Arkiv

Looking at a woman to lust after her means adultery and sin? Matt. 5:28

lustIt is not possible to commit adultery unless you’re married

If a man looks at a woman with the precise aim ”to lust after her”, it is a sin according to the teaching of Jesus Christ. However, Jesus does not say that it is a sin to simply look at a woman and find her attractive. The sin in question is adultery, and it is not possible to commit adultery unless you are married.

Matt. 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman TO LUST AFTER HER hath committed ADULTERY with her already in his heart. (KJV)

The sixth commandment: ”Thou shalt not commit adultery”

Based on the verse Matt. 5:28, a man commits adultery (is unfaithful to his wife) if he looks at a woman to lust after her. This means that this verse is in reference to those who are married and who still choose to look at a women with the aim to lust after her. This statement was a surprise to many of the pharisees since they likely were of the view that you could only be an adulterer unless you actually committed the physical act of adultery and/or broke up a marriage.

What about those who are not married? Are they free to look at women with the aim to lust after them, and particularly if the women are unmarried, in order to not break the 10th commandment which says ”Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s”? No, even though Matt. 5:28 is in reference to married men, the fact is still that our thoughts and intentions reveal our inner thoughts and our true intentions. Do we stay away from temptations as much as we can, or do we seek to be tempted? This is how we will be judged:

Rom. 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

We can read in the Bible that one man and one woman are meant to be one flesh (Mark 10:8), and that a marriage is supposed to be for life. (At least this is the ideal situation.) In order to achieve this goal, we are created to be attracted to the opposite sex, but also with the possibility to be in power over our own bodies. Since 1+1=2, it is not good for a man to purposely look for tempting situations with other women which could easily lead to sin.

God knows if we happen to end up in a tempting situation with no fault of our own, and he knows what we do to get out of the situation (if anything). He knows our possibilities and our limitations and he does not demand the impossible from us but what is possible. We are human beings with free will, and no robots:

1 Cor. 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God created man to be attracted to the female body and this means that women would do well to not tempt men by dressing too revealing. When it comes to such female temptations, the attacks from the devil can perhaps be viewed as more severe today compared with Biblical times, because many women unfortunately dress themselves as though they were prostitutes (encouraged and normalized by the current world view) and there are loads of pornographic material available. Many men have confessed to be addicted to pornography, so the best way is to not even start watching such material in the first place. Watching pornography is usually optional (if we do not count the times when they are forced upon someone, such as in a liberal class room) and can therefore be avoided. It is harder to get away from other types of temptations – for example if your class mates or colleagues at work do not dress modestly. Each individual can still do his best to skip as many spiritual attacks as possible, even if he cannot avoid all tempting and awkward situations. During the time of Paul, people married at an early age so they did not have to wait that long to be husband and wife, and they were generally not affected by the same pressure and sex propaganda as today’s school children.

It is important to remember that temptations are not sins in themselves. Also Jesus was tempted just like us, and he never sinned. It is giving in for temptations which is a sin. To involve even more people in one’s sinful behavior is of course even worse. If someone is guilty of sin, he must confess his sins, ask for forgiveness and start walking in the light. There is hope for everyone!:

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. —-9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The Bible does not say that it is a sin for an unmarried man to fall in love with another unmarried woman, and to feel mutual love and attraction for each other. It is enough to read in the song of Solomon to realize this much. This Biblical book also concerns God’s love for Israel, but it still involves a romantic communication between two unmarried individuals who feel an attraction for each other. We are created to be two in one union. Adam initially lacked something in his life when he was alone on earth, and Eve was created for him to make their union perfect. It is natural for a young person to seek a soul mate in his/her life and to long for a life long companionship where even the bed is shared. We generally do not feel complete without the other half, just like in Adam’s case, and that means that it is natural to look for our other half. This is not a sin!

A life long relationship is of course not only about a physical attraction but about being attracted to a special person who shares the same moral values and outlook on life. If we do find this someone and there is mutual attraction, it is not a sin to also feel a physical attraction. Paul says The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife”.  

1 Cor. 7:2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

Paul’s advice for singles is not ”Simply avoid having an attraction for each other, because it is a sin. Just stop having such feelings!”. Instead his advice is actually to get married, for it is better to marry than to burn … With other words, such normal feelings are hard to just shut off based on a decision because we are created into sexual beings and even to replenish the earth. This does not mean that we are unable to control our bodies.

1 Cor. 7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

It would rather be unnatural for a young engaged couple to not have any physical/sexual attraction for each other. Both still have the responsibility to not tempt the other person, but to save the gift of a physical union until the wedding. I believe that a young couple will be very blessed if they decide to wait until the marriage with their intimate relations. This is also a sign of true love for each other, and that each person places God first in his life.  Eccl. 4:12 ”—  a threefold cord is not quickly broken”.

More from the same chapter lust 2

Understanding Matt. 5:28 is important since loads of men (particularly young, single men) erroneously believe that they are sinners just because they happen to meet a woman on the street who they find extremely sexy and attractive. They might also believe that they are sinners because they happen to see a billboard with an attractive woman that they would like to take a second look at. Still, this does not mean that it is a good idea to make room for further fantasies about these women without making any attempts whatsoever to halt the thoughts.

God is always willing to forgive a humble heart.

Unfortunately many Christians view Matt. 5:28 as support for man’s inability to be faithful to God and to obey his commandments. Maybe their erroneous thoughts go something like this:

”Since Matt. 5:28 tells me that I am failed human being no matter what I do, I can just as well give into other sins once in a while, as long as I don’t overdo it – like watching pornographic films, like going to the beach and look at half dressed women to lust for them in my mind, and even go to bed with a woman. I’m saved anyway, and even my pastor at church tells us that God doesn’t see our sins but only the blood of Jesus, and that no one can stop sinning and that this is precisely why Jesus died for us, that faith + nothing saves us, that it’s man’s sinful nature that makes him sin, that God accepts us if we only confess our sins every day and do our best, once saved always saved, Jesus is our righteousness and that means that we don’t have to be righteous too, etc. In fact, there is only one detestable sin that could jeopardize your salvation and that is if you start teaching that there is something you must DO to stay saved and that it is possible to obey God’s commandments. God gets very upset with that type of legalistic pharisaical attitude, but other than that you’re good to go. Sinning is natural, and not sinning is unnatural. We will not die because we’re Christians!”

In reality, it was the Serpent (Satan) who persuaded Eve that she could be saved despite sinning and he said ”Ye shall not surely die”. God does not give us commandments he knows we cannot obey. The problem is if we add to the commandments and make them impossible to follow, like the pharisees did. Read this passage from the same chapter (Matt. 5), and try to think which category fit you the best? The description in blue, or the the description in green? Which one are you? Do you break the commandments and teach others that it is impossible to obey God, or do you obey the commandments and teach others that it is possible to obey them?

Matt. 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus does not teach us to give up, but that we can be perfect the way our Father in heaven is perfect. This mean that we can. In the same chapter we are told to love and pray for those who persecute us. Are we to believe that this is also impossible for us to follow, and that Jesus can obey this commandment for us and instead of us?

 Matt. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. 

The question should not be if we can be perfect (we can indeed according to Jesus) but what it means to be perfect. We know that it does not mean ”to never ever having sinned”, because Jesus said this to his disciples and they already had sin on their accounts. We can choose to repent and start walking in the light, and we do not get only one single chance to do it right.

Annonser

Should we wash each other’s feet like Jesus did to his disciples? John 13

fötterJesus washed the feet of his disciples to illustrate a point and to be an example

The story about Jesus washing the feet of his disciples should not be used as support for the idea that a few daily sins in a Christian person’s life is absolutely normal and something that can be washed away on a daily basis. Here is the story from John 13, and the time is just before the Passover when Jesus knew his hour was come:

John 13:5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.

Jesus does not express above that we constantly walk around with dirty feet (as in always walking around with minor sins) and that it is enough to get those symbolic feet washed once in a while in order to continue staying clean, holy and saved. Jesus has very high expectations on us, and he even told us to be perfect (Matt. 5:48). This ”perfect” condition does not equal ”to never ever having sinned, and to continue staying totally free of sin” because Jesus said this statement to his disciples and they had already sinned previously in their lives. However, it does mean that we can successfully refrain from sinning – for days, months, years and for ever. If we sin, it is never because we did not have power enough to avoid those sins. If we spend our days sinning and ”repenting”, we clearly do not love Jesus since he told us ”if ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Jesus expectations on us:

Mat. 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Mark 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched

John 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: SIN NO MORE, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

John 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and SIN NO MORE.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.— 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Matt 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

1 John 1:If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Rev. 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

Before Jesus washed the feet of his disciples he said ye are clean, but not all” (John 13:10-11). The reason he said Ye are not all clean” was because he knew that Judas would betray him, so clearly he could not have been clean. Sin always makes one unclean, and sin is what separates us from God. This is evidence enough that Jesus does not expect us to walk around semi-dirty but to stay clean. Also in John 15 Jesus declares that his disciples were clean, but he still warned them (and all of us) that they must make sure to abide in him like a branch in the vine, and that lack of fruit might result in being cut off from the vine. Jesus says If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love”.

John 15:Now ye are CLEAN through the word which I have spoken unto you.Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.— 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump

Jesus does not say that we only get one single chance to stay clean, but it is also true that we cannot have both our sins and our salvation too. A couple of verses to keep in mind:

1 Cor. 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

Gal. 5:9 A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

Washing feet is an example of a good deed that we can do to another 

Jesus provided a good example when he washed the feet of his disciples, because it might be a distant idea that a Master will purposely ”go down to the level” of his disciples and perform such a basic and dirty task. The more common idea is likely that it is the ”low and poor” people who perform such tasks to the rich and famous, but in Jesus world it is often the other way around. The one who humbles himself is the greatest. If Jesus, who is God in flesh, is humble enough to wash the feet of his disciples, we too should follow his example. It does not have to be about washing feet, but what Jesus did was a great example and illustration. Jesus explains: ”15 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” He also says: 

Matt.23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

In the time of Jesus, in the Middle East, people used sandals and walked around on dry and dirt roads, resulting in dirty feet. Not so where I live in Sweden where it is not uncommon with snow and ice, as well as the existence of asphalt on the major roads where you go by car and not by feet. It is doubtful we would even consider it to be a pleasant and comfortable situation if someone would wash our warm and sweaty feet (and it would be so much easier if we did that ourselves in the shower), but during Biblical times it was common to wash ones feet (and hands) separately (sandals + dust/dirt = dirty feet) due to the necessity and to show respect.

Peter asks Jesus why he (Jesus) would not also wash his (Peter’s) hands and head, but that would have been losing the point of the illustration. If someone washes himself in the morning and goes out for an errand, it is usually not the hands and the head that become dirty and in need of a wash, but the feet – at least during this time and place. It is of more value to help someone in an area or situation where it is needed, rather than trying to improve something that needs no improvement. That would just be a waste of time.

Jesus says: He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all, and this can be understood literally and/or symbolically.  Just like the interpretation ”thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” – which can be understood literally and/or symbolically. What Jesus said was also factual, because washing the feet would be enough.

Another way to look at it is that it is not necessary to get rebaptized each time we sin. It is enough to confess our sins and repent – which means that we leave our old sinful man behind. Still, the story of John 13 tells us that Jesus washed the feet of his clean disciples. Besides, also clean people have a need to humble themselves and do good deeds to others.

The sinning woman in Luke 7 was forgiven and cleansed from her sins when she humbled herself, repented (a requirement for forgiveness) and showed her faith by doing good deeds:

Luke 7:37 And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment,38 And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.39 Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner.40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.48 And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.49 And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also?50 And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Another example of washing feet:

1 Tim. 5:9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.

An unclean heart produces sin  

Jesus explains that things that come out of someone might defile him, and he provides examples of things that make us unclean. From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts …

Mark. 7:15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.1—18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

The tradition of washing feet 

sandaler

Here are some verses which show the Biblical tradition of washing feet.

Gen. 18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree (Abraham)

Gen. 19:2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. (Lot)

Gen. 24:29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.32 And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men’s feet that were with him. (Laban and his household)

Gen. 43:24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender.

Ex. 30:17 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord:21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

Ex. 40:31 And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat

Deut. 1:9 But his inwards and his legs shall he wash in water: and the priest shall burn all on the altar, to be a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.—13 But he shall wash the inwards and the legs with water: and the priest shall bring it all, and burn it upon the altar: it is a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.

Judg. 19:20 And the old man said, Peace be with thee; howsoever let all thy wants lie upon me; only lodge not in the street.21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink.

1 Sam. 25:40 And when the servants of David were come to Abigail to Carmel, they spake unto her, saying, David sent us unto thee, to take thee to him to wife.41 And she arose, and bowed herself on her face to the earth, and said, Behold, let thine handmaid be a servant to wash the feet of the servants of my lord.42 And Abigail hasted, and arose and rode upon an ass, with five damsels of hers that went after her; and she went after the messengers of David, and became his wife.

2 Sam. 11:8 And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king.

2 Sam. 19:24 And Mephibosheth the son of Saul came down to meet the king, and had neither dressed his feet, nor trimmed his beard, nor washed his clothes, from the day the king departed until the day he came again in peace.

Ps. 58:10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

Song of Solomon 5:3 I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

Does the Bible teach that a raped woman must marry her rapist? Deut. 22:28-29

2 PetGod makes laws to secure the woman’s rights and protection  

The Hebrew laws in Deuteronomy no longer apply today, but back in the old days they did apply for the people of Israel who lived in a theocracy where God was the direct source of authority. God had certainly showed his divine powers to the Israelites during many occasions, and when the Israelites traveled through the desert to the land of Canaan during the Exodus, he manifested himself to them as a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire during the night in order to guide them and comfort them.

If the Bible is right (which I believe it is), the laws were truly from God the Creator himself and not from man, which means that the laws were both righteous and divine. This did not give the Israelites the right to force their laws on other people, but the Israelites themselves were bound by these laws for their own well-being. The laws were made for their own benefit in order to eliminate as much pain and sorrow as possible, but also to make the Israelites a blessed and special people suitable for being a role model to others. God was and is the God of all people and not just for the Israelites. This means that God would certainly not look away if people transgressed his laws, because this would signify the slippery slope of downplaying the wisdom of God altogether. Rather than being a role model for others, the other people would rather think that the Israelites were just as sinful as all others and their God (the true God of Israel) would be scoffed at.

Risks and consequences always arise if people deviate from God’s laws and plans. This is why he made laws in order to either 1) eliminate transgression of the laws in the first place – due to the severe punishment for the offender, OR 2) if the laws were still  transgressed, the weaker part would still be legally protected and the woman’s name would be free from defamation. In a culture where a woman’s marriage equated to her financial provision, God provided laws to ensure her future security.

The different cases of violation in Deuteronomy 22

Unlike the case in Deut. 23-27, Deut. 28-29 does not concern a situation of rape, but rather something consensual.

Firstly, the below case concerns a case where a man and a woman marry (with consent from their parents) and the man lies with his wife and later despises her. Can the man just walk away with no consequences, leaving the woman behind with an insecure future? How would the woman be able to support herself for the rest of her life, and possibly also a baby? Can the man just walk away and tell the whole community that the baby is not even his, and that the woman is both a liar and a whore? No, God provided a law to prevent such cases. The severe consequences were hopefully enough to prevent all (or most) of these types of scenarios.

Deut. 22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

People might suggest that blood on a sheet is not a watertight proof of virginity, but not only would this be an expected outcome, and therefore good evidence, but what better evidence could possibly be provided during this time in our past? An innocent woman would be interested in being provided an opportunity to clear her name and reputation. Moreover, due to the severe law in itself, this type of scenario was likely almost unheard of in Israel. The case could be that the law in itself was enough for most men to not even consider doing something so shameful to her, to himself, to their families and to the community.

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

Another scenario would be if the young woman was not a virgin after all but instead was lying to an innocent man (maybe together with her parents) and ended up being married on false grounds. In Israel during this time, it would be a very serious offense which would affect two families and all of Israel. Hopefully this scenario was therefore almost unheard of, especially since the woman would also have to take into consideration that the man would find out about the truth during their very first night together, which means that the woman would not gain anything with such a deception. Such a lie would therefore not get her anywhere, but straight to the death penalty.

Below is yet another scenario concerning adultery. This does not concern a rape situation but something consensual between the man and the woman. Adultery requires the death penalty.

Deut. 22:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Below concerns a scenario close to adultery, but where the woman is not yet married but betrothed (engaged to be married). This means that someone else (the man she is engaged to) would be affected negatively if the woman would choose to be with another man. This scenario is equated with adultery (the woman belongs to someone else) and the punishment is the death penalty for both since both are guilty.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

But what if the woman was raped, which would make her totally innocent? We must go to v. 25-27 below to see this scenario. The situation below concerns rape, and this scenario includes a bethrothed woman (a woman belonging to someone else) as an example just like the previous verses. Here we find a focus on the place and her actions (screaming or not), in order to make a proper judgment of her case. Naturally a woman is totally innocent if she is raped, and it is only the rapist that must die. The question is if someone was there to hear her and save her. If she was out in the field, with no one around to possibly hear her, then she should not be charged. She must be declared  innocent until proven guilty.

Someone might interject and suggest that it is not a huge difference between being attacked out in the field or in a city because there might not be anyone around to help irregardless of place,  and what if she was gang raped and what if she was mute, and what if this and that, etc. During the time of Moses the place of an attack would make all the difference in the world. Either you were at home and then you always had people around you (family members, relatives, servants, etc) or you were out in the field which is the only place where you might be alone. It cannot be compared with a situation today where a woman might live alone with her cat in an apartment on 4th floor in a building with lots of isolation in the walls. Moreover, remember that the Hebrew laws in themselves were often serious enough to make men refrain from transgressing them in the first place. There would not be a need to write four pages of details and exemptions to the rule if the law in itself was clear enough and hardly ever transgressed.

The Hebrew word for ”force” below is chazaq (Strong’s 2388) and therefore it holds the meaning of rape in this context. Another verb is used in v. 28 (see further down below).

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die.26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

In the scenario below it concerns a virgin, and not an engaged woman or married to someone else. The below verses therefore do not concern adultery (which requires the death penalty). The verb ”lay hold” below is a translation from Hebrew taphas (Strong’s 8610) and does not in and of itself infer assault. The word means “to hold” or ”to wield”  but not necessarily ”force” or “attack”. The case could be that the young woman was seduced, which would be the wrong conduct particularly for the man seducing her, but also to a lesser degree also for the woman giving into temptations. Still, the verse below places a higher burden on the man by the explanation that he lays hold on her (even if she might be a willing participant). This law would ensure that young women are not treated as temporary conquests just for pleasure, and also ensures that a baby will have a father who is responsible for its protection and well-being.

Unlike the two laws just before it, the verses 28-29 do not name a specific location to determine the woman’s consent, nor mentions her cries for help. The couple is described as having been found/caught in the act, and none of them will be sentenced to death since the case does not concern either rape or adultery (they have not hurt anyone else but themselves in their sin). This does not exclude the possibility that the woman was taken advantage of and/or dishonored, even if the matter concerned mutual consent.

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days

The Hebrew law was there to prevent a man from carelessly seduce or exploit women (regardless of consent) and walk away from the situation like nothing happened.
If he did so anyway, despite the severe law, he would be held accountable publicly and also be held responsible for her future well-being. Far from oppressing women, this law shows that men were accountable for their sexual behavior, because the law ensured that a young Israeli woman would not be objectified and discarded. The woman faced no punishments for being seduced, and she was not ostracized or shamed, whereas the man must fulfill all the marital duties that come with the rights to lye with a woman, and in so doing guarantee the security of the woman. She would not be forced to marry a rapist, but rather a man who she had accepted to sleep with (or accepted to be seduced by).

brudWomen seducing men

Taphas also appears in Gen, 39:12 when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph. She did not rape or overpower him, but she certainly tried to tempt him and seduce him. Had Joseph not been such a righteous man she might have succeeded to ”lay hold” of him. In that case, both would have been guilty, and the crime would have been adultery (under Hebrew law) since she was already married.

Gen. 39:7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand;9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

Women can be guilty of seduction as well, even if force/rape would not be the case:

Prov. 7:4 Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:That they may keep thee from the strange woman, from the stranger which flattereth with her words.6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,14 I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows.15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.16 I have decked my bed with coverings of tapestry, with carved works, with fine linen of Egypt.17 I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.19 For the goodman is not at home, he is gone a long journey:20 He hath taken a bag of money with him, and will come home at the day appointed.21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.22 He goeth after her straightway, as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks;23 Till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life.24 Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth.25 Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.26 For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.27 Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.

God works all things after the counsel of his own will? Eph. 1:11

secret willGod’s will is that man should use his free will and seek him (see Acts 17)

God has a sovereign freedom to accomplish whatever he chooses, like guaranteeing the proper inheritance to the children of God (which are those who are following Jesus). The promise is to those and no one else.

The following verse is a popular Calvinistic proof text, often quoted (by itself) to support the idea that everything under the sun occurs precisely according to God’s plans, down to every single detail:

Eph. 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel  of his own will

The verse of course say no such thing (that God’s will always happens), unless we are talking about his will to give man free will and make man responsible for his own actions. Note that it says ”works” all things and not ”cause” all things … The verse does not say that all thoughts, words and deeds are predestined by God, but it rather explains what God does, in terms of providing wonderful promises through Christ.

Councel in Eph. 1:11 is a translation from the Greek noun βουλή (boulé, Strong’s 1012) and could also be translated deliberate wisdom. This noun derives from the verb βούλομαι (boulomai, Strong’s 1014) and means will, intend, desire or wish. 

Some theologians claim that it is also about God planning and arranging all physical circumstances in order to achieve his exact plans which always take place down to the finest detail. This is something the Bible does not say.

The noun boulé occurs 12 times in the KJV Bible. Examples:

Luke 7:30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.31 And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like?32 They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept.

Quite clearly God’s counsel can be rejected.

Acts 2:22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 

If God caused and scripted Calvary in all details, why does the text not say so? Instead we can read that his foreknowledge was involved. Knowing about future events is not the same as causing future events.

Acts 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul is clearly not a Calvinist since he does not relax and trust that God’s will always happens and that the elect will remain elect (and the non-elect remain non-elect). He warns people with tears night and day because disciples will be drawn away from the gospel. Why does he do that if nothing can go wrong but always turn out as God wants? Paul rather believes the scriptures, and understands that prayers can make a difference!

Acts 27:12 And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. — 41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.42 And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape.

1 Cor. 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.  

Unfortunately Calvinists usually believe that God decrees ”whatsover comes to pass” and are keen to interpret “work all things after the counsel of His will” as though everything pans out exactly as God wills it, both good and bad. That would include God deterministically scripting every murder, rape and abortion that will ever take place! The text, however, must not be read in this sweeping and all-inclusive way. The “all things” refers to all things that God accomplishes in Christ (in a general sense) because this is what the previous verses talk about.

Eph. 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ

Paul provides examples of the above mentioned blessings and promises, which are only meant for those who are IN CHRIST which is the condition for salvation. The eternal purpose is that God’s children, his church will be able to look forward to a guaranteed inheritance waiting for them in the heavenly places. Again, the condition is to be IN CHRIST, and if someone does not endure to the end that person is no longer IN CHRIST and the promises are therefore not tied to him. The ”salvation bus” is predestined to go to heaven and guaranteed to be blessed, but who is in and who remains to the end? That is totally up to us and we know the conditions which are presented to us. Those who are in Christ are considered to be his holy children. The text does not say that the promises are provided with no conditions.

It might be a help to ask oneself what is predestined according to His purpose. In order to get the answer one must of course go back to the previous verses, because a verse can never be read in a vacuum. The answer is again ”the inheritance in Christ! The verse right (v. 12) after says ”That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ”, and v. 13 continues to talk about ”trusting” and ”believing”. It is possible that Paul includes the very first belivers in this sentence, and we should note that ”trusted” is an action that people might choose to do. God will not ”trust” for us or instaed of us. It is rather a condition for salvation. V. 19 says ”the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. The believers are in Christ – again, the condition.

If I would tell someone about my work and say that ”all things” worked out perfectly fine – maybe even after the counsel of my will – the listener would not assume that I just claimed that every single thing in the entire world worked out absolutely great, and that I have solved all the world’s problems. Neither would the listener assume that I claimed to be the cause of all things that I said took place.

Compare:

Phil. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Paul is here talking about being content no matter what state he is in (in both good and bad circumstances) and to be able to do the good works which God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Paul is not including everything under the sun in ”all things”, but the term must of course be understood in its context. The verse certainly does not say that byall things” you can do all forms of evil and wickedness through God who strengthens you. Similarly, Eph. 1:11 does not say that the “all things” would include evil and wickedness.

All things work out for good for all people  -more than in a general term?free will 3

Paul promises us in Rom. 8 that all things work out together for good to them that LOVE GOD, which of course is a condition for salvation. If Paul had meant that all things work out for good for all people everywhere, including all details from God’s perspective, then he could have skipped the condition of having to love God.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 

In the same chapter Paul explains which conditions that apply for escaping condemnation: 1) You must be IN JESUS, and 2) you must not walk after the flesh but after the Spirit. This is something that WE must make sure to do, and God will not do it for us:

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. — 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

He goes on to explain, that if we live according to the flesh (not an obligation), we cannot please God. The solution to the problem is of course to NOT live according to the flesh but after the Spirit:

Rom. 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Paul explains that we definitely do not have to live after the flesh. The choice is clear; if you live after the flesh you will die, and if you live after the Spirit you will live. Who are the sons of God? Those who have chosen to be led by the Spirit of God. If someone lives after the flesh, he can certainly not blame God for it but only himself. The better option is always to live by the Spirit in order to get life:

Rom. 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Paul tells us about the same wonderful promises of glorification just as in Eph. 1, but again, only for those who are God’s children who live after the Spirit:

Rom. 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Paul repeats again that all things work together for good to them that love God. The ”calling” is widespread because we know from the parable of the King’s wedding feast (Matt. 22) that many of those who were called to participate in the feast (they were even on the guest list) declined to go. One person who actually did go to the feast was still thrown out because he had neglected to wear appropriate clothes (his own responsibility). We are justified when we are cleansed from our past sins, and after this point our goal is to be conformed into the image of Jesus which is something to look forward to. We have an assurance in the hope of salvation while on earth, as long as we abide in Jesus of course. Rom. 8:29 is referring to those in v. 28, who love God. Do read about Rom 8:28-30 here.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

God provides provisions and works all things after the counsel of his will, but he does not cause people to act according to some predestined plans. If God forces people to think and act in a certain way, what is the point of judging them for things they cannot possibly avoid?:

1 Cor.10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would prefer that they would repent in order to live:

Ez. 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?

If someone ends up with an interpretation which makes God the greatest culprit and a lover of sin, this is clearly an erroneous understanding. A religion that blames the sin of all mankind on God is clearly incorrect. We should rather use this verse as a filter:

Ja. 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, NEITHER TEMPTETH HE ANY MAN 

We are requested to not excuse our sin by suggesting ”God made me do it”. God does not tempt anyone, much less causes anyone to sin, but in order to save the philosophy of Calvinism God must be blamed for the sin of all mankind even though it is blasphemy? Calvinists might try to solve the problem with ”it’s a miracle” or ”God’s ways are higher than our ways”, but in that case anyone can introduce contradictions into the Bible and excuse them by saying ”God’s ways are higher than our ways” and ”who are we to question God?”. 

It is a lot safer to agree with the Bible which says that God’s will does not always happen. Yet, he is still in control (does not mean micro management) and all things work out wonderfully for those who love him.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked? Jer. 17:9

heart 2The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. 17:9 KJV

The book of Jeremiah, just like Job, Isaiah, Ezekiel, etc, contains portions of poetic expressions, parables, hyperboles, prophesies, etc, so we must be careful to not read every verse in a literal way. Some Christians often quote Jer. 17:9 in order to support the idea that we are born in sin (which the verse does not say) and that we are constantly sinning in thoughts, words and deeds. Possibly also that God must separately ”enable” a person to do good or else he is not able to do so. (Many reformed believers think that God for some reason does not enable all people to repent and do good). Nevertheless, it is rather clear that the same chapter (just like many other chapters in the book of Jeremiah) contains a good portion of poetic expressions. If those should not be read in a literal way, why should Jer. 17:9?

Let us read the rest of the same chapter – Jeremiah 17:

17:1 The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;2 Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.

Is the above literally true? Is the sin of Judah written with a pen of iron and diamond, and literally graven on people’s hearts? Upon the horns of altars?

3 O my mountain in the field, I will give thy substance and all thy treasures to the spoil, and thy high places for sin, throughout all thy borders.4 And thou, even thyself, shalt discontinue from thine heritage that I gave thee; and I will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not: for ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever.5 Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.

Through poetic expressions we can read above that God is angry due to his own people (Judah) departing from him. This is not the first time they do so and seems to be a recurrent problem in the Old Testament (which makes us understand the description of their heart in Jer. 17:9). As a consequence of Judah’s heart departing from him, God will cause thee to serve thine enemies in the land which thou knowest not”. The better option would of course have been to be obedient to God in order to avoid this unfortunate disaster. The chapter continues to explain what a dreadful future those who depart from him will get:

6 For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.

Notice the poetic language and illustrations which make an important point. The chapter continues to explain why it is a much better option to trust in the Lord.

7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

Notice the poetic language above. Then comes Jer. 17:9:

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

The claim that the heart is ”deceitful” and ”desperately wicked”, is a general claim stated right after explaining how Judah had departed from God yet again. It is not hard to watch the TV news and naturally feel like exclaming that ”people are deceitful and desperately wicked”, after seeing constant examples of war, rape, gang rape, pedophilia, Satanism, censorship from the elite, etc. This does not mean that every single person in all parts of the world is always deceitful and wicked – around the clock – and not being able to be anything else but think and do evil.

The answer to the question ”who can know it?” (the heart), is God can! Just like James says in Ja. 2:24 – we are justified by works and not by faith alone – God says here that he will give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings”. The fruit is important for our salvation. See in John 15 where Jesus explains how important it is to remain in him, as a branch in the vine, in order to provide fruit. If the branch no longer produces fruit, it will be broken off and thrown in the fire. If a person does not produce fruit, it is his own fault and God should not be blamed. 

11 As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool.

Notice the poetic language. A more modern English would be: Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools” (NIV). Naturally God warns against it. Still, people end up as fools (naturally against God’s will) by taking things of value not belong to them. There are consequences for bad behavior. 

12 A glorious high throne from the beginning is the place of our sanctuary.13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.

Again, we can see here that it is not a good idea to forsake God and depart from him. They shall be ashamed due to their choice to act against God’s will. However, they shall not literally be ”written in the earth”. 

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.15 Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the Lord? let it come now.16 As for me, I have not hastened from being a pastor to follow thee: neither have I desired the woeful day; thou knowest: that which came out of my lips was right before thee.17 Be not a terror unto me: thou art my hope in the day of evil.

Jeremiah is saying ”I have not run away from being your shepherd” (NIV). Good choice.

18 Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded: let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed: bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.

Since Jeremiah is faithful to God, it is not right for people to persecute him. Yet, some did and Jeremiah is concerned about it and pray to his Lord.

19 Thus said the Lord unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;20 And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the Lord, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:21 Thus saith the Lord; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;

God gives instructions to Jeremiah and since Jeremiah is a good man, he is likely to obey them. Unlike many of his forefathers!:

22 Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

Above we can see how some of Jeremiah’s forefathers did not obey God. ”they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline” (NIV). This is clear proof that God’s will does not always happen, because he prefers to give man free will and thus make him responsible for his own actions. God is not the one making people stiff-necked so that they cannot obey him. They are doing this to themselves, to the dismay of God.

24 And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein;

25 Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain for ever.26 And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the Lord.

So IF Jeremiah will diligently listen to God, many things will turn to the better for the city. It is up to Jeremiah.

27 But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

If Jeremiah will NOT listen to God and obey him (which clearly is an option since God warns against it), then there will be consequences for the city of Jerusalem. Hopefully Jeremiah will make the better choice.

Harden not your hearts!

In the same book – Jeremiah – we can read:

Jer. 4:4 Circumcise YOURSELVES to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

We should make sure to not harden our hearts:

Hebr. 3:7 Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness

Pro 28:13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.14 Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

2 Chron 36:11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

2 Chron. 12:14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.

We are wonderfully madeheart

It is clear that we are born wonderfully made (see this article), and we are neither born with deceitful hearts or forced to have deceitful/wicked hearts due to any ”nature” forced upon us against our will:

Ecclesiastes 7:29 Lo, this only have I found, that GOD HATH MADE MAN UPRIGHT; but THEY they have sought out many inventions.

Isaiah 7:16 For BEFORE THE CHILD SHALL KNOW TO REFUSE THE EVIL, AND CHOOSE THE GOOD, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.

Romans 9:11 (For the children being not yet bornNEITHER HAVING DONE ANY GOOD OR EVIL, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)

Isaiah 44:24 Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that FORMED THEE FROM THE WOMB, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself

Zecharia 12:1  The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and FORMETH THE SPIRIT OF MAN WITHIN HIM.

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.—31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

Put on the whole armor of God, because we do not fight against flesh and blood

armor3Take unto you the whole armour of God! – Eph. 6:13

Paul provides some good advice for us which would be beneficial for us to remember in order to be fully equipped to withstand the devil’s many attacks. We are the ones who are responsible for taking on the whole armor of God, and if we do we will be victorious in each battle against us. God will certainly not force us to take on his armor against our will, but due to his love for us he has made these powerful tools available for us.

The reason why we need the armor of God is so that we will be prepared also on the day of evil and able to stand upright on the last day. If we choose to live our Christian lives without parts of this armor, or if we choose to put on the armor only occasionally, we automatically give Satan more power to overcome us. Satan knows our Achilles heals and where we are most vulnerable in the event of an attack. This means that it is not wise to stand partly unprotected when his attacks are coming.

Eph. 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (KJV)

Here are all the six pieces of advice (NKJV). We can read about ingredients such as truth, righteousness, gospel, faith, salvation, Spirit and God’s word. 

  1. 14 Stand therefore, having GIRDED your waist with TRUTH
  2. … having put on the BREASTPLATE of RIGHTEOUSNESS
  3. 15 having SHOD YOUR FEET with the preparation of the GOSPEL of peace
  4. 16 taking the SHIELD OF FAITH with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one
  5. 17 Take the HELMET of SALVATION,
  6. … and the SWORD of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD OF GOD.

1) It is essential that we stick to the truth and avoid lying, which includes spreading false rumors and slander. It is also a lie to purposely ascribe views to people that they might not have, which means that we must be careful how we express ourselves in order to be good examples to others.

2) We have to live righteous lives, which means that we must obey God’s commandments and keep ourselves from sin. Remember no one will save your soul by living a righteous life for you and instead of you so that you will not have to do it yourself – not even Jesus. The Bible says that it is the one who DOES righteousness who is righteous and will inherit the kingdom of God (1 John 3:7, Hebr. 5:9). Moreover, it is not legalism to be totally faithful to God and his commandments which he expects us to follow. We will not be transferred another person’s righteousness (Jesus righteousness) into us and be regarded as righteous even though we live unrighteous lives. We cannot fool God. Titus 2:11-12 tells us that the grace of God helps us to live righteous lives here and now. and we can do this by the help of the holy Spirit. Fortunately, we get more than once chance!

3) We must always be ready to spread the word of God, answer people’s queries about why we have chosen to be believers in Jesus Christ and help them overcome their hurdles which might prevent them from taking the step to become Christians themselves. Apologetics are often very helpful. We can be fishers of men in numerous ways and we can be blessed and encouraged when we take on the shoes of evangelizing through spreading the Christian faith to others. This is essentially what our brief life on earth is all about, because our real home is the permanent one in the new Jerusalem. We can learn to tune in to God’s voice in order to hear and understand how he wants to lead us in our daily lives in order to become useful tools in his hands.

4) We can move mountains with the help of our faith. If we obey the above mentioned points, it will be easier for us to believe and even expect signs and wonders in our every day life. We can see in the Bible that people’s faith is often strongly connected to their chances of getting healed from various illnesses when others place their hands on them and pray for them. (Naturally all people do not get healed from illnesses at all times, or else they would be immortal and live forever.) We can make our faith increase by living near God and communicate with him, and we are risking to become lukewarm if we seldom or never spend time with prayers, songs and Bible reading.

5) The helmet protects the head as well as the brain which contains our thoughts and dreams. Spiritually speaking, we are able to protect the brain from being exposed to bad influences and various temptations which might request our attention. We can avoid harmful TV programs (and actually avoid the TV all together if necessary), and we can also avoid having  destructive music ringing in our ears through headphones. We can also avoid various environments and situations which we know are far from being uplifting for our souls. Sometimes we are not the ones who decide which circumstances to live in, but at other times we can control our intake of bad influences. What we see and hear might affect what we feel and how we express ourselves to others, which means that it is a good idea to control our thoughts by not welcoming all sorts of rubbish into our brains.

6) Jesus won the battle against the devil in the desert by leaning on the word of God in its proper context. Satan can quote the Bible alright, but if one ignores certain verses and highlight others, he/she might end up with all sorts of heresies. The devil finally gave up when he realized that Jesus was fully equipped to withstand his temptations. We have to train ourselves to be corrected by the word of God and to not be too proud to change our course if we realize that we have misunderstood the Bible text. Heresies can be avoided by being faithful to the word of God rather than automatically following the crowd (that may or may not be on the right track). Satan will get a smaller area to attack if we show him that we prefer to obey the true word of God rather than Satan’s twisted interpretations. Unfortunately, there are Christians who end up following traditions of men because they are impressed by their grandeur.  armor2

Last but not least, Paul tells us to do all this during continuous praying and supplication in the Spirit. We should always pray in the Spirit, and watching out for all the saints (Christians) who keep spreading the gospel to the lost hearts. It is also a good way to a personal relationship with the Master.

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (KJV)

The gifts of the holy Spirit are for today. Do not be fooled by those who claim the gifts have ceased and are no longer in use. This is exactly what Satan wants us to believe, because he wants to disarm us the best way he can!

Eating blood is a sin, but a blood transfusion is not – Jehovah’s Witnesses

blod 1Eating/drinking blood is one thing, and injecting blood something else

I have RH0 Negative blood, which is rather rare – with only about 6-7% of the European population (see possible traits here). I would therefore benefit greatly if other people with this particular blood type would donate blood, in case someone like me needed it. Would it hypothetically be a sin for me to withdraw blood from myself and inject it later on, despite that it is the very same blood which ran through my veins moments ago? Or would it only be a sin if I inject someone else’s blood?

We can share blood with each other if we only belong to the same blood group. Our blood can be traced back to Adam and Eve, and they were created very good.

Jehovah’s witnesses are known for making a parallel between blood transfusions and eating blood, and they view both alternatives as a sin. The Bible clearly prohibits us from eating blood (Acts 15:28-29), but the JW’s wrongly assume that it is therefore also wrong to donate blood and receive blood transfusions, despite that the latter does not entail eating or drinking. We already have blood in our bodies, and that is not a sin. Why would it be a sin to add more blood into our veins, particularly if our blood runs low? In a blood transfusion the blood is lead directly into the cardiovascular system (the circulatory system), which means that it is never led through the digestive system the way food does. The prohibition of blood intake is in relation to food and drink in the Bible!

But there is some light:

”A blood transfusion is no more eating blood than a skin graft is cannibalism” (James D. BalesJehovah’s Witnesses, p. 30).

In the past, also vaccinations were prohibited among Jehovah’s Witnesses (up until the 1970’s) as well as organ transplants (up until the 1980’s). It would be better for the witnesses to avoid certain vaccinations (which indeed could be harmful), rather than blood which can literally save lives.

Below we can see that ”abstaining from blood” concerns food situations.

Apg. 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. .28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Acts 21:24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

The Bible encourages us to save lives (Mark 2.23–28), and the story shows that the law was never meant to hinder us from taking logical actions – like saving innocent lives if we have this opportunity.

Mark. 2:23 And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.24 And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?25 And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?26 How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Also Luke 13.10–17; 14.1–6, and Matt. 12.9–14 show that God does not prohibit us from saving lives even on a Sabbath, but that he rather expects us to. We should not add to Scriptures by suggesting that God would prohibit us also from blood transfusions if such thing was known during Biblical times. It is a huge leap to believe that God would not like if we saved people’s lives through blood transfusions. It makes sense to have blood in our veins and we cannot live without it, but we can definitely live without eating blood and getting blood into our digestive system.

Unborn children have once been nourished and stayed alive through their pregnant mothers’ blood system through the cord, so why would it be a sin if the same children hypothetically would get blood transfusions from their mothers when they are born? Blood will circulate in our veins even if we abstain from eating blood.

Sinning is transgressing the commandments of God, but there are no laws in the Bible prohibiting us from giving or receiving blood transfusions. God knows that we know that blood transfusions can save lives, and that we would therefore be motivated to do it (and there are no Biblical laws against it). It would be unreasonable to think that we would risk losing our souls based on a misunderstanding.

The Old Testament about eating blood blood

The Old Testament does not say anything else but that we should not eat (or drink) blood from either animals or human beings. The reason for this is that the life is in the blood – which of course is a factor also today (the fact has not changed). This could explain why blood indeed runs in our veins as long as we are alive. When we die, blood no longer runs in our veins. The blood certainly makes the difference between life and death. Eating something/someone with the blood would be comparable with eating someone’s life, which would be an abomination before the Lord.

Gen. 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. 

Lev. 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you,– and will cut him off from among his people.11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.13 And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.14 For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off.

Deut. 12:16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.—  22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. 

1 Chron. 11:18 And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord.19 And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest.

1 Sam. 14: 32 And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.33 Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the Lord, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.34 And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the Lord in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.