Tag Archives: sin

Neh 10:30 – Be not unequally yoked…

We would not give our daughters as wives to the peoples of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons. Neh 10:30

2 Cor 6:14 exhorts us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This reinforces the principle of Pro 13:20 – “..he who walks with wise men will be wise…“. Whoever we associate ourselves with will have their values influence ours. If our inner circle of friends are unbelievers, unwittingly, our minds will be influenced by their values, priorities, words & actions without our realisation.

Here in Neh 10:30, the principle is extended to marriage. The people of God should not be united in marriage with unbelievers. Who you choose as your life partner will determine the course of your life. Take heed!

What should you look for when seeking a life partner?

1 Pet 3:3-4 exhorts wives – “Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”

If this is what scriptural wives ought to be like, it means that the scriptures are directing us not to seek the external appearances, but the inner traits of character & grace in a prospective life partner. Why? Because external appearances will fade away. But character & grace are what pleases God & will last for life. These are the traits that you must find compatibility in when you seek your prospective spouse. Do read this short article from Desiring God on the 6 traits to look out for in a spouse!

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1 Kings 21:25 – stirred to do evil by his wife

1 Kings 21:25 “But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up.” 

Ahab was an evil king. The bible says he “sold himself to do wickedness..”. And he did this because “Jezebel his wife stirred him up”. There is no excuse for Ahab. He had to take ownership for his evil actions. He cannot blame his sins on Jezebel. We may be enticed to sin, but we are all responsible for our own sins. Eze 18:4 reminds us that “..the soul who sins shall die.” 

But notice the influence that Ahab’s wife Jezebel had on him. The verse tells us that Ahab was “stirred up” by Jezebel to do evil. How could this happen? Isn’t the husband suppose to lead and rule? Was it simply because Jezebel had a domineering character? Let’s consider other parts of the bible that may give us clues to this matter.

Gen 3:16 says of the women “…your desire shall be for your husband,..” – NKJV. The innate meaning of this phrase is brought out in the NLT version which translates it as – “..you will desire to control your husband..“. In other words, while the husband is to rule & lead the relationship, there will be a desire by the wife to prescribe how she likes things to be. We see this manifested in the relationship between Abraham & Sarah. While Sarah was hailed as a submissive wife in 1 Pet 3:6, there were instances where this desire to “control” Abraham played up.

God had specifically promised that Abraham will have as many descendants as the stars in the sky. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 but they still did not have any children. Perhaps Sarah was getting impatient. Perhaps she was simply feeling insecure. She probably didn’t like the feeling of being the cause of Abraham not having any children. Hence, she suggested that Abraham have a child with her maidservant Hagar (Gen 16:2). Why would any woman ever make such a suggestion? Some historians suggested that this was the practice & culture at that point in time. But this was clearly against the revealed will of God. I am inclined to think that it was because she felt insecure and wanted to maintain control of the situation. She wanted her family to appear complete – with children as God had promised. And there was no way she could make that happened. Hence, she directed her husband Abraham to have a child with Hagar.

And as in all situations when we fail to obey God’s revealed will, there were consequences. So, after Hagar conceived, she despised Sarah. And in reaction to this, Sarah blamed everything on Abraham – Gen 16:5 “Then Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.” And we were told in Gen 16:6 that Sarai dealt harshly with Hagar – who was pregnant. How evil of Sarai and how very unreasonable! Wasn’t she the one who suggested this plan in the first place? What could have invoked such cruel behaviour from her? Once again, I am inclined to believe that it was because she felt she was losing control. When a woman goes into such frenzy, we are reminded of the truths in Prov 21:9; 21:19; 25:24 – that it is “better to dwell in the corner of a housetop or wilderness than in a house with a contentious woman“.

When we read of such things in the scriptures, we are sad and reminded of how terrible a state sin has brought about in us. There are important lessons we can learn here:

1) As partners in life, a wife can be a blessing or a curse to husbands. John Wesley had a wife known to be unhelpful to his ministry. She was apparently suspicious of every woman he spoke to, thereby limiting his ministry in so many ways. Why did she do that? I can only think of the truth conveyed in Gen 3:16 that she felt insecure and wanted absolute control of her husband. Hence, it is important that young men do not seek wives based on their appearances or capabilities. These may become snares to them later in their life and relationship. Character & grace should be the most important criteria for what young men seek in their prospective life partners. These are the traits that will last. Similarly, young women should seek such traits in their prospective life partners. Otherwise, they will lack the spiritual leadership that they desire.

2) The challenge laid out for the husband is a tough one. He is to love his wife sacrificially, just like how Christ loved the Church and gave Himself to redeem her. The husband is not to submit to the wife. Instead, he is to lovingly influence her and stir up in her love and good works. This can only be done with great wisdom in handling the various situations that will be encountered in the life together. And this wisdom can only come about with much prayer and devotion to God.

3) When made aware of this truth conveyed in Gen 3:16, a couple ought to prayerfully submit themselves to God for protection. Wives in particular ought to resist the temptation of desiring to “control” their husbands. Husbands ought to protect their wives by not letting them feel any sense of “losing” control, lest they get tempted to manifest irrational behaviour.

We should note that in spite of what Sarah had done, she was hailed as an example of faith in Heb 11:11. She was also commended for her submission to Abraham in 1 Pet 3:6. How can this be for all the apparent evil she committed in the saga with Hagar? Unless her sins are erased by a Saviour who gave Himself to redeem her. And this is the hope that all of us have when we confess our sins to Jesus – the promised Seed in Gen 3:15 who bruised the serpent’s head.

Let us be instructed by the lesson of the scriptures here.

 

Judges 16:20 – He did not know that the lord had departed from him…

“And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” ‭‭Judges‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Samson did not realise that the LORD had departed from him. Let us ask several questions related to this matter:

Is Samson a believer, a Christian in the Old Testament?

Heb 11:32 named Samson as one of the heroes of faith. This confirms that he was a believer, an Old Testament saint. The scriptures tell us that his life does not reflect well of a believer. Yet, God used him to bless Israel. But God also heavily chastised him to bring him back to the right path. This is a key sign of a believer – he will repent of his sins because God will work is us to do so.

What does it mean that God “departed” from him?

If we believe that Samson was a believer, how could it be that the LORD departed from him? Would the Holy Spirit ever leave a believer? No! But a believer can be living in sin and grieving the Holy Spirit. In this case, his sense of the presence of God in His life can be so weak that it could feel as if God was not with Him at all. The Holy Spirit could be grieved and withhold His grace in influencing us. How sad a situation! Samson did not even realise that the LORD was not with him. May God help us that we do not decline to such a state.

How can we avoid this experience of Samson?

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” ‭‭James‬ ‭4:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬.

JuJThe bible teaches us to “put off” our old ways and “put on” Godly practices. We are not to “put off” and be left with a void. We are to actively “put on” that which is good. The Apostle James teaches us to “resist and flee from the devil”. He did not stop there. He exhorted us to “draw near to God”. This is the simple prescription to avoid the sad state that Samson fell into.

1 Kings 18:21 – Wavering between 2 positions

1 Kings 18:21

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people answered him not a word. (NKJV)

Elijah was speaking to the Israelites. They had the privilege of knowing the true God of heaven and earth. They had a God-given heritage of being the descendants of Abraham. Yet, they pursued idol worship. Why was idol worship so attractive to them? What did it offer that the people were willing to give their lives to it? Perhaps it provided a tangible view and association to the object of worship. But God, the Creator of the heavens & the earth tell us that we should “not make any image of God and bow down to it”. This is because God is Spirit. When Moses met God on Mt Sinai, he saw no form of God. We are therefore not to imagine or constrain God to be of a particular form.

In the new testament, we are taught that the Son of God (the 2nd person of the Holy Trinity) came in the form of a Man. While we know that He came in the form of a Man, we are not to imagine His face or features because these were not recorded for us. The only instruction we have is to worship God in Spirit & truth. In other words, the object of our worship is the truth He has reviewed about Himself in His word alone. Anything aside from that would be idolatry.

Who is your God today? It has to be the God reviewed to us in the Bible. Any other thing would constitute idolatry. And you can’t straddle between opinions or “sit on the fence”. The prophets of Baal learnt their lesson when they did not choose the God of the Bible. You will likewise perish unless you have the God of Elijah as your God. Seek Him today in the scriptures!

Questions for meditation:

1) If the God reviewed in the bible is real, how much do you know about Him? What actions are you taking to know more about Him?

What you can pray for:

1) Lord, please reveal yourself to me in your word. Help me understand it. Open my eyes to see great and wonderful things.

1 Kings 18:28 – Ancient practices not for emulation

1 Kings 18:28 

So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them. (‭NKJV)

Ancient practices of idol worship included cutting oneself, walking through fire, body piercing and other peculiar rituals. Some of these are still practiced by certain cults and religions today. Do these practices have any semblance to what some people deemed as “cool” and fashionable today – namely, tattooing, the wearing of rings pierced through different parts of the body, doning peculiar hairdo, etc. In fact, these seem to be the vogue today. Most of these actions leave permanent marks on our bodies, much like what those idol worship practices would do. But more importantly, what is the purpose of such practices? To draw attention to oneself? To be associated with others who do the same?

The call of the gospel is to newness of life. Our desires ought to be God-centred and not self-centred. Hence, we should desire to exhibit behaviours that would direct the attention of people to Christ, rather than to ourselves. We should desire to be associated with Christians. We should disassociate ourselves from questionable practices. While some may appeal to Christian liberty in such practices, there are weightier matters such as, eg. stumbling others, that we need to consider. The ultimate question to answer would be: does what I do glory God or does it glorify myself? Very often, external behaviours are symptoms & reflections of what is really in the heart. Let us examine ourselves before God.

Questions for meditation:

1) Is God pleased with how I adorn myself?

What you can pray for:

1) Lord, help me be ever conscious of your presence with me & let this create a fear in me that will help me shun sin.

1 Kings 1:9-10 – Are you doing what you are not meant to do?

1 Kings 1:9-10

9. And Adonijah sacrificed sheep and oxen and fattened cattle by the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En Rogel; he also invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the men of Judah, the king’s servants.

 10. But he did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, the mighty men, or Solomon his brother. (NKJV)

The offering of burnt offering is to be done only by priests. Priests represented men before God; prophets are God’s mouthpiece to men. These are annointed offices that should not be trifled with. When Saul offered sacrifices & did not wait for the prophet Samuel to arrive (in 1 Sam), he was sternly rebuked by the prophet Samuel. Adonijah’s action was here was deliberate & calculated. It was his way of “proving himself”, his “worth” and his deserving of the throne. He invited those whom he knew would support him to join the ceremony. But he did not invite those who will probably warn him that this was not an appropriate thing to do.

Are we pursuing & doing what pleases God? Or are we pursuing something we are ashamed to let our spiritual leaders know about. Are we pursuing something that is beyond our means, our gifts & our talents? Are we pursuing them just to feel good about ourselves & boost our own esteem? Remember that God does not accept us based on our achievements. He receives us simply on the merit of His Son Jesus Christ. The more we depend on Him for our needs, the more we acknowledge His good hand upon in our achievements, the more delighted He will be with us.

Questions for meditation:

1) Am I doing something that I do not want my spiritual friends to know? If so, why am I afraid that they know about it? Would God be pleased with what I am doing?

What you can pray for:

1) May God grant us people & friends who can provide us with good counsel when making decisions in life

2) May God grant us Godly objectivity and discernment when conferring with people around us so that our minds are appropriately shaped to be aligned to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.