A Wise Builder – 1 Corinthians 3

We are all building a life. As we move to 1 Corinthians 3, we will see what it means to be a wise builder. Maybe you are building a career, reputation, marriage, or a home. At Liberty, we are building a church. Building takes teamwork. We are partners and co-laborers with GodThat is what it means when Paul says, “God’s fellow workers” (v. 9). To be a wise builder, we must examine three aspects of building:

Building Foundation

A building is only as strong as the foundation it is built on. Paul says that because of God’s grace, he is a wise master builder who has laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ (v. 10-11). The church is built on Jesus. We can do nothing apart from the grace of God. Paul says he’s laid the foundation, and we should “take heed” how we build on it (v. 10). We must take heed to our attitude, what we value as important, how we spend our time, what we read, what we watch and put in our mind, the friends we hang out with, and the words we speak. To build a church or a life on anything other than Christ is to build a sandcastle. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 7:24-27. The house built on a rock withstood the storm, but the house built on the sand fell, “and great was its fall.” In an ancient building, the cornerstone was the main foundation stone, the big stone where all the walls met. The cornerstone held it all together. Jesus is the cornerstone. Jesus holds it all together.

Building Construction

In verse 12 Paul lists some materials that we can build with – “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw….” Gold, silver and precious stones are lasting, beautiful, and valuable. You have to dig to find them. Hard work is involved! Wood, hay, and straware temporary, ordinary, cheap, and easy to find. When building your life, build with things that will last, that have eternal value. More buildings are destroyed by termites than tornados!It is usually not the big things but the little things that tear us down. In verse 6, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” In verse 8 he says that each will receive his own reward. We don’t all do the same job or have the same gifts, but each is just as important. God wants to use you! Paul and Apollos are humans. God uses human instruments to be His hands and His feet. Jesus used ordinary men and women, and God wants to use you!

Building Inspection

Anyone who has built knows what a home inspection is. It’s what it sounds, right? All the work is examined by an inspector. People have a strange view of judgement. They picture a long line in eternity and a set of scales. All your good works on one side and all your bad deeds on the other. If the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven. If the bad outweighs the good, you are sent to hell. That is not what the Bible teaches. There are two great judgements – the Great White Throne Judgement for unbelievers (Rev. 20:11) and the Judgement Seat of Christ for believers (Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10). For believers, the purpose of judgement is not to determine whether or not you go to heaven. Your eternal destiny is determined before you leave this earth. The purpose is to give an account for our lives.The things done for Christ will last. The things not done for Christ will burn up (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Nothing is hidden from God. Every secret will be brought to light and disclosed. Apologizing for sin does not do away with accountability. Confession restores fellowship, but we will still have to answer for how we treated others, used our gifts, abilities, and talents, for every word spoken, how we used our money, time, and how we ran our race. When we build our lives, we must remember inspection is coming!

Satan is the Accuser of the Brethren, bringing up our sins. Praise God at the Judgment Seat of Christ every shameful thing we have ever done will be burned up never to be brought up again. Jesus paid the punishment we deserve. He will wipe the tears from our eyes and we will be like Him. He will have finished what He started. He will present us blameless before the Father. Hallelujah!

Some believers, those who invested in eternity, will have a lasting inheritance. Some will not have treasure in heaven because they wasted their lives. Paul urged us to take heed. What are you building? Are you building wisely?





Three Levels of Living – 1 Corinthians 2

As we continue our study on 1 Corinthians 2, we are reminded again that Jesus is the only answer. Today there all kinds of preachers and preaching, but the preaching that we need, and that God honors, is the preaching of Jesus and Him crucified (v. 2). Paul was not a rock star or impressive. Even he felt weak, inadequate, and insecure with fear and trembling (v. 3).But, when Jesus is preached, and Him crucified, it is more than information, it is transformation! People are changed, marriages are changed, families are changed. There is power in the name of Jesus! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

The Natural Life

Those who don’t believe in Jesus for salvation do not understand spiritual things. Verse 14 says spiritual things are “foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” It is normal and natural for unbelieving family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors to not understand why you go to church, read your Bible, pray, give, and believe like you believe. They don’t understand our commitment, convictions, or our compassion. Believers however have the wisdom of God, which the world does not know (v. 6-8). The natural person listens to the wisdom of this world– the counselors, politicians, pundits, celebrities, professionals, experts. They think the Bible is foolishness because it’s counter-cultural. Getting upset when an unbeliever doesn’t understand the things of God would be like going up to a dead corpse in a casketand saying, “Hey, you want to go have lunch?” Then getting offended when they don’t respond. You can’t argue someone into the kingdom of God. Be patient, loving, and pray for them that God would open blinded eyes.

The Spiritual Life

What does it mean to be spiritual?  If you go to the Spirituality section of any book store you will see all kinds of answers. Yoga, meditation, eat a certain diet, etc.Paul cleared it up by saying it is simply being filled with, guided by and empowered with the Holy Spirit of God.In verse 12 Paul reminds the church that they have received the Holy Spirit and because of that, they can know the things freely given by God. You can know God! Beyond that, Paul quotes Isaiah 64 in verse 9. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” This is one of most misquoted passages in the Bible. It does not refer to heaven (although we certainly can’t comprehend what God has in store for us there!), but to the here and now! For the spiritual person, there is no much more to this life than this life! We have supernatural wisdom and power that comes from God.

The Carnal Life

The third person we read about in this passage is saved, they are a believer, but they are living in sin. They are carnal, fleshly, and have unconfessed sin in their life. They are double-minded, trying to hold on to God in one hand and hold on to the world with the other hand. They are not hot or cold, but lukewarm. They have been born again but remain a spiritual babe (1 Cor. 3:1-4). God has more in store for you! Babies are self-centered. The get upset easily. They fuss and fight, chose sides, saying you can’t be on my team or in our club. Like we read in chapter 1, some were saying they were “of Paul” and others “of Apollos.” It is not about your favorite preacher or Bible teacher. It is not about personalities, programs, or preferences. It is all about Jesus.

What kind of life are you living? If it’s a natural life or carnal life, move to a spiritual life! Go all in and let the Holy Spirit have control of your life. Recently the Notre Dame cathedral was destroyed by fire. When the dust settled, the cross was still standing. When all is said and done, and the dust settles on your life, it is still the cross that matters – Jesus and Him crucified.

No Division

On Sunday we started a new series in 1 Corinthians. Corinth was a prominent city known for its wealth and immorality. Paul visited Corinth (for a year and a half) on his second missionary journey, and three years later, on his third missionary journey, while in Ephesus, he wrote two letters to the Corinthian congregation. The church was fascinated with personalities and preferences, which caused strife. They had lost sight of what is most important. Some followed Paul, some Apollos, and some Peter. Paul reminds them that it is not about personalities, programs, or preferences, it is about Jesus. Jesus Christ is mentioned ten times in the first ten verses. The church gets divided and distracted when we are:

Filled with Pride

We did not call God, He called us. Look at verses 1, 9, and 26. Notice the repeated use of the word “called” or “calling.” I often hear people say, “I found God.” I know what they mean but God was not lost. We were! Salvation is a gift. There is nothing we could do on our own to deserve or earn it. When pride walks in, God walks out. Proverbs 6:17 says the Lord hates a proud look. We live in a selfish society that is consumed with self-centeredness, self-confidence, and self-importance. We should nots wallow our pride, we should spit it out! Don’t put your confidence in or be arrogant over where you went to school, your educational degree, pedigree, resume, or accomplishments. Apart from Him we can do nothing! The last verse of chapter 1 says, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (v. 31).

Focused on Personalities

In verse 10 Paul pleads with the church to let no divisions be among them. He elaborates in verses 11-13, referencing how they’d sided with personalities. They got their eyes off Christ and on cliques. Jesus is the great unifier. Christ is not divided. The Trinity is not divided. Division is of the devil! His strategy is to divide and conquer, to drive a wedge between relationships. We can have honest differences without division. Unity is not uniformity, but when it comes to doctrine and decisions the church has to be united. On secondary issues we will differ. If it is not a moral issue or a doctrinal issue it is not worth fighting about! John Wesley said it best, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity.” We need to cry out for God’s love because without it we cannot love one another. The church must confess the sin of division, jealousy, envy, anger, bitterness, hatred, racism, unforgiveness, and comparison. We are told to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3). The bible says, “How good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in unity… for there the Lord commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Ps. 133:1, 3). Should we have diversity? YES. Division? NO. We don’t have to drink the same coffee or drive the same car, but we do have to follow the same Christ!  We must resist anything that threatens our unity.

Forget our Purpose

Don’t get tripped up over methodology. The purpose of the church is to share the message of the gospel. We must not let any other message get in the way of the only message that saves! In verses 18-21, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the cross. The message of Christ crucified is what saves. “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v. 24). “There is power, power wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” There is also wisdom. The experts, intellectuals, philosophers and debaters have not found the answer to the world’s problems. They cannot help us know God in a personal way. The answer is the cross. Salvation will come to you when God calls and when you believe.

We have all seen children fight over a ball or toy. I mean, swinging fists at each other over it! We think, how ridiculous, childish, immature! That is what God must think when he looks down from heaven at some of the things we argue and get divided over at home, work, and church. Like I prayed last week at a National Day of Prayer gathering, “God forgive our wicked hearts. Forgive us for being self-indulgent and self-sufficient. Forgive us of our pride. Forgive us for seeking power, pleasure, position, prestige, political correctness, and seeking the praise of man. You must increase and we must decrease.”

Relationships Matter

What a great day we had on Sunday with Dr. Charles Lowery! It was so good to have him back at Liberty. Relationships matter! We are better together. Relationships are also hard. Men and women communicate very differently. As a Christian Psychologist, Dr. Lowery has a great deal of experience on helping people navigate the tricky aspects of relationships. On Sunday, he taught us some very important tips on communication. If you missed the message, I encourage you to go to www.libertylive.church/mesages and watch. You will enjoy his humor and will come away with some very practical tips!

Not only did we have a special day on Sunday, but we also have a very special Night of Prayer planned tomorrow night at each of our campuses. Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. In light of that, we will meet at each campus, and Liberty at Smithfield will meet at the Luter Family YMCA, on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. to pray and worship together. This will be a great time for the Liberty family to come, worship, and seek the Lord.

This Sunday, we will begin our new series on 1 Corinthians. I’m so excited to be back preaching and to share with you what the Lord has been teaching me this week as I’ve studied. Invite a friend to join you and make plans now for the service you will attend.

See you Sunday!

Easter 2019

I pray you had a wonderful weekend celebrating the resurrection of our Lord! The most extensive explanation of the resurrection in all the Bible is found in 1 Corinthians 15. We will be starting a new sermon series on 1 Corinthians in May, but for now, we will look ahead at chapter 15. Jesus did not come to make bad people good but to make dead people alive!

Our Belief in the Resurrection

“Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel I preached to you, which you received, on which you have taken your stand… For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:1-4). The gospel is so clearthat even a child can understand it. It did not originate with Paul. He passed on what he received. The gospel is the most important message in the world! Christianity thrives because Jesus is alive! There is only one gospel. Christ died, He was buried, and raised on the third day.In verses 5-9 we read about all the people that he appeared to after the resurrection. It was not fake news! His birth, his miracles, his death, and his resurrection were public. His return will be public. Our belief has to be public as well. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).

Our Bodies in the Resurrection

In verses 35-49, Paul talks about our resurrection bodies. God made the world and said, “It is good.” Sin entered the world and the curse of sin caused the bad. You may have a bad back, bad knees, bad eye sight, bad breath! Old age is when your mind and body are not what they use to be. Society is obsessed with the body. People have plastic surgery to stay young and heart surgery to stay alive! We live in a world where we get sick. People need chemo, radiation, and live in chronic pain. But thanks to the resurrection of Jesus, cancer does not have the final word! The cemetery does not have the final word! The message of Easter is the cross is empty and the tomb is empty, so your life does not have to be. We will get a new body, get to go to a new Heaven, there will be a new earth, new Jerusalem, new Kingdom. Jesus makes all things new! For the unbeliever, this life is as good as it gets. For the believer, this life is as bad as it gets.

Our Breakthrough in the Resurrection

“Listen, I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raisedincorruptible, and we will be changed… When this corruptible body is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal body is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Deathhas been swallowed up in victory. Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor. 15:51-57). Death cannot hurt us and the grave cannot hold us! The key word is victory! One day the trumpet will sound and ultimate victory will be ours because of the resurrected Jesus. Verse 58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast,immovable, always excellingin the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!He gives us victory!

Take time to reflect this week on the all that the resurrection means and give your sin, your life, and your best to Him!

Good Friday 2019

Good Friday is a day to reflect on the suffering Jesus endured for our sins. It’s a day to reflect on the cross. Satan tried to kill Jesus in Bethlehem when he was two years old through the orders Herod issued. He tried to kill him at the start of his public ministry in Nazareth by throwing him over a cliff. He tried to circumvent the cross on the Mount of Temptation. In the Garden, it was Satan’s last attempt to keep Jesus from going to the cross. Why did Satan try so hard to avoid the cross? In the cross we see:

The Power of God

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved” (1 Cor. 1:18). Jesus’ entire ministry can be summed up in the word power. Scripture testifies to the power of his birth (Lk. 1:35), the power of His life (Romans 1:4), the power of His miracles (Lk. 6:19), the power of His death (Rev. 5:12), the power of His resurrection (1 Cor. 6:14), the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16), the power of His church (Acts 1:8), and the power of His return (Matt. 24:30). “There is power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb!” It reaches to the highest mountain. It flows to the lowest valley. The blood that gives me strength from day to day will never lose its power!

The Wisdom of God

In 1 Corinthians 1:19-23 we also see that the cross is the wisdom of God. Eight times wisdom is mentioned. Paul asked three types of experts in his day a question. The intellectual, the author/teacher, and the philosopher/debater.  Has man’s wisdom helped you know God in a personal way? Have you found the answer to the world’s problems? No. The answer is the cross. “It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from Godfor us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).On the cross, God laid our sin on Jesus and gave us His righteousness. In our flesh dwells no good thing but through sanctification and the indwelling of Christ, we are being made like Him day by day. Redemption means to be released or delivered. I have been saved from the penalty of sin. I am being saved from the power of sin. I will be saved from the very presence of sin. Human wisdom manifests itself in two ways. The religious person tries to work their way to God. The intellectual tries to reason his way to God. Neither are sufficient. Only the wisdom of God could plan and provide salvation through the cross.

The Invitation of God

“God was pleased to save those who believethrough the foolishness of what is preached… Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:21, 24).Two elements necessary for salvation are found in the cross. Two words describe the process of salvation. God calls. Man believes. Jesus willingly went on the cross to save us, to heal us, and to cleanse us and wash away our sins.

No one can hear the message of the cross and remain neutral. God’s invitation is open. Everyone either accepts Him or rejects Him.If you want Jesus to save you, heal you, and wash away your sins, call on Him today.

The Tenth Commandment

The last commandment is Exodus 20:17, “Do not covet your neighbor’s house. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife, his male or female servant, his oxor donkey, or anythingthat belongs to your neighbor.” Have you ever seen an ad and thought, “I wish I had a house, spouse, car, truck, computer, like that?” When does a simple desire become a sinful desire? This commandment teaches the answer.

The Definition of Covetousness

Coveting is “an excessive desire for something you do not have or an envious desire for that which someone else has.” It is not wrong to have desires. We all have God-given desires and God-given dreams. There are healthy, holy desires and unhealthy, unholy desires. There is nothing wrong with desiring a house, spouse, SUV, etc., just not your neighbor’s! We are to love God and love our neighbor. If you love God, you will be content with what He has provided you until He sees fit to provide you a bigger or better one. If you love your neighbor, you will not covet, steal, lie, commit adultery, or kill to get what they have. Covetousness caused Adam and Eve to sin in the first place. They coveted the one fruit, one tree they did not have. The way the Lucifer became the devil was that he wanted to be God. Covetousness is the mother of all sins. Of the commandments, nine are outward/visible, but the tenth is inward/invisible. The government cannot make a law against covetousness. We have to judge ourselves. Jesus said in Mark 7:21, “For from within, out of the heartof men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

The Development of Covetousness

If you watch children playing, a child can have a variety of toys all around them, but they will want the one toy another child has. To be covetous, we have to do absolutely nothing. The seed of sin is already in us. In addition to the fall of Satan and the story of Adam and Eve, there are many other examples in Scripture of covetousness – Achan in Joshua 7, David and Bathsheba, David’s son Amnon lusting after Tamar to the point it made him sick, etc. Have you ever wanted something so badly that you were sick?Coveting will make you sick, cause you to make bad choices and in the end, it will leave you dissatisfied. What you thought you could not do without, live without, will not make you happy. Keeping up with the Joneses will destroy you. Comparison kills contentment. A major cause for unhappiness is covetousness. You want the position, job, title, salary, house, car, mate, family that someone else has.Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” People are more important than possessions. Materialism is not how many cars or houses you have but when the stuff is more important than the spiritual. It’s when your identity is defined by what you have. If you lose your stuff do you lose you?

The Deliverance from Covetousness

The answer to covetousness is contentment. Wealth can buy a bed but not sleep, books but not brains, a house but not a home. 1 Timothy 6:6-7, 10 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, andwe can take nothing out…  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The answer to covetousness is also generosity. “Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.  Instruct them to do what is good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and willing to share, storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of what is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Being content does not mean you can’t ever have anything.  It means you start thanking God for what you do have instead of complaining about what you don’t have. The answer to covetousness is thankfulness and trust. Paul says he learned to be content (Phil. 4:11). When you covet something, you make a god, an idol, out of it (Col. 3:5).

The ten commandments show us the righteous requirements of God. There is no way that we can keep them or meet God’s requirements on our own. That is why Jesus came.  He spent 33 years fulfilling the ten commandments. He satisfied the holiness of God. He met the standard. Grace and truth came through Jesus. Grace did for us what the law could not do.

The Eighth Commandment

Exodus 20:15, the eighth commandment, says, “Do not steal.” Do you lock your doors? Lock your car?  Have a security system? What about use usernames, passwords, and pin numbers? All of these are to protect from theft. The eighth commandment teaches:

Property Rights

The sixth commandment protects life. The seventh protects marriage. The eighth protects people’s property. The Bible is clear about ownership. God owns it all. The earth is the Lord’s. We brought nothing in this world and it is certain we will carry nothing out. We are trustees. A trustee is legally and morally bound to manage property for a third party or for someone else. We are like an executor. An executor does not write the will but carries out the wishes of the owner. The Bible does not teach communism or socialism where all property or production is publicly owned or controlled by the Government. In the Bible people could own houses, land, livestock, personal and private property. God gave humans dominion over the earth and we are all stewards of what He has given us. Have you ever had something stolen from you? How did it make you feel?

Personal Responsibilities

A student is not to cheat in school. We are not to steal someone’s good name by gossiping or slandering. We are not to plagiarize or steal someone else’s identity. In James 5:4, James says that employers should pay their employees. Likewise, employees should not steal from their employers. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let the thiefno longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest workwith his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.” You can work for something, someone can give you something, but you can’t steal. Work is a gift. Work is a calling. Work has purpose. We must do honest work, earn our money, and have enough left to be generous. It is better to give than to receive. “God is not going to flow to you if He can’t flow through you.” Some people rob other people, but more people rob from themselves and they rob from God. Look at Malachi 3:8-11. The tithe is the Lord’s. We should work for the Lord, work for ourselves, and work for others.

Proper Restitution

In Exodus 22:1-4 we read that when a person steals, he must repay. God must be first. We see it throughout Scripture with firstfruits and the firstborn. Remember what happened with Cain and Abel? Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. Cain brought somefruits. “…The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor” (Gen. 4:4-5). It is not that God won’t, it is that He can’t. God can’t lie, God can’t change, and God cannot be second. We are told to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37). “This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matt. 22:38). Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness….” God should be first in our lives.

The ten commandments point us to Jesus. Jesus taught us to pray, “Father, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Sin is a debt. The wages of sin is death. We all deserve hell. Hell is like a debtor’s prison and place of torment. But Jesus paid the debt of sin we owed in full on the cross! He was crucified between two thieves. One repented and He told him, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). We are all thieves. We are all sinners. We are all debtors. The question is, has the righteousness of Jesus been applied to your account?

The Seventh Commandment

A recent study showed that 41% of American adults have cohabitated at some point with someone who is not their spouse. That is an increase of almost 72% in 10 years. “Do not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14), is a commandment very relevant for today. The purpose of this command is not to forbid something negative, but to protect something positive. There are those who want sex without marriage, and married couples not having sex because their marriage is a mess. God wants the absolute best for us!

The Covenant of Sexuality

“Thou shalt not commit adultery” is the negative. The positive is, “Thou shalt have a great marriage!”  Marriage is a covenant not a contract. A contract says, “If you will I will,” but a covenant is a sacrificial commitment saying, “I am committed for better or for worse.” The institution of marriage is God’s plan, not man’s (Gen. 2:18-25). Any biblical understanding of gender and sex starts with Genesis. Man was not aloneThere were plenty of animals, but there was no one correspondingto him. Adam and Eve were made to compliment and balance each other. No wonder I call Tammy “my better half!” God’s design from the beginning was male and female. He told them to be fruitful and multiply. Jesus affirms the definition of marriage in Matthew 19 as a covenant of sexuality between a man and a woman (v. 4-6). The biblical term “cleave” (also translated bond, join, unite, etc.) literally means to glue, bondtogether, bind, a promise, an oath. The marriage covenant is made before God. Adultery defiles that covenant. The goal in marriage according to the world is self-fulfillment.  According to Scripture, the goal is to glorify God. It is a picture of the gospel and the relationship between Jesus and His church. Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us. Marriage is about showing forgiveness, mercy, and grace. God is faithful even when we are unfaithful. He enables us to be faithful even when we feel like giving up. Sexuality is a fire and marriage is the fireplace where it burns!

The Conflict of Immorality

You don’t have to go looking for immorality, it will come looking for you! Singles are tempted with fornication and married people are tempted with adultery. For every Samson there is a Delilah. For every David there is a Bathsheba. The devil attacked Adam and Eve after they married. After the wedding came the war! Satan has chosen sex, and the perversion of it, to attack God. What kind of sex is off limits? Any sex outside of God’s original design, which is sex between a man and a woman united in a marriage covenant. There is a general assumption in our culture that rules are bad. We think real freedom is essential to happiness, and true happiness comes from throwing off any constraints. Real freedom is found not in living by desire, but by design!  Every game has rules. Without them the game is not special. Satan deceives us into believing lies – “Follow your heart”, “But we really love each other,” “But we are engaged,” etc. Scripture says, “Flee sexual immorality! Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18). When you do things your way, instead of God’s, you are only bringing guilt, shame, and pain on your own soul.

The Choice of Purity

If we believe God is pro-life, we also believe God is pro-sex! So how did sex become taboo? Repulsive? Dirty? Satan perverts everything. Satan does everything he can to get couples to have sex before marriage, and everything he can to keep couples from having sex after marriage! We must not let the devil or secular culture hijack what God said is good. The Bible is the final authority on marriage, not Hollywood! We must reclaim the gift of sex God gave in marriage. Biblical sex is NOT between a man and a man, a woman and a woman, nor is it between a man and a woman. It is for a husband and wife.  The 7th commandment teaches sex outside of marriage is sin. Jesus said adultery is deeper than a physical act. He said that “everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Jesus focused on the attitude that leads to the act. In order to avoid the act, you have to address the heart. You can’t play around with temptation. Sin has to be put it to death. Go to war against sin!

Maybe you wish you had heard about God’s plan for marriage earlier. Maybe you’ve messed up. I have good news! The Bible is full of people who committed sexual sin. There is forgiveness in Jesus! He will take away all your guilt and shame. In John 8 we read about a woman caught in adultery. Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you… Go, and from now on do not sin anymore” (v. 11).

The Sixth Commandment

It’s hard to believe we are already on the sixth commandment! Exodus 20:13 says, “Do not murder.” This is one of the shortest, strongest, and most debated of all the commandments.

The Misunderstanding About this Commandment

Before we talk about what this commandment means, let’s talk about what it does not mean. There are eight words in Hebrew for killing someone. The word here is specific, meaning the unauthorized death of a human or the death of a human for selfish reasons. No Israelite could on their own decide who lives and dies. God is the author of all life and only God decides who lives and dies (Deut. 32:39). This commandment is not talking about killing animals for food (Gen. 9:3), self-defense (Ex. 22:12), capital punishment or accidental death (Ex. 21:12-14). It is not talking about war. The Bible teaches there is a just war when it is to stop aggression, to protect life, and to ensure justice (as a last resort and declared only by government). The view that killing animals, eating meat, capital punishment, all war, and national defense is wrong, is a misunderstanding, misuse, and misapplication of the sixth commandmentIt is not talking about the murderer on death row, or a soldier in battle, or police officers returning fire, defending themselves when someone is trying to kill them or innocent people.

The Meaning of this Commandment

Life is a gift. Only God who gives life has the right to take life. Genesis 9:6 says, “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans his blood will be shed, for God made humans in his image.” Murder is an attack on God Himself. We are made in His image! The issue here is premeditated murder or an act of aggression that results in death. Homicide (a human taking the life of another human), suicide (the murder of self), genocide (the mass murdering of an entire race of people), and infanticide (the murder of an infant) are all murder. Abortion is murder. A fetus is not human tissue, it is a human life! Exodus 21:22-24 shows us that unborn babies have legal rights, human rights, in the sight of God. Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life (Jn. 10:10). The devil is a liar (Jn. 8:44). No matter what arguments we may hear in this world, God is for life!

The Message from this Commandment

“For this is the messageyou have heard from the beginning: We should loveone another… Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in actionand in truth” (1 Jn. 3:11,18). God is going to accomplish His purposes, but He wants to do it through us! Are we doing what we can do to protect and provide for others? Faith without works is dead. Some practical ways we can apply this commandment are to find ministries to partner with in our community that support life and offer hope, support social causes that value life and seek justice, give of our time and resources to bring people out of spiritual death and physical bondage to freedom and life in Christ, and stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves. If you missed the sermon on Sunday, Liberty will be doing a Diaper Drive and is starting an Adoption and Foster Family Fund. Find a way that you can put your faith into action.

The Master on this Commandment

In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus deepened the commandment by saying that anger is a type of murder. Remember, the command has to do with premeditated murder, which begins with anger. When you use your mouth to destroy another person you have committed murder (Ja. 3:6-9). You murder their character, reputation, and possibly their future. There are so many angry people in the world. Maybe you are angry. The pain is legitimate, and you may have a right to be angry. But, the anger is killing you! Whether you have murdered in your heart, or your heart has been murdered by someone else, Jesus brings healing. God says that vengeance is His and He will repay (Rm. 12:19). He was murdered on the cross and He prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Lk. 23:34). It was my sin and your sin that caused Jesus to go to the cross and willingly be murdered. He was willing to die so that we might live and there is coming a day when He will wipe away every tear! Ask Him to help you forgive those who have wronged you, ask Him for forgiveness for where you have wronged others, and ask Him how you might be able to put your faith into action when it comes to protecting life.