1 Corinthians 8:7-13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 31, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
- 1 Corinthians 8:7-13

In the previous verses, Paul began to answer the question from the Corinthian church on whether it was acceptable for them to eat meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols. His conclusion in that section was that idols are nothing and worthless, especially compared to the one true God who created everything that exists. Here, Paul elaborates on that conclusion a bit more and then goes on to discuss the freedom we have in Christ.

“This knowledge” that Paul references in verse 7a is the knowledge that God rules over all and that idols are nothing. Yes, idols exist, but only our sinful minds can give them any sort of power over us. God created all things, and everything that becomes an idol was created by Him. But, not every person has this understanding of God. Those who believe in idols give those idols power over their lives.

Even if the person now has saving faith in Jesus Christ, their former belief in the pagan idols may still color their thinking. They may think of food that was sacrificed to idols as coming from the idol rather than how all food comes from God, who created all things. Their conscience is weak (verse 7b); they have not yet developed a stronger moral and theological awareness of God. Paul says that because of this, their conscience is defiled. That word “defiled” can mean ruining something good with something that is even, or it can simply mean feeling guilty.

Paul brings another conclusion in verse 8: “But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.” Food in and of itself is not a spiritual thing; eating certain foods does not make us more or less spiritually mature. Therefore, there is nothing inherently wrong with eating food that had been sacrificed to idols. Because of this, whether individuals in that congregation chose to eat that food or not was a matter of freedom for them, where they can make the choice to do so or not.

Next, Paul speaks more about this idea of Christian liberty. Verse 9 reminds me of the phrase I often say, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Paul instructs them in verse 9 to make sure that when they are acting in personal freedom, that doesn’t cause someone else to stumble in their faith. This stumbling could simply be a sense of guilt or it could go so far as taking them back into the practice of pagan idolatry. What they are doing may be fine for them, but it may not be fine for other believers.

In verses 10-11, Paul gives them an example, which very likely may have been something that actually happened. If a person who is very immature in their faith sees a believer eating food that came from the temple of a pagan idol, what would they think? Would they think that the believer is endorsing idol worship simply by eating that food? A new, immature believer may not yet understand that idols are nothing; they may still consider them as gods. If that’s the case, then that immature believer may have their faith destroyed by that knowledge and revert back to idolatry.

If a believer knowingly participates in a scenario like the one Paul describes, then they’re using their Christian freedom to harm their brothers and sisters in the faith. If we do that, it is a sin and we are sinning against Christ (verse 12). If you cause someone else to sin like this, you are sinning against your brother or sister in Christ and you are sinning against Christ Himself. It is important to note that the “you” in this verse is a plural you in Greek, which means that Paul is not just talking to one individual but to that congregation as a whole.

Because of this, Paul declares in verse 13, “Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.” Paul includes himself in this discussion, thus giving it a wider reach and not just limiting it to the first-century Corinthians. It is possible that Paul faced this very dilemma while in Corinth himself, but he may also be including himself as a means of camaraderie with his fellow believers, showing that this principle applies to everyone.

This principle still applies to us today as well. We don’t face the same issue of eating meat that was sacrificed to pagan idols, but unbelievers and those who are newer to the faith are watching us. Are our actions helping them to grow in their faith, or are our actions causing them to stumble in our faith? We have the freedom to do anything, but is what we are doing beneficial for building up our fellow believers?

Paul’s heart was so focused on the mission that God had given him – to reach others with the gospel of Jesus Christ – that he was willing to change his entire lifestyle for it in every way. Not only did Paul go on his missionary journeys to spread the gospel, but he was also willing to give up eating meat if that’s what it took to encourage his fellow believers and not cause them to stumble.

What are you willing to change in your life for the gospel of Jesus? There are many “believers” who aren’t even willing to give up a Sunday morning to attend a worship service in person or give up one evening of their week to go to a Bible study. While God doesn’t call us all to radical life changes, is there something that you are doing that is causing a fellow believer to stumble in his or her faith? This week, ask God to show you if there is something in your life that you should change in your own life to help encourage other believers in their faith.

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Slavery 8: One Means of Salvation

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 28, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

When God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, there were two things in particular that needed to be done: the Passover and the Red Sea crossing. The Passover required specific instructions, namely the spreading of lamb’s blood on the doorposts. The Red Sea crossing required arriving at a particular spot so the crossing would be the simplest while also burying Egypt. Both show something that is constantly demonstrated in many ways throughout Scripture: there is one means of salvation. There is only one means of Salvation, and every other means does not work. Here are a few snapshots of this principle in Scripture.

Adam and Eve could not cover themselves with fig leaves just to give a covering. It took a specific covering, one that required the shedding of the blood of an innocent animal. Abel knew this standard and thus offered the best of his flock. Cain didn’t care for God’s standards and threw in just some of his efforts, the product of his work. God accepted Abel but not Cain. In both cases, we see that the only way to please God is to do it God’s way.

God warned Noah of a coming Flood that would wipe out everyone on earth and instructed him to build an ark that would save his family and the animals. This was the only surviving vessel; no one else made it. The Flood didn’t just take out a local group of evil people. Sodom and Gomorrah sufficed for that. The Flood took out everything on earth that was not on the ark. As this is a critical picture of the Gospel, we can’t mess around with these teachings. Our hope and our salvation are to be done God’s way and God’s way only.

When it comes to Christ, it is pretty straightforward that He is the only option. He explicitly stated that no man comes to the Father except through Him. There is no other way. Jesus Himself even prayed three times to go any other route than what He was going to go through. Most Christians will readily agree with this and state this, but very few actually believe it. For most professing Christians this is not reality in their lives. What do I mean by this?

When you listen to most professing Christians today, you don’t hear “Thus says the Lord.” You hear, “This is what I think.” You don’t hear, “The Bible says this, this, and that.” You hear, “That’s not how I see it.” You hear, “That’s just your interpretation.” You hear, “So-and-so preacher says this.” And we wonder why the Church is laughed at, mocked, and not respected in society. It’s not because Young Earth Creationists actually believe what the Bible says, and it goes against modern science. Yes, we get mocked for that, but Christianity as a whole is ridiculed because those who profess the name do not even believe their own book. They have so many interpretations, ideas, models, and programs, all of which God has nothing to do with. It’s all religious practice, religious rhetoric, and false piety. One Scottish minister said, “You Americans’ theology is 3000 miles wide and six inches deep.” He’s right. A Chinese missionary said, “I am amazed at what you Americans can do without God.” He is right. And why is this?

Because man wants to have a say in how his own salvation is to be accomplished. Man wants some input into what God’s message is and how it should be delivered, and all of it is about making themselves look good. They know the Gospel is the true message, but they don’t want to look foolish before their pagan peers. They want freedom from the chains and the whips but not to actually leave Egypt. They want to get out of Hell but not abandon their sin. Oh, they’ll leave some sins, but on their terms and under their control. This is outright tomfoolery, it’s hogwash, and it’s absolute insanity.

We know the cliché that beggars can’t be choosers, and yet that is exactly what we are seeing here. We have people who will only come to Christianity on their terms. I have seen professing Christians not only say this is okay but evangelize this way. I have watched people evangelize saying, “If such and such teaching is holding you back from accepting Jesus, then understand you can have a Christianity that has a different teaching.” The teachings they are talking about are those that come straight from Scripture, while they boast a particular model that has no relationship to Scripture whatsoever, and they profess their models are Biblical. Frankly, I have no interest in being near them when the earth opens up and swallows them alive on Judgment Day. That is what Korah, Dathan, and Abiram said in Numbers 16: “Who made you the boss? Who made you the standard? We are Christians too. We can hear from God as well. We are going to do things our way.” They gathered 250 leaders to join them and rebelled against Moses. God killed them all by opening the earth under them, swallowing them alive.

You are a slave to sin. You have nothing to offer God except your surrender. You have no right to give God conditions for you to accept Him. Remember the God Complex? Here is it again. Those who take this approach are saying that THEY get to determine if God’s salvation is worth taking or not. They believe in a God that will be a “gentleman” and kindly step aside and let man do what he wants. Well, God will let man do what he wants for a season, and then there will be consequences for those choices, some quick and immediate, some that won’t show up for a generation or two. You can’t tell God what to do. You are the clay; He is the potter. You are the creation; He is the creator. Who do you think you are? One thing is for sure, such a person is not humble, is not repentant, and still wants his sin without its consequences.

Israel kept complaining, whining, and rebelling against the very God who saved them. They wanted salvation on their own terms and with instant gratification. They wanted to be in the Promised Land immediately and not go through the wilderness. They were freed from the whips and from the chains, but they were not freed from Egypt. Egypt still controlled them, and they constantly longed to go back to Egypt. But Egypt would not take them even if they wanted to go back. Since they refused to believe God there was only one place they could go: the wilderness to rot and perish.

When we rebel against God and demand that the process goes our way, we have to wonder if we are saved at all. Why? Because the one who is truly born again has one thing on his mind: to serve, love, and worship God. There will be a lot of sanctification and purification going on through the wilderness, but the believer welcomes it because it makes them closer to God and closer to the final destination. But if we want to do things on our own terms and our own way, God will let us go, and He will curse us as we do so with a reprobate mind and death following everything we do and touch. There is one means of salvation, and that salvation is not to let us do as we want. That salvation is to change us from a slave to sin, by putting sin to death, and making us a slave to Christ, making us alive in Christ. The born-again believer has one thing in mind: to serve, follow, and love Christ. And it will be on His terms, not our terms. It will cost us everything of ourselves and yet it will all be replaced with Christ. We won’t be perfect at it, but we are to be making headway in that direction.

Are you saved? How do you know? Did you go through Christ’s way? Think about The Pilgrim’s Progress. At the City, Christian and Hopeful arrive at the city of paradise, but they are accompanied by another traveler who seeks to get in via the walls instead of the door. He is bound and kicked out, cast into the depths of darkness. You are only saved in Christ, through Christ, on Christ’s terms, and doing it God’s way. The ONLY thing we bring to the table that has any value is our total and complete surrender, not seeking to make a deal with God, not seeking to negotiate terms, but yielding to Christ and letting Him rule. That is what we’ll cover next week: slavery to Christ.

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1 Corinthians 8:1-6

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 24, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
- 1 Corinthians 8:1-6

After spending a lot of 1 Corinthians 7 discussing marriage, Paul then moves on to the next question raised by the church in Corinth: should they eat food that was sacrificed to idols? As modern believers, we may look at that question and think this doesn’t apply to us at all. While the specific circumstances may not be applicable, the overall theological principles are still relevant.

It is first important to understand what was going on in that culture at that time. The pagan culture of Corinth placed importance on making sacrifices to their pagan gods. When an animal was sacrificed, the resulting meat was divided into 3 portions. One part was burned in the offering, one part was given to a priest, and one part was given back to the person making the offering. So if the priest did not want his share, it ended up in the meat market where it could be purchased by anyone, and the buyer likely would not know the source of that meat.

The problem for the new Christians of that day was, is meat sacrificed to these pagan idols somehow spiritually tainted and they should avoid it? That was a big part of the non-Christian portion of their society, so how should Christians handle this issue?

As Paul begins to address this issue, he points out the difference between knowledge and love (verse 1). Knowledge may puff us up with pride in how much we know, but love is meant to build one another up. Knowledge looks inward at the self, while love looks outward to our fellow human beings. The fact that “We all possess knowledge” is presented as a quotation in that passage implies that it was perhaps a saying common among the first-century Corinthians.

Paul warns in verse 2 that knowledge is not as important as we may think. Just because you think you know something does not mean you truly know it. We become prideful and depend on only ourselves when we think we know something, when the reality is that our knowledge is very limited, especially in comparison to God. But love, on the other hand, makes us known by God (verse 3), which is of greater importance. The right kind of knowledge is knowing God and knowing His great love for us as His people. This is an important context to keep in mind as Paul gets into the meat of the issue (pun intended).

Paul frames the discussion with the fact that God is the one and only true God and that idols are nothing in this world (verse 4). So if idols are nothing, then the meat sacrificed to them is also nothing. If idols have no power, then sacrifices to them have no power. God is the one and only God who truly has power.

Verse 5 may be confusing for us when Paul says that “there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords,’” but he is referring to authorities that exist on earth. Even those who are in authority over us are still under the authority of the one true God. The “so-called gods” of the pagans are definitely not real, while other “gods” and “lords” are real as those placed in authority over us.

Paul’s point comes in verse 6 where he says, “Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” Paul declares God as the source of everything – all of life and all of creation. Jesus is the one and only true Lord, who is also the source of life and all things that were created. Paul is declaring that Jesus is God in this statement, and he is also sharing the point of the Christian life: to live for God because all things came from God. In light of that fact, why should little things like meat sacrificed to idols really matter?

The question for believers today becomes one of the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law. I previously have written about that in this blog post. The first-century Corinthians were trying to follow the letter of the law, being very careful to not associate with the pagan idols in any way, including not eating meat that had been sacrificed to them. But they were missing the spirit of the law, which is to focus on the one true God. While God does care about the details of our lives and what we do, the intention of our hearts is more important to Him. Are we so focused on every little action that we forget to worship Him for this world that He has created and the life that He has given us?

This issue from the Corinthians is an opportunity to remind ourselves where we come from – God. The entire purpose of our lives is to worship Him and Him alone, as He is the one true God. There will be people who will worship pagan gods and idols, but we as His followers are to focus on Him. We are to focus on the love that He has for us rather than on our own knowledge that makes us feel self-sufficient. We need to remember that He is all-powerful and that anything else can have no real power over us when God is in charge.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Slavery 7: Delivering Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 21, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

When God came in and delivered Israel from slavery, the whole thing was to be a major picture of the ultimate salvation from sin. It was so significant in Israel’s history that the Passover and the deliverance from Egypt were forever marked in the history as how to identify God as Savior. Israel did not remember all the times that God saved them from the Philistines, from Moab, from Midian, from Assyria throughout the Judges and the Kings like they did the deliverance from Egypt.

While much can be said about how God delivered Israel regarding the plagues and the Red Sea crossing, I only want to touch on that before getting to the main point. God sent the plagues not merely to showcase His own glory and prove that He was the God over all gods but to showcase that Egypt only had power as long as God let them have power. He demolished the worship of their major gods by sending plagues that would directly attack such idolatrous worship. Then He crushed Egypt’s military by burying them in the Red Sea. Egypt was dead. As a nation, they were left powerless to retain Israel as slaves and powerless to try to kill them so no one else could have them either.

That is a picture of sin. Egypt represents sin, and Pharaoh, while an actual historical person, showcases the hardness of the heart of sin. Sin will utterly defy God until its death because that is what sin is – defiance against God. In Romans 7, Paul uses marriage to showcase the legal bonds here. We are born in sin. That generation of Israel was born in slavery to Egypt. There was no escape. No one had the leadership to bring about a rebellion (though we can be sure some tried) to get anyone out. And if they were to leave, where would they go? It was all desert all around them. It took the death of Egypt to finally get Israel freed, and it takes the death of sin to get us free from sin. And this leads us to the main point that most never pick up on and one I never caught until my pastor mentioned it as he has been going through his series on Exodus: Israel was not delivered from Egypt to be a free people but to be a people that would serve God.

Israel was not delivered so they could go do what they wanted. They were delivered so they could be the people that God would raise, through whom would come the Savior. They would be a people who would teach the world about Him and to serve Him. The common refrain through the Pentateuch is, “I will be their God and they will be My people.” The second half of Exodus, Leviticus, and much of Deuteronomy are about how God is to be worshiped, and He was quite specific. Why? Didn’t Jesus say that one day we would worship in spirit and truth? Be careful with that phrase because Jesus was not saying that the day would come when we would have a free for all in how we worship.

One of the biggest themes throughout the Kings is the handling of idolatry and high places. God did not save Israel so that they could worship in the way of the world, at the venues of the world, or alongside the world’s idols. He saved Israel to worship Him alone and to do it His way. Israel was to worship at the Tabernacle, which would then transfer to the Temple: at the holy place where sin would be removed and the people cleansed. We don’t worship at a physical temple today, but instead we worship at the cross which dealt with our sin and cleansed us.

Israel was saved to serve God. They were to transfer their servitude from a wicked master, Egypt, to the good master, God. They were still slaves, but now they were slaves to a good master. There are good slaves and bad slaves, and there are good masters and bad masters. In Israel, we see the combination of these categories.

Egypt was a bad master. They forced Israel into slavery and didn’t truly care about their well-being. They slaughtered their babies in fear of them (likely in fear of rumors of a deliverer as well) and made their labor brutal. Their purpose was to keep them subdued and under their control. Israel was actually a good slave under Egypt. They did what they were asked, submitted to the authority, and did not think about leaving, even though they cried to God for freedom. They were not rebellious to Egypt. They grew comfortable in Egypt and liked what Egypt let them have.

Then God rescued them. God is the good master. He fed them, gave them water, gave them shelter, never let their clothes wear out, and eventually brought them to the Promised Land. He gave them excessive amounts of mercy despite all their complaints. Israel became a bad slave of God. They constantly defied Him, whined against Him, wanted to go back to their old masters, turned to idols, committed grievous sins against God, and did not want to serve Him. Even after arriving at the Promised Land, they repeatedly sought to do things their own way however they wanted. They still prided themselves in being God’s people, but so few of them actually obeyed God as He commanded them. Israel was not a good slave before God; however, we see how good of a master God is by how He treated His slaves. Anyone less than Him would have destroyed Israel long ago, and there were times where God was about to do that too. God was patient with them and still kept His promises.

Israel is a picture, a type, and an example of Christianity. Israel was rescued from Egypt, but they never got Egypt out of them. They still held on to what Egypt had to offer. God had to make them let go of Egypt entirely, and the only way to do that was to wipe out the generation that grew up attached to Egypt so the children, who were teenagers and younger, would know and learn to depend upon their new master. Likewise, we are currently in the wilderness stage of our deliverance as God is working on getting sin out of us. It won’t be finished until we cross over out of this world, but it is in progress. That said, it is done one way: God’s way. As we go through Scripture, we will see that there is only one means of salvation. In all the times God rescued His people, there was one way and one way only to escape. We’ll examine that next week.

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1 Corinthians 7:32-40

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 17, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
- 1 Corinthians 7:32-40

This passage is a continuation of Paul’s thoughts from the previous section, so I would encourage you to read that blog post (or at least 1 Corinthians 7:25-31) before continuing with this post. In that section, Paul’s main point was that romantic relationships and material possessions should not be what’s most important to us.

Still speaking primarily to those who are unmarried, Paul shares that married people have more concerns than unmarried people (verses 32-34). A single person only needs to focus on what God is calling him or her to do, whereas a married person also needs to show concern for their spouse. When married, a person’s focus is divided between their spouse and God. Paul spells this out for both men and women, indicating that neither gender is immune to this division of loyalties. It may be easier for those who are single to follow God as they do not have to be concerned for a spouse as well.

Remember that Paul said in verse 25 that what he is telling the Corinthians is not a direct command from God but rather sharing his thoughts, though it is inspired by the Holy Spirit. In verse 35, Paul shares that he tells this to the Corinthian church “not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” This advice from Paul is not to deprive them of the joys of marriage, but it is to help them follow Jesus better and more fully in their lives. The ultimate goal of every believer should be undivided devotion to the Lord.

It is likely that Paul is bringing all this up because of all the sexual immorality that was happening at the church in Corinth. You may recall that Paul explained at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 5 how someone in their congregation was committing incest. While that in and of itself is definitely an issue, the other issue he immediately brought up to the people was that they were not condemning this sin but rather boasting about it. Clearly, the Corinthian church needed some assistance in getting their priorities straight concerning sexual issues and romantic relationships, which is why Paul writes such a long section of this letter primarily focused on those issues.

Paul continues writing on the topic of romantic and sexual relationships in the rest of this passage. In verse 36, Paul brings up the situation of an engaged couple. If the man’s passions become too strong, then they should ignore Paul’s earlier advice about if you’re single to remain single (or even if you’re engaged to remain engaged) and get married. They are not sinning in the act of getting married, and they should pursue that relationship in a healthy, Christian way.

But in verse 37, Paul gives another scenario of a man who has more self-control and can better control his sexual passions. If he feels he should not get married and can properly contain himself, then he should not get married, and that is the right thing to do. In Paul’s opinion, the man who can better control himself and remain unmarried is better (verse 38), likely because of the thought Paul started this passage with, that the unmarried person does not have divided loyalties between God and spouse.

Paul emphasizes in verse 39 that marriage is a life-long covenant. While Paul’s advice permits a Christian widow to remarry, assuming the new husband is also a Christian, he also encourages her to stay unmarried (verse 40a). Again, this ties back to Paul’s thought of being fully focused on God rather than focusing on both God and one’s spouse.

Paul ends this section by stating, “I think that I too have the Spirit of God” (verse 40b). This shows the reader that while this whole section (1 Corinthians 7:25-40) is Paul’s opinion, he believes that this opinion is inspired by the Holy Spirit. Since this entire letter is included in our Bible, the Christian tradition and the early church fathers agree with Paul that all the words in this letter are truly inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

What does this all mean for us today? Paul gives a lot of rules and guidelines here, and our culture and time are different than that of the first-century church in Corinth. But the key principle to take away from this is to follow what God is leading you to, whether that be to get married or stay single.

God is truly omniscient and knows everything – past, present, and future. That means we should listen to His guidance and trust Him in all things, including our romantic relationships. We should also make sure that we are focusing on the gospel of Christ and living lives that give God all the glory and honor that He is due, no matter what that looks like in our earthly circumstances.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Slavery 6: Teachings and Demons

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 14, 2023 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I have two more topics to hit before addressing freedom from slavery: teachings and demons. Even more than drugs, drinking, or pornography, slavery to false teachings is perhaps the strongest form of slavery, rivaled only by slavery to demons. The two really go hand in hand, so I am going to address them together.

I deal with origins debates quite often, and one thing I have learned in such debates is how strong of a grip that certain teachings have on people. Now there are certain teachings we truly have to have a firm grip on because that is how we survive, so do not hear what I am not saying. However, when a false teaching has a grip of someone, it will not let it go without a hard fight. There are prominent speakers out there where if they are questioned, it is like insulting their guru and prophet. Man has so idolized celebrity preachers and speakers that we make the quarrels of Corinth in which they debated over Peter, Apollos, or Paul look like child’s play. While there is great wisdom that can be learned from those who have gone before us, we need to remember that they are all fallible and every one of them, and yes that includes me, is going to get something wrong.

The New Testament letters speak about being watchful and discerning true and false doctrines/teachers more than any other single topic. Entire letters have been written on this very issue, including both Paul’s and Peter’s last messages before their executions – 2 Timothy and 2 Peter. These were their last message, their last words, and when you know you are dying, you speak about the most important things. For them, the most important thing was doctrine and to stand on and believe Scripture above and beyond anything else. Paul describes Scripture as being God-breathed and useful and sufficient for every good work. Peter describes Scripture as being not from human origins, but from God, and that it was even more sure than the very things they had eye-witnessed as though they were yesterday. Both of those points are to be the ground that their readers are to stand on when they face the false teachings that come from within their own congregations or from outside.

Some false teachings have such a grip on people that you cannot reason with them with logic, nor are you able to showcase the absurdity of them. There may be a few you can get through to, but they are rare. Scripture says that they are blinded by the “god of this age.” They literally cannot see the truth, and the only way to save them is with supernatural weapons to remove the blinders and break the chains. Most of these people cannot see that they are in chains to false teachings, are bound to them, and have been convinced that this is actually freedom. It’s not. And it is worth noting that when people coming out of false teachings, they tend to describe their experience in terms of deliverance, freedom, or a fog being lifted. Those who go into such false teaching tend to describe their conversion in terms of “education” or “enlightenment.” And you can almost see it; you can almost see a fog coming over them, a spirit of deception entering into them by their professors or spiritual mentors.

These teachings are doctrines of demons, and they are far more active than we can possibly imagine. They are not responsible for everything, but when it comes to teachings, they are. Satan and his very well-structured organization of demons do not care what we believe as long as it is not the truth. And if you look at history, you can see all the false teachings like throwing darts at a target at random. Some hit well and some don’t. Satan is not omniscient, and when a false teaching does not hold, he discards it. But when one does, he holds it as long as he can; if it is eventually rejected, he simply repackages it with new cosmetics. He has a limited playbook, but he plays his cards frequently in many shapes or forms.

It is not just teachings the demonic play with; it’s also minds and bodies. When the serial killer does his deeds, some have admitted that a spirit comes upon them and drives them to do it. There was a case of a man who invaded a home in Idaho and killed the parents and eldest son before kidnapping the younger boy and girl. During the ordeal, the kidnapper/killer took the boy to a cabin and raped and tortured him for about four hours. He made this statement: “The little demon didn’t want to do this, but now the Devil is here.” The boy would later be killed, and the girl survived. In another case, two teenage girls lured a friend to the woods where they killed her to appease the “Slender Man,” a fictional character; but it is clear it was a demon posing as one. In another case, an elderly man kidnapped several women and forced them into multiple sex acts on film because people were watching him and were making him do that. Again, that sounds demonic to me.

Read the testimonies of David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz. It is clear that the demonic is a real thing. Here in El Paso, the occult is a notorious and major sin issue only behind drinking/drugs and the sex industry. Frankly, I think all three are heavily intertwined. Demons don’t just mess with minds, they can control bodies. And I’m not merely talking about “Emily Rose” types of things. There are many physical and psychological cases that we have given labels but in actuality are demonic oppressions and possessions. Jesus healed a woman who was bent over and could not walk erect. Surely there was a physical issue there, but the source was a demon. When Jesus drove out the demon, the physical ailment was healed. This is not a blanket statement as there are cases where there simply is a genuine physical ailment that is purely physical due to the breakdown of the genome due to sin. But that should not make us rule out the demonic as being a factor as well. Let’s not look behind every bush for a demon, but let’s not ignore them either.

There is only way to escape from these false teachings and from the demons: the preaching of the Gospel and the battle with spiritual weapons against the forces of darkness. Over the next few weeks, we will look at how we become free from such things and move from serving a bad master to serving the Good Master.

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1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 10, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
- 1 Corinthians 7:25-31

Earlier in this chapter, Paul began addressing people with various relationship statuses and how they should act as believers in Christ. He previously talked about what marriage looks like for Christians, and now he addresses the question of whether Christians should get married.

First, it is important to note that Paul uses the word “virgin” to be synonymous with “unmarried” in this section. Next, it is important to note Paul’s opening statement in verse 25. Paul is not delivering something that God specifically commanded, but rather what he’s about to say is Paul’s own opinion. But he assures the Corinthian church that while this teaching is not directly from God, it is still inspired by the Holy Spirit who is the guiding force for Paul as he writes this letter.

Paul then starts verse 26a by referring to “the present crisis.” What is that crisis, and why does it matter? Scholars are not sure about that, but the most likely situation is that Paul believed that the second coming of Jesus and the end of this world as we know it was imminent in his day. If the world is about to end, why waste time changing your relationship status? Paul saw the urgency of sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ with as many people as possible, so there was no time to waste on anything that did not support that mission. Paul could also be referring to the persecution that they would receive for being Christians, so their relationships would be a lower priority to worry about.

Paul then shares that “it is good for a man to remain as he is” (verse 26b). Given the context and what he then says in verse 27, this refers to a person’s relationship status. If a person is already married or engaged, stay that way; if a person is not currently married, stay that way.

But Paul makes sure to clarify in verse 28 that if you do get married, that is not a sin. Again, remember that this is Paul sharing his thoughts; while his writing is inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is not a command from God to remain constant in your relationship status. Therefore, it is not a sin if you do get married. But Paul is also expecting times of persecution and hardship to come for the believers, and he believes that if those who were single were to get married, they would experience even more troubles.

In verse 29, Paul tells them that the time is short. That could mean that he believed Jesus would be coming again soon, or it could mean that they would be persecuted and perhaps face death in the near future. Either way, he is emphasizing that they need to keep focused on the mission they are given – living out and spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Because of that, the people should not worry about all of their social or material problems (verses 30-31). This is a great example of the context of a statement being very important. If you just pull out the phrase “From now on those who have wive should live as if they do not,” for example, that appears to mean that Paul is telling husbands to completely ignore their wives! But in the context of this passage, Paul is telling the Corinthians that their human relationships or material possessions are not what is important any longer now that they are believers in Christ.

The believers then, and us today, should be living for Christ in all things. We should live for Christ in our romantic relationships. We should live for Christ and not dwell on the sadness of losing those we love from this life. We should live for Christ rather than holding firmly to our material possessions. We should live for Christ while using the things of this world but not making those things our focus. It’s all about perspective.

Whatever thing or person is consuming the lives of these believers, Paul is telling them that it is significantly less important than the mission of spreading the gospel of Jesus. Why? Because “For this world in its present form is passing away” (verse 31b). Everything that exists in this natural world is changing and passing away. This world is getting farther and farther away from the perfection in which it was originally created. But God is never changing, and the gospel message needs to be preached with urgency.

While this passage is often used to encourage those who are single, the bigger point that Paul is making here is that the mission we are called to for Christ is the most important thing in this world. While some may say that getting married (or not) is the most important decision a person makes in this life, in truth, the most important decision we make is following Jesus Christ and committing our lives to Him. Nothing else should matter to us as much as living for Christ and spreading His gospel!

The time is short for us today as well, so do not get distracted by the things of this world. Focus on God and what He wants you to focus on.

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Slavery 5: The God Complex

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 7, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The type of slavery the Bible speaks against the most is slavery to self. This is when you put yourself in the “God” position. There are two angles I will hit here today: the narcissist who thinks he is God, and the victim who is being held as a slave to that person. This whole issue comes from the key lie of the serpent that triggered Adam and Eve to eat of the fruit: “And you shall be as God, able to determine what is right and wrong.” The lie of the Serpent is that we as man would be the arbiter of truth and reality.

There are two areas where this is on full display: politics and science and the two are often interlinked. Forty years ago, Jeremy Rifkin made this statement in his book Algeny as a commentary of the mindset of the scientific community back in 1983.

Humanity is abandoning the idea that the universe operates by ironclad truths because it no longer feels the need to be constrained by such fetters. Nature is being made anew, this time by human beings. We no longer feel ourselves to be guests in someone else's home and therefore obliged to make our behavior conform with a set of pre-existing cosmic rules. It is our creation now. We make the rules. We establish the parameters of reality. We create the world, and because we do, we no longer feel beholden to outside forces. We no longer have to justify our behavior, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible to nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever.
- Jeremy Rifkin, Algeny (1983) page 244

Take note of the last statement in that quote. That is the mindset of the scientific community. I don’t believe it is Rifkin’s position but that of the scientific community that he is addressing. That is blasphemy, and it is the sinful nature on full display there. This is seeking to rule our own lives without God and to rule everyone else while at it. Understand that this is the attitude that these scientists have toward God and us. They believe that because they are so well educated and have so much scientific knowledge, they not only know what is better for us but that they are better at it than God. If you think about it, this is the attitude that the government and scientists who are paid by them had towards us during the Covid-19 pandemic. They did not believe we could make our own informed choices but that we must submit to them as though they were God Himself. They appear to have believed they had overthrown Him and could rule in His stead. There is only one thing that happens when any person or group of people does this: death.

But how did they get such into such a position? How did these people get such a God complex? The answer is simple: we gave it to them. We as a people have put these people on pedestals and given them the prestige they love, and now they want to exert authority with that prestige. A false teacher depends upon one critical thing: a willing, believing audience. Take away the audience and they have nothing. And those false teachers don’t just stand behind pulpits; they wear white coats and sit at ruler’s desks as well.

It starts at the individual level. The psychological term for this is narcissism. A narcissist is someone who thinks all about self and wants everyone else to think about him. Many accused President Trump of being narcissistic, and I saw validity to that charge. I also saw it in Dr Fauci and many others. Whenever someone makes every statement about themselves, that is narcissism. Bad news folks: EVERY ONE of us are narcissists. We all think about self and want things to be about us. We all have it, because at the root of all sin is self. This is one of the reasons why God listed pride and haughty eyes as the first of the sins he hates. So many times, we direct conversations about our interests and our desires and seek praise for us. Now, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the fruit of your labors, but why are we doing such work to begin with – for God, for others, or for ourselves?

Why did you take your job? Why are you pursuing such and such career? The answer for most is one of two things: money and prestige. They want the income, the title, and the recognition. If you are good at a job, yes, go for it. But what is the motive? The motive is often self. Seeking that prestige is all about self. Wanting that new car or getting the latest cell phone just because it is new – why get it if the current one is working fine? The answer is usually to show off, especially for teens or young men. They want to show off to girls that they got the “goods.” It’s about self and getting others to “worship” them. And once such narcissists exercise such control over people, when someone wants to break out of it, they show their nasty side. It’s all about self and these people are themselves controlled by self. Even if they say or want to serve others, they do so to make themselves look good before others. Some of these people are not only slaves to themselves but they are slaves to others because they depend upon the approval of people and are always seeking someone to please them. Often, this can be a result of parents who never gave them any value and who never taught them that their true value comes from God, not from others.

Every man thinks he is right. No one does what he does because he knows he is wrong, unless they have gone past the point of no longer caring. Look at our movies. Most of the villains actually think they are doing the right thing and have “good motives” for what they do. They usually want the same thing the hero wants, but the hero has that moral line he won’t cross, though the villain will. That is what separates Luke Skywalker from Anakin Skywalker. That is what separates Batman from the Joker. However, in the real word, each of us are the villains. We each think we are doing the right thing, but the end leads to death. This is why Jesus said we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. That is why Proverbs tells us to trust the Lord with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding.

The world is not about you. All that goes on is not about you. When you try to take God’s place to rule the universe and make everyone’s decisions be about what you think they should make, there are two people who are laughing at you. One is God Himself as He sits on His throne, laughing at us trying to rage at Him. The other is Satan as he watches us follow his lies and make utter fools out of ourselves. There is only one solution to this: we have to take ourselves off the throne and submit to God who actually has the title of God and let Him rule. One way or the other, God is going to show that He is God, and we are not. We will serve someone: either self or God, either sin or God. And the only way to change from one master to the other is through the death of the former. That is what Romans 7 is all about. We were born serving sin, so sin must be put to death before we can serve God, legally and practically. That is where this series is going, but before we get there, I have one more topic to hit: slavery to teachings.

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1 Corinthians 7:17-24

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 3, 2023 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
- 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

When a passage starts with a word like “Nevertheless,” it’s important to get the context of what was written before it. Paul started this chapter by giving instructions for marriage as Christians, and then he addresses single people, widows, and everyone else in the context of romantic relationships, including a brief discussion on divorce.

The first part of verse 17 summarizes all of this well: “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.” Whether you are married, single, divorced, widowed, or anywhere in between, we should live as believers in Jesus! Whatever relationship status God has given you in life, that is where you should be content and be obedient to God until He calls you to something else.

As believers, we are called to live lives that honor and glorify God no matter what specific circumstances we’re in. This is a rule that Paul is giving to all the churches who would read this letter in the first century, but it also applies to us today. This rule from Paul goes along with God’s commands throughout the Scriptures.

Paul then applies this principle to the nationality crisis that was occurring in his day between Jews and Gentiles. In verses 18-19, he brings up the issue of circumcision, which was a huge issue then. Any man who was a Jew would have already been circumcised, and any man who was a Gentile would not have been, so this was a divisive issue for them. Now that both Jews and Gentiles could be a part of the body of believers in Jesus, what happens with the circumcision issue?

A group of people known as the Judaizers tried to force all the Gentile men to be circumcised when they became followers of Jesus – see Acts 5:1-5 and Galatians 3:1-3 for more on that. Paul’s point is that this outward sign no longer has any meaning, so it really doesn’t matter. If you were already circumcised, that’s fine. If you weren’t already circumcised, that’s fine too. It’s not something that really matters anymore, now that all who believe are one in Jesus Christ. As Galatians 5:6 says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

Verse 20 repeats what Paul has been saying to give it added emphasis. Whatever situation you have in life, you can still be a believer and do what God is calling you to do.

Paul gives another illustration of applying this principle as it relates to slavery in verses 21-23. Remember that slavery in Biblical times was not what we in the modern United States think of as slavery. For more on what slavery is, check out this post by Charlie Wolcott and the entire series he’s currently writing here. Slavery was more of a social status, and it was often temporary to pay off a debt to someone.

Paul’s emphasis here is that a person does not need to worry about their social status when they come to faith in Jesus Christ. Wherever you are in life, you can still be a believer! Becoming a Christian does not guarantee that your social status will get better, though Paul does encourage those in slavery to be freed from it if possible.

Verse 22 is one that may make us think a bit: “For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.” We know that Jesus has set us free from the penalty of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), and we have been bound as slaves to Jesus. Everyone is a slave to something, as Paul writes in Romans 6. When you became a believer in Jesus, you were set free from the grasp of sin and death. But you also became a slave of Jesus rather than a slave of the world.

The distinction of who you are a slave to is an important one for the believer. As Paul writes in verse 23, our priority needs to be that we are slaves to Christ and not slaves to our fellow humans. Jesus should have all authority over us, not other people. We should serve faithfully in whatever station in life God has called us to, but we do so because God bought us for a price and we are now His servants and His slaves.

In verse 24, Paul repeats almost the same thing he already said in verse 17 and verse 20: “Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.” This further emphasizes Paul’s point that your station in life is not relevant when you follow Jesus Christ, as long as you are obeying what God has called you to.

This still applies to us today also. Whether you are a student, a factory worker, unemployed, a stay-at-home parent, a manager, a top-level executive, or anything in between, your goal should be to live that life for the glory of Jesus Christ. You are a part of God’s family no matter what your station in life. You should live as a true believer no matter what the circumstances of your life look like, and God will be glorified through you.

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