteously is one of the most difficult struggles mankind must face. In-fact, I think most of our sinfulness has to do with the way we treat other “sinners.”  Jesus will help us learn not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12).

The sacrifice of Jesus is the ultimate example of overcoming evil with good. Through faith in Jesus, we can overcome sin and death. We will learn what sin is. We will learn what righteousness looks like. We will strive against sin and Jesus will help us overcome throughout the course of our lives. As we overcome, we can help others do the same according to the will and timing of God.

Do you have thoughts you’d like to share? Please leave a reply below. If this series was helpful for you, please consider sharing with others.

A Series on Sin Part 6: Treatment of Sinners

How should a Christian behave towards someone who is found in sin? Jesus says that we should treat others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7). That sounds straight-forward enough, but things can become complicated by circumstance.

I know what approach works for me. I appreciate a direct approach. I do not like having to read between the lines or attempting to guess what someone is really trying to say. I appreciate honesty. I also appreciate gentleness. It does not feel good to face fault. It can feel shameful and embarrassing.

I do not like condescension and insults. I do not like being yelled at. I do not like accusation or false assumptions about my motives. I do not like when a person scolds me for doing something that they do, especially when I am being accused falsely and the person is projecting their own faults onto me. I do not like passive-aggressive attacks. I do not like silent treatments. I do not like when a person has a problem with me, but instead of coming to me they talk to others and then that other person approaches me. I do not like when fault is assumed without hearing my side of things. I do not like when I do not receive compassion or understanding for the circumstances that led to my sinful behavior.

When a person treats me in these ways, I become angry. This is pride. How dare they treat me this way?  I do not want to hear what they are trying to say, and instead I want to hurt them because they hurt me. This is not good, and it can be hard to respond in a righteous manner when you are feeling attacked. I should never place that burden on another person. If that burden is placed on me, then I should seek Jesus for the proper response that will help the situation, not make matters worse.

When we are dealing with sin among the brethren, we are told that it is love to rebuke them. However, we are to treat each other with respect. We treat elders as fathers and mothers and the younger as sisters and brothers (1 Timothy 5). Sometimes we are too close to a situation to see ourselves clearly. Sometimes we become hardened to sin and we need a reality check. Sometimes we just need to hear from someone who has been through the same struggle so that we can find encouragement and the boost we need to overcome.

We are told to rebuke one another in the spirit of meekness (Galatians 6). We are told to go to a person directly. If they do not hear us, then we take one or two more with us. If they do not hear us and the witnesses we bring, then we take it to the church. If they still do not hear us, then we consider them to be unbelievers (Matthew 18). We should not label the liberties of our brethren in Christ as sinful, but we also should not use our liberties as an excuse for sin (Galatians 5).

There is a time to remove ourselves from people. There is even a time to deliver a person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so they might be saved in spirit (1 Corinthians 5). However, we also know that with what judgement we judge, we will be judged.

When dealing with unbelievers, we should be a good example first and foremost. Let them see how Christians love one another and the hope of our salvation that lies in us (1 Peter 3). We can stand up for what is true, but we cannot forget mercy. We should learn where a person is coming from and use our experiences with sin to provide us with perspective that reaches to the heart of their struggle. It is not a good idea to poke around in things we know nothing about. This leads to a holier-than-thou attitude and can make matters worse in many ways.

Jesus also teaches us not to cast our pearls before swine lest they turn again and rend us. Rebuking a person who does not want to hear or cannot hear often leads to conflict. Let the blind lead the blind so that they may all fall into the ditch. We can pray for them and hold hope for them. We should do good to them if they are in need. Then, there are times when we should rebuke even though we know they will not hear us. There are times to say what is right even if it means losing our lives.

There is no one way or easy answer when dealing with the sins of others, but some things I know.

I know how I want to be treated and how I do not want to be treated. I know that Jesus provides the answer for every situation if I am listening to Him. I also know that focusing on the sins of others can be damaging in many ways. I know that it is better to focus on my own sin and seek Jesus for healing, and I should show mercy because I have received mercy. I know that the sins I have struggled with are the sins I am best equipped to help others come out of. I know that I should have faith in the wisdom of God including His patience and perfect timing. I know that I should trust in His mercy and sense of justice. I know that vengeance is His alone.

I know these things, but do I live it? It is hard. Dealing with the sins of others righteously is one of the most difficult struggles mankind must face. In-fact, I think most of our sinfulness has to do with the way we treat other “sinners.”  Jesus will help us learn not to be overcome with evil, but to overcome evil with good (Romans 12).

The sacrifice of Jesus is the ultimate example of overcoming evil with good. Through faith in Jesus, we can overcome sin and death. We will learn what sin is. We will learn what righteousness looks like. We will strive against sin and Jesus will help us overcome throughout the course of our lives. As we overcome, we can help others do the same according to the will and timing of God.

Considering Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

There are a lot of scriptures about the importance of trusting in the Lord. For a Christian, faith and trust go hand in hand, but we don’t always trust in Jesus as we should. In-fact, we often don’t. However, I know that the Lord is good at providing us with everything we need to grow. If we need to go through difficult times so that we can see Him provide for us, then we will. We will learn to trust in Him.

Our natural understanding is in opposition to trusting in Jesus. Our natural understanding trusts in the things of this world. We place our trust in the people around us, our government, our economy, our religious leaders, technology, and ourselves. We place our trust in the wisdom of this world instead of the wisdom of God.

We’ve likely all heard the saying, “let go and let God.” However, it is not so easy to let go. Sometimes the Lord takes things from us forcibly. I don’t know what God is up to, but I try to understand. I see things that are happening in this world, then I think about the attributes of God that I can see in the scriptures and through personal relationship with Jesus. I see patterns that repeat in the scriptures and in history. I don’t presume to know why things are happening, but I do have some ideas.

I know that God is in control of all things. All things are working according to His will. I know that when a people of God go astray, He will send an enemy. This enemy is doing exactly what God wants it to do. In the end, God will destroy this enemy, but while the enemy is given power, His people are afflicted. Why are they afflicted? Why are we afflicted?

They do not trust in God, but instead they trust in this world. They do not worship God, but instead they worship this world. They profess to be of God, but they deny His ways. They hate those who do love God sincerely and who try to bring the people of God back to Him before His wrath comes.

Even so, God is with those who are faithful to Him. There is always a remnant. If we are faithful, let’s consider what this means for us.

Although contrary to our natural understanding, let’s try not to think of this time negatively and fearfully. Can we rethink what is happening, finding peace in God and knowing that all things are His will and all things are working for the good of those who love Him sincerely?

The more it becomes inconvenient to be a Christian, the more the infiltrators will leave us. The more our Christian institutions are hindered the more we have control given to the individual and small, local communities. The more we have the comforts of this world taken from us, the more we will focus on the Kingdom of Heaven.

Christians of a truth will band together, not run to the enemy. Christians of a truth will not be “taken” by the deceptions of this world and the vanity of man’s attempts at establishing heaven on earth but will stand fast in the truth and in love for one another as it should be.

It will not matter which denomination we are of; it will not matter what race we are of; it will not matter what gender we are of. WE will show the world what peace on earth and good will toward man looks like as we separate ourselves from this world. They will try to “take the kingdom by force” but we will LIVE such a life by Jesus alone! They will hate us for it. They will kill us for it. Jesus will raise us from the dead because we will TRUST in HIM!

I don’t know how bad things will get, but I know that we should trust in Jesus no matter what. If you are convicted to make a stand and do your part to bring light to the situation as a responsible part of this world, there is nothing wrong with that. Trust in Jesus while you do so, and maybe it will be God’s will that we take our nation back. However, if we do so, we need to understand that things must change. Things do not need to go back to the way they were because the way things were is steeped in wickedness.

If we do not repent for the wrongs of this nation and of our Christian nation, then why should God help us? Are we any better than the enemy? Should we think that “no harm will come to us?” By and large, we have not been one whit better. We were proud. We were self-righteous, we pushed people away from the Lord through over-regulation and hatred for sinners. We worshiped television preachers and soft Christian media that watered down the gospel to make it more pleasing to the world and now the world is consuming us. Unless WE repent, God will not be there to save us.

Yet He will save us. He will save us by destroying us, and if that is what it takes then so be it. In any case, we must trust in Jesus. Seek Him and His kingdom first, so that we might live. Though we die—and should die and deserve to die because we did not “occupy” properly, then we trust in the mercy of Jesus who will raise us from the dead.

We Christians have work to do. Now is a good time to be faithful servants who are busy about the Lord’s business. Each man will act according to His conscience and the Lord will direct our paths. The body of Christ will work together to help one another thrive in this time no matter what the outcome will be.

However, we also need to be ready to repent, each individual according to his or her conscience, remembering that judgment begins at the house of God, and also remembering that in Jesus we are passed from judgment to life. Go to Him. You cannot hide from Him, but don’t think you can mock Him either by abusing the sacrifice of His Son. Many have, and many will not stand because of it.

I believe the things written here are true, but it is as if looking through a dark glass. So, again I want to say that these ideas are based on what I know of God through the scriptures, getting to know Jesus, and through life. This is not based on a presumption to know God’s will in all things.

Considering Proverbs 3:3-4

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:

So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.

Mercy and truth are important concepts for a Christian. Sometimes we can get so caught up in matters of this world or disagreements among the brethren that, as Jesus said, we “forget the weightier matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith.”

Some things are best lived out. If we seek Jesus to help us live truthfully, then He will teach us righteous judgement, how to show mercy, and our faith in Him will protect us. We will have faith that the Lord avenges, for example. We will also have faith in the sovereign will of God. All things are working according to His wisdom and “all things are working together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

As Christians, we are supposed to walk a life of truth. We are supposed to seek out what is true by the Spirit of Truth. Very often, the most important truths are those that we do not want to hear. Very often, the truths that are most important for us are those pertaining to our own sin or misguided ways. We should also seek out the truth concerning popular matters, because we are in this world and it is our duty to care for it to the best of our ability.

If we seek out the truth concerning popular matters, such as within politics, social movements, and within Christian institutions, then we will often find ourselves standing in opposition to the world we are charged with protecting. We will find ourselves standing in opposition to many people who are walking destructively, and we cannot forsake what is true for the sake of social acceptance or an easy life.

In fact, we might find ourselves on the outskirts of politics, society, and Christian institutions. This is not a bad thing, so long as we maintain a sober mind that is not fearful, prideful, angry, and accusatory. We should use our unique perspective to bring peace and reconciliation as much as is possible, then allow these things to fail and fall according to the will of God.

Many things need to perish and will perish, but not us. We are receiving mercy, so we must show mercy.

If a person wants to turn away from destructive things, we should be glad and forgive them. Even if this is an on-going struggle. As Jesus said, sometimes we forgive seven times seventy times. There are people who fain sorrow and repentance just to keep people appeased for a time, but I don’t think that is a very common personality trait and the Lord helps us to deal with that too according to the unique circumstances.

In remembering mercy, we should consider how we deal with transgressors. We don’t have to jump to the worst possible punishment. If Jesus gave us what we deserve, we would have no hope. We are told that “whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” All judgement belongs to the Son, and He has given judgment to us also.

That is something Christians don’t talk about much, but we should. This is an important duty that should be taken seriously, justly, and mercifully. Simply stating the truth of a matter is often sufficiently grievous for those who love lies.

I like the analogy of binding truth and mercy to our neck and heart. Our neck is what holds the head up and steers the head, thereby steering our eyes and ears. We should strive to seek out truth and hear it. By the grace of God, we have eyes to see and ears to hear. We should look for ways to provide mercy in all judgments we make if possible, be thankful for the mercy that others show us, and speak temperately.

Our heart is our inner-being and emotions, and “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If we are governed by truth and mercy, then we are not governed by unrighteous desires, lies, false accusations, fears, anger, and the like. Our words will also be true, and that is very important. Our words carry the judgment of God, and our words should be governed by mercy because we need mercy too.

When we live a life of truth and mercy, we will certainly find favor from God. It is God’s favor in the first place that allows us to live in truth and mercy. We can also find favor from others. Truth and mercy foster good, strong relationships and helps one to build a generally positive rapport among members of their community. However, that is not always the case.

Jesus said, “if you were of the world the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Jesus also said we are blessed of God if we suffer for the sake of righteousness and for His name. As the times grow darker, finding favor from man because of living truthfully and mercifully will diminish. This world loves lies and violence. We cannot succumb to it. However, there are those who appreciate a truthful and merciful person, especially among the brethren.

I have striven to be truthful with myself, especially in matters of conviction against sin. I also strive to be truthful with others, but applying the truth is not always simple. We need to be tactful, show understanding, compassion, and mercy. We also need to be direct and firm, not wavering from the truth for the sake of pleasing others or maintaining fake relationships. In all things, mercy provides us with balanced perspective and makes room for people to repent and grow.

This is a balance I have striven for, but I will be thinking more about this today. Things like fear, prideful anger, and unforgiveness are lurking in my heart, and that hinders my ability to live out that balance.

Considering Proverbs 3:1-2

1 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

2For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.

From a Christian perspective, when we keep the commandments of Jesus, which are centered around love for God and others, we will have a more meaningful life.

Life can feel hopeless and meaningless for a lot of people. It is easy for people to be consumed by resentments, fear, envy, covetousness, and the like. It is also easy for people to attach themselves to harmful ideas or social groups in attempts to find hope and meaning in life—either to stave off negative emotions or to feel empowered by them.

There are multiple movements that I disagree with today, and many of them have a pretentious nature. Those who form and fuel these movements have hidden—and sometimes not so hidden—agendas that are very harmful. However, there are many people caught up in these ideologies that don’t fully understand the cause they are supporting. “Forgive then for they know not what they do.”

I suspect that many people support such causes because they need to feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves—something that will add meaning to their life or change the world for the better. Of course, there are also those who use social movements for their own personal gain and to justify their sinful actions and hatred of others. It is a mixture, so how should we deal with these causes, movements, and social ideologies?

If we know enough about the topic at hand, we can point out the truth of the matter. We can point out the pretentious nature of the movement leaders. We can show how harmful these causes are. Most importantly, I think we need to give people something else to focus on. People need a life of meaning and hope. They need the gospel.

It is so important for Christians to preach—and live—the gospel and the commandments of Jesus. Following the ways of Jesus can be hard for a time because His ways are not our own, but with His help we learn how to live a Christian life. The more we let go of sinful thoughts and actions, the more fulfilling our life becomes.

When I read about “length of days,” I think about meaning. The ways of God provide our days with greater fulfillment and purpose as opposed to days that just blow by and feel meaningless or wasted. We are told to “redeem the time for the days are evil.” If we live a life that is Christ centered, then we are using the time we are given wisely, or at least we grow in that regard, and our lives are used for God’s good purposes. There is no greater meaning, hope, or fulfillment that a person can find in this life.

Of course, there are those who hate the things of God. They cling to their sinful nature and want to destroy this world and those who live in it. Some hearts are hard, some eyes are blind, and some ears are deafened. It is God’s will. So, we can pray for them, either to convert or turn away from us, and we can learn to trust in God.

I like to remind myself of something Jesus said, “you would have no power over me if it was not given to you by the Father.”

We should also be on guard against becoming holier-than-thou because God hates that. It is easy to fall into at times when we look at this world, but if we remember that all good things in us came from God and consider the mercy He has shown us in all of our sinfulness, it helps to maintain a sober-minded perspective.

The ways of God also provide us with a longer life, potentially. If we live sinfully then we are destroying our minds and bodies very often. Sometimes harm comes to us at no fault of our own, like the blind man that Jesus healed and like Job. Generally, however, living a Christian life will help us to live happily and healthily.

What about peace? Living in this world certainly can destroy our peace. Many people are plagued by anxieties and hatred. Sinfulness in general can greatly destroy our peace. For a Christian, looking at the sins of others or the destructiveness of certain ideas and movements can destroy our peace. Focusing on Jesus can help us find peace, especially the more we learn to trust in Him and walk in His ways of love towards others.

I know I have a long way to go in loving others as Jesus loves me, but I also know that He can help me in this. It is one of my frequent prayers. My own resentments and fears hinder my service to the Lord, and I need help in overcoming these issues through forgiveness and faith. If the love of God were in me more fully, I would have these things in greater measure, and I would have the kind of heart that can reach out to people in a meaningful way. I will be thinking more about this today.

A Series on Sin Part 5: Do Christians Sin?

There are different beliefs about a Christian’s capacity for sin. From what I have seen, there is a spectrum that ranges from helplessness to holiness.

What I mean is on one end we find those who feel as if they are hopelessly sinful apart from the grace of God through the blood of Jesus. They believe that we are forgiven once we put our faith in Jesus, and we are saved no matter what we do from that point on. A sinless life is not attainable in the flesh.

The temptation then is to give up and accept sinfulness, or to focus on certain outward sins while we neglect hidden and more difficult matters of the heart. This leads to hypocrisy and an attitude of superiority over others.

Those who adopt this view are prone to legalistic ideas about salvation including baptism and recital of certain prayers—which can be works of faith—but can also be works of the flesh when performed in insincerity or if the faith is later abandoned. Yet, we assure salvation. This is potentially dangerous.

On the other end we find those who believe that a Christian who is born again of the Spirit will no longer sin. If a Christian does not cease from all sin in this life, then they will not be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. They will not be saved.

The temptation is to consider ourselves sinless when we are not, while we accuse other Christians as being false. Those who adopt this view are also prone to legalistic attempts at sinlessness regarding dress, praise preferences, and other matters of conscience. This leads to hypocrisy and an attitude of superiority over others.

Another issue is this: with what judgment you judge, you will be judged. If we say that a person cannot be saved if they continue to sin—yet we are blind to our own sin because of legalism or pride—then we are at risk.

Each view is understandable when we look at the scriptures, but both are problematic.

Many scriptures emphasize grace, the forgiveness of God, and the sinful nature that clings to us. Many scriptures emphasize righteous living, holiness, and places great weight on the severity of sin and those who use God’s grace and the blood of Jesus to excuse sinful living.

We don’t have to draw a dividing line down the middle and choose one side or the other.

One thing I have observed about mankind is our tendency to choose sides, then once we have chosen a side, we can become loyal to a fault. Our loyalty—or sometimes pride—blinds us to what the other side is saying.

Another thing I have observed, in Christian circles and elsewhere, is that the truth is often found when we consider all sides and find a balance between them. Of course, that does not always work. In this case, I think a balanced view is just what we need.

In general terms, I think it is dangerous to have a pessimistic view about sin that makes a person feel as if freedom from sin is impossible. I also think it is dangerous to claim to be sinless. Both views can lead to stagnancy and accusation of our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. Both views also lead to hypocrisy, and hypocrisy keeps us from experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus came to testify to the truth, so we should hold truthfulness in high regard. If we are truthful with ourselves, then we will see our sinfulness. We can be blinded to sin, but if we want to see ourselves honestly then the Lord will help us according to His will and timing. When we see our sinfulness while considering the sacrifice of Jesus, repentance should be the natural result.

Yet, we are complicated creatures. As Jesus said, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We can hate sin and love it at the same time. If we continue to fight against sin and seek Jesus, He will make a way for us to escape. However, there is always room to grow.

Another thing to think about is the purpose of creation. Christians are being raised up as adopted sons of God. If we are still alive, then that means that we are still being formed. We are not yet perfect. Jesus was without sin, but the author of Hebrews wrote that Jesus was not perfected until He suffered the cross. How much more is this true for us? The continuation of our existence in this earth is evidence enough of our need to further mature in the faith.

I also think part of the problem is our need to put things in neat packages, including our faith and the faith of others. We want to know what it means to be a real Christian. We want to know that our salvation is assured, or we want to be able to assure the salvation of others.

What really matters is the grace and election of God.

I know the concept of election is touchy, and as with most things we are dealing with a perspective issue. In any case, we can agree that God is in control of all things and He knows all things. We can agree that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. We can agree that no one can pluck us out of His mighty hand, and nothing can separate us from His love. If we truly belong to Him, then He will not allow us to fail.

We need the blood of Jesus so that we can stand before God in perfection. If we are truly receiving the grace of God, then we will not count the blood of the Son as some simple thing or an excuse for sinful living. We will draw nearer to Jesus and we will want to know what He stands for. We will regret our sin sorrowfully, and if we seek the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus, we will find power to overcome.

This is the lifelong pursuit of a Christian. We are pursuing a kingdom in which righteousness dwells. As the Spirit of Truth writes the laws of the Kingdom in our hearts, we participate in that kingdom even now in spirit. When the Kingdom of Heaven comes, we will know Jesus and we will be as He is. Until that day, we strive to enter in by the blood of Christ, the promise of His resurrection, and the power thereof through the Holy Spirit. So, let’s keep striving in faith, knowing that our salvation is in the hands of Jesus.

Let’s not focus on a to-the-letter interpretation of Christianity that leads to accusation, stagnant growth, and hypocrisy. Let’s use the scriptures to guide us towards a stronger relationship with Jesus, and in so doing we will learn to love as He loves. We will build each other up, and all that needs to fall will fall by default. Those who do not really love Jesus are taken by the deceit of this world. Let’s walk in the Truth—which makes us free. All that remains Jesus will take care of. He knows what is best, after-all.

It is hard to be patient. It is hard to have faith and trust the Lord to convict us so that each person can live according to his or her conscience in Christ. It is also hard to accept that if we separated ourselves from our loyalties and pride, much that we are used to and put our trust in would fail, including our Christian leaders that we hold in such high regard. These things will end one day. For now, the name of Jesus is preached, and that is good.

I know this was a long-winded article. I have thought much about this, and I could write so much more. I actually tried to keep things simple, believe it or not. It is an important topic. Do you have thoughts you’d like to share, a question, or a comment on something I wrote that could be in error? Leave a reply below.

Disciples of Jesus or Dependents of Man?

I’m working on an article and this has me thinking about an important question that Christians should consider, especially those who hold positions of authority—in any measure, great or small. If we do something as simple as write a blog, we should consider.

Are we creating disciples of Jesus Christ or dependents of man?

When dealing with Christian doctrine or matters of Christian living, we can spend a lot of time going through scriptures and laying everything out in a clear way. That can be beneficial, especially if it is done honestly and without biased loyalty toward a particular view or Christian sect. I know precious few who take the word of God so seriously, so it is a needful thing.

I’ve benefited from detailed bible studies, but nothing compares to struggling with an issue on your own with help of the scriptures and the Holy Spirit.

As someone who writes about Christianity, I’m trying to find the right balance. I don’t want to do all of the work necessarily, because that is not always what’s most beneficial. Yet, we all need some support and guidance. I certainly do.

However, many Christian leaders are more interested in creating dependents–not disciples. Dependents make leaders rich. Dependents maintain the position and social status of their leaders. Dependents hold up Christian systems that should fall to the ground.

The goal is not to gather followers unto ourselves, but to help Christians follow Jesus more closely and learn to trust in Him instead of overdependence on men, including Christian educational systems, Christian sects and denominations, and Christian leaders of all varieties.

As Christians, we should help each other. We are a body in Christ, which is an incredible thing. We are all given gifts that are to be used for the benefit of the whole, and we should revere the gifts God gives us and others. We should also be cautious because many are among us who are not really of us. We need leaders and teachers who can help keep us safe until we are mature enough to spot the difference.

However, we do not want to be overly dependent on any Christian person or system. I think we have a pandemic of this sort of dependence, and that leads to a massive number of immature Christians.

The last thing I want to do is add to this problem. So, this is something I try to be aware of, though I don’t know how to walk that thin line perfectly by any means. It would be wonderful to find that balance. I think that balance is the key to solving many of our problems in Christian society, especially within our churches.

In any case, I write this because I want all of us to be aware. We should be aware of ourselves and of our leaders and pray for us all. I want you to hold me accountable too and keep me in your prayers as I pray for any who read the words I write.

Do you have thoughts on this topic that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear other experiences and points of view.

Considering Proverbs 2:20-22

20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous.

21 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it.

22 But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

From a Christian perspective, if we keep the commandments of God through the teachings of Jesus the Christ, we will learn what righteousness is. We will learn from Christians who have walked before us and with us, and together we will hold each other up. We will hold each other accountable for our actions lovingly and encourage one another to grow stronger in the faith.

There is a land that Christians dwell in: The Kingdom of Heaven. We know that we will be perfect when we reach that land, so we should be growing towards that end. Jesus said, “be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect”(Matthew 5). That is a lofty command. We know that in this present life, we are only made perfect through the blood of Jesus and faith in His sacrifice.

However, we also know that the Lord works mightily in our lives to transform our inner man into His image (2 Corinthians 4). Overtime, according to the faith and time on this earth we are given, we should begin to experience the Kingdom of Heaven even now. Then, when Jesus returns to overthrow the “strange woman” and her lover, Jesus will establish His Kingdom and those who are perfect will live there with Him.

I also think about a Christian goal. We are to live in this world without being corrupted by the world (1 John 2). When considering all that is going on here in the United States and around the world, it is good to know that Jesus can provide us with the wisdom and strength to “maintain our vessel in sanctification” (1 Thessalonians). If we follow the ways of Jesus Christ, we will be “wise virgins” with our lamps full and ready! (Matthew 25)

I don’t know how to do this perfectly, and I don’t know anyone who does aside from the blood of Jesus, but we can get better at following Jesus without allowing the wickedness of the world to overcome us and pull us into sinfulness.

I would like to think that the wicked who reject Jesus will not succeed in taking over our country. I would like to think that they will be removed from us so that our nation can live “under God” as it was created to. Maybe that will happen, then maybe not.

In any case, we know that the godless and those who reject Jesus will not inherit everlasting life in the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus returns, He will overthrow them. Vengeance is His, and He will avenge those who love and serve Him. Knowing this can help us to maintain our vessel without fear or giving into corruption, no matter how dark the world gets.

For today, I am going to recap all that I have learned so far from this study in Proverbs and think on these things. I would like to read all of the chapters of the bible cited also. If you have something you’d like to discuss, something I might have missed, or a question, please feel free to leave a comment.

Considering Proverbs 2:16-19

16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;

17 Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God.

18 For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.

19 None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.

I probably should have made this clearer to begin with: I am not a bible scholar. That might be obvious already. I’ve only read the Proverbs a few times, and I don’t know what other people say about them. Not much anyhow. I’m writing about these in the moment, as an exercise for myself in consistency, communicating with the Spirit, and as a safeguard against despair, as mentioned in earlier articles.

However, my way of seeing things might be different than your way or someone else’s way. This is one person’s interpretation, taken in light of modern events and Christian perspective, and changeable as new information comes out. If you want a concrete interpretation that is scholarly and widely accepted, then you might prefer a different bible study series, and there is nothing wrong with that.

All that aside, what do I think about here? I’ve been thinking more about the personification used in the Proverbs. There are two women in the Proverbs, and the distinction between the two can be used to help us understand multiple things.

We can take this as a general distinction between a godly and ungodly woman, which is useful for today’s women, wives, and mothers, as I mentioned in an earlier article within this series. We can also replace these women with other female personified entities, like nations. I think that would work well too. We can also consider these women as a personification of the Christian church while comparing what we read here to Revelation’s Mystery Babylon and the woman in Revelation 12.

That is one thing I love about the word of God! He can speak so many wonderful things to us in such short order. In one book, we can glean so much that will help us to be better people, have better family lives, to be more faithful Christians, and to stand against deceit on a massive scale. How awesome is that!?

If we consider all these interpretations of the “strange women,” how might the scripture above apply?

As an individual that reflects women today, we can think about much. On the surface, we can consider adulterous women who lure men off and away from their wives. Women such as that have a way about them. They are good at flattery, seduction, and leading men off to their doom while destroying marriages and families.

It is good for a man to learn about this, to be wise, and to refrain from the tactics of adulterous women. It is good for a man to know how devastating it is to go after such a woman. It is good for a woman to know how destructive it is to be such a person. There is a lot that goes on within women like this and within men who are drawn to them, so a lot could be said about it. There are voids that Jesus needs to fill, if He so chooses.

As any sinner, forgiveness is possible. However, such sins are especially life-altering and deadly. All young men and women need to have a good lesson in this before they become married.

What if we consider this in terms of a nation, like the United States? I love what true Lady Liberty stands for, but there is another woman creeping up. She is a stranger in this land, and she does not belong here! She flatters. She forsakes her Christian heritage and the sacrifice of her fathers. She despises the masculine, devours the poor with deceitfulness, and leads the people to their ruin. If we go after her, we will not return again. Our nation will perish.

What if we consider this in terms of the church? There are many within the church that use flattery to fill their church benches and bank accounts. They speak soft words of comfort with no exhortation to righteous living. They make light of sin and even celebrate it. They make the grace of God into wicked living, and they wear the blood of Jesus in vain. They forsake His ways. They do not repent. They teach half-truth gospels. They lead people to their death, and many who follow them do not return. They get to hear what they want to hear, and that is fitting.

As for Mystery Babylon, we can speculate. We are not quite there yet, but I imagine she will look a lot like a mixture of all of these we see here. She celebrates ungodly women while destroying our men, gets her power from an ungodly government, and claims to be a Christian while she rejects Jesus at the same time. She speaks flattery and falsehood. Those who stand against her are hated and destroyed, but Jesus will avenge. He will raise His faithful servants from the dead and those who follow this strange woman will perish forever.

It is good for us to live in this time. We are seeing glimpses of what is to come. We can become stronger in Christ Jesus, learn from our history and from the scriptures, and prepare ourselves should the day of destruction—the day of the strange women and her lover—come upon us.

I will be thinking about this today. What weaknesses do I have that would make it more difficult to stand in such a day—sin in particular—that makes me prone to vanity, covetousness, pride, fear, murder, and blindness?