Created Friday, Jun. 28, 2002,            updated  Jun. 9, 2015

How do we understand
Our Sinfulness?
Our shortcomings and deficiencies?


How Is This Possible?
My Premise on Expectations and Demands
Mercy and Compassion Above All Else!
We All Sin, Don't We?
Paul's Dilemma of Sin
A Second Witness, James
Adjusting Our Expectations
Only in the Faith!
Being Overly Righteous Brings Destruction?
Not What Enters Defiles!
What I Have Seen
Reasonable and Practical - like the sons of . . .
Standards and Definitions - 9 dirty words
Carrying Our Cross Daily

Let's Get Specific about sin
What We Do Not Figure In!
Mildness in Judging
What Are Our Expectations Today?
Understanding Madness and Folly
Diffusing a Bomb!   New  Jun. 9, 2015
Powerful Private Feelings    New  Sep. 30, 2010
The Dirty Deeds
Making the Best of It
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
Emphasizing the Good
Strength in Weakness?
What is the Harm?
Walking by the Spirit

Related Articles

How Is This Possible?

This could be, in many respects, the most important article on my website. If there is any article I hope you will consider carefully, this would be it!

Maybe I should have called this article "I want mercy and not sacrifice!" (And this would be well said as "I want mercy and not the superficial letter of the law.") But regardless of the title, really, when we are talking about the sinful, and when I say sinful, I mean fallen flawed nature of man we inherited from Adam; we are talking about the impossibility of being perfect, behaving perfect. And we should also be talking about showing flawed human beings mercy as regards this weak flawed inherited condition. And while we show it to all, we should even more so, show it to our brothers and sisters in the faith. for as Jesus said, "For what you do to even the least of these my brothers, you do it to me" and "AS you judge others, so you yourself shall be judged." In view of these very serious statements of warning from Jesus, we ought to give some serious thought to how we judge the sin present in all of us in some measure.

And while some may have more flaws/sins that others, all sin merits death in the eyes of God the Father. And we owe all people love and tender mercy. In doing so, perhaps we can lead some to life and salvation under God. The Bible is crammed full of scriptures and accounts of acts of mercy and compassion. In fact, I do not know how someone can claim to be Christian and not be moved by the message of mercy and compassion. Yet, mysteriously, it is always about judgment and harsh severe restrictions and unrealistic expectations of people that most will never be able to live up to.

One does have to wonder whose spirit it is the rules these people who claim to be Christians and yet always seem to be preaching judgment, condemnation, fault finding, harsh severe restrictions and the like. The Spirit if Christ does not teach this. It sounds a lot more like the spirit of the Wicked One, to be honest. Many who claim to have the holy spirit ought to be filled with mercy and yet they are not. Could it be the devil they follow? I'm just asking ;-)

We have the example of the Apostle Paul, who was obviously in the power of the spirit and could and did, raise people from the dead to prove he was in the possession of the spirit and had the approval of God. Yet Paul also confesses and I cover it in this article, that he is very much still a sinner, struggling with sin in its many forms and manifestations. But time and time again, Christians condemn every little sin, allowing for absolutely no slights or imperfections at all. It was as if we should be perfect. And anyone who knows the Bible knows we can not be perfect or even close. John is good for making that clear in his first letter as well.

My goal in writing about sexuality and alleged sex crimes in some other articles of mine is to show that not everything condemned by most Christians is really the problem they claim. Further, with every other normal outlet blocked off to so many, there have to be realistic expectations of what we can endure and maintain for spiritual cleanliness. We do not allow young people to marry at a reasonable time and age, commencing near puberty, and we demand they wait until marriage at 25 or 30, at least, and really believe they should be able to hold out. But facts show they rarely can or do. Either we let them marry young, which is not really possible with how our world is arranged, or we are going to have to at least accept that they will view pornography or something similarly mild or they will fornicate. We may have to consider masturbation as an outlet, too. These are things condemned by most up to now.

Further, many even condemn for what none of us can control, what comes up in our hearts and minds, thought crimes. They judge these due to a misunderstanding of just one scripture.

Fornication is considered one of the 4 worst sins in the Bible. Can we say that porn magazines or videos are fornication? Many Christians do not see shades of gray. They paint everything either black or white and life is not that way. There needs to be mercy and compassion for the human condition and what we can bear and live up to.

The danger is that if we do not, and we demand severe things from our brothers, we could end up being severely judged ourselves for Jesus did warn that as we judge others, so we will be judged, by the same standard, be it harsh or gentle.

So I feel we need to consider the need for mercy and compassion. and having done so, if someone comes to you demanding absolute purity and perfection, RUN!!! Have nothing to do with such a person or religion for they do not know God at all and do not have His Spirit. For God is love, mercy, and compassion. And believe me, you will encounter such apostates and heretics all the time. They are everywhere. They pretend to be so holy and pure; but you can be assured, that anyone who claims such extreme perfection and righteousness is necessary and possible and lives up to that themselves, is an absolute liar and hypocrite! So beware of these modern day Pharisees who condemn people who, like Jesus, cure on the Sabbath, and keep company with tax collectors and prostitutes, and insist on mercy and compassion.

My Premise on Expectations and Demands
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I see some key scriptures and principles as vital to this entire argument of what is too much to expect and what is not. And I will cover them all carefully in this article but I want to briefly list and describe them here for summary.

1.) The first would be the very Essential Mercy! Mercy towards people means mercy towards sin, since we all have it and in far more abundance then probably most of us will admit. This is in contrast to harsh judgment which Jesus always condemned.

2.) Too Extreme, Too Righteous, Fanatical! It seems to me that most Christians are this way. But Ecclesiastes 7 has a dire warning about being too righteous or too smart and bringing desolation and/or destruction to ourselves. Is it possible? Sadly, yes, it is very possible and done all the time.

3.) Jesus says in Luke and no where else: "for The sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light" (Luke 16:8). The sons (of darkness) of this world/age are more - shrewd, prudent wiser, more forethought, more practical (various ways of translation) - in their ways than the holy ones, saints, sons of light, children of God, are. Is Jesus saying the bad guys are smarter than the good guys? In some respects, what we might call practical aspects or some might even call Machiavellian respects, yes, they are smarter, more reasonable and practical in their approach to some things. Jesus tried to teach his followers how to be a little more practical in their dealings with some things. I'll explain it all more later on.

4.) We are all Sinners and very Flawed. Many Christians will admit they are sinful and in need of redemption and salvation and yet, they do not admit or allow for sin. This is an obvious contradiction and hypocrisy and yet it does not bother them. But if we are to admit sin, we must also admit none of us is ever free of committing sin. And if we call commit sin, then we must allow for some tolerance of sin, or none of us would be able to accept or tolerate each other. We would have to excommunicate and shun each other, which is hardly sane or reasonable. So then, what do we accept for bad behavior that does not incur a lot to be said about it? Most Christians do not allow any sinful behavior or so they think. They resist all attempts to define what is small and not of great concern. So I will be discussing this as well.

That is just 4 principles, much like Acts 15 gave just 4 things to be primarily concerned with. In other words, this is not a lot to keep track of, not hard to understand and of the utmost importance to all. Its not rocket science or brain surgery. Its elementary, dear Watson! This is milk, the basics of what we need to know and apply. It we can't handle this, we are doomed. All of these should be easy to grasp and even delightful to embrace for Jesus did say that his yoke was kindly and his load (to carry) was light. Jesus is not hard and oppressive, strict and unreasonable. Your confusing him with the devil, who is harsh, abusive, unreasonable, and demanding.

So indeed, being a Christians should be light, kindly, reasonable, tolerant, considerate, merciful, full of grace. It should be relatively easy to be a Christian and be acceptable to other Christians, without having to resort to being phony, pretentious, lying, sanctimonious, false, hypocritical,  insincere, masquerading, acting,  putting on a front, pretending to be something we are not. I see this all the time in religion. They set the bar, the standard, so high that no one can possibly live up to it or carry it out. So we all resort to lying and pretending, which is from the devil, the father of the lie, and deceit, and pretending to be what he is not, such as an angel of light and goodness. To be like the devil is the worst thing we could do and the thing we should hate most and avoid at all cost.

That being said, we really need to give this subject of sinfulness much more thought and attention. Lets start with mercy.

Mercy and Compassion Above All Else!
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The following should be rather obvious!

Matthew 5: 7  Blessed are the merciful! For they shall obtain mercy.

Matthew 9: 13  But going, learn what this is, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice." For I did not come to call righteous ones, but sinners to repentance. Hos. 6:6

Luke 1: 50  And His mercy is to generations of generations to those fearing Him. Psa. 103:17

Luke 1: 54  He helped His servant Israel in order to remember mercy,

Luke 1: 72  to execute mercy with our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant,

Luke 1: 77  to give a knowledge of salvation to His people by remission of their sins, 78  through the tender bowels of mercy of our God

Luke 10:
36  Who, then, of these three seems to you to have become a neighbor to the one having fallen among the robbers?
37  And he said, The one doing the deed of mercy with him. Then Jesus said to him, Go, and you do likewise.

Matthew 9:11  And seeing, the Pharisees said to His disciples, Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?

Matthew 11:19  The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man and a wine drinker, and a friend of tax collectors, and of sinners. And wisdom was justified by her children.

Luke 15:7  I say to you that so is joy in Heaven over one sinner repenting, than over ninety nine righteous ones who have no need of repentance.

[{ Note Matthew 11:19. Jesus is distorted and slandered for not fasting and not seeing avoiding wine as necessary and for being a friend to despised tax collectors and other sinners. Shame on him! Would a righteous man to that? Apparently so!!! }]

Luke 18:
9  And He also spoke this parable to some of those relying on themselves, that they are righteous, and despising the rest:
10  Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector.
11  The Pharisee was standing, praying these things to himself: God, I thank You that I am not as the rest of men, rapacious, unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.
12  I fast twice in the week; I tithe all things, as many as I get.
13  And standing at a distance, the tax collector would not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, but smote on his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, the sinner!
14  I say to you, this one went down to his house having been justified, rather than that one. For everyone exalting himself will be humbled. And the one humbling himself will be exalted.

[{ There are those who think they are pure in their conduct, often being very judgmental of others. But this is what actually condemns them in the eyes of God. While we all think we are great, we are usually far from it. We do not see our own sins and only recognize the sins of others, especially when their dins are not the ones we have and ours are not the ones they have. Those who claim not to be fleshly and claim to be so pure and righteous, seldom ever are. They focus on peoples faults and shortcomings, however small those might be, rather than seeing the good and not worrying about the small problems. We all have small problems! }]

Mark 2:15  And it happened as He reclined in his house, even many tax collectors and sinners reclined with Jesus and His disciples, for they were many. And they followed Him.

Matthew 21:
28  But what do you think? A man had two children, and coming to the first he said, Child, go today; work in my vineyard.
29  And answering, he said, I will not. But afterward, feeling sorry, he went.
30  And coming to the second, he said the same. And answering, he said, I go, sir; but he did not leave.
31  Which of the two did the will of the father? They said to Him, The first. Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go before you into the kingdom of God .
32  For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax-collectors and the harlots believed him. And seeing, you did not repent afterwards to believe him.

[{ I see similar things today. Those who say they believe but they look down on others and are very harsh and judgmental, not to mention vary narrow minded. They are often also hypocrites who have loud mouths and are preachy and yet in private, commit the very same sins they publically condemn. They are self righteous with their noses in the air and that smug sense of superiority, much like that of the Pharisees, looking down on everyone else. By their fruits you will absolutely will know them. You can't miss them! Don't be like them! }]

Luke 13:
10  And He was teaching in one of the synagogues on one of the sabbaths.
11  And, behold, there was a woman having a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent together and was not able to be completely erect.
12  And seeing her, Jesus called her near and said to her, Woman, you have been freed from your infirmity.
13  And He laid hands on her. And instantly she was made erect and glorified God.
14  But answering, being angry that Jesus healed on the sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the crowd, There are six days in which it is right to work. Therefore, coming in these, be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
15  Then the Lord answered him and said, Hypocrite! Each one of you on the sabbath, does he not untie his ox or ass from the manger, and leading it away, give it drink?
16  And this one being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound, lo, eighteen years, ought she not to be freed from this bond on the sabbath day?
17  And on His saying these things, all who were opposed to Him were ashamed. And all the crowd rejoiced over all the glorious things taking place by Him.

[{ This is so typical of these freaks. The leader/ruler of the synagogue had a fit about Jesus healing on the sabbath, which may I point out, depends on the spirit and power of God in order to be done in the 1st place, so he is really finding fault with God, not God's son standing before them, but it is worse. Jesus points out how phony this stance was. He notes how they do think its OK to untie their animals to lead them to water to allow them to drink but hate the fact that Jesus "untied" or loosened a woman from her leash to and infirmity of 18 years. They can show such great mercy for an animal but nothing for a human being. Far from being unusual, I find this is quite common in people. But Jesus condemns this complete lack of mercy and compassion for a human being. }]

John 8:
1  But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives .
2  And at dawn, He again arrived into the temple; and all the people came to Him. And sitting down, He taught them.
3  And the scribes and the Pharisees brought to Him a woman having been taken in adultery. And standing her in the middle,
4  they said to Him, Teacher, this woman was taken in the very act, committing adultery.
5  And in the Law, Moses commanded that such should be stoned. You, then, what do you say?
6  But they said this, tempting Him, that they may have reason to accuse Him. But bending down, Jesus wrote with the finger in the earth, not appearing to hear.
7  But as they continued questioning Him, bending back up, He said to them, The one among you without sin, let him cast the first stone at her.
8  And bending down again, He wrote in the earth.
9  But hearing, and being convicted by the conscience, they went out one by one, beginning from the older ones, until the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the middle.
10  And Jesus bending back up, and having seen no one but the woman, He said to her, Woman, where are those who accused you? Did not one give judgment against you?
11  And she said, No one, Lord. And Jesus said to her, Neither do I give judgment. Go, and sin no more.

[{ This is one of the finest translations of this account, being from Green's Literal Translation. The woman was caught actually in the middle of having sex. The key here is Jesus saying that whoever is without sin should cast the first stone. I am willing to bet that a few in that crowd may have even been guilty of adultery or something just as bad themselves and I would also be willing to bet that Jesus was looking right at them when he said it. They would have been the first ones to suddenly disappear for fear that Jesus was going to squeal on them. The remaining ones would have lost courage and walked away as well.

And this is how it often is. The ones calling for purity and perfection and who claim to never sin, are often the most guilty offenders to be found. Jesus did not say what the woman did was right. But he may also have understood her situation. She might have been treated quite poorly by her husband and though this does not excuse adultery, it does make it more understandable and God has the right to excuse adultery under certain circumstances if He wants to. As God, He as that right and so does His son.

Jesus tells the woman he is not going to pass judgment on her. He did not say she was not wrong. And he says, "sin no more." He showed mercy and compassion even as his father Joseph had when he thought Mary had cheated on him, carrying Jesus in the womb. Joseph did not want harm to come to Mary, even though the punishment according to God was to be stoned. Joseph decided he would divorce her in secret. To be merciful and forgiving is righteous in the eyes of God and comes with great reward. }]

Luke 7:
36  And a certain one of the Pharisees asked Him that He eat with him. And going into the Pharisee�s house, He reclined.
37  And, behold, a woman who was a sinner in the city, knowing that He reclined in the Pharisee�s house, taking an alabaster vial of ointment,
38  and standing at His feet, weeping behind Him, she began to wash His feet with tears. And she was wiping with the hairs of her head. And she ardently kissed His feet and was anointing them with the ointment.
39  But seeing, the Pharisee who invited Him spoke within himself, saying, This one, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what the woman who touches him is; for she is a sinner.
40  And answering, Jesus said to the man, Simon, I have a thing to say to you. And he said, Teacher, say it.
41  There were two debtors to a certain creditor: the one owed five hundred denarii and the other fifty.
42  But they not having a thing to pay, he freely forgave both. Then which of them do you say will love him most?
43  And answering, Simon said, I suppose the one to whom he freely forgave the most. And He said to him, You have judged rightly.
44  And turning to the woman, He said to Simon, Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give water for My feet, but she washed My feet with tears and wiped off with the hairs of her head.
45  You gave Me no kiss, but she from when I entered did not stop fervently kissing My feet.
46  You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with ointment.
47  For this reason I say to you, her many sins are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, he loves little.
48  And He said to her, Your sins are forgiven.

[{ A typical habit of the self righteous is that they really look down on those who might have had things to regret in their past or were from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak. They are slow to recognize someone as having changed. Jesus pointed out here and in other accounts of the same event that this woman, who Jesus did seem to admit had more to atone for the Simon, also did more good than Simon. Simon did not attend to the Lord in such a grateful manner, but the woman sure did. She had more to be grateful for. Jesus made a real point of this event. He ordered that this event be told by all to come. This event appears in all 4 gospels. Jesus wanted to really emphasize mercy and compassion in his ministry. And he did! Do you hear him? }]

Matthew 23:
3  Then all things, whatever they tell you to keep, keep and do. But do not do according to their works, for they say, and do not do.
4  For they bind heavy and hard to bear burdens, and lay them on the shoulders of men, but they do not desire to move them with their finger.
5  And they do all their works to be seen by men. And they make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their robes.
6  And they love the first couch in the suppers, and the first seats in the synagogues,
7  and the greetings in the markets, and to be called by men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8  But do not you be called Rabbi, for One is your Leader, the Christ, and you are all brothers.
9  And call no one your father on earth, for One is your Father, the One in Heaven.
10  Nor be called leaders, for One is your Leader, the Christ.
11  But the greater of you shall be your servant.
12  And whoever will exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever will humble himself shall be exalted.
13  But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of Heaven before men; for you do not enter, nor do you allow those entering to go in.

Matthew 23:
23  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and you have left aside the weightier matters of the Law: judgment, and mercy, and faith. It was right to do these, and not to have left those aside.
24  Blind guides, straining out the gnat, but swallowing the camel!

Matthew 23:
27  Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitened graves which outwardly indeed appear beautiful, but within are full of bones of the dead, and of all uncleanness.
28  So you also indeed outwardly appear righteous to men, but within are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

[{ Matthew 23 takes place as Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem for the last time, this time to be crucified. Jesus was really fed up and disgusted with how evil the Chief Priests, scribes, and Pharisees had become. They were as bad as the devil. So Jesus points out their falseness and serious flaws. They say but they do not do. How often we see that! They talk out of both sides of their mouth. I emphasize this next one. They bind very heavy burdens that are hard if not impossible to bear and live up to but would never dream of doing the same, themselves or even trying to come remotely close. No sir, not them! Don't do as I do, do as I say, right?

Oh yes! How they love to be seen and get attention and be made of and adored. They can't get enough. They are always putting on a show for everyone to see. They are sickening to watch. They love titles, honor, status, and recognition. But Jesus warns that he who seeks prominence shall get the opposite and he who tries to be humble and rejects glory will end up with all sorts of glory.

Here comes another favorite of mine. The Pharisees are careful to give a tenth of their crops as required by the law. These are symbols. But the ignore the more important things that the symbols often stand for, like judgment, mercy, and faith. When Jesus says judgment, I think he may be indicating discernment and "accurate" judgment without hypocrisy. Mercy is obvious, right? Right??? And faith, for by faith one observes the more important things of the law. Faith sees that which is beyond the symbols, beyond sight and things tangible.

Yes, the Pharisees strain out little bugs and gulp down a big chunk of camel meat. So picky about little stuff while ignoring much more important things. A warped sense of priorities, and this is my biggest gripe today! They get all bent out of shape and upset over a "dirty" word, a picture of a naked woman, or an R rated movie or a song with questionable style or lyrics, or a thought in your head, while ignoring the fact their kids are having sex without marriage, and they commit adultery or are dishonest in business or crawl over warm bodies at work and plunge knives in people's backs, so to speak or pay a person a menial wage that no one could reasonably live on. They object to abortion but highly recommend adoption as being OK, which cause kids great suffering throughout their lives or they ignore the deaths and suffering of kids through poverty or unjust war actions while carrying on so about abortion. What a bunch of phony hypocrites!

They dress up in nice suits on Sunday and never a foul word from their mouths but they can be so mean, nasty, and looking down on people so. They look great in appearance but beneath the glitter, they are ugly inside. They put on a good show but in secret and in private, they are different people all together, hiding all sorts of dirty little secrets. Often those secrets are not so little. Hiring prostitutes, gorging on porn while condemning it to others, taking bribes from big business and politicians in return for support and the misleading their people. It makes me sick just to think about it. But know this, the judgment of God is not slow in coming. Their day of judgment will be a severe one, I can assure you. Meanwhile, don't be caught being like them. Lightning can be pretty hot! 

So beware and be careful of those who condemn others as being too fleshly or too worldly and insist on absolute purity and no toleration of sin, whatsoever. No one can live up to that, including them and they know it and you should, too. They lie! Even the Apostle Paul struggles with sin and the flesh. So if he did, can we expect any better of ourselves or of anyone else. Of course not! We must be willing to overlook a lot of little stuff and only worry about the big 4 or the big 10 or 12 sins and not sweat the rest. }]

By their fruits you will know them!        Be on the lookout!         Beware of self-righteousness!         It is so deadly.  

We All Sin, Don't We?
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I seriously doubt I will get much resistance from nearly anyone of Christianity if I point out that we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God by a considerable margin. It is for this reason that we are in need of the ransom sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, the Christ / Messiah of God. Nearly all would concede that. But I offer 3 scriptures just to confirm that it is so for the new ones who may have been living on another planet so as not to know this, which is so harped on by most brands of Christianity.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.

There are no exceptions, right?

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Adam caused us all to sin and die. Again, no exceptions, right?

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

At the mouth of 3 witnesses (scriptures), the thing is firmly established. Now only one problem left.

While it is well known among the brethren of Christ that we are all sinners, and in need of redemption, obtained by God's only begotten son, giving his life in behalf of our sins, and the whole world's for that matter, we fail to admit or recognize what exactly that sin is that we commit . . . daily. Many seem to think that when we receive the Holy Spirit of God, that we no longer sin. This is the biggest bunch of rubbish and heresy ever to creep out of Christianity. So I shall here dismantle and annihilate this insanity for those who are willing to be led by the Word of God. When the Bible says that we no longer sin, it is speaking in a relative sense, not an absolute sense. While it does not say this, it is quite clear or otherwise, God would be contradicting Himself and so would His word, the Bible.

We no longer deliberately sin. We now try to live our lives in harmony with God, and within reason. No longer do we live for the flesh as our only concerned, without respect for God. We know place God and His ways first in our lives and try to avoid sin to the best of our ability. In that sense, we are without sin. We are because in the eyes of God, that sin had been paid and atoned for by the Blood of His son, Jesus. This is the primary way in which we are without sin. But our flesh is still plagued by sin and it still tends to have its way with us, but God does not hold it against us. We have been relieved of the guilt that once came with that sin, since that guilt has been bought and atoned for.

Our first witness is none other than the Apostle John who is addressing believers who have already received the spirit of God and are in attendance at various churches that receive this letter from John.

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

John makes it clear that no one possesses the truth, or for that matter, the spirit of God, if they claim they have no sin. They are heretics and will soon meet their end, come judgment day. But knowing that we have sin, John assures us that if we confess our sins to God, and when called for, depending on the kind of sin, to our brothers who we might sin against, then the heavenly Father will forgive our sins. So we need not feel any reluctance to confess or admit sins to God for He already knows that we have them. But being faithful and true, and having accepted the sacrifice of His son in our behalf, He does not hold these kinds of sins against us. The next scripture makes this more clear.

1 John 5:16 If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.

John makes it real clear here that there are two kinds of sins. One of them is not mortal and can be and will be forgiven if God is asked. What is a mortal sin? I believe this is what is called elsewhere, a sin against the holy spirit. Well, likely fighting against God directly, such as through deliberately lying about God or the Bible for personal gain while witnessing powerful works of the spirit. The early apostates were of this nature. But most all sins are not mortal or not necessarily mortal. For instance, we do know that King David was forgiven for adultery and the killing of the husband afterwards. Mannasseh was guilty of all sorts of horrible acts of idolatry and the worship of other gods. Yet he was forgiven as well. But it is not the really bad sins for which we might possibly be forgiven that I want to talk about. It is the smaller sins that we all probably commit on a daily basis that I want to get into.

I have another article that deals with sin against the Holy Spirit, Mortal Sin if you will. It is well covered in Lying Signs and Wonders, which is linked to at the end of this article.

We all know most of the big sins. Fornication; that is, sex without marriage. Then there is adultery, murder, stealing, slander, idolatry, etc. But the small sins? Well, many Christians come down as hard on those as if they were acts of murder. Small sins could be matters strictly of the heart, concealed from the public. Perhaps careless or hurtful words. Maybe it is just that we don't stand up for what is right or properly reprove others. It could be merely withholding help or good when there is opportunity to offer it. There are all sorts of things that might be labeled as small minor sins. But trying to come up with the answers ourselves is kind of foolish when we have the Bible to help us answer it.

But let's think about it. Is there a small sin that is not deadly or could be deadly? Not really. It was only eating a piece of fruit from a tree that condemned Adam and Eve to eventual death. When you are perfect, any sin will start the dying process, the process of aging and decay until you die. But as imperfect creatures who take aging, imperfection, and death for granted, as well as all the many forms of sin and crime that we live with throughout our lives, the little sins don't stand out or necessarily amount to lot. But we might be surprised how much they hurt us. Just one or two examples.

Teasing could be considered a small sin perhaps. But it was the teasing of two boys that led them to eventually try to blow up Columbine High School, shoot students and kill them. We might elect to say something bad about someone. But if word gets around, it could end up hurting them and maybe even their families in very big ways. Really, all sin contributes to serious consequences somewhere down the line. That is why even small sins are serious ones. But small sins are also impossible to avoid as we are about to consider. We are very prone to small sins. But luckily for us, they can and will be forgiven if we ask them to be forgiven. Now let us consider sin a little more.

Paul's Dilemma of Sin
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Romans 7:12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

What Paul makes clear is that the law exposes our imperfection and sin. It makes it clear to us that we do, in fact, sin. By listing what it is we should do and what it is we should not do, and out not being able to do it, then we must have sin is us, right?. So when we violate that code, and are shown to violate that code, we can not imagine that we have no sin. But many have still failed to see how they sin. Paul is about to take care of that further on in the book of Romans next. This is the most important lesson in this whole article and perhaps one of the most important in the Bible, too.

It is the struggle between wanting to do right but not finding the ability to necessarily do so. It is that failure to be able to live up to the righteous law that can frustrate and bewilder us. It could also cause us a lot of shame and guilt. But its real purpose is to make it clear to us why we need fixing, so to speak; forgiveness and healing by means of the sacrifice of God's son in our behalf. By accepting and availing ourselves to that sacrifice and its benefits, we can look forward to someday being brought back to perfection so that we can live by that proper code of law and living that will preserve us and those around us in a world of peace, harmony, and prosperity. Let's observe.

Romans 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin.

The first step toward God is to recognize that we are carnal by nature, sold under sin. This is Paul saying this about himself as well as the rest of the Christian believers in Rome and in all the world, past and present.

Romans 7:15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Here is the perplexing thing we all experience. After doing something a little cruel, thoughtless, or hurtful, we might afterwards say to ourselves, why did I do that? I know better. I feel just terrible about that now. I am so disappointed with myself. Why can't I stop doing this? What is wrong with me? The answer? We are under the control of sin, a defect in our thinking and actions. All thanks to what Adam did. Even Paul, lead by the spirit and able to resurrect people from the dead, can not stop doing the very thing he hates. Where does that leave you and me?

Romans 7:16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.

Paul admits the law is good and righteous. He does not want to sin but he does anyway, though it is against his will. This is the mystery of sin. It is hard to fathom. We have an intellect that tells us better, yet we are not able to obey that intellect. Insane, isn't it? But that is the nature of sin. And not one person is free from this effect/defect. We all have it, every last one of us. Anyone who says he does not is a liar and denies the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible; and the Bible, itself. Do I make myself clear?

Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.

The flesh, or should I say, the desires of the flesh, which ultimately derive from the brain as we know now, are capable of nothing good. These fleshly desires conflict with other desires of ours, what we might call spiritual desires, desires which do not seem to cater to the flesh. Our spiritual side knows right but we are not able to live up to those things that are right. Paul says, "I cannot do it!" Ultimately, in an absolute sense, there is nothing good within us. Despite our best desires and intentions, we are constantly sabotaging our selves. We just can't seem to avoid it.

Romans 7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

Paul makes the point that we are not in control of our own bodies and actions. If I do not want to do it, says Paul, then it is not longer I, referring to his spiritual aspects, his ability to intellectually choose the right course, but the sin, his fleshly bodily behavior and urges, that seem to be in control. Paul is torn in two, mentally speaking. One part of him agrees the law is righteous but the other part of him does not seem to be able to carry out that law as we shall see.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members.

Now when Paul speaks of "in his members," he refers to the fact that most sin involves satisfying one of the members of our body. The most obvious members that like to be satisfied are our sexual members, of course. But they are not the only ones. We might see that nice new luxurious sports or luxury car or SUV in the car lot and desire it. We might be willing to go to great lengths to get the money to afford it. Our eyes are involved or our desire for comfort. Maybe a desire for status, too. Maybe we gorge on good food and become gluttons, pleasing our tongues, eating far more than we really need and distorting our bodies in the process. Any number of things might be desired for their comfort and satisfaction.

The Bible tends to attribute them to our flesh although something like status is more of an invisible quality not directly related to our bodies. But obviously, one of the most deliriously intoxicating experiences of the flesh is a sexual encounter with someone who is very appealing to our eyes. It all starts with the eyes, doesn't it? So Paul refers to these longings and desires as things that dwell in his /our members, our bodies. That part of our brain which is capable of objective rational reasoning knows that what we do is wrong but is not able to convince us to the point of avoiding the sin we desire. It is that other part of the brain, where instincts and emotions originate, that subvert our intellect and conscious control and decision making and override it.

Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Paul is aware and is making us aware, too, that we are in need of deliverance from ourselves and our inevitable deaths; deliver us from our inability to control and guide ourselves as we like, so as to live up to the excellent law of God. It is because of God through His son, Jesus Christ our Lord, that we can look forward to being rescued from this impossible situation. The blood of his sacrifice pays for the damage done by Adam and passed on to us. We serve God with our minds, while our bodies, to some degree, continue to be alienated from God, but only until other issues are settled here on earth. Then all the earth will be healed.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.

Now when Paul says there is no condemnation, he does not also say there is no sin. But that sin which we can not control, is not held against us anymore if we accept Jesus and OBEY Jesus, though not perfectly. If we obey him (if we try to obey him), we come under his grace and mercy and will not have Adam's sin held against us. So what is important for us at this point, is to recognize that we have sin. More importantly perhaps, is to recognize that our brothers and sisters in the faith also have sin and that we have to tolerate those small sins even as Jesus does.

This is why Jesus warns us to be careful how we judge others, for with the measure in which we judge others, we, ourselves, will also be judged by Jesus. It does not mean we do not punish serious unrepentant sin in the congregation. The Bible commands that we do punish such sin. But if they repent, we are to forgive. And if the sin is small, we need not make a federal case of it. We merely forgive if forgiveness is asked. We do this knowing that we, too, will likely require lots of forgiveness ourselves. Those who expect perfection in the flesh are heretics and have disowned Christ. They can expect nothing but his wrath and judgment when his day arrives. Christ does not hold our sin against us, right? Then neither do we want to be caught holding sin against our brothers.

A Second Witness, James
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James also makes great points about this in his book. Let us look at what he has to say.

James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.

James is telling us not to be hypocrites by simply hearing the "law of liberty" and not also doing. We also need to be found doing it and obeying it. Of course, when he says this, he is not unaware that we will not live up to it perfectly. He assumes that we know that, too. But we are expected to live up to it as best as possible. The shortcomings and failures would hopefully be small ones and not the glaringly obvious ones like "sleeping around" with everyone, which is not even trying to live up to the law code of liberty and righteousness. But now James is about to make a point that eventually will prove to be much like Paul's.

James 1:26 If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man's religion is vain.

Anyone who lies to themselves and does not bridle their tongue, worships God for nothing. God will not recognize him or her as a worshipper. Now when he says we need to bridle our tongues, does he expect perfection? As we will see, the answer is no, two chapters later.

James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all make many mistakes, and if any one makes no mistakes in what he says he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.

We have two things to understand here. First, teachers, who use their tongue all the time teaching, will be judged more strictly and have more expected of them. So they certainly would want to try to live up to their words. But then James makes a great point for teachers and all to consider. "We all make many mistakes, particularly in what we say, our tongue, so to speak. Anyone not making mistakes would be a perfect man according to James. We will find out why. Are there any perfect people out there? We know there are not. So at least in word, in tongue, we all sin and make mistakes. It is a fact written right there in the Bible book of James. So if anyone says he does not sin in word, he denies the Bible and is a liar, too. Notice what James next points out.

James 3:3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses that they may obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Look at the ships also; though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.

With excellent illustrations, James points out that small members control large bodies. So it is with the tongue as we shall see.

James 3:5 So the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is an unrighteous world among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the cycle of nature, and set on fire by hell.

James here points out that despite its small size, the tongue, meaning what we say, can do a lot of damage. Such a small part of the body, but wow, the damage it can do when it starts to wag, right? Of course, we know that the tongue is driven and controlled by our brains. So really, it is our brains, our thoughts and desires, that motivate our speech to do harm or good. And we are certainly capable of harm and we all do harm many times in our lives. James makes that clear.

James 3:7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by humankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue --a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brethren, this ought not to be so.

We can tame animals but we can't tame ourselves. Ironic, isn't it? James thinks so. What is more, that untamable tongue is or can be, full of "restless evil" and "deadly poison." What a contradiction the tongue is. We bless God and yet we curse men, who, as James points out, are in the likeness of God. That is how we should view each other anyway. This is the same contradiction that Paul points out. Only here, it may be that those he is writing to are more guilty of this crime and are not trying to control their tongues. While we can not avoid sin of the tongue as he made clear earlier, we can do our best to try to minimize it. If we do not try our best to control it, then we sin in a more pronounced way and are no longer making effort to avoid sin. We have become hearers only and not doers and James condemns that. To the best of our efforts, we want to try to observe the commandments of God, even though we know we can not do so perfectly.

James 3:11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening fresh water and brackish? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a grapevine figs? No more can salt water yield fresh.

James here points out the contradiction of sin and hypocrisy. It really doesn't need explaining but it should motivate us to try to become consistent in our actions and behavior. We don't want to continually and flagrantly flip flop, obeying one minute and not the next. But from what he wrote, we know that as imperfect people we will sin. We can not avoid it. But we do want to try and minimize it. We don't want to make excuses and give up trying to live in harmony with God's laws. We try our best but realize that will never be enough. And we keep in mind what Paul says, that still we will find ourselves carrying out bad when we want to do good. That is the contradictory and frustrating thing about sin.

It is always the desire of each one of us to be able to control things around us. But how can we do that when we can't even control ourselves? We might want to become great athletes. But getting control of our bodies and limbs to accomplish athletic goals can be a nightmare. Trying to learn a subject in school or college can also be frustrating as we try to discipline ourselves to study but sometimes neglect it or have trouble concentrating. We might want to control our emotions and behavior toward others. Again, we will fall short of our intentions. No matter what we attempt, it will be with great difficulty, frustration, and often failure. That is what we are born with due to the actions of one man, our original ancestor, the first man, who made a poor choice, but not due to sin, and so began a defective process that led to his own death and the consequent death of all the offspring that came forth from him. I speak of Adam, of course.

And keep in mind that all he did was eat a piece of forbidden fruit. It only takes one act of disobedience to God to set in motion a world of disaster. Without realizing it, we all set in motion, every day, all sorts of disasters that create a world of epic suffering. But because of the actions of one righteous man who gave his perfect life for us ( I refer to Jesus, of course), we will not have that inherited sin held against us and we will have all sin and defects removed and have the chance to live forever as Adam had the chance to do but threw away.

Adjusting Our Expectations
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We are to expect sin. We can not avoid sin. It is a part of us. We sin every day in all likelihood. We know we at least sin in word, according to James. So what do we accept for sin in ourselves? What do we accept from others? This is my next goal in this article.

Solomon made this next statement.

Ecclesiastes 7:
15 In my vain life I have seen everything; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness,
     and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evil-doing.
16 Be not righteous overmuch, and do not make yourself overwise; why should you destroy yourself?
17 Be not wicked overmuch, neither be a fool; why should you die before your time?

16 Be not given overmuch to righteousness and be not over-wise. Why let destruction come on you?
17 Be not evil overmuch, and be not foolish. Why come to your end before your time?

16 Do not be too much righteous, nor make yourself overly wise; why destroy yourself?
17 Do not be very evil, and do not be a fool; why should you not die in your time?

16 Do not become so very righteous, neither count thyself wise beyond measure,��wherefore shouldst thou destroy thyself?
17 Do not be so very lawless, neither become thou foolish,��wherefore shouldst thou die, before thy time?

16 Be not over-righteous, nor show thyself too wise, why art thou desolate?
17 Do not much wrong, neither be thou a fool, why dost thou die within thy time?

Solomon saw the perplexing situation whereby a righteous man perished because of that righteousness. What? That's what he said!!! And Solomon saw a wicked man who lived longer and did better because of his evil. Oh, say its not so! But it is or he would not have said it. Too often, righteousness will often not pay off and evil often will pay off. Then he points out another odd thing, seemingly absurd until you consider it more carefully.

Notice that Solomon was contrasting 2 opposites here. Being too righteous or too smart, or looking too righteous or too smart on the one hand, and not being too wicked or evil or silly and foolish on the other. We are to avoid extremes. Trying to be perfect will guarantee failure. Looking too smart might make too many jealous enemies. But being unashamedly bad and corrupt will also get you in a lot of trouble. As they say, crime does not pay, especially from the standpoint of God. If we find ourselves being too extreme in either direction, we will suffer for it. Time to make quick adjustments and be more reasonable about what to worry about and what not to give too much attention to.

It is my experience that Christians usually try to live way too perfect and clean. As such, they turn off their kids and lose credibility with the kids and turn others off as well. And besides, no one can live up to the high a standard and they end up living double lives, becoming phony and putting on an act and pretenses. This is worse than if we rejoiced and paraded our sinfulness in front of everyone, bragging about it. For if we did that, at least we would be honest, even if a bit bad or showing a bad attitude. Honesty is better than lying! So lets just settle for balance and perspective and be realistic and reasonable. To be anything else is to become a fanatic. That word has bad associations for a reason. No one likes a fanatic. Fanatics are often hypocrites. Be reasonable and let that be something everyone knows you for.

Now just how is it that a righteous man perishes in his righteousness? Why is it that Solomon says not to be righteous over much or wise over much and thereby destroy ourselves? Is that possible? It surely is. We are going to examine how and why.

1 Corinthians 5:9 I wrote to you in the letter not to associate with fornicators; 10 and not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or with plunderers, or with idolaters, since then you must go out of the world. 11 But now I wrote to you not to associate intimately; if anyone is called a brother and is either a fornicator, or a covetous one, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a plunderer, with such a one not to eat.

I quote this scripture because it makes an interesting point that is often missed by those who are what I call, overly righteous. Every day we see sin and associate with sinful people. We could not live on planet earth and not do so, as Paul points out. Paul does not instruct us to quit mixing in company with all fornicators, covetous ones, idolaters, or others, for the world is saturated with such ones. We can not escape dealing with them. That does not mean they are our best buddies but neither do we shun them or avoid dealing with them, such as avoiding going out to eat with them or something. But we do avoid such association with a Christian who does such things when they are being hypocrites! Putting on an act is the worst of all things. Better to be a sinner and be honest about it than to lie and pretend to be what you are not nor could ever be.

Lying and dishonesty are just about the worst sins we can commit in the eyes of God.

Only in the Faith!
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But since we all sin, how do we judge? The key is what is called confession or repentance. If we sin, we ask forgiveness and try to do better. That does not mean there will be no consequences to deal with afterwards but we can be forgiven. On the other hand, if a brother is not sorry about his sin and is determined to continue to sin, then he is shunned until he should cease what he is doing and ask for forgiveness. Some mistakingly forgive, even when forgiveness has not been asked. That would be wrong, too.

But we do not treat all people this way! Only those in the faith. The outsiders are not held accountable to the same degree as those in the faith. We only discipline those in the faith and God will judge those on the outside as Paul now points out:

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. "Drive out the wicked person from among you."

Paul, by direction of the Holy Spirit, understood that to avoid sinful people and their sinful acts entirely would not even be possible and it is not require of us to do so. We are witnesses to sin every day. When we see back-stabbing or hear gossip and witness people doing hurtful things to each other as typically happens in every work place, we try to avoid doing so ourselves. We see all sorts of sin in the news and newspapers. It is on every nearly every TV show and Hollywood movie. Our neighbors might be living together without being married. Our school mates may be getting laid on a regular basis. We see it everywhere all the time. So one could never say that we should not watch sin for indeed, we could not avoid watching sin. Where in this world is there a place without sin?

Further, there is what we do on a daily basis to our own loved ones. Speaking to them harshly, carelessly, thoughtlessly, impatiently. We are often wrapped up in our own misery that we might have experienced at work, with life, or with someone and we take it out on those we love. I see it all the time, even among good Christians.

Being Overly Righteous Brings Destruction?
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Wasn't that what I just covered a few paragraphs ago? Of course it does! Now with all the sin that is around us all the time, if we determine that we are not going to put up with any sin and will have nothing to do with sin, we will have to give some serious thought to either killing ourselves or finding a quick ride to the moon and try living up there for a while or perhaps making a home at the bottom of the sea somewhere. I would not recommend any of those alternatives. Instead, I think it is much more practical and reasonable (keep that phrase in mind) to put up with a certain amount of sin. Paul tells us to do so. We can not do otherwise.

There is a problem with those who imagine they can live without sin. They really don't appreciate how much they themselves sin. It is the really small sins that they miss altogether. That is why they think they can escape or eliminate sin. In fact, so unaware are they of the little sins they do, that often they witness much of it and don't realize they are seeing sin. The small stuff completely goes over their heads and escapes their detection. Not seeing and realizing how impossible it is to avoid and stop doing, they therefore conclude that the only stuff left is the big stuff or stuff they think is big. But as I see it, speaking hurtfully or carelessly to someone, even if only unintentionally, is a far greater sin than watching a movie with immoral conduct that we see every day anyway, or looking at porn and getting excited.

So there is a real problem with recognizing many sins, putting them in perspective, giving them the right priorities; and being realistic about what we can control and avoid and what we can not. And most importantly, Jesus, Paul, and John would no doubt all agree that if we do something without love and mercy, that it is in vain that we do it. So if we truly care about people, we will show them the mercy and overlook the small stuff as we would want them to do to us.

But if my words and those of the Bible should not persuade you to give up trying to completely avoid sin, then let us try to imagine what you might have to go through to avoid sin as much as possible. First, that TV would have to go. Even the news is sin in motion. Say goodbye to the newspapers and magazines. So you will have to be completely uninformed about what is going on because it is nothing but sin anyway. You know, the wars, killing, crime, sex scandals, hate, greed and all those other things that are in the news every day. You can stick your head in the sand, instead. Sports are out since they take competition to very unhealthy levels and think nothing of injuring each other and cheating to win. Most books and nearly all movies are out. Forget about most music. Its all off limits. Avoid all company since they are all sinners and are often not the least bit ashamed of it. Why most of the time, they are not even aware they are sinning. That can't be good, right?

Be careful of what you buy. It might have been developed using animal testing. Or maybe the corporation is bad or contributes to unworthy or sinful causes. Trouble is, what corporation doesn't do that? Maybe you should quit your job. Jobs you can't work because they might aid some unworthy cause directly or indirectly. You could give up paying taxes except that Jesus commands you to pay your taxes. And since your car pollutes so much, maybe you ought to give up your car. And watch out what you eat. Sugar is bad for you. So is this and that. Is there really anything you can eat that isn't grown with pesticides, genetically modified, or harvested with poorly paid and treated migrant workers? And watch out for how you dress. Show the least amount of flesh and you might be tempting someone. You might get jumped on by the demons and possessed. Really, you would have to give up living, as I said earlier.

It is completely impossible to not be a contributor to the many evils, small and great, that exist in the world. To get too serious about many things would make living absolutely impossible as well. And that was the Apostle Paul's point in telling us we did not need to avoid all sinners but only those who call themselves our brothers and yet deliberately sin. Practical Christians do not get overly concerned with the sins of the world. They are too busy concerning themselves with love for their brother and their neighbor. John says in 1 John 4:18 "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love."

Too often, we go around worrying (fear at work in us, which in not of the spirit, boys and girls) about committing a sin. Much better is it not to pay much attention to sin and fear but to pursue love and goodness. Love pays no mind to fear and sin.

Not What Enters, Defiles!
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People who always worry about sin seem to miss a very important point made by Jesus in two gospels.

(GLT) Matthew 5:10 And calling near the crowd, He said to them, Hear and understand: 11 It is not that which has entered into the mouth that defiles the man, but that which has come out of the mouth, this defiles the man.
5:15 And answering, Peter said to Him, Explain this parable to us.
5:16 But Jesus said, Are you also still without understanding? 17 Do you not yet perceive that everything entering into the mouth goes into the belly, and is thrown out into the waste bowl? 18 But the things which come out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and these defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, blasphemies. 20 These things are the things defiling the man. But eating with unwashed hands does not defile the man.

(GLT) Mark 7:14 And calling all the crowd near, He said to them, All hear Me and understand. 15 There is nothing from outside the man, having entered into him, which is able to defile him. But the things going out from him, those are the things defiling the man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.
7:17 And when He entered into a house from the crowd, His disciples questioned Him about the parable.
7:18 And He said to them, Are you also so undiscerning? Do you not perceive that all that enters from the outside into the man is not able to defile him? 19 This is because it does not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and goes out into the wastebowl, purging all the foods.
7:20 And He said, That passing out of the man, it is the thing that defiles the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, pass out the evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, greedy
desires, iniquities, deceit, lustful desires, a wicked eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things pass out from within and defile the man.

What enters our mouths does not defile us, right? Could it not also be said that what enters our eyes and ears also does not defile us. It is what comes out of our hearts. That is not to say we do not have to give attention to what we subject ourselves to. But there is as much danger from eating and falling prey to gluttony as there is looking at nude pictures and falling prey to fornication. What enters our eyes, what we see with them, will not defile us. But how we cultivate our hearts and what we give the most attention to is what will determine how our hearts grow and which direction they lean in. Rather then expend all our energy worrying about every little sin or defilement that enters our body and soul, we should concern ourselves with doing good to others. Or put another way, rather than worry about what we are seeing, hearing, eating, or taking into our minds and bodies is not nearly as important as what comes out of our minds and bodies through our mouths and actions. Let's worry about what comes out, not what comes in! Sound good?

What I Have Seen
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But I have seen too many people who have all sorts of dietary hang ups because something or other is not healthy. I have seen people literally get rid of their TVs but they would have to go much further than that to get rid of sin. They still read the newspaper though. Some keep the TV but can hardly watch anything on it. Can't go to the movies. They only listen to Christian rock or gospel music. Music in general is way too sinful by their accounting. Any dancing is out of the question. And all sorts of clothing is absolutely forbidden. I have seen them quit good paying jobs they felt were wrong for one reason or another, that I couldn't quite fathom. I have seen people go to some crazy lengths.

The problem is that in all these fanatical cases, the people usually came crashing down in ruins as a result of living like hermits, divorced from any sort of contact with humanity, practically. Their kids would have nothing more to do with them when they grew up. They would sometimes even end up hating their parents or hating God, even. I think it is true that many bring themselves to destruction and ruin when they become unrealistic fanatics, avoiding all manner of sin. It is not possible and we should not even try. I want to next draw your attention to what happened in Acts 15.

When Christ died and ascended to heaven, a new covenant was made with God's people when the Holy Spirit was poured out on them at Pentecost. The old covenant was terminated with the Jews and with the way opened up to the nations, the Gentiles, not too much longer after that. The old law code was not binding upon them or later worshipers of God. The new covenant was foretold, even by Moses, who installed the first one. The law would not have to be observed by the Gentiles, people of the nations. When I say law, I mean the terms of the covenant with Israel alone, such as circumcision, sabbath-keeping, temple worship, priesthood and things of that nature. The general laws of behavior are still valid although still impossible to live up to. This was made clear in a proclamation from the Apostles and older men of Jerusalem to those Gentiles, particularly of Antioch where the initial dispute arose.

Acts 15:
19 Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 
20 but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity [fornication]
     and from what is strangled and from blood.

Acts 15:
28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:
29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and
     from unchastity [fornication]. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

As we can see here, after ditching the law, they reaffirmed just a few basic things as being important. The laws were many more than this but they emphasized only a few really basic laws, namely 4. They were sexual misconduct, especially sex without marriage, idolatry, blood (eating it, I assume, as that was forbidden in the law), and from dead animals who had not been bled because they died of strangulation rather than by a piercing object that causes them to bled to death such as an arrow, spear, or knife. And what did they say next? "If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well."

They did not mention murder as they likely thought that obvious. Covetousness is kind of obvious, too. But nevertheless, they gave some basics that if observed, would put you on a good path. They didn't put all sorts of restrictions and warnings. Really, given how common sexual immorality was, even at those times, to abstain from that was in itself, quite an accomplishment. Not a lot more was needed. Of course, the individual letters of the Apostles made it clear there was actually a lot more. And there is no question that the Apostles set the standards very high. They gave us the perfect standard. They knew we would not be able to fully live up to it. But we should try. We should aim high so that even if we miss, we still hit a high mark.

But in order to avoid shipwreck of our faith, we have to be careful to be realistic and reasonable. Aim too high and we crash and burn. Aim too low and we bring shame to ourselves and our faith and hurt our credibility. It is always important to keep our sights realistic. That is why when we read of the high standards the Apostles continually urge us to maintain, we know they do not expect perfection. Otherwise, would not Paul contradict himself and make himself a hypocrite if we consider what he said in Romans about not being able to live up to the law of righteous and then demanding that we do so without room for sin? So while Paul normally concerns himself in most times with the excelling standards of righteousness, he and we are not unaware or should not be unaware that we can not live up to them perfectly. In fact, we will fall short of them probably every day of our lives. But we should always make every effort to live up to them to the best of our ability and not use sin as an excuse to not bother trying to live right. But how much we insist upon for ourselves and others needs to be carefully thought out so that we don't make it impossible to live up to such expectations.

Reasonable and Practical - like the sons of darkness in this world and age; and the unjust steward, too!
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I see this as one of the 2 most important accounts (Ecclesiastes 7:15-17 mentioned earlier being the other) in the Bible. Yet these 2 accounts get no attention at all, that I can see. This one in particular. I think people are afraid of it. It could seem like it was encouraging evil, but that is not exactly what it is doing. Verse 9 is the key to interpreting the morality in question. It is a very interesting story since it paints a picture of a corrupt shady self serving servant/steward and a "lord/master" who himself is of questionable character. But in the days of the Roman emperors this was not an unrealistic scenario.

(GLT) Luke 16:
1  And He also said to His disciples, A certain man was rich; and he had a steward, and this one was accused to him as wasting his goods.
2  And calling him, he said to him, What is this I hear about you? Give the account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.

The steward is in trouble. He has not been very effective as a servant, apparently and his master is getting rid of him. The master should have had security throw him off the property so he could not do further harm ;-) But look what happens!

Luke 16:
3  And the steward said within himself, What shall I do, for my Lord is taking away the stewardship from me? I am not able to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.
4  I know what I will do, that when I am removed from the stewardship, they will receive me into their houses.
5  And calling to him each one of the debtors of his lord, he said to the first, How much do you owe my lord?
6  And he said, A hundred baths of oil. And he said to him, Take your statements and sitting quickly write fifty.
7  Then he said to another, And you, how much do you owe? And he said, a hundred cors of wheat. And he said to him, Take your statement and write eighty.
8  And the lord praised the unrighteous steward, because he acted prudently. For the sons of this age are more prudent than the sons of light themselves are in their generation.
9  And I say to you, Make to yourselves friends by the unrighteous mammon, that when it fails they may take you into the eternal dwellings.

The steward changed his master's agreements/contracts with others people by reducing them by half. Well, no doubt, this would please a lot of people who had debts or bills outstanding with the slave's master. And yes, he might very well find some favor with some for it or even convince some to give him a job afterward. Totally corrupt, obviously, but you got to admit, it is diabolically clever as far as furthering the interests and prospects of the slave going out into the job market. He was acting with selfish practical wisdom.

Here is the funny thing. The master finds out and rather than be upset or dare I say, even kill the steward, he is rather surprised and even a bit pleased. He changes his mind and decides to keep the slave, deciding that maybe the slave was more useful and practical than the master had first thought. The master was no doubt intended to be interpreted by us as one who gained his riches, his profits, by severe business practices, even as most do today. In other words, while the slave was crooked, he was not likely any more so than the master. The master knew this, too, and decided the slave might yet be quite useful, given that now his ways seemed to be more like those of his master. The master could see that the slave did have a little bit of that practical wisdom in knowing how to get around "problems."

While it is funny, it is also quite realistic for then and now. But Jesus then makes the point that there was a sort of wisdom in the way the steward acted. And Jesus then made the observation (from the RSV) : "For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light." He just said the sons of darkness (as in contrast with the sons of light) are a bit more wise, prudent, and practical in the way they act and deal. Jesus was only pointing this out because he wanted the sons of light, children of God, his followers and disciples, to act with a bit more practical wisdom in some matters.

Alternate translations of Luke 16: 8 show the different ways some translate individual words and phrases. But all mean pretty much the same thing.

    (KJV)          8  And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
(RSV)          8  The master commended the dishonest steward for his shrewdness; for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
( Rotherham ) 8  And the lord praised the unrighteous steward, in that with forethought he acted:��Because, the sons of this age, have more forethought than the sons of light, respecting their own generation.

Verse 9 makes it clear. Mammon, which is how most all translations seem to word it, and which word basically means money/riches/profit; mammon is to be used to benefit God's interests as much as possible. In other words, making money is always going to be a corrupt business and lots of nastiness. It is not gained by goodness, decency, and fairness. Jesus was also making a statement about money and business in general, which most do not discern, either.

But we were to use that tainted money in God's behalf so that we could make friends with God, even as the slave tried to make friends with his master's debtors. That does not mean that the ends justifies the means. It does not mean we can prostitute our daughters, sisters, wives, or mothers and give the money to the temple. It does not mean we can be treacherous, immoral, bribe, cheat, or the like. But many places we might work for are not run by angels and they often use their buddies and employ business practices that are not really in keeping with God's principles. But we must work and pay taxes by the command of God so we will have to make our money in a system that generates that money in questionable ways.

But we can make God happy by using that money in ways that benefit and promote God's interests here on earth. So lets say I am a rich athlete or movie star. Indeed, owners of sports franchises gouge the ticket buyers and may even rig games. Hollywood is ever so questionable and they exploit movie audiences. But the stars could use their money to make friends with God. The stars do not control how the money is made but they are free to do as they like with the money paid to them.

Money seldom comes to any of us without lots of dirt having been on it at one time or another. Just accept it and use it as you must or should. We often see people at work who kiss the ass of the boss, right? Or they suck up to the prominent people at some gathering, maybe even at church. Yeah, it happens. Well then, if you are going to kiss some ass, so to speak, who better to try and please than God in heaven? Use that dirty money (not dirtied by you, I hope) to serve God. You can suck up to city officials, local politicians, congressmen, big business leaders but where will that really get you as a Christian? Not far! IF you want to go out of your way to please, do it with God. Please Him. You would be acting with good sense and practicality. He will pay off much better in the long run.

Now I believe there is much more to this lesson than meets the eye, especially when we combine it with Ecclesiastes 7:15 from earlier. There is a practical and effective way of dealing with some things and then there is the very righteous but not very effective way as well. For instance, the Mosaic Law states that prostitutes are to be put to death. Not because they are so bad but because what they do can result in harm to families and cause unwanted children who will have a hard time in life and maybe be prone to delinquency. We must remember that many prostitutes, particularly the young ones, do not begin such a profession because they want to. They are forced by family and circumstance to do as they do. Our system is designed to force women into such activities. If they had many more choices and opportunities then they would not likely bother with prostitution.

Now the law of God is righteous but as Paul pointed out, the main purpose of the law was to show that we were not capable of keeping it as we should. The law made it clear that we had sin in us by virtue of the fact that we could not follow it. So it is with prostitution. It is a symptom of a corrupt world that forces women into doing things they do not want to do. But what is of most interest is that Solomon tolerated prostitution in Israel. Well, truth be told, you can not really stop it. The customers won't tell on them. They won't tell on themselves. And if they live in remote villages or move about at night quietly and remember, there were no street lights back then so when it was dark, it was very vary dark. You could move about without being seen or even heard.

Even in the last 2 centuries and earlier, some towns would dig tunnels and walkways where illicit activities could take place completely our of sight and sound, so no one would know. And if some knew, you paid them off to keep quiet. There were lots of quiet law enforcement types. the biggest problem with prostitution is keeping it "underground" so that those more morally inclined do not know about it and get upset, right? Its a dirty little secret to keep hidden. the real danger is when it is done openly, arrogantly, flagrantly and approvingly by most of the population. Then morals quickly go to hell.

2 prostitutes came to king Solomon and one had a baby die on her and she switched it with the other woman's baby. Both came before Solomon to have his settle who was telling the truth and who was not. Now Solomon knew what they did for a living and that they were not married, even though they had babies. He could have had them executed. But he did not believe this was the right course. Killing them was not going to likely stop the problem. So Solomon determined the rightful mother and sent them on their way. This account can be found in 1 Kings 3:16-28.

Now were this not in the Bible, most Christians would have found great fault with a king who had acted like Solomon. Yet, the Bible seems to indicate wisdom in how Solomon acted. We do not know all the circumstances of Israel at this time, nor of this circumstance but The Bible approved of Solomon at this time.

Consider Joseph and Mary. When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant and assumed she got that way in the typical way, the Law said she should be stoned. But the Law was not good enough for Joseph, I guess. He decides he knows better than God what to do. Well, I am pulling your leg a little and baiting you, of course. The Bible calls Joseph righteous for his wanting to spare Mary. Maybe he thought it was understandable how a young woman might fall prey to temptation briefly. But he was no longer interested in her, himself. But he intended to divorce her in secret. Talk about a cover up, huh? But he was called righteous for this! What? Am I seeing things here? Am I hallucinating? Is someone tampering with the Bible? No, that is what is says.

But just thin about it now! Jesus came preaching and teaching mercy and compassion. And here is Joseph practicing mercy and compassion. Imagine that! You know, Joseph might even make a good father for the son of God. You think? I guess God did. What is the real purpose of the law? To point out sin for one, right? But also to teach mercy and compassion. Many places in the Law demanded mercy and compassion for slaves, foreigners, travelers, orphans, widows, the poor, the cripples and unfortunates. Many warnings were issued forbidding hurting people or cheating people or being excessively cruel. Men could not rape or even have sex with their wives while fighting a war. They could not rape ever, actually. But they could not instantly "marry" those they conquered, either. They had to allow a waiting/mourning period.

We have already gone over the compassion and mercy that Jesus preached. But I want to make the point that practical wisdom often dictates mercy rather than the strict letter of the Law. There is a bridge to far to go over. That bridge is being overly righteous. Some are very severe in avoiding most entertainment and deemed frivolous activities. They can be quite restrictive in how their teens behave, expecting teens to ignore their "calling," their inner urges which have arrived at a point where God intended them to marry. But we ignore that and yet expect our teens not to struggle and sometimes fail, even often fail. Is it they or we who are to blame.

We are very strict about young men looking at pictures of naked women or videos of naked women. But in a world saturated with sex and provocative displays, is there to be no concession or mercy? In the face of overwhelming temptation do we expect absolute perfection? Paul said to let them marry but we forbid that, too. Haven't we made it impossible for them to keep the laws of God in a reasonable manner? Haven't we asked too much? We say perfection is possible. We certainly seem to expect it, don't we?

As I see it, if the young can hold off till 18, we ought to be more than willing and ready to make marriage possible after that. Yes, they may have to live at home with the parents. That is how it was done in the days of God's servants in the Bible! So what is so horrible about that? But we don't allow that. But we don't allow curiosity and fascination that naturally draw men to porn. We equate porn as being as if it were fornication and adultery. But is it? We treat swearing as if it were murder. Entertainment as if it were idolatry. Many Christian groups avoid "worldly" people like the plague. Are they a plague? Should they be shunned? I thought that was only reserved for brothers who sinned.

If the message of God is to be delivered to the people, who will deliver it and how? By treating them like the plague? By denying them ordinary rights and respect, personally and by law as well? There is a lot to think about and few have given it any thought at present.

It certainly is a struggle to cope with sin in ourselves and in others. Its no fun, for sure. Don't we want others to be merciful when we fall short? Should we not do the same for them? Duty to God impels us to give more consideration to how we treat sin. More thought to how we might better seek God's advantage, rather than that of the harsh unforgiving Law. God wants us to promote the wonderful promises He has made and how He has freed us from the harsh judgment of the Law. He does not want us to promote judgment, harshness, severity, cruelty, lack of understanding, lack of sympathy and empathy, looking down on other and all the crap that goes with that.

We desperately need to re-evaluate how to treat sin in people. And we need to re-evaluate how to best approach problems in our congregations and in our society. As aliens and temporary residents in what ever country we reside in, we want to be good neighbors and not cause trouble or harsh feelings toward us and not become meddlers and trouble makers for the rest of the inhabitants. We want to be known for kindness, consideration, understanding, mercy and compassion. This is not how mainstream Christianity is viewed today but it is viewed accurately. Main Steam Christianity has rejected their Lord and taken up the cause of the devil. We need to change and fast or else! Jesus said it best. "I want mercy and not sacrifice!!!"

Standards and Definitions
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So lets look at a few examples of those high standards and see if we can reconcile them with other things these same Apostles wrote. I quote 4 different translations to show the various words they use and then I explore the original Greek words they come from so we can be sure of the meanings. I also use boldface in the KJV and add their Greek counterparts after them in brackets.

(KJV) Ephesians 5:3 But fornication [porneia], and all uncleanness [akatharsia], or covetousness [pleonexia], let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness [aischrotes], nor foolish talking [morologia], nor jesting [eutrapelia], which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger [pornos], nor unclean person [e pleonektes], nor covetous man [pleonektes], who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

(GLT) Ephesians 5:3 But let not fornication, and all uncleanness, or greediness, be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 also baseness, and foolish talking, or joking (the things not becoming), but rather thanksgiving. 5 For be knowing this, that every fornicator, or unclean one, or covetous one, who is an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

(RSV) Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

(BBE) Ephesians 5:3 But evil acts of the flesh and all unclean things, or desire for others' property, let it not even be named among you, as is right for saints; 4 And let there be no low behaviour, or foolish talk, or words said in sport, which are not right, but in place of them the giving of praise. 5 Being certain of this, that no man who gives way to the passions of the flesh, no unclean person, or one who has desire for the property of others, or who gives worship to images, has any heritage in the kingdom of Christ and God.

The first word is translated as fornication in 3 of the 4 translations. The BBE says evil acts of the flesh which seems a little extreme, though not untrue. This word comes from the following Greek word.

From Thayer's dictionary:

  1) illicit sexual intercourse
1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mark 10:11,12

Although this word seems to primarily describe prostitution according to its Greek meaning, it is also used by Hebrew Christian writers to include all the various vices described in the law such as the obvious adultery, as well as sex without marriage and various other unclean sexual practices such as oral sex or the like. Basically, it refers to all sex that is not sanctioned and legal through proper marriage in the eyes of God. It refers to who more than what they do. Many have tried to link Porneia to all sorts of activities but that was not the focus. Whether oral sex is OK or not, was not in dispute. It was who you had sex with.

The next significant word to appear is uncleanness or impurity which sort of broadens what is covered by fornication. From this we might be able to assume that fornication refers to the more extreme acts of sexuality whereas uncleanness of lesser sorts is included to refer to things beyond sexual offenses such as loose conduct and things not necessarily of a sexual nature with the following Greek word. Impure motives seem to spell it out pretty good.

From Strong's: impurity (the quality), physically or morally:-- uncleanness.

From Thayer's:
  1b) in a moral sense: the impurity of lustful, luxurious, profligate living.
1b1) of impure motives

To me, that is best described as the intent or motives in your actions. Suppose I buy a van and deck it out and put in mattress in it and make it up nice, hoping to get women to join me for a romp in the old chevy van of the 70s. What is my motive? Pretty obvious, isn't it? Its not for good. Now there is nothing wrong with owning and driving a van or even turning it into a camper, either. But if the motive is to fornicate, then we have a bad motive and intent, an impure motive. Maybe I go to a bar. Why am I there? If it is to pick up chicks for a one night stand or a brief fling, then it is an impure motive for my going there. Maybe I decorate my room or house in a sexual theme. Is it to encourage sexual behavior with others? Then it is impure. I get a hot tub and invite the ladies over. Am I trying to get them out of most of their clothing and get the rest off later? Then it is for impure reasons that I act as I do.

Romans were known for living in ways that led to lots of loose sexual relations. We would chose a more guarded and careful lifestyle that would not encourage bad behavior and would reinforce good behavior. You get the picture, don't you?

The next word in English is covetousness, sometimes translated as greediness. It is not merely referring to something such as "Wow, that sure is a nice car that guy is driving. I wish I had one like that. We all wish we had a nice car, house, or wife/husband like that. It has more to do with behavior such as being greedy or lustful, indicating the pursuit of money, sex, or whatever else that is covetous. Of course, it is not just actions or behavior but even the intention or willingness to pursue such things if the opportunity would present itself. Some might not have a good idea as to how to go about getting such things but if they could and would, then it is as good as having done it already. The Greek word follows.

From Thayer's:
1) greedy desire to have more, covetousness, avarice.

From Strong's: avarice, i.e. (by implication) fraudulency, extortion:-- covetous(-ness) practices, greediness.

In the KJV, this Greek word is translated as - covetousness 8 times, greediness 1, covetous practices 1 (2 Peter 2:14); for a total of 10 appearances in the Greek versions.

As we can see, it is not being content with what you have but wanting more. If you want more, it will involve action to get it. Translators recognize the idea of action and deeds with this word in 2 Peter 2:14, of which word I highlighted in bold italics from the RSV.

"They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing."

GLT puts it this way: "having a heart busied with covetousness"

There definitely seems to be action and intention there. There are a number of Greek words that convey a similar meaning which we will cover for usefulness here and in other articles and ideas as well.

Epithumia:  epi - thu - mia         pronounced     epee - thoo - mee - ah
a longing (especially for what is forbidden):-- concupiscence, desire, lust (after).
1) desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust

In the KJV, it appears as - lust 31 times, concupiscence 3, desire 3, "lust after" once in Matthew 5:28; for a total of 38 times in Greek.

Now surely we can not be talking about a mere longing as we all desire sexual relations and marriage. And this word which we typically translate as lust is not just applied to sex, either. Lust for the things of this world. In our day that might be a nice car, a house, or luxurious living, things we all long for and would like. So it must mean more than just to long for them.

It must have to do with an inordinate longing or desire. One that involves something bordering on obsession and preoccupation of the mind with thoughts about it, even a determination to have it, perhaps. Something out of the ordinary and beyond what we could all be said to have and not unjustly so. For sure, something we are not entitled to.

Epithumeo: epi - thu - meo        pronounced    epee - thoo - may - oh
From Strong's: to set the heart upon, i.e. long for (rightfully or otherwise):-- covet, desire, would fain, lust (after).

From Thayer's:
1) to turn upon a thing
2) to have a desire for, long for, to desire
3) to lust after, covet
3a) of those who seek things forbidden

It appears in the KJV as - desire 8 times, covet 3, lust 3, lust after 1, fain 1; 16 times in all. As we can see, this is virtually the same word as the previous Greek word just above it, with only the last 2 letters being different. There is very little difference in meaning. What I said for the previous word would apply to this one, too. It does not appear in the scripture from Ephesians but will help in a minute. It would seem to indicate a strong desire for, without it necessarily being right or wrong. Intensity of desire, perhaps. But it is often applied in a negative way. If you set your heart upon the wrong thing, it certainly is negative.

To me, looking at the 2 word forms, Epithumeo and Epithumia, we have the eo and ia as the difference at the end. Epithumia sounds more negative and Epithumeo more neutral. I could have that backwards. It would be interesting to get the opinion of a Greek teacher on the matter. I'll work on it.

From Strong's: suffering ("pathos"), i.e. (subjectively) a passion (especially concupiscence):-- (inordinate) affection, lust.

From Thayer's: 1) whatever befalls one, whether it be sad or joyous
1a) spec. a calamity, mishap, evil, affliction
  2) a feeling which the mind suffers
2a) an affliction of the mind, emotion, passion
2b) passionate deed (from Colossians 3:5)

It appears in the KJV as - inordinate affection 1 time, affection 1, lust 1; 3 in all. I think "inordinate" (unordinary) is a good choice of words. Of course, pathos is a word which we adopted into the English language as pathology and pathological, meaning wrong, bad, deviant, in error, or sick. So this is not the normal desire that we all have for a decent comfortable life and satisfaction of our appetites for food, sex, or whatever. It is a disturbed or pathological hunger or craving and one that we are not content to deny! We want it and that is that.

Colossians 3:5 is a very interesting scripture since Paul uses 4 of the 5 above Greek words, which pretty well covers the 5th word as well, together to make it clear to those he wrote what he was referring to. I'll quote it and break it down for you.

From the KJV: Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication [porneia], uncleanness [akatharsia], inordinate affection [pathos], evil concupiscence [epithumia], and covetousness [pleonexia], which is idolatry: 6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.

From the RSV: Colossians 3:5 "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication [porneia], impurity [akatharsia], passion [pathos], evil desire [epithumia], and covetousness [pleonexia], which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.

It would seem to me that we are talking about more than just an appetite, a fantasy, or a longing. When speaking of epithumia in Colossians, which we most commonly call lust in English, there is more to suggest than merely a broad lust or desire to mate or the feeling of hunger for sex when we see someone or nearly anyone beautiful. The word evil is added to convey the more exact meaning. It is an evil lust, one that really seems to speak of intentions and not just a passing thought or fantasy. Or certainly at least an obsessive or inordinate amount of thinking and desire for some particular object or person. The rest of the words all help reinforce that we are talking about serious errors of the mind and more particularly, of practice and deeds.

Now we still have 3 Greeks words from the first scripture in Ephesians 5:3 left to cover.

From Strong's: shamefulness, i.e. obscenity:-- filthiness.
From Thayer's: 1) obscenity, filthiness

This one is fairly explanatory.

From Strong's: silly talk, i.e. buffoonery:-- foolish talking.

I am guessing that this one could have to do with the typical sexual innuendo sort of taking and kidding that often goes on, with the one using it, often trying to discern if there may be some possibility of hooking up or flirting to see if they flirt back. Others just flirt cause they are sort of starved for attention. Or sometimes it might just be someone enjoying being crude and vulgar. Or it could be someone a bit belligerent or antagonistic who uses words to intimidate or harass someone. But given the word above and the word below, it paints a pretty clear picture for us of what Paul was referring to. This word seems more mild than the next, which is strong and more vulgar.

From Strong's: witticism, i.e. (in a vulgar sense) ribaldry:-- jesting.

From Thayer's:
  1) pleasantry, humour, facetiousness
  2) in a bad sense
2a) scurrility, ribaldry, low jesting
ribaldry: pertaining to or indulging in lewd vulgar humor
scurrility: use of vulgar or low abusive language; foulmouthed, to express in course or abusive language.

This, of course, is exactly what I was talking about in the last word. Only this one kind of suggests gestures as well, perhaps. The last 2 of these words have to do with speech. After all, words can heal or harm and destroy.

Carrying Our Cross Daily
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Now between the scripture in Ephesians and the one in Colossians, we are not only forbidden from lots of sinful actions and deeds, but even from bad speech and gestures, not so much in the words we use, but how we use them. Of course, a large part of our society in the USA considers a wide range of words to be wrong, vulgar, or obscene, regardless of how we use them. I would and do disagree, but that is for another article. But if certain words have a very offensive meaning to the population in general, we might want to refrain from a use of those words in most situations, for not wanting to unnecessarily hurt or offend people's sensibilities. Further, even though we know that all words in themselves are clean and useable (if your read my article about obscenities you might agree), not all know that. We have to take their understanding into consideration out of love for those people.

But our speech is to be as clean and decent as possible, more in regards to how we use words rather than what words we use. I will only point out that one can be quite hurtful, cruel or sexually oriented without using even one certified swear word. Isn't that what euphemisms and innuendo are all about? But a lot more about swearing is covered in an article about it at the end of this article under "Related Articles."

None of these words and their meanings should be that difficult to grasp. We all know the sorts of things Paul is describing. Our speech, if we were perfect, would be clean, free of bad intentions or wrath or anger as well. We would not have anger or resentment built up in us, waiting to be vented. But we live in a world full of violence, depravity, sex, and without any regard for restraint or for God.

As such, we are totally surrounded on all sides by sin in word and deed. Our world is absolutely saturated with it. It would be impossible for us not to be at least mildly influenced and tainted by this spiritual pollution. It is part of the result of the rebellion of Adam affecting the whole world of mankind, now having progressed over 6,000 years. God knew we would be infected. He does not need us completely free of any spiritual viruses. He can bring us back at the appropriate time. We are intended to bear the marks and wounds of a sinful species. We will be stained. But we do not have to give in to it unrestrained. We can resist natural tendencies and keep them relatively in check, but not absolutely in check.

We still have to live with sin and we will all have a certain amount of frustration, resentment, anger, hurt, pain, sorrow, depression and so many other ailments. One can not live in this world without some of that. And we will have moments where we will utter words without thinking, and we may have speech tendencies that are not entirely pure. We have grown up with and lived with many things. We need to understand that we are all wounded people and should be considerate and understanding of what each of us may be carrying inside us. We need to be merciful and compassionate toward each other and know that perfection will only come after Judgment Day. Till then, we forgive each other and sooth and encourage each other, put up with the small stuff and try to reduce bad tendencies, not by condemnation but by encouragement, kind gentle up-building words that give people strength and the will to do better.

So we pick our our crosses and carry them daily as Jesus said we must. We carry our sin and we forgive the sins of our brothers and sisters. And like Jesus, we show mercy and compassion to all always.

Let's Get Specific about sin
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But still, since we all sin and are not able to do as we want, and since James makes it clear that we at least sin in words and with our tongues, then we ought to give some thought as to how it is that we do sin. Paul covers speech which has a lot to do with uncleanness, perhaps of a more sexual nature. Paul also seems to deal with all intentions of a bad nature of one sort or another. But in addition, we could and should easily include anything of a hurting or spiteful nature as I suspect Paul was doing anyway.

Of course, here is the problem. We know we sin in speech. That is a given. Is it because we are hurtful or just driven a little by sexual desire to speak in unbecoming, perhaps slightly flirtatious or suggestive ways? If we are being a little flirtatious or suggestive, are we hoping it will lead to something more? If so, we have a problem, even if it does not work out with who we are pursuing. The desire or intention is there. On the other hand, even if we would not go any further if the other person wanted it to go further, we might be hurting them when they think we want to. It is called teasing and it is not the loving or kind thing to do to intentionally lead others on. And to be known as being sexually suggestive or crude would not be very complimentary or becoming to a Christian.

Now this is the standard and it is high. But here is the thing with the law. It is too righteous for us and we are too far gone to uphold it. So Paul demonstrates how far off we are from the great and holy standards of God.

So by coming to realize how hopeless living by the law is, we come to appreciate why we need a sacrifice that pays for the sin of Adam that caused us to be as we are, born in sin and dying in sin, and incapable of fulfilling the law. The importance of the sacrifice of Jesus becomes known and understood to us. That is one of the most important lessons for us to learn. But some lack the understanding that they fall short in so many ways and imagine that their supposedly perfect living is not as perfect as they think. They might be avoiding a whole lot of sin; but without love, it is for nothing. I hope you will check out my article on love and its importance under "Related Articles" at the end of this article.

There was yet another reason to know the high standards of God, even though it is a fact we can't live up to them perfectly. All the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles, foretold of a time when the people of the earth would go from bad to worse, and turn to warring with God and His son, by means of warring with His people and against His laws. It was also foretold that Satan would also try to deceive and mislead all the earth away from God and His righteous ways. So we would need to know what the ways of God were so that we would not be misled and commit far more sin than we would need to.

It is also true that to some degree, we reflect the world we live in. God designed us to be susceptible to each other and influenced by each other. We all know the feeling of peer pressure. Being influenced by each other can have many beneficial effects and can protect us. But it can also get out of hand and be our doom as well. We can not avoid being affected by others, and I do believe that God takes this into account. The world, due to the saturation of its sin, tends to desensitize us to the various sins around us. Vulgar language is used by many politicians and leaders, business people, and nearly every walk of life. Its everywhere and yet still looked down upon. To some degree, our society is quite hypocritical but there is little we can do about that. Sex without marriage and on the side, and every other way is seen as quite normal and is certainly common and all around us. It is portrayed and given attention to in every aspect of life. All media, advertisement, and entertainment are loaded with it. Due to this fact, it is hard to see it as the horrible thing it is, in God's eyes, but then again, the world sees it only as pleasure and does not focus much on the many negative consequences that can come with unrestrained and undisciplined sexual promiscuity.

Violence, too, is prevalent throughout our society. We see and hear it everywhere. We may have even been on the receiving end of it or at one time, were violent ourselves. We can not escape it or ignore it. Maybe a few, if they totally isolated themselves, may be able to drastically reduce it but not completely. Most of us will be forced out of economic concerns to stay where we are. And isolation can also cause harm. "Outside" influences can keep us in line and we need them, really, though many of us have been conditioned by a deceptive society to think we do not need anyone. The old rugged individualism that many see America as representing, has actually been more harmful than good, I suspect. Being an individual is important, but it also has its limits. God designed us to live in groups and to be social and function socially. Sin has interfered with that to some degree but even so, we need a certain amount of social interaction.

I am going to highlight a verse that I think might illustrate some of what I have just said, Proverbs 18:1. But I notice that this verse gets quite a different treatment from one translation to the next. Having looked carefully at the original Hebrew text, I have made a few determinations. This may or may not support the rest of this section, but I thought it a good illustration of why it is wise to consult the original text to help discern which translators might be right or wrong. I will use the KJV to discuss this since it is the one with the Hebrew connections. Most translators have changed with work order and that seems fine in the end result.

[KJV] 18:1 Through desire, a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.

Now I dispute the "Through" being injected. "Desire" is justified in being there. The KJV maintain the original word order, pretty much. It would read:
Desire, a man having separated himself, seeks.
The next part would be:
He tampers and contends with all wisdom.
Put together:
Desire, a man having separated himself, seeks, and tampers and contends with all wisdom.
Changing the word order and wording slightly:
A man separating himself seeks his own desire and messes with all wisdom in doing so.

The desire mentioned has to do with selfish improper or excessive desires.
hwat ta'avah tah-av-aw'
from 0183 (abbrev); n f; {See TWOT on 40 @@ "40d"}
AV-desire 13, lust 1, greedily 1, pleasent 1, misc. 4; 20
    1) desire
  1a) desire, wish, longings of one's heart
1a1) lust, appetite, covetousness (bad sense)
  1b) thing desired, object of desire

So a man with impure motivations, seeking his own desire, separates himself from others or is maybe even sort of hiding from others, not wanting them to know what he is seeking. But I may be injecting too much there, too. But what he is doing is madness and he is only harming himself in doing so.  He avoids others so that he will be unobserved is what it looks like to me. Solomon is drawing attention to his behavior, that it is not for good and not wise that he separates himself in isolation. Notice how some other translators have rendered this.

 [GLT] 18:1 He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he breaks out against all sound wisdom.

 [BBE] 18:1 He who keeps himself separate for his private purpose goes against all good sense.

 [ Douay ] 18:1 He that hath a mind to depart from a friend, seeketh occasions: he shall ever be subject to reproach.

 [ Rotherham ] 18:1 A man seeketh, for satisfaction, going his own way, through all safe counsel, he breaketh.

 [RSV] 18:1 He who is estranged seeks pretexts to break out against all sound judgment.

There is considerable variety there. But do we not see many people today who do not want others to know them or know much about what they are doing? They like to keep private. They feel like they have a lot to hide or be ashamed of. If they are up to no good, then they definitely hide and keep to themselves. Of course, pursuing such a course is not only of bad intent, but unwise, stupid, shear madness.

But there is more. People who want to hide are up to no good. And people who are good and well behaved have no reason to hide. Not only do they have no reason to hide, but I believe there is or can be, tremendous advantage to rubbing shoulders, trading ideas, sharing thoughts and experiences. We need the minds and experiences of each other. We also need to submit ourselves to each other, being accountable to each other so that we can help keep each other in line without being too intrusive. If we want to do good, we should not object to help and guidance from each other. We all need a little bit of peer pressure to help keep us on the road to life.

To deny ourselves such things is madness and will ultimately cause us great harm. So as I see it, Solomon gives us a proverb, almost a riddle, really, for us to solve and understand. Isolation is not good. Socialization, with reason and balance, is good, healthy, beneficial, wise.

What We Do Not Figure In!                        city vs. country people
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We must seek to understand how God judges a person compared to how we might be inclined to judge someone. Not often accounted for is the understanding that the more a person has experienced abuse of one sort or another, the more it is apt to afflict and affect their personality in an adverse way. In fact, it will likely invade every aspect of their thinking, being, actions, behavior, and all. It will affect their outlook, perception, and interpretation of all things they encounter. I want to explore some of the many ways this is so. From it, we will hopefully see why it is important to judge lightly, not expect too much, and take a lot with a grain of salt. Because there is so much we may not be aware of that has happened to a person that makes them the way they are and influences the way they think about things and believe.

One observation I have seen is the difference between some who are rather conservative and perhaps a little sheltered as compared to someone who has seen and experienced a lot, much of it likely negative. Someone from a small, friendly town or village may have seen very little abuse or crime in their world and been able to trust a lot without being betrayed much. As such, they have not needed to form any defenses or psychological shields to protect them from the harsh realities of life since they have had little exposure to such things. They are more apt to be friendly and trusting and less apt to have the sense of warped humor that a person from the big city is apt to have developed to cope with their harsh world. And seeing it on the news is just not the same as actually having experienced it. Many from small isolated places can not imagine what they see on the news, if they even bother to watch the news much. Often, they do not.

Now when a city slicker moves into a small town with its people, there is often a culture shock for both. The city person may have a sense of humor that country folks will not readily grasp or take to. That whole frame of mind is completely foreign to them. Likewise, the country folks may be warm and trusting and find the city person a little more reserved, cautious, even distant, since it was like that where they came from. Or the small town people themselves, having experienced city people before, may be slow and cautious to accept them. There will surely be differences to work out.

It is my experience that small town people are not quick to pick up on humor that is quite common and normal for the city. In particular, that skeptical, cynical, irreverent type of humor. We learn not to trust and to be quite skeptical in cities. Country people are often unfamiliar with that. There is nothing wrong with being unfamiliar with that, either. I am happy for those who have not had to deal with what some of us have. But it will be important for country people to be aware of what the world around them is like and to understand Christians who come from the city.

City Christians are most often more liberal, more what we might call racy or daring, more out on the edge. That should be considered and taken with a grain of salt, to some degree. Country people may be overly conservative in dress and style, or entertainment and culture. On the other hand, city people should be aware of how their lifestyle and views are seen by the more conservative element. Maybe the city people should consider toning it down a little and give some consideration to the sensibilities of their neighbors. City people might be a little more wise to the world and the country people a little slow on the take. There so many different things that could be encountered.

On the converse, country people can be more compassionate and friendly, more apt to lend a hand or look out for you. They are not as desensitized to people. Not as ruthless and mean. They have not been squeezed together like sardines so they do not feel like they need so much space and privacy as they are not surrounded by people everywhere as someone from a big city might have been. City people might tend to be more willing to overlook differences in people or not be as strict in certain areas. After what they have seen, little things are not as important. 

This does not mean that all city people are one way and all country people the other. Some country people can be very liberal and some city people quite conservative. But in my experience, there are general trends that exist, according to what sort of environment we were raised in and what their attitudes were or what the attitudes of their family were. We don't know what they might have come from or what they might have experienced but we need to take the time to find out and still be cautious when dealing with others as we may have not found out everything they have gone through. Many people are not comfortable telling others what they suffered in the past.

A Ministry for the Rest of Us

Indeed, the ministry of some is a ministry that would work for some, a few, who never had any tough knocks and were raised in wonderful families of relative peace, love, harmony. But these ministries do not address God and religion for the rest of us. We who might have had a lot of abuse in our lives or taken a lot of hard knocks. We might have become a bit jaded, cynical, perhaps a little bitter than is for our own good. We have had to put up with all sorts of influences and might have endured a bad environment. God cares about those types of people, too. God's message of hope and salvation is available to all people from all backgrounds and circumstances.

Salvation for the rest of us, who were not born of privilege or shelter. These types deserve a message that can apply to them and their circumstances and frame of mind. It does not mean we must not make changes. But given the past, one will also appreciate that there will be a few rough edges in these with a tough past. Enough of looking down on people who are different from us. In every nation, in every circumstance, the man that fears God is acceptable to God. God knows the differences and take them into account. We, regardless of which type we are, may not always take this into account but we should.

In addition to differences in rural versus urban lifestyles, conservatism and liberalism vary from one part of the country to the next. They vary quite a bit from country to country. So these should always be carefully and diligently considered by Christians on either side of life or somewhere in between. Love means making great efforts to know and understand one another before judging. One can not pass a verdict before holding a trial, right?

But the fault I often find in midwest or small town low population areas far from big cities is that due to being sheltered and raised in warm trusting nurturing circumstances, these are the one least disturbed or traumatized, and therefore, the least abnormal. These are the ones who do not understand what others in places and circumstances much worse have grown up with and why it has left them disturbed and jaded. The sheltered ones expect a high level of good behavior and few defects of personality. But that is not realistic for fair to those coming from harsh environments.

I also find that old people grew up in more innocent and trusting times and are sometimes naive or unfamiliar with treachery and the like. The young have known far less decency and stability in their families, schools, and world. They have a whole different way of looking at things. I could see there being a smaller harvest among the last generations before Judgment Day. But I could be wrong. It may be that the young seek sanity and shelter far more than the rest and are looking for that relief that only God can give. It is impossible to know what the final outcome will be. But I am sure God will judge the young by a less harsh and demanding standard than He will with earlier generations.

So if someone from a sheltered environment is to be useful to God and all God's people, they must learn of ways of life far removed and far different from the ones they knew. They must seek to understand how many others have found life and how they see it. If we only seek out to help our own, we are no better than the nations, who also do the same. If we are to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is, then we must bridge the gap to understand all people and provide them with a gospel they can relate to, one a little more lenient, understanding, merciful, gracious, and compassionate.

Mildness in Judging
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Paul tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. John makes the same point quite well in his first letter, 1 John. Christians are to be as James tells us in James 1:19, "Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger."

So we never should be quick to judge a person as Jesus warns us. And this account was often repeated by Jesus and is mentioned in all 3 synoptic gospels in various different context and I am going to quote all 3 to give it some emphasis and to show how they sometimes differ in that context.

Matthew 7: 1 "Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Mark 4: 23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." 24 And he said to them, "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

Luke 6:37 "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38 give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back."

That is why it is so essential that we not be overly harsh or demanding in our expectations of other Christians as I sometimes find ultra conservatives to be. Because as they judge others in the faith, so they will be judged by that same hard strict measure. That might not be so easy to bear on judgment day.

I have often witnessed Christians looking down on many others, both in and out of the faith. I have seen younger ones make fun of others, mock others, or disrespect them in some way. I blame the parents to some degree for not emphasizing those kinds of sins while overemphasizing what TV shows the kids watch, what words they use, or some other trivial thing like that.

Now regardless of whether from a conservative small town or a fast living city, sin is everywhere to some degree. And how much abuse or suffering people have encountered will affect them. If they were treated harshly or unkindly by parents, that will show and have its affect on their behavior as adults. The Abused often become abusers themselves. At the very least, they will carry more psychological baggage, so to speak. Sexually abused people will often have problems in relating to people on various levels. Their sense of trust can be quite tentative. They may be set off quite easily. God will not judge a person who has suffered great amounts of abuse as harshly or expect quite as much. He will recognize that such a person has had a lot more to deal with and that makes life much more challenging a struggle to cope with. It does not mean they can not do it and do it well, but not all progress with the same skill or rate as others. There are so many little varying factors that God can see and consider but we can't or don't.

It may be that a person was born to a poor family and neglected, and possibly malnourished, both physically and psychologically. It may hinder their development intellectually. We are not all equally smart and perceptive. Just depending on our upbringing, we will see things in a different light, and have a different outlook and perception. Everything may be quite colored or we might be gifted with remarkable insight and clarity. If indeed, we are blessed with some gift or talent, we have no right to brag. It is to be seen as a gift that was not of our own doing. Maybe we had good genetics. Maybe we had some unique experiences that made a difference. Maybe we had good upbringing. There are way too many factors to cover here.

The following scripture deserves some context. Some in the Corinthian Church were bragging about how great they were and were conducting themselves as being superior to even the Apostles. Perhaps some of them were bragging about gifts of the spirit that they had received, thinking they were better or had more merit than others. They saw the gifts more as a confirmation of them being superior rather than for what they were . . . gifts. With that in mind, consider Paul's words.

1 Corinthians 4:7 "For who sees anything different in you? What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?"

Peter shows us the correct way to view gifts.

1 Peter 4:10 "As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."

That would mean not holding it over others or expecting some money or more money than others get because you have some gifts of some sort that others are not as fortunate to have and be blessed with. Be grateful for what you have and share it. As you measure out to others, so it shall be measured out to you, right?

But if we happen to be gifted with wisdom and insight, or maybe gifted with less impure inclinations than others, we should not look down on them for not having and being as much as we are. Know this, too, my friends, if you are indeed smarter or more holy, you will be judged in a more strict and severe manner as you will have had more advantages given to you and you will be expected to do more with them in behalf of God and men. So be very modest, and merciful and graceful to others, not being overly harsh or demanding in what you expect of them for behavior. We likely do not know each other as much as we should.

I have overheard others criticizing some for not being more open, friendly, kind, sharing, behaved or whatever. And indeed, if a brother is walking in a poor fashion, we need to kindly, gently, and lovingly urge him back onto a better course. But many times, it is just picky stuff that is not justified. How warm or friendly we are depends on many factors. Someone may be quite shy or whatever. God is the only one who can determine how loving we are or are not, depending on what may have happened to us during our lifetimes. Love overlooks a lot, bears a lot, forgives a lot. It covers a multitude of sins, what we might call shortcomings.

I want to add one more caution here. While obstacles and set backs are tough bumps on the road of life, we all hit plenty of those bumps. And while some roads are harder to travel than others, it is not easy for any of us. Each one of us will struggle with life. It would be easy to make excuses for ourselves. But I think that would be a bad idea. As I see it, there are just two types of people in this instance. Those who make excuses and those who make changes and adapt. God is not too fond of excuses. Just ask Adam. God is not one to be mocked or trifled with, or played games with. So regardless of how tough you might imagine life has been for you, there is no excuse or right to be less than you are capable of. There is no right to be mean, thoughtless, careless, insensitive, apathetic, or whatever, EVER!. We are still expected to obey God to the best of our abilities and do good onto others.

I see some who have had tough knocks and seem to feel they have a right to be bitches and bastards because they had a hard life and are suffering inside. I do not mean to be insensitive but excuses are just that, excuses. Those who make excuses are often filled with self pity, thinking only they have suffered or had a hard life and no one knows or understands their struggle. Its crap. Being hurtful or insensitive is always wrong. Stop the self pity and recognize the pain of others. You will note some nationalities moan and complain that they have suffered more than others. B#!! S#!T. No one has had an easy time and every nationality has at one time or another been of the receiving end of a lot of evil.

It is always a gross tragedy to suffer atrocities but we must move on and stop playing a helpless victim with no hope now. Here is how they often sound: "Oh, All is lost. Nobody loves me, everybody hates me. I'll never recover, I can't recover." Trauma is never pleasant but it can be survived and recovered from. One is likely to have scars and memories but we have hope thanks to God. Maybe what atrocity victims need, if they do not have it already, is God in their lives. God can truly compensate if we are willing to wait on Him and His time scale, not ours.

Tough knocks can be good learning experiences for us. So rather than make excuses, why not make some changes when you see a need to do so, right? Rather than cry like a little baby, why not embrace adulthood and maturity that befits old people in particular. Self pity is a terrible thing for a Christian to be guilty of. We know the world is a terrible place but we also know it is only for our short lifetimes and then it will be fixed by God after Judgment Day. So be grateful that you are one who knows it will be much better and be patient and long-suffering in your outlook as you await for the better life that is to come. If you are in Christ, then here is how you look at persecution!

Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when they shall reproach you, and persecute you, and shall say every evil word against you, lying, on account of Me. 12 Rejoice and leap for joy, for your reward is great in Heaven."

What Are Our Expectations Today?
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The world is saturated with every sort of sin imaginable as I pointed out earlier. We can't avoid it and it will have its effect as God well knows and takes into account, whether we realize it or not. But do we take it into account. Not nearly as much as we should, as far as I am concerned. Let's look at an example.

Sex is everywhere and done by nearly everyone you come into contact with. They think nothing of it because it has become well established, it is very exciting, and Christian values are no longer adhered to by most people. Even many who are Christian, perhaps only in name, think that sex is OK if it is for love or whatever. They may think it is not that big a deal and after all, everyone does it. Se how powerful peer pressure is, how influential it can be? This is part of the devil's game. To mislead people from an accurate understanding of God's requirements and to lessen the view of sin or to eliminate the view that it is sin. He has done a good job, too.

Where can we go without seeing images of beautiful and barely dressed women? Then there are the advertisements where damn good looking and well shaped young women are showing off and flaunting their bodies. So even if you are watching a good show, you may encounter a commercial that will be assaulting your senses with visual images that you will not likely to able to prevent being somewhat aroused or stimulated by in the mind. It is pure instinct at work, what the Bible calls the flesh. Every grocery store will have magazines at the counters with good looking women displayed on the cover with minimal clothing that girls are encouraged to imitate and for guys to drool over. There is no escaping it. We must learn to deal with it in a reasonable fashion. That is our job.

What effect will it have on guys, even well behaved ones who care about what God thinks and wants? Like it or not, they will be intrigued with the constant images of beauty pushed at them. It will work on their heads. It will work at a subconscious level and will create desire, as it only naturally should. It is, in my opinion, inevitable that they will be affected and will need an outlet, some relief. It would be great if we could all find wives and husbands as soon as we are of age but foolishly, we have been blinded and misled by Satan into thinking that money and making a good living is much more important than remaining moral and keeping beyond temptation. And so we hold out for financial security long past a good age and become very vulnerable to sexual temptation. How foolish! We are all to blame on that one!

Instead, we delay marriage way too long, much too long for most to hold out and so most, even among Christians, can not hold out and they break down and give into temptation and immoral sex, sex without marriage. So they are well on a path to destruction, but at least they might have a good job and house before they die, never to live again. So here we are, more than revved up and ready to go, as far as sexual behavior goes, and we have no reasonable outlet due in part, to the way the system is set up on behalf of Satan, and partly because we have all been so stupid with the wrong order in our priorities.

The bottom line is that we are very vulnerable to the constant bombardment of sexual enticement. Now given that the young are at their peak of sexual desire and health, and that there is ample stimulation around us, there is bound to be more than most can handle reasonably. Satan has control of the system and is going to make it as hard as possible to live right. So I ask, is it reasonable, with the wide spread availability of porn and the ease of obtaining it at nearly any age, that Christian men, with all that is around them, that they are not going to be tempted to look, given that they are refraining from immoral sexual activities? I do not believe that it is. We have put marriage out of reach for many, for which we will pay many times over, for our poor choice. And we live in a world full of images and temptation.

So how can we expect no consequences? Of course men are going to look. They are not having sex. And even if they are having sex, they are still going to look. Beauty is a drug and absolutely compelling. They are obviously and justly very curious and intrigued by the opposite sex and want to see and know as much as possible. Porn allows some of that curiosity to be satisfied without any sex actually taking place and it can be done in complete privacy. Those factors will make it far too compelling for a normal male to resist.

First, naked women are not unclean. Yes, they are very exciting and arousing, but not unclean or evil. Not by any means. But of course, given that they are so arousing, it is important for women to cover up in normal life but pictures, film, and video create some unique circumstances that we have never had much of before the industrial revolution. We had paintings and statues, but those hardly compare with videos and motion film. Even pictures are much more vivid and realistic. They are much more effective on the mind. Men are bound to look. They could hardly be called men if they can resist the appeal of beautiful naked women. It is pure instinct at its most powerful. We are always underestimating it.

I do discuss lust, porn, and masturbation in "Related Articles" at the end of this. In consideration of this article and those, I do not believe porn to be an extreme danger. I see far greater sins and dangers that deserve much more priority than this one. There certainly needs to be caution and restraint, even if one does not feel much guilt in exploring porn a little. But porn is very exciting, most particularly to males, and pictures and images can not be said to be sin in themselves. Nudity is not a sin. There are, of course, videos and films that could portray sin, but then again, the Bible portrays sin, too.

Understanding Madness and Folly
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There is an interesting comment Solomon made in Ecclesiastes 3 times.

Ecclesiastes 1:17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness, and folly. I know that this also, it is striving [chasing] after wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:12 And I turned to behold wisdom, and madness, and folly. For what can a man do who comes after the king, when they have already done it?

Ecclesiastes 7:25 And I turned my heart about, to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, and the foolishness of madness.

In order to become wise, it helps to understand what Solomon calls madness and folly, the criminal mind, insanity, delusion, and other such mental ailments as we call them today. In short, sin!

Now one could conclude that Solomon and Paul could be contradicting one another since one says not to name or know sin and the other jumped head first into it. But if we decide the Bible does not contradict itself then we must look deeper to discern what is different about the two pursuits. Understanding is one thing. But being familiar by practice is quite another. I believe Paul was advising against practicing such things whereas Solomon recommends understanding the behavior of deviants. Even police enforcement agencies today do this routinely by studying and forming psychological profiles, and understanding criminals in intimate ways to predict and prevent their crimes or to better catch such ones.

It is natural to be curious about all things. I believe it is a natural God-given trait that we be curious and inquisitive about all things. That is, or should, drive us to want to know God in a detailed, in-depth sort of way, and wanting to know and understand His purpose in as much detail as possible. Prophets often use to inquire as to what a prophecy meant but the angels would not tell them but told them it was for someone else to use. But the prophets certainly were eager to know. It is no less that way for nearly any human in regards to sexuality. We want to know about it. We are excited and intrigued about it, far more so that most subjects.

But are we to feel guilty for our natural curiosity? I do not believe so. I believe pictures and motion pictures allow a lot of exploration, vicariously through others, without harm or danger. I could address the whole subject here but I have explored that all in another article as mentioned previously and which you can find at the end of this article. My point is that knowledge, curiosity and thrills are not really a harm. There are no diseases to transmit, not pregnancy that can be developed, no feelings to hurt. Some are concerned that it will lead to other things. I disagree in the strongest possible terms but you will have to consider that in the other article.

Sex is not the only subject where I think some tolerance should be exercised. Many condemn all sorts of TV, music, movies, video games, sports, and other sorts of entertainment. I think it is ridiculous. We do have to watch what we sow. But again, curiosity is a powerful force in us and knowledge alone will not hurt us. In fact, I believe there is much we can learn about human nature and where the world is going by taking an interest in the various forms of entertainment. But if your mind just takes it all in without thinking about it and pondering over it in comparison to the word of God, then it will all be in vain and probably will do harm.

Of course, I think it wise to not get carried away with entertainment. It is a nice diversion once in a while but it is also generally a waste of time as well. Just as we do not eat a lot of sweets if we value our health, so it is with entertainment, just having a treat on occasion and being moderate in all things.

Further more, I fail to see the harm in a video game as far as the violent shoot'em up games go. If it is clearly understood that it is not real, and no one is hurt or dying for real, then where is the problem? I seriously doubt that many are fantasizing and wishing it was real. Maybe some find relief of frustration with life in them but then there are so many ways we all relieve frustration with life. Who of us has never playfully fantasized about putting our fingers around someone's neck or joked about it? I have not played video games much since the mid 80's (I'm showing my age, arent' I?), but I admit I find some of the gory violent games incredibly funny. They are hard to take seriously. Yes, some have a weird sense of humor but you could probably say that about slapstick comedy such as the Three Stooges or the like. This is trivial and stupid stuff to be getting all upset over. Aren't there more serious things to worry about?

Yes, it is true the military uses video games to help train soldiers and its makes them more effective in battle and more certain to do what they are programmed to do. But we can also say that about any instruction video or any movie about crime. Just because I see a crime movie does not mean I will commit crime myself. To suggest that movies or video games will make us do things is to give them ridiculous powers that just aren't there. It also completely downplays our own role and responsibility in choosing to commit crime. Then why do I have a brain if it is things outside my brain that make, yes, force me, to behave as I do? Do I not have choice and a brain that can reason? Do we make excuses or make good decisions? People who suggest such stupid things have not bothered to think about personal responsibility and give the person an escape from personal responsibility by being able to blame inanimate objects rather than their own minds. God will have no part of that.

It is true that if I see enough pick up lines in movies that I might be able to use them on women myself. That does not mean I will. I might learn some good fight techniques. It does not mean I will become a fighter. I might study military history. It does not mean I will run off to war. Lets be sane and reasonable for a change. Knowledge does not mean we will go out and do it. How ridiculous must we get before we will wise up and lighten up?

But with our curiosity being what it is, it is not reasonable or realistic to think we are not going to be curious about it all and not want to see what it is all about? When there is a serious accident, what happens? Everybody rushes to see what happened. Why? We are very curious animals. Our minds hunger for all things out of the ordinary. A lot of times, many will go along, just to see what all the commotion is about. Some people will turn in to a TV show or go to see a movie, just to see what everyone is talking about. We want to be in the know and we have to allow that or we, or our kids, will go nuts. They will not go along with being out of touch and out of the know. It will not happen in most cases and for those where it does work, they will not likely be healthy human beings in a psychological sense, for those who do not hunger and thirst for understanding are already in trouble. As Solomon says, we will bring destruction to ourselves and those we love or those we lead, if we are pastors and teachers and expect too much righteousness.

Sin is all around us anyway. True, we don't have to saturate ourselves in it but really, we are pretty saturated anyway, even if we do refrain from getting very close. With so much threatening us and challenging us from every direction, we do well just to observe the most important serious commands. If we try to observe the whole entire body of God's law, you can be absolutely assured that you will fail. We will not be unaffected by the world. It is impossible. It will leave its stain and we just have to accept that. We just want to minimize how much we are tainted with its impurity. We have to set priorities in the right order. And so we are going to consider priorities.

Now many set avoiding swearing as a very big priority. The way some act, you would think this is the biggest crime one could ever commit. It tends to be one of the worst offenses on the list of many Christians. I find that laughable. There are so many things that are so much worse. First, the Apostles and older men told us that fornication is one of the greatest priorities. We hardly give it any attention, though. We encourage young people to put if off for years and make them perfect victims for violating one of the biggest concerns of the Apostles, who spoke for God!. How stupid can we be? I could ramble on but I am just going to put a list up and then comment on some of them for you.

Diffusing a Bomb!        New section Sep. 30, 2010
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I have understood this most important of principles for a long time, since 1986, a pivotal break through in understanding for me. It became even better understood perhaps around 2004 but I had nothing to back it up till recently. 

The principle is this: That we can diffuse some of the energy or power of our desires or frustrations. If we let it out at the appropriate time, place, and circumstance, it can release a good portion of what has built in us so that we are not in as much danger of being over powered by the desires or frustrations that mount in us either internally or touched of by external stimuli. We might call this a pressure release valve that prevents an explosion or diffuses a potential bomb.

I came across this first short article in a blog by Dr. Arthur Janov, who promotes a theory of psychology that I strongly believe is the basis of understanding sin and its mechanisms. I feel it is important to print it here and then comment on it myself.

Posted by Dr. Janov: Thursday, July 15, 2010      On Avoiding Murder (rewritten)

There is a story in the press today about Raoul Moat. He just killed himself after a police chase for over a week. Before this final confrontation he managed to wound his ex-girlfriend and a policeman, and to kill her boyfriend. Just before he killed himself, as the police were closing in, he said, I had no dad and nobody cares about me. To me that is the beginning of a primal. He was sure it was their fault that he suffered. Maybe if the police could have said, We care about you, Raoul, it would have helped, and maybe not. But instead of shooting him there are options if we only we consider them. One option is to let the family talk to him and express their caring, which the police seemed not to allow. While the dialogue was going on Raoul was holding a shotgun to his chin. His brother told the police that Raoul was having a nervous breakdown. That is an old notion to explain that his defenses were breaking down; in a way, there was a breakdown, and it involved nerves but it was the defense system that was crashing. Let me explain.

How many times have we seen in a pre-primal session the patient pound the wall and cry in anger, I hate you. I want to kill you! This releases some of the pressure and can prevent killing. It can then lead the patient to the real need and feeling of not getting it. You cannot get there if you are not immersed inside the feeling. Feeling the need with all one's body is the best antidote. Releasing rage in a benign way is obviously preferable to releasing it on the unsuspecting. The force of the rage may be childhood neglect. It is forceful because lack of love as an infant and young child is devastating. To compound the pain his girlfriend gave her love to someone else. If we put all this in its original context we could understand the problem better; we would see that it isn't enough to cry and scream; it has to be done in context, the early context; going back to that early need. It means going back to origins, and only the embedded feeling knows where that is. No one else can possibly know. Raoul would have to go back in time to what went wrong. It sounds banal, a cliche, but he needed a loving parent. There is no real life without it.
>>End of Blog<<

I have posted links (websites) and recommended books on Dr. Janov and his  ideas on my links pages and Book recommendation pages on the Home page. But I hope you notice the bold type above. I have seen so many people who hold feelings in like a pressure cooker until they are ready to blow or do blow like a major volcano. They would be far better off to let it out and get rid of it so that they do not go around ready to go off at any time. Sometimes we can not help get provoked to anger, fear, or whatever. But it is our safest bet to let off some steam in private and often there is nothing better the extremely vulgar four letter words to help that cause. But not on people. Into the air private air where no one can hear but letting it rip from your lungs can do wonders. Call it letting off steam if you like. Arthur refers to it as "releasing it in a benign way." We don't take it out on people. But we do let it out.

Yes, we say how much we hate and we can even scream it out. It might ever be against our parents, spouse, boss, or whoever. If we do it in private out of the ear of anyone, God will understand. He knows our makeup and nature better than we do. This also applies to desires such as lust. Maybe we feel an intense desire for someone who is married or that we have no chance with. We can be tempted. It could get out of hand, couldn't it? How do we release the tension, the build up, the pressure? Its easy.

When we are alone, we can indulge the fantasy to its full in our minds, in private, through self stimulation, known also as masturbation. Now of course, many will say that is lust. Wrong you are. It is venting lust, appetite, desire, thereby, at least temporarily reducing the hunger and need. I also propose, through personal experience, that either quickly or eventually, the desires will fade and become nothing. We exorcise the demons, so to speak. Anything you do a lot will lose its novelty and some of its excitement and will become more common and mundane.

On the other hand, if we hold it in and do not release the powerful urges, they will drive us with brutal force, to do what we do not want to do or have happen. We will go out and commit the fornication or adultery. But in order to make our desires become controllable, (which we so often have little to no control over what they are or how they grow or come about), we give vent to those desires in our head fully and completely. Doing this will release tons of pressure and  over time will minimize or eliminate the unhealthy and dangerous desires we struggle with.

June 9, 2015: Got this from the book, "Breaking the Circle of Satanic Ritual Abuse," by Daniel Ryder. The account if of a man beginning to recover memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse. Feelings were coming up which come from the subconsicous, beyond a person's conscious control. That is to say, this operation was designed by God for healing.
Page 240: "Gradually words of anger and hate began to come out of my mouth these sessions. I screamed them into the sofa, "Don't touch me! I hate you! away from me you filthy xxxxx!" I had no idea where they were coming from or what they meant."

"The memories would cause a new experience in my life� spontaneous age regression that was almost impossible for me to control at first. My body seemed to have a mind of its own: I would shake; my muscles would spasm un-controllably; I would fall on the floor or sofa drawn up in a fetal position; I couldn't talk at times�with only air being forced out of my mouth; I would experience various other scary exhibitions that I couldn't control. The more I tried to get control of myself, the less I could. It took one and a half years of therapy and hard work to learn to walk through the pain of the sexual abuse. It was nothing short of hell on earth. I wanted to avoid these physical manifestations like the plague, but my therapist encouraged and sometimes pushed me into reliving each experience, each secret, until it lost its power to control me in the "here and now."

Page 240-241: "When I was finally able to control myself, I began pounding on the floor (next page> and crying uncontrollably for a long time."

"I had a group meeting that evening with my therapist and afterward asked to see him alone. I started to tell him of my experience and suffered the second bout of spontaneous age regression. Unable to speak, I gasped for air and tried to force sound out. He finished my story. "You found that you were sexually abused as a child." How did he know? I regained my voice and protested. All he said was, "Look at you�I've suspected for a long time but wanted you to remember on your own."

With that I was washed with a wave of anger like I have never known. I began screaming in anger and pain and started to destroy his office. He put me in an arm lock to restrain me from hurting myself as well as his office. In his calming voice he spoke words of hope: "Now you will begin becoming free and being made whole in a way you have never known. You now have the key." I left his office in a stupor which was to be my state of existence for much of the next eight or nine months.
<<<< End of book quotes

As you can see, serious abuse produces unusual problems for the brain. Pain is stored away in the sub-conscious. That pain often produces what I will call unavoidable and very necessary anger. The anger needs to be felt and released, under careful conditions, of course, such as a well trained therapist with a few good arm lock moves. The anger is justified. It is stored without our knowledge or permission. It is an automatic function of the mind for protecting us from an overload of horror and pain. The release of anger might cause obscenities to be released and striking out at anything around you. A careful setting is needed to prevent any harm. But it does need to be let out.

Many Christians today have not recognized the importance of release of anger, in appropriate safe ways, of course. Normal anger to one's self needs no justification. We live with lots of frustration in our lives and we need to release somewhere. Smart Christians get it. Let me show you!

I had a link to this very article on facebook. Here's is what followed after on facebook (with last names cut out):

<<<< End of Jun 9 Entry

A little over a month later, I see the following on TV:

Myth Busters - Maybe Monday Aug 30, 2010 - Discovery Channel

They did a test to see if swearing/shouting profanities would help people to endure pain longer. They filled a tub with water and ice so it would be brutally cold. I think it was 5 to 7 subjects they tested, people from their crew, who were willing. First they tested each subject without swearing and measured how long they kept their arm in ice cold water. Then after warming up again, they had the subjects put their arms in ice cold water again but allowed them to swear their heads off when it really started to hurt and timed it again. The results were that swearing enabled them to endure for 30% more time than when not swearing. Verbally expressing aguish, suffering, or anger does seem to release some pain and/or stress. Because they released some stress, they were able to endure  more than without. I would say that any verbal expression has the potential to release some stress or make it easier to endure but that it obviously has limits.

We humans are creatures who express or should express what we feel. We need to let things out, not hide them, deny them, or hold them in. It is not healthy or wise. In fact, it is very dangerous. Wisdom dictates that we do what will allow the best overall outcome. It is better to masturbate than to commit adultery, is it not? Further, it is next to impossible to show that masturbation is wrong. I even challenge the idea of lust being what it has come to be commonly a gross sin. We have misunderstood the words of our Lord.

There is justified anger. we need to get rid of it if possible. There is a sexual hunger and appetite in each of us and we can not control what it is or where it will go. But we can give it vent so that it does not become too powerful and beyond our control. We have an escape hatch if we want to use it but too many like their silly ways of thinking about lust and anger.

Indeed, if we are mad at our brother, we also want to try to make amends and resolve the anger so that it does not lead to worse. But at the same time, we might need to wait till we cool down a little or maybe we take a friend or two who will keep us in line. And we still might need to cuss and swear about them in private and get it out of our system. And indulging a fantasy about the neighbor's wife by ourselves will at least lessen the desires so that we are not moved to commit adultery. We may even (I think it likely) eventually destroy the desire for her or make it so small that there is no chance it can over power us and make us do stupid things.

The whole idea is to release some of the power or desire so that it is within manageable controllable limits within our hearts and minds so that we are not moved or driven to sin. This is an idea completely foreign and unheard of in modern mainstream Christianity, though why I can not figure out. But I think most Christians, those who call themselves Christians, do not like to take a serious look or give deep thought to anything. This is why they miss this extremely important aspect.

So in the next section, I am going to show some scriptures that relate deep overwhelming feelings, principally from the Psalms, so full of emotional expression, to consider the aspects of private feelings and getting some things off our chests and unburdening ourselves. For what we experience in life can be a huge burden, whether the burden is anger, fear, depression, lust or whatever else you want to throw in. We are susceptible to it all.

Powerful Private Feelings
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Psalm 37:8 Abstain from anger and cease from fury; also do not inflame yourself to do evil.

>> Well, I guess what I said was all wrong - right? Hah! I would not have written it if I was not prepared for this. This is like my article on Lust discusses. The words "anger" and "fury" denote actions, not mere feelings alone. In particular, anger toward someone, right to their face, even. We do not want to express anger openly and directly to someone. This is how things escalate and get out of hand, possibly leading to permanent hurt and alienation or worse, even fights, injuries, or killing.

Inn fact, the 2nd part of that verse reinforces this when it says "do not inflame yourself to do evil." That is, do not increase anger and fuel the fire. Put the fire out as soon as possible. And anger can lead, not only to unjustified revenge, since revenge belongs principally to God; but it can also lead to seeing people in a poor light and justifying becoming like them since they do not seem to care about you so why should you care about them. We do not want to let anger make us evil as well.

But now I need to point out what should be very obvious but is completely missed. If you have a concordance or is you have a Bible program on your computer, you can do a search for the word anger. And guess who gets angry all the time? GOD!!! Yes, God! He is always angry. But He has very good reason to be angry as people ignore His commands and hurt one another and kill one another without thought, care, or remorse.

What about God's servants, us? Do we ever have any reason to be angry? Do we ever !!! We get screwed by life and people all the time. It angers God and it should anger us, too. BUT --- We can not afford to let the anger drive us crazy and it can and does. We need to put a hold on our emotions and feelings long enough to give some serious thought about how to best handle what is angering us and find a way to diffuse the bomb, so to speak, and stabilize our minds and hearts. We don't want to let anger grow, and fester. This is why Jesus urged us to get control of anger and not let the sun set in a provoked state. its is not that you have no right or reason to be angry but that you can't let anger get the best of you, which it certainly can do.

Recall Cain and Abel in the Garden of Eden. Cain was jealous of Abel because Abel's sacrifice was acceptable to God, because of Abel's spirit and attitude in his sacrifice, where as Cain's was not of a good pure attitude and spirit and so his sacrifice was not pleasing. God said to him that if he turned around to doing good, he would be accepted to, but then God warned Cain that his anger and jealousy were getting the best of him and if he did not get control, he was going to kill his brother. But Cain ignored God and did kill his brother out of resentment and jealousy because Abel was righteous and Cain was not. So say s the Apostle Paul.

But in diffusing the anger, it does not mean we are not steaming a little for a while. It means we are going to get rid of that anger. Cussing and swearing about something in private just might help in that goal, as I have offered evidence to show and this idea of letting off steam has been around since time immemorial. It is not new or unheard of. Only to so called Christians is such a concept new or foreign, having given most things so little thought. So lets look at some scriptures! Shall we?<<

Psalm 4:
1 To the chief musician, for stringed instruments, A Psalm of David. Answer me when I call, God of my righteousness.
       You gave room to me in distress. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

2 O sons of men, until when shall My glory be for a reproach? Will you love vanity? Will you run after a lie? Selah.
3 But know that Jehovah has set apart the godly for Himself. Jehovah hears when I call to Him.
4 Tremble and do not sin. Speak within your own heart on your bed and be still. Selah.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and trust in Jehovah.

>> God gave "room" to David in his distress. That is, God was understanding and merciful. Was David in fear or dread? Maybe at times even angry? Yes. Did God say, "Oh, that does it! David's a dead man now. Where are My lightning bolts? Send an angel to squash him right now!" The heavenly Father is the one who made us with emotions, made in His image. He expects us to feel things and even feel them deeply. He is reasonable in what He expects. He gives us room and allowance. Its a fact!

Tremble if you need to, but don't let your emotions lead to sin, which is always possible. David says to speak within your own heart on your own bed. Typically, this is where we are alone with our thoughts and words and have time and place to give thought to our situations, holding back emotions while we think calmly and rationally about what we are experiencing and what to do. We are not to rage or even tremble uncontrollably. As the Dog Whisperer (Caesar Milan on NatGeo channel) might say, be calm and submissive. Our state of mind is critical and all the more so in a crisis. This is the situation being described by David in his song/psalm. And when we read the words to these psalms, we are seeing David think things out carefully, rationally, with God in mind.

We won't get to see or hear all his emotions he went through while in private to himself. But you can be certain he had them! But in his song he puts to paper after, he gives us that broad long-term, long-suffering view and attitude of it all, when it is all said and done. This is the goal we need to pursue as well. But there is a way to get there and getting the emotions out of us and off our chests, so to speak, is important. We don't get to see David do it but we know he does. We don't get to see him have sex, do we? But we know he does. His struggles with his feelings are sometimes expressed in the Bible but most of the time, they are veiled from us, even as we might seek to keep our own feelings to ourselves.

And long term means trusting in Jehovah and knowing He will ultimately right all wrongs, even if it might have to wait till Judgment Day. Trusting God and waiting on Him helps diffuse the bomb as well.<<

Psalm 38:9 My Lord, all my desire is before You, and my sighing is not hidden from You.

>> OK, class, let me ask! Since all our desire if before God, both good and bad, is God unaware of our struggles with the flesh, which include rivalry, competition, anger, and fear as well as lust - sexual appetite? Of course not. He see all, all the time. He knows we are flesh. He gives us room. It is He who gave us the appetite for sex in the first place and a sense of defensiveness that provoked, naturally leads to anger. And He knows we will have to cope with it. Doesn't He?

So let me ask you, what kind of God is it you imagine you serve? Is He a realistic and compassionate God who understands. Or is He a petty nit picking extremely demanding God? Well, the devil would prefer you think the latter one. But I will have nothing to do with that. God knows we are flesh and allows for us to vent our emotions and re-stabilize ourselves so that we can stay within realistic borders and boundaries of His laws. He can not and does not expect perfection. He asks, primarily, that we avoid the big sins, like fornication, adultery, and murder. Is that so much to ask? So He knows we need to blow off steam and get things out of our system. If anyone anywhere knows that, He does! Now its time for us to accept it, too.<<

Psalm 69:3 I am weary from my crying, my throat is scorched; my eyes fail while I wait for my God.

<< Ah, the depths of despair! David describes what must have been a very deep anguish, awaiting on God while in some sort of crisis. So David does feel and express deep powerful emotions, even as we all do at times. We need not doubt it, right? But despair is not the only emotion David feels. I am sure he felt anger more than once. and I know he experienced lust for he did have a few wives and he did steal another man's wife and had the husband killed. I would say there was a little lust there and David lost control of it. Maybe he would have been a lot better off masturbating or waking up one of his wives for relief or something. But he got a glimpse of something very desirable and faile to take appropriate action somewhere.

Do you also want to make the same mistake? Wouldn't a little lusty imagination with your hand be better than adultery and killing? I'm just asking! Can you really not see any difference between something going on in your head and hand and committing adultery and murder? Are we that stuck in our narrow minds and hearts that we have become just like the Pharisees? I hope not.<<

Psalm 77:
2 In the day of my distress I sought the Lord; my hand was open in the night and did not grow numb; my soul refused to be comforted.

3 I remember God and am troubled; I meditate and my spirit faints. Selah.
4 You seized the watches of my eyes; I am troubled, and I cannot speak.
5 I thought upon the days of old, the years of bygone ages.
6 I will remember my song in the night; I will speak with my own heart, and my spirit carefully searches.
7 Will the lord cast off forever; and will He not add to be pleased any more?
8 Is His mercy gone forever? Has His word failed for all generations?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious; has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah.

>> This one is important to show what David often went through and I am sure we all have as well - if we are honest and unpretentious. But David gives lots of thought, meditates, looks back on the past, remembers, his spirit carefully searches. No quick easy answers here so we can immediately feel better about ourselves when we have no right to. David ponders and wonders. That is my point in this Psalm. He does a lot of thinking and praying in private and likely lots of talking to himself and getting things off his chest. We are reading it now. He has told us.<<

Psalm 88:9 My eye mourns because of affliction; O Jehovah, I have called on You every day; I have spread out my hands to You.

Psalm 102:
3 For my days are finished in smoke, and my bones glow like a firebrand.

4 My heart is stricken and dried like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread.
5 Because of the voice of my sighing, my bones cleave to my flesh.

Psalm 143:4 And my spirit within me has fainted; my heart within me is stunned.
Psalm 143:7 O Jehovah, answer me quickly; my spirit is failing; do not hide Your face from me lest I be like the ones who go down to the Pit.

>> Just a few more expressions of deep agony on the part of David. Feelings are very powerful, very strong and we should not expect them to be easy to deal with. We need to find ways to vent our emotions and release them or at least greatly diminish them, exorcising the demons in our flesh, in a figure of speech. But now when it comes to emotions and heartbreak, Job is not stranger, either. He is next. I  could throw in Jeremiah, too, but Job should suffice. <<

Job 7:3 so I am caused to inherit months of vanity; and weary nights are appointed to me.
Job 10:1 My soul loathes my life; I will leave my complaint on myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.
Job 23:2 Even today my complaint is bitter; my hand is heavy over my groaning.

>> Now I just gotta ask, have you ever spoken in the bitterness of your soul? Do you know what that is? Deep bitterness can lead to foul ugly speech. Four letter words and other harsh speech. It was not enough that Job lost his kids and fortune. He had 3 so called comforters who did nothing but insult him, falsely accuse him, and torment him. The text recorded, while transmitting the meaning correctly, may have been toned down, although God has been know in a few places to let it rip.

But being bitter of heart and soul, to complain, which the Psalmists often do, and groan, loathe, despise; these are traits of Godly men. God Himself calls Job righteous. Who are we to argue. Job hated his life at this time. Jeremiah expresses much of the same sentiment in his book. This is what we should expect of God fearing people. They are human and have feelings. Powerful Private Feelings. What is done by others in privacy is no ones business. Feelings must be allowed to be felt and expressed, whether pain with crying, anger with yelling or swearing, or lust with self stimulation. Its all the same. If it does not come out, then much worse may follow.<<

The Dirty Deeds
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Obviously, Loving God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself are the two, that if properly applied, would cover all the following. But we will cover them individually.

Fornication, sex crimes
Murder, violence
Idols, idolatry, iconography
Lying and false witness
Honor & respect Mother, Father, older people with general politeness, courtesy, respect for others as well
Gluttony & Drunkenness

Fornication: That is, sex without marriage or with someone other than your wife or husband, and other sorts of sex crimes such as sex with close relatives such as an aunt or niece, an uncle or nephew, a mother, father, son or daughter and the like. And rape would certainly be a horrible sex crime as well. These were to be avoided at all cost and were one of the prime concerns of the Apostles in their letter to the church in Antioch and all the gentiles/nations of the world who were not Jews.

Murder: Though not specifically addressed in the letter to Antioch in Acts 15, murder was still emphasized in other writings of the Apostles and the gospels of Jesus when they spoke of not even hating your brother or your neighbor and how Satan was wicked because he was a manslayer as Jesus pointed out in John 8. Further, in fulfillment of Isaiah and Micah, Christians were not to learn war anymore and to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. War and killing are out as they have always been. God reserves the exclusive right to take life. He allows no one else to do so, except by specific rules and circumstances in a judicial capacity, we we call "due process of law."

Idolatry: Being the worship of vain idols that represent other gods, we are to have not other gods than just one, the Father, the only real God, as Jesus Identified him, who of old and in the Old Testament was known as Jehovah by name. Anything which we place above God is said to become an idol to us such as if we put sex before God, or entertainment, money, or any other thing which becomes more important than God. So we would have no other gods other than the one who is our heavenly Father, and we would not make idols of Him, either, as He makes clear in the 10 commandments. This was also re-emphasized in the letter to Antioch by the Apostles in Acts 15.

Theft: it was still quite the crime. It was a form of covetousness, desire, and envy, all of which are condemned in many places in both the Old and New Testament. Judas was guilty of being of thief as well as a traitor and betrayer. Jesus quoted the ten commandments to one young man, asking him what he should do to get into the kingdom of the heavens. Stealing is in that list.

(GLT) Matthew 19:18 And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder, nor commit adultery, nor steal, nor bear false witness, 19 honor your father and your mother," and, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." [Exodus 20:12-16; Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 5:16-20].
So Jesus still emphasized most of the 10 commandments. An obvious omission was the Sabbath which is dealt with in another article as to why that was abolished along with the rest of the aspects of temple worship and its observances as the old obsolete covenant with Israel under Moses was done away with after the sacrificial death of Jesus.

Covetousness: One of the 10 commandments. It is the real basis behind many other sins, whether adultery, theft, and jealousy, perhaps of another's reputation or whatever. It can be the motivation for many wicked deeds. It is basically wanting and desiring what we are not entitled to. We are entitled to a wife in order to satisfy certain longings and urges, if we want to go out and get one. But we can only have one, and we can not have someone else's nor share each other's wives with each other, as fun as that might be. We are not entitled to anything of our neighbors unless he is happy to part with it in exchange for some reason such as money, excluding his wife, which he may not freely share under any circumstances. So we must constantly check our desires and limit them to what is available, legitimate to want or desire, and OK'd by God. Anything beyond that is covetousness!

And I do believe this is where the distinction is drawn between lust and proper sexual appetite. I once challenged a Seventh Day Adventist to make a distinction for me and that he could consult as many of his elders and leaders as he wanted and he could not and would not. But if there is no distinction, then any desire for sex at all is sin, which is absurd and makes God out to be evil since we can not breed as He commanded without sinning and He made us desire sex and made it exciting. Lust is that which we are not entitled to, such as another man's wife. But if a woman is single and unattached, we may legitimately pursue her for marriage. It is not the sexual desire or thought that is wrong or right, it is the pursuit or a longing that we refuse to reject and continue to hold out hope for and will not turn away from pursuing. And while Mr. Smith or Mr. Jones' wife may cause us to get a little worked up or we find it hard to look away from her, that is no big deal. Beauty naturally affects us that way. We have made no choice there. It is pure instinct controlling us. The mind, more accurately, the instinct, can not differentiate one beautiful woman from another. They all look good and affect us. But the mind, as in the intellect and spirit within us, that  is what we are supposed to activate so that we do not act on what our instinct responds to. We let our intellect rule and govern us, or at least, we should. It tells us that Mrs. Smith or Jones is taken and that we must look elsewhere for a wife. Instinct is not sin! But not putting the instinct in its place and restraining it, that is sin. That is at the heart of what lust and covetousness is. There is your distinction between lust and proper appetite. It is in the choice our intellect makes when our instinct becomes aroused, as it should and was designed to do by God. God will help us get back perfect control of our instinct AFTER Judgment Day by mean of His son!

False witness and lying: Indeed to hurt a person by lying about them and spreading lies is a big sin. Jesus identified Satan as the father of the lie. Devil was a Hebrew word that meant liar. Lying about a man and accusing him of certain crimes could get him killed or cause great harm to his reputation. The punishment for lying could be death if the lie given was intended to cause the death of another. It will certainly keep you out of God's kingdom. Or deceiving someone so as to take advantage of them or rob them or whatever as Satan did in getting Adam and Eve to disobey and begin to die and us, too, as a result.

Honor, Respect, and Politeness: Again, Jesus recommended this, to the young man mentioned just above, in the 10 commandments. Below are a number of scriptures requiring this. Further, one can not claim to love brother, neighbor, or the world and yet not do this. When we say honor in the Bible, it means to respect someone and give them proper attention and consideration. We are commanded to honor parents in the Bible.

Romans 13:7 Then give to all their dues: to the one due tax, the tax; to the one due tribute, the tribute; to the one due fear, the fear; to the one due honor, the honor.

1 Corinthians 12:24 But our presentable members have no need. But God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to the member having need,

Ephesians 6:2 "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with a promise,

1 Timothy 5:3 Honor widows, the ones really being widows.

1 Timothy 5:5 But honor the one being really a widow, even having been left alone, who has set her hope on God and continues in petitions and prayers night and day.

1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who take the lead well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those laboring in word and teaching.

1 Timothy 6:1 Let as many as are slaves under a yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name and teaching of God may not be blasphemed.

1 Peter 2:17 honor all, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, dwelling together according to knowledge, as with a weaker vessel, the female, bestowing honor, as truly being co-heirs of the grace of life, not cutting off your prayers.

Colossians 4:6 Let your word be always with grace, having been seasoned with salt, to know how you ought to answer each one.

Materialism: I wrote an entire article on this one since it has become one of the devil's most potent and commonly used weapons against God's people. So you can check that article out under Related Articles at the end of this article. I will give you one scriptural reference to cover it.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, If you desire to be perfect, go sell your property and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come, follow Me. 22 But hearing the word, being grieved, the young man went away, for he had many possessions.
19:23 And Jesus said to His disciples, Truly I say to you that a rich man will with great difficulty enter into the kingdom of Heaven. 24 And again I say to you, It is easier for a camel to pass through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

This is not a subject that is scarce in the New Testament. It is thoroughly covered by Jesus and his Apostles.

Gluttony & Drunkenness: More properly, Gluttony and Intoxication. To let our appetites rage out of control, no matter what those appetites are, is wrong and dangerous. It is an indication that something is wrong within us that we need to fix. Today we might list these as obsessive-compulsive disorders. But eating more food than we need, while not a shunning offense, will prevent us from entering God's Kingdom. Likewise, any sort of intoxicating substance will likely harm our health with long term use and could cause us to make bad decisions and even sin against God and man. If such consumption causes us to become dysfunctional or non-functional, then we obviously have a problem. We no longer control our selves. Our craving for food, drink, drugs takes us over and dictates our behavior. We can not lose control of ourselves and please God.

So we have sort of 9 major subjects, things to give a lot of consideration to, some of which relate closely to each other and all are covered under loving your brother and your neighbor.

Making the Best of It
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The 9 major categories of sins to avoid or respect to carry out, are all very important to the survival and salvation of those who call themselves Christians. Yet, there is a lot to concern one's self with in all those things. One would be doing fantastic just to observe most of those in a relative fashion. But if we were to insist on lots of small things such as the kind of entertainment or past time that we pursued, and what we allowed ourselves to learn about, is there anything left that we could actually do? Might a person wanting to live up to God's rules get exasperated and give up due to the difficulty and the many things to concentrate on? Sure! Why not?! It could easily happen and usually does.

We are already stretched to the limits with trying to make a living and hold our heads above water. The times are very challenging. And we have all that deception and lies that come to us from the media and our rulers. We hardly have any time to ourselves, as it would seem to our employers that our only reason for living is to serve them as slaves. We may have many responsibilities to attend to. Something has to give. God is not unreasonable or out of touch with what is going on in the lives of each of us. Yes, many of us and our "spiritual" leaders may be out of touch, but not God.

Living in a world saturated with sin and deception designed to lead us away from God, we will not live perfect lives without sin. It is impossible! God knows that and makes it clear through His son and His son's apostles. It is just that some of us who do not get that and refuse to get that or admit it. So we who do not ignore God, need to prioritize. We need to decide what is most important and not worry so much about the smaller things. God will help us to reach perfection after Judgment Day, not before.

So now we are going to consider some of what might be called the smaller, more trivial sins that do not deserve a lot of attention in our world. We do well just to observe the 8 basics we covered.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff
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I propose that what we watch for entertainment, or what words we use, are very small matters if they are not things we say or do to hurt other people. Any word is clean in God's eyes, just as any food is. Words are unclean when they intended or used to hurt or harm. Swearing because you hit your thumb with a hammer is not a sin against anyone and certainly not against God. Watching a movie that has sin in it is no different than the Bible which also has sin in it. In fact, learning to understand the mind set and psychology of various types of errant behavior might be a good thing and useful. It helps to know the mentality of a criminal in order to avoid becoming the victim of a criminal.

Somehow, swearing became high on the list of taboos for Christians. Actually, we need not be ignorant of how that came to be. One need look no further than Queen Victoria and the Victorian age of the late 1800's. She started the trend of avoiding certain words and making them unclean. And many followed her instead of God. Bad mistake. We do not follow men or women. We follow God or are supposed to. As well, governments are terrified of real anger and outrage over injustice, since they are large sponsors of in justice. They fear the righteous indignation of the mob and so fear strong emotions that often either accompany mobs or stir mobs up to act.

And entertainment has certainly been polluted and corrupted, no doubt. But again, there are more important things to be concerned with! Such as, you ask? I'll show you.

We constantly misunderstand the words and meanings of things in the Bible. Part of the problem is that we give very little time to learning the Bible. We are so terrified of seeing the wrong movie and liking the wrong song or listening to it. But we never really bother to read the Bible much and discuss it with others who share an interest in God's word. Which is more important, to learn about God or avoid trivial sins? Let me show you why I say it is learning about God, although it should be pretty obvious, don't you think?

Emphasizing the Good
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First, how would we know any sin were it not for reading God's word, the Bible? It is the guide for all manner of living. So without that, we would be ignorant of any sin at all. But we don't want to stop there. More important, says I, than avoiding bad is pursuing good. Indeed, I could hide away in my room or isolate myself like the Amish. But how would I be helping people or showing love to them by avoiding them? Really, to show love and take loving actions is far more important than just avoiding questionable influences.

This is the real problem with those who preach a ministry of avoiding sin and being motivated by fear of making God angry by sinning. It is not sin that we concern ourselves with. It is good and doing good works and showing love. John put it this way.

(GLT) 1John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment; and the one fearing has not been perfected in love.

Can you argue with that? The one always fearing, particularly about sinning, has not been perfected in love and producing the fruits of love, namely good works. Christians do not overly concern themselves with sin. They concentrate on love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another, to incitement of love and of good works.

Philippians 4:8 For the rest, brothers, whatever is true, whatever honorable, whatever is right, whatever pure, whatever lovely, whatever of good report, if of any virtue, and if of any praise, think on these things.

Colossians 1:10 for you to walk worthily of the Lord to all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work and growing into the full knowledge of God;

2Co 9:8 And God is able to make all grace to abound toward you, that in everything, always having all self sufficiency, you may abound to every good work;

Galatians 4:18 But it is good to be zealous always in a good thing and not only in my being present with you.

Galatians 6:9 But we should not weaken in doing good, for in due time we shall reap, if we do not faint.

Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have time, let us work good toward all, and especially toward the household of the faith.

Romans 15:2 For let each one of us please his neighbor for good, to building up.

2Thessalonians 2:17 encourage your hearts, and may He establish you in every good word and work.

1Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one returns evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all.

2Timothy 3:17 so that the man of God may be perfected, fully furnished for every good work.

Titus 2:14 who gave Himself on our behalf, "that He might redeem us from all iniquity" "and purify" "a people" "for His own possession," zealous of good works. Psa. 130:8; Eze. 37:23; Deut. 14:2

Titus 3:8 Faithful is the Word, and concerning these things I desire you strongly to affirm that the ones believing God should take thought to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.

Titus 3:14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they may not be without fruit.

Hebrews 13:16 But do not be forgetful of doing good and sharing, for God is well pleased with such sacrifices.

Hebrews 13:21 perfect you in every good work, in order to do His will, doing in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

James 1:17 every act of good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom is no change or shadow of turning.

James 3:17 But the wisdom from above is firstly truly pure, then peaceable, forbearing, yielding, full of mercy and of good fruits, not partial and not pretended.

1 Peter 4:10 each one as he received a gift, ministering it to yourselves as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Quite a few scriptures there, aren't there? And they all emphasize doing good. James kind of really hits home in his next verse.

James 4:17 Therefore, to anyone knowing to do good, and not doing it, it is sin to him.

To refrain or not pursue good is actually a sin, and perhaps much more serious a sin than to just refrain from evil or even just questionable influences. So rather than focus on what to avoid, why not focus on how to do much good and show much love, mercy, and kindness to all. Look at what Jesus says as he quotes Hosea 6:6.

Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Matthew 12:7 And if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.

Jesus and his Father were much more concerned about love and mercy than they were with sacrifices or observance of the law of Moses. Perhaps the most well known and obvious case involved Jesus healing on the Sabbath or his disciples gathering food on the Sabbath while they preached and healed. And you must remember that Jesus' disciples were also given the abilities to heal and cast out demons while they were with him. The Pharisees objected that Jesus did these things on the Sabbath.

Jesus, in essence, said to them, "since when did it become wrong to do good things on the Sabbath?" He pointed out that priests continued to work on the Sabbath and remained guilt free. He also pointed out that even the Pharisees did not hesitate to rescue a sheep on the Sabbath. And here was Jesus curing people on the Sabbath, and yet they objected. Jesus showed them for what they were - wicked! They were more worried about the law than people. Further, Jesus was not disobeying the law. He was fulfilling it by doing the will of God and doing good to people, which was the ultimate goal of the law.

It always seems to be the hang up of overly religious, pious, sanctimonious types to concern themselves more with sin than with good works and love. I threw in a few more scriptures to emphasize how love, goodness, and good works are referred to much more than sin. See or yourself.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome the evil with good.

Romans 16:19 For your obedience reached to all; therefore, I rejoice over you. But I desire you to be truly wise as to good, but simple toward evil.

Ephesians 4:28 The one stealing, let him steal no more, but rather let him labor, working what is good with the hands, that he may have something to give to the one that has need.

Ephesians 4:29 Let not any filthy word go out of your mouth, but if any is good to building up in respect to the need, that it may give grace to the ones hearing.

1Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one returns evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all.

1Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things, hold fast to the good.

1Timothy 2:10 but what becomes women professing fear of God, through good works.

1Timothy 3:13 For those having served well gain a good grade for themselves and much boldness in faith, those in Christ Jesus.

1Timothy 5:10 being witnessed by good works, if she brought up children, if she hosted strangers, if she washed the feet of the saints, if she relieved afflicted ones, if she followed after every good work.

1Timothy 5:25 Likewise, also the good works are plain beforehand, and those otherwise cannot be hidden.

1Timothy 6:17 Charge the rich in the present age not to be high-minded, nor to set hope on the uncertainty of riches, but in the living God, He offering to us richly all things for enjoyment; 18 to do good, to be rich in good works, to be ready to share, generous, 19 treasuring up for themselves a good foundation for the coming age, that they may lay hold on everlasting life.

2Timothy 2:21 Then if anyone purifies himself from these, he will be a vessel to honor, having been sanctified and made useful to the Master, having been prepared to every good work.

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but by their works they deny Him, being abominable and disobedient, and worthless to every good work.

Titus 2:3 aged women likewise in reverent behavior, not slanderers, not having been enslaved by much wine, teachers of good,

Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready in every good work,

1Peter 2:12 having your behavior good among the nations, in that which they speak against you as evildoers; by observing your good works, they may glorify God in a day of visitation.

1Peter 2:15 because so is the will of God, doing good to silence the ignorance of foolish men;

1Peter 2:20 For what glory is it if you patiently endure while sinning and being buffeted? But if you are suffering while doing good, and patiently endure, this is a grace from God.

1Peter 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose children you became, doing good, and fearing no terror. Gen. 18:12

1Peter 3:11 Let him turn aside from evil, and let him do good. Let him seek peace, and pursue it;

1Peter 3:13 And who is the one harming you if you become imitators of the good?

1Peter 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God wills it, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

3 John 1:11 Beloved, do not imitate the bad, but the good. The one doing good is of God; but the one doing bad has not seen God.

Strength in Weakness?
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Had enough??? Convinced? If we are busy pursuing and focusing on the good, we will have little time to worry about sin. The Pharisees brought destruction upon themselves by focusing on the law and sin. The law brings only death. It is grace by the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf that brings life and salvation. Jesus' sacrifice was a gift of good, not an avoidance of the bad. We want to give good things, too, and not be overly concerned with the bad. It is not that we ignore the bad. We don't want to be hypocrites and poison our good works by committing sin along with them.

But we always want to be mindful that we can never be perfect. So we will worry about love. I wrote a whole article on it for you. But as regards sin and weakness, it is actually a way for God to sort of show off. Let me show you.

2 Corinthians 12:6 Though if I wish to boast, I shall not be a fool, for I shall be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; 9 but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

So you see, for God and for His son, it is a matter of bragging that the will of the Father can be carried out in sin and weakness. So let us stop carrying on about entertainment and things that are not of great importance. They can even be a matter of learning for us. That brings me to my next point.

What is the Harm?
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Surely, it is no surprise to anyone that a knife or a saw are immensely useful tools for us. It enables us to cut and prepare meat to eat. We cut rope, string, cloth, paper, wood, and all sorts of things to advance us along in our lives. In fact, a very sharp knife, known as a scalpel, can be used by a doctor to save lives. Yet these very same sharp instruments can also be used to kill people. Ironic, no? The knife in itself is not bad or sin. It is neutral. It can not harm or do good. It is completely dependant on the person who uses it, whether he does so for good or for evil.

I have found that much the same with many things in life. For instance, we can learn from a book, or we can merely use it as entertainment and not bother to learn a thing from it. Whether we choose to learn anything from it is up to us. In fact, nearly everything that happens to us in life can teach us something. Yet many people go throughout their whole lives learning very little. Why? Because they choose not to. They do not exercise their minds. The mind can be very active and involved or very passive and inactive. Using the mind and trying to learn takes effort and energy.

So we can learn a lot watching TV, even the bad shows on TV. Whether we do learn anything depends on if we are willing to try to see anything and learn anything or just sit there like a dummy and not think about what we saw and witnessed. It is like this for all of life. We can choose to learn or choose to ignore any potential lessons. So when one watches or reads or hears about sin, through a book, through someone telling us about something, or through a TV show or program, it is an opportunity to learn if we want. Or we can just let it slip away. Experience is in vain if we gain nothing from it. And whether we get something from it is up to us.

There are lessons to learn from people who do not know or obey God. There are things to be learned from their experiences, their stories, their entertainment, and their recreation. We can learn from all these things. So they are not completely in vain. And being the curious inquisitive creatures that we are, it is normal to want to explore those things. Explore them but do not occupy the better amount of your time with them. Learn and move on.

So I see no need to be overly cautious about watching sin, seeing sin, or being around it. We can not avoid that. We want to learn and avoid the bad things and bad consequences that they often experience by their pursuit of bad, whether they realize it is bad or not. So a little exploration initially or occasionally, will not be dangerous. We learn of much sin, right from the Bible, itself. Consider this.

1 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The word of God is powerful. No sin can overcome the truth of the word of God. Sin can be made subject to the word of God. Sin has no power over us, though it is all around us at all times. If we have the armor of God, we are nearly invincible.

Ephesians 6: 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; 16 besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Our war is not with entertainment or the people who enjoy it. Our war is a war of knowledge and propaganda. We are not to be fooled by the lies of the devil if we have the word of God. So we do not need to walk around like gutless cowards, fearing the sin that is all around us. We know it is sin, and we know where it leads to. We know not to be misled by it or join in it.

2 Corinthians 10:3 For walking about in flesh, we do not war according to flesh; 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful to God in order to pull down strongholds, 5 pulling down imaginations and every high thing lifting up itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ.

So let us not shrink back from those things around us that we can not control. We can over come them and learn from them, too. The Bible will help us to make sense of them. It can do that. It makes us capable of any good work and any thing we take on, we can master. That does not mean we recklessly throw caution to the wind. But we can investigate and explore some without imagining that we will die or be punished for doing so.

Walking by the Spirit
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The real challenge is in walking that fine balance. Exploring ourselves and our world is one thing, constantly occupying our mind with bad things, always minding and tending to the flesh rather than the spirit would cause us great harm on the other hand.

If all we do is feed our minds on vain entertainment and fleshly pleasures, luxury, and the like, we will soon be off the path of life and heading for death and condemnation.

The Bible warns us about sowing with a view to the flesh and always dwelling on things of the flesh, and there are many such things. We want to be mindful of the spirit and minding the things of the spirit. We walk according to the spirit and not according to the flesh. Romans has much to say about that.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to Spirit.

Romans 8:4 So that the righteous demand of the law might be fulfilled in us, those not walking according to flesh, but according to Spirit. 5 For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh. And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;

Romans 8:9 But you are not in flesh, but in Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, this one is not His.

Romans 8:13 for if you live according to flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.

Now how do we walk by the spirit and not the flesh if indeed, we are imperfect in the flesh and continue to sin in the flesh? It is when we focus our thoughts and activities more on things of the spirit, rather than the flesh. Indeed, we all give some attention to the flesh or we would all die. And many things of the flesh are not sin. But when we give far more attention to the flesh than to things of the spirit and of God, then we are no longer walking according to the spirit, but walking according to the flesh, giving it more prominence, more priority, than we do God. We make the flesh an idol over and above our heavenly Father.

So in all things, we should find ourselves paying much more attention to reading the Bible, learning about God, encouraging and up-building our brothers and sister in the faith, carrying on in love and fine works. If we are doing that, we will not have a lot of time left to devote to the flesh. That does not mean we will be completely free from it. But if far more is done in the spirit than in the flesh, then it is not likely that the fleshly temptations will overcome us and lead us to destruction.

So our best defense against temptation and sin which is all around us, is to have lots to do with Godly matters, what we call things of the spirit. In addition, it is always easy to see the good and desirable parts of sin. Sex is exciting and wonderful. But it is also full of many harms and consequences such as disease, pregnancy, hurt feelings, dangerous obsessions, etc. We need to give lots of attention to the consequences as well as the pleasures. Keeping the consequences ever before us helps to put the sin in a proper perspective and balance.

The biggest danger of sex and nearly any other sin or addiction/obsession is that it occupies all our time and thinking. Life was and is meant and intended by God to be meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling. If we give all our attention to pleasure and getting high in one way or another, we don't get anything done. We don't live as we were intended to live and we miss out on so much. We throw our lives away and use them vainly.

Our minds are beautiful and useful gifts from God. They were meant for great things. They were not meant to be squandered only on sensual pleasure. Indeed, it can and should be said that to waste time on meaningless pursuits is a sin, the biggest sin. God does nothing without meaning and purpose. We are made in God's image. We should do little without meaning and purpose. Our image should reflect that of God. In fact, I believe that if we want true happiness and fulfillment in our lives, we can only accomplish that by pursuing the right course in life, one of meaning and purpose. Drugs, alcohol, sex, material comforts, none of those things give any real meaning to life. A certain amount of sex in the right context is for a purpose. But sex is not a purpose in itself. It serves other means. Sex gives us good reason to want to cooperate and get along with our mate so as to maintain that good relationship and keep the sex happening. It also keeps pregnancy and child birth happening, too.

So we want to put all things in the right balance and perspective to live balanced healthy, happy, meaningful lives in harmony with God and His great purpose for us all. So we want to pursue things that produce the fruits of the spirit rather than the flesh. And the things that produce the fruits of the spirit are the things of the spirit, the things of God.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, self-control. Against such things there is not a law.

What pursuits produce such fruits? The pursuit of love! Love for God. Love for each other. Love is really what life is all about. Not love as in sex, though a couple in love certainly enjoy that aspect of love. But love based on principle. God's purpose and the excellence of the pursuit of love are both covered under Related Articles for you. Love for God, love for your children, love for life, love for your wife or husband, your friends and your neighbors, love for the earth. These things will produce the fruits of the spirit. Enjoy!

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Love, The Most Important Christian Pursuit
Vulgar and Sexual language in the Bible
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Lying Signs and Wonders

Christian Requirements
What is Being Spiritual?

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