Tag archives: Bible

A Closer Look at Virtue: Chastity

by Molly Carman

August 31, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part seven of seven. The previous installments dealt with kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, and temperance.

Properly defined, chastity is intentionally choosing to refrain from immoral sexual activity. Immoral sexual activity can be defined as physical acts with or entertaining sexual thoughts about people who are not one’s spouse. This virtue applies to married couples and singles alike.

It is important to note that virginity is not synonymous with being chaste. It is possible to be a chaste, sexually active married person; it is also possible to be an unchaste virgin. That’s because chastity is primarily concerned with respecting others and cherishing and honoring the sanctity of marriage. Chastity has less to do with whether or not someone is sexually active and more to do with their behavior in and outside of marriage.

From the first marriage of Adam and Eve in the garden, God created sexual desire to motivate men and women to enter the sacred covenant relationship of marriage, which is reserved for one man and one woman and is intended to be for life. Marriage is a good gift from God; it should be delighted in and protected. Scripture tells us, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Prov. 18:22). It is good, natural, and beautiful for a husband and wife to be intimately united together as one flesh (Gen. 2:24). As Paul explains, “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:3).

Chastity requires refraining from entertaining sexual thoughts and engaging in sexual acts while not married, and when married, remaining faithful to one’s spouse (Job 31:1). Habits of chastity can include dressing modestly, being self-controlled in dating relationships, looking to Jesus for our ultimate satisfaction, and not using others for our physical or sexual pleasure. For those who are married, chastity includes the giving of oneself to a spouse and honoring them and God with one’s body, heart, and mind.

Chastity’s opposite is the vice of lust, and it plagues both men and women. In the final chapter of her book Glittering Vices, Rebecca DeYoung describes lust and how it distorts us, noting:

Lust makes sexual pleasure all about me. It is a self-gratification project…In lust, sexual pleasure is divorced from love and mutual self-giving. And when we lust we certainly want nothing to do with giving life and the future commitments that might bring…I want my pleasure, says the lustful one, and I want it now.

Lust wants all of the pleasures but none of the responsibility that accompanies sexual desire. Lust is unable to give of itself; it only takes. It takes away from the beauty of the unity between a man and a woman, the gift of new life, and the commitment of a covenant union before God.

The vice of lust has plagued humanity throughout history. But today, in our auditory and visually stimulated and pornography-saturated society that prizes anonymity, there are more temptations than ever to succumb to the temptations of lust. Moreover, television commercials, shows, movies, billboards, social media advertisements, and sexually suggestive songs reinforce the notion that modesty and chastity are concepts from an old-fashioned, bygone era. But for Christians who take their cues from Scripture rather than the culture, it is important to remember that God’s standard hasn’t changed. In fact, the standard of purity outlined in God’s Word is still binding on followers of Jesus (Mat. 5:28).

Unlike our secular culture, which either mocks chastity or declares it impossible, Scripture places a tremendous value on the virtue of chastity. For example, Paul says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter” (1 Thess. 4:3-6a). Lust does not honor the image of God in others or who God has called us to be as ambassadors for Christ.

Rather than indulge in the passions of the flesh, Christians are exhorted to “walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom. 13:13-14). Lust says “yes” to the old self and the desires of sinful flesh, but chastity says “yes” to the new self which is in Christ Jesus. Like all virtues, chastity requires courage to walk away, to close one’s eyes, and renew one’s mind (Rom. 12:1) for the glory of God and the honor of others.

Throughout this series on virtue and vice, we have considered what it means for a Christian to put on the new self. As we seek to become more like Christ, we must courageously resolve to fight against the vices in our lives, which represent the old self, and put on kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity, which befit the new self. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

A Closer Look at Virtue: Temperance

by Molly Carman

August 26, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part six of seven. The previous installments dealt with kindness, humility, diligence, charity, and patience.

Virtue can be defined as moral excellence. Someone is seen as virtuous if they exhibit morally good traits and qualities. Unfortunately, in a fallen world, virtue does not come naturally. But as we’ve seen in this series on virtue, through common and special grace, Christians can foster and grow in virtue. The next virtue we will consider is temperance (also known as self-control). Temperance is the practice of self-restraint and moderation; it teaches us to master our appetites—food and otherwise—and order them in a manner pleasing to God.

Food is necessary for life. But in His kindness, God also made eating pleasurable. People often gather around food for times of fellowship and to celebrate special occasions. Food also plays a significant role in the Christian life, as believers we are commanded to take communion together in remembrance of Christ’s work on the cross (Luke 22:19-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

But although gathering for meals is often a source of great joy, the good gift of food comes with its own set of temptations, particularly the temptation to overindulge. Proverbs 26:16 warns, “If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.” Temperance, which teaches us proper moderation, helps us resist the temptations of a disordered appetite.

Temperance is simultaneously a physical and spiritual discipline. When we practice temperance, we glorify God with our bodies. As Paul reminded the Corinthian church:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

Spiritual formation should affect all areas of life, including our physical habits. Learning to be temperate in our eating and delight in it as a good gift from God is a hard practice but a necessary one, and it begins by considering what kind of food and how much of it is good for the body.

Fasting is a habit used for cultivating the virtue of temperance. Many church denominations and traditions incorporate fasting into their liturgical calendars, Lent being the best-known example. Fasting does not necessarily have to be from food. We can fast from any number of things, including social media, entertainment, or shopping. However, these activities are not essential to life; we could live without them and be perfectly fine. But fasting from food is unique in that it increases the physical ache that reminds us that “man does not live by bread alone” (Deut. 8:3, Mat. 4:4). This exercise increases our knowledge of dependency on God for life and satisfaction. It is He alone who sustains us (Ps. 54:4).

The temptation to overindulge is often manifested in the vice of gluttony, which misleads us into seeking food or other material things for comfort. Philippians 3:19 demonstrates this folly, “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Rebecca DeYoung echoes this scriptural warning in her book Glittering Vices when she explains, “The glutton eats for himself, and his mission is to gratify his own appetites. His mission is ‘pleasure first,’ and he orders the rest of his life around that goal. His god is his belly, and he serves it faithfully.”

It needs to be noted that food deprivation isn’t necessarily virtuous. In fact, a disordered relationship with food can lead us to overeat or undereat. Currently, over a third of the American population is considered to be clinically obese. Meanwhile, many intentionally starve themselves. There are a variety of causes for these conditions, a spiritually disordered relationship with food among them. When we overeat or undereat specifically out of a desire for comfort or control, we neglect to acknowledge God’s goodness, sufficiency, and authority.

Gluttony tempts us to rely on physical food and objects for happiness and satisfaction. It pleads “just one more” but is never satisfied. On the other hand, temperance says “enough” and encourages us to rely more on spiritual food and the gifts of God for satisfaction and fulfillment. Gluttony will tempt us to believe food is not a good gift from God. It will disorder our relationship with food to the point of deprivation and a desire for control. Temperance reminds us that God is in control and teaches us to delight in God’s blessings.

A Closer Look at Virtue: Patience

by Molly Carman

August 24, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part five of seven. The previous installments dealt with kindness, humility, diligence, and charity.

Patience is the capacity to accept delay, suffering, or interruptions in a reasonable and prudent manner. This virtue encourages measured and appropriate responses to comments, critiques, challenges, or criticisms. It encourages us to wait, take a step back if necessary, and consider the full implications of a decision before proceeding. In the Bible, Jesus fully embodied this virtue. He overlooked arrogance from religious leaders, did not criticize or condemn the skeptical, listened to the desperate, and endured much suffering. Patience is selfless; it prioritizes relationships over immediate personal wants and desires.

Patience is ultimately an expression of love. In On the Morals of the Catholic Church, XV.25, Thomas Aquinas wrote, “I hold that virtue is nothing other than perfect love of God.” In 1 Corinthians 13, the well-known passage about love, Paul begins by saying, “Love is patient.” It is noteworthy that Paul says love is patient before he says love is anything else. Cultivating the virtue of patience is part of learning how to truly love God and other people.

The first habit of patience is learning to be patient with ourselves as Christ sanctifies us to become more like him. The second habit of patience is learning to be patient towards others and extend loving kindness towards them. And finally, the third habit of patience is rejoicing in the truth of God’s love and patience towards us as we persevere in the faith.

Anger, the opposing vice of patience, is often referred to as wrath. But these are not entirely the same, because anger can be an appropriate response in certain circumstances—but only when it is a measured response and not brash. Wrathfulness, on the other hand, is a disproportionate and immature response to a situation. In Glittering Vices, Rebecca DeYoung says that the primary concern with this vice “is that anger so disturbs reason that it twists any real concern about sin or injustice into service of self—protecting our own ego, demanding something from the world we would not reasonably expect from anyone else, feeding our own reputations for righteousness instead of admitting our complicity. True selflessness would eliminate anger.” DeYoung agrees with Aquinas, who believed that wrath inhibits the virtue of patience. When we are wrathful, we get angry too easily or quickly, are disproportionately angry, or stay angry for longer than is appropriate. In contrast, patience waits to respond, discerns a reasonable response, and is quick to forgive.

Many Scripture passages commend the virtue of patience. A few examples:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19)

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. (Prov. 15:18)

Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. (Prov. 19:11)

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. (Ps. 37:8)

Notably, the Bible refers to God’s wrath in several places. For example, the prophet Nahum wrote:

A jealous and avenging God is the Lord; the Lord is avenging and wrathful. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies. (Nahum 1:2)

However, it is important to remember that whenever Scripture refers to God being angry or displaying His wrath, it is always a proportionate response to human sin and wickedness. Moreover, the Bible is quick to affirm that although God displays His wrath against sin, He is also “abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex. 34:6; Num. 14:18; Neh.9:31; Ps. 86:5, 15; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). God is angered by sin, but He never sins in His anger.

As Christians, we must learn to be imitators of God in regard to how we manage our anger (Eph. 5:1, 4:26). We must practice not being easily angered (Ecc. 7:9) or unreasonable in our response towards situations and/or individuals (Col. 4:6).

Patience means setting aside our pride and humbling ourselves to be teachable and gracious. If we want to become patient, we should practice it in our lives, paying special attention to the opportunities we are given to practice patience every day. We should also pray specifically for patience. When we pray for patience, we should pray for courage to enter every conversation and situation with kindness, humility, diligence, and charity. The virtuous life is interwoven; we must practice all the virtues, and all the virtues encourage the practice of each other.

Made To Live

by Mikayla Simpson

August 20, 2021

For many people, 2020 brought change and challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic turned normal, as we know it, on its head, causing our society to collectively contemplate death in a deeper way.

Death Is Not Natural

Most people would agree that things in this world are not as they should be, especially when it comes to death. If you have ever watched someone on the doorstep of death, every gasping breath is a fight to live. This is because death is not natural for us; we were made to live.

The Bible explains that in the beginning God breathed into man the breath of life so that he could dwell together with Him. But tragically, humanity’s first parents, Adam and Eve, chose to disobey God’s good, life-sustaining command (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-6) and were cast out of Eden. God cursed them, saying, “for you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19b). Since that day, out of consequence for humanity’s disobedience, our bodies have continued to decay and will one day bring forth death (Rom. 6:23).

Death is not natural; we were not made for this. God created humanity in His image and after His likeness to live and walk in perfect fellowship with Him (Gen. 1:27). Sadly, death is the unnatural consequence of humanity’s sin.

What the Bible Says About Death

Although we live in a fallen world, Christians should not despair or grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13). Our hope is in Jesus Christ, who died so we could live—forever (John 3:16). In his book A Reason For God, Timothy Keller notes that Jesus became the man of sorrows (Is. 53:3) by taking “our suffering so seriously that he took it on himself.” Jesus Himself tells us, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me” and “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:1, 6).

One of Jesus’ most encouraging promises is that He is coming back for those who put their trust in Him to bring them to live forever with Him (John 14:2-3, Rev. 21:3-4). According to Scripture, nothing in creation can separate those who have trusted in Jesus from the love of God, not even death (Rom. 8:23).

As believers walk through the shadow of death, there is ultimately nothing to fear because Jesus is there beside us. He is our comfort (Ps. 23). We can grieve what suffering does to us and what death takes from us, but we should always remember where our hope lies. Our hope is anchored in the Lord who shares in our suffering and is acquainted with great grief (Is. 53:3). We can find joy in our suffering by keeping our eyes on Jesus, knowing that He is always with us and He will strengthen our faith. These trials will produce steadfastness and endurance in the long run (James 1:2-4).

When we suffer, it is important to remember that Christ is with us. When we go through something difficult, it might seem that God has abandoned or forgotten us. But even on the darkest nights, we must remember that God hears and sees us and will not leave or forsake us.

Christians have hope despite death because of the promise of the resurrection. The Bible teaches that being human means we are embodied souls/ensouled bodies. Upon physical death, we will be disembodied, meaning our body will be separated from our spirit but our spirit will return to God (Ecc. 12:7). Scripture says that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corin. 5:8). In other words, death will separate us from God, but believers will always be with the Lord in the present Heaven free from sin and suffering in the fullness of joy, awaiting the bodily resurrection and permanent home in the New Heaven and New Earth (Rom. 8:38-9, Rev. 21:1).

On the cross, Jesus tasted death to give us eternal life. Those who believe in Him “shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus declares, “‘I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’” (John 11:25), thereby extending the invitation of eternal life to everyone. 

For believers, what waits on the other side of death is what we love, namely, the presence of the Lord. When we grieve the loss of someone we love or are weighed down by suffering, His peace and His presence revives our soul. We may be overwhelmed or sad, but this present pain is not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed and the perfect restoration that even creation groans for (Rom 8:18-20). Although we may come face to face with our darkest hour, God fills us with all joy and peace so that through His Holy Spirit, we can have a steadfast hope (Rom. 15:13).

We Were Made To Live

We were made to live. Scripture tells us God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecc. 3:11) and is “not wishing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). Life is a gift of God, but physical death is an effect of the fall. From the beginning, humanity has fought against physical death, establishing hospitals to ease suffering and its decaying effects because we long to live. 

We do not have to fear death. We can live abundantly in Christ, walking in step with the Spirit, knowing death is coming but making the most of every hour. This is because we know that death is not the end of us. Rather, it is a small interruption before we step into eternal life with our Lord. 

We all know someone who is suffering, maybe even facing death. When we are invited into someone’s pain, we have the opportunity to share the burden of their suffering, to be still with them, and speak words of life. Our words can impart the aroma of Christ and give the peace and hope that people hunger for. Without Christ, we will die physically and spiritually. With Christ, though we die, we have eternal life. It is only when we lose our fear of death that we can truly live.

Mikayla Simpson was a summer intern with the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

Most Americans Think They Have a Biblical Worldview. But Do They?

by George Barna

August 18, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

A recent nationwide survey conducted by Family Research Council’s Center for Biblical Worldview asked respondents to determine what the term “biblical worldview” meant to them and whether they fit the definition they embraced. The survey revealed that 51 percent of American adults believe they have a biblical worldview.

To make sense of that statistic, context comes from the annual American Worldview Inventory conducted by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University. That national assessment, which is based on more than 50 questions used to track the worldview of American adults, reveals that only 6 percent actually have a biblical worldview, regardless of whether or not they think they have such a foundation.

So, should we be pleased that most Americans think they have a biblical worldview when they clearly do not?

My viewpoint is that the 51 percent figure is more problematic than encouraging. Here’s why.

At the simplest level, the fact that most people think they have a biblical worldview indicates that a large share of those adults probably do not know what the biblical worldview is.

Experience—and common sense—suggests that if someone believes they already have a biblical worldview, they are unlikely to examine and seek to improve their worldview. After all, the widely embraced axiom instructs us: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Between the half of all adults who believe they have a biblical worldview and the minority who either don’t care or don’t want one, a large majority of Americans argue that they do not have a worldview problem to solve.

Roughly 70 percent of U.S. adults claim to be Christian. Of those, 84 percent claim to have a biblical worldview. However, the American Worldview Inventory reports that only 9 percent of self-professed Christians actually hold a biblical worldview. That is a remarkable level of self-deception and represents a huge educational challenge for those responsible for biblical worldview development—i.e., Christian churches, schools, and families.

We may narrow our scope of concern to those who are more deeply committed to the Christian faith. Based on beliefs about sin, repentance, and salvation (rather than mere self-identification), we can determine that approximately 30 percent of adults are likely born-again Christians. Once again relying upon data from the two independent studies, the Center for Biblical Worldview research shows that 47 percent of born-again adults claim to have a biblical worldview. Yet, the American Worldview Inventory reveals that just 19 percent of born-again Christians actually do. That’s a substantially smaller self-deception gap than among all self-identified Christians, but it is perhaps even more significant in its implications for the church and the spiritual trajectory of the nation.

Given our research revealing that few adults ever meaningfully alter their worldview, increasing a biblical worldview in our society is a daunting challenge for those who will attempt to change the existing conditions. The current situation suggests that biblical worldview facilitators are relying upon ineffective approaches and thus must re-strategize.

In subsequent posts, I will write more about the substance and process of developing the biblical worldview. In the meantime, consider these two challenges.

First, write down some of the critical elements of your worldview. You could describe your perceptions about:

  • the existence, nature, character, and purposes of God;
  • the nature, character, and purpose of human beings;
  • the existence, source, and application of absolute moral truth;
  • the reliability, relevance, and validity of the Bible;
  • whether or not people need to be saved from their sins, and if so, how that process works;
  • the existence of life after death, and the dynamics of that experience;
  • any existing spiritual or supernatural authorities, and define their powers and domains of influence; and
  • the definition of success for your life on earth.

Although worldview is more comprehensive than the sum of your responses to these questions, specifying your beliefs on these matters will provide a useful initial profile of your worldview. Our team will address many of these matters in forthcoming posts and has, in fact, already addressed some of these matters in articles currently on the Center for Biblical Worldview site.  We hope these resources will enable you to compare your worldview to biblical teachings and principles.

Second, identify the dominant worldview of those around you. How do their worldviews differ from yours? How do their specific beliefs and behaviors reflect or reject biblical perspectives? If nothing else, this thought exercise might help you identify useful conversations to have with others.

A biblical worldview enables you to think like Jesus so that you can live like Jesus. Because your worldview is the filter through which you make all of your decisions, developing a biblical worldview is one of the foundations of a truly Christian life.

George Barna is Senior Research Fellow for the Center for Biblical Worldview at Family Research Council.

A Closer Look at Virtue: Charity

by Molly Carman

August 17, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part four of seven. The previous installments dealt with kindness, humility, and diligence.

The first three virtues outlined in this series—humility, kindness, and diligence—promote and encourage a right relationship with God and with others. Kindness teaches us to see others rightly, humility teaches us to see ourselves rightly, and diligence teaches us to respond rightly to God’s free gift of love. The final four virtues—charity, patience, temperance, and chastity—teach us how to practice a virtuous life in relation to the world and our bodies.

Charity is the voluntary and cheerful giving of one’s money or possessions to someone in need. It is characterized by a lack of stinginess or hoarding. A charitable person lives life openhandedly, receiving and relinquishing the gifts that have been given to them—possessions, means, and blessings—with a content heart.

It is important to note that charity is not practiced out of guilt or obligation. Charitableness is joyful generosity. As the apostle Paul explained, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:17). In addition, charity is not practiced out of a desire to look good in front of other people or draw attention to one’s wealth. Jesus encouraged us to give in secret so our reward for our generosity would be from God, not man (Mat. 6:1-4).

The amount a person gives isn’t what determines how charitable they are. Instead, a person’s charitableness hinges on their attitude when they give and how generous they are in relation to their means (e.g., the widow’s mite: Mark 12:41–44, Luke 21:1–4). Furthermore, charity is more about a desire to share the blessings of God with others rather than check-off the completion of a command. Hebrews 13:16 says, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” The virtue of charity requires sacrifice, which encourages Christlikeness. Charity glorifies God because we give what He first gave us, makes us more like Christ, who gave everything, and blesses the world who is in need.  

Charity is not just about how we give, however, but also how we receive. We are often ashamed or embarrassed to ask for help when we are in need because we do not want others to feel obligated or pity us. But just as we must learn to give cheerfully, we must also practice the habit of receiving cheerfully with gratitude in our hearts to God. Charity reminds us that we are stewards of blessing and servants to one another and our neighbors, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed” (Prov. 19:17). But we cannot always know who is in need until we confess that we need one another and give fellow believers an opportunity to practice this virtue.

When practicing charity, we must be on guard against the vice of avarice, or what we commonly call greed. Avarice is an obsession with money and the things that it can buy. In her book, Glittering Vices, Rebecca DeYoung says two habits lead to avarice. First, we feel entitled to receive and keep the wages we have worked for because we earned them. Second, we are afraid of having nothing, so we give nothing. In other words, avarice teaches us to view what we have as “mine” instead of blessings from God and puts us in a perpetual state of fear of losing everything. Living our lives feeling entitled and fearful of losing what we have, hinders us from giving to others.

Avarice has harsh and deadly consequences. As Paul warns Timothy, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:10). Even the exceedingly wealthy King Solomon warned against this vice, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity” (Ecc. 5:10). Although the Lord blessed Solomon with great wealth, he counted all his gold and riches as vanity in comparison to the glory and gifts of God.

John Chrysostom (347-407), an early church theologian, said, “When you are weary of praying and do not receive, consider how often you have heard a poor man calling, and have not listened to him.” His words of wisdom echo Proverbs 21:13, which says, “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” Unfortunately, in our culture today, avarice is always pulling for our attention and making us feel justified as we hoard the blessings of the Lord. This vice taunts our soul’s desire for satisfaction, but material goods will never satiate our longings.

In his book The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, Justin Whitmel Earley notes that when we are satisfied in the love of Christ, we will turn to the world with love. Alternatively, if we are blinded by avarice, we will turn to the world for love, believing that acquisition will save us. To keep ourselves from being led astray by avarice, let us encourage one another to, “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5).

Charity reminds us that everything we have is from God (James 1:17). One way to start cultivating this gift is by not owning anything that you would not share, give away, or could live without. We must remember that it is by God’s grace that we have everything that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and we need not be anxious for anything (Mat. 6:25). Christians have been given the greatest gift of salvation and because of the grace and charity that has been given to us, much is required of us. The cultivation of charity reminds us of how we have been blessed to be a blessing to the world.

A Closer Look at Virtue: Diligence

by Molly Carman

August 12, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part three of seven. The two previous installments dealt with kindness and humility.

The third virtue Christians should strive to cultivate is diligence. Properly defined, diligence is careful and persistent effort. Like kindness, diligence does not work for the sake of recognition but finds delight and satisfaction in good work for its own sake. Diligence does not despise work or overindulge in rest and play. Instead, it embraces work as an expression of love and care.

Paul encouraged the early church to be diligent in everything, to the glory of God:

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23-24)

In the book of Proverbs, we are told that the diligent person will come to a good end:

The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor. (Prov. 12:24)

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes to poverty. (Prov. 21:5)  

When life presents challenges and trials, diligence helps us to press on no matter what. In The Works of the Reverend and Faithful Servant of Jesus Christ, the 16th century Puritan pastor Richard Greenham said diligence “makes the rough places plain, the difficult easy, and the unsavory tasty.” In other words, diligence fosters a teachable spirit and the disposition to rest in the truth that God knows best when we find ourselves in the rough places of life (Prov. 16:9). Diligence would not be necessary if life were easy and always smooth sailing. But since life isn’t easy, we must practice diligence to persevere through discipline and trial (Heb. 12:7).

Sometimes, God calls us to do work we would have never chosen for ourselves. But diligence teaches us to learn contentment, being grateful for the work that lies before us, no matter how hard it is (Phil. 4:12). We respond with diligence, not because of our own abilities, but because we trust in God to complete every good work that He has already begun in our lives (Phil. 1:6). This promise applies to our daily lives as we physically work and to our spiritual lives as we allow God to work in and through us, sanctifying us into the image of Christ—the new self of the virtuous life.

When diligence is neglected, we can become slothful. When most people hear the word “sloth,” they think of laziness. The slothful person is indeed lazy. However, slothfulness is not an exact synonym of laziness; rather, it denotes a certain type of laziness. Historically, the vice of slothfulness has also been called acedia—spiritual or mental apathy.

In Glittering Vices, Rebecca DeYoung says, “Sloth has more to do with our laziness about love than laziness about our work.” Sloth is resistant to the demands of love, and therefore apathetic towards the sanctifying work of love. Love is not easy; it requires work and commitment. In other words, the sluggard and the ambitious workaholic can both suffer from slothfulness.

The love of Christ is not something that we earn; it is a gift. But Christ’s free gift of love is meant to elicit an active response from us. Once we have received the gift, we must engage in the hard work of loving and being known. This work is uncomfortable and wonderful all at the same time. Among other things, it means accountability and a willingness to change.

The sluggard wants all the benefits of love without any of the investment or commitment. Meanwhile, the workaholic believes that Christ’s love is conditional on their performance; they work hard because they do not fully trust that Christ’s love will remain when they fail.  

To the sluggard, Proverbs 6:6-8 says:

Go to the ant … consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

The ant considers what needs to be done and diligently goes about the task instead of waiting for another to complete the work. However, the benefits of cultivating diligence in one’s life transcend developing a good work ethic. Diligence fosters a right relationship with our work, affecting how we complete it and for Whom we ultimately do it. The tragedy for the slothful is that, in the end, they resist their greatest desire—love—because of what it requires of them. As Solomon explained, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” (Prov. 13:4). On the other hand, the workaholic must learn to work within their limitations for the glory of God and not themselves (1 Thess. 4:11-12). If we are tempted to overwork as a means of “earning” the love of God or others, we must learn to grow our reliance on God, knowing that it is not out of our own strength that we do anything (John 15:4-5).

Diligence is an active response to Christ’s free gift of love. It encourages us to be who we are called to be in Christ (the new self) and not settle with who we were (the old self). Our culture tempts us towards both extremes of sloth. We consume ourselves in work or avidly avoid it, forgetting the purpose of the work itself—to change and transform us into the image of Christ. Changing habits and cultivating virtue requires work. In other words, it demands the virtue of diligence.

Christianity Is Neither Left Nor Right,” Part 1: Why This Phrase Is Misleading

by Owen Strachan

August 11, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

It is a phrase so common today in evangelical circles that you barely notice it anymore. “Christianity is neither left nor right.” Thoughtful people say it. Unthoughtful people say it. Many say it, but hardly anyone evaluates it. It’s an important question, though: is this phrase true?

Before considering its truthfulness, we need to consider how the ubiquitous “neither left nor right” claim is used. Typically, we hear it a great deal come election season. Instead of getting entangled in partisan politics, many Christians lamenting the divisiveness and mean spiritedness of the season choose to opt out entirely. Regardless of whether they are right or wrong, “neither left nor right” seems to give them an out.

The same is true of some pastors and Christian leaders. Instead of wading into hard issues that can be controversial in churches, a good number of pastors today use “neither left nor right” to disentangle themselves from the entire shebang. They’re not there to win an election, after all; they’re called to preach the Word and help the church fulfill the Great Commission.

In one sense, this is a commendable instinct. No one should want a politicized church where the gospel is sidelined for a worldly message. No one should embrace the hijacking of a pulpit. The church truly does have the highest calling: to make disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:16-20). Preaching the truth of God from the 66 inerrant books of the Bible is the fountainhead of this grand vocation. Church leaders have to work very hard to prioritize this otherworldly emphasis, lest it get lost.

But a question naturally emerges here. If a church wants to honor the Great Commission, what does such an emphasis consist of, exactly? It’s worth looking at the Commission directly to remember the specific words of Christ to his disciples:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).

The eternal Son, given “all authority” by the eternal Father, issues a definitive mandate for his people. They are to go everywhere, all over the earth, and make disciples. They are to baptize these Spirit-born believers in the triune name. This is where many modern evangelical presentations of the Great Commission stop. The whole Christian enterprise, therefore, seems to be about missions and evangelism. But although the Great Commission starts there, it does not end there. Christ next unfolds the duty of transformational teaching: “teaching them to observe [or obey] all that I have commanded you” (emphasis mine).

What an explosive reality this is. It reframes all our thinking on discipleship. Discipleship is not about simply getting someone to pray the prayer, with no regard for how they will later live and think. Discipleship is about leading people into a life of grace-driven, comprehensive obedience. Every last charge of Christ, all that he has commanded, is to be followed. Nothing is too small. In Great Commission discipleship, everything matters.

What does this discussion mean for “neither left nor right”? It means that this phrase needs very careful appraisal. If everything Christ—and the biblical authors—have taught is to be observed (within a new covenant framework), then we need to recognize that Christian discipleship is not fundamentally a minimalist enterprise. On the contrary, it is a maximalist enterprise. Christ has claimed all of life. He owns the rights and has the title to the cosmos in his pocket.

Consequently, there is no part of life for the Christian that is sealed off from Christ. We are not living our own self-directed life; we are living the life given us by God for the glory of Christ. All that we have, we have from God, and we have for God. We live life coram deo—unto God. We work for God’s glory. We raise children for God’s glory. We give to missions for God’s glory. We engage in politics for God’s glory. We speak up in the public square for God’s glory. We think for God’s glory.

Yes, you read that last sentence rightly. Thinking, and building a Christian worldview from the Scriptures, is deeply doxological (meaning “glorifying to God”). Such a commitment is not driven by self—by what you and I want to believe. That is how the world lives. The Christian’s commitment is driven by God. We are called to observe all that Christ has commanded. We are not intellectual free agents with a “get out of hell” pass in our wallets. We are slaves, servants, and priests to God (1 Peter 2:9-10).

In my next post, I’ll explore the implications of these truths. The preceding discussion is all groundwork for what is to come. In that post, we’ll look at several issues that show us where Christians line up biblically on different matters. For now, though, it is enough to remember that believers do not opt out of hard ethical, theological, and political issues. We do not have the option of obeying some of what Christ has commanded. Further, we cannot find our identity in the world, nor in staking some sort of holier-than-thou middle ground that will mean no one dislikes or disagrees with us. We have a charge from God. We must holistically obey the teaching of Christ and the biblical authors, all of them inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is not optional. This is a mandate.

Where Scripture speaks, we listen. Not only that: leaning on the grace of God, we obey.

Owen Strachan is the author of Christianity and Wokeness (Salem Books). A Senior Fellow with the Center for Biblical Worldview at FRC, he is Provost and Research Professor of Theology at Grace Bible Theological Seminary and hosts The Antithesis podcast.

A Closer Look at Virtue: Humility

by Molly Carman

August 10, 2021

According to tradition, the seven virtues of the Christian life are kindness, humility, diligence, charity, patience, temperance, and chastity. These character qualities embody the new self that Christians are called to put on in Christ (Eph. 4:17-24). In this seven-part series, we will familiarize ourselves with each of the seven virtues, with the goal of developing new habits befitting our new selves in Christ.

This is part two of seven. You can read part one (kindness) here.

The first virtue that we discussed, kindness, is concerned with seeing and treating others rightly. The second virtue, humility, is concerned with seeing ourselves rightly.

Humility is a difficult virtue to cultivate and maintain because as soon as someone thinks they have become humble, they likely no longer are. However, Scripture speaks of humility as a disposition that is essential to a righteous and holy life. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” Furthermore, Proverbs speaks frequently about the virtue of humility: “The reward for humility and fear of the LORD is riches and honor and life” (22:4), and “Humility comes before honor” (18:12b). Christ himself was characterized as the humble servant who denied himself to the point of death (Phil. 2:8). As Christians, we are called to imitate Christ’s example of humility (Mat. 16:24).

If humility is the practice of rightly ordered perception of oneself in relation to others and before God, how then should we perceive ourselves?

As in everything, we ought to take our cues from God’s Word. First of all, the Bible tells us that all humans are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Therefore, everyone—including ourselves—possesses great dignity and worth on account of our Creator (Ps. 139:14, Mat. 22:20-21). Elsewhere, the Bible says that mankind is created “a little lower than the heavenly beings” and “crowned with glory and honor” (Ps. 8:5). This high view of humanity is tempered by the reminder that we are made of dust (Gen. 2:7, 3:19; Ps. 103:14; Ecc. 3:30) and are mortal, our lives are like a vapor (Gen. 6:3; Ps. 39:5, 78:39, 144:3; James 4:14). Furthermore, all humans have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23, Is. 53:6). Not one of us is righteous—we all need a savior (Rom. 3:10-11, 6:23). This knowledge should shape the way we think about ourselves, others, and our standing before God.

In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis explained a common misconception about humility: “True humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” In other words, humility is not a feeling of low self-esteem. Such thoughts lead to ungodly habits of self-degradation and idolization of others. True humility courageously decides to consider other’s well-being before your own and acknowledges God’s holiness and authority.

Unfortunately, humility is often torpedoed by the vice of vainglory. Vainglory is not simply vanity (i.e., the obsession with physical looks, beauty, or fashion). Rather, Rebecca DeYoung describes vainglory as being concerned with the display or manifestation of excellence. Everything that a vainglorious person does is for the purpose of being noticed, recognized, and admired. In other words, the world is their stage, their reputation is everything, and everything they do caters to their reputation. Some people struggle with vainglory more than others, but it plagues us all.

Social media entices our appetite for vainglory. Every post, comment, like, and share of our perfectly arranged and photoshopped lives encourages this vice. Vainglory wants others to be impressed and admire our “good” deeds. The temptation takes shape when we embellish our stories, do a good deed so that others will see, or lie about our abilities to get flattery and attention.

When we are vainglorious, we frivolously strive after man’s approval while neglecting to give glory to the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Vainglory seeks to satisfy our deepest desire—to be known and loved. But unfortunately, this vice will leave us more desperate and confused in the end, because it cannot quench a desire that only God Himself is capable of satisfying.

Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Let us not become desirous for vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Gal. 5:26). The remedy for vainglory is humility. When we step back from our own reflection in the mirror and instead seek to reflect Christ to others, the seeds of humility can begin to take root in our lives. While vainglory shouts to the world, “here am I, look at me,” humility cries to God, “here am I, send me.”

The habits of vainglory and the habits of humility do not occur overnight. Both grow out of small decisions that we make about how we will live our lives. Humility is a conscious decision to choose habits of servanthood, selflessness, and stewardship. This virtue begins by honestly assessing our habits of life and how we are hindering ourselves from virtuous living. Humility begins with asking the Lord to search and know us, examining our hearts, and practicing giving glory to God alone (Ps. 139:3-4). Humility teaches us to see ourselves rightly before God and in relation to others. When we see ourselves rightly, we live more peaceably with all, especially with ourselves.

Does 1 Corinthians 6:9 Really Condemn Homosexual Sex?

by David Closson , Jaelyn Morgan

August 4, 2021

On “Worldview Wednesday,” we feature an article that addresses a pressing cultural, political, or theological issue. The goal of this blog series is to help Christians think about these issues from a biblical worldview. Read our previous posts on the Center for Biblical Worldview page.

What if the word ‘homosexual’ was never meant to be in the Bible?” That is the question the new documentary 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted a Culture is dedicated to answering.

The documentary explores the linguistic history of the word “homosexual” and its appearance in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, first published on February 11, 1946. In short, the film seeks to show that the RSV’s use of the term “homosexuals” instead of “sexual perverts” is an inaccurate translation of the Greek words malakoi and arsenokoitai. (It is worth noting that although recent editions of the RSV have reverted to using “sexual perverts,” many other translations still translate it as “homosexuals.”) According to the documentary, homosexual sex is biblically permissible, and the RSV’s “mistranslation” has influenced subsequent English translations of the Bible, resulting in Western society believing that “sexual and gender minorities must choose between their faith and their identity.”

The filmmakers insist 1946 is “not an attack on Christianity or the Bible” but rather “a quest to discover biblical truth and honor God’s Word.” However well-intentioned the film might be, its ultimate claim does not stand up to linguistic and historical critique. 1946 undermines biblical sexual ethics under the guise of honest hermeneutics.

Evaluating the “Mistranslation” Allegation

Alan Shlemon from the Christian apologetics ministry Stand to Reason writes that, despite 1946’s captivating premise where power-hungry white men oppress “sexual minorities” through Bible translation, “Even if the film’s claims are true, it doesn’t matter. The entire documentary is a non sequitur.”

There are many reasons the film 1946 fails to be intellectually compelling, including:

  • subsequent Bible translators did not use the RSV’s English translation unchecked;
  • the prohibition of homosexual sex is found elsewhere in the Bible and is well-attested throughout church history, not just since 1946; and
  • one young seminary student, whom the film follows, would not have had the expertise to truly dispute the RSV translation committee.

Despite these realities, the documentary is often cited as proof that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality and that the church should re-examine its view on sexual ethics.  

To address the film’s claim that same-sex relations are not prohibited in the Bible, we will answer three questions:

  1. What do the allegedly mistranslated words in 1 Corinthians 6:9 mean?
  2. What is the biblical sexual ethic?
  3. Why is the biblical sexual ethic good news for everyone?

By answering these questions, Christians can refute the radical claim that the Bible permits homosexual sex with knowledge, clarity, grace, and love.

1. What Do the Allegedly Mistranslated Words in 1 Corinthians 6:9 Mean?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (ESV, emphasis added)

The contested phrase translated “men who practice homosexuality” comes from the Greek “ο¿τε μαλακο¿ ο¿τε ¿ρσενοκο¿ται,” transliterated as oute malakoi oute arsenokoitai. The phrase oute…oute means “neither…nor,” so the verse is saying “neither _____  nor _____ … will inherit the kingdom of God.” So, we must fill in the blanks. What do malakoi and arsenokoitai mean? 

In his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon explains that the term malakoi can carry a variety of meanings depending on the author and context. Often it meant “soft” or “effeminate.” In ancient usage, malakos could range from those who had a penchant for “soft” or decadent living, to those averse to the rigor of a philosopher’s life, to the passive partner in homosexual intercourse. Thus, while at first glance it might seem challenging to know exactly how Paul is using the term in this passage, context is key. Based on the context of 1 Corinthians 6:9—a list of unrepentant sins displayed by those who will not inherit the kingdom of God—and Jewish understanding of the term at the time, Paul’s intent is clear. As Gagnon summarizes, “In 1 Cor. 6:9, malakoi should be understood as the passive partners in homosexual intercourse” (p. 312).

So, if Paul’s use of malakoi referred to the passive partner in homosexual sex, what about the active partner? To address this question, Paul uses the term arsenokoitai, a compound word formed by combining arsen (“male”) and koites (“bed”), the same words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 (passages which clearly prohibit homosexual relations). This word has a decidedly narrower meaning than malakoi. In fact, a survey of ancient literature shows arsenokoitai always refers to men having sexual intercourse with other males. As Gagnon points out, this is true of the earliest attestations of arsenokoitai after the New Testament, including the Sibylline Oracles (2.73), Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies (5.26.22-23), and Eusebius’ Preparation for the Gospel (6.10.25). According to Gagnon, Paul’s use of arsenokoites instead of paiderastes shows that he was not just discussing the practice of pederasty (a man having sexual intercourse with a boy), but also a man who was the active partner engaging in sexual intercourse with another adult male (p. 325). In summary, based on the historical and literary contexts of the terms and the literary context of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, malakoi and arsenokoitai clearly refer to passive and active partners in homosexual sex.

2. What Is the Biblical Sexual Ethic?

The mere suggestion that Scripture might not prohibit homosexual sex is understandably tantalizing, for many reasons. At one point or another, we have all wished that one of the sinful behaviors prohibited by the Bible was permissible in our specific case. These activities, although condemned by the Bible, nonetheless appeal to our hearts.

Tragically, we have inherited our penchant for forbidden things from our first parents. When Adam and Eve attempted to “become like God” by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden, the consequences of their disobedience to God affected not only themselves but all their offspring (Gen. 2:17, 3:16-19). One consequence is that our hearts are deceitful and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). Even if we feel in our hearts that something is right, that thing could very well be wrong. Proverbs 3:5-8 cautions us:

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 make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;     
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh     
and refreshment to your bones. (Emphasis added)

Sadly, humanity’s struggle with God’s design and intention for sexual desire is yet another consequence of the fall.

The Bible’s sexual ethic is clear. From the beginning, God intended sexual desire to motivate men and women to enter into the sacred covenant relationship of marriage, which is reserved for one man and one woman and is intended to be for life (Gen. 1:27, 2:24). Jesus confirmed the creation design for marriage when He condemned divorce (Mark 10:6-9). According to Scripture, the proper context for sexual activity is within the marriage covenant. All sexual conduct outside of marriage is prohibited, including impurity (Gal. 5:19, Eph 5:3, Col. 3:5), illicit heterosexual relations (1 Cor 6:18, Col. 3:5, 1 Thess. 4:3-5, Heb. 13:4), and homosexual relations (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Jude 1:7).

As Family Research Council’s Biblical Principles for Human Sexuality explains, church history reveals one unified position about sexual ethics—that of strict condemnation of any type of sexual activity outside of marriage. It was only after the sexual revolution of the 1960s that some American churches—those that had previously embraced theological liberalism—changed their interpretation of the Bible and began to approve of homosexual sex and same-sex marriage.

3. Why Is the Biblical Sexual Ethic Good News for Everyone?

The Bible’s high standard for sexual ethics can seem unattainable, causing us to despair. But the Bible brings good news of redemption and promises salvation to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ. In Christ, we are given victory over sin and receive power from God to flee temptation. That is why Paul urges the Corinthians to “flee from sexual immorality” later in the same passage of 1 Corinthians 6 (1 Cor. 6:18). He was urging them to walk in the freedom that Christ had already won for them!

When 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is read in context, we learn that it is a passage of hope, not condemnation. Paul writes:

[D]o you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11, emphasis added)

In the last sentence, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the new life they have received in Christ! Even though some of them had previously lived immoral lives, the blood of Christ’s sacrifice had washed them, sanctified them, and brought them into a right relationship with God. The Bible’s teaching on sexual ethics is good news because it reveals God’s design and plan for marriage, relationships, and sexuality. It is even better news for those of us who struggle with sexual sin because, through “participation in the spirit” (Phil. 2:1), we can “say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12 NIV).

In Matthew 11, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (v. 28). Throughout the centuries, millions of us who follow Jesus have found comfort in this precious promise. For those who grapple most acutely with the burdens of living in a sexually broken world, Jesus’ promise of rest still stands. Amid life’s most trying struggles, trust Him with your hopes, desires, fears, and questions. Jesus is faithful, trustworthy, and true (1 Thess. 5:24, Rev. 19:11). He completely saves those who believe and empowers us to live the life our loving God designed us to live.

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