I'm confused about the "nakedness" term and its application in this verse:
Exodus 20:26: Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
I cannot begin to tell you how blessed I have been as a result of your online ministry. You seldom take longer (if ever) than 24 hours to answer any question. And no question seems too minor. Thank you again and I look forward to your reply.
Exodus 20:26 is best explained by the custom in the ancient world of wearing what we call "robes" (i.e., "pants" were virtually unheard of except among the northern peoples until after the close of the canon of scripture). Since undergarments too were a rarity in the ancient Mediterranean civilization, appearing "above the altar" would have the potential of causing a man to expose himself in view of the altar, and would thus be a breach of the ritual sanctity that was such an important part of the Law. The priests, it is true, were required to wear linen undergarments, but there were other Levitical helpers and of course the general population who approached the altar who would find themselves in this position of exposure if there were steps which placed the person physically above the altar in offering sacrifice (Lev.6:10; 16:4). This command may be seen as along the lines of "not touching" Mt. Sinai, for in all such things the holiness of God is being represented, and it was important for that holiness to be respected and revered, even though this is a symbolic representation.
Let me know if you have further questions, and thank you so much for your kind words of encouragement.
In our dear Lord Jesus,
A friend of mine smokes marijuana and I am trying to get her to quit but cannot. She believes that it isn't a sin any more than eating a cheeseburger or smoking a cigarette. She even says that the Greek word (pharmakeia) has nothing to do with herbs such as marijuana. I don't know what to tell her and what Bible passages prove that smoking marijuana is a sin.
Of course, demanding to be shown in the Bible where what one is doing is specifically prohibited is a sign of a wrong approach in the first place. Abortion is never mentioned in the Bible. But whether a person believes it to be murder or not, there is absolutely no question that it is a sin. There are many forms of sexual activity and deviance that are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, but they are unquestionably sins.
Now the works of the flesh are obvious, such as sexual immorality, scandalous behavior, lack of sobriety, worshiping false gods, dabbling in the occult, bearing grudges, stirring up trouble, fits of jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfishness, contentiousness, divisiveness, enviousness, drunkenness, carousing, and things of this sort. Concerning these, I tell you now as I have told you before: those who make a practice of doing such thing shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul's list is deliberately incomplete. When he adds "and things of this sort", he is letting us know that although he may not have mentioned our particular weakness, all sin, all disobedience to God comes from "following the flesh", and is equally sinful whether or not specifically cataloged in the Bible. Sin is such a massive topic and so individualized when it comes to different slants on types of sins and combinations of sins that no encyclopedia would be large enough to cover everything (see the link in BB 3B: "The Nature of Sin").
What the Bible has to say about illicit drugs forms an interesting parallel: in antiquity (New and Old Testament times) non-medicinal drugs were almost exclusively used in witchcraft and pagan ritual (i.e., not for secular, "recreational" use as today), and it is in that context that the Bible condemns pharmakeia (e.g., Gal.5:20). People sometimes try to make the argument that there is no biblical prohibition against drugs -- but while that may be technically true, the Bible has plenty to say about the importance and godliness of sobriety (e.g., Eph.5:18), so that it is not a difficult conclusion to draw that doing drugs is certainly wrong in God's eyes. There are many behaviors that, while they may not be spelled out in the Bible specifically, are still not things in which a Christian walking to please God would want to be involved. Please see the links:
Walking with Jesus.
Is marijuana prohibited in the Bible? I have been questioning myself about this for a long time. I do not want to offend the Lord.
Good to make your acquaintance. Drug use was somewhat different in the ancient world when the Bible was written than it is today. I dare say that the apostle Paul, for example, never dreamed of what would develop in our day in terms of recreational drug use. In antiquity, drugs were associated with two things: 1) medical usage (comparable to what we have today), and 2) religious usage. The latter was always associated with demonism as pagan religion is essentially demon worship. That is why where we find the Greek root pharma(k)- (cf. pharmacy, pharmacology) used in the New Testament it generally refers to witchcraft or sorcery (i.e., "potions": Gal.5:20; Rev.9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15). So while we would certainly take from this that the Bible allows legitimate use of drugs (which would naturally seem to be primarily drugs for medical therapy: Matt.9:12; Lk.10:34; Col.4:14; 1Tim.5:23; Rev.3:18b), any "recreational" use I would argue should be considered suspect (at the very least). For it is clear that the use of drugs described in scripture for the purpose of illicit, anti-Christian practices such as sorcery, witchcraft, and pagan religious rites is most definitely sinful. I suppose the question is "can these two be separated?" Here is something I have written about that in part 3A of the Coming Tribulation series in commenting on Revelation 9:20-21 where the word "potion" occurs:
Of particular note in this passage ["nor did they repent of their potions"] is the role played by witchcraft and sorcery through the use of various philters indicated by the word "potion". Along with other words of this same root (from which we derive pharmacy and pharmaceutical), the Greek word pharmakon is never used in the New Testament apart from witchcraft and sorcery (cf. Gal.5:20; Rev.18:23; 21:8; 22:15), since, from the biblical point of view, mind-altering drug use is always demon-related. Compare, for example, the use of hallucinogenic agents in the Eleusinian mysteries, a crucial element in the production of "ecstasy" (or "error" as we should say) in such cults which is often overlooked. In this clear collaboration between drug use and devil-worship, we see how in the Tribulation the true satanic nature of all anti-God practices will be made crystal clear, and those who partake of them left with no excuse [please see the link: in SR 4: "Religion and the Occult in Satan's System"].
One further thing to consider is that in this country illicit drug use is illegal. As Christians, we are told to set an example, and part of that example is obeying whatever laws the state sets down. Both Peter and Paul are extremely clear in their mandates to obey even unfair authority (Rom.13:1-5; 1Pet.2:13-15), and remember we are talking about the Roman Empire whose attitude toward Christianity in their day was anything but beneficent (see the link in BB 3B: "The distinction between sin and crime"). So while none of us is perfect (few of us for example can claim a spotless driving record), our mind-set at least should certainly be to make it our policy to eschew behavior that reflects poorly on the Savior who bought us, especially if it is a case of violating legitimate law (whether we agree with it or not).
I want to commend you for your desire to please the Lord and for your determination to seek out His truth on this issue. It is never easy to adjust our behavior, especially in the case of longstanding habits. But as we grow in Jesus, as we grow from and through His truth, the light of the Word changes us. Give yourself over to Him in this matter, and He will help you through.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.
In the Name of the One who gave up everything for us, even His life, that we might have eternal life in Him.
Wow in a million years I would have never thought you were going to write back but since you have I highly respect you for what you have done. I know you probably have a demanding schedule but I thanks you once again for writing back to a person looking for some answers. As for your response I have to mention a few things. I am in no way trying to start an argument with you, I just wanted to point out some things. I know that the Bible has banned "pharmacology" but I am having a hard time grasping what it is. Is it the illegal use of drugs given by your doctor that people overdose on or is it cocaine, acid etc. Now as to marijuana it's a known fact that its helps people out and I don't think there has ever been any deaths related to marijuana. I don't smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol like my friends but I do from time to time use marijuana. It sorts of help me from time to time with the issues I deal with. But if marijuana is what is being described as a bad thing in the Bible than I have no choice but to quit. I thank you once again for giving me some knowledge on the Bible and I hope I can ask you more questions to you in the future. May God bless you!
The Bible never mentions marijuana. However, in scripture not every single conceivable sin is mentioned specifically. Indeed, sin is such an all pervasive thing that it would take volumes to ever come close to mentioning specifically everything that is sinful (and technology makes new sins possible day by day). As Paul says in Galatians 5:21 ". . . and other things similar to these things" (i.e., list of aforementioned sins" -- lest his readers get the idea that just because it isn't named specifically it isn't a sin). If you would like the full treatment on the subject, I suggest Bible Basics 3B: Hamartiology: the Biblical Subject of Sin". From my reading of scripture, for those who are advancing spiritually in Jesus, I would say that the Spirit has a way of rounding down all the rough edges. None of us is perfect, but all of us could use some improvement, and the refining process of sanctification proceeds throughout our Christian lives as long as we remain attentive to the Spirit's still, small voice, and willing to adapt our will to the WILL of God. If you are being led to ask questions about this subject, that may be an answer in itself. Additionally, there are some things we end up doing or end up refraining from doing as mature Christians not because they are out and out sinful, but because they reflect poorly on our Christian witness. It is a matter of debate, for example, whether tattoos are legitimate, but there is no question that they send a message (and often not the one the person with the tattoo intended to send when they got it). Even if I wanted to get one, I would probably refrain because it would give many brothers and sisters the wrong idea. I don't believe we should stop doing something that is legitimate or otherwise important to us for good reasons out of being bullied, but the effect of our actions on weaker believers is something the Bible definitely tells us to take into account (Rom.14:1-23; 1Cor.8:1-13; 10:23-33). Since unless I am mistaken marijuana is still illegal (even though I know the laws regarding its use are usually not enforced), I would say that this is an important factor to consider in this regard and in other regards as well (Rom.13:1-5; 1Pet.2:13-15).
As I say, I can't tell you that scripture mentions something it doesn't. As far as this specific question is concerned, there is no hard and fast green or red light beyond what I have shared in the previous e-mail. I have my own opinion (as you can see), but every Christian is responsible to the Lord to draw their own conclusions with the help of the Spirit. One thing I would like to stress is that in my experience and observation, and in my reading of scripture, while it is indeed very important to take everything said in scripture fully to heart, the Christian way of life is meant to be primarily offensive rather than defensive, and the best defense is a good offense. What I mean by that is along the lines of what Paul says in Galatians 5:
(16) But I tell you, walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out what the flesh lusts for. (17) For what the flesh lusts for is contrary to the Spirit's will, and the Spirit is opposed to what the flesh lusts for. Since these are diametrically opposed to each other in this way, what you are doing is not what you yourself choose. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
If we are truly being led by the Spirit, growing in the Lord, reading our Bibles, studying them, availing ourselves of sound teaching, believing and living what we believe, then helping others to do the same, the Spirit will lead us to live in love, and love will cause us to throw out the bad and cleave to the good. Rather than subjecting every aspect of our lives to scriptural litmus tests, we will find that we are changing even without painstaking and deliberate self-evaluation, and doing so from the inside out rather than reacting to the world and attempting to whitewash the outside only. If we are truly growing spiritually, our consciences will become a source of joy rather than a source of doubt, when all the old leaven is eventually thrown out.
The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
Proverbs 4:18 NIV
In the One who suffered for us that we might have eternal life forevermore, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Thanks for your well written and thoughtful letter. You are correct in that there are millions of different websites, some go to far. The fellow I mentioned likes to use numbers as a significant part of his prophetic teaching. He claims they are very significant with regards to the Bible and the demonic world. I don't know about the former but certainly there's no denying they are significant in the latter.
As far as hurricanes are concerned. God seems to have blessed us after an awful couple of years. The only storm out there right now is totally disorganized and is turning back out to sea. Neither one of us are directly affected by hurricanes because we don't live near the ocean but Katrina was heartbreaking for all of us. I realize that New Orleans is sin city, so to speak but I'm sure there were plenty of good people too, who died as a result of this storm.
One of my weaknesses is music, I too wasted a lot of time in my youth pursuing and worshiping (for lack of a better word) bands that promoted Satanic behavior. I can say that I no longer have a desire to listen to these bands anymore but I do enjoy softer rock and spend enough time listening to it, perhaps I shouldn't. I also enjoy Christian music and singing. I was in a choir a few years back, singing Christian songs and I enjoyed it (although I don't have a great voice). As far as emotional manipulation, you hit the nail right on the head. Next to women, there is probably nothing that can influence your mood or create emotions like music. Songs like Stairway to Heaven (which promotes the worship of ancient *Gods* or demons like Pan) definitely open the door to the demonic world, I know this from first hand experience. Softer rock can also stir emotions and cause heartache. I would enjoy listening to Christian radio programs but unless you have satellite radio, you won't find them. I'm not sure who to trust when it comes to television evangelists.
I have often wondered where the Garden of Eden actually is/was located and if Eve was actually tempted by fruit from a tree (as it says in the Bible) or if this is not meant to be taken literally. Perhaps she was tempted by something else, I've heard people mention this before. I am also finding out that the Bible is just as interesting as any history book I have come across! I remember a fellow mentioned to me one time that the Bible opened his eyes and he became a devout Christian after reading it, saving him from a drug addiction. I was at one time involved in the program of AA. After spending several years involved in AA I realized that very few members were actually Christian and believed in the same God I did. After a while, it seemed more like a cult although a dear relative always praised it. I did have some addiction issues in the past but I am certain that only Christ (not AA, NA or any other worldly program of recovery) can heal. Since AA promotes the use of any higher power, it could hardly be called "Christian." It's founder, known as Bill W. was not a Christian man, to the best of my knowledge. So where does that leave AA and other 12 step programs? The treatment centers I attended as a kid were mostly a joke. Kids may have been clean while there but the vast majority didn't last 2 weeks before turning back to their old lifestyles. One program, called "Teen Challenge" is supposed to be a Christian program but I believe they are Pentecostals, I don't know a lot about them expect for the fact that they believe in holy laughter, that anyone can speak in tongues and that they tend to be very aggressive. Nothing against any of this as I am in no position to judge anyone but I have attended some services and something didn't seem right to me. Just my experience, perhaps I am being hasty.
I don't think I could ever "run off to the moutains" as you put it, just to avoid a worldly society, as monks and other organizations do. I just couldn't imagine leaving my family behind, I don't think that's God's will for anyone. I believe that family is very important and I honor and respect my parents and love them too much to ever do such a thing.
The youth of today is often referred to as the "Godless Generation." Perhaps they were saying the same thing 35 years ago! I have indeed come across young men and women who are Christians and do take it very seriously but I can't say that I'm not disturbed by the scourge of drug and alcohol use by our youth. I have been there myself so I know how destructive this can be, physically, mentally and spiritually. I do understand what you are saying though, the best we can do is be an example for our youth and of course, pray for them.
No, please don't run off to the mountains! My whole point is that this does no good. You are making the best of your current situation and attempting to do so in a godly, Christian way. That is precisely to what we have been called – not to go out of the world but to shine as lights in the world through the lives we lead and the ministries to which we are called (Phil.2:12-16).
Indeed, whatever happens to a nation does not happen independent of the planning of God (especially in regard to catastrophe: cf. Amos 3:3-6). I don't think I would wish to limit God's wrath to one geographic area or to one area of sin - the whole country would do well to repent and has many areas of sinfulness of which to repent (and, surely, there are people in the affected areas who are dear to God and living godly lives, just as there are those living safe and secure in other places who are evil to the core). Most particularly, the believers in this country seem to me to have turned their back upon the truth of the Word of God, and the political, economic, terrorist, and natural upheavals we are suffering are surely not unrelated to that key point. Here is a link on that subject:
Do recent catastrophes have a divine origin?
As far as self-help, group-help, and psychology generally are concerned, I have never been a big fan, but am also reluctant to throw a blanket of rejection over the lot. The reason for this is that I do know of people who are helped by such things in genuinely positive ways. However, my feeling is that if the same people gave as much genuine attention to faith and to reading the Bible and to listening to good, solid teaching of the Bible, they would be even better off. But since there is a limit to what one can get out of the Bible entirely on one's own, and since there is a terrible dearth of substantive, orthodox Bible teaching in our day, I can sympathize with the point of view that says getting a 25% solution is better than getting no solution. I know in my heart that anyone who truly wants to grow in Jesus, to learn about what the Bible actually says, and to start putting that into practice in their lives will have that prayer answered (and this ministry is directed to that end).
On Eden, I believe that there is a good, biblical case to be made for its location in the present place of Jerusalem. Much of the topography has changed since that day, and will change again in the future (see esp. Is.2:1-2). Please see the link: part 1 of the Satanic Rebellion series, "The Seven Edens". "Eden" will eventually be returned to its original place, even as in the New Jerusalem we see the tree of life in the city center (Rev.22:2; see the link in CT 6: New Jerusalem). As I read scripture, Eve was tempted by the devil, and the thing that got to her was the promise of "knowing" something she didn't already know rather than anything overwhelmingly tempting about the tree or its fruit (on this please see in BB 3A "The Temptation").
Finally, in addition to encouraging you to keep reading your Bible and to keep on taking in Bible teaching, I also want to encourage you not to let go of what seems to me to be a Holy Spirit induced desire to use your spiritual gifts in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ by ministering to young people. I didn't mean to say that setting an example and praying is all we can or should do. What I meant to say is that young people need to be fed just like the rest of us. That doesn't mean that the "food" has to come in exactly the same way from exactly the same people in exactly the same form - indeed the opposite is more often the case. When I change audience, of necessity I always modify my approach - not the content, mind you, but the way, manner, and precise form in which the content is delivered. I think a person would find that a ministry which sought to actually teach Bible truths to young people (rather than merely entertaining them) would meet with a positive response on behalf of those who are really and truly interested in growing closer to Jesus and living their lives for Him. If that is the ministry to which you have been called and if that is where your particular gifts lie, then this would seem to me to be a wonderful part of the vineyard in which to serve our Lord. You can certainly count on my prayer support if you endeavor to go this route.
As each one has received a [particular spiritual] gift, [so let us be] ministering it to each other as good stewards of the multi-faceted grace of God.
1st Peter 4:10
In Him who has endowed His Body the Church with all manner of spiritual gifts for the building up of itself in love, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I am in need of some Godly direction concerning an aging, abusive relative. I am trying to decide whether or not it is God's will for me to move in order to help in the hour of need. I suffered seriously from contact in the past. I want to do the right thing. Any advice?
I certainly appreciate your attitude in wanting to do what God wants you to do. Divine guidance really is something that is always there for us when we ask for it consistently (Jas.1:5). Sometimes we get answered clearly and quickly, sometimes it takes time, and often times God expects us to use the spiritual common-sense and scriptural information He has already given us to figure things out. The situation as you describe it sounds like a complicated one. Clearly, I'm not in a position to judge. There is plenty of information here as you share it with me to see how you would very legitimately be unwilling to go. As Christians, we are expected to forgive everyone, but that is not the same thing as putting ourselves in a position to be harmed by someone else whether physically or emotionally, especially if there is no spiritual point in the exercise or if it is not in God's will for whatever reason.
As I say, I don't know what to tell you to do except to assure you that the answer is definitely there for you in faithful prayer, sober consideration, and patient waiting on God's timing.
I will certainly say a prayer for you about this.
In our Lord Jesus,
I recently happened to read a story about people who have seen a shadowy figure at night with a long trench coat with a fedora hat who and was extremely tall. This is extremely similar to the experience of a waking vision I had as a child. So when I checked the internet encyclopedia about this figure and found it/he is called "Hatman", I was shocked! It sounded like same figure I had seen when I was very young. Here's the link:
and here is the original link:
I've heard different explanations. Some Christians believe that they are demons and that these demons try to stop Christ's plan for me before He can accomplish it. I always said to myself that God is in me and is Greater than all the hosts of heaven, under heaven, in the earth, elsewhere and beyond because He is the Creator of all things and all living things are subject to His Sovereign Power and Authority.
I look forward to your feedback on this because it will really help me.
I'm a little bit at a disadvantage in what I can tell you here because 1) I've never had a similar experience personally of a waking vision, and 2) there's nothing I know of in the Bible that we can draw on for specific guidance. But I can tell you that everyone is entitled to their own experiences, and also responsible to interpret them according to the revealed truth of the Word of God -- which is precisely what you are doing. As believers, we are charged to stick with what the Bible has to say regardless of what we see with our eyes and hear with ears. So the fact that your faith is none the worse for wear from having such an experience is a testimony to the solidity of your faith, and that is a good testimony indeed. Unexplained experiences no doubt arise from a variety of natural and supernatural sources, and sorting out all the possibilities is a virtual impossibility here on earth. Generally speaking, they tend either to be "positive Christian experiences" where people say they see God or divine agents, or negative ones where they say they see the opposite. I think your unwillingness to give credence to either because it is not clear to you exactly what you did see is another mark of spiritual maturity. This side of heaven, it is probably unlikely that I or anyone else can give you a true explanation. And that is OK.
There are three dangers involved in this sort of thing which I am obliged to point out: 1) a person has an experience which they interpret as a divine message and they act on it (which is problematic if it is in fact not a divine message); 2) a person has an experience which they interpret as a demon attack and get rattled by it (but whether or not it is what they fear, seen or unseen, our Lord is in charge of everything and without doubt protecting us in the supernatural conflict which swirls unseen around us so that there is not point in getting "rattled", and in fact it is at least problematic to allow any such thing to have that effect on us); 3) a person doesn't know what they have seen exactly, but are so intrigued by it that they pursue it aggressively and in questionable ways that may lead down dark paths. In some respects this last possibility is the most dangerous, because there is no question that when a person opens him/herself up to supernatural influence which is not from God (and anything that is not within the realm of normal spiritual growth is almost certainly not from God, especially in this day and age), they risk undue demon influence in their lives. But since you are not falling prey to any of the above, and since in your experience this was apparently a confirmation to you that there is more to this world than what the eye may see, I would suggest you leave it at that, taking comfort in the memorial of the power of God being superior to anything in this world, while pursuing your own spiritual growth in the safe and secure way that follows in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
After all, whatever you saw, whatever happened, the Lord was well aware that you were seeing it. He also knew well in advance that the effect upon you would not be spiritually disastrous. So whether directly from Him or an attempt against you which back-fired or whatever else it may have been, you can be sure that the Lord who is more real than anything we've ever seen has been guarding you from that day and before (Heb.11:1-3), knowing that you would believe in Him and follow Him in years to come (for the protective sanctification of believers before they believe see 1Pet.1:2; 2Thes.2:13; cf. 2Tim.1:9-10; cf. Gal.1:15).
I think your quote (which I love) sums it all up just fine: "I always said to myself that God is in me and is Greater than all the hosts of heaven, under heaven, in the earth, elsewhere and beyond because He is the Creator of all things and all living things are subject to His Sovereign Power and Authority." I can only hope that I would have exactly the same reaction to any such experience.
Sorry if this isn't much help -- do feel free to write back about it!
In our Lord who knows all things.
We had a bible study on homosexuality and I had some help writing a paper on it concerning the Greek language on homosexuality. I don't know too much about the Greek language and I have to turn it in to my bible teacher and wanted to know if there are errors in the letter below regarding the Greek language on homosexuality. It seems ok with me, but I'm no expert at Greek and I would like your help to see if there are errors and if it is biblically accurate. Here it is below:
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. The sin of Sodom and Homosexuality is pride. James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5 say: God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Eph 2:8 says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:" The question is how can you get grace for salvation if the Homosexual's sin is pride when God resists the proud? You have to repent because Homosexuality is also idolatry (Romans 1:23) and you have to repent by turning to God from idols: 1 Thessalonians 1:9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; There is a link between homosexuality and idolatry as the Greek word porneia is a synonym for idolatry and it connects the worship of false gods with sexual immorality. Homosexuality is being dominated by the creature and instead of having man created to be in alliance with Him (God), man is aligned to ('tohehvah') an object of loathing and it is a suppression of the truth. Idolatry is a synonym for rebellion and adultery in the Bible so I find it ironic that people say they can believe in God and be in rebellion with Him at the same time "..changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen."-Romans 1:25 Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. If we put this in the modern venacular, "Choose this day whom you will serve: The creature or the creator." Romans 12:1 says to present our bodies a living sacrifice and it is the opposite of using our bodies as a sacrifice for the devil through Homosexuality (1 Cor. 10:-18-20) Psalm 106:35 But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. Psalm 106:36 And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Psalm 106:37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, I think that God reversed the process by making idolatry (not retaining God in their knowledge-Rom. 1) manifest in them: Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. Psalm 135:15-18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of menís hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them." Jonah 2:8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." (NIV) Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an *IDOLATOR*, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Ephesians 5:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. Ephesians 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you,
What do you think?
As far as the comments on the Greek language are concerned, I only have a few observations. First, the Old Testament, as you are probably aware, is in Hebrew, not Greek (to'ebhah -- generic word for "abomination" -- is Hebrew). Second, porneia is a fairly specific word for sexual sin, but is applied across the board in the NT for sexual sin in general, and most frequently means prostitution or fornication (there is a separate Greek word for technical adultery: moicheia).
It is true that the idea of prostitution is often used of spiritual unfaithfulness in the Old Testament in particular where Israel represents the unfaithful wife, and her running after pagan gods instead of her "Husband", the One True God is a metaphor comparing worldly unfaithfulness, fornication, and even prostitution with various forms of spiritual unfaithfulness. Idolatry per se may be part of this or may be the overall symbol of the unfaithfulness, however the Greek word porneia does not have that meaning inherent in it (same with porne, "prostitute"). It is only that the word is used in some places (mostly in Revelation) along the lines of the OT metaphor comparing spiritual promiscuity to sexual promiscuity (i.e., most prominently in the case of the whore, Babylon in Rev.14:8; 17:2-4; 18:3; 19:2; 21:8; 22:15; cf. Rev.2:21). So where there is no indication of such a metaphor, porneia means literal, sexual sin (without limiting the sexual sin to any precise type).
Generally speaking, when Greek wants to distinguish homosexual behavior specifically so as to leave no doubt, it is spelled out in the language (as in Rom.1:26-27; and 1Tim.1:9-10). For more on this, please see Question #3 in the e-mail response, "Political Action and Christianity".
Hope this helps!
Thanks Robert for all the references. Your very clear explanation leads me to another question. ''Why is it that out of harlotry great people are begot'
If you follow harlots and those who did this stuff of taking other people's wives you will see there are noble or end up in high places.
Does this prove the point that out of despised relationships comes greatness. Take ref. from Moabites, David and Abraham himself.
Isn't this getting a little bit confusing?
I wait for your response
To the contrary - God is a God of perfect justice, as well as a God of grace and mercy. No one in the history of the world has every "gotten away" with anything. While it often seems so to human eyes, as I pointed out in the last e-mail "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment - especially those who in their lust pursue the polluting of the flesh and so despise [God's] divine authority (2Pet.2:10)". We may think that the wicked are getting away scot free, but in truth we can't see how God is dealing with the intricate details of their lives now or how He is planning to do so in the earthly future (Ps.73; cf. Ps.37). And that is just speaking of their fate here in time: short of turning to Jesus, the wicked face an unimaginably terrible future in the lake of fire. Great believers like David and Abraham, or lesser lights like Lot, or women who may have been "harlots" at one time like Rahab, are blessed by God not because of their sins but in spite of them. If we take any of these believers and examine their lives carefully, we can see easily enough that they received more than enough divine discipline to warn the rest of us off from copying their bad behavior even as we try to emulate their good behavior. The problem for the rest of us is that we are nowhere near as close to the Lord as David was when he sinned with Bathsheba, and so we cannot expect anywhere near the same response from the Lord. That is true both on the good side (the blessings that continued to come to him throughout his life in spite of this serious breach), and on the bad - who among us could handle the divine punishment that was meted out to David, having one son rape a daughter, and then having his favorite son kill that son and eventually try to kill him, forcing him from the kingdom and eventually being put to death to David's great grief? And all these are just the highlights of all the troubles that fell upon David over a great many years. We cannot say for certain that there were not more - indeed, the litany of complaints of excruciating pain that burst forth from the Psalms makes it abundantly clear that David suffered mightily for his sins (e.g., Ps.32; 38; 51). The fact that God forgives those who truly repent, and that He is capable of making things even better after the fact or even of using elements that only came to be because of the sin (such as Solomon being Bathsheba's son) should only serve to increase our awe and respect for Him. But I believe it to be abundantly perspicuous that in all such cases, even from the necessarily incomplete account scripture gives, blessing when it has come has come in spite of sin, while severe and appropriate divine discipline was certainly not lacking. We believers can choose to be blessed and punished, or we can choose just to be blessed. Human beings that we are, sooner or later we are going to partake of both (Heb.12:1-13). In sum, I do not see that much of an "out of harlotry great people are begot" principle in scripture as you suggest, certainly not enough to support the idea that there is any sort of a pattern, while, on the other hand, as I say, all the cases that you mention or that come to mind indicate the opposite, namely, of blessing in spite of and in addition to punishment - but the blessing comes from the spiritual greatness of the person in question, not from that person's occasional deviation from their overall good behavior. If there is any sort of doctrinal principle to be derived from the above I would sooner think that it is God's way of emphasizing that self-righteousness is just as sure a way of alienating oneself from Him as gross sin is. And in fact, self-righteousness may be worse, because the self-righteous person is blind to his or her faults (Jn.9:41), for we all sin (Rom.3:23, e.g.). The great believers in question had at least two advantages over the self-righteous: 1) the humility to understand that they were wrong and therefore motivation to repent rapidly and come back to God; 2) a deep relationship with God which, loving and merciful that He is, He is not about to completely abrogate on the basis of a single mistake anymore than we would disown our sons for a single outrageous action if they repented of it (cf. the parable of the Prodigal Son): even though our discipline of them is likely to be severe, our love for them continues, as do the blessings we shower on them just as soon as they "come back".
For this [prodigal] son of mine was dead, but he has come back to life. He was lost, but he has [now] been found.
Luke 15:24 (cf. Lk.15:32)
For more on divine discipline, please see the following links:
(from Basics 3B: Hamartiology): "Principles of Divine Discipline".
Recovering from Sin
Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Bible says that if we look upon another to lust after them then we have committed adultery in our heart. I admit that I look at members of the opposite sex sometimes, but I am not married. So am I committing adultery?
Only you know what is going on in your own heart. Let me answer your question this way. The standard Jesus sets for us is high indeed. Clearly, the less we are exposed to temptation (whatever it is that tempts us personally), the less likely we are to succumb to it - so staying as far away as possible is a salutary practice. But nobody is perfect even so. Sin is a topic wide and deep (see in BB 3B: The Essence of Sin), and, generally speaking, people commit far more sin than they are aware (out of ignorance on a number of levels). Therefore keeping up a steady prayer life with the Lord is very important, wherein we confess our sins on at least a daily basis (and thus receive forgiveness for them all, even those we may not have realized we committed or forgot about: 1Jn.1:9). We are indeed to pursue sanctification, but we are also to pursue spiritual growth. We can't dwell on the former nor ignore the issue entirely for the sake of the latter. "Confess and move on" is a very good rule of thumb for whatever we have done that is wrong, making it a habit to try and avoid the circumstances and behaviors that led us into danger in the first place.