The Five Second Rule?

The Five Second Rule?

I’ve been listening lately to a best-selling author and speaker who claims that you can change your life in 5 seconds, by acting on impulse within that time. It certainly might get you off the couch. It’s better to do something than do nothing, right? Sounds like a great self-improvement idea!

But there is a flaw in the reasoning of the 5 Second Rule.

As believers, we are rarely instructed by God to be hasty in action or decisions. The Creator of our souls understands us best and gives reasons why we should not do what comes to mind – without giving it more than 5 seconds of thought.

Prov. 14:7-8 says, “Stay away from a foolish man;
you will gain no knowledge from his speech.
The sensible man’s wisdom is to consider his way,
but the stupidity of fools deceives them.”

vs. 12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.

Vs 15-17 The inexperienced one believes anything,
but the sensible one watches his steps.
16 A wise man is cautious and turns from evil,
but a fool is easily angered and is careless.

vs. 29 A patient person shows great understanding,
but a quick-tempered one promotes foolishness.

Also,

Prov. 19:2
Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

But is there a time we should be quick to respond to an impulse or motivation?  Yes.

Be quick to listen. James 1:19 – My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

Be quick to obey the Lord. Psalm 119:60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.

Be quick to love and forgive. Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Be quick and diligent to do what we already know is right. James 4:17  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

What about when you are not sure what God wants you to do?

Wait on Him for wisdom and ask for it.
James 1:6 – If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

The Disney admonition to “Follow Your Heart” is not wise. Our hearts can deceive us. Emotions can mislead us. We are to be led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8), and He never disagrees with His own Word. So, we can pray for wisdom, study the Scriptures, and wait on the LORD when we are unsure of direction. When we know the right thing to do, we should act. But even in acting, we need to be thoughtful about how we do it, not impulsive. It is far too easy for our “flesh,” our fallen natural tendencies, to cause us to do something right in the wrong way. If we are led by the Spirit, instead of our own sinful nature, we will do the right thing, and we will have the strength and the will to do it.

Because it is God who works in us to will and to do His good pleasure! (Phil. 2:13)

We do not trust in our own hearts, our own impulses or timing to direct us if we want to live Godly lives and produce good work that pleases our Father.
Prov. 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.

He who promised is Faithful, and He will do it!  (1 Thess. 5:24)

This One Thing I Do

As I think about the Apostle Paul’s qualifications and calling (mentioned in Philippians 3), I’m encouraged and humbled. He had so much of the world’s accreditation. A pharisee of pharisees would be the equivalent of “professor of professors.” He went to the best school – studying under Gamaliel, came from a notable family line (of Benjamin – which King Saul came from), and had been given authority over even the lives of others, politically. In the world’s eyes, he was a success.

How often I am distracted by the expectations of this world and become intimidated by other people who seem to be successful.  I feel very small. While there have been some notable people in my family line, I am not one of them. Ralph Waldo Emerson is an ancestor. I’ve done some writing… but cannot compare myself to him. I’ve done teaching, but don’t have a masters or a doctorate, though my father and grandfather had those achievements. I have some ability, and have created some original things. But in these also, am not recognized by those beyond my small circle of influence. By the world’s standards, there is little to recommend me. I can look at that – and be stopped in my tracks from pressing on.

The Apostle Paul was an achiever of achievers. But he considered all the world’s accolades as “dung,” that he might have something better.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”  Phil. 3: 7-9

He fixed his eyes on that prize..

  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”  Phil. 3:12-14

The author of Hebrews encourages me too. The audience we run for are those who have gone on ahead, in the Hall of Faith not the Hall of Fame.

 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3

Both forgetting past victories and failures, with eyes on Jesus and what He has done, not on self, my confidence is  in Him and His ability. He has also promised to finish the work He began in me. Phil. 1:6 says, For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. I can have hope for success in the eyes of the One who really matters, and not be distracted by the praise or the put-downs of this world.

It isn’t always easy. The voices of the world are pretty loud. This is why it is important to be careful what voices we heed and believe what God says is true about us, instead of what the world thinks. Then – our praise will come from God. Then – our success will be lasting. We can have hope in His ability working through us.

 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”   1 Corinthians 1:25-31

May He who gave us life renew our sense of purpose!

1 Thess 5:24 “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it!”

 

Reasoning vs Quarreling

Proverbs 18:13
“He who answers before listening— that is his folly and his shame.”

 Ephesians 4:15
… “speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”

 Proverbs 18:17
“The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him.”

  What kinds of arguments are quarreling? “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient… in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.” 1 Timothy 2: 23-25

 When my children were young, their arguments would end up with: “Yes, it is!” – “No, it isn’t” – “Yes, it is” – “No, it isn’t”. Adults don’t do this, do they? Actually, when we argue a position without bringing evidence and new information to the table, we are doing exactly the same thing. This would be called an “ignorant dispute”. Truth brings light, and that should be our endeavor. We are not trying to “win” as much as educate and learn. As we listen to our opponent, we may find that they have good information that we were lacking. It is important to be humble enough to gratefully accept new evidence that has been well proven, and adjust our thinking to the truth. You do not “lose” a debate when you learn and grow! Even the one who concedes the debate has won something. A new perspective!

 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:2

 If you are discussing an issue that is addressed in Scripture, it is crucial to know what God says about it. Be sure you are taking evidence in context and not manipulating verses by withholding parts of the text (if they would change the perspective of the argument). While it usually isn’t necessary to post entire Bible chapters, read through the surrounding verses to understand context before using them in an argument so they are not misused. Reference your sources as you quote them. As your opponent uses Scripture to address their arguments, check the context of their references to verify their points. Do this with other evidence as well. Be sure to ask for the source and context, if it isn’t obvious.

 “…holding fast to the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.” Titus 1:9

 When debating a topic with those of like faith, we should not need to use a sharp rebuke. There are times for it though. John the Baptist sharply rebuked King Herod for his incest and adultery. Jesus sharply rebuked the Pharisees. I can only think of one rebuke of a believer to another faithful believer: Paul rebuked Peter in front of the whole crowd, because he was being a hypocrite and leading so many into error. Galatians 2:11-14.

Also: But toward the Cretans (lazy gluttons and liars) “Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” Titus 1:13

 The purpose of rebuke is to “save the hearers” and for the wandering believer – repentance and restoration; not alienation. If the issue is serious, be firm, but kind. If you feel your opponent is being too harsh, you may be misreading them. Unfortunately, with the written word, you cannot see the person’s face or hear their tone.

 “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed.” Titus 2:7-8

 As you go out “into the world” you will have many opponents. This is the time of preparation. Gather a storehouse of wisdom and knowledge. Become skilled in researching and expressing your faith as it applies to the issues of the day and you will become an effective worker in God’s field! I recommend reading Proverbs to have a solid foundation of wisdom, but all of Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuke, exhortation, correction and instruction in righteousness.

 I encourage you to pray over your posts and replies on social media as well. Ask God for wisdom. He promises to give it!  James 1:5.

 When your opponent makes an assertion, it is their job to defend their position. You do not have to convince them with your own arguments to agree with your point of view, though you may do so. It is often quite effective to challenge their viewpoint with the following tactical questions, shared by Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason; “What do you mean by that?” and “How did you come to that conclusion?” If they must define their terms and give their evidence, they may actually see the flaws in their own thinking before you ever have to present your own arguments or defend your view! The one making the claim has the burden of proof. For more information on this topic, I recommend “Tactics for Defending the Faith” by Greg Koukl.

 When in an official debate and asked a direct question by your opponent, you can still use these two tactical questions but it is fine (for the sake of the audience present) to proceed with presenting your own evidence. If you have made a claim of any sort, it is your obligation to:

1. Answer the opponent’s questions without deviation or distraction from the point. Make sure you understand what they are asking. “He who answers before listening, it is his folly and his shame.” Prov. 18:13.

 2. Present your views simply and clearly. Define your terms and give evidence to back up any assertions you make. Two or three are sufficient. “By the testimony of two or three witnesses let every fact be established.” 2 Cor. 13:1.

 3. Avoid logical fallacies! (For a study on those, see http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/616394/posts)

 In brief: don’t attack the person, attack the argument. Also, deal with the argument given, not merely responding with points you want to make. Answer your opponent’s point with a proper counter-point.

 4. Be respectful in tone, considering your opponent’s views, not purposefully offending or taking offense. Even if the subject matter is dear to your heart, keep your arguments objective. Anger puts up walls. For purposes of street-debate, acknowledge wherever they have made a valid point or argument. The purpose is for both parties to come to truth, not merely to convince each other of their bias.

 5. Avoid use of or acronyms for profanity. Lewdness, irreverence (about God) or degrading conversation is not fitting for a believer.

 Rules for debating on social media include the points made above, but additionally:

 – When referring to your opponents post, quote them specifically, using quotes, and separate their quote from yours with a line space.

 – Use line space between each of your points. Bullets or numbering are helpful.

 – Do not use all caps. It is the same as shouting.

 – When dealing with personal matters, take it to a private e-mail or private message. Don’t air anyone’s dirty laundry or angst on social media.

 – If you are arguing with a fool who only rages and laughs and there is no peace you have two choices. You can leave them alone in their ignorance – as they don’t have any interest in gaining wisdom (Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.” Prov. 23:9), or you can continue to make your points winsomely, for the sake of the audience who may have been otherwise misled by false teaching. In Scripture, they are called the “simple.” This includes children who stand by, listening. It’s up to you. Decide if there is value in continuing. Both speaking to a fool and not speaking are defensible, Bibilically. (Prov. 1:4-7 and 26:4-5)

 In summary, keep in mind that the person you are debating with may have very strong feelings about their subject. Do not belittle them but respectfully, present your evidence to the contrary for their consideration. Sometimes asking a question instead of voicing an opinion will go farther to convince someone of your view. The evidence may be strong, but do not use name calling (ad hominem) when referring to your opponent. Speak the truth in love. Be objective. This is important. Don’t let yourself nurse hurt feelings. “Love is not easily offended”  1 Corinthians 13. Assume the best intentions on the part of your opponent. Remember to listen before answering. If you don’t know exactly what they mean, you can ask for clarification.

 So, let us encourage one another and build each other up, spurring one another on to love and good deeds. And most of all, in humility, seek the truth, together.

Running the Race and Finishing Well

The Apostle Paul compares the life of a believer to “running the race.” It is a marathon that takes character qualities of endurance that sprinting doesn’t. Each mile provides the opportunity for developing the character for the next one. Each person’s run looks different. There will be a variety of terrain and different runners alongside who either encourage or discourage us. We run as wisely as we know how, but our race could be cut short because of unexpected tragedy or illness. So it is important to run well, while we can and be ready to cross our own finish line when the LORD brings us in.

How do we run well?

“Run the race set before you…” We cannot choose to run another’s for them. God has given us each a calling that is unique. As we fulfill His purpose for us – not someone else’s, not our own, but His – we begin well. Choosing which course to run begins with knowing Christ. By exchanging our own plans for ourselves for His and receiving His power to go on. As we run, we fix our eyes on Jesus who stands at the finish line, while His Spirit runs alongside and fills us with hope and strength.

Because we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, when difficulties come, we are more than conquerors. If we choose to look at our own feet and become discouraged at our own ability, or compare ourselves to other runners, we will stumble. Perhaps we will fall. He is there to help us back up and get us on track – if we will let Him.

Running the race well does not mean never stumbling, but it does mean always getting back up. It does mean keeping our eyes fixed on the goal of our salvation and not becoming distracted with other goals of the world. Many start the race well, but not everyone will finish well.

Our God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. So let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith and run the race with endurance. Let us encourage each other as long as it is called today to run well. At last, we shall meet each other at the finish line and be welcomed home with the words, “Well done.”

Understanding God – Is it Possible?

Did you grow up in church hearing the same Bible stories every year? I did. In fact, kids get little else, from preschool through 6th grade. Afterward they are thrown into Youth Group where they tackle tough issues, with very little intellectual ammo. They are admonished to “just believe.”

Now, without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), but without an understanding of His Word, what is our faith in? Are we doing our youth a disservice by not equipping them with more than Bible Stories? Is the study of God only for theologians? (Theology means the study of God.) Is it only for those who have studied Greek and Hebrew and have been to seminary?

Some may assert that it’s impossible to really know God.

“He is so far beyond and above us!”

We shouldn’t try to understand, just believe.” And they call that, faith. But is that what the Scripture teaches? Let’s take a closer look.

The Word admonishes us to seek to know Him and grow in wisdom and knowledge of the LORD. The prophet Jeremiah expresses this well.

Jeremiah 9:23-24
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness on the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

But if “His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts above our thoughts,” how can we say we understand Him? What about that verse?

The context is Isaiah 55 and the LORD is reaching out to and calling those who are disobedient and unbelieving, to repent and come to Him.

Isaiah 55
6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the
Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the
Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So, the wicked man’s thoughts are far beneath God’s. But does that mean ours are at the same level as God’s? We should not assume such a thing! God is holy and we are human. His creation.

We who have the Spirit of the Living God indwelling, have a supernatural ability to know and understand the LORD. That this is not our own ability, but His, working in us.

1 Corinthians 2
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,

nor the heart of man imagined,

what God has prepared for those who love him”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The LORD calls us to know Him, and enables us to know Him. And it is our prayer to know Him, better, every day.

Ephesians 4
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to tthe unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to itheir hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greed and the practice of every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

So, is the study of God only for those who have studied Greek and Hebrew and have been to seminary? While we are to grow in both grace and knowledge and not remain infants – God has called the children, the uneducated, and the underprivileged to sit at His table and learn from Him. If it were not so, we would have something to boast about. But in fact, this kind of grace comes to those who humble themselves and receive what God provides, not exalting in our own ability or wisdom. The world’s wisdom is insufficient.

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

And 1 Cor. 2
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 26
Brothers, consider the time of your calling: Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were powerful; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

He has revealed Himself even to little children.
Luke 10:21 (and Matt. 11:25)
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in your sight.

Those who fear the LORD and serve Him, have the privilege of knowing Him.

Psalm 25:14
The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His covenant to them.

2 Peter 3
17 Therefore, beloved, since you already know these things, be on your guard not to be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure standing. 18 But grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forevermore. Amen.

Is It Ever Right To Lie?

Is it ever right to tell a lie?  We all know that “honesty is the best policy,” and have been taught from a young age that lying is wrong. We try to instill honesty in our own children and it’s easier to just make it a cut and dry issue. But the reality isn’t so simple. As we study history and learn about the Jews who were tortured and killed by NAZIs, we want to identify with the heroes who hid them and lied to the enemy to save lives. It seems natural and right to do so. But should they have confessed that as a sin to God in prayer, afterward? Even though it seemed like a good lie at the time?  We will look at the Biblical rule for honesty, but first, examine the exceptions to the rule. 

#1.  In wartime to defeat an enemy:

2 Chronicles 18:18-22  Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing on His right hand and His left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will persuade Ahab king of Israel to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, and said, ‘I will persuade him.’ The Lord said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the Lord said, ‘You shall persuade him and also prevail; go out and do so.’ Therefore look! The Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets of yours, and the Lord has declared disaster against you!.” 

Examples from our day: Counter-intelligence and undercover work, misdirection used by the military or intelligence community during war time.  …”to the devious You show Yourself shrewd.” – Psalm 18:26

 https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/05/ghost-army-the-inflatable-tanks-that-fooled-hitler/276137/

#2. To save an innocent life. 

Exodus 1:15-21  Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” The midwives said to Pharoah, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.

These midwives are also listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11.

A current example of this kind of righteous deception is Lila Rose, who went undercover at Planned Parenthood to expose their evil. She pretended to be a woman in need of their services and secretly filmed the discussions.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abdvj7rPpjA&feature=relmfu

#3. To hide or protect the people of God and save your own life:

Joshua 6:22-25   But Joshua had said to the two men who had spied out the country, “Go into the harlot’s house, and from there bring out the woman and all that she has, as you swore to her.” And the young men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, her mother, her brothers, and all that she had. So they brought out all her relatives and left them outside the camp of Israel. But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.

Rahab is also mentioned in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) and became an ancestor of the Messiah. Because she feared the Lord, she was blessed.

An example from history is Corrie Ten Boom. She lied as she bought supplies and forged passports for the Jews that lived in her household. She saved her own life and the lives of those under her care.

These examples represent the higher law of preserving innocent life and fearing God.

These are exceptions to the general rule of speaking the truth, and only under these kinds of circumstances would lying or deception be acceptable and right. We know that God hates lies for His Word says in Revelation 21:8 …”But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Honesty is the rule our lives are governed by. 

Exodus 23:7  Stay away from making a false charge. Don’t put an innocent person who is in the right to death, because I will not consider innocent those who do such evil.

Leviticus 19:11  “You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another.

Psalm 15

1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly,
    And works righteousness,
    And speaks the truth in his heart;
He who does not backbite with his tongue,
    Nor does evil to his neighbor,
    Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
    Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.

Proverbs 24:28
Don’t testify against your neighbor without cause. Don’t deceive with your lips.

Zechariah 8:16  These are the things you shall do:
Speak each man the truth to his neighbor;
Give judgment in your gates for truth, justice, and peace…

Ephesians 4:15  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Colossians 3:9  Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices.

 So, we are to be honest with God and with other believers. We are not to lie about others – which is slander and perjury (when in court giving witness). We don’t use lies to cover up for our own sin, but confess what we have done and repent of it. We do not deceive to get our own way or gain profit.

It is not wrong to deceive an enemy or to conceal a truth in order to save lives or wage war in defense of our family or country. While the lines may seem blurry at times, they really aren’t. The rule is honesty, but the higher law is a greater truth – for life and faithfulness to God.

Is God Really Good?

Is God good? If so, why is there evil in the world?

The saying “God is in control” quoted after a tragedy caused by human sin, has become so common that I don’t think most people ever question it. The absolute control of God seems intrinsically tied to His being God. But this supposed axiom does bring God’s goodness, into question. The problem of evil lies in direct opposition to the very nature of God and gives atheists room to challenge us on God’s character. Looking at it logically, here is what the unbeliever’s argument for the problem of evil looks like.

(A priori assumption: Christianity claims God is perfectly good and absolutely powerful.)

The Argument:
1. If God is perfectly good, then He is always willing to prevent evil
and If God is infinitely powerful, then he is always able to prevent evil.

2. But God is either unwilling or unable to prevent evil (because evil does exist).

Therefore God is either not infinitely powerful or He isn’t perfect.

The conclusion drawn by the unbeliever is, the God of Christianity doesn’t exist!  This is a valid argument, logically. There is nothing wrong with the form. For a logically valid argument (Constructive Dilemma) to be in error, there must be a false premise somewhere.

Whatever our opinions are, they should come second to what God says about Himself. Some things to consider:

Is God honest about His will, or has He been deceptive – saying the opposite of what He means to those who seek to follow Him? Does God have absolute control at all times, or has He delegated to men and to angels, power that is genuine? Does His Word state that the wicked deeds of men are His intentional and good plan, or that He despises their deeds and would never command such a thing?

I will address the Constructive Dilemma first.

If God is perfectly good”… This claim is substantiated in Scripture.
1 John 1:5 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him, there is no darkness at all.”

Hebrews 6:18 “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.”

Proverbs 15:9 “The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.”

James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.”

“then He would always be willing to prevent evil.” This part is more tricky and it’s where the atheists gain the most ground. Does goodness of God necessarily mean He must intervene whenever His creation is about to go off course? Does God indicate that His will manipulates the will of mankind in every case – or does His word indicate man is given authority and responsibility for his own actions? Is volition a greater good, so that mankind can grow and learn – just as children do in a household – from their own mistakes?

The assumption that God must morally intervene is based on a view that interference is the highest good. We know God is able to influence or turn man’s heart or intervene – but does He always do so?

Deut. 30:19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.”

Gal. 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.”

Hosea 10:12 “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.”

(If we refuse the offered mercy of God – He lets us alone, to our undoing.)

Romans 1:18-24The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts…”

In a few cases, the evil that men do falls into God’s bigger plan, though He never needed to compel them to sin. Corrupt men are in plentiful supply, and have been used by God to discipline other nations or maneuver His people into place.  It cannot be said that God tempted them to do evil, but that He knowingly let them go in the direction their hearts would take them, and brought good out of it.

The next conditional begins with:

If God is infinitely powerful …

God is awesomely powerful. I will attempt to show through Scripture that though there was a time, in the beginning, when God retained all power and authority for Himself and there will be a time again when all powers and authorities will be given back, He has actually delegated powers and authorities. This delegated power is real, and not in name only.There is some power God does not retain for Himself at present. He has done this, by His sovereign choice. Those who retain this delegated power may abuse it. These powers are not absolute, but limited, by God. Whether they have done wisely or not, they will all have to give an account for what they have done with their power and authority.

DELEGATED AUTHORITIES

Angels

Daniel 12:1-3  “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

Eph. 3:10 “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

The Church

1Cor. 6:3-4 “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church?”

Heb. 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

The Government (Rule of Law)
Romans 13:1-7 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.  Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Parents and Masters/employers.

Ephesians 6:1-8  Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—  “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.  Servants, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.  Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.  Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,  because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do…”

Husbands and Wives (authority structure with mutual respect)

Ephesians 5:22-33 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,  and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.  “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.


*
An argument could be made that Adam’s authority to have dominion over the earth was handed over to Satan, by him. Satan is called the “god of this world” in Scripture, and Jesus didn’t deny that Satan’s offer of the kingdoms of the earth was legitimate … but that is not within the scope of this argument, so we’ll give the devil his due, another day.

All delegated authorities will give an account someday to God. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

The last part of the second conditional is that God is able to prevent evil.

Argument: IF God has really delegated power and authority, then to prevent every evil deed would be mean He had not really delegated this power.

Question: So can man limit God by His disbelief and disobedience?

Ezekiel 18:23 “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

Matt. 23:37 (Jesus speaking) Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets, and stone those who are sent to you! How often I would have gathered your children together, even as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

Isaiah 65:2-3 “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts. A people who continually provoke Me to My face…”


As to the second part of the constructive dilemma:

“But God is either unwilling or unable to prevent evil (because evil does exist).
Therefore God is either not infinitely powerful or He isn’t perfectly good.”

By the previous verses (and there are others I could bring if needed), I have given evidence that God is not always willing to interfere, even when what is done is against His expressed will. Evil DOES exist because God condemns certain behaviors as evil.

He is not willing to remove the blessing of freedom from His creation, just to have His way at all times. He loved us enough and honored us enough to allow us choice. The choice is real and throughout Scripture, God tells us to choose wisely. We will have to answer to Him for our stewardship of this gift, but it is a gift, nonetheless.

But at this point, I must bring a clarification. Some will say that God made everything, so He must have made evil, too. They may quote the book of Job which says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”

So, isn’t this a contradiction to my proof?

No, it isn’t.

Evil (meaning wickedness) never comes from God. In Him there is no darkness, no sin, no shadow of turning from His holy nature. But, evil (in the King James version), may also be translated – catastrophe or disaster. Not all disasters are “an act of God,” specifically. Some are just a result of a fallen world and will be so until Jesus returns and reboots nature. But when God brings a disaster in judgment, it is because of His holiness. It is right and just for Him to condemn those who are evil and unrepentant and to bless those who are good, forgiving the sins of those who turn from them (Ezekiel 18).

Scripture indicates that evil appeared when free will creatures made a decision to turn from God. Ezekiel 28:11-17, is a parable about the King of Tyre compares him to Satan. In this passage, we can see how the devil became an evil being.

“‘You were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper,
lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.

So we can see that the devil was perfect in all his ways until the day sin was found in him.

According to Genesis 1, when God had completed all His creation, He called it very good. Evil, then, had to come about after this point.

It is likely that Satan fell from his high position at the time he tempted Adam and Eve. The curses God made on those who had sinned in Genesis 3, include a curse for the “snake” that had tempted Eve.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Gen. 3:15 This is a prophecy indicating that Satan would give a lot of trouble to mankind and in the end, Jesus would destroy the power of the devil, though he would be wounded in doing so.

So is God good? Yes, absolutely. Is God infinitely powerful? Not at present – because He has delegated some power. He is not willing to prevent the consequences of our actions, because we do learn from them, and consequences are important for justice, as well. Evil exists, and it is not God’s doing that it does. Not everything we consider evil, is really evil – since we cannot see as God does. Wickedness is evident, but disaster and suffering may have a purpose. After all, look at the suffering of Jesus Christ. That is the ultimate picture of the evil men do, and the suffering of an innocent, bringing about the greatest good. In these things, we can trust God – who knows a lot more about it than we do. We can be sure that He is constant in His nature. He is good. He is loving, but He is just and will not be mocked. Therefore, it is appropriate to honor and love and yes, even fear Him – but this is our choice. God will not force love. In fact, love cannot be forced.

As all other questions are answered, I’ll address the final two.

1. Does His Word state that the wicked deeds of men are His intentional and good plan, or that He despises and would never command such a thing? The Scripture is FULL of admonition to repent of evil and do good, and declares continually God’s anger at wickedness.

Jeremiah 32:35 “They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.”

While this section could go on for practically the length of the Bible, I’ll just add The Ten Commandments as an example. He has given a standard of morality that shows His own holiness.

2. Doesn’t He say, instead, that He is able to USE whatever happens, to His glory?
In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul says, “All things work together for the glory of God.”

When He rewards righteousness, God is glorified.
When people repent and God forgives them, His mercy is shown, and He is revered.
When people will not repent and cause great harm, and God brings justice, He is glorified as just.

The “problem of evil” in the world, is not really a problem after all.

And because “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” He does not always get His way.

And yet, His will IS that we choose. Free will is the greater good, with a risk, because love must be free. His ultimate redemptive will is accomplished. And for those of us who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) all things work together for our good. Even the bad things. He who began a good work in us is faithful, and He will complete it. God is good, all the time!