This is one of those "Ahhh" pictures.  I can relate a little bit to the guy on the right, as weight watchers meetings have forced me to think about it some.  What is amazing to me is that in spite of my appearance, I still have good friends; people who genuinely care about me.  The overwhelming majority of my friends art Christians and that is really no big surprise because Christians are supposed to love one another.  Consider this passage from John chapter 15 for a bit...

John, Chapter 15
12  “This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you.   13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.   14  You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you.   15  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you.   16  You didn’t choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

I can honestly say that of all the friends I have ever made, Jesus stands out above them all.  Many people will claim to be your friend, but when they have to give up something or hurt because of you- well, they disappear. A good friend will be there throughout any difficulty or obstacle- caring about you, understanding you (or trying to, anyway).  For me, Jesus fits the bill and I know with absolute certainty he is my friend because he sacrificed himself for me.  I feel like the elephant in the picture; fat, depressed, alone, discouraged.  But, right next to me is one who cares and always will.  All I have to do is to love him in return and listen to and do his will.  Nice bargain!!!

PS. As of last night's sign in- I am down 55 pounds doing the weight watcher's program.  Hooray!!! (Only 100 pounds to go)

Bible Reading, Feb. 12

Feb. 12
Genesis 43

Gen 43:1 The famine was severe in the land.
Gen 43:2 It happened, when they had eaten up the grain which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said to them, "Go again, buy us a little more food."
Gen 43:3 Judah spoke to him, saying, "The man solemnly warned us, saying, 'You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.'
Gen 43:4 If you'll send our brother with us, we'll go down and buy you food,
Gen 43:5 but if you'll not send him, we'll not go down, for the man said to us, 'You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.' "
Gen 43:6 Israel said, "Why did you treat me so badly, telling the man that you had another brother?"
Gen 43:7 They said, "The man asked directly concerning ourselves, and concerning our relatives, saying, 'Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?' We just answered his questions. Is there any way we could know that he would say, 'Bring your brother down?' "
Gen 43:8 Judah said to Israel, his father, "Send the boy with me, and we'll get up and go, so that we may live, and not die, both we, and you, and also our little ones.
Gen 43:9 I'll be collateral for him. From my hand will you require him. If I don't bring him to you, and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever,
Gen 43:10 for if we hadn't delayed, surely we would have returned a second time by now."
Gen 43:11 Their father, Israel, said to them, "If it must be so, then do this. Take from the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry down a present for the man, a little balm, a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts, and almonds;
Gen 43:12 and take double money in your hand, and take back the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight.
Gen 43:13 Take your brother also, get up, and return to the man.
Gen 43:14 May God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release to you your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved."
Gen 43:15 The men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and got up, went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph.
Gen 43:16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, "Bring the men into the house, and butcher an animal, and make ready; for the men will dine with me at noon."
Gen 43:17 The man did as Joseph commanded, and the man brought the men to Joseph's house.
Gen 43:18 The men were afraid, because they were brought to Joseph's house; and they said, "Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time, we're brought in; that he may seek occasion against us, attack us, and seize us as slaves, along with our donkeys."
Gen 43:19 They came near to the steward of Joseph's house, and they spoke to him at the door of the house,
Gen 43:20 and said, "Oh, my lord, we indeed came down the first time to buy food.
Gen 43:21 When we came to the lodging place, we opened our sacks, and behold, every man's money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight. We have brought it back in our hand.
Gen 43:22 We have brought down other money in our hand to buy food. We don't know who put our money in our sacks."
Gen 43:23 He said, "Peace be to you. Don't be afraid. Your God, and the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks. I received your money." He brought Simeon out to them.
Gen 43:24 The man brought the men into Joseph's house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet. He gave their donkeys fodder.
Gen 43:25 They made ready the present for Joseph's coming at noon, for they heard that they should eat bread there.
Gen 43:26 When Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves down to him to the earth.
Gen 43:27 He asked them of their welfare, and said, "Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he yet alive?"
Gen 43:28 They said, "Your servant, our father, is well. He is still alive." They bowed the head, and did homage.
Gen 43:29 He lifted up his eyes, and saw Benjamin, his brother, his mother's son, and said, "Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?" He said, "God be gracious to you, my son."
Gen 43:30 Joseph hurried, for his heart yearned over his brother; and he sought a place to weep. He entered into his room, and wept there.
Gen 43:31 He washed his face, and came out. He controlled himself, and said, "Serve the meal."
Gen 43:32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians, that ate with him, by themselves, because the Egyptians don't eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.
Gen 43:33 They sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright, and the youngest according to his youth, and the men marveled one with another.
Gen 43:34 He sent portions to them from before him, but Benjamin's portion was five times as much as any of theirs. They drank, and were merry with him.

Feb. 12, 13
Matthew 22

Mat 22:1 Jesus answered and spoke again in parables to them, saying,
Mat 22:2 "The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who made a marriage feast for his son,
Mat 22:3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, but they would not come.
Mat 22:4 Again he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "Behold, I have made ready my dinner. My cattle and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the marriage feast!" '
Mat 22:5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise,
Mat 22:6 and the rest grabbed his servants, and treated them shamefully, and killed them.
Mat 22:7 When the king heard that, he was angry, and sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Mat 22:8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren't worthy.
Mat 22:9 Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the marriage feast.'
Mat 22:10 Those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests.
Mat 22:11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn't have on wedding clothing,
Mat 22:12 and he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?' He was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.'
Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few chosen."
Mat 22:15 Then the Pharisees went and took counsel how they might entrap him in his talk.
Mat 22:16 They sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are honest, and teach the way of God in truth, no matter who you teach, for you aren't partial to anyone.
Mat 22:17 Tell us therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
Mat 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, "Why do you test me, you hypocrites?
Mat 22:19 Show me the tax money." They brought to him a denarius.
Mat 22:20 He asked them, "Whose is this image and inscription?"
Mat 22:21 They said to him, "Caesar's." Then he said to them, "Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Mat 22:22 When they heard it, they marveled, and left him, and went away.
Mat 22:23 On that day Sadducees (those who say that there is no resurrection) came to him. They asked him,
Mat 22:24 saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed for his brother.'
Mat 22:25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first married and died, and having no seed left his wife to his brother.
Mat 22:26 In like manner the second also, and the third, to the seventh.
Mat 22:27 After them all, the woman died.
Mat 22:28 In the resurrection therefore, whose wife will she be of the seven? For they all had her."
Mat 22:29 But Jesus answered them, "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God.
Mat 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like God's angels in heaven.
Mat 22:31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, haven't you read that which was spoken to you by God, saying,
Mat 22:32 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?' God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
Mat 22:33 When the multitudes heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
Mat 22:34 But the Pharisees, when they heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, gathered themselves together.
Mat 22:35 One of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, testing him.
Mat 22:36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?"
Mat 22:37 Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 A second likewise is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
Mat 22:40 The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
Mat 22:41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question,
Mat 22:42 saying, "What do you think of the Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "Of David."
Mat 22:43 He said to them, "How then does David in the Spirit call him Lord, saying,
Mat 22:44 'The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet?'
Mat 22:45 "If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?"
Mat 22:46 No one was able to answer him a word, neither did any man dare ask him any more questions from that day forth.



Of all of the spiritual blessings which we enjoy in this life, prayer must surely be among the greatest. In times of sorrow, temptation, and pressing troubles, the Christian's awareness of the importance of prayer is heightened. It is in such troublesome times that one realizes his total dependance on the loving Father in heaven. Sadly, however, it is only in such times that the blessing of prayer is exercised by many who profess to believe and follow Christ. This is a sad commentary on the life of any Christian. Paul exhorted the Romans to be "...continuing steadfastly in prayer" (Rom. 12:12) and to the Thessalonians he wrote, "pray without ceasing." (1 Thess. 5:17). It is thus to be understood that prayer is not a tool to be used at our own whim or just when we are in a "tight," but is to be engaged in often and not limited to times of trouble but in times of joy and prosperity as well. We are to maintain a disposition of prayerful readiness at all times.
"The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." (Jas. 5:16), but this is not to be misunderstood to say that every prayer we utter will be answered in the way we think it should be, or as soon as we would desire. Mary and Martha asked Jesus to come and heal their brother, Lazarus, but He did not come immediately as they had anticipated in their urgent plea for help (Jn. 11). When Lazarus finally died, his sisters viewed his death as the end of their hope. Their faith in Jesus' ability to heal their brother while he lived was evident in Martha's statement to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." (vs. 21) Jesus did answer Mary and Martha's petition, but not as soon as they had anticipated nor in the way they had expected. He raised Lazarus from the dead and thus fulfilled their desire.
Because "...your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him." (Mt. 6:8) His answer to our prayers are sometimes with a "NO," as in the case of Paul. Paul asked that his "thorn in the flesh" be removed (2 Cor. 12:8-9) but God's answer was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." He knew what was more needful to Paul and thus answered the prayer with a denial.
Considering all of these aspects of prayer, it is important that we use prayer properly and not as those whom James rebuked by saying, "You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures." (Jas. 4:3) James also warned that we must "...ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;" (Jas. 1:6-7) For this reason, we must examine ourselves and consider our requests before we ask.
There is a phrase which is used quite often in public prayers (and likely in many private prayers as well) which is a typical followup to urgent pleas for God's help in matters of great concern and distress, especially when asking His blessings on those who are physically ill. The phrase usually goes something like, "...if it be according to Your will." This can be easily abused even to making unacceptable the petition which it follows.
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Mt. 6:9-10) When Jesus prayed in the garden before He was to be taken and put on trial and then be crucified, He prayed, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (Mt. 26:39) Let it be noticed that in both of these cases, a similar phrase is used but in the form of a general statement of submission on the part of the One making the request. In neither of these cases was it stated in a manner so as to relate any doubt as when we say, "IF it be according toYour will." This is not to say that the latter expression is unscriptural. The acceptability of such a phrase in our prayers is determined by the context of its meaning in our heart. I fear that it is sometimes the case, however, that such a statement is used as a crutch to support a lack of faith in the request or in God's willingness or ability to answer. The real issue in all of this is: are we willing to accept His answer and be pleased that it is according to His will rather than ours?
When we precede such a petition with the word "IF," are we expressing doubt in our heart as to His ability to heal the sick in the knowledge that the age of miracles has ceased (1 Cor. 13:8-10)? Dear reader, the Lord is not limited by miracles to accomplish that which He desires. Just because we can't see any other way for Him to heal the sick doesn't mean that He cannot do so by natural means that we do not understand. Therefore, do we find ourselves asking God to "heal" those with broken bones or flu, while we ask Him to make the one who has cancer "comfortable" only because we doubt His ability to heal cancer without the use of a miracle? Who are we to second guess God or His ability?
When we end our petition to the Lord with "IF it be according to Your will," are we expressing a doubt that He is willing to answer us as we have asked Him? This reminds me of the leper that came to Jesus after He had completed His sermon on the mount. The leper expressed faith in Jesus' ability to heal him, but doubt as to His willingness. The leper said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." (Mt. 8:2) "Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." (vs. 3) Is it that we doubt our worthiness to receive an answer to our petition, or is it that we doubt His mercy and His grace in extending to us His helping hand? In either case, we are not worthy and therefore must depend upon His mercy and grace, without which we would have no hope or reason to pray.
Do we know whether He will answer our prayers in the way that we desire? Certainly not. But our desire should be that His answer will be according to that which is most beneficial and most suited to our need. This is what we should expect from a Father who loves us and desires only the best for us. The problem here is not in whether God knows how to answer our prayers, but rather the fact that "we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Rom. 8:26) What all is involved in the Spirit's interceding is beyond my understanding, but I can understand that "He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (vss. 27-28) In that knowledge there is comfort that regardless of how poorly we may pray, He will not fail to do the right thing. What greater comfort could we ask for?
Prayer is not a crutch for a weak faith. Prayer is the true test of our trust in God's providence. Weak faith does not easily lay the burdens of the day at the foot of God's throne, turn away having been thus relieved of a burden too heavy to be borne, and then prepares to face another day without the cares that now remain in His hands. It takes real faith and real trust to pray as we ought. It takes self-denial to ask that His will be done rather than ours.
When we finally understand these things, we are ready to "...come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16) That does not mean that we approach God with an arrogant attitude expecting to get our own way, but rather it means that we can approach His throne with confidence in the assurance that He is full of mercy and ready to extend His grace to those whom He loves. Let us remember always that "...the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. (Isa. 59:1) He will hear if we will ask in submissive faith.

- Gary V. Womack - March 1979 / May 2004

Omar Khayyam and chess by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Omar Khayyam and chess

The Persian mathematician and poet, Omar Khayyam insisted that we are, "But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days; Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays, And one by one back in the Closet lays." And it would appear that even the great Player himself is as determined by fate as the rest of us. "And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky, Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die, Lift not your hands to It for help--for It As impotently moves as you or I."
But George Arthur Buttrick would have none of it. "Almost every word in the dictionary refutes the poem. The word ‘coward,’ for instance means that a man is free to be brave; and the sign ‘Keep out’ means we are free to enter. Always the arguments are on the side of fixed fate; always our instant assumptions are on the side of free will, and we cannot help making the assumptions. We deduce by apparently unbreakable logic that we are bound, but we still assume that our brilliant argument is free. Not soon shall I forget the sight of a psychologist, famous for the doctrine that all our actions are but inevitable responses to external stimuli, pleading with mothers to train their children in the theory. What use in pleading? Despite his doctrine he had to assume that the mothers could choose to train their children in some other theory."
Words like praise, blame, wrong, sin, good and ten thousand like them deny the claim that we are bound by iron determinism because they all imply that things could possibly be other than they are. If the whole of reality (including those who reflect on that reality) is bound by chance and the necessity of physics (Jacques Monod) not only can we not "blame" we cannot "praise". We are left speechless or at least we know in our bones that our speech is patent nonsense. Not many are like the Stratonician atheist, Bertrand Russell, who openly confessed that there were things going on in the world that troubled him deep within, things he felt compelled to condemn but he knew, he said, that he had no rational grounds to condemn them. Might as well blame a chess piece for moving into a losing square as blame a man for raping a child. Might as well praise an apple for falling down off a tree as praising a parent for loving a child. In a reality where every particle and form of reality is a pre-played chess game there is neither praise nor blame, good or bad.
It might be amusing if it were not so pathetic to hear religious people sniff in derision at the physical and philosophical determinism of non-believers and then substitute for it their theological determinism. In the end whether it’s Omar Khayyam or some rabid hyper-Calvinist, "God ordains whatsoever comes to pass." Ah, no! Sin is our own!

No Heavenly Sweetheart by Jim McGuiggan

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

No Heavenly Sweetheart

God's no heavenly sweetheart we're to ceaselessly croon romantic ballads about. (Don't you get tired of this saccharin God that fills so much of Western inspirational literature?) He means to redeem us from sin and fill us full of life and it doesn't matter to him that many of us don't want that. He wants it! If we spurn his love and persist in holding him in contempt we lose eternally but he gets no joy out of our loss (Ezekiel 18:23,32).
Furthermore, God may well use our sinfulness to gain his holy and generous purposes and still hold us accountable for our sins (see Romans 3:5-8). It isn't to our credit that God can make our wickedness serve glorious ends. He would rather that we serve him and our fellow-humans in righteousness but if he can't get that he will use our evil to bring about his good and still hold us accountable for our wickedness.
This truth holds true at the individual, national or international level.
If God chooses to chastise rebellious Israel to bring them back to himself and to life (see Amos 4:6-13) this is a generous and holy work of God. But if the instrument God uses to chastise wicked Israel is a wicked nation (Assyria, in Israel's case) then there are two purposes being carried out in the one event. Assyria doesn't mean to do God's holy and generous will but intends to do its own cruel will (see Isaiah 10:5-7). But in Assyria's evil purpose of self-service God carries out his own generous and holy act of redemptive chastisement. Assyria is accountable for her evil and God is accountable for his glorious goodness in restoring rebellious Israel.
The same is true in regard to Christ's cross. In our first century "fathers" and "mothers" we carried out our wicked will against God in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:23b) and we are accountable for it. But in our very act of evil God was carrying out his own glorious and generous will to redeem us all (Acts 2:23a and 4:25-28).
So when we say the suffering in the world is of God, we're not saying that God rises in the morning and, with a yawn, decides, "Think I'll hurt a lot of people today." No, much of the suffering in the world has man's evil stamp on it. But (and this is an important but) the suffering also has the gracious and generous holy hand of God in it. The wicked human intention doesn't mean there is no divine hand in it. Think again of the preceding paragraph and wonder at the wonder of it all.
You might find my Celebrating the Wrath of God, Waterbrook Press, of interest to you.)

The Treachery Of Divorce (5:31-32) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                   The Treachery Of Divorce (5:31-32)


1. We live in an age of easy divorce...
   a. Many if not all states have "no-fault" divorce laws
   b. In some cases, all it takes is for one person to decide to have a
      divorce, and their spouse can do nothing to prevent it

2. What does God think about divorce?
   a. What was His view of divorce in the Old Testament?
   b. What does He think of it now?

3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus addressed the issue of divorce...
   a. As He taught His disciples concerning the righteousness of the 
   b. In which He described the effects of divorcing one's spouse

[In this lesson, "The Treachery Of Divorce", we shall use Mt 5:31-32 as
our text.  To understand Jesus' comments in their context, let's first
determine what was...]


      DIVORCE" - Mt 5:31
      1. This was the "traditional" interpretation of Deut 24:1-4;
         handed down orally
      2. In applying the Law, they had focused on the idea of giving
         certificates of divorce
      3. They concluded divorce was permissible as long as a 
         certificate of divorce was given

      1. Please read Deut 24:1-4 carefully...
         a. Verses 1-3 simply describe a particular situation
            1) WHEN a man is displeased with his wife and gives her a
               certificate a divorce and sends her out of the house...
            2) WHEN she has left and becomes another man's wife...
            3) IF her second husband detests her and gives her a bill
               of divorcement and sends her out of his house, or if the
               second husband dies...
         b. It is in verse 4 that Moses actually commands what must not
            be done
            1) Which was: "her former husband who divorced her must not
               take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled;
               for that is an abomination to the Lord"
            2) This passage is simply forbidding a man to remarry his
               wife after she had been married to another - cf. Jer 3:1
      2. Note also Paul's understanding of the Law - cf. Ro 7:1-3
         a. A woman was bound by the Law to her husband as long he
         b. If she married another while her first husband was still
            living (implying a certificate of divorce was given), she
            became an adulteress (i.e., defiled)!

[So the scribes and Pharisees had interpreted the Law to permit divorce
as long as a certificate of divorce was given to the wife.  We have 
tried to point out that was not the case.  What does Jesus say?]


      1. The only acceptable grounds for divorcing a wife is SEXUAL 
      2. Otherwise, divorcing a wife "causes her to commit adultery"
      3. How?  By placing her in a position where she is likely to 
         remarry, in which she becomes an adulteress
      4. This is what the Law implied in Deut 24:4 and Jer 3:1
         a. That is why the first husband couldn't take her back
         b. Even if her second husband had died!
         c. Because the wife had become "defiled"!
      5. Notice these comments by KEIL & DELITZSCH...

         "The second marriage of a woman who had been divorced is
         designated by Moses a defilement of the woman...a moral
         defilement, i.e., blemishing, desecration of the sexual
         communion which was sanctified by marriage, IN THE SAME SENSE
         IN WHICH ADULTERY IS CALLED A DEFILEMENT in Lev 18:20 and Num 5:13,14..."

         "Thus the second marriage of a divorced woman was placed
         implicit upon a par with adultery, and some approach was made
         towards the teaching of Christ concerning marriage (Mt 5:32)..."

         "If the second marriage of a divorced woman was a moral
         defilement, of course the wife could not marry the first again
         even after the death of her second husband...because the
         defilement of the wife would be thereby repeated, and even
         increased, as the moral defilement which the divorced wife
         acquired through the second marriage was not removed by a
         divorce from the second husband, nor yet by his death."

      6. Jesus simply made clear what the Law itself implied:  To 
         divorce a woman for any reason other than sexual immorality
         would cause her to be defiled (when she remarried)!
      7. Therefore, I believe that a careful study of the Law 
         concerning divorce reveals...
         a. That Jesus' teaching was really in harmony with the Law
         b. But the "traditional interpretation and application" of the
            Law had missed the mark by placing emphasis upon the 
            mention of giving a certificate of divorce

      1. Jesus goes on to say that anyone who marries a person who has
         been divorced (lit., "put away") also commits adultery!
      2. Jesus does not use the definite article in reference to one
         put away, therefore He seems to refer to ANY "put away" 
         person!  In other words...
         a. A person put away for reasons OTHER than adultery cannot
            1) Because such would "cause them to commit adultery"
            2) Or to put it in O.T. terms: "become defiled"
         b. Nor can a person "put away" for the reason of adultery 
            1) For such a person is an "adulteress" or "adulterer"
            2) As such, is "defiled" and would thereby cause anyone who
               married that person to commit adultery!


1. Jesus later taught more concerning the subject of divorce and 
   remarriage - Mt 19:3-12
   a. Defining who has the right to divorce their spouse and remarry
   b. Indicating that some might need to "make themselves eunuchs" for
      the sake of the kingdom of heaven

2. But in our text (Mt 5:31-32), Jesus reveals "The Treachery Of
   a. A man who divorces his wife for any cause other than sexual
      immorality causes her to commit adultery (by placing her in a
      situation where she is likely to remarry and become defiled; 
      i.e., an adulteress)
   b. Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery
   -- The harmful effect of divorce is seen in that it creates 
      situations where adultery is committed!

3. Perhaps we can better understand why God hates divorce - Mal 2:13-16
   a. When we put away our spouses, we treat them treacherously! 
      - Mal 2:14
   b. When we divorce our spouses, we cover our garments with violence!
      - Mal 2:16

4. Making divorce "legal" does not change the facts of the matter...
   a. The one put away still becomes defiled (commits adultery) if they
   b. Whoever marries the one put away still commits adultery
   -- It is still a "treacherous" act!

As difficult as Jesus' teaching on the subject of divorce might seem in
today's permissive and immoral society, those who respect the authority
of Jesus Christ will abide by His teaching.

Have you found yourself in an adulterous relationship?  There is hope
in Jesus Christ (cf. 1Co 6:9-11)!  Yet true repentance requires that
you stop committing adultery, even if it means becoming a "eunuch" for
the sake of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 19:11-12).

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

Nipping Adultery In The Bud (5:27-30) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                 Nipping Adultery In The Bud (5:27-30)


1. Though our society takes adultery lightly, it is a serious offense
   in the eyes of God...
   a. He listed it right after murder in the Ten Commandments - Exo 20:
   b. He made it a capital offense in the Old Testament, worthy of the
      death penalty - Lev 20:10
   c. God has promised to judge those who are adulterers - He 13:4;
      1Co 6:9-10
   -- It destroys friendships, marriages, and families, contributing to
      the destruction of many children's lives!

2. How can one avoid the sin of adultery?
   a. Is the solution one of just making sure that you don't commit the
      actual act?
   b. Or is there way that one can "nip it in the bud"?

3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus challenged His disciples...
   a. To exceed "the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees" 
      - Mt 5:20
   b. He illustrated what He meant through a series on contrasts
      1) Between what they had heard from those of old
      2) And what He was now declaring to them

4. In the second contrast (Mt 5:27-30), Jesus addressed the issue of
   a. In which we learn where adultery really begins
   b. And what steps can be taken to ward off committing such a serious

[On the subject of adultery, let's first note the contrast between...]


      1. The oral traditions of the Scribes and Pharisees certainly
         repeated the written commandment found in the Law - Mt 5:27
      2. But they evidently stressed that as long as one did not commit
         the actual act, one was not guilty
      3. Thereby emphasizing the "letter" of the Law, but not 
         appreciating the "spirit" behind the Law as well

      1. One does not have to commit the "act" to be guilty of adultery
      2. One is just as guilty when one "looks at a woman to lust for
         her" - Mt 5:28
      3. Note:  Not the "looking" per se, but looking "to lust" for her
         is what is wrong
         a. "to lust" means to have a strong desire for, to possess and
            dominate completely
         b. A person may look at another with admiration for beauty and
            not be guilty of "lust"

      1. Notice that the Tenth Commandment condemned coveting a 
         neighbor's wife - Exo 20:17
      2. Even in the time of Job, to "look at a woman to lust for her"
         was considered wrong - Job 31:1

[So the problem begins in the heart (cf. Mk 7:21-23).  If we can
prevent the lusting in the heart (or the "lustful eye"), the problem of
adultery is "nipped in the bud"!  Jesus goes on to say what we should
do with respect to the lustful eye or any other stumbling blocks...]


      1. That Jesus is not being literal should be obvious, for one
         could still stumble with the left eye or hand
      2. The key to understanding this passage is found in Mt 18:7-9
         a. The "eye" and "hand" represent "offenses"
         b. Offenses are "stumbling blocks" that lead a person to sin
         c. These would be enticements to do wrong, beguiling 

      1. "Take drastic action in getting rid of whatever in the natural
         course of events will tempt you to sin" (Hendriksen)
      2. Such should be the case in regards to ALL sin, as well as the
         sin of adultery

[As we contemplate Jesus' words, there are several...]


      1. The future holds the possibility of "hell" (Greek, GEHENNA,
         the place of everlasting torment)
      2. What we do or not do in the present will determine our place
         in the future

      1. God's goal for us is the "kingdom of heaven" in all its 
         eternal glory!
      2. What on "earth" (such as an adulterous relationship) can be
         worthy of losing that?

      1. Do we need to be convinced that sin (like adultery) is 
         destructive to those around us?
      2. Sin is to the soul what cancer is to the body
         a. Delay can be deadly!
         b. Halfway measures, halfhearted efforts, only give sin time
            to wreak havoc!
      2. "Radical surgery" is what's necessary to treat the "cancer" of
         a. Cut off those things that might lead you to look upon 
            others to lust after them
         b. How much better to dwell upon such things as mentioned in
            Php 4:8!
         c. Remove all stumbling blocks that encourage you to sin!
            1) Such as certain books, movies, pictures
            2) Or possible companions, associates - cf. 1Co 15:33
         -- As Paul exhorted the Corinthians , and Joseph illustrated
            by example, "flee sexual immorality"! - 1Co 6:18; Gen 39:


1. Our families, our friends, our lives, and especially our souls are
   too precious to allow the sin of adultery to destroy them!

2. But if we desire to "nip it in the bud", we cannot be content with
   the righteousness of the  Scribes and Pharisees...
   a. Who may have faithfully quoted the Law to others
   b. But were unwilling to deal with the real problem, which is one of
      the heart!

3. In view of the reality of hell, the eternal abode of impenitent
   a. Let us be willing to tackle the "cancer" of sin seriously
   b. Performing whatever "radical surgery" might be necessary!

While one may not be able to rebuild the lives destroyed by the sin of
adultery, for the penitent adulterer there is still the hope of 
salvation in Christ Jesus, as there is for all... - cf. 1Co 6:9-11

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011