“Judge not lest ye be judged,” the bumper sticker reads (quoting Matthew 7:1 from the KJV Bible). It is ironic that people use a quote from the Bible to try to justify behaviors and practices that the same Bible condemns. “Do not judge,” they say, while judging those who study and try to live by the book they are quoting. “Do not judge,” they say, but judgment must be made when making a distinction between right from wrong, the righteousness from the unrighteous, and the Holy from the profane. The very Jesus who tells us to not judge tells us just a few verses later to not give to dogs what is holy or cast our pearls before pigs.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. ~ Matthew 7:1-2

What a sad commentary concerning modern Christendom, when ministers do not preach the whole counsel of God for fear someone might be offended. Yet, is there any fear of God being offended?

For fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. ~ John 12:42-43

Of course you and I are not “perfect,” but for far too long Christians have been saying this to justify sinfulness and shortcomings. No, we are not perfect, but we can honestly own up to our shortcomings. We are not perfect, but we should steadily be maturing and changing from glory to glory, day by day becoming more like Jesus. By His grace we have come so far, but let us not settle for mediocrity. In the words of Oswald Chambers, let us give our utmost for His highest.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:13-14

Jesus died to set us free from the bondage of sin not to grant us freedom to sin, just as antidotes are not made so we can indulge in poison. If one happily and lovingly yields himself to sin, such a person has a grave misperception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~ Galatians 5:13-14

The apostle Peter teaches that Christians are part of a holy, royal priesthood. Our lives should be marked by holiness, compassion, and dignity in the pattern of Christ our Lord. Hypocrisy, indignity, impurity, and gallivanting are all unbecoming of those who profess to be citizens of the Kingdom.

You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ….  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ~ 1 Peter 2:5, 9

Visual Covenants and Taking Thoughts Captive

God takes sexual purity and fidelity very seriously, and these are issues men have struggled with throughout the centuries—including Christians. Even so, when a man of God falls into sexual sin, it is not a “mistake” and it does not “just sort of happen.”

I am not pointing a finger or criticizing those who have fallen. The struggle is real for many of us, and we stand only by grace. Yet, I want to offer some Scriptural help for those who are fighting for purity.

Much of the battle really takes place in the visual sense and in the mind, does it not. As men, we are visual. It is the way we are designed. To say we do not notice attractive ladies is to lie. Furthermore, such initial noticing is not the problem. The problems come when we take legitimate vision and store them into memory banks, then submerge these into the sewage of our lusts. Thus, the problem is not seeing a lady and finding her attractive. This is natural. However, it is the going beyond this into the realm of fantasy that leads men into peril. Before any man falls into sexual sin, he must first go through his thoughts. The entertaining of thoughts does not just happen. Persons make a choice. Godly Job says,

I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? ~ Job 31:1

Job states that he made a covenant with his eyes that he would not stare and lust upon a beautiful virgin. Yes, he notices her, but that is as far as he will go with it.

Jesus says plainly,

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:28

Here, the visual has gone beyond mere sight and acknowledgement of attraction. It has morphed into something, now, altogether different. We are warned of the danger of the process of the seed of desire becoming the plant of action.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. ~ James 1:14-15

We see this very thing played out in the life of King David. It is doubtful that many of us love the Lord the way David did. Still, we read of him:

It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. ~ 2 Samuel 11:2-4

David did not simply notice a beautiful woman bathing. He gawked until he began to desire, and soon his desire became a burning lust. Before he ever laid with her it was brought to his attention that she was married. No, David’s fall into sexual sin did not come from mere happenstance.

We are told,

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

As men, we are to take control of our thoughts and bring them under the authority of Christ. Just as we are not to violate a woman physically, neither are we to violate her in the dark chambers of our minds. In fact, elsewhere we are told,

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. ~ 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Did you catch that? We are to treat older women as we would our moms, and younger as our sisters, in all purity. Whenever a Christian man falls into sexual sin, never does it just “sort of happen.” It begins by him not treating a woman with the purity and respect he would have for his mom or sister. Thoughts and desires were entertained before any course of action was taken. And, no doubt, God sent numerous warnings  beforehand.

Men, the struggle and temptations are real; however, the flames of passion are not kindled without first dousing desires with fuel then igniting it with a spark. If we are going to walk in moral purity, then it will require effort and responsibility. We must guard our hearts, keep our visual limited, and take our thoughts captive to the obedience to Christ. Furthermore, we must honor the women around us. In Christ, they are most certainly family, moms and sisters. We must treat them as such with all purity.

Walk Worthily of Your Calling

If we are Christians, ones who are truly born again by the work of the Holy Spirit, then we have an obligation to walk (i.e., live) in a manner that is worthy of such a high calling by God. If we are genuinely saved, we must understand what we are saved from, as well as what we are saved to. Furthermore, this salvation is not something any of us achieved because we are so great; no, it is a work of God completely done by His grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

Walking in a worthy manner begins with humility, gentleness, patience, and love. 

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3

The maintaining “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” is not some false peace, as promised by the United Nations. Also, it is not achieved by simply loving people apart from any confrontation, for we are told,

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other. ~ Galatians 5:16-17

The desires of the flesh are immoral, contentious, idolatrous, and selfish. In contrast, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23).

The goal is more than simply having a peaceful fellowship, but that we may “attain to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to [maturity]” (Eph. 4:13), so that we are not tossed back and forth from every doctrine and teaching from the pulpit or from the university classroom.

Do you think this is irrelevant? There are a number of “preachers” and so-called Christian authors who are promoting teachings that are in direct conflict of the teachings of Christ and His apostles. There are numerous persons who profess the name of Christ, yet who are adopting the teachings of Darwin (Darwinism is not science but intellectual dishonesty, as there is no evidence to support the theory, although schools teach such hogwash as irrefutable fact), Marxism, and the behaviors of Hollywood. But the apostle writes,

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. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. ~ Ephesians 4:17-24

It makes no sense, whatsoever, for persons to talk about Christ dying and saving them from their sins, only to continue living in those sins! This is a total misunderstanding of the Gospel message.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. ~ Romans 6:1-4

The knowledge of Christ is not meant as a means to simply know some cool things about Him. No! The knowledge of Christ is to be transformative by His grace. No, none of us is perfect, this is true. However, we can—and must—certainly grow in our knowledge of Him and to be continually transformed more into His likeness.

Today, if you call yourself a Christian, are you walking in a manner that is worthy of your high and noble calling?

Non-specifics Does Not Mean Silence

One of the fundamental rules when studying the Bible is context. When interpreting Scripture, context is king; unfortunately, this rule is often neglected.

Recently, someone wrote to me concerning one of my former posts. Without going into all the details, this person told me that Jesus never talked about homosexuality or condemned sensuality. This is not the first time I have had someone tell me this. Now, let’s be clear, although Jesus does not identify each form of immorality specifically, this does not mean that He is silent on them. Without touching on every aspect, Jesus does clearly teach what God designed for human sexuality, and anything that strays from this is sin.

Let us go back to context. When Jesus was teaching on earth, His primary audiences were Jews who were familiar with the Old Testament. They would have been familiar with Leviticus 20, which condemns men sleeping with other men’s wives, or their father’s wives, their daughter-in-laws, or with other men, or a mother and daughter, or an animal (v. 10-16). We do not read of Jesus touching on each of these individually, but He did not need to. He says enough.

Jesus makes it clear of His complete support of both the teachings and trustworthiness of the Scriptures.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. ~ Matthew 5:17-19

Just several verses later He gets to the root of adultery,

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28

Later, Jesus gets straight to God’s design for human sexuality:

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” ~ Matthew 19:3-6

Jesus does not condone homosexuality anymore than He does adultery. He does not treat lightly lust within our hearts anymore than He does unmarried couples shacking up. This might be offensive to many, but Jesus’ never seeks to cater to our feelings. He came to bring us truth (which often is offensive) and redemption. 

No, Jesus is not silent where other parts of Scripture declare plainly. To say He never spoke against homosexuality or sensuality as a means to justify these, consider this: He does not openly talk about rape or molestation. But reading through the Gospels it is clear He condemns these, as well.

Understand, God’s love for sinners is real. Good thing, since each one of us is a sinner. But His hatred toward our sins is just as intense as His love for us. In any case, we must realize Jesus’ silence does not mean He condones behaviors. Furthermore, even when He is quite explicit, is one willing to yield to Him? In truth, He is not silent. The real question is this: Are we willing to hear and obey?

A Request for Your Support

I write for the purpose to encourage and exhort others. I am a pastor (just not of a church presently). I have been to seminary and am ordained. While I have served on staff, much of my ministry is volunteer and out of pocket.

I am not asking for donations; however, if you have found my blogs encouraging or helpful, I ask that you will consider supporting my work by purchasing some of my books through Amazon. I have deliberately kept prices affordable.

Presently, I have eleven titles available:

Christian Reflections in a Deflecting World – A collection of 150 brief theological/biblical reflections with questions to ponder for the person always on the run.

In the Eye of the Calm: Reflections and Poems on Faith, Hope, Love, & Life – This book contains 102 poems I have written along with commentary.

Light in the Darkness for Weary Travelers – This book is a collection of blogs I have written to encourage those who struggle with depression and other hurts in life.

Take Up the Shield of Faith: Christian Reflections for Young Adults Serious About Their Faith – A collection of 100 reflections covering 20 subjects (e.g., God, the Bible, Prayer, the Cross, Conduct, Spiritual Warfare, etc.). Each reflection also has questions to ponder on.

A Royal Priesthood: The Christian’s Privilege and Responsibility—Studies in Practical Theology – This book is a rich study in the apostle Peter’s teaching of Christians being a part of a “holy” and “royal” priesthood. This is not “fluffy” material, but is written to encourage believers what it really means to be a part of Christ’s church. Group study questions are included in the back.

BEWARE of False Prophets: Taking Seriously the Warnings of Jesus, the Prophets, and the Apostles – The Scriptures repeatedly warn of the growing danger of false prophets in the last days. Yet, the warnings seem to be taken less seriously as time goes on. Group study questions in the back.

Our Father in Heaven: Christian Reflections on Prayer – A collection of reflections and questions centering around prayer. Chapters include biblical teachings on the importance of prayer, how to pray, the God to whom we pray, who to pray for, what to pray for, and hindrances to prayer. Several appendices are included with more reflections on what the Bible teaches about prayer.

To Worship Is to Obey: Songs of Worship & Devotion – A collection of words to songs I have written along with commentary.

The Pure Gospel: Undiluted and Unadulterated – Many try to present a gospel that accompanies our comforts, pleasures, and sins. However, while the Gospel is Good News, why is it good? Although it is truly good, it also strikes at the core of our selfishness and pride. As we begin to understand this, we then begin to understand God’s incredible goodness.

The Lost Doctrine of the Bible: Missing in Plain Sight – One of the vital aspects of the Gospel and salvation is repentance. Although many churches dismiss this doctrine, both the Old and New Testaments stress it. In fact, Jesus says apart from it there is no salvation.

The Detriment of Distraction: and other christian thoughts – A collection of approximately 50 blogs I have written on various subjects.

Each of these are a available through amazon.com. If my writings are of any encouragement and help to you, I would greatly appreciate your support by purchasing copies. Thank you!

Sincerely,

Geno Pyse

Why Study the Word? (Part 1)

Spiritual disciplines (e.g., prayer, Bible study, etc.) are not about having fun and enjoyment but are about transformation, gaining wisdom and discernment, and knowing God. This is a difficult, and sometimes painful, process. For the past fifty years or so the church has tried to compete with the world in entertainment, but take it from one whose obsession was once to be a drummer of a metal band and tour the world, the world will always develop better entertainment and throw bigger parties. However, the world will never excel in love, joy, wisdom, or authentic purpose.

We are told in the Scriptures,

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)

We are told to “be diligent” for the purpose of “rightly dividing the word of truth.” If one can rightly handle the Scriptures, he can also wrongly handle them. We are later warned “that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1, NKJV). What will this look like?

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. ~ 2 Timothy 3:2, 4-5 (ESV)

The apostle Paul tells us plainly that those who truly desire to be godly in Christ will experience persecution of various kinds, while evil men and false teachers will increase (see 2 Tim. 3:12-13). Paul goes on to tell us the benefit and the Source of the Scriptures:

You have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ~ 2 Timothy 3:15-17

Did you catch these? The Scriptures are able to make you wise, and all Scripture is breathed out by God. The apostle Peter tells us in his second epistle,

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. ~ 2 Peter 1:20-21

If our faith and devotion to Jesus Christ is genuine, then we must be serious students of His Word. Paul further warns us:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

I believe we have entered this time of which the apostle speaks, as many who profess to be Christians are downplaying, even bringing into question, the Word of God and following after the whims of their feelings and emotions. Many treat the Scriptures like a great buffet, picking the parts they like and refusing the rest. Or else treating them as if truth changes like styles and trends.

There is nothing inherently wrong with entertainment, fun, or feelings; however, it is too easy for us to waste hours amusing ourselves, yet barely give time to God and His Word. Likewise, it is too easy to be swayed by our own feelings while rejecting God’s objective and absolute truth. No, being diligent in studying His Word is not always fun, and it does go against our sinful biases. Nevertheless, as the days become increasingly evil as the Word of God foretells, we must become more diligent if we would become wise and discerning in these perilous times.