Tag Archives: Christians

“For Men Shall Be…Blasphemers…” – Jon Mitchell

The apostle Paul warned Timothy, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers…” (2 Tim. 3:1-2, ESV, emp. added).

“Blasphemers” comes from the Greek term blasphemos, which literally means, “speaking evil, slanderous, reproachful, railing, abusive.”  So Paul was warning of those who would speak evil, who would be slanderous and reproachful, who would be railing, people who would be abusive.

The enemies of Stephen used this same word to falsely accuse him of blasphemy against the law of Moses, God, and the temple…and in doing so they were ironically guilty of the very thing they accused him of doing (Acts 6:11, 13).  We therefore see how it is possible to blaspheme men, to slander or speak evil of others, to be reproachful of brethren or to rail against them, and to be verbally abusive towards them.

Paul also used this same word to describe himself before he was converted, when he was a blasphemer and persecutor of Christ and the church.  By doing so, he shows us how it is possible to blaspheme God as well.  Normally that’s what we think of when we think of blasphemy.  I would like to challenge the reader to consider how we can blaspheme our fellow man as well, especially in the context of discussing church leadership in keeping with the theme of this issue of the Carolina Messenger.

Our Lord commanded us to put away “slander,” along with anger, wrath, malice, obscene talk from our mouths, and lying (Col. 3:8-9).  Slander (blasphemia) literally means, “slander, detraction, injurious speech, to another’s good name; impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty.”  It is no coincidence that it is listed right alongside of anger, wrath, malice, obscene talk, and lying.  Why would we slander someone, speak reproachfully and detractingly about them, or try to injure them with our words?  Why gossip about them, or unrighteously criticize them and spout off at them?  Why insult them?  Because of anger, wrath and malice.  We’re mad at them.  We hate them.

Brethren, we’re Christians.  And as Christians we are called upon to be different from the world.  We are commanded to let no “corrupting talk” come out of our mouths.  Instead, we are to allow only such as is good for building up…that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29).  Do we really want to be the type of Christians condemned by James, people whose tongues are proven to be “a restless evil, full of deadly poison,” who use our tongues to bless God one minute and curse each other the next?  (James 3:8-10)  Because if we ARE that type of Christian, we need to know that our religion is “worthless” in the sight of God (James 1:26).

This brings me to Titus 3:1-2:  “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”  “To speak evil” (blasphemeo) literally means, “to blaspheme, revile.  To hurt the reputation or smite with reports or words, speak evil of, slander, rail.”  Notice how God lists the command to avoid this sin right alongside the command to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient and ready for every good work, to avoid arguing, and to be gentle and show perfect courtesy to everyone.

You know, it is very easy to speak evil of rulers and authorities rather than be submissive and obedient to them when we disagree with them.  We currently have many leaders in our government who act in very ungodly ways and promote many ungodly things.  As Christians, we are obligated to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) and oppose all ungodliness while exposing it for what it is (Eph. 5:11).  If the President, Congress, or the Supreme Court command us to do something that violates God’s Word, we are not obligated to obey them.  That said, many Christians seem to think that having a blatantly ungodly man in office gives them a free license to not only speak out against what he’s promoting that is ungodly, but also to blaspheme the man personally by insulting him as a person.  Yet, God inspired Paul to tell Christians who were living under the rule of Nero, a man for more ungodly than any American president, governor, or congressman, to be submissive while speaking evil/blaspheming no one (Tit. 3:1-2), and to be subject to the governing authorities while giving respect and honor to them (Rom. 13:1, 7).  Not only is it possible, it is also commanded for Christians to still show respect and honor to a governing authority while at the same time actively standing against whatever policies he promotes which are ungodly and/or with which we disagree.

This not only applies to the government.  Take the leadership in the church and in the home.  Wives are commanded to submit to their husbands AND respect them (Eph. 5:22-24, 33).  Children are commanded to obey AND honor their parents (Eph. 6:1-3).  Christians are commanded to obey the bishops of the church and submit to them (Heb. 13:17) AND respect them and esteem them very highly in love (1 Thess. 5:12-13).

In these cases, the principle of Acts 5:29 also applies.  Wives are not obligated to obey their husbands in something sinful.  Children are not obligated to obey their parents if their parents want them to disobey God.  Brethren are not obligated to obey elders if the elders are promoting false doctrine.

However, what about when husbands, parents, and elders ask of us something that is completely scriptural…but we just happen to disagree with it and have a different opinion about it?  Over the years, I’ve observed more and more Christians blaspheme these authoritative figures in their lives and not even know it.

In more and more homes wives are either refusing outright to submit to their husbands or they’re doing so with a complete lack of respect…and in either case they blaspheme – speak evil against – their husbands while doing so.  Wives, that’s not respecting your husbands (Eph. 5:33).  That’s blaspheming your spouse!

More and more children are either outright refusing to obey their parents while blaspheming them, or else they obey while refusing to honor their parents by slandering and grumbling against them.  Children, that’s not honoring your parents (Eph. 6:2).  That’s speaking evil against your parents who brought you into this world!

And in the church, friends…even in doctrinally sound churches which promote healthy teaching about the gospel, worship and morality…there is a growing problem of blaspheming the eldership, speaking evil and railing against them when brethren disagree with them over a matter of expediency, opinion, and personal judgment.  Christians, that’s not respecting those who are over you in the Lord and esteeming them very highly in love because of their work (1 Thess. 5:12-13).  That’s not letting the leadership of the church keep watch over your souls with joy and not with groaning (Heb. 13:17).  No, that’s blaspheming your fellow brothers in Christ who are trying to keep watch over your souls and help you grow spiritually!

American brethren, I know we value our freedom of speech and expression…but the Constitution doesn’t trump the New Testament!  It’s one thing to disagree with the government, one’s spouse, one’s parents, or an eldership with respect and love.  It’s quite another to do so while blaspheming them.  To disagree with respect and honor is a sign of maturity, love, self-control, and having the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  To disagree blasphemously by speaking evil against them and railing against them shows nothing but worldliness, spiritual immaturity, and that you’re on a road you don’t want to be on…a road that leads to hell.

What’s especially terrifying about this is that we don’t realize that we blaspheme GOD when we blaspheme our brethren in the church, whether they be elders or not!  Look at Paul.  He referred to himself as a blasphemer before he became a Christians…but what was he doing during that time?  He was persecuting the church.  Yet, according to Jesus Paul was actually persecuting HIM (Acts 9:4).

Therefore, we are blaspheming and hurting GOD when we purposefully blaspheme and hurt our brethren.  Think about that for a minute.  We speak evil against the elders or that brother or sister we don’t like and in the process blaspheme our Lord and Redeemer…but that’s not all.  We are also causing division and contention in the church, something which God hates (Prov. 6:16-19) and causes the church to become weaker before breaking the congregation apart completely.  And because we spend our time doing that, guess what we’re NOT doing?  We’re NOT shining as lights in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation because we’re too busy grumbling and complaining (Phil. 2:14-15).  We’re NOT spreading the gospel in this lost world because we’re too focused either starting or putting out small fires of pettiness in the home and in the church, and we wonder why the church isn’t growing and our country and world is growing farther and farther away from God…

            And Satan is laughing and laughing and laughing…

What’s the solution?  How are we to react to blasphemy against us or our brethren?  How are we to repent of our own blasphemy should we be guilty of it?

We must keep our conduct excellent and let our light shine among everyone with whom we come in contact, both in the church, outside of the church, and in the home (1 Pet. 4:12; Matt. 5:16).  We must consciously choose to treat EVERYONE the way we would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12); if everyone in the church did that, no blasphemy, gossip, or backbiting would exist and the gospel would be proclaimed to every single person on earth.  We must hold fast to God’s Word in all aspects of our lives and in our relationships with everyone rather than grumble or complain (Phil. 2:14-16).  When we encounter a brother or sister who speaks evil against someone, we must gently correct them rather than joining in or keeping silent (Gal. 6:1-2; 2 Tim. 2:24-26), and if need be withdraw fellowship from them (1 Cor. 5:11-13; Matt. 18:15-17).  Do this, and we WILL shine as lights in the middle of this dark, blasphemous world!

jonandelizabethmitchell@hotmail.com

First Stop: Homosexuality. Next Stop: Pedophilia – Spencer Strickland

The lengths to which society and government have gone in order to force acceptance of certain sinful behaviors is nothing short of appalling.  As of this year, 9 states in the United States have legalized same-sex marriage (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington).  Additionally, it is legal in the nation’s capital for two members of the same gender to marry.  Those who know what the Bible truly says about homosexuality sigh in disgust at such abandonment of basic moral principles.  Both Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of homosexuality (in spite of the efforts by some to suggest otherwise).  Sodom and Gomorrha’s sin of homosexuality was at the heart of God’s reason for destroying them.  As one recalls the incident at Sodom with Lot and the two angels who appeared as men (Gen. 19:1-3), the men of Sodom asked Lot, “Where are the men which came in to thee this night?  Bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (Gen. 19:5).  The Hebrew word for “know” is the same word used in Gen. 4:1:  “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord.”  Thus, it is obvious what went on in Sodom and it is clear that God destroyed Sodom because of their wickedness (Gen. 19:24-25).  One might say the divine commentary on this event is found in Jude 7:  “Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities around them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire [emphasis mine, SS].”  A few passages in the Old Testament describe homosexuality as an “abomination” (Lev. 18:22; 20:13) which credible and reliable Hebrew lexicons define as “a disgusting thing.”  Finally, Paul’s discussion of women changing “the natural use into that which is against nature” along with “the men, leaving the natural use of the woman” and consequently lusting after one another is a clear condemnation of homosexuality (Rom. 1:26-27).

Faithful gospel preachers have striven to inform folks of the sin of homosexuality based upon God’s Word.  In addition to informing folks about this sin, there is a warning preachers sometimes attach to it.  Namely, if homosexuality is viewed as “normal” and same-sex marriage is accepted, then what is to stop society from embracing other perversions of God’s definition of marriage?  Now that homosexuality is being embraced by government and society, efforts are being made to suggest that pedophilia might be viewed as normal and acceptable behavior.  Pedophilia is defined as “sexual desire in an adult for a child” (“pedophilia”).  According to a recent article published in the British newspaper The Guardian, “There is a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia [alternate spelling of the term, SS] should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality” (Henley).  In this article, Sarah Goode who is both an author of two studies on pedophilia and a university lecturer is quoted as saying, “There are a lot of people […] who say: we outlawed homosexuality, and we were wrong.  Perhaps we’re wrong about paedophilia” (ibid).  This article underscores the fact that when sin is tolerated and accepted on any level, it opens the door for any and all toleration of sin.  Returning to the first chapter of Romans, where he wrote of the condemnation of homosexuality, Paul went on to give a laundry list of other sins that Gentiles were openly practicing like fornication, covetousness, maliciousness and murder – just to name a few (Rom. 1:29-31).  The final verse of that chapter says of these Gentiles: “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:32).  How is it that anyone could “take pleasure” in folks practicing these sins?  How could American society and government take pleasure in championing the cause of same-sex marriage?  How could anyone ever take pleasure in viewing pedophilia as “normal”?  The answer is found in Romans 1:28 – “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”

The legalization of same-sex marriage and the acceptance of homosexuality as normal behavior is a clear step towards an all out rejection of God and His will.  If the entire country legalizes same-sex marriage, it is only a matter of time before such perverted behavior as pedophilia is accepted as indicted by the article cited.  Once this behavior is accepted, what is next?  For instance, what will stop such perversions as bestiality (sexual desire of humans towards animals) from being viewed as normal behavior and just another “sexual orientation”?  Long ago, Isaiah proclaimed, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).  In essence, government and society are “calling evil good and good evil” by accepting and legalizing these ungodly behaviors.  It is important, then, that Christians stand against these behaviors and stand up for the Word of God (Jude 3).  It is important that preachers inform congregations of the wickedness that continues to be promoted in society and government.  It is important that Christians insist that the home be defined as God defines it and to teach others that definition (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-5; Eph. 5:31).  Finally, it is important that every child of God beseech the Heavenly Father for help in stemming the tide of gross immorality practiced, endorsed, and legalized in this country.

Christians and Government – Brock Harwigsen

How should Christians interact with government?  The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Christians are to have no interaction at all.  They teach that Christians should not vote, should not participate in national holidays, such as 4th of July and Memorial Day, and that Christians should not even pledge allegiance to the flag.

Others not only condone voting, participating in holidays and pledging the flag, but they also take money out of their church treasuries to directly support political candidates running for office or to support political causes.  Some denominational preachers in the name of Jesus and justice lead protests and demonstrations for or against government and its policies.

Who is right?  Who is wrong?  What should a Christian do when it comes to his involvement with civil government?  As with any other question about what should a Christian do, the answer is to follow Jesus’ example.  After all, to be a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus.  Christians can’t go wrong if they will but follow Jesus’ example.

Two World Sectors

Before we look at Jesus to see how He interacted with civil government, we need to recognize two world sectors ordained by God.  The first and most important sector is the religious or spiritual sector.  This sector is the Kingdom of God, i.e., the church.  Jesus is the head of this sector.  Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).

The second sector ordained by God is world governments.  The second time Jesus was brought before Pilate, before His crucifixion, Jesus affirmed that civil government gets its authority from God (John 19:10-11).  Paul by inspiration taught the same thin in Romans 13:1-7.  “Let every soul be subject unto the highest powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”  In verses 4 and 6 Paul wrote the civil authorities are actually ministers/servants of God.

Sadly, there have been a lot of civil governments down through the ages and holders of authority in these civil governments that did not know or did not care that they were God’s servants.  The same can be said for most if  not all governments today.  There have been and there are many rulers and governments that in no way, manner, shape or form resembled anything Christian or good.  Their actions don’t change the fact that they were and are still God’s servants and God will hold them accountable in the end for not behaving properly as His servants.

Everybody who holds an office in government or is thinking about running to hold an office in government, be it city, county, state or federal needs to understand that they first work for God adn then, here in American at least, they secondly work for the people they represent and last and least for the government.  Civil authorities need to heed the words that King Jehosaphat said to the judges of his day in 2 Chronicles 19:6-7.  “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.  Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.”

How Jesus Interacted

Now let’s look at how Jesus interacted with earthly government.  Most people are familiar with what Jesus said about paying taxes (Matt. 22:17-21).  Even though the Roman government used tax funds to build and maintain pagan temples and to support a conquering army that was suppressing the Jewish people, Jesus still said, “Pay your taxes.”  Jesus peacefully submitted to His arrest even though it was unjust and illegal.  Jesus was a radical, but He never led a riot, organized an underground movement nor criticized civil government.  Jesus never took part in the Jewish movement against Rome.  He never offered Himself as an advocate against society on behalf of many innocent victims of social injustice.  Jesus was not a revolutionary in any modern sense of the word.  He respected civil authority.  But, he caused the greatest revolution the world has ever seen.

Peter wrote, “Submit unto every ordinance” (1 Pet. 2:13f).  Paul wrote that civil authorities were “ordained of God” and were “ministers of God” (Rom. 13:1-7).  There is no hint in the New Testament or early church history of Christians ever organizing to change or nullify civil laws.

Some ask, “But what about unjust laws and government treatment?”  Jesus’ arrest and His trial were unjust and illegal, but He did not protest.  We consider slavery unjust and unChristian.  But, in the book of Philemon Paul tells Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave and new convert, to return to his slave master.  Christianity put an end to slavery not with civil disobedience, but by conversion.

What should a Christian’s relation to the government be like?  Like Christ we must obey and submit.  We, however, must disobey if we are commanded to disobey God.  “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19-20).

Can Christians speak out against corrupt government officials? Yes, but it must be done in a legal and orderly way.  Can Christians vote?  Yes.  In fact, voting is one way Christians are to be “the salt of the earth” and a “light of the world,” one way Christians can influence society in an orderly and civil manner, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:13-16.  Christians can be a positive influence for good by their votes.  Can Christians run for and hold political office?  Yes.  Who would want only the most despicable among us to seek and hold public office?

The Bible does not say that all governments will be Christians, that all laws will be just, that all laws will be fair, there will be no prejudicial laws.  But the Bible does say we are to follow Jesus’ example and Jesus never spoke out against or disobeyed civil laws.  Jesus did not rebel, protest, or fight against and outside of the law.  We need to remember Paul’s warning: “Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Rom. 13:2).  Christians need to be law abiding citizens who work inside the law to make their country a better place.                                                 stantonchurchofchrist@mindspring.com