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Tag Archives: sin

Abraham In Gerar

“Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. (Genesis 20:2)

I still remember how horrible I felt that night when I was a young Christian, as the preacher related his stories at the close of the sermon. He had been talking about the Lord’s ability to instantly free the believer from sin’s hold on their life. He told us story after story of people who had been in bondage to all sorts of sinful behaviors who, upon coming to the Lord Jesus Christ, were immediately freed from even the faintest yearning for what they had recently been so passionate toward. “That man had smoked for over 30 years”, this preacher proclaimed, “And when he came to Christ, he NEVER had the desire for a cigarette again!” The boisterous “Amens!” and “Hallelujahs!” that filled the sanctuary after these words were spoken led me to believe that maybe I was the only person in the entire congregation who still struggled with sinful desires!

Many of us have heard accounts of people getting saved and being instantaneously delivered from an addiction or sinful desire that they have had most of their lives. I have no doubt that this does sometimes happen (I must confess that I personally have never met such an individual, but I take the stories told to me in good faith), but it seems to me that this is not the normal way that the Spirit of God operates in the lives of His people. The record of Scripture as well as the everyday experiences of those Christians who have confided in me enough to be completely candid about such matters testify to the fact that true holy living is usually something that takes place over time. When we come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the guilt of our sin is immediately wiped away and our position with God is changed in a single instant. But the ability to break some of our stubborn sinful habits is something that only just begins at that point.

I believe that the preacher who talked about those people instantaneously freed from their sinful desires that night was intending to do nothing but glorify the mighty ability of our precious Savior to free those who will put their trust in Him. But it made me seriously wonder why God would do that for some folks while others of us continued to struggle and flounder with the same sins over and over. Many students of God’s Word have been puzzled by the 20th Chapter of Genesis, asking why in the world is it even in the Bible? It looks so much like the events recorded back in Chapter 12, when Abraham and Sarah were in Egypt, and is so similar to what is later described in Genesis 26:6-16, that some scholars have suggested that the three accounts are all based on a single event and that a scribal error explains the redundancy. But when we truly understand mankind’s fleshly nature, there really is no puzzle at all. Honestly, I am glad that this chapter is in the Book of Genesis because it tells us that even Abraham was not beyond repeating the same sin more than once. We may not all have been instantly freed from our sinful desires when we received Salvation, but we are certainly in very distinguished company.

Abraham’s deception of Abimilech in Gerar is recorded right before the conception of Isaac (Genesis 21:2). It was necessary for Abraham to deal with this sin and get it out of his life before he could receive all that God planned for him to have. We may take comfort in the fact that Abraham apparently did not learn from his sin the first time in Egypt; in fact, we see that this ruse was a common practice that he and Sarah engaged in as they traveled about (v.13). But we must also realize that the time came for them to deal with this sin and get it out of their lives before God’s plan for them could go forward. So it is with us. We may struggle with the same sins again and again, and God is merciful to forgive us when we confess them to Him. But until we deal with them and trust in Him to free us from those sins, we will never receive all that He has intended for us.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 10, 2010]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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Does The Bible Say That Homosexuality Is Sin?

“And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.” (Genesis 19:6-7)

To be completely honest, I must admit that this is really a post that I wish was not necessary to write. There are so many spiritual truths that can be explored in Genesis 19 that it is quite unfortunate that time should need to be spent on something that I believe is a peripheral issue. I do not believe that the purpose of what we are told in Genesis 19:4-11 is to establish that the practice of homosexuality is sinful, nor do I think that this was the only, or even primary, sin that the people of Sodom were guilty of. Paul writes to the Romans that homosexuality itself is but a step in the descending depravity of mankind apart from God, but lists it along with a myriad of other wicked behaviors in the indictment of humanity (Romans 1:27-32). I think this whole sordid incident is recorded in Genesis 19:4-11 to demonstrate the depth of immorality that the citizens of Sodom had fallen into.

I say that it is unfortunate that time should be spent discussing the matter of homosexuality in a Bible study because I find it incredibly puzzling that it would be necessary to demonstrate that sin is sin. No argument should be necessary, this ought to be a foregone conclusion. However, we have but to look at current events to realize that there is an attack being made today against God’s Word on the subject as people are twisting and misinterpreting the Bible to allege that no prohibition is ever really made: specifically or implicitly. I read in my local newspaper only a week or two ago about a “seminar” being hosted by a local church (of a major denomination, I might add) wherein the topic of being a homosexual Christian was to be discussed. Apparently, even a documentary celebrating prominent homosexual practitioners in church leadership was scheduled to be presented.

There have always been those who will do whatever they want, regardless of what God has to say about it. In fact, all of us were exactly that way before we came to faith in Christ. Until recently, there was no denial that the Word of God clearly condemned the practice of homosexuality. But now the effort is being made to cast a shadow of doubt and re-interpret the Scriptures in order to manufacture a Biblical support for this lifestyle. Therefore, since the purpose of this website is to look to God’s Word for answers, let us see what the Bible really does have to say on the subject:

Was The Sin Of The Sodomites Homosexuality Or The Desire To Commit Rape?

A major objection raised against this passage is the assertion that the only sin here is that the men of Sodom sought to force themselves on the two angelic visitors of Lot. Rape, they say, is the abomination, not consensual homosexuality. Yet in Genesis 19:4-5, there is no threat of force nor violence toward Lot and his visitors. Where are the men?…bring them out that we may know them, the townspeople say. Lot responds, “I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly” (v.7). Of course, the threats of violence do follow afterward, but at first it is merely their perverse lust that causes Lot to label their desires as wicked. At the risk of sounding crude, may I say that it seems that, if consensual homosexual practice was an acceptable and valid “orientation” (as those raising this objection suggest), why didn’t Lot ask the two angelic visitors if they wanted to go out to the men? If God indeed makes some people homosexual, how would Lot know that these two visitors were not made that way?

Is The Prohibition Against Homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22, And 20:13 Still Valid?

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

A major objection to verses such as these is that they are found in the Old Testament. The argument is made that we are no longer living under the laws of the Old Testament. While it is true that in Christ we live under Grace and not Law (e.g., Romans 6:14), it is also true that sin was not redefined with the coming of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-18). If anything, the Lord Jesus’ definition of sin is even more restrictive than the Law of Moses because it focuses not only on actions, but thoughts and attitudes (e.g., Matthew 5:27-28).

Admittedly, dietary laws and regulations were changed (Acts 10:13-15), and some laws and penalties were specific to the nation of Israel. We are not living in a Theocracy today such as ancient Israel was, so God does not expect us to put offenders to death for their sins. With this in mind, the only changes that we can be safe in asserting are those specifically given. It is fallacious to assume that Jesus wiped the slate of the Old Testament clean and repealed every definition of sin when He came to Earth. For the most part, if it was sin in the Old Testament, then it is still sin in the New. Additionally, homosexuality is still specifically called sin in the New Testament, anyway, as we will see in a moment.

But Jesus “Hung Out” With Sinners, He Was All About Love, Wouldn’t He Be All Right With Homosexuality?

That Jesus associated with sinners is absolutely irrefutable. If He hadn’t, then we would all be in trouble because we are all sinners! But what was His attitude toward sin? Mark 2:17 tells us that Jesus stated that He came to call sinners (and I say again, we are all sinners) to repentance. That means that He called all of us to turn from our sins and turn to Him. He did associate with prostitutes, tax collectors, and adulterers, but He didn’t leave them that way! And He never approved of what they did. In fact, His admonition was to “go and sin no more” (e.g., John 5:14, 8:11). The Apostle Matthew was a crooked tax collector before Jesus called him to follow Him. What did he do when Jesus called him? “He left all, rose up, and followed Him” (Luke 5:28, emphasis added). You cannot say that Jesus approved of crooked, governmental endorsed extortion because He called Matthew to follow Him. Matthew left that behind, he repented of it when he came to Christ.

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:… I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:22,30)

The Lord Jesus Christ came to Earth and offered Himself as the Savior of mankind. Whoever puts their faith in Him will be saved. He came not to pass judgment in His earthly life, but He will be the Judge of those who reject Him when He returns.

Is Romans 1:27 Really Talking About Homosexuality?

Many of the objections concerning New Testament references to homosexuality center on the idea that the language is not more specific or explicit. Some have even asked why the word “homosexual” or something like it does not appear in the text. Indeed, euphemistic language is sometimes employed because it is naturally assumed that the reader will understand what is being referred to. Some of the more modern translations do in fact forego this and specifically use more contemporary terminology:

“Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.” (Romans 1:27 CEV)

I do not wish to go into etymology at great lengths, but examining the original Greek text confirms that homosexual acts are being referred to. “Leaving the natural use” refers to that which goes against nature (phusikos), that which is “physically” perverse and abnormal. It is difficult for me to understand how someone can miss the meaning of even the King James Version language: “burned in their lust one toward another; men with men”, but somehow there are those who apparently misunderstand this.

So Where Besides Romans Does The New Testament Refer To Homosexuality?

Two other passages refer to homosexuality: 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. Again, the objections are raised about what specifically is being referred to in these. “Effeminate” (found in the KJV and NASB) is translated from a word that literally means anyone who is sexually perverted and was commonly used to refer to young men who were homosexual prostitutes. The term translated as “abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Cor. 6:9) and “them that defile themselves with mankind” (1 Tim. 1:10) literally means A man who has sexual intercourse with a man (arsenokoites). This was the commonly used Greek term to mean a homosexual. You really cannot get any more explicit than this.

Conclusion

A lot of groups that state they are Christian have placed an inordinate amount of attention on the sin of homosexuality. It has been singled out in recent years by those who seem more interested in the condemnation of those who practice homosexuality than in seeing them come to Christ in repentance. We should note that, while it is mentioned in Scripture, it is usually done so along with a list of other sins. It is usually included right alongside other sins of sexual perversion and unrighteousness, including adultery. Some people like to carry signs about God’s condemnation of the homosexual, but they don’t say a lot about God’s condemnation of the “swinger”, the “playboy”, the “wife-swapper”, and the adulterer. There is without question a secular, social stigma that goes along with homosexuality that compels people to want to view it as a much more grievous sin than those that are listed with it in Scripture. But if we may be frank, sin is sin. If we commit any sin, we have disobeyed God and are guilty of violating God’s law (James 2:10-11). Like any other sin, homosexuality can be forgiven when a person comes to Christ and repents.

We all have fleshly desires that we struggle with. We should never conclude that simply because we desire something, then that is the way God intended us to be. There are Christians who formerly struggled with homosexual urges, yet today they have come to genuine faith in Christ and they are not giving in to those desires. My intention for writing this is not to single out homosexuality as some type of unusually abhorrent sin nor is my purpose to persecute homosexuals. I acknowledge that there are a lot of practicing homosexuals who couldn’t care less what God has to say about the matter and, frankly, that is between them and God. But my purpose here is to stand up for what the Word of God does have to say about the subject and warn those who are erroneously imagining that the Bible endorses their sinful practices. Along with all other sinful behaviors, the Bible condemns homosexuality. Regardless of whatever sin we struggle with, let us turn to Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and put our faith in Him for forgiveness. Let us look honestly at what the Lord God has said through His Word and change our ways to fit what it tells us, not change what it says to fit our ways.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 21, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

***Contemporary English Version (CEV)Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Lamech: How Man Views His Own Sin

"And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah." (Genesis 4:19)

“Lamech took to himself two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.”  (Genesis 4:19)

There are several things that we can learn about Lamech’s attitude toward sin in general, and his own sin specifically. Apart from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, people still maintain these attitudes toward their sinfulness:

Failure To Recognize Sin

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”(Proverbs 14:12)

First and foremost, people are reluctant or unable to identify the sin in their own life. Genesis 4:19 tells us that Lamech married two wives. This was a direct infraction against what God had decreed to Adam saying, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24). Yet we see no recognition on Lamech’s part that he has done anything wrong.

Pride And Self-Importance

“And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech…” (Genesis 4:23a KJV)

While we can really only speculate, it would seem from what Lamech says here that he definitely considered himself the ruler of that “roost”, so to speak. It is unlikely that Lamech ever showed love or respect for either of his wives, but maintained this attitude whenever he dealt with them. “Listen to what I have to say, hear me speak!” A cavalier attitude toward sin demonstrates a lack of respect and reverence for God. Those without any reverence for God usually lack any real concern or respect for others, either. They are only concerned about themselves.

Revelry In Their Sin

“Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?
The steadfast love of God endures all the day.” (Psalm 52:1 ESV)

When Lamech tells his wives that he has killed a young man (Genesis 4:23), his language is almost poetic; it’s as if he is singing a song about a heroic deed that he has performed! Shame and guilt over sin comes only by the convicting power of God’s Spirit; apart from Him, people rejoice and are proud of their wicked behavior. Look around us today at how many people are glorying in abominable sinfulness that they should be ashamed of.

Self-Justification

“…For I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.” (Genesis 4:23b KJV)

We are not given any details about this incident except what Lamech himself says about it. Was he truly justified in killing the other man? Was it self-defense as he is claiming? We really do not know, but it is highly suspicious to say the least, based on what we do know about Lamech. Like so many criminals in courtrooms around the world: in his own eyes, Lamech felt completely justified and blameless for the blood that he had spilled. People have the tendency to come up with any and every possible excuse, explanation, and alibi imaginable when it comes to their own sins. When it comes to others, however, they are quick to point a finger. Which brings us to the next point:

Comparing Themselves With Others

“If Cain is avenged…” (Genesis 4:24)

Man’s inclination is to compare his own behavior with that of others. We can all find an example of someone who has done far worse things than we have. The liar can point an accusing finger at the thief, who can point his finger at the adulterer, who can compare himself to the murderer, who feels satisfied that at least he is not so bad as the mass murderer, who can say that at least he is not so depraved as the wicked tyrant who has the blood of millions on their hands. People use this type of reasoning all the time, comparing themselves one to another, yet the only standard that matters at all is the perfect standard of God. Not one of us can live up to the perfect sinlessness that Jesus Christ maintained, and He is the only One that we are compared with. We have all fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).

Disregard For God’s Judgment

“If Cain is avenged sevenfold, Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” (Genesis 4:24)

Lamech’s arrogance and pride are vividly shown in his statement here: “If God withheld maximum judgment from Cain, then surely He will not judge me!”

Lamech is boasting to his wives that they have absolutely nothing to fear from the God of Heaven. Since Cain’s life was spared after he brutally murdered his brother, then Lamech assumed his own life would be that much safer since his actions were not nearly as despicable as Cain’s (at least in his own eyes). What a dangerous practice it is to assume that judgment delayed is judgment withheld! David encourages us to “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb” (Psalm 37:1-2 KJV).

Yet the wicked look at others and assume that since the outward manifestations of God’s judgments are not readily apparent in their lives, then they themselves are safe to do the same things. What a tragic mistake it is to think this way. Cain was judged for his sin, in this life and in the next. So was Lamech. Those who do not put their trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins can be certain, though they may have not experienced God’s judgment yet, they certainly will.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 27,  2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission

.*English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

God Reached Out To Cain

"And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him." (Genesis 4:6-7)

“And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” (Genesis 4:6-7)

What I find to be some of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture are those where the Lord reaches out even to those who are utterly opposed to Him. What a truly amazing demonstration of God’s Grace! I find it very comforting to know that God would reach out His hand in mercy to someone like Cain, because it reminds me how He reached out His hand in mercy to someone like me, even when I was utterly opposed to Him. And it reminds me that He will reach out His hand in mercy to anyone else who will take it, regardless of the sin that fills their heart.

Genesis 4:6-7 tells us how God approached Cain after Cain’s offering was rejected. We see a similar method throughout the Bible as God approaches even the vilest of sinners and offers them mercy. The very first thing that we should take note of is the fact that God is not angry with Cain. We are told that Cain is angry, but we can see that God is not. Next, we should also note that God does not stand aloof from Cain, waiting to see if he will do the right thing. Some people like to talk about man’s search for God, but man is not seeking God; God is the One Who seeks us (Luke 19:10). Cain was not left on his own to try to work through his rebellion and, perhaps, eventually do the right thing. God came to Him.

It Starts With A Simple Question

“Why art thou wroth?” God asks Cain. Why is it that you are angry? God knew very well the answer to this question. Socrates was not really the inventor of what we call the “Socratic method”- wherein we teach others by asking questions that cause them to ponder and ask their own questions, leading them to discover the answers for themselves- God used this method from the very beginning. He will ask us why we do or feel certain things when we have never even seriously considered the reasons why ourselves. Saul of Tarsus had made it his mission in life to destroy the early Church and wipe the name of Jesus Christ from the face of the Earth. When the Lord stopped him on the road to Damascus, He didn’t annihilate him, He approached with a simple question: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” (Acts 9:4)  Why are you doing what you are doing?

If Thou Doest Well

God knew why Cain was angry and He knew what Cain was contemplating in his heart. Cain’s anger was manifesting itself toward his brother, Abel. Sadly, Cain’s anger and frustration wasn’t that he had failed to please God by doing what He had asked him to, he seemed more worried that his disobedience might cost him his position in his family. “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” The word for accepted is not translated as such anywhere else in the Old Testament. In other verses, it is rendered as  “excellency”, or “dignity”, or it refers to a rising up of something; an “exaltation.” When Jacob is pronouncing his blessings on his sons before he dies, he uses the same term in relation to Reuben, his first-born (Gen. 49:3). Reuben is the “excellency of [his] dignity.”

Cain’s motive was not to be accepted by God, it was to be exalted over his brother, the second-born. His fear was not that God would disapprove of him, but that Abel would take his place in the family and usurp the birthrights of the first-born. Isn’t that so often the reason for sorrow over sinful behavior? It isn’t a concern over offending God’s holiness, but rather a grieving over the loss that it might cost the sinner. Cain’s concern seemed to be more with how other people might view him as a result of his disobedience, not how God would look upon him. Nevertheless, if Cain did what was right and what God expected of him, he needn’t fear the collapse of his position within his family.

The word order of verse 7 has caused many different interpretations concerning exactly what God is referring to, but I think that if we bear in mind the context thus far, we see that the God’s final statement in the verse refers to this brotherly relationship: “And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” The phrase is nearly identical to the one that God tells Eve in Gen. 3:16 (” and thy desire shall be to thy husband…:”). In both instances, God is establishing or upholding an authority structure within the natural family. If Cain submits himself to God, he need not worry about Abel submitting himself to Cain.

Since nowhere in the Bible is the promise given to any person that they shall “rule over sin“, it is inconceivable that God would be making such a promise to Cain. Jesus Christ is the only One Who rules over sin (Romans 7:25). No, God is merely assuring Cain that he will in no way lose his position of “dignity” and “excellency” within the family if he will but hearken to the voice of the Lord and obey Him.

Sin Lieth At The Door

Some have interpreted this passage with the idea of sin crouching at the door, ready to pounce on Cain. The word for “lieth”, however, seems more to refer to lying down; as in rest. Several times throughout the Old Testament it is used to to show sheep lying down, relaxed in safety (e.g., Psalm 23:2 use this term about how God is our Shepherd and makes us to lie down in green pastures). The idea is not that sin is crouching behind the bushes, waiting to make its move. No, the sin is there, “relaxed” and waiting at the threshold of the door for Cain to come walking through. If Cain does not determine to heed God’s call to him now, then when he goes out through the “door” from this place where God has met him, he is going to walk right into the sin waiting for him. The sin isn’t going to “pounce” on him from behind, he is going to head right into it.

The Choice Is Ours

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

God made His expectations clear to Cain. Now, it was up to Cain to decide if he would obey or not. His options were simple: obey God and choose life and blessing, or disobey God and choose death and cursing. What he could not do was get God to lower the standard, or change His mind, or let Cain come to God some other way. He would never be able to plead ignorance or accuse God of not giving him ample opportunity. God came to him now giving him the chance to repent and be reconciled. God came to him now as Savior. If he disregarded God at this point, the next time God would come as his Judge.

Obey what God has said, or disobey what God has said. We all face the same decision.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published September 12, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Bringing Others To Jesus (Mark 2)

“…Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere.” (Mark 1:45b)

Thus the closing statement of Mark 1 reveals that great crowds were coming from all over the region to see Jesus. And why were they coming to Him? It would seem that a great majority were coming in order to be healed of some affliction or disease. It was the testimony of the cleansed leper (Mark 1:45a) which made it nearly impossible for the Lord to travel anywhere without being mobbed on all sides. Yet the real purpose of Jesus’ ministry was not to heal the sick or cast out demons; for what do we find Him doing when He does finally come back after several days into Capernaum?

And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them.” (Mark 2:2, emphasis added)

Though we seldom read of the Lord going anywhere that He did not heal the sick and cast out evil spirits, His focus was ultimately on preaching the Word of God and proclaiming the Gospel. The mission of Jesus Christ was to declare the Good News of Salvation, the reconciliation of man to the Lord through the death and resurrection of the Son, and to bear the penalty for the sins which separate the sinner from a holy God. He was not simply a thaumaturge alleviating the temporal ailments of the poor and down-trodden for the entertainment and curiosity of the masses. Back in Chapter 1 of Mark we read that Jesus “…came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (v. 15)

However, an interruption occurs as our Lord is sharing the Word with the crowd inside the house. Suddenly, there is a noise on the roof of the home as four men begin to tear the thatching apart. Unable to get their friend into Jesus’ presence by any other means, the desperate men can see no other way than to rip the top of the building off and lower their companion directly before Him.

And Jesus seeing their faith *said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

It seems that many of the Bible commentaries on this incident put a lot of focus on the details of what these four men actually did in order to remove the roof and bring their friend into the Lord’s presence. Descriptions are given concerning how the roofs of the homes in that place and time were fashioned to be easily opened for various purposes and that peeling them back would not have been seen as a destructive or bold action. Be that as it may, it sure seems that their decision to do so got the Lord’s attention as well as that of every other person present. Jesus commended their faith   for intrepidly doing whatever was necessary to get their sick companion to the Great Physician.

Obviously, it was ultimately not the faith of the four men holding the stretcher which saved the man, but his own. Faith in Jesus Christ can never bring Salvation to someone else by proxy. But then again, it certainly can contribute to someone else’s Salvation, can it not? What would the fate of that paralyzed man have been if his friends did not believe strongly enough that the Lord could heal him? What if they had not believed that it was worth the risk of embarrassment and rebuke and they had decided to just go on back home. There was no room through the doorway, there was no entry through a window, only by dismantling the roof could the men bring their friend into Jesus’ presence.

What can we say about the faith of others and what their contributions have brought to our own Salvation? The mother who diligently prays for her wayward son, the neighbor who cares enough to drive the lonely widow to church each week. There are those who risk much and sacrifice greatly for the benefit of another; they are willing to do whatever it takes just to get that person into the presence of Jesus Christ. Though they encounter difficulties, blocked doors and barred windows, they persevere both through prayer and through action, and they stop at nothing in order to bring the one paralyzed by sin to the only One Who can say, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

“Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, *said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He *said to the paralytic, “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” (Mark 2:7-11)

There are those who assert that Jesus Himself never claimed Divinity and some who suggest that only the Apostle John recorded Him declaring that He is God incarnate. But those who do so fail to grasp the signifigance of His words in passages such as the one before us. For the scribes were absolutely correct in their second premise: who can forgive sins but God alone? But they were in error concerning their first: He is blaspheming. Only God can forgive sins and yet Jesus forgave sins. The only conclusion we are left with is that either Jesus mistakingly believed that He was God or else He truly is God. But to deny that He ever claimed to be God is completely fallacious.

The scribes were left with one or the other of these conclusions (as, indeed, are each of us). By accusing Jesus of blasphemy, they were implying that He was incorrectly asserting His own Deity. Thus the Lord lays out for them a dilemma. Which is easier to do, to say that this man’s sins are forgiven and assert His Deity, or to say to the man to rise up and walk? The first, of course, would be easier apart from any verification. Any mad man can claim to be God. But what if He proves it by doing that which no other man can do? Who else but God could make the paralyzed rise to their feet in an instant?

It is no wonder that all who were present (except, I would imagine, the scribes themselves) glorified God and declared, “We have never seen anything like this” (Mark 2:12). Again, we should understand from the Lord’s own words that it was His identity as God incarnate, His position as the Son of God sent to take away the sins of the world, that was of supremacy in His ministry. It was not the miracles and healing and wonders that should be at center stage. These were done out of compassion by the Lord Jesus for His people and to authenticate His message. Part of Jesus’ “credentials” were His miracles and it was His wonders and signs which proved that He was and is exactly Who He claimed to be.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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