Ask Your Preacher
God bless you, brethren. Mark 3:5 says that Jesus "looked at them with anger, being grieved at the hardness of their hearts". I would like for you to help me understand when it is okay for us to be angry at someone for something. When is anger not a sin?
Tempering My Anger
Dear Tempering My Anger,
Anger isn’t a sin, but it often leads us into sinful behavior. The Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin” (Eph 4:26). Anger is a natural emotion, but we often allow that emotion to control us, and we end up saying or doing things that are sinful. The example you gave from Mk 3:5 is a good example of the proper use of anger. Jesus was angry because the Pharisees had such hard hearts that they would have denied an injured man healing just to spite Jesus (Mk 3:1-2). Jesus was enraged by their attitudes. So what did Jesus do with that anger? He healed the man and taught people God’s truth (Mk 3:3-5). Jesus was angry, but He didn’t say or do anything He would later regret. We should rule over our spirits when we are angry (Pr 16:32) and be slow to speak when our hearts are hot (Jas 1:19).
What should I do if I've committed blaspheme terribly? I was baptized when I was six (I think), and I've gotten closer to God, left, gotten closer, and left. Blaspheme is something I struggle with. Why do I do these things? I'm fourteen now.
Watching My Mouth
Dear Watching My Mouth,
We can be forgiven for using the Lord’s name in vain… but only if we repent and turn to the Lord. God has provided a means for all sins to be forgiven – His Son’s blood. When we become christians (read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” for details on how to become a christian – this is important because part of becoming a christian involves mature, adult choices that were impossible for a six-year-old to make), all sins are forgiven, even our previous blasphemy against God. There is no single act that is so evil that Jesus’ blood can’t wash it away (1 Jn 1:7). Many of the first-century christians had horrible sins in their pasts (1 Cor 6:9-11). The key is to get up every time you fall down (Pr 24:16). Continue to work on cleaning up your language, and you will eventually succeed.
Temptation and trials – what is the different between the two? Who gives us trials or do we put ourselves in them? Who gives us temptations or do we put ourselves in them? Why do we go through both? Is it a test for us to pass or to build us up spiritually?
The Bible says that God never tempts us to do evil (Jas 1:13). God never purposefully puts us in a situation with a desire for us to sin. The devil wants to devour you with sin, but God never does (1 Pet 5:8). However, God does put us in situations in order to find out what we are made of. God tested Abraham when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1). God put Abraham in a position where he could succeed or fail – but the key is that God wanted him to succeed (Gen 22:14-18). Abraham was tried by God (Heb 11:17), so God could bless him. God may put us in circumstances that are difficult, but His desire is always to benefit us.
On the other hand, the devil tempts us for the purpose of destroying us – just like he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1). That is why God promises us that He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to handle (1 Cor 10:13). The devil tries to set us up for failure, and the Lord tries to set us up for success.
Any recommended Bible verses about believing in yourself and your ability to make the best and right decision? And trusting your inner self and goodness?
Dear Inner Compass,
Ironically, the Bible is full of verses on that topic, but they all say the opposite. God tells us that we shouldn’t trust ourselves to direct our paths. Jer 10:23 says that man will fail if he tries to run his life without God’s direction – we can’t trust our own wisdom. Pr 21:2 says that we all think that we are doing the right thing, even the axe-murderer rationalizes his behavior… but obviously, just because we believe we are doing the right thing, that doesn’t mean we are. We should have no confidence in our flesh (Php 3:3); all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).
So, if we shouldn’t believe in our own abilities, and we shouldn’t trust ourselves – what should we do? Pr 1:7 says that all wisdom begins with fearing God. When we humble ourselves before God and accept His Bible – we can confidently live by faith. When we throw away our confidence in the old man and latch onto the teachings of the Lord, we put on a new man that finds confidence in God (Col 3:5-10).
Leviticus 19:28 said, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” Why don't I hear too many churches preaching against putting tattoos on your body?
The Old Testament strictly forbade tattoos (Lev 19:28). God was so adamant about it because cutting your flesh and tattooing were common practices of pagan cultures (1 Kgs 18:26-28). Tattooing was a religious practice closely tied to Baal and other idols.
In the New Testament, we are given no specific command against tattoos. It is valuable, however, to see that for a very long time tattoos have had a negative connotation. As a christian, there are many things that we can do but should think carefully about beforehand. Just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea (1 Cor 10:23). Tattoos are permanent, and the decision to get one shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In American culture, tattoos can give a negative impression – especially if the tattoo is large or in a highly visible area. Some things to consider:
- Tattoos are a deterrent for some employers. Are you willing to get passed over in a job application?
- People will automatically form judgments about you based upon their first impression of a tattoo. Are you comfortable with being thought of as ‘the weird tatted-up guy’?
- You must also consider what effects it will have long-term. Will you still want Tweety Bird on your shoulder when you are in the nursing home?
- Are you ready to explain to your three-year-old why you have song lyrics on your bicep? Are you okay with your children wanting tattoos themselves?
- Many tattoos change their shape, size, and even location with weight loss and gain. Are you ready for that “cute” bellybutton butterfly to become a condor when you get pregnant?
- Many tattoos are of things that exude evil. Snakes, skulls, demonic signs, bad words, etc. are to be avoided at all costs.
We must always consider our influence and how it will affect others. This is not a right or wrong issue, but simply one of wisdom. God tells us to be wise and seek wisdom in our decisions (Pr 8:33). Whatever decision an individual makes, I recommend seeking outside counsel before getting something as permanent as a tattoo (Pr 11:14). It is not wrong for a christian to get a tattoo, but it certainly isn’t a decision to make lightly.