"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" The Flesh Versus The Spirit (5:16-18) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

                 The Flesh Versus The Spirit (5:16-18)


1. In discussing our liberty in Christ, Paul warned about the flesh...
   a. Not to use our liberty as an opportunity for the flesh - Ga 5:13
   b. To beware of being consumed by one another - Ga 5:15

2. How can one avoid the destructive influences of the flesh?  Paul is
   a. We must walk in the Spirit - Ga 5:16-17
   b. We must be led by the Spirit - Ga 5:18

[Why is it important for the Christian to know this?  And how does one
walk in the Spirit?  How is one led by the Spirit?  From our text (Ga
5:16-18) we observe regarding the flesh and the Spirit that...]


      1. They are in opposition against each other - Ga 5:17a
      2. Is the "Spirit" referring to the Holy Spirit, or the human
         a. There is certainly a war between the flesh and human spirit
            - 1Pe 2:11; Ro 7:23
         b. Yet I believe here in Galatians it has reference to the Holy
      3. The context of the epistle suggests that it is the Holy Spirit
         a. Note Paul's earlier references to the Spirit - Ga 3:2-3; 4:6
         b. Through the Spirit we eagerly wait for the hope of
            righteousness- Ga 5:5
         c. Paul's later argument "If we live in the Spirit, let us also
            walk in the Spirit" would not make sense if the human spirit
            is meant - Ga 5:25
         d. Reaping everlasting life "of the Spirit" must refer to the
            Holy Spirit - Ga 6:8
      -- While the flesh pulls us in one direction, the Spirit would
         have us go in another!

      1. If we follow the lusts of the flesh, we can not do the will of
         the Spirit - Ga 5:17b
      2. Following the flesh will enslave, placing one in a dilemma
         - cf. Ro 6:12-13,16; 7:14-23
      3. But with the help of the Spirit, the flesh can be overcome!
         - cf. Ro 8:12-14
      -- We must walk in the Spirit, otherwise we will succumb to the
         lusts of the flesh

      1. By setting our minds on the things of the Spirit - cf. Ro 8:1-6
      2. The things of the Spirit would be that which the Spirit has
      3. I.e., the Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit - cf.
         Ep 6:17
      4. Just as Jesus used the Word to resist temptation - cf. Mt 4:4,
      -- We walk in the Spirit to the degree we follow the Word which He

[So whom will we serve?  The lust of the flesh, or the Spirit of God?
Only one offers life and peace; the other offers death, and prevents us
from serving God (Ro 8:6-8).  Paul then adds another point...]


      1. In the context, "the law" has primary reference to the "Law of
         Moses" - cf. Ga 4:21
      2. The purpose of the law was primarily twofold:
         a. To reveal sin - cf. Ga 3:19a; Ro 3:20
         b. To condemn the sinner as guilty - cf. Ro 3:19
      -- To be "under the Law", then, is to be under a state of

      1. I.e., they are not under the condemnation of the Law
      2. For obedience to the gospel revealed by the Spirit results in
         a. Freedom from condemnation - Ro 8:1
         b. Freedom from the law of sin of death - Ro 8:2; 6:17-18
         c. Freedom from the obligation to keep the Law - cf. Ro 7:1-6
      -- Led by the Spirit, one is free from both the condemnation and
         obligation of the Law

      1. "The Spirit leads both externally and internally.  Externally,
         the Spirit supplies the gospel truth as set forth in the New
         Testament, and the rules and precepts therein found are for the
         instruction and guidance of God's children.  Internally, the
         Spirit aids by ministering strength and comfort to the disciple
         in his effort to conform to the revealed truth and will of
         God." -  J.W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton, Thessalonians,
         Corinthians, Galatians and Romans, p. 361 
         (commenting on Ro 8:14)
      2. The Spirit leads us externally through the Word
         a. The Word is the instrument used by the Spirit to instruct
            and convict
            1) The Spirit was sent to convict the world - Jn 16:7-11
            2) The Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth 
               - Jn 16:12-13
            3) Thus the Word is the "sword" (instrument) used by the
               Spirit - cf. Ep 6:17
         b. To resist the Word is to resist the Spirit
            1) As when Israel resisted the inspired word given through
               prophets - Ac 7:51-53
            2) As when we resist the inspired word given through
               apostles - 1Co 14:36-37
         c. When one sets their mind on the things of the Spirit (i.e.,
            His revealed Word)...
            1) They will live according to the Spirit - Ro 8:5
            2) They will experience life and peace - Ro 8:6
         d. When one walks in the Spirit (by heeding His Word)...
            1) They will not fulfill the lust of the flesh - Ga 5:16
            2) They will be thus led by the Spirit - Ga 5:18
            3) They will produce the fruit of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-25
         -- Do you desire to be led by the Spirit?  Let Him lead you
            through His Word!
      3. The Spirit leads us internally through His indwelling
         a. By strengthening the inner man...
            1) God is at work in the Christian - Ep 3:20
            2) Even as we work out our own salvation - Php 2:12-13; 4:13
            3) The instrument by which God strengthens the Christian is
               His Spirit in the inner man - Ep 3:16; cf. 1Co 6:19
            4) By His Spirit, we are able to put to death the deeds of
               the body - Ro 8:13
            5) In this way the Spirit likewise leads us - Ro 8:14; cf.
               Ro 8:11
         b. In conjunction with the Word...
            1) When we make effort to heed the Word, the Spirit aids us
               a) Supplying what strength we may need
               b) So that which is produced may rightly be called the
                  'fruit' of the Spirit
            2) To illustrate, consider the development of a Christ-like
               a) Peter reminds us of the need for diligence on our part
                  - 2Pe 1:5-10
               b) Paul explains these qualities produced are the 'fruit
                  of the Spirit - Ga 5:22-23
         -- Do you desire to be led by the Spirit?  Let Him strengthen
            you as you obey His Word!
      -- Christians are led by the Spirit externally as they are taught
         by the Word, and internally by His strengthening the inner man
         as they strive to obey the Word


1. Paul has more to say about...
   a. The works of the flesh and their jeopardy to our souls - Ga 5:
   b. The fruit of the Spirit and the blessedness He provides - Ga 5:

2. What Paul has said so far is this...
   a. There is a great conflict between the flesh and the Spirit
   b. Only those who walk in the Spirit and are led by the Spirit
      experience true freedom

In the battle of "The Flesh Versus The Spirit", which side are you on?
Are you being led by your own fleshly lusts, or by the Spirit of God?
Eternal consequences hang in the balance...!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Defending the Biblical Position Against Lying by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Defending the Biblical Position Against Lying

by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

Generally, truthfulness is considered a valuable component of the ethical life. However, a pressing question in moral philosophy is whether it is ever permissible to lie. The Bible contains general prohibitions against lying, in both the Old and New Testaments:
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor (Exodus 20:16).
  • You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another (Leviticus 19:11).
  • These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue... (Proverbs 6:16-17).
  • [A]ll liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).
  • But there shall by no means enter [eternal life—CC] anything that defiles or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27).
The adherent to biblical doctrine is an ethical “absolutist” when it comes to lying; that is, he takes the position that lying is never the right thing to do. Furthermore, the Bible’s strictures against lying are, to him, sufficient grounds for his decision never to lie. However, the purpose of this article is to show that the biblical position may be defended against secular claims that absolutism against lying is unreasonable.
The secular ethicist might base his objection on so-called “common-sense morality.” In this case, he would decry the absolutist’s prohibition of lying in certain cases where it might seem right to lie. The most famous such scenario is that of the “murderer at the door,” as explained by Benjamin Constant:
The moral principle stating that it is a duty to tell the truth would make any society impossible if that principle were taken singly and unconditionally. We have proof of this in the very direct consequences which a German philosopher [Immanuel Kant—CC] has drawn from this principle. This philosopher goes as far as to assert that it would be a crime to tell a lie to a murderer who asked whether our friend who is being pursued by the murderer had taken refuge in our house (quoted in Kant, 1994, p. 162).
Constant was responding to Immanuel Kant, a professed Christian (see Rossi, 2009). While Kant’s rational morality was not based on the Bible, he was an absolutist concerning lying: “Truthfulness in statements that cannot be avoided is the formal duty of man to everyone, however great the disadvantage that may arise therefrom for him or for any other” (p. 163). Recognizing the general distaste at the prospect of telling the “murderer at the door” that a friend is hiding in the house, some Kantian scholars have gone to great lengths to show that Kant actually misinterpreted his own categorical imperative in order to establish an absolutist principle (e.g., Korsgaard, 1986). Whether such efforts succeed is beyond the scope of this article, which is not designed to justify Kant.
Utilitarianism is a system that has been positioned as the formalization of “common-sense morality” (e.g., Sidgwick, 1893, pp. 162-176). The assertion that one should lie in order to save others might be grounded on the act-utilitarian principles of Jeremy Bentham. He summarized his moral philosophy in the following statement:
By the principle of utility is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question: or, what is the same thing in other words, to promote or to oppose that happiness (1907, p. 2).
According to Bentham, we must do that which maximizes happiness. To apply this principle to the case of the murderer at the door: It would seem that the happiness resulting from relieving the refugee of mortal danger would outweigh any negative feelings on the part of the murderer, should he ever discover the deception. (This comparison assumes that we give equal moral weight to the innocent and the guilty—an allocation which may be questioned.) The morally correct decision therefore, on utilitarian grounds, is to lie to the murderer. Probably most students agree with Bentham’s application.
Consider four available, extra-biblical responses to the utilitarian viewpoint:
1. The “murderer-at-the-door” case is extreme. Very few people find themselves in scenarios where a decision like this one regarding “murderer at the door” is necessary. So, ethicists should proceed carefully in criticizing biblical ethics, to avoid rushing to the conclusion that one extreme hypothetical case renders absolutism unreasonable.
2. Truth does not murder. Kant rightly states that “[Constant—CC] confuses the action whereby someone does harm to another by telling the truth when its avowal cannot be avoided with the action whereby someone does wrong to another. It was merely an accident that the truth of the statement did harm [but not wrong] to the occupant of the house” (p. 165, bracketed item in orig.). The truth-teller is not the murderer.
3. Outcomes are unpredictable. Human finitude dictates that none of us could be certain what would happen if he was to tell the truth to the murderer. Kant, for example, was aware of several potentialities:
For example, if by telling a lie you have in fact hindered someone who was even now planning a murder, then you are legally responsible for all the consequences that might result therefrom. But if you have adhered strictly to the truth, then public justice cannot lay a hand on you, whatever the unforeseen consequence might be. It is indeed possible that after you have honestly answered Yes to the murderer’s question as to whether the intended victim is in the house, the latter went out unobserved and thus eluded the murderer, so that the deed would not have come about. However, if you told a lie and said that the intended victim was not in the house, and he has actually (though unbeknownst to you) gone out, with the result that by so doing he has been met by the murderer and thus the deed has been perpetrated, then in this case you may be justly accused as having caused his death. For if you had told the truth as best you knew it, then the murderer might perhaps have been caught by neighbors who came running while he was searching the house for his intended victim, and thus the deed might have been prevented. Therefore, whoever tells a lie, regardless of how good his intentions may be, must answer for the consequences resulting therefrom (p. 164, parenthetical item in orig.).
The creative among us could imagine a large number of outcomes, both good and bad. Kant reminds us that we do not know that the truth-telling would result in murder, and therefore our decision cannot be based on certainty.
So, a decision to tell the truth is not a decision to kill the refugee. Furthermore, options are available. Silence is an option. Kant carefully stated that what is required is “Truthfulness in statements that cannot be avoided” (p. 163). The biblical ethicist does not assert that a person tell all he knows.
4. A slippery slope threatens. Another response to Bentham’s position is that it implicitly requires us to determine a standard of difficulty which, when met, makes lying permissible. This requirement is problematic. May we tell a lie when the inquirer at the door seeks only to injure the refugee? What if he wants to inflict only a harsh reprimand? What if the inquirer merely happens to be someone the refugee dislikes? Bentham’s principle leaves us in the problematic position of judging how “bad” things must get before utility merits a lie. This difficulty is one reason why some, including John Stuart Mill, sought to amend Bentham’s approach in order to provide concrete rules for behavior (Mill, 1895, p. 35; cf. Brown, 1997, p. 37). Kant seems to have anticipated this problem:
[T]here is the problem of how to make arrangements so that in a society, however large, harmony can be maintained in accordance with principles of freedom and equality.... [T]his will then be a principle of politics; and establishing and arranging such a political system will involve decrees that are drawn from experiential knowledge regarding men; and such decrees will have in view only the mechanism for the administration of justice and how such mechanism is to be suitably arranged. Right must never be adapted to politics; rather, politics must always be adapted to right(p. 166, emp. added).
While Sidgwick thinks that society would be worse-off if criminals could rely on others’ honesty (1893, p. 449), the options mentioned above demonstrate that society may be both truthful and unfavorable to criminals’ pursuits. Presumably, even utilitarians would agree that an honest society is worth pursuing (e.g., Mill, 1895, p. 41).


The Bible is unmistakably clear about the wrongness of lying. While we need not agree with Kant about everything, we happily acknowledge his assistance in showing how the biblical position appeals to human rationality. We agree with him that “[t]o be truthful (honest) in all declarations is, therefore, a sacred and unconditionally commanding law...that admits of no expediency whatsoever” (p. 164, parenthetical item in orig.).


Bentham, Jeremy (1907), An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (Oxford, England: Clarendon).
Brown, D.G. (1997), “Mill’s Act-Utilitarianism,” Mill’s Utilitarianism: Critical Essays, ed. David Lyons (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield).
Kant, Immanuel (1994 reprint), Ethical Philosophy (Indianapolis, IN: Hackett), second edition.
Korsgaard, Christine M. (1986), “The Right to Lie: Kant on Dealing with Evil,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, 15[4]:325-349.
Mill, John Stuart (1895), Utilitarianism (London: George Routledge & Sons), twelfth edition.
Rossi, Philip (2009), “Kant’s Moral Philosophy,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, [On-line], URL: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-religion/.
Sidgwick, Henry (1893), The Methods of Ethics (New York: Macmillan), fifth edition.

God and Katrina by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


God and Katrina

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

In the early morning hours of August 29, 2005,
Hurricane Katrina
Courtesy of ORBIMAGE
hurricane Katrina made landfall, devastating the Gulf Coast of the United States from New Orleans to Mobile, earning for itself recognition as one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Though the city was placed under a mandatory evacuation order, many residents remained due to lack of transportation, health, or age. The furry of the hurricane created three breaches in the Lake Pontchartrain levee system—causing a second, even greater disaster: heavy flooding inundated 80% of the city, making it uninhabitable. While the final death toll is still unknown, thousands are believed to have been killed. More than a million people have been displaced, creating a humanitarian crisis on a scale unseen in America since the American Civil War (“Hurricane Katrina,” 2005).
As shocking and heart-rending as this event may seem, many other natural disasters have occurred in human history that exceed Katrina and even the 2004 tsunami in their toll of death and destruction. For example, throughout China’s history, extensive flooding has occurred countless times as a result of the mighty 3,000-mile-long Hwang Ho River. Several of the most terrible floods, with their ensuing famines, have been responsible for the deaths of more than a million people at a time. The southern levee of the river failed in Hunan Province in 1887, affecting a 50,000 square mile area (“Hwang Ho,” 2004). More than 2 million people died from drowning, starvation, or the epidemics that followed (“Huang He,” 2004).
In reality, such events have occurred repetitiously throughout the history of the world, and continue to do so—constantly: hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, tornados, floods, tsunamis, droughts, and volcano eruptions. In fact, natural disasters kill one million people around the world each decade, and leave millions more homeless, according to the United Nation’s International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (“Disasters...,” 1997).
This circumstance inevitably elicits the pressing question: “WHY?” “Why would God allow such loss of life, inflicted on countless numbers of seemingly innocent people?” The number one argument marshaled by atheists to advocate their disbelief in God is the presence of widespread, seemingly purposeless suffering. They insist that if an infinite Being existed, He would exercise His perfect compassion and His omnipotence to prevent human suffering (e.g., Lowder, 2004; cf. Jackson, 2001). Even for many people who do not embrace formal atheism, the fact that God apparently seems willing to allow misery and suffering to run rampant in the world, elicits a gamut of reactions—from perplexity and puzzlement to anger and resentment.


But the Bible provides the perfect explanations for such occurrences. Its handling of the subject is logical, sufficient, and definitive. It sets forth the fact that God created the world to be the most appropriate, suitable environment in which humans are enabled to make their own decisions concerning their ultimate destiny (Genesis 1:27; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). We humans have been provided with the ideal environment in which we may freely accept or reject God’s will for our lives. Natural disasters and nature’s destructive forces are the result of specific conditions that are necessary to God’s providing humanity with this ideal environment.
God is not blameworthy for having created such a world, since He had a morally justifiable reason for having done so. Human existence on Earth was not intended to be permanent. Rather, the Creator intended life on Earth to serve as a temporary interval of time for the development of one’s spirit. Life on Earth is a probationary period in which people are given the opportunity to attend to their spiritual condition as it relates to God’s will for living. Natural disasters provide people with conclusive evidence that life on Earth is brief and uncertain. God has even harnessed natural calamities for the purpose of punishing wickedness (see Miller, “Is America’s Iniquity...?”, 2005). [NOTE: For further study on this thorny issue, see Thompson, 1997 and Warren, 1972.]
Christians understand that no matter how catastrophic, tragic, or disastrous an event may be, it fits into the overall framework of soul-making—preparation for one’s departure from life into eternity. Likewise, the Christian knows that although the great pain and suffering caused by natural disasters may be unpleasant, and may test one’s mettle; nevertheless, such suffering is not intrinsically evil. Nor is it a reflection on the existence of an omnibenevolent God. The only intrinsic evil is violation of God’s will. What is required of all accountable persons is obedience to God’s revealed Word (given in the Bible)—even amid pain, suffering, sickness, disease, death, and, yes, hurricanes.


“Disasters: A Deadly and Costly Toll Around the World” (1997), FEMA News, [On-line], URL: http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/stats.pdf.
“Huang He, or Hwang Ho” (2004), Britannica Student Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://www.britannica.com/ebi/article?tocId=9274966.
“Hurricane Katrina” (2005), Wikipedia, [On-line], URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina.
“Hwang Ho” (2004), LoveToKnow 1911 Online Encyclopedia, [On-line], URL: http://32.1911encyclopedia.org/H/HW/HWANG_HO.htm.
Jackson, Roy (2001), “The Problem of Evil,” The Philosopher’s Magazine Online, [On-line], URL: http://www.philosophers.co.uk/cafe/rel_six.htm.
Lowder, Jeffery (2004), “Logical Arguments From Evil,” Internet Infidels, [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/nontheism/atheism/evil-logical.html.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Is America’s Iniquity Full,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/305.
Thompson, Bert (1997), “Divine Benevolence, Human Suffering, and Intrinsic Value,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=12&article=229.
Warren, Thomas (1972), Have Atheists Proved There Is No God? (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).

Wearing Gold and Braided Hair? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Wearing Gold and Braided Hair?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Most people who have read the Bible have at least been mildly perplexed after reading 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:3-4. These two portions of Scripture read as follows:
…in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works (1 Timothy 2:9-10).
Do not let your adornment be that outward adorning of arranging the hair, of wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God (1 Peter 3:3-4).
At first glance, these two passages seem to set down strict commandments that women should wear no gold jewelry, and should never braid their hair. However, when these verses are taken in their proper context, and are compared with other verses in the Bible, their seemingly strict prohibitions of gold and braids become more lenient in one sense, and ironically, more strict in another.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the young preacher Timothy, he gave the young man several instructions about how certain groups of people ought to conduct themselves in public worship assemblies. In 1 Timothy chapter 2:9, Paul offered some guidelines for how women ought to dress. Paul said that women should wear “modest” apparel. The Greek word for modest is kosmioi, which means “respectable, honorable, or modest” (Arndt, 1958, p. 445). This word basically entails all apparel that does not call undue attention to the wearer through show of flesh or through gaudiness. The type of apparel is defined by the phrase, “with propriety and moderation.” Then, Paul described the converse of “modest” by mentioning three things that many first-century women were using to draw undue attention to themselves: braided hair, gold, and costly clothing.
In the first century, many women were plaiting elaborate hair designs that would take hours to “construct” and weave. One writer, in describing such first-century hair designs, wrote:
Talk about high maintenance! During the late first century, the Flavian style of Julia, daughter of Titus fashioned the court with curls arranged on crescent-shaped wire frames. The back hair was divided into sections, braided, then curled. Sometimes the hair was coiled without braiding (see Roman…, 2002).
Apparently, some women were turning the worship assemblies into fashion shows, attempting to “one-up” their contemporaries with flashy, expensive clothes and costly gold jewelry. Instead of this gaudiness, Paul instructed the women to adorn themselves in that “which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”
In this passage, we see a literary construction that is common in the Bible—the comparison and substitution of one less desirable thing for another more profitable thing. In this particular case, the gaudy clothes were to be rejected in favor of good works and modest clothes. Jesus used a similar construction in John 6:27, when He stated, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you…” At first glance, this statement from Jesus seems to be saying that a person should not work for physical food. However, we know that is not the intended meaning, because 2 Thessalonians 3:10 plainly says, “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” What, then, was Jesus’ point? He simply was saying that spiritual food is more important than physical food, and as such, should be given a higher priority.
Another instance of a similar situation is found in 1 Corinthians 11:34. In this chapter, the apostle Paul had been reprimanding the Christians in Corinth for abusing the Lord’s Supper. The rich brethren were bringing lots of food and drink, and were eating their fill, while the poor brethren were not getting enough to eat. Paul explained to the Christians that the Lord’s Supper was not designed to be a feast to fill the belly, but a memorial to commemorate the death of the Lord. In verse 34, he wrote: “But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.” Once again, taken in its most literal sense, this verse would demand that every person who is hungry should eat at home—not in a restaurant, at a friend’s house, or outside. Of course, that was not Paul’s intention at all. He simply wanted the Christians to eat to fill their stomachs at some other time than during the memorial feast of the Lord’s Supper.
After considering these examples, let us now look back to Paul’s instruction to Timothy concerning women’s apparel. If we were to take the passage in its most literal reading, then women should not wear braided hair, any gold, or any costly clothing. However, how much would an article of clothing have to cost in order to be “costly?” Many of the clothes we wear in the United States would cost a person in a third world country an entire year’s salary (Jackson, 2000). Should our women come to worship in burlap sacks and cardboard flip-flops? To ask is to answer. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:3-4, the parallel passage to 1 Timothy 2:9-10, the actual Greek text omits the word “fine” before “apparel” so that it actually says that a woman’s beauty should not come from “putting on apparel.” Yet, taken in its most literal sense, this particular sentence would delight those of the nudist persuasion, and confound the most astute Christians.
Summing up the meaning of these two passages, we see that Paul and Peter were not forbidding a woman from wearing a golden wedding band or having her hair modestly braided. They were, however, instructing the women to concentrate on good works and a right attitude instead of trying to impress others with immodest clothes that were inappropriate or excessively gaudy.
Therefore, these verses are more lenient than their strictly literal sound, in the sense that they do not forbid all wearing of gold, clothes, or braiding of the hair. They are more stringent, however, in the fact that some things not specifically mentioned by the writers would be prohibited. For instance, a woman could not wear thousands of dollars worth of platinum jewelry, and then contend that the verses never mention platinum. Nor could a Christian woman strut into an assembly wearing multiple carats of diamonds worth tens of thousands of dollars, and argue that diamonds are not mentioned in the text. The verses echo the sentiment of Christ, when He scolded the Pharisees for cleansing “the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25).
[As an endnote, the modest-apparel criteria were not specifically addressed to the first-century men, because they apparently did not have a problem with this. However, in any situation where men might have a problem with such, the same rules certainly would apply to them as well.]


Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), What About Braided Hair? [On-line], URL: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/206-what-about-braided-hair.
Roman Hairstyles (2002), [On-line], URL: http://oldworld.sjsu.edu/ancientrome/living/fashion/hair02.htm.

What Did You Expect? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


What Did You Expect?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In contrasting the God of Israel with the pagan idols of old, the prophet Isaiah issued a challenge to those who believed in the potency of their pagan deities. Isaiah said this about the idols: “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; let them show the former things, what they were, that we may consider them…. Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods” (41:22-23). According to Isaiah, any deity that could consistently forecast the future would be recognized as a true God, while any unable to tell the future should be relegated to the rubbish pile of false religions. In order to prove that the God of Israel was the true God, Isaiah quoted this from the mouth of God: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times thins that are not yet done” (46:9-10). Truly, Isaiah’s God could tell the future. The fall of Babylon, the reign of Cyrus, and the coming Messiah are but a few of the more prominent examples found within the book of Isaiah itself. In fact, the writers of the New Testament quoted the book of Isaiah more often than any other book of the Old Testament. The first-century Jewish community respected the book of Isaiah as inspired and infallible. Yet, the majority of first century Jews missed one of the main points of the book—that the coming Messiah would be not only a conquering king, but also a suffering servant.
Much of the time, people find what they want to find. During the time that Isaiah wrote his prophecy, the children of Israel suffered persecution from the surrounding nations. Years after Isaiah wrote, the nation of Israel fell into even greater troubles, even being led away into captivity by the Babylonians and being scattered throughout many different nations. During their various persecutions, they began to formulate a picture of the promised Messiah. The Coming One was He of whom it was spoken:
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
From this prophecy, what else could one expect but a mighty, conquering Savior Who would carry the burden of the government on His own two shoulders; a sovereign Ruler the likes of David, Who would sit on the throne of a united, far-reaching kingdom? How Israel longed for such a Ruler Who would cast the burden of foreign bondage from their backs and lead them into a physical kingdom, victorious and everlasting!
However, Isaiah did not paint a one-sided picture of the Messiah. In fact, the entire chapter of Isaiah 53 details a suffering servant who would be “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” This suffering Messiah would be oppressed, afflicted, bruised, and stricken. At His death He would be counted among the wicked, led as a lamb to the slaughter. This picture of the Messiah was not of a conquering warrior, but rather of a beaten servant, carrying the sins of the world.
Of course, the pictures painted by the prophets were not mutually exclusive. The conquering power of the Messiah would result from His ability to bear the sins of the world through suffering and shame. But for most of the first-century Jews, a suffering Messiah was too much to bear. When Christ came from the despised Nazareth as a lowly carpenter’s son, He just wasn’t what they expected. They taunted Him to prove His power when they said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him” (Matthew 27:42). They failed to recognize the “time of their visitation” because they kept in mind only the prophecies that they liked—only those pictures that suited their fancy.
Let us learn a valuable lesson from those first-century Jews. What we expect from Christ is not always what we find. Christ’s Gospel was not one of health and wealth on this Earth. It was not one of moral laxity, or a half-hearted call to devotion. The Christ of the New Testament turned over moneychangers’ tables, set fathers against sons, cried out against divorce, and demanded undivided adoration. When we see something in the character of Christ that we did not expect to find, let us not join the majority of first-century Judaism in rejecting Christ and His Word based on a one-sided acceptance of the evidence. Instead, let us probe deeper for the full portrait of our Savior, based on all the evidence. Let us have the courage to go where that evidence takes us so that we can join the apostle Andrew in saying, “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).

Australia's Unique Animals by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


Australia's Unique Animals

by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.


How do creationists explain the origin and distribution of Australia’s unique animals in terms of a young Earth and a worldwide flood?


Explaining the origin of Australia’s marsupial population, and especially its uniqueness to that one isolated southern continent, is difficult for evolutionists and creationists alike. Marsupials such as kangaroos, opossums, wallabies, and koalas seem unusual, but monotremes (i.e., the echidna and the platypus) are even more puzzling. The main difference between marsupials and most other mammals centers on the reproductive system. Marsupials give birth prematurely and allow the fetus to develop in an external pouch. In other mammals, excluding the monotremes which lay eggs, the fetus develops within the uterus and is attached to, and nourished by, the placenta.
Perhaps the most interesting fact about marsupials is that they nearly all have non-marsupial equivalents in other parts of the world (see Dobzhansky, et al., 1977, Figure 9.3, p. 267). The kangaroo has a similar role to the antelope roaming the African savanna. The wombat resembles a badger, and even has a backward-pointing pouch so that it will not fill with dirt while burrowing! There also are many small marsupials that have rodent counterparts. Evolutionists attribute such similarities to “parallel evolution” in both homology (being alike in form) and analogy (occupying a corresponding niche). That is, they believe that these marsupials and their placental peers developed independently; they share similar characteristics, but took two different paths to get there (see Simpson and Beck, 1965, pp. 499-501). A common ancestry, combined with similar forces of natural selection, evolutionists assert, will result in the same sort of changes through time. This common ancestor is thought to be the opossum because it is a marsupial and is found in other areas of the world apart from Australia.
According to evolutionary theory, the opossum was a primitive mammal living 200 million years ago on a single southern land mass called Gondwanaland. When parts of this supercontinent divided into what are now Australia and South America, the opossums were separated geographically. Over eons of time, so the story goes, the Australian descendants of the opossum developed into the various types of marsupials seen today. However, in South America, they “evolved” placentas and eventually migrated to North America and Eurasia.
These evolutionary ideas suffer from a number of problems, as listed below:
  • There are no intermediate fossils (“transitional forms”) showing the development of the various marsupials from an opossum or opossum-like ancestor. Further, to suggest that one type of mammal could arise by supposed evolutionary mechanisms is incredible enough, but the chances of having both placental and non-placental forms evolve in the same way, at the same time, and in different regions, are remote to say the least.
  • The humble opossum has been nominated as the ancestor of all mammals because it is supposed to be so “primitive,” having a relatively small brain and no “specialized” characteristics. But the opossum has thrived virtually unchanged in many parts of the world. In general, marsupials often are considered less “advanced” because they lack the complex internal reproductive system of placental mammals. However, they possess many other characteristics that could give them an edge over their placental counterparts. For instance, a female kangaroo can nourish two young ones of different ages at the same time, providing the appropriate formula from each teat. Unlike placental mammals, marsupials can suspend or abort the embryo deliberately if adverse conditions arise. And, of course, the pouch provides a superior place of protection for the young marsupial. Yes, marsupials are different, but they are not inferior.
  • The distribution of marsupials is not well-answered by evolutionary theories. According to Michael Pitman, “the most diverse fossil assemblies have been obtained from South America and, later (Pliocene), Australia” (1984, p. 206). That is, according to the fossil record, the marsupials already were well-defined as a distinct group before the separation of Australia from other continents. Thus, geographic separation cannot be as significant to their development as evolutionists like to think. An alternate, biblically based model is as follows:
    1. It is reasonable to suggest that God created the various kinds of marsupials. Hence, the many varieties of opossums, kangaroos, wallabies, and so on, most likely have arisen since the time of creation.
    2. There could be any number of reasons that God created both placental and non-placental forms. One possibility is that marsupials were created for a specific environment. For example, on the African savannas or North American plains, animals migrate to different areas according to the seasons, and range over huge tracts of land in search of better grazing. However, vegetation patterns in Australia do not allow such flexibility. The unique characteristics of marsupials that allow them to survive in a tough environment are indicative of good design, not blind evolution.
    3. Representatives of marsupial kinds went into the ark and were carried through the Flood. Any other varieties not in the ark became extinct with the Flood (and now exist only as fossils).
    4. After the Flood, marsupials may have migrated to Australia across land connections or narrow waterways. Perhaps there is a supernatural element involving the second point made above. That is, God, having created specially equipped creatures, may have directed them to settle in Australia in particular. If God can arrange for all the animals to go to Noah (Genesis 6:20), then He very well could assist and direct them in their migration from Ararat once they left the ark (Genesis 8:17).
    5. There is no need to postulate long periods of time for whole-scale movement of animal kinds over the Earth. Initial studies by Richard Culp show that there are minimal differences between many North American, European, and Asian varieties of certain plant and animal species (Culp, 1988). The lack of dissimilarities, and the occurrence of unique animal or plant assemblages in various parts of the world (not just Australia), may be evidence for a rapid resettlement in relatively recent times. This would be consistent with the Genesis account.


    Bartz, Paul A. (1989), “Questions and Answers,” Bible-Science Newsletter, 27[7]:12, July.
    Culp, G. Richard (1988), “The Geographical Distribution of Animals and Plants,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 25[1]:24-27, June.
    Dobzhansky, Theodosius, F.J. Ayala, G.L. Stebbins, and J.W. Valentine (1977), Evolution(San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman).
    Pitman, Michael (1984), Adam and Evolution (London: Rider).
    Simpson, G.G. and W.S. Beck (1965), Life: An Introduction to Biology (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World), second edition.

Darwin, Evolution, and Racism by Eric Lyons, M.Min. Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Darwin, Evolution, and Racism

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
Kyle Butt, M.Div.

The creation and evolution models stand in stark contradistinction in many ways. One model suggests the Universe is the product of an infinite, eternal, omnipotent Creator; the other credits time and random chance processes for the Universe and everything in it. The creation model declares that an intelligent Designer created a variety of life on Earth; evolution purports that all life evolved from a common ancestor. The creation model maintains that morality originated with the Creator; atheistic evolution implies that morality is a human invention without a universal standard.
Another major contrast between creation and evolution, which receives relatively little attention from evolutionists, concerns whether some groups of humans are innately superior to others. The biblical creation model indicates that all humans, regardless of shape, size, or color, descended from an original couple created specially by God (Genesis 1-2). Every human life is valuable (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 9:6), but no human (save God incarnate—John 1:1-3), nor any group of humans, is more valuable or superior than others (Romans 10:12; cf. Colossians 3:11). Darwinian evolution, on the other hand, is grounded in the idea that all humans evolved from ape-like creatures, and, since some groups of humans supposedly are less ape-like than others, some humans are more highly evolved, and thus, superior and of more value.
Multiplied millions, perhaps even billions, of people around the world are familiar with Charles Darwin’s most famous work, The Origin of Species. This year (2009) marks the book’s 150th anniversary—a fact highly publicized by today’s scientific establishment. It seems, however, that relatively few people are aware of the full title of Darwin’s 1859 work: The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection—or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (emp. added). Favored races? Did Darwin believe that some races, or “species of men,” as he referred to them (1871, p. 395), were favored or more highly evolved than others? Although he steered clear of these ideas in The Origin of Species, his second major work on evolutionary theory, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, published in 1871, did address the issue.
Darwin began the first chapter of The Descent of Man with these words: “He who wishes to decide whether man is the modified descendant of some pre-existing form, would probably first enquire whether man varies, however slightly, in bodily structure and in mental faculties; and if so, whether the variations are transmitted to his offspring in accordance with the laws which prevail with the lower animals” (1871, p. 395). Later, in his chapter titled “On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man,” Darwin wrote:
At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla (p. 521).
Clearly, Darwin was convinced that the more “civilised races” (e.g., Caucasian) would one day exterminate the more savage races, which he considered to be less evolved (and thus more ape-like) than Caucasians. Darwin believed that “the negro” and “Australian” are like sub-species, somewhere between Caucasians and apes. [NOTE: In addition to Darwin’s racist comments in The Descent of Man, he also included sexist statements. His evolutionary views led him to believe that “[t]he chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands.... [T]he average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.... [M]an has ultimately become superior to woman” (pp. 873-874).]
One of Darwin’s closest friends and defenders, the prominent 19th-century English biologist Thomas Huxley, was even more direct in his evolutionary-based racist remarks. In his 1865 essay, “Emancipation—Black and White,” Huxley remarked:
It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average Negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And, if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathus relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried on by thoughts and not by bites. The highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins, though it is by no means necessary that they should be restricted to the lowest (emp. added).
According to “Darwin’s Bulldog,” as Huxley was called, the “Negro” is not equal to “the white man.” The alleged smaller-brained, big-jawed negro supposedly cannot compete on the same playing field with the white man. Huxley espoused the false notion that “[t]he highest places in the hierarchy of civilisation will assuredly not be within the reach of our dusky cousins” (1865, emp. added). Little did Huxley know that less then 150 years later an African-American would sit in the highest office of the most wealthy and powerful nation on Earth.
The fact is, Darwinian evolution implies that some groups of humans are closer to our alleged ape-like ancestors in their mental faculties than others. Thus, some groups of humans supposedly are superior to others. The Bible teaches exactly the opposite. There are not different species or races of men; there is just one human race—an intelligent people (see Lyons, 2002)—that God created “in His image” in the beginning (Genesis 1-2; see Lyons and Thompson, 2002), both “male and female” (Genesis 1:27, emp. added). All of humanity descended from Adam and Eve, the first couple (1 Corinthians 15:45; Genesis 3:20), and later Noah, through whom the Earth was repopulated after the Flood (Genesis 6-10). Whether we are red, yellow, black, or white, we share equal value as human beings, God’s image-bearers (Genesis 1:26-28; cf. Romans 10:12). What’s more, all men stand on equal footing before God as sinners (Romans 3:10,23) in need of a Savior (John 8:24; Mark 16:15-16).


Darwin, Charles (1859), The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: The Modern Library, reprint).
Darwin, Charles (1871), The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (New York: The Modern Library, reprint).
Huxley, Thomas (1865), “Emancipation—Black and White,” [On-line], URL:http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE3/B&W.html.
Lyons, Eric (2002), “Ancient Nitwits or Knowledgeable Ancestors?” [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1798.
Lyons, Eric and Bert Thompson (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God,’” Reason & Revelation[Part I & Part II], 22:17-23,25-31, March/April.