What The Bible Says

What The Bible Says

“What The Bible Says - Vol. 3 / No. 16”

What The Bible Says

Vol. III - No. 16 / January 3, 2021

ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUSTS

    War is terrible. Casualties take so many forms, with some being innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The atrocities of war are nearly beyond belief. The old adage, “all is fair in war” has been played out time and again through the ages as people have suffered the ravages of warfare. Since the American Civil War, we have very little historical experience with war on our own turf, and no personal experience whatsoever with war in our own backyards. For Americans, war is always something we wage “over there.”

    Our shores have been safe from the all-out bombardments which other societies have frequently experienced and for whom there is almost automatic acceptance that warfare is a fact of life. The carnage of dead bodies strewn about the shattered streets of our hometown is a picture we have not seen. Try to imagine your home a bombed-out shell. Picture in your mind your livestock slaughtered, your workplace destroyed, and your way of life completely decimated. Visualize if you can the little children of your neighborhood with missing limbs, or raped, or perhaps dead. Most of us cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to live in war-besieged places like Iraq, Croatia, or Palestine. There, human life is so poorly regarded that the leaders of these peoples do not mind spilling the blood of their own countrymen in what sometimes appears to be senseless, petty strife. Perhaps those of our nation who have seen active combat know something the rest of us do not. War is not pretty, and those who glory in it are misguided. It is serious business, and armed conflict always produces loss from which neither the victor nor the conquered ever fully recovers.

    If carnal warfare is merciless and horrific, how must more so the spiritual warfare in which Christians are engaged. Peter warns the readers of his epistle to realize the seriousness of the struggle they were making against immorality of all sorts. In fact, he uses several strong terms in 1 Peter 2:11 to impress the imagery upon the minds of first century Christians, and also upon us. He wrote “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.” Since we are really living in a place which is not home to us, we must be careful lest we succumb to the alluring temptations of the flesh. Just as American travelers must not drink the water in some foreign lands no matter how sparkling pure, and refreshing is may appear –– even so Christians in the world must avoid the contaminants to our souls which come so attractively packaged. A Nigerian preacher friend of mine learned this lesson in a severe way upon visiting the United States. The rich, fat, sweet diet of Americans proved to be intolerable for his bland stomach. Those southern pecan pies were so alluring, but eating an entire pie at once will sicken the best of Southerners, much less a Nigerian! Peter said we must “abstain,” which literally means “to hold oneself constantly back from.” Fleshly lusts are seductive, promising, and so palatable – especially at the first. Solomon’s wise instruction concerning the fleshly lust of alcohol is an appropriate illustration of the fact that it may be alluring at first, but in the end “it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper” (Proverbs 23:32).

    These “fleshly lusts” of which Peter speaks “war against the soul.” If a good military strategist never underestimates his enemy, then Christians must surely realize that lust is a serious deterrent to spirituality. Lusts of the flesh are insidious and powerful. They mean to win, not just tease and toy with the Christians affections. Pornography entices and excites, then enslaves. Filthy speech is at first “cute” or “cool,” but becomes a mindset reflecting a soiled heart. Adultery titillates the libido, but ultimately destroys the soul and even the body. Immodesty is at first “trendy” and “fashionable”, but finally lewd and lascivious. “It’s war out there,” dear brothers. Arm yourselves with the Spirit’s sword and shield and do battle for your spiritual self-preservation.
—Mark White

 

WHAT IS FAITH?

    Some think faith is opposed to reason and fact. Faith goes beyond just believing something. True faith is when we know what we believe, why we believe it, and are committed to acting in accordance with it. Anything less than this is not true faith. This is the faith we must have in God and the Bible.

    Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." How can we have faith in things that we have not seen. Verse 6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Though we may not can see, we do have solid evidence and we must believe the evidence that is given. Verse 6 shows us the two things we must believe: (1) “GOD IS”. What is the evidence? "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork."(Psalms 19:1). In Romans 1:18-22 we see nature given as further evidence so that those who do not believe in God are "without excuse". Evidence for God abounds if we are only willing to accept it. (2) GOD REWARDS THOSE “WHO DILIGENTLY SEEK HIM”. This is a promise and we can believe it because the Bible is a testimony to God's faithfulness. God always carries out His promises. Thus, as the Scriptures teach, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

    John 20:24-31 is the record of the apostle Thomas who would not believe Jesus had resurrected unless he saw and felt the nailprints in Jesus. When Jesus appeared, He told Thomas, "...Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that HAVE NOT SEEN, and yet have believed." (verse 29). The basis for believing without seeing can be found in verses 30-31: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." We believe in Jesus to be the Son of God because of the EVIDENCE He presented while on this earth. 

    Someone may say, "Since we have not seen them first hand, how can they be proven?". They are as much proven as any historical event. How do we know George Washington was the first president of the United States or that Columbus sailed to America? They are accepted as facts of history. So it is with the life of Christ and what He did.

    True faith is based on evidence. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." (2 Peter 1:16). We are accepting the testimony of eyewitnesses.

    We believe because God has provided sufficient evidence of His existence and faithfulness. We must have a faith anchored in fact. "For we walk by faith, not by sight:" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
—E.R. Hall, Jr.

 

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Albertville, AL 35950
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