Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

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When Sin Becomes You

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
     I have a question that is somewhat troubling to me.  Two friends of mine were having a debate about politics and religion, and one of them said that God hates the unrighteous.  Put so point blank, it really made me think, and I did some reading online, searching Christian sites to see what people have to say about it and received further conflicting messages.

I know God hates sin, but God sent out His word to everyone in the world.  The unsaved reject it, but it was sent to them.  So how can He have tried to save people He hated?  Does He hate them?  If He does hate sinners, how does that go together with Jesus’ admonitions to love thy enemy and what He says about a doctor not coming for those already healthy but rather for those who are sick? Jesus and God are one, so clearly, if God hating the sinner is true, it goes to together somehow, but I don’t understand how.

I read someone’s comment that said, “A man who steals is a thief. God hates the thief who steals”, and yet, Jesus sought out thieves to save them.

This question is very troubling to me.  I know everything God does is right, but somehow it is very hard to accept the plain statement ‘God hates the unsaved’.  I know the unsaved will go to hell, and I know justice is very important to God, but again, Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost are one, and there so many instances of compassion in the Bible that it’s hard to believe He just hates them, and that’s it.  Or am I just having troubling believing this because I don’t want to believe it?

Sincerely,
Not A Hater

Dear Not A Hater,

The Lord loves people but hates sin.  God tells us it is appropriate to be happy when evil is destroyed because it means righteousness is prevailing (Pr 28:28), but God also says that it pains Him when the wicked perish (Ezek 18:23).  Here is the problem – when a person's life becomes so intertwined with sin that the sin has become the essence of who they are, God hates that.  Ps 5:5, Ps 11:5, Lev 20:23, and Pr 6:16-19 makes that clear.

Think of it this way, if you saw someone push a small child, would you be upset at the action or upset at the person?  The answer is both.  The action came from the person and originated from their character.  All sin is that way.  God doesn't inherently hate people, but when someone consistently rebels against God, hurts others, spreads lies, and harms God's work here on Earth... God's anger extends to both the sins and the people who flagrantly commit them.  They have chosen to put their lives in opposition to Him, and as much as it pains Him, He must consider them enemies.

Tossing The Bouquet

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
     I have a younger group of friends, and I love them, but one of them has already been married, left their spouse, and divorced them (not for scriptural reasons), and I have a second friend who is currently no longer living with their spouse and is going to divorce their spouse (not for scriptural reasons).  It absolutely breaks my heart that they are doing this because marriage is such a blessing, a blessing that God instructed us not to dissolve unless there has been unfaithfulness by a spouse.

Having been at both friends’ weddings, I was a "witness" to their marriage, not to mention I have known them for so long that I want what is the very best for them.  One friend is already divorced (a couple years ago), but what should I do, if anything, about my second friend?  I worry so much for them and what consequences this will bring upon them.

Any advice you have will really help me greatly!  Thank you!

Sincerely,
Struggling Friend

Dear Struggling Friend,

It is such a difficult thing when we see others we love doing that which is so very harmful to their souls.  What does the Bible teach to do in such matters?  Here are a couple of principles to consider:

  1. Pr 23:23 says to “Buy the truth, and do not sell it.”  The truth must always be more important to you than anything else, and you can’t compromise the truth and sell it out just to preserve a friendship… no matter how dear they are to you (Lk 14:26).  In no way can you compromise your morals by saying that what they have done is no big deal or somehow okay.  They have chosen to sin – plain and simple.
  2. The Bible also teaches that we should have mercy on those that are turning from the Lord and seek to snatch them from the fire and hate the sin at the same time (Jude 23).  Being Christ-like means intertwining both the hatred of sin and the love of man together.
  3. You must also be careful to not compromise your own conscience.  If you feel that doing things with them is sending the message that you don’t care about this sin and somehow approve of their decision, then you must obey your own conscience (1 Tim 1:5).  How close or distant to be when a friendship is strained by sinful choices is a matter of wisdom and discretion.  You must decide for yourself what boundaries to set.

Balancing these principles, here are our thoughts.  If you haven’t already, you must make your position known to these friends.  If they were seeking an abortion or some other clear sin, you would address them – divorce for any reason other than adultery is just as clear a sin (Matt 19:9).

You didn’t indicate whether or not these friends are Christians.  If they are, hopefully their congregations will also be addressing them on this issue, and you wouldn’t be the only voice.  If not, you may be the only person that they know who will stand in the gap for their spiritual well-being.  After saying your piece, you can then treat the relationship like any other – watch and use wisdom to decide the boundaries and level of closeness, so you may both snatch them from the fire but not compromise your own firm convictions by being steamrolled by friends that have unfaithful convictions of their own.  Allow your unwavering example to be a blessing, and then let them decide whether or not they want that blessing in their life.

Working On Faith

Monday, January 18, 2021
     Hello and thanks for your time.  A true saved person will produce fruit and good works… not because they are self-righteous or do physical outward works, but as an inward spiritual production.  Okay, I understand that.  But when the Bible says persevere, endure temptation, do not willfully sin, walk in the light, do not live in the flesh, this sounds like free will.  So with that being said, if Christ justified me, and the Holy spirit is sanctifiying me each day, and I am saved, then is my persevering and walking in the light self-righteousness or works-based?   Jesus said if we continue in His word, we will be His disciples. So if getting saved gives you a clean start, then it seems like we have to maintain that relationship.   If we struggle with sin, it comes down to our willingness to resist temptation.  So it seems we are having to work to maintain the relationship.  We are to fight the good fight… sounds like still a works-based salvation unless the Holy Spirit does it for us through us.  Your thoughts?  I'm really struggling with this.

Sincerely,
Working It Out

Dear Working It Out,

You are saved by works… but not works of perfection.  You are saved by works of faith.  James specifically says that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:24-26).  You are correct; we have free will, and you do have to work to maintain your relationship with God.  Faith doesn’t mean God takes control, and you become incapable of falling away.
The Bible says that we are saved by faith (Eph 2:8), but it never says that we are saved by faith only.  The Scriptures mention a lot of things that are involved in our salvation.  We are saved by hope (Rom 8:24).  We are saved by baptism (1 Pet 3:21).  We are saved by the love of the truth (2 Thess 2:10).  All of these things are involved in your salvation.  In order to understand a topic, we must look at the sum of God’s Word on that subject (Ps. 119:160).
Faith is hearing what God says (Rom 10:17)… and then acting upon it.  It is impossible to be a faithful person and live an unrepentant life.  Faith is more than belief; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19).  Faith is belief combined with action.  We must be hearers and doers of God’s Word (Jas 1:22).  God has given us an immense gift – one we could never pay for ourselves.  However, He expects us to reach out and seize that gift.

Freedom Is Better

Friday, January 15, 2021
    Since there was slavery in the Bible, was slavery a sinful practice back when it was around?  And would it still be considered sinful?

Sincerely,
Unchained

Dear Unchained,

The Bible does not ever directly condemn slavery, but it does condemn treating slaves like property.  In the Old Testament, God allowed a bankrupt Jew to sell himself as a slave to pay off his debts, however he was not to be abused or mistreated by his owner (Lev 25:39-40).  God reiterates this idea in the New Testament.  Slaves are to serve their masters loyally and faithfully (1 Tim 6:1, Tit 2:9).  Masters are to treat their slaves as fellow humans, without threatening or hurting them (Eph 6:9).  Masters are to be just and fair to their slaves (Col 4:1).  God never says it is wrong to have slaves, but He very clearly denounces the brutality that we often associate with slavery.  If a slave master lived as God commanded, he would treat his slaves as hired hands… and many Christians did just that in the first century.

However, God does make it clear that being a slave is a less than desirable situation.  Slavery is a reality that exists within various parts of the world, so it must be dealt with from a Biblical perspective, but freedom is always a better option (1 Cor 7:21).

Preparing His Kingdom

Thursday, January 14, 2021
     Did all the teachings of Jesus from before the cross end after the cross?

Sincerely,
Crossing Into New Territory

Dear Crossing Into New Territory,

No, the vast majority of Jesus’ teachings apply as much today as they did when He walked this Earth.  It is sometimes taught that because Jesus was a Jew and spoke to Jews that His words only apply to them.  However, Jesus came teaching that His kingdom, the church, was near (Matt 4:17), and His teachings reflected a preparation for that kingdom.  Jesus was teaching people how to live then and how to be ready for the Christian era.
It is true that Jesus did live under and teach adherence to the Old Law.  He commanded people to follow Moses’ commands (like telling the cleansed lepers to go and make an offering to the priests – Matt 8:4), and He answered questions about the Old Testament Law (such as when the Jews asked Him about marriage – Matt 19:3, Matt 19:7).  Jesus was an Israelite and followed those laws without ever committing a sin (Heb 4:15).
Jesus came preaching His kingdom, and when His kingdom was established on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41), Jesus’ teachings became the foundation of the church (Jhn 14:26).  The Old Law was done away with, but Jesus’ teachings were not.

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