"A CLOSER WALK WITH GOD" Overcoming Sin INTRODUCTION 1. A wonderful blessing we receive when we become Christians is the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus Christ a. At our BAPTISM, the blood of Christ cleanses us from all PAST sins b. Compare Ac 22:16 with Re 1:5 2. This does not mean that our problem with sin is over... a. We still sin at times - 1Jn 1:8,10 b. Satan does his best to cause us to sin - 1Pe 5:8 3. If we are to maintain a close walk with God, and ultimately receive the riches of glory He has prepared for us, we must overcome the problem of sin in two ways: a. By sinning less and less - 1Jn 2:1a b. By knowing what to do when we do sin - 1Jn 2:1b-2 4. This lesson is concerned with helping us see how sin develops, and how to overcome sin with its terrible consequences [To overcome sin, we need to understand how it develops. The Bible outlines the development of sin in Jm 1:12-15...] I. HOW SIN DEVELOPS A. THE FIRST STAGE IS "TEMPTATION"... 1. In Jm 1:14, we see that "temptation" includes two things: a. DESIRE (some translations say "lust", suggesting a strong desire for something) b. ENTICEMENT (an opportunity and encouragement to satisfy the desire) 2. Putting it in the form of a simple equation: TEMPTATION = DESIRE + OPPORTUNITY 3. To illustrate: a. A small boy is TEMPTED to steal some cookies when he WANTS (desire) them and has an OCCASION (opportunity) to take them b. The temptation becomes stronger if he wants them badly, and has a good chance of getting them without being seen 4. PLEASE NOTE: At this stage in the development of sin, actual sin has not yet been committed a. It is not a sin to be "tempted" b. For Jesus Himself was "tempted as we are, yet without sin" - He 4:15; 2:18 B. THE SECOND STAGE IS "SIN" ITSELF... 1. "When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin" - Jm 1:15 2. It becomes sin when we ACT and YIELD to the temptation 3. Thus sin involves the added step of some sort of action on our part 4. Again, in the form of a simple equation: SIN = DESIRE + OPPORTUNITY + ACTION C. THE THIRD STAGE INVOLVES THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNREPENTED AND UNFORGIVEN SIN: "DEATH" 1. "And sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" - Jm 1:15 2. The "death" spoken here refers to spiritual separation from God a. This separation occurs first in this life - cf. Is 59:2 b. If we die physically in this state, then we will experience the "second death", which involves eternal punishment! - Re 21:8 3. Putting all this into a final equation: DESIRE + OPPORTUNITY + ACTION + NO FORGIVENESS = DEATH D. OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF SIN... 1. Sin will have overcome us if we receive the "final punishment" of Re 21:8 2. But we will have overcome sin if we can avoid this punishment and experience the glories God has prepared for His children! 3. How can we be sure to overcome sin? BY STOPPING ITS DEVELOP- MENT AT ANY ONE OF THE FOUR POINTS LEADING TO THE FINAL PUNISHMENT! [Now let's examine how this may be done...] II. HOW TO OVERCOME SIN A. CHANGE OUR "DESIRES"... 1. Since this is where the process of sin begins, it is the best place for us to begin 2. Bear in mind that it is a part of Christian growth to change our desires - Ro 12:1-2; Ga 5:24 3. How do we change our desires? a. Notice that the WORD OF GOD has always been instrumental in helping people overcome sin - Ps 119:11; Mt 4:3-10 b. To see how the Word of God can change our desires... 1) As we read of God's love, longsuffering and mercy, we desire to serve Him - Ps 116:12-14 2) As we read of sin and its damnable consequences, we come to hate it! - Ps 119:104 4. So the more we study God's Word, the less likely we will have the DESIRE to sin, thereby beginning to overcome sin by "nipping it in the bud"! [But changing our desires takes time; while engaged in the process of changing our desires, what else can we do?] B. LIMIT OUR "OPPORTUNITIES"... 1. Remember, we are tempted only when there is BOTH desire and opportunity 2. So while we work on changing our desires, we should limit the opportunities to fulfill wrongful desires 3. This can be done by ASKING FOR GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL HELP, as Jesus taught - Mt 6:13; 26:41 4. We can cooperate with God by: a. Purposely avoiding situations that might excite wrongful desires 1) Following the example of David - Ps 101:3-4 2) And the example of Job - Job 31:1 b. Avoiding those whose evil behavior encourages us to sin with them 1) Again, David sets a good example - Ps 101:6-7 2) Paul also adds his warning - 1Co 15:33 [But we will unlikely remove EVERY desire and opportunity to sin in this life, what then?] C. EXERCISE "SELF-CONTROL"... 1. Remember, it becomes sin when we yield to ACTION in fulfilling our sinful desires 2. If we can control ourselves so as to not yield, then we can overcome sin! 3. How does the Christian exercise self-control? a. Self-control is but one aspect of the "fruit of the Spirit" - Ga 5:22-23 b. When we become Christians, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives - Ac 2:38; 5:32 c. The Spirit is God's instrumental agent by which He imparts strength to us - Ep 3:16 d. Strengthened by the Spirit, we are able to "put to death the deeds of the body" - Ro 8:12-13 e. As Paul said: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." - Php 4:13 4. It is through faith in God's Word that the Christian believes that he has this divine help - Ep 3:20 a. It is certainly proper to pray for it, as Paul did in behalf of the Ephesians - Ep 3:16 b. But equally important, to act upon it, trusting that you are not alone as you try to do God's will - Php 2:12-13 c. As an exercise commercial once said: JUST DO IT! 5. The Christian, then, has no excuse for yielding to a temptation - 1Co 10:13 [But there may be times when we don't take advantage of the strength God provides through His Spirit, and we sin; what then?] D. OBTAIN "FORGIVENESS"... 1. Remember that sin is victorious when it results in punishment 2. But if we obtain forgiveness through the blood of Christ, we can avoid that punishment and thereby still overcome sin! - 1Jn 2:1-2 3. Yes, Christ is truly the "propitiation" for our sins! a. By His blood, we were forgiven of past sins when united with Him in BAPTISM - Ac 2:38; 22:16; Re 1:5 b. By His blood, we can be forgiven of present sins when we REPENT, PRAY, and CONFESS our sins to God - Ac 8:22; 1Jn 1:9 4. At any time the Christian can overcome sins that were committed, by repenting and confessing them to God! E. SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT OVERCOMING SIN... 1. If you noticed carefully, you should have seen that at each of the four points in the development of sin, God is able and willing to help us overcome sin! a. God helps us to "control our desires" by providing His WORD to renew our minds b. God helps us to "limit the opportunities" through His PROVIDENCE as we pray for such c. God helps us to "exercise self-control" over our actions through His SPIRIT strengthening the inner man d. God helps us to "obtain forgiveness" through the BLOOD OF HIS SON as we repent and pray -- Isn't the grace of God wonderful? - 2Th 3:3; 1Co 10:13 2. In this discussion we have concentrated on "sins of commission" a. That is, sins we commit by overt action on our part b. There are also "sins of omission" 1) Sins which come from failing to do what is right - Jm 4:17 2) Overcoming these sins is similar... a) Change our desires so we want to do what is right b) Exercise self-control so we act the way we should when we have the opportunity c) When guilty of sins of omission, obtain forgiveness in the same way 3. In learning the four points at which we may overcome sin, don't think that we can simply wait until we reach the fourth point to act... a. That is, to just go ahead and sin, then ask God for forgiveness b. There are several reasons why we should not do this: 1) In baptism, we were freed from the power of sin, and should now present ourselves to God as servants of righteousness - Ro 6:1-23 2) Though we can receive forgiveness for sin, we might still suffer the "temporal" consequences of sins - Ga 6:7-9 3) If we allow sin to deceive us so as to become "hardened",we may get to the point of sinning "willfully" and lose our salvation! - He 3:12-14; 10:26-31 c. So don't take the grace of God lightly and attempt to abuse it! CONCLUSION 1. How much better it would be to praise God for His grace, and use it to overcome sin in our lives! 2. May the promise found in Jm 1:12 help motivate us to do so: "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." SOME QUESTIONS TO STIMULATE YOUR THINKING... 1. Are you engaged in a daily Bible study program which will help you develop the proper kind of desires? 2. Do you "watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation"? 3. Do you avoid circumstances and companions that you know would entice you to sin? 4. Do you pray that God will strengthen you "by His Spirit in the inner man"? 5. Do you ask God daily to forgive your sins, and to help you overcome sin in your life?
The World English Bible
Deuteronomy 27, 28
Deu 27:1 Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandment which I command you this day.
Deu 27:2 It shall be on the day when you shall pass over the Jordan to the land which Yahweh your God gives you, that you shall set yourself up great stones, and plaster them with plaster:
Deu 27:3 and you shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have passed over; that you may go in to the land which Yahweh your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has promised you.
Deu 27:4 It shall be, when you have passed over the Jordan, that you shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster.
Deu 27:5 There you shall build an altar to Yahweh your God, an altar of stones: you shall lift up no iron tool on them.
Deu 27:6 You shall build the altar of Yahweh your God of uncut stones; and you shall offer burnt offerings thereon to Yahweh your God:
Deu 27:7 and you shall sacrifice peace offerings, and shall eat there; and you shall rejoice before Yahweh your God.
Deu 27:8 You shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.
Deu 27:9 Moses and the priests the Levites spoke to all Israel, saying, Keep silence, and listen, Israel: this day you have become the people of Yahweh your God.
Deu 27:10 You shall therefore obey the voice of Yahweh your God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command you this day.
Deu 27:11 Moses commanded the people the same day, saying,
Deu 27:12 These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have passed over the Jordan: Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin.
Deu 27:13 These shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
Deu 27:14 The Levites shall answer, and tell all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
Deu 27:15 Cursed be the man who makes an engraved or molten image, an abomination to Yahweh, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret. All the people shall answer and say, Amen.
Deu 27:16 Cursed be he who sets light by his father or his mother. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:17 Cursed be he who removes his neighbor's landmark. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:18 Cursed be he who makes the blind to wander out of the way. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:19 Cursed be he who wrests the justice due to the foreigner, fatherless, and widow. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:20 Cursed be he who lies with his father's wife, because he has uncovered his father's skirt. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:21 Cursed be he who lies with any manner of animal. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:22 Cursed be he who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:23 Cursed be he who lies with his mother-in-law. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:24 Cursed be he who strikes his neighbor in secret. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:25 Cursed be he who takes a bribe to kill an innocent person. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 27:26 Cursed be he who doesn't confirm the words of this law to do them. All the people shall say, Amen.
Deu 28:1 It shall happen, if you shall listen diligently to the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that Yahweh your God will set you on high above all the nations of the earth:
Deu 28:2 and all these blessings shall come on you, and overtake you, if you shall listen to the voice of Yahweh your God.
Deu 28:3 You shall be blessed in the city, and you shall be blessed in the field.
Deu 28:4 You shall be blessed in the fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the fruit of your animals, the increase of your livestock, and the young of your flock.
Deu 28:5 Your basket and your kneading trough shall be blessed.
Deu 28:6 You shall be blessed when you come in, and you shall be blessed when you go out.
Deu 28:7 Yahweh will cause your enemies who rise up against you to be struck before you. They will come out against you one way, and will flee before you seven ways.
Deu 28:8 Yahweh will command the blessing on you in your barns, and in all that you put your hand to; and he will bless you in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.
Deu 28:9 Yahweh will establish you for a holy people to himself, as he has sworn to you; if you shall keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, and walk in his ways.
Deu 28:10 All the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of Yahweh; and they shall be afraid of you.
Deu 28:11 Yahweh will make you plenteous for good, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers to give you.
Deu 28:12 Yahweh will open to you his good treasure in the sky, to give the rain of your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend to many nations, and you shall not borrow.
Deu 28:13 Yahweh will make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath; if you shall listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them,
Deu 28:14 and shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
Deu 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, that all these curses shall come on you, and overtake you.
Deu 28:16 You shall be cursed in the city, and you shall be cursed in the field.
Deu 28:17 Your basket and your kneading trough shall be cursed.
Deu 28:18 The fruit of your body, the fruit of your ground, the increase of your livestock, and the young of your flock shall be cursed.
Deu 28:19 You shall be cursed when you come in, and you shall be cursed when you go out.
Deu 28:20 Yahweh will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke, in all that you put your hand to do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish quickly; because of the evil of your doings, by which you have forsaken me.
Deu 28:21 Yahweh will make the pestilence cling to you, until he has consumed you from off the land, where you go in to possess it.
Deu 28:22 Yahweh will strike you with consumption, and with fever, and with inflammation, and with fiery heat, and with the sword, and with blight, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish.
Deu 28:23 Your sky that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron.
Deu 28:24 Yahweh will make the rain of your land powder and dust: from the sky shall it come down on you, until you are destroyed.
Deu 28:25 Yahweh will cause you to be struck before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them, and shall flee seven ways before them: and you shall be tossed back and forth among all the kingdoms of the earth.
Deu 28:26 Your dead body shall be food to all birds of the sky, and to the animals of the earth; and there shall be none to frighten them away.
Deu 28:27 Yahweh will strike you with the boil of Egypt, and with the tumors, and with the scurvy, and with the itch, of which you can not be healed.
Deu 28:28 Yahweh will strike you with madness, and with blindness, and with astonishment of heart;
Deu 28:29 and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways: and you shall be only oppressed and robbed always, and there shall be none to save you.
Deu 28:30 You shall betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: you shall build a house, and you shall not dwell therein: you shall plant a vineyard, and shall not use its fruit.
Deu 28:31 Your ox shall be slain before your eyes, and you shall not eat of it: your donkey shall be violently taken away from before your face, and shall not be restored to you: your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have none to save you.
Deu 28:32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people; and your eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day: and there shall be nothing in the power of your hand.
Deu 28:33 The fruit of your ground, and all your labors, shall a nation which you don't know eat up; and you shall be only oppressed and crushed always;
Deu 28:34 so that you shall be mad for the sight of your eyes which you shall see.
Deu 28:35 Yahweh will strike you in the knees, and in the legs, with a sore boil, of which you can not be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.
Deu 28:36 Yahweh will bring you, and your king whom you shall set over you, to a nation that you have not known, you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone.
Deu 28:37 You shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all the peoples where Yahweh shall lead you away.
Deu 28:38 You shall carry much seed out into the field, and shall gather little in; for the locust shall consume it.
Deu 28:39 You shall plant vineyards and dress them, but you shall neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worm shall eat them.
Deu 28:40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your borders, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olive shall cast its fruit.
Deu 28:41 You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity.
Deu 28:42 All your trees and the fruit of your ground shall the locust possess.
Deu 28:43 The foreigner who is in the midst of you shall mount up above you higher and higher; and you shall come down lower and lower.
Deu 28:44 He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him: he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
Deu 28:45 All these curses shall come on you, and shall pursue you, and overtake you, until you are destroyed; because you didn't listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you:
Deu 28:46 and they shall be on you for a sign and for a wonder, and on your seed forever.
Deu 28:47 Because you didn't serve Yahweh your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things;
Deu 28:48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom Yahweh shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron on your neck, until he has destroyed you.
Deu 28:49 Yahweh will bring a nation against you from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flies; a nation whose language you shall not understand;
Deu 28:50 a nation of fierce facial expressions, that shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young,
Deu 28:51 and shall eat the fruit of your livestock, and the fruit of your ground, until you are destroyed; that also shall not leave you grain, new wine, or oil, the increase of your livestock, or the young of your flock, until they have caused you to perish.
Deu 28:52 They shall besiege you in all your gates, until your high and fortified walls come down, in which you trusted, throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land, which Yahweh your God has given you.
Deu 28:53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters, whom Yahweh your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.
Deu 28:54 The man who is tender among you, and very delicate, his eye shall be evil toward his brother, and toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the remnant of his children whom he has remaining;
Deu 28:55 so that he will not give to any of them of the flesh of his children whom he shall eat, because he has nothing left him, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your gates.
Deu 28:56 The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not adventure to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and tenderness, her eye shall be evil toward the husband of her bosom, and toward her son, and toward her daughter,
Deu 28:57 and toward her young one who comes out from between her feet, and toward her children whom she shall bear; for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your gates.
Deu 28:58 If you will not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and fearful name, YAHWEH YOUR GOD;
Deu 28:59 then Yahweh will make your plagues wonderful, and the plagues of your seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.
Deu 28:60 He will bring on you again all the diseases of Egypt, which you were afraid of; and they shall cling to you.
Deu 28:61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, Yahweh will bring them on you, until you are destroyed.
Deu 28:62 You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of the sky for multitude; because you didn't listen to the voice of Yahweh your God.
Deu 28:63 It shall happen that as Yahweh rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you, so Yahweh will rejoice over you to cause you to perish, and to destroy you; and you shall be plucked from off the land where you go in to possess it.
Deu 28:64 Yahweh will scatter you among all peoples, from the one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, which you have not known, you nor your fathers, even wood and stone.
Deu 28:65 Among these nations you shall find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of your foot: but Yahweh will give you there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and pining of soul;
Deu 28:66 and your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you shall fear night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life.
Deu 28:67 In the morning you shall say, Would it were evening! and at evening you shall say, Would it were morning! for the fear of your heart which you shall fear, and for the sight of your eyes which you shall see.
Deu 28:68 Yahweh will bring you into Egypt again with ships, by the way of which I said to you, You shall see it no more again: and there you shall sell yourselves to your enemies for bondservants and for bondmaids, and no man shall buy you.
May 6, 7
Luk 20:1 It happened on one of those days, as he was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the Good News, that the priests and scribes came to him with the elders.
Luk 20:2 They asked him, "Tell us: by what authority do you do these things? Or who is giving you this authority?"
Luk 20:3 He answered them, "I also will ask you one question. Tell me:
Luk 20:4 the baptism of John, was it from heaven, or from men?"
Luk 20:5 They reasoned with themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say, 'Why didn't you believe him?'
Luk 20:6 But if we say, 'From men,' all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet."
Luk 20:7 They answered that they didn't know where it was from.
Luk 20:8 Jesus said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things."
Luk 20:9 He began to tell the people this parable. "A man planted a vineyard, and rented it out to some farmers, and went into another country for a long time.
Luk 20:10 At the proper season, he sent a servant to the farmers to collect his share of the fruit of the vineyard. But the farmers beat him, and sent him away empty.
Luk 20:11 He sent yet another servant, and they also beat him, and treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty.
Luk 20:12 He sent yet a third, and they also wounded him, and threw him out.
Luk 20:13 The lord of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. It may be that seeing him, they will respect him.'
Luk 20:14 "But when the farmers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.'
Luk 20:15 They threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do to them?
Luk 20:16 He will come and destroy these farmers, and will give the vineyard to others." When they heard it, they said, "May it never be!"
Luk 20:17 But he looked at them, and said, "Then what is this that is written, 'The stone which the builders rejected, the same was made the chief cornerstone?'
Luk 20:18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but it will crush whomever it falls on to dust."
Luk 20:19 The chief priests and the scribes sought to lay hands on him that very hour, but they feared the people-for they knew he had spoken this parable against them.
Luk 20:20 They watched him, and sent out spies, who pretended to be righteous, that they might trap him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the power and authority of the governor.
Luk 20:21 They asked him, "Teacher, we know that you say and teach what is right, and aren't partial to anyone, but truly teach the way of God.
Luk 20:22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?"
Luk 20:23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Why do you test me?
Luk 20:24 Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?" They answered, "Caesar's."
Luk 20:25 He said to them, "Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
Luk 20:26 They weren't able to trap him in his words before the people. They marveled at his answer, and were silent.
Luk 20:27 Some of the Sadducees came to him, those who deny that there is a resurrection.
Luk 20:28 They asked him, "Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man's brother dies having a wife, and he is childless, his brother should take the wife, and raise up children for his brother.
Luk 20:29 There were therefore seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died childless.
Luk 20:30 The second took her as wife, and he died childless.
Luk 20:31 The third took her, and likewise the seven all left no children, and died.
Luk 20:32 Afterward the woman also died.
Luk 20:33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them will she be? For the seven had her as a wife."
Luk 20:34 Jesus said to them, "The children of this age marry, and are given in marriage.
Luk 20:35 But those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.
Luk 20:36 For they can't die any more, for they are like the angels, and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.
Luk 20:37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord 'The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'
Luk 20:38 Now he is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all are alive to him."
Luk 20:39 Some of the scribes answered, "Teacher, you speak well."
Luk 20:40 They didn't dare to ask him any more questions.
Luk 20:41 He said to them, "Why do they say that the Christ is David's son?
Luk 20:42 David himself says in the book of Psalms, 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at my right hand,
Luk 20:43 until I make your enemies the footstool of your feet." '
Luk 20:44 "David therefore calls him Lord, so how is he his son?"
Luk 20:45 In the hearing of all the people, he said to his disciples,
Luk 20:46 "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts;
Luk 20:47 who devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these will receive greater condemnation."
Polygamy and the Quran
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Those people who have modeled their thinking after New Testament Christianity are, to say the least, a bit surprised (if not shocked and appalled) to learn that the religion of Islam countenances polygamy. But the Christian mind must realize that Muhammad’s Islam arose out of Arabia in the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. The Arab culture was well-known for the practice of polygamy, in which the men were allowed to have as many wives as they desired. The Quran addressed this social circumstance by placing a limitation on the number of wives a man could have. The wording of the pronouncement is in a surah titled “Women”: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess” (Surah 4:3).
Setting aside the issue of why Muhammad himself was exempt from this limitation (Surah 33:50—see Miller, “Muhammad’s Polygamy,” 2004), the divine origin of the Quran is discredited on the basis of its stance on polygamy. In the first place, for all practical purposes, the Quran authorizes a man to have as many wives as he chooses, since its teaching on divorce contradicts its teaching on marriage. Unlike the New Testament, which confines permission to divorce on the sole grounds of sexual unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:9), the Quran authorizes divorce for any reason (e.g., Surah 2:226-232,241; 33:4,49; 58:2-4; 65:1-7). If a man can divorce his wife for any reason, then the “command” that limits a man to four wives is effectively meaningless—merely restricting a man to four legal wives at a time. Theoretically, a man could have an unlimited number of wives—all with the approval of God!
In the second place, Jesus declared in no uncertain terms that “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9, emp. added). Jesus gave one, and only one, reason for divorce in God’s sight. In fact, even the Old Testament affirmed that God “hates divorce” (Malachi 2:16). The teaching of the Bible on divorce is a higher, stricter, nobler standard than the one advocated by the Quran. The two books, in fact, contradict each other on this point.
In the third place, why does the Quran stipulate the number “four”? Why not three or five wives? The number four would appear to be an arbitrary number with no significance—at least, none is given. Though the passage in question indicates the criterion of a man’s ability to do justice to those he marries, there is no reason to specify the number four, since men would vary a great deal in the number of women that they would have the ability to manage fairly.
The answer may be seen in the influence of the contemporaneous Jewish population of Arabia. Sixth century Arabia was a tribal oriented society that relied heavily on oral communication in social interactions. Muhammad would have been the recipient of considerable information conveyed orally by his Jewish, and even Christian, contemporaries. Many tales, fables, and rabbinical traditions undoubtedly circulated among the Jewish tribes of Arabia. The Jews themselves probably were lacking in book-learning, having been separated from the mainstream of Jewish thought and intellectual development in their migration to the Arabian peninsula. The evidence demonstrates that the author of the Quran borrowed extensively from Jewish and other sources. The ancient Talmudic record (Arbah Turim, Ev. Hazaer, 1) stated: “A man may marry many wives, for Rabba saith it is lawful to do so, if he can provide for them. Nevertheless, the wise men have given good advice, that a man should not marry more than four wives” (see Rodwell, 1950, p. 411; Tisdall, 1905, pp. 129-130). The similarity with the wording of the Quran is too striking to be coincidental. It can be argued quite convincingly that the magic number of four was drawn from currently circulating Jewish teaching.
Miller, Dave (2004), “Muhammad’s Polygamy,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2219.
Rodwell, J.M., trans. (1950 reprint), The Koran (London: J.M. Dent and Sons).
Tisdall, W. St. Clair (1905), The Original Sources of the Quran (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge).
Camels and the Composition of Genesis
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Arguably, the most widely alleged anachronisms used in support of the idea that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible (a theory known as the Documentary Hypothesis) are the accounts of the early patriarchs possessing camels. The word “camel(s)” appears 23 times in 21 verses in the book of Genesis. The first book of the Bible declares that camels existed in Egypt during the time of Abraham (12:14-17), in Palestine in the days Isaac (24:63), in Padan Aram while Jacob was working for Laban (30:43), and were owned by the Midianites during the time Joseph was sold into Egyptian slavery (37:25,36). Make no mistake about it, the book of beginnings clearly teaches that camels were domesticated since at least the time of Abraham.
According to skeptics (and a growing number of liberal scholars), however, the idea that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham directly contradicts archaeological evidence. Over one hundred years ago, T.K. Cheyne wrote: “The assertion that the ancient Egyptians knew of the camel is unfounded” (1899, 1:634). In his oft’-quoted book on the various animals of the Bible, George Cansdale stated:
The Bible first mentions the camel in Gen. 12:16, where the presents are listed which the pharaoh gave to Abram. This is generally reckoned to be a later scribe’s addition, for it seems unlikely that there were any camels in Egypt then (1970, p. 66, emp. added).
More recently, Finkelstein and Silberman confidently asserted:
We now know through archaeological research that camels were not domesticated as beasts of burden earlier than the late second millennium and were not widely used in that capacity in the ancient Near East until well after 1000 BCE (2001, p. 37, emp. added).
By way of summary, what the Bible believer has been told is: “[T]ame camels were simply unknown during Abraham’s time” (Tobin, 2000).
While these claims have been made repeatedly over the last century, the truth of the matter is that skeptics and liberal theologians are unable to cite a single piece of solid archaeological evidence in support of their claims. As Randall Younker of Andrews University stated in March 2000 while delivering a speech in the Dominican Republic: “Clearly, scholars who have denied the presence of domesticated camels in the 2nd millennium B.C. have been committing the fallacy of arguing from silence. This approach should not be allowed to cast doubt upon the veracity of any historical document, let alone Scripture” (2000). The burden of proof actually should be upon skeptics to show that camels were not domesticated until after the time of the patriarchs. Instead, they assure their listeners of the camel’s absence in Abraham’s day—without one shred of archaeological evidence. [Remember, for many years they also argued that writing was unknown during the time of Moses—a conclusion based entirely on “silence.” Now, however, they have recanted that idea, because evidence has been found to the contrary. One might think that such “scholars” would learn not to speak with such assurance when arguing from silence.]
What makes their claims even more disturbing is that several pieces of evidence do exist (and have existed for some time) that prove camels were domesticated during (and even before) the time of Abraham (roughly 2,000 B.C.). In an article that appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies a half-century ago, professor Joseph Free listed several instances of Egyptian archaeological finds supporting the domestication of camels [NOTE: The dates given for the Egyptian dynasties are from Clayton, 2001, pp.14-68]. The earliest evidence comes from a pottery camel’s head and a terra cotta tablet with men riding on and leading camels. According to Free, these are both from predynastic Egypt (1944, pp. 189-190), which according to Clayton is roughly before 3150 B.C. Free also listed three clay camel heads and a limestone vessel in the form of camel lying down—all dated at the First Dynasty of Egypt (3050-2890 B.C.). He then mentioned several models of camels from the Fourth Dynasty (2613-2498 B.C.), and a petroglyph depicting a camel and a man dated at the Sixth Dynasty (2345-2184 B.C.). Such evidence has led one respected Egyptologist to conclude that “the extant evidence clearly indicates that the domestic camel was known [in Egypt—EL] by 3,000 B.C.”—long before Abraham’s time (Kitchen, 1980, 1:228).
Perhaps the most convincing find in support of the early domestication of camels in Egypt is a rope made of camel’s hair found in the Fayum (an oasis area southwest of modern-day Cairo). The two-strand twist of hair, measuring a little over three feet long, was found in the late 1920s, and was sent to the Natural History Museum where it was analyzed and compared to the hair of several different animals. After considerable testing, it was determined to be camel hair, dated (by analyzing the layer in which it was found) to the Third or Fourth Egyptian Dynasty (2686-2498 B.C.). In his article, Free also listed several other discoveries from around 2,000 B.C. and later, which showed camels as domestic animals (pp. 189-190).
While prolific in Egypt, finds relating to the domestication of camels are not isolated to the African continent. In his book, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament, professor Kenneth Kitchen (retired) of the University of Liverpool reported several discoveries made outside of Egypt proving ancient camel domestication around 2,000 B.C. Lexical lists from Mesopotamia have been uncovered that show a knowledge of domesticated camels as far back as this time. Camel bones have been found in household ruins at Mari in present-day Syria that fossilologists believe are also at least 4,000 years old. Furthermore, a Sumerian text from the time of Abraham has been discovered in the ancient city of Nippur (located in what is now southeastern Iraq) that clearly implies the domestication of camels by its allusions to camels’ milk (Kitchen, 1966, p. 79).
All of these documented finds support the domestication of camels in Egypt many years before the time of Abraham. Yet, as Younker rightly observed, skeptics refuse to acknowledge any of this evidence.
It is interesting to note how, once an idea gets into the literature, it can become entrenched in conventional scholarly thinking. I remember doing research on the ancient site of Hama in Syria. As I was reading through the excavation reports (published in French), I came across a reference to a figurine from the 2nd millennium which the excavator thought must be a horse, but the strange hump in the middle of its back made one think of a camel. I looked at the photograph and the figurine was obviously that of a camel! The scholar was so influenced by the idea that camels were not used until the 1st millennium, that when he found a figurine of one in the second millennium, he felt compelled to call it a horse! This is a classic example of circular reasoning (2000, parenthetical comment in orig.).
Finds relating to the domestication of camels are not as prevalent in the second millennium B.C. as they are in the first millennium. This does not make the skeptics’ case any stronger, however. Just because camels were not as widely used during Abraham’s time as they were later, does not mean that they were entirely undomesticated. As Free commented:
Many who have rejected this reference to Abraham’s camels seem to have assumed something which the text does not state. It should be carefully noted that the biblical reference does not necessarily indicate that the camel was common in Egypt at that time, nor does it evidence that the Egyptians had made any great progress in the breeding and domestication of camels. It merely says that Abraham had camels (1944, p. 191, emp. added).
Similarly, Younker noted:
This is not to say that domesticated camels were abundant and widely used everywhere in the ancient Near East in the early second millennium. However, the patriarchal narratives do not necessarily require large numbers of camels…. The smaller amount of evidence for domestic camels in the late third and early second millennium B.C., especially in Palestine, is in accordance with this more restricted use (1997, 42:52).
Even without the above-mentioned archaeological finds (which to the unbiased examiner prove that camels were domesticated in the time of Abraham), it only seems reasonable to conclude that since wild camels have been known since the Creation, “there is no credible reason why such an indispensable animal in desert and semi-arid lands should not have been sporadically domesticated in patriarchal times and even earlier” (“Animal Kingdom,” 1988). The truth is, all of the available evidence points to one conclusion—the limited use of domesticated camels during and before the time of Abraham did occur. The supposed “anachronism” of domesticated camels during the time of the patriarchs is, in fact, an actual historical reference to the use of these animals at that time. Those who reject this conclusion cannot give one piece of solid archaeological evidence on their behalf. They simply argue from the “silence” of archaeology…which is silent no more!
“Animal Kingdom” (1988), The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Cansdale, George (1970), All the Animals of the Bible Lands (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Cheyne, T.K. (1899), Encyclopedia Biblica (London: A. & C. Black).
Clayton, Peter A. (2001), Chronicle of the Pharaohs (London: Thames & Hudson).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed (New York: Free Press).
Free, Joseph P. (1944), “Abraham’s Camels,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 3:187-193, July.
Kitchen, K.A. (1966), Ancient Orient and Old Testament (Chicago, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Kitchen, K.A. (1980), The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. J.D. Douglas (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale).
Tobin, Paul N. (2000), “Mythological Element in the Story of Abraham and the Patriachal Narratives,”The Refection of Pascal’s Wager [On-line], URL: http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/abraham.html.
Younker, Randall W. (1997), “Late Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs in the Wadi Nasib, Sinai,” Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin, 42:47-54.
Younker, Randall W. (2000), “The Bible and Archaeology,” The Symposium on the Bible and Adventist Scholarship [On-line], URL: http://www.aiias.edu/ict/vol_26B/26Bcc_457-477.htm.