Ian Stamps – (Re)Write: The Story of Gratitude
Michael Mize – Comparing Human and Chimp DNA
Paul Tripp – Parenting Is Gospel Ministry
We know that pornography is an ugly and harmful sin. We know that those who indulge in porn have committed the sin of lust, but there is so much more to it than that. When you open your browser and begin to look at those images and videos, you are sinning in ways that go far beyond lust. Here are 8 sins you commit when you look at porn.
You commit the sin of idolatry. All sin is idolatry, an attempt to find joy and satisfaction not in God himself but in what God forbids (Exodus 20:3-6). Matt Papa says it well: “An idol, simply put, is anything that is more important to you than God. It is anything that has outweighed God in your life—anything that you love, trust, or obey more than God—anything that has replaced God as essential to your happiness.” In the moment you begin to look at porn, you have allowed it to replace God as essential to your happiness. You’ve committed the sin of idolatry.
He that saith he abided in him, ought himself also to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2:6
The express and principal design of the apostle, in this chapter, is to propound marks and signs, both negative and positive, for the trial and examination of men’s claims to Christ; amongst which (not to spend time about the coherence) my text is a principal one; a trial of men’s interest in Christ, by their imitation of Christ. It is supposed by some expositors, that the apostle, in laying down this mark, had a special design to overthrow the wicked doctrine of the Carpocratians, who taught (as Epiphanius relates it) that men might have as much communion with God in sin as in duty. In full opposition to which the apostle lays down this proposition, wherein he asserts the necessity of a Christ-like conversation in all that claim union with him, or interest with him. The words resolve themselves into two parts, viz.
1. A claim to Christ supposed.
2. The only way to have our claim warranted.
First, We have here a claim to Christ supposed; “if any man say he abideth in him.” Abiding in Christ is an expression denoting proper and real interest in Christ, and communion with him; for it is put in opposition to those temporary, light, and transient effects of the gospel, which are called a morning dew, or an early cloud; such a receiving of Christ as that, Mat. 13: 21. which is but a present flash, sudden and vanishing; abiding in Christ notes a solid, durable, and effectual work of the Spirit, thoroughly and everlastingly joining the soul to Christ. Now, if any man, whosoever he be (for this indefinite is equivalent to an universal term) let him never think his claim to be good and valid, except he take this course to adjust it.
Of the Imitation of Christ in Holiness of Life, and the necessity of it in Believers.
“He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 11:6
These words have been resolved into their parts, and their sense opened in the former sermon: The observation was this:
That every man is bound to the imitation of Christ, under penalty of forfeiting his claim to Christ.
In prosecution of this point, we have already shown what the imitation of Christ imports, and what the imitable excellencies in the life of Christ are: It now remains that I shew you in the next place, why all that profess Christ are bound to imitate his example and then apply the whole. Now the necessity of this imitation of Christ will convincingly appear divers ways.
First, From the established order of salvation, which is fixed and unalterable: God that has appointed the end, has also established the means and order by which men shall attain the ultimate end. Now conformity to Christ is the established method in which God will bring souls to glory, Rom. 8: 29. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son; that he might be the first born among many brethren.” The same God who has predestinated men to salvation, has in order thereunto, predestinated them unto conformity to Christ, and this order of heaven is never to be reversed; we may as well hope to be saved without Christ, as to be saved without conformity to Christ.
The first eight lines one did commend to me, the rest I thought good to commend to thee: Reader, in reading be thou rul’d by me, with rhimes nor lines, but truths, affected be. 8 April 1684
Sin will at first, just like a beggar, crave one penny or one half-penny to have; and if you grant its first suit, ‘twill aspire, from pence to pounds, and so will still mount higher to the whole soul: but if it makes its moan, then say, here is not for you, get you gone. For if you give it entrance at the door, it will come in, and may go out no more.
Sin, rather than ‘twill out of action be, will pray to stay, though but a while with thee; one night, one hour, one moment, will it cry, embrace me in thy bosom, else I die:
Time to repent [saith it] I will allow, and help, if to repent thou know’st not how. But if you give it entrance at the door, it will come in, and may go out no more.
What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? 2 Cor. 6:14
The friendship of the world is enmity with God. James 4:4
Worldly people seem to be well aware that it is only in this life that they will be able to get vent to their worldliness. They quite count upon death putting an end to it all; and this is one of the main reasons for their dread of death, and their dislike even of the thoughts of it.
They know that there will be no “worldliness” in “the world to come”; that there will be no money-making, nor pleasure-finding, nor feasting, nor reveling; no balls, nor races, nor theaters, in heaven or in hell. Hence their eagerness to taste “life’s glad moments,” to take their fill of mirth, to make the best of this life while it lasts; and hence the origin of their motto, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Such are the out-and-out “lovers of pleasure,” the worshipers of the god of this world, the admirers of vanity, and indulgers of the flesh. They do not profess to be “religious”; but rather take pains to show that they are not so, and boast that they are not hypocrites.
Motives for Studying the Word
There is grave reason to believe that much Bible reading and Bible study of the last few years has been of no spiritual profit to those who engaged in it. Yea, we go further; we greatly fear that in many instances it has proved a curse rather than a blessing. This is strong language, we are well aware, yet no stronger than the case calls for.
Divine gifts may be misused, and Divine mercies abused. That this has been so in the present instance is evident by the fruits produced. Even the natural man may (and often does) take up the study of the Scriptures with the same enthusiasm and pleasure as he might of the sciences. Where this is the case, his store of knowledge is increased, and so also is his pride. Like a chemist engaged in making interesting experiments, the intellectual searcher of the Word is quite elated when he makes some discovery in it; but the joy of the latter is no more spiritual than would be that of the former. So, too, just as the successes of the chemist generally increase his sense of self-importance and cause him to look with disdain upon others more ignorant than himself, such, alas, is often the case with those who have investigated the subjects of Bible numerics, typology, prophecy, etc.
The Word of God may be taken up from various motives. Some read it to satisfy their literary pride. In certain circles it has become both the respectable and popular thing to obtain a general acquaintance with the contents of the Bible, simply because it is regarded as an educational defect to be ignorant thereof. Some read it to satisfy their sense of curiosity, as they might any other book of note.
Holiness has too often been embroiled in confusion and distortion within the Christian community and, sadly, ends up being neglected rather than cultivated within the church. This is especially true in times, like our own, when the gospel becomes more ‘me-focused’ than ‘God-focused’.
Holiness is the great goal of Christ’s saving mission. According to Paul, his purpose in redemption was ‘to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good’ (Tit 2.14). The author of Hebrews urges his readers to ‘pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (He 12.14 [NRSV]. And Jesus himself states it even more bluntly with the words, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt 6.48).
Holiness matters. And it matters far more than we are willing to admit. We may be quite happy to engage in argument and debate over the meaning of the concept in Scripture, but make little effort to fight the inward battles involved in the pursuit of holiness in our daily lives.
This struck me recently while reading Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Summing up the main thrust of his letter, he tells them,
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord to do this more and more (1Th 4.1) [NIV – italics added].
He goes on from there to walk them through some of the glaring failures that were literally a blot on the landscape of the church’s witness in that town and surrounding area. Reminding them that ‘it is God’s will that you should be sanctified’ he goes on to catalogue the list of sexual sins (private as well as public) that were clearly a matter of common knowledge in their wider community. He then says, ‘For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life’ (4.7).
Secular humanism has no way of explaining either the greatness or the tragedy of human existence. However, the biblical story of creation and the fall provides the basis for affirming both human dignity and depravity. We are born into the world “in Adam,” that is, as glorious traitors.
Glorious in Every Way
God created us for His glory. We exist for Him, not He for us. And yet, unlike the rest of creation, we were created in God’s image for a special relationship with Him, naturally “endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, after his own image; having the law of God written in [our] hearts, and power to fulfill it” (Westminster Confession of Faith 4.2). According to Scripture, human beings are neither semi-divine nor demonic, but creatures who have been given a royal dignity as God’s viceroys.
Adam and Eve were both created in God’s image, but God made Adam the federal head of the human race. Would Adam acknowledge gratefully his dependence on God and His revelation? Or would he seek to usurp God’s throne, determining for himself what he would believe and how he would live?
The next season which requires more than commons diligence to keep the heart—is when we receive injuries and abuses from men. Such is the depravity and corruption of man, that one is become as a wolf or a tiger to another. And as men are naturally cruel and oppressive one to another, so the wicked conspire to abuse and wrong the people of God. “The wicked devours the man who is more righteous than he.” Now when we are thus abused and wronged, it is hard to keep the heart from revengeful motions; to make it meekly and quietly commit the cause to Him that judges righteously; to prevent the exercise of any sinful affection. The spirit that is in us lusts to revenge; but it must not be so. We have choice helps in the Gospel to keep our hearts from sinful motions against our enemies, and to sweeten our embittered spirits. Do you ask how a Christian may keep his heart from revengeful motions under the greatest injuries and abuses from men? I reply—When you find your heart begin to be inflamed by revengeful feelings, immediately reflect on the following things:
1. Urge upon your heart the severe prohibitions of revenge contained in the Word of God. However gratifying to your corrupt propensities revenge may be, remember that it is forbidden. Hear the word of God: “Say not, I will recompense evil.” Say not, I will do so to him as he has done to me. “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written—It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. On the contrary—If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” It was an argument urged by the Christians to prove their religion to be supernatural and pure—that it forbids revenge, which is so agreeable to nature. Awe your heart, then, with the authority of God in the Scriptures; and when carnal reason says, ‘My enemy deserves to be hated!’ Let conscience reply, ‘But does God deserve to be disobeyed?’ ‘Thus and thus has he done, and so has he wronged me.’ ‘But what has God done that I should wrong him? If my enemy dares boldly to break my peace, shall I be so wicked as to break God’s precept? If he fears not to wrong me, shall not I fear to wrong God?’ Thus let the fear of God restrain and calm your feelings.